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  • Alistair Braidwood

August Company: The Best New Music From The Last Month…

Yes. Now that I’ve answered that question we can crack on with the best new music from August. Of course, there’s a little bit of politics, but if you’re sick of that type of thing there’s plenty of other tunes to warm your heart; some bold, often beautiful, but always brilliant music to allow you to fill yer boots.

There’s quite a few to get through, and I know everyone’s time is precious, so let’s crack on. First off is one of the albums of the year, and a group so “Super” they put Asia to shame (one for the early-’80s proggers there). It’s released under James Yorkston’s name, but The Cellardyke Recording and Wassiling Society features members of Mogwai and Hot Chip, The Pictish Trail, KT Tunstall, Emma Smith, Jon Thorne and many, many more.

If you’re a James Yorkston fan, and you must be, you are in safe hands here as songs such as ‘Guy Fawkes’ Signature’ and ‘The Blues You Sang’ are among the best he has ever written. I should also mention the CD is a beautiful thing to own, with a gorgeous cover and sleeve, and a welcome booklet of lyrics. Here is the opening track ‘Fellow Man’ followed by a short film about the making of the album, with an introduction from The Pictish Trail himself:

An introduction (and induction) by The Pictish Trail: “Behold, the peaceful Scottish sea-side village of Cellardyke, hidden away in the East Neuk of Fife – home to a loose-knit community of artists and creative types, happy to exist on the fringes, away from the exorbitant rents and beer prices of the big smoke. Indeed, who is that on the shorefront, howling his lungs out in the tattie-brown baseball cap and striking maroon corduroy trousers? Why, it’s beach-crooner, pub-comber and local pop star, James Yorkston, of course – and he very much wants you to join The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society (CRAWS).

“On this, his eighth studio album of original material for Domino Records, singer-songwriter James Yorkston takes the listener off the road, inviting us into much more intimate territory; arguably his most personal record yet, these are reflective and affectionate songs about life closer to home, fatherhood and the people dearest to his heart.”

Next up is another slice of tremendous electro-pop from Scots Whay Hae! regulars, Night Noise Team. From their latest album, Rever Electrique, this is the single ‘Days’. There’s Devo, New Order, Human League and anything Vince Clarke was ever involved in, with healthy splashes of funk and disco; this is so far up my street we’re practically living together:

And now for something more pared back and stark, and really rather beautiful. Owen McAulay channels Nick Cave, Robert Wyatt, the aforementioned James Yorkston; or (insert your favourite classy songwriter here) on his latest single ‘The Line’. It starts off mainly acoustic, but there’s enough interesting instrumentation to make this stand out from the crowd. I think you’ll enjoy this:

Sometimes you hear a song and on first listen you know that this is something special. That’s the way I felt about ‘Animals’ by In-Flight Safety who got in touch last month. I wasn’t aware of them before, but that has all changed and this song has been my regular start to the morning over the last four weeks. Have a listen, and if you don’t stick it straight on once it’s done I’ll be… Well, I’ll be surprised, to say the least:

But we can’t pretend we are not living in momentous times, and I’m going to leave you with songs from two of Scots Whay Hae!’s favourites making the plea for a “Yes” vote. You may accuse me of bias, but I’m not claiming to be impartial. Having said that, you’ll have to believe me when I say that I didn’t get any “No” music to even consider, which I would have if it had been sent and was good. First up is ‘No More – (Say Yes’) from Collar Up; a heartfelt plea with a video reiterating their point of view, with facts to accompany the feelings:

And finally, from the pencil of the mighty Stanley Odd, ‘Son, I Voted Yes’, which pretty much sets out the reasons I’m voting yes but in a classier manner than I could ever manage. I recently saw Odd perform at The Empire Cafe and he was superb, holding the crowd (not his normal audience, I would venture) in the palm of his hand. He is fast becoming one of Scotland’s best musicians and lyricists, if he isn’t already, and this is just further evidence to back that claim up:

Right, I’m off on the yearly trip through the Caledonian Canal, and when I get back votes will be cast, as will the die. How will Scotland look, feel, and sound, in the months and years to come? Who knows, but whatever the result we are all, or at least most of us are, after a better world even when we disagree as to how to achieve it. So, in the words of Theodore “Ted” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq, “Be excellent to each other”. Here endeth the lesson…


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