Stereo, Glasgow, October 2 * * * *

Having recently produced one of the albums of the year – Seven Roads – Jenny Reeve’s Strike The Colours appeared at a sauna-like Stereo tonight to celebrate its release. Sure to be buoyed by the strong turn-out, the willowy singer and her well-honed four-piece band set the tone from the off with sublime opener Cold Hands. Reeve’s hushed, soulful vocal and the song’s understated instrumentation making for a captivating four minutes.
New single Breathing Exercise, with its brisk drums and dark yet uplifting chorus, proved an instant favourite among the crowd while The Things I Can’t Explain’s dreamy meandering verse and contemplative lyrics made it the pick of numerous highlights that peppered an at times enchanting performance.
While most of the crowd listened on appreciatively there were some for whom chatting was more of a priority. It took a light-hearted plea from Reeve before Train Of Thought and a quick round of shushing from those down the front to silence the ignorant element.
Thankfully however by Rivers the crowd was once again focused on the stage. Joined by former Aereogramme singer Craig B, it provided a suitably atmospheric finale to what was a thoroughly compelling display.

Captains Rest, Glasgow, November 14 * * * *

In the past the intimate confines of the Captains Rest’s basement have made gig-going a distinctly unsatisfying experience. A full house usually means the majority of punters can’t see while sound often deteriorates when the volume gets cranked up to eleven.
Tonight however the tiny room was the perfect location to witness and enjoy a glowing performance from Glasgow indie-folkster Jenny Reeve’s band Strike The Colours.
During the course of their all too brief six-song set multi-instrumentalist Reeve and her interchangeable band put in a thoroughly assured and at times captivating display.
One constant throughout was Reeve’s natural, heart-felt delivery – the gentle anguish in her voice thoroughly convincing particularly on songs like Cat and Train Of Thought. The latter undoubtedly provided the night’s best moment, the song’s simple yet effective riff and meandering nature proving an irresistible combination.
With its more folksy vibe and lullaby quality, River – aptly named given the song’s gentle flow – provoked another rousing reaction from the small but hugely appreciative crowd and ensured Strike The Colours left the stage on a high.

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.


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


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


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.