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CHEMIKAL UNDERGROUND

Citizen Bravo, Raymond MacDonald & Friends

Return To Y'Hup - The World Of Ivor Cutler

    Citizen Bravo, Raymond MacDonald and a host of friends from the crème de la crème of Scotland’s music scene present Return To Y'Hup: The World of Ivor Cutler, a celebration of the life and work of an artist of unrivalled musical and poetic vision. This ambitious project is a pioneering experiment in the field of imaginary archaeology: a sonic conjuring of a decades-old fictional island.

    The underlying concept of the album was to resurrect the mythical island of Y’Hup - a territory which Ivor Cutler dreamt up and described throughout his early recordings. Here, the island has been populated with distinct Scottish voices alongside new arrangements of Cutler's music, featuring a large number of high profile guest artists, including: Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Tracyanne Campbell (Camera Obscura), Kris Drever (Lau), Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Stuart Murdoch (Belle & Sebastian), Pictish Trail, Emma Pollock (Delgados), Karine Polwart, Rick Redbeard (Phantom Band) and James Yorkston. Visiting the island as distinguished guests are two English vocalists, Phyllis King (Ivor Cutler’s longtime companion and collaborator) and living legend, Robert Wyatt.

    Noting Cutler’s absence from an exhibit about the history of Scottish pop music at the National Museum of Scotland, Matt Brennan (Citizen Bravo) and saxophonist/composer Raymond McDonald (Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra) decided to set the record straight. They wanted to pay homage and re-affirm Cutler’s status as a national treasure, uniting their two very different two musical backgrounds in a freaky and fruitful collaboration. The core team was completed by producers Malcolm Benzie (eagleowl and Withered Hand) and Andy Monaghan (member of much missed Frightened Rabbit).

    Album proceeds will be donated to the registered mental health charity, the Philadelphia Association (founded by Scottish psychiatrist - and Mr Cutler's contemporary - RD Laing), as per the wishes of Mr Cutler's son Jeremy.

    Arab Strap

    Philophobia

      Twenty-one years after its initial release, Arab Strap’s second album Philophobia is reissued on vinyl, having been out of print for twenty years. It was recorded on the outskirts of Glasgow in the early incarnation of CHEM19 Studios with engineer/producer Paul Savage & at Cava Studios in Glasgow with engineer Geoff Allan. Initially released in 1998, it was the follow up to the band’s 1996 debut The Week Never Starts Round Here. Instrumentally ambitious, Philophobia is adorned with sepulchral guitar, trumpet, cello & Scottish rainfall, providing a most beautiful backdrop to Aidan Moffat’s bold lyrical presentation as he articulates experiences most of us are too embarrassed to even think about; confessional, intimate, insightful and hilarious, ‘Philophobia’ remains a literate & musical revelation. ‘Philophobia’ - (from Greek "φιλέω-φιλώ" (love) and "φοβία" (phobia)), is the fear of falling in love / emotional attachment.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

      The Phantom Band

      Checkmate Savage - 10th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl Edition

        Vault back to the dawn of 2009. Signed the previous year to Glasgow independent label Chemikal Underground are The Phantom Band, a six-piece group that melds folk, Krautrock, the blues, art-rock and anything else that comes to hand, lacing their idiosyncratic, intricate tapestries with effortless pop melodies delivered by the mahoganied baritone of singer Rick Anthony.

        The group’s debut album, Checkmate Savage, immediately attracts widespread acclaim from critics in the national music press and newspapers.

        “A record as auspicious and accomplished as it is unforeseen” – Keith Cameron, Mojo. 4/5 stars

        “This kraut-folk groove-fest could have been bashed out by The Beta Band’s little brothers” – Camille Pia, NME. 8/10

        “Were they from Brooklyn rather than Glasgow, Checkmate Savage would have been acclaimed as a benchmark album of 2009” – Michael Hann, The Guardian. 4/5 stars

        “This debut is fearlessly ambitious and unexpectedly commercial” – Steve Jelbert, The Times. 4/5


        Fans of the group’s heady brew swiftly snap up all vinyl copies of the album, the result being stratospheric prices for those searching for it on the secondhand vinyl market.

        A decade on, Chemikal Underground is proud to announce the imminent rebirth of an album that remains as spectacularly imaginative as it was the first time round, presented in a package that does 100% justice to the original songs, which were deftly produced by Paul Savage – whose credits include Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, King Creosote, Deacon Blue and many more – at the label’s affiliated recording studio Chem 19 in Lanarkshire and Franz Ferdinand’s studio in Glasgow.

        Deserving of a place in every record collection worth its salt, the stylistically wide-open, moonstruck delights of Checkmate Savage are, for the first time, spread over four sides of heavyweight vinyl housed in a gatefold sleeve, with a download code for MP3 versions of the album’s nine songs. The record will be available exactly 10 years on from the release date of the original album.

        This new edition – cut from the original masters – is an essential acquisition for those with an appetite for wildly creative, mischievous and aurally captivating music. A no-brainer, in other words.

        The Phantom Band went on to release three more albums on Chemikal Underground – The Wants (2010), Strange Friend (2014) and Fears Trending (2015) – while Anthony, under the name Rick Redbeard, has released two solo records on the label, No Selfish Heart (2013) and Awake Unto (2016). The group has been on hiatus since the theft of their equipment while touring in Europe in October 2015.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Laura says: Given the volume of records released these days, it's easy for things to disappear into your record collection after a few months, never to be unearthed again, but this is still one of my go-to albums, years after it's release.
        The synthetic, metallic chill of the motorik rhythms and wooshing synths is balanced perfectly with heavy percussion and Rick's rich vocals adding more organic tones. It's just an amazing, inventive album that while hinting at a multitude of reference point, sounds like nothing else.

        Adrian Crowley

        Dark Eyed Messenger

          Dublin based Adrian Crowley returns with his eighth studio album and follow up to 2014’s ‘Some Blue Morning’.

          Recorded in four days in May 2016 in Thomas Bartlett’s New York studio, the record captures not merely Crowley at the apex of his songwriting powers but also the creative lava that can flow when two perfectly aligned musical minds come together.

          American producer and musician Bartlett, aka Doveman, has worked with an array of artists such as Sufjan Stevens, Martha Wainwright, The Magnetic Fields and Anna Calvi. Bartlett’s contribution to ‘Dark Eyed Messenger’ is variously unsettling, comforting and effervescent, eliciting a sweeping array of dream-like sounds and deploying dissonance where the listener might least expect it. The result is an immersive record that inhabits a world of dusk, dreams and desire.

          Evoking fragments of such diverse works as ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’ by The Blue Nile and ‘Deserter’s Songs’ by Mercury Rev, ‘Dark Eyed Messenger’ sounds like it took ten times as long to make as it did, an illusion that is testament to the strength of the partnership that forged it.

          While crowned as ever with Crowley’s mahoganied baritone, ‘Dark Eyed Messenger’ is the artist’s first set untouched by the instrument with which he is most associated, guitar.

          The striking cover art for ‘Dark Eyed Messenger’ comes courtesy of Galway-based visual artist Louise Manifold.

          El Hombre Trajeado

          Fast Diagonal

            Influential Glasgow fourpiece El Hombre Trajeado return from a 12 year hiatus with new album ‘Fast Diagonal’.

            Their last release was 2004’s ‘Schlap’ which came out via Lost Dog Recordings.

            ‘Fast Diagonal’ was produced by Chemikal Underground’s Paul Savage (Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, King Creosote, Arab Strap) at Chem19 Studios in Hamilton.

            ‘Fast Diagonal’ features guest vocals by Ela Orleans, Chris Mack (The James Orr Complex) and Sue Tompkins from the muchmissed Life Without Buildings.

            Original El Hombre Trajeado members include SAY Awardwinning ‘flamenco punk’ RM Hubbert and the ubiquitous multiinstrumentalist Stevie Jones who has just completed a stint in Arab Strap’s reformed band and released the critically acclaimed album ‘Brocken Spectre’ in 2015 under his Sound Of Yell guise.

            El Hombre Trajeado previously toured with the likes of Tortoise, Nick Cave and Sebadoh.

            With beautifully intuitive artwork by award-winning Glasgow based artist Toby Paterson, ‘Fast Diagonal’ is a triumph of abstract melodicism or, as Paul Savage put it, “like a math rock band doing the soundtrack to ‘Gregory’s Girl’”.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            LP Info: The LP is pressed on 180gsm vinyl and includes a digital
            download code.

            Legendary Falkirk duo Arab Strap present a double album compilation celebrating with ‘20 songs for 20 years’, complementing a clutch of feverishly anticipated anniversary shows.

            Reflecting on a 20 year career that was as influential as it was controversial, the compilation highlights an extraordinary output that staunchly refused to conform to expectation. From the string-led sashay of ‘Shy Retirer’ to the piano-driven noir of ‘Love Detective’; the lo-fi crunch of ‘The Clearing’ to the spartan electronica of ‘Rocket, Take Your Turn’, Arab Strap were a fearless and resolutely original proposition from the minute the band regaled us all with tales of their ‘First Big Weekend’ back in 1996.

            Here’s Aidan on the tracklisting for ‘Arab Strap’: “We chose 20 songs - one for each year since we started - and decided to split them into two lots of 10. The first disc’s a kind of best-of, but we just stuck to the more electronic stuff for this - there’s so many different sounds going on in Arab Strap albums, so we wanted to make it a more coherent whole.

            “The second disc’s filled with rarities from EPs and b-sides and out-takes and stuff, so there’s some louder rock stuff on there. I think all of these songs could’ve been on the albums they were recorded for, but sometimes you’re trying to tell a story and they just don’t fit. This disc is more live drums and rock-y too, so anyone looking for the noise should hopefully be satisfied.”

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            2xLP Info: The double LP is pressed on 180gsm vinyl and includes a digital download code.

            Awake Unto is the second mesmerising collection of songs by Rick Redbeard, aka Rick Anthony of cosmic rock magicians The Phantom Band, and comes three years after his delicately poetic solo debut No Selfish Heart. Quarried from similar stone to that of Michael Hurley, Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan and wrapped in layers redolent of Angelo Badalamenti, Awake Unto weaves folk, balladry and filmic impulses into a tapestry of song so deftly detailed the rewards multiply with every listen.

            Where his debut trod an uncluttered path, employing little more than Anthony's burnished baritone, acoustic guitar, piano and violin, Awake Unto brings a far broader spectrum to bear on its heavenly melodicism — banjo, accordion, reversed keyboards, drums, widescreen electric guitar — while still leaving space for the simple formula which lit up its predecessor. There’s a larger pool of contributors here too: Rick’s sister Josephine duets on “Get Friendly (Blood)” while a cohort of his Phantom Band colleagues (Duncan Marquiss, Gerry Hart and Iain Stewart; Derek O’ Neill mixing) also manage to join the cèilidh. The family connections continue, with Awake Unto’s vivid artwork supplied by Anthony’s mother, providing yet another contrast to No Selfish Heart’s austere, monochrome woodland.

            While lyrical themes suffuse both albums — love, sex, death, dreams and memory loom large — Awake Unto’s approach is less allusive and more confident as Anthony learns to stretch his limbs as a solo performer. Rick Redbeard is no maudlin troubadour either: in “The Golden Age” you find a loping, rainbow-bright paean to positivity; “What Fine People” salutes the human spirit over an almost too beautiful haar of classical guitar and harmonium; and the closing “Let It Rust” makes the case for reality versus reverie as a painterly series of textures unfolds and dazzles, the mystical heart of the music a counterpoint to the plea underpinning the lyrics.

            Following in the wake of two Phantom Band albums - Strange Friend (2014) and Fears Trending (2015), and the music he wrote for Theresa Moerman’s New Talent BAFTA-winning documentary ‘The Third Dad’, it’s hardly surprising Awake Unto marks an assured shift in scope, colour and tone from its spartan forerunner. Rick: “If No Selfish Heart was a tasteful black and white pencil sketch, Awake Unto gets the crayons out to colour it in.” He’s too modest by half of course, as even the most cursory listen will demonstrate. Awake Unto takes the core elements of Rick’s debut — his towering, mahoganied voice and melodic imagination — and cloaks them in fabrics and hues; elevating them to giddying new heights in the process.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Laura says: Another wonderful solo album from the Phantom Band front man. Although we've not had Summer yet, this makes me long for cold Winter nights - it feels like you should be curled up in front of a roaring fire with a nice single malt listening to this!

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Alun Woodward

            Music From Battle Mountain

              Elusive former Delgado and Lord Cut Glass puppetmaster Alun Woodward emerges from a seven year silence with this spectral soundtrack to documentary about maverick Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree.

              While the cycling connection with Woodward’s old band will resonate with some, it’s secondary to the dazzling and poignant backdrop he’s created for David Street’s portrait of a quixotic sporting legend.

              Largely instrumental, Woodward weaves electronica, loops and guitars to illuminate the warmth, wit and wilfulness of a remarkable sportsman.

              The effectiveness of the soundtrack also serves to remind us of Woodward’s intuitive musical talent and showcases a songwriter still capable of packing a formidable emotional punch.

              The LP is on 180gsm vinyl, includes a download code and will be limited to a run of 500.

              Five and a half years after the angular splendidness of ‘The Law Of Large Numbers’, Emma Pollock has finally delivered not only its follow-up but an album that’s up there with the very best in Chemikal Underground’s catalogue.

              With nods to Kate Bush, Kristin Hersh, Dusty Springfield and Sandy Denny, Emma’s songwriting has never been better with her vocals recalling the likes of Annie Lennox or Siouxsie Sioux.

              Produced by ex-Delgado Paul Savage at Chem19, ‘In Search Of Harperfield’ showcases Emma’s flamboyant, sophisticated and unerringly melodic style and should cement her reputation as one of our most gifted alternative artists.

              There’s a lot to comfort any bereft Delgados fans out there, with tracks like ‘Parks And Recreation’ and ‘Don’t’ Make Me Wait’ recalling her old band’s flair for leftfield pop and the elegant oddities of ‘Alabaster’, ‘Monster In The Pack’ and ‘Old Ghosts’ easily surpassing any high watermark reached by The Delgados in their 10-year career.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              LP Info: 180g vinyl includes a digital download code.

              Found

              Cloning

                Long-awaited return from ridiculously inventive BAFTA-winning robot-makers, sound installation artists and 7” ‘vinyl’ chocolatiers FOUND.

                Fundamental changes have taken place since FOUND launched ‘factorycraft’, their first on Chemikal Undergound, in 2011. More than four years have passed. The trio are now a duo of Ziggy Campbell and Kev Sim.

                On ‘Cloning’, the group’s new album, the sound of FOUND is wreathed in a haar of analogue synthesizers where once it buzzed with brittle guitars.

                Campbell acknowledges his and Sim’s thoughts turned to matters apocalyptic as a means of defeating the monotony of touring ‘factorycraft’. At the same time they were plugging into Vangelis, Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter, electronic music pioneers Beaver & Krause and Tristram Cary and composers Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield.

                Long awaited second album from Glasgow-based producer Miaoux Miaoux, channelling Prince, Scritti Politti and LCD Soundsystem to create a dazzlingly eclectic slice of jaunty indie-friendly (electro) pop.

                Almost three years since the band’s debut album, ‘Light Of The North’, Chemikal Underground are proud to announce the release of the exceptional follow up, ‘School Of Velocity’.

                The album picks up the baton from the high gloss, hook-laden electronic pop of ‘Light Of The North’ and, as the title suggests, sprints through time and hyperspace at a pace that is little short of breathtaking.

                The vinyl format is limited to 300 copies on heavyweight vinyl and includes a download code.

                If you’ve followed The Phantom Band throughout their career to-date then you’ll know two things of the Glaswegian six-piece: feast often follows famine, and you should never accept them merely at face value. Just as two wildly singular, diverse albums in Checkmate Savage and The Wants sprung up one after another between 2009 and 2010, before a period of quiet (solo projects notwithstanding), so the group’s more direct third record released in June 2014 - Strange Friend – more art-rock than rock-art – comes followed by seven tracks cut largely from the same recording sessions at Chem 19 in Blantyre, in the form of Fears Trending.

                Lauded last spring pretty much across the board, Strange Friend’s instant hit to the senses was the sound of a band pulling a thread tight through their naturally wandering creative tendencies and affecting a sense of positivity, even amidst quiet doubts over living in a world simultaneously hyper-connected and disconnected through the internet. For those who saw through the likes of ‘Clapshot’s’ irrepressible anti-anthem swell, though, Fears Trending is a resounding confirmation that the band’s recent recording sessions also bore out something of a darker hue.

                “Maybe it's the evil twin of Strange Friend,” comments guitarist Duncan Marquiss. “They're stranger friends, oddball vestiges and hybrids.” Chief vocalist Rick Anthony agrees, pointing out that although Fears Trending merely came about as an anagram of their third record’s title, its connotations ring true, with a greater focus on themes of online isolation that they pawed at previously. “The reference is obviously there,” Marquiss explains. “Maybe it reflects our wariness of communications technology just now – which paradoxically seem to alienate people from themselves. We're all swamped with information so I question whether the band would necessarily want to add to the clickstream.”

                Certainly the tone of the record matches this apprehension; the opening ‘Tender Castle’ – one of just two tracks, alongside ‘Spectrelegs’, that date back before the Strange Friend sessions – runs on in, imbued with the band’s recently heard gusto, yet quickly swivels on a tumbling floor of murmuring electronics and cautious intonations, setting the scene for some of the band’s weightiest music yet. There are familiar tropes here; the aforementioned ‘Spectrelegs’ introduces itself by way of a wavering electronic organ, Iain Stewart’s drumming is never less than forthright and punchy, stomping through ‘Local Zero’ with accustomed vigour. But then there are songs like the ominous slow-build tumult of ‘Black Tape’, and the poignant final track ‘Golden Olden’, which sees the band in some-part return to the Scottish folk routes that partly informed their first record (cult Scottish folk favourite Alasdair Roberts also appears on opening track ‘Tender Castles’.) “If Thomas Pynchon was asked to write the screenplay for Young Guns 3 I hope this song would be the soundtrack,” Marquiss reflects.

                ‘Denise Hopper’ differs again, taking on a melodic structure whipped up as though on an Estesian gust across Turkey, Anthony’s vocal rising and falling in its oscillating breeze. Delivered with steeliness beyond the usual dry wit that’s occasionally hinted at within the group’s usual off-kilter meanderings, the track cracks and breaks amidst a storm of guitar detritus. “That melt down at end could be one of my favourite Phantom Band moments on record to date,” Marquiss comments.

                It’d be too broad to call Fears Trending the dark side to Strange Friends’ light. The playful intricacies and deviations of The Phantom Band remain and, after all, the album was recorded at the same time as its sister. “I think it's more about the atmosphere than the writing process that splits the two albums” Anthony reflects. “I guess there was a desire with Strange Friends to come back with no baggage attached and release a record that seemed really straight to the point. This record is straight to the point too but it's just that it's making a different point.” So it goes with The Phantom Band, a group forever changing, each new evolution more often than not a prescient for what’s to come.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Ltd LP Info: Very limited edition 180g heavyweight vinyl.

                Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                El Hombre Trajeado co-founder and erstwhile Arab Strap and RM Hubbert collaborator Stevie Jones takes the spotlight with mesmerising collective of his very own.

                ‘Brocken Spectre’ - named after the immense, halo-crested shadow cast by hill climbers on faraway clouds when backlit by the sun - is the first album on which Jones places his typically participatory ethic aside and assumes responsibility for writing, arranging and producing every note of its eight entirely acoustic songs.

                Jones corrals the talents of around a dozen musicians with whom he has previously worked, including Stevie Jackson (Belle And Sebastian), Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub), Alasdair Roberts, Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells), Aby Vuillamy and sound artist Kim Moore.

                A feast of flute, violin, cello, woodwind and the results are irresistible, ebbing and flowing like the swell of the ocean.

                Musically Strange Friend is the most straight-up set of recordings the band have put to wax. Fans of their previous critically-acclaimed albums, fear not; those burbling, fluttering electronics that drag their sound through a wormhole and out into the 70’s alongside the soundtracks of John Carpenter and the kosmische of Kraftwerk and Neu! remain; the elements of folk; the woozy organ sounds. The difference is now it feels as though an imaginary thread’s been pulled tight through it all; take Strange Friend's driving opening track and first single, ‘The Wind That Cried The World'.

                Singer Rick Redbeard on the song "The verses have a kind of nursery rhyme musical naivety and we wanted the choruses to just sort of blast in. The lyrics were kind of stream of consciousness that alludes somewhat to the inherent meaninglessness and randomness of artistic creation. The whole track acts as a nice opener and first single; a sort of a statement of intent after being away for so long."

                Strange Friend, like their previous outings, is the sound of six clearly distinct personalities attempting to inflict their will on the rest of the group – it’s no surprise the phrase “love/hate” is brought up repeatedly by all its members in an attempt to describe their relationship with the band as an entity – but it’s that fission between each other’s contributions that provides the intangible individuality of their music. “Like all true utopias it can feel impossible to maintain,” admits guitarist Duncan Marquiss. “But we'd have fallen apart long ago if any one band member took the reins, and that friction between people throws up music that no single person in the band would have imagined otherwise. I still hope our utopia will turn into whisky fountains and flying sandwiches.” It’s something that you can’t help but feel would be fully deserved for these most strange but wonderful returning friends.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Laura says: There’s always the danger that when six people with disparate influences come together to make music , the songs can get pulled in so many different directions that they come apart at the seams. The Phantoms have the knack of grabbing all these threads and weaving (tangling?) them into inventive near perfect pop songs. The band have already demonstrated this on their previous two albums, but now after a four year gap they’ve returned with possibly their most cohesive album so far. The metronomic bass and drums power through or drop down to suit the mood as guitars chime and riff in equal measure. Spacey analogue synth swirls add an other-worldy feel, and a whole cacophony of percussion embellish proceedings. At times this combination creates an almost euphoric feel while at others Rick’s rich folk-tinged vocals add a sense of gravity. It’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait!

                The Unwinding Hours follow up their 2010 self-titled debut with the much anticipated album ‘Afterlives’.

                Craig B and Iain Cook were formerly one half of the critically acclaimed band Aereogramme, who split up in 2007.

                ‘Afterlives’ was written, performed and produced by The Unwinding Hours at Alucard Studios in Glasgow.

                ‘Afterlives’ features The Unwinding Hours’ emotive brand of uplifting rock, influenced by the likes of Flaming Lips, Max Richter, The Cocteau Twins and even Laurie Anderson.

                Craig B’s lyrics and heart-rending vocals bring to mind the melancholic grandeur of Mark Eitzel’s American Music Club with the propulsive dynamic recalling Bob Mould’s Sugar.

                The album artwork was taken from an etching by an American artist called Jack Baumgartner. The artwork depicts the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel.

                Loch Lomond hail from Portland, Oregon. This is their first release since last year’s ‘Little Me Will Start A Storm’ album.

                The mini album features five brand new studio tracks recorded by Tony Lash (Elliot Smith / Dandy Warhols), Kevin Robinson (Viva Voce) and Douglas Jenkins (The Portland Cello Project).

                The band provided music for Danny MacAskill’s recent film ‘Way Back Home’, resulting in a significant boost to their international profile as the film attracted over 17 million views.

                Loch Lomond’s music has an artful melodicism, their songs redolent of early REM, the psych-folk musings of Mercury Rev and the multi-instrumental fables of The Decemberists.

                “Loch Lomond echo the nervous grace of Arcade Fire and the New Pornographers” - Spin Magazine.

                “Like Neil Young soundtracking a Wes Anderson film” - The Scotsman.

                Debut album from band featuring various Touch & Go alumni.

                Hailing from Louisville KY, King’s Daughters & Sons feature members of Rachel’s, Shipping News, The For Carnation and Shannon Wright.

                Three years in the making ‘If Then Not When’ was recorded by Kevin Ratterman (California Guitar Trio, My Morning Jacket, Wax Fang) and mastered by Bob Weston (Shellac).

                King’s Daughters & Sons are informed by, though not beholden to, the history of its respective members: haunting, sparse and at times explosively unsettling, they have been described as part William Faulkner, part Led Zeppelin.

                The music on the album deals mostly with ghost stories, murder ballads and grimoires: dark narratives that recall Nick Cave and the work of Louisville luminaries Slint.

                Despite their name, Loch Lomond hail from Portland, Oregon in the US and this is their first release for Chemikal Underground.

                ‘Little Me Will Start A Storm’ is the follow up to their second album ‘Paper The Walls’, which was released in 2007.

                The band originated as the solo project of singer / songwriter Ritchie Young in 2003 but has since involved a rotating stream of over 30 musicians.

                The album has an array of well known producers and mixers at the helm: Tucker Martine (REM / The Decemberists), Tony Lash (Elliott Smith / Dandy Warhols), Kevin Robinson (Viva Voce), Adam Selzer (M Ward / Norfolk & Western) and Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Stephen Malkmus / Sleater Kinney).

                The band provided music for Danny MacAskill’s recent film ‘Way Back Home’, resulting in a significant boost to their international profile - the film has over 13 million views.

                Loch Lomond’s music has an artful, understated melodicism, their songs redolent of early REM, the psychfolk musings of Mercury Rev and the multi-instrumental fables of The Decemberists.

                ‘No man is an island’ wrote John Donne, but what about bands? Well, they’re probably not islands either, but like most things in life, you need exceptions to prove the rule. That’s why it was so remarkable when The Phantom Band, with their legion of musical references, still managed to sound quite unlike anyone else when they released "Checkmate Savage" in 2009, a debut that earned mass critical applause and made them the cult success of the year. Twelve months later, they’re still in a movement of one, and their follow-up, "The Wants", looks set to cement their reputation as one of the most inventive and vital units at work today.

                If "Checkmate Savage" was the product of a band mulling over the human race’s inexorable slide into oblivion, then its follow-up found them turning feral and heading for the hills to ride out the storm. Holing up in Chem19 (Chemikal Underground’s studio in the wastelands of Blantyre), The Phantom Band immersed themselves in a primordial soup of influences before emerging six months later, emaciated and squinting in the pallid sunlight, cradling "The Wants": a nine-track musical folly and the soundtrack to their own personal apocalypse.

                Charged with creating a second album more or less from scratch and in situ - an album upon which their creative and material survival depended - they contracted a virulent strain of cabin fever and promptly set sail into the mouth of madness. Keyboardist Andy Wake elaborates: 'As you know, The Phantom Band was built on the site of an ancient Indian burial ground, so every time we record it's like an emotional exorcism. It's painful, prolonged, confusing; at times it's hard to tell what's happening outside of this other-world'. Guiding them through this tortuous birthing process was the chimerical figure of Mungo Bang, 'a spiritual adviser of sorts who came highly recommended. He also added vibes'.

                Their madness had method, because a lot came out in the mix: a forest of tuned percussion, poly-rhythmic group vocals, fuzz guitars and medieval electronics. Musical inspirations included David Lynch and John Carpenter soundtracks, German kosmische music of the 70’s, Tom Waits, digidub rhythms, R&B harmonies, doo-wop and rock'n'roll. Lyrical inspiration emerged from lycanthropy, vampires, doppelgangers and the Salem witch trials. That’s also Teenage Fanclub’s Wurlitzer organ you can hear on "Everybody Knows It’s True", alongside a host of other instruments, both homemade and hard-bought. Various bits of furniture, wood, a toy drum machine, some home-made drum triggers and FX pedals (aptly named the Phantosizer), shelvaphones, a dulcimer and the studio fire extinguisher - all had roles to play on the final recording. 'Sink [Greg Sinclair] appeared at rehearsal one day with what looked like a body bag containing at least one corpse. It turned out to be a full size vibrophone with all the trimmings', explains Wake. If any more evidence of creative initiative was required, the album opens with the sound of a baliphone being sawed into tune in preparation for a take.

                The end product represents a major leap forward for the band, a sound more of their own. Juxtapositions are more apparent – arcane folk melodies and gothic lyrical imagery straddle vintage analogue synths and primitive drum machines. 'Where Checkmate Savage was varied, we've intensified those elements, because we've got no reason to be subtle with them', says Wake. 'It's much more concentrated, more skilfully executed and with more decoration. It’s "Checkmate Savage" - On Ice'.

                The Phantom Band was pulled together from all four corners of Scotland, settling on Glasgow as PB HQ. Duncan Marquiss (guitar), Gerry Hart (bass), Andy Wake (keyboards), Rick Anthony (vocals) and Greg Sinclair (guitars) are a volatile cabal of creative contradictions: a disorientating amalgam of music, art and performance that defies categorisation and provides an object lesson in how to forge something distinct and unique from well-worn sources. "Checkmate Savage" won plaudits from the mainstream music press and the indie blogs alike, finding famous fans in Peter Buck and comic artist Frank Quitely, while the influential music emporium Piccadilly Records named it their album of the year. Their new album may be "The Wants", but what do The Phantom Band want for? 'Survival. For this album to lead to another after it, that's all. We think it's better than the last one, and if anyone agrees with us then brilliant, they can hop aboard. Those who disagree can hop aboard too, but they're sailing at the stern'.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Laura says: The mighty Phantom Band return with a superb follow up to their debut album, which was our Album Of The Year in 2009. "The Wants" picks up where "Checkmate Savage" left off adding more and more layers to their already complex sound. It's less motorik than their debut, but still with their distinctive pulsing rhythms at the heart of it. There's more analogue synth action and knob twiddling going on this time around and on each listen, you're plunged deeper into their world.
                The first band to get a Piccadillly Album Of The Year in consecutive years? The competition is pretty stiff this year, but it's definitely in the running.....

                THE PICCADILLY RECORDS ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2009

                After years of changing their identity with every gig that they performed, this remarkable Glasgow based six piece finally settled on the name of The Phantom Band in 2006. Their debut album “Checkmate Savage” was born, under the expert guidance of producer Paul Savage from the Delgados, from lengthy jam sessions that highlighted not only the band’s experimental side, but also their unique grasp of melodic looseness. Riding on a near perfect motorik beat, the songs sway and swoon with a knowing art-rock style, underpinned throughout with an earthy, almost mystical, folky Scottish vocal delivery.

                “Checkmate Savage” is otherworldly, and hard to pin down, with a freeform spaciousness that band’s only usually discover on their third or fourth albums, and in that respect The Phantom Band are most certainly way ahead of the game, one can only wonder what their next album will bring. They’ve been compared to the Beta Band, krautrock legends Neu! and Can, as well the likes of Nick Cave, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, the Violent Femmes and Captain Beefheart, but The Phantom Band are truly out on their own. A quite fitting, and truly exceptional album of the year.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Laura says: Given the volume of records released these days, it's easy for things to disappear into your record collection after a few months, never to be unearthed again, but this is still one of my go-to albums, years after it's release.
                The synthetic, metallic chill of the motorik rhythms and wooshing synths is balanced perfectly with heavy percussion and Rick's rich vocals adding more organic tones. It's just an amazing, inventive album that while hinting at a multitude of reference point, sounds like nothing else.

                Reissuing the brooding debut from legendary Scottish post-rock pioneers Mogwai may seem redundant to their obsessive collector fanbase, but there are treats within the second discfor devotees and newcomers alike. "Mogwai Young Team" itself is considered to be one of the more influential instrumental rock albums of the 1990s, despite the fact that the band themselves have continually downplayed its acclaim. Documenting the band at their most violent and visceral, it is a stark example of the power of dynamics with rock instruments, but shot through with moments of darkness and quiet that are chilling rather than soothing.

                The second disc contains several live versions of songs from the album, as well as a rare cover of the Spacemen 3 song "Honey".



                Mogwai

                Come On Die Young

                  Mogwai are top choice, triple-grade A, USDA prime slowcore. OK, they're from Scotland, but that's beside the point. Mostly an instrumental outfit, they strum and drone their way through the twelve tracks on "Come On Die Young" with a dark spirit that is beautiful, breathtaking and mysterious. Occasionally they'll sing a few bars (the lovely "Cody") and there's restrained use of keyboards and flute throughout. They're also not above descending into a cloud of white noise, as in "Ex-Cowboy". But what makes The 'Gwai a cut above is their deft use of melody. Although it may not be immediately apparent, there's always a singable phrase being performed somewhere. Was Pavement's Stephen Malkmus being ironic or infatuated when he said, 'Mogwai will be the best band of the 21stcentury?' You decide.

                  Arab Strap

                  The Weekend Never Starts Round Here

                    The debut album from Glasgow's finest, "The Week Never Starts Round Here" is collection of tales about love, life and alcohol. A bleak and dark affair focussing on the pain and turmoil of a failed relationship, rubbish jobs with worse wages and a love for Kate Moss - all set to the most brooding music. It includes surely one of the best debut singles ever, the fantastic "The First Big Weekend".

                    Arab Strap

                    Monday At The Hug And Pint

                    After a short break to work on solo projects (Lucky Pierre and Malcolm's solo album), Arab Strap return with a brand new album. Bolstered by the full-time involvement of Stacey Sievwright and Jenny Reeve on violin and cello, the album tells tales on familiar Arab Strap themes of love, loss, depression and hope. The intervention of various friends: Conor and Mike from Bright Eyes, Bill Wells and Barry Burns from Mogwai, makes the album their most diverse to date, switching from piano ballads to spiteful guitars to wistfull Scottish folk and glassy eyed bar-room sing-a-longs.

                    Coming from a band as prone to out-there weirdness as Mogwai, it should come as no surprise that many of the remixes on "Kicking A Dead Pig" bare little resemblance to their LP companions (mostly from "Young Team"). Though this collection of alternate versions introduces Mogwai to the sometimes shady world of remixes, rest assured that you are not likely to hear these tracks coming out of the speakers at your local mall clothier.

                    Highlights are Hood's ultra-low slung, ambient groove version of "Like Herod", DJ Q's take on "R U Still In To It?" which turns the funk up to 11 for an unsettling recasting of Mogwai as Scotland's answer to Daft Punk, and Max Tundra's "Helicon 2" mix, which almost completely inverts the track's soft/loud structure and adds some seriously damaged distortion effects.

                    The highlight of disc two is the 16-minute "My Bloody Valentine Remix", which at times ranges so far from the original as to suggest not only a different song, but that it was created by an entirely different order of creature than human.

                    All the Chemikal Underground EPs, compiled onto one CD for the first time ever. Also includes an enhanced section, which has the "Stanley Kubrick" video, along with press cuttings and photos from '97 to the present day.


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