FRIGHTENED RABBIT
Captains Rest, Glasgow, March 31 * * * *

As singer Scott Hutchinson stated halfway through this early evening performance, today is the last time Frightened Rabbit will be playing Glasgow for a while. Once touring commitments are met the quartet will be retreating to the studio as they set about recording the follow-up to last year’s critically-acclaimed The Midnight Organ Fight.
After fourteen months promoting it, playing over 200 shows across the globe in the process, the band find themselves in the midst of a mini acoustic tour of the UK, this time to promote live album Quiet Now.
It was in this very venue that the album, better known to the faithful as Liver! Lung! FR!, was recorded last summer so to a certain extent we knew what we were in for. Still a Rabbit show always has an edge, a raggedness that helps make them one of the best live outfits currently doing the rounds and this matinee was no different.
The “restraints” of an acoustic set up didn’t lessen the impact or passion of songs like I Feel Better and Fast Blood, while a solo encore of Poke, performed from amidst the crowd, further highlighted Hutchison’s natural ability to deliver an impassioned vocal tinged with an endearing vulnerability.

2008: A Musical Odyssey

January 13, 2009

Who cares about the ramblings of this particular writer?

Certainly not the Donny Tourette look-a-like who saw my note-taking as enough provocation to unleash a monosyllabic torrent of abuse during a White Lies’ set – “so you’ve got a pen and a beard, that makes you a writer?” “No” I said, “I’ve got a pad too”

It’s unlikely the Sergeant fan who took a swipe at me when I attempted to leave Tut’s will care for my musical musings either but that’s fine.

One of my proudest journalistic moments of the last twelve months was having two Hedrons’ fans posting less than flattering reviews of me. One Hedron-ite cleverly turned my own words against me. I had said The Hedrons were more concerned with “hair flicks than guitar licks”. Now I know what you’re thinking, not only does that rhyme but it also insults the loathsome Hedrons – it’s brilliant on two levels. Well it’s nothing compared to the zinger that Ken the karate enthusiast from Kilmarnock came up with – “He probably doesn’t have any hair to flick the prick”. Pow, right inthe kisser! A triple-rhyming insult which sadly, given my follicle deficiency, is two-thirds true, the third part well that’s a matter of opinion.

Anyways with the disclaimer out of the way let’s get down to the business of looking back at 2008 with both rose- and brown-tinted glasses. I’ve seen some truly memorable gigs this year. Some like The Twilight Sad, Fleet Foxes and Frightened Rabbit will be eternally etched in my memory.

Others thankfully have been all but erased. The Courteeners – anyone for another NME tip, nope didn’t think so. The Long Blondes – nothing songs, nothing band, nothing more to say. The Ting Tings – shut up and let me go… was all I could think at their Tut’s gig. Noah and the Whale – at least I couldn’t see what was going on, God bless the Cabaret Voltaire.

Another boat I missed was the Vampire Weekend ferry to mediocrity. What a surprise Edith Bowman thought they were “amazing”. It’s a little known fact, mainly because I made it up, but every time Mrs Editor says “amazing” a child dies in Africa. In the words of Woody Allen “oh what I’d do for a sock full of shit”, ok so I’m
paraphrasing but you get the gist.

While I’m on this Bowman tangent – sounds like a 1960s Michael Caine spy thriller – it’d be wrong if I neglected to mention the BBC’s festival coverage this year, and in particular their rather limited, Scotia-fied TITP highlights. Anyone for an Amy Burger King half hour special or how about seeing The Fratellis, the winners of this year’s “We Got Found Out” Award, dispense Chelsea Dagger for the umpteenth time.

Added to the general dearth of watchable bands was the usual array of inane pundits and filler-pieces. Of course we mustn’t forget, try as we might, Zany Zane Low and his insightful and always objective comments. He too lives in a magical music world where every band that appears on screen is “wicked”, where never a negative word is spoken or bad thought brewed.

In reality most music is average, a small fraction warrants “amazing” status while at the other end of the spectrum there are those bands so truly awful that upon listening to them your ears start to increase wax production in an attempt to block them out.

At this point I was going to make more hilarious insights into the state of music in 2008 but frankly I can’t be arsed so in keeping with tradition I’m resorting to the tried and tested list format. So here you go.

THE GOOD….

Top 7 albums of 2008

1. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

2. Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight

3. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

4. The Dilettantes – 101 Tambourines

5. The Twilight Sad – Here It Never Snowed, Afterwards It Did

6. Nada Surf – Lucky

7. Dead Meadow – Old Growth

Top 5 gigs of 2008

1. Twilight Sad / Frightened Rabbit – August – Liquid Room….

2. Fleet Foxes – November – ABC1

3. Twilight Sad – June – Bongo Club

4. Spiritualized – October – ABC1

5. Frightened Rabbit – March – Barfly


THE BAD….

Top worst gigs 2008

1. Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong – January – Cabaret Voltaire

2. Sergeant – June – Tut’s

3. The Hussys – July – Tut’s

4. Hamfatter – September – Tut’s

5. CSS – October – Liquid Room

Top over-rated bands

1. Vampire Weekend

2. The Ting Tings

3. Noah and the Whale

4. Sergeant

5. Popup


THE UGLY….

Beth Ditto and that guy from the 1990s

And of course no 2008 round-up would be complete without
the obligatory ones-to-watch list.

1. Tommy Reilly

2. Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers

3. Strike the Colours

4. Haight-Ashbury

And for the first time ever the ones-to-avoid list

1. Popup

2. Sergeant

3. all bands mentioned in one-to-watch lists

4. The Hedrons

5. 1990s

6. Jo Mango

Finally the nominations are in for the Bowmans. A series of
awards that recognise the dark side of music. Here are a few of the
front runners in the main categories

Most Aptly Named Band Award

Popup – annoying like their Internet namesakes but sadly
one click doesn’t make them disappear.

The “Really, they got signed?” Award

We Were Promised Jet Packs

The Kate Nash Services to Lyricism Award

Jono – “I’m going to break the spell – I’m
going to walk on water – And I’ll be feeling swell – I’ll be like Harry
Potter” – taken from Here We Go

Best Crowd Chant Award

Sergeant Fans – “Here we, here we, here we f*cking go!”

Law Fans – “Here we, here we, here we f*cking go!”

View Fans – “Here we, here we, here we f*cking go!”

Find out who won what next year. Till then have a good Festivus and remember a Fratellis CD isn’t just for Christmas, it’s also for the bin.

The Edge Festival 08

January 12, 2009

THE EDGE FESTIVAL / VARIOUS VENUES. EDINBURGH

After a successful eight year stint, it was announced back in February that T on the Fringe was no more. The T in question, Tennents, felt the month-long festival had run its course and consequently withdrew sponsorship.

Thankfully promoters DF didn’t give up on the idea, instead choosing to re-invent and re-brand the event as The Edge Festival. Just how this “new” endeavour would be affected by the lack of big moneybacking soon became clear when the programme was published.

Gone were the stadium shows and the number of high-profileinternational acts was noticeably reduced. Instead the focus shifted to emerging talent with a few crowd-pleasing names thrown into the mix to ensure numbers.

On paper it looked like a chance to unearth some previously hidden gems and to discover the next generation of Scottish bands. In reality however it was a decidedly hit and miss affair that although not without sometruly memorable nights overall failed to dazzle.

One of the first bands hoping to leave their mark was London quartet Longview but due to malfunctioning equipment, songs that werefound wanting and a real dearth of atmosphere their rather lacklustre display proved less than enthralling. The same could be said of former Joseph Klinchpin Paul Haig whose run-of-the-mill set provoked little reaction from the sparsest of crowds.

Meanwhile back at the Cabaret Voltaire things finally picked up with the arrival of Stockholm’s Shout Out Louds. The quintet’s multi-layered brand of indie-pop may have suffered early on due to muddy bass-heavy sound but, by a particularly joyous rendition of The Comeback, proceedings were back on track.

Lifted from their recent sophomoric offering Our Ill Wills, Time Left For Love and Tonight I Have To Leave It made the biggest impacts while older favourites Very Loud and Please Please Please bounced along in irresistible fashion.

During thesecond week it was the home-grown talent which shone brightest thanks primarily to The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit sets, while the much-hyped Noah andthe Whale did little to suggest their press attention is warranted.

One of only a handful of sold-out shows, the Twickenham folk popsters may have won over the packed crowd but armed with songs which more often than not felt like background music, mustering any real enthusiasm for the four-piece was an effort. The one song of note, Five Years Time, did prove memorable but mainly due its similarity to Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha.

Of the four bands appearing at the Liquid Room the following night for a Your Sound Showcase, only one left its mark – Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers. Thecombo is the brainchild of Glasgow-based Ali Downer, a prolific and well-travelled singer/songwriter with a knack for writing upbeat bluegrass-infused folk songs that can get a crowd moving. Downer and his three-piece backing band did just that thanks to an energetic and infectious performance – debut single Twisted Mile and B-side My Mule the standout tracksin a set annoyingly cut short by the previous bands poor time-keeping.

Performances from psychedelic dance trio Midnight Juggernauts, Clare and the Reasons and the effervescent Bombay Bicycle Club ensured the Edge finished on a high but with many of this year’s gigs feeling like fillers it remains to be seen if we’ll be returning to the Edge in 2009.