The Kays in December

It’s now all confirmed and sorted.  The Kays will be supporting The French Quarter on a nice wee mini tour at the start of December.  The French Quarter are an excellnet band from Tilicoutry.  They have been very fortunate to have had one of their songs recently picked up by the BBC – both BBC1 and BBC2 for their winter adverts.  They deserve it.  I do enjoy their music and it’s a total pleasure to get to go on a little road trip with them.  One of the things I love most about Trampoline and Edinburgh is the community that forms and the friendships you form.  I have made great friends in the French Quarter and Glissando and it’s nice because we’re all helping each other out.  I’m a bit drunk at this point, so this blog could perhaps be a little less shit. :o)  BUt my point is this – The French Quarter rock.  Glissando Rock and I cannot wait for the December shows.  Which for the most part will be a stripped back affair for the Kays with perhaps only me and Graeme involved.  Not sure yet.  Anyways, the dates are:

4th Dec – Nice N’ Sleazys, Glasgow

5th Dec – KAGE, Dundee

6th Dec – SNAFU, Aberdeen

7th Dec – Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh

Brilliantly Kartta are playing on all dates apart from Dundee where it’s Kaput. I like Kartta and Phil is another great bloke we’ve met through music.  I’m going to stop talking now.  Probably should stop drinking too. Though it helps me sleep.  oh dear……..

Olafur Arnalds

I’m sitting here on this cold cold cold friday night, on my sofa, with a large glass of red wine and I’m listening to the best cd I have bought in a long long long long time.  Olafur Arnalds ‘Eulogy For Evloution’ is one of the most beautiful, inspiring, moving pieces of music I have heard.  There is nothing I can really say except that this is a brilliant album of classical/electronic music, though predominantly classical.  It’s better than anything I’ve heard this year and it will take something special to beat it during the rest of the year.  This is a stunning piece of music from a young Icelandic composer with a bright future.  It reminds me in so many ways of Einaudi.  The simplicity of the piano is stunning but there are more strings, more noise, more atmosphere to these tunes.  It’s gorgeous.  Pure and simple.  I think this will be on repeaton my stereo for a long time to come.  And I have more Icelandic music to look forward to in the next few dats in the shape of Seabear who I discovered listening to my friend Heidi’s mix on her Wesinkships blog.  How can Iceland be so small and yet produce so many wonderful bands.  Mum and Amiina being two other favourites of mine.  It’s so inspiring.  I want to go and play my piano now but fear I wil be stuck in my sofa listening to this over and over and over.  Spellbinding.  That’s what this is!

Cancel the Astronauts – Limbo, the Voodoo Rooms, October 30, 2008

Ok, so firstly I want to say that I like Limbo nights.  I like Andy and Dave and I like what they do and how hard they work to make what they do a success.  I have seen some cracking bills at Limbo and some cracking bands too.  I’m always impressed by the fac their night is a weekly night and that they never seem to use the same bands over and over again.  However, this is also, in my opinion, where things sometimes become disappointing because I have been to a few limbo nights lately which have been a massive let down.  I don’t want to name bands or slag off other bands but I guess my point is that when you run a weekly music night like this it’s so very difficult to consistently put on good shows.  I run Trampoline once a month because I don’t think I could put on a good show every week.  Nor would I put on bands I did not think were good enough or to my taste.  I guess in a way that’s why I admire what Andy and Dave do.  There doesn’t seem to be any music snobbery going on, they are just helping lots of bands get an opportunity to play in one of Edinburgh’s better venues.  The Voodoo Rooms is a bit swanky but it’s also got a great sound system and is fantastic place to play.  Anyways, last night’s show was one I’d been looking forward to as it’s been a while since I had seen my good friends Cancel the Astronauts.  The band on before them were called Babygod and seem to be a coming together of Glasgow session musicians.  Some of their tunes were excellent, some were not but I did enjoy their set.  Cancel the Astronauts though were on fine form.  They sound tighter than ever and have so much energy on stage that it’s hard not to have a smile on your face during the performance.   They played a lot of songs I’d not heard before and I have to admit that they are really developing into a great band.  The songs are stronger and the performance is more assured.  It helps when you have a really good front man.  The Kays are still trying to find one! – but CTA have no worries there and the rest of the band are tight, excellent musicians – and dancers! If I’m being perfectly honest, the style of music that CTA play would not be my preferred choice any day of the week but ever since I first saw them and heard tongue in cheek songs such as “I am the president of your fanclub and last night i followed you home” I’ve been hooked with their infectious, catchy pop numbers.  If ever there was a band crying out to radio stations to be heard then it’s these guys.  I hope they get where they want to go.  They are a great bunch of lads and severely under-rated.

Bored, bored, bored….

Is anyone else bored yet of the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross debacle?  How is it possible for the media to spin something like this into a world crisis in which the Prime Minister has become embroiled?!  This is lunacy.  Don’t get me wrong, I think what they did was pretty low and quite frankly stupid.  However, as far as I can make out from the 24 hour a day coverage it has been getting, both Mr Ross and Mr Brand have apologised for their behaviour, Mr Brand has resigned from his position at the BBC and both of them are no doubt going to get a good telling off.  Surely that must be the end of it??  I am so bored opeing the paper to another story about how upsetting a situation it has been for those involved.  Yes, it was poor taste.  Yes, it was upsetting for those involved.  Yes, they deserve to get into trouble.  No I don’t want to read or hear about it anymore.  End of.  I can think of an endless list of things that are more news worthy and worthy of the Prime Ministers attention than this fiasco.  Lets put it to bed (so to speak) and move on.

Tonight I am going to limbo to see the rather delightful Cancel The Astronauts.  We asked them to play one of our very first Trampoline nights and have become good friends since then so I think I shall go along and lend my support and then there is the small matter of the Broken Records single launch on Saturday night.  I think I will pop along to that, as much for the support acts as the headliners though as both eagleowl and sparrow and the workshop are fantastic.

Damien Jurado – why is he not better known?

I’ve just ordered Damien Jurado’s new album ‘Caught In The Trees’ and bought 2 tickets to go and see the man live at Stereo in Glasgow on 5th November. Bart from eagleowl is the other lucky owner of a ticket.  He’s also one of the few other people I know who have a love for Damien Jurado.  When I booked the tickets online it told me that I was buying tickets 4 and 5!  Now I don’t know how the ticket system works, what with shops and online services etc but it saddens me to think that this could be a sparsely attended gig because Mr Jurado is one of the finest musicians that I have in my music collection.

I think I initially read an article about him in the Sunday Times and from that moment on I’ve been hooked.  Actually, my own song ‘the lights and the sirens’ got its title from a lyric in his song ‘I Had No Intentions’ from the album ‘And Now That I’m In Your Shadow’, which is a stunningly beautiful and dark album.  My song is sort of about living on Leith Walk.  My piano sat in the spare room over looking the street and the name “the lights and the sirens” just fitted so perfectly as I used to sit and write and look out onto the dark night sky as the fire engines and ambulances, but more commonly police cars, zoomed by.  Those lyrics stick in my head so clearly, and I think that’s what I love about him, I always remember his words as if they were my own.  They echo in my head even after just one listen to a song.  I can’t think of another song writer who can produce such minimal tunes and yet retain my full attention for endless lengths of time.  Just the other day at work I listened to all the albums of his I have on my ipod from start to finish and the time past so quickly!  But in a really positive way.  The music, his words, his voice just all come together to produce some of my favourite songs and songs I could play on repeat over and over.  I cannot wait for his new album to arrive and I am even more excited to be getting to see him live in just over a week’s time.  I even held off buying a ticket for Sigur Ros, who play Glasgow the same night, so I could get a ticket for this show.  That’s how much I want to see him.  It’s rare for him to be here in Scotland and I intend to enjoy every single breath he takes.  If you don’t know him, please check him out – it’s well worth it.

COLD by Euan McMeeken

I feel cold.  It’s not that I am cold. Lying on the bed, the blood is pumping through my veins, warming my skin to the point where I’m uncomfortable and constantly readjust.  My body, desperately seeking the cool relief of unruffled cotton.  My hands are clammy and stick to the pages of the book I hold, as Tom Waits stares at me through black and white eyes and makes me feel ever more uncomfortable.  Like he’s the jugde and jury and I am the condemned.  The gun with it’s romantice detailed design, on the front of the book lying by the bedside table sends a shiver down this dead mans spine.  The house is bright, lit by the suns last breath that comes streaming through the skylight windows and fills the room with a warm glow.  Like spring is just around the corner.  I think of home.  The comforts, the laughter, the innocence and the opportunity to bask in the welcoming and care that accompany such visits.  Was it only an hour or so ago?  It feels like a lifetime.  I think of the music that filled my world, consumed my soul earlier and wish I was back in that room.  Fingers pressed against ivory.  Voice trembling with every breath as if at any moment it will give way and come crashing down like the world around me.  As if echoing the words that I sing.  The smell of dinner comes flooding through the house and wakes me from this trance.  It smells delicious, like life should smell.  The final ember of the sun burns out and I move from the bed.  A drop of sweat runs down the back of my leg and althought everything is bright and warm.  I still feel cold.

The Things We Love

This weekend so far has inovled me sitting in my flat listening to the rain batter against the rooflights in the living room.  I love the sound of the rain.  I also love knowing that I am tucked up in this cosy flat and the rain can try and get me, it can even start to leak through the windows, it can do whatever it likes but it won’t get through to me!  Well not yet.  I’ll be leaving soon to go for a dinner with family and friends, so I accept that I will get slightly wet then, but I will eat and drink in the knowledge that I will be back in the warmth of the flat later and have no reason to leave again until I have to go to work on Monday morning!  It’s been a lovely week and today has been so nice as I’ve done the square route of fuck all!  Woke up late for me, got up even later, showered, pottered, watched Sunderland beat Newcastle (so pleased – one Roy Keane!), played some Tiger Woods golf, listened to loads of music and just really chilled out and relaxed.  I have been swimming this week.  I love swimming.  When I was young I used to get called a baby seal because I spent so much time under the water rather than practicing all the different strokes!  It’s funny how some things never change!  I went to see Mogwai on Tuesday, started the Kays Lavelle album on Thursday and then on Friday went all the way to Anstruther to sit by the sea and eat chips.  It was weird as well, I mean, everyone knows that the Fence Collective are located in the East Neuk and Anstruther in particular but you don’t really expect them to be the first folk you see on arrival in the town!  But as I parked and walked to the chip shop there were King Creosote and Pictish Trail standing chatting by the sea.  It was bizarre.  Kind of like coming to Leith and seeing Irvine Welsh before anyone else!  It was so bizarre.  Anyways, the chips were delicious even if the weather was absolutely crazy.  It’s been a lovely week, doing all the things that I love doing and things I miss doing.  Need to pencil in more of those things for the rest of the year.

Mogwai, Fuck Buttons, Errors – Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Tuesday 21st October 2008

So I love Mogwai. We’ve established that in my previous posts.  I have seen them live many times and was not planning to go to this show at all until I bought the new album and just had to get along to see them.  Unfortunately I missed Errors.  I’ve not really heard anything by them yet so I need to check them out and it’s maybe a good thing not to see them for the first time in the Corn Exchange, which is up there with the worst venues in Scotland!  Anyways, got a beer in and was just in time to catch Fuck Buttons.  It was apparent from the first tune that this was going to be a noisy gig!  In fact, they didn’t actually stop for a break during their set and just merged one song into another for about half an hour or so.  Don’t get me wrong, I do really like Street Horrrsing and thought that the sound and music on Tuesday night was really great.  However, for me, they are one of the most boring acts to watch.  I guess it has a lot to do with the type of music but there wasn’t much to engage you.  Basically, one of them stands in one spot the whole time nodding his head and the other one jumps about whilst seemingly holding his finger on what button or key……I know, I know, this i very niaive of me and I totally understand that creating such music and performing such music is far more technical.  I just didn’t feel the performance though I felt the music. 

Mogwai on the other hand.  Well they were simply brilliant and my fears about the sound quality of the venue were blown away in no time.  This like their new album, was the best they’ve been live when I’ve seen them.  Songs like Christmas Steps and Like Herod still pack an almighty punch whilst Friend of the Night is a stunning piece of beauty.  However, the highlight of the show was without doubt the closer Batcat, which after a whole night of mind blowing noise was the final nail in the coffin for my ears! That’s the first gig I’ve been at in a long time where I’ve left the venue with a ringing in my ears.  I loved it. It just made my Tuesday night.  The emotion that that band create in me without using words still amazes me and makes me smile so much.  I could go and see them live every night – if my ears could handle it.  Alas, I think they might be dead and so I choose to have some time away from watching Mogwai live.  Well, until their next tour anyways.

7VWWVW, Super8Super8 @ Trampoline, October 18th 2008

Not one review of this show!  Despite being one of the best attended Trampoline nights, despite being one of the most enjoyable Trampoline nights, despite being one of the most interesting Trampoline nights, I cannot find one review of this show.  Normally I would be disappointed and if I were Mammal or Super8Super8 I think I might be a little disappointed as well.  This was a superb night.  I am so chuffed that it worked and more so that the Trampoline came together for once and brought others together in a way I’d always hoped it would.  Film makers making new contacts, bloggers finding somebody to help them fix a video camera issue and lots of people just loving the music.  One of my friends said the night was like a “great dinner or really satsifying shag”. I think that about sums it up nicely.  But I think I should probably expand on that a little!  Basically, way back near the start of the year, I asked Mammal to play Trampoline and said that what I really wanted to do was have them work with film makers to creat music to a film, or something along these lines.  We basically left it in their hands to do what they wanted and it was well worth the wait.  Super8Super8 are film makers who specialise in working with Super8 cameras.  You can find out more about what they do and are all about at: http://www.super8super8.com  Basically, Mammal commissioned these guys to make films based on their music.  Experiments in music and film if you like.  The idea of putting music to a fim has always fascinated me.  I hope that through Matty and his film friends I will continue to get to work on soundtracks for their work.  It’s always a challenge.  So for Mammal to flip this and make the film makers interpret their music was even more interesting!  What I loved most about the night was that the film makers were in the middle of the room working their projectors and reacting to the music as the night progressed and the music changed patterns, speed, shapes.  It was something real, something tangible, something that everyone in the room could see as it happened.  So there were really 2 performances that evening and I think that’s something I’ve been striving for at Trampoline.  Collaboration between artists and musicians, film makers and musicians, dancers and musicians.  For the first time, this really felt like the people involved poured their heart and soul into the night and that made it special for me.  Mammal – were absolutely brilliant and watching them is incredible as there is so much going on.  It was actually hard to know where to look during the night because of everything that was happening but I think the music and films came together brilliantly and the night was a real success.  Obviously the lack of interest in the night from anyone in the media is a shame as I don’t think there’s been anything like it for a while.  But to be honest, I feel satisfied in what we achieved on Saturday and hopefully if it draws more and more people to the nights then it will prove a real success.  I guess the plan now is to try and do nights like this one more often. Not monthly, but every 3 months or something would be great.  Although I’ll be taking a backseat from Trampoline, I am excited that the nights canmove forward and hopefully attract more and more attention.  All good.

‘In The Blood’ – Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus.

At the start of the week I watched a show where Stephen Fry visits the United States and travels around the country getting to know a little bit about eahc place he visits, its culture, its architecture, its religion and ultimately its people.  It was an interesting journey from the norht, down through the Carolina’s, Gerogia to Florida and back up towards the Mississippi.  This reminded me of a film I have called ‘Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus’ in which musician Jim White takes the film makers on a journey through the deep south of the United States in an attempt to understand the this part of the United States a little better.  The conclusion is that to truly understand the people and practices of the deep south it has to be “in the blood”.  Interestingly, White himself is not a southerner by origin, hailing from California before being moved south by his parents.  He acknowledges that he never understood the attraction or beauty of the south and wanted to leave as soon as he could.  Only through leaving the place did he really understand what the south was about.  As we travel through swamps, down dirt roads, through towns – only a half mile wide – we learn that ultimately there are 2 options in the south – to choose Jesus or to choose Hell.  As White so poignantly puts it; ” if you had to choose between grief or nothing, you’d choose grief……at least grief lets you know you are alive”.  This leads the film to investigate the 2 very different paths adopted in the south.  We visit bars, prisons and a variety of churches and places of worship in an attempt to confront both the demons of White and the deep south on a much deeper and wider level.  This is a lovely piece of film-making.  Not only a film, almost a musical as artists such as the Handsome family pop up from time to time playing songs at petrol stations, in pool rooms, in hairdressers all as White and the various characters he encounters disucss the culture of the deep south.  The most beautiful thing about the film – that was never meant to be a documentary, just one particular take on life in this fascinating area of America – is the excellent regional music to underpin and accentuate the overall atmosphere it portrays. Vivid, curious and sometimes more than a little disturbing, it is as much a work of art as it is a film and one I would encourage people to embrace.