Thrum (Tenement and Temple Electric), C2C Aftershow , SWG3 Glasgow,  8th March 2019

No strangers to previous C2C fringe events, Johnny Smillie and Monica Queen appear tonight under their old moniker Thrum as opposed to their most recent incarnation, the duo Tenement and Temple, the difference perhaps best explained as the latter having the volume set around five, the former way up to the fabled eleven. Their late-night set does start with a haunting acoustic version of John Denver’s ‘Fly Away’. Then, instead of sticking to the safe option of an acoustic country tinged showcase, Queen straps on the Telecaster that was slung behind her back and they upshift into an electric set of indie-inspired Americana. It’s a policy that pays off in the brutalist concrete surroundings of the SWG3 venue. Continue reading “Thrum (Tenement and Temple Electric), C2C Aftershow , SWG3 Glasgow,  8th March 2019”

Starry Skies, Bungalow Bar Paisley, 25th October 2018

On a recent Thursday night a couple sat on two stools directly in front of a stage. They looked at each other and hugged. Moments before Warren McIntyre, singer and songwriter with Starry Skies, had suggested that everyone in the audience turn and say, “I love you,” to their neighbour – a kind of rock’n’roll kiss of peace. And it proved infectious as the audience at this low-key gig in Paisley became more engaged as the set bounced at pace from one cheerful number to another. Continue reading “Starry Skies, Bungalow Bar Paisley, 25th October 2018”

Simone Felice, Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church, Glasgow, 13th May 2018

When Simone Felice and his brothers went to high school they would hop on a bus in their hamlet of Palenville and ride thirty minutes or so to the county town of Catskill, passing a mural of its most celebrated resident: Iron Mike – The Dynamite Kid. After Tyson fell from grace the mural became neglected and eventually disappeared. Fleeting fame is a recurring theme in Simone Felice’s work. Tonight  he half sang, half spoke a vaguely recognisable rhyme that eventually revealed itself as the chorus of ‘Fast Car’, “Be someone …” then seguing neatly into ‘If You Ever Get Famous’. This is one of three “The Duke and the King” songs performed tonight from his acclaimed post Felice Brothers project from around 2010, a critically praised partnership that doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Continue reading “Simone Felice, Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church, Glasgow, 13th May 2018”

Yo La Tengo, SWG3 , Glasgow, 29th April 2018

A Sunday night in Glasgow’s Finnieston and a mixture of die-hard fans and the curious has gathered in hushed expectation for the Hoboken trio. “When will we be set free?” sings bassist James McNew at the conclusion of a cover of Jad Fair’s ‘Ashes on the Ground.’ It’s four songs in, and the audience finally feels it has permission to whoop. Continue reading “Yo La Tengo, SWG3 , Glasgow, 29th April 2018”

The Americans @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 28th January 2018

“Where are they from?” asks a friend, when I announce that I’m going to see a band called The Americans. Not such a surprising question especially when so many Scottish acts name check former colonial places – Idlewild, Texas and the rest.  These Americans, from, er, California are on their first visit to Scotland, on a rainy Sunday night , playing Celtic Connections in the old church crypt at Oran Mor in Glasgow’s West End. They are promoting their 2017 album I’ll Be Yours and 2016 EP First Recordings on the Loose label. Continue reading “The Americans @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 28th January 2018”

Rachael Yamagata + Brandon Jenner, Islington Assembly Halls, London 21st November 2017

“Oh, you need to get up here” says Rachael Yamagata. The young man in middle of the sixth row needs no more encouragement as he skips out of his seat nimbly and bounds up on to the high stage to join her on Let Me Be Your Girl, arguably her most commercial and instantly catchy song to date. Think Al Green’s Sha-La-La, or Barbara Acklin’s Am I the Same Girl? and you get a flavour of this. Continue reading “Rachael Yamagata + Brandon Jenner, Islington Assembly Halls, London 21st November 2017”

The Glass Mountains, Folk Modern – Upstairs at the Ritzy, Brixton, 5th October 2017

“If life were a hotel, then I’d be checking out right now,” sings young frontman Owen Davies. A little extreme for a 25 year old maybe, but All kinds of Trouble, written by one of the more senior members of the band, is delivered with credible sincerity by Davies. The Glass Mountains are slightly incongruous in this folk club atop the Brixton branch of the Picturehouse boutique cinema chain. It’s Americana-UK’s first trip to the club and I imagine that the band’s Stetsons and denim shirts are not de-rigueur for this monthly showcase. Continue reading “The Glass Mountains, Folk Modern – Upstairs at the Ritzy, Brixton, 5th October 2017”

Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017

Chastity Brown apologises for the four year hiatus in her albums. “But I’m from Tennessee” she remarks. It could be that the record company need that explanation but it pretty much looks like every man and woman in here tonight is simply happy to see Chastity Brown back with new material no matter how long the break. Androgynous and self- assured, she grew up near Memphis but her adopted home for the last twelve years has been Minneapolis and the material on offer tonight from new album Silhouette of Sirens befits her biker boots, black waxed skinny jeans and jacket as there is a more obvious rock edge. Continue reading “Chastity Brown, Borderline, London, 13th June 2017”

Chris Shiflett, 100 Club, Oxford Street, London, 13th June 2017

In these reviews I often find myself harking back to a period in London’s long lost rock history: the pub rock and early punk days of 75/76 that, in particular, the west of the city became associated with. Tonight’s gig is in the legendary 100 Club slap bang in heart of town. It’s a busy affair. The man I’m here to see is supporting Jet’s Nic Cester and veteran indie /punk broadcaster is Gary Crowley is DJing. It’s a superb gig, full of the right amount of joviality, rawness and musicianship, but as the sun rises the next morning, I’m thinking of west London again and the tower blocks that flank the Westway, the landscapes so evocative of early Clash artwork. Continue reading “Chris Shiflett, 100 Club, Oxford Street, London, 13th June 2017”

The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017

There is a legend among Thames boatmen of a ghost ship, a vessel shrouded in darkness plying the grey river in the night. On board a band plays, guests revel and the music drifts out across the river. The Blinding Lights are not that band but I could understand what they were trying to create here. Continue reading “The Blinding Lights, The Battersea Barge, Vauxhall London 5th May 2017”