May 21, 2013: Camera Obscura song Fifth In Line To The Throne is available for free download in exchange for an email address. It’s taken from the band’s fifth album Desire Lines, out on June 3, and pre-ordering it will get you another track, Do It Again.
Book Group have released their debut EP, Homeward Sound.
Sparrow And The Workshop’s third album Murderopolis, out on May 27, is streaming in full via DIY - one of the songs, The Faster You Spin, is also available for free download.
May 20, 2013: Garden Of Elks’ debut EP, Extended Play, is available to buy and stream.
The Clock have a video for their excellent song Everything’s Eventual, which is released on May 28. They have Glasgow gigs lined up at Broadcast on June 1 and Roxy 171 on June 20.
May 18, 2013: The 16-strong T Break line-up for T in the Park on July 12-14 has been unveiled - Arches, Blindfolds, DARC, Fake Major, Hector Bizerk, Honeyblood, Machines In Heaven, Michael Cassidy, Poor Things, Pronto Mama, Seams, Sunshine Social, The Merrylees, The Velveteen Saints, Vasa, Waiting For Go.
Anna Sweeney has announced she is taking a full break from music and has cancelled her scheduled appearance at Wickerman in July as she relocates to Reading for work in June. Another musician swapping Scotland for England is Plum, who is moving to Brighton in July.
May 17, 2013: The stage times have been released for the 35 acts playing Stag & Dagger across seven Glasgow venues on May 18.
Franz Ferdinand’s fourth album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action will be released on August 26 – check out this brief trailer.
Frightened Rabbit recorded a cover of Best Coast’s The Only Place for Australian radio show Triple J. The band release their Late March, Death March EP on June 2.
The Mouse That Ate The Cat song When I Wake Up is available for free in exchange for your email address.
The title track of Adam Stafford’s forthcoming second album Imaginary Walls Collapse is streaming here.
May 16, 2013: The Discopolis remix of Bwani Junction single Civil War is available to download for free from SoundCloud.
Born To Be Wide’s next seminar at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus on May 30 is on the topic of goNORTH, with a panel featuring broadcaster Vic Galloway, goNORTH duo Amanda Millen and Alex Smith and Chasing Owls frontman Ben Sunderland explaining how musicians and delegates can get the most out of the annual Inverness convention. Tickets are free.
AC/DC have backed a campaign to erect a bronze statue of their former frontman Bon Scott in his hometown of Kirriemuir in Angus. Community music group DD8 Music hope to raise £50,000 via Kickstarter by June 5.
Kite And The Crane’s debut EP, Found In The End, is out on Bandcamp.
May 15, 2013: Biffy Clyro have a video for their new single Opposite.
The View are playing a one-off show at Glasgow’s King Tut’s on June 12 for the Sunday Mail Centenary Fund.
Adam Stafford is launching his second album Imaginary Walls Collapse with a gig at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe on July 5 with support from Siobhan Wilson and Robbie Lesiuk.
May 14, 2013: The Wee Chill will mark its 10th anniversary with a two-stage bill at Glasgow’s SWG3 on June 29 for the West End Festival. The line-up features Malcolm Middleton, James Yorkston with Sparrow & The Workshop (collaborative debut), Aidan Moffat (spoken word), Three Blind Wolves, Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, Miaoux Miaoux, Fake Major.
Tommy Perman, who recently left FOUND, has unveiled his new solo project ComputerScheisse – check out These Beautiful Minds, the title track of his debut EP, out on July 15 through Phuturelabs.
RockNess have announced more acts for the festival on June 7-9 including Fenech-Soler, Fatherson, Public Service Broadcasting, The Boy Who Trapped The Sun, Niteworks and Jemma Tweedie.
Too Many Fireworks Records will donate all profits from sales of Variations Of Chopin, an album of contemporary interpretations of the composer’s music, to the fundraising campaign for drummer Robbie Cooper, whose cancer fight was documented on The Pop Cop.
May 13, 2013: New releases out now include Young Aviators’ debut album Self Help, Eagleowl’s debut album This Silent Year, and Cherri Fosphate’s new Burning Youth EP.
May 10, 2013: The live schedule for goNORTH in Inverness on June 5-6 has been unveiled – it includes a Scottish Bloggers Showcase hosted by The Pop Cop, Peenko and Song, by Toad featuring a four-band bill of Garden Of Elks, Friends In America, The Yawns and Flutes.
May 9, 2013: The documentary Hunting For Remoteness details The Magnetic North’s visit to Orkney – where frontman Erland Cooper is from – for the making of their debut album. It will be released on June 24 alongside a reissue of that record, Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North. You can watch the trailer here.
Alphabetical Order Orchestra are streaming their first song, The Architect. The band is made up of My Latest Novel members Chris Deveney, Gary Deveney and Ryan King.
A Band Called Quinn have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support performances of their multimedia show Biding Time (remix) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.
May 8, 2013: Three Blind Wolves have released their new album, Sing Hallelujah For The Old Machine.
May 7, 2013: Adam Stafford’s new single Please is streaming online – it’s taken from his second album Imaginary Walls Collapse, out in July.
May 6, 2013: The T in the Park Roadshow is bringing free live music to Scottish towns this month – it stops at Glasgow today for The View at Kelvingrove Park (1pm) and Buchanan Street (3.30pm); Edinburgh on May 10 for Vigo Thieves at Queen Margaret University’s Student Union (noon), Dundee on May 11 for The LaFontaines at Overgate Centre (noon); Aberdeen on May 12 for Sienna at Aberdeen University (noon); and Ayr on May 18 for The Redettes at Ayr Railway Station (noon).
Fake Major have a video for Fiction, a song on their Have Plenty Of Fun EP. Fellow Comets & Cartwheels artist Finn LeMarinel has a new video for Garden, taken from his debut album Violence.
Capitals have released a sampler of all the tracks on their debut album A National Service, out on June 3.
May 3, 2013: Episode 11 of BBC ALBA’s Rapal music TV programme is on iPlayer and features Cara Mitchell, Brown Bear & The Bandits, Three Blind Wolves and Anna Sweeney.
Steve Mason has accused Samsung of plagiarising the video for The Beta Band’s 2004 single Assessment for their new television advert. Both show historical figures running down a beach and helicopters circling overhead.
May 2, 2013: Young Aviators’ debut album Self Help is streaming on Electric Honey’s SoundCloud ahead of its release on May 13.
May 1, 2013: Travis have a video for Where You Stand, the first single and title track of the band’s seventh album, out on August 19.
Fake Major’s debut EP, Have Plenty Of Fun, is available for download.
My Latest Novel have gone on hiatus, with three of the members forming Alphabetical Order Orchestra - look out for music from them next week.
Kobi Onyame has a video for his new single The Real Part 2.
Trapped In Kansas have unveiled new song Collapse Rebuild.
Rob St John’s new AA single Charcoal Black And The Bonny Grey/Shallow Brown is out now.
April 30, 2013: Boards Of Canada will release Tomorrow’s Harvest, their first new album in eight years, on June 10.
Quickbeam song Immersed is available to download for free from DIY – you can also listen to snippets from every track of the band’s self-titled debut album, out on June 3.
Discopolis have unveiled the video for their new song Falling (Committed To Sparkle Motion), out on May 5.
April 29, 2013: The SAY Award will stream each of the 20 longlisted albums for 24 hours through their app, starting today with Miaoux Miaoux’s Light Of The North. You can read The Pop Cop’s feature here.
Panda Su’s new song MAPS is available to buy now on Amazon, while Bwani Junction’s new single Civil War is on iTunes.
The Boy Who Trapped The Sun has a video for new song California ahead of his May tour in Scotland.
The Pastels have a video for Check My Heart, taken from their forthcoming new album Slow Summits, out on May 27.
Frank Turner covered Frightened Rabbit’s The Modern Leper for Jim Gellatly’s In:Demand Uncut session.
April 27, 2013: Episode 10 of BBC ALBA’s Rapal music TV programme is on iPlayer and features two fantastic unreleased songs by Beerjacket as well as The Holy Ghosts, The Merrylees and Ray McCartney.
Travis, Johnny Marr, Hurts, James Skelly, Jack Savoretti, Willy Mason, Foy Vance, Steve Mason, Milo Greene and DIIV have been added to the T in the Park line-up, which has now been separated into day-by-day splits.
Edinburgh venue The Forest Cafe, which has been banned from hosting live music due to council restrictions, are looking for acts to play their new monthly event, the Forest Big Night Out at Old St Paul’s, which launches on May 23. Email email@example.com for details.
April 26, 2013: The Burns an’ a’ that! Festival will feature live music as part of Weekend in the Park at Ayr’s Belleisle Park on May 25-26. Rose Parade, Little Fire, Pronto Mama and The Bluebells are among the free acts; Justin Currie + Rachel Sermanni play a ticketed gig on May 26.
Other newly-announced concerts on sale include Lana Del Rey + Kassidy at Glasgow’s SECC on May 16 (replacing her two dates at the Academy on May 15/16) Bombay Bicycle Club at Edinburgh’s Liquid Room on June 7, Belle & Sebastian at Inverness’ Ironworks on July 1, We Are Scientists at Glasgow’s Oran Mor on July 29, Kid Canaveral + Ballboy at Edinburgh’s Liquid Room on August 10.
Kid Canaveral + The Last Battle + Adam Ross (Randolph’s Leap) also play a free show at Edinburgh’s Caves on May 23 with 300 tickets on the door on a first come, first served basis as part of a Dewar’s event.
April 25, 2013: Seasick Steve, The Pigeon Detectives, Julie Fowlis, Meursault, Washington Irving, PAWS and The LaFontaines have been added to the Belladrum Festival line-up on August 2-3.
Washington Irving have released Palomides Volume 1, the first half of their debut album.
The View are streaming Kill Kyle, one of two new songs on their compilation album Seven Year Setlist, out on June 17.
April 24, 2013: The showcase list of artists picked to play goNORTH in Inverness on June 5-6 has been announced. For the third consecutive year there will be a bloggers’ showcase stage hosted by The Pop Cop, Peenko and Song, by Toad. More details to follow soon.
Kilmarnock’s Dirty Weekender will feature 45 acts over three venues on May 31 to June 2 including Fridge Magnets, Bwani Junction, The Ok Social Club, Ross Leighton (Fatherson) and Chris Helme.
Poor Things’ new single Morgan is free to download – it’s taken from their Hurricane Poor Things EP, out on June 10.
Similarly, Cherri Fosphate are giving away Wool from their Burning Youth EP, out on May 11.
April 23, 2013: Glasvegas will play Aberdeen’s Garage on June 27, Edinburgh’s Liquid Room on June 28 and Glasgow’s ABC on June 29.
Reverieme’s second album With Up So Floating is out now.
Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire have announced they will release their self-titled new album through Middle Of Nowhere Records in July.
Herculean have a video for Red Weather, taken from The Falling Thunder EP, out on June 7.
April 22, 2013: Stag & Dagger have added Phosphorescent, Rachel Sermanni, Randolph’s Leap, French Wives, Fake Major, Prides, Chris Devotion & The Expectations and Donald Macdonald & The Islands to the Glasgow festival’s line-up on May 18.
Episode 9 of BBC ALBA’s Rapal music TV programme is on iPlayer and features Brown Bear & The Bandits, Cara Mitchell, The Open Day Rotation and John Wean.
Texas have unveiled a video for The Conversation, the title track from their first album in eight years, out on May 20.
Bronagh & The Boys have released their debut single Green, taken from A Young Heart EP, out on May 19.
April 19, 2013: Kassidy’s Barrie-James O’Neill and his girlfriend Lana Del Rey have recorded a cover of Summer Wine (made famous by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood), backed with a video featuring handheld footage of the pair in Los Angeles.
My Bloody Valentine, Trash Talk, Fidlar and The VirginMarys have been added to the T in the Park line-up.
April 18, 2013: Pre-sale tickets are available for Regina Spektor at Glasgow’s Academy on August 20 and Kings Of Leon at the ciry’s Bellahouston Park on August 15, the latter being part of the Glasgow Summer Sessions.
The Mirror Trap have unveiled a video for Westminster Ghost Story, the first track to be taken from their second album Stay Young, due out this autumn.
April 17, 2013: Midnight Lion have changed their name to Prides and expanded to a trio with the addition of Kitty The Lion’s Callum Wiseman on guitar and vocals. To coincide with the announcement, they have unveiled wonderfully addictive new song Out Of The Blue.
T in the Park have added Local Natives, Lucy Rose, Swim Deep, Theme Park, Lewis Watson and Sons & Lovers to the festival on July 12-14.
April 16, 2013: Doune The Rabbit Hole have announced that this year’s festival will take place at the new location of Cardross Estate at Port of Menteith in Stirlingshire on August 22-25. The line-up features Clinic, Meursault, Rachel Sermanni, Alasdair Roberts, Washington Irving, The Pastels, PAWS, Beerjacket, Rick Redbeard, We Are The Physics, Randolph’s Leap, Siobhan Wilson, Panda Su, Shambles Miller, Jo Mango and TeenCanteen. See here for full day-by-day splits.
April 15, 2013: James and Twin Atlantic will headline the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival on August 2-3. Other acts on the bill include Admiral Fallow, Fatherson, Rick Redbeard, Noisettes, The Horrors and King Charles.
April 13, 2013: Edinburgh’s live music scene has suffered yet another setback with Forest Cafe having its live music licence reviewed, causing the immediate postponement of gigs there, starting with the Solas Showcase scheduled for today.
Newsnight Scotland featured a report on the music industry on April 10, prompted by the Wide Days convention in Edinburgh. Watch the segment on BBC iPlayer, with contributions from Stanley Odd’s Dave Hook, Plum’s Shona Maguire, Chemikal Underground’s Stewart Henderson, Wide Days organiser Olaf Furniss and journalist Nicola Meighan. The interviews were conducted by Galleries drummer Andrew Black.
April 12, 2013: Episode 8 of BBC ALBA’s Rapal music TV programme is on iPlayer and features Niteworks, The Holy Ghosts, Miaoux Miaoux and The Merrylees.
Eagleowl have unveiled Not Over, the first offering from debut album This Silent Year, which will come out through Fence Records on May 13.
Dear Lara, aka David Lan, has released his debut EP Plans as a free download.
April 11, 2013: Capitals’ debut album A National Service will come out on June 3, with those who pre-order it (from just £5) getting an immediate download of any of the record’s 11 tracks, one of which is Reliever.
The View will release singles compilation Seven Year Setlist on June 17 – the album features two new songs, Dirty Magazine and Kill Kyle.
Several Scottish acts have posted tracks from forthcoming new albums – check out Washington Irving – Wandering Wits, United Fruit – Taste I Can’t Give Up and Hector Bizerk – Orchestrated Madness.
April 10, 2013: Promoters Cry Parrot will host their 6th Birthday Party at Glasgow’s Glue Factory on April 26 with a gig featuring Sacred Paws, Hector Bizerk, Tut Vu Vu, Ultimate Thrush, Ela Orleans and Sad City.
Three Blind Wolves are previewing Slow Summer Deer, taken from their Sing Hallelujah For The Old Machine album, released on May 6.
Where We Lay Our Heads single Keanu Leaves is out now.
Great Cop are giving away new song Stop Hiding as a free download.
April 9, 2013: Mogwai guitarist John Cummings uploaded a photo of himself at Glasgow’s George Square yesterday where more than 300 people gathered, inspired by his band’s 2011 song George Square Thatcher Death Party.
Hi-Arts, which promotes arts in the Highlands and Islands, has issued notices of redundancies to all 10 of its staff in the wake of funding cuts.
April 8, 2013: Fridge Magnets will play a ‘silent gig’ at a secret outdoor location in Glasgow on May 15 (6pm) – tickets can be won through organisers Deezer. The band will perform inside a mobile perspex box with the 300-capacity audience able to hear them through headphones.
Kassidy have released new mini-album People Like Me.
April 7, 2013: Song Of Return have launched their Singles Club project on Bandcamp through which they’ll be selling unreleased tracks. Month 1 contains Torn Between The Tides (see video) and Enough.
Cairn String Quartet, who were profiled on The Pop Cop in March, have unveiled their orchestral cover of Kid Canaveral’s Low Winter Sun.
Travis have made new song Another Guy available to download for free through their website. It also has a video.
April 6, 2013: The following 16 HMV and Fopp stores in Scotland will remain open following Hilco’s takeover – HMV: Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, East Kilbride, Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Edinburgh Princes St, Glasgow Argyle St, Glasgow Buchanan St, Glasgow Fort, Inverness, Livingston, Stirling; Fopp: Edinburgh; Glasgow Union St; Glasgow Byres Rd.
Bwani Junction have a video for new single Civil War, out on April 29.
Rachel Sermanni and Emma’s Imagination are among the acts playing the Kintyre Songwriters Festival in Campbeltown on May 24-26.
Quickbeam will launch their debut album with a gig at the disused Govanhill Baths in Glasgow on May 31. They will be supported by Fake Major whose debut Have Plenty Of Fun EP comes out on May 1.
April 5, 2013: Spotify director Mark Williamson will give the keynote speech at next week’s Wide Days event in Edinburgh as part of a session on the business of streaming. The full running order is here.
Episode 7 of BBC ALBA’s Rapal music TV programme is on iPlayer and features Anna Sweeney, Cara Mitchell, Discopolis and Paul McGranaghan.
Dot JR has uploaded new song Waterfalls to SoundCloud.
April 4, 2013: The Tiree Music Festival will take place in An Talla on July 20-21 with a bill that includes Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire, Washington Irving, The Youth And Young and Brown Bear & The Bandits.
Galleries’ fantastic new single Midnight Rush is out now.
Casual Sex have made a video for their debut single Stroh 80. They play Glasgow’s Nice ‘n’ Sleazy on April 5 and Oran Mor on April 7.
April 3, 2013: Comlongon Rocks have added a third day of live music to its line-up at Comlongon Castle in Dumfries & Galloway on May 17-19. The festival’s line-up features Three Blind Wolves, Emma’s Imagination, The OK Social Club and Saint Max.
Chem 19 are offering three days of free recording time to five Scottish acts through their Creative Scotland Demo Fund. To apply, musicians (under-25s only) should email a link to some demos and a bio to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Chem19 Demo Fund Enquiry before April 26. Chosen acts will also take part in a live showcase.
Siobhan Wilson + Julia And The Doogans + Jo Mango will play Glasgow’s Roxy 171 on June 26 as part of the Scottish Fiction Presents: Aye Tunes vs Peenko night at the West End Festival.
April 2, 2013: Acts confirmed for The Insider Festival in Aviemore on June 21-23 include Rachel Sermanni, Karine Polwart, Hector Bizerk, Urstan, David Thomas Broughton, Miaoux Miaoux, Pete Roe, Jonnie Common, Adam Holmes And The Embers and Sparrow And The Workshop.
Up-and-coming acts can apply to play the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway on July 17-20 through their One Step Further competition which is open to musicians aged 18-25. To enter, artists need to email email@example.com with the subject HebCelt New Talent Submissions and include links to three songs, a biog and high-res photo. Closing date is April 12.
April 1, 2013: Quickbeam’s self-titled debut album will be released through Comets & Cartwheels on June 3 – check out the video for lead track Immersed which will be available as a free download on April 29.
We Were Promised Jetpacks will headline the second night of the three-day Solas Festival in Perthshire on June 22.
Minor Delilah will be giving away copies of their new EP, Only Dust Can Hear You, to anyone who attends their launch gig at Glasgow’s Classic Grand on May 3.
‘Out of the blue’ could refer to a number of things. Like Midnight Lion’s sudden name change to Prides, or the fact that the usually gig-shy Glasgow group are booked up for a host of live dates and festival appearances. But, above all, it titles a staggering piece of dynamic pop that proclaims the arrival of a hit-ready proposition.
Having signed a development deal with major label Island Records three years ago, their comeback follows a lengthy gestation period spent “experimenting heavily” in their own studio or, as drummer Lewis Gardiner puts it: “This is just part of our 15-year plan.” He’s joking, I think.
The new band name coincides with the appointment of guitarist Callum Wiseman (also of Kitty The Lion) as a permanent member. Previously just part of the live set-up, his telling involvement in the songwriting process with singer and lyricist Stewart Brock is helping to push innovative electro-pop music in new, zestful directions. The addition of Elaine Glass (also of Fatherson) on cello and extra keyboards amplifies Prides to a versatile quartet for live shows.
Prides – Out Of The Blue
But back to that song. Out Of The Blue is anthem-friendly, rich in melody and informed by current trends for 80s-leaning electro. I’d be astonished if I heard a better pop song all year. The DNA of its 220 seconds is impeccable – an addictive hook, a rousing chorus, memorable lyrics, slick production, repetition. It’s heavenly but how does one conceive something so immaculate? Turns out it’s more by design than accident.
“We get together sometimes and listen to loads of pop music then write a song,” explains Callum. “I think that’s where it came from. One day we sat and listened to Carly Rae Jepsen and Taylor Swift… then some not-so-girly things. We were listening to a lot of riffy pop tunes as we wanted to have a riff for that track. I know this is a really technical approach to a song but I specifically wanted it to be pentatonic. I just got fixated on the idea.”
“I remember sitting at the piano and you said, ‘Every good riff is pentatonic’,” recalls Stewart.
For the uninitiated, pentatonic refers to music which uses the five-note scale. Because of its simplicity, it is often found in the melody of nursery rhymes and mainstream pop songs. Callum’s fascination with it was partly inspired by the above video of American singer Bobby McFerrin at a music conference, ingeniously demonstrating the pentatonic scale’s instinctive familiarity, even to those who don’t know what it is and have never picked up an instrument.
“It’s just a seed for trying to come up with new ideas,” says Stewart. “And because we listen to quite a lot of pop music that’s not inherently cool, it was about trying to write a pop tune that hopefully had a bit of depth to it as well, a bit more substance.”
The top-rated YouTube comment on the Out Of The Blue video is “CHVRCHES sent me here”, a byproduct of some ringing online endorsements from their hyped Scottish peers. It didn’t do CHVRCHES any harm when their very first impression – the distinctive drum punch of Lies – borrowed shrewdly from Dizzee Rascal’s 2003 single Fix Up, Look Sharp. Prides are hoping that Out Of The Blue’s similarities to MGMT hit Kids will be greeted just as favourably.
“There were about three days of panic of, ‘Does this sound too much like MGMT?’” admits Lewis.
Stewart: “We kept tweaking it and pulling it away from that sound and then realising it wasn’t as good, so we just went back. It’s just one of those sacrificial moves. As soon as Callum came up with the riff, we had it in the back of our minds that it would sound really good on that sort of distorted, organy synth sound.”
“It wasn’t deliberate,” maintains Callum. “There are only so many ways you can write a pop song with that kind of drumbeat and that kind of riff.”
“Sounding like other stuff that’s good is probably never a bad thing,” reasons Lewis.
As for Out Of The Blue’s lyrics, Stewart reveals an unlikely source for its inspiration.
“I saw this interview with Lindsey Buckingham about Big Love, the Fleetwood Mac song. The chorus refrain is, ‘Looking out for love. Big, big love’. It’s not that he’s looking for love, he’s looking out for it. He’s fearful. That was the original inspiration. It’s about falling in love and not being ready for it. When you meet somebody, you do get that pang of dread of, ‘I am just opening myself up for a shit-tonne of hurt’.”
“She might read this!” interrupts Lewis, clearly worried his bandmate might have shared too much insight.
“That’s alright, it’s not a bad thing,” replies Stewart with a chuckle. “It’s not like ‘I hate you’… it’s ‘I’m afraid of you!’”
By Sarah McMullan
A couple of months ago I reached a real low moment. I was attending the Glasgow leg of the NME Awards Tour and as Miles Kane appeared through the haze of smoke and light, making an appalling haircut look strangely cool, I couldn’t help but notice a boy about five years my junior with a yet more appalling haircut – the kind of shed that wouldn’t even have been acceptable in the 80s.
This young man plonked himself directly in front of me, blocking my view of majestic Miles (grrr). To make matters worse, much worse, he proceeded to spend the entire gig facing away from the stage, chatting to poor denim decision-making boys with equally dreadful haircuts and girls who held hands while singing to each other like they were reenacting Dancing In The Dark at a school disco.
It got me thinking – what is gig etiquette? Is there a gig etiquette? There are clearly an abundance of rules but does the fact that they exist impede our evening more than the audience members who disregard them?
Consider the lengthy list of actions that are frowned upon at a rock concert, with repercussions ranging from ejection without refund to the more common death stare from fellow gig-goer… pint throwing, crowd surfing, stage diving, smoking, sitting on someone’s shoulders, sneaking in an SLR camera, extreme PDA (seriously, just keep it in your pants until after the show), excessive ‘accidental’ pushing, starting a mosh pit.
My pet hate is prepubescent boys starting mosh pits to the most unworthy of indie tunes. It would be like me turning up to see Blue and demanding they bite off a few chicken heads. For the banter.
It can probably be determined by my angst towards ill behaviour at gigs that some rules are necessary. I feel these rules, however, come under the bracket of reasonable social practice rather than tyrannical regulations of the sort imposed by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who recently started placing signs at their gigs warning fans not to film them. Although well-intentioned, this will inevitably result in on-stage tension whenever the band members see it being disobeyed. Exhibit A: the ‘no crowd surfing’ policy of At The Drive-In:
However, in my career as a gig-goer there remains one venue unspoilt by the ever-lengthening codes of conduct. The Barrowlands. Being in the Barras doesn’t really constitute real life, it’s more like a mirage. The Glasgow venue is one of the few places that compels you to cross-examine the temperature of the liquid that just pelted the back of your head, return a shoe to the brave crowd surfer and enjoy the explicit aroma of something more than a cigarette. Its pastel stars line the ceiling, smoke-ridden and worn, like elderly grandparents laying witness to the new generation. It allows for unadulterated, untouched enjoyment. It’s like Christmas dinner – everyone puts their differences aside for the greater good.
Perhaps it’s not the rules that make or break a performance, but the venue’s tolerance when it comes to enforcing them.
Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells skipped away from last year’s inaugural SAY Award richer to the tune of £20,000, courtesy of their winning collaborative album Everything’s Getting Older, but the victory for Scotland’s music scene was every bit as significant. A vision for a credible, professional national album prize was realised.
The organisers have just pressed play on the launch of this year’s event, which celebrates Scottish albums released in 2012. The longlist of 20 is as follows:
Admiral Fallow – Tree Bursts In Snow
Auntie Flo – Future Rhythm Machine
Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Dam Mantle – Brothers Fowl
Django Django – Django Django
Duncan Chisholm – Affric
Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events
Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic
Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry
Karine Polwart – Traces
Konrad Wiszniewski & Euan Stevenson – New Focus
Lau – Race The Loser
Meursault – Something For The Weakened
Miaoux Miaoux – Light Of The North
Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
PAWS – Cokefloat
RM Hubbert – 13 Lost & Found
Stanley Odd – Reject
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
The Unwinding Hours – Afterlives
The next stage will see the public vote their favourite album on to the shortlist through a 24-hour online poll on May 27. A 12-person judging panel then chooses the other nine and – after further deliberation – the eventual winner at a ceremony in Glasgow on June 20. Again, there will be a £20,000 top prize with a £1,000 reward for each of the nine shortlisted runners-up.
Given how ripe for internet bitching music awards can be, there were remarkably few complaints about last year’s event – an indication of just how inclusive it felt to those invested in the Scottish music scene. From a Pop Cop perspective, the live blog we ran from the ceremony was a personal highlight of 2012.
Organiser-in-chief Stewart Henderson describes this year’s longlist as having “some surprises”, which I assume alludes to the presence of two colossal chart stars in Emeli Sandé and Calvin Harris.
While a key motivation in setting up The SAY Award was to turn the spotlight on quality Scottish albums not blessed with mainstream exposure, it’s important to emphasise that Stewart has never sought, nor desired, to preside over a niche enterprise. In fact, the duo’s inclusion can be regarded as a pre-emptive strike against the levelling of any accusations of musical snobbery at The SAY Award.
Given that Emeli and Calvin boast a combined Twitter following of two million, even a token public gesture of acknowledgement would divert attention to all of the nominees, as well as to the event itself.
“I am pleased they’ve made the list, absolutely,” says Stewart. “That Scotland has produced two artists as phenomenally successful as Calvin and Emeli is something we should all feel proud about. It’s a tremendous achievement. If this award didn’t recognise these enormously popular albums we’d have failed abysmally. I want as many people as possible to hear about as many of these albums as possible and we’ll do that by supporting everyone’s artistic achievements and approaching the process with an open mind.
“It’s important for as many people as possible to support the award, so getting a plug from artists with their following would be a real bonus. That said, we’re not in the habit of doorstepping anyone for attention, so it’ll be entirely up to them in the same way it is for all the other artists on the list. It’s an important award, something that has the potential to a do a lot of good for the longlisted artists and the Scottish industry in general, so hopefully the support will come naturally.”
Stewart’s label Chemikal Underground have released 20% of the records on the longlist (Human Don’t Be Angry, Miaoux Miaoux, RM Hubbert and The Unwinding Hours), while the Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat album that scooped last year’s top prize also came from their stable. Stewart is acutely aware his dual role could elicit mutterings of ‘conflict of interest’, but he is vehement that the format of The SAY Award and the diversity of the nominators and judges keep the competition wholly impartial.
“There are a lot of Chemikal Underground albums on the longlist this year, I realise that, but we’ve really gone to enormous lengths to mitigate any accusations of foul play, so I don’t feel like I’m in a position where I have to apologise,” says Stewart. “In the same way that I would never prejudice something as big as The SAY Award in favour of Chemikal Underground artists, I can hardly step in and be prejudiced against Chemikal Underground when four albums make the list for the same reason. We’re one of the most prolific record labels in Scotland, we release predominantly Scottish artists and a lot of our records are critically acclaimed – because they’re very good albums.
“Ultimately, people who know me know that it’s not in me to try and skew this in my favour – I hope. I understand completely that from the outside, people may take a more cynical view of what’s going on but I’d never be able to convince those people anyway. No-one is more conscious of potential conflicts of interest than me, believe me, but I still think we’re at a critical stage in the award’s development and, if it’s possible for me to say this without sounding like a dick, my involvement brings more to this award than it takes away.”
Not one for resting on his laurels, Stewart has made some tweaks for the second annual SAY Award, most noticeably flitting the ceremony from Glasgow’s south side to the much-loved Barrowland Ballroom.
“We wanted to move the Award out to the east end of the city in advance of 2014,” he explains. “There’s an enormous amount of change taking place in an area of the city that I feel has been neglected for far too long, so bringing The SAY Award over here for the next few years and to be close to the Commonwealth Games made perfect sense.
“There’s always room for improvement and The SAY Award is no different. I said last year that if we could get the Award about 70% right, we’d have earned enough momentum to carry us forward. I think we got close to reaching that. It’s crucial we continue to build the profile of the award, that the name, the logo and, to a certain extent, the format are more familiar to people and that annually, we become part of the furniture.”
Retail is a major factor in the promotion of the nominated albums, particularly those who make the shortlist, which is why Stewart was relieved to see HMV rescued from the abyss.
“All of the retailers last year were amazingly supportive – none more so than Fopp and HMV – so I hope we can do the same again this year,” he says. “I’m absolutely delighted HMV and Fopp haven’t disappeared. We need to encourage music retail on the high street and I’m convinced there’s still a healthy appetite out there for people to browse for albums, listen in store, take recommendations from knowledgeable staff etc.
“The SAY Award has the potential to engage with a lot of people and connect them to Scottish albums by Scottish artists sold, ideally, in Scottish shops. The SAY Award promotes great albums by Scottish artists and there’s something simple and enduring about that. If an album’s on the SAY longlist it’s because a consensus of good people thought it was great… that’s as good a recommendation as any nowadays, is it not?”