SOME SONGS SIDE-BY-SIDE is a box set compilation documenting alternative music in Glasgow 2012. It is a collaborative project between 3 independent record labels – Watts of Goodwill, RE:PEATER Records and Stereo Café Bar.
Watts of Goodwill have put out Gummy Stumps debut 7” and the much lauded Muscles of Joy album, the label is run by Dep Downie of the Monorail record store.
RE:PEATER have released critically acclaimed debut LPs from She’s Hit and Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers.
Stereo Café Bar have recently started a label and this will be their first release. As one of the best live music venues in the city, Stereo has an excellent reputation for promoting independent music and their move into releasing records is very exciting, particularly given the owners past releases through the Club Beetroot 7” series that included both Mogwai and Alex Kapranos.
Although this is a box-set dedicated to the bands and music of Glasgow in 2012, it is much more far-reaching than some parochial release. There are no strained and accentuated ‘proud to be Scottish’ accents on show here, so the music will sit well regardless of the listener’s origins.
Eight bands contribute the twenty-two tracks, spread over some seventy-two minutes; eight bands with some very different sounds to offer, they only restriction to their mandate was a time limit of twelve minutes.
The first three tracks are provided by TUT VU VU. This is very different! They are quoted as ‘following an experimental path; fusing dark, sleazy club jazz with a hint of foreboding rhythm & blues,’ which is much more succinctly put than I could ever manage! ‘Moondog,’ comes across like the England Football Fans’ Brass Ensemble taking some ‘happy-pills’ and adding a Casio organ; ‘Egypt,’ is dark, scuzzy and eerie, while the song ‘Tut Vu Vu’ comes across something like the cross between the soundtrack of a Seventies TV cartoon series and the band Yello.
The first of the three songs by PALMS, comes in at just shy of two minutes and sounds very much like an all-female version of Shrag, what with the sharply yelped vocal interplay between the three girls. Even the subject matter on ‘Take Off Your Clothes’ is similar to what you’d expect from the LOUD HORIZON favourites. ‘Blood’ is a bit slower and sinister sounding, with a little grunge-type undertones, while ‘Keep You Bright’ continues in a similar vein, reminding me a little of The Breeders.
ORGANS OF LOVE used up their time allocation with just two tracks: ‘Imagine The Worst’ is an atmospheric organ-led track with reverb drenched female vocals – very ‘Berlin’ in sound if you know what I mean; kind of like Eurythmics gone sleazy (and good!) ‘Queenie,’ slows things right down. Vocalist Sister Blister sounds as seductive as she does threatening, her voice coming across like a demented cabaret star, while the omnipresent organ hisses and moans behind her.
Every band / track on this set is a winner, but there are some real highlights and for me GUMMPY STUMPS provide some of these. I have seen these guys play a few times and they never fail to deliver! ‘Thwarted Mirth,’ rumbles and crashes away in a background of swamp-style picked guitar and rolling drums, with spoken-word vocals stabbed in the listeners’ direction, like some drunken Glasgow jakey hurling random abuse at passers by. ‘Broken Bach,’ builds in some discordant sax, to accompany the sort of ‘poetic recital’ of the vocals. It’s all very ‘art-house’ and spontaneous sounding. ‘Bedfordshire,’ has more rambling and shambling vocals, with the backing rising to a crescendo, while final track ‘Silver Silver’ is most definitely the closest to a Captain Beefheart track I’ve heard in a long time – even allowing for the Glasgow accent.
SACRED PAWS comprise two thirds of Golden Grrrls – Eilidh Rodgers and Rachel Aggs. All three offerings ‘Just Kids,’ ‘Falling Over’ and ‘Postcards’ feature that kind of ‘Graceland’ Paul Simon / Vampire Weekend, Afrobeat type guitar interplay with lovely harmonies.
The most pleasant surprise of the compilation is supplied by THE ROSY CRUCIFIXION. I don’t know much about this band, so to hear three tracks that are so ‘instant,’ is quite something. First up, ‘Winners’ makes me think of a female-fronted Jacob Yates and The Pearly Gate Lockpickers (who actually close this compilation!) There is the stompin’ rock ‘n’ roll attitude and catchy harmonies mixed with a dark-surf guitar twang. ‘Don’t Water Dead Flowers’ leans more on the darker side, with rumbling drums and discordant guitar whilst ‘Sunshine’ is more frantic, again with a rock ‘n’ roll feel but with added handclaps and a chorus sounding like the 5-6-7-8’s.
MUSCLES OF JOY are another all-female group whose opener ‘Insi’ is like some sort of dreamy mantra with soft chants and an almost hypnotic beat interspersed with the occasional little yelp. ‘Segue,’ is a great little track. It’s slow, but sounds pretty ‘experimental’ and is full of weird sort of ‘orchestral’ sounds with haunting wailings going off in the background. The last thirty seconds I so quiet you really have to make an effort to hear it! Different!
And then we come to one of the best bands to come from is fair city in many a long year – JACOB YATES AND THE PEARY GATE LOCKPICKERS. Now, that may sound a bit of an odd assertion coming from one who often states his indifference to slow and downbeat tracks – especially in light of the two tracks on offer here. But believe me, having seen these guys on several occasions, I ‘get’ it, completely!
This is the band that epitomise the genre ‘doom-wop’ as they blend their take on dark rock ‘n’ roll with rockabilly and the sounds of the Deep South. ‘Bits of Glass’ is a morose song about the subject’s first love dying in a car crash. It doesn’t sound like much of a song – but listen through, please!
‘The Grace of God’ is another of Jacob’s downbeat tales – for that’s what all the bands song’s are. The dark, dry humour and bluesy, refrain keep the listener gripped … and I have to say that while a lot of their songs are based on personal heartbreaks and observations of Glasgow life, they do rock things up a lot more on their album / live set.
The box set (2 x 12” vinyl, CD & original artworks) will be released on 3rd December and although I don’t yet know the final selling price, I do know that it is planned to keep the cost to an absolute minimum. Without doubt, this will become a collector’s item, whether or not you come from Glasgow. I would suggest that if you would like to enquire about availability, you make contact through the SOME SONGS SIDE-BY-SIDE Facebook page initially.
(I obviously have access to a ‘reviewer’s copy’ but you can guess exactly where my pocket money will be going in the first week of December!)