It used be that you’d never need to go more than a couple of weeks without seeing Meursault playing in Edinburgh. Now however, it’s turned into a can’t-miss biannual phenomenon where sorely missed backdrops like The Bowery’s are left behind for stages better suited to Neil Pennycook’s ever growing and ever tending towards americana outfit. Well tonight just so happens to be one of those nights, for tonight is the first of series of gigs at Liquid Room orchestrated by local festival-doers Haddowfest. Compered by BBC Radio 1’s Ally McCrae and featuring Withered Hand and FOUND (both hand picked by Meursault themselves) proceedings promise to be a fairly eclectic. An expected mix of classics from 2009’s Good News and new tracks should be a treat from Withered Hand who’ll be in full band formation. They’ll be on early so make sure you get along sharp! Currently a band in flux, losing a member to fatherhood and adding a drummer in recent months, I’m hoping FOUND will make the same jump Meursault did when they swapped electronics for acoustic drums between All Creatures Will Make Merry and Something For The Weakened. And as if you need any persuading as to why you can’t miss Meursault this time around, simply click below. Doors are at 7.
I bought my first vinyl record online – to some extent, a terribly ironic sign of the times, but also a sign of Shetland’s remoteness. It was Elle Milano’s ‘Swearing’s for Art Students’ EP, angsty teenage indie obscurity on limited edition red vinyl. I got number 455 of 500.
My first experience of buying vinyl in a shop was in OneUp in Aberdeen, which sadly closed at the end of January this year. I bought a handful of 7” singles, including some Maxïmo Park and ¡Forward, Russia!, each 99p. I felt very, very cool. If I hadn’t been a 14 year old girl, I might have tried to strike up conversation with the shop owner, and if I hadn’t lived a sea away I would have been back a little more often.
Since moving to Edinburgh, I have had some great finds in record shops across the city, from taking a gamble on saxophonist Illinois Jacques at Record Shak to things I immediately knew I would cherish, such as a lovely gatefold edition of ‘Beggars Banquet’ alongside the Grease soundtrack from VoxBox. My local record shop, however, will always be Clive’s.
I never bought vinyl in Clive’s. By the time I came on the scene it was first cassettes, and then CDs – too early for the record resurgence. I remember getting Marvin and Tamara’s Groove Machine on tape, which I still own. What do you mean you don’t remember them? It was the summer of ’99, baby:
I remember my mum and nan discussing in hushed tones whether it was appropriate for me to spend a record token on Wheatus’ debut album because it had a parental advisory sticker. I never did get any more than the radio edit of Teenage Dirtbag. I remember going in with my first proper boyfriend to pick up a copy of Pulp’s ‘Different Class’ so we could discover it together. Cheesy, but so began a love affair that has spanned years (I am of course referring to myself and Jarvis Cocker et al, not the boyfriend). I also remember going in during my heavy Glasgow indie, Domino Records phase and tentatively asking a cheery shop assistant if they had a copy of Sons and Daughters’ ‘Love the Cup’. They did.
Like OneUp, Clive’s also closed, back in 2011, having served Shetland’s population since the 1970s. Of course I played a part in the closure; we all did, and we all continue to do so. The convenience of online shopping and especially of downloading cannot be understated. As well as this, music services such as Spotify – on which I do have a paid account – mean that you can listen to pretty much anything you’ve ever wanted to, and plenty that you didn’t even know you wanted to, at the touch of a button. I use it as background noise when I’m focusing on other tasks. I download songs from the Top 40 that get stuck in my head so that I can play them to death on my walk to university, and then delete them the next time I reorganise my iPod (limited storage you see! It’s not like a physical shelf where you can just perch case upon case, until one day they all fall down and you think ‘maybe I should get a bigger shelf’).
I would hesitate to say that I treat these downloads as disposable. That seems to be unfair to the artists in question, though to some extent that is always how pop music will be consumed. Possibly more appropriate would be to say that I have no connection to the downloading process. I sit on my bed and I click.
I could count the number of music downloads I can vaguely remember carrying out on one hand. Even fewer online CD purchases. There’s no interaction. There’s no story.
People, righteous vinyl junkies, always point out that in a record shop, you can meet like-minded people. You can take risks based on what they recommend to you, and hopefully you can do the same for them. This is absolutely true, especially if you can get over your fear of looking terribly uncool and uneducated – top tip: throwing yourself in at the deep end and buying the most embarrassing thing you can find will blow that right out of the way.
But it’s also a way to bond with people you already know, discovering music together, sharing your tastes and laughing at each other when you almost accidentally purchase some Scandinavian screamo/thrash/metal ‘cause it had a hilarious picture of a cat on the front. Just goes to show you can never judge a record by its sleeve, or something.
Music sharing services online have tried to incorporate this sharing facility, and to some extent they probably are effective. However, realistically, how many times have you seen via Facebook that a friend was listening to something on Spotify, or seen their top 3 last.fm artists of the week published on Twitter and thought “hmm, I must tune into some of that”? The experience of heading to a record shop with a friend is a very difficult one to replicate, just as reading in 140 characters that someone you know thinks a film was fairly good is never going to have the same effect as a drawn out discussion with them about it over a couple of pints.
Record Store Day is a fantastic thing to support because record stores are fantastic things – livelihoods – worth supporting. Vinyl is pretty trendy right now: by all means, scrum on down to your nearest emporium today and scramble with the other hipsters for that special edition release. You’ll certainly have a story to tell, and I hope the rush you get will keep you going back. Record shops are worth supporting, but what’s more, they need supporting. Following the demise of Clive’s, Shetland is lacking a dedicated music outlet – and probably always will. On the other hand, Edinburgh’s independent record shop scene appears to be rather densely populated; something for the city to be proud of. If we continue to frequent and nurture these shops, they will continue to give back – and what’s not to like about that?
Interested in exploring Edinburgh’s independent music shop scene? Check out our Nanu Maps: Record Shops to find out more.
It’s been 18 months since Daughter’s last EP, The Wild Youth, was released. Since then they have signed to 4AD and produced a fresh sounding album that still remains recognisable to old fans. If You Leave, as a whole, is evidently personal to its writers. However, it is relatable, at least, to anyone who has ever been hurt. Although The Wild Youth and His Young Heart EPs were, to some, depressing, If You Leave is understandable to the point of comfort.
Lyrics aside, If You Leave is simply beautiful to listen to. The fragile guitar layers of the lead single, Smother, are stunning, whilst the reworked Youth somehow manages to be more poignant than its original. Human, unusually for Daughter, is relatively upbeat, and well placed between the calmer
Tomorrow and Touch.
Following last year’s sold out tour, Daughter are returning to Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket in October, and you can also catch them at numerous UK festivals, including Field Day and Latitude. Since the album’s release, they’ve done a live session for Zane Lowe in which they covered Bon Iver’s Perth and Hot Chip’s Ready for the Floor. If you’re doubtful about this mix, have a listen (link below), it’s the best cover I’ve heard for a while.
Since today’s anodyne, bubblegum pop rarely touches on subjects more serious than the nuances of nightclubbing, here’s five LP’s that look a little deeper at the world we live in.
Although one might pinpoint their later effort, The Suburbs, as their most overt critique of society, it’s Neon Bible that is the most contemplative and cutting Arcade Fire record to date. Introducing many of the themes that feature in the band’s later work, opening track Black Mirror creates a powerful sense of unease with the world as it seems, whilst songs like Black Wave/Bad Vibrations and Ocean of Noise dwell upon themes of illusion and distraction. The album gains its edge, however, from the excellent Keep The Car Running, which grounds the lyrical themes of the whole record in a more politically cynical, environmental message. Finally, the closing track My Body Is A Cage – arguably the best song Win Butler has written to date – with its soaring crescendo of melancholy, is a phenomenal coda to an unsettling and intelligent rock album.
Victorialand is such a damnably strange record that it’s pretty hard to label it with a theme or category, especially since it lacks lyrics or words in any meaningful sense. Musically, it’s a bewitching masterpiece, full of weird and wonderful sounds all layered about each other, like sediment. Fans of Beach House will recognise the dream pop synths and murmurations of guitar, but you could also point to the nonsense vocalisations of Sigur Rós as a corollary. Jarring to the ears of the uninitiated, Victorialand is basically a bit mad. With that in mind, it couldn’t be about anything other than reality.
NINE INCH NAILS
Nine Inch Nails don’t really do light subjects. As the premier industrial rock band of the nineties and the early noughties, Trent Reznor was notorious for covering all sorts of weird themes. Their 2005 album With Teeth deals primarily with substance abuse, and the perspectives of reality that result from it. From the observational terror exhibited in All The Love In The World, to the brooding The Line Begins To Blur, it’s a heavy record. It’s the final track, Right Where It Belongs, that contains the most vitriol of the record; an emotional, passionate piece of music. The lyrics themselves, like in most NIN records, are a little uncoordinated – and so it’s the music that does the heavy lifting. The documentary maker Adam Curtis makes extensive use of the music in his films, relying on the emotive power of the music rather than the lyrics, to highlight the absurdity of his subjects.
As one of the best progressive metal bands of the last decade, Tool gained a reputation for dark, often disturbing subject material. On Lateralus they delve deep into ideas of consciousness, perception, and the blurred line between reality and drug-infused unreality. It’s hard to recommend specific tracks – the record works best as a whole – but the central section of the album is the most focused, and the best written. The jagged melodies of Schism present an awesome example of a modern metal track, whilst the slow-burning gapless tracks Parabol and Parabola move from brooding quiescence into a climactic guitar piece.
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
“RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE”
Rage Against The Machine’s eponymous debut may have had its sights trained upon the ideology of modern America, but its themes may just as easily be framed within a look at the nature of reality. There’s a reason it’s used over the credits of The Matrix. Compared to the other albums on this list, Rage Against The Machine is a little overt, and certainly angrier. Still, it’s the only one I’ve picked out that offers active resistance, as opposed to scared observation. The best tracks are the most lyrically versatile ones, like Know Your Enemy and Wake Up, though the whole record is best listened to in order, without interruptions.
BBC Radio 6 Music recently ran an open poll in which listeners were invited to vote for the station’s “greatest hit” from a shortlist of 100 tracks released over the past decade – since 6 Music’s conception back in 2002. Coldplay’s “Clocks” topped the official poll, leaving some tweeters a little disgruntled – and prompting some of us here at Nanu to consider what we would have done differently. The full list can be scrutinised here.
A Spotify playlist of our top choices, plus the three tracks mentioned most frequently, is available
What do you think should have topped the list? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Emotionally, “Take Me Out” was the very clear turning point in my life, but on musical merit and innovation I feel that “Seven Nation Army” has to take the crown. Unfortunately for the purposes of this article, I can’t really pinpoint why. The thumping bass? The punchy drums? The scratching vocals? Perhaps it’s the fact that Meg and Jack generally make so much noise for two such small humans? Most likely it’s because it’s the epitome of “angular”, my favourite mid-2000s indie rock journo adjective. It’s still jerky, it’s still loud, and it’s still interesting.
2. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
3. Hey Ya! – OutKast
4. Juicebox – The Strokes
5. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys
An impossibly good list of tracks. Trying to choose the best had to come down to recognition: not because they are the best tracks, but because the biggest hits grab you by the balls and neglect to let go until you are bruised and your heart beats to that tune. Or is that relationships? I forget. Anyway – I chose to treat this as if I were at the best indie club night, and there really was only one track that I cannot get enough of, and that was the Arctic Monkeys. Remember in the old days when they gave their album away – record labels didn”t sit up and pay attention until the fans demanded they were big, and now they are probably the most influential British pop outfit since the Beatles. Bold claim, but they are such a talented group of lads it isn”t undeserved. They inhabit the natural rut of brilliant British song-writing so charmingly that you cannot get sick of hearing what they have to say (however much DJs tried by overplaying this song – it still makes me want to dance). What”s more, they have a voice that isn”t usually heard, and tell a story in 3 minutes without a single lyric feeling out of place. Plus, in a club I like a song you can”t realistically kiss to, but which still makes you want to try. The perfect anthem for every rock and roll relationship that started in a dirty basement somewhere.
2. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
3. Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
4. No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age
5. Galvanize – The Chemical Brothers
Love You Better – The Maccabees
Despite being initially overwhelmed by the task of whittling down a somewhat selective list of 100 songs to five, the BBC have succeeded in choosing a collection that really resonates with moments from the past decade of my life (old as I am), and picking out the key moments wasn”t at all hard once I”d been swallowed up a little. So, following a dawdle down memory lane, I finally came up with the five songs that each defined a mood for me. I toyed with Metronomy as my top song, it having been slipped onto my iPod by my brother before I went to live abroad and then listened to on repeat for quite some time (before he could get his mucky paws on my music again). However, foremost in my mind as I sit in my shambolic university kitchen is my most recent foray into academia, coloured completely by the discovery of The Maccabees. Now I know they”ve been around for aeons, but bear with me in my middle age as I jump on the bandwagon just as it”s hurtling out of the station. This song strikes a chord in particular, and if you do pardon the sentiment, reminds me always to be the person that smiles the most, laughs the hardest, and loves the best: what a precious lesson to be reminded of as I begin adult life.
2. Heartbreaker – Metronomy
3. Welcome to Jamrock – Damian Marley
4. Tessellate – alt-J
5. No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age
Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
If it wasn”t for Show Your Bones I may have never got into music the way I have. In 2006 I heard Maps for the first time and fell in love. I wanted more music like this and as luck would have it I was able to listen to the original Fever to Tell and brand new album Show Your Bones. Before this point in time I was only really interested in music that was released before I was born: David Bowie and The Beatles were on a pretty constant loop on my iPod. I pretty much ignored pop music being released at the time. The combination of the brilliant opening and strong vocals from Karen O make “Maps” very difficult to ignore. Though I didn”t think it at the time, it was by discovering the rest of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ material that then led me to seek out the other music that has shaped my taste since.
2. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
3. Golden Skans – Klaxons
4. Fix Up, Look Sharp – Dizzee Rascal
5. Midnight City – M83
Mykonos – Fleet Foxes
Unlike the actual island – an idyllic destination in the Aegean Sea – “Mykonos” is not a favourite of the gay clubbing scene*. Instead, it”s one of Fleet Foxes” finest tracks – beautiful, delicate and hypnotic. With its gorgeous harmonies and folk rock melodies, it is perfectly representative of the band”s catalogue as a whole.
*Of course, there may be DJs on Mykonos that are massive Fleet Foxes.
2. Hometown Glory – Adele
3. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
4. Sophia – Laura Marling
5. All My Life – Foo Fighters
Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
This was super difficult. Narrowing down lists has always been something I struggle with, at its most conceptual level. This particular list really irked me: how can you reduce 100 of the greatest songs which you grew up with and categorically love to five and eventually choose one? Well I did it with difficulty and short lists (three to be precise: “Short List”, “Shorter List” and “Shortest List”). This brutal, wine-soaked process lead to the list you see and “Such Great Heights” on top. I love this track. I listen to it every time I get a new pair of headphones with all the boopa doopa and whatnot. The track has remained high on my agenda of things I want my ears to hear on a regular basis and so it tops this list which I previously thought to be insurmountable. The rest of the tracks are good, great even, but “Such Great Heights” is incrementally better due to the aforementioned boopa doopas and headphone commitments.
2. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
3. Chicago – Sufjan Stevens
4. Midnight City – M83
5. Time to Pretend – MGMT
It”s been a busy 2012 for In Session: a charity compilation released at the start of the year; 18 (eighteen!) tremendous sessions from our favourite artists including Frightened Rabbit, Meursault, and Adam Stafford; plus the occasional update on our beloved Nanu Nanu. In Session has once again achieved far more in the last year than either Lily or I thought was reasonable and it”s with great joy that we look ahead to returning to the Fresh Air studio in the coming year. Heck, we may even revive our plans to take a punt on putting on a gig next year if we decide that this money thing people worry about is overrated. Double heck, we may even start blogging more.
The first step towards this music blogging lark begins with everyone”s favourite blog post to write, read, and criticise because it takes the least amount of effort on all fronts – the mandatory “Best of” list. Although we focus on showcasing Scottish artists in our radio show and our sessions, you may be surprised to find out that we also like to listen to music from beyond the borders from time to time. We”re rather cosmopolitan like that. That being said, the list you”re about to skim does not reflect the opinions of my partner Lily as she said she hasn”t listened to enough new music this year to make an informed list. So, if you”re going to attack the credibility of this list then do address your insults to me.
Without further ado, behold and enjoy my micro reviews and link dumping!
1. Meursault – Something For The Weakened
A move away from electronica and the addition of a full string section heralds a move towards a richer and fuller sound. This change is most evident on tracks like Lament For A Teenage Millionaire and Flittin” which have been staples of Meursault”s repertoire and have now grown into thunderous tunes. Meanwhile, this shift has made for a more accessible album, which is no bad thing, as tracks like Dull Spark, the first single from the album, are the most poppy the band have sounded to date. What SFTW manages best is to draw greater appreciation for Neil’s dynamic voice which effortlessly manages to convey the ferocity of his frustrations and the poignancy of his fears. That, my friends, is a wonderful thing.
2. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Japandroids latest release sticks two fingers and lobs poutine in the face of people voicing that rock is dead. Celebration Rock is an Best UK Casinos outrageously fun album which builds to anthemic The House That Heaven Built and Contiuous Thunder, a glorious climax drenched in reverb and a fireworks signature that urges you to play through the whole LP again. That”s a rare accomplishment.
3. PAWS – Cokefloat!
Thrashing punk rock aesthetics have made PAWS one of the must-see live bands in Scotland but their huge sound conceals tender lyrics about PAWS” frontman Phillip Taylor”s relationship with his deceased Mother which is more apparent and, at times, harrowing in the toned down sound on Cokefloat!
4. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
An epic coming-of-age album that reflects upon Kendrick”s journey from wannabe gangsta to contrition which is encapsulated in the theatrical double header “Sing About Me, I”m Dying of Thirst”
5. Cloud Nothings – All Or Nothing
One of the most notable things about Cloud Nothings is that they retain a distinct sound despite seemingly trying to reinvent themselves with each release. All Or Nothing sees them move towards a more conventional indie rock sound with Fall In and Stay Useless standing out as an exhilarating pairing in the middle third of a roaring LP.
The Twilight Sad, Grimes, Odesza, Trapped Mice, Happy Particles (though it was technically 2011), The Leg, Miouax Miouax, and Stanley Odd
1. Chvrches – The Mother We Share
Such a phenomenal tune that Lily had to tell me stop playing it on loop. It looks like the hype machine was right about these lot and we can”t wait to hear their album.
2. Adam Stafford – Vanishing Tanks
Released on Gerry Loves Records on a split tape with Rick Redbeard, Vanishing Tanks is crammed with infectious hooks and melodies by beat-boxing cult member, Adam Stafford. Okay, that”s a half truth but below is a live video of the track which demonstrates some of the theatre Adam brings to his performances. (watch it in HD)
3. Frightened Rabbit – State Hospital
Will Frightened Rabbit”s upcoming album, Pedestrian Verse, manage to match the dizzy heights of The Midnight Organ Fight? Who knows but if State Hospital, which will also appear on the LP, is anything to go by then there”s good reason to keep hoping.
4. Lambchop – Gone Tomorrow
A late entry after hearing it on an end of year mixtape (Thanks, Adam) but it has been an obsession for the last fortnight. There is something completely different and unique about this track as it darts through the melancholia of an ending into a stirring four-minute instrumental which is lifts the song to stellar heights. “The wine tasted like sunshine in the basement” takes my number one spot for lyric of the year too.
5. Honeyblood – Super Rat
Garage Rock duo, Stina and Shona, comprise Honeyblood who, unquestionably, are the band which most excited us this year. Sharp lyrics and brisk instrumental thrashing are what makes us overtly keen to get them in for a session in 2013.
And there you have it! In Session will be back in 2013 with many more sessions, interviews, and the long-awaited second compilation.
Happy New Year!
By winning the Mercury Prize alt-J's An Awesome Wave doesn't need me to heap any more praise upon it, but I will be choosing it as my album of the year purely based on number of plays. There have been few albums that I have listened to more this year, and all the albums I have been listening to above this album were released in 2011; Future Islands, Baths and Youth Lagoon are the only albums that surpass alt-J. Please go and check it out. In fact check it out below:
I would also like to give a quick shout out to the song of the year Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. What you havn't heard of it? Well aren't you in for a treat.
I have revisited no album more this year than Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die. As someone who is generally ambivalent towards pop singers, I could never have predicted this based on Video Games, the single that piqued everyone’s interest back in 2011. The album, and Del Rey herself, have not been entirely well received. Musically, some of the album tracks have clear weak points, while her “ghetto Nancy Sinatra” persona has been heavily criticised given her wealthy roots and family history. These are valid criticisms which I fully take on board: in fact, it took me over two months to listen to the album for the first time. Then, I felt it to be distinctly average.
Yet, somehow, I slowly but surely was hooked. It is difficult not to become engaged with Del Rey’s stage persona, her subject material, her dreamy, vintage-imitation voice. Her version of all-American girl attitude is the antithesis of the Taylor Swift brand of the same product and there’s something so utterly appealing about it.
Standout tracks include ‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Diet Mountain Dew’ and, of course, title track ‘Born to Die’. November’s extended “Paradise” edition of the album adds extra layers of darkness and beauty: ‘Blue Velvet’ is an instant classic, while ‘Yayo’ and ‘Bel Air’ are smooth and dusky, at times reaching ethereal heights. Lana Del Rey’s fragility and husky beauty won me over in 2012.
Of Monsters and Men, My Head is An Animal
I struggled with the choice of 2012 album, there are jameshallison casino several albums that I have listened to extensively but I felt it was cheating to choose Rumours by Fleetwood Mac or every single Bruce Springsteen album. Instead I whittled down albums released in 2012 that I listened to a lot (not necessarily because they were good) the list came down to two a guilty pleasure and a genuinely good album. These were Red by Tayler Swift and My Head is An Animal by Of Monsters and Men both solid albums, I'll leave it up to you to guess which was the guilty pleasure.
Something for the Weakened b
of the interviews.
listen live every Sunday at 12 noon on freshair.org.uk
Nanucation is a series of documentary podcasts which take a closer look at the music you love. We will have a new episode each week focusing on a different era/genre/local.
Nanucation Series 2 Episode 4 – Harlem Renaissance with
Eve Livingston on
Eve Livingstonby Nanu Nanu
The brand new series of Nanucation continues, this week with Elyse Jamieson
and the legendary record label 2 Tone.
Nanucation is a series of documentary podcasts which take a closer look at the music you love. We will have a new episode each week focusing on a different era/genre/local.
Written & presented by Elyse Jamieson and produced by Finlay Niven for Nanu-Nanu.com