The layhawks Glasgow: Old Fruitmarket, Tue 1 Aug.
It's another morning in the Louris household in suburban Minneapolis. Little Henry, fourteen months and blooming, is a bit ‘needy’ just now; he's wailing like a klaxon. This, concludes dad as he runs upstairs to disrupt his new wife’s long lie with howling baby, 'isn't very rock ‘n' roll, is it?‘ Then he talks about golf.
The Jayhawks are not very rock ‘n' roll, either. Nor, these days, are they very country. Henry, says singer- songwriter Gary Louris, is not named after Joe Henry or Buck Henry (’There are a lot of good writers named Henry, and it's quite presidential').
The Jayhawks don’t get gobby, they don't get messy, they don’t strike a rawk pose. But they do write exquisitely-crafted songs that draw from the blues, the bar and the road. They’ve survived the loss of their lead singer and co-writer, and their harmonising, honky-tonk heroine keyboard player. They've patiently weathered the wanderings of their record company as it moved from parent label to parent label. They've not let the rubbish term ’alt.country’ get them down.
And now, after an undervalued last album Sound Of Lies, coloured by Louris' divorce, they've made a record Smile that bursts with barrelling FM anthems, sunny soft rock and only the occasional twang from the backporch. The Jayhawks 2000; they are, kinda, like the Fleetwood Mac that made Rumours. A Good Thing, surely.
'Even the happy songs sound sad and the sad songs sound happy,’ says Louris of the welter of emotions that run through his songs. ‘There's always that push and pull with our music. It can sound incredibly desperate but feel incredibly happy. The Jayhawks’ thing for a long time has been to do what we feel, and that’s not always in step with fashion. Sometimes it's too old and
A chorus approval for the rejuvenation of the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union
No gob, no mess, just finely-honed songcraft: The Jayhawks
sometimes it’s too new.’
Indeed, even though Smile initially sounds 'too new' in its occasional use of drum loops and pop beats, repeated listening - say, three times — lets the likes of the charging ‘Life Floats By’ and the beautiful ’Broken Harpoon' work their classic magic. The Jayhawks' appeal lies not in the props they use; it’s the songwriting, stupid.
And, The Jayhawks, fiercely vocal and loyal fans will be reassured to learn, there’s a lot more where they came from. 'One of the reasons we're pulling out our hair so much is that we make a record every three years, and we have enough songs for one every six months,’ sighs Louris. ’There's a lot of moody, dark stuff that didn't make this album. The boxset will be good!’ (lsobella Gillies)
Choral has much to offer Edinburgh, it just needs to shake off this image of being rather old and stuffy'
Part of that rejuvenation comes in the form of a new youth choir, \‘xhic‘h Will collaborate with the Choral on ITIdJOF performances, and work as a feed to the main c'hoii‘. But the main road to recovery is paved with quality conductors lBi'ainwell Tovey and Paul Mann to name but twoi, a quality venue ‘'the re-opening of the Usher Halli and a four-year plan that should see the Choral perform exciting works
Edinburgh Royal Choral Union
Edinburgh: Greyfriars Kirk, Fri 28 Jul.
It's an accepted notion that there's no point dwelling on the past But when your past is as illustrious as the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, you'd be forgiven for sneaking the odd backward glance
Founded in I858, the choir has performed for Queen Victoria, been granted Royal status by George V and hooked up With a glittering roll call of orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna
Philharmonic They were principal chorus for the International Festival for many a year, performed at the opening of the Usher Hall in I914, and have been conducted by Henry Wood, Malcolm Sargent and Thomas Beec ham
All good stuff. But their recent history is less impressive, \‘Jllll the Choral losing profile, and members, during the latter part of the century The arrival of chorus master Robert Marshall in 1998 however, swung the decline into reverse gear and their future is now looking distinctly bright. 'I'm trying to re-establish and re-invent it,’ explains Marshall 'I think the
at home and abroad.
'The musical standard has improved dramatically over the last year and a hall, which \Vlll enable us to put on the kind of works we're hoping to do in the next few years,’ says Marshall But With Handel's Messiah, Faure's Requiem and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius all on the cards, isn't it all a bit ll'ddlllOlIdl)
'You have to keep repeating some music eveiy ten or so years because you've got another generation of people who've never sung it,' says Marshall ’In a sense, you've got to teach the traditional so that you can do the more avant garde ’ (Kelly Apterl
EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONIC Scatter Glasgow: 13th Note, Fri 28 Jul.
Over the past five years Liam Stefani's Scatter operation has been a ever- pulsating beacon in a sea of mindless dreck for the adventurous new music fan Initially begun as a record label dedicated to releasing all improvised music by hmvyweight free-kings like guitarist Derek Bailey and singalong sopi'anist l_ol Coxhill, Stefani's remit soon \“.’|(l(?ll(‘(l to include the glorious gush of new experimental music that lit-up the otherwise culturally grim late-90s Since then Scatter nights at Glasgows l3th Note Cafe have taken in everything from extended space- rock marathons, clissonant folk-tiaang and, in the case of a solo set by l\.«lorphogenesis' Michael Prime, the microtonal breath of a cactus plant
The night of Friday 28th promises to be a thumping fifth anniversary bash ‘.".’llll some of the leading lights of the UK's tape-noise underground sharing the bill for a one-off blast of post- Velvets free-form freakout Richard Youngs, undoubtedly the spiritual godfather of all this homespun idiosyncratic invention, plays a rare solo set alongside sometime collaborators lvlatthew Bower’s new Sunroof! ensemble and Neil Campbell's Vibracathedral Orchestra 'Richard Youngs is someone I really admire musrcally,’ Stefani explains. ’He always does interesting things, he's always different and surprising depending on who he's working with or on what the circumstances are and Vibracathedral Orchestra are fantastic live I Just love watching a group who really play as a group, who seem to really tune into each other It's not a band of indiVidual egos, it's more like a sort of Alvllvl aesthetic in that they're trying to find a group sound and you can actually watch them constructing this
sound over time, it's totally fascinating.’ Five years on Stefani is more
evangelical than ever about the music's transcendental powers ’There's much more of a chance for stuff to happen now and for it to turn into a Vibrant scene than at any point in the past,’ he beams ‘People are more open to new sounds because modern music' scenes generally seem pretty chaotic, pretty eclectic, people will sight influences from all over the place It seems that people are more willing to take a risk and go and see something which they don't know anything about and find interest in it ' Now's the time to explore the possibilities chlVld Keenan)
Scatter: intent on exploriong all sonic possibilities
20 Jul-3 Aug 2000 THE “ST 63