Archives for posts with tag: Glasgow

Shopping released their 4th album “All Or Nothing” in 2020. Here’s the driving post-punk exhortation of “Initiative”:

“Initiative” is perfect post-punk. It’s like the essence of the likes of Wire and Gang of Four in all their fierce tightly-packed rhythmic-melodic best has been distilled into something even more crisply focused and compelling.

Shopping create music from propulsive hypnotic bass lines, four-to-the-floor drums, concise guitar lines that embroider the space between the bass and drums, and vocals that provide a personal narrative of “change, heartbreak and personal evolution”.

The band – mostly now Glasgow based – was formed in 2012 by members Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums), with links to various other UK DIY bands including Trash Kit and Wet Dog.

Shopping were only a few dates into a US tour in 2020 when the pandemic ended their tour just after they recorded a KEXP radio session. There’s also a cracking live version of “Initiative” on that 4 song release which is also available on their bandcamp page.

Vanessa Worm

Vanessa Worm originated in the Dunedin underground electronic/ experimental scene that coagulated around the now defunct None Gallery performance space. A move to Melbourne and EP releases on Glasgow’s Optimo dance label followed and now there’s a first album just released, called “Vanessa 77”. Here’s “Satisfaction” from the album:

There is a highly individual non-conformist ‘punk’ element to the music and performance. “Satisfaction” is one of the more ‘regular’ tracks on the album, coming across like Kruder & Dorfmeister re-mixing mid 1970s Can fronted by a demonically-possessed Grace Jones.

To say the album is all over the place is an understatement. The opening tracks are formed on guitar before being dragged backwards towards the thump of electronic dance beats and an ominous tolling bell (send not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee as John Donne wrote some 500 years ago).

The music has bucketloads of variety and character and Worm’s unconventional vocalising ranges from mouth-sound-effect oddness to a kind of electronic punk sneer.  I guess you could call the music “electronic” or “dance” or “industrial” or “experimental” but it’s not going to fit in any comfortable singular genre.

The music on “Vanessa 77” has more in common with boundary-pushing weirdos of the post-punk avant garde music art scene – a bit of dancefloor Throbbing Gristle malevolence here, some fried Fred Frith guitar deconstruction there. For all those reasons and more it’s gloriously, subversively great.

“Vanessa 77” is available on LP on Glasgow dance music label Optimo Music with mailorder via Boomkat.

Free Love 2020

Time for a home detention isolation bubble dance party, courtesy of Glasgow duo Free Love. Here’s the pulsing ecstasy of “Bones” from their appropriately-named 2019 mini-album “Extreme Dance Anthems”:

Free Love were formerly known as Happy Meals. Free Love is a better name, particularly when the duo set out their manifesto of love-fuelled exploratory hedonism:

“The music is about physicality and the metaphysical – it is about a recontextualisation of the ineffable as a centre point of existence which in turn influences how we engage with everything around us. A celebration of the unquantifiable, unspeakable, indivisible EXPERIENCE as the throne from which all ideas are derived. Even though the world is fucked- we are here.”

The Glasgow-based duo of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook (also of The Cosmic Dead) started Happy Meals at Glasgow’s creative hub The Green Door Store. Their first album as Happy Meals was Apéro (2014) and it’s also an excellent destination, so please do check that out as well as their more recent Free Love rave output.

Both artists operate electronic music machines and sing but it’s the dominating Franco-Scottish vocals of Suzanne Rodden that gives the album their exotic blissed out humanity. The music is a fun combination of many electronic music styles and dance music sub-genres. There’s a bit or Euro-Disco/ Italo-Disco cheese, some arpeggiated Kosmiche synth broodiness, and a variety of Trance/ House/ Techno grooves.

I came across a Happy Meals track (the New Order-esque “Le Voyage” below) last night on a sampler CD the fine staff at Monorail Music in Glasgow gave me on a visit there a couple of years ago, which led to discovering the more recent Free Love output.

While in lockdown I’ve been trying to maintain some normal life consumer habits, which included very occasional online record purchases from UK mailorder sellers like Monorail Music and Norman Records as well as regular visits to local Dunedin store Relics Music – which I have attempted to maintain by website purchases. A big part of staying sane in lockdown is optimism and visualizing things getting back to (new) normal. That means having the cultural institutions like independent record stores (and favourite cafes and food suppliers) we have taken for granted as still being there for our mental wellbeing once this current situation improves.


Manuela Iwansson

Glasgow-based independent record label Night School Records is reliably unpredictable. One of its latest releases is a perfectly out-of-character 7″ single by Swedish musician Manuela Iwansson, the A-side of which is called “Strangers on a Train”:

When I say “out-of-character” it’s not really, because “out-of-character” is totally in-character for Night School Records. It’s not that the label is all over the place, and lacking any kind of thematic or genre focus. The opposite is true. It’s just its done in such an unpredictable way.  You don’t realise how connected the music the label releases is until you get past the sound and think more about what it represents and the people making it.

OK, that’s too much isolation-induced over-thinking for a Sunday. Why not just enjoy a dystopian post-punk, gothic synth-pop power-chord banger and dance like no-one is watching?

Iwansson‘s background was as vocalist in now-defunct Swedish punk group Terrible Feelings. Her current solo sound “harnesses the doomed romance of early 80s post-punk with a leather-bound flourish of late-70s hard-as-nails rock music.”

“Strangers on a Train” takes the guitar and bass tones and textures of The Cure’s first couple of albums as a starting point, then mixes in some Big Hair & leather trench-coat 80’s synth-pop plus power-chord stadium rock (in a Bonnie Tyler kind of way), and cooks up a ridiculously loveable dark anthem to loneliness and paranoia. And the other side “Blank Surface” does much the same, but differently. It all adds up to something a lot better than the music it pays homage to.

As Night School proclaims: “Rock n Roll is dead, good riddance; we’re creatures of the night.”


Spinning Coin 2020

Spinning Coin at Lynn Park, Glasgow, 04/08/2019 – photo by Owen Godbert

Now here’s a sure fire way to cheer up a grey damp day in Dunedin, NZ…. some new Spinning Coin from Scotland’s rain city Glasgow. Their 2nd album “Hyacinth” was released yesterday  and here’s the second song “Feel You More Than The World Right Now”:

Their first album “Permo” was a hyper-jangly melodic 21st century update of that 1980s/ 1990s Glasgow guitar pop sound.  Following “Permo” the group had a slight line-up change, drafting in Hairband‘s Rachel Taylor on bass and vocals (and songwriting duties), and the new album “Hyacinth” reflects a broadening songwriting approach while retaining all the essential elements that made them so appealing from the outset.

This particular song stood out on first listen because of the sparkling light shining out from the first seconds from those hyperactive jangling guitars. Sean Armstrong’s  wavering croon takes on the attitude of Edwyn Collins in early Orange Juice, pumps it full of lighter-than-air gasses, and blasts it into space in a flower-filled rocket-ship.  Free-wheeling, ebullient, beautiful, and just a little bit loopy.

The LP of “Hyacinth” is released on The Pastels Stephen McRobbie’s Geographic Records imprint in the Domino Records stable. It’s also available mailorder via Monorail Music in Glasgow and Norman Records.


Hairband_2018Paris was burning last week, with temperatures in the 40s. But Paris is totally cool now, thanks to Glasgow 5-piece band Hairband, with a fresh breeze of a new single of that name:

Hairband’s French language skills exceed my dim memory of High School French, but it’s their music and infectious enthusiasm for creating rule-bending pop that wins once again.

“Paris” finds a new way to combine bass and drums, three interwoven counter-point guitar patterns, and melodic lighter-than-air voices, into a gloriously melodic rhythmic push and pull of a timeless post-punk funk tune.

As with Hairband’s fine 2018 EP this song (and its digital ‘B-Side’ “Varipapa”) doesn’t sound like anything from the post-punk era so much as simply and effectively capturing the exploratory, non-conformist experimentation of those times. Qu’est-ce qu’ils sont sur?


Tight KnitThe third 7″ single on Glasgow underground pop label Not Unloved is another beaut. It’s from Tight Knit and it’s “Too Hot” (with “Want You” on the flip side).

Tight Knit traveled from Australia to Glasgow in the time-honoured tradition of Australasian underground pop bands seeking their fame if not their fortune in Glasgow. By chance a CD-R of their music came to the attention of Not Unloved, which had previously released excellent 7″ singles by Vital Idles and then Current Affairs.

By “time-honoured tradition” I’m thinking of the Go-Between here, visiting Orange Juice and releasing a single on the legendary Glasgow label Postcard Records in the early 1980s. [As a side note, Orange Juice were previously called the Nu Sonics and the catalogue number of this single is NUSONIC003, and of course Not Unloved is a song by another Glasgow band we know and love; The Pastels].

I’m also thinking of The Bats, from Dunedin & Christchurch, NZ, who found themselves in Glasgow in the late 1980s as well while touring the UK and Europe, and recorded half of their “Daddy’s Highway” album there in a basement flat.

Anyway, back to this fine Tight Knit song… “Too Hot” is perfect honest garage rock from the Melbourne trio of Ange (guitar, bass and vocals), Caitie (guitar, bass and vocals) and Jamie (drums). The thrilling lead guitar bursts channel the kind of pure fierce electricity of Lou Reed’s lead guitar circa the Velvet Undergound’s “White Light/ White Heat” album.  With its combination of harmony vocals and those guitars, it’s the kind of song that would have set a volume of the Romulan Records 1960s garage rock series Girls in the Garage alight.



Flo and Spicey

Please sit back, ensure your seat belt is securely fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray table is stowed away, as we prepare for take-off… it’s time to travel through space and time between Glasgow and Stockholm with Flo & Spicey on an “Adult Single”:

Flo & Spicey (real names Diana Jonsson & Colin Stewart) describe themselves as “a long distance studio collaboration between Glasgow and Stockholm. They make their music using old & discarded tech with a love for all things Joe Meek & Delia Derbyshire.”

It’s a kind of lo-fi retro-collage kind of magpie indie-pop where whistling kettles and stirring tea-spoons, railway station announcements, old TV soundbites and all kinds of noisy flotsam and jetsam are woven into bass and keyboard pop. It’s fun, it’s weird in a kind of Residents-meets-Stereoloab kind of way at times, and it’s all got a heart of pop as well.

Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set is highly recommended for fans of Broadcast and also contemporary exponents of this kind of dark, grainy experimental pop, like Exploded View.

The Wake

Bristol, UK independent label Sarah Records has put all their catalogue on line. Some Sarah Records singles and albums made it down-under to Dunedin and a few more picked up on overseas trips. But most of the extensive Sarah Records catalogue has been intriguing record collector territory until now. There’s plenty in that catalogue to discover today. The Wake were a band I missed at the time, so here’s their wonderfully savage “Britain”.

The Wake was founded in Glasgow in 1981 by Gerard McInulty (formerly of Altered Images), Steven Allen (drums) and Joe Donnelly (bass), the latter soon replaced by Bobby Gillespie, who was later asked to leave, joining the Jesus and Mary Chain briefly, before forming Primal Scream. Carolyn Allen (sister of drummer Steve Allen) also joined on keyboards, and along with McInulty still performs as part of a reformed The Wake.

I’m going to copy the info from the bandcamp page here to tell their story: “The Wake formed in Glasgow in 1981 and released their debut 7”, On Our Honeymoon, on their own Scan 45 label. The single attracted the attention of Factory Records, for whom they released four singles and two albums. Encouraged by fellow Glasgow-band The Orchids, they then signed to Sarah Records for two more singles and albums. After Sarah ended, a further album was released on LTM.” 

Molly NilssonHere’s another from the Night School Records catalogue. As with yesterday’s post of a track from the Sorrow LP re-issue “Whiskey Sour” here is a track from a double LP re-issue of a 2008 Molly Nilsson album called “These Things Take Time”

Nilsson is a Swedish musician based in Berlin. Her minimal “DIY ’til I die” synth pop has an extensive catalogue which can be explored on her website Dark Skies Association.

“Whisky Sour” is a slice-of-life wry observation about… well, waiting in a bar, and all the discomfort, thoughts, memories and reflections this involves. It carries a similar kind of dark fatalistic humour of The Magnetic Fields reflecting on the human condition – Nillson’s morose commentary unfolding like a short story over this hiss and chime of a simple melody from a budget keyboard.

The album is an expansive collection of DIY Casio-tone synth-pop. It was repressed on vinyl – a limited 500 copies – for Record Store Day 2018, and appears to be sold out now. However… there is always the unlimited edition digital download…