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  • Alistair Braidwood

New Musical Success: A Review Of The Best New Music From The Last Month…

It’s the time for everyone’s end of year lists, and as SWH! will be posting our own in the coming days and weeks it would be a touch hypocritical to complain, but I do feel for writers, film makers, musicians, etc, who put out something new in November/December as they are often overlooked in the rush to compile and commemorate what’s gone before. Well, not on our watch.

What follows are the best tracks to reach our ears over the last month, including some rocking rockabilly, mind-expanding psychedelia, indie-agitpop, a natural beauty, a multi- genre triumph, and a song which became an anthem for many in 2018. It’s a fine selection which also acts as a neat summary of what was an inventive and eclectic year. More of that very soon, but in the meantime…

We have been fans of The Strange Blue Dreams at SWH! for a long time, (and also of their alter egos The Shiverin’​ Sheiks). Their latest single is ‘Man’s Game’, and it is that rarest of beasts – a good song about football, one packed full of metaphor and meaning, comparing the ups and downs of the beautiful game to the trials and tribulations of life. And if that sounds a bit ‘Thought For The Day’, have no fear – The Strange Blue Dreams deliver a slice of off-kilter rockabilly and skiffle, full of twangy guitar and a snare as tight as a drum, sounding for all the world like the house band in a Coen Brothers’ movie.  Catch them for yourself at Glasgow’s Oran Mor tomorrow night (5/12/18). In the meantime, this is ‘Man’s Game’:

Making a late bid to be included in those Best Albums Of 2018 lists are Strike The Colours with their latest release, Flock. Taking inspiration from the often wild side of the natural world, it’s mood is one which has a touch of Gothic folk while remaining resolutely contemporary, and it feels perfect for this time of year. A winter walk will be greatly enhanced with Flock as your soundtrack.  As you would expect from a record featuring musicians who have, in their time, played with BDY PRTS, Arab Strap, CHVRCHES, Mogwai, A Mote Of Dust, and Idlewild (among others) the record oozes class and quality. Add in guest appearances from Louis Abbot and Emma Pollock and what you are looking at is a sure-thing in terms of great music. If you’re quick you can see them live (supported by Rick Redbeard) at Glasgow’s Hug & Pint on the 16th December. In the meantime this is ‘Final Eyes’:

The announcement of new music from Barrie-James is arguably the most welcome of 2018. You may know him as the front man of Kassidy, cos he was, but he is back with a new solo album Psychedelic Soup which will be with you in 2019. From it is the single, ‘Free Like A Bird’, and it is some classic old-school psychedelic rock that puts you in mind of the 13th Floor Elevators, Pink Fairies and Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, with James’ unmistakable vocals to the fore. I’ve been lucky enough to see Barrie-James live a couple of times in the last year (as part of the excellent Gigs at Braemar Gallery) and he is mesmeric and magic. You can witness this for yourself on December 7th in Glasgow at The Old Hairdressers. This is ‘Free As A Bird’, and if Syd Barrett was making music today it would go a little something like this:

Considering the potential source material there has been a distinct and surprising lack of musical reaction to the political events of recent times, bar the odd song. Where are today’s Housemartins, Redskins or Half Man Half Biscuit? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back to the stage, after too many years away, The Hector Collectors who have a new album Remember the Hector Collectors? .​.​You Won’t Believe What They Sound Like Now!. On it they address the political, social and culture discourse of the last decade and, unsurprisingly, find they have plenty to say. The first single is ‘Edgelords’ which takes on social media and the trolls who reside there. The sound is still that of classic indie pop similar to those names above, and it could just be The Hector Collectors time is now. Take a listen to ‘Edgelords’ and see if you agree:

One of the best albums of 2018 is Be Kind by Starry Skies, a musical collective collected from bands such as Sister John, The Sweetheart Revue, Tenement and Temple, and The Gracious Losers, among others, led by Warren McIntyre, a man who lives and breathes music. It is a wonderful record from start to finish, but one track in particular became an anthem for 2018. The song is the titular ‘Be Kind’ and it now has a video to accompany it. This has been a year where themes of love, peace and harmony, kindness and care – for yourself and others – made a welcome comeback, at least among the beautiful people who listen to the Starry Skies, and those who read and follow SWH!. You want proof? Just look back at the music featured in these reviews over the past year and you’ll see I’m right. Sit back, make yourself comfortable, and listen to ‘Be Kind’. It’s a mantra for a better life:

Straight outta Shetland, and sounding like Ween and They Might Be Giants hanging out with Hall & Oates, Big Time Quell are here to talk about the ‘Midnight Jaguar’ (which, for some reason, sounds filthy). It’s a trip fantastic across the genres with the synths and sounds of dance and disco mixing with face-melting lead guitar, the driving drums and bass of Prog, and a little sax thrown in for good measure. It shouldn’t work, but listen below and you’ll see that, somehow, it does. With an EP, Hardman Ponytail, coming soon this is just the beginning. 2019 could just belong to Bit Time Quell? If it does then it starts here with ‘Midnight Jaguar’:

As any fule kno, the greatest rock bands come in threes – Motorhead, ZZ Top, Nirvana, Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Husker Du, Buffalo Tom, Dinosaur Jr – heck, even The Police, to make a point (and if you can forgive the sins of Sting). Proving me right are Dead Fiction, a band who deal in epic and anthemic rock which will take your head clean off. Their eponymous EP is out now, and it is relentless from start to finish, and will delight fans of The Foo Fighters, Feeder, Faith No More – and that’s just the f’ing Fs. Dead Fiction are clearly a class act and if you are a fan of any of the bands mentioned above then you have to check them out. Do that now as, from the Dead Fiction EP, this is ‘Crushed By The Weight’:

That’s yer whack for this month, but don’t go far – as promised our Tracks Of The Year will be with you very soon…


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