Music, Doug Johnstone

279 articles

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1 Oct 2009

Not even a coma can get in the way of rock 'n' roll

Rock’n’roll is peppered with hard luck stories, but few bands have had the rug pulled from under them quite like Scarce. In the mid-90s, the Rhode Island trio were on the cusp of great things – signed to A&M, critical acclaim, successful tours including…

Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll by John Harris

1 Oct 20093 stars

Pop miscellany from the former music mag hack

John Harris is best known these days as a face on Newsnight Review and a Guardian columnist, but this knockabout trawl through the world of musical myths and legends owes more to his days as an NME and Select magazine hack. More fun than the author’s…

Dizzee Heights - Dizzee Rascal interview

24 Sep 2009

Erstwhile underground sensation, critical darling and now serial chart-topper Dizzee Rascal, aka Dylan Mills, has just notched up three MOBO Award nominations to complement his three consecutive number one singles. Fame has not phased him, however, and…

Five reasons to go and see the Pixies

17 Sep 2009

1 Come on, do you really need this one spelled out? It’s The Pixies, man, alternative rock legends who formed in Boston in 1986 and split in 1993, leaving five studio albums which became hugely influential on shaping music for the next 20 years. 2…

The Leg - What Happened to the Shrunken Tina Turner

17 Sep 20092 stars

Edinburgh-based arthouse indie maverick Dan Mutch has provided flickers of genius in previous bands Khaya and Desc, but latest incarnation The Leg is wilfully obscure to vanishing point. Compared to their recent inventive collaboration with Dawn of the…

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Strike the Colours - Seven Roads

16 Sep 20094 stars

(Deadlight Records) Jenny Reeve is a well-kent face in Scottish indie circles, having worked with Idlewild, Malcolm Middleton and The Reindeer Section in the past. This second album from her current project is a subtle and considered affair, a…

Circle of friends: Dot Allison

3 Sep 2009

The muse-for-hire finds her own voice

There can be few better kept secrets in music than Dot Allison. The Edinburgh-born singer songwriter has been involved in exciting new music for over fifteen years, collaborating with all kinds of different artists as well as producing four acclaimed…

Four reasons to go see: Gang of Four

3 Sep 2009

Post-punk, political legends come to Edinburgh

1 They’re post-punk legends Widely regarded as one of the leading lights of the post-punk movement which emerged in the late 70s, the Leeds foursome mixed the visceral energy of punk with elements of disco, funk, dub and reggae before anyone else…

J Tillman - Year in the Kingdom

3 Sep 20093 stars

Unknown to most, current Fleet Foxes drummer J Tillman is a prolific singer-songwriter in his own right, and this sixth solo outing is a companionable jaunt through a similar alt.folk hinterland to his day job. With fragile banjo, tremulous dulcimer…

Part Chimp - Thriller

3 Sep 20094 stars

Imagine a supernova collapsing into a super-gravitational black hole, sucking in whole star systems, then eating pies and doughnuts for all eternity, and that still wouldn’t be as heavy as Part Chimp. This third album from the London…

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Singles and downloads

21 Aug 2009

Your tunes for the week

Sugababes are sexy and, bless ‘em, they want us to be sexy too, so they’re imploring us to ‘Get Sexy’ (Island) ●●. Strange, then, with all that sexy-talk in the air, the single should be an insipid rehashing of that deeply unsexy Right Said Fred song…

Money Can't Buy Music - The Universe For Beginners

21 Aug 20093 stars

Sweet and poignant

(Pony Proof) Annoyingly precious band name aside, this is a sweet and poignant little side project from Gordon McIntyre of Ballboy, this time collaborating with Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist Maja Mangard. There’s no great departure from…

Yo La Tango - Popular Songs

21 Aug 20093 stars

Indie stalwarts return

(Matador) There was a time when a new offering from Yo La Tengo was reason to rejoice, but these days the Hoboken indie veterans seem to be distinctly treading water, slowly refining and reworking their past sound without creating anything too…

5 reasons to go and see: Fleet Foxes

20 Aug 2009

1 They’re fleet You should see the five band members in their tracksuits, doing the hundred yard dash. Actually, the distinctly un-athletic looking band from the Seattle suburbs look as if they couldn’t walk up a hill slowly without reaching for the…

Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend

16 Aug 20093 stars

(Echo) After a four-year sojourn as right-hand man to pal Jack White in The Raconteurs, Detroit singer-songwriter Brendan Benson here returns to the day job, creating pristine and boisterous guitar pop influenced by The Cars and The Kinks. This fourth…

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Joint Effort: Soulsavers and Mark Lanegan

14 Aug 2009

The blues man joins forces with the electronica outfit

Gravelly voice-for-hire Mark Lanegan loves a good collaboration, from Isobel Campbell to Queens of the Stone Age to fellow grunge veteran Greg Dulli, but how did he come to be singing with English production and remix duo Soulsavers? ‘I’ve been a big…

Singles and Downloads

14 Aug 2009

The good and less good of what's out this week

Art Brut - ‘DC Comics & Chocolate Milkshakes’, Eric Hassle - ‘Don’t Bring Flowers’, Jack Penate - ‘Pull My Heart Away’, Lily Allen - ‘22’, Biffy Clyro ‘That Golden Rule’

5 Reasons to go see: Bill Callahan

14 Aug 2009

The American alt-rocker plays Stereo in Glasgow. Here's why you should see him.

Faith No More

13 Aug 2009

They were true rock subversives and are back to blow our minds.

It’s almost impossible these days to imagine just how bad things were, but rock music was a fucking embarrassment in the early 80s. The collapse of the dinosaur rock behemoths of the previous decade into hopelessly bloated, overblown, self-important…

5 reasons to go see: The Telescopes

6 Aug 2009

1. It’s a trip down memory lane. Formed in 1987 by frontman Stephen Lawrie, these wall-of-sound shoegazing-cum-baggy space-rock pioneers are the forgotten sons of 1990s indie. But forgotten no more! Cos they’re playing this gig, likes. 2. You get…

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Singles and Downloads

6 Aug 2009

Much touted at the start of the year, Little Boots’ takeover of planet pop hasn’t quite materialised, and ‘Remedy’ (679) won’t change that. A decent enough pop strut with obligatory chunky synths and singalong chorus, it lacks the personality of her…

5 reasons to go and see: Tartan Heart Festival - Belladrum 2009

29 Jul 2009

1: The best new music in Scotland. Now in its sixth year, this perfectly formed Highland shindig outside Inverness has always been a champion of new Scottish music. This year is no exception, with The Phantom Band, Dananananakroyd, Unicorn Kid, St…

Singles and downloads

29 Jul 2009

Virtually no one releases good singles in August. The charts are full of summer pap while decent acts are up to their knees in festival mud. So hello, Dolores ‘The Cranberries’ O’Riordan, whose ‘The Journey’ (Cooking Vinyl) is utterly anaemic, dreary…

Cornershop - Judy Sucks a Lemon For Breakfast

23 Jul 20092 stars

It’s been seven years since Cornershop’s last outing, and they’ve clearly spent that time being happy, but not necessarily getting inspired. Judy Sucks a Lemon … is upbeat, sunny, summery fare, but almost pathologically derivative of 60s rock, pop, soul…

Gareth Sager - Slack Slack Music

23 Jul 20093 stars

This is aptly named, because this debut solo album from a founder member of post-punk legends The Pop Group is an unhinged, ramshackle affair, with scattershot tactics producing moments of grin-inducing wonder and cringeworthy dreadfulness in equal…