Singles and downloads - October 2013
Single of the month is Honeyblood's Bud with other tracks from Roman Nose, John Knox Sex Club, Over The Wall and The Spook School
Honeyblood - Bud
(Fat Cat) ●●●●●
They’ve long made us swoon with their vintage scuzz-rock, but Glasgow grrrl-pop duo Honeyblood ramp up their charms on harmonic alt-chorale ‘Bud’, their first release for Fat Cat. Reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, The Go-Gos and Best Coast, and possessing a bridge to die for, ‘Bud’ is a glorious reminder that Honeyblood are sweet as you like, but equipped to wound, and the 7”, fittingly, comes on pink vinyl – the colour of petals, and cadavers. (NM)
Honeyblood play Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Wed 30 Oct, with Poor Things.
John Knox Sex Club / Over The Wall - Animals/ Tell Her I Love Her (Split 7”)
(Gerry Loves Records) ●●●●
The congenial Edinburgh DIY label furthers its repute for flawless taste in Scottish pop (previous releases include Conquering Animal Sound, Adam Stafford and Rick Redbeard), and gorgeous physical artefacts (this one comes on mint-green vinyl). The split-single heralds welcome returns from art-rock deviants John Knox Sex Club with prowling midnight aria ‘Animals’, and electro-pop heartbreakers Over The Wall, whose exquisite tech-rock serenade, ‘Tell Her I Love Her’ is worth your coin alone. (NM)
Split single launch, Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 19 Oct.
Roman Nose - Long Live Our Friend the Revolver EP
(Badly Built) ●●●●
And so they return, these fathomless machine-beasts, tooled-up with churning industrial electro: all the better to soundtrack our nightmares. There is something deeply troubling, yet utterly compelling, about Glasgow’s Roman Nose, as first evinced on the excellent Youthclubbed EP, and further reconnoitred on Long Live The Revolver, which sees the masked trio invoke apocalyptic dread on ‘Coming For You’ and ‘The Bombers’, before throwing up the strobe lights for ‘Bra-in-i-ak’s Delia Derbyshire disco. (NM)
Roman Nose play Stereo, Glasgow, Thu 17 Oct, a ListLive night also featuring Marnie (Ladytron), Plum and Square K.
The Spook School - I’ll Be Honest
(Fortuna POP!) ●●●●
Edinburgh indie four-piece The Spook School are a loveable (post-) punk spirited rabble who explore gender, sexuality and identity via the medium of DIY party-pop. ‘I’ll Be Honest’ is the first single from the raucous collective’s ace debut album, Dress Up, and offers a wired introduction to the charms of Nye Todd, Adam Todd, Anna Cory and Niall McCamley – fierce riffage, rag-tag harmonies, bouncing rhythms and insatiable pop hooks. They are a joy. (NM)
The Spook School play the Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh, Fri 18 Oct and the Glad Cafe, Glasgow, Sat 19 Oct, supporting The Flatmates. Spook School album launch, Henry's Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Fri 11 Oct.
These New Puritans – ‘Organ Eternal’
These New Puritans have, over the past few years, undergone a significant transformation. One which has seen them evolve from post-punk revivalists to neo-classical art rockers. This, the second single from the band’s latest album Field of Reeds, is the victorious crescendo of this evolution. The single is led by a Reich-like conversation between piano and vibraphone, one which is enchanting and haunting in equal measures, between which the morose mutterings of vocalist Jack Barnett enter, in a similar vein to those of Thom Yorke. It moves seamlessly between transitions, mimicking the majestic yet ominous swelling and subsiding of a tide with strings, horns, piano and vocals all working together in perfected chaos. (AL)
Natasha Khan & Jon Hopkins – ‘Garden’s Heart’
In many ways this collaboration makes a lot of sense. Khan, under her solo moniker Bat for Lashes, has been creating arguably the best chamber pop of the past decade, but her emotional brutality and unrelentingly singular vision can at times muddle and convolute an otherwise powerful track. Here, what we have is essentially a Bat For Lashes track, but stripped away of all the superfluous carnage that often surrounds it, with Jon Hopkins honing in on smaller details; perfecting the production and instrumentation of what is a very memorable single. (AL)
Waxahatchee – ‘Misery Over Dispute’
The music scene of the past few years seems like it has been in constant homage to everything relating to the 1980s. So it’s quite refreshing to hear Waxahatchee’s 1990s-influenced fuzz bomb of an anthem. Sounding like a rough demo cut from Throwing Muses’ The Real Ramona, this track gets under the skin, demanding you replay it again and again, as you toast to your imagined, misspent youths as John Cusack or Winona Ryder. (AL)
Active Child – 'Rapor' EP
(Third Rock) ●●●
Active Child’s Pat Grossi was always going to make waves with his music. From his quaint choirboy background, his acute sense of melody and a penchant for a grand soaring chorus; he had it all. It wasn’t until his 2011 release You Are All I See that the music world stood up and took notice to a talent which many had been aware of for a few years. It was well deserved attention for a very elegant and assured debut.
Standing at 6 tracks and 23 minutes, 'Rapor' has room to breathe and gives time to showcase the new direction in which he is going. There is no doubting that this is substantially more pop-orientated than his previous sound. Second track ‘Subtle' is nothing like its title would suggest, sounding more like an early Justin Timberlake release than the dreamy soundscapes which we have become accustomed to from Active Child. It’s more harpless than hopeless though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it induces many a shameless guilty pleasure bedroom dance, a phenomenon which JT himself has built a renaissance on.
Once you acclimatise yourself to the changes made in Active Child’s sound, you begin to appreciate that he is still making lush, opulent dream pop nuggets. 'Rapor' does end on a high note, with Grossi regressing to his former self and finding a middle ground between the dream and the pop. ‘Evening Ceremony’ features the swoon-inducing chorus cry, ‘Even if I wanted to love you, would you love me’, showing that Grossi is at his best when he shows his fragility, and allows the purity of his music to showcase his talents.
This does however feel more like a transitional, feeler EP than a confident shifting of the tide and leaves us wondering whether he can ever produce something as striking as You Are All I See. (AL)