FOLK Martyn Bennett
Glasgow: King Tut's, Fri 24 Oct. Edinburgh: La Belle Angele, Sun 26 Oct.
Martyn Bennett featured on the cover of a July edition of The List, staring out moodin from beneath his dreadlocked fringe and clutching his bagpipes to his muscled torso, naked from the kilt up.
He looked something like a PR man's impression of the apotheosis of modern Scotland, a kind of 'Scotland with attitude'. His music might seem similarly misfitting, a cross-fertilisation of his Highland folk roots with modern music technology. But combining the often reviled bagpipes with the latest dance sounds has proven an inspired innovation, as Bennett reveals and exploits parallels within the tribal rhythms of rave and the rabble-rousing, roof~raising attributes of a good, old-fashioned ceilidh. His second album Bothy Culture is released this month on the Rykodisc label.
‘It’s less of a kind of virtuosic performance,‘ he says of the album. 'It’s a simpler kind of collage in a way. I think it's more complex and mature as well. The first album is full of testosterone. I did it in a week. I don't understand how on earth I did it in a week.’
'Virtuosic' is a fitting description for Bennett, as those who have seen him play live can attest. His solo performances are crowd- pleasing, high-adrenaline spectacles
involving rapid switches across the whole spectrum of traditional folk instruments to an accompaniment of thumping dance beats. It is a form of music Bennett believes he has taken further with this second helping.
'I think I was still a wee bit caught up in my upbringing as a traditional musician [on the first album],' he says. ‘I couldn't come purely from the dance direction and purely from the folk direction and merge them together without it sounding like pastiche. Bothy Culture succeeds in one respect where the first album didn't
, ’k . ‘
Martyn Bennett: dreadlocked bagpiping hero
because basically it's got a pure synthesis - a virtual folk reality and a virtual dance reality.’
Bennett is modest regarding his own role in any Scottish cultural renaissance. ‘It's all sort of happened on cue to the Brand Seer’s prophecies in a way, do you know what I mean?’ he says. ‘So the time is right and eh, I’m just part of that, I'm just a little cog as well as hundreds of other things going on in the world.’
I Bothy Culture is out now
SIeater—Kinney Glasgow: The 13th Note, Thu 30 Oct.
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Sleater—Kinney: unbelievably hot in America
40 THE “ST 23 Oct-6 Nov 199/
The first thing you'll love about Portland’s Sleater-Kinney is Corin Tucker’s astonishing v0ice, an intense, Vibrato-laden wail that cuts across the wiry rhythms of fellow guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss, slamming hard between the eyes.
Tucker’s life was changed when she saw Bikini Kill, and Sleater-Kinney stay true to their not grrrl roots, expressing anger and iiidiViduality and addressing male Violence and consumerism With the help of some biting rock ’n' roll.
The band are unbelievably hot in America They are havmg to resrst being dragged into the agendas of people who have perhaps forgotten that Sleater-Kinney are iiidiyiduals who may want to make rock a better place for women, but also want to be successful like any other band
’Right,' Tucker agrees. 'I would really like to make enough money playing rock to support myself, and as a woman, that's really important. And being able to stand up for that and
be on labels that are supportive of women and working reai'y hard to make it successful and sell a bunch of records, I think that is a good thing'
Look at their fan pages and you'll see plenty of testimonials to the lives the band has already changed. So does Tucker feel up to being a role model?
’I try not to think about it that much,’ she says. 'We’re all three-dimensional people, and we’re all on tour, working really hard. Sometimes, I’ll be really upset about something and we’ll have to play a show anyway, and people Will be disappomted that I'm not ready to be the happy entertainer. But I want people to know that we are in this for real.
’That's what’s so =errifying about it and that’s what’s so great about it. We are all ourselves all the time, and we’re not pretending to entertain, we're dorng this because we love it Sol think that's the kind of role- model I want to be. I want to be able to be three-dimensional'
Radish Glasgow: King Tut's, Wed 5 Nov.
Sixteen-year-old Ben Kweller could have walked straight out of an American teen flick, as the younger brother who is gifted with computers and gets his kicks skateboarding. He confirms the impression by admitting he is an Internet nerd, and digs Dungeons And Dragons and Star Wars.
He is not so much the kid brother, though. He loves the underground films of Richard Linklater and Greg Araki and the music of Sonic Youth, Weezer and Urusei Yatsura. And since the age of twelve he has fronted Radish, a Texan trio, featuring an eighteen-year-old drummer and 29-year-old bassist, who describe their music as ’sugar metal'.
Closer inspection of their second album Restraining Bolt (title cribbed from a term Kweller found in his Star Wars dictionary — 'That’s how much of a nerd I am'), reveals they are a teen perspective on good ole- fashioned grunge metal, with lyrics like ’the principal just sent me to the office’ over the kind of racket parents tell you to turn down. But not Kweller’s parents.
’I get support that's hard to find in parents,’ he says, 'letting their kid do music instead of homework once in a while.’
Kweller has been writing songs since he was eight (move over, Kate Bush) when he first heard his father’s Beatles records.
’When I was growing up — well, I’m still growing up, but when l was younger I thought: "I want to write songs about love and girls too," but at eight years old I didn't know what a girlfriend was. I write from my own experiences now. I’ve had girlfriends and I’ve been hurt before.’
Which, along With the fact that the 'popular kids’ at school suddenly want to hang out with him now he’s had a brush With stardom, is all very adolescent, but Kweller comes across as more of an old head on y0ung shoulders. Vehemently not the next Hanson, Radish are more of a teenage riot.
Radish: not the next Hanson