Thursday, 29 April 2010

radio excuses

I, BOTTLE ROCKET i bottle rocket
DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR do solemnly swear
THAT, NOW THAT that, now that
THE SUBCITY HIATUS HAS CONCLUDED the subcity hiatus has concluded
I WILL RETURN TO THE AIRWAVES i will return to the airwaves
NEXT THURSDAY next thursday
AT MIDDAY at midday
WITHOUT FAIL without fail



Wednesday, 28 April 2010

review: the primitives @ stereo, 22nd april

“That’s a blast from the past, eh?” notes the glass-cased ticket-seller. “Met her a few years back - was training to be a hairdresser…”. Apocryphal or genuine, the exchange highlights a peculiarity of reunion gigs, a peculiarity that lumbers bands like The Primitives with an additional hurdle. They’re asking to recommence the game eighteen years after they called a time out, when everyone, including them, appears to have moved on. Only the most committed acolyte would say aye without an ounce of reservation…

One hour later, commitments have been reaffirmed. Tracy and co seem to relish re-airing the soppy-sweet sugar-rush likes of Thru The Flowers and the infectiously bouncy Secrets, while Crash is predictably well-received. If this tour proves the extent of their renewed vows, it will at least remind people there’s far more to their ‘blonde pop’ than Dumb and Dumber soundtrack cuts. Or hair cuts, for that matter.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

give me an R! give me an A! give me a D! give me an etc...

so subcity is back up and running as of this week... but i can't make my show today (doh). so i'll absolutely onehundredandfiftyTHOUSANDpercent be resuming broadcast next thursday at midday.



Wednesday, 21 April 2010

may poster

hello, i'm the may poster for the happydance ball known as bottle rocket:

Sunday, 18 April 2010

april playlist!

we played aaaaaaaall of these!

1. the national - bloodbuzz ohio
2. vampire weekend - giving up the gun
3. dent may and his magnificent ukulele - you can't force a dance party
4. desmond dekker - 007
5. team band - you put your arms around me
6. everybody was in the french - g. i. r. l. f. r. e. n.
7. hole - jennifer's body
8. nirvana - on a plain
9. frightened rabbit - be less rude
10. she and him - don't look back
11. dananananaykroyd - black wax
12. iron maiden - run to the hills
13. teardrop explodes - traison
14. magazine - shot from both sides
15. rem - can't get there from here
16. von bondies - pale bride
17. ceremony - some day
18. mgmt - flash delirium
19. rachel sweet - b-a-b-y
20. genesis - illegal alien
21. lloyd cole - jennifer she said
22. the aislers set - long division
23. manhattan love suicides - clusterfuck
24. japanthers - no one's listening
25. css - alala
26. passion pit - little secrets
27. pet shop boys - it's a sin
28. bruce springsteen - thunder road
29. the slits - i heard it through the grapevine
30. madonna - vogue
31. en vogue - don't let go
32. fleetwood mac - go your own way
33. talking heads - and she was
34. the clean - tally ho
35. magnetic fields - desert island
36. teenage fanclub - neil jung
37. the drums - best friend
38. modern lovers - she cracked
39. arcade fire - power out
40. cyndi lauper - goonies r good enough
41. the primitives - way behind me
42. abba - voulez vouz
43. roxy music - love is the drug
44. devo - girl u want
45. prince - raspberry beret
46. david bowie - young americans
47. fleetwood mac - little lies
48. belle and sebastian - white collar boy
49. the cure - pictures of you
50. squeeze - up the junction
51. the coasters - down in mexico
52. little eva - locomotion
53. omd - electricity
54. kim wilde - chequered love
55. the beatles - paperback writer
56. april march - chick habit
57. the smiths - started something i couldn't finish
58. the clash - train in vain
59. the lemonheads - mrs robinson
60. altered images - happy birthday
61. the spaniels - goodnight sweetheart goodnight

Thursday, 15 April 2010


so, as feared, the radio show's hiatus has extended another week. sad face.

still, should mean there's plenty to talk about next week, right? assuming, of course, that the show is on next week. if it isn't, well that should mean there's plenty to talk about the week after that, right? and so on.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

reviews: the futureheads, woodenbox with a fistful of fivers, vacuum spasm babies

The Futureheads - The Chaos (****)
“Art”, novelist John Cheever reckoned, “is the triumph over chaos.” With a title track that lyrically rails against political apathy and uncertainty (“the Chaos/ It’s everywhere but what’s it got to do with us?” goes its refrain, led with a trademark ‘whoah’), it’s tempting to consider The Chaos as The Futureheads’ fire-in-the-belly manifesto, a politically-charged distillation of their ‘art’. And then you hear them slip in a brief Orville the Duck impression and remind yourself to stop being so bloody pompous. The Sunderland mob’s fourth album contains their freshest, fiercest, most playful set of songs since their debut – less frenetic than their introductory set, but refined to punk-rock purity. Heartbeat Song is a taut pop gem, while The Sun Goes Down showcases a new moodiness. It’s a tad exhausting, but their zealous pace is easily forgivable. Regardless of whether it constitutes ‘art’ or not, it’s certainly a triumph.

Out 26th April

Woodenbox With A Fistful of Fivers - Home and the Wild Hunt (****)
It seems lazy to automatically align any act with prominent brass and a Celtic swing with Dexy’s Midnight Runners, but sometimes knee-jerk comparisons are revealing. Ali Downey, a.k.a. Woodenbox, is the band’s Kevin Rowlands figure; guiding Home and the Wildhunt through its wind-swept prairie/barn dance blues aesthetic -- though only time will tell if he shares Rowland’s craving for reinvention. Along with a motley bunch of young soul rebels named the Fistful of Fivers – their moniker’s Morricone homage echoed in Nothing To Nobody’s plaintive harmonica and Hang the Noose’s mariachi parping – they project a laddish swagger on hoedowns like Besides the Point, but rein it in on their full band debut’s more sensitive numbers. It’s no insult to conclude their retro passions pale slightly next to Dexy’s best work, but there’s plenty to savour in the likes of Draw A Line’s whistling coda or the upbeat bounce of the closing My Mule.

Out Now

Vacuum Spasm Babies - Science EP (***)
While music journalists aren’t inherently mischievous (honest), it’s hard to shake the feeling that Vaccum Spasm Babies – led by the former editor of Sun Zoom Spark - have their tongues squashed firmly in their cheeks on Science. Aside from MHz (which first appeared on last year’s Whipping Clowns LP), these tracks sound more like krautrock pastiche than a naturally-occurring style – Flight of the Kraftwerk, replete with mannequins on the cover and bleeps, blips and deadpan monologues in the mix. But give them the benefit of the doubt and you may get satisfaction from the cool strut of Chemical Burns and cranked riff of Science Division, with the robust instrumental Mhz suggesting irreverence isn’t their only setting.

Out Now

Monday, 12 April 2010

reviews: she and him, woodpigeon, slarrafenland

here are another three of my skinny reviews to read carefully multiple times while taking notes:

She and Him - Volume 2 (****)
While adjustments have been made, She & Him’s sophomore release is very much an extension of their first. A choir of merrily chirruping Zooeys and a Shangri-Las-stomp make Don’t Look Back their finest three minutes yet, while a cover of Ridin’ In My Car sees M. Ward duet with Deschanel’s honeyed tones to produce a splendid slice of winsomely romantic country-and-western confectionary. Volume 2 is a sugary concoction that’ll prove too sweet for some taste buds, but criticising She & Him for lacking bite would be like critiquing Elf (to pluck a film from She’s filmography) for not having enough gore; it’s simply the wrong yardstick to gauge by. Their laid-back Americana could be poured in ears all summer long without growing tiresome, their chicly simple formula light and airy enough to make this second helping more than palatable - in fact, a few more servings wouldn’t go amiss either.

Out Now

Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten (****)
Written in Berlin, contemplating the lives of his Austrian/German grandparents with one eye on his former home of Edinburgh, Canadian songwriter Mark Hamilton draws intercontinental inspiration on Die Stadt Muzikanten, a “look back at the things I left unresolved in all the cities I’ve found myself”. It’s an eclectic and wide-ranging endeavour that sprawls over sixteen tracks but successfully keeps the hits outweighing the misses. A low-key saloon piano intro melts into a crackling Mercury Rev-style coda; a collaboration with Edinburgh’s own Eagleowl hints musically and lyrically at Tom Petty; while Empty-Hall Sing-Along has a chorus you’ll think you’ve heard a dozen times before yet can’t wait to hear again. And that’s only the first three tracks; rummaging fans of Elliot Smith and Teenage Fanclub will uncover plenty more delights with every listen. It’s a tad too uneven to guarantee widespread adoration, but it would be well-deserved should it arrive.

Out 19th April

Slaraffenland - We're On Your Side (***)
What Sigur Rós are to Iceland, Efterklang have become to Denmark; the critical darlings through whose prism outsider eyes are prone to viewing – and often judging – everything else that ventures forth from the country. With Slaraffenland the connection is a natural one, the two Danish troupes having fused in the past to produce a mashed-up behemoth by the name of Slaraffenklang. Decoupled from their kooky brethren, Slaraffenland remain enchanting: a quintet of sonic explorers who pack their compositions with multiple complementary refrains that crackle with quiet energy. But it lacks the spark needed to fully ignite these ideas, to kick up the pleasantries into enlivened flames. This is only their second release to feature vocals, and We’re On Your Side might have benefited from continued muteness, their chants often distracting rather than adding to the atmosphere. But this nonetheless remains an impressive reminder that there’s more to Denmark than Parades.

Out today.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


once again, your guess is as good as mine when it comes to bottle rocket radio... apparently the booth might be built soon, so there may well be a radio show for y'all to listen to on thursday. then again there might not... it's too close to call kids.

click here on thursday anyway, can't do no harm now can it?

Friday, 9 April 2010

dvd review: the greatest

here's another film review penned for the skinny... these might crop up more and more frequently, so thank you in advance for indulging me...

The Greatest (Shana Feste, 2009) (***)
When titular champ Bennett Brewer (Aaron Johnson) dies in a car accident, his family – including the high-school sweetheart carrying his unborn child – struggle to reconcile their sorrow. With a legacy-bearing baby in the mix, a dash-to-the-maternity-ward climax is inevitable: unfortunately, the journey leading there feels similarly routine. Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan impress as the grieving parents – the former distraught, the latter attempting stoicism while he falls apart inside – but their roles are familiar, Sarandon in particular echoing Midnight Mile and In The Valley of Elah. Each gets a scene of showy catharsis (tears, anguish, shouting), as does Johnny Simmons as the underachiever kid brother and Carey Mulligan as the expectant mother. The latter proves to be the film’s trump card: while Sarandon and Brosnan get top-billing, the film is likely to benefit more from snowballing interest in the young Brit, whose charming performance overcomes the character’s clichés and in the process affirms her burgeoning talent.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

april skinny

new skinny is everywhere (if your reading this from scotland), so pick up a copy if you wanna read interviews with broken bells, meursault, jonsi from sigur ros, efterklang, why? and, er, cypress hill...

it's got this chap on the cover

as part of a feature on RSA new contemporaries 2010 (the above creation the work of one jamie fitzpatrick).

but enough about other people! what did i write i hear you cry! this:

- benni hemm hemm 'realiate' ep review
- burnt island 'music and maths' ep review
- josiah wolf 'jet lag' album review
- woodpigeon 'die stadt muzikanten' album review
- white belt yellow tag 'methods' album review
- the tallest man on earth 'the wild hunt' album review
- woodenbox with a fistful of fivers 'home and the wildhunt' album review
- slarrafenland 'we're on your side' album review
- autechre live review
- thee silver mt zion memorial orchestra live review
- 'the greatest' dvd review
- 'double take' film review

most of it's up on the blog already, and i'll have the rest up there in the next few days.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

review: hinterland 2010

last saturday's hinterland fest was a bit of alright. i said as much in my write-up for the skinny, handily reproduced below:

Squeezed from two days into one and scaled back from fifteen venues spread city-wide to a half-dozen proximate haunts, Hinterland have reformatted 2009’s debut into something less ambitious, but more sustainable. And enjoyable too: freed from the mental shackles of route-planning – and the related fear of crowded-out disappointment if yr hot-footing across town can’t quite get you there quick enough – Hinterland 2.0 is a relaxed affair.

From geeky, lo-fi figureheads to Funky Djs; manic indie trios to panda-eyed singer-songwriters, if the line-up doesn’t quite boast something for everyone that’s only because there are some right picky so-and-sos out there. The result is part Scottish talent showcase, part South-By-Southwest-style melting pot - or as Johnny Foreigner put it: “This is great - like Camden Crawl without the Sugababes. Or London.” It’s a busy mix of marquee names and local whippersnappers that offers plenty of bang for your buck…

Shiny electro duo Midnight Lion’s (**) passion-pop sound reflects du jour eighties influences and has a likable dramatic air, but personally Stewart Brock’s vocals are a deal breaker. Though blessed with a strong voice, each line is delivered with the earnest slickness of a boy-band balladeer (a resemblance not helped by a tendency to grab at his chest like an eager Enrique Iglesias). But echoes of X-Factor aside, there’s flickering potential in the ex-Drive By Argument pair; a talent for penning glossy pop hooks that are appealing if not quite riveting.

“Wow, I’m rocking so hard I’ve detached my section of the stage” observes Johnny Foreigner’s (****) Alexei Berrow when his over-enthusiastic moves cause his raised island to shift away from the mainland. His alarm is understandable – last time they played Glasgow, they reveal, the ensuing fiasco almost caused a split. But the ground stays firm and the show goes on, the trio barrelling through their set “so we can all see Hot Club De Paris after”. A guesting Duncan Danananaykroyd adds extra noisiness to Salt Peppa And Spinderella’s gear-shift, while new material sees them successfully take their kinetic energy down a notch.

Broken leads delay Jeffrey Lewis (****), but since his shtick tends towards masking-tape-and-shoe-string roughness anyway, the poltergeists don’t keep him down for long. He’s a value-for-money booking, cramming laugh-out-loud ditties, illustrated slideshows, a gangster rap boasting of multiple counts of mosquito homicide and a history lesson recounting the life and times of Chief Sitting Bull into his truncated set. It’s more vaudeville than gig - a little bit of this and a little of that, all spun together with a sharp vocabulary and a friendly demeanour (though calling your crowd English isn’t the quickest way to endear yourself to Glaswegians).

As the guitars go back into their cases, the Arches opens back out to its full size. Remaining Hinterlanders are slow to get their groove on, milling about between rooms looking for a beat that sticks. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs brings energy levels up before long, though with a set that jumps through genres like a hypeactive child (Indian fancy dress supports the comparison). Éclair Fifi proffers old-school beats and b-boy visuals (courtesy of the LuckyMe collective) before making way for Marcus Nasty and Cooly G, whose sets are largely missed by this sleepy reviewer while back in the North room Friendly Fires spin Madonna remixes and the like. New faces file in as we exit: it seems for some, Hinterland has only just begun.

(go here for the full piece, which also features Rachel Bowles' thoughts on the kays lavelle, panda su and mystery jets)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

review: the twilight sad @ ABC, 02 April

here's another of my reviews, written for the skinny:

Take A Worm For A Walk Week have the reputation of perverted lions – unsettling, dangerous - but tonight they’re eccentric puppy-dogs. They’re still 18-certificated (their “romantic song” comes illustrated with puerile hand gestures as Joe Quimby fists his own hand-gina), but more fun than neophytes might expect.

The Unwinding Hours have their own buzz to live up to. Having been rapturously received in these pages and elsewhere, it’s disappointing to hear their set sag in the middle. But at either end there’s gold, not least the most crushing example of the quiet-LOUD switcheroo heard in a long while. While not quite Astounding and Amazing in this setting, The Unwinding Hours remain Very Good.

Tonight, The Twilight Sad are brought to you using ‘quadraphonic sound’ (that’s ‘surround sound’ for those feart of excess syllables). Before they take the stage, voices and distortion encircle the audience like a wagon train attack. It bodes well, but once underway, things sound pretty standard from where I’m situated (though the effect probably depends on location – I’m informed later that standing too close to the rear speakers ain't pleasant). But if the sound setup is anticlimactic, the performance is anything but. Singer James Graham expresses humble gratitude, but his modesty is the only chink in their cocksure composure. From Reflection of the Television’s mantras to a colossal closing Cold Days From the Bird House, they brace and stir. Cleaving dense noise into rousing melody, they validate every laudation to date and earn a few more in the process.


i come bearing terrible news. the new subcity studio aint been built yet, so shows are postponed for another full week while handy andy bish bash boshes it into shape. but absence makes the heart grow fonder, eh?

new bottle rocket radio, absolutely positively* on the 15th!

(*note: not guaranteed...)

Monday, 5 April 2010

next bottle rocket dancing party: 17th april!

Don't you hate it when dates clash? When two splendiferous plans collide in your diary and leave disappointment in their wake?

I know what you're thinking. "April 17th? i can't possibly go to bottle rocket on April the 17th! it's Victoria Beckham's, Pete Shelley's AND 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper's birthdays that day! Not to mention International World Hemophilia Day and the anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion! don't i have enough on my plate without trying to squeeze in the extra-amazing-dancing-fun-fest that is bottle rocket?"

I know, i know. I appreciate the predicament this announcement places you in. But should an invitation from the hot rod not materialise, bottle rocket would be chuffed to entertain you with pop hits from yesteryear and the music of tomorrow!

the details go a little something like this:

11:30pm - 3:00am!

get yer requests in on our facebook wall here and we'll be sure to play em/apologetically forget about them.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

film review: double take

ok, so it's got nowt to do with music but i wrote it and this is my blog so you'll bloody lump it, alright? here are my thoughts on the rather excellent Double Take, on limited release now...

Double Take (dir. Johan Grimonprez) (****)
In the unclassifiable tradition of Chris Marker and Guy Maddin, Johan Grimonprez’s enigmatic feature is a puzzling flurry of ideas: Alfred Hitchcock meets a doppelganger from the future, Krushchev and Nixon tussle on television for hearts and minds, while generations of America’s housewives look to Vogler’s Coffee to satisfy their husbands’ caffeine-needs. A dizzying mosaic of historical footage, vintage advertisements, contemporary interviews and a fiction strand adapted from Jorge Luis Borges combine and proffer multiple delights. The sharp intelligence of these editorial juxtapositions offer intellectual stimulation, while the sight of Fidel Castro and Nikita Krushchev larking around in the Moscow snow offers less cerebral pleasure. Attempts to untangle this plethora into anything so prosaic as a plot would no doubt prove frustrating, its essaying instead exploring a series of uncanny twins, from the fictional (Hitchcock’s time bending self-confrontation) to the scarily actual (the twin superpower standoff of the age of Mutual Assured Destruction). Double Take is a humorous and thought-provoking concoction.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

probably maybe

i'm not one hundred per cent sure yet whether there'll be a radio show this thursday.

let's assume for a minute that there is. it will probably pick up the thread that had to be dropped last week (bowlie) by playing the previously promised belle and sebastian, sleater kinney and cornelius. it will also likely include a few new releases - she and him for starters. and it will definitely contain gig-chatter, along with some related music from the fire engines, father murphy and super adventure club.

now let's assume for a minute that there isn't. i'll go about my day a little disheartened; you'll weep and wail and tear at your clothes and hair in anguish.

i hope for your sake that we're back on the air on thursday, i really do.


Friday, 2 April 2010

reviews: burnt island, benni hemm hemm, tallest man on earth

Burnt Island - Music and Maths EP (****)
To Music and Maths, add a double period of English, for Burnt Island’s debut is a decidedly literary affair. Led by author Rodge Glass and partly inspired by David Foster Wallace, you’d expect great lyrics at the very least, and Glass doesn’t disappoint, with the slight A New Start the bittersweet peak. Musically, his band match the high standard: the title track’s soulful swells and the flute and viola soaked opening croon A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again are the highlights, but in truth there isn’t a misplaced note to be found. Amber Comerford’s harmonising tones on the likes of Man On Fire add a welcome additional texture, and the overall effect is one of modest splendour.

Out Now

Benni Hemm Hemm - Retaliate (****)
Having stitched himself into Scotland’s alt-folk fabric (working with Withered Hand, Eagleowl and Alasdair Roberts amongst others), Retaliate is an inauguration of sorts for Icelander Benni Hemm Hemm. It if sounds like the work of a more seasoned songwriter, that’s because it is: with three albums and two EPs already under his belt, Benni’s English-language debut bristles with confidence. From the rich, soulful burn of Blood of my Blood to the measured crescendo of Blood on Lady Lawson (lyrically, he seems to have a thing for haemoglobin…), Retaliate stirs and pacifies in balance. But it’s the quivering beauty of Church Loft that’s most likely to trigger shivers, and in doing so stoke his already strong reputation further still.

Out Now

The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt (****)
When even your press release foregrounds a similarity to early Bob Dylan, you know there’s no escaping Zimmerman’s substantial shadow. In the case of The Tallest Man on Earth (a.k.a. Swede Kristian Mattson), it seems less an admission of mimicry than a form of damage control: no one wants the dreaded mantle of ‘the new Dylan’ and all the reductive pressure that accompanies its poisoned chalice, so best acknowledge the association and move on. But such avoidance is unnecessary as, remarkably, Mattson’s second album is strong enough to weather the comparison. His passionate voice – all gruff consonants and affected vowels – has a similar roughness, though Dylan was never so robustly tuneful. And the songs themselves are often revelatory: Burden of Tomorrow’s plaintive chorus hooks and holds; King of Spain gallops in formation with Devendra Banhart’s kook-folk; while Love Is All is as heartfelt as its title implies.

Out 12th April

Thursday, 1 April 2010

reviews: trips and falls, josiah wolf, victoria and jacob

Trips And Falls - He Was Such a Quiet Boy (****)
Trips and Falls are full of surprises. Prelude to a Shark Attack, for example, sounds nothing like the Jaws theme; instead, it’s a moving Ballboy-esque sob-serenade. Male and female voices take turns to acquiesce to the dreams of the other: he’s willing to run away with her; she promises to one day settle down. When their voices combine it’s stirring; when they start to simultaneously sing opposing plans, it’s heartbreaking. A song so smart in form and so devastatingly beautiful in content is rare, and alone would be enough to recommend the Montreal quartet. But it’s only a slither of this record’s wonders: from the dizzy spin of And In Real Life He Wears Corduroy Pants’ off-kilter melody to You Should Really Get Yours’ sinister threats, they excel. Their woozy experiments sound like a band that decided to play their instruments backwards and blindfolded – and discovered it worked.

Out Now

Josiah Wolf - Jet Lag (***)
Those who unfairly balked at Eskimo Snow’s perceived middle-age spread would do well to skip Why? drummer Josiah Wolf’s first solo effort. Why?’s softening was rewarding, proffering new textures as their sound settled and rested; Jet Lag, by comparison sounds like the same process taken several steps too far. As a refinement of the day-job, this goes beyond spit and polish; Wolf has weathered and eroded Why?’s ornate facets into undistinguished stone. The result is an inconsistent record that meanders anonymously. It doesn’t help that it’s unrelentingly miserable either, Josiah’s lyrics lacking his brother Yoni’s wit (though contemplating the nature of the musky funk conjured in The Apart Meant - “and my apartment smells like divorce” - might raise a smile in the giggle-prone). While there are moments that make its occasional company worthwhile - not least Ohioho’s mellifluousness - its patchiness destines it to be an Anticon footnote.

Out Now

Victoria and Jacob - With No Certainty (***)
Do you like Ellie Goulding and Owl City? Me neither, but enough do to make them two of 2010’s breakthrough acts. Those same people will likely elect Victoria & Jacob to join them, sharing as they do the former’s sensitivity and the latter’s soppy pop-nous. And, like the aforementioned, they are similarly open to charges of derivativeness – committee-made camels to Passion Pit and the Postal Service’s horses. The Passion Pit-influence is particularly un-ignorable, With No Certainty practically sampling Sleepyhead’s electric cries. That said, it’s very nice – like Sally Shapiro shorn of shyness – and consequentially merits further investigation.

Out 5th April