Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Hard to believe that's over already - I was just starting to get into the spirit of things, but now it's pressies opened and wrapping paper put away until next time mixed with a mild hangover. Reality never really can match the hype can it?

And our pal Malcolm didn't even crack the Top 30. Still a great track though. A few more Christmas tracks for the road then...

The Research - For Christmas (I Got Pityriasis Rosea)

Super Furry Animals - The Gift That Keeps Giving

Hope everybody had a good one!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Number One

While most would agree that music charts don't mean too much in the download era, it hasn't tempered the hype that surrounds the grand British tradition of the Christmas Number One. Every year, a series of disposable pop songs are released the week before the 25th to determine who gets the crown. For the last several years it has always been the winner of that oh-so awful "talent" show The X Factor. However, the dark horse this year is Falkirk's own Malcolm Middleton with possibly the best Christmas single ever (other than Wham's Last Christmas of course). I've already bought my copy - fingers crossed!

On a related note, does anybody else think that the lyrics to Do They Know It's Christmas are incredibly condescending? Just asking.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Heart Jens Lekman

I recently went to see Josh Rouse play at the QMU, and while the guy is pretty good, I felt like I was crashing a party since I was really there to see a rare UK performance by the brilliant Jens Lekman. I can safely say his "Night Falls Over Kortedala" was my favourite and most-played album of the year. What's not to like: the crooner voice with a hint of a Swedish accent, the samples of old pop songs, the unexpected beats, and the lyrics! He's like the indie-pop Buck 65 with the stories he tells, such as "And you pick up your asthma inhaler and put it against your lips/oh those lips I loved, that I was dreaming of, they're still red and soft, I'm so sorry I didn't love you enough". Funny, cute and poignant at the same time.

Somehow he was even better live, in this case just him and a guitar and a blonde playing bongos. Half an hour was just a tease. Might have to make a wee trip to the continent to catch him in his own show.

Friday, December 14, 2007


The big 3-0 has now come and gone, and while I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, I'm amazed how little it fazed me and how much I feel exactly the same as I did beforehand (I can already hear the chorus of "surprise surprise"). Being Mr. Melodrama, I'd dreaded this birthday more than most. While I certainly expected a barrage of old man jokes (and I wasn't disappointed), I was surprised and quite touched over the fuss my friends made on the day. The O.T.T. song and dance stuff tends to make me cringe even when I'm not the recipient, but I found myself going with the flow this time and actually ended up enjoying myself. And being this time of year, the day itself blended into a series of Xmas parties. The result was a truly surreal weekend which covered most of Central Scotland, from a concert featuring a mate's band to Fife nightclubbing to Jamiroquai impressionists in Queensferry to drunken ballroom dancing in Edinburgh to Greek Zorbas dancing in Glasgow. And lots of stories that probably wouldn't be very funny unless you were there.

So thanks everybody, it was appreciated!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Electric Soft Parade @ King Tuts

ESP is another one of those underrated bands who have been putting out quality tunes for quite some time now (yet still only in their 20's) and really deserve to be seen and heard by more people. That said, those who were there were up for it and had the chance to see their latest album "No Need To Be Downhearted" from start to finish, plus a few classics. Great stuff, and bonus points for being on a Saturday (which means I could justify a few extra pints). Apparently Sophie Ellis Bextor was in the crowd too. How in the hell did I not notice her?

Excellent support from Paul Steel and his band. I'd honestly never heard of them before, but they were fantastic. My initial reaction was Guillemots-esque with some Pipettes style female backing vocals. And some sweet synth.
Anyway, video for ESP's latest single if interested!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Hoosiers @ King Tuts

First clocked these guys during the summer. The music, vocals and lyrics were all such a breath of fresh air from the boring indie-rock clones that have been sprouting up this year.

We ended up getting tickets to see them at the relatively small King Tuts for a mere 6 quid. Since then, they've become pretty massive with two big singles and the album debuting at number one. They've already booked a new tour playing venues four times the size, so it was pretty cool getting to see them up-close now in what could be a "I saw them back when" moment. Pretty short set as they don't have much material as yet, but highly entertaining. You can't help but notice how much the lead singer looks like Ben Stiller on speed, and the drummer like Borat with long hair. As a reviewer said in the paper, these guys are going to be huge during festival season with their sing-a-long choruses.

Don't think they've worked their way over to Canada as yet, so for those who I haven't already sent this to, I present the brilliant Goodbye Mr A. This track will end up my most loved (and played, according to the iTunes count) song of 2007.

I've heard it said this track has a bit in common with Mr. Blue Sky by E.L.O. Chased down some of their classic stuff, and guess what, it's pretty bloody good!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Super Furry Animals @ Barrowlands

With the idea of putting a bit more mass on my skinny frame, I've been taking a weekly circuits class over at the nearby naval base. Nothing luxurious here folks - I'm talking equipment circa WWII and lots of naval dudes admiring their tattoos (oh yes, there are anchors!) and biceps in the mirror.

One can't help but get the impression that they do, in fact, want you as a new recruit.
But these able seamen take their classes seriously, so no going through the motions on this circuit. So when the second day syndrome kicks in, you certainly feel it.

Which is all a long way of saying I wasn't feeling particularly up to this gig by the time I got home from work. But it's amazing what a few pints and the rock can do to alleviate pain.

SFA have been doing their thing, seemingly always just under the mainstream radar, since the Brit Pop days and are still putting out quality tunes. I always dig their live shows - always effortlessly and unpretentiously quirky and fun.

A taste of their more recent material below:

Update: a great review from one of Fi's mates can be seen here. Couldn't agree more.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mon the Park

Pollok Park that is. What more can you ask for - forest, old stuff, coos. I guess others agree as it has now won Britain's Best Park 2007. Choke on that Hyde Park!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dragonlance Trailer

Hmmm, looks a bit cheesy to me. And straight to DVD which never used to be a good thing, but I suppose that is where the money is at these days. And I know I'm going to have to see it regardless!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Broken Social Scene @ The Arches

I'm a few weeks back from a short but sweet trip to Canada where the main event was the Chaiton-Murray wedding which turned out to be a particularly brilliant party.

But one unexpected consequence of making this trip would be that I would miss two shows I would have never otherwise missed. Seems as though some of Canada's indie rock royalty decided to descend upon Glasgow over the course of only a few weeks, so I ended up missing Feist at Oran Mor (which according to the review was stunning) and my beloved Stars at King Tuts.

Luckily we managed to catch Broken Social Scene who are on the road as a relatively reduced 6-piece touring the Kevin Drew solo album (but still playing the BSS classics). Excellent as you would expect. And who was there on guitar duties? None other than Bill Priddle who was in Treble Charger back in the mid-90's. Not doubt I was the only one in the room who would have known or cared about that, but my inner 18-year old self was well impressed. A little classic TC anybody?

Easily the best night you could ever ask for on a Monday!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chicken Run

So it's been six months since my last post. Blogging seems a bit out-of-date these days what with the rise of social networking sites (I'm looking at you Facebook) but hey. Sometimes it's nice to do more than tag photos and try to add "friends".

But where to begin? It's been a pretty eventful time since April and all, but why not focus on the here and now. For example, my commute to work this morning. I've been in my fair share of traffic jams since embarking on my daily cross-country journey, but today's jam had the most bizarre explanation thus far.

Now, I normally hate roadside gawkers, but I can safely say I was one of them today.

And I thought the last one was strange enough!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ben More and Stob Binnein

The guidebook introduced this route by saying "it is not so much a walk as a challenge". Robbie and I tend not to take these things too seriously as the books have to take into account walkers of all levels, but by the end we admitted that was the perfect intro after all.

For starters there were two rivers to cross. The first crossing resulted in my lower half getting soaked. The second was this - no room for false steps or it was down a waterfall!

After a forest walk and the hopping of a deer fence or two, we had our first proper view of the two main peaks we'd be climbing, Stob Binnein (1165m) on the left and Ben More (1174m) on the right.

It had been warm lately, but lots of snow still on the hills. And much more to come as we'd discover. There aren't proper paths as such, so it was a lot of scrambling and looking for a ways to go up. After several hours of this, and after climbing Stob Coire an Lochain, the way up to Stob Binnein became quite clear.

And then the first peak, Stob Binnein - which was absolutely covered in the white stuff. Felt more like the Alps than a Scottish hill in March.

From this angle I was a bit nervous - if it was going to be this snowy at this altitude, it would be tough going what with having to avoid snow filled holes and the like. Luckily we found that the other side was relatively snow free so the climb up Ben More would be a bit more managable.

And finally to the top of Ben More! It felt great, but we were exhausted. And now we had to get back down through the snow, and it was a bit later than we'd hoped at this point.

And sure enough, the decsent was tough going. The snow patches were basically ice on this side, and it was hard to keep yur footing. In the end, once we determined that we could steer, we got on our asses and slid down the icy patches. Scary but exciting as hell!

As you can imagine, as the sun went down it got pretty damn cold. And we did slightly lose our way near the end which resulted in us following the old advice - if you get lost, find a river and follow it out. Which is exactly what we did and it worked. So came out sore, wind-beaten and soaked, but definitely the best hillwalk yet.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"The Smiths - were just a band"

Check out this track by Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius called "Thou Shalt Always Kill". Brilliant observational lyrics and catchy track too. More than a few Britishisms to confuse the Canucks though...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Travis @ ABC

One of the morning DJs put it best last week when he said there is something incredibly comforting about Travis being back.

Last night we caught one of their warm-up shows before the new album release and UK tour. Crowd was excellent, sound was great and the band seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Wee Fran and co. just come off as really likeable folk. Travis have been accused of putting out music that is a bit twee, but their live show is full of energy and quite frankly properly rocks.

They previewed several new songs which all sound really promising. Check out the first single "Closer".

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Concert Report

It's been pretty hit and miss so far this year. And while I wouldn't say there have been a lot of "misses", there have been a lot of underwhelming shows that have bordered on disappointing. And sometimes - well, Sloan put it best: "It's not the band I hate, it's their fans".

Case in point - The Fratellis. Nice little album, fun band. But they seem to be a beacon for every lager idiot in this country. It's almost like the show is just a place to get pissed and be annoying before hitting the clubs. I've bitched about this one before, but what is the deal with buying a plastic pint, finishing half of it, and then launching it into the crowd? And since I'm taller than most, my head seems to be a nice target. I'm just grateful that so far everytime I've been hit it has been cold liquid that I get covered with - if it is ever warm, I'm swearing off gigs for life.

But before I'm accused of getting too old for this (the thought did cross my mind), there was the Rifles gig at the Garage. Still guitar based music, same kind of musical demographic, but folk were there for the music. No flying pints, no slamming into people for the sake of it. And with the band on fine form, this was one of the best gigs so far this year.

Bloc Party put on a nice little show - their drummer has got to be one of the best in the business - but we didn't manage to get tickets to the Glasgow show so had to go to Edinburgh. It doesn't seem far away on the weekend, but getting home to Glasgow on a school night is a nightmare so that by the time you get home you wonder why you bothered.

I've got mixed emotions about the Killers. I still think they released the song of 2006 (Bones), but they do take themselves far too seriously. A show at the SECC is already a bad start, but the band seemed to just go through the motions. It all sounded and looked nice enough, but reeked of "corporate rock show" that rehearsed to death. I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier?

Madviolet - they can harmonise like nobody else, and they're still gorgeous.

Guillemots - they've got some great songs, but they've also got some overblown artsy rubbish. A bit too much of the latter.

Junior Boys - gorgeously produced last album, but their electronic thing just doesn't work live.

So far, the best gig this year has to be from Newmarket, Ontario's own Tokyo Police Club. Nice n' Sleazy's was jam packed, the crowd was up for it, and the band was brilliant. Each song a 2-minute gem, and driven by some great bass lines. Couldn't help but notice that I was probably the only one there who would have to get up and go to work in the morning though!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ben Venue

My first hillwalk of the year. And with views like this, I ask myself why I don't do this every week.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I quite like the way the pics from Vigelandsparken turned out, so here are a few more. I'll take the high road and let you make your own shrinkage jokes!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Wind, Rain, and 2007

Is it too late to say Happy New Year?

What a great bit of time off that was, but man did it ever go quickly. As for New Year's Eve, it is still the single most overrated day on the calendar. But I guess this time was amongst the better ones. Went out in Glasgow, and then caught Hot Chip and a DJ set at the Old Fruitmarket. Funny though - I've only been in Scotland for New Year's Eve twice, and just like last time the wind was so crazy that most of the events across the country were cancelled. Luckily ours was indoors, so it was all good. But I've never seen Glasgow city centre so dead in my life. They had expected at least 20,000 to George Square alone for the outdoor concert.

Also managed to make it over to Oslo, Norway for a few days beforehand. A great city, highly recommended. Very clean, very safe, very picturesque, and yes, very expensive. Spent the day soaking in the atmosphere and checking out the excellent museums, all broken up with trips to the top class coffeeshops found throughout the city. Turns out Norwegians spend their holiday time with family, so the nightlife was pretty quiet. But by asking the right questions, we found some brilliant wee restaurants and pubs off the beaten track. And they managed to recover Munch's recently stolen "Scream" so we were able to see that in person (which was very nice of them).

Oslo city centre. Good vibes. But baby, it's cold outside.

A 13th century stave church that was relocated to the wonderful open-air Norse Folk Museum, north of Oslo. Real viking ships in the museum next door too!

Probably the highlight of the trip - the enchanting (I don't use that word lightly!!!) Vigelandsparken which is a park full of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. The sculptures were wonderful in their own right, but even more so arranged as they were throughout the park. The frost covering was the icing on the cake.