Archive for November, 2010
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
For the past two years The Pop Cop has thrown down the gauntlet to photographers to compete for our Best Scottish Music Photo competition and it’s time to launch the search for 2010’s star.
Legendary Scottish photographer Harry Benson has come on board again to cast his eye over this year’s submissions after taking such pleasure from judging the 2009 entries – I’m not kidding, he doesn’t get paid to do this!
The 2009 winner, Su Anderson, bagged first prize for her shot at the top of this post of Dananananaykroyd singer Calum Gunn at T in the Park.
Here’s all you need to know about this year’s competition and the treasure trove of goodies up for grabs:
– A pair of weekend camping tickets for the Belladrum Festival on August 5-6, 2011 (plus optional photopass)
– A pair of weekend camping tickets for the Loopallu Festival on September 16-17, 2011 (plus optional photopass)
– A £50 gift voucher to spend at Park Cameras
– The winning photograph displayed on The Pop Cop website’s sidebar for the next 12 months
– You can submit up to TWO photographs
– Each photo must have been taken in Scotland
– Each photo must have been taken in a live environment
– Each photo must have been taken in a music environment
– Each photo must have been taken in 2010
HOW TO ENTER
– Email your photo(s) as a jpeg attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title Photo Competition
– Include details of where and when you took each photo
– Include your full name, address and website/Flickr page if applicable
– The closing date for entries is January 6, 2011
Good luck! We’ll publish the results in January 2011.
Many thanks to the competition sponsors:
Sunday, November 28th, 2010
If you’ve been a long-term follower of this website you’ll know I’m more fond of THE NATIONAL than any other band on the planet, so it’s fair to say I was humbled when the band took up The Pop Cop’s cause back in May, a couple of weeks after High Violet was released to huge acclaim.
Their sell-out gig in Glasgow was kicked off by fellow Brooklyn-based act PHOSPHORESCENT, who make a promising first impression. It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) is a positive statement of intent with its upbeat take on an alt-country sound that follows in the footsteps of Wilco and Grandaddy, especially with frontman Matthew Houck’s eyes hidden under a low-slung baseball cap.
The second half of their set is weighed down by some overindulgent guitar solos and rambling songs such as Wolves, which my gig buddy accurately compares to Band Of Horses played at half-speed, but there is certainly enough on show to merit a sift through their back catalogue.
Runaway is a surprising but brave opening song from The National, typical of their very deliberate, slow-burning genius. Immediately, you know you’re watching a band at ease with doing things at their own pace which perfectly sums up why their long wait for career recognition must feel even more gratifying.
Highlights are plentiful. You could pick out the unfailingly touching Slow Show or gloom-ballad masterpiece Sorrow, which singer Matt Berninger describes respectively as “perfect for weddings” and “this is our Kanye”.
Bloodbuzz Ohio is every bit as grand and beautiful as it is on record, with the blasts of trumpet giving it the aura of a royal marching anthem. It also allows the Dessner twins to take the limelight at the front of the stage, playing their guitars above their heads in unison.
Whenever I’m asked who The National sound like I always have difficulty finding obvious comparisons, but Afraid Of Everyone’s looped vocals and otherworldly harmonies of high-pitched wailing bear all the hallmarks of OK Computer. The song seems to bring out Berninger’s inner demons – as it reaches its conclusion he turns his back to the stage, beats his hands together and literally screams the lyrics “YELLOW VOICES SWALLOWING MY SOUL, SOUL, SOUL” before dropping the microphone to the floor.
Fifteen songs in and an already captivating gig suddenly takes on an incredible new dimension. When The National start playing Mr November, Berninger heads straight for the front barrier and leaps into the crowd before embarking on a Moses-esque journey which takes him almost as far as the bar at the main entrance before the end of the song forces him back to the stage, wild applause ringing in his ears.
The band waste no time in maintaining the euphoria, going straight into the classic piano refrain of Fake Empire. By the end of the song the crowd are so electrified there would probably have been a riot if The National hadn’t done an encore.
The four-song finale begins with their little-played “happy” song Wake Up Your Saints and offers the incongruous sight of Aaron Dessner doing finger snaps in time to the beat. Berninger returns to the crowd during Terrible Love for a hero’s welcome – this time he perilously balances his feet on the top of the front barrier and shimmies all the way from one side to the other.
About Today is a stunning comedown and appears to be the final act of an astounding live performance. But just when you think there are no more heights for The National to scale, all eight members discard their microphones for Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, with the audience deserving just as much credit for creating as memorable a spectacle as the Academy is ever likely to witness.
There was one last magical moment for the crowd – the sight of Glasgow enveloped in a beautiful blanket of fresh snow as they left the venue. You wouldn’t be surprised if The National had a hand in that too. It was that kind of night.
The National – Wake Up Your Saints
Phosphorescent – It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama)
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
Some things are best left in the past. In the case of musicians who go on to find any modicum of success, that usually means crimes of fashion, ‘what were you thinking’ haircuts, embarrassing live performances and atrocious early band names. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of stumbling across YouTube videos of Travis in their previous incarnation as Glass Onion (here or here perhaps?), you’ll know what I mean.
There are often unusual, fascinating or quirky stories behind why bands and even solo artists decide to change their stage names, so here’s The Pop Cop special investigation into some of the more interesting ones to come out of Scotland.
Shrug -> Polar Bear -> Snow Patrol
Gary Lightbody, Mark McClelland and Michael Morrison formed Shrug in 1994. Two years later, to avoid potential legal complications with an American band that had claimed the same name, the Dundee-based trio became Polar Bear. One day, Gary bumped into a friend who asked: “How’s your band? How’s Snow Patrol?” – to which Gary replied: “What are you talking about? We’re called Polar Bear”. However, in 1998, it was discovered that this was what former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery had called his new project and they were again forced to come up with a new name. Gary remembered the conversation and decided they should be Snow Patrol. Michael, who was replaced as drummer before they found fame, still keeps an online shrine to Shrug here.
Katie Sutherland -> Pearl And The Puppets
Cynics out there may think Katie Sutherland decided to adopt the stage name Pearl And The Puppets in 2008 in a bid to jump on the bandwagon of musicians with “And The” monikers such as Florence And The Machine, Noah And The Whale and Marina And The Diamonds. However, Katie is happy to set the record straight: “I had a personal MySpace page and then somebody said I should change it to a band one and put up some songs. I wanted to have one word to represent my music. A friend said a few adjectives and another said, ‘You’ve just described a pearl’. I fell in love with it instantly so that was it – Pearl. I was then booked for a show at the Barfly in London and they thought I was Meatloaf’s daughter, who is also known as Pearl and plays heavy metal. Could you imagine me walking on stage with an acoustic guitar and a ukulele? I had to change the name so randomly added ‘And The Puppets’. Maybe one day I’ll revert back to just Pearl.”
Pearl And The Puppets – The Sorry Song (The Pop Cop session on Subcity)
Rhode Island -> Belle & Sebastian
In the mid-1990s, Stuart Murdoch brought in Richard Colburn, Stuart David and Mick Cooke plus a host of session musicians (Brian Nugent, David Campbell, Gerry Campbell, Mark McWhirter, Michael Angus, Steve MacKenzie) to record several songs he had written under the name Rhode Island. The result was the Dog On Wheels EP, which ended up coming out on Jeepster in 1997, but not before the band had become Belle & Sebastian and released their second album.
Belle And Sebastian – Dog On Wheels
Brother Louis Collective -> Admiral Fallow
The band had been playing for four years as Brother Louis Collective before they ditched the name for Admiral Fallow in January 2010. It was very much a ‘now or never’ decision as co-vocalist/flautist/pianist Sarah Hayes explains: “The idea of a name change came up in a band meeting and we realised it would be the last chance to do it if we wanted to since our first album was about to come out. We had never been completely happy with the name Brother Louis Collective – we chose it quickly for a couple of the earlier shows and it stuck. It was a risk but we knew it would be OK as long as we made sure everyone knew it was us.”
Admiral Fallow – Subbuteo
Emma Gillespie -> Emma’s Imagination
It has been a memorable year for Emma Gillespie after bagging £100,000 in prize money, an interview with The Pop Cop and a major label recording contract. In that order. But what possessed her to change her surname to ‘s Imagination? “I just thought Emma Gillespie didn’t flow off the tongue very well. About a year and a half ago, I did some work with the guys at Up Next Records in Glasgow and they helped me come up with the new name.”
Emma’s Imagination – This Day
Ross Clark & The Scarfs Go Missing -> Three Blind Wolves
Ross Clark & The Scarfs Go Missing is possibly the most nauseatingly twee, grammatically abhorrent name for a band in music history. Thankfully, Mr Clark got a grip last year: “I had been playing with the band for a while and the name kind of made the band about me, a fact which certainly isn’t true. We had progressed together as a band and the effort put in by all of us became more of an equal affair. We are a unit and I wanted the name to reflect that.”
WeHungYourLeader -> LightGuides
Glasgow band LightGuides put their name change in 2009 down to the poignant moment the three members left university and set foot in the big, bad world. Drummer Dave Cowan: “The whole time we were WeHungYourLeader we had university commitments which led to the band being on the back foot, although it had always been our plan to make our music our number one priority once our studies were finished. Once we graduated, it felt like starting afresh. We were going from playing part-time for fun or as a hobby to trying to pursue this as our future careers, and the name change felt like a natural step in our progression.”
LightGuides – Swizzlestick
Union Of Knives -> Song Of Return
After Union Of Knives’ acrimonious split from EMI, main men Craig Grant and Chris Gordon took a year out before reconvening as Song Of Return. Craig: “I was bored out of my senses having not played live in ages so decided I wanted to get a band together to make all this new music happen live. The new stuff we had been recording had the feel of a different band anyway and as we had lost a few members to babies and weddings etc, we decided to form a brand new band. To avoid confusion, we changed the name.”
Song Of Return – The Story Of A Cell
The Ads -> Aerials Up
The Ads went through so many line-up changes that singer Alan ‘Kemy’ Kemlo and bass player David Murphy were the only founder members left. When it got to the point they weren’t even playing any Ads songs, it was time to call themselves something else. Their manager Keren McKean admits there was also a practical reason for becoming Aerials Up: “We had realised how hard it was to Google ‘The Ads’ and get the band to come up.”
Cast Of The Capital -> Weather Barn
Cast Of The Capital had built up a decent following in their native Aberdeen and further afield for four years when they rechristened themselves Weather Barn in September. There were various motivating factors, including the fact that the band had replaced their guitarist and drummer. However, their manager, Dominic Peluso, lifted the lid on what he says was the most important reason: “They had moved up A&R ladders at several major and big indie labels and always got told the name was a bit too lo-fi. I advised a change so we could get our new material out without any assumptions made. You will find many bands do this because scouts and A&R usually don’t have time to listen to an act twice – timing has to be perfect, though, as you can only really get away with a name change once before getting signed. We had so much opposition at first. For two weeks we had to put up with so much shit. Then nothing. No one cared any more when they heard their new single. Eventually people forget your old name.”
Weather Barn – Cinnamon Hill
The Void -> The Winter Tradition
Edinburgh’s The Winter Tradition still play the same songs they did when they were The Void, but the band are convinced their change of name earlier this year is single-handedly responsible for boosting their profile: “We formed as The Void many years ago when we were all at high school together. Since then we and our music have matured. The new name for us was a natural progression of our band. We feel The Winter Tradition reflects the music we are making and has taken us further. All in all, the name change went very well for us and pushed us further in the Scottish music scene.”
The Winter Tradition – We’ll Make Our History Part I
Paper Planes -> Astral Planes
For Astral Planes, the reasons were entirely logistical: “There were other bands called Paper Planes and it was making it difficult to release records. We held off for as long as possible, but it was inevitable.”
Astral Planes – Disconnected I Know
Nacional -> For Abel
This tale involves a series of bizarre coincidences. Glasgow-based Nacional had got in touch with 4AD’s A&R department to invite them to listen to the band’s music. The email they got back from Roger Trust, the man who signed Brooklyn stars The National to the label, pointed out the similarities between the two names, claiming that it would cause confusion for both bands and hinted at consulting “legal people”. Nacional took stock and eventually decided to change their name to For Abel earlier this year. (Abel is a track on The National’s album Alligator). For Abel’s next gig is at The Flying Duck in Glasgow on Friday – and guess who the Pin Up Nights promoters have booked to guest DJ? That’s right, The National! Even For Abel singer Robert Armstrong can see the funny side: “I do suppose it’s ironic how our paths with The National may cross. I’ve become such a massive fan of The National and I truly hope that nothing becomes awkward. For me it’s not an issue at all and I would rather focus on the possibility of Mr Berninger liking the fact our current name is a doth of the cap to one of my favourite bands.“