SWAY: Standing Out and Speaking Up

words fae liam menzies (@blinkclyro), photos courtesy of Daniel Blake (FB)

In a year that has seen both great things occur, such as bands like The Vegan Leather landing a tasty spot on the Electric Fields billing, as well as harrowing events, the loss of the O2 ABC being a prime one, the music scene in Glasgow is certainly one thing and that’s active.

The same can’t be said about Paisley based rock outfit Sway: thankfully the shoegazey foursome haven’t split up but this year has been a relatively quiet one which mostly comes down to some hapless occurrences. “We sadly didn’t hit the ground running this year due to some unfortunate circumstances outwith our hands,” tells frontman Craig, the details of which are unclear but regardless, it’s not all doom and gloom. “We took it slow for the first half of 2018, but for these last few months of the year? You’re gonna be hearing a lot more from us” adamantly states Matt, the band promising not only new material but branching out with their gigging by hitting some other locations across the UK they haven’t yet played.

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If you so happen to find yourself nearby a venue SWAY is playing at though, why should you bother to fork out and go along? JonJoe doesn’t mince words when declaring what makes the band stand out, the group priding themselves on “the darker topics we explore through our music and our different perspectives, as well as our interests, bleed into that“. This isn’t just a bit of PR fluff either – To Be A Man saw SWAY take aim at a toxic relationship bubbling over with manipulation, all juxtaposed with poppy sensibilities that no doubt take influence from the bleaker state of rock during the 80’s. Not only that but their latest single Another Lover sees the bass agonising over a fittingly desperate set of lyrics that pack in equal parts heartbreak and determination.

While the boys are no doubt focussed on their newest material, Matt is sure to use their time to sing the praises of other acts that are often overlooked. “There’s a fair amount of people who I’d say don’t get enough praise, but personally I’d say Lizzie Reid definitely doesn’t. Lizzie is an incredible singer/songwriter who’s been playing in and around Glasgow for some time now. I saw her at the Old Hairdresser’s not that long ago and was stunned at how moving her performance was.

You may be wondering where cool as a cucumber David DIV Roberts is through all this but don’t worry, he didn’t keep hush through this entire interview as he chimed in to talk about one of his favourite releases of the year. “For me, Shredd’s EP is astounding,” he says, Jonjoe concurring, before going on to reminisce about The Walkmen record The Rat which fills in whatever other time he has left. 

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All those days spent writing and gigging must take a toll on you but it seems SWAY have a pretty healthy coping mechanism in the form of, well, each other. “Personally writer’s block has been a constant problem,” Craig says “that I’ve had to deal with since I started to write music especially with outside factors over the past few years that suck your motivation and drive out of you. Luckily enough I’ve always been able to bounce off the rest of the boys and get back into it when going through a slump.

As the photos included throughout show, SWAY are a wholesome bunch of boys who aren’t afraid to dabble in some fun as well as some sombre topics. The fluidity and brotherhood displayed between them all, while often seen, is refreshing in the scene considering how they channel it into their music as well as their live shows. The band are very much that in general: refreshing, like a nice cold glass of water, though with probably a tear or two in there.

stream sway’s new single Another Lover here

Gig Review: Twin Atlantic @ Summer Sessions

words + photos fae gregor farquharson (@grgratlntc)

As cliche as it is, Glasgow is always the best place for a gig. Now, put a band who grew up in the city on a massive stage with 15,000 Glaswegians and you’ll be on to a winner. That was exactly the case last night, when Twin Atlantic were main support at Glasgow Summer Sessions.

Opening with the first song off their last album, GLA, the bar was already set high from the start. Lead singer Sam McTrusty graced Bellahouston Park with a beautiful patterned suit and the band stormed through hits from throughout the years. Going straight into Valhalla then The Chaser, it was hard to believe that the band’s latest album GLA has now been out for nearly two years and we can now start to look forward to whenever the band release new material for fans to scream live.

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Tracks from earlier album Free, despite now being 7 years old, still did the job of being massive festival pleasers. The ballad of Yes, I Was Drunk was a real crowd pleaser and had just about everyone screaming every lyric back to the band.

Going from slow to fast, the band dedicated the fast paced indie track I Am an Animal to headliners Catfish and The Bottlemen. The track went off, fans erupted and the atmosphere in Bellahouston Park was colossal. Other tracks from the band such as You Are The Devil and Brothers and Sisters felt like they belonged to be played in this setting: a massive gig in the city the band were born.

Closing with No Sleep and Heart and Soul, the crowd erupted into a sea of mosh pits and bouncing fans. The set was a perfect way to bring day into night, and everyone in the crowd that night would have went home with memories and stories to tell for ages.

GIG REVIEW: Shame @ Stereo, Glasgow

words fae Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Hot on the heels of their ferocious debut album, Songs Of Praise, Shame have embarked on a tour of some of the UK’s most intimate venues. Last night (12th April) Shame arrived in Glasgow and encountered a crowd that anticipated an electric live show that would match the energy of their debut album, and the London band delivered on these expectations and then some.

From the outset, frontman Charlie Steen made himself impossible to ignore. It’s impressive how at home he seems on the stage at such a young age and at this point in the band’s career. Immediately he strikes up a casual conversation with the crowd, dropping spontaneous jokes about how they are a “Christian band.” Beckoning the crowd to come closer to the stage, Steen leads the band into set and album opener Dust On Trial, the atmosphere becoming undeniably ecstatic.

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Shame and Stereo are a match made in heaven: Shame’s post-punk grit along with their massive hooks and melodies sound both raw and crisp in such a small venue. Stereo is renowned for being a great venue and one reason for this is the sound is always sublime and Shame go along with this environment perfectly. It’s almost sad that Shame are already booked to play the much bigger O2 ABC later in the year as the band’s presence suits the intimacy of Stereo perfectly.

The band themselves seemed to thrive off the energy of the night, Steen in particular growing more and more confident with each song not that he even needed the boost. Standing on the edge of the stage conducting the crowd with a wave of his arms, before long he had his audience entranced watching his every move in anticipation of what he would do next. Pouring beer over our faces, grabbing at fans’ outstretched hands, Steen lives for interaction with the audience and it amounts to making him one of the most exciting frontmen working today.

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On top of all the showboating, Shame have ounces of substance to back it up. Each song from their debut sounds even angrier and passionate in the live setting. From the dark, menacing manner of The Lick to massive anthem One Rizla, Shame adapt with ease turning each song into a reason for the crowd to lose themselves in the moment. Steen introduces each song with casual interludes, including a reassurance that he now believes other bands when they say Glasgow is always the best tour date. By midway through the set Steen is talking to his audience like they are old friends and it leads to a magic gig that was deserved due to the band giving their all.

Shame finish their set with a triumphant rendition of Gold Hole and as it comes to an end, Steen ascends the 10-foot tall amp and dives off into the crowd, which was strangely unsurprising considering the showmanship he had demonstrated throughout. Completely winning over Glasgow with their bravado and infectious sound, Shame put on one of the best live shows around: it’s no surprise this band is going places.

Gig Review: ALVVAYS @ O2 ABC, Glasgow

photos + words by liam menzies (@blnkclyr)

When praise is given in a gig review, more often than not there’s a huge focus on energy exerted by both the act and the audience which is fair enough as, after all, a rock or hip-hop show tends to only be as strong as its riffs and beats respectively. This made ALVVAYS a nice change of pace before they had even played a single note: the Canadian dream-pop act has been around for a few years now but 2017 saw the band rise to prominence thanks in no small part to how well Antisocialites meshed with fans both old and new and the chill vibe it rocked.

Of course, once they did start playing they managed to win over the audience without a moment’s hesitation. After showcasing the new album to a busy St Luke’s last year, prior to its release, it’s had time for those in attendance at the ABC tonight to grow attached to certain tracks and witness them being performed in the band’s biggest Glasgow show to date. It was undeniably obvious which one reacted the best with the crowd: as soon as the opening lo-fi keyboard of In Undertow filled up the room, bits of the crowd flooded to the front to lap up every single word and note that the band politely served them.

img_3807-1Usually, if you’ve got your heart set on a Glasgow venue for production value then ABC usually finds itself placed in the middle of the rankings but ALVVAYS managed to subvert this expectation; much like some of their instrumentals, there was a hazy aesthetic splashed on the scenery behind the act, often times taking on the form of TV static, giving the stage a retro feel which went to prove that you don’t have to go overboard with design to leave an impression.

Speaking of retro, well as retro as you can be for an album released four years ago, tracks from the band’s eponymous debut album weren’t left outside in the baltic Scottish weather, especially Adult Diversion whose jangle pop essence resonated well and showcased the band’s weaving instrumentals which they made look almost effortless.

Actually, while we’re on the topic, the whole band has to be praised for the show they put on last night; of course, Molly Rankin (vocals + rhythm guitar) was on spectacular form as always, even getting an “I love you Molly” from the passionate crowd, but Kerri (keyboards), Alec (lead guitar), Brian (bass guitar) and Sheridan (drums) all did a wonderful job in making the transition between record and stage feel utterly seamless.

Throughout last night’s show, there were a few humourous exchanges, such as Molly’s tangents about her mishap with thinking pants meant the same thing here as they did back home and the pronunciation of Sauchiehall street. While this is a staple of nearly every gig, it went a long way to evoke how humble the act really are: touring isn’t a new thing to them and they’d have every right to possess some sort of ego with all the critical acclaim they’ve accumulated but on stage, what we saw were an act who are going with the flow and giving their all every single time.

After all, in their own words, there’s no turning back after what’s transpired.

Gig Review: Headland + Isla Stout @ The Priory

by Josh Adams (@jxshadams)

Celebrating the launch of their debut single When Stars Collide, Headland joined forces with solo artist Isla Stout to sell out The Priory based solely on the strength of their unique mix of celtic rock and modern pop sensibilities. A last-minute venue change from Broadcast did not seem to slow down the Glaswegian seven-piece at their very first gig – hopefully, the start of many more to come. Before even a note was struck or sang, it was worth noting the diversity in age of the crowd, from teenagers to the elderly, which only served to highlight the broad appeal of Headland‘s music.

The opening act came in the form of the aforementioned Isla Stout. Whilst her folk covers of pop hits (from classics to contemporary numbers such as Ring of Fire and Skinny Love) were charming, if not spellbinding, the real magic lay in her own original content that she performed that evening that seemed to have everyone in the room silent in awe. If that is the direction Stout continues to head in, we will be hearing her name a lot more in Scotland throughout the year.

The recent nationwide revival in folk music, rescued from the clutches of pensioner pub bands across the country, has been a somewhat surprising yet welcome return in Scotland’s music scene. It’s as if a young batch of new local heroes have started taking notes from their American contemporaries and realised that fusing traditional instrumentation with modern pop hooks and songwriting can lead to great success in the charts. Now numerous groups, such as Skerryvore, are seeing triumphs in their careers, and up steps Headland to become the latest band to follow suit.

What makes Kieran Ferguson et al. stand out from the crowd is the dynamic interplay between the male voices and the female voices of the seven-piece, allowing for greater melodic variation in terms of the harmonies, and this was especially true on cuts such as When Stars Collide and Float On The Ocean. Another highlight was the tasteful guitar playing of Cameron Wilson, who added colourful flourishes and appropriate solos to most of Headland’s tunes with a slick, rock tone.  If anything could have been better from a performative or technical standpoint, it was that the rhythm section could have been punchier to emphasise the strong grooves that hold the group together, and the song structures could have been toyed with more experimentally to allow for extended solos in the folk tradition.

Alas, I’m nitpicking. By the time the band rolled out a few fun covers of Folsom Prison Blues and Wagon Wheel that elicited mass singalongs across the venue, before an encore of a reprise of When Stars Collide, you would have been forgiven for forgetting that this was Headland‘s first-ever concert together with all seven members. Exceptionally tight and acing what they do well, the future seems bright for the group based all on this lone concert.

 

 

EP Review: The Dunts – Not Working Is Class

By Kieran Cannon (@kiercannon)rating 6

Glasgow is widely considered the musical epicentre of Scotland – and for good reason. Among the various heavyweight exports over the years, countless unsigned and emerging acts have amassed a reputation by playing across the eclectic mix of venues the city has to offer. Festivals such as the Tenement Trail offer these artists a valuable platform and, for others, an opportunity to discover new music. Speaking of which, one of this year’s featured acts The Dunts already boast a sizeable zealous following and are now vying to claim their own sonic territory amid the current wave of emerging indie/punk groups with their latest EP entitled Not Working Is Class, doubling up as a clever piece of wordplay and a concise summary of the contents within.

Booting open the doors and storming in all guns blazing, Tommy wastes absolutely no time in setting the tone for the rest of the EP. Channeling pure, unadulterated Ramones live energy into this highly charged opener, lead vocalist Rab Smith is accompanied by thrashing guitars and fervent drumming as he details a night gone south thanks to the (presumably) Buckfast-fuelled hedonistic exploits of the character in question who, it seems, has a bit of previous for disappearing inexplicably. As for the chances of an unlikely comeback? “As 10 o’clock approaches, the odds are looking slim“.

Lead single Coalition of Chaos, a renegade anthem for the country’s disaffected youth, explores the band’s own feelings of alienation and apathy as intimated by the EP’s title; here, Smith launches into a tirade about the grubby deals, political grandstanding and meaningless platitudes that characterise the current state of government in our country. In contrast to the blistering instrumentals of opener Tommy, here the guitar/bass sections ebb and flow: an effects-laden intro gives way to flickering verses and emphatic choruses.

Whether or not by design, a pervasive issue across all four tracks is the abrupt nature of the outros; perhaps even bordering on premature. Numbers like Coalition, a single with genuine potential, could benefit from a few extra seconds to further develop the melodies and arrive at a more satisfying conclusion. Although the band’s forte clearly lies in delivering incendiary short-fuse tunes around the sub-three-minute mark, a wider variety of outros would add greater depth to an otherwise solid set of tracks.

The Dunts have no qualms about laying bare their influences, particularly on Hampden Cabs where they channel indie and post-punk sensibilities via the likes of The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys in a return to the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ philosophy of the opening track. Smith laments being landed in a taxi with an unbearable travel companion (akin to the Charmless Man discussed at great length by Damon Albarn), delivering an amusing and typically caustic Glaswegian take on this most patterless of individuals.

Wrapping up proceedings is Dimitri, a chaotic yet surprisingly self-aware exploration of mind-altering substances. The state of flux between euphoria and paranoia is captured with Smith/McGachy’s rapid-fire guitar and McGhee’s anxious drumming patterns as doubts begin to set in: “everything is gone, like water through my fingers“. Compared to the rough and ready production on their debut EP Fried (no longer available on Spotify but potentially set for future re-release), Not Working Is Class still bears the hallmarks of a band in the process of experimentation; finding their own sound. They are, however, comfortably en route to cementing their status as purveyors of potent council punk among the city’s most talented up-and-coming artists as well as beginning to break ground down south.

 

 

 

Touche Amore, ANGEL DU$T & Departures @ Glasgow Stereo – 20/02/2017

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

As the queue to the only Scottish date of Touche Amore‘s tour stretched around onto Union Street, it was obvious that tonight’s gig was going to be pretty special. Taking place at the intimate and claustrophobic Stereo venue, which in itself is a total juxtaposition of the lovely and well-kempt vegan cafe above, this show couldn’t have taken place anywhere else other than here.

Starting off with some homegrown talent in the form of Departures, tonight’s events were kicked off in the most appropriate way possible with a display of wonderful hardcore performances. The Glasgow guys were fairly modest as well, noting the sold out gig and saying:

There’s a lot of ye, thanks for turning up early. If you were going to turn up early anyway then sorry.

The self-professed “Scottish idiots with no gear” all seemed to be in one telepathic flow as front-man James McKean maneuvered the stage effortlessly, manage to intertwine amongst Daniel Nash, Pierre Charlesworth, Andrew Traynor and their multiple cables.


This was pretty poetic considering how easily McKean’s voice traversed through the layered instrumentals, all of which helped to present the band’s unique blend of passionate modern hardcore music with Making Maps being a particular highlight, showcasing the emotive and heartfelt lyrics Departures do so well. (On a quick side-note, Alistair Morrison may be the happiest band member I’ve seen perform live since Frank Turner: what a man).

Up next were Baltimore hardcore act ANGEL DU$T who were starkly different from the preceding support act with their “go hard or go home” attitude being an utter delight from start to finish. Manifesting all the traits of similar hardcore bands such as Turnstile, frontman Justice Tripp wasn’t lying when he said that they’d be performing some short and hard songs: the riffs came thick and fast like you had just been dropped kicked onto a motorway during rush hour and every second was absolutely exhilarating.

The crowd seemed to be utterly enthralled by the whole performance. As Tripp held the mic above himself WWE style while simultaneously putting his hand on his hip like a more intimidating teapot, you would regularly see fans jump on stage and nearly instantly forward or backflip right back off. At one point a rather psyched man jumped on top of the nearby amp and proceeded to crowd surf for about 3 yards before hitting the ground: you really couldn’t ask for anything more appropriate than ANGEL DU$T to be playing while this happened.

Then the real meat (or Quorn) and potatoes of tonight’s meal arrived . Touche Amore have solidified themselves as one of music’s most valuable acts with a golden run records wise and as they appeared on stage, the crowd was erupting to put it lightly. Flowers And You off of the band’s latest LP Stage Four began the Californian’s passionate proceedings with Jeremy Bolm’s hoarse screams acting as emotional expulsion, shaking the room with instrumental and emotional intensity. While it’s no real surprise that a tour that is supporting an album revolving around grief brought with it some sombre moments, Touche Amore really raised the bar when it comes to this realm: some tracks such as Displacement were gut wrenching anthems that had the crowd simultaneously rag dolling around the tightly packed venue while fighting back the tears.

It wasn’t just the crowd that were wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Bolm himself professed his love for the city of Glasgow, confidently saying:

Having a Belle and Sebastian tattoo, it feels awesome to walk the streets where this music comes from and to have this be our first sold out gig means a lot. We’ve played here multiple times and it’s always great.

To put it simply, Touche’s set was an intense tour de force, providing all of the feverous lyrics and straight-up fierce passion the band has for their art. As they ended their gig with a cut off Is Survived By, it was safe to say the band ended the night perfectly and sent everyone home with memories of what is sure to be one of the greatest gigs anyone in attendance will ever experience.


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