Captains Rest, Glasgow, June 24 * * * *

A combination of the heat and, for most of us, an inability to actually see the stage made Emma Pollock’s long overdue return to Glasgow tonight something of an endurance test. It obviously put some punters off as, with the set reaching the halfway point, the crowd had notably thinned but at least it meant vantage points to actually see the former Delgado, and her three-piece band, became available.
Although not due for release until January, tonight afforded the diminutive singer/songwriter the chance to preview new tracks from her sophomoric album, and by-and-large her more dynamic approach seemed to work.
New tracks like I Could Be A Saint, Red Orange Green and Hug The Harbour, played alongside established favourites from her Watch The Fireworks debut, highlighted a more robust side to Pollock’s new material.
They may have lacked the immediacy of the excellent If Silence Means That Much To You, Adrenaline and crowd favourite Fortune but on the back of tonight’s performance it’s easy to imagine critics waxing lyrical come the new year.

Captains Rest, Glasgow, June 22 * * * *

As the festival season kicks into gear and the number of touring bands heading to Glasgow drops it’s a good chance to check out some local talent. There are certainly a lot of new Scottish bands to choose from on this year’s West End Festival line-up. Tonight appearing first on the bill at the Captains Rest, Hindle Wakes successfully added their name to the ever-growing list of new Glasgow bands well worth monitoring.
After a couple of fairly routine indie-pop openers, the quintet hit their stride with Lift Your Eyes. Exhibiting a greater cohesion and delivered with more authority, it was the first indicator that the five-piece has the makings of something a bit special.
I Won’t Sleep continued the good work while A Curse Or A Blessing proved the latter thanks to its brooding yet dreamy feel and mantra-like lyrics, but overall it was final number Father Said which suggested a bright future lies ahead for Hindle Wakes.
With its incessant drums and strong build-up it was a case of saving the best until last – the combination of singer Susie Liddell’s impassioned vocals and the song’s darker edge helping round off in style what was a well-received set.

Captains Rest, Glasgow, June 18 * * * *

It’s still early days but French Wives are definitely a new Glasgow band worth keeping an eye on. Sure there’s still work to be done – constructing a set list for starters – but there was more than enough potential on display tonight to suggest a bright future for the Glaswegians.
Buoyed up by a good turn-out, the five-piece got proceedings off to great start with Small Time Crooks, its simple trombone hook and frenetic bursts of violin and guitar making for an urgently melodic three minutes.
If their opener recalled shades of Okkervil River then on Capilano it was the influence of Arcade Fire that shone through. Thankfully however they managed to avoid the pitfalls that all too often catch out those who draw inspiration from the Canadians.
Throughout, frontman Stuart Dougan was a commanding presence. Towering over the crowd he was at the peak of his powers on Romeo & Genevieve, his natural delivery reminiscent of a young Evan Dando.
On the down side, the absence of any patter policing and a tendency to muck about with tuning between songs meant momentum was seldom maintained, while ending with an acoustic rendition of Sleepy Head from the midst of the crowd made for an underwhelming and slightly odd finale. But overall it was a promising performance from a band actually worthy of the much over-used phrase “ones-to-watch”.

Queens Hall, Edinburgh, June 20 * * * * *

Tonight wasn’t just a gig. It was much more than that. For an hour-and-a-half Roger McGuinn, founding member of seminal 60s folk-rock group The Byrds, took the crowd on a musical journey through his life, regaling us along the way with stories and highlights from a career that blossomed during one of music’s most exciting times.
With seats taken and lights dimmed, and before he’d even stepped on stage, the unmistakable sound of McGuinn’s twelve string Rickenbacker guitar rang out, the warm summery twang of My Back Pages filling the old church and sparking the first of countless and enthusiastic rounds of applause.
Clad head to toe in black, it was with a smile and a glint in his eye that McGuinn informed the patchy crowd that he was going to take us through his “back pages”. From the first riff he learnt as a fourteen-year old through his “Beatle beat” explorations with The Byrds and concluding with a song he wrote with his wife, McGuinn was never less than captivating.
Not surprisingly it was Byrds’ songs like Mr. Tambourine Man, 8 Miles High and Turn Turn Turn which drew the most applause, the latter prompting the first of two justly deserved standing ovations.

King Tut’s, Glasgow, June 13 * * * *

In the space of a year or so Woodenbox, aka Ali Downer and his band A Fistful of Fivers, have come a long way. Playing supporting roles in Glasgow’s smaller venues has not only helped the sextet hone their live skills, it’s also won them an ever-expanding following. Tonight they appeared at Tut’s to celebrate the launch of second single Hang The Noose.
It’s always hard to predict what kind of turnout an event such as this will attract, but by the time the band eventually arrived on stage the room was nearly full.
Downer may have been surprised by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, but for those of us who’ve seen the band develop over the last twelve months, the show of appreciation didn’t come as a shock.
Clearly enjoying themselves throughout, the Glasgow outfit’s experimental mix of folk, country and bluegrass proved most uplifting on debut single Twisted Mile. With its Balkan-ised trumpet hook and joyous melody the crowd was soon dancing along.
However it was the more sombre My Mule which provided the band with their stand-out moment, the song’s nod to Elliott Smith and frenetic finale making for a compelling three minutes.

King Tut’s, Glasgow, June 15 * * *

With a little help from now label-mates Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks signed to FatCat Records back in October. Eight months on, the quartet celebrated the launch of These Four Walls by playing their debut album from start to finish to a packed Tut’s.
However one potential drawback to this rigid live approach is peaking too soon and sadly that’s exactly what happened tonight. Although a somewhat protracted and repetitive opener, by the time It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning reached its frenetic conclusion the partisan crowd was hungry for more.
And they got it with call-to-arms anthem Ships With Holes Will Sink which continued to galvanise the WWPJP faithful and easily got the crowd dancing, as did Roll Up Your Sleeves while the lilting, ethereal ebb and flow of A Conductor saw the band at their most compelling.
But from then on in it was a distinctly patchy and somewhat pedestrian affair. This Is My House, This Is My Home was one of a few songs that plodded along uneventfully while recent single Quiet Little Voices, although vociferously received by the crowd, felt jaded.
Like the Jetpacks they were promised, it was a set which started with sporadic explosive bursts before fizzling out, shrouded in smoke.

King Tut’s, Glasgow, June 7 * * * *

Soon to release their debut EP, The Seventeenth Century are another band to benefit from DF Concerts’ Your Sound initiative. Playing a supporting role tonight, the Glasgow outfit found themselves second on the bill, but that didn’t stop a sizeable crowd from witnessing what was an impressive performance.
The fresh-faced five may have appeared slightly awkward and uncertain as they arrived on stage, but the moment they launched into opener Roses In The Park any nerves soon evaporated, the song proving an instant attention-grabber thanks to singer/violinist Mark Farmer’s impassioned vocal and Mike Truscott’s meandering cornet.
The less frenetic Farmers Son with its lilting violin, intertwined vocals and gradual build-up continued the good work and epitomised the band’s dark brooding folk-based sound.
The softly-spoken Farmer was a magnetic presence throughout – how much each lyric meant to him was evident from the intensity of his delivery and the nervous energy that accompanied it.
That’s not to say he overshadowed the other members or the music, far from it as overall the quintet put in a dynamic display and one which culminated in sublime final number Young Francis.

Oran Mor, Glasgow, May 31 * * *

Whether you like it or not, chances are if you haven’t already heard of Florence and the Machine that will soon change. A Brit winner earlier this year after scooping the Critics’ Choice award, Florence Welch and her backing band “the Machine” are probably the most hotly-tipped band of the moment.
Welch’s burgeoning success is in part attributable to the BBC who, via their Introducing strand and Sound of 2009 poll, have been quick to sing her praises. As you’d expect the NME followed suit and with major label backing to boot, it’s time to get ready for the summer of Florence.
But while tonight’s youthful and predominately female crowd will no doubt rush to buy debut album Lung come July, those of us in the Oran Mor minority will chalk FATM up as yet another band plucked from the peripheries to fill a ones-to-watch list quota.
Sure her voice is impressive, powerful and at times, depending on the song, distinctive but too often it came across as Kate Bush night on Stars In Your Eyes. An overly theatrical stage presence, realised with a fan to help out on the billowing hair and frock front, lent a disingenuous, contrived feel to proceedings.
Admittedly packed with radio-friendly pop numbers, overall it was a night more memorable for the drama of the delivery than the substance of the songs.

King Tut’s, Glasgow, May 29 * * * *

The beginning of May saw The Horrors unleash their second album Primary Colours, their first on XL Recordings . Something of a departure from the band’s ghoulish garage-punk debut, it has, like its predecessor, found critics receptive.
The Southend outfit certainly didn’t have to work too hard to convince tonight’s sold-out crowd. With on-edge singer Faris Badwan prowling the stage to a backdrop of shoegazey guitar, relentless rhythm and otherworldly synth – dispensed from a bank of equipment that wouldn’t be out of place in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory – the five-piece’s new material proved a revelation.
Atmospheric in a sinister creeping way, the vortex of noise emanating from the PA seemed to transfix some while the throng in front of the stage, fuelled by Badwan’s frequent bouts of audience interaction, never let energy levels drop on their part.
Compared to the only old material aired, saved for a raucous encore of which Count In Fives was the highlight, songs like Three Decades, Do You Remember and I Can’t Control Myself showed a greater depth of song-writing and a distinctly cinematic approach. It made final number Sea Within A Sea a dizzying eight minutes and one which ensured the shouts of encore were both vocal and persistent.


King Tut’s, Glasgow, June 3 * * *

The music press seems divided when it comes to Edinburgh’s Broken Records. Panned by some adored by others, the seven-piece’s debut album – Until the Earth Begins To Part – has certainly split opinion. On the basis of tonight’s set however, it’s hard to tell just why they should provoke such extreme reactions. They’re nice guys who write nice music but without the kind of vital spark required to kindle their Arcade Fire aspirations, this was a performance that proved entertaining and dull in equal measures. Debut single If The News Makes You Sad, Don’t Watch It proved the highpoint. With a real sense of urgency and infectious rhythm it easily stood out in a set where every other song seemed to get lost en route to its protracted conclusion. Opening act Sparrow and the Workshop on the other hand, scarcely put a foot wrong during the course of a captivating forty-five minutes. The Glasgow-based trio shifted through shades of country, folk, rock and pop, among others, with seamless ease. Helped in no small part by Jill O’Sullivan’s chameleon-like vocals, the somewhat depressingly named outfit showed they’re very much a band worth keeping an eye on, particularly if outstanding new track Into The Wild is anything to go by.