Music, Pop

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Frank Zappa: American Composer

7 Feb 2014

20 years after his death, we look at Frank Zappa's journey from cult figure to giant of modern music

20 years after his death, Frank Zappa has gone from cult figure to a giant of modern music. We review his career and find out how the hell that happened.

Interview: Paolo Nutini on new album, Caustic Love

11 Mar 2014

The singer-songwriter is set to play a slew of festival dates, including T in the Park & V Festival

If you have turned on a radio at any point in the past month or so, you may be aware that Paisley pop prodigy Paolo Nutini is back in the game with new single ‘Scream (Funk My Life Up)’ after an absence of five years - say three, if you take time off…

François & the Atlas Mountains - Piano Ombre

14 Mar 20144 stars

The final LP in François Marry's 'trilogy' contains yet more bilingual, elegantly tailored synth pop

François Marry, one-time touring member of Camera Obscura, and Fence Records recording artiste, has ceased his perambulations around the UK and returned to his native France to record the final part of what he sees as a trilogy of albums. With Piano…

Chad VanGaalen - Shrink Dust

14 Mar 20143 stars

Self-proclaimed country album from Calgary's astral-rock artisan

Picture this. Two small, prying hands growing out of your shoulders, ripping your eyelids wide apart, provoking untold confusion and pain, and all to a groovy psych-pop beat. Welcome to the surreal province of Chad VanGaalen, where such events unfold on…

Interview: Franz Ferdinand bassist Bob Hardy

13 Mar 2014

A discussion on flat parties, sabbaticals and the latest Franz album

'It’s kind of like a holiday with your pals,' muses Franz Ferdinand bassist Bob Hardy, of the Glasgow artisan guitar pop artistes’ rationale for taking a good long break prior to making their latest album, following three records in quick succession up…

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Vic Godard – Thirty Odd Years

10 Mar 20145 stars

An exquisite package dedicated to the anti-career of the prolific Subway Sect man

'It's a literary and philosophical group,' says the voice of the late Edinburgh-based poet Paul Reekie in a faux-radio interview at the start of this two-CD, 44 track retrospective from Vic Godard. As a singer/songwriter, Godard's band Subway Sect may…

Paul Haig – At Twilight

10 Mar 20144 stars

Ex-Josef K member – and 'face and sound of 1982' – returns with another solo album

When Paul Haig, Malcolm Ross and co called time on Edinburgh's jangular art-rock funkateers Josef K, following the release of both theirs and Alan Horne's Postcard label's sole album release, The Only Fun In Town, in 1981, Haig styled himself as the…

Bdy_Prts - Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow, Wed 5 Mar 2014

7 Mar 20144 stars

Debut single launch gig for the bodysock-loving Glasgow alt-pop duo

’We thought we'd only sold about 30 tickets!’ Jenny Reeve protests mid-set, but the venue is rammed full and there is little doubt that Bdy_Prts is the hottest ticket in town on this particular evening. Neither Reeve nor her partner in crime Jill O…

Disclosure with Joey Bada$$ - Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Wed 5 Mar 2014

6 Mar 20144 stars

Poor sound quality can’t hamper a night of near-perfect pop-house

Given that the Corn Exchange is used as much for wedding fayres and corporate events as for live music performances, it’s not surprising that it lacks the decent acoustics of purpose-built gig houses. Tonight’s support act, Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$…

Exposure: 80s echoing synth-pop from Glaswegian trio Prides

24 Feb 2014

The trio specialise in big, anthemic choruses a la Tears for Fears, Roxy Music, Genesis & Talk Talk

Already one of the most talked about bands of 2014, Glasgow trio Prides have wasted no time in taking their euphoric synth-pop to the masses. Emerging early last year, their debut single ‘Out Of The Blue’ was playlisted by Radio 1 and they were also…

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Beyonce - Hydro Arena, Glasgow, Thu 20 Feb 2014

21 Feb 20145 stars

The Mrs Carter live show is a mesmerising blend of star power, pyrotechnics and damn good music

There are a hundred and one questions which could be asked of Beyonce as a true artistic breaker of boundaries; namely, judging by this performance, the tension between an obviously passionate feminist voice which saw her render the powerful TED talk…

MØ - No Mythologies to Follow

21 Feb 20144 stars

Intelligent, danceable electropop from Scandinavia

It's been a long wait since Danish electropop singer Karen Marie Ørsted (aka MØ, which translates as 'maiden' or 'virgin'), released her first single, suitably titled 'Maiden' in 2012. It's also the second track on her first full-length album, No…

Metronomy - Love Letters

21 Feb 20143 stars

Joe Mount's electro-pop follow-up to The English Riviera can't help but suffer by comparison

Across three albums, Metronomy evolved from Joseph Mount’s one-man glitch electronica project into an iridescent indie pop band. Debut album Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) (2006) bristled with wonky beats while The English Riviera (2011) saw…

Ela Orleans - Tumult In Clouds

21 Feb 20145 stars

A sublime, disorientating LP that navigates chanson-pop grooves, eldritch psych-rock & electro

This sublime, disorientating LP is a rarity in every sense. It is uncommon, in this day and age, to make a double vinyl album, for starters – although it feels futile to measure this abstract opus against such a humdrum framework as time. For said…

The Birthday Suit - A Hollow Hole of Riches

21 Feb 20143 stars

Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones has a blast with his other project, which suffers from too much filler

At the end of last year, Rod Jones responded to an online campaign from angst-riddled Idlewild fans who demanded a boycott on their solo projects until the band started recording again. Jones rightly poo-pooed such notions, and no wonder, given that he…

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Wild Beasts - Present Tense

21 Feb 20143 stars

A technically immaculate but ultimately self-satisfied attempt to dissolve into a new genre

'Don't confuse me with someone who gives a fuck,' sneers Wild Beasts' singer Hayden Thorpe on the stirring chorus of 'Wanderlust', albeit in the most tender, polite way imaginable. While it's not directed towards the future critics of his group's…

Withered Hand - New Gods

21 Feb 20142 stars

A breezy jangle pop record that's conspicuously devoid of any real nuance, intrigue or subtlety

It’s a brave thing to make a breezy jangle pop record in the year 2014. Tastes are more sophisticated, audiences are atomised, communal experiences are rarer, music fans are constantly sated yet never more whiney (yes you, you big moanyhole). Yet amid…

Dean Wareham - Dean Wareham

21 Feb 20144 stars

The Luna/Galaxie 500 guitarist delivers perfectly crafted, exquisitely delivered songs

No one ever claimed Dean Wareham was a great guitar player, least of all himself. But eavesdropping on his ongoing search for the lost note and perfect chord progression is compelling. With a knack for plaintive melody and lyrical phrasing most other…

Usher Hall manager Karl Chapman discusses the venue's 100th Birthday Concert

21 Feb 2014

Mogwai, Rufus Wainwright and the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra will help mark the occasion

Whether or not the queen’s custom of sending congratulatory messages to those reaching their 100th birthdays extends to concert halls as well as people remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely that Edinburgh’s Usher Hall will be short of birthday greetings…

Exposure: Bdy_Prts

21 Feb 2014

Jill O'Sullivan (Sparrow and the Workshop) discusses her new alt.pop project

Glasgow alt-pop dead-ringers Bdy_Prts formed in a Little Chef, over an apple pie. The glorious machine-rock duo stars Sparrow and the Workshop's Jill O'Sullivan and Strike the Colours' Jenny Reeve, and they release their superlative debut single, 'IDLU…

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Scottish indie-pop group Camera Obscura announce UK and Ireland tour for May 2014

20 Feb 2014

The band will tour in support of latest album Desire Lines and forthcoming Sessions EP

Scottish indie-poppers Camera Obscura are set to tour the UK and Ireland in May 2014, calling at Belfast, Dublin, London and Birmingham before finishing off with a hometown show in Glasgow. The band will most likely be playing material from their latest…

Chart-topping pop star John Newman to tour UK in October 2014

20 Feb 2014

The 'Love Me Again' singer will visit Edinburgh, Manchester, London, Plymouth and Wolverhampton

John Newman, the pop singer behind chart-topping hits 'Love Me Again' and 'Cheating', has announced he'll be embarking on a UK tour in October 2014. The singer will visit Edinburgh, Manchester, London, Plymouth and Wolverhampton in support of his 2013…

Beyonce and Drake: a mess of contradictions and moral quandaries as entertainers

18 Feb 2014

Both performers combine high quality music-making with questionable artistic choices

She’s the one of the biggest global brands in pop. He’s a Jewish-Canadian rapper and ex-actor with a fierce flow and penchant for feeling sorry for himself. They teamed-up on the track ‘Mine’ and are both captivating live performers in different ways.

Phoenix - Barrowland, Glasgow, Mon 10 Feb 2014

18 Feb 20144 stars

A feelgood, no-filler show from Thomas Mars' gallic pop posse

Unlike the steady ascent of their career, there was no teasing build-up from Phoenix at this feelgood, no-filler show. The French foursome jumped straight into a succession of storming power pop tracks, while frontman Thomas Mars headed immediately for…

Interpol, Temples, Royal Blood and Circa Waves form the line-up for NME Awards Tour 2014

12 Feb 2014

Ah, the NME Awards Tour, this year sporting a four band strong line-up; suit-loving New Yorkers Interpol, psychedelic fetishists Temples, noise rock two-piece Royal Blood and Scouse garage rockers Circa Waves. Or as the eye-rolling cynic might comment…