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