IT has been a massive week for Scottish music with the announcement of The SAY Award winner and another influx of new tunes from bands across the country. In this bumper edition of New Music Radar, we bring you The Vegan Leather, Gallus, Quiche, Alex Amor, Bemz and many more.
The Vegan Leather ‘Gloaming’
A year on from the release of their debut album ‘Poor Girls / Broken Boys’, The Vegan Leather are back and ushering in an exciting new era with the release of their first new single of 2020. Taking its name from the old Scottish word for ‘twilight’, ‘Gloaming’ is an exhilarating return from the Paisley art-pop group that brings their deep-rooted electronic influences to the forefront while retaining all of the vibrant infectiousness that put them on our radar in the first place.
Inspired by a reading of Emily Brontë’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, Marie Collins takes the lead over an eerie smattering of synths and a four-to-the-floor drumbeat as her haunted vocals conjure images of wild, untamed landscapes and feverish dark nights; where sinister, otherworldly forces are at large, attempting to lead us astray. It is a tale of temptation, a tussle between human goodness and the demons that lie within, set against swirling, atmospheric soundscapes that become increasingly frenetic as the track progresses. Marked by its incredible urgency, it all builds up to the kind of delirious dancefloor-ready climax that The Vegan Leather have always excelled in.
Originally taking shape a couple of weeks after the release of ‘Poor Girls / Broken Boys’ before being completed in lockdown, ‘Gloaming’ saw the band retreat to the DIY recording methods that had proved so fruitful throughout their formative years. Adding a raw vitality to the recording, it bears all the hallmarks of a VL classic.
After first arriving back in 2018 with a completely undiluted and riotous brand of punk rock, it’s fair to say that Gallus have gradually evolved into an entirely new force of rock & roll, cleverly expanding their songwriting with new dynamics and influences while retaining the ferocious, high-octane energy that drew us to them in the first place. We only need to look at their recorded output of 2020 thus far as evidence; from the punchy, whip-smart charm of ‘Breathless back in March to the playful yet ferociously incisive ‘Eye To Eye’ and now the brand new ‘Marmalade’.
Recorded at their regular haunt 7 West Studios with Chris Marshall and Johnny Madden, the band’s latest outing is arguably their finest and most dynamic to date. From the very outset, they channel a Parquet Courts-esque combination of propulsive post-punk and modern ennui; feelings of anxiety and paranoia almost emanate from the feverish instrumental as Barry Dolan offers no shortage of lyrical quips over a relentless stream of duelling guitars and pulse-quickening rhythms.
Peppered with flashes of character and creativity, they delve into the kind of audacious breakdown that Squid would be proud of, tramping up the melody without losing any of their trademark aggression, before seeing things out in thrilling fashion with a blast of guttural vocals and hardcore punk. It’s an invigorating listen which is sure to blow the cobwebs away.
Renowned as one of the nation’s most unrelentingly creative outfits, Quiche have returned in typically dissenting fashion with the blistering ‘Hor-Cha.’ If the rest of their work could be considered exploratory or rooted in venturing to the outer-reaches of music’s more hallucinatory realm, then this 2 minute and 45 second melee of energy is the sobering light of the morning after.
Produced by Chris Marshall, the man that’d helped to cement the blueprint for Glasgow’s modern-day interchange between punk and indie-pop has given them room to inspect its boundaries without displacing their tendency towards musical flights of fancy. Proving themselves to be anything other than risk-averse, ‘Hor-Cha’ sees the Glasgow-based sextet imbue a chaotic barrage of guitars and frenzied vocals with a refreshing cocktail of melodies that’d be more commonly associated with the unremitting exuberance of 60’s pop.
Alex Amor ‘Prove Me Right’
After gliding onto our radar last month with ‘The Part with Each Other’, Alex Amor has returned with a second single called ‘Prove Me Right’. The track finds the Glaswegian singer-songwriter delving into the emotional labyrinth that is online dating as she contemplates the uncertain nature of it all. Opening with a hopeful guitar line, producer Karma Kid transforms the track into a punchy pop jam with strong, steady beats echoing around Amor’s intimate musings and cynical barbs. It’s a minimalist yet delectably smooth slice of pop that digs deeper than first expected as Alex Amor reinforces her undeniable potential.
Stanley Odd ‘She’s a Wee Witch’
Appropriately timed for the Halloween weekend, Scottish hip-hop outfit Stanley Odd have shared a new track titled ‘She’s a Wee Witch’. Following on from last month’s ‘KILLSWITCH’ single, a track brimming with tension and clinical social commentary, ‘She’s a Wee Witch’ showcases a different side to the collective with its emotive melodies and wistful atmospherics. Solareye takes the lead on the track; his inimitable flow delivered clearly over a brooding piano melody which gradually builds with the addition of acoustic guitars and crisp drum beats. It all comes to a head with one final, rousing chorus as the six-piece channel Massive Attack in with a burst of richly atmospheric and ethereal textures. Injecting some hauntingly beautiful folklore into their signature hip-hop infused sound, it’s an intoxicating listen that feels sinister and vulnerable in equal measure.
Solareye said the song was born, “in the just-before-dawn half-light, when the space between worlds is paper thin and magic leaks through, spilling along intoxicated neural pathways.When the light through the old wooden-framed, single-glazed window hits her in just a certain way. You can see it. She’s a Wee Witch’. I think she’s pure magic man.”
Dunfermline outfit Foreignfox are the purveyors of a profoundly cathartic brand of alt-rock. Led by the impassioned vocals of Jonny Watt, the band are known for purging their innermost demons against towering, guitar-driven soundscapes that are completely uncompromising in their honesty and entirely visceral in their impact. After re-emerging with the dark and unflinching ‘EXIT//FRAME’ earlier this year, the band are taking us on another emotional journey with the release of ‘Fractions’, a track which transforms sad, sombre reflections into intensely cathartic revelations. A slow and subdued instrumental forms the backdrop to Jonny Watt’s opening expressions of sadness and regret before the track kicks up a gear. It’s a transformative shift, signalled by the arrival of galloping drums and punctuating guitar riffs as the crescendo builds and builds in what feels like an incredibly self-affirming exercise in catharsis. Bound to conjure a visceral reaction from fans and new listeners alike. Foreignfox have returned inspired and invigorated to their very core.
Bemz ‘Saint of Lost Causes’ EP
Ayrshire rapper Bemz is ready to put Scottish hip-hop on the map with the release of his new EP ‘Saint of Lost Causes’. Featuring collaborations with Cold North, Paque, Kobi Onyame, Oyakhire and Hamz, it’s a compelling introduction for those not yet acquainted with the Nigerian-born, Glasgow-based artist. Bolstering his production with an amalgamation of styles, the EP oscillates between minimalist soundscapes and radio-friendly bangers with ease. On ‘Bando 2 Studio’ he is ferocious in delivery, rapping as a “black kid in a white city” against an atmospheric backdrop of clinical beats and cloud-rap synths. Elsewhere ‘What It Seems’ is warm and lustful and the self-aware ‘Flex’ is built around a delectably smooth, beat-driven instrumental. The Kobi Onyame-assisted ‘Suddenly’ is an undeniable highlight, lending smooth Afrobeat textures to the collection while Onyame delivers the earworm hook. Rooted in personal experience and raw, honest self-expression, ‘Saint of Lost Causes’ is a bold, refreshing and uncompromising collection from one of our brightest stars.
MEMES ‘Oll Korrect’
Known for their acerbic wit and oppositional tones, Glasgow duo MEMES have spent the last year perfecting the art of crafting short but powerful blasts of minimal post-punk that rarely surpass the two and a half minute mark. Their latest single ‘Oll Korrect’ is a gnarly, off-kilter number that revels in its eccentricities, both lyrically and sonically, as frontman McLinden unleashes his frustration over a mix of heavy, barbed guitars and relentless rhythms. MEMES are here to wreak havoc and their sound remains raw, unfettered and thrillingly unpredictable.
The band say of the song “The tempo’s wrong. The drumming’s wrong. The bass is wrong. The guitaring is wrong. The singing is wrong. The words are wrong. But put together, it’s Oll Korrect.”
NANI ‘Pure Frustration’
New to the pages of New Music Radar, Edinburgh-based artist NANI recently popped up in our inbox with a stream of her new EP titled ‘Pure Frustration’. The six-track collection, which follows her 2019 EP ‘ROSES’ and her most recent single ‘Let Me In’, marks our first initiation into the singer-songwriter’s alt-pop world; a place where smooth vocals and guitar/synth soundscapes blend together in a sweet, lo-fi dream. The ‘Pure Frustration’ EP draws from a wide range of mostly modern influences; it’s impossible not to hear The xx in the EP’s atmospheric title track while there are sharp lyrical quips throughout that recall the likes of Marika Hackman. Traversing through an eclectic mix of sparse, R&B-infused arrangements and sunny, guitar-driven melodic pop, it’s a seductive collection that is ultimately about NANI trying to make sense of the world around her. Fans of Feist, The Japanese House and Clairo should sit up and take notice.
Man of Moon ‘Strangers (Amber Leith remix)’
Fresh from the release of their long-awaited debut album ‘Dark Sea’, Man of Moon have teamed up with long-time collaborator Amber Leith for a remix of one of its standout tracks. The producer gives the track a new lease of life, transporting us to the 90s with the influence of acid house in its propulsive opening before taking a left turn with an acoustic guitar breakdown. It’s another hugely creative and organic collaboration that showcases the Edinburgh outfit’s versatility.
Amber Leith said “With this remix of Strangers I wanted to channel the spirit of the 90s, the acid synth line in the original being a great place to start. The drums are a huge tribute to my favourite dance music producers The Chemical Brothers and the acoustic guitar breakdown was a pure fluke that completely worked and makes the whole remix. Remixing Man of Moon is always a pleasure and made me pine for the time when clubbing was allowed and I pray it isn’t too much longer until I can hear the remix over huge PAs at a M.O.M afterparty.”
Mogwai ‘Dry Fantasy’
Scottish post-rock giants Mogwai have announced details of a new album titled ‘As The Love Continues’, slated for release on February 19th, 2021. The album has been previewed this week with a stunning track called ‘Dry Fantasy’ – one which moves away from the guitar-based grandiosity we’re used to hearing from the outfit in favour of an ominous, synth-based instrumental.
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard ‘30,000 Megabucks’
Marc Bolan is reincarnate in Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard’s frontman Tom Rees. The Welsh outfit are all about the classic rock’n’roll and their latest song ‘30,000 Megabucks’ offers us yet more evidence of their undeniable songwriting prowess. A brilliantly unkempt rocker fully of glam guitar lines and palpable energy, they say “‘30,000 Megabucks’ was inspired by a seemingly ridiculous but very real request from an old publishing agency that I was with, who wanted £30,000 to release me from the deal.”
Black Country, New Road ‘Science Fair’
This British post-punk septet are the latest to emerge from the Speedy Wunderground universe, following in the footsteps of Black Midi, Squid and other shape-shifting, nosie-addled groups of the same ilk. Having built a great deal of buzz around their mystifying live shows, the band have followed up a number of early single releases with the crawling, intense epic that is ‘Science Fair’. It’s a perfect encapsulation of those live shows; squalling guitars battle against viola and sax loops while frontman Isaac Wood delivers his spoken-word style lyrics with increasing intensity, gradually becoming more wide-eyed and consumed as it reaches a dramatic finale. Unlike anything out there at the moment, ‘Science Fair’ also marks Black Country, New Road’s first release since signing to Ninja Tune and announcing their debut album ‘For The First Time’ (out in February).
Black Honey ‘I Like The Way You Die’
Since the announcement of their new album ‘Written & Directed’ album which arrives in January, Black Honey have returned with a renewed sense of purpose and drive. Following earlier outings ‘Beaches’ and ‘Run For Cover’, their new single ‘I Like The Way You Die’ sees them continue in their rich vein of form with a bloodthirsty attack on male egotism. It’s a stomping three minutes that finds lead singer Izzy B Philips in incendiary form; her slightly distorted vocals full of power and venom.
Coach Party ‘Really OK on My Own’
Fast-becoming one of our favourite new guitar bands, Isle of Wight four-piece Coach Party have unveiled yet another earworm called ‘Really Ok on My Own’. The band’s growth on the track is unmistakeable as they showcase a more vulnerable and relatable side to their writing; something which has become more prevalent since they released their ‘Party Food’ EP back in June. Pairing stark confessions with their signature indie-grunge sound, they explore the complexities of love and the pressure of balancing independence within relationships via big powerhouse choruses and fuzzy guitar hooks. It’s a track that channels early Wolf Alice and we’re here for it.
April ‘Luna EP’
Irish newcomer April has followed up her ‘New Conditions’ EP with a new contemplative collection called ‘Luna’. The EP takes the quiet reflection of her debut and adds a broader sonic palette, pairing her sharp, confessional lyricism with soulful grooves, electronic glitches and a delectably smooth production. Reaching into her innermost thoughts, it makes for a devastatingly emotional yet wholly immersive listen as she explores themes of self-doubt and uncertainty over the four tracks. ‘Watching You Disappear’ is perhaps the EP’s standout track, a stunning example of April’s melancholic vocals and lush, spacious soundscapes.
Iraina Mancini ‘Shotgun’
Iraina Mancini has teamed up with producer Jagz Krooner (Manic Street Preachers, Primal Scream) to create seductive and noir ‘Shotgun’. Infusing elements of jazz and soul, ‘Shotgun’ is a smoky and atmospheric track that invokes Hollywood’s golden age. The song’s video features some iphone and 8mm footage shot by Iraina herself – a fitting accompaniment to a song that beautifully marries the old and new. With a 5 track EP lined up for release in early 2021, fans of Iraina Mancini needn’t wait too much longer for more.
PREGOBLIN ‘Snakes and Oranges’
South London duo PREGOBLIN are an intriguing prospect; known for matching dark lyrical themes with majestic, luxuriant soundscapes. Their latest ‘Snakes and Oranges’ is a song about violence delivered via 70s-inspired dancefloor ready pop; its bombast and theatricality offset by an underlying sense of uneasiness.
Keep up to date with the playlist below.