Monday, 27 June 2011

K&A with Aerials Up

God only knows why I haven't gotten around to featuring the wonderful Aerials Up on here yet.  But, with their debut Superglue EP racking up all sorts of airplay and acclaim, it's about time I threw my hat into the ring!  The EP is an absolute joy to listen to... over and over again.  With it, we could very well be witnessing the gorgeous, melodic, epic rise of Scotland's new favourite band.  You have been warned!

Over to them to tell you a wee bit about Aerials Up...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Aerials Up?
Aerials Up:  We're a seven piece band from Glasgow and Dublin.

Kowalskiy:  How did the band get together, and what's the story behind the name?
Aerials Up:  Hmm.. long story. The band weren't really 'formed' as such. Three members were left over from another band and everyone else kind of came along one at a time. We've all been slogging away in loads of different bands for years so everyone was really on the same page when we kind of found each other. The name is pretty much two words that Kemy always thought sounded nice I think.

Kowalskiy:  You're one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Scotland just now. You were chosen to play at Snow Patrol's HUGE Bellahouston Park gig, a venue 'rocked' by the likes of Coldplay, Subo and The Pope. You'll be one of a select few to play this years TBreak Stage at T in the Park, and your EP is racking up airplay and critical acclaim since its release. Not really sure what my question is... What do you make of it all?
Aerials Up:  Hmm.. We're not sure really! We get asked about stuff we've done in the past all the time but to be honest it's not really something we think about much, we tend to focus way more on the things we all still want to do. We've had a lot of luck in the past with people being into the band and stuff but we're most proud of things that we've managed to achieve ourselves that haven't been so easy. T Break is huge for us, we're very proud to have been picked. Getting the EP out on our own but still getting such a good reaction to it and airplay from the BBC and stuff is amazing as well.

Kowalskiy:  Speaking of the EP, what'd be your sales pitch for anyone out there who hasn't gotten their hands on it yet?
Aerials Up:  I think for us it just represents a period in time that we want to share with people. We had a hard time getting it out and we were going through a lot of transition both in the way we wanted to do things as a band but also musically. There's a couple of really upbeat, poppy tracks that kind of reflect the sound we made our name with but also a more edgy song that's really important to us all and kind of a newer sound. We want to move forward from here with a kind of balance of the two vibes so hopefully the EP reflects that.

Kowalskiy:  You've been touring the EP a fair bit recently. Is there much more to come this year?
Aerials Up:  For sure yeah. We're on our way to play at the Solas festival at the moment. We've a few more shows before T in the Park and then we're headlining one of the King Tut's Summer Nights shows in July, playing The Liquid Rooms as part of the Edge Festival, and plenty more gigs before summer's out. We've some announcements still to make too, watch this space!

Kowalskiy:  Aerials Up have been gathering a reputation as one of the finest live bands in Scotland. How would you describe a typical Aerials Up gig?
Aerials Up:  We've been dabbling with a more stripped back, almost acoustic vibe on the road a bit recently but where we most feel at home is on a big stage, loud and proud. A typical gig for us is just a big sound, loads of strings, big drums, and people singing along, hopefully enjoying it as much as we do!

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
Aerials Up:  It's maybe kind of a lame answer but one thing that's still on my list is to play the Barrowlands at home in Glasgow. I've been lucky enough to play most places that I've wished for but that's definitely still on the list. It's had a bit of a hard time I think with more modern venues appearing but as a kid I just loved it, i'd go most weeks and saw so many of my favourite bands there so it's pretty special. We went to see Frightened Rabbit's homecoming show there in December and it was amazing, it seemed to mean so much to everyone that they were playing there and yeah, I'd definitely like to experience that!

Kowalskiy:  Some may know, that the band was formed after the demise of The Ads. I had the pleasure of seeing them at The Mill and The Sauchiehall Crawl many moons ago. 'Superglue' was originally performed back in the Ads days and given the Aerials Up reworking. If you could pick one track from any band in the world and give it the Aerials Up treatment, what would it be?
Aerials Up:  We actually had a go at Kate Bush's 'Cloudbusting' for a session on Vic Galloway's show a while back and it went down really well so we've played it at a few gigs but it's time for something new. We've got a couple of ideas but don't wanna give anything away just yet...

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from Aerials Up in the future?
Aerials Up:  We really want to record again once festival season wraps up, I guess that'll be the next main thing from us, another single or two..

Kowalskiy:  Here's a topical one.  Is Andy Murray ready to win Wimbledon? Discuss.
Aerials Up:  Hmmm... you're kind of asking the wrong person to be honest. Sure, he's been busting his ass for ages right? I kinda feel a bit sorry for him though, must be hard to represent an country in a sport they're not very fussed about.

Kowalskiy:  Anything you'd like to add? Any juicy gossip or embarrassing band-related facts you're itching to reveal?
Aerials Up:  Nope!

Spoilsports!  Anyway, it's time now to have a wee listen to the EP below...

You can get your hands on a physical copy of the Superglue EP direct from the band here, or over on iTunes.  If you fancy catching the band live, here's where they'll be in the near future...

Upcoming Gigs
30th June - Cafe Continental, Gourock
1st July - Twa Tams, Perth
8th July - T-Break @ TiTP, Balado
16th July - Old Bridge Inn, Aviemore
17th July - King Tuts, Glasgow
12th Aug - Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
25th Sept - Electric Circus, Edinburgh

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #12

And so the first year of free EPs comes to an end!  It's a few days later than planned thanks to my wee jaunt to a place far, far away, but fingers crossed you'll agree it's well worth the wait.  Before we hear from the five bands appearing on KEP#12, I'd like to thank them, and all the other bands who've been amazing enough to give little ol' me one of their tracks during this past year.  Soppy bit over, here goes...

1. Andrew Lindsay & the Coat Hooks - Porcelain (A wee, gorgeous, accapella cover of Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication track.)

"Matthew, Jack and I recorded this oft-overlooked Red Hot Chili Peppers song, late at night, on June 13th, 2011. Both delicate and warm, the original is a personal favourite of mine; positioned smack-bang in the centre of the band's 1999 phoenix, Californication.

Vocalist Anthony Kiedis spoke of the song in his autobiography, Scar Tissue, stating, "I had met a young mother at a meeting. She was living in a YWCA with her baby girl, trying to get sober but failing miserably. The beauty and sadness and tragedy and glory, all wrapped into one, of this mother/daughter relationship, was evoked by the vibe of that [ultra-sparse] music.

The general ambiance lurking in the background was provided by some generous smokers outside Matthew's window."
- Andrew Lindsay

On this recording the Coat Hooks are:
Matthew Healy and Jack McKay Fletcher

2. Innocents Civilian - Break Me Down (We heard the demo of this last year.  Now here's the outstanding, fully mastered version.  It will blow your socks off!)

"Well the track started out as a piano instrumental and somehow lent itself perfectly to the lyrics so we decided to make a song from it. It's kind of about about being in denial with yourself but written from the opposite point of view. After months of learning the whole technical side of producing music we feel we've struck the perfect balance between synthesized elements and organic instruments, all be it heavily side-chained guitars and hopefully it's enough for you to cut some shapes to! We'll be playing Maggie Mays on the 30th of June and the Dundee Doghouse on the 21st of July if you fancy hearing it played live." - Gary Dillon (Innocents Civilian)

3. The Tea Offensive - To The Disco (A lovely wee demo from this exciting new Hamiltonian pop rock pleasure outlet!)

"To the Disco was the first track penned by us and to us it symbolises our whole approach to writing and the music scene. Upbeat, tounge in cheek and danceable, it remains a favourite in our live sets for both us and fans. The tune was recorded by the brilliant Dominic Troup at The Silence Machine studio in Glasgow (" - The Tea Offensive

4. Le Reno Amps - Had It Enough (An exclusive track from the mighty Le Reno Amps' upcoming EP)

"Had It Enough' is the bastard child of two old demos that LRA have had in the trunk for a few years. It's about blind devotion to a spouse despite their infidelity, "swinging from your pearl-trapeze to your other lover's bed". It's written from the woman's perspective, she's invested too much to do what she knows is the healthy thing and get the fuck out of there so resigns to a life of ignorance and vices, all the while telling herself, but never telling her spouse, that she will leave, one day. She won't.

We recorded the song during sessions for our recent album, Appetite, this particular one started when we laid the drums down in the now defunct Parklane studios in the southside of Glasgow in 2007, we did most of the tracking after that at The Music Box in Edinburgh last year. Our good friend Greg Barnes plays a nice, subtle Rhodes piano on it too. After all that it didn't seem to sit in the tracklisting for Appetite, like a few other tracks, so we put these wee orphans together as an EP. It's called Construction and it'll be in all those digital shoppies (via Armellodie Records) on Monday 11th July.

Appetite is available now in all good shops and"
- Al Nero (Le Reno Amps)

5. The Black Hand Gang - Bricks and Mortar (We'll round off this year with a cracker!)

"Bricks is a track we wrote that kind of sums up our feeling's on the pressures faced by most folk in these hard times of tory leadership, the need to spend what we don't have, and for the lenders to lend to people that can't afford to repay while the music is both defiant and uplifting." - Steve Redmond (The Black Hand Gang)

The EP is now up for free download over on my bandcamp page, along with the rest of this first years' EPs.  Get downloading!

Normal service resumes on July 16th as I kick off Year 2 with more of the same!  If you fancy designing the cover art,  get your entries in before noon on the 15th of July.  Same requirements as before... square and at least 350px wide.  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.  Enjoy!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Kowalskiy Singles Club #4

You know the score by now, it's time for me to play matchmaker once again with all the 'singles' out there.  Before we see how our singles got on last time round, lets have a look at the new batch of hopefuls.  If any of them hit the right notes with you, then click on the cover art and get better acquainted.  Happy downloading...

Homework - Talk Down
Talk Down by Homework
"Up-beat musicians seek willing, cynical listeners.
Cynical listeners, seek willing up-beat musicians? 
Beat seeks willing listeners up cynical musicians?!?
Willing listener seeks musicians – up-beat cynical.
Cynical musicians seek up-beat willing listeners. - Oliver Kass (Homework)
The single is out today.  If you're a willing cynic then this will be right up your street.  In fact, even if you're not it probably will be too.  It's only £1 and comes with remixes from Dunt and The Japanese War Effort.

The Last September - Precious Time
Precious Time by The Last September
"Bouncy, bouncy, ooh such a good time. Jangly ditty about having too much coffee and getting in a spin seeks like-minded listener to whizz around with in the sun" - Pete Deane (The Last September)
Well, well!  This single promises a lot, and I do love coffee!  Thankfully it delivers too.  If that's not enough to wet your whistle, then the single is absolutely FREE!

Salute Mary - Pacifying Hungry Ghosts/Rubella Rubata
Pacifying Hungry Ghosts/Rubella Rubata by Salute Mary
"Salute Mary are: torque, drone, brutalist architecture, pyrotechnics and volume.
Seek: rain-soaked, wind-lashed individuals with WD40 and high stress tolerance."
- Calum Haggerty (Salute Mary)
I like this!  Hopefully you will too.  Get downloading people... It's FREE!  WD40 is optional.

Miaoux Miaoux - Hey Sound!
Hey Sound! by Miaoux Miaoux
"Racy tropical loop with joyous hook seeks technicolour diamond girl to reminisce about the golden age of trance. Must enjoy dancing and have access to a yacht. BYOB." - Julian Corrie (Miaoux Miaoux)
Do you have access to a yacht?  Don't think bringing you own booze is a wee bit stingey?  Then get clicking on the cover art and relive the golden age of trance with Mr. Corrie.

Letters - Flashlights
Flash! Lights by Letters
"5 piece Edinburgh cello pop noiseniks seek Venders who deal in wooden commodities. Procurement of said items (preferably a Cajon) will be used solely for the purpose of smashing against the SEPTUM of every beard scratching, group chugging, back hand highfive slapping, band swapping SPLASH that keeps trying to nick our cellist for the production of contrived folk music" - Mikey Ferguson (Letters)
Ooft, why don't you just say what's on your mind Mikey!  Anyway, this is my new favourite band's second single!  And it's a belter.  It won't be out until 4th July so you've got a wee bit of a wait.  When it's out though, just download it.  It's as simple as that.

Last time I paired up Grant (21) from Musselburgh and Galleries from Glasgow. Here's what Grant had to say about their single Darkness Coming:

"It's a great, perfectly formed and very easy on the ear single.  We've hit it off BIG TIME.  Hopefully it won't be too long before I hear from them again."

Now I know the pride Cilla must've felt!  Anyway, if you've hooked up with any of these singles, or ones from past features, let me know how you're getting on.

K&A with Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers

It was only last October that Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers first grabbed my attention with Can't Stop, their split single with labelmates She's Hit.  I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been itching since then for a swatch of their debut album.  As luck would have it, a few weeks ago, without warning, Luck dropped through my letterbox.  

It's a difficult one to describe since it's quite different to anything else out there just now.  Think of it as a dark, dirty, and sometimes demented, House of the Rising Sun with a whole load of Glasgow charm thrown in for good measure.   Particularly on tracks like Mark, Mary Hell and the brilliantly-raucous new single Lemonade.   The album's not without it's quieter moments though, and for me it's on one of these, the retrospective closing track When You Left Me, that Jacob's gravelly, almost pained vocals and dry, dark humour steal the show.   It's well-and-truly up there with the year's best albums so far. 

With it's release pencilled in for the 20th of June, I thought I'd ask Jacob a few questions.  Here goes...

Kowalskiy: Who are Jacob Yates & The Pearly Gate Lock Pickers?
Jacob: Richard Holmes - guitars
Jamie Bolland - keys and guitars
Michael Bleazard - traps
Jacob Lovatt - vocals and guitars

Kowalskiy: How did the band get together and what's the story behind the name?
Jacob: I suppose it was my fault. I spoke to the guys and said I wanted a vehicle for my outpourings. They said yes and that made me happy as they're a rare bunch. The name came from nowhere as usual, I just took my mothers maiden name and the rest flowed out ma mouth.

Kowalskiy: For folk out there who may not be familiar with you, how would you describe your music?
Jacob: Doom Wop - that pretty much says it all.

Kowalskiy: Many may know you from now defunct Uncle John & Whitelock. Given the cult status and critical acclaim you achieved with them, do you feel under pressure to repeat the feat with The Pearly Gate Lock Pickers?
Jacob: No no pressure, I just want to make the music I like. Uncle John and Whitelock happened then, this is happening now. I deal with now.

Kowalskiy: After a few split singles with She's Hit, you're releasing your debut (and mightily impressive if you don't mind me saying) album Luck on RE:PEATER RECORDS. Is there a story behind it?
Jacob: I think with Stu and Emily from Green Door being an integral part of the recording and production process we distilled the album down to a succinct expression of what we do as a band. The lyrics move through observation, reportage, personal and metaphysical planes. The music backs that up.

Kowalskiy: You've painted quite a grim picture of Maryhill in your track Mary Hell. In fact, the album is a wee bit dark in places. Is that just what the place does to you?
Jacob: In that song I just despair at the human condition, I'm not poking fun at the people who live from tenner bag to tenner bag, I could have just have easily become addicted to heroin and downers. The sites you see in a city where a fifth of the population are treated for drug misuse break your heart. The song 'Dundee' sets a similar scene. That's one side of my songs the other is very black humour, it's the only way I cope. Glad you like the record.

Kowalskiy: The album's already picked up some really good reviews, something your live shows have always seemed to get. Can you describe for us what a typical Jacob Yates & The PGLPs gig is like?
Jacob: A typical show is the band under rehearsed, playing their hearts out trying to keep the shiny side up and the greasy side down. I might even give you a drink.

Kowalskiy: What would be your ideal gig?
Jacob: Junior Kimbrough's Juke Joint anytime before he died and it burnt down. I would have loved to have seen the man. I wouldn't have played jus got drunk and danced my skin off with all my friends. Then I would go home to my wonderful house, my beautiful wife and children, sit in my garden with me dog and think about how great all this wonder is.

Kowalskiy: Are there plans afoot to tour the album? Also, what can we expect from you in the future?
Jacob: No plans to tour, I'm 38, have a life that's outside my music. Album 2 is gonna be proper dark, no more humour jus the reality of man's inhumanity to man.

Kowalskiy: What other Scottish bands out there are you listening to?
Jacob: Adopted As Holograph, Tut Vu Vu, Matt Black and the Emulsions, Sleepy Jeff and the Bears, Slim Pickins and Shitty Sticks.

Kowalskiy: Anything you fancy adding??
Jacob: Please remember these are isolated incidents, things like murder, rape, torture and kidnap just don't happen every day, so don't let it keep you awake. Night night.

Sound advice that!

If you want my advice, you should get yourself a copy of Luck when it's out on the 20th.  In the meantime, have a listen to Lemonade below to quench your musical thirst!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lovers Turn To Monsters - Beyond Glasgow Howls

There are some musical folk out there who can't fail to impress you with their productivity, churning out track after track with seemingly effortless ease.  One such person is Kyle Wood a.k.a. Lovers Turn To Monsters.  At the moment, his Bandcamp page boasts a staggering collection of over 100 lo-fi home recordings, two-thirds of them penned by his own fair hand, all of them free!  On the 16th of June, there'll be another eleven joining his already impressive catalogue, in the form of his first "professionally mixed, mastered and pressed album" Beyond Glasgow Howls.  So be prepared to get your wallets out for a change!  Late last month, Kyle gave me a sneak preview of the album, safe in the knowledge that I owed him a review after I shamefully revealed his secret Panda Su crush to the world.   Shit... did it again!

Rest assured though, if this album was even a wee bit on the shit side, I'd have found some other way to make it up to Kyle.  Predicable though, Kyle has once again delivered.  So here's my unbiased take on his latest offering...

As things kick off with the feedback intro of Fall, straining your ears you'll start to make out some warbled voices which soon enough reveal themselves to be good ol' fashioned Glaswegian banter.  As you go beyond these Glasgow howls, the song develops into a great wee tinkling tale of unrequited love... I think.  The pair of tracks that follow are my two favourite on the album, Nothing Else For It and Cameo whose intro falls somewhere between The Shocking Pinks and early Radio Dept.  Both songs are guaranteed to have you singing along to their epic refrains. 

Three songs in, and with his familiar voice and lo-fi musical ethos very much the same as before, Kyle's claims of a professionally mixed and mastered sound aren't entirely obvious.  A quick listen back to last year's Cars, Bars and Shooting Stars though, and it's amazing how polished Beyond Glasgow Howls sounds in comparison.  That was one of my fears when he sent me this album.   I feared that the sometimes distant sound, the odd wee crackle, hiss and dare-I-say, duff note, that I loved about his music, the stuff that gave it a bit of character and set it apart from all else around, would be stripped away completely.  As polishing goes though, Kyle has got it pretty much spot-on here. 

As a whole, the album flows really well, with some subtle, fleeting Amusement Parks On Fire-esque flashes and one or two complete shifts in style like the brilliant, synthy, instrumental Subway, peppered in amongst the stripped back, acoustic, awkwardly-beautiful lo-fi that's the staple of this very impressive album.   Gawn yersel Kyle! 

If you wanna get your hands on Beyond Glasgow Howls, Lovers Turn To Monsters will be marking it's launch at Slouch in Glasgow on the 16th with support from Where We Lay Our Heads and So Many Animal Calls.