Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Save Calton Studios!

Legendary Edinburgh venue Calton Studios is threatened with closure following complaints about noise from the residents of yuppie flats erected less than six months ago. Having seen the likes of Damo Suzuki there, I'd be sad to see it go. A petition has been organised. Here's what the campaigners have to say:

"This is typical of the over development of Edinburgh by property developers
who seem to think it's fine to throw up a set of badly built small flats
next to nightclub without proper sound insulation, charge a fortune and then
expect the nightclub to close as a solution to their bad planning.
Calton Studios, or Studio 24 as it is now known is one of the best
'underground scene' venues in Scotland. Currently it is home to a lot of
bands and its most popular nights are the goth/metal institutions called
the Misssion and the Mission Jr (an under 18's version) which are both
hugely popular amonst the kids in black. More famously it is known as the
home of Pure, the famous and seminal techno club of the late eighties and
early nineties. Nirvana also played their back in the day."

Here's the petition. You know what to do folks!

In other news, I've been interviewed about Beard for Diskant!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Beard files vol 1

In the first of a series of outtakes from the new issue of Beard, here's my review of the new Fannies album.

Teenage Fanclub - Man Made (PeMa)

It’s all Nick Hornby’s fault. Teenage Fanclub remain one of our most cherished bands, but for some they can’t help but be tainted by association with the progenitor of bloke-lit. In his infuriatingly conservative 31 Songs Hornby pitches Suicide’s riveting serial killer epic ‘Frankie Teardrop’ against the Fannies’ sublime ‘Ain’t That Enough’. Being freaked out by the former’s blood-curdling screams and sleazy electro throb is fine when you’re an angry young man, he avers, but it’s something you grow out of. What he wants is a nice tune, chiming guitars and sweet harmonies. Those things the Fanclub have in abundance, but they deserve better than being lionised by the high priest of 50 quid bloke solipsism.
But I protest too much. Music isn’t about having to choose between “difficult” and “comforting”. And Teenage Fanclub, while not exactly radical, don’t fit so neatly into Hornby’s safe world of record collection rock. Collaborations with underground heroes like Jad Fair and John McEntire are not the stuff which dad rock dreams are made of. The Fanclub might make classic pop, but they’re not retro dullards. Man Made makes that point in vivid colours.
Some reviewers have sought to place the album’s sound somewhere between the lush classicism of Songs From Northern Britain and the fuzzy warmth of Grand Prix, but that only tells half the story. Mc Entire’s production is relatively spare, but each voice and instrument is deployed so deftly it sounds rich. Norman Blake’s ‘It’s All In My Mind’ may have a unforgettable Byrdsian melody but rather than jangle the clean guitars chug over an insistent floor tom beat that could almost be described as motorik. Almost. Towards the end, Raymond McGinlay returns from a trip to Joe Meek’s studio with a wobbly laser beam guitar solo. It’s not exactly Neu!, but it's ace, an instant Fannies classic.
Initially Love’s ‘Save’ sounds a little like REM’s ‘All The Way To Reno’, based as it is around a Tex-Mex flavoured chromatic chord sequence, but where the Athenians’ song sounded forced, the Fannie’s effort glides into a stomping chorus with apparent ease, given an elegent lift by John McCusker’s shimmering Philly soul violin.
REM come to mind once more in Blake’s ‘Cells’, a melancholy acoustic ballad that has a grace Stipe and co seem to have lost in their pointless bid to compete with stadium bores like U2.
It’s a perfect summer album of course. Stick this on your walkman and go for a walk in the park. Stroll along sun dappled gardens as ‘Fallen Leaves’ skips by on a shimmer of tremolo organ, offering crystalline kisses of surf guitar. Bug out to ‘Born Under A Bad Signs’ fidgety guitar spasms, McGinlay channelling the spirit of both J Mascis and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. And then there’s the gorgeous ‘Time Stops’, Gerry Love’s sweet vocals peeking over a bed of cotton candy guitar fuzz, while Frances McDonald bashes out a Northern Soul backbeat. There’s even a beautiful Jim O’Rourke style acoustic guitar break.
A wonderful return from Glasgow’s favourite pop uncles.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Beard #4 launch

To launch the new issue of the award winning Beard zine we’re hosting a free night of live music, fun and facial hair at Glasgow’s Mono bar on Monday July 11.

Dedicated to music, arts and facial hair, Beard was awarded Best Music Fanzine at the EMAP Fanzine Awards 2005. The judges said: "Stood out like a beacon. It has loads of great ideas, illustrations and an ingenious use of language. And very funny indeed"

Headlining the show are Beard favourites The Sky At Night. One of the finest young bands in Glasgow, TSAN combine the dreamy elegance of Galaxie 500 with a country tinged melancholy. Their self released album, Hope For Dummies, has been a word of mouth underground hit, and they’ve already supported the likes of Damon & Naomi and Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson.

Joining the party all the way from over the ocean: Atlanta, Georgia's indie-rock maestro Mack Messiah. Mack has been exploring the outer limits of the guitar-bass-drum paradigm and has promised something a bit special when he unveils his new backing band at this exclusive warm-up performance for his first full Scottish tour.

Fresh from wowing the crowds at Glasgow’s Tenement Fair, country-fried power-popsters Skeleton Bob complete the line up. Think Evan Dando, Jonathan Richman and Uncle Tupelo and smile.

Filling in the gaps will be a motley crew of Beard DJs, spinning a dazzling and perverse range of tunes. Expect anything from The Dirtbombs to Os Mutantes, MIA to Springsteen.

There will also be a chance to pick up the new issue of Beard, featuring cult artists from Scotland and beyond. Outsider legend Daniel Johnston tells us what inspires his heartbreaking songs, while fellow Texans …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead talk politics and bling.
We delve into the mythic truths of folk bard Alasdair Roberts, discuss David Lynch with Sons And Daughters, and meet Glasgow’s most literate new band, My Latest Novel. We jet off with International Airport and find electro-popsters Multiplies dreaming of dolphins.
All this and a plethora of reviews, rants, comic strips and whiskery nonsense.