Monday, 28 January 2008

Land of Talk

I still miss Jen Trynin. She's still with us and seems happy, if her site's up to date... She was an amazing female songwriter, with an incredible ability to make a song rock hard. But, she stopped recording.

So, I've missed a female-fronted band to get excited about for a while - I though Gemma Hayes was going to get there, but her record company seemed to mishandle her (or, her PR company suck... Actually, that is more likely to be true - all my dealings with them suggest that they do, indeed, suck.). Belly, Letters to Cleo, even the Cardigans (in their occasional highlight)...

That brings me to Land of Talk, whose Sea Foam on One Little Indian's sampler (from Applause Cheer Boo Hiss) was the standout track. I don't know much about them, except that they come from Montreal. This track, Speak To Me Bones, is also a great intro...

I hope to find out more.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Chris Bathgate

I listen to about 300 full albums every year and thousands of songs by new bands, so it is rare that one leaps out and commands the kind of attention that makes you immediately go find (and buy) the back catalogue. Chris Bathgate managed that with the opening track of his new album A Cork Tale Wake - Serpentine. I wish that was available as an mp3... It's not clever, it's not especially new, but it is one of the most haunting songs I've heard in an age.

As I can't offer Serpentine, I can only recommend that you go buy it.

Here's another outstanding Chris Bathgate track, however, buffalo girl, from his previous album, throatsleep.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Kevin McDermott

Kevin McDermott is a friend of mine. Let me start with that preface... I like the chap immensely, and like his music an awful lot... I hope that I'll be able to get an Adult Alternative video session with him soon... Because, well, after some long time away, he's released an excellent album of new stuff, which is really exciting.

Here's my review:

Kevin McDermott, Wise To The Fade

Kevin McDermott is, simply, Glasgow's finest singer-songwriter. Which, when you think about the competition from that fair city (Travis, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol), Dogs Die In Hot Cars, and Teenage Fanclub to cite but a few), makes him something special - like Bob Dylan sung by Robbie Williams (but in a good way...), his songs seem at once like old eloquent storytelling friends and like the best new thing you've heard in a long time - anthemic, melodic songs that fit like your best mates after 2 pints in the local. Wise To The Fade is a return to the studio for the first time since 1997's For Those In Peril From The Sea, and a welcome return it is. This is Scotland's best singer-songwriter's best set of songs in a long while - as witty, articulate, and intensely melodic as ever, and with the unshackled feel of his second album - Bedazzled. If there's a criticism, it is perhaps that the McDermott humour dial is cranked up a touch too much. But when an album closes with songs as strong as September Songs (among his best ever – think Robbie Williams’ Angels, but cooler) and the quiet, elegiac Voices, that's a minor nitpick. If there's a precedent, it is to 1991's Bedazzled, McDermott's follow-up to his Island debut - Wise To The Fade opens the album like Hole In The Ground opens its predecessor, with a drum assault bang and a statement of intent, followed by songs that excite and affect at turns. Remarkably, Kevin McDermott's best work is done live, and this long-overdue return to the studio hopefully signals a revitalized touring schedule.

There is a BBC Radio session here. Or you could have a listen at his MySpace page. Or, you can head over to iTunes and buy it right now...