Bands on the brink

Published

Oisín Kealy and James Porteous take a look at a smattering of new musical talent in Scotland

In recent times, Scotland has managed to develop an insatiable habit of producing great bands with almost mundane predictability. Last year saw Dalmarnock locals Glasvegas plough into the limelight, attracting the attention of Britpop authority Alan McGee and garnering gushing reviews throughout the music press. The question is, from what corner of the country will the toast of 2009 emerge, and who will they be?

Super Adventure Club
A self-proclaimed “hyper melodic uber-spazz triumvirate”, Super Adventure Club have been steadily gaining recognition over the last year on the strength of solid debut album, Chalk Horror, and a string of successful gigs at home and abroad. The trio peddle just the kind of mischievous, caffeinated pop that teases a smile out of even the most recession-beaten of faces, songs like Pick Up Sticks and Seventeenth Century Ambassador of Strong Swimmers succeeding particularly well at the task.

Their songs tend to be charmingly unpredictable, shifting tempo from lazy to frantic suddenly as if they have just realised they left the backdoor unlocked or the hob on. Rather than coming across as willfully obtuse, these impatient kinks vindicate the playfulness suggested by their name. Influences from Pavement to Pixies can be heard in their music, with the living spirit of Frank Black sometimes showing himself through singer Bruce Wallace’s vocals. The new year has got off to  a good start for them, landing a live session with Vic Galloway’s show on Radio 1 Scotland, and their plans for a new album and wider touring this year should hopefully see them grow in public awareness.

Remember Remember
While a collaborative effort on record, Remember Remember is essentially the solo project of one Graeme Ronald. The eponymously titled debut album was unanimously well received when released last November on Mogwai’s Rock Action Records, and was picked by Clash as their album of the week. The year starts well for Ronald, who supported Mogwai during a handful of live dates in Japan, and with luck his intimate cradle songs should be quietly hypnotizing a larger audience over the ensuing twelve months.

The music of Remember Remember is lovingly crafted. Minimalist melodies are fleshed out with lush instrumental colouring. Imagining Things 1 sounds like what I imagine Christmas in Iceland to be like, you know, before all the banks collapsed. Along with glockenspiel, woodwinds and the usual instruments, Ronald also utilises found sound, very much like kitchen sink duo Psapp in his sampling of wind-up toys and coins — although remains quintessentially Scottish, looping a recording of a kicked Irn Bru can through the track. Even in this more percussive work, he retains the sense of warmth that bleeds from the rest of the record.

Dananananaykroyd
Last Year saw Dananananaykroyd earn a handsome amount of publicity, both as support for Foals and The Futureheads and from the music press. As well as gaining encouraging words from a host of publications closer to home, NME took a shine to them, giving them single of the week for the raucous “Pink Sabbath”. This made them similtaneously the new favourites of Scottish indie-rock and the bane of proof readers the UK over. This year it will be up to them to deliver on the hype, and they are landing on their feet with a supporting slot for the Kaiser Chiefs on an extensive tour of Europe.

Their EP “Sissy Hits”  captured this dynamism and debut album “Hey Everyone” is scheduled for release April 6th, marked by an album release show at The Arches, the homecoming culmination after a tour of England. Further afield they have their sights set on the famous SXSW festival in the States, which has been instrumental in the past for Scottish bands breaking out of Europe, most recently in the case of Frightened Rabbit. With a busy year ahead of them, we’re sure you can look forward to DJs mispronouncing their name repeatedly in the near future.

diAgusto
Hailing from the windswept west coast of Scotland,  Ayr-born five-piece diAgusto (‘A taste of’, loosely translated) have been plugging away for a few years now, and their efforts are beginning to bare fruit. Their first major release in 2007 — entitled “I Know Better” — reached number three in the HMV chart, and the band have subsequently spent more time in the studio of late, recording fresh material for their first album.

With their sound unashamedly rooted in pop, the varying vocal work of brother and sister pairing Lawrie and Madison Martin gives the group a serious edge over much of the vocally disappointing indie on the shelves at present. The technical prowess of smooth harmonies combine with exceptionally sharp instrumentals, creating tracks that are at once impressive, light and infuriatingly difficult to pigeon-hole;  the marked difference in style, even between the two tracks on their single, gives a glimpse into the band’s potential range.

Touting their wares to major record labels in 2009, diAgusto are a good bet for industry attention in the near future, and your attention a lot sooner.

Copy Haho
Of late, Copy Haho have become quite popular on the Scottish live circuit on the back of just a handful of released singles, and deservedly so. Playing together in this incarnation since 2006, they have developed a tight sound and shown themselves to be extremely competent musicians as well as architects of some exceedingly catchy tunes. They have shared the stage with Hot Club de Paris and Frightened Rabbit, and will be touring the UK with The Xcerts next month.

Their sound is not too far removed from indie-pop bands like Los Campesinos!, but with buckets more sincerity and much less concern for peripheral gilding over central melody. Their EP and first substantial release, Bred for Skills and Magic, is scheduled for release in February. It will contain the excellent track Pulling Push Ups, which typifies their model for the memorable, unpretentious and lyrically engaging pop song, and may just be the song that catches the attention of a wider audience. Copy Haho will be playing King Tut’s at the end of the month as part of Radio 1’s Introducing tour.