Monday, 25 June 2012

Battle Of The Bands

In the red corner, weighing in at 140lbs, the man, the mystery, the Nuclear Knockout... Kowalskiiiiiyyyy!  And in the blue corner, tipping the scales at... it was too rude to ask... his finger's always on the Pulse, the Barrhead Bruiser... Scottisshhh Fiiiiictonnn!
Hey folks!  Let this serve as your advance warning.  On Tuesday, the 3rd of July, two of Scottish music's super-blogging-bantamweights, namely myself and Neil from Scottish Fiction, will be going head-to-head in the first heat of our new fortnightly feature Battle Of The Bands.  Exciting eh?

In a Scottish music twist to the cherished, childhood card game (one which was not only 'top' of the card game charts but well and truly 'trumped' all its competitors), Neil and I will each select a band or artist every two weeks and do battle using only their vital stats as cannon fodder.  Here's the all important rules of play:

  • Each bandcard contains 6 attributes as shown opposite.  As an example, I've chosen myself.  As you can see, I'd make a shit band!
  • Each fortnight, both Neil and I will pick a band or an artist who have been floating our respective boats recently and we'll fill out our bandcards.
  • Each round, one of us then picks 3 attributes (dibs alternates each month).  Whoever has the highest attribute wins that mini-duel.
  • For the TOTAL attribute, the winning condition is always the lowest.  See, there will have to be some sort of strategy and a lot more gambling involved in this than you thought!
  • One point is awarded for each attribute won, and a half-point is awarded to both players in the result of a draw.
  • The winner is the person who has the most points after each attribute has been compared and points have been toted up.
  • The winner has irrevocable bragging rights until the next heat.
  • No kicking, scratching and/or pulling of hair.
  • And lastly, no crying when you get absolutely spanked Neil!

Battle commences the 3rd of July. Bring it on Neil!

...The Magnetic North!

A while back, I posed my usual Introducing... questions to Simon Tong from The Magnetic North.  Given I asked him to "plug away" and he obliged by mentioning their gig in Kirkwall this Thursday, it's probably about time I got it posted.  They also released their concept album Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North via Full Time Hobby back at the beginning of May.  The whole thing is a stunning piece of music.  Hardly surprising considering the special place the subject matter has in Erland Cooper's (of Erland and the Carnival fame) Orcadian heart.  Here's what Simon had to say, but first, a free taster from the album.

Kowalskiy: Who are The Magnetic North?
Simon: The Magnetic North are NOT a Canadian Hip Hop act. The Magnetic North are Erland Cooper, Hannah Peel and Simon Tong. We have written and recorded a musical travelogue of the Orkney Islands and hope that people will be inspired to go on a pilgrimage and visit all the island places we mention in our track titles.

Kowalskiy: How would you describe 'your sound'?
Simon:  Our sound is NOT folktronica. Our sound is inspired by the landscape and Folklore of Orkney Islands. It's dreamlike, watery, dark, evocative, ancient and modern.

Kowalskiy: PLUG AWAY!!!
Simon: We are playing a show in St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on June 28th with a local choir and a small orchestra made up of local Orcadian musicians. In the autumn we are going to bring the choir (or as many as we can persuade to join us) to the mainland and tour the UK for a couple of weeks. We will also be projecting images of the Islands created by New York based visual artist Peter Norrman and will have a string and brass section on stage not to mention our wonderful drummer- James Field.

Kowalskiy: What can we expect from The Magnetic North in the future?
Simon: We don't know what the future holds for The Magnetic North. If anyone knows please do tell us. Secretly we hope there is a wonderful film out there just about to be made that needs the perfect soundtrack!

If you're up in Kirkwall, you'd be mad not to head along to St. Magnus Cathedral on Thursday.  Couldn't imagine a more perfect setting and accompaniment for their music.  If not, then you can still get your copy of the album from Full Time Hobby, Amazon MP3 and iTunes.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Coastal Skid Spy Wok v14.0

And I'm back! First of all, thanks to Boab from Campfires In Winter for taking over notcast duties last weekend. I hope you've all downloaded their new album demos over here. Geez they're a beardy bunch aren't they?!   Just four ill-fitting suits and broad-brimmed felt hats away from being sued by the Amish Andy Warhol Society for copyright infringement.  There goes my Ohio readers... oh wait... no computers.  Anyway, when it comes, the Campfires In Winter album is gonna be amazing.

Right, on to this weekend's tracks.  First up, a blatant plug for the latest free Kowalskiy EP which came out last Saturday.  Six great tracks from six brilliant bands, including the übertalented M A D I S O N who even went to the trouble of recording an alternative version of their single Armbands especially for it.  You can get said EP#24 here for FREE.  And here's the original version of Armbands to kick us off.

That is fairly amazing!  As is this.  It only dawned on me on Friday that I hadn't listened to, let alone bought, the French Wives album yet.  Suppose it has only been 2 months since it came out...

I've since at least had a listen and it's even better than I thought it would be.  And I did think it would be one of the best of the year.  So I guess, logically, that must mean that it is.  If you liked the sound of Younger, then you can hear the rest over here where you can also buy the album Dream Of The Inbetween.  Less of this inane babble now.  Let's move onto one of the best song names on SoundCloud courtesy of Edinburgh's DanDanDan, great song too.

Kowalskiy Fact #65:  The third most read interview on Kowalskiy is the one what I done with Futuristic Retro Champions.  Well, they're no more.  Carla and Sita though have swapped roles and formed Teen Canteen.  'Tis early days, but they're sounding every bit as good as FRC! You can read all about them over here on Everything Flows.

It's about now that I receive an email from Stars with their latest single.  I love Stars.  I'm hoping this new single is a grower.  It's no Take Me To The Riot is all I'll say.  This is though, on account of it actually being Take Me To The Riot.

Last up, time to "get in the Buff"... The Pictish Trail's words, not mine.  Read all about the upcoming trio of Fence Records 7" EPs over here, first of which is by Mr. Trail himself.  Given that Fence don't seem to release anything short of brilliant, you'll be in for a treat.  Besides, if you subscribe, you get to pocket this great Meursault remix.  That's all for this week.

Friday, 22 June 2012

K&A with Lonely Tourist

I remember a while back, long before I started this whole blogging lark, standing in King Tuts watching Odeon Beatclub completely steal the show from headliners, and my then favourite band, The Cinematics.  Trust me, that was no mean feat!  Their debut, and ultimately, their only album was bought the next morning and lead singer Paul Tierney even included some promo singles in the package such was the gentleman he was.  And still is to be fair.  When Paul relocated to Bristol a few years ago, he left band life behind him and went solo under the somewhat-apt moniker Lonely Tourist

His debut album Sir, I Am A Good Man arrived in early 2011 on the back of some impressive early demos.  Not half as impressive as the album mind you as my review at the time attests to.  Now he's back with his brilliant follow-up I Live Where You Are, I thought we should let him tell us all about it, Lonely Tourist, and some very strange gigs he's done as of late.  Take it away Mr. Tierney...

Kowalskiy: Who is Lonely Tourist?
Paul: Lonely Tourist ...when I play live it's just me, a guitar and a stomp box trying to make a band-sized noise. When I was in the studio with Jim Lang (producer) it was much more collaborative. I wrote the songs but they were very basic without Jim's production. We went into the studio and threw everything at them, and then worked out what bits we thought worked. The live gigs are a different thing, support slots are great in that people usually listen....Pub gigs you have to fight to be heard and attempt to get peoples attention without resorting to firebreathing or juggling (unacceptable).

Kowalskiy:  Many will know you from Odeon Beatclub. What effect do you think moving from a band in one of the UK's thriving music scenes, to a solo act on the South coast has had on your music?
Paul:  Aye I miss Glasgow. It would have been great to do this (Lonely Tourist) back home but it wasn't possible. Bristol does have a good, varied, music scene though. If anything moving away made me work harder to get out and about and meet people. I play all the time which has meant I've had some really great (and terrible) gigs in unusual places. These include playing inside a sculpture in a park, at a terrible rebirthing hippy pish festival where they all ignored me while their long-haired Boden catalogue children ran around at the front....I've played a gig in a bedroom (twice now - I played there the other night and it was brilliant), on boats, in cafes and millions of different pubs and small festivals.

Kowalskiy: So what's the weirdest gig you've ever done then?
  1. Inside an armadillo shaped sculpture covered in fairy lights on Bonfire night in a park (with the generator going on and off during my set). It was both good and bad.
  2. Outside in a monsoon playing to two dogs chasing a ball for 45 minutes (nobody else not even the sound man who'd gone to get some food).
  3. I did one with no PA in a massive conference room of 200 empty seats. I played to 4 people. Tannoy announcements went off now and again completely drowning me out.  Just before the end a bloke dressed as a pirate walked down the middle of the room followed by 20 kids and set up his act behind me (while I was still playing).
Kowalskiy:  Your new album I Live Where You Are came out on the 28th of May. How does it compare to last years' Sir, I Am A Good Man?
Paul:  Yes, the album was out on the 28th May. Compared to Sir I Am A Good Man its much more of a full band sound. We just tried loads of ideas ....wee noises, effects and the like. Ok, its not exactly the Magic Band but it is different from the first one. Hopefully a step up. I got to make a bit of noisy Mogwai type noise at the end too. We didny really do much of that in Odeon Beatclub.

Kowalskiy:  Are there plans afoot to tour the album in Scotland?
Paul:  I'm open to offers! I played 2 gigs in Scotland in February and I'd gladly do more.

Kowalskiy:  What would be your ideal gig?
Paul:  Fantasy best ever gig would be supporting The Fall. But in reality if that was ever to happen I'd probably be met with a deafening silence...if not open hostility. They'd hate me because I'm not The Fall, and because Fall fans are a fickle not easily pleased bunch (I know as I am one).
Again fantasy gigs....I'd have liked to support Franz Ferdinand at any point in time. Bloody great they are. 'Actual' best gigs to do are either decent supports (I've played with Pete Doherty, Malcolm Middleton and Admiral Fallow in the past and those gigs were magic)... or a gig on a Saturday night in a rowdy but decent pub (I played in Menai Bridge a couple of weeks back and it was excellent... best atmosphere I've felt at a gig in ages).

Kowalskiy:  What can we expect from Lonely Tourist in the future?
Paul:  I want to keep writing, recording stuff and gigging....and hopefully making stuff that is an improvement on the last albums.

Long may it continue!  I loved Paul's debut album but this is something else.  If the next one is an improvement on this, God only knows how great it'll be.  You can buy I Live Where You Are over here or by clicking the stream below.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Dancercise Paint Frost Wimps

There are surprisingly few 'wimps' images on Google!
Hello there, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Boab, and I sing and play guitar in band called Campfires In Winter. Mr Kowalskiy has very kindly invited me into his domain as a guest host for his wonderful weekly notcast (a podcast without all the talking bits) to give you a little insight into what I've been enjoying over the last few weeks and months. So sit back and enjoy...

Pronto MamaLove You
I reviewed their new EP for Peenko earlier this week, and said that this track was the best I've heard all year. I need say no more about it, it's just perfect.

Cherri FosphatePassion
We met the guys from Cherri Fosphate at goNORTH in Inverness the other week. I hadn't listened to them at all before but decided to go and see them at their showcase. They blew me away with their Jetpacks-esque guitar pop.

The Winter TraditionSan Diego
Another band I caught at GoNORTH this year. A strange one this because I'm not normally into this kinda stuff at all but this is a great tune.

So Many Animal CallsTraps
Good friends of ours, but if I didn't like them I'd tell them they were shite. They're not and, as a result, played the main stage at Rock Ness last week. Then they killed it all over Scotland and in the Catty in Glasgow through the week there. This is their excellent latest single.

ProfiseeMagikal (We Were Promised Jetpacks remix)
There's some pretty decent Scottish hip-hop around at the moment and Profisee is among my favourites. Magikal was already a cracking track but this remix has brought it into its own. Have a listen for yourself.

Ghost LakeLate Spring Morning
The list so far has been pretty Glasgow-centric (with a wee dash of Edinburgh thrown in). That's only because I chose the songs by making a longlist of tracks from all over Scotland and eenie-meenie-ing it all down to the final five above. However, this track is one I had picked out at the start as a definite for inclusion, and is our only offering here from outside of Scotland. It comes from a Swede named Henric Wallmark (aka Ghost Lake). I've chosen this not only because he's a Swede with an absolutely fantastic first name which brings back many childhood memories, but because it's a very beautiful and delicate piece of music, and is a lovely way to end our wee podcast-without-all-the-talking-bits. Thanks very much for listening, and many thanks to Mr Kowalskiy for asking me to pick a few tracks for him this week. Boab. xx

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #24

Rounding off the second year of free EPs we have another NOT five, but six, of the country's most promising up-and-coming bands.  I'm not usually one for codenaming these mini-compilations, but were I forced to, this would be something along the lines of The Newb-EP on account of the fresh-faced, new-kids-on-the-block nature of it's contributors.  Hell, one or two of the bands have barely gotten started.  Anyway, that's enough preamble pishery from me.  Here's the bands themselves with a wee bit about their track...   

1.  Plurals - Clip Cloud (I heard this on a SoundCloud trawl a while back and just loved it.  Keep an eye out for more from this former Sunshine Social-ist.)

"This super rough demo of the song was recorded in a bedroom in the space of an hour with me doing all of the instruments and recording. It's about idiots having arguments and trying to make the best of a shit situation. I am one of the idiots." - Ciaran a.k.a. Plurals

2.  Thank You So Nice - Foucault (An exclusive track from the Edinburgh-based trio's upcoming debut album.  If this and recent single Let's Make Money are anything to go by, it'll be great!)

"Lyrically it's pretending to know something about the philosopher Michel Foucault, who is an in house TYSN hero. Niall, who probably actually does know what Foucault is on about, suggested we do a song about him and this was what I came up with. Reverb is generally overrated but we've slapped it on a bit here. It's taken from our debut album Make Friends Not Money, which we're self releasing this October, on Foucault's birthday." - Alex Hendrikson (Thank You So Nice)

3.  Saint Max - A Life Worth Living (Band version) (I featured Max's original version of this a while back.  That I loved.  This is a whole new kettle of fish entirely.  Can't remember hearing a more fun song this year!  Expect more like this from the good Saint when his EP is out later this month.)

"A Life Worth Living is the opening track to my upcoming EP "Saint Max and the Fanatics", which is released on the 22nd June. When I wrote it, I was trying to write something like the Buzzcocks, but I think it ended up sounding quite different, which is cool. Some of my favourite lyrics are in this song, because they're very sincere here. It's quite confessional, almost." - Max Syed-Tollan (Saint Max)

4.  M A D I S O N - Armbands (Alternative version) (Here's an alternative version of their brilliant, recent single recorded only this week for lil ol' me.  Hot off the press or what!?)

"Here's how 'Armbands' was meant to sound, sadly Mariah Carey pulled out on the duet & we had to rearrange it slightly." - Russell Ferguson (M A D I S O N)

5.  Naked Strangers - Mystery Meat (An exclusive track from their upcoming trilogy of singles.  It's a cracking track!)

"Mystery Meat is the third or fourth or fifth incarnation of a song I wrote with a shaky concept and stolen structure. We'd almost abandoned the thing when we hammered out this version and now we're really happy with it (you can hear some earlier roughs on the matt-strange soundcloud).  We recorded it at Strathsound studio with John Strachan alongside two other new singles: Knife Gang Shop Raid which is currently available on our webshites, and Three Tears which we'll release next. Mystery Meat is the final instalment so this is a sneaky wee taster for you." - Matt Stockl (Naked Strangers)

6.  Scary Shapes - Rescue Ceauşescu (A belter of a track to finish us off this month.  This Glasgow bunch have a load of free tracks up on their SoundCloud so get to it!)

"When we were trying to think of band names, Rescue Ceauşescu came out of nowhere and was briefly considered as a front runner, but we decided that being associated with a cruel Romanian dictator might not go down too well (particularly in Romania, our top target market). It was also pretty tricky to spell. However, we thought the name (and the rhyme) was too good to discard, and wrote and recorded this demo for the song on a Monday afternoon this spring. I suppose one interpretation of the lyric revolves around what it's like to be stabbed in the back, but there are other ways to take it. It's definitely not supposed to be pro-Ceauşescu though!" - Jamie Smith (Scary Shapes)

As always, I wanna say a massive thanks to all 6 bands for contributing this month.  I really hope you all like it as much as I do.  All you have to do to get your free copy is to click on the artwork above, or here.  Whatever tickles your fancy more.  While you're there, you may as well check out the other 23.

To kick off the third year of free EPs, next month I'll be taking a well-earned rest and handing the EP baton over to a very capable individual.  You can still expect an EP chock-full of brilliant tracks from Scotland's finest.   All of which means I now have 2 months to put together the one after that.  I've already got one or two aces up my sleeve though.  If you wanna record a special version of something for me, or contribute something else you think might tickle my fancy, then you can send me a wee email (  I'm off to put my feet up now.  

Friday, 15 June 2012

Dirty Keys - The End And The Exit

First, let me just qualify this post by saying it's not strictly a review.  My reviews take time, months sometimes.  I know, to read them you'd think... "really!?".  Anyway, this is me simply saying that as of this morning, the debut album from one of my favourite Glasgow bands, Dirty Keys is now out.   Demos from The End And The Exit started appearing online a while back prompting me to go a bit mad with the tweets and SoundCloud favouriting.  All well worth it though.

Here's a couple of the the many highlights on the album, starting off with my my own personal favourite The Exit.

How can those tinkling ivories not tickle your fancy?  It's difficult not to think of Dave Gillies, the piano-pop maestro behind Dirty Keys, as a Scottish Ben Folds.  That's high praise in my book.  Here's one last one before I get back to some proper work.  

You can download The End And The Exit now over on Dirty Keys' Bandcamp page.  Off you go!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Laurence and the Slab Boys - Lo-Fi Disgrace

So by now you should all know that The Cinematics are sadly no longer here, leaving us with this great reminder as the final nail was hammered into their musical coffin over in Berlin.  Well, if you did know that, then odds are you'll also know that during their ill-fated hiatus which led to their eventual split, guitarist Larry Reid embarked on a new project with a smattering of local musician friends... Laurence and the Slab Boys.

On the 18th of June, their debut album Lo-Fi Disgrace receives it's official release via Grumpy Records, a mere year-and-a half after it was recorded in the bleak German mid-Winter.  Geez... bleak, grumpy, 'lo-fi disgrace' is really selling this isn't it?  Thankfully, the album itself, is anything but.  Sure, it's not the most uplifting of albums, but it's an absolute pleasure nonetheless.

By now, I hope you realise why reviews on Kowalskiy are so few and far between.  The reasons are two-fold:
  1. I really am utter shite at doing reviews.
  2. The album under review has to be head and shoulders above anything else I've heard recently.
Two points I'm sure will become evident throughout this post...

So, onto the music itself.  The first track up is the aptly-named, instrumental Introduction which is quite sinister in places with it's muffled cries and foreboding atmosphere.  All of which leads us nicely into Mushroom.  It's always been one of my favourite tracks so it's the perfect choice as debut single in my book, albeit a bold choice for radio play as Larry himself once told me.  It continues where the intro left off, though here Larry's almost-slurred vocals of "I fear we’re gonna die young" complementing the sombre mood until another two-minute instrumental cuts through it.  It may well be a brave choice for airplay, but it's still one of the singles of the year.

But it's not all doom and gloom.  Sandwiched in between the Space Dream #1 and #2 duo, K. E. O. offers some upbeat respite with a subtle nod or two to New Order in the process.   It's these two Space Dream tracks though that form the focal point of this remarkable album.  Whereas the shoegazey #1 is awash with reverb and echoing harmonies, #2 is built around a series of riffs, with feedback buzzing away in the background.   It's these tracks which offer a fuzzy glimmer of The Cinematics which still hasn't left Larry's system yet, and both compliment each other, and the other tracks, perfectly.

It takes a very special talent to bring the listener so much enjoyment from what is, on-paper, a dark and at times forlorn set of songs, but with songwriting of this calibre and the sonic arrangements throughout, Larry and the boys have done exactly that.  He's very much at home centrestage that Mr. Reid!

The album will be launched on the 18th June in all the usual online download hotspots and in selected shops I'd imagine given time.  But, you can already get your hands on a CD from Grumpy Records or a digital download, both from here.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Coastal Skid Spy Wok v13.0

In a chance to the scheduled notcast, you've got me again to babble my way through my new favourites on SoundCloud.  Next Sunday though, once the GoNess/RockNorth musical happenings are out of the way, we'll have that special guest notcaster.  Still, there's plenty of great tracks here to keep you entertained.  First up, a new track (with the longest, most-hyphenated title imaginable) from those lads in The Beautiful Lies recorded specially for Scottish Fiction

How's that to kick things off?!  Let's follow that up with a track from one of my favourite EPs of the year so far.   Will there be a more fun release this year than the debut from Edinburgh's Toy Machene?  Is that sentence even grammatically good?  Don't know, don't care.  Here's their eponymous tale of unrequited, possibly cougar-related, love.

Right, here's another question... is there a better indie label in our fair land than Armellodie?  The answer is... maybe, possibly yes.  But if that is the case, our paths have not crossed yet.  With a series of gigs on the horizon, they'll be all like 'in your face' in the coming months.  Here's one of their finest rosterees with one of their finest tracks.

It's all been quite rocky so far.  So here's a wee breather for you.

All relaxed?  Good stuff.  Here's the next one from Dirty Keys.  It's an unmastered version of one of the tracks from their upcoming album The End And The Exit.  I've heard it and it's gonna knock your socks off.  With any luck, there'll be more on that in due course!

Penultimate one then.  Great to have some new material from Edinburgh School For The Deaf.  God help those little blighters, cos this is a delight to the ears.  I have absolutely no idea what she's saying though... 

And so, we come to the end.  Hope you've enjoyed this week's tracks.  Next week we will have that guest notcaster.  My lips are sealed as to who it shall be though.  Changing the subject quickly... here's one of Campfires In Winter's brilliant new tracks.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Kowalskiy SIngles Club #15

And now for the return of your favourite, infrequent delve into the country's musical singles market.  We're nearing the 100th single don't you know!  Not yet though, maybe next time 'round.  Until then, here's another batch of singles looking to tickle your ivories, pluck your strings or God-willing, maybe even blow your trumpet!  What you get up to once you've clicked the artwork and followed these links is entirely up to you!  Take it away singletons...

Naked Strangers - Knife Gang Shop Raid
Knife Gang Shop Raid by Naked Strangers
"Five dedicated nudists seek likeminded strangers for induction into mystical eastern sex-pact. Knowledge of local dogging spots a must. Do you enjoy love under bridges, fumbling on buses, knitted lingerie and consensual human sacrifice to a higher cause? Then please, get in touch." - Mark Stockl (Naked Strangers)
Apparently that ad's been in the local papers for a while with no success.  So, if you're up for meeting some Naked Strangers for a touch of NSA fumbling and sacrificial happenings, then this is the track for you.  It's the first of a trilogy of tracks this lot will be releasing.  I've heard them all.  They get better and better!

Thank You So Nice - Let's Make Money
Let's Make Money by Thank You So Nice
"Two socially awkward history anoraks seek equally awkward significant others with a penchant for discussing French critical theory. One hyper multi-lingual hourglass with a penchant for dress-up seeks pie chef. In all cases troubadours need not apply." - TYSN
What a lovely polite bunch Thank You So Nice sound.  Their tracks do too you'll be glad to know.  This FREE three-track download was recorded at Swanfield Studios and is out now.  Non-troubadours click the artwork for your copy.   

North American War - Ivory And/Geraniums On A Spit
Ivory And/Geraniums on a Spit by North American War
"Ivor and Gerry, bored couple, 45, recently split /made single (we were singing in different keys). Petite, slim, good fit for all u players. Ivor's feedback just wasn't having Gerry's la-la-la's. On the flip side failure 2 harmonise begs the question: Are U the 1 to take us for a spin? ;-) faster please!" - Anna (North American War)
Now that all sounds a bit swingerish doesn't it??  North American War  released their debut EP through Winning Sperm Party a while back.  This is the follow-up double A-side for all those willing to take them for a spin!

Sacre Noir - She Can't Take It
She Can't Take It by Sacre Noir
"Film Noir / David Lynch fan seeks similar. Must not be afraid of twisted clowns or broken dolls, dark spaces or catchy riffs. Single & ready to rock your world – based in Edinburgh, but willing to travel. Don’t believe the hype “She Can’t Take It” – find out for yourself!" - Carrie Beattie (Sacre Noir)
It's not often you hear the words "Female fronted dark electronica" around these parts.  This lot are based in Edinburgh and they have an album out later this month if this tickles your fancy.  Here's the video to go with it!

The State Broadcasters - Trespassers
Trespassers by The State Broadcasters
"Suffer from seasonal affective disorder? Looking for love? Trying to quit smoking? Let State Broadcasters help you. We'll warm your heart and tickle your nose until you fall head over heels in love with us. We already love you, yes, yes we do." - Graeme Black (The State Broadcasters)
And they're back!  If, like me, you loved their debut album The Ship And The Iceberg, then this will be right up your street.  They're the most recent addition to the Olive Grove roster and if this is anything to go by, that's quite a coup!  It's out for FREE on the 11th  of June.  The launch gig is at The Captain's (Rest) on the 14th June with Randolph's Leap and "special guests".  Intriguing...

"Two is company but three is a small business! Yup let's get serious and have a threesome! Bring a pen!" - PET
This is the fourth time that one fifth of my tips for 2012 have been on here.  Talk about playing the field... this mob love being single.  It's another impressive beast, fit to soundtrack the filthiest of threesomes! Out to download soon.  Watch this space!

The Sunset Clause - Lover's Eyes / These Nights
Lover's Eyes / These Nights by The Sunset Clause
"16 strings and 2 sticks looking to find someone who don't see nothing wrong with a little bump 'n' grind. We don't like to boast, but we can all catch Haribo in our mouths and one of us can grow a real moustache." - Michael McFadyen (The Sunset Clause)
Please note, other kids-and-grown-ups-beloved gummy sweets are available.  As for these two songs, they're two of the best I've heard this year.  Kudos to The Pop Cop for drawing my attention to them.  This is the debut double A-side.  Expect to hear a whole lot more!

Yaya Club - An Ode To JJ/Fat Man's Chin
An Ode To JJ/Fat Man's Chin by Yaya Club
"Self-confessed Woody Allen look-a-like seeks fan of quirky self-deprication for heavy petting and possible earjobs. Must not have a sense of humour." - Darren Vincent (Yaya Club)
No sooner had I noticed the announcement from the Kircudbright Tape Club, clicked the link and had a listen, than I get an email from Darren. Spooky!  This "lo-fi-quirk-folk-pop" gem is FREE to download so get clicking the artwork. 

Ravena - Michael (We Really Should Go)
Michael (We Really Should Go) by Ravena
"Four self-loathing Scottish lads seek the company of someone new. Desperately lacking the confidence of some of our more handsome friends, but we don't really talk about that. Love for clumsy dancing preferred. Mutual lamp fetish a must." - Noel McMonagle (Ravena)
Could you be something new?  If so, what are you waiting for!  Click on the artwork and get your hands on this 3-track FREE single.  I mentioned this before, but it's a very impressive debut from this Glasgow quartet. More of the same please lads!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Coastal Skid Spy Wok v12.0

Another hastily put-together notcast this week, so not as much pointless babble between tracks as there usually is. First up we have this sweet piece of music from Suite Pea.  The man behind it is none other than Craig Ferrie of Miniature Dinosaurs and Brazil ExistsThe Ullapool EP is out now on Bandcamp on a name-your-price basis.  And 'tis rather good!

This only went up a day-or-so ago.  It's the B-side to their not-Olympic-themed new single which is out on the 11th June.  I feel I've neglected The Last Battle having missed the boat with their previous release The Springwell E.P., which is free now too!  It's completely unintentional I can assure you.  Make it up to them on my behalf by grabbing both the B-side and EP for free now!

These intros aren't as quick as I promised at the start, so let me cut to the chase now.  Woodenbox have a new EP out imminently.  To whet your mariachi-folk-loving appetites, you can download the brilliant King's Liar for free. 

Alas, the freebies come to an end now.  But this one is well worth your spare pounds because... Maple Leaves are back!  These pop lovelies have been sorely missed.  New EP Robots more than makes up for them keeping us waiting.  Head over here to get your download and/or CD.

Came across this one on a trip to The Pop Cop.  'Tis his song of the week and it's just become mine too... closely followed by the B-side These Nights!  You can get it for free over here.  I shall investigate further, so watch this space!

Last up, we have some Interpol-infused rock from Glasgow's It Girl.  Andy from the band emailed me a while back and I've only just gotten around to having a listen.  Needless to say, the fact it's on here, I think this track is great.  There's an album to be had at some point so watch this space.

That's all folks. All goes well, we'll have the third guest notcast next Sunday!

Friday, 1 June 2012

K&A with Echo Arcadia

This interview has been on my to-do list for quite a while, ever since I fell in love with their debut Broken Chapters EP (available from all good online stockists i.e. here and here) and even-more-so with their reworking of the gorgeous Lucinda specially recorded for KEP#13.  So now they're back, after a somewhat eventful year, with their outstanding follow-up Prisoners Of The Present EP, it's time to get to know this sextet a wee bit better.  Ladies and gentlemen... one of the finest unsigned bands this country has to offer... Edinburgh's best kept secret, Echo Arcadia.

Or to be more precise, here's half of them, drummer Dan Ciesielski (also of Toy Machene) and husband-and-wife-songwriting-team Leigh and Siobhan "Vonny" Moyes...

Kowalskiy:  Who are Echo Arcadia?
Dan: We are a 6 piece Edinburgh band, playing satisfyingly unfashionable music, at least according to those in mainstream Scottish radio haha.
Leigh: We also discovered very recently that we may have been putting ourselves in with the Indie/pop/rock lot unnecessarily though; our sound has gravitated towards 'The National' and other bands of that ilk, and they have been branded as post-punk revival, which we are apparently falling within the realms of...which is nice, and open to debate no doubt ;-)
Vonny: That's an interesting one. I'm not really sure we know what we are yet, other than the sum of our parts. To me, we are six people trying to write music that makes you feel something. Something other than, "I need a new haircut and skinnier jeans,"

Kowalskiy:  It's been a wee while since the release of your Broken Chapters EP. What have you all been up to in the meantime?
Dan: Changing keyboard players, raising kids, writing new tunes, raising kids, changing keyboard players and raising kids.
Leigh: We have also introduced a trumpet player called Kev to our line up, and he has added something soulful and brassy to our sound, as you would expect i guess, as well as guitar skills and a deeper third harmony.
Vonny: Broken Chapters was a really good time for us. We'd just started to find our stride musically, and we'd begun writing music with a common meaning. Unfortunately immediately after giving birth to Felix, we were mired by my serious health problems for a large part of the year. We lost one of our members through it, so we were left with a question mark over Echo's future. A few months ago I started playing again, and did some writing. We brought Kev on board and things are looking bright again. Resultantly, I think Prisoners is a bit of a Pheonix-from-the-flames record for us.

Kowalskiy:  Considering all that's gone on since your last release has brought about the end of many a band, what do you think kept Echo Arcadia going through it all?
Leigh: I'd like to thank Jesus... He's a guy that runs a local burrito store and gives great music advice.. Sorry. For me it's about thinking of the band as a living, evolving entity. With each new member has come new passion and drive (no matter how short lived their stay with us) that has lifted up and carried forward any waning souls within Echo. Personally, it's a desire to make music, music that I love, and I would hope that rubs off on the others.
Dan: It's because we have same dream - make it in the music business and die happy snorting cocaine while pointing at our kids laughing because our planet is dying and their future is dark, bleak and messed up.
Vonny: I think a deep love of making music. I can't imagine my life without it. It's been a constant through all the hard times, and is an outlet for all of us. Also, I think having a marriage in the band has really helped. Leigh and I met through the band, making music is a huge part of our life, and it continues to be so at home. We both share the same vision for where we'd like Echo to be, and that means we stick together and do what it takes to make it work.

Kowalskiy:  With the new personnel, especially the introduction of Kev, how has this influenced or changed your song-writing process?
Leigh: Kev has been a breath of fresh air for Echo, his drive and no nonsense attitude has certainly rekindled my love of what we do. As far as song writing goes it still works with either me, or more commonly now, Vonny and I writing the songs. The rest comes when I describe how I want the song to sound, and the guys scribe based on that. The only difference I've noticed is that it doesn't take any longer with a 6th member, but the depth of sound we can achieve now is really quite something.
Dan: I don't really know. I hit things.
Vonny: I think our process is essentially the same at the minute, though we have all the added goodness of Kev adding horn and a third harmony, which has really lifted our sound. We've had one song-writing session with our new keys player, Pete, and it was brilliantly productive, though it did descend into a reggae version of Lucinda. He writes music too, so I'm looking forward to having a third person to bring tunes to the table.

Kowalskiy:  You're about to make your triumphant return with new EP Prisoners of the Present. How does it compare to Broken Chapters?
Leigh: It is natural continuation of it really, the songs we write are developing as we do, as a band. It is a richer and more mature sound for us i think, we have the same heartfelt tone as we always have, but with 25% more harmony for your buck.
Vonny: Prisoners is a maturation of our sound, I think. We're more comfortable with the songs we're writing now than we were 18 months ago. Broken Chapters marked the departure from pop-rock to something a little darker, and more substantial.

Kowalskiy:  Joker-related question... who's the joker in the band (I'm sensing Dan for some reason...)?
Leigh: Haha Dan is cheeky, Our bassist Euan is the joker of group I'd say though. He used to be a stand up and time certainly hasn't dulled his ability to take the piss and make us laugh.
Dan: I don't really know, I hit things.
Vonny: Euan, definitely. Dan is just a cheeky shit. Euan used to be a comedian...
Leigh: Haha used to be, like it wears off
Vonny:  ...and we often end up doubled-up in laughter, though I'm never, ever going to get in the kitchen and make him a sandwich. We're all really good friends, and we do stuff together outside of Echo, so the banter is plentiful!

Kowalskiy:  Are there plans afoot to tour the EP?
Dan: We unfortunately can't afford any extensive touring.
Leigh: But we will play as many gigs as we can in our hometown and in the other beautiful (and not so beautiful) cities around Scotland, it just might take us longer to do it is all.

Kowalskiy:  I won't ask what the not-so-beatutiful ones are.  Quick subject change... what would be your ideal gig?
Dan: Supporting Fleetwood Mac. We like to think that we are a bit like Fleetwood Mac - except all the cocaine and success.
Leigh: I've more current aspirations really, as I tend to not listen to much music other than a few bands I really get into. I would love to tour with The National, Broken Records... REM too actually, bands that I love and respect.
Kowalskiy:  If only!
Vonny: Manchester, mid 80s, line up provided by Factory Records, somewhere small and crowded. I was only a baby at the time that was all going on, but it's the music I grew up listening to, and I spent a substantial part of my childhood living there. Being a part of that musical epicentre would have been incredible.

Kowalskiy:  What do Echo Arcadia have 'high hopes' and 'low expectations' for in the future?
Leigh: High Hopes - to have people want us to play our songs to as many of them as we can. To gain more success at what we do, some bigger gigs would be lovely! Low Expectations - I wouldn't say my expectations are low, just managed, like it'd be nice to get some love from our national radio stations and presenters, but that's not going to happen. It's always nice to be pleasantly surprised.
Vonny: It'd certainly be nice to gain some new fans with the EP, and take our music to new places, but who knows?

I for one, have very high hopes for this EP.  I've mentioned before that this year has seen a huge spike in the number of amazing EPs, particularly from the other side of the M8.  This certainly being one of them (incidentally, one of the others is Toy Machene's... that Dan's been a busy one).  Keep an eye on their twitter and Facebook for release details.