Archives for posts with tag: Monorail Music

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.



Glasgow 5-piece Hairband -which features members of groups Spinning Coin, Breakfast Muff, Lush Purr and Kaputt – has just released a self-titled first 12″ EP last week. Here’s “Bubble Sword” from the EP –

When “Flying” by Hairband was featured on PopLib back in April the song came to notice via a charity fund-raiser compilation of music by an eclectic cast of Glasgow artists. “Flying” intrigued because of its unique style – that rare phenomena of something that sounds fresh and different while still indisputably part of the family tree of ‘pop music’.

Happily it was the advance rider of this 5 song 12″ EP, via their local Glasgow record shop label Monorail Music, released last week. The self-titled debut release from Hairband includes “Flying” and, as should be obvious from the wonderful “Bubble Sword” here, finds 4 more ways to bend the rock and pop ‘rules’ and delight.

“Bubble Sword” is constructed on restless post-punk funk bass and drums, with some avant-garde counter-point guitar patterns over top, emulating a re-purposed Afro-beat kind of rhythmic propulsion, then with a more straight forward noisy sing-a-long chorus.  It doesn’t sound like anything from the halcyon days of post-punk, but it does capture the possibilities of that era for music to go in multiple different directions – sometimes in the same song.

That rhythmic push and pull is at the musical heart of the EP. Each song is a different and distinct thing; related but separate musical events. Each song weaves and braids the band’s instrumentation and voices in different patterns of melody, tone and rhythm. Everything contributes to the whole, and more often than not the instrument that leaps out with something unexpected and audacious is one of the three guitar parts. Listen to “White Teeth” in particular for some sublime guitar interplay.

More than anything else the EP transmits the exploratory joy of a group of friends collaborating apparently without fear, and without self-imposed restrictions tying the music or playing to any particular style or genre. Whatever the chemistry or methodology is here, Hairband have clearly found something that works for them. And also, happily, for us as listeners.