NOISE SOCIAL CLUB GIANT TANK REMEDIAL SOCIAL SunBear Gallery, Edinburgh, Mon 1 Nov ●●●●● The idea behind this new venture from Edinburgh’s longest serving promoters of experimental sounds, Giant Tank, is to provide an informal, semi-regular speakeasy for the burgeoning low-key scene that’s somewhere between a bar, a gig and a ‘happening’. With the closure of the Roxy/Forest/Embassy due to Edinburgh University Settlement’s spectacular financial problems, such independent outlets are crucial. The reality is a loose-knit three-act show, falling somewhere between the original Dadaist Cabaret Voltaire and 70s TV cabaret The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, with Red Death’s assault on a vintage Wasp synthesiser and Scrim’s dual burst of analogue sound-bending punctuated by impromptu parish announcements by MC Ali Robertson.
PPRREEVVIIEEWW ELECTRONICA/ROCK RATATAT with Vampire Weekend Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Sun 28 Nov
‘Mogwai taught us how to drink beer like a professional rock stars,’ says Ratatat’s synth‘n’bass extraordinaire Evan Mast. ‘We’d be lost without them.’
He speaks of a Japanese tour that united the rousing twain back in
2006: Mogwai the post-rock leviathans; Ratatat the electro-hip hop insurgents. ‘It was our first time playing shows in Japan so the whole thing was pretty amazing and bizarre.’ The NYC duo are no strangers to the amazing or bizarre, of course.
Take their latest long-player, LP4 (XL), which gives a parakeet a starring role. It belongs to Ratatat’s axe-battering other half, Mike Stroud. ‘Her name is Fellini,’ clarifies Mast. She may even sing at their US live shows. ‘She’s coming on tour with us,’ he assures.
There are other non-zoological charms about LP4, however –
Middle-Eastern percussion and art-house film riffs, for example. ‘Yeah, and we worked with a string quartet on this record, which sets it apart [from their three prior studio albums]. We approached the songwriting differently too: there’s a lot of very immediate ideas and improvised parts on the record,’ Mast explains. ‘To me it’s a more complex album than anything we’ve made previously.’ His pummelling deuce comes to Edinburgh as part of a European tour. What supplies have they packed to stave off tour bus ennui? ‘I bought a bunch of books about film directors – Ingmar Bergman, Rohmer, Truffaut,’ catalogues Mast, who has a rather more pressing culinary concern. ‘You can’t find good avocados in Europe. European guacamole is a joke.’ (Nicola Meighan)
With a new solo album (Losing Sleep) and a retrospective of his old band Orange Juice (Coals to Newcastle) out, it should have been just another day at the comeback coalface for a middle-aged indie star with a healthily enduring reputation. There was much more to this packed-out show though. It’s been five years since Edwyn Collins suffered two life-threatening strokes, and that new album is the first he’s written since. His hesitant speech and walk might not entirely be up to a bona fide roaring comeback, but his undimmed talent certainly is.
Surrounded by fine musicians including ex-Morrissey associate Boz Boorer and sometime Sex Pistol Paul Cook on drums, the singer deferred to Carwyn Ellis as co-vocalist on impressive, introspective new tracks like ‘Do It Again’ and ‘What is My Role?’. Collins’ rich baritone is still more than capable of delivering classics like ‘A Girl Like You’ and ‘Blue Boy’ (although maybe not the very highest notes of ‘Falling & Laughing’), but the biggest surprise was perhaps his son William’s excellent guest vocal on ‘In Your Eyes’. Dad’s proud expression was one more heart- warmer of many here. (David Pollock)
INDIE-POP VERONICA FALLS Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Wed 10 Nov ●●●●●
‘We’re Veronica Falls, we’re from . . . London,’ imparts drummer Patrick Doyle, with a pensive pause. ‘No you’re not,’ retorts a witty voice from the gloom. This shambling boy-girl quartet may be based in London, but Glasgow is laying claim to them. You may recognise members of VF
from a plethora of short-lived outfits from these parts, The Royal We, Sexy Kids, Correcto, Your Twenties and Dot to Dot included, such is their habit for experimenting with bands like most people do hairstyles. NME’s legendary C86 tape – by now so over-spooled it must have needed winding with a biro – has been plundered again in search of their ramshackle indie-pop sound. The scratchy rumble of ‘Beachy
Head’ and ‘Found Love in a Graveyard’ drew a line back to the Shop Assistants and The Pastels. Their lack of technical proficiency – Doyle’s drumming was resolutely one beat, while bassist Marion Herbain has only learned to play since joining – kept things charmingly simple, but rather hamstrung the set’s dynamics. It seems doubtful that VF will be the band that sticks for these four indie journeymen/women, but it’ll be fun enough while it lasts. (Malcolm Jack)
GRIME & HIP HOP TINCHY STRYDER HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Wed 3 Nov ●●●●● CLASSIC INDIE EDWYN COLLINS Oran Mor, Glasgow, Sun 7 Nov ●●●●●
‘I wanna get real deep with you right now,’ promises East London’s own Tinchy Stryder before his big number one hit of last year ‘Never Leave You’. Deep is relative, though. Here it translates almost exactly as ‘a bit like the heart-numbingly awful bits in X- Factor where they start getting all epic and tearful and start banging on about their bloody journey’. He may have stepped out of the grime scene, but Tinchy’s a pure pop star these days, and a fairly ordinary one at that. He had the decency to turn up here with a full band, but the overwhelming backing track still made the show feel like a PA. This worked well when he was spitting an aggressive rhyme over a darker blend of grime and dubstep- aping sounds, for example on recent single ‘In My System’ and the thundering ‘Game Over’.
The Gamecock’s Stuart Arnot and Yet the biggest hits like ‘Never Leave
Nick Mitchell (pictured) play drum machines like typewriters while re- wiring ancient Roland keyboards in a manner that puts them through a retro black hole of swirling, anti-rhythmic overload. By the end, the machinery is slugging it out in a dance marathon which, out of shape and out of time, is a technical knockout. (Neil Cooper) You’ and his other chart-topper ‘Number 1’ sound like commercial radio filler, and it was interesting to note that some of the biggest cheers came for other people’s songs – covers of Example’s ‘Kick Starts’ and Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’, and a burst of Calvin Harris’ ‘I’m Not Alone’. (David Pollock)
I Y L L U E R B E L M T
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64 THE LIST 18 Nov–2 Dec 2010