1. THE XCERTS – THERE IS ONLY YOU (buy)
I’m always on the lookout for a potentially life-changing rock record. Always. I’ve never really thought about why that is. Probably because I obsessed over Jimmy Eat World and Idlewild when I was young and impressionable. There Is Only reminds me of my favourite albums growing up. It’s an easy thing to love: clusters of hooks pop up throughout; the choruses go where you want them to; the production is clean and vibrant. But the best thing about listening to The Xcerts’ third album is that it makes you want to be in a band that plays songs that sound like this.
Hooray, The Xcerts! Your third record There Is Only You is The Pop Cop’s favourite album of 2014. Have an award for your efforts…
Murray Macleod (singer): “Thanks! That’s awesome.”
Jordan Smith (bass): “It’s an honour.”
Is this the first award you’ve won?
Murray: “It’s the second. We were 16 when we won Best Newcomer at the Fudge Awards, the local music awards in Aberdeen. It was a brick spray-painted gold. It’s in my parents’ attic. They have a whole room dedicated to Xcerts memorabilia.”
Tom Heron (drums): “I wasn’t in the band at that point so this is my first award.”
Would you agree that this is your best album to date?
Murray: “I guess a lot of bands always think that about their latest album, but this is undeniably our best record. It does feel like people are picking up on that.”
What have been your goals for the album?
Murray: “This record’s really accessible and what we hope to achieve is people feeling very strongly about it, like yourself, and then handing it to a friend. It’s very melodic so people are connecting with it a lot quicker.”
Here’s a SoundCloud playlist featuring songs from each of the top 10 albums:
The wilfully enigmatic New Year Memorial are eager to let their music hog the limelight, which might explain why (at the time of writing anyway) you’ll find no Facebook page for them, nor even any official acknowledgement of who is in the Glasgow band. The image above is the one they emailed when I asked them to send me a group photo.
All will be out in the open soon enough, with 2015 bringing their first gig and a debut album. For now, though, Noëlle really ought to be on your playlist.
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
New Year Memorial – Noëlle
What a thrilling way to end one year and usher in a new one. New Year Memorial sprang up in the last week of November with an intriguing pair of songs on SoundCloud: Lovers, with its introspective piano interlude making way for full-on bombast; and Noëlle, a lush head-turner bristling with warm strings and keys which we are privileged to offer as an exclusive MAP download. Until now, it has been the studio project of Iain Thomson, ably insisted by musician friends including singer Nicky McManus. However, New Year Memorial’s debut live appearance in January 2015 promises a full-band sound that’s punkier than what we’ve heard so far.
January 17, Glad Cafe, Glasgow
My first experience of hearing Billy Jeffrey Jnr was one of those happy accidents (or ‘twists of fate’, if you believe in such things) of stumbling across him playing in a bar while waiting for the act I was there to see come on stage.
Next time you’re going to a gig, turn up in good time to watch everyone that’s included in the ticket price… you might just discover your new hero.
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 22-track compilation through Dropbox here.
SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Billy Jeffrey Jnr – Eternal Blue
Billy Jeffrey Jnr’s debut album, Eternal Blue, received modest attention when it was released in early 2014 but – thanks to the power of word-of-mouth and mesmeric live performances – it continues to gain the Glasgow songwriter a host of new fans and followers with each passing week. Possessing the same otherworldly quality as Bon Iver, it is a record full of elegant moments, with title track Eternal Blue being a personal favourite.
December 20, Broadcast, Glasgow (Club Morsecode Xmas Party)