The longlist for the 2014 SAY Award has been published.
Returning for a third year The Scottish Album of the Year Award (SAY) 2014 is possibly one of the strongest to date and recognises the outstanding albums that were released in Scotland between January and December 2013.
We were delighted to have been asked to have been a small part of the process nominating a selection of our favourite albums from last year. We do love doing a list! And, we have to say it’s great seeing both Adam Stafford and Rick Redbeard on this list, both of whom appeared at our recent gig at Mad Hatters in Inverness with Gerry Loves Records.
The next stage is for the public and judges to vote for their 10 favourite albums from the 20 that appear on the long list. Judges are then locked away in a darkened room to choose a winner from the shortlist of 10 albums with the winner being announced on 19th June at the Barrowlands in Glasgow.
The Ironworks in Inverness return with another Easter Showcase on Sunday 20th April.
The line-up for this year’s Easter Showcase has been programmed in partnership with goNorth and promises to be an eclectic mix of acts from Inverness and the surrounding area.
With eight acts on the line up there should be something for everyone. There’s certainly a couple of new acts that we are looking forward to seeing for the first time.
The showcase series is a great opportunity for acts to develop their audience and for people to discover some of the grass roots talent that is emerging through the current music scene.
Make no bones about it we are especially looking forward to the tantric fuzzy wall of sound that is The Garden Of Elks. It’s a long overdue shot of adrenaline for us.
We also have to mention Lionel who continue to impress us at every turn and especially so when they recently supported Casual Sex in Inverness. Tight and we will certainly be watching rising star Dylan Tierney once again who we last saw admirably supporting Michael Cassidy.
The Easter Showcase will be our first sighting of Schnarff Schnarff live but if what we have heard is half as good then we will raise our glasses high.
These are a few of our favourite things.
The Easter Showcase is only 5 quid for 8 acts… You do the maths.
Don’t just go if your mates in the band, embrace all and stick around to see the full line up. It’s Easter! Or you will be hunted down by an Elk….
The meaty ball hair raising rock of Fat Goth is rolling back into Inverness!
Netsounds Unsigned and Mad Hatters are delighted that the amazing Fat Goth have chosen a date with us in Inverness to promote their new album. The band are set to rip up Mad Hatters on Friday 30th May hot on the heels of their third album, One Hundred Percent Suave, released just two weeks prior.
Following on from where their last album Stud left us, One Hundred Percent Suave promises us lots of sex, its pros and cons all delivered in the band’s trademark tongue-in-cheek, uncompromising style.
The last few years have seen the Dundee based three piece successfully rise from local underdogs to rock fan favourites and recently found themselves the subject of Kerrang’s legendary Pandora strip twice, featured in the magazine and received stellar reviews. Rock Sound, Terrorizer, Q, Metal Hammer, Artrocker, The Skinny and Drowned in Sound are also amongst those who’ve highlighted the band’s humorous, brazen style.
They were nominated for a Scottish Alternative Music Award in 2013 in 2014 and have stormed a number of UK festivals including T in the Park’s BBC Introducing Stage, Arctangent, Belladrum, Go North, Wickerman and act as main support to Torche and the legendary NoMeansNo.
Supporting Fat Goth will be the dark and mesmerising sound of The Little Mill Of Happiness. Their enormous, guitar driven layered sound coupled with powerful dark lyrics make them one of the most passionate bands from the North of Scotland. Matt from the band told us they are “really looking forward to supporting one of the most exciting bands in Scotland” and that they are currently seeking out a studio to record their debut album in. If you can’t wait until the Fat Goth gig then you can catch The Little Mill Of Happiness performing an acoustic set for record store day on April 19th at Imperial Music, Inverness.
Tickets for Fat Goth/The Little Mill Of Happiness
Tickets are £5.00 (in advance) and are on sale from Friday 18th April in person from Eden Court Box Office.
When we do a review of a single/EP or album here at Netsounds towers it is usually about an act that has inspired us to rattle away in a frenzied manner at the keyboard or an act that we feel needs a special place in your music collection.
Call To Mind tick both these boxes. And, if you didn’t already know, we have a soft spot for these chaps.
But we don’t admire this band just because they are from our “heartland”, or even because we’ve become good friends with them since they sent us their first demos some 7 years or so ago. Quite simply they make a beautiful and inspired sound.
Drawing influence from musical heroes such as Sigur Rós, The National and Kate Bush paired with their love of Scotland’s dramatic outdoors they create a sound that conjures up vast sonic space and landscapes. In 2013 they joined the family of Scottish DIY label Olive Grove Records. On Monday 14th April the band release their highly anticipated debut album, The Winter Is White.
Rather than lead you into what could border on a sycophantic review we thought we would let the band personally guide you though the album, track by track. A huge thanks to guitarist Steven Gribbin for guiding us so elequently through The Winter Is White.
So, go and grab a copy of the album and take yourself outside into the great wide open or whatever takes your fancy and press play.
The Winter Is White by Call To Mind
A Family Sketch (Side A) - So, here it is: The Winter Is White. The opening scene/intro. Guitars from Jamie and myself and some unsettlingly beautiful string sounds from the Cairn String Quartet. ”You asked me and I answered back…” Martin eloquently throws that line out into a wide open landscape, whilst piano and Andrew’s bass come into focus. Joe’s drums enter and set the tone as the song begins to build. We’re on a journey to somewhere for the next 40 minutes. Come with us. But for now let’s take it back, a few years back to a room high-up overlooking the River Clyde in Glasgow. Those days seem so distant now and many things have changed in all of our lives, but music has remained constant and the musical seeds from that time and place are now presented to you over 10 tracks. Feels great to finally be having it released into the world shortly. So, back to those early meets and jams. For a while it was mainly Jamie, Martin and I spending a lot of time there working away on sounds and structures, before Andrew and Joe joined us in our creative space. For me, it was strange at first because Call To Mind were a band I had admired very much and had known about, even sharing the stage with them when I was playing in Diamond Sea at few gigs around Glasgow. One of which was the CTM EP launch in Stereo. Looking back now it was such a natural step to get together as Jamie had been beckoning at many random meetings around the town. Listening back to the album now whilst typing this, closing my eyes, the sound of A Family Sketch instantly transports me back to that rehearsal space. This feeling is so strong it may be mentioned at times throughout this track-by-track piece. Like every starting point, there are demos, ideas, conversations, thoughts, moments, and sketches…
January (You Are All I See) - There’s something in the distance, but it’s hard to define. You might not be able to understand everything. Who knows what the future holds? Questions, questions but answers? You keep pushing forward… There are so many subtleties to this track. Musically I’m playing the slide guitar part along with Jamie’s atmospheric layers. Joe and Andrew really drive this track into a hypnotic state and I particularly like Martin’s voice on this, along with all the sounds, it just takes you somewhere. The Hammond organ running through the song adds such a lovely quality, so rich sounding. The organ has a Leslie speaker, which modifies and amplifies sound by rotating sound waves and is controlled by a switch, which we had fun using. It requires someone playing the keyboard and someone using the switch to operate the Leslie speaker. The best part of the recording process for me is to try everything out, and experiment, utilising all the possibilities of the instruments to enhance the songs. Stop. Pause.
Energy//Blast - This song was already firmly rooted in the CTM repertoire and was reworked for the album so it was kind of difficult for me to approach at first. The blend of electric guitars (Jamie, sublime here) and acoustics (me, with a lovely old 12 string), uplifting piano, and again Joe/Andrew taking us into some great places are a really great mix here. This is the second track to feature the Cairn String Quartet girls. Thinking back, the day that they came in to record at The Old Mill is memorable. It was so cold in the studio that day and everyone was huddled together on the centre of the stage around a small heater, tuning up and running through their individual parts. In-between takes we would be making cups of tea and coffee to keep everyone warm. We pretty much sat in awe of them as they ran through all their parts in just a few hours. Their performances completely elevate the album and we’re very humbled to have them involved with the album. Thanks CSQ! Also a big thanks to our friend Ben Sinkie, who arranged all the strings after a night at Joe’s where we all got together and bounced some ideas around. Out in the world, on a chink of light.
The Wound & The Gift - To explain the recording process, we spent 6 days at The Old Mill, a wonderful and inspiring place down in Strathaven. The first session was 3 days long, then another 3 days in the second session, a few months later. Piano, drums, bass and some vocals/guitars were recorded at the first session. Second session we recorded the bulk of the guitars, sometimes in one take. This track is an example of that. Really like how it builds up into this massive wall of sound. During the second session I had visited the dentist early in the morning beforehand to have a tooth removed, and this directly influenced some of the guitar sounds as I was in agony!
Passing Drumochter - Drumochter is such a beautiful part of our country, whether you are standing at the summit looking out or passing by on the train or bus, it’s usually a good photo opportunity, a really spectacular scene. We performed this song live as a trio for Record Store Day 2012 at Nice’n’Sleazy in Glasgow, even though it was still taking shape. It was good to leave the rehearsal space every now and again to do some band things, like going for coffees, wandering around, going to see other bands, generally focusing on getting things together for the album. The structure this tune is very minimal musically but sonically it’s aiming for the sky and filling those spaces above the hills and valleys with swelling guitars and loops and Martin’s voice/piano. This is my favourite vocal of Martin’s on the album. I can picture him alone at the foot of a mountain, singing out into the ether.. As we come to the end of Side A, guitars crackle and sound like they are almost on fire, in the red I’m sure, halfway through the journey…You still with us? Stay with us… that loop at the end… into the run out groove… Isn’t that lovely?
Breathe (Side B) - Hello, welcome back folks. Pleasure to be with you. Listening. Together. So, Breathe. It’s hard to ignore feelings of nostalgia. This was the song that showed so much potential and ambition, from an outsider (me) looking in. That still remains to this day and is amplified considerably on the album and I’m honoured to be a part of it. The Cairn String Quartet is more to the fore in this track, melting hearts, mending hearts. Take a thrill and numb the pain. It’s not up to me to interpret Jamie’s lyrics here, but there are so many beautiful sentiments and statements pushing through. Love Joe’s drums, Andrew’s driving bass and Jamie’s roaring guitar.
Over The Machair - Another flashback to early jams and meets. This is the first song we wrote when I joined up with Jamie and Martin in the summer of 2011. Still can’t believe the passage of time. Jamie had a very definitive view of how he wanted the album to sound/be presented at a very early point and Machair has come a long way since that summer. In demo versions, I’m tapping drums with a glockenspiel beater and Jamie sings the melody through a walkie-talkie, there’s even some nice whistling in other versions. All of that helped shape the version presented to you on the album, which I think is just beautiful. It’s definitely a favourite. The shimmering, ethereal qualities are quite breathtaking at times. Martin had doubts over using the Old Mill’s grand piano but I think listening back to this track and the whole album, it was the correct decision to utilise it. Great rhythm section here, holding everything intact. Letting the guitars breathe, floating out of The Old Mill and beyond. On the outside, the winter is white… I remember driving to Strathaven during the winter, looking out at the landscapes, being influenced by the outdoors and the beauty of countryside and the interior/exterior of the Studio, such a fascinating place to be. Totally inspiring, and you can hear that space all through-out the record. Working with Marshall Craigmyle made the whole process that much sweeter as well, we were very lucky to catch him before he started a new life over in San Francisco with his wife (hi Marshall!). This is such an important part of the album for me. The Winter Is White was written down in a journal along with other bits and pieces strewn around our music space and somehow we plucked it out of nowhere, and it found its way as the lyric to Machair, and the album title.
Untitled - Nightime. It’s late and I’m still typing and it’s great to revisit the album to put together this piece. Again, this shimmers at the start and develops dynamically. Epic sounding, and sometimes our set closer when we play live. There’s definitely a great balance on the album. Really love the mix and mastering effort that Simon Johnstone nurtured throughout (Si worked on the CTM EP too). Going back to the recording process for the guitars, Jamie and I had discussed the possibility of recording them together, simultaneously, literally a few feet apart. I think in doing this, we created an intense-at-times atmosphere but it comes across well on record and by this point things have been building up to Untitled. A release almost, a letting go, emotions, moving on… And there’s the Hammond/Leslie Speaker usage again, I think by Joe and Martin this time, a beautiful sound, which takes us to…
Sightlines – Happy memories of dawn/sunrise in Sunnyside near Culloden after we played at GoNorth festival last May. Trying to take a photo of this scene out of a taxi window. The taxi driver pointing out Culloden battlefield. Driving to the Masson household, it’s very early/late? A few hours sleep. Sitting out in the sun. The hospitality in the Highlands is something else, just grand. Mrs Masson, thank you. So sparse and intriguing. Love the birds, always good to hear. Jamie recorded these down at Lower Carse, Ardersier, using just a recording app on his phone. Joe’s drums sound great, like skimming stones into a body of water. That time when you realise that you should hold onto moments, it’s the small details… Backwards/frontwards piano. Bass. Birds. Drums. Guitar Right. Guitar Left. Friends.
Chemotherapy - Flashback to our rehearsal space. Jamie, Andrew and me. An out of tune piano, not too out of tune that it was painful to play but just out of tune enough to give it some character. Bass guitar and a detuned 12 string guitar. Beautiful eerie quality to it on listening back to the demo version. Flashforward to The Old Mill. Grand piano, bass guitar, acoustic and 12 string acoustic. Marshall, we want to try something out. It should only take about 10 mins at most, can you set up a few mics around the piano please? Cool. Away we go. Lots of eye contact and nodding. A couple of takes. Great. Sounds just like that demo version minus the out of tune piano. Flashback to The Glad Cafe, our wonderful hub. We would rendezvous for breakfast at The Glad before setting off for Strathaven. Nice way to start the day. Sets us up for long hours in the studio. One morning, as a gift to Jamie, I’d brought him some words, Polaroids and doodled on some scraps of paper. One Polaroid has lived permanently on the face of his guitar amp since. The song was almost there but Jamie took some of those words come to the studio and put them together with the existing lyrics to Chemotherapy. Stolen all the light from the day. Taking just a step at a time.. We all sing and play and the piano makes an abrupt stop. End of Side B. The journey’s over. To Joe, Jamie, Martin and Andrew, well played. Pleasure creating The Winter Is White with you all. So many great memories. And to everyone else involved with the record, thank you.
Call To Mind:
Martin Ross (piano/keys/vocals)
Jamie Ross (guitar/vocals)
Andrew Masson (bass/vocals)
Joe Smillie (drums/percussions/vocals)
Steven Gribbin (guitar/vocals)
The Winter Is White is released on Monday 14th April 2014 and available through Bandcamp and other online digital stores.
The first acts have been announced for the 11th Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival on 8th & 9th August, with the Friday night headlined by the legendary Tom Jones, whilst Razorlight headline on Saturday.
Festival promoter Joe Gibbs said “Sir Tom has long been a hero of mine and it is a singular privilege to be able to welcome him to a Highland stage. We are also thrilled by the appearance of Razorlight at Bella whose last festival appearance in the Highlands was to headline RockNess in 2008.”
Included in the announcement are Netsounds favourites Casual Sex, Randolph’s Leap, Call To Mind and Frightened Rabbit.
Making his first appearance at the festival is the celebrated singer-songwriter Billy Bragg who blends folk and punk styles in protest songs and romantic ballads. Headliners of one of the days on the Hothouse second stage are blues rockers The Temperance Movement formed by Glasgow-born vocalist Phil Campbell. They have garnered a strong following after releasing their first studio album in 2013.
Other artists engaged for the lineup include: Glasgow ska band Esperanza; Danny & The Champions Of The World; The Big Fat Electric Ceilidh Band; Dorec-a-Belle; The Lorelei; Scooty & The Skyhooks; Mad Dog McRea; Caledonian Ceilidh Trail and Holly Atkinson from Inverness, the 2013 winner of Bella’s Got Talent. Many more artists are still to be announced.
It may only be March, but as always, tickets are selling fast. Belladrum has sold out each of the past five years – so don’t bugger about if you are planning on going. Full weekend, Saturday and child (12 & under) e-tickets can be purchased by going to the ticket link on the festival’s web site Tartan Heart Festival. Campervan & Caravan tickets for the event have sold out already.