THAT RARE THING ON THIS BLOG……

……………..a recommendation for an as-yet unreleased album.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m on the receiving end of loads of e-mails on a daily basis in which I am asked, in the most polite way imaginable, if I’d care to offer up a single/album/forthcoming release from a singer or band.  More often than not, the requests come from established pluggers, with my e-mail address obviously being on a long list of those being targetted.  Sometimes, someone will reach out on the basis of what they may have previously found on the blog, more often or not through some sort of search engine.  My practice, which has been consistent going all the way back to 2006, is not to do so.  In the beginning, I would often respond to each individual e-mail, but the quantity just became too much, and now they are treated like junk mail.

The problem is that I often miss out on some things which later prove to be something of a success, with one recent example being Dry Cleaning, whose early material was certainly fired over here a couple of years back (I remember thinking it was a fine name for a band), but who were ignored.  Turns out, I’m a big fan of what they do, with the 2021 album New Long Leg being on heavy rotation, and if I’d been smart enough to have picked up those early self-released singles, then I’d have a couple of pieces of valuable vinyl.

All of which is a boring preamble as to why it is unusual that I’m giving you all a suggestion to place an order for Catastrophe Hits, the new album from Broken Chanter which will be released on Friday 29 October through the joint efforts of Olivegrove Records and Last Night From Glasgow.

A quick recap.

Broken Chanter is the name used by David MacGregor, one of the mainstays of the much missed Kid Canaveral, for his solo material.  The debut material, back in 2019, was very well received and the self-titled album, got loads of great end-of-year mentions in Scotland, paving the way for David and the musicians he had brought together for studio and touring purposes to take the place by storm in 2020.  COVID put paid to those plans, with a tour cancelled, as well as hopes to get back into the studio for a follow-up.

David spent a bit of time recording mainly instrumental material purely for digital release on Bandcamp, as well as coming up with a few merchandising ideas to keep the Broken Chanter name out there, all the while working on new material with the hope of one day getting the band back together and into the studio.

I’ll declare an interest here.  I’ve known David for the best part of a decade, and as he lives not too far away from Villain Towers on the south side of Glasgow, we’ve bumped into one another occasionally.  I’d been very keen to hear the new songs and David was kind enough, a few months ago, to share them with me knowing full well that I’d give him an honest reaction.  Here’s what I sent back to him, saying that I would use it as the basis for an album review when the time was right:-

“Given everything the world has had to face up to over the past 18 months, it surely is a stroke of genius that Broken Chanter’s new album, written and recorded under the lockdown restrictions, goes by the title of ‘Catastrophe Hits’.

It seems particularly apt given that COVID struck just as Broken Chanter were about to take full advantage of the wonderful critical and fan reaction to the debut album by undertaking their biggest ever and most ambitious set of live shows.

But if you’re expecting this sophomore effort to be a self-pitying roll call filled with tales of doom and gloom, then prepare yourself for a big surprise as Catastrophe Hits turns out to be a tremendous antidote to all of the stress, worries, concerns and heartaches we have had to endure in recent times.

And while Broken Chanter might be regarded from the outside as a vehicle for the solo talents of David McGregor, this is an album truly of a tight and very talented band of musicians, with lots of very pleasant surprises throughout.

The tone is set by the two ridiculously catchy opening numbers, ‘Dancing Skeletons’ and ‘Allow Yourself’, both of which would be hit singles if these things really mattered anymore. The latter in particular is a real joy, thanks to the call and go vocal, and harmonies, courtesy of David and Jill O’Sullivan, from the much missed Sparrow and The Workshop.

David switches to Gaelic for the mid-tempo ‘Ith Lan Do Bhith’ and while I might nor have a clue what he’s on about, I can vouch that his words are accompanied by a tune which brings back some very welcome reminders of Frightened Rabbit, particularly on their latter albums.

The quality then just keeps on coming, with ‘Extinction Event Souvenir T-Shirt’ offering a wry social commentary on modern society but with the sort of chorus that will surely lead to a mass sing-along once we can all get back to live gigs again.

‘Filaments’, a ballad at just over two minutes, is the shortest track on the album and offers the first opportunity to draw breath after such a frantic opening but just as you think it has faded out too soon, it leads perfectly into ‘A Sad Display’, a song which will bring huge delight to those who think Broken Chanter are equally as fabulous and entertaining when they do folk music.

‘So Long’ sees us back firmly on indie rock territory. It feels, to this long time fan, as being one that the bosses of the labels Olive Grove Records and Last Night From Glasgow, on which the album will be jointly released, could make the case for being the early taster for the new material, given that it is the closest to any of the songs on the debut record.

The album closes with the triumvirate of ‘Horse Island’, ‘Fast Food Parked Car’ and ‘Rubha Allain’ which capture, in microcosm, everything that makes Broken Chanter such an intriguing and enjoyable listen. The pace of things slows right down, allowing the genuine beauty in David’s voice to come to the fore while his bandmates demonstrate their own individual and collective talents; but just as you anticipate the album is going to fade away gently and leave you sighing wistfully at the outcome, the second half of the instrumental closing track speeds up and becomes the sort of music you hear as the credits run over a film that has provided an upbeat, triumphant but unexpected happy ending for the underdog, in a ‘Local Hero’ sort of way, where you find yourself smiling and simultaneously wiping away a wee tear of joy.

Catastrophe Hits? It may well have done in 2020 and 2021, but this new Broken Chanter album could well be the musical equivalent of the vaccination programme. Overdue, much needed, and a real shot in the arm.”

So there you have it, an actual TVV review of an about-to-be-released new record.  One that has been superbly produced by Paul Savage, once of The Delgados and the in-house producer at Chem 19 studios, just outside of Glasgow.

As it turned out, those in charge of these things decided to go with a different song as the lead-off single, one which was made available in digital format back in mid-August and which I’ve been giving regular airings in the build-up to matches at Stark’s Park, the home of Raith Rovers FC.

mp3: Broken Chanter – Extinction Event Souvenir T-Shirt

I’m delighted that a few fans, having heard the song, went out of their way to make a purchase.

So, if any of the above has whetted your appetite, then click here for a pre-purchase.  More about Broken Chanter can be found at this bandcamp page.

VIDEO BONUS…..

COMPETITION BONUS

Although Catastrophe Hits isn’t officially out yet, the CD version was made available to the 130 or so people who were present last week at a small venue when David, as the support act, played his first show since February 2020.

I purchased a copy of the CD with the specific intention of giving it away to one lucky TVV reader.

To be in with a chance, all you need to do is to leave behind the comment ‘Extinction Event Souvenir CD’ in response to this posting.  You can do so with those words alone or a part of any wider comment or observation.

Assuming more than one person enters, I’ll make the draw towards the end of next week.  And you can enter no matter where in the world you live, as I’ll pick up the delivery costs, even in this expensive post-Brexit world.

JC

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR SPENDING YOUR MONEY

Dear valued member of the TVV community,

So much of the best Scottish music in recent years has emerged from small labels or, to a large extent, been self-funded.  The fact we have more or less been in a lockdown situation for most of 2020 has meant a lot of singers and bands have been less active than anyone would like.

A few have managed to get physical releases out on vinyl, while others have taken the digital route via bandcamp.  I thought, as some of you might well be thinking about gifts for Christmas, that I’d highlight a few places where your currency would be welcomed and would find its way into very deserving pockets.

I’ve long championed Adam Stafford via this and the old blog. I know that he is an acquired taste but there’s a real reward to be obtained from listening to someone who, if he hailed from NYC, LA, Berlin, Tokyo or Paris, instead of Falkirk in Central Scotland, would be hailed as a musical visionary and genius.  He’s recently released a new album – Diamonds Of A Horse Famine, via Song, By Toad Records which has been revived for the purpose of releasing this particular LP.  I was delighted that clashmusic.com gave the album the sort of praise you’d normally find round these parts:-

“Diamond Of A Horse Famine’s is a different kind of album to what we are used to. It’s more of a standard singer-songwriter affair. Or as close to that as Stafford will allow. The songs are more immediate than on previous albums too, implying that everything was recorded in a couple of takes, rather than through numerous extended jams.

What ‘Diamond Of A Horse Famine’ shows is that Stafford is back to his best, but he isn’t recreating his previous albums for the sake of it. Nothing Stafford does it for the sake of it. His guitar work is exquisite and his ability to skew his guitar into contorted loops has set him apart from his peers, but he doesn’t employ his box of tricks in the same way that he did on ‘Imaginary Walls Collapse’, ‘Taser Revelations’ or ‘Fire Behind the Curtain’. The solo on ‘Salve’ might be his finest to date. However, the songs are equally as compelling.

This is a brave album that deserves praise for its honesty. Rumour has it that there is another album ready to go. If this is true, then Adam Stafford is a slave to his art and his best may yet to be heard.”

Copies of the album are available via the Song, By Toad page on Bandcamp. Click here for more, including the chance to try before you buy.  This was the single released earlier in the year as a taster:-

mp3: Adam Stafford – Thirty Years of Bad Road

Olive Grove Records is run by a very hard-working and unassuming man called Lloyd Meredith, someone who I’ve got to know well since starting this blog back in 2007.  Lloyd also started out as a blogger but he then dipped his toe and ultimately immersed his whole body into supporting music through the establishment of the label which has just turned ten years of age, a happy event which has been marked by the release of Get Into The Grove, a twelve-track compilation from many of the artists on the label.  It can be found here, with the digital version already available and the vinyl edition due imminently.

It was back in 2016 that Olive Grove released the album Cowardly Deeds by the consistently excellent Randolph’s Leap, with this being the opening track:-

mp3: Randolph’s Leap – Back Of My Mind

Watch out for new material from Randolph’s Leap in 2021, with a new single already out as a taster.  Click here.

Broken Chanter, in 2019, released a fantastic self-titled album in 2019.  It’s the work of David MacGregor, formerly the co-front of Kid Canaveral, and it proved to be one of my favourite records of that year, looking as if it would form the perfect platform for bigger and greater things in 2020.  Sadly, the COVID situation putting a stop to live shows and making it impossible for musicians from different cities to work together has really had a dreadful impact on David’s plans.  He’s kept things going somewhat by recording some material purely for digital release on Bandcamp, as well as coming up with a few merchandising ideas to try and help keep his head above water.  Just last week, he decided to release a fourth and final single from the debut album, going with what many have long thought is its most beautiful and mesmerising track:-

mp3: Broken Chanter – Don’t Move To Denmark

The single comes with three remixes and can be bought here at Bandcamp.  You’ll also be able to click through to the page where the debut album is located and give its individual tracks a listen, after which you may very well be tempted to buy a copy.  Especially if you’re a listener with good taste……

A couple of COVID fundraising things to give consideration to, with one that’s been out for a few months and another which is due to become available later this week.

Last Night From Glasgow (LNFG) is another incredibly busy label based in my home city.  It was at the start of the COVID outbreak that it, with the help and generous support of the musicians associated with the label decided to take some action to help others involved in the industry:-

It was clear to LNFG that our valued venues and stores would struggle unless we did something to help. So over the course of the UK Coronavirus lockdown we invited all of our artists to record – at home, whilst in isolation – a cover of their favourite past LNFG release. We mixed, mastered and manufactured the album on Vinyl and CD. Selling it and passing all proceeds to our partner venues and record shops. We will continue to collect revenues throughout the year and distribute it amongst local independent stores and venues. Tracks from : Broken Chanter, Gracious Losers, Sister John, Cloth, Close Lobsters, Annie Booth, Lola In Slacks, L-space, Nicol & Elliott, Zoe Bestel, Medicine Men, Deer Leader, Bis, Slime City, The Martial Arts, The Muldoons, Life Model, Mt. Doubt, Vulture Party, Foundlings; Andre Salvador and Lemon Drink.

It’s a very fine venture, and copies can be purchased from here, coming in a range of formats, including various coloured vinyl, CD and digital.

The upcoming release features a range of more established singers and bands. Whole Lotta Roadies is a digital/CD-only effort:-

The Fruit Tree Foundation is delighted to announce the creation of a brand-new unique album, ‘Whole Lotta Roadies’, put together by some of Scotland’s most loved musical artists and their crew. The project is the idea of Rod Jones of Idlewild, who saw first-hand the devastating effect the pandemic was having on all aspects of live shows, and in particular, those who rely on live events for a living, many now facing the prospect of an entire year of cancelled bookings.

On the line-up for this one-off recorded extravaganza are Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai, Twin Atlantic, Arab Strap, The Proclaimers, KT Tunstall, Fatherson, Emma Pollock, Honeyblood, Kathryn Joseph, The Rezillos, The Xcerts, and Idlewild.

I’ve pre-ordered a copy and looking forward to getting the e-mail telling me I can download and listen.  Click here if you want to do likewise.

Finally, The Just Joans have released a Christmas single.  For those of you who don’t know the band, they’ve been described by one critic as the missing link between The Magentic Fields and The Proclaimers – make of that what you will.  Click here for more.

All of the above come very highly recommended, so if you have a few spare notes and coins upon your person, it would be very nice if you supported one or more of the above.

With thanks

JC

BROKEN CHANTER

I’ve long been a fan of Scottish indie-pop combo Kid Canaveral, bemused and frustrated by the unwillingness of a wider audience to embrace their music and fall head-over-heels for their charms as a live act.

The band are on a bit of a hiatus at the moment and frontman David MacGregor is embarking on a solo venture under the name of Broken Chanter.  He’s spent quite a bit of the past few months gigging, either as one man with his guitar or with a full backing band, and having caught a couple of shows with him in both guises, it is great to report that he’s still as charismatic and entertaining as ever.

The debut single was released at the end of May 2019, via two of the most energetic and hard-working locally based labels – Last Night From Glasgow and Olive Grove Records.

It proved to be quite different from the output with his previous band, more intense and less frantic than most Kid Canaveral songs. It’s a very mature sounding piece of music, gently paced and melodic with its author again demonstrating that there are few as good as him when it comes to giving listeners the catchiest of choruses.  The icing on the cake is the contribution from Jill O’Sullivan (ex Sparrow and The Workshop) on backing vocal/harmonies and violin, lifting the song well above your standard guitar-laden number and making it something that you will want to return to for numerous repeat listens.

It has become one of my favourite 45s of 2019 and it bodes well for the release of the debut album this coming September.

mp3 : Broken Chanter – Wholesale

If you’re as equally enamoured by it, then please treat yourself to a proper hi-quality download from the usual places.  Click here.

JC