MY home town Glasgow is a world class music city, of that there is no doubt. I go to four or five gigs a week. That said, I must admit that I do sometimes get annoyed at the stinking piles of substandard and mediocre music cluttering my ears.
I’ve always been vocal about my dislike of people with instruments posing as “creatives”. Many of them are merely mimicking their favourite bands and it is banal, boring and tedious at times.
Often, I tell the truth to my detriment. Musicians ask me for my opinion on their work, then take the huff when I tell them the truth. I don’t ever want to be too negative but I’m not going to pretend that I think something is good enough, when it isn’t.
Thankfully, every so often something truly special comes along, in a wee venue, right in front of me I can feel the magic happen and I get a wee burst of inexplicable excitement. It is then that I remember why I am still in this city and why I love the wealth of musical diversity in Scotland. When you find the good stuff, it is worth the wait!
In this guest post, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the brilliant young acts I’ve seen in 2015. Each and every one of these musicians has made me remember why I love live music.
Dirty Money Handlers
Fronted by ironing board playing bassist James Smith they are capable of cultivating a charming, inspiring yet peculiar sound. I hate using other bands to describe something new, but I am not intelligent enough to put their amazing sound into words. There are shades of The Prodigy, Sleaford Mods and The Proclaimers. I’ve saw them three times in the past four months and they are steadily creating their own unique sound. I think they are still rough round the edges but they have the potential to begin a whole new stylistic evolution of music in Scotland. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they evolve over the next year.
Bright and breezy guitar-laden, feel good, indie pop. I saw them play at the opening of Saint Luke’s, a fantastic new venue next to The Barrowlands. They were immense. I have since learned that they are being looked after by the good people at Bloc + Music and I reckon they are good in hands. Auf Wiedersen is one of my favourite songs of 2015. Debut album We Didn’t Come Here to Say Goodbye is out now.
I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with these lads from everywhere from Inverness to Brighton this summer. They have an absolutely huge sound. Their song Perfect Frame is quite possibly my favourite song anywhere at the minute and I could see it being used by Sky TV in their English Premiership Highlights. I’ve saw the band enough to assure you they are the real deal. Of course you don’t need to take my word for it, they are managed by Marcus Russell (Oasis/The Smiths) and it’s no coincidence they have signed to Atlantic Records. 2016 will be a year when people all over the world will be talking about a wee band from John O’Groats.
“If yer tired of this cancer ridden land we live in, plan a bit, demand to make this planet different” Boom! Who’s fuckin’ wae that? This young man is one of the most technically gifted emcees in UK. His ability to express his discontent with a witty sense of humour is sharper than yer butchers favourite blade. I bought his debut EP last year and still listen to it regularly. He is an exceptional talent who deserves to be heard by a wider audience.
Man of Moon
Quite simply magnificent. I struggle to put it into words. I first saw Chris and Michael at Oran Mor in 2014 as part of West End Festival. They were mind blowing then and they have went from strength to strength since. Melodic released their debut single ‘The Road’ this year to international critical acclaim. I get the impression they don’t care much for that sort of stuff though. They are playing The Hug and Pint on 17th December and then hitting The Barrowlands with Twilight Sad.
I saw these two lads for the first time a few days ago and their debut EP has not been turned off ever since. ‘ The Witch-doctor’ was released on Hits The Fan Records, produced by Marcus McKay and Joe McAlinden. Lyrically profound indie rock and rolling folk music with an accordion? Maybe. I don’t know what type of music it is but it is absolutely inspiring to see something so daring and different yet marketable. They are dangerously close to making accordion the coolest instrument in the world. I think they will be everyone’s favourite band pretty soon. TTV premiered their new video this week. Watch it below:
Aidan and Imogen are young song writers from Dumfries and they both have a knack for crafting beautifully weighted songs. Their live show utilises an MPC, ableton, guitars and loads of pedals. It’s fascinating to watch and even better to listen to. I’ve caught them live a few times now and their live performance is every bit as exciting as their recorded work. They are managed by Aimmi Dunsmuir who is responsible for much of Twin Atlantic and Eliza and The Bear’s successes. What a fantastic team! I reckon 2016 will be a huge year for them.
Admittedly I don’t know much about this lad but I do know he is a super talent and I want to skank to the brilliant sound he is crafting. He is a 17-year-old producer from Stirling signed to Los Angeles label, Soulection. He is making wild hip-hop(ish) instrumentals that have been blasting through warehouse parties all over the Europe.
This five piece smorgasbord of influences is comprised of multi-instrumentalist students from University of West of Scotland’s commercial music course. The result is a jazz-tinged hip-hop band based in Ayr. Frontman Owen Sutcliffe has presence in abundance, he raps and plays flute and bass player Ben Zlatan also breathes life into a saxophone from time to time. They are captivating to watch and are some of the funkiest musicians around. They have massive potential if they get the right team behind them. Go see them on 16th December at King Tuts.
The Van T’s
These ladies are capable of taking huge strides across America with their dirty grungey guitar sound. Any aresehole wanting to do the “really good for a girl” adage need not apply. I first saw the band at Nice n Sleazy in Glasgow, competing in Wickerman Festival competition to open the main stage. They are the real deal and their sound belongs on bigger stages. Their most recent recordings have been engineered by Chris from Catholic Action. They have an absolute dream team looking after them now and I reckon it is only a matter of time before they have a record out in US. ‘Laguna Babe’ really captures everything that is brilliant about this band. Go get it.
The following three acts are people I work with on a daily basis so I didn’t include them in the ten above. Two of them gave me the courage take a leap of faith and move into music management. I feel humbled to be part of their team and to help them in the early stages of their careers.
Their frontman techs for Hector Bizerk and has become a good friend of mines over the past year. Believe it or not, the first time I heard Other Humans was when they submitted their tracks for consideration for T Break stage at T in the Park. It was almost a completely unanimous verdict. Their song Valley is a synth-pop dream with a perfect refrain. It is so well constructed that it should be on every TV program ever broadcast. Darren Martin is a studio genius and Other Humans should be an example to other new bands. They never let anyone hear their music, live or recorded, until it was of an undeniable quality. The unquestionable quality of their recordings submitted to T Break was streets ahead of everything else in the competition. I hope that 2016 will be a huge year for these lads.
Charlotte Brimner (as she was known at the time) supported us on tour in January 2015. The first show in Inverness was a peculiar evening. We had played loads of fantastic gigs in the highlands but this night less than 100 people showed up. It can be demoralising when a tour doesn’t go the way you would like it too. We soon got over that disappointment though when Charlotte took to the stage. Here was a 17 year old, tiny wee Dundonian, leaving the audience blown away with her gigantic vocal ability, her on the spot digital compositions and live production. From the first song, I knew I was watching an incredible talent. It’s exciting and inspiring to work with such an incredible talent and I’m enjoying watching her flourish. Her performance at Tenement Trail was described as “best show of the whole festival” in The Skinny Magazine. 2016 is going to be a huge year for this wee powerhouse.
Bella and The Bear
Audrey and I went into a wee bar in Shawlands one night and there they were. There was an open mic hosted by a foul mouthed, bearded chap with a fantastic singing voice and a penchant for Bruce Springstein. He was entertaining but when he introduced the next act it was one of my favourite moments in music. There was a male /female acoustic duo. The lad playing intricate guitar immediately orchestrated narrative in itself, then enters the majestic singing voice of the pretty young lady next to him. He joins her in harmony and it is all so very beautiful. They’ve hushed a rowdy crowd and pulled them willingly into their enchanted folk tale. I was thinking these kids are pretty damn good. I loved the crafted lyrics and the dangerous rhythms, and then, out of nowhere, the lassie started to recite a spoken word poem. It was jaw dropping and I knew at that very moment I wanted everyone I know to have that same experience. They recently released A Girl Called Bella EP which has received glowing reviews across the board. You should come and see them live and see why so many people are so excited for them.