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  • Alistair Braidwood

Violet Times: The Best New Music From February…

Two months in and 2015 has already provided some great new music for your pleasure, and with a real mixture of styles and sounds. The early part of any year is often quiet but in this roundup alone there is power pop, rock, electronica, folk, funk, acoustic guitar and at least one classic in the making.

And that classic comes in the shape of Dunfermline band OSKAR and their single ‘Wildlings’. Building from the opening drums, which are reminiscent of Joy Division, and with David Stevens warm and rich vocal stylings, ‘Wildlings’ proved to be one of the best things I have heard in some time, passing the rare ‘three in a row’ test that so few songs do these days, and I’ve been playing it at least once a day since. Round about the same time I had my first listen of the new Idlewild album Everything Ever Written, which is fine, but I found myself thinking that there is nothing on it to hold a candle to ‘Wildlings’. This is how you do it:

Bands and/or their management often send Scots Whay Hae! links to all sorts of promotional bumph such as press shots, other reviews, album covers, and various other links, and all of that is genuinely appreciated, but often all you need is for someone to contact you and say “Good evening! Would love to hear what you think about our music.” with a link to listen. That’s what Thirty Three Connection did with regard to their songs ‘Heart In The Clouds’ and ‘Time and Time Again’, and I’m glad they did. To answer their question, these are two pieces of classic power pop driven by wonderful piano instead of the more usual guitar, and which puts me in mind of Tears For Fears amongst other things. I love this sort of thing, and I hope you do to:

The Mickey 9s have been worrying audiences with their particular brand of masked dance-funk for some time now, and if you get the chance to see them live you should grab it. Their latest single, ‘Psycho Control’, shows the best of what they do, with bass, drums and guitar working together to provide the perfect backing for vocalist Masked Man to do his inimitable thing. It also has the best opening to any song you’re likely to hear this year. Mickey 9s are a band completely confidant in who they are and what they do, and that’ll do for me:

I Am David Laing are fronted by the man himself, a singer/songwriter from Gourock who has been getting good press lately, and that’s going to continue here. He’s actually been around the Scottish music scene for some time, but has decided to branch out under his own name, and if the single ‘Marmalade’ is anything to go by this is a wise decision. Concentrating on melody and tune, the pared down sound works well with Laing’s plaintive vocals and world weary lyrics. Sometimes, less is definitely more. If only more people would realise this. This is ‘Marmalade’:

A band who have appeared regularly on these pages are The Winter Tradition, and that’s because they seem incapable of writing a bad song. Their latest is ‘All Back Home’ and to my ears this is a real step forward musically, adding a richer production without taking anything away from the quality of the songwriting and playing. Released today (March 9th), with an album to follow, and a cracking video to boot, The Winter Tradition are a band firing on all cylinders and you can’t shake the feeling that their time is now:

Now for something different and rather wonderful. You may have already heard of D. Gwalia and his unforgettable brand of electronica, but if you haven’t his latest album, The Iodine Trade, is a collection of songs which are pared down to a bare minimalism in the manner of Eno. Other touchstones are Cocteau Twins, Joy Division (again), Bauhaus, or a more glacial Portishead, but this is a sound all of his own creation. As a prime example, here is ‘A Day Out’, and if you like this you can find out more here. But before you do, sit back and enjoy:

One of the albums of last year was Craig Armstrong’s It’s Nearly Tomorrow and it sent me to his back-catalogue for a reminder of the breadth of his music. One piece of music I had forgotten is so good that, while it’s not exactly new, I had to play it here. It’s his remix of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ’20 mSEC’, and if you like it you can get it on Sakamoto’s album Bricolages, which is a collection of remixes of tracks from the Japanese composer’s classic 2004 album CHASM. This is quite beautiful:

See, I told you there was good music around. Come back for more from March next month…


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