Tuff Love/ Miracle Strip/ The Pictish Trail - Henry's Cellar, Edinburgh, Thu 13 Mar 2014
Lost Map's Johnny Lynch presides over a night of infectious pop joy
This article is from 2014.
In a venue not dissimilar to the hull of a sunken ship, Johnny Lynch has every reason to be happy. Not only has he smoothly steered through the first six months of running his new record label, Lost Map and handed over his own solo material to be released on London's Moshi Moshi Records, tonight's appearance also has him open for two of his current favourite groups (who also happen to be pals): Miracle Strip and Tuff Love, the latter act creating more buzz than a bagful of bees.
Through a beam of light, Lynch – aka The Pictish Trail – lubricates the evening with a strange mixture of licentious, loopy and lupine charm (surfacing are odd sexual advances, odder country guitar bursts and scattered wolf howls).
Lynch is releasing Tuff Love's debut EP on Lost Map later this year, and his reasons for wanting the two-girl, one boy trio on his roster becomes obvious after hearing it. 'Junk' casts up Kim Deal's duo The Breeders and The Amps without ever feeling overly nostalgic for the era. While slightly serrated (attributed to 'too many ciders'), Tuff Love's set has plenty wistfulness, with Julie Eisenstein's silken vocals spun through infectious pop hooks (most notably 'Poncho' and 'Copper'), as if worrisome issues have been pleasantly overthrown by a sugar-induced reverie.
On the basis of their debut double-A single, Glasgow trio Miracle Strip don't so much pay homage to the early 80s as douse themselves in synth-pop and self-immolate in reverence. However, they're a delightful and synergetic cross-pollination between old and new; lines such as, 'flames spew through broken grass/ to ruin the perfect horizon' have shades of Crystal Stilts, and even techno beats get a brief nod.
'Girl Gang's oscillating synth entrance tips its hat to Animal Collective's 'My Girls', though is kept in check by owlish frontman Fergus Christie Jack's low-slung delivery (if it were any lower Jack would have to start pulling socks over his vocals chords, it being a brilliant blend of Why?'s Yoni Wolf and the drawl of Neil Hannon).
Lyrically, they're a reminder that fatalism can also yield colourful flourishes; midway through Jack hauls out the apathetic, 'Why stay alone when it's easier with you,' echoing claims that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. While most would testify that being on the receiving end of that type of tough love isn't exactly exhilarating, there's another that most definitely is.
Tuff Love will play at the Hidden Door Festival, East Market Street Vaults, Edinburgh on Mon 31 Mar, with Randolph's Leap, Kid Canaveral and Pictish Trail (DJ set); and as part of Wide Days showcase, various venues, Edinburgh, Thu 10 Apr. The debut EP 'Junk' will be released on 10" white vinyl on Mon 5 May, with a late-night launch event at The Old Hairdresser's, Glasgow on Fri 2 May.
Miracle Strip headline the Roxy 171, Glasgow, with Citizen Bravo, Thank You So Nice (& Intensively Reared DJs), Fri 4 Apr.
Moshi Moshi will release The Pictish Trail's first two albums, Secret Soundz Vol 1 & 2, as a double album, out on Mon 9 Jun.