Monday, 28 March 2011

Acoustoblaster Tour 2011

The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse has been pretty cryptic recently on twitter with all his "Acoustoblaster" talk.  At the weekend it all became clear...

On April 2nd i.e., this Saturday, brings us a day-long FREE extravaganza at venues around Glasgow, including King Tuts, Bloc, Vintage Guru, The Ettrick, Mono, Brass Monkey, The Ark and The Arches (with more to be announced).   The aforementioned Horse and Tragic O'Hara will both be putting on 10 minute sets in each venue whilst artist Harvey Greendog gets to work on his flip chart!

Now comes the cooool part... the fabled Acoustoblaster!  No photo's exist yet, but rumour has it that this is an acoustic guitar with a whole load of gadgets gaffer-taped onto it: amp, microphone and tape recorder to name a few.  Each microset will be recorded and given away to a lucky fan along with Harvey's creation.  As well as that, the whole thing will be filmed for a documentary for GlasgowmusicTV.

If you fancy coming along to one or more of these microsets, keep tabs on or here for venues and times later on in the week.  Here's a taster of what you might hear...

In related news, The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse's new release, Fajita's Basement EP is out now to download for £1 over here, with CDs and cassettes available here.  As for Tragic O'Hara, he's got a whole host of goodies over here too!

Friday, 25 March 2011

K&A with Sonny Marvello

How Sonny Marvello have managed to survive this long in Castlemilk busting those moves is beyond me!  Last year, they released their debut EP, the fantastic Pull Me Up.  As we await the follow-up, I asked frontman Stephen Farrell a few questions.  Here's what he had to say about the strange origins of the band name, kidnapping fans, and their exciting, exclusive offer for 100 lucky, loyal people...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Sonny Marvello?
Stephen:  Sonny Marvello are a 21st Century pop band creatively flourishing against all odds. There are people in the band with clothes and limbs, faces and names and instruments that need maintaining, they are thus and so called: Stephen Farrell (voice and instruments and weaver of tales) Craig Douglas (Bass and voice and van) Michael Caldwell (guitar and voice and equidistant to town, members houses and local amenities) Michael Bryans (Drums, percussion and good manners) Michael Walker (Keyboard and comic relief...not the charity)

Kowalskiy:  How did the band get togetther, and what's the story behind the name?
Stephen:  I've told a few versions of how the name came about...but this one is actually the truth, because it's late and I am feeling dangerously honest. I had a dream once where David Bowie appeared to me and told me that I had to change my name to....and then he said a name, and it was the most amazing name for a singer ever. When I woke up I couldn't remember the name so I wrote a few versions of what I thought it might have been...then I lost that bit of paper. In putting together the band I always intended that it would not just be gigs and songs but a show of sorts, with that in mind I had intended to play a character and kind of hide away, I imagined the character as a dishonest travelling magician who rolls into town, gets into some scrapes with the wrong guys daughter, rips some people off and escapes by the skin of his teeth...Sonny is a name that resonates with me of a bygone era and Marvello comes from the side of the Wizards cart at the start of the 'Wizard of Oz' (the scene with the old dishonest but kind travelling fortune teller...his name is Professor Marvel) I originally intended it as a solo stage name then other stuff happened.

Kowalskiy:  What are your main influences?
Stephen:  A deceptively simple question, but really the hardest of all because I hate the idea of comparison, even if it is to something I hold in high regard. People say we sound like a 70's super group but that's only one part of our sound. The first music I responded to was John Williams soundtracks, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman, the guy is superhuman in terms of his command of melody, that music is in my blood and everything seems to flow from it and come back to it. I responded to the Beatles Sgt Pepper in the same way because it was evocative and I saw colours in my head. I think music should be musical, I'm a bit odd that way.

Kowalskiy:  Your debut EP Pull Me Up (available over here) was released last year to a fair amount of praise.  What's been your reaction to that?
Stephen:  I'm pleased with how people have responded, it was just a wee toe dip but if I'm honest, I'm a bit frustrated it hasn't opened more doors.

Kowalskiy:  What'd your sales pitch be for the EP?
Stephen:  An unfairly hard question, stop it, can we talk about Boardwalk Empire instead?...well ok then. The sales pitch is that we are a real band, we don't have rich uncles in the 'industry', we didn't go to a 'talent' school and we're not doing this because we want to be on the cover of the NME as a style icon of that particular London second. We grew up in the same shitehole and fate brought us together, we're a gang. If you don't love us we'll still try to save you.

Kowalskiy:  For the follow-up you've started the Sonny Marvello 100 Club.  What can you tell us about that?
Stephen:  The idea is to create a select group who get first access to releases and events while at the same time providing a cash boost to finish our album, each member puts in a tenner and for that gets a mini album (recorded in a day especially for the club) entrance to a secret gig, a permanent mention on our website and lifelong exclusives. It's just part of creating a fun little world to come out and play in. You should join.

Kowalskiy:  A lot of bands seem to be going down this road, even the likes of Colin MacIntyre.  Do you think in the current economic climate, this'll become the norm?    
Stephen:  It just makes sense, bands need money to make music...and there are people out there willing to support you, you still need to make it worth the commitment though. I think we are embracing the benefits of technology with the access we have to people. 

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from Sonny Marvello in 2011?
Stephen:  The album is underway, more EP's in the vein of the 100 club mini album, I have plans that keep me awake at night....things that seem impossible in daylight but being in a band keeps a cloak of magic around you.

Kowalskiy:  What's been your highlight/lowlight of being in the band so far?  
Stephen:  Doing the 100 club mini album in a day...there is a song on it called Fire Went Out, the recording is a live take with everyone playing and I'm sitting with a tiny wee acoustic guitar singing into a rehearsal mic as opposed to a thousand pound deal, the lyrics are balanced on my knee and I don't know what chords are coming next, I look around and see my friends sitting playing this song and thinking the same thing I'm thinking. We go out into the hall and sing backing vocals and it sounds like something from a dream. It's all over in minutes but it's a moment that is as important to me as any in my life, I know I'm loved, I have worth, life is worth living. That was a highlight. The lowlights are all the days not being able to do all of the above.

Kowalskiy:  Having heard Fire Went Out, I can certainly vouch for why it's one of your highlights!  So, what would be your ideal gig?
Stephen:  Luckily we have played a lot of gigs that are ideal. Our 'Shhh Nights', secret location gigs where you had to be blindfolded and put in the back of a van to attend, were a roaring success and we didn't rip the arse out of lives in the memory of those lucky enough to be kidnapped by us. As long as I've got the boys at my side and the guarantee of a few beers, it could be New York (which we fucking rocked by the way) or some freezing road in the arse end of Fife and we are huddling together for warmth, it's always a good time.

Kowalskiy:  You can take the boys out of Castlemilk...  Speaking of which, it's safe to say Sonny Marvello are one of, if not thee best thing, musically, to come out of the Castlemilk/East Kilbridey region.  Based on this feature though are there any more hidden gems you could recommend?  Between me and you... are Sonny Marvello the best?
Stephen:  What I recommend you do is join the 100 club while you still can. I know the band is world class, but that isn't so hard these days... did I just dodge that question?

Yes, yes you did!  I'll let you away with it though.  So, if you fancy the idea of the Sonny Marvello 100 Club and all the exclusive goodies that go with it (free download of Who Needs Somebody, a strictly-limited edition mini acoustic album, club pin badge, access to a special gig, and permanent recognition on their website), then head over here and do your thing!

Upcoming Gigs
14th Apr - Shook to the Bones @ The Commercial Hotel, Wishaw
18-19th June - West End Festival, Glasgow*
14th July - Summer Nights @ King Tuts, Glasgow
11th Aug - Edinburgh Fringe (with Lou Hickey)*

* - to be confirmed

Thursday, 24 March 2011

...Andrew Lindsay & the Coat Hooks!

It's fair to say, Andrew Lindsay & the Coat Hooks are one of the hairiest bands in Scotland... certainly giving Biffy Clyro a run for their money anyway.  That's pretty much where the similarities end though.  After a few solo EPs, Andrew (second in from the right) has enlisted the help of some of his ├╝bertalented, musical friends for this latest release, The Whittling EP, which was released on Monday over here.  Over to the man himself to tell you a wee bit more...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Andrew Lindsay & the Coat Hooks?
Andrew:  Andrew Lindsay & the Coat Hooks is myself, alongside whoever is recording or performing with me at any given time. When I started writing what would become our debut EP, The Whittling, I knew that I wanted a full band to fill the songs with harmonious beef. One by one, I called upon my musical allies to join me in the studio and add their two cents.
The Coat Hooks that recorded The Whittling include: Loch Awe's Matthew Healy; pianist Lewis Buchan; producer and bassist David Anderson; my curly brother and frequent gigging companion Shambles Miller; pop chanteuse Reverieme; two members of my former band Guessing Game, Neil Campbell and Craig McKenzie; and my good friend David Hunter.
I guess the overall structure of the Coat Hooks treads a similar path to bands like Queens of the Stone Age and The Mars Volta, where, as long as I remain the constant, the rest of the band can become fluid around me.

(the pick of the bunch!)

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Andrew:  I'd say we're a kind of brazen indie-rock-folk hybrid. What's been interesting lately is hearing how the revolving nature of the band has changed how the songs sound live. Our last couple of gigs have been performed as a three-piece, with Jamie Hewitt (bass) and Florence MacDonald (various instruments) joining the fray. Florence has added bodhr├ín, melodica and a ton of additional harmonies to the songs. It's like dressing them in different clothes!

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?  Plug away!
Andrew:  Our aforementioned EP, The Whittling, is out on March 21st, on a new Edinburgh-based label called After the Hush, and I'm sure we'll be playing about quite a bit.
I'd also like to record another Coat Hooks EP at some point later in the year, as I've got a stockpile of songs ready to go, and I get itchy feet.  I'm going to be recording a joint solo EP with my fellow Coat Hook and Loch Awe axe-man Matthew Healy during the summer, too. Judging from the material he's played me so far, it should be pretty solid.

The Whittling EP is out now over here, where you can also get your free download of one of the songs, the aptly-named Bearded Author.  It's a great EP.  Then again, what do you expect when some of Scotland's finest folkies all get together!  It "comes in a lovely digipack, with free badges, a wee note, and a download of the EP's acoustic pre-production demos".  So, if you ask me, it's well worth digging into the back pocket for.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Miniature Dinosaurs - Off The Radio

Already, 2011 has been a fantastic year for Scottish music, and now that Off The Radio, the new EP from Stirling's Miniature Dinosaurs has been released, it's only gone and gotten even better.  Much like their debut Chatterbox EP (available on CD or download), their latest release is packed full of the kind of indie-pop songs and singalong choruses that most bands would give their left nut for!  Take opening track Fight or Flight as an example.  It's synthy opening and woo-ooh-ooh-ooh's suck you in from the off and continue to pop up throughout this cracking song.  On top of that, there's sharp hooks and their unorthodox harmonies, all building up to a climax which will have you yelping "FIGHT OR FLIGHT" along to it.  

Previous single Cold Shoulder is next, and it follows the same fantastic formula as before, this time with one or two nods to Britpop legends Pulp with it's immaculate timing and Mini Dino Barry's vocal delivery.  It's a belter, and without question, one of my favourite songs from last yearLightspeed isn't too shabby either, but it's the outstanding, anthemic final track Alligator, which begs the question... why are these guys still unsigned?  The perfect 3-minute pop song, and a devastatingly brilliant one at that!

Their exciting brand of indie-pop has already brought them to the attention of the MTV music pickers for last years Being Victor.  Am I the only one thinking they'd sound perfect on The Inbetweeners??  Besides, one of them kinda looks a bit like Neil...

Get Off The Radio on CD from the band here, or over on iTunes... or pick one up at one of their upcoming gigs.

Upcoming Gigs
22nd Mar - The Laugh Inn, Chester
2nd Apr - Maggie's Chambers, Edinburgh
9th Apr - King Tuts, Glasgow

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #9

It's the 16th of the month, so it's time for another five great tracks from five of Scotland's best up-and-coming bands.  Once again I'm pretty chuffed with the outcome.  So, I hope you enjoy Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #9 too.  A huge thanks to the five acts that have each contributed a song.  Here's what they had to say...

1. Night Noise Team - Broken Kingdom (an exclusive track from their upcoming, debut album)

"'Broken Kingdom' is the final track on NNT's forthcoming 'Slow Release' album, out on 9th May. Cinematic and reflective, an ambiguous ending to a diverse collection of songs. Probably not a single!.." - Sean Ormsby (Night Noise Team)

2. Rose Parade - Grace (live track taken from their Kitchen Session)

"Grace was recorded and filmed in our Kitchen as part of a new side project we started called "The Kitchen Sessions".  It's a laid back acoustic version of the track featuring guest vocals by Jamie Mcgeechan aka Little Fire and the lead singer of Ayr based folk band Trusty and the Foe. After the success of the Rose Parade Kitchen Sessions we decided to invite more bands to play in our kicthen and film them. You can view the sessions here:" - Ari Pournaras (Rose Parade)

3. Chasing Owls - Lady Of The Whiteness (cracking song from their EP sessions)

"Lady of Whiteness came out of the sessions that Chasing Owls recorded with Dave Lynch at Bat Box Studios in the beautiful Sussex town of Lewes over the New Year of 2011. The track does well to capture the fresh and original space their music creates whilst at the same time keeping the pace high and frequently nodding its head in heavy acknowledgement of an older time and way of musical life. All of which is representative of Chasing Owls' first record, the EP 'We Began' which is out now and available from the band's website at" - Chasing Owls

4. Two Zebras - Almost Crimes (a cracking, lo-fi cover of Broken Social Scene.  He even made some cover art!)

"This song is called ‘Almost Crimes’ and it was originally done by Broken Social Scene – one of my favourite bands. I spent a year in Toronto through 2010 – it was so fresh and I partied really hard and saw some great shows. I recorded this cover track in my studio space over two days in the middle of a really hot summer. It was done with the cheapest mics and some cool vintage gear. It’s probably the most lo-fi thing I’ve done and I really hope you like it" - Daniel McGuire (Two Zebras)

5. The Mouse That Ate The Cat - Wet Rope (a demo from the Oliver-Dykeenies-Stays hybrid)

"They're poorly mixed and not exactly mastered up to a world class rate. In fact, if listened to side by side, the volume and EQ undoubtedly fluctuate to a degree than none of us wish to think about, such is my lack of mixing ability and poor concentration span" - TMTATC (about their 4 demos.  I happen to think that's a nice, if unintentional, touch.)

The EP is now up for free download over on my bandcamp page, along with those that have gone before it.  Enjoy!

We're into double figure next month with EP #10 which, as usual, comes out on the 16th.   If there's any bands out there who fancy making my life that wee bit easier and want to volunteer a track for one of these EPs, then send me a wee email.

Monday, 14 March 2011

...Two Zebras!

He might well be in violation of the Trades Descriptions Act, but that's pretty much all you can fault Danny McGuire a.k.a. Two Zebras for.  For the last year, this Scot has been over in Toronto honing his sound, gigging frantically and more importantly for us, recording some brilliant songs.  He has just released two of these in the form of double A-side Dreams / Desperately Seeking Something which is right up there with the finest singles released so far this year.  Before we hear from Danny himself, here's the autobiographical(??) Dreams...

Here's the man himself to do the whole Introducing... thing:

Kowalskiy:  Who are Two Zebras?
Danny:  Two Zebras is the name of my indie rock project. It’s just me and I write and record all the songs. The reason is just me is because I’ve been travelling and living around over the last few years and I really like the freedom to be able to play shows anywhere I can.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?

Danny:  Kinda energetic indie rock. It’s a lot more scuzzy and loud live and I like that. 

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from Two Zebras in the future?

Danny:  I’m going to put out a bunch of singles from some sessions I did in Toronto. The first one is out now, it’s a double A called ‘Dreams / Desperately Seeking Something’. I’m moving over to Amsterdam this month too so I can start doing lots of shows on the continent. You have to keep it exotic, you know?

Or erotic in Amsterdam's case!  Anyway, here's the second, and my favourite, half of Danny's brilliant husky-vocalled, Canadian-inspired, indie-rock debut, Desperately Seeking Something

It's out now over here with a whole host of goodies.  While you're there, get yourself a copy of last year's The Anecdotes EP.  I can safely say, we'll be hearing an awful lot more from Two Zebras in the future.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Kowalskiy Belated Review #7

The Plimptons - '00s Nostalgia
Quite possibly the best cover art so far this year... or maybe towards the end of last year.  I lose all track of time when it comes to these Belated Reviews.  Anyway, onto the music.  Glasgow's D.I.Y. pop trailblazers The Plimptons are another band I'd heard of, but not actually heard until they sent me '00s Nostalgia, their third album.  I never know what "D.I.Y." means in this context.  In my experience, it usually means a lot of things being thrown haphazardly together, but somehow coming out serving its purpose.  Hang on... that's pretty much it!  The Plimptons have tried their hand at everything pop and punky from the accordion-led Celtic variety (Lonely Old Man) to some Costello/XTC-inspired quirky pop (Virgin On The Ridiculous) and even some ska (The Day My Baby Said She Hated Ska)... and a lot more in between.  'Haphazardly' is doing them a disservice though.  As ramshackle and shambolic as it sounds in places, I don't doubt that a lot of effort has gone in to perfect that very sound.  If I was to plump for a favourite, it'd have to be This Is The Story Of My Self-Pity (Baby).  Like Belle & Sebastian playing an old-fashioned variety club gig... and using the club organ.  It has a real retro feel and it sounds amazing!  It is just one of many highlights on this surprisingly diverse album, chock full of moments of lyrical genius in their own unique storytelling style. 

Where We Lay Our Heads - From The Roots, We Grow Limbs
I should really pay more attention in future.  For a while now, the name Where We Lay Our Heads have been bandied about, and for a while now, I've not taken much notice.  Wull 'Define Pop' Swales though, is a man I tend to listen to when it comes to new band recommendations.  Turns out, he's a bit biased with this one, what with being the frontman an' all!  Like I said, I should pay more attention.  Anyway, their From The Roots, We Grow Limbs EP is an assured debut.  Opening track Lined With Trees is a great piece of indie-folk with a wee nod or two to Frightened Rabbit shining through in places.  Next up, the standout Gies A Wave is a gorgeous mix of handclaps, tinkling keys and the enchanting vocals of The Second Hand Marching Band's Jennifer Sinclair complimenting Wull's own dulcet tones.  The laid-back Roses On The Beach finishes things off nicely with a wee bit of a Beirutty undertone.  Once again, it may just have those boys from Selkirk looking over their shoulders.  Nice one Wull!

New Town Triptych - Just How You Designed
The thing I really love about these posts is I get to take my time listening to the releases without feeling any pressure to rush out a review.  So you could say, the longer I take to post it, the more I've enjoyed the releases.  That's certainly been the case with this one.  Rounding off the KBR#7 trio is Glasgow-based 3-piece New Town Triptych, who are a relatively new name to me.  It hasn't taken them long though to find themselves very much on my radar, thanks to their debut, 3-track Just How You Designed.  Musically-speaking, they occupy the small piece of folkspace between Admiral Fallow and Randolph's Leap what with their warm, gorgeous, folky melodies and their instantly-likable, upbeat side.  The multi-layered title track embodies that straight from the off with its deep orchestral bass, stunning harmonies and intertwining flute and acoustic guitar arrangements combining to produce something quite breathtaking.  Track two, The Things That Keep Me Here is a non-stop, boy-girl, pop-folk delight which threatens to steal the show!   They cite The Decemberists as one of their influences, something which starts to come through on closing track Killing Time.  A great ending which cements their place as one of the most exciting, new Scottish bands around.  In their own words "our aim is to continue producing our own music with interesting lyrics, nice melodies and layered harmonies".  Fingers crossed they keep true to their word!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Kowalskiy Singles Club #2

Welcome to the second meeting of the Kowalskiy Singles Club.  Before we see how our singles got on last time round (we're not really though), I have a new batch waiting to win you over.  Hopefully one of these beauties will float your boat.  If so, then click on the cover art and get "downloading"...

Weather Barn - The Boat Ride
The Boat Ride by Weather Barn
"If you like your guitars loud and chunky plus harmonies that the Wilson brother's might admire, then check out 'The Boat Ride' on iTunes from 28th March. Two and half minutes of non-stop-Scottish-pop awaits you." - Steve Morris (Weather Barn)
And here was me expecting some sort of "The (Boat) Ride of your life" comment!  Anyway, if this tickles your fancy, then you can get a hold of this cracking single at the end of the month.  I can't recommend Weather Barn highly enough.  

Shambles Miller - Things That Make Me AngryThings That Make Me Angry by Shambles Miller
"Politically-minded beard enthusiast and linguist seeks like-minded individual(s) with GSOH and SI for drunken nights setting the world to rights and resulting grumpy hangovers over a glass of Irn Bru. ACA. - Campbell "Shambles" Miller
Mr. Miller has put this track from his recent EP up on Strummerville. Show some love... it's free!  Plus, I'm sure it's what Joe would have wanted. (N.B. this is pure speculation.)

Cities and Skylines - Holes In The Snow
Holes In The Snow by Cities and Skylines
"Tall, large built masterpiece seeks beautiful high flyer to enjoy stunning views and walks in the park." - Cities and Skylines
So if you're into your tall, large built masterpieces and you're a beautiful high flier, then this is a match made in heaven!  This introductory single came out back in January on Ignite Records.  So if what they say "ignites" ... I'll stop now, just click on the cover art.  

Findlay Napier & The Bar Room Mountaineers - Valentines Day
"Stood up? Locked out? Kept awake by amorous neighbours? Never fear. Let hope rise from the ashes of your Valentine's Day failures. S, M, GSOH, ISO-W/E F, WAA" - Findlay Napier
Someone else up on their lonely-hearts lingo I see!  I'm maybe a wee bit late featuring this one, but once again, the man behind Hazy Recollections has come up trumps.  Fingers crossed your Valentine's Day went a wee bit better.

This Silent Forest - Falter Discover
Falter Discover by This Silent Forest
"Musicians (Band, classical and electronic) Mid twenties, seek long term friends (male and female) to enjoy spending long walks through woodland areas, the great outdoors, adventure sports, gigs, theatre and cooking. Must enjoy a mix of pop, rock, acoustic and classical music genres." - This Silent Forest
Just released on Monday, this is the great debut from Glasgow's singer/songwriter-led folky 7-piece.  If you're intrigued then get downloading!

Battle For 2nd Place - Say It Ain't So
Say It Ain't So - Battle For 2nd Place
"I Hate Myself Yet I Love the new Battle for 2nd Place single …
Bitter, unsuccessful 30-something loser wallowing in an unending sea of despair and loneliness looking for 24-year-old needy leech-like hanger-on to abuse with dull stories, tired sex and obscure Nirvana bootlegs.
" - Dave 'Chorr' Orr' (Battle For 2nd Place)
Sigh... if only I was 2 years younger!  Ah well, if you're into that sort of thing, click on the cover art and have a wee listen.  Dull stories and tired sex is but a click away!

Monday, 7 March 2011

The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse - Fajita's Basement EP

There's a few reasons why I tipped The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse to light up 2011.  I won't bore you with them all though.  Needless to say, the main one is that he's really rather good!  Batshit crazy mind you, but very, very good indeed.  His debut album One Zero One Zero One Zero, released last year, was a breath of fresh air, and unlike anything else around.  At only 18 minutes long, it was quite a short breath!  Fajita's Basement EP, his latest offering, is no different.  Four songs long, and lasting just over six minutes, it's clear that quantity isn't really this mysterious chap's style.  His music may be durationally-challenged, but it more than makes up for it with it's unrivaled likability.  Besides, if you can pack as much into 90 seconds as others struggle to do in three times that, who cares!

There's programmed drum beats and a whole host of sublime guitarmanship (and plenty of guitars too) crammed into four brilliant wee songs.  It all kicks off with Blame You, Blame You.  Now, whether this is a dig at the blame culture that exists in our world today, or whether that's overthinking it slightly and it's just an innocent song about a hole in someone's shoe, who knows?  Well, Ramisco probably, but either way, it's a cracking song that's bound to get you singing and clapping along.

The minute-long One Thousand Big Ol' Trees hammers home the sense of fun and knack for penning a great, addictive tune that seemingly comes naturally to Ramisco.   However, it's the closing track, the countrified, americana-esque romp, Chew Chew which inexplicably steals the show. 

I don't have a Scooby what a "Chew Chew" is in this context, but one thing's for sure... having had the song lodged in my head for a while now, if I don't got mine, I'll "put my hands in my mouth and dribble all over myself".  Yeah, that's a what I'll do, do.  Powerful stuff!

The EP isn't out until March 28th but The Horse has set up a promotional streamer, codenamed My Left Hoove, especially for you and your listening pleasure.  So, how best to sum up the EP?  In the words of the man himself, it's "crazy awesome".  Ramisco really is in a league of his own.  In fact, he's on a different f**king planet!

K&A with The Son(s)

Time to hear from one of the eleven acts I tipped at the start of 2011.  Back in January, I put some probing questions to the mysterious, but quite brilliant, The Son(s).  With the eponymous debut album out today on Olive Grove Records, and with everyone hyping it up, it's probably about time that this K&A saw the light of day.  Here goes...

Kowalskiy:  Who are The Son(s), and what's the story behind the name?
The Son(s):  The name, well the plural is nominally optional, or at least not guaranteed. Sometimes one Son sometimes more Son. The names not a great one but it's a lot worse without the brackets.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound', and what influences it?
The Son(s):  I would say: Son(s) music fills your clothes with clear & clean renewing freshness. From the relaxing fragrance of a summers day, to the revitalising freshness of spring flowers, there are Son(s) sounds for every mood.  Influences, well it's surely easier for anyone but us to list those. We were good naturedly compared to Seal not long ago...

Kowalskiy:  You started coming to everyone's attention last year with the self-release of your Radar EP. What's your reaction to how well it was received?
The Son(s):  We expected most people to ignore it, some to dislike it. We didn't expect very many people to like it, let alone write anything about it. So we're delighted, still delighted.

Kowalskiy:  How would you sum up 2010 for The Son(s)?
The Son(s):  For The Son(s), it was a very good year, it was a very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights and one of those years for me personally. High ups and low downs.

Kowalskiy:  You decided not to go down the MySpace route of getting your music heard, and are something of a word-of-mouth success story. What was the thinking behind that?
The Son(s):  There was no thinking behind that. We put some music up on SoundCloud for largely sentimental reasons sometime early 2010. Within a few days of putting it up we had got such a positive reaction everything started rolling to here from there. We do have a MySpace but have never really understood it, and it just points back to SoundCloud.

Kowalskiy:  What's the story on the gig front? Anything lined up already for 2011?
The Son(s):  Nothing lined up. Yet.

Kowalskiy:  What would your ideal gig be?
The Son(s):  Jesus. I have no idea how to answer this question. Were the 70's any good? Take us back to 70's LA and get us some Nudie suits.

Kowalskiy:  The 17th January saw your debut single Radar released on Eli and Oz Records. How would you describe it?  (Like I said, these questions were asked quite some time ago!)
The Son(s):  The song has a pinch of spook in it, it's a waltz of a kind. It has a lovely video with three beautiful women and an Oleander tree in it.

Kowalskiy:  At last count, you have already been included in 3 'Ones To Watch in 2011' lists, The Lists, Peenko's and mine.  Have I missed any out??  What can we all expect from The Son(s) in 2011?
The Son(s):  Radar Scotsman's, Vic Galloway had us in at 49 in his list of 50. We were in quite a few. Good intit!?  2011 eh?  Well we will have an album out in March (Today!  That's it on the right). We'd love to do something for record store day in April, if we can find someone to do it with. We're hoping to have a video ready for another song soon. We'll see what happens with the album and take it from there.... Write some more songs, put them up on SoundCloud....

Kowalskiy:  Not forgetting having a track on one of my free EPs!  Lastly, you're a pretty mysterious bunch still. Tell us something about you that no one else knows.
The Son(s):  I don't think there's anything that no one else knows, once you get to know us we're an open book.

Kowalskiy:  OK, one last one since I'm a curious chap.  Who's the guy on all your promo photos and all your cover art?
The Son(s):  It's me of course! 

Better late than never eh?!   The album can be bought over here and it is every bit as good as it's been hyped to be.  It really is a fantastic, cult-album-in-the-making.  We could well be looking at the BAMS Album of 2011...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Evil Hand - Huldra

I've said it before, but I'll repeat it for all you Johnny-Come-Lately's out there.  Ever since starting this blog, there's been one guy who, musically speaking, simply can't put a foot wrong in my erm... ears.  That man, is Derek Bates.  As one half of the Lanarkshire duo Bottle Of Evil, he was partly responsible for one of my favourite albums of last year.  Last month he released new album Huldra for free under his solo guise, Evil Hand.  It's a collection of remastered tracks from his previous four albums and some cracking, new material thrown in for good measure.  So really, what better way to introduce you to the wonder that is Evil Hand.

First thing's first, the name.  Apparently the Huldra is a seductive, mythological Norwegian forest creature.  Not quite sure how to relate that (wittily of course) to the album, other than this too is a thing of mysterious beauty.  Anyway, if you enjoyed Bottle Of Evil's eponymous debut last year, then you're bound to enjoy Huldra.  It has the same combination of "acoustic strangeness", sublime shoegaze, some bits in between, and two or three perfectly-placed instrumental pieces seamlessly added to the mix.

It kicks off with the acoustic gem Garmin, which combines the lot with snare drum loops and screeching, acoustic guitars to great effect.  Then there's one of the many standout newbies, Returned In Time, which Derek kindly gave us a sneaky preview of last year.  For the next half-a-dozen-or-so tracks, Derek takes us on a journey through some highlights from his impressive back catalogue.  None more impressive than the outstanding, atmospheric piece, Ent.

New tracks The Kelpie and the instrumental Largo, No are two of the many belters after that, with the latter showing a slightly different side to Evil Hand, a more upbeat, synthy one which would hear no complaints from me if he went down this road again in future.

It's Returned In Time though that steals the show.  I loved it when I first heard it, and now, after the umpteenth listen, it still blows me away.  Have a wee listen for the distant drum mini-solo about 1 minute and 52 seconds in.  It's the small things that make this album what it is.  Just brilliant!

Once again, I'm left with nothing but praise for Mr. Bates.  Huldra is a breathtaking, seductive mixture of old and new.  Get your free download over here, and while you're at it, check out his back catalogue over on Amazon MP3.  Fans of Bottle of Evil's album can also get their hands on a free instrumental version over here.