#16 | The Gracious Losers – Celtic Connections 2019

the gracious losers


Leading up to the event, a special secret guest was hyped up, and it turned out to be Mark W Georgsson who, truthfully speaking, we had never actually listened to beforehand, but we’re always eager for new discoveries, and he was a worthwhile one for sure.

The venue instantly quieted down as Mark got started with a set that had the nature of a stripped, acoustic one but done on the electric guitar. On that note, he was a very sophisticated player who was quite adept on his instrument. He was a terrific vocalist as well, being able to convey some genuine raw emotion, plus he was a first-rate whistler too.

He told gripping stories through lyrics that had us and everyone else wholly immersed. The crowd remained silent as he played – amazingly, a very rare sight at local gigs – only raising their voices to cheer and show their appreciation between his songs.

It was excellent stuff from a talented guy who is from far as fake as it gets. A secret guest who was rightfully special, indeed.


On the other side of the spectrum, we were really acquainted with dream pop troupe L-Space. They begun with the nice I Never Knew, but things went south during Home Sweet Home, where the pedals didn’t co-operate and proceeded to deafen everybody with bitter screeches, but Stephen saved the day and it was smooth sailing from there.

For our money, Lily has one of the most purely delicate and beautiful voices in the entire scene, and it’s all the more apparent when you see her on stage. She’s so hypnotic to watch, and it’s further emphasised by just how much she herself gets engrossed in the moment.

Dickson’s subtle bass chords boosted the ambience, and Gordon, while under the delusion that he was a comedian, was a capable multi-tasker and provided both great riffs and spacey synths.

One of their notable strengths is the intriguing subject matters that they tackle, through the likes of Tigers In The StreetEyes Shut and the superb Space Junk, all defined by engaging writing, and their rendition of Bjork’s All You Need Is Love was stunning.

Luckily, the audience were totally understanding about the issues and gave them no slack, instead giving them their utmost attention. A shaky start killed the mood at first, but gradually they recovered and gave us yet another real fine performance with diverse material equally poppy and atmospheric.


And now to close off the gig was country outfit The Gracious Losers, who had quite the challenge trying to get squeezed onto the tiny stage, but they accommodated.

Their strongest attribute for certain was their chemistry; every single member put in a resolute effort, and you never got the impression that any were slacking or falling behind, they functioned like a well-oiled machine.

In the process of this, they gave us these fantastic tunes of many varieties. There were a mixture with sweeping, upbeat melodies so catchy that you couldn’t help but nod along – you could visibly see silhouettes in the dark doing exactly that – but also a fair share of slow, hushed numbers that were fiercely magnetic, and even those that started quietly and built up to awe-inspiring conclusions.

The tracks had too many elements to count – an excellent leading performance, polished guitar chords, smooth basslines and keys, solid drum beats, eloquent violins and outstanding ensemble harmonies – all fused together to produce these grand soundscapes, with our personal highlights including Where The River Meets The SeaMoonlight Parade and the reeling I Can Never Read The Signs.

Topped off with Carol Vorderman-inspired comedy, this was a wildly entertaining, better than expected show from a bunch of very accomplished musicians who are united as, in our mind anyway, one of the elite underground Scottish acts of their genre.

#15 | Walt Disco – King Tuts #KTNYR19

ktnyr19


Before getting to the names that we had an awareness of, there were a pair of newcomers for us to discover. First was the Edinburgh pop duo of Chuchoter, and they made an impression swiftly with a line of bouncy, infectiously melodic songs.

Emily had plenty of poise and her voice was just spilling with a biting attitude that helped to give the material that extra touch of personality. Meanwhile, the permanently smiling Owen provided the spiffing electronics via the synths and laptop, which included some catchy as hell beats and a few tasty bass drops scattered here and there.

In particular, their new track and Pieces were freaking sweet, and also contained some enjoyably poignant lyrics. The fast-filling (anti-Deezer) crowd responded with woo’s and a surge of dancing.

Both loose and evidently having fun in the process, the two turned in a pleasing performance that got the night rolling in juicy fashion.


Bubbatrees is a name that has cropped up a tonne in our feeds lately, and they’ve definitely been gaining their fair share of traction.

Andy, in addition to having the loudest possible shirt on, was a good vocalist and a really fluent guitarist, Kyle was slick on the bass, and Martin’s drumming was superbly tight. Their tunes were driven by compelling rhythms that were a mix of being smooth and sleek – a quality elevated by the keys – yet also generating an energy with a punch of excitement to it.

The now densely jam-packed audience were sucked in and bobbing their heads along every chance they got, and the boys definitely sparked a shot of life into the room when they played their latest single, the almighty Dog In Heat, resulting in a lot of movement and stamping that had the floor shaking around us.

The trio did an excellent job, and in doing so taking the buzz levels of the night up a few notches.


Of all the acts featured in the festival, there were none that we were more excited for than Crystal, being naturally big fans of them, plus it had been nearly 2 years since we last saw the group at a show.

They came on to chants of their name before bursting out the gates with the pairing of Heaven and Sugar Sweet, both featuring intoxicating hooks, and the latter sparking a sudden mosh.

Anna is among the elite when it comes to frontwomen in the Scottish scene, with such a striking voice that blended sparkly glamour with a ruthless aggression, and she displayed an immense amount of confidence and an unbelievable display of charisma, on and (subsequently) off the stage. We even overheard from behind us “she’s so cute”, so obviously she was making some kind of mark.

Blair handled the banter and busted out with bucket loads of cool riffs, the underrated Lizzie got a chance to shine with gleaming harmonies and charging basslines, and the eventually topless Aidan was a mental and forcible drummer.

Take A Drop (which we were secretly hoping would make the setlist) went down a storm, getting bodies bouncing everywhere and an ensemble of singing along, and Sex Rich ignited the most bonkers climax ever with everybody losing their minds, screaming the lyrics and flying around the place.

We’re going to throw the little professional integrity we have out the window for a moment to say that this was plain f***ing awesome. The quartet brought their A-games and gave what was an easy choice for best set of the entire NYR series, perhaps even the best of the year so far in general.

An immense, flawless performance that garnered the most blistering of reactions and proved that Crystal deserve to move on to bigger things, and it’d take a hell of a case to argue against that.


And last but certainly not least, the main event – the swiftly rising Walt Disco. We initially had some reservations about whether they would have been able to follow what just transpired with Crystal, but luckily those fears were shattered in no time flat.

Equipped with deep and distinctive vocals, James is one of the most interesting frontmen in the whole country. He has this oddball, yet captivating theatrical character to him that was only amplified by his weird, flexible movements, and it was this flamboyance emanating from them that made for one reason to have us totally drawn in for the whole ride.

Carrying their new-wave songs were these springing rhythms that were engaging and also unpredictable, constantly shifting tones on a dime, and these were formed from amazing addictive synths, flashy guitar work, pumping bass chords and zippy drumming.

Some of the most memorable picks included My Pop SensibilitiesCut Your Hair and the absolutely blinding Velvet Bed, with some sexy sax thrown in for measure, and Anna from Crystal returned to help cap their run off in glorious fashion.

A colourful and dynamic display which cemented the hype preceding Walt Disco, while concluding a night that confirmed just how bright the future of Scottish music is.

 

#14 | Heir Of The Cursed – Celtic Connections 2019

heir


Robin Adams had the task of warming up the sold out Hug & Pint crowd from the biting cold snow outside, and we feel that he succeeded in that regard.

Quiet and mysterious, and possibly named Simon in actuality, his vocals were smooth and he was a sterling guitarist, and he was joined by his two partners; David plucked out some nice chords on the double bass that contributed to the beats that were often gentle but sometimes toe-tappingly catchy, while Amanda supplied sparkling backing harmonies and was handy with a saw too.

The songs on offer didn’t usually have the brightest subject matters, in fact a couple leaned towards being straight up dark, but he had us all hooked regardless with such gripping writing, with The Beggar being our personal highlight for it’s raw emotional value.

With responses from the “real rowdy audience” ranging from respectable applause to “f***ing perfect”, this was an enjoyable display from a humble hairy bloke with great talent.

 


Up next was Tamu Massif journeying from Bristol, who spiked our curiosity quickly as he got a projector and screen set up, not the most common of sights at local gigs, and it was utilised to show us a montage of clips from his hometown, among other things.

As for the music itself, he gave us some intriguing experimental electronic pop pieces with a range of tones, most being built upon multiple rich layers of overdubs and several instruments such as a keypad, pedals and the guitar, the latter of which he used to pick out some sublimely melodic riffs, and he also had a fine voice at his disposal.

The content spanned his EPs and forthcoming debut album (being released on “Brexit Day, yaaay…”), and there was some interesting banter between the tracks, including Tamu’s animosity towards his little brother for judging his artistic decisions, but the most memorable part of the set came in the final number when he sparked a brief wave of sing-song from some of the audience.

Different, but satisfying so, this was a well done performance from a genuinely charming chap who we hope can make the trek up to Glasgow another day soon.

 

 


We first saw Beldina, aka Heir Of The Cursed, a couple of years ago supporting Fenella at the small 13th Note, and she made an infinite impact on us. Just a few months back, we got to see her again at Saint Lukes, where she flourished within a grand setting. And now for the third occasion, we were witnessing her at another totsy venue, but you know what, this is the environment in which she shines best.

The contained, intimate setting really helped to boost the supremely hypnotic atmosphere instantly kindled, which never died at any point over the whole hour. Beldina also politely asked for the disco ball to be used, and it gave the set that nice extra touch to further enhance the mood.

Every single one of her numbers, without fail, gave us legitimate goosebumps and sent tingles shooting across the body. Likewise, she had this total grasp over all the folk in the room, who were completely silent in awe to a point where it was almost eerie. Her voice was so beautiful and graceful, her guitar chords mesmerising and the lyrics utterly pulling. On top of all that, she had a hell of a sense of humour, and in the breaks she entertained us with hilarious chat.

We don’t think it would be too big a stretch to rate Beldina a perfect score here, as she proved herself to be one of the Scottish scene’s most magnetic stars; a one-of-a-kind individual who engrossed us with one of the most stunning, captivating experiences we have been part of in recent memory.

We were glad to have battled through the harsh weather winter to come to this, for it was – and Beldina will either love or hate us for using this particular sentiment – a “never ending banquet of delight”. Rest in peace, Barry White.

 

 

#13 | Facendo Cose – King Tuts #KTNYR19

ktnyr19


As we’ve made clear over the course of reviewing the festival, the most rewarding part has been discovering a plethora of good local talent; a class that Mother Focus easily fell into.

Jamie-Leigh was a fabulous singer, and burst out with this lively, chipper enthusiasm that only got us the more engaged. Key player AJ was on the ball and animated as all hell, the dual guitars from Jake and Daniel were great, and we got spiking bass chords and popping drums from Aaron and Ally.

Their performances helped bring to life some infectiously bubbly tunes with sweet melodies and an irresistible energy, and every one without fail gave us the urge to boogie, especially Meet Me On The Dancefloor, which is still practically stuck in our head as we write this.

Now THAT is how you open a show. It was a superb display from a merry act who cared enough to put so much effort into what they did in order to make the people’s money’s worth. It certainly was worth our cash, we can tell you that.


Falkirk quartet Rubian caught our attention a few months prior with their fine debut single Start Again, and they’ve been quickly picking up fans as of late, evident by the fact that they sold out their ticket allocation beforehand.

Naturally, a big crowd arrived for them as they entered to a dark intro before proceeding with Follow Me, with other highlights that stuck out including Back Home, Cinnamon and the incredibly bouncy Summer Nights. They didn’t quite generate the same buzz as Mother Focus, but instead they had this drawing power of a different kind.

They acted with a professional approach and worked as a stably refined unit through and through, delivering on an equal level in their respective areas. Cheryl was a pure and elegant vocalist, the riffs from Niall were sleek and the rhythms created by Tom and Ryan were utterly smooth.

While we felt they didn’t fully come out of their shells at times, they were nonetheless focused, and the result of that was a very good set that firmly held our attention from end to end.


Just like Mother Focus before them, The Reason from Airdrie were fresh faces to us, and just like Mother Focus, they impressed. They promised us a “shindig-a-roonie”, and that’s exactly what we got. The tracks were fast, frantic and energetic through the verses and got properly, delightfully jumping at the choruses.

There was no holding back here, as they were determined to bring the fun, especially frontman Martin who, on top of being capable on vocals and guitar, was a ball of fire, and when they punched it up to the nth degree, he was totally sucked into the madness. He was joined by Chris and his solid riffs, strong bass work courtesy of Bruce, and snappy drum beats from Cammy in his final gig with the group, in full view of his mum.

They fired up the classic HWFG chants, and there were raucous cheers and yelling spanning the room. One overly long tuneup towards the end put a dent on the momentum, but it was reignited as Martin and Bruce leapt off into the crowd – putting fear into the hearts of the security – and rode that wave to a rollicking finish.

A superb showing from the four that got a party on the go which was, on the whole, pretty damn entertaining.

 

 


The headlining Facendo Cose hooked us in as fans when they released their Pilot EP – which gets better with each listen, incidentally – and now they just had to convince us of their talents in a live scenario.

The outfit delivered this mixture of sublime vocals with an old school touch to it, totally enthralling, slickly played guitar solos, awfully enticing bass chords and snazzy drum sequences.

At their disposal was a line-up of cracking numbers with lyrics that clicked and such captivating, swinging rhythms that had the audience drawn in; any folk that could resist to not even slightly bob their head, tap their foot or budge their hips along must have had some immense willpower.

The top picks included China Town FlatHang Around and Castle Douglas. They even established a mass singalong with the crowd for My KOperator sparked a venue-wide dance craze, and they nailed their cover of American Boy…in fact, we may have found it superior to the original.

Capping off with Try It On, this was a bloody excellent and magnetic set that ticked all the right boxes and left us craving even more after it was done. One of the major highlights of the 2019 NYR, hands down.

The Frontiers – King Tuts #KTNYR19 | SMALL GOES GIGGING

ktnyr19


Vemodalen would be getting the night started, and we knew that these guys were capable when it comes to a live situation, having impressed us in the past, and it was a similar (if not even better) story here.

Clearly we were not the only fans of them, for they had a pretty sizable crowd on hand as they got rolling, which visibly had a positive influence on their playing and helped elevate it to another degree.

A doubly great vocalist and bassist, Ewan was poised and full of beans, and he alone brought a dose of life. The cool and collected Michael was a class guitarist, and David – donning the cutest wee vest – was a real force on the kit.

The chemistry between the three was blatantly obvious, and their mix of old and new tracks happened to be damn good too, with a blend of strength and addictive fervent energies to them simultaneously, and that rubbed off on the folk watching them, especially those two guys at the front going all in and nearly stomping the floor to a pulp.

So wow, Vemodalen were even better than we remembered. A blinding, possibly show-stealing set from a tight trio who deserved to be higher than the warm-up slot, truthfully speaking.

Let’s hope that this is the year that more people begin to realise what they are made of, pushing them beyond one of Glasgow’s best kept secrets. #FreeHatRecords2019


So a high standard was established, and now it was onto the newcomers for us as Human Renegade were up second and raring to go in no time flat.

While they couldn’t rekindle the fire that Vemodalen brought – a tough task, to be fair – they were pretty decent. They gave us nice vocals that certainly shined in a few spots throughout, the melodies were more or less solid and they were consistently unified, despite a few slips. Also to their credit, they secured quite a big crowd, and though most were dead still outside of light nodding, the majority gave the four their full attention.

Fine for what it was, but they were definitely lacking a spark to get us properly invested, and they never seemed to be fully into it, while not offering much to make them stick out from the rest of the acts that we have seen through the festival. Not bad by any means, but improvement is needed or they’ll be going nowhere fast.


On a side note, the poor girl next to us had her drink accidentally knocked out of her hand by the sound guy. Silly Billy. He did pay to get her another though, so at the very least a classy Silly Billy.


We noticed a lot of people talking about ZOLA on the run up to the night, usually in a positive light, so we were certainly curious.

Nicholas, unhappy at the empty void in front of them, asked for everybody to step forward, which they did, and encouraged a good time despite it being in the middle of the week and actively advocated for it all the way through, to which one dude responded with a giddy-up on his friend’s shoulders, so bonus interaction points achieved.

Speaking of Nicholas, he bore a cool voice, and together he and Kian were on top form riff-wise. Their tunes featured some resounding rhythms that had a pulse running behind them – delivered through blunt bass tones courtesy of Billy and cracking drum beats from the gloriously bearded Rhys – with the personal highlights for us being the infectious More and the hooking Fire, which was honestly stuck in our head for a while after.

Although probably not at their full potential here, it was nonetheless an engaging and entertaining showing that restored our buzz and gave us enough reason to check out these guys again, whenever that may be.


The Frontiers were the final headliners of the 2019 NYR that we were completely blind to, having not heard a single thing about them online or the like. They were sure as hell eager to get going, because they got off to the most premature of starts that left a look of bewilderment on the face of the engineer.

From there they were practically non-stop, firing fast from tune to tune with no time for pause. The numbers themselves were more often than not seriously catchy – Wake Up was particularly a belter – the choruses made a mark, and the writing was decent too.

The leading man Keir was an excellent vocalist, with a definite avid punch behind his singing, Ross’ guitar work was mighty fine and some superb solos were cranked out here and there, and the rhythm section of Dylan and James were in solid shape.

Since they left little room for breaks, the boys rode off a continuously driving momentum and sustained a fun energy that held our interest from beginning to end, with our attention never wavering.

It’s a shame a bulk of folk left before they finished, because we think they missed out. A great introduction to a great quartet. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for their debut single…

 

Deni Smith – King Tuts #KTNYR19 | SMALL GOES GIGGING

ktnyr19


PHOTOS: Sean Francis


Opening up the night was the first of 2 on the bill who were brand new to us, that being Keir Gibson from Fort William, so there were no expectations coming in, but the final result was one of the biggest surprises of the NYR so far.

Supplying original material like his own “soppy song” Wasting My Love, the engrossing Column and the magnetic For Me, he showcased one of the most pure, raw voices that we have heard over the course of this entire festival, being sharp and powerful, particularly as he moved into the choruses, plus the writing was fantastic and just flooded out with genuine emotion.

He used a bass drum pedal to provide beats which had us tapping our toes, while his friend played some nice keys that helped contributed to the melodies.

It was Keir’s official debut at Tuts, and notably the first time some of his family got to see him in action, and even when a little jittery, he battled through the nerves to deliver a significant set that personally had us taken aback, receiving unanimously positive feedback from relatives and strangers alike, and earning a hell of an ovation upon his exit.

Anyone seeking a worthwhile discovery and who happens to come across Keir, do not pass him up.


Riley, aka Niamh Dobie, flew into our radar quite recently and it didn’t take much for her to strike a chord with us, as she has with others as of late, and the evidence as to why that is was demonstrated on this very night.

deni - riley 001

She looked and sounded a star. Her harmonies were sweet, and she was also loose and quite expressive, a trait so often taken for granted, as it makes for a more engaging performance, as proven here.

deni - riley 002

Between the likes of the romantic Slow Burning Heart, the New York-themed High Line and the lyrically inspiring Shine, all of her country/pop-influenced songs were brought to life via the great rhythms produced by her really fine backing band, which included her dad as stand-in bassist and Timmy, known best to us from Awkward Family Portraits, who for our money easily ranks as one of the city’s most natural guitarists.

deni - riley 003

An utterly charming performance that effortlessly had an abundance of people in attendance sucked in from end to end, ourselves included, and this came courtesy of a promising individual who left us with a smile.


Matt Spicer was the other act fresh to us, but we had heard on good authority about what the guy had to bring to the table, and those sentiments turned out to ring true here.

He was a sensational singer with extensive vocal capabilities, and a multi-talented fella too as he displayed both slick riffs and crisp acoustics where necessary.

deni - matt

The sound of his content sparked this gleaming atmosphere that had an embracing drawing power, carried forth by the wavy melodies, and these elements were elevated by his fellow musicians, who provided stunning cello work, warm keys and flowing rhythms.

His new track Tired had us reeled in, and he nailed his cover of Coldplay’s Trouble too, so he might have converted a few of their detractors to the side of fandom.

It was overall stimulating stuff from a guy who certainly lived up to his praises, and we leave you with an important lesson that he shared – “we’ll all be dead in 70 years, so who cares?”


After following her for a number of years across social media, it was now time to finally see Dunfermline’s Deni Smith live for the first time on stage. The room was packed and eager as she got ready, and once she did get going, she instantly made an impression.

deni001

For starters, what a voice. No seriously, what a voice! Her vocals were tremendous and indescribably radiant, plus she was a fluent guitarist and a writer of wonderful lyrics at that. Deni was purely organic and fully confident, with absolutely no etch of ego lying underneath.

deni002

She had a knack for crowd control too, and speaking of which, the people did not hide their feelings towards her in the slightest. They were just in love and answered with deafening cheers, stomps and dancing.

She was joined by “the good guys”, comprising of George and his neat bass lines, Chris and his properly solid drumming, and the returning Tim, who was doing double duty following his appearance in Riley’s entourage, and he shined once again. As a tight unit, they formed some incredibly melodic and catchy pieces that grabbed us without fail, and it has to be said that Deni’s rendition of Turn Me On was beautifully flawless.

deni003

It was all so good, and we would honestly have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for anything negative to say, but we couldn’t muster anything. This was simply unbelievable, and will go down as one of the most, if not THE most, pivotal and definitive highlights of the 2019 festival.

deni004

What an experience to be involved in; one that left us with a heck of a buzz as we left the building. Deni is in dire need of wider public exposure sooner than later, because she is undeniably special.

 

 

 

DeeVer – You Need This | SMALL RECORD REVIEWS

DEEVER


AVAILABLE ON FRIDAY 1st FEBRUARY!


Billy Taylor is a well-known and established face in the UK rock scene, most notably being part of Inglorious, but with his taste and outlook on the genre evolving with the times, he decided to break free and form a band that better reflected this ethos.

The result of that was DeeVer, who have been swiftly garnering a lot of buzz from the press, and they are carrying that through to the impending release of their much anticipated debut album – You Need This.

The entire ride is laced with an abundance of high-calibre anthems that are fueled by an explosive energy which is just so indescribably invigorating, getting the pulse racing over the verses before hitting an apex at the immense, catchy choruses, and this all stems from a massive sound pieced together from a quartet of tight performances.

Bill himself takes the lead and showcases just what an ace vocalist he is, with a real pitch and power behind his voice. Stevie exhibits his chops on the guitar with an electrifying display that is highlighted by some damn fine solos. Phil’s bass chords pop out and add an extra crunch, while mixing well with Higgy’s kinetic drumming.

It has to be said that the hype preceding Deever is beyond justified, and all the evidence can be seen in this album, which is an awesome, thrilling frenzy with minimal faults that provides the sweetest shock to the senses, burning with an intoxicating fire that has you utterly enveloped from beginning to end, leaving you feeling gutted when it’s over, and provoking the urge to go back and relive it countless times more.

It has that classic edge to it that will certainly draw in old-timers, but younger folk will surely get hooked too with the overall modern vein of it. Simply put, it appeals to listeners of all ages and creeds; just about anybody that fancies a good ol’ fashioned headbang.

You Need This is a masterpiece in the making, and we know it’s early days yet, given that it’s still practically the dawn of 2019, but we predict that this will be right up there as one of the most talked about underground British rock albums of the entire year, if not the next few years. Once you get to hear it for yourself, you’ll understand exactly why.


***HIGHLIGHTS***

We Are, Only Enemy, All Come Running, Back Down, I Am The Cavalry



IN ASSOCIATION WITH STAMPEDE PRESS