Type ‘Gregory and the Hawk’ into YouTube and, alongside self-uploaded videos and phone-shot live clips, you’ll find an inordinate number of fan-performances – multiple pages of acoustic-toting adolescents mimicking Meredith Godreau’s style and evidencing how personally effecting it can be.
The twee vocal affectations and pizzicato melodies of Landscapes suggest a contracted Joanna Newsom, chopped down to bitesize dimensions and occupying a breezier milieu (it’s hard to imagine, for instance, Newsom dropping Cutting Crew quotes, as Godreau later does). But Godreau is a canny operator, sifting the seriousness into delicate pop on the likes of the springy uke-led Olly Olly Oxen Free and injecting Over and Over with an echoing counter-melody that reverberates across acoustic arpeggios.A sweet syrupiness can occasionally encroach (Soulgazing is particularly saccharine on first listen), but Godreau is largely successful at balancing flavours, soaring from feather-light whimsy to more emotive territory with flair.
Whether you’re a patron of the place or not, the news that Edinburgh’s Forest Cafe might be on the ropes is surely cause for concern. The hippy vibe might not fit all tastes, but as an independent open-doors venue in a city whose music scene is already reeling from the loss of the Roxy, its survival is undoubtedly worth supporting. This lengthy compilation leaps from bright and catchy chip-tune, pseudo-Dashboard Confessional cack, big-band pastiche and wet folk wibbling, suggesting the record's vast discrepancies in tone, genre and quality – but then you’d expect nothing less from the Forest. It’s undoubtedly patchy, but there’s no need to pick on the weak links here: in the thumbs up camp are Enfant Bastard’s 8-bit bleeps, Robin Grey’s lovely string-backed balladry and Danseizure’s light, fresh electro. If you couldn’t care less about the Forest’s future, buy a copy anyway. If you do care, buy two.
Swimmer One’s appeal largely lies in their imaginative genre combinations and ever-varying aesthetic, with this year’s Dead Orchestras an impressive case in point. Seafieldroad – the solo project of the Edinburgh band’s frontman Andrew Eaton – therefore initially disappoints due to its relative straightforwardness. The full-spectrum experiments of Swimmer One seem drained to monochrome, and this reduced ambition prevents There Are No Maps for This Part of the City from generating the same levels of excitement as his principal band. But once you adjust to its narrowed pallet, it provides multiple pleasures: for instance, Brian Wilson Karaoke makes for a gently amusing opener, while The Truth’s delicate arpeggios are combined with building strings (arranged by Pete Harvey of Meursault) to form a striking whole. Overall, there’s less to love than on Eaton’s other release of 2010, but there’s majesty enough to keep Eaton strides ahead of the curve.