Tag Archives: Broken Records

Gimme Shelter @ The Caves, 29 Nov

Broken Records

Last year – if my memory serves me – the Gimme Shelter night at the Bongo Club consisted of three bands: Foxface, Broken Records and Frightened Rabbit. Not a bad wee showcase of Scottish music, but last night’s mini-festival at The Caves was a huge step forward.

The cream of emerging alternative music north of the border turned out in force for a seven-hour, two stage shindig. It being a Saturday night, I was not really there with my reviewer’s cap on, so I can’t give any of the bands a fair or full critique.

We turned up rather late, and then had to wait a long time for the first band – Wake the President – to ready themselves. They boasted fine pop songs and the kind of woolly jerseys your grannie used to knit, but failed to really command the room.

Venturing upstairs to the Lounge Stage was like walking into a comfy pub somewhere ‘up north’. The music was of the acoustic folk variety and the lucky ones who found seats were blissfully slumped, while the rest of us crammed around the bar.

After a pitiful attempt at a charity music quiz, it was back downstairs to catch De Rosa, the first genuinely impressive act of the evening. Their earnest indie has definite echoes of Aereogramme – without the searing guitar riffs.

The beer flowed and time passed, and before we knew it Broken Records were on stage. The main attraction for most of the punters, they roused the rabble expertly with their rollicking Balkanized indie. Last song Slow Parade was a fitting finale.

If we’d stayed we could have enjoyed a DJ set from Steve Mason and another from FOUND, but the promise of a kebab proved too strong to resist, and off we went into the Arctic-cold night.

So out of 15 acts we saw, er, three. Still, kudos to the organizers – again.

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September in singles: Stopping at England, Iceland, America… and Scotland

Alex Cornish

This month’s instalment of my singles column for The Skinny. Better late than never.

No-one is averse to a bit of sensual seduction. So when newly-formed Londoners Rock City Sixteen send me a 7″ of Lunettes Noires Pour Nuits Blanche (****, 8 Sep) in appropriate black and white design with creative press release, I am easily swayed. The effortlessly cool Velvets-aping song is good too, mind. This month’s brainless-indie-romp comes courtesy of The Zutons. What’s Your Problem (**, 8 Sep) is more of the same sax-led 70s rock, and the trick is wearing thin. As the leaves wither like that band’s career, maybe it’s good that White Lies make no attempt to cheer us up with Death (***, 22 Sep). But their stately, dare-I-say epic indie marks them out as ones to watch. If one band do merit the wearisome ‘epic’ tag, then it’s surely Sigur Rós. Inní mér syngur vitleysingur (****, 8 Sep) translates as “Within me a lunatic sings”. If so, he is a remarkably tuneful lunatic, and heralds a return to form for these enchanting Norsemen.

We’ve had Dinosaur Jr, T-Rex, and now another extinct creature is revived in bandname form, with the arrival of San Franciscan duo The Dodos. Fools (***, 15 Sep) is a likeable little breeze of stick-drumming, chugging guitar and indiscernible muffles. On the subject of band names, Johnny Foreigner can be contracted to JoFo, and there’s more to like: Salt, Peppa and Spinderella (***, 8 Sep) is another hi-NRG rock-out from this talented trio. Never having fallen for his Bright Eyes work, it was unlikely I would perform somersaults of praise for Conor Oberst‘s new solo venture. And while Souled Out!!! (**, 1 Sep) is a decent rock’n’roller, I can barely summon a critical starjump, never mind a somersault.

And now it is with hushed excitement that I present a specially themed and hastily conceived ‘part deux’ of this month’s singles round-up: The Scottish Selection. And what melodious, home-grown treats we have in store…

Those now-ubiquitous favourites Frightened Rabbit offer a double serving of their alt.folk majesty with I Feel Better / The Twist (***, 22 Sep), a double A-side offering a mirror image of their fragile/blustering sound. Broken Records may be swatting the record deals away like flies at the moment, but in the meantime they’ve produced another tantalising glimpse of their talent. Slow Parade (****, Out Now) is a wistful, delicate paean that swells to a stirring, brassy coda. Idlewild singer and one time punk contortionist Roddy Woomble is maturing into a respected folk troubadour and, along with John McCusker and Kris Drever, he has spun a shimmering wee song in Silver And Gold (****, 1 Sep). Although born and bred in London, Alex Cornish still qualifies for this celtic love-in, since he now writes and records from his Edinburgh bedroom. “I’m not breaking new ground,” Cornish sings in Until the Traffic Stops (****, 29 Sep), but who cares about that when he can turn out rousing, honest tunes like this? A deserving single of the month.

And just when you thought Scottish music had been completely ensnared by whisky-blooded folkie types, Mogwai emit one of their atomic waves of distortion to knock us clean off our barstools. Batcat (****, 8 Sep) is a taster of their forthcoming sixth album and reveals the Glaswegians back in earth-shattering form.

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Frightened Rabbit, Foxface, Broken Records @ Bongo Club, 15 Dec

Frightened Rabbit

[I would have posted this earlier, but I’ve been suffering from a weird hangover/caffeine-induced insomnia which has meant for the past 48 hours all I’ve managed to do is turn up for work and not much else. Not fun. Anyway…]  

It’s not common for four of my mates to independently suggest going to the same gig, but that’s what transpired with this charity fundraiser for Shelter. The reason for the uncharacteristic bout of enthusiasm probably lies in the buzz surrounding any of the three bands on the bill – well, four, but I missed Endor as I was still eating chilli con carne at half past six. Sorry guys, but a man’s gotta eat.

By the time I do drag my bloated self down to the Bongo, Broken Records are a couple of songs into their set. I saw them earlier this year at the  Forest Café, and in that short time they’ve emerged as arguably the most talked-about new band in Edinburgh. They strike an obvious resemblance to the Arcade Fire or Beirut – a numerous collective of archaically dressed bohos who play an assortment of guitar, cello, violin, trumpet, keys etc, with real passion. The enthusiastic home-town audience is probably full of groupies, but Broken Records are a class act, both technically and emotively. A record deal is around the corner, you’ve got to expect.

Maybe it’s because they’re sandwiched between two of the best new bands on the scene, or maybe it’s because there’s a distracting babble of conversation during their set, but Foxface (who’ve already done the album thing) don’t come off quite as well tonight as on previous occasions. Their minimal, Celtic-slanted indie is perfectly listenable, guitarist Michael is a low-key virtuoso, white-frocked singer Jenny looks the epitome of Gaelic mystique (and sounds it too), and the fox mask is an unusual, if gimmicky, touch. But they just don’t engage the senses in a live setting, so that, for once, you can almost condone the chatterboxes. Then again…

The third prong of this triumvate of emerging Scottish talent, Frightened Rabbit saunter into town amid a definite sense of expectation – a nationwide Chinese whisper that has even got my cynical mates predicting good things. First time I’ve seen them, and they were gonna have to be pretty damn good to live up to it all. And they are, by a stretch. Tellingly signed to the same label as the Twilight Sad, the bass-less trio perhaps aren’t quite as distinctive as the Kilsyth noise-mongers, but they are just as raw, vital and exciting. Single Be Less Rude is a standout, and personally I kinda like the sentiment: ‘be less rude’ – I should have called this blog something like that.

Drummer Grant is a revelation, smashing every cymbal like it’s a steel effigy of Simon Cowell, while singer Scott even achieves that elusive added-value bonus of live music: genuinely funny fill-the-gaps banter. His impromptu skit about the toilet door in the gents’ that creaked the sound ‘blowjob’ even gets us soor-pussed hacks at the back giggling – you do have to ‘be there’ of course. Even the bar downing its shutters 20 minutes early (sacrilege!) can’t dampen the experience of Frightened Rabbit, and us cynics agree that the whispering was not in vain. On the same night that an 18-year-old Livingston lad won some trumped-up karaoke contest, the real vitality of Scottish music was on show right here. From this angle it doesn’t look too bad at all.

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