Saturday, 25 February 2017

Dancer - Official trailer

I can remember reading about Sergei a year or two back in Intelligent Life, the Economist's culture magazine (since replaced by 1843), he sounded then like someone you could make a film about.

Not sure if I'm going to get to see it or not, but I will definitely try to I think.

Home will be showing it in Manchester on 2nd March

After all the Glasgow giddiness, back to work...

After all the Glasgow blogging giddiness last week (and it's always fun to revisit the nice bits of your past), it's back to work.

I currently have two book piles on the living room floor:

Pile #1:

Books for pleasure

Pile # 2:

Books for punk chapter revisions for MUP

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Belle and Sebastian - Mayfly

Coming from a different tradition to Franz Ferdinand, the Delgados, and most definitely to Pink Kross and the Space Kittens, by 1996 Belle and Sebastian were coming through and, while still a cult concern at that point, and a few years away from unexpectedly winning the public vote award at the Brit Awards, it's all here.

Spare Snare - Bugs

The sound of summer 1996

Adventures in Stereo - The Attic Walk (1997)

Another alumni of Creeping Bent. They also did a pretty cool version of Subway Sect's 'Nobody's Scared'


The Secret Goldfish were signed to the Glasgow label Creeping Bent, which was Clare Grogan and Stephen Lironi's label.

Some of their songs, such as 'Dandelion Milk Summer', were more towards the twee/C86 end of things, but 'Pink Drone' (released as a single as 'Punk Drone') was epic.

Pink Kross - Peel Session 1995

Pink Kross!

I remember this Peel Session, they were a great live band as well. They ended up headlining the No Fi Fest in Manchester at the Star and Garter in 1998 after Yummy Fur pulled out and, during all the frenetic pogoeing, the floor began to move in some very alarming ways indeed.

Didn't collapse though. Always good that.

space kittens pussy machine

The Space Kittens were closer kin to, perhaps, Pink Kross, than they were to Bis or even perhaps to Lungleg. Much more the hardcore, punk end of things. They were a fantastic live band, as this clip of a reformation gig shows.

03 In The Company Of Women The Yummy Fur - Sexy World -

And here are the Yummy Fur themselves.

Lungleg get a mention in this one and, if you ever get hold of a copy of the Sexy World LP and flip it over to look at the back then you'll see it's made up of tiny snapshots of a substantial number of people who were in bands in Glasgow at the time.

Franz Ferdinand - Maid To Minx (Lungleg cover) 2014

In which contemporary Glasgow meets 90s Glasgow.

The links between Franz Ferdinand and the Yummy Fur are well known, with a number of members of Franz having passed through the later period lineups of the Fur. The Yummy Fur were led by John McKeown, whose sister Jane played bass in Lungleg.

Lungleg formed shortly before the Yummy Fur, in 1994. Their first 2 EP's were released on the London label Piao!, and they went on to record an LP for the Glasgow label Vesuvius in 1997, which featured an early version of 'Maid To Minx'.

In 1999 the band reworked and re-released the single for Southern Records.

The clip below is the 1999 version and, by the by, the artwork for Maid To Minx the album was created by Jaime Hernandez, of Love and Rockets fame.

Kandy Pop by bis

In 1996 Bis became the first, and (so far as I'm aware) the only unsigned band to appear on Top Of The Pops. 

'Kandy Pop' wasn't my favourite track from the Secret Vampires EP, but it's aged surprisingly well in retrospect.

They played Manchester Roadhouse the day after appearing on TOTP, supporting Super Furry Animals, and the gig sold out. To the extent that people were turned away. From The Roadhouse. I kid ye not.

Spook on the High Lawn by Cha Cha Cohen

Not your typical Chemikal Underground band maybe, but a fantastic band and a fantastic record.

Magoo - The Starter's Gun

I'm doing this from memory, but...

As I recall, Magoo were from Norwich and, prior to being on Chemikal Underground, were on a local label called Noisebox.

I am pretty sure that, at the point when they signed to Chemikal Underground, they were the only non Scottish band on the label.

This didn't last though, it's just how it was back in about 1996 ish.

Sucrose - The Delgados

'Sucrose', from the bands debut album Domestiques was the one that had an absolute blinder of an extra track on the CD single, and I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the track except that it might have been a cover version.

Why did I not keep it?!?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lost in France trailer - special screening and reunion gig 21 February l...


It's like one massive flashback to my fanzine writer years.

To that time in the mid-late 1990s when ALL the best bands were from:

A) Glasgow
B) Newcastle
C) Lanarkshire in the wider sense
D) The North East in the wider sense

End of.

Lost In France will be showing in Manchester on Tuesday 21 February at 20:15 at Home as part of a live satellite broadcast from Glasgow Film Festival. As it should be!

Chemikal Underground had such a massive impact on the Glasgow music scene and it's great to see that someone has documented that.

Note: I know I spelled Chemikal Underground right, but autocorrect corrected it, so I've now corrected it back again

Lorne - Bread Alone

An early contender for song of the year this one

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sounds of the times

This is a blog piece that is still coalescing in my head as I'm typing it.

I've been thinking a lot about music as the soundtrack to our times these last few weeks, mainly because there seems to have been a fresh engagement with political commentary in a music context since Trump was elected.

I think there were stirrings of it last year (Will Varney's 'To Build A Wall' and Aimee Mann's 'Can't you tell?' for example) as well as a number of musical projects/songs that directly referenced Black Lives Matter (Beyonce's 'Formation', the whole of Solange's A Seat At The Table, Lady Gaga's 'Angel Down'...), but post Trump's inauguration, a number of song's have appeared conveying a sense of malaise (Allred and Broderick's 'The Ways', which was released the same day as Trump's inauguration) or else anger (Arcade Fire and Mavis Staple's 'I Give You Power')

I clearly recall, a few weeks ago, in the days after the presidential decree banning those from seven mainly Muslim countries from entering the US, and the subsequent protests around the world it generated, looking at a new music playlist in Spotify and finding song after song after song that just seemed to really accurately represent the prevailing mood. These weren't songs written for that situation, they were just songs that already existed that seemed to fit the mood, songs like Karl Blau's take on 'Fallin Rain' or The Pop Group's 'Zipperface'.

I'm coming to the gradual conclusion that there are many facets to the thorny issue of music and politics.

There are outwardly, explicitly politically motivated songs, or protest songs. (From 'Strange Fruit' to 'This Land Is Our Land' to 'Mississippi Goddamn', to 'Ohio', to 'Free Nelson Mandela', to Father John Misty's 'Pure Comedy', which Piccadilly Records recently dubbed unnervingly prescient, and many, many others)

There are songs that were not written as explicitly political songs, or as protest songs, but which then acquire a political dimension later on due to circumstances. Kind of the proverbial 'Being in the right place at the right time'. The classic example being Martha and the Vandellas 'Dancing In The Street', which became the soundtrack to the Detroit riots in 1967, and the Specials 'Ghost Town', which was number one in the UK charts the same week as most of the 1981 riots were happening.

There are performers who do not have a reputation/image as political artists, who do not write songs that are directly political, but who are engaging with politics on an individual basis. This is a difficult one to write about because it's more of a personal issue for those artists when they're off duty than it necessarily is part of their image when they're performing and I hold the opinion that what musicians get up to when they're off duty is their own concern, not mine. On the other hand, if they write about it on Twitter, it's in the public domain, but it's also still in the public domain in a personal, off duty, capacity, but how realistic is that when the whole way musicians engage with their fans has irrevocably changed in the social media age?

Which is a very long winded way of saying that, while left leaning Kate Bush fans have recently been left reeling by Kate Bush's endorsement of Theresa May, I've been happily digesting Florence Welch's tweet in support of the women's marches and her endorsement of the emergency protest outside Downing Street on 30th January against Trump's muslim ban. This is on top of the way that, in the latter stages of Florence + The Machine's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful tour in 2016 'Spectrum' became a post Orlando shootings gay solidarity anthem, and the way that Welch handled the bands headline set at British Summer Time in Hyde Park, coming as it did eight days after the EU referendum result and on the same day as a pro EU march next door in Green Park. Can an artist be subtley, personally political rather than outright explicitly, all the time political? How are these decisions negotiated on a personal level by the artist in question? How do fans react to previously unpolitical artists making political statements?

On an easier level, I was pleased to see the return of Harry Potter to protest culture again. He had a definite cameo in the 2010 Student Protests and popped up again on placards at some of the anti Trump protests in January/February. 'Dumbledore wouldn't have stood for it' was a nice touch. This kind of reinforces what I said in 2010, which is that Harry Potter has become a kind of universal protest figure, an anti establishment icon, possibly because the millennial generation hasn't had a lot of protest music to grow up with and because Potter has had a more dominant role in their lives than perhaps music has. That might be too simplistic, but, one thing the Harry Potter books did was install an entire generation of kids with a clear sense of right and wrong and a kind of anti authoritarianism that seems to be standing them in pretty good stead.

They did not hate it

To paraphrase Carlo Jones in Ben Moor's always excellent Undone, the book chapter for MUP has been peer reviewed, the comments have come back, and they "did not hate it".

They were very kind actually, which as someone who has never been peer reviewed, or done a chapter for an academic book before, was a nice surprise.

The next step? Read through all the feedback properly and plan what needs doing, how, when, how long it's going to take etc.

The book pile has changed quite a bit since I last took a picture of it, and reflects a combination of reading for pleasure and trying to sort my head out type reading matter.

Have also discovered that reading self help books is a legitimate form of therapy, it even has a name: Bibliotherapy, and is reckoned to be pretty effective when set against other therapies for the milder end of depression and anxiety. Given how starved of cash my local health authority and council is, it's  just as well the libraries here have decided to go big on self help books.


I woke up in a Lone Justice period Maria McKee kind of mood this morning...