Monday, 25 July 2011

...Negotiations.!

Some artists should need no introduction on this blog, like Matthew Healy there.  But here's one anyway!  He's been on here a fair amount, either with his band Loch Awe, or as a central part of The Coat Hooks.  Well now you can add his solo incarnation Negotiations. to that impressive list.  Take it away Matthew...

Kowalskiy:  Who is Negotiations.?
Matthew:  Negotiations. is just me, Matthew Healy, also of Loch Awe, Andrew Lindsay & The Coathooks and formerly of We, the Plural. I like collaborating though, so most of my releases will have a few friends on them.  LA MORENA is the first of those friends. She's an artist and slam poet from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Weirdly, we've never actually met in person, but despite that obvious setback she was the first person to come to mind when I was looking for people to work with. She's great.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Matthew:  Hm. On "It's Dinner Time In Fucking America" (the collab EP with LA MORENA) I tried to make the music more about atmosphere than anything else, so I used a lot of repetition, drones, a wee bit of sub bass and a fuckload of reverb. I was very inspired by Boards of Canada and Burial (isn't every fucker who owns a keyboard, though?) and the like, which I think comes across.  However, in general, Negotiations. doesn't really have a set sound. I'm halfway through recording my first full-length, which is basically a pop album. You can hear early demos of the songs on my soundcloud.

Kowalskiy:  Plug away!!
Matthew:  Obviously I have to plug LA MORENA. She's got some stuff on Bandcamp which is really good. I can't wait to hear what she does next.  I'm very, very excited about the Adam Stafford album which comes out in August. He streamed it online last weekend and it's amazing.  I realised recently I've never ever mentioned Shambles Miller when plugging my friends. That was wrong of me. I caught him live for the first time recently, and as well as being a lovely guy he's absolutely hilarious. Plus his new songs are fucking great.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?
Matthew:  Well the album, tentatively titled "Musique Noir" (because I like film noir, basically - I really wish I had a cooler reason), should hopefully be done by September. I've been talking to the aforementioned Mr Stafford about releasing it with Wise Blood Industries, which I'm obviously hugely excited about.  Other than that I recently recorded an EP with Andrew Lindsay and Jack from Loch Awe which should be out within the next few months (or as soon as we get time to mix it), and I've almost finished the writing for the second Loch Awe album. We're hoping that'll be out in early 2012, but it depends how long it takes us to save up to record it, really.

A lot to look forward to if you ask me!  Until then, you can get your hands on It's Dinner Time In Fucking America for free.  Here's Baal to whet your appetitie...
 



If that's not enough, Negotiations. also have some Preliminary Negotiations up for free download, We, the Plural have some too... as do Loch Awe.  Get downloading!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

K&A with Colin MacIntyre

Yes, that Colin MacIntyre.  I can't quite believe it myself.  Of the 50-or-so interviews I've done on here, I believe it's doing none of the others a dis-service to say that this is the one that's tickled the most.  I started to really get into music when I was around 16 and can still remember Loss being one of the first albums I ever bought... that never had 'NOW' in the title.  So, to get the chance to ask one of my musical heroes a few questions, is an absolute honour.

Colin's busying himself ahead of the release of his sixth album, City Awakenings, due out in the Autumn.  Like a growing number of artists these days, he's signed up to PledgeMusic to raise some funds.  From what I've heard so far, the album is gonna be great!  You can get your hands on all sorts of goodies, from a signed copy of the new album to a private acoustic show.  So pledge away.  The sooner you do, the sooner Colin reaches his target... and the sooner I get my hands on my signed CD!

Time to hear from the man himself now.  Over to you Colin...

Kowalskiy:  Mr. MacIntyre, 'tis a pleasure! How are you? What are you up to?
Colin:  I'm well.  I'm just finalising my new album, a few mix tweaks.  Otherwise I'm listening to the Open golf on the radio - it's relaxing.

Kowalskiy:  It's been 10 years since you released your debut album Loss under your cult moniker Mull Historical Society. What made you change to record The Water under your own name? 
Colin:  I just fancied giving my alter-ego a rest.  It was 3 albums written and recorded and toured in 5 years - quite a lot of work!  But fun.  'Loss' was me pouring out, it was a rush.  And that's what the new album feels like.

Kowalskiy:  You're recording your 6th album City Awakenings just now over in NYC.  How'd you come by the name? Any feeling yet what the album will be about and how it'll compare to your last offering Island?
Colin:  'City Awakenings' refers to my time in the cities that have meant a lot to me.  Glasgow, London and New York.  Coming from an island it was like a rush to my senses being in a city and that had an impact on my creativity.  I seemed to have endless melodies and words in my head - I could never sleep so I recorded them all.  About 300 songs in those first years in Glasgow.  Then 11 of them became 'Loss'.
With an album I always need a theme to hang it on, and my inspiration was the above and also my memory of seeing a city for the first time as a child.  That story is the new song 'The Lights'.  City Awakenings is very upbeat, and not like Island at all.  But then it's all me too at the end of the day, as football managers would say at 4:45pm on a Saturday.

Kowalskiy:  So, does this mean you'll be dusting down the MHS alter-ego?
Colin:  We'll see!

Kowalskiy:  You tease!  For City Awakenings you've signed up to PledgeMusic. What was the thinking behind that?
Colin:  I've always tried to move as the industry moves.  But then again you need to be yourself aswell, the island never leaves you.

Kowalskiy:  What pledge do you recommend? 
Colin:  A night at my mum's hotel.

Kowalskiy:  When's the album due for release, and can we expect you back over here touring it?
Colin:  October 3rd. Yes definitely touring, can't wait to play 'em.

Kowalskiy:  I'm sure there's many, but are you able to single out any of your favourite moments in your musical career so far? 
Colin:  Playing with REM?  My tour with The Strokes?  My first gig at the Barrowlands? Meeting David Byrne at my gig in New York?  Hearing my first single for the first time on Radio 1 in the King Tuts car park?

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig? 
Colin:  An Tobar, my old school now a venue on Mull.

Kowalskiy:  In the past you've featured beloved family members and right honourable gentlemen in your music. If you could have anyone appear on one of your albums, who would it be? 
Colin:  Elvis.

Kowalskiy:  Last one! Are there any Scottish bands you're listening to at the moment? 
Colin:  I always go back to Belle & Sebastian.

One of the new songs that Colin has uploaded, Not Today, (free for pledgers) has 'MHS' written all over it!  If it's anything to go by, the new album is gonna be very good indeed.  Get pledging!

Cheers Colin, it's been a pleasure.

Kowalskiy Singles Club #5

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...

Maydays - Eternal Optimist
Eternal Optimist by Maydays
"Eternal optimist seeks bi polar pessimist for life balance and weekends spent sky diving and paint drying. Looking for long term but willing to concede it might never happen. Empty glass preferred to avert current spillage crisis." - Darren (Maydays)
Originally released in May, this is a cracking single from Maydays.  So if you're looking for long term commitment and weekends in watching paint dry, this may be the match for you!  Take my word for it though, it's a lot more exciting than they're letting on.  Plus it's FREE!

Foxgang - White Picket Fence
White Picket Fence by Foxgang
"Song seeks a person that understands the fact that we could have been lovers; someone with different Television. You were right there? We were right there too." - Joe (Foxgang)
Another FREEbie this one.  It's part of the second compilation by Krakow-based record label Loose Wires and in true Foxgang fashion, it's fantastic!    


mitchell museum - What They BuiltWhat They Built by mitchell museum
"Spacey Junk-pop WLTM Doe-eyed VGL Record Label Executive with GSOH for LWITP, HH, B/D and long term financial security. We are OTS and would like to experiment with you.  Must have a love of Pink Floyd, home haircuts and board games. Soldering skills a definite plus. ACA.  NUWT" - Kris (mitchel museum)
You may be too late to get this single in the done-to-death mini-keyboard format, but you can still get it in the more obscure emm-pee-three one.  Mark my words, it'll never take off!  Anyway, as always, this is a belter from the guys!  You can hear the B-side, a cover of MIA's Paper Planes over here.

Ed Muirhead - She's Gone
She's Gone by Ed Muirhead
"Harmonious, lovelorn cynic-on-the-rebound seeks simple-minded music-lover to pick three chords and make a song... Enjoys tea and biscuits, sunshine and clouds... GSOH essential." - Ed Muirhead
This one's a FREE track from Tattie Records' debut release, Mr. Muirhead's own album Cage For The Clouds.  We all enjoy some tea, biscuits and sunshine... maybe the clouds is pushing it a bit though.   It's a lovely wee song, and once again it's FREE so give it a go.  Comes with a nice wee handwritten animation too.

PET - What you building?
What you Building? by PET
"Heavy feather pop contortionists seek un-feeble minded ear acrobats. Will not bend over backwards for just anyone. BSOH required" - Matthew (PET)
A brilliant wee single here from Edinburgh's heavy feather pop contortionist trailblazers!  Guaranteed to float your boat, providing you have a BSOH.  It's a name-your-price one so have a listen first then make your mind up. 

New Town Triptych - Climb/Don't Want To Hear It
Climb/Don't Want To Hear It by New Town Triptych
"Confindent, loyal and tenacious lonely heart seeks like-minded music appreciator for long walks on the beach. No challenge too great, no mountain too high, together we'll get there. In it for the long haul this time, no more disappointments. Strings attached ;) " - Stephen (New Town Triptych)
Their debut EP 'Just How You Designed' was awesome, this follow up single is just as good.  Lovely, acoustic, folky pop for all to enjoy.  It can be yours for two measly US dollars!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #13

The Second Year of Free EPs starts here... a half hour late!  Ah well, hopefully you'll agree it's worth the wait.  Once again, I've pestered five of the country's best up-and-coming bands for a track, and they've come up trumps again this month.  You know the drill by now, but if not, click the cover art to get your free download.  Here's the five brilliant bands on KEP#13... 

1. Echo Arcadia - Lucinda (Room Demo) (An exclusive bedroom recording of their debut EP track.  Prepare to be blown away!)

"Lucinda is a song that has rather deep personal meaning to me, it's about the moment I realised that I didn't need a religion to have faith. It forms part of our 'Broken Chapters' EP, with the songs on it carving a journey of events through my life." if that floats your boat, 'Broken Chapters' is available on iTunes etc" - Leigh Moyes (Echo Arcadia)

2. Verse Metrics - Oscillations (These guys have only gone and given me half of their upcoming single to give away!)

"This is one of the tracks from our second release, the double-A-side "Sleep &Wakefulness". The idea with these tracks was to layer several guitar parts and have them recurring on a loop for part of the song, as we did with Horoscopes on our first EP, then write everything else starting from the loop and see where it took us. I think Robin lost a few years of his life mixing it!   Official launch night is Tue 19th July where we're playing at King Tut's Summer Nights - should be a great night with Found, Bermuda and Cancel The Astronauts also on the bill." - Bob Dick (Verse Metrics)

3. Letters - Flash! Lights (demo) (The original demo to their amazing new, also free, single!)

"Just as a wee disclaimer, I don't like to think of myself as a whiner or some attention seeking faux manic depressive. But if I'm being completely honest, Flash! lights is about everything that's wrong with me. Anger management, impatience, drive, fear of under achievement, letting go of the past and feeling completely dwarfed by the possibilities of time. It's not exactly original source material but we always try to write things that have been said or done to death and put our own sound and lyrical style to it.   We recorded it with one of our good mates and producer extraordinaire Stephen Watkins in the presence of Tom Nicol and Fiona McNab (the other two brains of TAPE) up in Aviemore and the chorus reminds me of standing in front of a microphone that looked out through a massive bay window on to the Cairngorms. I was extremely hungover after hitting it HARD with Kerr the night before when we went to see 'The Last Battle', which is probably why the vocals are so husky.  The big sound we normally go for probably doesn't come through in this demo as much as it does in the mastered single version (available for free at www.wewriteletters.co.uk/music) but I remember the first time Stephen played the demo back to me and I had that oxymoronic feeling of being joyously sad when I heard the chorus the first time. Same feeling I got when Georgie played her cello line to the intro and that part of the song." - Mikey Ferguson (Letters)

4. Campfires In Winter - Before The Owl Will Fly (One of three new 'very, very rough demos' from Boab et al.)

"To put it simply, this song is about the death of someone close to you. However, the lyrics approach it in a more optimistic direction, looking to find the positives that came from knowing that person and the influence they had on you. It wasn't written specifically about any one person in my life, but it has been influenced by a few people I've known. My intention was to write something which pretty much anyone can listen to and apply to their own experiences. Hopefully people can connect to it in some way." - Boab Canavan (Campfires In Winter)

5. Daniel and the Lions - Of The Times (We'll end this month with a great wee demo from the man that brought us Dalyrimple Goes Wrong.)

"'Of the Times' is a demo from what's going to be an EP from my band - Daniel and the Lions. It's all still in the pipeline, but will be released eventually.  I'm pretty crappy at plugs, but I think as Matthew (Loch Awe) says, "Here is some music, I hope you like it. You can get more, for free, at www.dalyrimplegoeswrong.bandcamp.com..." - Daniel Parry (Daniel and the Lions)

Get your grubby mitts on the EP now for free over on my bandcamp page, along with all those from the last 12 months!

Next month there'll be more of the same, five great free tracks from Scotland's finest!  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 and see if it tickles my fancy.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Takeover!

To celebrate the launch of www.kowalskiy.co.uk (not really, it's the exact same website), I thought I'd share with you the details of my upcoming, new feature.  Buoyed on by the surprising success of my lonely-hearts-style Singles Club (the easiest way to spot which of your favourite bands are borderline sex pests) and my series of Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EPs (whose one year anniversary is this Saturday), I thought I'd continue teaming up with the best up-and-coming bands this country has to offer, and letting them have their say.   The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed I'm not as prolific with my blogging these days, so in an attempt to up the number of posts, I'm gonna introduce the semi-regular Kowalskiy Takeover! where a band, very literally, takes over the offices of Kowalskiy for a week to bring you interviews, features, reviews, and pretty much anything else that takes their fancy.  For that week, the blog will be rebranded, revamped and re-energised by the band, all in the name of fun... and great music of course!

So when do these shenanigans begin I hear you cry?  Sometime in the not-so-but-still-slightly distant future.  This is your heads up though!  Details of who the Takeover! bands are, and when they'll be in office, will all be revealed in due course, so watch this space...

...Thula Borah!

We're long overdue another Introducing... post on here, perhaps something a wee bit different to the norm is called for.  Glasgow's Thola Borah are just that.  They released their debut album Mind River Matter last year, and I'm kicking myself that I've only just become aware of it.  It's dark and ominous, uplifting and atmospheric, all in equal, BIG measures.  Here's a taster... 


Over to the band now to hear what they have to say for themselves...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Thula Borah?
Thula Borah:  Thula Borah are Lloyd Fay (vocals + guitar), Kevin Heimann (guitar), Matt Williams (bass + vocals) and Brian Eggo (drums).  Together since 2007 we have been gigging extensively since late 2009 and have played venues such as King Tut's Wah-Wah Hut, Nice N Sleazy and 13th Note in Glasgow as well at the Edinburgh Festival. We have also received airplay by the likes of Vic Galloway on Radio 1.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Thula Borah:  Probably best described as a mix of 90's alternative rock such as Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana and 'post-rock' like Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Isis.  Scottish music website Dead Earnest described our music as exuding a “haunting, hypnotic, exotic and feel-good atmosphere'' whilst Channel 4 said we are "like pre-Screamadelica Primals, with a churning Ride undertow".

Kowalskiy:  Plug away!
Thula Borah:  Our debut album Mind River Matter was released last year and is available from iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.  Amazing Radio’s Charlie Ashcroft describes it as “Slow-burning rock beauty.”  Catch us at The Captain's Rest, Glasgow on Thursday 14th July to hear songs from Mind River Matter alongside newer material.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?
Thula Borah:  We will have a new EP out later this year and are hoping to tour the UK and Europe next year.

Amazing Radio are spot on with that description!  Be sure to check out the album and if it tickles your fancy, head along to The Captain's Rest this Thursday!  As a wee incentive, the band are giving away a free download of album track Dirty Injection over here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Kowalskiy Belated Review #8

Annie Stevenson - Annie Stevenson
So time for another trio of Kowalskiy-neglected releases.   We're talking months here people!  I'm ashamed of myself, I really am.  First up are Glasgow indie-rocking-quartet (and not some female soloist as their name suggests) Annie Stevenson.  Thinking back, they were probably one of the first bands ever to send me demos all those years ago.  Well now, they've brought out their debut, eponymous album, and you know what, it ain't half bad!
It did take me a while to appreciate this album.  There's a lot of differing styles going on, and the indie punk of the opening two tracks, reminiscent of The Enemy,  isn't one of my favourite genres!  It's not long though before these plucky young 'uns hit their stride with the (good era) Weezer-esque Someone Else and swaggering Britpop throwback TV Took Your Soul.  This promising debut peaks at the cracking Freedom Town which combines elements of both to great effect, creating a great rousing anthem.  I suppose, they do have the brass to pull it off!  As the album draws to a close, there's a few more styles and snippets of influences shining through.  All sound promising from a band trying to find their niche. A smidgeon of polish and a more definite style-of-their-own and we could be hearing an awfy lot more from Annie Stevenson!

Although the album is only available at gigs, the band are releasing a series of 4 downloadable EPs featuring the album tracks, each with a new song too!  The first of which, featuring Someone Else can be bought from iTunes here

Chasing Owls - We Began
The eponymy stops here!  Edinburgh folkies Chasing Owls are next up with their delightful debut EP We Began.  If their music's anything to go by, then they're a lovely bunch indeed!  As for the EP, it's absolutely stunning.  Especially opening track Wedding Song, which in my opinion, is one of the finest Scottish folk songs of the last few years' alt-folk revival.  Awash with gorgeous melodies, perfectly-placed handclaps and a timeless fiddle solo, it's fit to grace anyone's special day.   In no small part due to frontman Ben Sunderland's vocals, on Glory, comparisons with Mr. Mumford and his male offspring are inevitable.  This gorgeous, almost eerily-so, track builds up with the same quiet intensity their folky counterparts made their name with, and more than holds its own.  Bonus track, and by far, the most upbeat track on the EP, Lady of the Whiteness is a slight departure from that intensity, but a glorious track nonetheless, and definitely one to get the foot tapping away to.  Just you try and stop it!  Hopefully there's not too long to wait for the follow-up.

Black International - In Debt
From the artwork alone you know this couldn't be more different to the last one!  Different is still good though, every bit as good as the case may be.  Hailing from Edinburgh, Black International describe their what they do as "stripped down, economical, brutal music".  If that doesn't tempt you to check their debut album In Debt out, I dunno what will!  This stripped down brutality begins with A Millions Mouths, which sucks you in from the off, signalling its intent with regimented snare drums and their trademark, menacing guitars.   The full-on aural assault continues, reaching its peak at the devastating standout trio - Word Virus, Know You Exist and Monument.  Black International are taking no prisoners whatsoever with In Debt.  It's a strong, bold debut, and it's clear to see why they've struck a chord with bloggers and radio sorts alike.  This three-headed, guitar-wielding behemoth is gonna take some stopping!