Thursday, 23 February 2012

...The Sea Kings!

Photo by Dylan Nardini
Names can often be misleading.  This is one of those times.  For Glasgow's The Sea Kings, are not in fact kings of the sea.  They're more fond of graveyards if truth be told.  We won't hold any of this against them though, especially given the fact they've just released Some Dark Matters, one of my favourite EPs to come out in yonks.  Now... with a name like theirs, you'd be forgiven for expecting to hear some kind of forlorn folk or at the very least, some accordion-led sea shanties.

But not this!  This came as quite a refreshing surprise.  What we have here, at times, reminds me a lot of Canadians (funnily enough!) Of Montreal, with their penchant for unusual stimuli, tongue-in-cheek delivery and squeeling guitar solos which tow the fine line between musical brilliance and the absurb!  It shouldn't work with their folky roots, let alone be pulled off with such aplomb as it is throughout this impressive debut.  Case in point is the fantastic EP opener Orphan, Martyr, Saint.

If you ask me for my highlight though, it'd have to be at the opposite end of the EP, final track Tooth And Nail.  Any song with the lyrics "your mother and I, we had another child.  He's buried in the yard... we held your brother down, until the cement filled his lungs" is bound to raise a few eyebrows.  Throw in a pounding drumbeat, those siren-like guitars shimmering away in the background, some raw, powerful harmonies and what you get is something quite special indeed... albeit slightly worrying!

Worry not though.  It turns out The Sea Kings play psychobilly - the portrayal of violence and other such taboo topics through comedic interpretation.  Who knew eh??  I guess the EP title is meant to be taken literally!  Anyway, here's what the guys had to say for themselves when I caught up with them...

Kowalskiy:  Who are The Sea Kings?
The Sea Kings:  Four fully grown male adults interested in bondage, discipline and other non-specific religious hobbies.

Kowalskiy:  So eh, what are you guys up to later on??  I mean... how would you describe 'your sound'?
The Sea Kings:  Like a fire in a monastery in Seville, southern Spain, circa 1506.

Kowalskiy:  PLUG AWAY!!
The Sea Kings:  Our EP "Some Dark Matters" will be revered by musicologists and historians in 100 years as being a pivotal and inspirational game changer. Don't miss out on an opportunity to gloat, grandstand and crow about your early adoption to the cause.  Some Dark Matters on sale now.  Download via iTunes or for a physical copy, go here.

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from you in the future?
The Sea Kings:  An as yet untitled album that covers things like the rise and fall of the Nazi's, alfresco infanticide, your Uncle's penchant for dirty knickers and medieval torture facilities to name but a few.

As I said... psychobilly!  The Sea Kings' debut EP Some Dark Matters is out now via Iffy Folk Records and can be bought from them here, or you can download it from iTunes

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #20

I'm sure you know the drill by now. It's the 16th of the month, so time for another EP! As always, I've pestered five of my favourite up-and-coming Scottish artists for one of their cracking tracks.  This time 'round we have...

1.  Little Fire - Feel It All ('Tis a great pleasure to have Ayrshire's award-winning Jamie McGeechan on this EP. One of the finest songwriters in this fair land... and a man that knows how to plug!)

"I'm gigging at the Brew at The Bog Festival on the 5th May with Three Blind Wolves, Mike Nisbet, Beerjacket and loads more great artists, then I've a gig with the Queen on May 20th at the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations thing at Glamis Castle, my album will be out this year and I've got a gig with
Joan Armatrading that I'm really looking forward to also. Oh and I'm really looking forward to an event called Third Degree Burns I'm putting on at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum on Saturday 2nd June with Ayrshire musicians Rose Parade and Alan Frew, that will be a good un. thanks!!!" - Jamie McGeechan a.k.a. Little Fire

2.  Brown Bear & The Bandits - War Of Loves (The best thing to come out of Largs since Sam Torrance and Nardini's! Although not on it, this is a great taster of what to expect from their upcoming debut EP.)

"This track War of Loves is one of the first songs we played live and is now a staple in our set, it won't be featuring in our soon to be released E.P. that will be out at the end of March so now is the time to get it before it disappears. Be Excellent To Each Other." - Stuart McArthur (Brown Bear & The Bandits)

3.  New Town Triptych - Never Again (This is the A+ side to their recent, third, and my-favourite-so-far single. You can download the rest here!)

"This is a song about the friends I've lost that I never really had in the first place, sounds depressing but it's surprisingly upbeat... Hope you like it!" - Scott Thomson (New Town Triptych)

4.  The Last September - Tears and Broken Glass (acoustic) (Here's a banjofied version of a track from last years album. It'll be the B-side to their upcoming single This City.)

"The B-side to the single This City is a sort of hillbilly version of the song Tears and Broken Glass from the album As The Crow Flies. I was testing out some mics and stuff in the house and just recorded this acoustic version of the track. I kind of liked its humble charm and then had the idea to ask Stuart Cartwright from Unkle Bob to play some Banjo on it. I think he's really added something magical in an old timery kind of way! It's a nice example of the fun you can have making something when there's no pressure on." - Pete Deane (The Last September)

5.  Ajimal - Your God Is Not In Burgos (demo) (Absolutely stunning! When he's not studying Medicine at Edinburgh University, Fran O'Hanlon makes some of the most exquisite music you're likely to hear all year. Thanks to Fran, you can singalong too! Lyrics are up on the track page.)

"Your God Is Not In Burgos is a song about two very different places, which I came across whilst walking the Camino de Santiago through Spain. I stopped in Burgos, a very pious and historical site, and have never left a place feeling so unwelcome, rejected and angry. I felt that there was very little for me that felt spiritual or 'religious' in Burgos. Then walking on I came to a tiny little church-cum-hostel called San Nicolas, it was an ancient, humble little place and had welcomed pilgrims since the 12th century. I had planned to keep walking that day but stayed to rest a little and get some water. The welcome there was so wonderful and the people so kind and generous that I stayed. They were Italian hospitaleros of the Dominican order, and in Dominican tradition, they washed the feet of the walkers staying there, and cooked us genuine Italian pizza and shared some cakes which they had bought from a nearby monastery. I wrote this song that night on the altar, on an old acoustic guitar and then set off again the next morning. I didn't play it for a long time after that, but I found myself at the same little place the following year and stopped there and played the song again, on that same guitar I'd written it on, a year or so before." - Fran O'Hanlon a.k.a. Ajimal

Not bad eh?!  Well, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do... and the 19 others over on my bandcamp page.  Time to put my feet up for a few days before I start sending pestering emails again.  If you fancy saving me the hassle though and want to appear on a future EP, fire me over a wee email ( and we'll go from there.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

K&A with Eugene Twist

OK folks!  Time now to say 'hello' to a guy from Glasgow who just might have thee best name in Scottish music at the moment... Eugene Twist.  He's recorded his debut album The Boy Who Had Everything with the good people at Elba Studios, and to be fair, the title is pretty accurate.  For Mr. Twist is not your typical singer/songwriter.  Where most are at home with an acoustic guitar, Eugene has written, recorded and produced the album with a trusty band of brass, strings, percussion... you name it!  The end product is as ambitious and as impressive as all that sounds.  So, without much further ado, here's what he had to say about the album, his plans for the year ahead, and the answer to the question on everyone's lips.  Just what do you get for the boy who has everything...

Kowalskiy:  Who is Eugene Twist?
Eugene:  A 25 year old from Glasgow with one antenna submerged in the leagues of musical history and the other balancing high on the wire of musical relevancy. Still somehow moving forwards with just the odd electric shock.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe your 'sound'?
Eugene:  For a long time I've felt like my singing voice is my own. In terms of a sound I've always been more of an explorer/magpie than a fashionista in the hope of gravitating towards something unique. My focus has been somewhat song over style but I feel like my music is my own. People say there are elements of Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan in there right through to Radiohead, which I can accept - even if you don't listen to these artists you can't help tread on their territories sometimes. I just try to write as organically as possible and pay attention somewhat selectively in the hope that I'm doing my own thing. I feel like songwriting is infinite and its limitations are merely a red rag for me. There are always new things to say.

Kowalskiy:  Your debut album The Boy Who Had Everything is out now... here! So yeah, what do you get for the boy who has everything?
Eugene:  Anything he can get his greedy hands on.

Kowalskiy:  What can you tell us about the album?
Eugene:  Eight tracks of the most ambitious music I could pull off. Recorded meticulously in a small studio with a very patient and attentive engineer. My friend Nick and I performed the majority of it and had some other folk come in to play. I've always recorded my own music but never with a view to releasing it properly, this time as the producer it was a massive learning curve and I found myself growing up a lot as an arranger and even as a writer in the process. Consequently accommodating for an ever-expanding vision from June - October last year.  Now very delighted and proud of the end product.

Kowalskiy:  Given you had a trusty band of friends play on the album, how will the album translate to the live stage?
Eugene:  For the moment the focus is on delivering the songs and vocal in a way that is suited to touring/supports etc. - a practical set up consisting mostly of myself and Nick. I feel it's also the most engaging at this stage and still packs a punch. Ultimately it's the platform to build a strong band around.

Kowalskiy:  What'd be your ideal gig?  Who'd be a Tough Act To Follow?
Eugene:  I love the Hammersmith Apollo in London, it's grand yet has an intimacy about it. 1960's - Mose Allison as my cocktail waiter and Leonard Cohen as my cigar caddy, then they duet... leaving a long interval before I go on.

Kowalskiy:  It's probably still early enough to get away with this one... which bands would you like to see do well in 2012?
Eugene:  Some friends of mine from Glasgow, Andrea Marini and also David Robert Bova are very good.

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from you this year?
Eugene:  Hard work - gigs, many new songs, videos, maybe some collaborations.

Kowalskiy:  Last one... which actress would you like on a mattress?
Eugene:  Assuming it's acting by profession - there is something about a young Meryl Streep I find very beautiful.

Presumably, she'd be quite difficult to wake up cos... that lady's not for turning!  Getting back to the album (probably for the best), you can buy it in digital form over here from Eugene's Bandcamp.  And, if you're in Glasgow this weekend and fancy seeing how much of a punch his live show packs, then he'll be at The Captain's Rest on Sunday 19th February.  Cheers Eugene!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Straight From The Horse's Mouth

Let me introduce myself, I'm The Ramisco Maki Maki Rocking Horse, I've never reviewed a record in my life. Alas, here I am, ears cleaned thoroughly and equalised by Steve Wonder's Higher Ground. I've got two records in the pile, first up is All That Glitters by Homework.

If I could dance myself into another dimension, I'd like to feature this record on the soundtrack. There's something cosmic about it, something that displaces reality with visions of another universe. I'm wearing a space suit. My synth envy is heavy. There's a tinfoil tree on a hill top and it's fruit glows. I'd like to taste the fruit, but I'm timid, the bass line leads me towards it regardless. I see fuzzy shapes. Everything seems so fantastic when you're travelling through sound, each track is an adventure and each adventure is unique. Have a listen, start at the beginning, go on an adventure with Homework and take your friends with you.

Next up we have What Might Happen by Hold The Suspect, atmospheric and melodically frantic. I'm swimming in puddles of wonder, slightly fearful, the darkness comes for me, but I have a pocket light switch. Redemption is available, there's a slice for you too. Visions of yesteryear are present, it's kinda emotional, slightly haunting, but the Horse don't cry. Hold The Suspect would like to get acquainted with your ears, nice to meet you.

From Kowalskiy (with love):  The EPs can be bought here (Homework) and here (Hold The Suspect).  Thanks to The Horse for his unique, eye (and indeed, ear) opening take on two EPs from last year.  Hopefully this will whet your appetite for later in the year when The Horse returns to TakeOver the offices of Kowalskiy!  In the meantime, you can have a listen to the man himself over here.

Monday, 6 February 2012


So here we are, over a month into, what is already shaping up to be an impressive year for up-and-coming Scottish music... and I've finally ventured up the A9, all the way to Aberdeen...  via Australia though!  The reason being, to introduce you all to Joseph Sutherland, a.k.a. Foxhunting. His debut album Come On Sweetheart, Take My Heart is out now and is really very good indeed, even more impressive when you consider Joe is but a young 'un... an incredibly talented one at that!  So, while you're reading what he has to say for himself, have a listen to the brilliant December.  

Kowalskiy:  Who is Foxhunting?
Joseph:  Foxhunting is Joseph, a now-19-year-old boy from Aberdeen. I entered a talent contest at my secondary school in 2004 and came second to a twin Proclaimers tribute act. I've been playing guitar since my father thrust one into my hands aged 12, started with a few chords and learning progressions. By 14 I was writing some (fairly rubbish) songs using four-chord structures. I'm still doing that today, but with a bit more imagination in the lyrics department.

Kowalskiy:  How would you describe 'your sound'?
Joseph:  I like to think that I'm not just another acoustic guitarist, even though I plainly am. I'm currently experimenting with pedals and loops to try and define myself a little more, but I think having a more alternative listening background allows me to pigeonhole myself into the more "angular" side of pop. As I was learning to write music I was listening to a lot of Bloc Party, Editors and Snow Patrol, which showed in my voice. Thankfully I no longer sing with a thick Irish accent.

Kowalskiy:  PLUG AWAY!!!
Joseph:  Plugging, hey? Not a fan of plugging, I prefer to let the water run free. Hur hur. More seriously, I recently recorded an album in three weeks with Iain McPherson of Bedford Records - doing an album in three weeks is not recommended, by the way - called Come On Sweetheart, Take My Hand. It's one big experiment, if I'm honest, with a lot of last-minute ideas on the platter, but most of the songs I've been bumbling about with and tinkering for years. It has an underlying theme of nature and human emotion which carries through on each track.

Kowalskiy:  What else can we expect from you in the future?
Joseph:  Well, hopefully I'll get a few more shows under my belt and start gigging in places like Glasgow and Edinburgh. I'm fairly new to the gigging scene even in Aberdeen, so I'll look to get myself a promoter to look into that for me when I return to the UK from Australia. Material-wise I'm in the middle of writing a new EP/album which I hope to get home-recorded in the near future. I'm also planning, as I say, to expand my sound so you can hopefully expect something a bit more visceral and pedal-fuelled in future.

So... onto the all-important album details!  If you fancy getting your hands on Come On Sweetheart, Take My Hand then head over to the Foxhunting Bandcamp page.  Thrown into the mix is a copy of last years self-titled EP, a hidden track, liner notes and a choice of four album covers.  In fact, choice is the order of the day as far as the album is concerned, with half the tracks, including Blood, or, And I Was Right, (streaming below) being dual-titled to let you decide which is more apt.  Pretty nifty eh?!