Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Trapped Mice - Waving and Pointing EP

I started writing this post at the end of March before my mini-blogging-mojo crisis.  It's coming back, slowly but surely, in no small part due to the sheer quality of brilliant EPs, and indeed bands, such as this.  So as a caveat, certain parts of this post are a wee bit outdated, but rewriting the whole thing would just be silly... 


It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Edinburgh's Trapped Mice.  So it's understandable then, that last week's twitter updates from bassist, and all-round-good-guy Brian Pokora have gotten me a wee bit excited.

Until all these are shared with the world, we've got two great EPs in Portrait of the Great Father and their latest offering, the fantastic Waving and Pointing, to keep us going.

On said fantastic-second-EP, there's still unmistakable touches of Okkervil River to these four stunning songs, but one thing's for sure, Trapped Mice have carved out their own sound, one that's unique in this fair country, and one I simply can't quite get enough of.  The title track is a joy to listen to.  Thanks to it's driving drumbeat, the tempo barely lets up throughout what is a track that is nothing short of sublime.  Next up, Beat is a much more laid back affair.  A gorgeous love song and a real masterclass in songwriting by singer and lyricist Ian Tilling.   Contrast that with the closing track Ghostwriter Blues.  The songwriting quality is still very much there for all to hear.  It's just not a song to curl up on the couch with your beloved to.  Instead it's a full-blooded, menacing number, perhaps a taster for this "old epic Interpol" sound they're preparing to unleash!

It's been difficult to single out one track from this EP, but I'm pretty confident I've saved the star of the show 'til last.  Sandwiched between the joyful and the menacing, is All in All.  I could say it's because it has this, that and the other, but really, you should just hear it for yourself...

The Waving and Pointing EP is out now (and has been for a while... sorry for the delay folks!) on CD or download, and is available over here.  There's a quote over there too saying the name Trapped Mice is "one you'll be hearing a lot of this year".  Whoever that guy is, he sure knows what he's talking about!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Kowalskiy Singles Club #3

Time for Kowalskiy to play matchmaker once again as I try to pair you up with half-a-dozen-or-so 'singles'.  Each one, gorgeous in it's own way, is more than worthy of a place in your hearts/music libraries.  Before we see how our singles got on last time round, lets have a look at the new hopefuls.  If any do it for you, then click on the cover art and get better acquainted.  Happy downloading...

Tape Singles Club #1 - Tape Studios
"Long enough to make love to, doesn't wet the bed anymore and will make you breakfast. - The Machine Room

"Hexagonally limbed, three headed new wave nerd, seeks the progressively minded for creating epic Vangelisian soundscapes and summoning thunderstorms with tribal drum pummelings.  Must like our owl, glitter and Xbox live. 4EVER" - Dead Boy Robotics
Two singles for the price of one!  This is the first in what will hopefully be a lot of split singles from Edinburgh's Tape Studios!  Released on the 23rd May.  More below...

Galleries - Darkness Coming
Darkness Coming by Galleries
"Grandiose, non-gender specific, lonely heart with no trace of a sense of humour and as old as time itself seeks similar. Enjoys black and white film, walking in the dark and large quantities of sound.  Must have a good imagination and a void in their soul." - David (Galleries)
Fit the bill?  Then click on the cover art!

The Spook School - History/Hallam
History/Hallam by The Spook School
"Early/not-yet twenties indie-pop band seek friendly ears. Boy-girl-boy-girl harmonies, jingly-jangly guitars, lots of reverb, partially-naked drumming and GSOH. Likes walks by the seaside, John Cleese, androgyny. Will you eat Jaffa Cakes with us?" - Naomi Todd (The Spook School)
Well, will you?  (Please note: Must supply your own Jaffa Cakes)

The Little Kicks - Call Of Youth
Call Of Youth by The Little Kicks
"For us Call of Youth = a summery indie pop song with a stack of catchy vocal hooks, nice shiny guitars and a fair bit of balls thrown in for good measure. It also has a deliberately big thumping outro- just like all the best songs should have!" - The Little Kicks
So if you fancy a teaser from these Aberdonians' second album, then click on the cover art for your FREE download!

If that's not enough, let's hear from one of the men behind the Tape Singles Club.  I give you Mr. Stephen Watkins...

"Big shot record producer/scarecrow impersonator exquisitely tailored in female fashion, equally afraid of germs & sleep seeks fun outgoing rekkid buying humans with similar outlook. And money. For possible barter agreement or otherwise May 23rd. Cheers."

Why should you get to know Stephen Tape?
"Possible 1% royalty prospect, will fire your rhythm section and program the Linn drum. Interested in cutting goddamn records ( hitz ) , Solid State Logic console dynamics, Dimension D's, Lexicon 480's, distressing snares, room mics, aqua eyeliner, Pike Place roast. Having a G. Lagavulin on the ROAKZ. Can't cook. Can mix. Looks a bit like Dr Who n that. Casual. G.S.O.F***ING.H."

He describes his ideal match:  "Trevor Horn. All Terts with coin and a record player.  Fans of the Machine Room / Dead Boy Robotics / The big sound YO.

Country of origin: United Kingdomz
Location: Bang in the centre of your Edinburgh.
Gender: Male I think
Age: Twentys Nine
Star Sign: Leo
Height: 6'1" ( loads of cm )
Status: Cheerz
Looking for: Penpals, Fans, People who are ok with him widening the space time continuum by connecting 3 Dimension D's together in series. Anyone at all to buy a vinyl copy of Tape Singles Club #1.
Have children: Yes, nonidentical twins, Dead Boy Robotics & The Machine Room. Born May 23rd 2011.
Want Children: Yes. Having it off with my console is loved.
Education: You bet your ass
Occupation: Record Producer / Mixer at TAPE
Income: More than 50,000pence a year.
Ethnicity: White/Coakasianz
Home Language: Absolute STATE.
Other Languages: Fairlight Page R
Do you tweet: I twot - @stephentape

All I can say is... approach with caution!  If you've bought any of these singles and want to report back on how you've both been getting on, then drop me a line at kowalskiy2@gmail.com and I may pop one or two up on the next post.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

K&A with IndianRedLopez

During my self-imposed blogging exile, I'll be honest, I didn't listen to much new music.  Instead, I've mainly been binge-listening to a small handful of bands.  Some of which, I'll be waxing lyrical about over the coming weeks.  Of those, it's Aberdeen's IndianRedLopez whose album playcount has gotten the most out of control!  Earlier this month, they announced the release date of their debut album Empty Your Lungs And Breathe.  With pre-orders stacking up ahead of it's scheduled release on 6th June, what better time to find out a bit more about it from the band themselves.  So, over to them to tell us all about it, what they're getting up to later this year, and to finally put the record straight about their name...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Indian Red Lopez, or is it IndianRedLopez? Care to put the record straight?
I|R|L:  Yeah, it's IndianRedLopez. Its just us, playing, creating, gigging and essentially developing. We've tried really hard to create a recognisable identity as a band, where people associate us with something different and unexpected. I'd like to think people have an anticipation of something thats going to grab their attention, in one form or another when they come to see us.

Kowalskiy:  How did the band get together, and what's the idea behind the band name? Simply Red meets J'Lo, yeah?
I|R|L:  Obviously yeah, Mick Hucknall has had a big influence on all of our lives, and Jennifer's lyrics and live show are so captivating... haha!  No, the name kind of crept up on us a few years ago and we played about with it for a while with the band line up being a bit errr fluid for a period of time.  But once we had a settled line-up and a definite idea of the direction of the band, both sonically, and visually, it just seemed to fit. I don't think we wanted a name that eluded to any particular 'genre' so I guess the ambiguity kind of suits us.

Kowalskiy:  What/who/where are you main influences?
I|R|L:  We've all got individual influences within the band without really all loving the same things. I think musically, Radiohead is a pretty common thread between us all, but inspiration can come from anywhere which is something we all appreciate and encourage within the band.

Kowalskiy:  Your debut album Empty Your Lungs and Breathe is out on the 6th June (though available to pre-order now with immediate digital download!). What can existing and soon-to-be fans expect from it?
I|R|L:  I think existing fans can finally have something which reflects the band they've come to know over the last 3 years. Good songs, strong melodies and subtle, sonic nuances that take a few listens to pick up, which on reflection was probably the main points of the brief when we decided to go with a full album as opposed to another EP.  For the newbies, hopefully a refreshing surprise, an identifiably Scottish band with a pretty unique sound and confidence in our own ideas.

Kowalskiy:  The album contains three tracks from your 2009 Castles Incomplete EP. You've been keeping us waiting!  Anyway, correct me if I'm wrong, but you've reworked those three tracks from the album. Do you feel your  sound has changed slightly, or is it a case of keeping it fresh for your existing fans? Or secret option C?
I|R|L:  Secret Option C....

Kowalskiy:  What's the plans to tour the album?
I|R|L:  Well, the idea behind it was to release the album in June and hopefully let it permeate a bit before touring it in July. Our Scott is getting married during release time, so we've let him off to go and do that. They will predominantly be Scottish dates in the first week in July, with a few individual shows scattered over the next few months.  We've also got some European shows lined up for September, and with our day jobs, it can be tough to get a long string of dates together to properly tour so expect us to pop up for the odd show here and there. We will physically try and tour as much as we possibly can!

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
I|R|L:  Opening for a double headline Prince/Radiohead show. In Berlin. With a massive rider full of Feta and Avocado salad and 48 bottles of Moray Cup.

Kowalskiy:  You played Home Game recently. Was it as disappointing, uneventful and uninspiring as I imagine?  Be warned, shatter that sanity-preserving illusion at your peril guys!
I|R|L:  Fucking terrible, we really hate being in an environment like that.... talented musicians everywhere and crowds of really appreciative people coming to see your show and being really nice to you. Plus having to queue up for tasty, glorious fish suppers and stand in the sunshine munching them down while Johnny from Pictish Trail wanders past with his guitar and FOUND take ages in the queue in front of you at the cash machine. Its just awful, bloody awful ;)

Kowalskiy:  I suppose it's just something you have to grin and bear...  So, what else does 2011 hold in store for IndianRedLopez?
I|R|L:  Gigs. Gigs. New Songs. Recording said new Songs. HOPEFULLY re-press of the album! More gigs and hopefully, a few festival appearances.

Kowalskiy:  Lastly, the question on everyone's lips.... Hugh Laurie's album? "Unexpected musical genius", or "I can never watch House ever again!"?
I|R|L:  Haha, I have managed to avoid it by and large. I did flick on to Jools out of curiosity when he was on a few weeks back and wasn't all that impressed to be honest, but I didn't let it ruin my appreciation of his acting ability. I think if you treat it like sketch from a Bit of Fry and Laurie then we should all be ok...

Sound advice there from IndianRedLopez.  If you ask me, you'd be better off getting a hold of Empty Your Lungs and Breathe from over here.  It's a belter!  Already this year they've been crowned the winners of 'Best Electronic Act' at the 2011 Scottish Alternative Music Awards.  If you ask me, they were probably in the wrong category, but it goes to show these guys are well and truly, a force to be reckoned with.  Expect this album to win them some more accolades come December.

Upcoming Gigs
9th-10th June - GoNorth Festival, Inverness
30th - Newmarket Bar, Thurso
1st - Hootenanny's, Inverness
2nd - Nice N' Sleazy, Glasgow

Monday, 16 May 2011

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #11

You missed me?  Well, I'm back... kinda... with EP #11.  As with the last one, I've given you lovely people out there the chance to design the cover art.  Once again, there's been some cracking entries but the winner is... drumroll please... Matthew Wills for that mesmerising piece above!  Take a bow Sir.  If you fancy following Matthew's own blog, then here's the link.

For this month's EP, I'm chuffed to say I've finally persuaded one of my favourite Scottish bands into contributing a track, as well as another band whose upcoming debut album will blow you away!  I'll leave you to work out who's who.  So without much further ado, here's the five brilliant acts appearing on EP #11 and what they had to say about their track.  Had I been better prepared, we'd be hearing from all 5 acts.  I wasn't though, but they'll be with you soon...

1. 4dayweekend - Demo 1 (A brand, spanking new live demo from Glasgow's Kowalskiy-approved, epic indie-rockers.)

"After a successful launch night and tour for our latest EP "Urban Lies & Rural Skies" in January, we found ourselves inching to write new material. So for the past few months we have been locked away in the studio, and from it came three new tracks. As we had only recently released new material we decided to video a live performance of all three tracks, which then posted on Youtube. This track is the first of the three and you can view all three videos as well as a short interview about the band at www.youtube.com/4dayweekendonline" - 4dayweekend

2. How Garbo Died - Newton's Third (The physicist in me is drawn to the title, every other part loves this brooding, dark, electro cracker.)

"Newton's Third originally appeared on the second of our home recorded batches (all available free at www.howgarbodied.bandcamp.com) and is actually part of a four song story cycle that appears over the first four batches (I'm not going to reveal what the other tracks are, I'll leave it for further investigation). The story concerns the love affair between a 14 year old schoolgirl and a 23 year old down syndrome sufferer. It's not exactly standard source material but I feel we've managed to bring out the beauty and the drama in the story as well as representing the specific characters without trivialising them. This version of the track was recorded at the start of March at Greendoor Studios, it allowed us to really build some textures into the song while maintaining the 'rough around the edges' feel that the subject matter requires." - Kevin Gilday (How Garbo Died)

3. Matt Norris & the Moon - First Light of Day (An Edinburgh, Mumford-esque, trumpetty-folk gem!  I defy you not to fall in love with it.)

We'll hear from Matt Norris soon too.

4. Laurence & the Slab Boys - Shareen (An exclusive track from the Berlin-based Scots whose debut album is shaping up to be something special.  Just you wait!)

"We recorded this last Thursday and it’s mostly live, but for some vocal and guitar overdubs. It might be too fast but we were running out of time. The song doesn’t sound like our other stuff, as we were just having a bit of fun with a song about the first lie that some of us are ever told. It sounds like the Devil is playing tambourine in the background but it’s really just our friend Ecki messing about." - Larry Reid (Laurence & the Slab Boys)

5. Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers - She (Finally, after months of shameless pestering on my part, here's an amazing exclusive from one of Scotland's finest bands!)

"This track, which as far as I'm aware didn't really have a working title was recorded during the Home and the Wildhunt sessions in 2009, after the first rough mix of the album we decided to drop it, and then it just got forgotten about. Having dug it out and listened to it again after two years I kinda wish it had made it onto the album or a single or something..the trumpet arrangement towards the end is lovely. Hope you enjoy!  As for 2011 and beyond...after releasing Home and the Wildhunt last year, and gigging it throughout the country, we are back in our studio writing and rehearsing a whole new batch of new material, which will eventually make its way onto our second album." - Nick Dudman (Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers)

The EP is now up for free download over on my bandcamp page, along with EPs #1-10 and a couple of extras.  Get downloading!

I leave you with bad news folks!  On June 16th,  when you'll all be expecting me to mark a year of free EPs, I'll be sunning myself in some far-off land.  Not sure then, when EP #12 will see the cold light of day, but I'll keep you posted!  In the meantime, get your cover art entries in.  You've got a bit longer this time, so all you need to do is email me your entry before noon on the 20th of June.  Same requirements as before... square, at least 350px wide, and pretty!  And as always, if 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 too.  Arrivederci!

...Mark Corbett!

I should probably say something on here again at some point.  What better way to get the ball rolling again than with this...

Thinking back, I've not featured that many singer-songwriters on the blog.  I suppose when it comes to that kinda thing, it takes someone a wee bit special to tickle my fancy.  Someone who offers something a wee bit different to the norm.  Someone like Edinburgh's Mark Corbett.  His Crocodiles EP found its way to me some time ago and struck a very likeable chord!  Over to the man himself to fill you in on a few details...

Kowalskiy:  Who is Mark Corbett?
Mark:  Okay, I am an Edinburgh based (and also born and bred!) singer songwriter who made his debut on the live scene here in 2009.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Mark:  My sound is a kind of experimental lo-fi folk with a few pop hooks in there too.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?
Mark:  Well I've just released my debut EP which is a five track collection of the first songs I've written and recorded, so I'm gigging that about the place and promoting it, and I'm writing and working on some stuff for the next one!

Speaking of his debut EP, here it is to have a wee listen to...

How snazzy is that widget by the way??  It pops out and does all sorts! Very impressive if you ask me.  The EP too for that matter.  If you click the "buy" button you can download the EP from iTunes.  Those on shitty browsers can click here though, and if you fancy the CD, then you can order one from Mark himself over here.