More music from Glasgow: Yaya Club

Darren Vincent moved from his native High Lands to Glasgow, venue city, media hotpot, centre of creativity in Scotland. There the singer-songwriter, so he says, can often be found baking banana bread (yummy) and stealing the neighbour’s cat – I hope the two are not connected in any way. He performs under the moniker of Yaya Club.

His first release was the EP “Poor Sheesht”, pure American tradition, beautifully rendered. Then followed “Born In The Eighties” featuring a lush band sound. The man takes folk, country, pop and blues and makes it all his own. Does he ever write a huge big profile about himself? Er, nope. But he can blather, preferably on stage. And I imagine a YaYa Club gig to be musically intense, professionally executed with loads and loads of funny natter in between!

If you cannot make it to one of his gigs, either solo, or supporting or playing with others, you can listen to loads of Yaya Club’s tracks on his soundcloud page.

Why am I telling you all this? BECAUSE Darren Vincent is working on new stuff, a new album is coming in a few weeks, during holiday time, so for crying out loud: Don’t miss it,  watch this space!

Here are a few tracks for your delectation:

(Sorry, have to compose myself here, hanging off the chair laughing, listening to “Fluffy Sheep”…I would also like to introduce you to “Geez A Swatch” merely for the title which translates as “Let me have a look”. But now, guys, seriously…)

From the forthcoming album, this is “Wandering Girl”:

And old favourite “Sometimes”

 

 

First Tiger – New Music From Glasgow

The music scene in Glasgow/UK is huge compared to the actual number of inhabitants. Is there something in the water? Or is it really due to the fact that the weather is so vile, that there is not much else to do but to play music? It might have been the decade long industrial decay that – as in so many cities in the North of the UK – has spawned football clubs and music. Or the heritage. Or the sheer flow of creativity.

Thankfully, this flow does not seem to end. First up, First Tiger. In their own words because they write so beautifully and funnily. So this is truly THEIR blog post on their origins, their new album, their live gigs and their connection to Glasgow:

“We (Shorts and Stevie) started learning guitar together as teenagers in Glasgow, but it was a while later that we started playing gigs. In between times we studied, travelled, worked and lived in different countries.

When we both ended up back in Glasgow, we decided to take some of the songs public and started playing as an acoustic duo around the city. Lots of small venues and great people around Glasgow made this surprisingly easy.

We’ve worked with several drummers and bass players, but after few different line-ups – which were all great fun – we met Iain (bass) and Paddy (drums) and things started coming together very nicely.

We’ve just finished recording our first album with a highly-respected Glasgow producer, Stuart McCredie, who has worked with some great names in Scottish music (Texas, The Blue Nile, The Fratellis).

His lean, direct production has brought out the strength and originality of our songs, and shows Stevie’s knack for an irresistible hook and Shorts’ distinctive vocal at its best. The record is being mixed at the moment, and will be finished before the end of this year.

We’ve played places where the joint is jumping (to borrow a phrase from the great Fats Waller) and we’ve played to empty rooms. We’ve played well, and we’ve had disastrous gigs where everything went wrong. We once played in a venue where one man and his dog showed up (literally) and listened in silence until about halfway through the set, when, in the middle of a song, he reversed his electric wheelchair slowly out of the room… and the band played on.

We’ve played at house parties, charity events, in a Spiegel tent at a ship festival, and at Christmas celebrations in a Russian café (lots of free vodka). We’ve played gigs where people listen in respectful silence, where people talk and ignore you, and, best of all, gigs where people get up and dance and shout for “one more tune!” at the end. We’ve played in rooms that sound great, with really dedicated sound engineers, and awful rooms where we can’t hear a damn thing, and the sound engineer is out to lunch.

Perhaps like a lot of bands, we find it hard to describe or define our own music, but people who have seen us play have compared us to all kinds of bands and singers – some we’ve never heard of, most we would never have thought of, and occasionally one we’re flattered to be compared to.

We love playing live, and you could easily play a gig every week in Glasgow. But with so much music out there, it can be hard to find your audience. And we also don’t want to exhaust the goodwill of people who come and see us play, so it’s important to choose gigs wisely, and not too often.

There are plenty of places that will have you in to play to crowd who are not necessarily there to hear music, but that’s often where we get the most interesting and honest reactions. Glasgow audiences have a reputation for not tolerating any crap, but also being incredibly warm and generous if they like you. So when a drunk stranger comes up to give you a big handshake and congratulations on the music, it really means something.”

First Tiger‘s music hits you as fresh and innovative with lots of little surprises to discover. A band which surpasses the sum of its parts (which are brilliant). In their own inimitable words, here is a description of the music:

“If there’s a missing link between Fats Waller, Jacques Brel, Radiohead, Prince, the Strokes and the feeling you get from Raymond Chandler novels, by god, we’re determined to find it.”

But they do like the big entertainers, the fact that they entertain for a start and that they exist to entertain their audience not just themselves.

And yet, words cannot capture sound perfectly, not even First Tiger‘s well-written descriptions, so here are some audiobites. Enjoy and keep an eye out for their new album. I chose an upbeat track – not lyrically, mind you, a wistful chilled song (gorgeous guitar!) and an older track that reflects the delicious eccentricity (mixing country, jazz, you name it) of their music.

First Tiger:

Whale Bones

Whale Bones are just a two-some: Nathan Kane on vocals/guitar and Paul Lierman on drums. Not to be mixed up with Whalebones in one word, please! Whale Bones are at home in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. and they make this rocking, rich, lush, warm music that only can come from the US.

Drums are being drummed, guitar is being played and lyrics and melodies are being sung and not just so but intensely  with an aptitude for a fine melodious alternative rock song. May I thank them here for letting me have a pre-listen to their new EP – dearest readers, something to look forward to in July!

In last spring Nathan and Paul spent a week in Florida to be creative. The result will be The Seaside EP to be released in July 2015. The EP explores the progression of self-regret and eventual forgiveness which is bound to be interesting.

Last week they have released a video for one of the songs of the EP, so we can all have a glimpse and a listen together: “Hiding From The Sea”

Coastal Tones – New Album by Orphan Boy

Avid readers of this blog will have come across Orphan Boy and I have also indulged the dear listeners of my radio shows with Orphan Boy tracks. Hark now, here comes Coastal Tone – new album by Orphan Boy.  To get the ones who missed these opportunities up to date: Orphan Boy are Rob Cross on guitar/vocals, Paul “Smithy” Smith on bass, Chris Day on drums and Sam Carlton on sax/guitar/keys. They call Cleethorpes in Northern England their home and went to Manchester to try their luck.

This happened in 2010 after the release of their first album “Shop Local” in 2008 which Orphan Boy describe as council pop (which has a very funny double meaning as “council pop” is also a name for tap water. Their second album “Passion, Pain & Loyalty” sounded a tad more experimental and dealt – amongst other subjects – with the pitfalls of the music industry. That is, if you even get close to the music industry. Orphan Boy wrote, played and toured, then toured some more, then…you get the drift. You have a band there, that knows how to play live which is a blessing. Even if the major music industry deserted them, Orphan Boy have something they have both well-earned and can be proud of: A very loyal and loving fanbase and a dedicated label and management in Concrete Records. But they chucked it in in 2011…

Thankfully, they came back by popular demand and because they felt an urgent need to continue and get it out of their system and thus gave us “Coastal Tones”, their third album, released on May 26th 2015 (Concrete Records).

And what a corker of an album “Coastal Tones” has become. That drive, that hypnotic sound, that urgent voice, that knack for melodies, those guitars, the composition, the lyrics…I am sounding incoherent, I know, but let me try to put this in one sentence: Orphan Boy have created a classic and it is truly their own. They were very true to themselves and the album breathes that in every single song.

Lyrically a lot of the songs are about small towns, often former industrial towns and their being overlooked, unfairly so, as they offer homes, community spirit, support, and yes, pride and beauty despite their appearance to the superficial onlooker. Sadness and the past as well as haunting places are felt but become not so much something suffocating but are acknowledged in the looking forward to the future. This is how it feels to me.

The music mirrors the lyrics and the images and emotions they evoke so perfectly in every track, it is spooky. If you want me to liken the music to other bands, some spring to mind, but Orphan Boy are Orphan Boy and “Coastal Tones” was born out of letting go listening to: Silence.

Coastal Tones offers you a whacking 10 tracks, let’s have a look a them:

Beats Like Distant Tides was the first single off the album and sets the tone in the driving rhythm section, a “stuck-in-your-ear-for-days-melody”, the clever use of instruments and that melancholy, that sweet melancholy that does not make you surrender but continue.

Sunken Hearts continues in this vein, veers towards more pop song than driving rocker though. Lovely arrangements.

Transpennie has this incredible drum drive again which kicks in after a quiet start – this is a travelling, a moving song and indeed it is about train journeys. Some beautiful guitars in here as well. The vocals sear over the music and make together with the guitars for a very hypnotic sound.

On A Nelson Skyline slows down the pace a little just tempo wise and would be a perfect companion to sit in a caf on a rainy day and watch people or getting home in rush hour on a bleak winter’s day…ah stop me…it befits all seasons and all surroundings really that have a little greyness about them with warmth lurking. Oooooh, nice sax!

From The Provinces is the second single and the very track that lists the overlooked towns. It has a definite 80’s feel to it but in a good way. (It’s the keyboards perhaps).

Money To Money has loads to offer, apart from the usual goodies, a lot of interesting tempi changes, nice harmonies and it could become a real anthem.

Clover kicks in right away with those far-away, high-above vocals in quite a high voice (usually baritone is my thing, but it suits the urgency and the wistfulness of the songs perfectly). Sumptuous guitars galore.

Bury Your Stars starts out with some harmony singing and develops into an ever faster rocker, like a merry-go-round that we are all flying off at some stage.

Coastal Tones is the title track and drives shudders down your back with the incredibly bleak sax section at the beginning and the beats kick in and a very sad melody that reflect the lyrics of monotony of a working life. The day fading in a seaside resort, the music conjures up every single image.

Thirtysomething Lovers Ballad stands out as almost-spoken-word track, the vocals very much in the foreground. A description of life in a grim northern seaside town. “We wash away those dreams”. The rhythm section again drives on relentlessy, the guitars emphasise the madness of life. And yet, there is hope. (And, wow, seagulls at the end).

Now, I am off to listen to Orphan Boy’s “Coastal Tones” again, a classic, may I repeat, both lyrically and musically and as Northern England as can be and yet it stands for description of small working-class town life and you can listen to it now here, too: