La Bête Blanche – Storm the Palace

‘One day you will grow into yourself and then you will blossom for all to see, and no one will take you for any less than you were meant to be’

‘When you sever the ties that bind you to life all that energy unleashed.’

Time of the Bindweed

A winged, plumed race of flying beings inhabit a world in which they have the ability to soar through the air, yet, for the majority, they choose not to use their gift, preferring a life of clerical boredom and unremarkable normality on the safety of terra firma. Wings bound and covered, they eschew the few who choose to do what they can but won’t: fly. The reason for this lies in the faintest possibility that those who choose to fly, sometimes, but not always, fall.

This is the plot of ‘The fliers of Gy’, a beautiful, 20th century parable of humanity’s ability to repress itself in order to conform to an invented reality of corporate consumption. Keep your head down, don’t make a fuss, just get through it all.

The beauty of Ursula Le Guin’s invented worlds, for me lies in the wonderful way in which the fantastical combines with themes that have razor-sharp relevance in modern life. Imagine cramming yourself into the X22 commuter bus at 07:15, Hermiston Gait Park and Ride, when you have the ability to fly.

Not Hermiston Gait P&R

‘La Bête Blanche’ is the new album by Edinburgh based quintet, Storm the Palace. A palatial pastiche of vivid fantasy and very relatable reality.

I love lyrics, always have and always will, and the text (lovingly reproduced on A3 if you grab a copy of the CD) is a poetic trip through fantasy worlds rooted in the daily to and fro of North Edinburgh and Leith. Musically magnificent, with organs, bagpipes, accordions, canines and autoharps, the sonic and thematic experience is something akin to listening to Prokoviev at Easter Road during the Franck Sauzée years.

‘One day you will grow into yourself and then you will blossom for all to see, and no one will take you for any less than you were meant to be’

Some of the Beasts and Birds We Saw

It’s intensely personal, words of oft-unfounded reassurance that one generally expects from optimistic parents or banally blasé school guidance councillors. Yet here the wise, hopeful mantra comes from the bones of a swordfish, one found on the beach at Seafield. Legend and actuality blend perfectly, an uplifting mantra, a call out to all of those who don’t dare to fly; unfurl your wings my children and grow, grow into what you are meant to be, not what you’re expected to be! If inspiration is not limited to location, it seems fitting that such life-changing philosophy takes places on the beach just down from the Matalan.

Edinburgh Cats and Dogs home just out of shot

Short of tartan-tinted, shortbread wielding, terrible at football, fried food munching stereotypes, I reckon that if we choose to define ourselves by something as intangible as a nationality, then one facet of Scottishness surely lies in our ability to tell a story. ‘La Bête Blanche’ is a series of stories, from selkies to murderous madams to Hedy Lamarr, and everything in between. However, shining thematically through the dark forests, cold seas and high castles, is a modern narrative linking the tales with every facet of modern life: isolation, uncertainty, ambition and hope.

‘Living out their age-old incompatibility in bliss, or ignorance, or grinding boredom’

Happily Ever After

This could be the motto of my generation. So, we’re back on the bus, X22, trundling through Edinburgh as suburbia gives way to Georgian grandeur, and life is played out in 8-10 hour shifts, repeated over 5 days a week. Meetings, both at work and at play, with strangers, defined by what they do, with stories clipped and cut to fit in with a life that nobody really chose. Wings bound and covered, who even wants to fly?

‘Why do we all have to pretend that we know how things are going to end?’

Black Swans and Dragon Kings

We don’t any more.

Support independent artists through Bandcamp.

Born on the Other Side – Storm the Palace

I love lyrics, in fact I think they are my favourite aspect of music, a fact which could stem from my inability to really play the guitar well. Anyway, that aside, I want to say that the words of Born on the Other Side are a nothing short of nursery-rhyme infused magic.

They say that music can be atmospheric (who they are I don’t know), the kind of artistic expression that can makes you laugh, cry, repent, or feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Leggi tutto “Born on the Other Side – Storm the Palace”

A wee musical update

Well, it has been some year. We’ve had some good times…well not really good times per se, but I did find a pack of mandolin strings in my sock drawer back in April. if that isn’t a musical high point for a year of lows, then I don’t know what is. Anyhow, it’s not all doom and gloom and before the ruling powers of Giliad, or Westminster to revert to anachronism, lead us into more red, white, and blue soaked crap times, let’s have a look at what’s going on musically. 

The music is starting to be picked again by what I would call the glue of grass-roots music; community radio. Special mention goes out to the team at Sunny Govan, and I will leave you with the prospect that maybe, just maybe in the future, and if they let me of course, I will maybe get behind the desk again. Imagine that, a radio show.

To conclude, a couple of pals stick out as shining examples of how to manage music during this time, and I’d like to make special mention of Fiona Liddell and Jack Hinks. The former’s ‘Local Heroes’ list is a ‘go to’ for new Scottish tunes, while the latter’s humorously titled ‘Hot Singles in Your Area’ features an interactive take on the concept of the new release. You might even hear a bit o’ yours truly.

For bookings, info, or my award-winning discount catering service please get in touch. You can find me across the board online, or in person to the right of the gate at Alexandra Park and Cumbernauld Road, my chosen busking location. Come one, come all!

This could be yours for only £4.45/head +VAT!

@buskersofglasgow – Sunshine with a Soundtrack.

In writing about music, and the music scene I always come back to my base belief that community movements in music trump 21st century individualism time after time. Carolyn’s genuine passion to propagate and support the musicians featured on the page is a perfect example of how working together with passion can create a sustainable side to grass-roots music.

It’s a testament to the times that we live in that the only time I hear music in a public space is when I go to Morrison’s. I would listen to the piped shop radio station, replete with various 80s hits, usually upbeat pish like Wham! and Cindi Lauper, lest something more pensive should make you consider shopping less or something.

In any case wasn’t expecting Joy Division or Mudhoney to accompany the buying of suspiciously cheap pineapples. This experience of hurried, masked, panicked, musical consumption, limited to aisles of beans or biscuits, is in my opinion quite representative of our musical dystopia; indeed from capitalism’s point of view, using music as a lure to keep consuming has been a depressing staple for a while.

Leggi tutto “@buskersofglasgow – Sunshine with a Soundtrack.”

Randolph’s Leap – Up in Smoke

I (naively) always thought that in an age of such readily available technology, just throwing together a wee video would be ridiculously easy.

As a musician, plugging my trade in the modern music industry, the importance of a visual presence quickly became evident. Sadly for dinosaurs such as myself, the emphasis on aesthetics has some sort of relevance to most music in this day and age. With this in mind, I reluctantly signed up to Instagram about 3 years ago.

Leggi tutto “Randolph’s Leap – Up in Smoke”

Choose Eggs. Choose Local Radio.

So over to radio. Semantically speaking, the mere idea of ‘radio’ has become so dated that we can barely bring ourselves to refer to it in the vernacular, instead using the medium of podcasts to somehow detract from the fact that the majority of podcasts are, if not ACTUAL shows from the radio, then a segment of talking and/or music within a specified time frame; i.e. a radio show.

I’m in love with the radio on
It helps me from being alone late at night
Helps me from being lonely late at night
I don’t feel so bad now in the car
Don’t feel so alone, got the radio on

Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

I always drone on about this musical utopia, one in which all aspects of making, writing, performing, reproducing, listening, and talking about music all exist on this hitherto absent level playing field. The results of which would be a flourishing and sustainable music scene etc etc. If that’s what you want to start your Wednesday by reading about, then you can find that piece here.

For grass-roots musicians in this day and age, when it comes to gaining ‘exposure’ (I hate that word) for the music that you have bled into, sweated over, and torn from your being, the options are certainly more varied than before.

Leggi tutto “Choose Eggs. Choose Local Radio.”

Freedom to Speak

Artistic expression as a framework for truth and progress is the very essence of what it means for me to be a musician. To go to prison in a 21st century western ‘democracy’ is a sign of utter regression, both on the part of the Spanish state, as well as that of neighbours, like us, who seek to frame such blatant injustice as something distant and alien.

Why anyone watches the news any more is beyond me. Since March last year, the whole affair follows a familiarly, bleak pattern; statistics about death, no end in sight etc. However, watch the news carefully, all of it, and you will find a trope common to all the major UK networks: the offset story.

These stories, more often than not from abroad, usually depend on the domestic tales of woe that precede them. They come in various guises, but the two stars of the show are the novelty report, and its dystopian older brother the ‘look how bad it is there’ tale.

Leggi tutto “Freedom to Speak”

Why should you send me your music?

Imagine a world in which music didn’t work as a glorified pyramid scheme, a world in which achievement (and by that I mean the sad common trope of capitalism, money) didn’t create the success apartheid in which the music industry exists at the moment. Imagine if an act of god, say for example, a global health crisis that the neoliberal ne’er-do-wells that control every aspect of our life confronted with world-beating incompetence, aye imagine that came about, yet grass-roots musicians weren’t the first to be cast adrift in a wave of self interest-

I think it would be presumptuous to talk of utopia, insulting even given that what I view as utopian could be quite easily achieved, given the right set of circumstances.

Leggi tutto “Why should you send me your music?”

Rights for sale and forthcoming Russian bots. Grass roots music in the current period.

Why selling off musical copyrights makes a terrible situation even worse. Plus, fun with Russian bots.

I haven’t released any music since the 30th of October, 2020. That’s not to say that I haven’t been making music in the intervening time, but in the world of evidence-based existence via social media, it would appear that I have done absolutely nowt since then, musically speaking anyway.

This dearth of social media self-promotion, in addition to a consistently low Spotify listenership (shout out to ye local 142 people worldwide!), means that algorithmically I don’t exist any longer.

In this topsy-turvy world full of inherent contradiction, my lack of ‘being’ on the world wide web would probably lead to even less public interest regarding the music that I have already made, given that I am not promoting anything, or even revisiting back catalogues. I haven’t sent anything to any playlist or radio for a long while, and other than to check the inbox for this here review site, I would have assumed that I would be getting little in terms of direct communication.

Leggi tutto “Rights for sale and forthcoming Russian bots. Grass roots music in the current period.”

Bigg Taj vs Spee Six Nine – If You With Me

Scottish musical culture transcends language and history, from Hebridean Gaelic to Indian rhythms, through to the frank wordsmith that is Spee Six Nine. This is, for me, a fuller picture of contemporary Scotland.

The teacher told us to shut up and listen, glaring over the top of the electric piano, harpsichord setting, his eyes alive with a total obsessiveness of a man unused to not being listened too. He’d wire into fugues by Bach or variations by Mozart, occasionally adding his own unbearable falsetto voice to the clunky, same-y melodies that we would listen to in stony silence. Then we would be lectured on how one fella in 18th century Germany influenced another in 19th century Austria or vice versa. Variation #12 Opus 32. Music by numbers.

The Gaelic part of the course was equally as tenuous, as if the SQA in all their desire to make Scottish culture as monochrome and one-dimensional as possible, sought to somehow find the relevance of the traditional Puirt à beul (mouth music), or Òrain Luaidh (Waulking Songs) in suburban Edinburgh. Though we were spared the grey days of falsetto-heavy baroque and classical, the historical and cultural significance of Gaelic culture sadly fell on deaf ears. That is until in an act of academic sabotage, our once demur teacher broke rank and put on ‘Chanter’ by Martyn Bennett, and in one moment of glory that only exposure to music can provide, the world of sampling was thrown open to me.

Leggi tutto “Bigg Taj vs Spee Six Nine – If You With Me”