Thursday 28 February 2013

Ded Rabbit

Now Ralph's never been averse to something a bit different, so when he caught a snippet of Ded Rabbit recently he decided to investigate further.  Four brothers from Yorkshire who've made their way up to the Highlands of Scotland and had a major dose of The Average White Band rub off on the way.  They're probably the freshest, funkiest thing on the Scottish music scene at the moment bringing us everything from Indie Jazz  and Alt Rock interspersed with a liberal dose of old school Funk.

It's fair to say that Ded Rabbit tick every Indie box and their last EP 'Ice Cream' garnered much critical acclaim.  With big chief Eoin at the back holding things steady on drums, Donal laying out the funk on bass, Fergus providing the catchy melodies and infectious riffs on lead guitar and showman Eugene at the front providing his lyrical anecdotes, cool sax and drunk dad dancing, Ded Rabbit have been gathering support across the country. With many independent radio stations picking up on the boys it was only a matter of time before others caught on, as a recent nod from Jim Gellatly confirmed when he featured them on his unsigned podcast.

Ded Rabbit are up for Best Newcomer in The Scottish Alternative Music Awards and now that voting has closed I'll make no secret that I put my cross in their collective box.  They're up against some sound opposition, however if it goes on pure unadulterated nobody does what they do originality they'll walk it.


Upcoming gigs......

Tingle In The Netherlands

After checking out Scottish Electronica producers Plum and Fiona Soe Paing Ralph thought it was time to turn his attention to some electro/pop a bit nearer to home so here's Tingle In The Netherlands from Manchester.  If you're expecting doom 'n' gloom heavy synths think again.  

Their lyrical narratives are certainly 'different' and to prove the point  I quote a line from 'The Housewives Lament' from their debut album released on the Nerve Echo label.....'Why Can't You Write Something Nice For A Change'.....

"I'm shagging the milkman...and I'm shagging him good."  

It's a tale of angst ridden female revenge best served cold on a bed of light, clean, crisp synth in a Ladytron stylee..... Depeche Mode with a sense of humour and the vocalisations of The Flying Lizards.

The entity that is Tingle In The Netherlands comprises poet HelĂȘn Thomas and electronic musician Owen J and they've been honing their craft since 2009.  While Owen creates the majority of the music HelĂȘn provides most; but not all, of the lyrics as well as contributing some vocal melodies.

Their first EP, ‘Prostitute's Handbag’ was released in 2010 and included a remix by Atomizer of the title track ‘Prostitute's Handbag’ which reached number 11 in the Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty 2010.  There are obvious comparisons to be made (which I'll avoid) but their quirky lyrics and tightly produced music are quite unique.


Tingle In The Netherlands eclectic sound has led to them being played at numerous events and clubs including Club Lash and Analogue Trash at Legends, Manchester.  Bed Supperclub Bangkok, The Whitby Goth Weekend and numerous clubs in London, Berlin and Tokyo. They've been played on the radio in the US and Argentina, Dandelion Radio in the UK, local radio in Manchester and have been asked to create a mix for The Garden of Earthly Delights on CRMK Radio.  Although they've performed at Ste McCabe’s Pussywhipped event in Manchester they consider ourselves to be a studio band so sadly, at the moment they don't have any plans to perform live.

Ralph's advice.....go buy yourself a copy of 'Why Can't You Write Something Nice For A Change'.....have a listen to 'Prostitutes Handbag' because with lyrics like "Made in China - Bought with Vagina" it's the most fun you can have with your headphones and clothes on!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Steve Heron

What's the connection between Johnny Marr and Edinburgh singer/songwriter Steve Heron I hear you ask?  Well I'll tell you...They both play guitar and Steve Heron likes Johnny Marr who's just brought out a solo record and a video after 25 years and Steve's about to release his new single 'Picturesque' and a video at a launch party in Edinburgh's Sneaky Pete's on the 29th of March...what's the chances?

Steve's guitar style is as Scottish infused as Johnny's is Manchester although there's inflections of Bernie Sumner in the likes of the heartfelt and heartrending 'Eleanor'.....if 'Picturesque' betters it we're in for a real's the kind of song James Blunt wishes he could write.  

PhotoSince putting out his first album late in 2010, the acquisition of a band and the release of the critically acclaimed 'Domino Mask' EP in 2011 we're now seeing Steve blossom into a major force on not only the Edinburgh Indie music scene but, following in the footsteps of some of the acts he has played alongside (SAMA Best Live Act nominees OK Social Club, the increasingly popular Stanley Odd and the seemingly always in the US, Admiral Fallow) he's becoming firmly established as a must see Scotland-wide.


Prior to the video launch gig he's appearing at Slouch in Glasgow on Sunday 3rd March and Teviot in Edinburgh on Thursday 14th march.  The video launch party is in Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh on the 29th March and follows that up with The Big 30 gig in Edinburgh's City Cafe on Saturday May 18th and Glasgow's 13th Note on Friday 7th June.  Beg borrow and steal if you must but don't miss a chance to catch them live with support by Universal Thee.

Steve Heron - Guitar, Bass, Vox, Keyboard and Ebow
Angus McGuire - Bass
Simon Gibb - Drums
Alan Lamb - Guitar,Keys and Vox

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Paul Freeman

Paul Freeman has spent over ten years in the music business but as far as his current project is concerned he can be considered a 'new' artist.  He's releasing a solo album in the spring called 'The King of False Alarms' and it will be the first of two which will feature both his acoustic side and a more solid band based tracks

So what's he been doing for the last ten years?  

Well he's been very much in demand in the US as Jeff Barrett the Heavenly recordings supremo took him under his wing.  As a result, even before his 18th birthday, Paul was moving within some of the most intimate, and influential, circles in the music industry in America. 

Paul Freeman

By 20, he and a friend, Findlay Brown, had formed a group, Boedekka, a band that had started out as a kind of modern day Simon & Garfunkel, but that soon turned into something louder, heavier and more psychedelic. They signed to Boy George’s More Protein label, and were steadily going places when Paul’s songwriting reputation began to precede him. After three years of working with Brown, he suddenly found himself penning songs for a post-Take That, pre-comeback Mark Owen.

Paul said “It was a fascinating period for him as back then, Mark was trying to reinvent himself, and make an individual statement.”  They wrote a couple of Top 20 hits together, as well as hatching ideas that Owen would later see to fruition on Take That’s The Circus album. By now, Paul had relocated to Los Angeles, where he played guitar with Shania Twain and later James Blunt, the latter requesting his services on a song of his called 'You’re Beautiful'.

“That kept me in rent money for several years…you can have your own opinion about his music – everybody does! – but James is a lovely, lovely human being.”
Paul was also at work on a selection of his own songs, which he eventually self-released as an EP. For something that didn’t have the weight of a major record label marketing team behind it, the EP nevertheless went out far into the world and proved a steady seller, a regular on the US iTunes chart, and eventually topping an impressive 60,000 sales. 

Clive Davis signed him to BMG in early 2009 and as he was exiting BMG a year later, he kindly released Paul from his contract, and with the master tapes in his possession, he was now able to start afresh. “A major relief,” he says.  He sacked his manager in favour of self-management, and heading out on a succession of US tours, opening for the likes of Los Lobos, Brandi Carlile,Joe Cocker and Todd Rundgren-who said "If there was any justice Paul Freeman would be a household name,but then so would I-so there’s no justice."

He's toured Southeast Asia then returned home, to Santa Monica, to regular games of golf and football and ended up knocking a few balls around with fellow Brit Robbie Williams, who he became friends with. Life was good.  But momentum for his music was building, and Paul began to crave a return home.In mid 2011 , he signed to U E R in the UK (“to make the album I always wanted to make”) and was handpicked to support Roger Daltrey on his British and US tours which took him through to the end of 2011.

In late March 2012 Daltrey asked Paul at short notice to fill in for his usual guitar player at a charity show in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.  Paul flew in from Los Angeles,rehearsed the next day learning around 20 songs, ,and the following day found himself onstage at a packed Albert Hall, perfoming his new single Tightrope and then backing Roger Daltrey, Amy McDonald, Steve Winwood and jamming with Ronnie Wood.

That brings us full circle to now, with Paul's album release imminent and his assault on the UK music scene about to start, perhaps he may be considered a 'new' artist but he's got the pedigree of a seasoned professional.  At the moment there are no gigs announced, however as soon as I know you will!

Saturday 23 February 2013

Ralph's Chart 23.2.13

OK bands you know the score.....

the more hits your blog gets by the fans, the higher you go.....

So tweet it, Facebook it.....

and generally expose yourself.....

Now Snuggles and me have been sitting with our heads down counting the hits on each bands blog to see who's got which place.  

So here it is.....

The Top Ten Blogged Band Chart .....

No 1..... Bird

Three piece Liverpool band Bird is the creation of Adele Emmas (singer, songwriter) Sian Williams (guitar, harmonies) and Alexis Samata (drums) Together they create dark, haunting, atmospheric music which will entice you in to their magical, other worldly universe. With beautiful, siren-esque vocals, tribal, hypnotic drum beats and spellbinding guitar work, Bird are refreshingly unlike anything that's currently on the music scene.

No 2..... Plum

Back in July last year I acquired a taste for fine female voices after listening to Kathryn Marsh so I turned my nose in the direction of Plum, the alter ego of Edinburgh based Shona Maguire.

So what's the latest...well she's just been and gone and got herself nominated in the Best Electronic category of The Scottish Alternative Music Awards 2013.....

No 3..... The Folk Remedy

Getting tired of Mumford and Sons churning out the same ole same ole? Then do what I did and take a look at The Folk Remedy from Manchester whose diversity and musicality is as refreshing as it is highly listenable.  These three musicians have merged their own different musical backgrounds into one sound, which brings out their individual personalities whilst staying true to their folk roots.

No 4..... Wullae Wright

Everybody likes to make a comparison about artistes and Ralph's old man is no exception. He heard Wullae Wright's 'Halo Effect' playing on my laptop and next thing he was wiping the dust of his collection of vinyl, dug out Led Zeppelin I and stuck it under my nose muttering....."Babe I'm Gonna Leave You".  Chance would be a fine thing some would say, however I had a listen and low and behold Wullae Wright is capturing the same raw intensity of vocals that an early Robert Plant did. 

No 5..... Wishes

Ralph's now got his own Unsigned Indie Mix show on French station Radio Kaos Caribou every Sunday 5 - 6 pm and it's thanks to listening to their eclectic mix of music that he came across Paris based band Wishes

No 6..... Calm As The Colour

So you've got to ask yourself how a band that's putting out consistently fine music and pulling in accolades from press and radio alike, still aren't quite finding their place in the hearts of the Scottish music buying public.  Calm As The Colour from The Kingdom of Fife are such a band and whilst they've only been together just under two years they've garnered compliments and airplay from the luminaries of Scottish radio and beyond.

No 7..... The Ninth Watch

After a hectic and successful years gigging in 2012, Manchester four piece The Ninth Watch are hibernating in the studio with a view to bringing you a host of new tunes and if they're as strong as the tracks they produced last year, we're in for a real treat.

No 8..... Hector Bizerk

An M.C. and a drummer...simple words for the complex musical experience that is Hector Bizerk.  Formed just over two years ago and originally comprising of  seasoned rapper Louie and equally experienced drummer Audrey Tait they've made massive inroads into the Scottish music scene. 

No 9..... The Recovery!


The Recovery! are a five piece punk/metal/core band from Glasgow who  release their new E.P ‘Wherever Nowhere Takes Us’ on 11th February, 2013 via Indie label Cold War Legacy

The first single from the record ‘The Faint & Fragile’ is available now for free download!

No 10..... Vigo Thieves

As me old man never tires of saying, "Always great to hear a Scottish band singing like you know they're a Scottish band".  Well that certainly applies to The Vigo Thieves, just listen to the wonderful Steal Your Heart with it's almost Big Country-like intro and the thumping Heartbeats, last years video soundtrack for T in the Park has got to be a big club favourite, which is guaranteed to get the proverbial joint jumpin'.  They're up for Best Live Act at the SAMAs.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Hector Bizerk

An M.C. and a drummer...

simple words for the complex musical experience that is Hector Bizerk.  Formed just over two years ago and originally comprising of  seasoned rapper Louie and equally experienced drummer Audrey Tait.

They've made massive inroads into the Scottish music scene with their unique blend of Audrey's creative and complimentary drumming style  amplifying Louie's complex socio-political flows.  Hang on I'm starting to sound like one of those overly verbose, up their own arse music bloggers that Ralph hates so much!

So Ralph took the chance of putting a few questions to Louie.....

Ralph:  Next release?

Louie:  "We're currently working on a new album.  'Drums. Rap. Yes.' was pretty ambitious considering we had only been a band for 15 months at that time.  The debut album received good reviews and lots of mainstream radio attention but any artist worth paying attention to will always strive to improve."  

"I've picked flaws in my own contribution to the record, that's how honest artists develop and stay focused.  I'm proud of that record but our next one is going to show further progression and be even more left field."

Ralph:  Main influences/currently listening to?

Louie:  "I always find it tough to define what influences me.  Most of the time I write about my surroundings or feed off things I have read.  I've recently finished a solo album called 'Lost On Hope Street'. It's a social conscious piece about the wider view of working class Britain." 

"I enjoy a bit of everything really.  I absolutely love The Black Keys.  I also like Alt-J and Bastille too. I like a lot of High Focus Records roster at the moment but I also enjoy some of the US underground stuff like Epidemic, Nems, R.A Rugged Man that type of stuff.  Mistah Bohze and NC Epik are always smashing everything too!  Blastoid McGonigle is one of the finest hip-hop albums on the planet."

Ralph:  With the current success of Stanley Odd are you finding it easier to be accepted in the current Scottish music scene (Frightened Rabbit, Admiral Fallow and the like) or do you consider you'd already made the transition?

Louie:  "We're good friends with Stanley Odd but I think we are coming from opposite ends of the spectrum in our music.  Audrey and I try to write hip-hop that can encapsulate an audience even when stripped bare to just drums and vocals."  

"It's dangerous territory and we enjoy to take the rhythms to unexpected places.  I think we have managed to make great strides because of our unique take on songwriting and their is no other show similar to ours.  Musicians can appreciate the berth and depths of Audrey's drumming and my syllable matching.  We can be quite muso. Incidently, Solareye and myself are collaborating with super producer Scatabrainz at the moment and will be releasing a record together in March.

Ralph :  Any aspirations to take Scottish rap to the masses/will it translate 'oot the Auld Country'?

Louie:  "I suppose there will always be a stigma when people label what we do as Scottish rap or Scottish hip-hop.  It's just hip-hop.  People abroad are receptive to our music.  I think they enjoy the different accents and colloquialisms.  Good music speaks for itself and transcends any boundaries that we may encounter."  

"Of course not everyone is going to enjoy our music as it's a bit peculiar to some people but not everyone enjoys Snow Patrol or Kasabian and they sell out arena tours.  I think I am a better singer than Liam Gallacher and he does alright! haha!"

Ralph:  How are you developing the Hector Bizerk sound/musicality?

Louie:  "We have taken a different approach with this new record.  In fact, we have taken a few different approaches this time round.  Obviously we have Jen Muir and Fraser Sneddon on board now and it's nice to bounce ideas off them too.  The latest song we have worked on was Fraser's idea to begin with." 

"It's great to have that input and helps us become even more experimental. Audrey has recently bought this new Akai synth too and uses a I-pad to create the type of sounds that would give children nightmares. Oh, and the drum kit has grown a few more limbs since the last record too, there is now a djembe in the mix too."

Ralph:  How was it sharing a stage with one of the godfathers of Hip Hop, Jo Saddler again recently, learn anything?

Louis:  "It was tremendous.  I had met Flash before when Bigg Taj and I supported him in 2007.  He was very complimentary about our music and particularly how we have a Scottish sound. He reckons we have a unique selling point and a good solid foundation for building upon. We also played with GZA, MF Doom and EPMD."

Ralph:   How hard has it been to establish yourself being self-funded...hints and tips for others doing the same?

"I think writing good music speaks for itself.  We have had no financial backing or label pushing our music.  It's down to the support of genuine music lovers who understand the creative integrity behind Hector Bizerk.  Word of mouth is our secret weapon. Oh, and hard work too." 

Ralph:  How do you seem to stay so grounded with all the recent critical acclaim for both album and gigs?

Louie:  "I look at my bank balance!  haha! I have never thought about it like that.  
When artists disappear up their own arse they stop making the good honest strides that made them likable in the first place. I've saw it happen with bands time and time again and it's important not to get caught up in your own hype. We have made some steps in the right direction but we've made mistakes too.  I think learning from mistakes is just as important as accepting praise from critics and music lovers."

Ralph:  Can you continue to be consistently 'different'?

Louie:  "I believe we can.  Every song is a blank canvas. It's up to us to keep creating new colours and textures."

Ralph:  The importance of socio-political lyrics in rap? Do you think most of the fans take them in...

Louie:  "I think that conscious lyricism is at the heart of hip-hop.  It's all story telling, integrity and perspective.  If people want to hear senseless shite about clubbing and boy meets girl romance they will listen to chart music.  I think our target market have open ears and open minds."