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 email@example.com 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.“
Sunday, November 21st, 2010
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen JIMMY EAT WORLD at the Barras so I know the drill – generous doses of devilishly catchy guitar melodies, thrashy rock and thoughtful ballads. The Arizona guys do each of these things equally well, which is why their fans don’t tend to be pigeonholed to genres such as indie or emo or rock.
The problem, one which is common to bands with the longevity of Jimmy Eat World, is that their seventh album Invented, released two months ago, just isn’t on a par with what has come before. So when they begin their gig in Glasgow with old favourites Bleed American and A Praise Chorus then follow it up with newcomers My Best Theory and Coffee And Cigarettes, it feels like you’re hearing inferior versions of the same songs.
But even though the audience reaction visibly sags, the band have plenty in their back catalogue to lift the mood in an instant. An airing of Let It Happen, for instance, reveals the Chase This Light album track to be an underrated gem and offers a great example of why Jimmy Eat World have never been tagged a ‘singles band’.
Other reminders soon follow. The unflinchingly epic 23 is worth every second of its seven minutes and is still the most wondrous thing they’ve ever put on record, while the acoustic guitar comes out for both Movielike – a rare moment of brilliance on Invented – and the affecting Hear You Me, which draws the loudest singalong of the night.
Jimmy Eat World’s shout out to local heroes We Were Promised Jetpacks, who recently supported them on their North American tour, gives singer Jim Adkins a chance to cruelly turn the spotlight on keyboard player and backing vocalist Courtney Marie Andrews, who ends up getting playfully booed by the crowd when she refuses to do a Scottish impersonation.
The band end their pre-encore set with two songs from their 1999 album Clarity. Fans’ favourite Blister, a jagged slab of driving rock with guitarist Tom Linton on lead vocals, makes way for the sparse Goodbye Sky Harbour, whose repetitive refrain has long outstayed its welcome by the time it turns into a Doves-like instrumental wig-out.
Thankfully, Jimmy Eat World know which buttons to push and they delve back into their Bleed American album for the last two songs of the encore, The Middle and Sweetness, to ensure not only that the night ends just as it started, but that the many highlights of their set become fantastic memories.
Jimmy Eat World – (Splash) Turn, Twist
Jimmy Eat World – Last Christmas (Wham! cover)
*Photo taken by Jimmy Eat World at Glasgow’s Barrowland on November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
FRIGHTENED RABBIT have signed to major label Atlantic Records, ending the band’s three-year association with FatCat, who released their first three albums – Sing The Greys, The Midnight Organ Fight and The Winter Of Mixed Drinks.
The Scots will now be label mates with the likes of Paolo Nutini, Metallica, Missy Elliott, Bloc Party, Plan B, Death Cab For Cutie and James Blunt.
Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison wrote on his Facebook page on November 10: “Just signed on the dotted line. No… wait. It’s actually a solid line. And there’s not even a line on this one, just 3 brackets. Either way, it’s fizzy wine night…”
In an interview with The Pop Cop before The Winter Of Mixed Drinks was released, Scott spoke about why he was glad their third record was coming out on an independent label.
He said: “If you sign to a major then the album wouldn’t have sounded like it did, it might not have come out at the same time, we might not have been free to put the content on as we wished, things might have been shifted around. So I wouldn’t complain about it for a second the way that it’s panned out. It feels earned. Everything we have achieved has been earned.”
Frightened Rabbit – Soon Go
Monday, November 15th, 2010
It’s time for this month’s edition of the Music Alliance Pact, a global trot through the jungle of music to find exotic creatures you never even knew existed. I find it helps if you imagine David Attenborough narrating all the artist descriptions below.
To download all 34 songs in one file click here
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Bwani Junction – Two Bridges
You should know fairly instantly whether Edinburgh’s Bwani Junction are the band you’ve been waiting for when I tell you that they sound like a cross between The Libertines and Vampire Weekend. They are unsigned but, given the buzz that surrounds them, probably won’t be for much longer. Two Bridges is already a singalong anthem among their rapidly increasing fanbase.
November 27, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh (Sneaky Fest) (tickets)
December 18, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
January 7, King Tut’s, Glasgow
Saturday, November 13th, 2010
When I first saw BROKEN RECORDS play in February 2008, I was absolutely convinced it was only a matter of time before they would be filling arenas. The music was too grand to be bottled up in basement venues, too orchestral to stay in the domain of indie know-it-alls. And when I spoke to a couple of the band’s members afterwards, a real competitive streak came across that made it clear they’d never settle for remaining in the role of supporting cast, as they were for Okkervil River that night.
But 33 months and two albums released via 4AD later, it’s clear the Edinburgh boys are going to have to take the scenic route to achieve the level of popularity that once seemed guaranteed. There was a peculiar atmosphere in The Arches throughout their set. Guitarist Ian Turnbull’s attempt to initiate some clapping at the very start of opener A Leaving Song was met with unduly cruel indifference, while singer Jamie Sutherland told the crowd on several occasions “we could use some help with this one” in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to elicit some sort of singalong.
Broken Records have come up against a standoffish audience on more than one occasion in Glasgow and it’s a credit to the band that they didn’t let it stifle their enthusiasm. Jamie was in particularly chatty form, introducing A Darkness Rises Up – the undoubted highlight of their new record – as his attempt to write a song like Bruce Springsteen.
Now that they have two albums’ worth of material to call upon, there is certainly more colour in their palette. I Used To Dream is beautifully paced, while the stripped-down performance of Home by the two Sutherland brothers proved much more suited to Jamie’s vocal range than You Know You’re Not Dead, which he struggles to dominate above the volume of instrumentation.
However, the raw power of old favourite Nearly Home with its elegant violin intro and ensuing thuds of drum are enough to nail any argument about what the best Broken Records song is.
At times, you can almost feel the weight of the world on their shoulders – this band on a big independent label making big music, yet still playing to relatively small crowds. But an unexpected sign of promise comes right at the end. As the instrumental finale of Slow Parade grows to its romantic crescendo, the audience begins fast-clapping along. Unprompted. It’s a small gesture but enough to offer hope that perhaps one day Broken Records will connect with enough people to become the band I desperately want them to be.
Broken Records – A Leaving Song
Broken Records – Lies
Thursday, November 11th, 2010
There are two very well-known Scottish musicians whom few people realise are actually connected to one another so I figured a post on The Pop Cop would be the perfect place to share such wisdom. That was the inspiration behind the family tree of Scottish musicians and the great irony is that when I was sitting on my living room floor at 6am drawing increasingly groggy lines on the back of Christmas wrapping paper, I came to the conclusion that their association was not strong enough to merit a direct link.
Stuart Murdoch and Fran Healy were pals in the early Nineties. Stuart’s closest friend, Ciara MacLaverty, has a sister called Jude (now the head of BAFTA Scotland), who just so happened to be Fran’s best friend, and the four of them would often hang out together.
However, before Belle & Sebastian or Travis came into existence, Stuart went along on behalf of M8 magazine to review a gig Fran was doing with his band Glass Onion… and it almost destroyed their friendship.
Fran: “I was just starting out in a band and Stuart totally gave us a pasting. He was just so horrible about it. I sat down and confronted him on the stairs at the front of Jude’s house in Glasgow. I was like, ‘Stuart, what the fuck? Give us a chance, man’. He was like, ‘Oh, I just thought, um, I just didn’t really enjoy it’. I’m like, ‘Fuck you, come on! It was our second show’. I never forgave him.” (see here for more of this interview)
The episode acutely sums up the perils of music journalism – people don’t react well to being criticised in public. Add the sensitive egos of artists into the mix and it’s only a matter of time before the phrase ‘hate preacher’ comes up in conversation.
Ten years ago, PETER KELLY (long before he became Beerjacket) reviewed a Biffy Clyro gig (long before they became famous) at King Tut’s in Glasgow. To this day it still bothers him, so hopefully getting it off his chest on The Pop Cop will allow him to feel a sense of closure.
Peter: “Like many student music journalists, my critical angle came from a bitter and essentially sad standpoint. I’d been playing with little success in bands for years when I started writing reviews for the Glasgow University Guardian. So twisted were my feelings towards the music industry that local bands who were doing well somehow made me feel like a hopeless failure.
“At this point, welcome Biffy Clyro to my tragic little anecdote. I was reviewing a local three-band bill at King Tut’s in 2000 when I put together a nasty little hatemail-style hackjob on Biffy. Within it, I made childish comparisons (Limp Bizkit), meaningless muso jibes (‘heavy metal drumsticks’ – eh?) and, perhaps worst of all, catty fashion remarks about a baseball cap worn by one of the members.
“It was poisonous, spitefully written and transparently envious. Now their popularity is so widespread that their detractors have become much less significant, but at the time it was plainly snide and unnecessary and really did (they told me) hurt the band’s feelings. I still feel truly ashamed of what I wrote, not least because that review was much more a reflection on how little worth I felt I had than it was an honest appraisal of them.
“Soon after writing the review, I became a devoted, card-carrying fan of the band (as I have remained) and it should be noted that this conversion was not as a result of reading some sanctimonious critic’s opinions. It was entirely down to Biffy themselves: a great band I’d simply wanted to hate in light of their burgeoning success.”
There is a happy ending. Six years later, who should be in the crowd watching Beerjacket perform at Belladrum but the Biffy boys themselves. Since there were no reports of heckling, missile-throwing or backstage punch-ups, one would like to assume all is forgiven.
Such feelings of envy/jealousy/bitterness is a common side-effect when part-time musicians are tasked with writing about their peers, as our next contributor explains.
CAMPBELL MILLER is the deputy editor of music website Stereokill and has also had work published in The Skinny. He is perhaps better known by his on-stage acoustic singer-songwriter persona Shambles Miller.
Campbell: “Back when I was struggling to get gigs with bands and couldn’t get anyone to listen to my music, it was a bit soul-crushing writing reviews of other up-and-coming bands, especially if I felt like they were pretty awful. I suppose that’s one drawback of being a writer and a musician. But to be completely honest, nowadays if I was asked to review a local artist whose music I wasn’t fond of, I’d probably pass on it. Conflict of interests and all that.”
However, being a musician does have its benefits when it comes to reviewing and interviewing other musicians.
Campbell: “It definitely helps you with certain types of question, as you’ll always be looking at things from a musician’s perspective, at least to some extent. I’ll tend to focus more on songwriting and lyrics in an interview, for instance. In terms of review-writing, however, it can be a double-edged sword. I find it hard to separate being a musician from being a writer: on one hand it might help you think about the music you’re reviewing in a slightly different way to others, but you have to be careful not to let that blinker you and hinder your objectivity.”
Last year, in what could only be described as an exercise in masochism, a Stereokill newbie was handed Shambles Miller’s Shambles vs The Dragon Wizard EP and told to review it as his first assignment. It must be bad enough seeing your music described as “this isn’t world-changingly original” and “the mix is a little weak”… but on the website you work for? That’s gotta hurt.
Campbell: “It’s probably quite telling that I’d completely omitted that quote from my memory of the article. I had to go read it again to check where it appeared. To be honest, I have no problems with it and in fact, I’m glad Andrew included that description. He could easily have left it out for the sake of avoiding any hassle, whereas its inclusion justifies his positive comments in the rest of the review. Had he praised the record’s good elements and glossed over its flaws, the piece might have seemed insincere. It was the first CD I’d ever recorded after all, and for almost no money – I prefer to see that as “rough around the edges”. You can’t tell but that’s said with a cartoon-esque wink.”
Journalist RACHEL DEVINE, who has enjoyed critical acclaim in groups such as Telstar Ponies and, now, The Porch Song Anthology, is also not unfamiliar with the feeling of having her own music reviewed.
Rachel: “I hate and fear it. Unless it’s a good review, of course, in which case I fall temporarily in love with the reviewer regardless of height, gender or star sign.
“I’ve been in bands since I was 17 and to my eternal embarrassment I remember being a bit of a tit to journalists when I was younger – worse still I had very little of interest to say. When the tables were turned I discovered a whole new respect for them because, as rewarding as it is, it can also be quite frustrating. I suppose being a musician helps because you can put yourself in their shoes…you can understand what it’s like to potentially open yourself up to a kind of savage criticism that’s unique to music journalism.
“I’m not really sure it’s necessary to be really horrible about any band unless they’re really taking the piss with their atrociousness. You have to remember that one man’s Coldplay is another man’s Rolling Stones. A really brilliant music writer will outline their reasons for disliking something in such a way that allows somebody to come along and say, ‘Well, actually, I think for those very reasons I’m going to like this record’. Having said that, nothing beats a really funny, scathing review.”
Rachel worked at the Sunday Times until June of this year and has most recently been writing for The List and Irish folk alt-country website Whisperin And Hollerin, so what would she rather be: a professional music journalist or a professional musician? “Professional musician every time – it’s the only one that still legitimises daily drinking.”
Beerjacket – VCR (The xx cover)
Thursday, November 4th, 2010
The album chart has always held a strangely magnetic charm for me. Flawed though it may be, there is still no better gauge of a new release’s popularity with the people – all the people, not just the ones who read music blogs.
Since I use The Pop Cop as a platform to publicise talented artists who are often underappreciated or have a cult following (such a conveniently indeterminate phrase, don’t you think?), some folk might think it futile to analyse where such music fits in the mainstream.
However, I disagree and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in having my faith restored in the Woman and Man In The Street’s taste when a band as exquisite as The National entered the UK charts at No.5 this summer with their fifth album High Violet after more than a decade of incremental career blossoming.
Of course, some musicians are quick to point out they couldn’t care less about the charts. Especially those who don’t sell enough records to be in them.
Given that independent stores Love Music in Glasgow, Avalanche Records in Edinburgh, One Up in Aberdeen and Apollo Music in Paisley as well as the big chains like Fopp and HMV are all chart return record outlets (i.e. their sales count towards the official charts), the musical mood of Scotland can be accurately reflected in numerical form.
But the thing I’m most fascinated about is what record buyers in Scotland think of Scottish albums, so I decided to do some investigating to find out where every Scottish album released this year charted, both in the UK and in Scotland (yes, we have our own charts).
My starting point was The Official Charts Company, who publish the UK’s top 100 albums and Scotland’s top 40 albums every week. However, as you will soon see, many Scottish albums didn’t make it that high so I had to dig a little deeper. This led me to UK Charts Plus, who publish the UK’s top 200 albums and Scotland’s top 75 albums on a subscription-only basis.
The results of my findings are below. Only 20 new albums featuring Scottish artists have charted in 2010 and all of them charted higher in Scotland than they did in the UK as a whole, except ‘supergroup’ Tired Pony (who admittedly contain just one Scottish member) whose placing was identical.
There were four artists who entered the Scottish chart but failed to make the UK one – The Boy Who Trapped The Sun, The Xcerts, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Broken Records. To put that into context, The Official Charts Company told me that it takes as little as 900 sales to make the UK’s top 200.
Six Scots reached Scotland’s top 10 – Sharleen Spiteri (4), Frightened Rabbit (10), Amy Macdonald (2), Teenage Fanclub (4), KT Tunstall (2) and Belle & Sebastian (4). However, half of those didn’t make the UK’s top 10 – Sharleen Spiteri (13), Frightened Rabbit (61) and Teenage Fanclub (30).
The charts also show how far the popularity of some artists has nosedived. In 2006, Sandi Thom’s first album debuted at No.1 in the UK and went on to sell over 700,000 copies worldwide. This year, her third album entered the chart at 118 (UK) and 63 (Scotland). The Fratellis’ two albums both made the UK’s top five, but Codeine Velvet Club’s record entered at 118 (UK) and 50 (Scotland). Travis have had five albums in the UK’s top 10, yet Fran Healy’s solo album limped in at 76 (UK) and 33 (Scotland).
Here are the placings in full, click on the graphics to enlarge if need be:
N.B. Albums released this year by other Scottish artists who enjoy decent profiles such as The Unwinding Hours, Emma Pollock, Meursault, Tommy Reilly and Kid Canaveral were nowhere to be seen in either chart.
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The National – Terrible Love (Alternate Version)
November 26, Academy, Glasgow (sold out)
Monday, November 1st, 2010
Click on the picture above to see The Pop Cop’s family tree of Scottish musicians in all its glory. It’s handmade, goddamit, so excuse any wonky lines.
There were various titles I considered for this post, here are some of them:
– What do you mean the Scottish music scene is incestuous?
– It’s not what you play, it’s who you play for
– If the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon became the Six Degrees of Kenny Anderson…
In the end, I thought it best to keep it simple. Clearly, I have too much free time on my hands.
1. The line “I might not want you back but I want to kill him” in Frightened Rabbit’s Good Arms vs Bad Arms is about Snow Patrol’s Paul Wilson
2. Frightened Rabbit’s Gordon Skene is a former member of Admiral Fallow
3. Frightened Rabbit’s Gordon Skene is a member of The Moth & The Mirror
4. Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison and Meursault’s Neil Pennycook played a joint set at Oxjam Edinburgh 2009, Frightened Rabbit have covered Meursault’s A Small Stretch Of Land
5. Three Blind Wolves’ Ross Clark has played with Frightened Rabbit
6. Zoey Van Goey’s Kim Moore has played with Frightened Rabbit
7. The Twilight Sad’s James Graham sang Be Less Rude with Frightened Rabbit at Connect Festival 2007
8. Frightened Rabbit’s Andy Monaghan is a member of Piano Bar Fight
9. Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
10. Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison played on We Were Promised Jetpacks’ Keeping Warm at The Arches in Glasgow in 2008
11. Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, Mark McClelland and Jonny Quinn are members of The Reindeer Section
12. Malcolm Middleton is a member of The Reindeer Section
13, Mogwai’s John Cummings is a member of The Reindeer Section
14. Aidan Moffat is a member of The Reindeer Section
15. Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble and Gareth Russell are members of The Reindeer Section
16. Belle & Sebastian’s Richard Colburn, Mick Cooke and Bobby Kildea are members of The Reindeer Section
17. Strike The Colours’ Jenny Reeve and Sarah Roberts are members of The Reindeer Section
18. Colin MacIntyre is a member of The Reindeer Section
19. Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake is a member of The Reindeer Section
20. The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly is a member of The Reindeer Section
21. The Moth & The Mirror’s Stacey Sievwright is a member of The Reindeer Section
22. Mogwai’s Barry Burns and Stuart Braithwaite have played on Malcolm Middleton songs
23. Strike The Colours’ Jenny Reeve has played on Malcolm Middleton songs
24. Malcolm Middleton recorded a cover of King Creosote’s Marguerita Red, King Creosote recorded a cover of Malcolm Middleton’s Choir
25. Pictish Trail has played on Malcolm Middleton songs
26. Emma Pollock has played on Malcolm Middleton songs
27. Lord Cut-Glass’ Alun Woodward has played on Malcolm Middleton songs
28. Malcolm Middleton sang on Viva Stereo’s The Seaward
29. Belle & Sebastian’s Mick Cooke has played on Malcolm Middleton songs
30. Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat are former members of Arab Strap
31. Idlewild’s Rod Jones is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
32. Emma Pollock is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
33. The Twilight Sad’s James Graham is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
34. Sparrow And The Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
35. Karine Polwart is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
36. Strike The Colours’ Jenny Reeve is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
37. Alasdair Roberts is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
38. James Yorkston is a member of The Fruit Tree Foundation
39. Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch is a member of God Help The Girl
40. Isobel Campbell is a former member of Belle & Sebastian
41. Monica Queen sang on Belle & Sebastian’s Lazy Line Painter Jane
42. Belle & Sebastian’s Bob Kildea and Stevie Jackson have played with The Vaselines
43. Belle & Sebastian’s Bob Kildea and 1990s’ Michael McGaughrin and Dino Bardot are former members of V-Twin
44. Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch used to date Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell
45. Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch produced Zoey Van Goey’s single Foxtrot Vandals
46. Belle & Sebastian’s Richard Colburn is a member of Tired Pony
47. Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody is a member of Tired Pony
48. Monica Queen sang on Snow Patrol’s Set The Fire To The Third Bar at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park in 2010
49. Endor’s David McGinty sang on Snow Patrol’s Shut Your Eyes
50. Strike The Colours’ Jenny Reeve sang on Snow Patrol’s Shut Your Eyes
51. The Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly sang on Snow Patrol’s Shut Your Eyes
52. Admiral Fallow covered ldewild’s Live In A Hiding Place at Loopallu 2010
53. Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott is a member of The Moth & The Mirror
54. Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott is a member of The Boy Who Trapped The Sun’s band
55. Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott is a member of Song Of Return
56. Maple Leaves’ Anna Miles is a member of God Help The Girl
57. Zoey Van Goey’s Kim Moore is a member of God Help The Girl
58. King Creosote is a member of Cold Seeds
59. King Creosote played on Viva Stereo’s Teenage Dreams
60. Kid Canaveral covered King Creosote’s Missionary on Radio Scotland session 2010
61. King Creosote is a member of The Burns Unit
62. Lone Pigeon is King Creosote’s brother
63. Pip Dylan is King Creosote’s brother
64. KT Tunstall is a former member of King Creosote’s band
65. King Creosote produced Withered Hand’s You’re Not Alone EP and has also covered Withered Hand’s No Cigarettes
66. King Creosote co-runs Fence Records with Pictish Trail
67. King Creosote collaborated with James Yorkston at Homegame 2009
68. King Creosote collaborated with Steve Mason at Homegame 2009
69. Emma Pollock is a member of The Burns Unit
70. Emma Pollock and Lord Cut-Glass are former members of The Delgados
71. Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite used to date Sons And Daughters’ Adele Bethel
72. Mogwai remixed Errors’ Supertribe, Errors remixed Mogwai’s Auto Rock
73. Mogwai remixed The Twilight Sad’s The Room
74. Aidan Moffat sang on Mogwai’s Now You’re Taken and R U Still In 2 It
75. Sons And Daughters’ David Gow is a member of Make Love
76. Sons And Daughters’ Scott Paterson is a member of She’s Hit
77. Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble is married to Sons And Daughters’ Ailidh Lennon
78. Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch and Richard Colburn played on Snow Patrol’s (Polarbear) Starfighter Pilot EP
79. Roddy Hart keyboard player Geoff Martyn is a former member of Travis
80. Eddi Reader sang on Roddy Hart’s Bookmarks album
81. Roddy Hart is a former member of Trashcan Sinatras
82. Roddy Hart produced Tommy Reilly’s Hello! I’m Tommy Reilly album
83. Pearl And The Puppets bass player Scott Clark is a member of Roddy Hart’s band
84. Roddy Hart has co-written songs with Rachel Sermanni
85. Paolo Nutini bass player Michael McDaid and drummer Seamus Simon are former members of Roddy Hart’s band
86. Jon Fratelli bass player Lewis Gordon is a former member of Roddy Hart’s band
87. Karine Polwart sang with Roddy Hart at Homecoming Scotland Burns Supper 2009
88. Karine Polwart sang with Rachel Sermanni at Homecoming Scotland Burns Supper 2009
89. Rachel Sermanni sang on Tommy Reilly’s Make The Bed
90. Lou Hickey and Jon Fratelli are former members of Codeine Velvet Club
91. Paolo Nutini sang on The View’s Covers, The View covered Paolo Nutini’s Rewind on Radio 1’s Live Lounge in 2007
92. Paolo Nutini sang with Karine Polwart at BBC’s Hogmanay Live 2006
93. Dotjr has covered Paolo Nutini’s Autumn and Candy
94. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun performed with Dotjr at Sounds In the Grounds 2010
95. Kid Adrift remixed Pearl And The Puppets’ Because I Do
96. Ricky Ross co-wrote an unreleased song with KT Tunstall
97. Ricky Ross co-wrote a song with Pearl And The Puppets for their debut album
98. The View, The Law and Luva Anna formed Laviewall Nun for Dundee Concert For Haiti 2010
99. KT Tunstall sang on Travis’ Under The Moonlight
100. Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble co-wrote My Secret Is My Silence solo album with Karine Polwart
101. Former My Latest Novel violinist Laura McFarlane has played with The Twilight Sad
102. The Twilight Sad remixed Errors’ Bridge Or Cloud, Errors remixed The Twilight Sad’s Reflection Of The Television
103. My Latest Novel’s Chris Deveney sang on Viva Stereo’s Last Living Hope
104. Pictish Trail sang on Viva Stereo’s Come, See The View
105. Meursault’s Neil Pennycook and Pete Harvey are members of Cold Seeds
106. Karine Polwart is a member of The Burns Unit
107. Future Pilot AKA is a member of The Burns Unit
108. Pip Dylan used to date KT Tunstall
109. Lone Pigeon is a member of The Aliens
110. Pictish Trail collaborated with Steve Mason at Homegame 2009
111. Pictish Trail collaborated with James Yorkston at Homegame 2009
112. Steve Mason collaborated with James Yorkston at Homegame 2009
113. Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake has played with 1990s
114. 1990s’ Jackie McKeown and Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Paul Thomson are former members of The Yummy Fur
115. Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy played on Edwyn Collins’ Losing Sleep album
116. Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy is a member of Box Codax
117. Errors’ drummer James Hamilton is a former member of Dananananaykroyd
118. Dananananaykroyd’s Paul Carlin is a member of American Men
119. Dananananaykroyd’s Paul Carlin is a member of Ghost Pants
120. Maple Leaves’ Julian Corrie is member of Miaoux Miaoux
121. Sorren Maclean is a member of Colin MacIntyre’s band
122. Sorren Maclean is a member of Kitty The Lion
123. We Were Promised Jetpack remixed Mitchell Museum’s Warning Bells
124. TV21’s Ally Palmer’s son is We Were Promised Jetpack’s Michael Palmer
125. The Unwinding Hours’ Craig B sings on Strike The Colours’ Cold Hands
126. The Unwinding Hours and RM Hubbert covered Sparklehorse’s Spirit Ditch
127. The Unwinding Hours’ Iain Cook remixed Biffy Clyro’s Machines
128. Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil is a member of Marmaduke Duke
129. Sucioperro’s JP Reid is a member of Marmaduke Duke
130. Steve Mason and Lone Pigeon are former members of The Beta Band
131. Steve Mason produced Panda Su’s Sticks and Bricks EP
132. Endor’s David McGinty has played with Washington Irving
133. Washington Irving’s Chris McGarry and Kieran Heather are members of Let’s Talk About Trees
134. Washington Irving’s Chris McGarry is a member of The John Knox Sex Club
135. Piano Bar Fight’s Sean Cumming is a member of The John Knox Sex Club
136. Piano Bar Fight’s Sean Cumming is a member of Tannahill
137. Alasdair Roberts is a member of Tannahill
138. Wounded Knee is a member of Tannahill
139. The Second Hand Marching Band members Alistair Beith, Peter Liddle, Ross McCrae and Richard Harry Merchant are members of Tannahill
140. X-Lion Tamer covered Teenage Fanclub’s Star Sign on Radio Scotland session 2010
141. Dananananaykroyd’s Paul Carlin has played with The Second Hand Marching Band
142. The Second Hand Marching Band covered Beerjacket’s The Blues at Glasgow’s Oran Mor in 2009
143. Eagleowl’s Bart Owl has played with The Second Hand Marching Band
144. Jonnie Common has played with Panda Su
145. Jonnie Common is a member of Inspector Tapehead
146. Jonnie Common remixed FOUND’s Alsation Gull Scene
147. Beerjacket has played with Roddy Hart
148. Texas’ Neil Payne is a member of The Reindeer Section
149. Texas’ Neil Payne is a member of Strike The Colours
150. Idlewild’s Gareth Russell is a member of Strike The Colours
151. Zoey Van Goey’s Michael John McCarthy has played with Lord Cut-Glass
152. Zoey Van Goey’s Michael John McCarthy has played with Aidan Moffat
153. Aidan Moffat has played with Lord Cut-Glass
154. Piano Bar Fight’s Pete Kelly is a member of Song Of Return
155. Eagleowl’s Bart Owl sings on Meursault’s William Henry Miller Pt.2
156. Withered Hand sings on Meursault’s William Henry Miller Pt.1, Meursault’s Neil Pennycook and Chris Bryant have played with Withered Hand
157. Eagleowl covered Withered Hand’s I Am Nothing on Radio Scotland session 2010, Eagleowl’s Bart Owl has played with Withered Hand
158. Broken Records’ Rory Sutherland plays on Withered Hand’s It’s A Wonderful Lie
159. Sparrow And The Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan sings on Broken Records’ Dia Dos Namorados
160. The Douglas Firs’ David Fothergill is a former member of Broken Records
161. Jesus H Foxx’s Neil Insh is a member of The Douglas Firs
162. Saint Jude’s Infirmary’s Emma Jane is a member of The Douglas Firs
163. Saint Jude’s Infirmary’s Alun Thomas has played with Withered Hand
164. Rob St John is a member of Eagleowl
165. Enfant Bastard’s Cammy Watt co-wrote Meursault’s Red Candle Bulb
166. Meursault’s Chris Bryant is a member of Brothers Grimm
167. Meursault’s Phil Quirie is a member of Debutant
168. Meursault’s Pete Harvey is a member of Paul Vickers & The Leg
169. Saint Jude’s Infirmary’s Alun Thomas is a member of Paul Vickers & The Leg
170. Meursault’s Pete Harvey has played with Jesus H Foxx
171. Enfant Bastard has covered Withered Hand’s Song For The Maudlin
Malcolm Middleton – Marguerita Red (King Creosote cover)
Mitchell Museum – Warning Bells (We Were Promised Jetpacks Remix)