15

Jan

Music Alliance Pact – January 2016

The Youth And Young

For the past three-and-a-half years, The Youth And Young have been transporting their various instruments across villages, towns and festivals in Scotland, effectively building up to the release of their debut album, which comes out on February 22. From it, we’ve got a Music Alliance Pact exclusive download of its most attention-grabbing track, Before The Wind.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 15-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The Youth And YoungBefore The Wind
There’s a palpable Celtic charm with The Youth And Young – you could imagine the sextet’s rousing folk-rock anthems inducing whisky-fuelled midnight singalongs in the Scottish Highlands. Fans of Arcade Fire and The Pogues will certainly lap up the band’s debut album Gestures, due out in February, which adds generous helpings of strings and joint male/female vocals to great effect.
February 20, La Belle Angele, Edinburgh

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09

Jan

The best albums of 2015

Kalle Mattson - The Pop Cop album of the year award - Avalanche 2015

When putting together this feature in previous years I’ve always flagged up 10 albums I genuinely loved. But for some reason there are only a few records from 2015 that I frequently go back and listen to from start to finish, so rather than eke out a Top 10 list just for the sake of it, here are my three favourites:

Chvrches - Every Open Eye cover
3. Chvrches – Every Open Eye (buy)
Chvrches’ debut, The Bones Of What You Believe, fell a wee bit flat in places, but no such disappointments with their second album. Every Open Eye is a skip-free joyride into stadium-ready synth-pop. Like Scottish compatriots Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand before them, Chvrches’ sound has come to define an entire modern movement, being imitated from everyone from Taylor Swift to Imagine Dragons. Proof that their influence will be felt for years to come.

Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
2. Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi (buy)
One of the most rewarding things about devoting yourself to following a band’s career is that you eventually associate individual albums in their back catalogue with very specific moments and memories in your life. For me, it’s Jimmy Eat World, Belle & Sebastian and Death Cab For Cutie, so perhaps eight albums is some sort of defining number. As it turns out, Death Cab’s eighth is easily their best in a decade. Just effortless, melancholy pop.

Kalle Mattson - Avalanche cover
1. Kalle Mattson – Avalanche (buy)
The Music Alliance Pact has been a constant on this site on the 15th of every month since October 2008 and, as thrilling as it is to foist up-and-coming Scottish artists upon music blog readers in different continents, it’s just as much fun to discover an absolute gem from another country. Canada’s entry in the April 2012 edition of MAP was my first introduction to Ottawa’s Kalle Mattson and I’ve been enrapt by his Ryan Adams-esque songwriting charms ever since.

His latest record, Avalanche, contains six tracks and we could argue all day about whether it ought to be deemed an album (if Kalle was Scottish it would be eligible for the SAY Award – just sayin’) or an EP or a mini-album, but all that needs to be said is that this is the strongest, most cohesive and affecting body of work I heard all year. So I tracked Kalle (pronounced like the vegetable “kale”) down in Berlin mid-tour to tell him so and present him with The Pop Cop’s annual award.

Hi Kalle, here’s your award for The Pop Cop’s favourite album of 2015.
Kalle: “Thanks so much!”

How has this record been received?
Kalle: “Avalanche took it to the next level in a lot of ways, there’s been a lot of really positive things. I’d never had songs on Canadian radio before and that’s been a really big thing for me. This was my first record on a major label in Canada and we did a lot of video stuff too.”

Were you not tempted to add another four or five songs so that more people would regard it as a ‘proper’ album?
Kalle: “These were six songs I was writing for another record but it didn’t feel like they totally connected to the batch of songs that no-one’s heard yet. They fit together as a mini-record. Even though it’s maybe considered an EP, or whatever, there’s flow to it, the songs connect to each other lyrically. They were the first six I wrote after Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold [released in 2014]. That record took a lot out of me. I was writing about my mom [who died when he was 16]. It’s hard to follow up something that’s your life all in this one entity.”

How do you feel your career has developed?
Kalle: “I’ve been lucky and had a lot of stuff on TV shows and things like that. I just tour like a maniac, it’s really the only way. In 2014, I did 160 shows in nine different countries. I hit 100 shows in 2015 along with recording a record and putting it out. And if you constantly put out records that means you can constantly keep touring. It’s a lot but I don’t really know anything else.”

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15

Dec

Music Alliance Pact – December 2015

Bossy Love

What sound do you get if you combine Glasgow and the Gold Coast? Bossy Love of course! It’s feelgood pop of the highest order, with sharp production and sass in abundance. Their Christmas cover is a fitting way to end this year’s Music Alliance Pact series.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 17-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Bossy LoveChristmas Rapping
Glasgow-based Bossy Love sees Amandah Wilkinson, one-time frontwoman of now-defunct Australian band Operator Please, hook up with Scottish native John Baillie Jnr, the former Dananananaykroyd and Alarm Bells drummer, for an ingenious RnB/electro fusion. The playfulness of their pop calls to mind The Go! Team and even the finer moments of Girls Aloud. Seriously. Tell You What could well be the catchiest single of 2015 you never heard – best put that right, eh? Since it’s the festive season, here’s Bossy Love’s reworked cover of The Waitresses classic Christmas Wrapping, renamed Christmas Rapping.
December 19: Kid Canaveral’s Xmas Baubles VI, Pilrig St Paul’s Church Hall, Edinburgh (sold out)
December 31: MILK Hogmanay Party, Bloc, Glasgow (free)

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15

Nov

Music Alliance Pact – November 2015

Armstrong

The Music Alliance Pact has been published on blogs around world on the 15th of every month for more than seven years without a pause. The latest addition to the series sees Scottish interests represented by balloon-loving Glasgow pop-punk-rockers Armstrong.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 17-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
ArmstrongThursday Night Club
It’s hard not to succumb to the youthful enthusiasm of alt-rock quartet Armstrong. Singer Nicole Mason has energy to burn and oozes star potential with an appealing mixture of confidence and glam. As a reference point, you wouldn’t be a million miles off with early Paramore. Here is an exclusive free download of the exuberant Thursday Night Club (with an ace video to boot), which can also be found on Armstrong’s self-titled debut EP, released in September and available to buy on iTunes.
January 21: King Tut’s, Glasgow (New Year’s Revolution festival)

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15

Oct

Music Alliance Pact – October 2015

JR Green

Hailing from Strontian, a small village in the north-west Highlands, JR Green are causing quite a stir in music circles, and for very good reason. Their first studio release comes in the form of a four-track EP, which is available from October 30 via Glasgow’s Hits The Fan Records. Help yourself to the heart-thumping, toe-tapping lead track as well as the rest of this month’s Music Alliance Pact selections.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 18-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
JR GreenNigerian Princess
With a modern spin on traditional folk music (accordion and mandolin feature heavily) and a healthy dose of lyrical intrigue, JR Green sound like the happy marriage of Frightened Rabbit and King Creosote. Made up of young brothers Jacob and Rory Green, their debut EP, Bring The Witch Doctor, is being released by Hits The Fan Records – the same label that released Frightened Rabbit’s first album. Sign up to JR Green’s mailing list for updates and freebies.
October 17, VoxBox Music, Edinburgh (free)
November 7, Mad Hatters, Inverness
November 8, King Tut’s, Glasgow 
November 9, PJ Molloys, Dunfermline
November 10, Electric Circus, Edinburgh

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15

Sep

Music Alliance Pact – September 2015

Daydream Frenzy

Scottish artist of the month #84 in the Music Alliance Pact series is Daydream Frenzy, who sure know their way around a tune. Turn this one up loud for maximum effect.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 18-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Daydream FrenzyPride & Wonder
Daydream Frenzy are one of the most promising alternative rock bands to emerge from Scotland in quite some time, with support from Kerrang! magazine and an endorsement from Tom Delonge of Blink-182 fame testament to the very obvious talent this Aberdeenshire trio possesses. Daydream Frenzy released debut album Pride & Wonder in March – seek it out on iTunes/Amazon/Spotify. Its title track (see video), presented here as an exclusive free download, perfectly encapsulates their appeal: jumbo choruses, exceptionally strong melodies and accomplished musicianship.
September 26, King Tut’s, Glasgow
October 31, Downstairs, Aberdeen

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15

Aug

Music Alliance Pact – August 2015

The Insomiac Project

Emailed submissions from bands specifically asking to be considered for Music Alliance Pact inclusion are actually not too common, but The Insomniac Project did just that – and here they are. Their debut single was produced by Lewis Gardiner from Prides, and there are clear similarities in the sound of the two Glasgow groups.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 17-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The Insomniac ProjectIn And Out (Of My Head)
This debut single by The Insomniac Project wears its 80s disco influences loud and proud and has all the ingredients of a synth-pop dancefloor classic. With the Glasgow six-piece having teased with a few SoundCloud demo uploads over the past year, it’s a privilege to offer In And Out (Of My Head) exclusively via the Music Alliance Pact ahead of its official release on August 31.
September 4, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow
September 25, The Admiral, Glasgow

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15

Jul

Music Alliance Pact – July 2015

Broken Boy

Festival season is in full swing and this month’s Music Alliance Pact pick for Scotland is a band perfectly suited for field-rock. Broken Boy certainly looked and sounded the part at last month’s XpoNorth Scottish Bloggers’ Showcase and I’m lucky enough to be sharing a bill with them for their next live outing.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 16-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Broken BoyJust To Leave You
St Andrews isn’t just about its university and golf, you know. The town can also boast a hugely promising young three-piece in Broken Boy, led by brothers Cameron and Stewart Black up front, with Fraser Laing on drums. MAP exclusive download Just To Leave You (see video) typifies the sort of radio-ready guitar-pop music they specialise in. They play fast and tight, ooze presence on stage and know how to write songs that crackle with energy. Broken Boy are going places for sure.
July 23: King Tut’s, Glasgow (King Tut’s Summer Night gig with Made Of Mannequins, Poor Frisco, Saint Secaire, Foreignfox and The Pop Cop DJ set)

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15

Jun

Music Alliance Pact – June 2015

The Van T's

From the city of Glasgow we bring you The Van T’s and their thrilling grunge-rock stomp Growler, one of 20 tracks handpicked from bloggers around the world in this month’s Music Alliance Pact.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 20-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The Van T’sGrowler
The Van T’s, led by grunge-loving twins Chloe and Hannah Van Thompson, might just take the Scottish festival scene by storm this summer. Since forming as a harmony-driven acoustic-folk duo, The Van T’s have undergone a radical evolution. They’re now a much noisier proposition with lashings of reverb and a Pixies-esque appreciation of pop distortion. The awesome Growler is taken from their debut EP.
June 25, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Glasgow
July 12, T in the Park, Strathallan Castle, Perthshire
July 17, King Tut’s, Glasgow (downstairs bar, free)
September 18, Art School, Glasgow (supporting Honeyblood)

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15

May

Music Alliance Pact – May 2015

The Great Albatross

I discovered the wonder of this month’s MAP pick, The Great Albatross, after helping to judge the music submissions for the upcoming XpoNorth festival in Inverness. There’s an exclusive free download below, but check out more of their songs on SoundCloud.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 19-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
The Great AlbatrossRighteous Man
Every so often you come across a new song that’s so obviously better than anything you’ve heard in months that it stops you in your tracks and makes you realise how much better life is to have it in it. For me, that special something is Righteous Man by The Great Albatross. The creator of this exceptional acoustic heartbreak is A. Wesley Chung, an American based in Glasgow. Righteous Man (video here) is taken from recent EP Roots, which features Avi Zahner-Isenberg from Avi Buffalo – he and Wesley are former bandmates.
May 30: Stereo, Glasgow (Independent Record Label Market – free)
June 10/11: XpoNorth, Inverness (free)
August 2: Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie (supporting Martin Stephenson)
August 22: Audio, Glasgow (supporting Tigers Jaw and Foxing)

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15

Apr

Music Alliance Pact – April 2015

BWANi

If I hadn’t forgotten to do an end-of-year rundown of my favourites songs of 2014 then you’d have found BWANi at the very top of that list. Quite how a band with such obvious appeal can make blistering pop singles like Make My Day and remain unsigned is a mystery.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 16-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
BWANiMake My Day
BWANi first appeared on the Music Alliance Pact as Bwani Junction in November 2010 and released two albums under their old moniker. Conveniently, the rebranded version of the Edinburgh indie-rock band has coincided with their best work to date – the relentlessly anthemic single Make My Day (backed with a barnstorming video). Get addicted to this MAP exclusive free download before it inevitably appears on album number three.
April 24, The Garage, Glasgow

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15

Mar

Music Alliance Pact – March 2015

Tongues

The last three Scottish representatives in the Music Alliance Pact – KLOËMonogram and now Tongues. – could well suggest something of an electronic renaissance in the Glasgow pop scene, or perhaps just in my own listening habits. Either way, you sense it’s only a matter of time before the city delivers its next breakthrough star and its music-making inhabitants are certainly revelling in the spotlight.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 21-track compilation through Dropbox here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Tongues.Anymore
Tongues. is the electro project of Kill The Waves frontman Tim Kwant, who is wildly succeeding in his mission to create inspiring pop songs that combine raw energy with a delicate touch. Bold synths, deep subs and soaring vocoders have justifiably drawn comparisons to Alt-J, Hot Chip and fellow Glaswegians Chvrches. With around 50,000 plays so far, Colours In The Dark sparked an online stir after being “accidentally” left public on SoundCloud earlier this year. However, MAP exclusive download Anymore is an even more impressive offering, a perfect union of uplifting and emotive.
April 12, Broadcast, Glasgow

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