Sons and Daughters were a rock band from Glasgow, Scotland formed from 2001 to 2012. Its members were Adele Bethel (vocals, guitar, piano), David Gow (drums, percussion), Ailidh Lennon (bass, mandolin, piano) and Scott Paterson (vocals, guitar).
Conceived while on tour with Arab Strap in 2001, Sons and Daughters was initially Adele Bethel’s creation. The band’s line-up at first comprised Bethel, David Gow and Ailidh Lennon, and the band began recording. After the later addition of Scott Paterson as a second vocalist, the band played a number of successful concerts. Their debut release, the twenty five minutes-long Love the Cup was financed by the band and initially released on Ba Da Bing Records label in 2003, and later re-released when Sons and Daughters signed to Domino Records in 2004.
Their second album, The Repulsion Box was released in June 2005. In February 2006 the band were invited to tour with Morrissey on the first leg of his UK tour. Their third album, This Gift, produced by Bernard Butler, was released on 28 January 2008.
After a few years of relative inactivity the band released a free download, “Silver Spell”, accompanied by a trailer for their new album, Mirror Mirror, which was released on 13 June 2011.
On 2 November 2012 the band announced that they would no longer continue as a band bringing an end to 11 years of their career.
They were a band I had an awful lot of time for, and not simply from the connections with Arab Strap. They made music that was unlike most of their Glasgow contemporaries – you would certainly never mistake them for Belle & Sebastian or Camera Obscura – consisting of a blend which tried to fuse post-punk, blues, folk, rockabilly and goth. A more tuneful and slightly less menacing 21st century Birthday Party if you like…..
I’ve long been meaning to pull together an ICA, so here goes. Oh and it has 12 tracks as the normal 10 tracks would have been short a running time.
1. Johnny Cash (from Love The Cup, 2004)
One of my favourite songs of all-time, earning a place in the 45 45s at 45 rundown back in 2008. And the only song by a Glasgow band that I’ve ever heard being played on commercial radio while hanging around a clothes shop on the French Caribbean island of Martinique.
The song was my introduction to the band. I had been told to look out for them by a few who were ‘in the know’ but I had never got round to buying anything. The video to Johnny Cash, played by Zane Lowe on MTV2, immediately caught my ear, thanks to its riff, beat and growling, almost menacing, vocal. And then Adele came in on backing/joint vocal for the chorus and I was mesmerised. I went out and bought the CD the following day.
2. Dance Me In (single version, 2005)
Love The Cup was a calling card, more a seven-track EP than a full-blown album. It was after signing to Domino Records that they went into the famous Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne in January 2005, with Victor Van Vught (who had previously worked with, among others, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey) in the producer’s chair, with the end result being a blistering and frantic 10-track record that was barely 30 minutes in length.
The album had been preceded by the release of a new single, one which had been recorded in August 2004 at Westheath Studios in London, with owner Edwyn Collins in the producer’s chair and his sidekick Sebastian Lewsley on engineering duties. I’m not entirely sure why Edwyn didn’t go on to produce the whole album – it may well have simply been he didn’t have the time – but his version of Dance Me In comparion to that which appears on the album is just that little bit more dynamic and danceable.
3. Chains (from This Gift, 2008)
A kind of second cousin to Dance Me In, thanks to the now trademark duel lead vocals and the whoa-whoa-whoas which Adele and Scott delivered like no others. By now, if you’ve really entered into the spirit of things, you should have sort of gyrated yourself dizzy….so it’s time to slow things down just a tad.
4. Rama Lama (from The Repulsion Box, 2005)
Sons & Daughters did record an awful lot of murder ballads, and so it was no real surprise that they eventually appeared on Mr Cave’s radar with him asking them to open for the Bad Seeds at what was, at that point in time, their biggest UK show at the Alexandra Palace, London in August 2005. I had no idea until I got to the venue that they were the support act and so it made for a very special evening.
As with any support acts in a venue as cavernous as the Ally Pally with its 10,000+ all standing capacity, they struggled to get everyone’s attention and there was far too much chattering. What I do recall, however, is that a group of about a dozen folk close to where myself and Mrs V were standing did shut up for a few minutes having been drawn in initially by the punch-to the-guts bass notes opening to Rama Lama and then by the gory and disturbing story which unveiled over the next five minutes. Adele’s spine-chilling vocal back-up to Scott’s deadpan, near spoken delivery, was that of someone who sounded as if she was possessed by something not of this world. Old Nick put on a great show that night, but he and his band didn’t get close to the brilliance of this.
5. Rose Red (from Mirror Mirror, 2011)
If I’m being brutally honest, the final album just before the break-up was something of a disappointment in comparison to what had come before. The band lost much of their edginess, possibly in the hope of getting some overdue commercial success, but the songs just weren’t there. The energy had largely been sapped which was all too apparent in the live setting of a packed hometown gig at SWG3 where a disappointing set was saved towards the end with some oldies before Rose Red, something of a highlight on the new record, brought the night to an end. No encore was given but none was really wanted by the audience. It was no surprise that they break-up was just a matter of months away.
6. Nice’n’Sleazy (b-side, 2005)
Yup…..it’s a cover of The Stranglers song………..and a bloody good one at that. The bass lines and keyboard solo may not be in the class of the original, but Adele’s breathless vocal delivery goes a long way to compensate.
1. Medicine (from The Repulsion Box, 2005)
The opening track on The Repulsion Box opens with what can only be described as a hoedown stomp on speed and sets the tone for much of what was to follow. Oh and it features the best use of a mandolin on any piece of music since….well I’ll come to that a bit later on.
2. Red Receiver (from The Repulsion Box, 2005)
There have been quite a few songs written over the years about being jilted at the altar….but none as good as this.
3. Gilt Complex (from This Gift, 2008)
Another album opener. It was released on 7” and digital download in advance of the album with hopes that it would get airplay and lead to some commercial success. Domino Records had drafted in Bernard Butler to add finesse and polish to the band….it would later be revealed that the recording process wasn’t easy and created a lot of unhappiness for the band…and while the results were a bit mixed there is no question that Gilt Complex was everything that the label was looking for. It must have been a sore one to take when it disappeared without trace. I should mention that the b-side of the 7” was a cover of Killer, the #1 hit for Seal….but having mentioned it, I’ll say nothing more other than it stinks the house out.
4. Fight (from Love The Cup, 2004)
The third track on this side of the ICA which had originally provided the opening to an EP or album. In many ways, it is the archetypal Sons & Daughters track with great vocal interplay between deadpan Scott and excitable Adele while the talents of David and Ailidh see things driven along at perfect pace and without either of them seeming to break sweat. Oh and it features the best use of a mandolin on any piece of music since Losing My Religion…..thanks Ailidh.
5. Broken Bones (from Love The Cup, 2004)
Just as I always expect Red Receiver to follow on immediately from Medicine (see above), so do I always expect Broken Bones to follow on immediately from Fight. This was the first of the Murder Ballads to be put down on vinyl and is one of their most enduring.
6. Awkward Duet (from Love The Cup, 2004)
I realise that by using the closer from Love The Cup to close the ICA, I’ve leant heavily on the EP with four of its seven tracks making the cut. There was just something almost other-worldly about the debut material which was recorded at Chem 19, just outside of Glasgow in the summer of 2003 and which was initially put out on a very small indie before Domino came calling. It is certainly more basic than all the successor works, but by no means is it lo-fi. Sometimes, a minimal amount of tweaking works best of all, as can be heard on Awkward Duet which, at times, almost collapses in on itself such is its fragility. It’s an unexpected piece of maudlin, coming-down type of music at the end of a record which had been truly dynamic and utterly different.
And that, dear readers, brings ICA #199 to an end.
#200 has already been written and held in reserve for that particular occasion. But as I’m going off on holiday next week and as I’m using that particular period for something specific (tune in on Monday for more), you’ll all have to wait a bit.
In the meantime, I’m set to enjoy myself at Simply Thrilled tonight…..