The Kays Lavelle

So along with Trampoline, the other major project I have is The Kays Lavelle.  Things are a little frustrating at the moment as the recording of the album is failing to get off the ground and some excellent gigs we had lined up have been cancelled.  It’s all a bit flat at the moment.  I am really disappointed as I’ve been working hard to get everything ready and now I am in the position to get the ball rolling.  Being dependant on others is a very difficult thing to deal with.  People are busy, have other priorities and that’s completely understandable and fine with me.  But I am chomping at the bit to get started on this album and am excited by it all.  So it leaves me feeling a bit flat when things aren’t moving the way I’d like them to be.   Graeme and I have been working hard at organising everything though and as ever there are loads of exciting little things going on.  As well as the album, their is the prospect of doing a short film with Mattyy “MJ” Ross again, which we hope would be a bonus dvd with the album.  Currently talking through ideas with the man.  Would be a nice follow up to ‘There and Back Again’ for sure.  Also in the pipeline is the release of “A Scottish Winter Tale of Love” a song we wrote specifically for our friends in San Francisco, Parks and Records.  They are a lovely little record label and whilst the release of this may be delayed til next year, I have not given up hope that they might be able to release it as a rare 7″ vinyl along with another song I’ve recently finished.  Fingers crossed on that one.  Also got a few other projects on the go which are quite exciting.  Now it’s just about getting them started.  Life just seems to take over from time to time but it’s time to get the finger out because I feel like The Kays keep building up momentum then losing it and we get left behind.  It’s frustrating for sure.  But I can see positive things happening soon.

IDLEWILD

Well I thought I’d post this because yesterday I bought the new album by Drever, McCusker and Woomble.  Though having not had an opportunity to listen to this in full as yet, I am full of hope that it will be a follow on to Roddy Woomble’s excellent debut solo album “My Secret Is My Silence”.  But it really got me thinking.  I first got into Idlewild because of my wife.  I travelled regularly between Dundee and Arbroath to see her and she gave me a copy of 100 Broken Windows on tape to listen to in the car on my journeys.  It became an instant favourite of mine and still is one of the albums I can get excited about on a regular basis.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Idlewild, I did then, and I do now.  I’m also not ashamed to admit that the albums that have followed 100 Broken Windows have never really disappointed me.  I know a lot of Idlewild fans I know were left disappointed by the following albums in so much as they didn’t have the edge, aggression, noise etc that 100 Broken Windows had.  That a softer, more polished sound was formed and that just wasn’t Idlewild.  I have always found that ridiculous and I still do.  I actually commend the band for the changes in direction, in sound and in approach that they have adopted on the following albums as it would have been all too easy just to churn out another 100 Broken Windows, which for me would have diminished the brilliance of this album.  And I also feel that the change in direction of the band was a good thing in many ways as it allowed Roddy Woomble to explore a more folky side and create what was one of my favourite albums of 2007 (I think it was 2007 anyways!).  And anyways, Make A New World was a great last album and harked back to the heavy days of old which again, was a nice change in direction.  They never bore me, they always keep the music evolving and fresh and just because it’s not what got people excited in the first place, doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Roddy Woomble created Ballad of the Books which involves some of Scotland’s finest authors and musicians, he produced a stunning debut album and I’m sure with his new work will have produced something different, something fresh for him and something which I hope to really get into over the weekend.  I personally think he’s one of the most important Scottish musicians for a long time and would be willing to argue this point with anyone over a pint or two at anytime.

Those are just my thoughts.   For now.

Trampoline, Sunday 21st September – GLISSANDO

Like I said in my previous post, I was full of hope and excitment about this gig and had worked hard to promote the show and get people along.  So, for the turn out to be so poor and for me to be able to count the number of people I knew on one hand was a real disappointment.  Normally when we get poor turnouts I struggle to enjoy the show.  However, fortunately on this occasion I was able to sit back and revel in the music that was on show.
First up was Debutant.  I’ve known Phil for a while now through his main band Kartta and so was really pleased that he was finally able to make it down from Aberdeen to do a show.  His solo stuff is so differrent from Kartta as well which is really nice.  A solo performer with only an electric guitar and a multitude of pedals to play with he manages to create lovely soundscapes which are layered and layered, his soft vocal over the top the icing on a beautiful cake.  It reminded me in many ways of Eluvium and I really enjoyed his short set.  The highlight for me was a new song which he named “old bogie” for the evening in homeage to Humphrey Bogart.  A stunningly beautiful end to his set which set the night up nicely.

Next up were The French Quarter.  The Kays had had the pleasure of being invited to support these guys the week before at their EP launch in Glasgow.  This would be the second time in a week I saw them live and I enjoyed both sets.  The band are a little hard to describe.  A mix of Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai perhaps with some Joy Division like vocals thrown in.  Hard to pin down yet wearing their influences firmly on their sleeves.  Having bought their EP the previous week I think I enjoyed the set more this time.  There’s a real beauty to their music and though I thought in Glasgow that Frank’s vocal sometimes got lost in the mix – he has a deep voice – the sound in the Wee Red was spot on as usual (thanks to Alex) so everything worked really well.  A really good set with the highlight for me being their last song – the name escapes me – but it’s most excellent.

And so to Glissando.  Well, I’d put Rich and Elly on previously as a 2 piece and they played a lovely set.  This time they had brought back up in the form of bass and violin and I have to say this was probably my favourite performance at a Trampoline show.  They were stunning.  Given the lack of instruments on show, the rich, big soundscapes they created were fantastic.  I just sat in awe at the beauty of it all.  If I have on criticism of the album “with our arms wide open we march towards the burning sea” it’s that sometimes there is too much space on the album.  noise moments which last a little too long for my liking.  Live however, the spaces, the moments of noise and atmosphere are perfect and when the music kicks back in the effect is stunning.  Elly’s wonderful voice is used as a 5th instrument to great effect and they leave the Wee Red Bar covered in goose pimples.  I for one cannot wait to see them live again.  Not only are they lovely people but they create beautiful, dark music and on Sunday gave a performance I won’t forget for a long time.  lovely stuff. Just a shame more people couldn’t be there to witness their brilliance.

The British Expeditionary Force – Chapter One: A Long Way From Home.

 Well this is bloody marvellous.  Pure and simple.  The first instalment in a trilogy of albums from this band, this is a little gem which for me sparkles from start to finish.  My mate Fraser from Small Town Boredom (a man who may know more about music than Bart and whose debut album Autumn Might Have Hope should be explored by everyone) introduced me to this band when I was looking for something new and refreshing.  He told me to check out Grand Archives and The British Expeditionary Force.  I am pleased to say I like both, though Grand Archives caught the imagination of others I know more.  Me – I was sucked in by TBEF from the word go.  The build of noise on opener “back of the hand” is quite exquisite and left me wanting more. I’m glad to say the rest of the album doesn’t disappoint.  The songs feel scattered and lost yet somehow all tie together beautifully.  It’s a mix of sparse little refrains and full on in your face beats and it just doesn’t let up.  It’s simply captivating and to be honest this album has fuelled my own song writing more times than any I can think of in recent times.  I love when an album does that to me.  When it makes me want and have to sit at my piano and just play.  This album never fails, which in my world makes it a great listen every time.  Listening to it at work at the moment pisses me off cause I can’t play my piano here!  Still, this is a brilliant start to the trilogy of albums and I for one cannot wait for more from this band.

Unfortunately, due to a virus on my computer, I cannot add MP3 for this.  But you must check this band out.  Simply brilliant.

www.myspace.com/thebritishexpeditionaryforce  

Trampoline.

So, some people may know, some people may not, that I run a monthly music night in Edinburgh called Trampoline.  I started this night with my friend Graeme because we believed, and I still believe, that Edinburgh was brimming with musical excellence spanning a number of genres.  We wanted to provide a regular monthly night for artists to play, mingle, network and just enjoy the excellent music on show.  Since our first show in March 2007 – we’ve had bands such as Attic Lights, Broken Records, Meursault, eagleowl, Small Town Boredom, FOUND, The Phantom Band, Wooden Box with a Fistful of Fivers, Zoey Van Goey, Glissando, Shady Bard, The Kays Lavelle, The French Quarter, Debutant, Y’all Is Fantasy Island and gasgiant, to name a few.  In terms of the bands that have played my nights I can certainly say that Trampoline has been a success.  In terms of getting and maintaining an audience though, well to be frank, I think I’ve failed in a pretty major way.   At a regular Trampoline show I would expect to see betwen 30 to 50 people at the gigs.  At a good show we may get more but in general the attendances have always been average at best.  Which is a shame.  It’s why I got kicked out of Glasgow actually.   I was told that the lineups were better than any at the venue but because the audiences were average they couldn’t keep me on at the venue.  Fortunately, Colvin and the Wee Red Bar have been amazing with me.  I’ve had free reign to put on whatever shows I want and when things haven’t gone so well I’ve heard nothing but praise for the music.  Still, I aimed to turn Trampoline into a top monthly night where a regular base crowd would come along and we could build on that attracting more and more people along to the nights.  I mean, it’s only one night a month and the prices are really pretty good compared to other nights in the city.  But I guess it’s not meant to be.  Last night was particuarly disappointing for me as well because the line up was great.  Debutant was an excellent opener and The French Quarter also played a great set.  But Glissando were stunning.  Maybe my favourite performance by any band at a Trampoline show.  It just took my breath away.  So for me, though a lovely night, the disappointing thing was that this band deserve to be heard by more folk and I was able to count on 1 hand the people there that I knew personally.  Don’t get me wrong, there are so many great people in this city who have supported my nights from the beginning and couldn’t make it last night.  But in general – these nights don’t work without the support of friends, of friends of the bands and with a lot of good promotion.  I have worked hard over the past 2 years to promote shows the best I can, at a great deal of expense and time and effort.  And the sad thing for me is that I may only be doing this til December – (at which time the shows will be cut from monthly to either quarterly or just on an ad hoc basis) – because I’m losing the drive and determination and belief I had in this city and the potential for a thriving music scene.  I still believe in the bands here.  The music coming out of Edinburgh is phenomenal.  But nights like Trampoline, low budget, diy, cannot survive without support and to be frank, the lack of support has left me feeling a bit empty today.