New music: Alun Woodward, Aidan Moffat and Happy Meals
We round-up the latest must-buy Scottish albums, singles and EPs
Hot on the heels of Emma Pollock returning with a career-high new album earlier this year, another key part of the Delgados / Chemikal Underground axis returns with only his second album since the band’s split 11 years ago. Music from Battle Mountain (●●●●) by Alun Woodward is a very specific project, and one which continues the cycling theme established in the Delgados’ name: it’s the soundtrack to David Street’s new documentary about cyclist Graeme Obree and it’s an unassumingly intense experience. Much of the record is therapeutically instrumental, from the sustained organ note which powers most of ‘Black Box’ to the frosty Germanic electronica of ‘Slide’ and soothing oscillations of ‘Watership Graeme’, with Woodward only making his vocal presence felt on the fuzzy closer ‘Come on Nevada’ and the deliciously fragile, Mercury Rev-evoking ‘I Was the King’.
Aidan Moffat’s Where You’re Meant to Be (●●●●●), meanwhile, is potentially the masterpiece of an already-strong career. This is the soundtrack to Paul Fegan’s filmed document of Moffat’s road-trip exploration of Scottish traditional song, with added lyrical updating in the typically blunt-edged style of the former Arab Strap vocalist. Ambling on his gruff, joking demeanour, there’s something of a Billy Connolly feel to the live recording and Moffat’s droll links. It’s genuinely funny, even when it falls into Derek & Clive crudity during orgy travelogue ‘The Ball of Kirriemuir’, yet there's also sharp political observation (on moralising hypocrisy in ‘Ode to O’Brien et al’ and modern soldiering in ‘Jock McGraw’) and tenderly boozy sentimentality amidst ‘The City Tonight’ and ‘The Parting Song’.
Moffat also features on ‘Words of Art’, a song on Yorkshire maverick David Thomas Broughton's Crippling Lack Vol 1 (●●●●), the first of a triple vinyl set released on three labels in three countries – the first based in Edinburgh – and in consecutive months. The first whets the appetite, a reserved stream of rich, folksy acoustica set alongside Broughton’s sonorously elemental vocals, with the ambition of the project mesmerising. Finally, we have the lithe, elemental house grooves of Glasgow’s Happy Meals on their EP Fruit Juice (●●●●) and Edinburgh’s grizzled young rockers Man of Moon with their own EP, the incessantly catchy Medicine (●●●).
Music from Battle Mountain by Alun Woodward, Chemikal Underground, Fri 8 Apr; Where You’re Meant to Be by Aidan Moffat, Rock Action, out now; Crippling Lack Vol 1 by David Thomas Broughton, Song, By Toad Records, out now; The Fruit Juice EP by Happy Meals, Night School, Fri 13 May; The Medicine EP by Man of Moon, Melodic, Fri 6 May.