Best new Scottish music for December
- David Pollock
- 9 December 2016
December's new gigs and albums include festive offerings from Kid Canaveral, Roddy Woomble and Song, by Toad
The usual change of seasonal gears arrives this month, when artists stop releasing albums for a moment and get on with putting on Christmas parties instead. In Edinburgh, there are loads of them; we recommend the customary Kid Canaveral's Xmas Baubles VII, with a thus-far secret line-up which is probably heavy with Lost Map labelmates, if you have any way of getting into the sold-out bash. Beg, borrow, blag… don't steal, though. Come on.
If that doesn't work, we'd highly recommend Home for the Holidays, a compilation of original Christmas songs released as a download and a book of music, all performed at Summerhall over two nights. It's being coordinated by eagleowl, The Book Group and the venue's Nothing Ever Happens Here strand, with Withered Hand, ballboy and the newly reconstituted Meursault among those playing. Or on the same weekend, Idlewild frontman Roddy Woomble does his best Jools Holland impression (but not musically, we hope) with his Christmas Hootenanny.
Woomble will be taking the show to Stirling, Edinburgh and Glasgow's Hug and Pint, while the same venue features a very intimate show from an international local success, as Paws take over the basement, and a strong local line-up presented by Scottish Fiction featuring Beerjacket, Bella the Bear and Laurence Made Me Cry. Woomble and his Idlewild bandmate Rod Jones will also be appearing at Nice 'n' Sleazy on Sun 18 Dec for a special acoustic set in honour of the venue's 25 Years of Sleaze celebrations, as will Alasdair Roberts.
Elsewhere in Glasgow, we suspect if you're reading this you'll probably know all about the big, celebratory end-of-year homecoming shows happening at the Barrowlands, but if you need a reminder they involve Twin Atlantic, Frightened Rabbit and Fatherson. Anyone wanting to collect the set of sizeable mainstream, main stage jockrock ambassadors will also want to head to Edinburgh to catch the only Scottish shows of 2016 by Paolo Nutini, who's in Princes Street Gardens on Hogmanay and the Night Afore (artists including Fatherson and Be Charlotte will also be at the former).
Finally, at the other end of the scale from those who have already broken through to the nation's biggest stages, talk of the T Break Sessions 2016 gets us wondering what's going to happen to Scotland's premier chuck-em-all-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks talent contest now that T in the Park won't be around to give bands a chance to play next year. In the meantime, enjoy the best of this year's bunch with a trio of three-bands-and-a-DJ shows headlined by Domiciles, Mt Doubt and The Vegan Leather. Bis side project Batteries play Tut's, while you can also see Mt Doubt at Electric Circus, Edinburgh.
For anyone who's feeling hibernatory this month, meanwhile, there is some new music out there. The key release we'd point you towards is El Hombre Trajeado's new record on Chemikal Underground, which has already been reviewed on these pages, and there's also a new EP from Edinburgh's Callum Easter entitled Get Don't Want; the lead track 'Feelings Gone' (Soulpunk, ●●●●) is striking and memorable, an insistent electro-blues mantra which worms its way into the soul.
Glasgow quartet BooHooHoo are a whole load of fun, an archly referential outfit whose DebutHooHoo EP (Last Night From Glasgow, ●●●) takes its cues from Prince and Chic-era Duran Duran, albeit without quite so much effortless otherworldly swagger. Oddly the lead song 'Now is the Season', a pound-shop take on Franz Ferdinand, is weaker than the hook-laden 'Dreams Tonight' and 'Mould Me', yet these songs are all easy to love.
The collective It Is Something to Have Been EP (Olive Grove, ●●●●) features four beautiful, wintery tracks from Jo Mango, State Broadcasters, The Son(s) and Call to Mind, maintaining a rustic thread which calls to mind Neil Young at his most acoustic, albeit with a fizzing psych edge in the latter track's case. The same label are also about to release the delicate, folksy indie-pop of Free Me From the Howl (Olive Grove, ●●●) by Croy's Campfires in Winter, a pleasing taster for the forthcoming debut album Ischaemia.
Finally, there's no way we're letting 'Yippee Kay Yule!' (Song, By Toad, ●●●●) slip by. A charity double A-side released as a download on a snow globe featuring a Lego John McClane, it pays affectionate tribute to that delightful seasonal classic movie, Die Hard. Eagleowl's 'Let's Save Christmas (The Ballad of Nakatomi Plaza)' pays reservedly anthemic tribute to Bruce Willis' terrorist-nailing hero, while Jonnie Common's 'Yippee-Ki-Yay Father Christmas' essentially recounts the plot of the film, with added emphasis on the joys of 'making fists with your toes' on the carpet. A cover of Vaughn Monroe's version of 'Let It Snow!' is, sadly, nowhere to be heard.