BLUE SKY ARCHIVES From Glasgow they come with harmonious pop and melodic post-rock, like a shining light. Hello, Blue Skies. What are you up to? Paul: ‘I’m at my 9–5. The odour of coffee, commerce and coercion is palpable. I see a young, unshaven man in a cheap shirt. He looks tired and restless. I realise it’s me.’ Who’s in the band and what do you play? Ross: ‘Well, there’s Matt Phelan (axe and sweet notes), Lauren Mayberry (lungs, keys and beats), Ross Rankin (the thud), Gavin Macdonald (four strings of thunder) and Paul McGrath (male wail and old-timey geetar).’ When did you start and how would you say you’ve changed since then? Paul: ‘We started properly playing together as a group around this time last year. Sound-wise I think we’ve got a lot darker and a little more considered than we initially were. You’ll hear the beginning of that change in our next EP, and very much so in our live shows.’ Can you please tell us about your previous bands? Ross: ‘I’m still in Titus Gein, Paul was in Dance Lazarus Dance, Lauren was in Boyfriend/Girlfriend. We’ve all been in numerous bands.’ Where can we get hold of your records? Paul: ‘Our first self-titled EP is available online for listening, downloading and purchasing at Bandcamp, Facebook, MySpace and Big Cartel. And we’re very excited about our second EP, Plural, which is coming out soon. We also want to get our first album down on wax and to your ears.’ (Nicola Meighan) King Tut’s, Glasgow, Thu 13 Jan.

ANNIVERSARY TOUR IDLEWILD Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Wed 15 Dec ●●●●● METAL HELMET Cathouse, Glasgow Friday 17 Dec ●●●●●

If it’s true that Idlewild will be on sabbatical for the whole of 2011 while singer Roddy Woomble releases and tours his new solo album, this tour is a perfect way to say goodbye to their fans for now. It celebrates the tenth anniversary of their breakthrough second album 100 Broken Windows with a straight run-through of every track on the record, embellished with a bunch of their most well-known songs: the fan would have been utterly satisfied, the casual listener may have made a note that this band’s catalogue is worthy of discovery. The quintet built up swiftly with

tracks like ‘When I Argue I See Shapes’ and ‘Modern Way of Letting Go’, before giving over most of the set to . . . Windows. It’s a record that presents the band at their best in every way, from the rich and heartfelt guitar pop of ‘A Little Discourage’, ‘Roseability’ and ‘Actually It’s Darkness’ to the more pastoral country rock of ‘Quiet Crown’ and ‘The Bronze Medal’. ‘No-one needs to hear the bonus tracks from CD2,’ joked Woomble, so what they got was yet more minor classics like ‘American English’ and ‘Captain’. (David Pollock)

The outbreak of onstage mild hysteria at the Cathouse tonight can be attributed to a number of things although the support band playing the first song of the American quartet’s encore is never entirely explained. Mostly, the technical gremlins along with the knowledge that this is the final date of a year-long, global trek in support of new album Seeing Eye Dog means everyone concerned is just a little bit giddy. This gives the evening a slightly

surreal edge in parts, the parts that is, where Page Hamilton and his sinewy bunch of rock hunks aren’t throwing down some massive, thundering guitar grooves ripped straight from the belly of a bellowing whale. Trawling their lumpy, if sizeable back catalogue but criminally ignoring their genius debut the band grind out enough class A head nodders to give even the most static of cynics whiplash. At times, Helmet’s schtick can be a little one-dimensional, but when they lock into a juddering, monolithic swagger, it is pretty spectacular the weight and ingenuity of metal without the cheese and pretension. (Mark Robertson)


In an age when Twitter-addicted musicians will delight in revealing what colour of socks they’re wearing today, there’s everything to be said for a band like The Radio Dept. In the blurb for the forthcoming singles collection by the Swedish dream-pop enigmas, the boss of Labrador, their label, says he’s personally had to bribe them with drugs just to do interviews.

It’s taken them all of eight years since their celebrated debut LP Lesser Matters finally to visit Scotland. With a guitarist and bassist resembling a very funky bear, they take to the stage as support for Saint Etienne. But throwing the awkward trio on at 7.30pm in a near-empty venue is just cruel. Not that it appears to faze a band who have consistently made exceptional music without seeming to care if anyone’s listening.

The final minute of ‘Freddie and the Trojan Horse’ is about as sublime a noise as can be conjured with two reverb-washed guitars and a drum machine. After the band slope off little more than 20 minutes in, leaving the swelling laptop fuzz of ‘Closing Scene’ to play out, latecomers must be baffled by the absurdity of a tiny crowd mesmerised before an empty stage. (Malcolm Jack)


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INDIE FESTIVAL ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES: BOWLIE 2 Butlin’s Minehead, Somerset, Fri 10 to Sun 12 Dec ●●●●●

Ten years after pioneering the holiday chalet-based festival with their Bowlie Weekender, Belle & Sebastian have returned to the scene (not literally; it’s now in Somerset) of one of their greatest creations with this decade-on celebration of Bowlie’s multinational descendant All Tomorrow’s Parties. As part of the privilege they got to curate a line-up of their favourite bands, with three decades’ worth of Scottish artists and friends represented. Highlights were too many to mention: ‘secret band’ Franz Ferdinand’s riotous set, featuring a cover of The Sonics’ ‘The Witch’; the same band’s Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy, Teenage Fanclub and The Cribs’ Ryan Jarman joining Edwyn Collins for an emotional set of Orange Juice classics; Frances and Eugene Vaselines’ fantastically filthy stage banter; Julian Cope dedicating his set to the protesters who invaded Millbank; celebrated artists Foals and Crystal Castles sharing a bill with Glasgow acts who deserve a wider audience like Zoey Van Goey and Peter Parker; and the Belles themselves of course, resurgent and note-perfect. (David Pollock)


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62 THE LIST 6–20 Jan 2011