From the Lost Map Records website:-

“Tuff Love are Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals) plus live drummer Iain Stewart (also a member of The Phantom Band). They come from Glasgow and they write dazzling, sun-streaked guitar pop songs with mesmerising lyrics, heart-wrenching vocals and dreamy melodies like the sound of pure summer. They make all their music in Suse’s flat, self-engineering and self-producing everything.

Following the release of their debut, Junk E.P., in May 2014 – on dazzling 10” white vinyl, via Scottish independent label Lost Map Records – the band embarked on tours of the UK and mainland-Europe, as well as enjoying an endless summer of festivals.

A packed spring and summer of 2015 saw Tuff Love personally invited to support first reformed shoegaze legends Ride on their first UK tour in 20 years and then later their most famous fan, Scottish soul-pop singer Paolo Nutini, at a special one-off outdoor show at Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park (also featuring legendary disco queen Grace Jones).

Adored by radio – and championed by the likes of Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Rob Da Bank, Huw Stephens, Gideon Coe, Vic Galloway, among many others – Tuff Love were filmed in session for BBC Introducing, and also performed as part of the BBC Academy series.  The press have been equally smitten; with two separate features with The Guardian (“a band to fall in love with”), a 2 page interview in DIVA (“our new favourite indie band”), profiles in NME Radar (“great college rock”), Metro and Daily Record, amongst other national publications, and with the Junk E.P. receiving glowing praise across the board – both online and in print.

Tuff Love have played festivals including Glastonbury, T in the Park, Latitude, Wickerman, Indietracks, Long Division and many more.  In November 2014 ‘Slammer’ – the lead single from the sophomore release, Dross EP – won the Rebel Playlist on Steve Lamacq’s show on BBC 6 Music by a landslide. That track and each of their new tracks released since, ‘That’s Right’ and ‘Groucho’, have subsequently been B-listed by BBC 6 Music.

The Dregs EP is the latest, most confident-sounding and most compelling product of their increasingly sophisticated homespun craft – lo-fi in ethic but not in sound. From the distorted jangle of ‘Duke’, through the snapping ‘Crocodile’ with its wonderfully wonky outro organ solo and on to the woozily waltzing ‘Carbon’Dregs is solid gold irresistible listening from first to last.”

JC adds…….

Tuff Love were equally as good live as they were on record.   You’ll notice me using the past tense…….

There’s been no further releases since the Dregs EP which was away back in 2015.   The links to the band’s website page are broken, while the band’s Facebook page concentrates on solo material that Julie and Suse have released in more recent times.

mp3: Tuff Love – Duke

Each of the EPs contained five songs, which means there is enough for an ICA.  I might turn my hand to that at some point.



I made mention yesterday of how much I had enjoyed the theatre show ‘What Girls Are Made Of’, making reference to the role played by all four members of the highly talented cast.

One of the four was Susan Bear, whose main role was to re-enact the part of the band’s drummer Cathryn Stirling.

It had been quite a while I had last caught sight of Susan on any stage. I had first seen her back in 2014 when a new and really intriguing band called Tuff Love burst onto the Glasgow scene.

Tuff Love was a duo consisting of Julie Eisenstein on guitar and vocals and Suse Bear on bass and vocals, who also called on their friend Iain Stewart, a member of The Phantom Band (who were on the roster of Chemikal Underground to play drums in the live setting. The music they made was lo-fi to the extreme, made entirely at home with Suse utilising the engineering and production skills she was learning within her college course. It was, nevertheless, something of an enchanting listen, issued on vinyl by Lost Map Records, a label which itself was just starting to make some waves on the local scene having been founded by Jonny Lynch of The Pictish Trail following his decision to end his association with the critically acclaimed and successful Fence Records.

Tuff Love seemed to be a throwback to the C86 era in their wholly independent approach to music making which extended itself to their live shows which, it has to be said, were often a bit hit-and-miss, usually because the venue’s sound man (and it was inevitably a bloke) failing dismally to get the mix right with the drums overwhelming the lightness of the vocals and playing. Having said that, when they did get it right, they were as enthralling and intriguing an act as any, and I was at a fair number of their shows during 2014 and 2015, whether as headliners or as part of the support acts.

There were three 10” EPs, all of which had self-deprecating titles.  The first was called Junk, the second was named Dross and the third was given the name Dregs; the records were released over a period of some eighteen months from the summer of 2014, with each of them containing five tracks. The last time I saw Tuff Love was at Stereo in Glasgow, in early 2016, not long after the label had issued Resort, bringing together all 15 tracks from the EPs in one handy compilation on CD and vinyl. It was a great show, and I was certain the band would go on to bigger things.

It turns out that they would spend the summer on the bills of most of the summer festivals after which they just disappeared off the radar. I’m guessing that Julie and Suze chose to go their separate ways although I don’t recall any announcement from the band or label.

Susan is now described as a Glasgow-based multi-instrumentalist, sound designer and performer with her part in the 2018 production of What Girls Want proving to be the first play she had ever performed in, although you would never have known that such was the confidence she exuded on the stage.

I’m not sure what the future hold for her, but you can be certain that it will be intriguing and worth keeping an eye out for.

In the meantime, here’s Track 1 from each of the 3 EPs:-

mp3 : Tuff Love – Sweet Discontent
mp3 : Tuff Love – Slammer
mp3 : Tuff Love – Duke



The surprise disappearance/takedown of When You Can’t Remember Anything has disturbed and troubled me. I’ve previously had some advance e-mails from SWC or Tim letting me know when things are going a bit tits-up with one or other of them and warning that there might be a bit of turbulence at the blog. Just a few weeks ago, SWC advised he was going overseas to work but that Tim and KC would be looking after things. I noticed on their blog about 10 days or so ago that KC was unwell which meant things were being juggled around a bit and then last week, when I was across in Ireland, I noticed the blog had been removed by the authors.

I’ve dropped the boys a couple of e-mails but had no replies which I find very worrying. I’d be lying if I thought I could carry on here as normal making all sorts of pithy observations when at the back of my mind, and not too far back it must be said, I’m thinking about my friends from south-west England and hoping that everything is okay.

So for the next few days at least, things are going to settle into a bit of a dull routine here at Villain Towers. You’ll get your usual Saturday and Sunday postings and the occasional Charged Particles contribution from Jonny but the daily fare from myself will just be featuring two songs, one which begins with the word ‘This’ and one which has the word ‘That’ in its title. Sometimes by the same singer or band. There will be the usual boring background info supplied but nothing that is going to tax my brain too much as I’m really not in the mood for creative thinking just now.

mp3 : Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us (orchestral version)

It was a while back when I wrote about how I fell for Sparks when they appeared on Top of the Pops in 1974. All these years on and they’re still going, probably still known best for that big hit single. Back in 1997 the band released their 17th LP, Plagiarism, in which they offered new takes on old songs with Erasure, Faith No More and Jimmy Somerville drafted in to add their vocal and playing talents to some of the songs. There were actually two versions of This Town….put on the album – one that was quite rocky thanks to the contributions of the afore-mentioned Faith No More and the one I’ve posted today which is an orchestral mix on which legendary producer Tony Visconti worked with them.

mp3 : Tuff Love – That’s Right

Tuff Love are (or maybe were)* a great little indie pop-punk band from Glasgow. Consisting of Julie Eisenstein (guitar, vocals) and Suse Bear (bass, vocals) they first came to my attention back in 2014 when they not only released a debut 10″ EP entitled Junk but seemed to be on the bill of just about every gig I got along to that year. They were occasionally a bit hit n miss in the live setting but as time went on they got more confident, polished and accomplished. Two more EPs, Dross and Dregs, were released in 2015 before Lost Map Records pulled all the tracks together a single LP, Resort, that was issued in early 2016. I saw the band in Glasgow around that time and was well impressed, thinking they would push on from there but they’ve been quiet on the new music front although they were on a lot of summer festival bills later in the year.

Looking up a social media site, there’s a message posted back in February 2017 that says:-

Hello there, just to let you know we’re doing other things just now other than Tuff Love. Thank you for all the support so far/over the past few years. See you soon. Love from Suse and Julie xx

Whether that means the band is no more or there’s a temporary break remains to be seen.

That’s Right is taken from the Dross EP. And it’s 140 seconds of magic.




Your humble scribe turns 52 years of age today.  My body is beginning to get its own back on me for decades of abuse and neglect.  My hearing is going, I need glasses to read, my hangovers last a minimum of two days and when I go out to indie-discos or to gigs where I don’t have a seat, my bodyfat, creaking bones and underused muscles prevent me from gyrating in the way my mind believes I still can. Oh and in recent weeks I’ve developed a foot problem near my heel which hurts like hell when I’ve been walking about or merely standing up for a few hours.  And yet in my mind I still think I’m 22……

I know some of you may well be tempted to offer birthday wishes via the comments section and I will therefore be so bold as to offer my heartfelt and sincere thanks in advance. But what I’d really like you to do is have a listen to these magnificent seven previously unfeatured acts from Scotland and when you like what you hear – and I can say that with confidence as I know you all have great taste – then please click on the provided links and spend your currency on physical product. Here they are in alphabetical order:-


Turns out that you can’t buy anything by Bastard Mountain, so this post hasn’t gotten off to a good start!!  This lot were a sort of one-off supergroup of Scottish indie/folk musicians comprising Pete Harvey & Neil Pennycook from Meursault, Jill O’Sullivan from Sparrow & the Workshop, Rob St. John from eagleowl & Meursault, Rory Sutherland from Broken Records & Reuben Taylor formerly of James Yorkston & the Athletes.

A one-off album, Farewell, Bastard Mountain was recorded in October 2012 featuring a mixture of new songs and new versions of stuff released previously by bands associated with the individual musicians. The idea was to make an ad-hoc largely improvised record on the back of minimal rehearsal and while it may sound like a recipe for an umitigated disaster, the results are stunning and often beautiful.

For one reason or another, it took until May 2014 for the album to be released on Song, By Toad Records, with two live shows to promote it; I was fortunate enough to make it along to the Edinburgh gig and hear the entire record gorgeously and perfectly performed.

mp3 : Bastard Mountain – Meadow Ghosts

More details here:


This duo may well be all over the newspapers today as last night they were one of the ten acts shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year (it’s not a calendar thing – the competition is open to any album that was released in a 12-month period since the 2014 competition long list was announced in April of that year).

Honeyblood came together in late 2012, consisting of Stina Tweeddale (vocals and guitars) and Shona McVicar (drums and vocals) and their blend of low-fi indie rock, heavily influenced by early PJ Harvey, Throwing Muses and The Breeders quickly gained them a fair following across their native land, and just as Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad had done previously they signed to Brighton/Brooklyn-based Fat Cat Records with the label releasing the self-titled debut album in the summer of 2014.  Within a matter of months, McVicar decided to quit the band but was replaced seamlessly by Cat Myers.

A review of the band in The Guardian here in the UK said “The lead track on their self-financed and self-recorded debut , ‘No Spare Key’, sounds like Taylor Swift’s ‘We’re Never Getting Back Together’ performed by two Scottish goth-girls doing an impression of the Jesus and Mary Chain in a tomb, or an enervated, dejected Haim in need of a square meal.” 

See what you think from this re-recorded version lifted from the debut LP:-

mp3 :  Honeyblood – No Spare Key

More details here :


This is another lot who are on Fat Cat Records and who were also on the shortlist for the Scottish Album of the Year Award, but for their sophomore rather than debut LP.

PAWS are one of the most exciting and lively acts around right now.  I was late on picking up on them but became a convert just about a year ago after catching them perform in a tiny pub venue in the east end of Glasgow on the launch night of a cultural festival linked to the staging of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

They formed in 2010 with a line-up of Phillip Taylor (guitar and vocal), Josh Swinney (drums) and Matt Scott (bass) and by late 2013 had released a number singles as well as debut LP Coke, played every small venue imaginable in Glasgow and Edinburgh and toured extensively, often as the support act, across the UK, Europe and North America.  They had also lost a founder member with Matt Scott moving on but again there was a seamless transition with Ryan Drever stepping in.

This time last year their latest LP Youth Culture Forever was released to great critical acclaim and rightly so.  Twelve loud indie punk/rock tunes over 42 minutes – the first eleven flash by in just over half an hour before the closing track stretches out to almost twelve minutes.  PAWS are a long way removed from the sort of music most normally associated with T(n)VV but I can’t recommend them highly enough to you.

mp3 : PAWS – Tongues

More details here :


Not to be confused with the previous act….nor with Honeyblood albeit this is another all-female duo with a guitar and drums line-up.

Sacred Paws are a relatively new band in terms of releasing records with their 6-track debut LP, snappily entitled 6 Songs, being released in March 2015 but the two musicians Rachel Aggs (guitar/vocals) and Eilidh Rodgers (drums/vocals) have been part of other bands and their local music scenes respectively in London and Glasgow and their demos have been kicking around on the internet since 2012.

The EP is on Rock Action Records which has been formed by Mogwai.   So you might think that Sacred Paws are another duo whose music is heavily influenced by the Glasgow noisters….well think again.  It’s more the offspring of Vampire Weekend and Sleater Keaney

mp3 : Sacred Paws – Vince

More details here :


Enough of these all-female duos….it’s time now for an all-female four-piece.

TeenCanteen, aside from having a tremendous name, make tremendous old-fashioned pop music that makes you want to just dance and sing along. The band consists of Carla Easton (lead vocals/keyboards), Sita Pieracinni (vocals/bass), Amanda Williams (vocals/guitar) and Deborah Smith (vocals/drums). Note right away the emphasis on all four members contributing on vocals as that is central to their sound, not just on record but in the live setting.

My mate Aldo had been raving about Teen Canteen for a while as he had caught them on a number of occasions since 2013 and I got to see them late last year at a gig at a small venue on the south side of Glasgow not too far from my home and I was highly impressed.

You can still pick up copies of their excellent 7″ single You’re Still Mine/Vagabond (on glittery vinyl no less!!) and so rather than offer up one of those songs for your enjoyment I thought I’d offer a recorded as live version of a previous sold-out single :-

mp3 : Teen Canteen – Honey

More details here:


More female musicians, but this lot also include a boy drummer when they play live.  Tuff Love are centred around Julie Eisenstein (guitar/vocals) and Suse Bear (bass/vocals) and specialise in catchy songs of an indie-pop bent that wouldn’t sound out-of-place at a C86 evening albeit there are noticeable influences from later acts such as The Breeders, Elastica and Bikini Kill.  They formed in 2012 and are on Lost Map Records for whom there have been two enjoyable 10″EPs over the past year – Junk, on white vinyl, was released in May 2014 while Dross, on pink vinyl, hit the shops and on-line places in February 2015

If I have one criticism of Tuff Love is that they have proven to be inconsistent in the live setting, sometimes even within the same short show!  I’ve seen them be the best band of an evening and I’ve seen them be the most disappointing band of an evening, struggling to get the sound right to for the venue and the occasion.  But both EPs are well worthy of your attention. The track chosen here is from Dross:-

mp3 : Tuff Love – Slammer

More details here:


Withered Hand is the stage name adopted by singer/songwriter Dan Willson. He’s not Scottish born and bred but has lived in Edinburgh since 1996 and with a Scottish wife and family is very happy to be pigeon-holed as a Scottish act (indeed his latest LP was nominated but not shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year.)

Willson came very late to the music industry, initially as part of Edinburgh-based and highly unsuccessful rock bands, but shortly after turning 30 years of age he got an acoustic guitar and tried a whole new direction and in August 2006 he began performing as Withered Hand.  He was a total natural with his fragile vocal delivery complimenting perfectly his mature,  intelligent, thought-provoking and often amusing lyrics that brought a smile to the face of any listener.  A number of low-fi home recordings led to him getting increasingly noticed and in 2009 his debut LP,  Good News, was released on SL Records. It seemed to be universally praised and was a real ‘word-of-mouth’ grower with some magazine reviews being some nine months or so after it was first released!

Much was made of the fact that a lot of the songs refered to Willson’s religious upbringing – he is a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness – but there was much to admire in his wry take on life and love from someone whose upbringing and development, even in his 20s and 30s, was more unusual than most.

It took five years for the follow-up album to appear and New Gods, released on Fortuna Pop!, brought Withered Hand a whole lot of new fans.  The songs are fleshed out by guest appearances from some of the finest musicians Scotland has produced in recent years including King Creosote, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, Stevie Jackson and Chris Geddes of Belle & Sebastian and Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit and the end result is a tremendous blend of indie/pop/folk/acoustic music of what seems like short stories set to memorable tunes. Here’s one of the singles lifted from it:-

mp3 : Withered Hand – Horseshoe

More details here :

And with that I’m off to see if being 52 is bearable…..