Ewan Cruickshanks – ‘Faster Than a Snake’ [Armellodie]

In a mini-EP that’s nearly shorter in total runtime than a lot of songs at just over six minutes, Ewan Cruickshanksmanages to showcase his diversity rather than trying to tell a story in a concept release or present his “sound” in a unilateral fashion.

‘Faster Than a Snake’ is an interesting one thats production feels both throwaway and well considered at the same time.

It announces an unusual and somewhat uneasy arrival of an ambiguous subject in a style that could be likened to anything by Mark Everett of the Eels.

Cruikshanks does a great job of not leaving this song to feel too polished and doesn’t over develop it either – this feels like someone in control of their craft, and someone who knows the value of when to stop.

The second and third tracks could not be more different, the spoken word piece ‘Poor Wee Jim’ brings a decidedly Ivor Cutler tone to proceedings and tells a simple tale of finding love and acceptance in proper Scots, in which colloquialisms give gravity to save this from being any other tale you’ve heard.

Finally, we have ‘Ross Kemp on Gangs’, which is a playful and unapologetically Meta song that has a childish nature to it and seems built on an in-joke.

As whimsical as the song is, it still holds together well to paint a picture again in the oblique and esoteric way that Cruikshanks seems so adept at.

If you seek a truly fresh approach, and aren’t fixated on genres, you could do worse than give Faster Than a Snake six minutes of your time.

Words: Krist McKenna

The Hip Hop House Vol. 2

The Hip Hop House Vol. 2is a collection of music from acts that’s played Sketchy Beats Cafe at The Hip-Hop House event hosted by Werd once a month. Including a mix of genres influenced and involving hip-hop.

Werd’s ‘HHH Intro Bars’brings all kinds of gritty-grittyness with 8-bit blips and a sweet little electro sampling track as the opener for this consortium of tracks spanning many sub genres of hip hop.

Tickle is equally solid in their message about ‘Austerity’, calling out on some of the dissolutions of our present government; a small taste of Spanish versing allows for a lovely opportunity to play with different rhythms.

Big Shamu has a more introspective look on things, with soul searching and offers you an ingestible ‘Shit Sandwich’; the words fall intricately in between the beats and the tracks being sampled.

‘A Little Feeling’is softer in meaning, butThey Call me Al. does a little bit of reminiscing, some struggles, some heartbreak, some talk about God; emotive and soulful.

Still with plenty of feeling is Solenoid with‘Superpoly Techniques’,but bringing a bit more funk; some old-school scratching features, with classic brass as the backdrop to skilful rhyming.

In contrast to the more guttural, Scottish-accent boasting ‘The Rant’brought to you by Wee D is raw and bold, the words to beat ratio is really on point, bouncing around those quarter beats and triplets with ease shows this track is skilful and entertaining.

‘Big Balls’, as the title suggests, is gutsy with a hard rock backdrop by Devils in Skirts, but the adage of the Scottish accent in many of these tracks brings a uniqueness that could never be replicated from other countries.

Ripping up the lyrics G-Mohas a lot to say but the title ‘Uh’gives off a nonchalant perspective; lots of stories to be told and simplified to one word – it’s artistic prowess at itsheight.

While Simmons Is Old’s‘Love is the Lust’beckons similar sampling to ‘Devils in Skirts’ it’s much more grunge, the slow dirge of sounds that swoon in the background nicely juxtaposes the rhyming, which is like a rippling waterfall washing all over winding, bending guitar chords.

The variety of sub genres represented on this album is impressive, ‘Patrick Swayze Pt1’by  Kid Robotik is on another end of the spectrum from ‘Steady Moving’by Blasfima Sinna X Konnsky.

Even the flavour of Scottish accents is diverse with CRPNTR’s ‘Couch Tatty’compared to One Oz in ‘Busweiser’.

While not all artists chose to place emphasis on their native tongue,Cherry Diesel sound a lot more like American rock/hip-hop with ‘Renegade’, the way that each artist has shaped their own music is a testament to the talent of Scottish musicians out there.

Spawn Zero’s ‘Price of Love’ communicates a reflective account of a past relationship, dealing with growth and life, while a much slower but similar sentiment is up next in ‘Bad Dream’ by DVS Gomorra.

There’s a mixture of electro feels in ‘On The Build Up’ by Madhat McGore, ‘Assignment’ by Ashtronomik and ‘Colours’ by Stutter Jack.

‘Hawd Oan’ is a different kind of beat with Guvanile ripping out super smart rhymes, filling the lyrical spaces with phrases only local people might get; lots of play on words cleverly used to paint a picture of urban life.

‘Battle of Mind’ is just as clever, with a more introspective message from B.A.R.E JokeZ, unlike ‘Money Snatcher’ that starts like an exert from some kind of early 80s game track – Young Brido converges these sweet sounds with a not so sweet story.

‘What Can I do’ has a similar backing from Zesh, Garry Fraser paints the reality for many young Scots through a keen use of beats a tone to set a mood that tells of frustrations a self-discovery.

The feeling changes a little bit with a flash back to some old-school soul in ‘Put the Mic on’ from Diamond B and in ‘How it Goes ft. Infidelix’ from Ironmaster.

This brief interlude is broken with a language shift in ‘Lament’ by Bad Eyes, again platforming the diversity and expertise present in this album.

‘In it 2 Win it’ from Sinister South is coming at you with a confident flair, lyrics are bold and set up on some brash beats; simplistic in form but solid in message.

A complete contrast comes next in ‘Introduction 2 Shifty’, but with equally dark content from Shifty Mac, despondent with the state of things.

‘An Artist’s Desent’ is a suitable end to the compilation, Deeko samples a soft little vocal embued with a sense of sadness placed next to the depth and strength of bold rhymes.

The Hip-Hop House Vol.2 by The Hip-Hop House

Words: Rachel Cunningham

December ’91 – Starin’ at the Freaks [GoldMold]

December ‘91– who, by the way, has one of the most compelling solo acoustic guitar acts I’ve seen – has a new album called Starin’ at the Freaks.

There are a few things that I have come to expect from the artist; a warm and traditionally “folky” (whatever that means) sound, a dark and subtle back hand that creeps around a lot of the songs, and some embarrassingly if not upsettingly frank lyrics (seriously though, there’s such a juxtaposition between nice wee boy playing nice wee songs and bad wee boy singing bad wee songs, it’s ridiculous).

These aspects of December ‘91’s music are delivered in droves, but so are influences from eighties pop music and some excellent production, which I wasn’t given to expect.

That said, there is a little less crude lyricism in this release, so the listening experience is less wrought with spilled beverages, shoogly heads and tutting noises.

All told, this is a really competent and enjoyable release – definitely the artists best so far.

December ‘91’s music has a distinctive darkness to it, despite this offering being much lighter seeming in tone than previous albums.

There is candidness to the music that borders on the unsettling at times.

The type of music in question often lacks the edge that December 91 injects.

Often the lyrics are light but the music is dark or vice versa, it is quite subversive and certainly unpredictable.

This album seems like a step in a more commercially viable direction for the artist, but thankfully this comes without a sacrifice of quality and integrity, it comes with a better scope in terms of production and the intelligent and tasteful inclusion of a variety of instruments and influences.

Being the most professional sounding release so far, it is the one that highlights most so the variability, enduringness and appeal of the artist.

Tracks like ‘Starin’ at the Freaks’ and ‘Time on my Hands’ have an element of class that is difficult to fake, while ‘All Night (Alone in This World)’ and ‘Leanin’ on my Shoulder’ counterbalance some of the more uppity tracks with an honest clarity that inhibit the album from being like much else out right now.

Some of the vocals are imperfect, although it doesn’t seem as if this was unintentional; it seems as though this is in contribution to the honest and forthcoming nature of the music.

The album seems to do what one might expect from a folk-rock album produced by someone in their twenties in the city of Glasgow.

There are meaningful twangs of Americana, a well-balanced mixture of classical and contemporary elements and a lack of seriousness – with some swearing, morbidity and crassness thrown in for good measure.

This album seems likely to endure.

Words: Paul Aitken

Black Cat Bone – Get Your Kicks

It was the best parts of two years ago that I was spending an evening in a pub in Perth with no intention of seeing any live music when I heard this god almighty thunder located in the back ‘live room’ of the pub.

Curious to explore who was playing this brooding, loud and soulful blues music I apprehensively shuffled my feet into their domain.

And when I mean ‘their domain’, I of course mean, Black Cat Bone’s domain.

Since that night I have often trailed off into thought about where that band is, what they are doing now and when will they release their next piece of recorded music.

In December of 2017 Black Cat Bone released Get Your Kicks Sessions,a five track EP that is the entourage surrounding their debut album Growl,which was recorded and dispatched in 2015. 

There are very stark differences between the two releases.

Firstly, the overall sound is far denser as there has been some developments in the rhythm section with the addition of a new guitarist and, the drummer now resides behind a drum kit where as before he would comfortably play on a Cajun.

Secondly, it feels like the band has matured and I honest don’t mean that in a derogatively bad way, more in a way that I feel their music is better representing themselves and what they are actually like when you go and see them live.

Thirdly, (I promise I’ll make this last point and stop listing everything off) its just genuinely good blues music.

When you listen to ‘Love My Baby’ for example it has that bouncy yet, somewhat reserved guitar riff at the beginning but with a drum roll on the snare the song rolls out into this fat serving of raw, beefy blues talent.

If you are afraid that Black Cat Bone wont hold the original traditions of blues music then fear not because Get Your Kicks is an 8 minute slow, passionately driven song that even includes a few harmonica solos, while ‘Hipshake’, need I say anymore? It’s self-explanatory, put it on and dance but ideally find a partner because it’s always a questionable look when someone dances alone.

Words: Craig Carrington-Porter

The Narcissist Cookbook – ‘In Which an Allegation is Made’

I first encountered The Narcissist Cookbookwhen I listened to the very excellent compilation album Swamp Day by The Death Collective.

The NC song on the record was called “A Song About a Band Called Nirvana” and was hilarious as it was catchy, that is to say, it was hilarious and catchy.

I would put it on periodically to ease its ringing around my head; the first time I heard it I was cycling home and it was making me laugh on the road; it didn’t take me long to learn the chorus and to be fall in love with its ability to be jaw-droppingly weird and unusual whilst remaining toe-tappingly accessible and enjoyable.

Needless to say, I was excited when the opportunity arose to review The Narcissist Cookbook’s new single “In Which an Allegation is Made”.

I was also, needless to say, annoyed when I found out it was the same song, re-recorded with a different title.

When I hear a demo, or an early release, and very much enjoy it, it is always a complex experience to hear it re-recorded as a single or in an album, which I’m sure many people can relate to.

It’s a bit like when you read the book and then see the film, the latter is always marred by the perceptions and presuppositions you have formed already of a different form of the same thing.

There’s a propensity to greet about it, pick holes in it and – above all – be a wank about it, rather than to be able to take it for what it is.

With that in mind, I recommend The Narcissist Cookbook, the artist is quite unique and is in clear possession of ideas, displaying good taste and capacity in terms of following them through.

Kieran Hughes, who was the first to record the track for Swamp Day. once told me that he and a collection of other artists were left dumbfounded, flabbergasted and gobsmacked (dumflabbersmacked) when The Narcissist Cookbook burst in and recorded the song in one take, having never heard the artist’s music before.

I was left with similar impressions when I heard it.

Listen to the single and to Swamp Day, I think that The Narcissist Cookbook has a lot of music to make and I want to hear it all.

I’ve just started on Moth, TNC’s album – it’s really broad and dense and good, check it out.

Words: Paul Aitken

KAPUTT – Demo 2017 [FUZZKILL]

KAPUTTis a new and very exciting band from Glasgow, consisting of five members from already well-known bands like Breakfast Muff, Hairband, Joyce Delaney, Lush Purr and The Bellybuttons.

With a combination like this the expectations for the band’s first EP are already pretty high, but right from the first riff of ‘Carnage Hall’ it becomes clear that Demo 2017is a lively and innovative take on the post-punk genre.

Highly energetic cacophony of sounds works well with at times calm, but progressively more aggressive vocals and sudden changes of rhythm throughout the track make it unpredictable yet intriguing.

The tempo increases and the track gets louder and louder until it drops to the main riff that nicely wraps up the dynamic track.

‘Feed My Son’ and, according to lead vocalist Cal Donnelly, it is about ownership of far more than one needs; the energetic track uses catchy guitar and saxophone riffs, seemingly one of KAPUTT’s trademarks, to accompany the social commentary.

‘You Are Buried with My Nose’ is one of the darker songs, inspired by the uneasy feeling of seeing someone passing away who genetically has the same nose as you.

After a short, but serene saxophone intro the guitars and drums come into the picture and bring back the already familiar energy and colourfulness that runs through the entire Demo 2017.

Fast and steady drumming and the bass on the ‘Hi! I’m the Wasp’ create a sound reminiscent of a busy beehive, but it soon turns into something more out of a film with the extremely well-fitting saxophone.

Demo 2017 is a very refreshing and amusing EP, bringing post-punk sounds back into the Glasgow music scene and making KAPUTT one of the new bands that everyone should keep their eye on.

Words: Goda Bujaviciute

Mark Sharp – Lost Causes

One of the first striking elements of this EP is Mark Sharp’s voice; raw and pure it portrays the lyrics in an extremely convincing way.

Along with his voice, another extremely potent part of the EP is the song writing skills, a combination of beautiful lyrics and sentiment, coupled with a pure delicate voice conveys the message of the EP efficiently.

Lost Causes is a grower, building with slow gradual infection that you cannot seem to shift.

The EP starts off with the title track ‘Lost Causes’ with an ambient feel before the drums and the rest of the instruments kick in.

When the vocals drift out, the beautifully recorded guitar lines take over the melodic lines continuing with a melancholic feel.

The EP continues the same chilled out, calm melancholic tone with ‘You’re Not Alone’ being a piano driven sentimental number that stands out, providing a twist in the running order.

Closer, ‘Falling’ is a beautiful song about being so in love with someone that you are constantly stuck in a cycle of falling for them over and over again.

The beginning arpeggios create a solemn, thoughtful atmosphere showing off the raw purity in Sharp’s voice.

Towards the end of the track, the song becomes more powerful and adding more guitars and drums allowing the song to explode in to its full potential; an immense way to end the EP and leaves the listener wanting more.

With the main highlights being a sense of rawness in his voice and his talents for writing beautiful lyrics, 2018 looks to be a promising year for this singer/songwriter.

Words: Shannon Cullen

Golden Teacher – No Luscious Life

Golden Teacher came tumbling back into our ears in a familiar yet chaotic fashion: they say themselves, “accept no substitute” – it really is quite difficult to think of anyone capable of swapping places with the Glasgow band.

Rocking out of the Green Door Studios, Golden Teacher chuck out a barely-tamed mix of housey beats, rhythms and quacks married to sometimes sinisterly spat vocals and the deepest of deep dub: it does bring to mind the marriage of punk and dance of bands like the late-lamented Playgroup but this is nonetheless pretty original and wild stuff.

Opener ‘Sauchiehall Withdrawl’ has leading lass Cassie Oji wondering, “I’m always working so hard…and for what?“, against supremely danceable, but spare percussion, an acidic bassline and keyboard stabs: it’s dizzying stuff: exactly like that rather unique stretch of Glasgow on a Saturday night, in fact.

‘Shatter’ takes things deeper with the sort of prowling bassline to suggest doom is just around the next corner in a John Carpenter-directed street scene – a little purple, perhaps, but as well as being hip-waggling stuff, the song, like almost all of the band’s output, is extremely evocative; it’s the dark night brought into your ears via some voodoo goings on.

You can certainly see why Golden Teacher have thrived in Glasgow – they’re almost tailormade for all-conquering chaps about town, Optimo (who they have a sometime association with).

The mix of harsh attitude yet dancefloor mayhem is surely most at home at that clubbing institution.

There are other vocals supplied by Charles Lavenac – as on the excellently whippy ‘Spiritron’ – but there is no doubt, that when it comes to fronting the band, Oji is the star: narky but bewitching on record, really quite extraordinary live: full potential to go all the way.

Golden Teacher were at a point where they have the ability to unleash a real ripsnorter and take the next step – excellent though No Luscious Life is, I’m unsure this is the one, but with their  members already forming new projects I’m sure there will be plenty special to come.

Although noirish and even vicious, the album is quite subtle and brooding: more forceful use of the vocals may be needed to drag in those who are (stupidly) not content with dark and twisted grooves being the overriding attraction.

If you are – and you should be – this is a blinding release: perverse, groovy, contorted and never far away from a shady disco… works for me.

Words:Vosne Malconsorts

Sunflower Bean at Stereo, 1/4/18

Easter Sunday always makes for a jovial atmosphere in Glasgow, and this is certainly the case as New Yorkers Sunflower Beanperform to a sold-out Stereo, midway through a whistle stop tour of the UK promoting their freshly certified top 40 album Twentytwo In Blue.

The band bounce onto the stage, with guitarist Nick Kivlen bizarrely draped in a Dracula cape, and lead vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming immediately exclaims “let’s play some rock music”.

Opener ‘Burn It’ certainly adheres to her request as the glam rock stomp kicks proceedings off excellently.

Sunflower Bean have been enjoying an increasing level of success as their new record has made the crossover from indie hipster band of choice, to a more mainstream audience.

An early airing of the melodic ‘Twentytwo’ shows how their material has stepped up in maturity, however, despite the “grown-up” sound, Cumming and Kivlen still playfully bounce and bop around the stage throughout their set.

The heightened sense of occasion is not lost on Sunflower Bean, who declare their kinship with Scotland.

Cumming reveals her grandmother hails from these very shores, and they dedicate a song to local stars The Van T’s, who are in attendance this evening.

‘Crisis Fest’, the song in question, is one of the highlights of the set – a glitter band style romp, complete with collective fist pumping from band and crowd.

In amongst the wealth of new material, the euphoric shoegaze of old favourite ‘Easier Said’ gets the warmest reception.

It is the first time that there is visible dancing in the crowd, and incites a mass singalong, which continues when the acoustic guitar is busted out for a tender, stripped-back cover of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’, showing off a softer element in the trio’s depository.

After a brief loss of momentum, when guitarist Kivlen takes on the lead vocal on a shambolic ‘Sinking Sands’, the band end the main set with ‘I Was A Fool’, which just about escapes a plagiarism lawsuit from its striking similarity to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’.

After the briefest of encores, likely pushed by the strict early curfew, the band return to end the show with ‘I Was Home’, a fast-paced indie rocker that recalls early Kings Of Leon, and treat the packed crowd to a frenetic light show as a final cacophonous instrumental plays out.

The show this evening is a triumph, spearheaded from the front by the chemistry between Cumming and Kivlen, who give off the air of a peroxide Patti Smith and youthful Bob Dylan respectively.

Sunflower Bean look comfortable on bigger stages, which is just as well – with a sold out crowd hanging on every note, it certainly seems like they’ll need to make themselves comfortable on them.

More Photos

Words: Graham McCusker
Photos: Elina Lin

And Yet It Moves – Free Pass To The Future

Where to start with this one then?

Free Pass To The Future by Berlin/Glasgow five-piece And Yet It Moves is all over the place, nuts, crams in about 27 different styles – often within one song – and is 100% mental.

Good thing or bad thing?

On initial listenings, lord only knows really, but this collection is certainly original and puts down an early and solid marker for the barker of the year award.

What you get is guitars – lots of them – which happily hop between heavy, swampy rock to breezy and jolly pop: so far so normal.

Then we get to the vocals by Dale Barclay, which quack about in a Captain Beefheart-like fashion at times and suggest someone you should either run away from or run away with should you encounter them at a party; faintly daft, completely confident and uncaring of any convention.

The fact the singing occasionally and attractively then sounds like Lloyd Cole only adds to the surreal nature of goings on here: you may be enjoying that relatively calm aspect but it’s swiftly ditched and the drums and guitars kick into a cacophony that suggests someone has just driven a truck through the studio.

At first, it’s quite hard to know whether Free Pass To The Future is any good or a load of old rubbish: it’s scattergun noisy racket is so all over the place it has little to compare it to.

Beware, however: on the third, fourth and fifth listening, it all begins to make sense and becomes faintly irresistible.

The thumping rock parts are certainly stirring, the winsome backing vocals are attractive in a bit goth kinda way, the structure and rest of it is freestyle, but now in a rather impressive and seductive way: all in, if you suspend disbelief and go with the flow, it turns out this is a great record.

Perhaps the eccentricity and indeed the length of some of the songs – eight minutes, count ’em – put Free Pass To The Future into the prog-rock revival category?

Possible, but, if it is, it’s at the harder end of the spectrum.

They’re also in the cul de sac where drum and bass-type percussion can be lobbed into the mix [see intro to ‘Brother Henry’]… niche, for sure.

We even get some classic Scottish scratchy guitar pop on ‘Second Earth Song’.

A bit discordant but you can see the lineage to Glasgow bands of the early ’80s though naturally some of the vocals are then fed through a vocoder and things get rather raucous.

‘Second Earth Song’ is ultimately a triumph though: the high point here.

It may be nuts, it may be yelling, “fuck you“, all over the place but it has a joyousness about it, a celebration of itself.

It’s hard to imagine another record like this appearing anytime soon – reason enough to commend it.

The fact that, with a little perseverance, it’s also a hoot only adds to the plus points.

Dive in…with a crash helmet and an open mind.

Free Pass To The Future by And Yet It Moves

Words: Vosne Malconsorts