As Edinburgh’s Broken Records deliver a debut of joyously epic proportions, Doug Johnstone reckons the capital’s music bedrock is stronger than ever
Glasgow has long been the focus in Scotland for all things indie, with Edinburgh a very poor second when it comes to generating quality bands, but there are signs that’s changing.
You wouldn’t quite say the capital has caught up yet, but with more venues and promoters providing a decent environment to create music in, and a diverse range of bands taking advantage of that, there is a definite buzz in Edinburgh at the moment, and Broken Records are right at the front of the pack.
The seven-piece folk-rock outfit formed at the tail end of 2006 and have quickly garnered a great reputation for unique live shows and a sound which covers everything from widescreen rock to Eastern European folk music.
‘It’s good to be from a town that’s not massively known for its music,’ says piano and trumpet player Dave Smith. ‘We’ve been allowed to grow at our own pace in Edinburgh and build up a bit of a following that way. There are some great bands here like Chutes, Eagleowl and Found, who are all doing really good stuff. We’ve been asked if we’re going to relocate to London, but we’re pretty proud to be from Edinburgh, so we’re just going to stay here, thanks.’
The London question no doubt came about because Broken Records have signed to esteemed London-based indie label 4AD, home to TV on the Radio, The Breeders and fellow Scots Camera Obscura.
This week Broken Records release their fantastic debut album, Until the Earth Begins to Part, an ambitious and often intense romp through an epic indie landscape which more than delivers on the band’s early live promise and effortlessly spans the breadth of the band’s diverse influences.
‘You’re always a product of your influences,’ admits Smith. ‘But with seven of us in the band, all from very different backgrounds, that’s what provides the eclectic nature of our sound. It’s going to be quite tough with the second album, to bring out something as different and interesting as this record, but I guess that’s our challenge.’
With the rampaging clatter of their mini-anthems, and the presence of instruments like violin, piano, trumpet and accordion, Broken Records’ early shows saw reviewers describing them as the Scottish Arcade Fire. Smith admits that this has been a mixed blessing as far as they’re concerned.
‘It’s an honour to be compared to them, but it’s really just lazy,’ he says. ‘You see seven people, a violin and accordion and jump straight to Arcade Fire. If you listened to Funeral then our record, I really don’t think they’re similar. It used to irritate us at the start, but hopefully the more people hear our album the more they’ll realise we just sound like Broken Records, no one else.’
And despite rave reviews across the press, the band themselves aren’t getting carried away.
‘We’re taking baby steps and I like that,’ says Smith. ‘We haven’t shot into the limelight and had loads of money behind us, so we know that if the record does well, it’ll be on the merit of the music alone.’
Broken Records play King Tut’s, Glasgow, Wed 3 Jun; their album is also reviewed this issue.