Under The Radar: Over The Wall I Jen & The Gents (Nov 13)

OUR monthly update from the underground music scene

Tongue-in-cheek electro-duo Over The Wall are set to release their superb new single, Radiator, on CD and download via Instinctive Racoon Records on 9 December with a launch gig at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe on 5 December. The single earns our Track of the Month spot for November. Keep up to date with live dates and listen here:www.weareoverthewall.com

Traditionally the final quarter of the year has been when large record companies released their big albums, anticipating a sales boost in the run-up to Christmas. But that is not deterring many small labels and DIY artists getting in on the act.

Edinburgh band Jen And The Gents release their debut album Portobello on 13 November, having recently made it to the final of the Forth One to Watch award. The four-piece are playing several gigs over the month and are being championed by commercial radio’s new music maestro, Jim Gellatly.

Another capital act – Dark Soul – a collaboration between beat-making Hip-Hop producer Nasty P (who has worked with Skinnyman, Oddisee and Florence and the Machine) and soulful vocalist Naledi, has caught the attention of Jamie Cullum, who personally invited them to support him recently in Edinburgh. The duo have just released their debut single The Village. Visitwww.soundcloud.com/darksoul-official.

Meanwhile, BrewDog beer is set to further its already respectable music credentials. It hosts the Brew At The Bog Festival and has helped Glasgow label Comets & Cartwheels. Now the brewery is launching its own vinyl record company. The first release is a 7” by Glaswegian rock’n’rollers The Shiverin’ Sheiks titled Guided Missiles. The band will tour various BrewDog bars from 6-9 November as well as an in-store at Edinburgh’s Elvis Shakespeare ahead of the release on 11 November. Full info visit www.facebook.com/theshiverinsheiks.

Further north, Highland & Islands label Middle of Nowhere Recordings has just released an EP for both Rachel Sermanni and Colin Macleod, pictured right (formerly The Boy Who Trapped The Sun), with the latter performing at Sørveiv Festival in Norway over the weekend as part of the goNORTH Festival Tour. See www.monr.co.uk. Both artists have also been confirmed for Celtic Connections, the largest winter festival of its kind, with over 2,000 artists performing from 16 January to 2 February at over 20 venues throughout Glasgow. Fellow Lewis singer songwriter Miss Irenie Rose will support Macleod as well as performances from the likes of Mogwai and Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire. Visit www.celticconnections.com.

Olive Grove Records, the Glasgow-based record label headed up by Lloyd Meredith from the Peenko blog and Halina Rafai of GlasgowPODCART, have just picked up another Highland act, Call To Mind. With a gap of four years since the band’s first EP, Olive Grove will release their debut album, A Family Sketch, with a show at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe on 14 December followed by an Olive Grove Records showcase as part of Celtic Connections on 26 January at Oran Mor. Visitwww.olivegroverecords.com.

Tonight the capital looks set to become the latest of around 50 cities worldwide to host the regular Sofar Sounds house gigs, which see musicians perform in people’s living rooms. Acts are not announced in advance, but their performances are filmed and uploaded. Among the Scottish artists to have played at their intimate events is former track of the month provider, Siobhan Wilson.

Finally, on St Andrew’s Day, Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbot will perform at an open air concert in the Grassmarket along with folk legend Dougie MacLean and Breabach. The following month local band the 1004s have been confirmed for the Ross bandstand opening for Nina Nesbit, 1975 and the Pet Shop Boys on Hogmanay. Chvrches, Django Django and King Creosote will also perform at different stages that night.


Under The Radar: Honeyblood (Oct 13)

Glasgow guitar and drum duo Honeyblood were a big hit when they played our Wide Days convention in April 2012 and were snapped up by Brighton’s Fat Cat Records.

Their first single on the label, Bud, is released on 4 November and deftly combines a laid-back tinge of grunge with a pop sensibility. We love it! The band are gigging throughout October.www.facebook.com/honeybloodeatitup

Edinburgh is to play host to two music extravaganzas this month, with both The Pleasance Sessions and Haddowfest great opportunities to check out some of the finest emerging talent in Scotland. The former takes place at the Edinburgh University’s renowned theatre from 10-26 October and features some amazing nights, some of which are curated by Scottish labels and festivals. We’re particularly excited about the night featuring LAW, Honeyblood, Siobhan Wilson and Rick Redbeard, but there are many more amazing acts guaranteed to appeal to the music connoisseur. For details seewww.facebook.com/eusa.ed/posts/10151848601259380

Haddowfest will run across several venues in the capital this weekend, 11-12 October. The line-up includes Scottish Alternative Music Award winners The Holy Ghosts and former UTR track providers Hector Bizerk and Casual Sex, as well as numerous acts from both Scotland and the rest of the UK. Look out for the Merryless, who have been recording with ace crooner Richard Hawley and are set to be released on Edinburgh’s Neu Reekie! (as are indie popsters Teen Canteen)www.haddowfest.co.uk

Roman Nose have been a highlight of many of the music events we attended this year – including our own Wide Days convention – with their brand of stomping electronics and live drums inducing frenzied dancefloor activity. The band launch their new EP at Glasgow’s Stereo on 17 October and will provide free Mexican wrestling masks for the first 50 people to arrive. Those who anticipate turning up after support act Plum should bring their own mask or risk being the only identifiable audience members when the gig is filmed for an accompanying video.

Throughout October, OXJAM music and arts events across the country raise money for the Oxfam. They range from one-off gigs to all-day, multi-venue festival-style events dubbed Oxjam Takeovers. With more than 800 venues and 6,000 musicians participating, there is plenty going on. To find events near you visit http://www.oxfam.org.uk/oxjam/events-map

Hailing from Dumfries and Galloway, Saint Max & The Fanatics release their debut album entitled Saint Max Is Missing and the Fanatics are Dead on Armellodie Records on 21 October. A free download of the first single, Soul Surrender, is available via SoundCloudhttps://soundcloud.com/armellodie/saint-max-soul-surrender

From 30 October until 2 November the band’s hometown will also host the Dumfries Music Conference. Now in its second year, the free event organised by Dumfries artist-led collective The Stove will feature live music, a screening programme and a series of workshops and seminars, one of which is being organised by Born To Be Wide, and an independent record fair. The latter includes a talk by Document Records owner Gary Atkinson, who recently secured investment from Jack White of The White Stripes fame. www.facebook.com/DumfriesMusicConference

Over in Perth and Kinross, the Aberfeldy Festival gets underway on 1 November and runs until 3 November. Headliners include James Yorkston and The Phantom Band’s Rick Redbeard, as well as Meursault, Book Group, Withered Hand, Stanley Odd, Randolph’s Leap, The Last Battle, Star Wheel Press and more. Tickets and full info can be found at www.aberfeldyfestival.co.uk

The Vinyl Factory and Independent Label Market have organised a large-scale record label fair at the Barras Art & Design Centre on 12 October. In addition to some of Scotland’s leading record companies – Chemikal Underground, Lucky Me, Rubadub, Rock Action and Electric Honey – the event will feature DJ sets from artists they release including Belle & Sebastian, Edwyn Collins and Optimo’s JD Twitch. Newer labels such as Song By Toad and Olive Grove Records will also be in attendance to sell their wares. Visit www.facebook.com/independentlabelmarket for full info.


Under The Radar: Law (Sept 2013)


Published in The Scotsman, 3 September 2013

ONE of the best gigs we have attended in months was an intense performance by solo artist Lauren Hold, aka LAW, at Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s.

Boasting a distinctive vocal style set to beats composed with Young Fathers and producer Tim London (who scored a hit with Hippychick for the band Soho in 1990), her music is a fresh and exciting addition to Scotland’s music scene. The song Hustle (http://lawholt.com) gives a good taste of what is to come.

One of the biggest talking points in the Scottish music scene is the news that the legendary Fence Collective is to split. Founder Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) plans to relaunch in January, while his former partner Johnny “Pictish Trail” Lynch plans to release many of the acts formerly on the label via his new venture, Lost Map Records (http://lostmap.com). A free sampler featuring tracks by Eagleowl, Kid Canaveral, Monoganon, Rozi Plain, Seamus Fogarty, Randolph’s Leap and The Pictish Trail is available to anyone who signs up to the mailing list.

Hip-hop supremos Hector Bizerk are to mark the release of their new album with two launch parties, in Stereo, Glasgow on 21 September and at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh the following night. Billed as “Hectember Weekender”, the band are offering a limited number of seats on their Hector Bus from Glasgow for Edinburgh. The band had the plugs pulled on their last gig in the capital (at the BBC’s Fringe tent), when security appeared to take exception to enthusiastic fans going in for some “taps aff” action. (www.hectorbizerk.com)

Hector Bizerk will also be appearing at Jocktoberfest, hosted by the Black Isle Brewery near Inverness this coming weekend. This year’s bill is shaping up to be the best yet – it includes Casual Sex, Be Like Pablo, Woodenbox, Dylan Tierney and the fantastic Cairn String Quartet. (www.jocktoberfest.com)

On the other side of the firth, Moray Culture Day takes place in the Findhorn Bay area on 21 September. The free event will feature more than 80 artists with music, theatre, exhibitions, seminars and film all represented. The organisers of the goNORTH festival have programmed a series of industry panel sessions, a screening programme and live music showcases in the evening. Artists performing include Fatherson, Be Like Pablo, The Oxides and Dave Martin & Graeme Rogers (DJ set) at Mosset Tavern from 9pm. Other pubs in the area will host Highland singer songwriters Jemma Tweedie, Dylan Tierney, Blair McLeod and Irenie Rose. (www.findhornbayarts.com/night.html)

Also taking place in the Highlands over the same weekend, is Ullapool’s Loopallu Festival (www.loopallu.co.uk). This year’s line-up features emerging Scottish acts Fake Major, Blood Relatives and former track of the month provider Prides, as well as headliners Newton Faulkner and The Enemy. Also appearing is Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire whose eponymous album was released on the Middle Of Nowhere Recordings (www.monr.co.uk), co-owned by Loopallu promoter, Robert Hicks.

Over in Stornoway, goNORTH organisers present a free Music In Broadcast seminar at the Jäger Rooms on Wednesday. Speakers include Duncan McCrone from MCPS, representatives from MG Alba and goNORTH Director Amanda Millen. (www.gonorthfestival.co.uk/news)

Quirky Edinburgh indie-pop outfit The Spook School are to release their debut album with Fortuna Pop! The group have also scheduled a UK tour with dates in Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London in September and October. (www.thespookschool.com)


Under The Radar: Sparrow & The Workshop (Aug 2013)


Published in The Scotsman, 29 July 2013

We recently saw Sparrow And The Workshop perform at one of the Dewar’s House Experimental Batch gigs, hosted in Edinburgh’s Caves venue, and were highly impressed.

The Glasgow trio combine female vocals with some fantastic guitar sounds and crashing drums. Their album Murderopolis was released earlier this summer on Song, By Toad Records. The single The Faster You Spin  is one of the finest tracks we have heard this year and boasts an excellent video poking fun at Britain’s leading politicians. See the band perform at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh on 10 August.

Gone are the days when music found itself sidelined at the EdinburghFringe, with key venues renting themselves out to a host of other performers. This year several independent labels and promoters will be hosting a wide range of shows featuring both local talent and artists from further afield.

Among the most ambitious is the Pale Imitation Festival hosted by Song, By Toad Records which is set to promote nine evenings at Henry’s, beginning with William Henry Miller on 1 August, and ending with eagleowl on 31 August. The gigs have a strong focus on Scottish talent, as well as hosting several acts from further afield.

Glasgow-based Armellodie Records will also be using Henry’s to host two label nights featuring some of their excellent roster. Taking place on 7 and 15 August, participating acts include Le Reno Amps, the excellent punk of Cuddley Shark, Gastric Band and Saint Max & The Fanatics.

For those who prefer dubstep and bass, the White Knuckle Collective will host an extravaganza at the Collective night in Sneaky Pete’s on 11 August including several acts on Edinburgh label Abaga Records. These include TeKlo, Tactus and Dunt. The night is free and is on until 5am.

Catering for anyone who prefers to enjoy their music in the daytime, Electric Circus is programming a mini festival titled Born And Bred, which takes place from 12-15 August and features a series of lunchtime performances by acts including Carrie Mac, Sienna and Donald Macdonald & The Islands.

Meanwhile, the organisers behind Edinburgh’s multi-venue Haddowfest are to host a series of gigs under the banner of Haddow On The Fringe. Broken Records are among the Scottish headliners, as are Kid Canaveral who will be performing with the amazing Cairn Quartet. The latter will also be appearing in their larger guise, the Electric String Orchestra, when they perform with Edinburgh hip-hop stars, Stanley Odd, at the Queen’s Hall on 2 August.

Staying in the capital, music will again be incorporated into the Edinburgh International Book Festival with numerous artists participating in this year’s event. For followers of the Scottish scene we recommend two of the Jura Unbound events. On 14 August John Lemke and Poppy Ackroyd perform as part of the Writers’ Block evening, which includes spoken word recitals inspired by their debut albums. On 20 August, veteran Radio Scotland presenter, Vic Galloway, reads from his debut book Songs In The Key Of Fife, which focuses on growing up with the East Neuk scene which spawned the likes of KT Tunstall, the Beta Band and the Fence Collective.

Several well-known Scottish bands and artists, including Biffy Clyro, KT Tunstall and The Proclaimers have been showing their support for the creation of a Scottish Music Hall of Fame to be built in Glasgow. The stars have filmed nomination videos detailing acts they believe deserve to be inducted, and the public can vote by visiting www.myhof3.co.uk

Long-standing Glasgow label Chemikal Underground has been given Creative Scotland support to run a diverse range of music activities for the next 12 months to coincide with the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The initiative will focus on the city’s Bridgeton area, where the company has been based since it was formed 16 years ago, and promises to use a wide variety of unconventional locations including parks, train stations, sports centres, town halls, pubs, bandstands and schools, as well as regular venues. A combination of international, emerging and unknown acts will feature.