A GLORIOUS WALL OF NOISE

“Firstly, this song is not about being a whore, it’s a line from the Jean-Luc Godard film Vivre sa Vie (My Life to Live) that seemed to fit with the concept of the lyrics. I’m not sure if we shot ourselves in the foot with that title, seeing as it was the first single. For radio, it had to be called “I Became a ……..” because the word ‘prostitute’ is apparently offensive. This one came together quite easily when writing it and always stood out to be a single.”

So said singer James Graham an interview given back in 2009 when the songs on the LP Forget The Night Ahead were dissected one-by-one.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – I Became A Prostitute

One of the most powerful and impressive singles to have come out of anywhere, never mind Scotland, in recent years. And a real tour-de-force when played live.

Here’s your b-side which is not without its merits, especially if you like music that is reminiscent of the Seamonsters era of The Wedding Present and a bloke singing in a Scottish accent:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – In The Blackout

When you think of all the crap that hits the charts nowadays, it really is criminal that so few people bought this single.

JC

FROM RECORD STORE DAY 2013

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I’m not a fan of Record Store Day. It started out with the best of intentions but before long became another way for real music fans to be ripped off. Not necessarily by any small/independent record stores or the sorts of labels who supply much of the stock to such stores, but I’m more thinking about the majors who jumped on the bandwagon and issued all sorts of product for stupid prices, and in doing so tied up pressing plants at the expense of the smaller labels.

Oh and not forgetting the greedy fucks who got into the habit of going along on RSD for the sole purpose of hoovering up bundles of rare and in demand releases to then shove them on the internet within a matter of hours at vastly inflated prices. The sort of greedy fucks who ticket tout……

Anyways, this is probably the last thing I bought on the actual RSD and it was only because at the time I had everything ever released on vinyl by The Twilight Sad and I was also intrigued to hear what Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat would bring to a Twilight Sad number.

Limited edition of 500 on 7″ vinyl on Fat Cat Records.

mp3 : Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat – Alphabet
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – (If You) Keep Me In Your Heart

One thing I’ll say. Both acts make the songs sound as if they are their own rather than covers.  But both ultimately are not a patch on the originals.

Enjoy.

SO WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING THIS PAST TWO WEEKS??

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Many thanks for continuing to drop by while I was away chilling in the Caribbean with the missus – batteries were fully recharged until a bit of a nightmare journey home courtesy of the incompetence of British Airways, although a word of praise to the security folk at Gatwick Airport whose helpful approach ensured that we caught our connection back to Glasgow by the skin of our teeth and so avoided the nightmare of a six and a bit hour delay combined with hoping somehow there were spare seats on later flights.

I was delighted to see that so many folk were still happy to leave behind comments  – as I’ve mentioned before that’s the aspect, together with the guest postings, that make all the time and effort put into this all worthwhile.  Which kind of brings me round nicely to this….

Hi JC

We’re pleased to be able to again invite you to take part in the 2015 Scottish BAMS (Blogs and Music Sites) Award.

For those of you who don’t know, the BAMS* (Bloggers and Music Sites) was inaugurated and run for the first 4 years by Lloyd from the Peenko blog. In recent years other bloggers have helped make it happen.

Past winners have been:

2009 The Phantom Band – ‘The Wants’
2010 The National – ‘High Violet’
2011 Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – ‘Everyone’s Getting Older’
2012 Meursault- ‘Something for the Weakened’
2013 CHVRCHES – ‘The Bones of What You Believe’
2014 The Twilight Sad – ‘Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’

Unlike, say, the SAY Award the BAMS don’t have £20k to give away. But, as well as the prestige, we have something even more exciting for the winner than that – some vintage tonic wine – if we can work out how to get the bottle to the winner.

This year we’re again asking you to vote for up to TEN LPs released in 2015. As usual, your choices need not be restricted to Scottish LPs but can take in any album released during the course of 2015.

Ideally you will rank your LPs from 1-10 but if you can’t separate 2 (or more) LPs, we’ll award an average of the points* for the equivalent places in your list. You don’t need to submit as many as 10 choices to take part but we’d ask you, please, not to submit any more than 10.

The deadline for submission of votes will be 10 p.m. on Friday 7th January – we’ll confirm nearer the time when the announcement of the winner will take place but it’s likely to be a couple of weeks after that.

Cheers

I was thinking however, that rather than it being a personal list, my preference would be to invite all T(n)VV readers to fire across an e-mail with their Top 10s for 2015 from which I will submit a collective entry for the 2015 BAMS. And strangely enough, S-WC and Badgerman have already done so without being asked in advance – as will be revealed in a guest posting in the next 2-3 days.

So if you’re up for this, please drop a line to thevinylvillain@hotmail.co.uk; it would be helpful if you could head up any e-mails BAMS 2015 : MY TOP 10 so that I can easily keep track of any submissions.

Just a quick word on the BAMS 2014 winners The Twilight Sad who I caught playing live last Saturday at the Barrowlands just 24 hours or so after getting home. They are gearing up for a momentous year as they have been given the accolade of opening for The Cure when they embark on a mammoth world tour – it’s already at 60 dates and growing. On the basis of the blistering, sonically booming show last Saturday they are more than ready for the task in hand and have a sound that will not sound out-of-place within any of the vast arenas in which they will be performing.

I’m delighted for them as they have worked tirelessly over the past seven or so years since the debut material was released and haven’t always taken the easy route of just churning out similar sounding albums time and time again. They’ve looked on as a number of bands who emerged from Scotland around the same time, as well as a number of more recently formed bands, have found not just critical acclaim but a fair degree of fame and fortune and not once have any of the Twilight Sad expressed any bitterness or regret about their lot. They have been slowburners in much the same way as R.E.M. and James were back in the day. And the other thing they have in common with those particular bands is that it has taken a lengthy period of time for the singer and main focus of attention to have his confidence, self-belief and stage presence finally match his vocal talents and connect with an audience in a way that is truly awe-inspiring. The Twilight Sad are in a great place right now and I really hope that 2016 is the making of them in commercial terms.

Here’s a single of theirs – not included on any of their four albums – that was a particular highlight of the Barrowlands show.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car

Enjoy

* forgot to mention that BAMS also has another connotation in the Scottish vernacular.  It is a shortened form of the word bampots which is best translated as idiots.  And yes, Lloyd Peenko knew exactly what he was doing when he came up with the acronym for the awards back in 2009.

SOME NEW MUSIC FOR A CHANGE

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It’s been kicking around the internet for a few months now that Robert Smith of The Cure had been asked and agreed to do a cover of a song by The Twilight Sad.

He has been a fan of the band for years and there had been hopes that he would have been able to get involved in the remix version of the No One Can Ever Know LP but that didn’t work out due to work and touring commitments. However, having been given a copy of the band’s newest LP Nobody Wants Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave and described it as ‘BEAUTIFUL’ he was then approached with what the band thought was an audacious request to cover one of their songs for inclusion as a future b-side. And to their great delight he said yes and selected There’s A Girl In The Corner which is the opener on the latest LP.

The version has been available to listen to on the web for a long while now, but knowing that I was going to physically get a hold of the track via the purchase of the single, I decided I would wait until I had the piece of plastic in my hands before ever my first ever listen. I wanted to hark back to those days when buying 7″ singles provided a sense of adventure as playing a new song by a much-loved singer or band via a b-side provided real excitement.

I was pleased to read that the version Smith had recorded was brand new – I had a fear it was going to be karaoke by numbers with him just supplying a new vocal to the Sad’s music. But there it was on the sleeve : “Voices and Instruments by Robert Smith. Engineered, Produced and Mixed by Robert Smith at Homestudio. Assisted by Bunny Lake.”

This however, only provided a new fear.

What if it was rubbish in comparison to the original?

I should remind regular readers that I went for The Twilight Sad very early on in the Imaginary Albums series specifically to avoid the dilemma of having to include songs from their then upcoming album. It was a great move on my part as it is a really mature and classy record that also sounded magnificent in the live setting with a gig in Stirling last December rounding off what had been an exceptional and i doubt ever to be repeated year of live music thanks in the main to so many special events that supported Glasgow staging the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The song the band had chosen for this single – It Was Never The Same – is a standout from the album as indeed is the song Smith had selected.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – There’s A Girl In The Corner
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – It Was Never The Same

These were high standards…….and so just seven days ago, at the end of what has been a trying and difficult few days, I gave it a spin:-

mp3 : Robert Smith – There’s A Girl In The Corner

If I had heard this without knowing the original then I’d have been hugely impressed with the fact that the best part of 40 years on since bursting onto the scene that Robert Smith still had a great ability to deliver marvellous music.

In other words….I was impressed. Very Impressed.

But to add some additional other words…..it ain’t as good as the original. Which confirms the conclusion I’ve been coming to over the past nine months or so since the fourth album was released and on the back of what have been some unforgettable live outings in different formats over the past few years.

The Twilight Sad are the best band going right now.

No arguments please.

N/O/C/E/K

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A wee treat for fans of The Twilight Sad.

Back in early 2012 the band released their third studio album. No One Can Ever Know was a work that shocked and stunned a lot of folk with a very clear move away from the ‘wall of sound’ guitars that had dominated the previous LPs into something that was heavily reliant on a dark and moody synth sound.  It was an album that I adored on its release with my appreciation heightened by a spellbinding performance in the confines of the Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, a venue that 99.99% of the time caters for country music and Americana.

Later in the year the band went that bit further with the experimentation by authorising the release of No One Can Ever Know : The Remixes which was, as the name suggests a collection of remixes of songs from the album, many of which were quite experimental and more likely to appeal to fan of those doing the remixing than those who had gone nuts for the first two Twilight Sad LPs. Me?  I’m very happy to be counted in as a fan of the remix effort although I was a little disappointed that it was primarily the same songs that got the treatment with the nine tracks comprising three versions of Sick and two each of Nil, Not Sleeping and Alphabet.

But for diehard fans there was even more to come thanks to the existence of No One Can Ever Know : Tour EP which the band made available as a digital download when you placed an order through their online store or, as in my fortunate case, as one of 300 physical copies put on sale at the merchandise stall when the band went out on the road. It’s actually something the band are very good at in terms of rewarding loyal fans – over the year I’ve picked up a some limited edition mementos including CDs and prints.

The Tour EP offered up one entirely new song (in demo form), three new slowed-down versions* of tracks from the parent album and two songs otherwise only available on hard to get limited edition singles:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Idiots (demo)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Alphabet (alternate version)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Not Sleeping (alternate version)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Untitled #67
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Another Bed (alternate version)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – A Million Ignorants

(* and in the case of Alphabet, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful rendition that is my favourite version of the song)

I’ve also discovered a cracking fan site devoted to the band. You can visit by clicking here on the new link I’ve put up on the right hand side of the blog.

Enjoy

SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SINGLE (Part 115)

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From wiki:-

The Twilight Sad are a Scottish indie rock band, comprising James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar), and Mark Devine (drums). The band are currently signed to Fat Cat Records and have now released four full-length albums, as well as several EPs and singles.

Their 2007 debut album, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, drew widespread acclaim from critics, who noted Graham’s thick Scottish accent and MacFarlane’s dense sonic walls of shoegazing guitar and wheezing accordion. The Twilight Sad’s notoriously loud live performances have been described as “completely ear-splitting,”and the band toured for the album across Europe and the United States throughout 2007 and 2008. Sessions inspired by stripped-down and reworked live performances yielded the 2008 mini-album, Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did.

Their second album, Forget the Night Ahead, marked a shift in the band’s direction; lyrically more personal and musically darker and more streamlined, it was released in 2009 to further acclaim. Recording sessions for the album also produced the mid-2010 release The Wrong Car, which followed the departure of founding bassist Craig Orzel in February 2010. T

The Twilight Sad’s third album, No One Can Ever Know, was released in February 2012 and marked another stylistic shift, with the band citing industrial music and krautrock influences for a darker, sparser sound.The band’s fourth album, entitled Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, was released just a few days ago on 27th October 2014.

The band describes their sound as “folk with layers of noise,”and music critics have described the band as “perennially unhappy” and “a band that inject some real emotion and dynamic excitement into a comparatively standard template.”

Your humble scribe loves this band and never tires of listening to them or catching them live. The aforementioned 12″ single from 2010 features today, complete with its b-sides containing an otherwise unavailable songs and very different versions thanks to remixes of two of their best-loved tunes:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Throw Yourself Into The Water Again
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Room (Mogwai remix)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Reflection Of The Television (Errors remix)

Enjoy.  Can’t believe it is already November and that I’ve now featured 115 different Scottish artists in this series of singles in my ownership.

AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM #3 : THE TWILIGHT SAD

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Just a reminder…the idea of this series is to take one of my favourite bands or singers and list what I think would make the idea ‘Best of’ album with a few words on why. The only proviso is that I’m going to do it as a proper old-fashioned LP…10 tracks in total with an A-side and a B-side and it’s got to hang together like a proper LP and not just a collection of greatest hits. Neither will it necessarily be the 10 best songs (which in any event change on a regular basis)

I started things off with The Smiths and then looked at the solo career of Edwyn Collins. Today it’s The Twilight Sad.

Once again, the inspiration was seeing from a live performance, in this instance in Richmond Park in Glasgow as part of the Last Big Weekend which saw them take to the stage at 5pm under the canvas of a tent.  It was an electric performance, but then again every time I’ve seen the band perform over the past seven years has left me awestruck, whether it is the full-blown band, an acoustic stripped down version or, as on one occasion, accompanied in a fabulous gothic abbey by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

It was the opening three songs of the 45-minute long Richmond Park set that got me thinking they would be the perfect opening to any compilation LP and therefore I only had to narrow things down by another seven songs.  It was also the fact they aired a brand new song as the fourth offering in the set that got me determined to do this now as to wait for the release of what will be their fourth full-length LP this October would make it an impossible task.

Side A

1. Cold Days From The Birdhouse
2. I Became A Prostitute
3. Reflection of The Television
4. Sick
5. That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy

Side B

1. And She Would Darken The Memory
2. The Room
3. I’m Taking The Train Home
4. Seven Years Of Letters
5. Kill It In The Morning

Despite getting the head start from the first three songs, it’s still take ages to come up with the final seclection….but the bonus has been getting to play all the songs all over again before working things out.

1. The first track of Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, the 2007 debut LP. It contains a couple of particularly incredible moments in what is an incredibly good song….the first of them at the two and a half  minute mark when Andy McFarlane’s wall of noise from the guitar kicks in….played live it really does get the hairs on the back of the neck standing to attention.   The second bit of true magic comes just under a minute from the end when James Graham‘s vocal fades out to be replaced by an unexpected bit of acoustic guitar accompanied by a repeated single piano note.

2. The second track of Forget The Night Ahead, the sophomore LP from 2009  and it’s straight back into the wall of noise, this time with pounding drums courtesy of Mark Devine and a great bass back-up by then member Craig Orzel.  This is alternative indie-rock at its very best and goes a long way to explaining why the band have a decent following over in the States

3. More loud and wailing guitars, pounding drums and a killer hypnotic bass line.  The opening track of the second LP.  The song was later given a complete remix by Errors for inclusion on the Wrong Car EP – by complete I mean the drums, bass and guitar are almost completely replaced by electronica and a dance beat.  And such is the greatness of the song and the music that the remix more than holds its own.

4. The band surprised many fans with the contents of the 2012 LP No One Can Ever Know.  The previously dominant guitars were replaced by keyboards and drum patterns from machines.  Imagine the music  of Joy Division benefitting from technological improvements over the past 30 years and you’ll get an idea of what many of the songs sounded like.  I felt the imaginary compilation LP needed a little bit less intensity at this point of listening, so in comes a slightly slower and softer number.

5.  A track which in some ways is eerily reminiscent of Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs,  this is a strange and disturbing song told from the point of view of a very unhappy and disturbed teenager. It was  my introduction to the band back in 2007 when I heard it played over the speakers in a Glasgow record store.  And yes, there is the occasional use of the dreaded c-word which is normally a bit of a taboo, but it is spat out by James in such a way that you can have no doubt that the person being sung about is truly loathed.  They say you never forget your first time and in the case of The Twilight Sad I never will.

Take a deep breath and turn the record over……

6.  Just as you might be thinking from the opening minute or so that this track from the debut LP (an edited version of which was released as a 7″ single) might be a more easy-going indie-pop listen,  then the brutality and violence of the lyric and takes centre stage with boots being put in and rabbits being threatened with death.  And then the final two and a half minutes deliver the sort of shoegazing noise most usually experienced via a My Bloody Valentine track.  Aurally stunning…..

7.  This was the most difficult part of the imaginary album to compile.  I just find it near impossible to have anything follow-on to Track 6 and not sound inadequate.  But I think this song from the second LP. which was also released as a 45 (and later remixed in spectacular fashion by Mogwai) does the trick.  It is driven along by a constant drum and keyboard but in a minimalist way this enabling James to display that he is a very fine singer.

8. Back to the first LP again.  A softer song than the others selected from that LP, this has a lyric which refers to green and blue eyes and as such recalls Temptation by New Order...not that it sounds anything like that song…just the bit about the green and blue eyes. Again, it’s a song like so many of their earlier efforts, one which builds up a great bit of momentum before slowing to a lovely climax.

9. A similarly paced song to that which precedes it on this imaginary album. Released as a 7″ single with a very surprising and very understated cover of Suck by The Wedding Present on the b-side, this is one of the few tracks that James has been happy to explain – ‘the lyrics revolve around running away from people and things’

10. I’ve ended with a song that splits a lot of fans. It’s the closing track from the third LP and it’s rather unlike anything else I’ve included on this imaginary compilation. It was originally made available free via the band’s website some five months before the release of the LP and it’s fair to say the electronica caught out a lot of folk who were desperate for more of the same after the first two LPs. I fell in love with it right away and I have never got bored with it. It belts along at a great pace and then just as you think it is going to fade away quietly, a change of rhythm takes it off on a different course altogether before it does conclude with a shouted single line. A perfect ending and again has the intention of making you want to get up out of your chair to turn the LP over and listen again.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Cold Days From The Birdhouse
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – I Became A Prostitute
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Reflection of The Television
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Sick
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – And She Would Darken The Memory
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Room
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – I’m Taking The Train Home
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Seven Years Of Letters
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Kill It In The Morning

Enjoy