Monday, 29 March 2010

Blog hiatus

After having problems signing in to my Blogger account, I'm now struggling to regularly post as I'm snowed under with College work. II'll try to post when I can but for the next month or so it will be pretty irregular. I promise as soon as College dies down a little I'll be back posting regularly, you have my word.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Exposure: beneath us, the waves

I am a huge fan of classical music, particularly modern minimalist and ambient. My love for this genre began back in 2005 when I found a copy of Ágætis byrjun in a Woolworths bargain bin. Having never heard of Sigur Rós, I decided to buy the album based on the album artwork and the £3 price tag and I can safely say it was the best choice I have made to date. This opened up so many new doors, leading me to discover artists such as Olafur Arnalds, Ludovico Einaudi, Jonsi & Alex and Seabear to name but a few. But recently (as recent as little over an hour ago) a Warsaw based, Scottish artist was brought to my attention.

Neil Milton is a name you may recognise, whether it be as one half of the
photographic collaboration We Sink Ships or as founder of record label Too Many Fireworks but what you may not know (you probably will, I fear I'm way behind everyone else on this one) is that he composes music under the moniker beneath us, the sea. Heavily influenced by a variety of Iceland's ambient artists, his music evokes emotion through beautiful arrangements and stunning instrumentation. Each piece fills your head with images of vast landscapes and spectacular scenery, making it the perfect visual music. It's easy to see why he was asked to score music for the Glasgow Tramway theatre to accompany a promo video. He is also working on strings accompaniments for a few Scottish bands, most notably for The Kays Lavelle front man, Euan McMeeken's solo EP which is due to be released later in the Spring.

As I mentioned earlier, Neil currently lives in Warsaw however he is returning to Scotland very soon to make a few live appearances in Glasgow and Edinburgh. beneath us, the sea will be accompanied by a live string quartet and will be playing in Edinburgh at the Wee Red Bar on the 30th of March with Euan McMeeken and The Japanese War Effort. On the 1st of April he'll be moving across to Glasgow to play a show for the Elba Studios folk at their Elba Sessions Presents... event at the Liquid Ship before playing a headline gig at Stereo on the 12th of April which will also feature The Last Battle and Maple Leaves. Neil also tells me there will be a beneath us, the waves and Maple Leaves collaboration that night.

I thank Neil Milton for getting in touch with Scottish Scribbler and introducing me to his wonderful music. I am now very excited for his final Glasgow show at Stereo and urge you all to toddle along before Mr Milton takes beneath us, the waves back to Warsaw.

Elegy For Tramway by beneathusthewaves

Click here to listen to beneath us, the waves. You can also click here to listen on SoundCloud.
Too Many Fireworks is currently on hiatus but Neil is preparing for a re-launch later in the Spring.
We Sink Ships, his photographic collaboration with Glasgow based photographer Heidi Kuisma, can be found here. Their weekly podcasts can be found here.
For tickets and other information, visit the above links.

This week's gigs

Prepare to 'get your groove on' as Make Sparks bring their infectious guitar-pop to The Captain's Rest tonight. Support comes from a promising Aberdonian outfit, Cast of the Capital as well as Glasgow based Little Yellow Ukuleles (or The Yooks for short), a band who are building quite a reputation. Tickets are £5 and can be purchased on the door, doors open at 8pm.
Elsewhere in Glasgow, Johnny and the Giros prepare to squeeze all six members onto Pivo Pivo's tiny stage. A talented bunch of musicians who fuse some funky basslines with catchy hooks and dirty synth. The only downside is the lack of dance floor at Pivo Pivo. Again, tickets can be purchased on the door and are priced at £5.

Thursday is a busy night in Glasgow. Progressive experimentalists Call To Mind launch their EP at Stereo in what is sure to be a stunning night of beautiful music. Support is provided by Diamond Sea and another favourite of mine, Yahweh. £5 on the door. Having received favourable reviews from the likes of Vic Galloway and Nick Grimshaw, Jakil are certainly hot right now. They will play the O2 Academy 2 alongside one of Glasgow's hardest working bands, Tempercalm. A tidy line-up which is definitely worth a look. Tickets are £6 and can be purchased here. As it's Thursday night, the Oran Mor is where I'll be at as The Mill will be showcasing yet another terrific band, Midnight Lion. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm pretty excited for this gig and you can get your hands on a ticket too, free of charge. As with every show at The Mill, the text for tickets system is in place. Just text 'MILL38K' to 82500 or you can register your details here and follow the quick and easy steps. Support comes from another impressive new band, Song Of Return. You'd be daft to miss this gig. If for some strange reason none of these sound appealing, there is an alternative. If it wasn't for Midnight Lion's show at The Mill, this is where I would be. The Captain's Rest will be playing host to the absolutely bonkers but brilliant, Super Adventure Club. Helping them launch their new album 'Avoid Zombies' are United Fruit and The Banana Sessions. Doors are at 8pm and tickets cost £4. Prepare to be scared and amazed.

Friday night sees the delightful Boycotts play The Flying Duck's 'Pin Up Nights' alongside the fantastically folky Washington Irving and the newly formed Male Pattern Band. Tickets are £5 and the club runs from 9pm to 3am. North Atlantic Oscillation's sound is huge and at this rate their popularity may begin to match the sheer size of their sound. You can catch them at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh on Friday night and at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow the following night. You can buy tickets for the Edinburgh gig here for a mere £4.50. You better be quick though, there aren't a lot of tickets left. Finally, Glasgow's O2 Academy will play host to Future's Fest on Saturday night. Johnny Foreigner will headline along with a whole host of Scottish artists. The stand outs for me being LightGuides (formerly WeHungYourLeader) who appear to have never heard of a space bar and Acrylic Iqon who will no doubt draw comparisons to Paramore, except the major difference being Paramore are shit. Tickets are priced at £10 and can be purchased here.

Plenty to choose from!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

EP Review: Shambles Vs The Dragonwizard

Someone once told Shambles Miller, "When you sing you sound like Frankie Boyle"
- he doesn't. However, on opening track 'Pssst!', I couldn't help but draw comparisons with Billy Connolly. Why? I have no idea. I would like to point out that this is neither a criticism nor a compliment, it's just an odd thought which was playing on my mind.

With that said, for me 'Pssst!' is the stand out track. The song moves along at a sprightly pace, illustrating Shambles' talent for writing amusing lyrics and uplifting melodies. It's a cheery little number and a pleasant opening to his debut EP.

The rest of the EP doesn't disappoint either. 'Robots' is a relaxing and dreamy track, despite it's punky edge, and 'My Best Friend Is An Outsider' is performed with such passion that it really helps to separate Shambles Miller from the countless other singer/songwriters across the country. However,
it was 'Nothing Unfolding' which really struck a chord with me. This track took me on a melodic journey as I found myself submerged in the music, hanging on Shambles' every word. The song plays like a scrapbook, the imagery created through the heartfelt lyrics and the story progressing as though pages are being turned.

Overall, this is an impressive debut. The only possible problem with the EP is the huge contrast between the likes of the witty, upbeat 'Pssst!' and the more somber 'Nothing Unfolding'. However, bearing in mind that this is a debut EP, the chance to showcase two different sides to his music is not necessarily a bad thing. Shambles Miller's simple approach to songwriting takes acoustic music back to basics, stripping it down to the bare minimum and producing raw, heartfelt and at times humorous songs. It's an excellent beginning for my new favourite soloist and still with lots of room for improvement, things can only get better for Shambles Miller.

You can see Shambles Miller for free at MacSorley's in Glasgow on April 14th.
You can find him here on MySpace, Twitter and WordPress.
Buy the EP here or download the digital version.

Friday, 19 March 2010

New beginnings

I'll start off the blog with my current top five favourites that you should definitely be checking out.


Kitty the Lion came to life late
last year when singer/songwriter Anna Meldrum decided to form a band after a couple of years of performing solo. I was first brought to the attention of Miss Meldrum at the beginning of 2009 after stumbling across her MySpace and was immediately drawn in by her beautiful voice. Since forming a band, the charming lyrics and catchy melodies are enhanced by the sounds of a talented bunch of musicians, one of whom is Callum Wiseman. A late addition to the band, former lead singer/guitarist of Jocasta Sleeps (a band who are sadly no more and will be sorely missed) extends his talents to mandolin, which perfectly compliments Anna's voice and makes Kitty the Lion one to watch for 2010.



Sticking with the theme of Lions, I bring you Midnight Lion. The band is comprised of two former members of Atlas Skye (previously Drive-By Argument) and quite simply, they are explosive. I'm pretty much going to stick my neck out and say this band are destined for big things. I haven't been as excited about a band like this in quite a while and I'm itching for their show next week at The Mill which I urge you all to get along to whilst there's still tickets left. Striking vocals, beautiful harmonies and HUGE sounds - this is electropop perfection.



Shambles Miller (real name Campbell Miller) is a singer/songwriter from Glasgow. Armed with a rusty old four track recorder and a tiny little drum machine, Shambles writes songs to rival the best of Glasgow's acoustic soloists. This is folk meets punk on a beaten old guitar and the results are remarkable. Take a deeper look and you'll notice the witty and amusing lyrics that are sure to crack a smile. My personal favourite: "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder but it never makes your hard-on stronger". It's no surprise really when you consider he is studying English Language at Glasgow University. It's this flair for words and his ability to turn them into beautiful tunes that make Shambles Miller one of my favourite artists in Scotland at the moment. Watch your back Beerjacket, you have fierce competition for the singer/songwriter crown.



Hailing from the mean streets of Motherwell, The LaFontaines exploded onto the scene in 2008 and took Glasgow by storm. Fusing hip-hop with rock and pop was surely going to attract attention but to do it in such expert manner turned that attention into rave reviews. 2009 saw the band headline a sold-out show at Glasgow's ABC2 where they launched their debut EP as well as support slots with the likes of N-Dubz, The Cool Kids, Mongrel, The Xcerts and Beardyman. They continued gigging the length and breadth of the country before supporting Twin Atlantic at their sold out King Tut's 20th anniversary show. Frontman Kerr Okan's thick Scottish accent and their lyrical wit seperates the band from pretty much every other hip-hop act around and their knack for writing a catchy hook helps secure an evergrowing fanbase. However, where The LaFontaines' really come into their own is on stage. The band continue to deliver an exhilerating performance with Kerr's audience banter usually a highlight. Glaswegian hip-hop just shouldn't work but somehow, it does.



I'll be honest and tell you I don't know all that much about dotjr except that he's from the Isle of Lewis and he writes truly beautiful songs. I only discovered him a couple of weeks ago and I instantly fell in love with his music. I hope to see more of him in the future and hopefully, after supporting The Boy Who Trapped the Sun at The Captain's Rest, another Glasgow gig is on the cards soon.


Yet another music blog

After many half arsed attempts, I've decided to begin a music blog. Previous attempts have suffered from procrastination and all round laziness, however this time will be different (I hope).

Scottish Scribbler will feature reviews, listings, information, links and various other nonsense, all relating to Scotland's wonderful music scene. The blog will mainly focus on up and coming artists in the hope that at least one of the three people that read it will find a band they like, pretty much on their doorstep.

If you are an up and coming artist then don't hestitate to get in touch. Send me your demos, EPs, singles, MP3s and if I like (or think others will like) I'll post. You can get in contact through the links at the side of the page.

Hence the title, I'll only be featuring Scottish artists. I'm not usually one for categorising however Scottish music is my passion and I hope to bring you a selection of Scotland's finest talent. I will try my best to keep this blog updated and feature as many artists as possible along with other inane ramblings.

So keep reading, keep supporting and keep an eye out for some of Scotland's hidden gems!