Mac DeMarco Review
George Grosz

Mac DeMarco Review

[Written By: Emma Lees]

DIY slacker rock hero Mac Demarco played his hotly anticipated date on the last Friday of November at The Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow as part of his This Old Dog tour. Set to be eclectic mix of psychedelic garage music sloped with jazzy overtones and heinous onstage antics – it did not disappoint. Well known for the stream of trippy slow paced romantic records he releases which lie in stark contrast to the boyish and downright vulgar behaviour in his videos and in front of the crowd. With a goofy Lloyd Christmas Canadian charm, endearingly softly spoken voice and low maintenance modus operandi, he’s become a hero for anyone who’s ever felt weird and liked it.

Continue Reading

Odd Beasts by The Menagerie

[Written By: Jen Hughes]

The Menagerie is a hip-hop trio from Brighton consisting of rappers Professor Elemental and Dr Syntax, as well as producer Tom Caruana. The group made their debut in 2005 with their album  Wild Kingdom, which is also worth a listen. After their second album, they took a long break for their own solo projects and collaborations –  until they released Odd Beasts this September.

Continue Reading

Gig Review: Leo Stannard

It is certainly a much sought-after talent for a musician to calm a roomful of people after a couple of drinks, and it is a testament to Leo Stannard’s musicianship that he manages to achieve this feat. His voice is undoubtedly unassuming when contrasted with his appearance: a Charlie Puth look and vibe is thrown off by a deep and slightly hoarse voice similar to that of Ben Howard, whom Stannard seems to draw inspiration from. Couple this with his Jon Gomm-esque percussive and pinch harmonic littered guitar style, and Leo Stannard is clearly placed above the rest of his acoustic pop peers.

Continue Reading

Gig Review: Billie Martin

Billie Marten started writing songs around the age of nine, and when she was twelve, her parents started downloading clips of her singing online for her grandparents to see. Discovered by a record company, she released her first EP at the age of fifteen and has subsequently released an album, gone on tour, played at both festivals and the BBC. She is one of those people you’d put in the annoyingly good at lifecategory. The ones you are jealous of and who make you think to yourself Yeah, I wouldnt mind being a bit like them’. Annoyingly talented, thats what she is. You are in equal measures annoyed and in awe, though.

Continue Reading

The Buskers of Glasgow

IMG_4392

 

“Can I just have a quick smoke first?” grins the ever-charismatic Gregor Hunter Coleman as we approach him during a break in his busking set one Friday afternoon. Gregor, we note, is something of a local celebrity in Glasgow nowadays, having become an almost permanent fixture in the city centre.

 

“I’m out here busking every day,” he confirms, glancing around the bustling street. Arduous as though this might seem – braving the biting Glasgow wind to bring covers of popular songs to the masses – Gregor is by no means alone in this game. Glasgow is, in essence, Scotland’s busking capital. If it’s not a slice of pristine indie pop greeting your ears as you ascend the steps of the Subway station, it’s a tuneful accordion or triumphant saxophone. Voices drift along every street, singing songs both jaunty and mournful. It seems there’s room for every genre in this thriving metropolis.

 

Despite his dedication to the trade, Gregor’s quick to inform us that performing on the street isn’t without its problems. “All my stuff broke yesterday so I had to replace it,” he says of his equipment. He also tells us that busking at night carries an element of risk – when darkness descends, there’s an increased chance of people stealing the day’s earnings from your case. He knows this from experience.

 

IMG_4370

 

Nonetheless, Glasgow’s busking scene suits him well. “Busking’s the only time you get paid what’s 100% yours,” he tells us earnestly. His statement rings with truth – playing in the middle of Buchanan Street doesn’t incur any agent’s fees, after all. Busking has also awarded him plenty of valuable opportunities. After hearing him play in the centre of the city, a woman requested that he play at her wedding – in the Lake District.

 

Any pre-wedding jitters?

 

“It’s a big day”, he smiles. “If I ruin the songs, then…”

 

It’s worth betting he won’t ruin the songs. In any case, Gregor’s certainly establishing himself within the music sphere, his endeavours now extending beyond the realm of street performance. He has gigged with Nicholas McDonald, Motherwell-native who was placed runner-up in 2013’s X-factor, as well as reality TV personality Jake Quickenden. He’s also aiming to get his band truly up and running, with their first show due to take place on December 18 at the 02 ABC.

 

IMG_4314

 

Life could’ve been quite different for Gregor had his family gone through with plans to relocate to Dunoon when he was younger. He reckons he’d “literally just be a farmer” by now. When asked what he’d like to do in future, Gregor smiles coyly. “I just want to busk and see what happens.”

 

It’s a similar story for Jackson Harvey. The twenty-one-year-old once busked every day, but is now channelling most of his energy into The Modests, a band he’s been with for seven years. On the occasions he comes into the city centre armed with his guitar, it’s for enjoyment purposes only. He’s graduated to venues now, having played “everywhere in Glasgow… except The Hydro.” We probe him to tell us about his favourite venue. “It depends what you’re looking for,” he responds sensibly. “The 02 Academy is great for the ‘big venue’ experience”. Meanwhile, he thinks Box offers a nice intimate atmosphere. Jackson’s foray into the music world began upon the realisation that he’s too uncoordinated to be a footballer. “I’m not ambidextrous,” he laughs. “I can’t play with either foot.”

 

Halfway down Buchanan Street, a crowd has gathered around Glasgow-based duo Wandering Sons. The song they’re playing is not just toe-tappingly good, but a real foot-stomper. It transpires that it’s an original: the first track on their new album, which can be downloaded from their Facebook page for free or picked up in physical form for £5. The original music is delightfully interspersed with an energetic rendition of Florence and the Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love.” Though technically proficient, Wandering Sons may strike as being decidedly unorthodox. Their guitar case is adorned with rubber ducks; the drummer, David, has forgone a proper drum kit in favour of plastic buckets.

 

The band’s history, it seems, is as interesting as their aesthetic. Lead singer Barney (20), originally from Belgium, met David through Church, and the pair formed as a two-piece in 2012. Despite their talent, Wandering Sons embody Glasgow’s trademark self-deprecating humour. Starting out, they considered themselves “the worst musicians out of [their] whole friends group.”

 

IMG_4267

 

It is soon revealed that their first time busking was in the Lake District, their efforts being met with a fairly enthusiastic response. “I think people were just being polite,” Barney says modestly. They admit that busking on Glasgow’s streets presents some challenges. It has been so cold on occasion that Barney has had to wear fingerless gloves while playing guitar. They’ve taken big risks for the band – quitting their day jobs and higher education courses – but things seem to be working out for them. They’ve toured mainland Europe and are beginning to gig seriously now, co-headlining shows with an Australian artist.

 

“We just do this and play gigs,” the boys say. “We love it at the moment… We’re making what we need to live.”

 

The band began to perform on the street after seeing others do the same. They praise the Glasgow busker scene very highly. “I don’t think I’d be busking [if I hadn’t moved to Glasgow]. There’s no busking scene in Belgium,” Barney muses.

 

As we approach Anna Shields – one of the only female buskers we’ve seen all day – we note a sign advertising a gig at the 02 Academy on the 11th of October. Clearly she’s doing quite well.

 

IMG_4343

 

“The first time I went busking my mum wouldn’t let me go by myself,” Anna says, recounting her first experience performing in the city centre. Consequently, her brother stood and watched her from the side that day. “I made £12… I was so excited!”

 

Though Anna busked “for the fun of it” back then, she’s got bigger things on her mind now. She formed a band at the start of the year with her boyfriend – who plays guitar – and their bassist friend.

 

When asked if Anna suffers at all in such a male-dominated industry – and, indeed, within a male-dominated band – she doesn’t give the answer we’re expecting.

 

“It’s actually quite good for me,” she says. At this point, she begins to talk about the male buskers who garner attention on the basis of how they look. “When people see us, they’re coming to see the music. People are there because they want to listen to us,” she explains.

 

Like the others, Anna is picking up gigs in a number of Glasgow’s venues. She’s played the legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah hut on two occasions already.

 

Any hopes for the future?

 

According to Anna a CD is now in the works, due for release next year. She’ll have to juggle this with the music degree she’s studying for at the University of the West of Scotland. “Even if I don’t make it as a musician, I still want to be involved in the industry.”

 

If you hadn’t been born and raised in Glasgow, do you think you’d still be doing this?

 

“I would probably still be doing music – but probably not to the extent I’m doing it,” Anna tells us. “The Glasgow scene is the best for buskers… It has the best busker scene in the UK.”

 

IMG_4309

 

This is a view echoed by Alexander, a Polish saxophonist who moved to Glasgow four months ago. He too has an extensive musical catalogue: besides performing in Buchanan Street alongside his guitarist, he has also played various gigs during his time here. He doesn’t seek out these shows as such – Alexander seems quite content with busking for the moment. “We live from music,” he says poignantly. “Busking is enough.”

 

Finally, we meet a guitarist who goes by the name of Mike. Mike’s still “finding his feet” on the busking scene, but his story’s a fascinating one. “God made me want to start busking. I used to run a lap dance club, but I had a dream one night… And now I sing to God. The songs and the words are for God.”

 

 

By Morgan Laing

Continue Reading

Interview with The Basement Sessions

Basement 2

 

Enter into Broadcast: a laid-back space with open fireplaces glowing from every TV screen, an impressive list of White Russians on a blackboard and friendly faces in every corner of the bar. A steep and narrow stairwell will take you down to the hidden underground. The roof there is so low you can barely stand tall. The room is so small people have to crowd to see the stage. Everyone clutches his or her plastic cups of beer in eager anticipation.

 

Then the music begins…

 

Kathryn and Calum are the founders of The Basement Sessions. They met when they were playing in the same band and remained good friends. In the beginning of 2015, they noticed there was a lack of live music in the Glasgow nightclub scene and decided to change that. Even though Kathryn is a full-time student in events management and Calum both works and plays his own music, they have managed to make their vision of bringing live music into a club setting come true. Today, The Basement Sessions arrange monthly gigs in the basement of Broadcast.

 

Kathryn: It is quite nice for the shows to be a bit of a treat. Once a month is perfect.

 

Basement 3

 

Each night gathers around 130 visitors, eager to see handpicked bands from the Glasgow music scene.

 

Kathryn: The music scene is very vibrant in Glasgow. Right now, the techno and the garage scene are trending. But despite all the trends, there is always a place for live music. In the past 50 years, there has been a decline of it. But the last ten years, it has started to increase again. Live music is just something that will never die. It is just a completely different experience.

 

The Basement Sessions’ nights are always free. This makes it possible to move freely. You can go outside, come back in, sit upstairs for a while and then go back to listen to your favourite band. In addition, you don’t have to commit a full evening: you can pop in on your way out or on your way home. If you don’t like one band, you can come back and listen to the next.

 

Lately, Kathryn and Calum have started to move away from the one-man acoustic acts.

 

Calum: It doesn’t grip people on a Friday or Saturday night. People want to have a good time and dance. But we organise other events as well, so there is space for all kinds of different acts. We want the crowd to have fun and to feel free to move around like in a club with a DJ.

 

Kathryn and Calum have been involved in the music scene of Glasgow, so it has been quite easy for them to find great talents. As Glasgow is a small city, many bands are friends with each other and are willing to support one another. Their selection of bands is based on a mixture of word-of-mouth, Soundcloud, music blogs or the bands contact them on their own. They work hard to create a musically coherent night, with three acts: two bands and a DJ that complement each other. The DJ plays a big part, as their job is to wrap up the night. They can interpret what the crowd wants and knows how to create a fun and entertaining environment.

 

Basement 1 

 

Kathryn: We are not specifically looking for certain types of bands. It just comes down to what we enjoy, what we think will be received well by the audience. The Basement Sessions is a place where people can discover new talents.

Calum: We want to make a really good night for people to have fun. We don’t wanna loose sight of what we are doing now: giving up-and-coming local bands exposure.

 

In the past, The Basement Sessions have had themed nights, of which one was a hiphop special that attracted many people and talented musicians. However, Kathryn and Calum’s best memories are from a mini festival they arranged earlier this year in August.

 

Kathryn: We did a mini festival, showcasing the best bands and DJs that had performed for us so far. Alongside, there were some local artists and local clothes brands. It was a celebration of all the talents Glasgow has to offer. It became a huge success. It is nice to bring different talented people together. Everyone can network, learn from the event, from each other and gain new experiences.

 

If you want to brighten up your Friday night and experience something groovy: get off Netflix, change out of your pyjamas and grab some friends. You can still make it. It only begins after 11 pm. Head down to Broadcast on Sauchiehall Street for a night of dancing and sweet tunes.

 

 

The Basement Sessions have collaborated with GUM to create our Launch Party at The Art School on December 4th. Visit our event page to find out more and how to buy tickets.

 

 

By Sofia Linden and Saara Antikainen 

 

Continue Reading

Review: Jamie XX at the 02 Academy

Review Jamie xx, O2 Academy, 17.10.15

 

jamie-xx-in-colour

 

Entering Jamie xx’s sold-out show at the O2 Academy on Saturday – part of his European-wide ‘In Colour’ tour – one is unsure what to expect from him. Will he be performing a live show or a DJ set? Will he be showcasing only his own material or also that of others? The Young Turks label head – real name Jamie Smith – appears as an enigmatic figure in the world of electronic music. He finds himself positioned somewhere in the middle-ground that separates the scene’s proudly underground artists – those who are firmly immersed in club culture and care not for global fame – from those who have embraced the mainstream and adjusted their sound accordingly to appeal to a wider audience. Despite sharing both similarities and differences with both sides of this spectrum, Smith’s work is neither representative of the average underground club DJ nor the average EDM act.

Regardless of this, his musical talent is undisputed. A string of solid EP releases, a critically acclaimed rework of the music of Gil-Scott Heron, and two masterfully atmospheric albums with indie band The xx all culminated in June when he oversaw the release of his first full length solo album, ‘In Colour’. The album was received positively although failed to encapsulate his full capabilities as a producer.

Revered selector and local favourite Spencer is on warm-up duties tonight. It is a surprisingly dreary two hour set from the Numbers label co-founder and one that only really comes to fruition in the last fifteen minutes or so when two upbeat, old-school New York house numbers are preceded by Italo-disco classic ‘Take a Chance’ by Mr Flaggio. Finally, Smith takes to the stage, to rapturous applause, and the sounds of his steel-drum laden ‘All Under One Roof Raving’ slowly filling the venue. Sample-heavy and paying homage to 90s rave culture: both the tempo and mood of this track are ideal for the opener and get the crowd moving accordingly.

Sadly, the tone and the quality of music takes a turn for the worse shortly after this. Some mundane piano house is followed by a couple of big-room tracks – fitting for the inappropriately oversized venue – that comes complete with EDM-esque crescendos and an overblown light show. As if attempting to steer his set away from the mainstream EDM road it is now heading down, Smith drops two ‘90s UK Garage tracks in quick succession. The latter, ‘138 Trek’ by DJ Zinc, ought to throw him a lifeline but the venue’s sound system allows for only a fraction of the song’s euphoric nature to be captured. The remainder of the set seems to be filled with Smith to-ing and fro-ing between mainstream crowd-pleasing tracks and throwing in something with a degree of obscurity to illustrate the depth of his musical knowledge. For someone endowed with such a degree of musical ability, the overall performance is distinctly off the mark. It gives the impression of someone who is not at ease in his current state of limbo between underground and mainstream and it appears his live performances could be taking a hit as a result.

2/5 stars

 

By Michael Lawson

Continue Reading

End of content

No more pages to load