Maybe it is the onset of old age, but I’m struggling to remember a time like now for Scotland experiencing such a glut of talented musicians. Hardly a week seems to go by without someone or other putting out some sort of new material in the shape of singles, downloads or albums that deserve to find a place on the shelves of any serious collection (or at worst on the hard drive of your laptop if you’re digitally inclined).
I always thought the 80s would be the high point as evidenced by the number of features on this blog over time but the time has come to reassess things and accept that the past ten years or so has been better than ever. Just off the top of my head – Franz Ferdinand, Twilight Sad, Young Fathers, Sons & Daughters, Butcher Boy, Biffy Clyro, Django Django, Meursault, PAWS, The Unwinding Hours, Adam Stafford, Phantom Band, Frightened Rabbit, De Rosa, King Creosote, Admiral Fallow, RM Hubbert, Honeyblood, Miaoux Miaoux, Hector Berzerk, C Duncan, Kid Canaveral, Plastic Animals, Withered Hand, Zoey van Goey and Errors have all emerged and made some ridiculously good music (yes….. I know I’ve missed out obvious others…as I said it was off the top of my head in the time it took me to type it!!). And that’s without listing your Mogwais, Edwyns, Aidans, Malcolms, Roddys and Emmas who pre-date the 21st century but continue to make equally ridiculously good music decades on.
This week, I find myself wishing to sing the praises – again – of Randolph’s Leap who are about to release sophomore album Cowardly Deeds on Olive Grove Records.
The band have been part of the music scene around these parts for about six years now making what has accurately been described as joyous brass-tinged, folk-pop centred around the not inconsiderable talents of singer-songwriter Adam Ross. There had been a number of low-key, lo-fi and largely home-made cassette and CD released in the initial years and it wasn’t until 2014 that the debut LP, Clumsy Knot, was made available bringing together all eight members on all sorts of instruments. The album became an instant favourite at Villain Towers with a number of big-sounding and upbeat songs where keyboards, violin, trumpet and trombone combined in a way that invoked memories of Dexy’s at the height of their powers laced with lyrics that were akin to the gentle humour and playfulness of Neil Hannon. Alongside these were some lovely folk-like ballads laced with wry amusingly bitter one-liners that brought to mind the genius of early Martin Stephenson.
And like any other band worthy of attention, Randolph’s Leap were somehow even more enjoyable in the live setting than on record.
My great fear however, was that the band would suffer from second album syndrome with Cowardly Deeds failing to scale the same heights. And if truth be told, when I got my advance copy a few months back courtesy of Lloyd Meredith (band manager, proprietor of Olive Grove Records and one of the nicest and most genuine fellas in the local music industry), my first couple of listens seemed to confirm those fears. The mistake I was making however, was that I was listening out for a re-hash of the debut as that was what I was probably secretly and deep-down hoping for.
It is a record which is less diverse than the debut but that is more than compensated for by the fact it is a very polished and accomplished piece of work jammed with tunes that would and will sound marvelous when broadcast by radio stations. The sort of songs – fast and slow alike – that if you hear the first thing in the morning stick around in your brain all day long, with the chorus just demanding to be sung or whistled. You want proof? Well, here’s the tracks that have been made widely available via videos:-
Cowardly Deeds is a spring/summer sort of album. One for light mornings and later evenings when the sun seems to take forever to go down. It’s a record which cements Randolph’s Leap as being worthy of adding to that list at the top of this posting. And somewhere quite near the top if I was to rank them.
Keep an eye out for the band hopefully heading your way (in the UK at least) over the coming months. Whether in their full 8-piece ensemble or just Adam on stage with his acoustic guitar, you are guaranteed a great night out.
Here’s some older material to give you a flavour:-
mp3 : Randolph’s Leap – Deep Blue Sea (from The Curse of The Haunted Headphones home recordings, 2012)
mp3 : Randolph’s Leap – Rough (from As Fast As A Man, home recordings, 2012)
mp3 : Randolph’s Leap – Counting Sheep (from Introducing, self-released compilation 2012)
mp3 : Randolph’s Leap – Indie King (from the Real Anymore mini-album, 2013)
mp3 : Randolph’s Leap – Hermit (from Clumsy Knot CD, 2014)