02/05/2011 § Leave a comment
Reverieme plays amazing pop music, which hasn’t been off my stereo over the last few months. I was blown away after hearing one particular song (“Get To Know Me” – a well-recieved former Earworm on The ‘Spill) and charmed by the handwritten note that came with the CD once I’d ordered it from her bandcamp page. Reverieme is Louise Connell whose immensely catchy, multi-layered pop with a literary bent to it, has been an utter breath of fresh air to my ears. In the following interview you can find out how she narrowly avoided making a Stephen King concept record, lifts the lid on Airdrie’s hidden world, and why she’s more than likely to be singing about 1930s syphilis outbreaks – you can also hear a couple of tracks too!
1. “Get To Know Me” seems to have quite a story behind it – like the perspective it’s written from, could you say some more about it?
I am a little infamous for loving gender mix-ups in music, whether that’s in the look of an act (Katie Sketch springs to mind), the vocal style (Antony Hegarty’s voice is particularly beautiful), or in the lyrical perspective (which is the only one I can manage without making any major life-changing decisions) so I suppose ‘Get to Know Me’ is one manifestation of that! It was also a reaction to being labelled ‘twee’ an awful lot. I thought, ‘if they want saccharine, I’ll give them saccharine!’ (incidentally, I am not entirely sure who ‘they’ are – I fear some paranoid delusion had led me to project my own anxieties on to some entirely innocent parties) which, of course, backfired as it is now my trademark song, or whatever the equivalent is for an unknown artist with no trademark anything. After some deep, meaningful soul-searching, however, I came to terms with the fact that I am utterly and inescapably twee and should just stop being such an arse about it.
“Get To Know Me”
2. The album has got a diverse and wide ranging sound & instrumentation, and a lot of interesting bits of production throughout. How did this come about, is it in the studio or was this all planned out before you went to record it? I guess I’m kinda asking about your writing & recording process.
Pretty much all production credit would have to go to David Anderson, producer extraordinaire. My own influence went as far as writing, recording, saying yes when things sounded good, and saying no when I couldn’t get my tiny mind around some suggestions. My creative direction went along the lines of wittering on about how much I loved pop and suggesting artists and albums whose production I admired. You know you’re on to a good thing when your dual suggestion of The Dresden Dolls and Crowded House doesn’t immediately get you laughed out of the room.
3. I’ve never been to Airdrie, what’s it like there?
There’s nowhere better if you need a greetings card or a trip to the tanning beds! Let the record show that I didn’t actually suggest money laundering, I merely commented on the sheer volume of card and tanning shops in such a small, lightly populated area.
4. I can hear hints of a few bands in there – like Camera Obscura here and there and also bizarrely Malcolm Middleton on “Perfect In Theory” – what are your influences?
I like to think of ‘Perfect in Theory’ as David’s wee pop punk baby on the album (if you can erase the creepy images that idea may connote) although I definitely see where you’re coming from. I really like Camera Obscura as well but funnily enough didn’t start listening to them ‘til after the album was written and recorded, although I am in complete agreement with the comparisons (perhaps the influence crept in by osmosis?). But I digress! I think artists like Jenny Lewis (and Rilo Kiley) and M. Ward, who you could say are on the country side of indie-pop, have been a big influence. Books, also, I’d have written about a tenth of what I have so far if it wasn’t for all the awesome things I’ve read (and I’d have written about a hundred times what I have so far if I could read more than a page a day).
5. Is “Ma Bear” about anyone in particular, how did they react when they heard it?
I’m afraid this is going to be the most incredibly dull and uninteresting answer to a question that could have yielded such juicy goss. The song is actually about a short story by one of my favourite writers, James T. Farrell (most famous for the Studs Lonigan trilogy, as if anyone cared). You will never feel more despondent about life than after reading some Farrell and the story on which ‘Ma Bear’ is based is no exception. I won’t spoil it for you, since I’m sure my description has already got you rushing out to Waterstones, but it depicts an incredibly unhappy marriage and explores the ever-so cheery topics of backstreet abortions and syphilis in 1930s America. I fear I have not translated these themes quite so successfully through my own interpretation.
6. Anyone you’re listening to that you’d like to recommend?
Oh yes, some wee gems! Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks have just released their first EP, ‘The Whittling’, and it is so absolutely brilliant (incidentally, Andrew did a load of backing vocals for Melodies but of course that’s not why I like his music – that’s because of his rad hair). Other favourites are Shambles Miller, who is hilarious live so do attend a show if you can, and the many projects of the very talented Matthew Healy (including Loch Awe).
7. Whatcha got planned next?
I’m hoping to get some nice gigs around Scotland planned for the summer with some of the aforementioned acts (who have yet to be asked formally!). I’ll be playing at Bloc at the end of May also, supporting the mighty Beerjacket in what may seem like an Airdrie theme night. Aside from gigs, I’m hoping to get a few low-fi recordings together for a new EP to be released at the end of summer. Unfortunately this is very dependent on a massive improvement in my music production skills.
8. You’ve got quite a way with a lyric, what are some of the themes you write about?
Since I’m incredibly dull and my personal life doesn’t offer up a great deal of source material, a lot of my songs will wind up being inspired by my favourite films and books (though, fortunately, the Stephen King concept record has been avoided thus far). Nowadays I try to avoid anything overly sentimental, I would much rather sing about (any pathetically limited grasp I have of) science and philosophy than try to force anything too corny. I hope I don’t sound too silly saying that, though, especially when my music really does sound pitifully sentimental and precious a lot of the time!
Reverieme’s “Melodies” album is only £5 for CD & download from her bandcamp page, and I thoroughly recommend you get one before the ltd edition of 100 sells out, you also get a wee badge with a cow on it – oh yes!
16/12/2010 § Leave a comment
Secret Bunker is a member of the Scottish Bloggers and Music Sites network, and was invited to vote in this years best record poll, run by the always excellent Peenko blog. Here’s the results, with eight of the top ten records being of Scots origin!
1. The National – High Violet
2. Admiral Fallow – Boots Met My Face
3. Meursault – All Creatures Will Make Merry
4. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
5. Kid Canaveral – Shouting at Wildlife
6. The Phantom Band – The Wants
7. The Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
8. The Last Battle – Heart of the Land, Soul of the Sea
9. Broken Records – Let Me Come Home
10. Bronto Skylift – The White Crow
11. Beach House – Teen Dream
12. The Fire & I – Stampede Finale
13. Sufjan Stevens – Age Of Adz
14. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
15. Best Coast – Crazy For You
16. Mitchell Museum – The Peters Port Memorial Service / 30 Pounds Of Bone – Method
17. Teenage Fanclub – Shadows
18. The Scottish Enlightenment – St Thomas
19. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
20. jonsi – go do
21. RM Hubbert – First & Last
22. Errors – Come Down With Me
23. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
24. Sleigh Bells – Treats
25. The Boy Who Trapped The Sun – Fireplace
26. Micah P Hinson and the Pioneer Saboteurs
27. Bruce Springsteen – The Promise
28. How To Swim – Retina (Or More Fun Than A Vat Of Love)
29. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
30. Silver Columns – Yes and Dance
There’s a Spotify playlist with a lot of these on too.
A list of the blogs who voted is after the jump…
(Logo design by Struan Teague – website)
16/11/2010 § 1 Comment
The pull of a good story or a tale of the tortured genius, or the insane recluse has always been seductive to music fans. Bon Iver gets dumped by his bird, goes off to a cabin in the woods up a mountain somewhere in the middle of nowhere and writes an album about it – city dwelling music fans go insane. Jeff Mangum records, what I too regard, one of the best albums ever (Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea”) and is hardly heard of again – the odd sighting here and there – and not another note recorded. Is he insane? Does he live in a cave with Kevin Shields trying to recreate the sound of angels crying? The myth grows, as does the stature of the music.
I’ve been listening to “Method” by 30 Pounds Of Bone now for weeks, long enough that the facts about Johnny Lamb (it’s a one man band) no longer get in the way of the beautiful collection of songs that make up the album. Still, before I attempt to describe the moving beauty of the album, let’s get the facts out there.
He’s the son of a clergyman, brought up on the remote isle of Unst in the Shetland isles, a childhood obsessed with the sea and the fisheries that surrounded him. He once spent so long in the hospital as a child, he was made to go to school there – leaving with one kidney. He now lives in a van on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, and can most often be found in- or on- the sea. Notoriously prickly and utterly unapproachable – unless armed with copious amounts of whiskey – he’s basically a drunk travelling vagrant – pinned down only for the four days that it took to record “Method” upon which he played all the instruments.
“Method” isn’t so easy to describe easily – it veers from sparse folk, to soft and sad sea shanties, to the occasional layered guitar freak out. There’s the sad accordion of King Creosote, some of the fuzz of Neutral Milk Hotel, amid tales of loss at sea and gallons and gallons of alcohol. Oh yeah, the booze – oh the booze! This album is soaked in it. Drowning in the false hope of the first few shots, the accordion squeezes the dripping whiskey out on every push, as the sodden trumpet cries last orders at the bar.
Lamb has a good emotional range to his voice, and a story-tellers nature with it – this isn’t a record of dirges by any means. In fact he’s pulled that great trick, disguising some perfect catchy three-minute almost-pop songs, in such heart rending broke-down messed up folk trappings that stick in your head and demand repeat listens. My favourite songs on this album have changed many times over the last few weeks, which is a sign of a fab record.
The opener (above) to the record is “Crack Shandy In The Harbour” – a recounting of when Lamb worked in a Plymouth cafe where the local Narcotics Anonymous held their meetings, nipping out as they did for a crack shandy (heroin & crack smoked together). The song, catchy as heck, puts a modern spin on the folk tradition and finishes within the perfect pop timing of three minutes, painting a vivid and desolate picture of that time in the singer’s life. “I’m lonely” he sings, and you relate, “…for crack shandy, in the harbour” – and you’re completely thrown.
There’s one cover on the record, “All For Me Grogg” – a traditional song I wasn’t familiar with, one that seems to be a perky staple in sets of bands like the Dubliners. “Where’s my shoes” they sing, and it gets a laugh. When Lamb reinterprets this, it’s the saddest lament for a life out of control that I’ve ever heard. Amazing.
“The Fishery” (above) sings about “send fables down, cables down” into a storm of guitars and you know he’s drowning not waving from a sea that will “take me in…over and over… I never learnt to swim”.
Unless Shields and Mangum release that collaboration I mentioned earlier in the next few weeks, I can’t see how this isn’t going to be my album of the year. Ten stunning songs, in less than 40 minutes. it’s a treasure chest of sad beauty, taken under as the ship sank, miles from home and very alone. Alone but for the sailors’ grogg.
“Method” by 30 Pounds Of Bone is available from the cracking indie label Armellodie Records (you can hear all the songs from the record there too), only 7 quid in a sweet cardboard sleeve, out on the 6th of December.
01/11/2010 § 4 Comments
More eagle eyed readers will be familiar with Meursault (pron. Murr-So) what with their first LP being an album of the month on the ‘Spill, and that they occupy the M slot on the Scots A-Z ‘Spill series.
However, only a wee bit has been said about their second record, which came out five months ago on the excellent Song, By Toad label. To be honest with you, I was so struck with the first album (it was number six on my top ten LPs of 2009 list, described by me as “A true original new voice, and cracking circuit-bent messed up folk tunes.”) that when the new LP didn’t have songs as immediate as “The Furnace” or “A Small Stretch Of Land” I had to give it more time and more listens.
“All Creatures Will Make Merry” is epic lo-fi, a massive amount of thought has gone into the recording of the songs giving them a vehicle that suits the mixture of traditional folk instruments (banjo, violin) and the ten quid drum machine that gets a good hammering on some of the songs. Neil Pennycook has a unique voice, one that sings beautiful words of loss, hope, and all the abstracts inbetween – in a way that can soar and elevate the spirits on the more focussed songs on the record.
“One Day This’ll All Be Fields” (above) is the stand out tune from the album, delicate yet terrifying, strummed on a ukelele down a phone line from a doomed planet – the last broadcast from a dead world, drifting in from space, makes me think of David Bowie’s “Five Years” in a way.
“Crank Resolutions” (above) is a good example of the Meursault sound, telling a tale of walking the streets alone on New Year’s Day, trying to make sense of everything – the music echoes the internal dialogue, moving from pensive to melancholic, to trying to gee oneself up and get on with things. The song has space in it, a rare thing these days, and scope too -as well as a great mix of electronics and things that are a bit more stringed.
The mandolin on “New Ruin” reminds me of mid-period REM, which is a comparison that I’ve drawn with Meursault from their first LP – I think the next LP may well be their “Green” era and surprise the mainstream with it. Let’s hope they don’t lose the messed up noise along the way.
20/10/2010 § 9 Comments
Here at one of the Scottish branches of the ‘Spill, a fair bit of action from local heroes is sent my way, so I thought it only fair to review and share the latest in new round-up type feature that’s unfortunately called Thistle Do Nicely. I should also say now that music does get sent to The ‘Spill for review, so if any ‘Spillers want the daunting prospect of wading through the world wide weirdness that comes in on a random basis, do let me know in the comments.
Anyhoo, let’s get cracking!
“Shambles Sails The Clockwork Sea” by Shambles Miller, 4 track CD EP.
The brilliantly named Shambles Miller has picked up the modern day protest song baton from the likes of Billy Bragg and run off with it into a dark of corner of Glasgow. A timely voice, considering everything that’s hitting the fan right now. The song “Strike” above, is earnest without being trite, not an easy trick to pull off considering the subject matter. The other three songs strum along, in a jaunty and jolly fashion, with Shambles rolling rs, telling stories, cracking jokes, and being filthy in parts. All in all, very listenable and charismatic, with a wee sad edge poking in and a little bit o politics too to keep things interesting.
“A Month Of Lost Memories” by I Build Collapsible Mountains, mini album (only 50 CD copies made on Peenko Records)
Now, what with computers and everything, it’s become cheap and relatively easy to knock up a symphony in your bedroom & get it out there on the net, and has let to the rise of a genre that I’m now christening “Minumental” – and I think IBCM fits into this. “Rails” above is personal, emotive headphones music and the sparse instrumentation gives it a good dynamic feel – I’m always a sucker for a bit of xylophone, y’know.
There was something else I meant to post, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Oh well.
20/10/2010 § 2 Comments
This is the lead off track for Broken Record’s second album, out on 4AD on Monday. I’ve been following the Edinburgh band since their first 7″s, even did camera on their first video (hidden after the jump) and was slightly let down by their first album (too high expectations) and judging by this track they’re not afraid to have a bash at Arcade Fire scale epic.