Hector Bizerk – Drums.Rap.Yes.

Well I have never reviewed a Hip Hop act, let alone a Hip Hop album so this should be interesting…

On the 18th July Hector Bizerk self-released their debut album entitled, Drums.Rap.Yes. It’s a pretty full-on first album covering a wide spectrum of issues such as social class, self-definition, crime, and even sectarianism inherent in Glasgow. Not exactly being something I would normally listen to, I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy the album at all. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found myself bopping my head about and listening intently to rapper Louie’s clever lyrical whips.

The first track Drums.Rap.Yes. grabbed me from the word go, and it almost possesses a comic value in it by the way it challenges sub cultures, their practices, tastes, and fashions. Essentially, Louie highlights how  people who avoid conformation to what could be considered mainstream or the norm are simply conforming to another structure set in place, where beforehand it was maybe seen as unique (for example, hipsters with stupid patterned jumpers) but now it has simply become a trend. It’s a pretty bold track but emphasises Louie’s passion for hip hop and creates a sense of authenticity behind his work.

It becomes apparent when Burst Love begins that the bass drum, snare drum, and alone rap vocal combination shape the overall sound that is Hector Bizerk. A simple arrangement, but in a genre where lyrics are a fundamental aspect it suits for a powerful delivery. I love the introduction to the first chorus where that huge, raspy bass line comes in though, it really provides a strong backbone to the song and gives it that dynamic lift that the listener craves for.

Burst Love

Tracks such as Niche II again brings across the sheer passion for hip hop that Louie has and I admire how he is critical of practices ongoing in his own genre illustrated by the line, “We like your tune, make you sound like a ned mate”. It describes the process that Scottish hip hop artists adhere to in order to get exposure on radio etc. The track covers a wider range of topics as well, referencing the letter bomb sent to Neil Lennon amongst other social and political issues. Definitely worth a listen.

One of my own favourites would be For The Record. It slots nicely in at track 8 and has a much more reserved tone by the arrangement of acoustic guitar, drums, and vocals, which brings a different sound entirely from the brash, angsty and at times aggressive qualities that the rest of the album exhibits. It’s obvious in terms of lyrics that this is a far more personal piece with the pivotal message that hip hop is an escape from a repetitive lifestyle. A piece similar in tone would be track 11 Let It Go, displaying jazzier chords and beautifully harmonised female backing vocals, varying the overall sound of the album. The track directly says “Life’s too short”, which I found to be a continuing general message rooted in the album and an ethos likely followed by Louie. 

So if you’re looking for something a tad different to listen to, click here.

Foley, oot.

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Bombshed Music – Make Sparks, Coasts, and Black & White Boy @ Furys 20/7/12

Recent posts on the blog have been elongated and gone off on some crazy tangents, unintentionally slagging Bob Dylan, even though I love the guy. So this time I shall try and condense the reviews on the blog. And try to not make comparisons to Bob Dylan.

So first up last night were Black & White Boy, an interesting act to kick off the night as I didn’t really find any relation in sound to Make Sparks…or Coasts. After a wee peak at their Facebook page I found they have labelled themselves under the “folk/pop” genre, which I suppose is a close enough description. They were a pleasant band to watch and listen to, with simple, swaying chord progressions where the delicate vocal melodies of Andrew Nicol became the focal point of the performance. They provided quite an energetic performance as well despite playing to a fairly small crowd. The main thing that let down the performance was tuning. I did notice that Andrew was using a capo and I believe the guitar had been entirely down-tuned a whole tone, where constant switching between keys caused his guitar to be slightly out from the acoustic guitar and bass. This issue became very apparent when lead guitar melodies were played and it was a shame, because Andrew proved as a songwriter through the performance that he is capable of creating catchy melodies.

Next up, Coasts. When they took to the stage I thought some form of Topman fashion show was about to kick off. It didn’t. But the well-dressed young men provided an excellent performance. Hailing from Bristol, this event marked the end of their debut UK tour supporting Make Sparks. I particularly enjoyed their track Stay, which I found stuck in my head for the rest of the evening, a song which combines a range of complex rhythms, melodies, and powerful group chants. If we were talking in generalisations I suppose they would be put under the heading “Indie Rock”, but they displayed so much more than that. In ways they reminded me of the Foals, probably where high, distorted melodies on the guitar worked well alongside the vocals. They had a synth on the go as well, unfortunately shoved in the corner and I was a tad disappointed that only at quieter sections in the songs could you really hear it – no fault of the band however. Another comparison would be Vampire Weekend…if they were heavier. In fact, that’s probably a crap comparison, I think the afro-beat prominent in many of their songs drew me to this association. Anyway, overall a great performance and it was refreshing to hear something entirely different in Ayrshire. Next time these guys play up here I’m assuming there will be a much better turn out.

Coasts – Stay

And of course headliners of the evening and the main reason I made my way down to Furys, Make Sparks. My own band supported them not that long ago at an acoustic night in Bloc and having already heard them previous to this on a compilation CD I was given by another established Scottish act, Light Guides, I definitely wanted to hear the real deal. I was blown away by the overall sound the three-piece produce; fantastic riffs on the guitar, driving bass lines, and drummer Adam really brings the punch that the music requires. It’s great to see how each member of the band take to their mics creating a clean blend of group harmonies as well. Song of the night was Rewind, which you can watch the official video of below. Even though you got the vibe that the guys were tired coming to the end of their tour, they still blasted out the track. Interaction with the crowd was top notch as well (as always) and it’s great to see how relaxed and confident a band they are that they will take full control of the stage and banter effortlessly. At one point during the performance  singer and guitarist Craig broke a string mid song, and he simply unplugged, got another guitar, and went straight back into it. Meanwhile Adam on drums and Bobby on bass simply jammed around a loop of the section of the song that they were in. I liked how natural and professional this came to them. So I have finally seen the whole band play live and I can gladly say that I was no where near disappointed.

You can find Make Sparks by clicking here

Coasts by clicking here

And Black & White Boy by clicking here

Make Sparks – Rewind

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Matt Scott – The Working Patients 2012

I’m sure the vast majority of readers of the blog know that it originally started out as a University project…which made it not as fun. Well Kilmarnock singer/songwriter Matt Scott approached me with the request of reviewing his brand new EP The Working Patients and obviously due to the fact you are reading this, I gladly accepted. So I suppose you could call this the rebirth of Watch This Space, ooh exciting! But anyway, Matt has done a great job of producing a wee online gem for you to listen to and so without further adue, I present my interpretation of The Working Patients.

Now on the initial first listen I’m sure anyone who has a brain cell devoted to music can draw a clear link between Matt and folk singer/songwriter legend Bob Dylan. The first track To Say Something illustrates this well by the simple song structure that alternates between verses and choruses and has the odd middle eight section with a prominent guitar melody and rhythm (the section where Dylan would blow the tits off of a harmonica). Matt’s pronunciation of certain phrases, almost in a talking format as opposed to sung, also exemplifies the Dylan vibe. However, the opening lyrics to the track say the opposite of what Dylan was notorious for, “No politics in my words, there’s no silver in my lines”. Firstly, a bit modest Matt, you have great lyrics! Secondly, I get the feeling that Matt is trying to shun off any impression that he is trying to be Dylan. Regardless of what the lyrics actually mean, I don’t think I know many other Scottish acts who do truly remind me of Dylan. The only other person I have reviewed in the blog where I have made the same comparison was Callum Baird of Glasgow, simply because he played acoustic guitar, harmonica, and sang about social issues going on in Scotland. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is there’s nothing wrong with baring a resemblance to the legend that is Bob Dylan, it’s uncommon in Scottish contemporary music. Beats the mass amount of alternate rock bands floating about Ayrshire and Glasgow who think they’re Biffy Clyro I mean seriously, give it a break.

To Say Something

Trying to stay on topic I’ll move to the second track entitled, Jenny We All Know. I first heard this back in November when I met Matt and saw him perform it at Su Casa in Ayr. It’s the more poppy track of the EP, featuring a powerful chord progression and wonderful waltzy rhythm. It follows the lifestyle of the character Jenny, who appears to be a selfish and vain individual, delusional that she is destined for stardom. That’s what I gathered anyway, and nonetheless it makes an interesting story. ” You’re Hollywoods forgotten fool but Jenny we’re so cruel”. Ah lovely. It definitely went down a treat live back in November as well so give it a listen.

The last track on the EP I discovered to be my favourite. Play me a catchy melody on the piano and acoustic guitar and I melt. It’s called New Born Prides and it’s a real heart-felt piece. I don’t know whether it’s personal to Matt or just a really good progressive story that is line by line unveiled to the listener, but however Matt arrived at this song he should be proud as it’s a good un’. The entire EP consists of simply acoustic guitar and Matt’s vocals until this track, where the piano comes into play. It brings a much warmer tone to the end of the EP, reaching an adapt pinnacle of sound. The piano plays a repeated riff in unison with the acoustic guitar which is beautiful. This provides a strong musical foundation for the story to be told upon, which again like Jenny We All Know, follows one character. This time a male, and it really aches the isolation and simple, yet difficult life embraced by him. It speaks volumes of issues inherent in Scottish culture, which you can deeply respect Matt for as his songs have genuine meaning behind them.

And to finish Matt sent me over the bonus track, Ain’t Welcome No More. Here he displays his talents as a musician, roaring out the bluesy vocal melodies and busting out some sweet-ass riffs on the electric guitar. I was expecting the EP to contain percussion of some sort, and if there was going to be any utilised, this would be the track for it. But then again, I like the simplicity of Matt’s vocals and just the guitar. That’s what he does.

Overall a great little package of folk and blues inspired songs. For more tracks, upcoming gigs, and other information on Matt, you can find him on his Facebook page by clicking here.


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Withered Hand, The Second Hand Marching Band, & Beerjacket @ Nice N Sleazy 18/5/12

Well I can tell you I wasn’t feeling great this morning when I began my 11 and a half hour shift at work after last nights episodes…but it was a fantastic gig so well worth it.

The White Feather Trail – Beerjacket

Partly the main reason I attended last nights gig was to see opener of the night Beerjacket. Having heard many great things about him around the time of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards, where he was nominated for Best Acoustic act, I delved into the musical library that is Spotify and gave his current album The White Feather Trail a listen. It did not take much deliberation to purchase the CD Digipack for a very reasonable £8 from his Bandcamp, which you can take a look at by clicking here. Fine crafted pieces with beautiful melodies, wonderful stories, and the lyrics flow so well and create distinct, effective images in the mind of the listener. I’m especially a fan of how Peter has a recurring egg theme going on. A pretty cool metaphor if you’re a lyrics nerd like myself.  But anyway, he didn’t disappoint as he took to the stage last night and fired into his set, beginning with a new song and instantly engaging with the captivated audience. If memory serves me, next was one of my personal favourites Jack Chasing Jill. As I looked around the dim Sleazy’s downstairs, it was warming to see some of the crowd singing along. It probably helps that Peter has such a distinctive voice, aiding his performance and making him a prominent performer amongst other acoustic acts. I also found how he decided to mic-up his foot unusual, but fitting to his live-sound – something I’ve heard he regularly does. There’s something very personal in putting a mic to one’s foot, rather than slapping a bass drum in the middle of an artist and their audience. Well suited and providing that intimate, subtle bass thud inherent in alternative folk music. A passionate artist who provides a hearty, yet intimate performance and I’m very glad to have stumbled upon him.


Next up was The Second Hand Marching Band who seemed to accumulate more and more members as the night went on. I think they had around 12 members last night however, I have read from their Facebook page that they have in the region of 16-22. So understandably this mass of young musicians provided a BIG sound. After taking a step back and listening to the band I came to the conclusion that they were quite like Beirut. After coming home and listening to the 2nd track entitled Mad Sense from their 18 track long CD Compendium, I realised this comparison is very suiting. I should also point out I was very lucky in obtaining the CD for free, as the band began to frisbee them into the audience and my one deflected off some poor guy’s head and straight into my hands. Yas. I haven’t had the chance to give all 18 tracks a full listen, but what I have heard possesses a well-rounded, bold, and bright sound. Just something a tad different to have in your playlist as well. Unfortunately the live-sound was not as flawless. At times I found the overall sound jumbled and confused, purely because in terms of arrangement there was so much going on. However, it is likely that this is down to the sound-man striving to find the perfect balance, which is pretty hard to do with so much instrumentation. The performance did get progressively better though, and the crowd interaction singing along with one of the more prominent melodies in one of their songs made it a fun and memorable gig. Check out the band’s Facebook page by clicking here.

The Second Hand Marching Band

And of course headlining the night was Withered Hand, treating us to a performance with his whole band as opposed to a solo acoustic set. I’m quite new to Withered Hand, having heard the name floating about for quite some time but never actually sitting down and listening to any of his material. So before the gig I borrowed his Heart Heart EP and Good News LPs from my mate. Man they sound good on vinyl. I suppose utilising what was thought to be a dying medium brings a level of authenticity and quality to an artist. This thought aside, Withered Hand’s compositions sound so natural and fitting to the vinyl format. Probably down to the acoustic roots, hints of country (listen to Providence), and use of cello which really brings a rich tone to tracks such as Love In The Time of Ecstasy. A beautifully composed piece and surprisingly played earlier on in the set. Dan (Withered Hand) pulled out a very stylish Fender Jaguar as well which had a fantastic, jangly tone – thrashing away while distorting his body around the microphone and encouraging the crowd to sing-along. Needless to say, we didn’t need much encouragement. At the end of the set, Dan was cheered back onto the stage for an encore where he launched into Cornflake and then finished with the explicit track (originally by Charles Latham) Hard On. That’s another great thing about Withered Hand, how brutally honest and direct his lyric writing is. For example, in Cornflake, ‘I’d do anything to get my dick inside her’. Poetry. All in all a very entertaining evening in a lively, music-lover environment with a top notch lineup.

Withered Hand

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Folktronica @ The Roxy 171: New Town Triptych & Japanfour

On Great Western Road in Glasgow lies the Roxy 171, once known as The Liquid Ship, and last night home to some pretty diverse musical genres. Us at Folé had the pleasure of playing alongside two fantastic acts, New Town Triptych, and Japanfour.

I last played at the Roxy back in October…to a crowd of two. Barman included. However, it was Halloween, prime time for trick-or-treating and dressing like a twat so friends and fans were excused. It was totally different last night though, as New Town Triptych took to the stage the small venue was respectfully packed.

New Town Triptych

New Town Triptych

To be honest, I was a tad apprehensive about their performance as some of their songs during the soundcheck sounded cluttered, where at times I felt there was too much going on from each specific instrument. In their defence, it is kinda hard to find a good balance when your lineup consists of 3 vocals, 2 guitars (on occasion 3), bass guitar, keys, cello, and a mandolin. However, when launching into their first piece this had clearly been resolved as the overall sound was brilliant. Complex guitars melodies that nestled perfectly underneath the lead vocals, the cello provided a rich backbone to the folk-inspired compositions, and George on the keys – ooft. What a talented guy, jumping up and down the scales effortlessly. The harmonies present in the compostions were top notch as well, sustained with ease and bringing a whole different dynamic to the table, a beautiful blend of voices. As a songwriter myself, I find lyrics fundamental to songwriting, so I loved Scott’s use of imagery and the sincerity inherent in them. A great set and a great turnout for the folk-pop band, who obviously have quite the following. Check out their Facebook page by clicking here.



Headlining the night were Japanfour, a 4 piece rock act hailing from Livingston. I didn’t quite get the flow from folk-pop to hard rock, but hey, these guys were oozing with confidence and battered the f*** out of my eardrums…in a good way. What I liked most about the band was how they applied classic blues and rock n’ roll riffs to a more contemporary style, utilising group chants, which are not only catchy, but reminiscent of popular alternative rock acts such as Kasabian. It was ashame a chunk of the crowd had buggered off home to bed, due to the night kicking off slightly later than anticipated. That said though, they still got the remaining crowd moving. Crunching guitar riffs with driving bass lines, and the drummer had immaculate timing considering he was squeezed into a corner of the tiny stage with no monitor. Lead vocalist Dave possesses one of those husky voices as well, which suits the genre perfectly. There’s not much else to say really, apart from if you want to go to a gig to jump around and get your pants off go see Japanfour.

Check out the band by clicking here.

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Anna Sweeney – A wee chat.

Usually on the blog I review acoustic nights, various gigs, and the odd release by artists in and around Ayrshire. However, this post is going to be a tad different, featuring a little question and answer session with Ayr based singer/songwriter Anna Sweeney.

The first time I saw Anna play was way back in October at Su Casa, where she appeared to be very nervous and new to the entire scene. With the quality of acts that churn through Su Casa each Thursday, I don’t blame her! However, she pulled it off and definitely showed potential as not only a performer, though as a songwriter. In a short space of time Anna has built up quite a reputation not only in Ayrshire, but further afield, being placed in the final 3 of The Spotlight Music Project 2011 and reaching the semi-finals of Open Mic UK in Manchester. Christmas time saw her perform for the Ayr Christmas lights being turned on also. As her upcoming gig list grows larger, along with her Facebook page likes and her sound, I asked Anna the following questions…

Anna performing at the Ayr Christmas Lights Turn On 2011

Q. Anna, you’ve only just turned 18, how long have you been performing and songwriting for?

A. I’ve been performing and songwriting for about one year now.

Q. When songwriting where do you draw inspiration from?

A. Inspiration for songwriting generally comes from anything and everything, mostly stuff that means a lot to me or whatever is going on in my life but often random sections of songs just turn up in my head and that’s what sparks them off! But I can’t just sit down and write a song on command, it doesn’t really work.

Q. Your band page on Facebook describes your genre of music as “acoustic/folk/pop/country”. Which artists do you feel also fit into this category that inspire you?

A. Artists that have inspired me are Johnny Cash, I’ve listened to him all my life and always loved his music, Newton Faulkner because he’s pretty much the reason I wanted to play guitar because he’s so good at it, and more recently I’ve been listening to folky bands like Admiral Fallow who are definitely influencing my newer music.

Q. Currently the Ayrshire music scene seems to be churning out new, exciting artists and music, are there any local acts in particular that inspire you?

A. Local acts that inspire me include Melisa Kelly- when I saw her live with her band I was blown away and she showed that hard work pays off! Not to mention she has a brilliant voice. And there’s this band called Folé, dont know if you’ve heard of them, they played at the first ever gig I did back in October, and I just instantly really liked their style of playing and their clever lyrics. (Anna included a little winky face when referencing Folé as if you didn’t know it’s my band!)

Q. Your band page features a couple of original tracks along with some covers, any chance of recording an EP or album soon? If so do you have any launch details? Dates, venues, etc.?

A. I’m recording my EP at the moment but I don’t have a date set for the launch, but will probably know by next week!

Q. Your gigging schedule seems to be getting quite busy, do you directly approach promoters and event organisers or do they come to you?

A. With gigging it’s really kind of half and half, sometimes I ask people for gigs and sometimes they ask me.

Q. In the short time you have been gigging, which has been your favourite gig and what made the experience so memorable?

A. My favourite gig was probably when I played at the lights switch on in the high street, mostly because there’s something about playing outside that makes it more fun, plus there were a lot of people singing along with my set and the atmosphere was really great.

Q. On the 5th May you will be playing at the Brew At The Bog Festival in Inverness, is this your first festival and are you nervous?

A. Yeah this is my first festival! And I don’t think I’ll be very nervous, but it kinds of depends on what sort of atmosphere I’m in! I hope it’s good fun, all I care about is playing a good set and hopefully entertaining some people!

Q. Lastly, any plans for the long term and do you have any advice for other young songwriters?

A. For the long term I just want to be able to turn playing music into a career, I’m going to study commercial music at Uni and I’m just going to keep working really hard I guess. Any advice for other people would probably be to work hard because it will pay off, and watch/ listen to a lot of other people playing because you learn a lot.

Check out Anna’s upcoming gigs and music by clicking here.

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I spy another Sponsor!

The blog has just confirmed another fantastic local sponsor, Isle Events!

The young Ayrshire promotions company aims to bridge the gap along the West coast of Scotland and like to do things a little differently…

One of their most renowned events took place on Dalduff Farm on the 3rd February, which was featured on the blog and can be found in the archives section on the right hand side of the page.

What made this event so memorable? Perhaps the fact that to gain entry to the event one had to simply post on the Isle Events Facebook page who they were going to see and pay a small bus fare on the night. Oh and the extra little detail that they had no idea where this bus was taking them. Once at the farm they were greeted by local heroes Rose Parade and Every Genius Delivers, upcoming Edinburgh act The Stagger Rats, and were treated to a DJ set.

That’s what promotion is about, seeking out new, innovative ideas and moulding them into an exciting and interactive event.

Check out the Isle Events page by clicking here!

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