andrewcferguson

writer, performer, musician, wine drinker

Wine Review: should you gie it Aldi this Xmas?

There are times when I almost feel sorry for snobby French wine producers. There they were one minute, bowling along in their vintage 70’s Citroen DS, undisputed kings of the vinicultural universe. They could make any old crap and if the customer didn’t like it, pah! it was because they didn’t have a good enough palate.

Then, suddenly, there was a screeching of brakes and the Aussies came roaring round the corner in a Ute, showering them in Shiraz and cheap cabernet sauvignon blends. The Spanish were next, clattering past noisily in an oak-lined lorry and mispronouncing grenache as garnacha. Then a huge cloud of dust heralded the arrival of the South Americans, bragging about their phylloxera free ancient vines and  rediscovering Carmenere and Malbec. The French were, quite literally, run off the road.

Worse than that, the punters stopped matching wine with classic French cookery, or whatever was the nearest equivalent in Scunthorpe. Les rosbifs weren’t even eating roast beef any more: instead, they were branching out into Indian, Chinese, Thai, all sorts of cuisine that the vignerons certainly hadn’t had in mind when working up the latest claret. And to cap it all, the power of the supermarkets was such that the sans culottes expected not to have to remortgage their house to get a decent drop to go with the Tuesday night curry.

Sacre Bleu! As the French, almost certainly, never really say.

However, signs are that they’re finally fighting back, and where better to try some of the latest offerings out than Aldi, one of our increasingly-popular discounters. As recommended by Jane MacQuitty in the Times on Saturday, we decided to give a couple of bottles of French red a try. These were: Pinot Noir, Vignobles Roussellet (no vintage specified) £4.39; and Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone Villages, 2012; £6.49.

The food matching wasn’t as hard as it could have been. First night was the Redoubtable Mrs F’s sausage stovies, something of a legend in our household: not exactly the same as cassoulet, maybe, but red meat at least; second night was my Portuguese roast chicken, with potatoes, red onions, garlic, and lashings of lemon in the mix.

The verdict? Fill your boots with both! The pinot noir is one of the easiest drinking wines I’ve ever tasted: on its own, with both dishes, and with the Manchego cheese for afters, it subtly alters its flavours but is never tannic. The Rhone is a bigger, burlier sort of chap, but very drinkable: probably better with a heftier meat dish to be fair.

Now, what wine goes with tonight’s halloumi/prawns/lime juice and chilli combo, I wonder….

vintage citroen

 

 

This isn’t an advert for anything, and anything below this is an advert I don’t know about.

Cuando el “no” puede incluir al “si:” la esperanza y fe en Escocia

A veces, es difícil creer que hace solo tres meses fue el referéndum. Como las hojas doradas de otoño, las papeletas del voto son colectadas, amontonadas en lugares casí secretos de las autoridades, fondo de muchas teorías de conspiración de los que apoyaban el si.

 
Poco a poco, otros simbolos del 18 de septiembre se van. El líder independista escoses, Alex Salmond, renunció al próximo dia, aunque se quedó como ministro principal hasta noviembre, cuando la conferencia de su partido, el SNP, ha eligido a otro – su numero dos, Nicola Sturgeon.

 
En el mismo sentido, las pegatinas desaparecen de las farolas gradualmente, ya que son difícil de quitarlas. En los medios sociales, los que aumentaban a sus fotos un símbolo azul ‘si’ ahora tienen uno que dice ‘45’ en su lugar, significando el porcentaje afirmativo que han votado.

 
Al mismo tiempo, debe ser fácil – si se vive en Londres, u otras partes del reino unido – creer que la pregunta escosesa tiene una respuesta final. El circo de los medios metropolitanes ha salido. Nuevos temas – la guerra en Irak, el Ebola, el auge popular en el sur para UKIP, el partido contra el EU y los migrantes, dominan ahora las noticias. Con reportajes de las conferencias de los grandes partidos británicos, el arte antiguo de “adivinar el futuro” sobre la elección para Westminster, mayo 2015, ha empezado. Si alguien menciona Escocia, es para vincular los éxitos de UKIP con el referéndum como ejemplos de la perdida de credibilidad de los políticos ‘traditionales.’

 
Nada más que eso. Escocia está en las noticias del ayer: olvidado, eliminado del panorama de Londres. Pero en Edimburgo, la pregunta persiste: ¿ y ahora, que?

 
La ultima semana de la campaňa fue dramática, gracias a un sondeo de YouGov que indicaba, por primera vez, en ventaja (51% frente a 49%) el voto a favor de la independencia. Pudo exagerar el efecto de este sondeo, pero no mucho. Con la mirada del mundo sobre el reino unido, hubo un sentido de pánico entre los políticos británicos. El ministro del Tesoro del gobierno conservador, George Osborne, ofreció mas poderes al parlamento Escoses si ganaría el voto no – aunque, como comentaba el periódico madrileño, El Pais, ‘significativamente, de forma genérica, sin ningun detalle.’

 
Este sentido de pánico parecía compartido por los laboristas, cuando su líder, Ed Miliband, previó guardias a la frontera (¿ y porque no seria guardias fronterizos, como en las fronteras de Francia y Alemania, o Espaňa y Portugal?)

 
En la ultima semana, la temperatura crecia, cada dia. Los tres lideres de los partidos británicos – Cameron, Clegg, y Miliband – juraron que darían mas poderes a Holyrood (pero todavía sin detalles). Una centena de diputados del partido Labor llegaron a Glasgow para persuadir al pueblo (esta ciudad siendo una de las pocas regiones que votó si el 18 de septiembre). La libra bajó contra el euro y el dólar; el valor de companias escocesas redujo al mismo tiempo. Hubo amenazas de una nueva crisis económica, para todo el reino unido.

 
En los ultimos días, para mí lo más sorprendente y, al mismo tiempo lo más significante, fue la intervención del ex-primer ministro, Gordon Brown. Se podría decir que opinaba un poco más que los otros políticos de Londres: hay grandes riesgos en la independencia; si el voto es no, va a ser mas ‘devolucion,’ mas poderes para el parlamento en Edimburgo. Pero la manera de sus dichos y la reputación del locutor, comparado con Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, y Alastair Darling, el supuesto ‘lider’ de la campaňa ‘no,’ significaba mucho.

 
La reputación de Brown – como su carácter – es mucho mas compleja, dependiendo de que parte del país viene.
En Inglaterra, Gales, o Irlanda del Norte, por ejemplo, Brown es reconocido como el primer ministro que no podía hacer nada contra la crisis económica mundial del 2008 – 9; vencido por los conservadores en la elección de 2010, renunció como líder del partido laborista y, para los periodistas de Londres, es un hombre del ayer, sin puesto en su partido, casí olvidado en el mundo nuevo de Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, y Nigel Farage (de UKIP).

 
En Escocia, es reconocido como hombre con defectos; pero también como hombre de convicciones, un apasionado, que sucedió al liderazgo solo cuando lo decidió Tony Blair que quería pasar el baton – al mismo momento que apareció la crisis. Pero, por sobre todo, es reconocido como un hombre escoses.

 
Hay una palabra en ingles, un adjectivo, que usaron los periodistas frecuentemente cuando se hablaba de Brown: ‘dour.’ No es una palabra exclusivamente escosesa, pero es un adjectivo conectado al carácter escoses. Puede traducirlo como adusto, austero, o terco, pero también lleva sentidos de ‘duro,’ de ‘serio,’ también. Los Finlandeses tienen una palabra poco similar: ‘sisu’ – determinación, especialmente si no hay esperanza. Según muchos escoseses, Brown tenia cualidades que no tenia su amigo/enemigo Blair. Tiene, en otras palabras, cualidades típicamente escocesas.

 
Por esa razón, muchos del pueblo escoses confiaron en Gordon Brown, en los últimos días de la campaňa, especialmente cuando sus dichos parecían venir de una posición tan apasionada. Muchos de los votantes – incluso los indecisos – tenían fe en sus promesas, mucho más del conservador, Cameron, por ejemplo, que lloraba públicamente cuando hablaba de la amenaza de la separación (las lagrimas de cocodrilo, para muchos escoseses).

 
Volvemos a la pregunta. ¿Y ahora, que? Claro que el referéndum esta acabado, con un resultado de 55% frente a 45%. Un concejal laborista me ha dicho recientemente: ‘Han olvidado el ‘45’ que hay un ’55.’ Sonreí pero no respondí: no es correcto para los oficiales opinar sobre muchas cosas, pero podría decir a este comentario: “si, pero sería bueno no olvidar el ‘45’ casi igualmente.”

 
El circo se ha ido. Las papeletas del voto son enterradas, pero la pregunta vive. En noviembre, los partidos británicos anunciaron un acuerdo global de poderes nuevos para Edimburgo. Gordon Brown anunció que va a jubilarse, satisfecho que las promesas de la semana antes del referéndum serán cumplidas.

 
Pero, de momento, parece que el pueblo escoses no tiene fe. Según un sondeo reciente de YouGov, el SNP va a ganar la gran mayoria de asientos en Westminster, en mayo 2015. El número de miembros del partido nationalista ha aumentado mucho desde el referéndum.

 
Parece que los que perdieron en septiembre van a ganar ahora. Parece también que los escoseses van a volver a creer.

 

 

Muchas gracias a mi profesora de español, Ana, para toda su paciencia y ayuda.

 

 

 

 

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The Loneliness of the First Support Act

So, tomorrow,  on what is the ultimate of school nights, Monday, Daughter and Heiress and I are off to another gig (actually, this is the first of two this week for D & H, but she’s got a pal to go with to Bombay Bicycle Club on Thursday, so I’m relegated to the chauffeur role). The main event tomorrow are Temples, a relatively new indie guitar outfit specialising in psychedelic, reverb-heavy sounds of a generally retro nature. We’ve seen them before and they were excellent, in a baking hot tent at Latitude, as previously reviewed as part of that Festival’s day one experience.

I’ve often wondered, though, about support acts; how they get chosen; what it’s like to support better known bands in front of their audience; what the deal is, generally. D & H quickly established the main support was Superfood, and I’ve been doing my homework by listening to their album in advance. Nice stuff it is, too: showing a pedigree that to me includes Blur and Stone Roses, it sounds a bit as if they’re still settling on a style; but then, they’re only about 12, and I’m 107 years old. I look forward to their set, and what they choose out of what I’ve heard so far to play live.

Spare a thought, though, for the first support act, Klaus Johann Grobe. For a start, it was actually quite hard to find out he was part of the package: most of your ticket sites and other bozos promoting the Temples tour don’t exactly go a bundle on telling you Klaus is an, albeit slightly lower-slung, star in the evening’s firmament for you. In fact, it took quite some minutes of browsing (which, as we all know in this goldfish attention span world of t’interweb, is, like, aeons?) to find out that Klaus is, in fact, not one, but two blokes, and not German, but Swiss; one google result describes them as ‘Neo Kraut Romantic duo,’ so that’s them labelled right to a tee, obvs., as the youngsters say.

Listening to Klaus’s Soundcloud page (link above) reveals that ‘Neo Romantic Kraut’ translates into synth-based, quite melodic, stuff, with German lyrics. I liked ‘Nicht Zu Stoppen,’ which I wrongly thought to be ‘don’t you stop:’ I’ve seen too many war movies as a child where the Germans all speak in imperatives. D & H advises it means ‘Unstoppable.’ Their Facebook page starts their longer description with Vielleicht kann man sagen, dass hier Freigeister der Diskotheken melancholische Parolen auf die Tanzfläche schütten. Dunno either: haven’t asked her to translate that yet. Something about a melancholy disco?

Anyway, on their own site, they have a charmingly worded English version of their stagerider, setting out what they need from the sound guy in each venue:

It’s important to be able to add some reverb to Klaus Johann Grobes voices. The more and trashier the better.
A delay, of course, will work as well. The voices however are welcome to sound thin…
(there’s no mention of their backstage rider, so I can’t confirm the brown M & Ms position one way or another).
Here’s the thing now. Doors open tomorrow night at 7. I’m guessing Klaus will get lobbed up first, probably about 7.30, to then clear the way for Superfood and Temples. That’ll make it tricky for us to get fed, watered, and through the Edinburgh traffic to catch their set, but I just somehow feel, having gone to the effort of finding out about them for this post, a sense of kinship with them. They’re strangers in a strange land: German-speaking Neo Romantic Kraut synth-wielding Swiss guys in a roomful of reverb heavy guitar-loving hipsters.
I think they need our love and support. Hang on, guys, with your crazy Moog, bass and drums set-up, we’re coming for you!
To find out how they got on, go to D & H’s blog next weekend: my next post will be the delayed musings on taking a red pen to Robert Louis Stevenson. Which might well also not be till next weekend. I’ve got some reverb-lite guitars to record.
If you see an advert below here, it’s not mine, and I can’t see it, so I’ve no idea if whatever it is is any good or not. If that makes sense.

RIP Philip Hughes

I’d planned to do a blog about cricket in the next week or two. In line with the quirky nature of this page, it was going to be a story about how difficult it was to finally take my cricket whites to the charity shop, some twenty years after I used them regularly, and probably ten or so years since I last played any sort of competitive match.

I was then going to riff on my dreadful involuntary cowardice in the face of an oncoming cricket ball; my legendarily bad fielding for Largo CC; and how I came to acquire my cricketing nickname, ‘Scud.’

However, in the wake of Philip Hughes’s sad death after being felled by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match on Tuesday, all of that seems a bit inappropriate, really. So instead, all I want to say is how much I feel for Phil Hughes’s family, friends and team-mates right now, as well as for the bowler, Sean Abbott.

Cricket is a strange game: seen by outsiders as a dull, slow contest in which nothing much happens, those who’ve played it regularly, even at club level, as I did, know it involves a potentially lethal missile even in the hands of lesser cricketers. I didn’t play in the 1st XI game at Largo where a visiting batsman top edged a pull shot off one of our medium-fast bowlers straight into his face, losing an eye in the process; but I know how deeply it affected everyone that was involved.

I hope that time heals this for all who knew Phil Hughes personally.

Phillip-Hughes-001

Rock n’ roll on a school night: Luna Webster, Wozniak and Tuff Love at the Cool Cat Club, Thursday 20th November

I love the Cool Cat Club. I actually love the fact that the name conjures up an image – late Thirties or early Fifties New York, or perhaps Paris; dames in slinky dresses and fedora-clad lounge lizards, louchely lapping up the sharp-suited saxophone – led sounds of a trio called, let’s see, Toots McCrory and the Blue Notes, band members and audience all with a back story darker than each other – that bears no resemblance at all to the reality.

The truth – a black cavern of a place in Dundee called Beat Generator Live! (don’t forget that exclamation mark!) where indie bands of various stripes ply their sometimes sweaty trade, is no less enjoyable, and thanks to the Scottish Government’s ban on smoking, probably quite a bit healthier.

Unfortunately, whether it was because it was a school night, or because there were other gigs coming up this weekend, the audience was sparse, consisting of 15 or so aficionados, mainly male, mainly, like your reviewer, at or approaching their middle years, nursing something non-alcoholic and dotted strategically about the standing area without a single fedora in sight.

This might have made things awkward for Luna Webster, but if so, she didn’t show it. Instead, she thanked us rather sweetly for turning up to see her as the opening act – although actually, no one turned up any later to see the others. Webster is probably at the stage where she’s starting to tire of the adjective ‘precocious,’ but her songwriting skills are, quite honestly, extraordinary for someone who, as she pointed out, still can’t drink anything stronger than Coke on stage.

luna_201114_161(with thanks to manicpopthrills for the photos)

With song titles like Diamonds + Psychiatrists, it’s clear our girl isn’t aiming for the bland platitudes of the mainstream lyrically. Clever, funny wordsmithery and with a charming line in patter in between songs, it would be hard not to like her; what impressed me even more than last time she was at the Cool Cat Club was her singing. She delivers some devastating material with conviction and perfect phrasing. She should be so much better known; if she’s not knocking the socks off Festival crowds at places like Latitude in a year, I’ll eat my fedora.

The next act, Wozniak, were old enough to drink, but still had a female lead – in the sense that she sang the one piece with lyrics, and did all the intervening intros. A four-piece guitars/bass/drums combo from Edinburgh with the mission statement of ‘working hard to cause terminal tinnitus,’ the only well-known band I can think of they’re like would be Mogwai, but with guitar effects replacing synths.

A question that bothered me briefly half way through their set: do indie bands have such outdated concepts as ‘lead’ and ‘rhythm’ guitarists, or have these terms gone the way of Eddie Van Halen? With the sound being so heavily guitar-driven, the main difference here seemed to be that, while the distaff side contented herself with one Mustang, the big chap switched between two guitars and had a pedal board that covered the equivalent area of several football pitches. Maybe that says more about boys and their toys and cultural gender differences (trust me, I’m only jealous) than who was lead and who was rhythm, but the combination produced a very pleasing effect.

wozniak_20114_179

Maybe it’s just this reviewer’s particular tastes, but my only criticism of the band would be that lack of lyrics: I found myself hoping there would be some sort of dark poetry shouted over the twisting, tortured guitar signal to give an added layer to the whole effect. I presume it’s a positive choice on their part: if not, chaps, apply here, because I’ve plenty of the stuff round the back.

Having said all that, this blog put its money in its pocket and bought the EP, so that should tell you something.

And so, through a non-alcoholic haze, to the final band, Tuff Love. Striking another blow for rock n’ roll gender equality, this consisted of two girls on guitar and bass and a male drummer. I say ‘girls,’ and appreciate that says more about your reviewer than anything else, along the lines of you know you’re getting on when your indie bands start looking younger etc… that said, they are a young outfit, and as such are hotly tipped to progress through the ranks, having garnered positive noises from the Guardian amongst others, and had airplay on Radio 6Music. They’re signed to Scottish indie label Lost Map Records, and plan a new EP in February next year.

tufflove_20114_313

Their sound has been described as C86 fuzz pop, or surf pop (those labels again!) but basically consists of your relatively melodic pop-rock played fast through a Telecaster with fuzz box, bass and drums coffee machine. It’s the kind of thing that will hit the mark with a broader audience than was at the Club on Thursday night, and they will improve, too. Like the other acts, Suse and Julie were charming and self-deprecating in between songs, and deserve to reach a wider audience.

Which brings me to my final plea. Students of Dundee, where were you on Thursday night? Andy and Mike put on these gigs at considerable financial risk and no little effort; the University Quarter (such as it is) is just round the corner, and you’re not telling me you’ve blown your student loan already on gigs and downloads? (If you are, you’re a legend, but still). Don’t leave the next Cool Cat Club to us middle aged blokes: for a mere seven quid (prices may vary according to product) you can come in, choose from an admittedly limited range of beverages, and listen to some quality entertainment. What’s not to like?

Really, honestly guys. Performers are vampires, and feed off your energy (trust me, I know). This was a good gig. With a hundred more and drunker people in the door, it would have been a great gig.

Bring your fedora.

If you see an advert under this, I didn’t put it there, and I can’t see it, so I’ve no idea if it’s any good or not.

Pixel people

Originally posted on heatherferguson.scot:

Don’t get me wrong I have nothing wrong with the term fan, I am myself a fan of certain things e.g halloumi cheese and not such a fan things e.g. higher mathematics. After a recent first encounter of “meeting” a band after a gig (trust me I’m usually straight in the nearest chip shop) my fascination and sheer fan bewilderment with fan culture was reignited. I’m pretty in reality the “fan” has existed since the beginning of time. There was probably a famous caveman who etched his name into a stone for an excited cave girl. But like mankind itself it has involved becoming stronger and downright stranger.

Completely obsessive “fans” (the people who own cushions with the celebrities face on it obsessed) have always scared me a little. Yet I still don’t recognize where parts of fan culture went from totally not okay to normal? Maybe in your personal…

View original 412 more words

Forthcoming Abstractions

Now that Stevenson Unbound is finally done and dusted, I plan to do a couple of pieces for this blog. First of all, a bit of chat around the preparations for the gig – I really began to think someone up there didn’t want the show to happen, to the extent I had a word with Louis one day I was in the car… provisional title Taking a Red Pen to RLS.

Tomorrow night, I slope, in a louche kind of manner, to the Cool Cat Club, to hear Luna Webster, Wozniak and Tuff Love make interesting noises, so that might lead to a review.

And the recent consignment of my cricket gear to the charity shop is slated to produce a piece called Farewell to a Flanneled Fool.

But wait! What’s this? Another cassette tape has mysteriously appeared at Kelly’s house? Featuring loads of previously-unheard Venus Carmichael songs? Keep the dial here…

Stevenson Unbound Update

The sound effects are – nearly – in the can. My faithful sound engineer, Harky, has scared up a P.A. system that’s going to give us full throttle.

The preparations for this show have been an interesting process. However, I feel I can now relax – a bit – and knuckle down to the small matter of rehearsing the reading of RLS’s great works.

Two things to update you on, though – I’ve changed the running order, so I’ll be doing Thrawn Janet first, followed by Markheim.

The other piece of news is really good news – for the final, climactic piece in the third segment, Hyde’s Last Words, I’ll be joined by my favourite axe man, Kenny Mackay. Kenny’s played on this piece before – last November, in fact – so you can look forward to some guitar-shaped fireworks when he and I play out the final sequence.

Buckle up, this is going to be quite a trip!

Facebook event here

11 Reasons why you should go to Stevenson Unbound

1. It’s in the back room of an Edinburgh pub, centrally located, with good transport links and disabled access. There will be lashings of lemonade readily available, as well as something stronger (in fact, you’re encouraged to drink more, because that way I get my deposit back).

 
2. It’s Robert Louis Stevenson’s 164th birthday – sort of. RLS Day is on Thursday 13th, but it’s chock full of events already (some, or all of which you should really go to see!) but I’ve moved this event to Saturday 15th, when you might not be at work.

 
3. It’s in the afternoon – 2 till 5 – so if it’s a rubbish day weather wise and you just want a quiet night in, you still can do that.

 
4. It features readings of Thrawn Janet and Markheim, two of RLS’s best supernatural short stories. He wrote a whole load of other stuff beyond Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Treasure Island, and Kidnapped, and these two chillers are up there with any of them.

 
5. This isn’t just any old pub. This is the White Horse, 266 Canongate, which is the kind of place RLS himself might well have frequented in his velvet-jacketed yoof. The back room is regularly used for Free Fringe events and is a great wee performance space.

 
6. The combination of RLS’s words, the low light, and stereo sound effects throughout will make this event something special. It’s the culmination of two years or so of my experimenting with music and sound in my spoken word shows, and with the help of my esteemed sound engineer, Harky, it’ll be unlike anything else you’ve been to.

 
7. Halstead Bernard is taking part. Need I say more?

 
8. The payment is an honesty bucket system – suggested payment if you’re fully waged is a fiver, but if you’re unwaged, or a student, or just staying for one segment, less is fine.

 
9. It’s in three parts. There will be decent breaks between the three for you to get a drink, come late, or leave early. Although I’m hoping you’ll stay for the whole thing, obvs.

 
10. I have a fuzz box (technically, a squarer pedal, assembled by the Redoubtable Mrs F, which is one of the reasons she became Mrs F) and, in the last segment, I’m gonna use it.

 
11. It’s on November 15th. Come on, what else are you going to do on the afternoon of November 15th – your Christmas shopping? I don’t think so!

Blood Indians: A Review

dark nights, cat fights, love bites…

 
By far my elder brother in the Muso, (1) manicpopthrills, is in the habit of lobbing me recent indie music to listen to, and/or inveigling me into events he’s organised in darkened rooms with guitar-wielding types making assorted noises.

 
His latest gig, put on with co-conspirator Andy Wood, is in Dundee on 3rd October. Headliners are the inimitable Randolph’s Leap, a band who have featured heavily in previous reviews on this page (and who MPT interviews on his page currently); also on the bill, though, are a newish band, Blood Indians. I expressed approval of their sound one day in the office, and sure enough, the next morning, my clerkly thoughts of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 were distracted by the appearance of the band’s eponymous EP on my desk.

 
Here’s the thing about reviews of new bands: they assume a level of knowledge of the last forty years or so of popular music in the reader that sometimes just isn’t there. In my case, it isn’t even there in the reviewer. The most obvious way to describe a new band’s sound is to compare them with another, established one. I imagine this trait began in the Seventies, as so many things did, with lines like: ‘they’re a bit like Led Zep, only heavier, man.’

 
Nowadays, of course, rock reviews are a bit more nuanced. Descriptions often go along the lines of: ‘they sound like Jesus and Mary Chain bumped into Joni Mitchell at a Velvet Underground concert, drove home listening to James Brown all in the same car, and got married the next day with Kate Bush as the vicar and Marilyn Manson playing at the reception.’ (4)

 
Another, more shorthand way, is to use labels, often in combinations, to give the confused reader a sense of what influences are most to the fore, even if the labels themselves are opaque in the extreme: see, for example, nu-folk, math rock, drip-hop. Okay, so I made that last one up, just to check you were still awake.

 
It reminds me of labelling theory, the criminological concept that, if you’re labelled as, for example, a bad-ass no-good son-of-a-gun who’d sell his grandmother, it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you behave in an anti-social, chaotic lifestylee, elderly relative retailing kind of a way.

 
Except, of course, musicians are tricksy critters, and the minute they get pigeonholed as one type of genre, they set about finding the fire escape out of the pigeonhole.

 
And so to Blood Indians. Vic Galloway has apparently described their sound as ‘goth surf folk.’ I mean, what does that even mean? Goth – yeah, well, any set of lyrics that feature the line I started with, and ‘You feel, I feel, scars heal, this won’t/hurt me…’ (both from ‘Cold Caller’) isn’t likely to be at the shiny happy poppy end of the spectrum.

 
Surf, though. Is that like, the Beach Boys? A quick listen to an online surf rock radio station suggests it’s that twangy, reverby, whammy-bar wielding, electric guitar sound that’s being referenced there. And folk – well, you can hear their lyrics, and acoustic guitars are also deployed. No hey nonny nonnys though.

 
So I guess if you unpack it a bit, that gives you an idea of Blood Indians’ sound, and to be frank, it’s a whole lot better than the namechecking of individual bands you might never have heard of outlined above. Still though, it implies a bit of muso-ish knowledge. So how do we do this? Blood Indians, oh Blood Indians, shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Probably not so much – more like a dark January afternoon, with the daylight leaching out of the sky by about three o’clock, and a cold tempest of brooding guitars brewing at your heels as you head indoors, catchy riffs tugging at your coat tails.

 
Or perhaps culinary references work better for you – on ‘Cold Caller,’ the wholemeal strumming of acoustic is quickly smothered in the dark bitter chocolate of the electric, with the female, Scots-accented vocals providing the chilli bite, underpinned by a creamy bass.

 
Not quite working for you? Me neither. My favourite of the three tracks is probably the middle one, ‘I Lie,’ which again builds slowly out of a single guitar and voice, before vocal harmonies and crunching guitars are supplemented by a whumping bass and hard-driven drums.

 
The last track, ‘Winter Ghosts,’ has indeed a chilly, ethereal quality that the (literally) mordant lyrics come right out of the middle of: dogs bite, nettles sting, empty lungs are caving in. Again, the fact the girls have avoided the decades-old trap of mid-Atlantic singing accents give the vocals extra emotional depth. It kind of sounds like they mean it.

 
The cardboard cover of the EP is fairly sketchy information-wise. There’s a bozo in a Native American headdress out front, looking  moody, or perhaps broody. However, a paper insert contains a telling detail, with the biggest thanks reserved to the co-writer and producer, ‘who has worked so hard to get this record sounding exactly the way we want it to.’ It’s so easy to throw a few tracks together (well, not that easy, but you know what I mean) and say ‘that’ll do,’ before moving onto the next EP with the vow to do it right this time. This stuff is hard-crafted, and it shows.

 
Catch Blood Indians on the way up, at Beat Generator Live, Dundee on Friday, 3rd October. They might well be somewhere more expensive next time around.

 

 

 

(1) Extra points if you get the reference without the clue (2)
(2) Clue’s in the name
(3) Oh all right then! Robert Burns referred to Robert Fergusson ‘as my elder brother in misfortune, by far my elder brother in the Muse.’ I thought it was funny, but I wish I hadn’t bothered now…
(4) If you pushed me, I’d say they were a bit like His Latest Flame, only heavier, man. But you probably don’t remember them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
If you see an advert below this, I didn’t put it there, and I can’t see it, so I can’t endorse it. WordPress did. Just saying.

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