Monday, 29 November 2010

K&A with Little Fire

Just what you need after the long walk into work on a bitterly cold morning....  a Little Fire.  This particular one is 25 year old Jamie McGeechan, a singer-songwriter and poet from Ayr, who has fair racked up the accolades this year.  To name a few, he won this year's battle of the bands at the Burns And A' That Festival, had a piece of work commissioned for the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and was selected to showcase his music for BBC Blast.  So it's fair to say he has 'lit up' the Ayrshire music scene over the past 12 months.  Here's what he has to say about all that, his plans and ambitions for the future, and his admiration for The Singing Kettle!  Over to you Jamie...

Kowalskiy:  Who is Little Fire, and what's the story behind the name?
Jamie:  Hello! I’m a 25 year old singer songwriter from the sea side town of Ayr and my real name is Jamie McGeechan.  The name Little Fire comes from my wee brothers name Aodán (Gaelic form of Aidan/Aiden), the meaning of Aodán in Gaelic is Little Fire.  I think it suits my music well as I’m a solo singer songwriter with a lot of fire in my heart and in my live performances. I’m not one of those singer songwriters who write about how depressed they are all the time or who finds it hard to relate to the world.  The world can be a confusing place but we’re all pretty much as lost as each other, fumbling about in the dark and looking for a lightswitch.  I always look at the positives in life and I think I convey that in my music, I’m an easy going guy with a positive attitude and not a hint of cynicism to be found.

Kowalskiy:  Who/what/where are your main influences?
Jamie:  Musically one of my main inspirations is John Martyn for the heart and soul he put into performing, the feeling in his vocals and guitar playing was just incredible. My guitar skills will never be comparable to his, guitar playing isn’t even my strength, I just love the emotion that he poured into his performances and the beauty in some of his songs.  Badly Drawn Boy is an artist I really admire for the storytelling in his songwriting and the melodies in his songs.  Vocally I consider Andrew Roachford, Kelly Jones, Sting and Rod Stewart big influences, I just love the tonal qualities and passion in their voices in their performances.  I’ve been singing for 10 years now and the tonality of my voice has obviously changed a lot in that time, even my accent and enunciation has changed along the way.  I have found my own voice now, it’s taken some time and I’ve certainly had periods of trying to imitate other voices but I think that’s all part of finding yourself in music and having the confidence to relax and sing from the heart regardless of what other people perceive to be cool.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Jamie:  I would describe my sound as being heartfelt and passionate for all it being ‘bare’ in instrumentation and featuring mainly just vocals and guitar.  I sing with conviction and feeling and I think that can resonate with people just as well as a band playing in unison. I’m not the most technical of guitar players and favour keeping it simple and letting the lyrics and vocals really deliver the song. Not to put myself down there or anything but just to be honest about my strengths.  Musically my songs are quite simple with my voice being the main focus piece.

Kowalskiy:  The last 12 months has been pretty successful for Little Fire. I'll leave you to explain what's been going on....
Jamie:  Wow it’s been absolutely terrific it really has been the year of my life so far. I’m over the moon with how well it’s been going and I’m grateful for all the good things that have happened.  It all really started off with winning the Burns And A’That Battle of the Bands competition which led on to some big gigs including performing for the Queen at the Epsom Derby near London.  Another highlight was being selected as one of 5 bands/artists to recieve the Demo Recording Fund from Chem 19 in conjunction with Creative Scotland (Scottish Arts Council).  To have been recognised as having merit by anyone at Chemikal Underground is obviously fantastic as they are such a well respected Scottish institution who have released some of the best Scottish music of the modern age. To have been played a few times on the radio by The Voice of New Music In Scotland Jim Gellatly is obviously fantastic and I've also had some radio play on Clyde 1 FM.  I’ve just been selected as the sole musician to be commissioned to record an adaptation of A Man’s A Man For A’ That for the new Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway alongside performance pieces by Eddi Reader and Brian Cox so that’s a great honour for me.  I must have played over 200 gigs this year and it’s really been fantastic for me to develop a real sense of confidence in my on stage performance. 2010 is the year that I got serious about music and realised I had to stick my head above the parapet and get out there. I had been afraid about my work not being ‘good’ enough previously but now I’m just believing in myself and trying hard to better my performances and my song-writing, working with other people and realising what my strengths are and what I need to improve at.  I’ve had some positive breaks and I'm working on my music all the time, I’ve went full time with my music. I’m fortunate to make a living from doing something I enjoy so much and receiving some recognition is obviously fantastic for me.

Kowalskiy:  Fancy name-checking some of the other bands you beat to the Burns And A' That Battle Of The Bands crown?
Jamie:  Betatone Distraction, Acrylic Iqon, Dead Generals, Six Stories High, they were all really good bands. I’m impressed that the judges felt they could go with a winner who was something a little different. I really did put all of me into that performance and I’m chuffed that the judges picked a solo acoustic performer when there were so many good bands.

Kowalskiy:  So, other than your music, what pipped it for you? Just, what is a typical Little Fire gig like?
Jamie:  I think with me it’s all about the music, I’m probably a remarkably unshowbiz type, extremely self deprecating but quite driven all the same. I believe in myself but I don’t believe I’m anything other than what I am, a 25 year old Scot who thoroughly enjoys singing and performing, and a very lucky one at that.  I think I’ve gotten a lot better at talking to the audience at gig and seeing them as fellow partipants in an event as opposed to just a static audience. My nerves have gotten a lot better through the year for sure and I really enjoy it each time I perform. My attitude is if you're not going to give it everything in a performance then it's really rather pointless. People expect to see a performance with heart and soul and I do my best every time.

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
Jamie:  My ideal gig would be the T Break Stage at T in the Park 2011 with a lot of my family and friends there to see how far I've come from being a bedroom musician to getting out there and doing it and improving on what I've got.  I’ve wanted to play the T Break Stage for as long as I can remember although I’ve certainly not had the goods or the confidence until now. A dream gig for me though would be to support someone like David Gray, someone I’ve really admired for a long time for his music and for his persona. He comes across as a very down to earth guy yet serious and passionate about his music, I really respect that in a musician.

Kowalskiy:  How did the younger audience at BBC Blast take to you? Because, no offence.... you're no Singing Kettle!
Jamie:  It was a really sweet gig actually and they were an incredibly receptive audience, there was certainly no heckling!  I don’t think younger people have that much access to live music events due to gigs mostly being staged late at night in venues serving alcohol.  Open air live music venues during the day time are pretty rare affairs here in Scotland.  The wee yins were really receptive and it was a pleasure to sing for them, I hope that some of them might just have said something like ‘I want to do that when I’m older’.  To inspire young people is surely an important thing and it’s important that young people have access to live music events. Live music shouldn’t just be a domain for adults.  Obviously the Singing Kettle do a great job for the younger audience but even from a young age I was listening to my mums records getting a musical high from John Martyn, Sex Pistols and The Police. At the age of five I would have preffered that to the Singing Kettle any day. Much love to the Singing Kettle!

Kowalskiy:  So, when does work begin on your Chem 19 recording? Will this be an EP, album..? Do you have a feel yet for what you'llbe going in there to record?
Jamie:  The recordings will go towards an EP due for release in January!  I’ve been up for two days out of three for recording and think the third day will mostly be spent mixing the tracks although I might add in some percussion and bits and pieces.  I was working with producer James Savage, a really smart young guy who is a real pleasure to work with. It’s fantastic for me to have my music recognised by the people at Chemikal Underground and to have been afforded time recording at Chem 19, truly a fantastic Scottish indpendant record label who have released some of the best Scottish music of the modern age. There’s going to be a showcase gig for the 5 winners of the Demo Recording fund at the Captain’s Rest in Glasgow on the eve of Saturday 22nd January.

Kowalskiy:  It's getting to that time of the year again, so are then any bands out there you'd tip for 2011?
Jamie:  Locally in Ayr there is such a strong wee music scene building, I really rate Rose Parade who are like my brother band in music, they are such good guys and I love their songwriting abilities, they’ve just released their EP and we’ve both been getting some airplay from Jim Gellatly and I think they’re going to do well in 2011. They’re a real good time band.  Trusty and the Foe are an excellent two piece from Ayr reminiscent of Kings of Convenience for their lovely tenderness and gorgeous vocal harmonies. They’re really lovely to listen to and meticulous songwriters. They dont rush anything and their performance quality is top notch.  The Fear are an Ardrossan based band who have really impressed me in 2010, they’re like a real high energy and melodic punk band with a superb front man in Joseph Elms, really a great live band.

Kowalskiy:  Lastly, what does the future hold in store for Little Fire?
Jamie:  I’m currently working on my debut album, I really hope it will be well recieved, it’s ten years in the making and hopefully a fine artefact of how far I’ve come with my songs and my voice.  I’ll be working on a number of collaborations including an interesting project with Ayrshire based producer and DJ Voltergeist which promises to be something a little different to what I’m used to.  I’ll be performing with King Creosote on January 22nd in Alloway , performing at the showcase gig for the Chem 19 / Scottish Arts Council Demo Recording Fund at Captains Rest in Glasgow at 8pm on the same day.  I’ll be flying out to New York to perform as part of New York Tartan Week in April which will be an amazing opportunity and hopefully I’ll be performing on the T Break Stage at T in The Park and one of my dreams will truly have been fulfilled!

Fingers crossed!  Here's a wee taster...

Little Fire - All I Need In Life

You can here (and buy) more over on Jamie's bandcamp!

Upcoming Gigs
4th Dec - Live @ Ayr Central, Ayr
6th Dec - King Tuts, Glasgow (supporting The Boy Who Trapped The Sun)
8th Dec - The 13th Note, Glasgow
10th Dec - Stereo, Glasgow (with Eoghan Colgan)
22nd Dec - Winter Wonderland @ Wellington Square, Ayr (7pm)
22nd Dec - Treehouse, Ayr
21st Jan - VIP Show @ The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway
 22nd Jan - The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Alloway (with King Creosote)
22nd Jan - Chem 19 Showcase @ The Captains Rest, Glasgow (8pm)
24th & 25th June - Ayrshire Rocks @ Kilmarnock Rugby Club

Friday, 26 November 2010

...Innocents Civilian!

Since my Ten for 2010 died on its arse towards the end of the year, I'm not gonna bother putting up a list of tips for 2011.  Instead, I'll continue with my Introducing... posts with bands that we might be seeing a lot more of in the coming months.  It's the turn of Glasgow's very own 'Angels & Airwaves', the fresh-faced, Innocents Civilian.  So, over to you Liam...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Innocents Civilian?
Liam:  Well we're a 5 piece band from Glasgow.  We've got myself on lead vocals and Kaossilator, there's Gary on Synth and guitar, Antz who's into a bit of synth too and guitar, Connor on Bass and Garry on drums.
Kowalskiy:  What the hell is a 'Kaossilator'?
Liam:  Haha its a sort of touch synth.  Its my darlin!

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Liam:  Oh, erm, hum ho! we're a bit of alright, we're a sort of experimental electronica band.  I mean we're a change to the indie nonsense you tend to hear everywhere in the whole music scene these days y'know? Our lyrics and music are so important and its a reflection on our music there's a lot of meaning behind each song, but we tend to get on with our thing over hot tea and let the public decide.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?
Liam:  Well we're in the studio early January to record our new EP Without Warning which should be out late January/early February, with possibly a lot of dates to promote it. Further on we just want to keep making music and who knows where we'll end up in a few years time, possibly on the brew, possibly at festivals, you never know!

Innocents Civilian - Break Me Down

Upcoming Gigs
3rd Dec - King Tuts, Glasgow

Friday, 19 November 2010

Kowalskiy Belated Review #4

Amy Duncan - Potential-Space
As the cover art of her third album Potential-Space suggests, there are two sides to Edinburgh multi-instrumentalist Amy Duncan.  There's the beautiful, delicate, electonica side and then there's the slightly-more-traditional Celtic folky (but no less beautiful) side, both of which take turns forming the backdrop for her absolutely gorgeous voice.  The whole thing kicks off with Rare And Free, one of the gentle, enchanting folk songs.  Next up is Natural, a stunning track with only a simple piano melody and the faintest of guitars to accompany Amy's angelic vocals.  There's plenty of other tracks on this album that highlight her musical and vocal talent, helped in no small part by some great lyrics from songwriting partner David Paton.  Picks of the bunch for me though are the dreamy, electronica Always A Way and Untitled, another piano-led track, reminiscent of Patrick Wolf at his most achingly-beautiful.  Now to go listen to the first two albums...  

Night Noise Team - Menolick/You Won/Burning
The next band I've been neglecting is Edinburgh's multinational outfit Night Noise Team.  On the 8th November, they followed up their two previous singles Menolick and You Won (both were also criminally overlooked by me, but are now available as free downloads) with the release of their third offering.  Burning grabs your attention from the off with its brooding riffed intro and ominous Middle Eastern melodica before its hooky chorus and fast-paced drumming take over, providing a great contrast to singer Sean Ormsby's slower, Byrnesque vocals.  Debut single, Menolick is a dark, dancey, post-rock affair, like something from Antics-era Interpol.  Then there's second single You Won.  This one's definitely more Jamiroquai than Joy Division, with its funky and soulful bassline and perfectly-placed disco handclaps.  I guess the mirrorball on the cover should've given the game away.  Still, its another great single.  This team are certainly making all the right noises!  With these three cracking tracks under their belts, only time will tell whether they're just another great singles band.  I for one can't wait for the album to find out! 

The Cinnamons - 5 Songs EP
I've been meaning to say a few words about Castlemilk's D.I.Y. indie synthsters The Cinnamons for a while now, ever since I heard their brilliant track Welcome To The Business on the Define Pop radio show.  It was released for free over the course of the summer with four other tracks which are now being re-released as the 5 Songs EP on the 29th.  So, regardless of whether this is belated or not, it's about time it got a wee mention.  If you've missed the boat already with the free downloads, then you'd best be prepared to get your wallet out, because this is a wee belter!  Sometimes has a great Pulp-y disco-pop feel with fast, fluid vocals.  You'll be hard pushed to top Soul For Sale and Where We're Going as the EP highlights though.  Both of the rousing, singalong choruses are firmly lodged in my head.  5 Songs is exceptionally good.  So good in fact that we can forgive the slight 'Courteenersiness' of the vocals...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

...Johnny Reb!

Time for another wee Introducing... post.  This time round, its the turn of a bunch of guys from Glasgow.  Taking their name from the American Civil War slang for those pesky Confederates, Johnny Reb have recently returned from a trip to Portugal where they met up with producer, and Morrissey guitarist Boz Boorer, to record a set of tracks for their as-of-yet-untitled EP due out next year.  Some of the fruits of their labour are up on their MySpace player, and here's one of them to whet your appetite...

Johnny Reb - Nine On The Line

I posed the usual three questions to bass player, and historian in-the-making, Phil.  Here's what he had to say.  The following contains comments of a lewd nature that some people...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Johnny Reb?
Phil:  English queens on a state sponsored tour of Scotland..

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Phil:  The death throes of twenty score sperm cells as they perish upon the coarse exterior of John Lewis 100% cotton pillow cases..  No, we endeavour to be Orange Juice; we end up a poor man's Pigeon Detectives.

Kowalskiy:  Well... I suppose there is no right or wrong answer!  What can we expect from Johnny Reb in the future?
Phil:  Passchendaele.

So, they're still a bit of a mystery to be honest.  But if they keep churning out cracking tracks like Nine On The Line, I really couldn't care less!  Besides, a little bit of mystery never hurt anyone.

Upcoming Gigs
3rd Dec - Popfest @ SWG3, Glasgow

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #5

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #5 is out now. Yes, that one above that kinda looks like a goldfish! Once again, I owe a great deal of thanks to the five great Scottish bands who were kind enough to contribute one of their cracking tracks. They are....

1. The Winter Tradition - Firelight (their brilliant recent single!)

"Firelight' was the first track unleashed by newly named 'The Winter Tradition'. The track is to be featured on the bands debut album due to be released summer of 2011." - The Winter Tradition

2. Miaoux Miaoux - Ausable Chasm (track from the 'Rainbow Bubbles'-era)

"This track was made shortly after the release of my first record 'Rainbow Bubbles'. I've never been to Ausable Chasm (it's in America) but if I did, I imagine this is what it would sound like, big and deep. For more noises like this, come see me play live" - Julian Corrie (Miaoux Miaoux)

3. JJ Bull - Duck Soup (acoustic version of his album opener)

"The song is a simple one about not being able to get something you want, no matter what you do; which in this case was a particular girl. This song kind of kick-started the whole of 'Ou Sont Les Elephants' and I'm very fond of it. It also highlights why writing about personal things can lead to awkward conversations but if lyrics aren't honest and are about something I can't relate to then I don't really care" - Joseph 'JJ' Bull

4. Dead Boy Robotics - Symmetry Of The Elusive Wolves (demo) (unmastered track from their upcoming debut album)

"The song is from our as-yet-untitled 10 track album, which was recorded at Chamber Studios, Edinburgh, in September. It is currently being mixed at Tape Studio, Edinburgh by Stephen Watkins. We plan to release it in the 1st half of 2011..." - Gregor McMillan (Dead Boy Robotics)

5. The Last Battle - Song From The Last Battle (was going to be the hidden track on their debut album)

"A song that was meant to make it onto the album as a hidden track but never did. The boys in the band wanted it in there but the girls didn't so they won. No one outside the band has ever heard it. Its a nice wee 2 minute long thing. " - Scott Longmuir (The Last Battle)

Thanks a lot to everyone who contributed. If you like the sound of it, the EP is now up for free download over on my bandcamp page along with the first 4 EP's and the special Foxgang and Define Pop Festival EPs. Enjoy!

EP #6 will be out on 16th December.  Consider it my early Christmas pressie to one and all.   That EP is already under way.  If there's any bands out there who fancy following in The Winter Tradition's footsteps and volunteer a track for one of these EPs, then send me a wee email.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Sonny Marvello - Pull Me Up

Until recently, Castlemilk's Sonny Marvello was just a name I'd seen a few times in the signature of emails from Murray over at the great Everything Flows management. Yet another band I'd convinced myself I'd get around to listening to at some point soon!  Well, with their debut Pull Me Up EP set to be launched tonight at Stereo in Glasgow, I did just that.

Before that though, I had a wee glance through the press release to get a feel for what to expect.  When I came to listen to the EP, all those preconceptions went out the window as my own warped mind came up with its own interpretation.  So, let this post serve as my review of Sonny Marvello's Pull Me Up EP and as an insight into what goes on in my head when I listen to new music.  Let me just first say, that I really like this EP and the following, whether they come across that way or not, are all meant as complementary comparisons.  Here goes...

Whilst listening to the "2 minutes and 36 seconds of pure guitar pop" that is the brilliant title track, all I found myself thinking was.... ALPHABEAT!  This isn't a bad thing, far from it in fact.  With Pull Me Up, Sonny Marvello (like those Danes with that '10,000 Nights' number) have delivered an amazing pop song that will bring a big, stupid grin to even the dourest of faces.  Next up is Made of Magic, "a love song with an epic refrain" worthy of The Beach Boys and in places, The Flaming Lips too.   The press release was spot on when it said this song would "stay in your head for days afterwards".  That is, if the next song isn't already lodged in there!  The punchy My Lover apparently "recalls Modern Life is Rubbish era Blur".  Personally though, when I hear it I can't help imagining The Music taking on the cult '80s classic One Night In Bangkok.  Again, as strange as that may sound, that's a very good thing indeed!  Last but by no means least, is the standout track.  A 'marvellous' reworking of their previous 7" release, We're All Cruel.  I'll spare you my thoughts and leave you to make your own mind up on this one...

mp3:  Sonny Marvello - We're All Cruel
(left click!)

The Pull Me Up EP is available now on CD and digital download from Sonny Marvello's bandcamp and I dare say you'll also be able to bag yourself a copy tonight at the launch gig in Stereo.

Upcoming Gigs
11th Nov - Stereo, Glasgow (with The Cinnamons, Dirty Demographic and Galleries)
19th Nov - Cape, Stirling
11th Dec - Tilted Wig, Aberdeen

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

K&A with The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse

Weird name?  Check!  Weird photo?  Check!  Shirt?  Check!  This is a guy who, quite literally, ticks all the boxes.  The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse is however, a guy shrouded in mystery.  Believed to be indigenous of the Highland region, there's no denying that this part-man, part-eagle, non-horselike being is a freakishly talented so-and-so.  With his debut album One Zero One Zero One Zero released last month on Planet Groucho Records, I tracked him down for a wee chat, his very first interview as it goes.  I think we're both a bit honoured to tell the truth!  So here's what he had to say, straight from the... er... eagle's mouth...

Kowalskiy:  Who is The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse, and what's the story behind the name?
Ramisco:  I am the Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse. According to legend, or leg end, since it's written on the end of my leg, Ramisco means "he who runs with the broken robots", it was given to me by an Italian banshee while I was adventuring through moose country with my favourite sidekick (who shall remain unnamed for the duration of this interview). Maki Maki represents my love for the small parcels of Japanese cuisine by the same name and Rocking Horse is a very very deep metaphor for my state of mind.

Kowalskiy:  Despite the name, you look more like an eagle (from the neck up anyway), and yet on My 'Orns you say you're a bull!  Could you clarify, once and for all, what you really are? It's all a bit too inconsistent for my liking....
Ramisco:  I'm neither, nor, both and all. The multiverse is a really big place.

Kowalskiy:  Your music is so varied and nigh-on-impossible to pigeon-hole. How would you describe your music and can you shed some light on your main influences?
Ramisco:  I would describe my music as a collection of melodies, broken thoughts and noise. I guess I'm drifting towards the alternative folk end of the musical spectrum, but there's no real direction behind that. I'm influenced by everything and anything, I think most songwriters are. Whether it's a string of words that comes into your head while you're building a cardboard universe or a melody that suddenly rings out from a guitar as you pluck it's strings, you don't have to search for it, life presents inspiration.

Kowalskiy:  You recently released your debut album One Zero One Zero One Zero through Planet Groucho Records. What can you tell us about it?
Ramisco:  I can tell you that it's available on iTunes and sounds a lot like the Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse's debut album. I'm not authorised to tell you anything else.

Kowalskiy:  One Zero One Zero One Zero converted from binary to decimal gives 42 which incidentally in The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is the number from which all meaning can be derived. Coincidence, or is there conspiracy afoot?
Ramisco:  Actually, the 42 reference is hugely coincidental. The title is binary, representing the asterisk symbol which coincided with the release date 10.10.10. This date also represented the original launch of my first mini rocketship named Noah, which ended up being launched 3 days early on the 7th due to unforeseen circumstances.
Kowalskiy:  Well you would play down the whole conspiracy thing!  So what were these 'unforeseen circumstances'?
Ramisco:  The unforeseen circumstance was in fact a false premonition of an electric storm, volcanic eruption and solar flare, as foretold by my good buddy Ramses.  Had it actually happened, it would have caused quite a ruckus with our plans, so we launched early.

Kowalskiy:  Are there plans to play live, and if so, how will you manage to bring your multi-instrumental sound to the stage? Will you be wearing an eagle head?
Ramisco:  Yes, however nothing has been booked as of yet. I plan to make another record before putting a band together. At which time I'll be looking for a group of bodacious folks to join the Horse. Will I wear the eagle head? I guess you'll just have to wait and see.

Kowalskiy:  What would be you ideal gig?
Ramisco:  I don't think the venue really matters, it's the people who come out to see you who make the night. Stick me in a barn with a crowd of awesome folks and it'll be a rockin' night for sure. As for a support act, don't think I could find anyone more special than McRorie. [ ]

Kowalskiy:  WHaT'S WiTH THe uPPeRCaSe CoNSoNaNTS aND LoWeRCaSe VoWeLS THiNG? Is that not a bugger to keep up?
Ramisco:  I have absolutely no idea, I don't even write like that, it's just how it appears on the website.

Kowalskiy:  At just under 18 minutes long for 10 songs, your album will leave a lot of people out there, myself included, wanting more. What do you have in store for the future? And is there more from the past?
Ramisco:  At the moment I'm working on some music for a video game, maybe I'll release it as an EP or something. After that I'll get into the 2nd album, I already have a couple tracks in mind. There are no previous releases from the Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse, but I have released albums as part of the Kazoo Funk Orchestra and El Jugador, which I also produced.

Kowalskiy:  Anything else you wanna add?
Ramisco:  I'm always up for a bit of collaboration, so if there are any artists out there who'd like to hook up with the Horse, please get in touch and we'll see what kind of melodies we can create.

One Zero One Zero One Zero is available from Planet Groucho Records' Bandcamp and from iTunes.  It may only be 18 minutes long, but it's one of the most enjoyable, memorable and downright, brilliant albums I've heard all year.

Young Hunting - Attachment In A Child And The Subsequent Condition

How do I even begin to review an album so far removed from anything I've ever mentioned on the blog before?  That's the dilemma that the mysterious Scots experimentalists Young Hunting have put me in with their debut release Attachment In A Child And The Subsequent Condition.  For those of you out there only interested in twee-pop and those middle-of-the-road indie bands... it's pretty obvious from the album title and the slightly-disturbing cover art, that this may not be for you.  Saying that though, I'm partial to both of those and I've been completely taken in by this album.  So read on....

Young Hunting have never gigged, their MySpace was only set up last month, and it's nigh-on-impossible to find any info about the band, other than there's someone called Marc in it.  All very mysterious indeed!  Their introductory email to me described the album as a "deliberate experiment in alchemy".   While that, strictly speaking, hits the nail on the head, I'd be tempted to expand on that with something along the lines of "...., the black arts and the arcane", such is the intensity and sinister nature of the music.  In fact, it's an incredibly sinister, atmospheric and ever-so-slightly creepy album.  Not one to listen to all alone in the dark if you're of a nervous disposition.  

Forebode is an absolutely stunning track.  Persistent eerie glitches like demented water droplets, the sinister synth drone, intensely building up with distant haunted murmurings all combine to send a chill up your spine.  Throw in what sounds like chiming bells and banging chains and a fair amount of deep, dark spoken word on Liminality and the metallic drumming and deep, demonic, breath-like sounds of Dirge and you start to see what they meant by alchemy.

But after all the head scratching and grinding of teeth, it has to be said, I love this album.  It's so different to the norm, and in my opinion, an incredibly successful experiment.  Can't wait to hear what they dabble in next!

The album is out now on Amazon MP3, and physical copies can be pre-ordered here!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Define Pop Festival 3

This Saturday, Glasgow plays host to the Define Pop Festival 3.  The wonderful Define Pop has pulled out all the stops to bring you the amazing line-up you see above.  Spread across three venues in the centre of Glasgow (Stereo, The Admiral Bar and Pivo Pivo) will be the likes of Tango In The Attic, Little Yellow Ukuleles, I Build Collapsible Mountains, Aspen Tide, So Many Animal Calls and Campfires In Winter to name but a few of the cracking bands on show.  Everything kicks off at 4pm at Stereo, and tickets are available from Tickets Scotland and from Define Pop

As a wee incentive and/or memento of what is sure to be a great night, I've teamed up with Define Pop to bring you an extra special free Kowalskiy EP featuring a handful of the acts taking part.  Some bands regretfully had to said no, some never bothered their backsides replying and some I simply never had time to get in touch with (apologies!).   Some though, said yes, which is just as well really, or there would be no free EP!  So a huge thank you to the six bands mentioned above, and again below, for contributing.  For your free download, just click the cover art and enjoy!

1.  Tango In The Attic - Off To
2.  Little Yellow Ukuleles - Lost at Sea (acoustic)
3.  I Build Collapsible Mountains - Rails
4.  Aspen Tide - Colours
5. So Many Animal Calls - We Sleep Back To Back (acoustic)
6.  Campfires In Winter - Cardboard Ships (acoustic)

The second-from-last wee beauty on there from So Many Animal Calls was recorded this week specially for this EP.  Cheers guys!

Monday, 8 November 2010

...Rose Parade!

Meet Ari, Paul and Ed, or as they are collectively known, Rose Parade.  Hailing from Ayr, but now based in Glasgow, this folky threesome are starting to turn some heads, mine included.  With their recent single Grace picking up airplay, an EP due out in the near future and more and more tracks cropping up online, what better time to get to know them a wee bit better.  So....

Kowalskiy:  Who are Rose Parade?
Ari:  We are a 3 piece folk/indie band originaly form Ayr but based in Glasgow. We formed in 2009 and started jamming together and experimenting with different insruments and ideas.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Ari:  Our sound has recently been described as "country tinged indie" by Jim Gellatly and by other media as "whimsical pop". To be honest I dont really know what kind of music we play, we all have different influences and we tend to experiment with different instruments (glockenspiel, banjo, ukes, samples and guitars). I would say the EP we just recorded is heavily folk influenced but at the same time I dont think it would fit comfortably in the folk genre. Some people have mentioned that our sounds is quite summery..who knows, we just want to make real, honest music and not focus on what we want it to sound like, thats why our songs are all different.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?
Ari:  We've got quite a lot of gigs lined up including a gig at Pivo Pivo supporting The Boy Who Trapped The Sun on the 11th of December which will be hosted by Vic Galloway. We have just finished our EP Grace which contains 3 tracks and its a concept EP!  The EP is out on the 6th of December 2010 and it will also be available online on all major music networks iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and many more. We have already started recording our second EP which will be out next summer and we will be organizing a UK tour.  So yeh, we got quite a lot on our plate, we love what we do and its nice to see that some folk are interested in our sound.

   Grace by Rose Parade

Upcoming Gigs
11th Dec - Pivo Pivo, Glasgow

Friday, 5 November 2010

K&A with The Scottish Enlightenment

Fresh from the release of their Pascal and Little Sleep EPs, The Scottish Enlightenment are set to unveil their brilliant debut album St. Thomas later this month.  Unlike other bands before them have done, the album is not a mere lumping together of these two EPs with the odd new track thrown in to appease existing fans.  Instead, only the two title tracks have made the cut and are joined by 9 cracking newbies, of which, my favourite 2 can be heard below.

Via 'cool' Al over at Armellodie Records, I posed the band a few questions.  Here's what they had to say about, amongst other things, the mathematical definition of the band, who used to bunk up with who, and their ambitious plans to mark the Queen's 100th birthday...

Kowalskiy:  Who are The Scottish Enlightenment?
TSE:  Well, mathematically speaking The Scottish Enlightenment = (2David + Angus + Michael) - gameplan / blown.

Kowalskiy:  How did the band come about, and what's the idea behind the name? 
TSE:   The name is supposed to make people think we are clever, and talented - a hotbed of genius would be nice, but no reviewer has said that yet so it may be that the smokescreenonym is not functioning as intended. The band came about in 2005 when David met Michael and hooked David in and then eventually Angus joined. Angus and David are brothers. David and David shared a bunkbed in Aberdeen for three years. In 1999 David, on the bottom bunk, syncopated with the marital relations going on in the flat upstairs, while David chuckled. It is well known that Michael works out drum parts on a calculator. David has intermittent self-indulgent depression. That's how the band started.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
TSE:  Miserable. That's a contingent truth though, so the next record may be all afro beats and kazoos. The St Thomas record is supposed to sound like it takes place in a big old church. David and David use sessionette amplifiers, and they contribute a lot to the sound.  Crescendo Pop. Ecclesiastic Rock.

Kowalskiy:  After the release of your Pascal and Little Sleep EPs, you're about to bring out your debut album St. Thomas. What can we expect from the album, and why 'St. Thomas'?
TSE:  The record is about doubt, and in a way it celebrates doubt. Ask Rene Descartes - doubt was great for him, did his career a lot of good. We're basically just copying him. We want to be known as the fathers of Modern Music. But the album is also about loss. Doubt and loss go hand in hand. Doubt swaps conviction for integrity. And it is also a document of the beginning of depression. So its about Doubt, loss, mental health. And living donor kidney transplant. And the place of the religious (and ex-religious) person in society. Take the foregoing with pinch of salt. Its just pop music too.

Kowalskiy:  Was it a conscious decision not to flood the album with EP tracks?
TSE:  We recorded 18 songs for the album, and weren't going to put them all on so the EPs were a way of releasing all the songs. It wasn't a matter of putting the best ones on the album and all the guff on the EPs. It was about making records that make sense as a whole. And we wanted to release all the tracks so we just found a way to do it. Bingo! Three records.

Kowalskiy:  What's the plans to promote the album?
TSE:  There is a man called Al who is one of the coolest people in Scotland right now. He runs Armellodie Records, which the album is coming out on. He is our plan. In the not to distant future we will be celebrating the record's release with special ceremonies in Edinburgh on Friday 12th November at Wee Red Bar and in Glasgow on Thursday 18th November at 13th Note. Nice.

Kowalskiy:  What's a typical Scottish Enlightenment gig like?
TSE:  David falls apart mentally and emotionally. Other David arrives late still in his school clothes. Michael and Angus mill around being the weird one and the normal one respectively. Then we take to the stage and all good things in the universe flow from every sound emitting device in the room.

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
TSE:  Playing on top of Buckingham palace at the Queens 100th birthday. We're all passionate royalists and it would just be a joy to see the old dear hit the ton. We could play happy birthday, but we'd probably actually play songs from the album. People would think it was a bit rum playing miserable songs on her birthday, but we think she would appreciate it. We think she listened to Smashing Pumpkins too when she was at school.

Kowalskiy:  What other Scottish bands out there are taking your fancy just now?
...there's a Scottish 'Musical' Enlightenment question in there somewhere. Can't quite word it though!
TSE:  Its best you don't, others have tried and not come off well. Everything related to Armellodie Records is the dogs. Everyone in the band would have different thoughts here. Angus is huge De Rosa fan and is regularly wetting himself at the thought of a Martin John Henry record. David likes eagleowl and The Second Hand Marching Band. David from up north has a wee baby, so probably just listens to nursery rhymes these days. Michael is quiet. There are a lot of good Scottish bands and artists just now. Kid Canaveral are amazing too. And Withered Hand.

Kowalskiy:  What does the future hold in store for The Scottish Enlightenment?
TSE:  Table Tennis. In about 5 minutes.

St. Thomas will be released on 15th November through Armellodie Records and online from The Scottish Enlightenment's bandcamp page. Until then, the whole album can be streamed there along with their two EPs.  And just to repeat what they said above, they have two gigs coming up...

Upcoming Gigs
12th Nov - The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh (w/ Jesus H. Foxx and Trapped Mice)
18th Nov - The 13th Note, Glasgow

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Aye Tunes vs. Peenko 3

Remember, remember, the 5th of November....  for that's the day that fellow Scottish music bloggers Lloyd Peenko and Jim Aye Tunes will bring their trilogy of gigs to an end with the aptly-named Aye Tunes vs. Peenko 3.  On the bill, for what I'm sure will be another amazing night of music, are I Build Collapsible Mountains, Come On Gang! and headliners The Seventeenth Century.   So if you're looking for some real fireworks, pop on down to The Classic Grand in Glasgow this Friday where these three cracking bands will be putting on a sparkling display all of their own! 

Tickets are once again available from Peenko, Tickets Scotland, or TicketWeb, with a limited amount of 2-for-1 tickets available from The Seventeenth Century here.

Ross Clark - Found In Sound Session (31/10/10)

Anyone lucky enough to have tuned into Edinburgh's student radio station Fresh Air on Sunday morning from 11am until noon, will have heard the first edition of the new Scottish music show Found In Sound hosted by Brian Pokora and his better half Charlotte Pike.  Here's the remit straight from the horses mouth... "We're mainly doing new Scottish music but will incorporate a gig guide  element and include any touring bands we recommend seeing in the coming  week".   And who better to keep you up to date with all the new, exciting Scottish bands than Mr. Pokora.  He should know.  He's in one... Edinburgh's Trapped Mice.  Does that name sound familiar?  As well as that, there'll be great sessions from some of the best up-and-coming Scottish bands around, with Over The Wall already pencilled in for later this month.

Before that though, Edinburgh student radio's answer to Richard & Judy, were joined on their first outing by the wonderful Ross Clark for an acoustic session of Three Blind Wolves tracks, an oldie and a brand spanking new one too.  Here's links to the mp3s courtesy of Brian & Charlotte. Enjoy!


Here's that link again to the Found In Sound blog to add to your bookmarks, and remember, 11am-noon on Sundays!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Unkle Bob - Shockwaves

It's been 4 years this since Glasgow's Unkle Bob released their debut album Sugar & Spite.  In the time since, the band have been busying themselves to bring us the follow-up Shockwaves.  So, is it going to send, wait for it.... shockwaves through the musical world, or like the guy on the cover, will it nosedive?

I'm glad to say there's no sign of the latter at all.  Opening track, and last year's single Satellite marks an incredible start to any album.  Gorgeous intro, building up into a rousing anthem with and an epic, singalong chorus.  There's not been a drive to work in a while which it hasn't been played on!  Recent single (and free download) In My Head is up next.  Kinda what you'd expect if The Flaming Lips were to take an Athlete track, rescue it from middle-of-the-road obscurity and turn it into something a wee bit special!   With a great video too!  The rest of the album is littered with more gems like the verging-on-post-rock So Sorry, the gorgeous ballad Proud and the brilliant Loneliness which for me, steals the show from the opening two tracks.  The album does tail away slightly towards the end.  Not a nosedive as such, just those earlier shockwaves beginning to dampen a tad.

Fancy a wee taster from the album in the form of So Sorry?  Well, pop your email address in the space below, and..... Bob's your Unkle!  Is it just me or does the intro sound a wee bit like Steve Mason??

As for upcoming gigs, the guys and girl are supporting the mighty Goo Goo Dolls on their UK tour this month kicking off in their hometown Glasgow this Sunday.  Tickets are on sale here along with the rest of the tour dates.  The album can be bought here from the band with various special offers and combinations for the Unkle Bob fanatics out there!