Doug Johnstone

376 articles

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Singles and Downloads

14 May 2009

Take four kids from Northern Ireland and force feed them AC/DC from birth and you’d create The Answer, a scarily authentic gonzo rock outfit who create a fun fluster of riffage and shrieking on ‘ Tonight’ (Albert Productions) ●●● Brainless fun…

Glasgow Americana Festival

14 May 2009

Scotland in general, and Glasgow in particular, has had a long love affair with the dusty backroad heartbreak of Americana and anything with a folky bent from across the pond. In the past the Big Big Country festival run by late promoter Billy Kelly was…

Fence Collective's Homegame: Homeward bound

16 Apr 2009

In the ever-growing Scottish music festival calendar, the Homegame remains something of a well-kept secret. Despite a steadily increasing profile since its inception six years ago, the weekend, run by Fence Collective head honchos Kenny Anderson (aka…

Calamateur - Jesus is for Losers

19 Feb 20094 stars

(self-release) LO-FI The world needs mavericks like Calamateur. Holed up somewhere outside Inverness, Andrew Howie has been making a find blend of folk, rock and electronica for almost a decade, with this latest offering typically brimming with…

Music Routes Festival

14 May 2009

1: It’s folk music, but not as we know it Actually, despite being a compact and bijou seven-day music festival organised by the Leith Folk Club, Music Routes features an impressively eclectic range of sounds, all gigs hosted in the cosy confines of the…

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Marissa Nadler

30 Apr 2009

AMERICANA We journalists are forever putting musicians into convenient categories, only for artists to spend their careers trying to escape them. So it is with Marissa Nadler, American purveyor of sweeping dream-folk over her last three albums, who’s…

Monica Ali - In the Kitchen

30 Apr 20092 stars

MODERN DRAMA This third novel from Monica Brick Lane Ali ticks plenty zeitgeist boxes: multiculturalism in today’s Britain, the seedy business of human trafficking and the apparently exciting world of top-class chefs. But despite some nice writing…

Jon Hopkins - Insides

30 Apr 20094 stars

ELECTRONICA You don’t expect an electronica album to start with two and a half minutes of mournful fiddle, but that’s the kind of expectation defying that sums up Londoner Hopkins. This moving, bittersweet instrumental record blends sweeping…

The Horrors - Primary Colours

30 Apr 20093 stars

ROCK This second album is so wildly different from The Horrors’ schlocky, B-movie, overhyped garage debut that it’s hard to believe it’s the same band. Gone are the irritating punk rants and big hair, replaced by ghosts of The Cure, Joy Division and…

William Orbit - My Oracle Lives Upstairs

30 Apr 20092 stars

DANCE The man best known as the studio button-pushing monkey for Madonna’s Ray of Light album has apparently given up production duties of late to concentrate on his own muse. On this evidence, it’s a big mistake, because Orbit is not an inspired…

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Five reasons to go and see: Earth

16 Apr 2009

1 It’ll stop you droning on … because that’s their job. Formed in Olympia, Washington in the early 90s by Dylan Carlson, the awesome Earth were pioneers of doom-laden drone rock, influencing everyone from Mogwai to Autechre, both of whom contributed…

The Specials and The Zombies

16 Apr 2009

‘Hope I die before I get old.’ Yeah, right. The way the band reformation juggernaut continues to pick up pace, that epithet should read, ‘Hope I reform before I die.’ There has been a relentless increase in the number of bands getting back together…

King Creosote - Flick the Vs

16 Apr 20094 stars

(Domino) On this first album on Domino Fife legend Kenny Anderson has a whale of a time. Brimming with sonic invention and acerbic one-liners, Flick the Vs shows experimentation and ambition vastly beyond KC’s lazy folk tag, from the seven-minute…

Le Reno Amps - Tear It Open

2 Apr 20094 stars

GUITAR POP This third offering from the Scottish popsters doesn’t fit in with any current trends, which is all the more reason to take them to your heart. From Aberdeen by way of Glasgow, the Amps here deliver an unashamedly upbeat and melody-strewn…

Labels of Love - Avalanche Records Album Club

2 Apr 2009

Based in Edinburgh Roster Not a roster as such, but they dip into the finest indie music from around the globe, with a Scottish accent on things. The gaffer Kevin Buckle, owner of Avalanche Records for an impressive 25 years, ubiquitous…

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5 Reasons to Go See - Beardyman

2 Apr 2009

1. He’s got a world of music in his mouth Yes, it’s the wonderful world of beatboxing and Beardyman, aka Londoner Darren Foreman, is up there with the very best. It’s not just extraordinary beats the man can reproduce, but also copycat singing voices…

James Runcie - East Fortune

2 Apr 20091 star

(Bloomsbury) FAMILY SAGA Featuring an ensemble cast of characters and set in East Lothian, this tedious novel is trying to be a modern family saga, but fails on almost every level. The story centres on the three Henderson brothers, all…

It Hugs Back - Inside Your Guitar

2 Apr 20092 stars

INDIE Despite the terrible twee band name, there’s initially something endearing about this Kent foursome’s debut album, opener ‘Q’ leaning heavily on dreamy mid-period Wilco influences to create something eerie yet uplifting. But while Wilco’s…

The Red Well

19 Mar 2009

PREVIEW Loud or quiet, why choose? The best rock bands manage to combine ear-shredding wig-outs with moments of blissful acoustic gentility – and so it is with The Red Well. The Edinburgh-based quartet are part of Fife’s Fence Collective, but stand…

Toby Litt - Journey into Space

5 Mar 20094 stars

LITERARY SCI-FI There’s a good track record of literary writers dabbling in science fiction, from Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood to Iain Banks, and we can add to that fine company this remarkable and moving offering from Toby Litt. Having long…

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Stona Fitch - Printer’s Devil

5 Mar 20095 stars

DYSTOPIAN NOVEL Cormac McCarthy set a new benchmark in dystopian fiction with his remarkable The Road, but this powerful and profound novel makes a good stab at matching it. In a future world blighted by post-apocalyptic environmental threats…

The Red Well - Amid Storms We Arrive

5 Mar 20094 stars

ROCK This Edinburgh outfit have been impressing live audiences for years, and this debut album does a great job of capturing their unique blend of post-grunge and Scottish folky indie. It’s an ambitious record, epic grandeur lurking in the dynamics…

The Phantom Band

19 Feb 2009

The Phantom Band are a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped inside an enigma. OK, they’re not really, they’re just six guys living in Glasgow making music, but as their ephemeral name suggests there is something shadowy and unfathomable about both the…

5 Reasons to go see Shred Yr Face 2

19 Feb 2009

1 You will literally be able to shred your face But only if you bring along your own cheese grater and apply it vigorously to your mush. Shred Yr Face is actually a joint tour sponsored by Rock Sound magazine which brings you three of the finest…

Tom Lee - Greenfly

19 Feb 20092 stars

(Harvill Secker) SHORT STORIES The publishers are to be applauded for taking a punt on a debut collection of short stories in these credit-crunched times, but the variable quality contained within these 179 small pages makes it a risk unlikely…