The Top Twenty Albums of 2014

20. Owl John – Owl John

19. Karen O – Crush Songs

18. The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress

17. Young Fathers – DEAD

16. Death Blues – Ensemble

15. Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

14. Damien Jurado – Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

13. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Want to Leave

12. Ben Frost – Aurora

11. Mogwai  – Rave Tapes

10. Micah P Hinson and the nothing

9. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

8. Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams

7. Strands of Oak – HEAL

6. The Antlers – Familiars

5. Tweedy – Sukirae

4. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

3. Grouper – Ruins

2. Swans – To Be Kind

1. The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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mini50 Will Be Here

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We will have cds, vinyl, bags, deals, Now Wakes the Sea in person, possibly cakes.  And we will be drinking beer and making sure we have money to spend as at last years event in Glasgow there was lots we wanted to buy and we had no money.  By we, I mean me.  And that sucked.

Anyways, come join us at the Pleasance, drink too much beer and spend too much money on awesome music from loads of awesome labels.

Things That I Love Today

For me, these guys eclipse most Scottish artists.  Whilst old label mates Frightened Rabbit are off making it big and running the risk of becoming the next Snow Patrol/Elbow (thank god for Owl John) and many others are either disappearing or not really going anywhere, these guys just keep making great music.  If I am honest, I was not a fan ‘Forget the Night Ahead’ but ‘No One Can Ever Know’ is brilliant and I am loving the sound of this new track taken from forthcoming album ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’ out on FatCat on 28th October – oddly, the same day as Graveyard Tapes new record ‘White Rooms’ drops.  Anyways, enjoy.

Not Sure How I Feel…

…about Young Fathers winning the SAY Award 2014.  Part of me is delighted because they are incredible live and their new album DEAD is immense.  However, part of me feels like they were squeezed in to this competition with Tape Two, which is not as strong as Tape One and also feels a little bit like they were building towards their first album proper in DEAD.  So yeah.  On the one hand I am delighted for them because they deserve an award for all their hard work and talent.  On the other hand I am not sure this is the right award.  Then again, I think the SAY award misses a trick.  Hector Bizerk and Young Fathers aside it was made up of a huge number of big acts.  And if Biffy Clyro’s album is truly one of the best records to come out of Scotland in 2013 then our music really is not in great shape.  For all I love some Biffy, it’s not really worthy of an album of the year award longlist or shortlist.  And surely, an award of such magnitude would serve acts such as Hector Bizerk much better than it would Mogwai, Edwyn Collins or Biffy?

Just some thoughts really.  Congratulations to Young Fathers all the same.  Amazing act.

SAY Awards Shortlist

Biffy Clyro

Boards of Canada

Chvrches

Mogwai

Edwyn Collins

RM Hubbert

Steve Mason

The Pastels

Young Fathers

Hector Bizerk

Let’s hope to christ Young Fathers win this.  Excluding Hector Bizerk, this could not be a more obvious shortlist of A list Scottish musicians.  Not to say I do not love some of the acts on this list – Mogwai one of my all time favourite bands – but what is exciting, innovative or fresh about this list?  Same old, same old.  I am also hugely disappointed at the exclusion of the excellent Adam Stafford record from the shortlist.   Adam has always been a fresh, exciting talent and so it’s a shame that he cannot squeeze on ahead of Biffy Clyro (or Mogwai) – who really don’t need the support of the SAY Awards, in my opinion.  I wish somebody would start a compeitition that was genuinely aimed at new, fresh and exciting music and could not include the work of superstars like Biffy…and I actually love Biffy.

 

Matthew Collings

It’s not that I don’t really want to be writing this piece. It’s just that I want others to be writing this piece too, or similar pieces about this artist. The reason I am writing this piece though is that, for some reason, others have not.  But I was thinking about it over the weekend and since I really cannot figure out why one of the most exciting, creative, alternative and upcoming artists in Scotland, if not the UK, is not getting the press attention he really deserves, I thought I would try and get the ball rolling and acknowledge his importance.  And I  want to be clear, we are not talking simply about a musician here.  We are talking about an artist.

Matthew Collings is, first and foremost, my friend. Since I met him back in 2010, my musical life has been much richer and through working with him, I have become a much better musician and person.  I genuinely believe that.  His no bullshit approach to music is refreshing.  There is no back slapping or telling people they are great because he doesn’t want to offend.  What he wants to do is challenge, so the truth will out.  And the truth can be hard to hear, yet it is what makes us better artists, makes us want to strive to be better and to create things that resonate, not just exist.  That’s the theory anyways.  And it ties in beautifully with a piece I read at the weekend about Damon Albarn.  Basically he said “The problem I have, is that the minute I’ve done one thing, I want to do something else.  I find it hard to respect a lot of successful bands and musicians, because, although there can be subtle, nuanced changes in what they do, there aren’t any really bold new moves, lyrically or sonically or melodically.  Yet it seems like the world is completely satisfied with that situation.  I mean, that’s fine.  But the idea of slowly grinding out a huge career, based on ‘This is what you get when you buy this kind of record” – I just find that a bit…”  It’s this need to challenge, to always evolve, to move in different directions, to not be predictable and add to the general noise, that makes Collings stand out from the rest.

We at mini50 have just released his new record under the moniker Sketches for Albinos ‘Fireworks and the Dead City Radio’, so part of the purpose of this post is to help promote this brilliant record.  We are extremely proud to have released this and the whole thing is looking quite beautiful coming on 12” vinyl and featuring a photo book by Matt’s girlfriend, the very talented Elin Svennberg.  All in all it is a lovely piece of art, which if I didn’t run the label I would definitely want to own myself and have in my vinyl collection.

However, it’s the cumulative impact of Matt’s work that I think deserves recognition and to be talked about more in the media. If we look at last year’s solo release ‘Splintered Instruments’ alone, he deserves more than he got in terms of press attention. Between his solo work, released under his own name, and his work as Sketches for Albinos he already has an impressive résumé. With other albums under both these guises complete and lined up for future release his stock as a musician is ever increasing.  And not any old musician, but an exciting, ground breaking one.  Throw in his work with Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) and as one half of Graveyard Tapes, as well as being a member of Hiva Oa and you have an artist who not only stands out from the crowd but is involved in exciting, alternative projects left, right and centre.

Thing is, Matt is important not only as a recording artist but as an artist in his own right, working with dance companies, creating installations for the likes of NEoN Digital Arts Festival and even starting work on an audio visual performance based around the actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden – a project that has received financial support from Creative Scotland and New Media Scotland

So, the creative industries are taking note of Matt but I think there should be a wider recognition of his work.  And I think one of the biggest failings in music in the UK – and further afield – is this satisfaction with the mediocre that pervades.  I use the word genius very rarely but when a true genius is floating well below the radar sometimes you have to shout about it.  And my voice may not be heard above the mundane noise of every day but I hope that it is.  I hope that this piece makes a whole load of you go and check out his work.  Not just the record on mini50 – though do have a look – but his whole body of work because he deserves the attention.  He deserves the recognition.  He deserves to be heard, because he is a distinct and powerful voice amongst the every day crackle and hiss. And that is exciting.

Shield Patterns

Shield Patterns are Claire Brentnall and Richard Knox. Last night at Sneaky Pete’s I caught them live along with mini50 artists Now Wakes the Sea and Hiva Oa. I’ve known Rich for years now since the first time Glissando came to Edinburgh and I have watched his various musical adventures with great interest from Glissando, through A-Sun Amissa to Rustle of the Stars and now Shield Patterns. It was odd seeing him without a guitar and standing up whilst playing but nonetheless I would say this is one of his most exciting ventures to date. Whilst I adore Rustle of the Stars, there is something much more mainstream and potentially appealing about Shield Patterns that I have never encountered with Gizeh before. That’s not to say that their artists do not have the potential to gain wider mainstream attention but there is just something about Shield Patterns that this bigger things are around the corner. They remind me of Conquering Animal Sound, in their early days with that raw, freshness of a duo finding their feet, not limited by expectation and playing with a freedom and love that is simply awesome to watch and be part of. Last night was just perfect in many ways. Now Wakes the Sea was simply magnificent in a way only he could be. Hiva Oa continue to look more and more like the finished article with the expectation for album two growing with every show I see them play. The most interesting, diverse and experimental acts in Scotland all on one stage and then Shield Patterns. Great night of music and now I am very eager to get my hands on that Shield Patterns album. I have to wait until June but I am pretty sure it will be worth the wait. They are on tour in the UK until 11 March. Don’t miss them:

03.03.14 – Glasgow – The Old Hairdressers
04.03.14 – Sheffield – Rude Shipyard
07.03.14 – Cambridge – Leper Chapel
09.03.14 – London – The Old Blue Last
11.04.14 – Coventry – The Tin
27.04.14 – York – Basement

2014 A Personal Odyssey

2014 is going to be a big year for me on a personal level.  There is a lot happening musically…a lot!

Fans of The Kays Lavelle will finally see the release of album two for starters.  It’s been 4 years since ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’ and it feels like the time has come to finally get album two out there.  The record feels more mature, more experimental and more challenging.  Hopefully fans of the first album will still identify with what’s happening but I do feel working on the Graveyard Tapes and glacis records has helped me grow as a musician and think in a different way about what I want.  I also feel free on this record to express myself as it’s not a band offering.  It’s me alone, with the help of a few friends.  It’s going to be called ‘Paint the Devil on the Wall and the Devil Will Come’ and I am hoping it will be out in the later half of 2014, most likely through mini50 records – unless of course there is an offer from somewhere else.

As for Graveyard Tapes, we will also have our second album out in 2014.  Again it will be released through Lost Tribe Sound and it is anticipated to be coming out around October time. Both Matt and I are very excited about this record seeing it as a big leap forward from ‘Our Sound is Our Wound’.  Along for the ride on this album was Ben Chatwin, better known to many as Talvihorros.  Ben has a number of writing and performing credits on the record and we feel he added a lot to the process.  It’s going to be an exciting time with that record.  After the lovely reception we received for our debut we are keen to see how this record will fare.

As for glacis.  Well, I have one record – a collaboration with Ed Hamilton in the final stages of mixing, ready to be mastered and released.  I am working on a record with William Ryan Fritch and my girlfriend Ali Millar – recording some more pieces for this in February.  And I am also working wit photographer Julien Lambrechts to produce ‘Lost Again on Waking: Volume II’  So all in all, it’s a busy, busy year ahead.  There is much I want to achieve through music this year and hopefully my 3 different projects will yeild some successes – whatever these may be.

mini50 is another thing altogether.  As highlighted in my previous post we are facing an exiting and busy year as a label.

It’s all go.  Exciting times.

Things That I Love Today

If you must wait,
Wait for them here in my arms as I shake
If you must weep,
Do it right here in my bed as I sleep
If you must mourn, my love
Mourn with the moon and the stars up above
If you must mourn,
Don’t do it alone

If you must leave,
Leave as though fire burns under your feet
If you must speak,
Speak every word as though it were unique
If you must die, sweetheart
Die knowing your life was my life’s best part
And if you must die,
Remember your life

You are
You are
Oh, you are
You are
All

If you must fight,
Fight with yourself and your thoughts in the night
If you must work,
Work to leave some part of you on this earth
If you must live, darling one,

Just live