The Stormy Seas

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Some bands just don’t get the credit or recognition that they deserve.  Some bands are perhaps not seeking such recognition and are quite happy just playing music and enjoying playing music.  It doesn’t make them any less hard working, or driven, it just means that they actually care more about playing music together than anything else.  And ultimately, if you don’t enjoy what you are doing then why do it?  Since joining Woodenbox, I’ve rediscovered that love of playing live and the enjoyment you get from playing with a group of guys who just love playing above all else.  It’s a great feeling.  And it’s something that is so obvious when watching a band perform.  It oozes from stage and I think it’s quite infectious.  It’s a feeling I got yesterday when I was watching The Stormy Seas play the outdoor stage at the Peartree beer garden.

The Stormy Seas are, by all accounts, one of these bands that seem to just love playing music.  They are also one of these bands who seem to be criminally over looked within a music scene perhaps not geared to their edgy traditional Scottish folk music.  They remind me a little of early Foxface. Perhaps that is just me though.  Anyways, their music has a raw aggression to it, which is ironic given that I can’t think of a nicer bunch of lads.  Michael Tovey has a really special voice, which stands out whether as a lead vocal or providing backing vocals.  And that’s something the Stormy Seas do so well;  the interaction of the lead vocals with some brilliant backing ‘chanting’ and singing.  Regardless of what people say, this is straight up Scottish folk music.  Not the “cool” kind of folk music either.  But it’s brilliant and it’s refreshing.  The song ‘Slow Dance’ is a particular favourite of mine.  Anyways, they definitely deserve to receive more attention than they do, whether they want it or not.  I certainly get the feeling that these lads just love music whether it’s watching, playing or just being part of the whole community and at the end of the day, that’s the way it should be.   I for one though am looking forward to them releasing some material in the future.  Hurry up lads eh!  Enjoy

10 Things That Have Me Smiling This Week

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1.  Today’s Woodenbox gig at the Shipping Forecast Garden Party, the Peartree, Edinburgh.

2. Getting to sit down on wednesday with a beer and listen to all the Kays album tracks to work out what still needs to be done.

3. The upcoming Woodenbox shows in September at Glasgow College of Art, Oran Mor and ABC2, 3 venues I have never had the pleasure of playing.

4.  The new Withered Hand album.

5.  Potential Woodenbox UK tour at the end of October.

6.  My best friends wedding at the end of September.

7.  The new series of the Tudors. Now into the part of Henry VIII’s history of which I know very little.

8.  Flight of the Conchords series 2.

9.  Death of a Ladies Man by Alan Bissett.

10.  Feeling refreshed after a week away in the Scottish Borders with no contact from anyone or anything.  Bliss.

Kays update

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So, I suppose it’s been a while since I did an update on the Kays album. Not sure too many people are that bothered to be honest. Judging by the massive crowd of 1 we had at the Wee Red the other week I’m guessing that the anticipation for our album is not all that high! I’ve always said though that I’m happy just floating below everyone’s radar with little or no expectation and being discovered rather than me forcing us on people. So yeah, we’ve been quietly getting on with things and trying to get this album finished. I guess we’re almost there. There is not that much left to do now. Just little bits here and there. You can see the above list of tunes we’ve recorded. This is not the track order nor is it guaranteed that all these tracks will make it onto the album. However, I thought I’d post it anyways. In other news, Kays t-shirts will shortly be available to order. The designs are being finalised and should all be ready to go shortly. So yeah, I guess it’s nearly, nearly all systems go. So keep an eye out. And thanks to everyone who has shown us their support. You know who you are. You are great.

A Holiday At Last

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Oh wow.  So we’re nearly there.  Just 2 more days of work and that’s me for a nice long week of relaxing and enjoying a much needed holiday!  I don’t get many to be honest and have not been away for a week for about 2 years.  It’s actually the most appealing thing in the world right now.  I feel so worn down.  Worn down by work.  Work down by disappointment after disappointment musically.  And worn out by a wonderful little boy.  The last one at least never fails to make me smile.  But yeah, this year has been a pretty major disappointment in terms of what I wanted to achieve.   I am now just trying to take a step away from all the shit that goes with being in a band and focusing on playing music.  Being in Woodenbox has dme.  I have to be honest.  Just turning up, playing and enjoying the music.  Not being dependent on others.  Not having to deal with all the issues that surround being in charge of a band.  It’s been awesome.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the main thing is to enjoy playing music.  Nothing else is that important.  And the other thing being that music itself is not the be all and end all.  So next week is going to be great.  Of course, I’m not going anywhere glamourous.  Just off to a cottage in Melrose to relax and try to forget about all the daily stresses of being in the Kays, runnning trampoline, dealing with the public in my daily work etc.  It’s going to be great and I hope to come back feeling refreshed and raring to go.  Maybe there will be lots of positive news for me upon my return.  You never know.  You can but hope.  Anyways, I doubt there will be much activity on this page whilst I’m away but I will hopefully come back with lots to write about.  Until then, have a great weekend and enjoy the last week in August.

Time To Stop Bouncing

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Well, I guess all good things come to an end right? It’s been well over 2 years now and Trampoline has slowly but surely gained a reputation as being a top night of music on a monthly basis. However, I don’t really feel that I can take it any further. This has been on the cards for a while as I planned to end the nights at the end of last year because of the imminent birth of my son and the lack of interest being shown in the gigs I was putting on, with the exception of a few fine folk. One of those fine folk, Matty from local legends Cancel the Astornauts, persuaded me otherwise and thanks to his efforts the nights continued into 2009 with the first 6 months of shows a roaring success. However, as my time becomes more precious and more scarce I have decided that it is time to bring Trampoline to an end. I’d like to thank all those who have supported me through the 2 years with particular thanks to Colvin and Alex at the Wee Red Bar who have been fantastic and given me nothing but the best support possible. I’d recommend Alex as a sound engineer to anyone out there wanting to record music whether it’s live recordings or for a record or just cause you need a demo or mastering. He’s brilliant and you can check out his work here. I’d also like to thank Matty for his time, effort and patience in 2009. He’s a star and I appreciate all the help he has given me this past year. Claire Hall as well, a massive thanks for her time and support. I have missed her help and enthusiasm. I’d also like to thank Matthew at songbytoad for his constant support and the boys at Under the Radar and more recently The Skinny for promoting the night and general support. And I’d like to thank Pamela for her patience, understanding and support. More than anything, I’d like to thank everyone who came along or played the nights and made them what they were. Without you people I’d have stopped a long time ago. You know who you are. I appreciate every penny spent and every second spared. Cheers.

Though it’s the end, there are 2 cds planned in the near future. A live cd with songs from the festival shows. As well as a ‘best of trampoline’ cd featuring 20 original tracks by some of our favourite performers over the past 2 and a bit years. These should both be available soon through Mini50 records. Keep an eye out.

The last show will be the December show on 12th this year. Once again, thanks to everyone who has shown support and encouragement during Trampoline’s run. It’s been fun.

Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men

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The cover of this album had a quote from Uncut magazine. It said the following:

“The best album of it’s kind since Elbow’s all-conquering ‘The Seldom Seen Kid”

Well I’m sorry, that’s a giant heap of nonsense. This is by far and away the best album of it’s kind since Elbow’s Asleep In The Back if you ask me. Well, perhaps since Cast of Thousands, but it’s absolutely stunningly good. I’ve been sitting absolutely mesmerised by the beauty of this record for the past 2 hours now. It’s simply magnificent. It makes me wonder why we bother with upbeat music at all. If downbeat music can be this uplifting and gorgeous, why bother picking up the tempo? I mean this is seriously stunningly good. It opens with a spoken word track as well, which is encouraging as it works so well. I say it’s encouraging because The Kays album will be starting with a spoken word track so to hear one sound so good and open the album beautifully makes me feel positive about what we’re trying to do. However, it also makes me want to keep the album down beat because from track 2 to track 8 this album is so lovely. Album finisher ‘There Will It End’ is just the perfect climax to this wonderful record. My previous post mentioned that Natasha Khan (beautiful!) was a good bet for the Mercury Prize, well, I think this should win hands down. Without any quesitons asked, just give these guys the prize and be done with it. Gorgeous. Check them out here. And buy the record here. Enjoy.

TSP Grade = A

Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

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I love Natasha Khan. I think it’s safe to say that if I was not married to a wonderful lady and with a wonderful little boy I’d be delighted to father her children. But alas, I will just have to enjoy her wonderful music instead. And it is indeed a wonderful world that she creates musically. In fact, if we could have a musical relationship and solely a musical relationship I think me and Natasha would be just about perfect for each other. There’s something so dark about this record yet it never loses the lush warmth beauty that resonates throughout. It’s how I want music to sound. It fills me with all the right feelings. All the desire to write but the inability to walk away from listening to her songs. It’s almost like a journey from the darkness to the light as the music dips and weaves and creates a wonderful world where the slightly dark and slightly quiky collide. Lots of guest vocalists and musicians add to the magic of this record with Scott Walker duetting on album closer ‘The Big Sleep’ to wonderous effect. But the stand out track for me is without a doubt album opener ‘Glass’, which highlights the wonders of Khan’s vocal. Having seen her support Radiohead last year I am delighted that she has gone from strength to strength because she seemed like a gem at the time. And, if she ever wants to call me, to discuss music obviously, I will be more than happy to. Simply gorgeous in every way and surely a definite contender for the Mercury Music Prize this year.

TSP Grade = B+ for music A+ for looks.

Radiohead Record Song About War Veteran

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So the first new studio material by Radiohead was released yesterday for download. The song is a tribute to WW1 veteran Harry Patch who died last week at the age of 111. It appears Thom Yorke had been inspired by an interview he heard on Radio4 with Mr Patch a number of years ago. Ironically, the song was recorded only a few weeks before his death and has been released for download entitled ‘Harry Patch (In Memory Of).’ I have yet to hear the track. But you can download it here with all the proceeds going to the British Legion. The words themselves left me cold. I share Thom Yorkes sentiment that it is easy for our generation to forget the horrors of wars that take place far from our shores. The majority of us have never experienced, and hopefully never will, the atrocities of war. Download this song though both in memory of Harry Patch and to help raise funds for those who have in the past and those who continue to put their lives on the line for others.

Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers Visit England

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So last Thursday and Friday I found myself in the Rock Van belonging to Woodenbox and a Fistful of Fivers on a whirlwind trip to England to play shows in Sheffield and Stockton. This van reminded me somewhat of when I played hockey and the school team used to make trips to other cities to play. There with that rickety old feel about the thing and something in the back of my mind that thought we’d never actually make it to Sheffield let alone there and back again via Stockton. It was sweet though. A nice big white transit, modified to allow storage of equipment and with plenty room for the band to crash out after shows. An inbuilt dvd player which allowed the watching of classics such as Teen Wolf and Predator was also a pretty sweet addition to the van! Also on this journey, I discovered that I get a slightly weird enjoyment from sleeping on the floor of such vans. Perhaps when you are in the tour situation you actually take pleasure in such slight, erm, ‘comforts’ but I really found a nice comfy spot on the floor and made it my own.

Anyways, it took us ages to get to Sheffield due to country roads and traffic jams outside Newcastle. We arrived in time to grab a bite to eat though and then get stuck in to the show. It was a good one. Good sound, good crowd. In fact, very generous crowd as we got offered numerous places to stay for the night. Fortunately we already had accommodation – though some of the guys didn’t need it preferring the street and garden as bedrooms. Anyways, after a night of much whiskey drinking we headed onwards to Stockton for the Stockton Riverside Festival being headlined that day by the Charlatans. It was pretty sweet. We got guest passes which gave us access to the hospitality area and lots of free food and drink! It also gave us the perfect view of the main stage from which we took in quite a few bands. Wild Beasts were brilliant. Very similar in style to new Grizzly Bear stuff, they sounded awesome live and I will be investigating their records for sure now. The Charlatans also rolled back the years and sounded pretty awesome. Tim Burgess is 42 and can still rock a pair of skinny jeans. He must be so tiny! Anyways, we headed over to the Georgian Theatre where we were playing and played a great show to a large and enthusiastic crowd. It was a top gig. We hung around for a bit after, chatting to the locals before jumping in the Rock Van and driving through the night for home. It was a good couple of days for sure and it really gave me a taste for how life on the road would be. I have to say that I for one could really get used to that lifestyle.

Elbow – Asleep In The Back

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Today, I was flicking the channels on the TV and stumbled upon Elbow being interviewed by MTV at the Oxygen festival. The girl doing the interview asked them what they planned to do next. Quite disappointingly they said they’d go away and keep making records but that it would be very difficult for them as they can’t top the previous album because it won all the awards. Lets get one thing straight. That’s bullshit. Elbow have already written better music than The Seldom Seen Kid. Their very first album ‘ Asleep In The Back’ is quite simply a masterpiece and blows The Seldom Seen Kid out of the water, in my honest opinion. If I had a top 10 albums list of all my favourite records Asleep In The Back would, without doubt, be on it. ‘Any Day Now’, ‘Powder Blue’, ‘Newborn’ and ‘Scattered Black and Whites’…..Elbow have never produced a better record. Cast Of Thousands was a great follow up but I have quite frankly never felt that Leaders Of The Freeworld of Seldom Seen Kid have come close to their first 2 records. It still makes me laugh that they won all their awards for what I consider possibly their weakest album to date. Don’t get me wrong. I still love them. I love that album but I guess my point is that to say they cannot better it is ridiculous. I hope they do better it. And I know they will. They are an inspirational band to me. They have influenced my writing from the very beginning. They are still the most interesting and exciting UK band in my opinion and I cannot wait for them to release more music. Tonight I’d like to sit and have a pint with Guy Garvey and tell him that he’s wrong. Elbow will write a better album and if they get anywhere near as good as Asleep In The Back then they’ll be doing everything right in my opinion.