Sunday, 16 December 2012

Kowalskiy's Free Monthly 5-track Scottish EP #30

Ignore that heading!  Since it's getting close to Christmas, I've not got the usual five tracks for you.  Instead, there's SIX songs for you to make all that last-minute shopping a bit more bearable.  None of them are particularly festive, but they're all crackers nonetheless.  They are...

1.  Immigrant - Love, Sweet Love (This is the stunning opener from former Fence-r Immigant's 2012 album Talisman.  One of my standout releases of the year.  Buy it here.)

"I think it was this track that convinced me of the need to make the next album a simple, two-track affair! I'm up in the twenties with this one and it got a bit ridiculous, but it was a lot of fun to put together. As the title suggests, the song's largely a celebration of love, albeit with a slightly bittersweet coda. Clocking in at over four minutes, it's an Immigrant epic - another state of affairs I was keen to rectify on the new platter!" - Graeme McNab a.k.a. Immigrant

2.  Flutes - Ironmonger (Demo) (Auld Archie and Sand were two of my favourite songs this year.  Both came from this band.  It goes without saying I'm chuffed to bits to have this brilliant non-album demo on this EP.  Speaking of album... get theirs here.)

"Back in the spring of 2011, we recorded a set of demos with a friend of ours in his small studio in South West London. The output of these recordings went on to become our debut album (released 6th December). 'Ironmonger' didn't quite make the cut on the record. But having finally completed the album process, we listened back to some of the work from last year and this track is one which still sounded pretty good. So much so that we're now looking at working it back into the live set." - Rob (Flutes)

3.  Beta - Stutter/Eck (CUR$ES Remix) (My favourite song of the year was actually Urge by this man.  You can get that here.  Here's a remix by the wonderful Mr. Morris.)

"I did a remix for a friend, that has completely disappeared from the internet. It was when I was booking gigs etc. through The iAm booking agency; the guy Ross who ran it decided to put out a track under his DJ moniker, and the B sides to it were remixes from a few of us on the booking roster." -  Niall Morris a.k.a. CUR$ES

4.  The King Hats - Us (One of the first, and now last, bands I featured in 2012.  This is a demo which didn't quite make the cut for their First Light EPGod knows why!  They're just fussy I guess.  You can get that EP here.)

The King Hats' spiel will be with us in due course!

5.  Insect Heroes - King Fabulous (Alternate Version) (I raved about this album, and this song earlier in the weekThe brothers Thomas have been kind enough to contribute this alternate version of this f**king fabulous album track.)

"This version was done in the first session for the album in 2011. I'd always conceived of it without the guitar as the main instrument though (like our version of a Timbaland production or something,) which was why we re-did it for the final album. When we were listening back to the things we were discarding though we realise we quite liked this take on it. It's actually closer to how we're playing it live at the moment. The song itself was inspired by Kelis's full set of gold false teeth, which I once saw her displaying on a talk show, with the explanation that 'sometimes you've just got to show people that you're fabulous.'" - George Thomas (Insect Heroes)

6.  Little Things Like Kiwis - Oscar Wild (This may well be the first track from the wonderfully-named Little Things Like Kiwis to appear online.  If that is the case, I'm chuffed to bits it's on here.  Expeect to hear their name a lot more in 2013.)

"The track is just my take on writing a fast moving indie/rock song with a hint of a surf vibe (so we've been told). We haven't finalized the name yet but as we have called it this for so long now I can't see myself changing it haha!" - Callum Hickie (Little Things Like Kiwis)

I don't have a favourite one of these EPs, but even I'm more chuffed than usual with that line-up!  I really hope you like it.  Each artist on there has really impressed me this year.  A huge thanks to each of them for contributing.  All you have to do to get your FREE copy is to click the artwork above, or here... whichever takes your fancy.  While you're there, there's another 29 of them for your listening pleasure.

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  See you again in the New Year if not before.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Battle Of The Bands: Round 11

With the Festive Season fast approaching, this is the final round of Battle Of The Bands of the year.  Going into Round 11, Team Kowalskiy held a one point ahead in the series, and with that pesky Neil from Scottish Fiction on home turf this time around, I'd be lying if I said a shock away win would not make for a great early Christmas present.  The full tweet-by-tweet summary can be found on twitter using the #battleofthebandsround11 hashtag, but here's the short version...

Thanks to my victory in the last round, courtesy of my seasonal choice lovely The Winter Tradition's narrow win over Shambles Miller, I opened up a one point lead meaning I couldn't be behind going into 2013.  I'm not one to rest on my laurels though, so I recruited the wonderful Glasgow duo The Mouse That Ate The Cat.   You could say I was... feline lucky going int this duel.  Unknown to me, on the other side of the virtual, musical ring,  was fellow acronym lovers Where We Lay Our Heads.
Before we see how they shaped up, here's the all-important rules.  You can of course read them in full over here.  This round, we were on Neil's turf, so he picked the three stats.  For each of the three, the person with the highest value gets one point.  Both get a half-point if the stats are the same, and losers get absolutely nothing!  He plumped for Band Name Scrabble Score, SoundCloud Tracks, and Number of Members.  All stats were correct at the start of battle.

Right, here's the all-important stats.  Ding, ding, Round 11...

And would you believe it, the away team jinx is over!  It's a DRAW!  It was always on the cards (pardon the pun) after Neil's first stat choice.  Both bands proved the Scrabble equals of one another with a whopping 34 points.  My TMTATC boys' superior SoundCloud Tracks threatened an unprecedented upset until Neil's WWLOH tied the contest on account of their better man, and woman, power.

A draw is fine by me though.  It keeps my one-point lead intact going into the Winter break.  Expect that to be stretched to 2 points after Round 12 on the 9th of January.

But... you've guess it, it's not about me or Mr. Scottish Fiction... it's all about the music people!  So let's kick off the pre-Christmas plugging with my boys, The Mouse That Ate The Cat, who I've just noticed have added yet another track to their SoundCloud as part of their daily Advent giveaway.  If you've missed it so far, you can catch up here.  It's full of acoustic versions, demos, videos... you name it!  Here's the latest, an acoustic version of I Am The Hottest Fire.

If that's not enough to tide you over until Christmas, Bri and Col will be at King Tuts this Friday.  Those boys are well-and-truly showering you with goodies at the moment!

On to Where We Lay Our Heads now.  It's been a wee while since they've featured on here... too long in fact.  Last year they released two EPs, one conventional in From The Roots, We Grow Limbs, and one not-so in wwloh, a collection of acoustic demos.  You can get those both here.  If you check out their SoundCloud though, there's some teasers from their next release for you.  Here's my pick from them, the brilliantly-titled Keanu Leaves.  Enjoy!

And that's your Battle Of The Bands fill for 2012.  We'll be back on the 9th of January.  I hope you'll join us as I ritually humiliate Neil and extent my lead to a massive two points.  See you then!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

K&A with Insect Heroes

Chances are I'm not gonna get around to doing my usual Album of the Year rundown.   I did submit my usual quota to this year's BAMS Award though.  Typically, it was only a day or two after I fired off that email, that I came across this absolute beauty of an album from Glasgow's premier tropical pop brothers, Insect Heroes.  Both the album Apocalypso and the duo themselves have seemingly come out of nowhere.  So the curious sort I am, I asked them a few questions about the band and their incredible debut album.  First up though, here's one of the many, many standouts from it.

Kowalskiy:  Who are Insect Heroes?   
George:  We are brothers George and Evan Thomas, and we stay in Glasgow. George is me and I'm at the computer answering these questions. I sing and play guitar and make keyboard type noises. Evan plays drums. On the recordings we've done so far Emily Maclaren and Stuart Evans at Green Door Studio in Glasgow have helped us with production.     

Kowalskiy:  You've seemingly sprung from nowhere with your debut album Apocalypso (which is incredible by the way).  Tell us how the band came about and how you've kept things under wraps this long?   
George:  I'd done bits of solo stuff at home for a few years, and then when I moved to Scotland we just started making music together. That was a couple of years ago, and it took us a little while to get to a point where we were making something we were happy with and wanted other people to hear.    

Kowalskiy:  As I said, the debut album is out on Bandcamp now.   How'd you describe it?  
George:  It's just a record that's full of weird pop songs really. It sounds like being in space. Or a jungle. It would probably be top of the charts in a parallel world.

Kowalskiy:  There's a nod to Kraftwerk, a bit of The Beta Band about the artwork and one or two other subtle comparisons come to mind, but who'd you say most influences your music? 
George:  Yeah, The Beta Band were incredible! That was the first music I got into, and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals. We really like the way old records sound too, particularly weirder stuff like Joe Meek. More recently I think Ariel Pink, MGMT (K: one of my subtle comparisons!) and Gnarls Barkley are doing interesting things. Any given song though is more likely to be inspired by something much more different to what we do. Most of the time really I just want to make R 'n' B records, or minimal techno, or whatever.

Kowalskiy:  With the vinyl version out in February, are there plans to tour the album?  
George:  Yeah, we'd like to, but we're just taking things as they come. Our name's not really out there at the moment, so it'll probably just be a case of seeing who'll put us on, and whether we can get a crowd together. We're going to try our best because we like the album and we've got a live set that we enjoy as well, but promotion's never really been our thing!   

Kowalskiy:  What would be the ideal Insect Heroes gig? 
George:  So many to choose from! We grew up near Manchester, so maybe a joint headline with The Stone Roses in the arches under Piccadilly station around 1989. I used to have a video of the history of the Stone Roses and it looked pretty exciting back then.   

Kowalskiy:  It's getting to that time of year, so who's your tip for 2013?  
George:  We live in a bit of a bubble in Glasgow so I don't really know what's happening elsewhere but I think North American War are going to put out a really original, inventive album that's somewhere between Sonic Youth and the Velvet Underground, and Golden Teacher are putting out their first EP of African inspired disco on Optimo in February. We've all been waiting for Fur Hood to release something too, so hopefully that might happen as well.

Kowalskiy:  And last of all, what can we expect from Insect Heroes in the new year?  
George:  As I say, we're hoping to play live more, and get the record out to more people. We're always writing bits of new stuff but we haven't sat down and talked about where we'd like to go with it yet. We'll only release more stuff if we feel like we've got something interesting to contribute. Personally I've got something more groovy on my mind, but something that still takes people further off into outer space at the same time.

So there we go.  Apocalypso is quite possibly my unexpected highlight of 2012, and from it comes one of my favourite songs. I defy you to say this is anything less than 'fucking fabulous'.  Get your copy over here.  The vinyl is a must in February!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Kowalskiy Singles Club #19

Nobody wants to be single at Christmas... unless you're a miserable, Scroogey cheapskate!  Kowalskiy doesn't care much for them though.  So with those singletons in mind, it's time for the final meeting of the Singles Club this year.  It's your last chance of 2012 to have your world well-and-truly rocked and who knows, maybe even a wee bit of aural... who knows where one click could lead!  Without much further ado, here's my latest batch of harpless romantics...

Safe Houses - Human Behaviour
Human Behaviour by Safe Houses
"New Glasgow duo seek open minded electronic music loving people, must have a computer and speakers and own opinions' Check out our bandcamp and facebook...." - Safe HOUSES
A late entry into our final Singles meet of the year.  This is a belter from new Glasgow duo Safe Houses.  Get it while it's hot.   

The Spook School - I Don't Know, You Don't Know, We All Don't Know The Spook School
I Don't Know, You Don't Know, We All Don't Know The Spook School by The Spook School
"Are you sitting at home alone? Have you ever found yourself longing for a partner? How about four partners? If conventional one-on-one relationships seem too easy why not try juggling four lovers at the same time! Ever get angry that your partner only has two hands? We have eight! Imagine closing your eyes and pretending to be love-wrestling an octopus! Please call us...we're not allowed in the aquarium any more..." - The Spook School
Strictly speaking, this isn't a single... but it's my blog, so my rules!  It's in fact a 5-track cassette EP which is out on Soft Power Records on the 17th December.   You can listen to all the tracks by clicking the artwork above, and you can pre-order it to... in fact you can't.  It's sold out!  So yeah... good luck getting a copy!

Michael Cassidy - Battleships
Battleships by Michael Cassidy
"Young/old singer songwriter looking for appreciative audience for good time. Audience must be willing to clap and have money to spend on lavish presents for singer songwriter. Like a wedding list for presents the young singer songwriter has attached a list of acceptable presents or treats. Singer songwriters new single battleships must also be listened to and a full critique written about all the qualities that single possesses. Mainly though said singer songwriter looking for love/somebody to phone for good quality time/30 mins a week and dates must be low cost /free. Chat topics include George Osborne s latest budget but no x factor." - Michael Cassidy
Hard to believe it, but this is SINGER SONGWRITER (in case it's not clear from his ad) Michael Cassidy's debut release.  And Paisley's finest hasn't disappointed!  As always, click the artwork to go download it.   

Middleton Hall - (So THAT'S Where I Left My) Self Respect/No Way Home
(So THAT'S Where I Left My) Self Respect/No Way Home by Middleton Hall
"Older and slightly overweight male WLTM lovely lady of similar age and waist size for well earned romantic break beginning 26th Dec. Fondness for mince pies and whisky would be an advantage. Must be keen on animals, flying and facial hair. Ho Ho Ho!" - Gordon Helm (Middleton Hall)
How very festive from the man at the... Helm... of Middleton Hall.  This is the second single from the Dunfermline lads, and once again it's a FREEBIE!  Talk about an early Christmas present!

M A D I S O N - Crimson
Crimson by M A D I S O N
"Lonely quartet of lads in search of love. Must be able to cook crystal meth to a high quality like in Breaking Bad and must enjoy Instagram. We're not looking for women who're going to pull and snap our heartstrings, we're looking for someone to play them delicately. Think you can be of assistance? Then please don't hesitate to contact. Be quick, we're on the verge and running low on meth." - Russell Ferguson (M A D I S O N)
M A D I S O N are responsible for one of the finest singles of the year... ArmbandsThis follow up's been a while in coming but I'm assured there's much more to come soon!  If that's half as good as Crimson, then 2013 could be off to a red hot start.

GUMS! - New Year
New Year by GUMS!
"Imaginary 4 piece WLTM delusional taxi driver type for Hogmanay shenanigans Must enjoy long freezing walks, lengthy attempts at lighting cigarettes in the rain and cramped nightclubs where attempts to relive your glory years end in the 9am realisation that you’re the only person awake in an unfamiliar flat where the CD player's been skipping since 2006. You try to leave but the pile of jackets on the bed is the size of an ASDA...and they all look like yours. GSOH inessential." - Martin Smith (GUMS!)
From the men that brought you The Plimptons, comes GUMS!  This FREE festive-ish single is taken from their upcoming release Antipathy.  So if you enjoy smoking in the rain and like your musicians 'imaginary' then what are you waiting for?!!

The Winter Tradition - Tides and Telegrams
Tides and Telegrams by The Winter Tradition
"Shortarse seeks a warm towel and a better Director. Get in touch if you like picking seaweed out of places it should never be. The people at the bottle bank fucking hate me." - Stuart Breadner (not of The Winter Tradition, but of Shootback Productions)
Fresh from whoooooping Scottish Fiction's beeehind in Round 10 of Battle Of The Bands, The Winter Tradition have released this new single from debut album Gradients.  They're a shy bunch though, so they've let the director of the video write their ad.  Speaking of the video... you can watch that here.

Napoleon's Dogs - Windom Earle
Windom Earle by Napoleon's Dogs
"Easily excitable band looking for male or female companion. Must like walks in the park, be accurate at throwing sticks and not mind having to pick up poo in little black bags. Expertise in Napoleonic tactics not necessary, but an advantage." - Chris (Napoleon's Dogs)
Picking up poo... these boys are spoiling you lot!!  If you're into that kinda thing, then this may be right up your street.  Windom Earle is out NOW... go fetch boy! You can catch the dogs in the 13th Note on the 17th December too.

The Prison Library - Lovesick
Lovesick by The Prison Library
"Unlucky in love Newcastle five-piece seek breathy vocaled soulmate to make us feel high and world-safe. Is your love often rejected or unrequited? We're sure to fall in love and waste poison forever more." - Joe Frankland (The Prison Library)
Newcastle!!  I know... they're not Scottish!  Imposters the lot of them.  I'm willing to turn a blind eye when it comes to Mr. Frankland and The Prison Library though. This is a great single featuring the lovely Sarah Hall on backing vocals.  It's from their upcoming debut EP so keep an eye out for that!  Oh, and there's a video for it here too.

The 10:04's - Lights Out
Lights Out by The 10:04's
"Four desperate, lonely egomaniacs (musicians) seek someone, ANYONE!!! Personality not required, looks not essential. Questionable morals a must!!!! Must be interested in naive career paths, enjoy being skint and pretending to be everyone's good friend on gig nights. LOVE YOU XXXXXXXXXX" - The 10:04's
OK, is it just me that seems to always look at my phone at 10:04?!  Well, it's always been a reminder to feature this bunch on the blog.   If you've got questionable morals and fancy some fun with the 'lights out', then you're well in here!  The single is out now for FREE along with previous single SOS.