Author Archives: my voice

Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival – We Fancy a Bit of This

August 22-24, 2014 Sees the return of the fantastic Doune The Rabbit Hole Festival at Cardross Estate, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire FK8 3JY

Check all the details on their well presented website here

With Acts going like Hector Bizerk, Victorian Trout Conspiracy, Eastcoastdefector, Esperanza, The Birthday Suit, Peatbog Faeries to name but a few its not to be missed. There are some details below including ways to get involved and again check out the website for full details and tickets.

Look out for Mickey 9s

Also playing is voice favorite Mickey 9s.. check out our piece with them here


It’s gonna rock. I can tell check out the superb line up and get along to it. Come say hi cause I will be there come rain or shine.


Festival launches barter scheme and adds more acts!

Doune the Rabbit Hole is a small-scale, family-friendly music and arts festival held over the August bank holiday weekend on the beautiful Cardross Estate.

This year it is using the age-old practice of bartering for useful items, in exchange for festival tickets.

Organisers need a caravan, tents, yurts, generators, lights, furniture and decorations.

The festival website now includes a ‘Barter’ page, allowing anyone to either trade or lend something in return for tickets:

With its idyllic location and carefully curated line-up, Doune the Rabbit Hole offers an array of high-quality artists from around the world.

Joining the bill this year are Jeffrey Lewis, Josephine Foster, Peatbog Faeries, Bass Clef, Acid Mother’s Temple, Balkanarama and the elusive Secret Chiefs 3 (a project by former members of Faith No More and Mr Bungle) and many more.

In addition to those already announced, the festival has added the following acts to the bill: The Amphetameanies, The Birthday Suit, Hector Bizerk, Blochestra, Errors, RM Hubbert, Kakatsitsi Drummers & Rebecca Vasmant, PAWS, Tom Snowball, Paddy Steer, The Telescopes, Trembling Bells, Samba Ya Bamba, Zea.

Expect Great things from Hector Bizerk

The festival is run by volunteers who are committed to making the weekend the most memorable of the summer.


Festivalgoers can also help run the event and are particularly encouraged to join in with the workshops over the weekend, connecting with musicians and other artists to learn about their work.


Doune the Rabbit Hole artistic director Jamie Murray said: “You’d be surprised how many people have an old caravan kicking about that they don’t know what to do with.


“If they aren’t using it and would like a free festival ticket or two then we’d be very happy to do a trade.


“We need people’s help to make this the best event we possibly can, so we thought: let’s just put it online and see.


“Likewise, there are loads of things that we could use for the weekend to help make the site look good and we’re very happy to offer festival tickets to repay people’s contributions. We’ve already been offered spades, chairs, yurts and even a giant ex-army parachute but more stuff that we can use would be really helpful.


“It just seems like a nice, efficient and simple way of operating, which builds a great community feel to the event.”


Doune the Rabbit Hole is on August 22-24 at Cardross Estate near Port of Menteith.

Full weekend camping tickets:

Adults (over-17s) £72 in advance or £90 at the gate

Youngsters (13-16 inclusive) £35

Children (12 and under) free

Twitter @dounetherabbit

Facebook dounetherabbithole




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Uncommon wealth on a Friday night : By Pat McGuire

25th July is a Friday night. It’s also a summer night. King Tut’s Summer Nights as it happens too. The City is full of buskers and scam artists, tourists and people here for the Commonwealth games. It’s what we call “Taps aff” weather. However the Council and the Cops have been pro actively moving on beggars and making homeless people feel even more homeless, as if that could even be possible, just so the City presents a nicer veneer to our visitors for the games. I think they may even be prohibiting the traditional fat guy with no T shirt custom that is a part of the Glasgow summer (like it or loath it, it happens on the 2 or 3 days of summer we usually get here.) I’ve only seen a couple of them this week, they might be an endangered species.

But that is what happens when they open up a City to the world. They only want to show the good bits and ignore the rest, we all know our City is great though and so do our visitors and people who come here. Be it for the games or the music or the patter. We also know that there is a lot of problems with OUR City too. We don’t need to airbrush them out of the equation.

This is our City and anyone else’s too, if they want to be a part of it. And one huge part of it is King Tut’s. It’s a venue that has hosted bands that took on the world, and won. I don’t need to tell you who played there unless you lived under a rock for the last 20 years or more. Some of the best gigs I’ve ever been at were in Tut’s. I’ve seen maybe 40 or more bands that I can think of right now in that venue. Some went on to greater things, others didn’t. That is how it goes in the music firmament, it’s all a bit of luck and talent and good timing that either works for or works against you. You almost need to just do it and fall into the net of chance, in the hope that it doesn’t break you but you get to bounce back up, like a gymnast and get the applause. Or you miss the net and break a few bones and decide to have a real job and a real career and call it quits.

So tonight we have four distinct people on the bill for King Tut’s Summer Nights. All of them play acoustic sets but each of them approach their music from different directions.

First on is Paul John MacIver, an intense young man from Inverness-shire who leans into his guitar and the crowd with a lot of energy. I don’t really know a lot about the guy although we spoke briefly after the gig, but I liked his set and you can hear more of him at his Sound Cloud link in my preview on the gig here.

The second artist on the bill is Aaron Fyfe, and his set is lovely to my jaded ears. I’d like to write more about him and his music, but again I don’t feel I know enough to write anything worthwhile so I’ll look out for his next gigs and try to pop along and maybe do him justice. Again see my preview piece for his Sound Cloud and have a listen. Here.

So for me the next two people are why I’m here tonight. Jamie Coleman is now a friend of mine after I saw him play King Tut’s and then Pivo Pivo a few months ago. Since then Jamie has supported Alabama 3 and also John Power. Jamie’s strength lies in his songs, each one is a story about life, from the day to day mundane stuff to the tragic and almost hopeless. He described his singing as sounding “like a guy who swallowed an ashtray”. And I’ll grant that he does have a rough tone to his voice. But that just adds to the overall effect of his music. He doesn’t do much banter between songs. The message is in the music here. Most if not all of the crowd know the lyrics and sing along too. Jamie has touched on that essence of life’s ups and many downs that people instantly identify with. Some people do crowd interaction, Jamie doesn’t. His intensity is in the words and the chords and the ashtray voice.

Jamie Coleman KTSN 1

Standout songs tonight (well all of them are) include “Welfare State of Mind” – A song that is a masterpiece even if you didn’t know the background to it. Even if you thought Jamie had just made it up (he hasn’t though it is based on his personal experiences.) This is a song that had a music industry rep approach him as he loved the song, but wanted the title changed… I think Mr Coleman told him where to go, precisely and succinctly. As it happens Jamie was at the social a few weeks ago to sort out a claim (how many of us have enjoyed that experience?) and when he came out a protest against benefits sanctions was happening. So he ended up playing some songs and joining in. It’s not quite Rock n Roll, it is real life though.

I don’t need to hammer on about how “real” Jamie is. Anyone who knows him is aware of what he does for society above and beyond writing and playing his music. He doesn’t do charity shows and donate proceeds from record sales to appear as if he is from the people. He does it because he is that type of guy. He could get exposure by just playing his stuff. He is from and of the people. Like millions of us. Just he is a talented guy with a big heart who wants to give a bit back.

It’s not at all downer music though, it is uplifting. “Remember the Old Days” has become a staple at Jamie’s gigs. A rousing ode to a misspent youth when you could go down the park with your mates and have a great time (God how I miss those times…) when life was that bit more free and fun and just felt that much better.

Jamie Coleman KTSN by Pat McGuire

There is an overriding theme here. A look back at the good times, and a document on the current not so great ones. But at the same time “Sit down Skin Up” is all about the moment. Taking the time to realise that life happens right now, so grab it while you can. It is not a rehearsal you only have one shot at it.



Rather than bore you with more words though, courtesy of John McKinlay here is Jamie’s closing song from the gig – “Die My Own Way”

Jamie Coleman has a lot of gigs coming up. So treat yourself and go along with an open mind and an open heart.

Jamie Coleman is playing :

Dullatur Golf Club Cumbernauld : 1st August for Breast Cancer Awareness.

Ivory blacks Glasgow : 7th August : EFC Events ( Events for Charities )

Supporting Nick Mercer at The Buff Club Glasgow : 29th August.

Also Jamie will be appearing at a few dates for The Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year.

Jamie Coleman on Sound Cloud :


Gerry Cinnamon 2 sized

Next up for this sold out King Tut’s Summer Nights gig, is the one and only Gerry Cinnamon. I was aware of Gerry through some mutual friends, but also the aforementioned Jamie Coleman spoke about him in an interview I published a while back. Mr John McKinlay (who makes cracking live videos, camera in one hand, pint in the other) had also urged me to go along to Gerry’s open mic nights at The Priory. I took them up on this offer and had a brilliant night, but that was more about Gerry getting people to play and play alongside them. Tonight was the first time I’d seen Gerry play live for a “real” gig.

The word enigma is over used. But I’m using it here because I can. By definition it means something difficult to explain or understand. Gerry Cinnamon’s talent and general star quality is not what the enigma is for me. It’s how bloody good he is at being an enigma that is the enigma itself. Have you ever met someone and the first thing they do is hug you and make you feel welcome, then go on to play guitar and drum boxes and harmonicas and compère an open mic session with great people playing, and get that greatness out of them too? That is what Gerry does. And this was weeks ago at The Priory open mic night.

Tonight Gerry comes on with the audience shouting his name like a football chant. One that is derived from KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give it up”. The roof seems to swell in the venue almost to bursting point. Gerry is genuinely astounded as his tall frame approaches the mic. “How good is this? Really?” Then he jams along with the crowd for a few chords. Well we all know the answer. The Venue is excellent, the people are up for it, the atmosphere is giving me the shakes and I’ve only had two rum and cokes. I see loads of familiar friendly faces and have met a few new ones outside. It’s gonna be a BELTUR!

I knew this gig was going to be a good one, the line up dictated that it must be, but even then my high expectations were surpassed. I posted on social media when I got home that “I’ve seen many gigs at Tut’s, but this one was amazing”. Okay I’m sometimes over enthusiastic about live music, but trust me. I know people will be wishing they were there. It just had that feeling of something on the cusp of greatness. Something about to happen. Something else?

Gerry Cinnamon by Pat McGuire

Before he plays “Kampfire Vampire” Gerry urges people to do what they do, not to get hung up on the money makers. Then gets tore into the song with guitar and harmonica and a huge smile. His Mod looks and poise suggests a younger Paul Weller, but Weller never smiled a lot at his gigs. Gerry has a big cheesy grin on his face for most of the show.





Case in point – with thanks again to John McKinlay -

Most of the gig for me is a blur, I’m trying to take pictures for this review, but also trying to soak up the ambience and the feeling. I’m in the pit then at the sides and then one of the staff tells me I can shoot from the stage too. I pop up for a bit but drop back down soon as I want to see the gig the same as the rest of the people here. I want to soak the event into my mind. I want to lose myself to the wisdom of the crowd. I end up at the back so I can just watch the event unfold. Standing on a bench seat surrounded by like minded people. Popping a shot and sipping another rum and coke. Smiling like an idiot at anyone giving me eye contact. I’m almost lost for a while as Gerry Cinnamon plays like a holy demon and just keeps upping the ante. There is an air of almost messianic fervour and it is evident all around me. Not in a bad way, just as a unifying force binding people together for a part of an hour. We all know it has to end soon, but we are grabbing it while we can. I look into my tumbler to make sure no one has added something “extra” to it. It looks clear, it’s just rum and coke.

Gerry Cinnamon 3 KTSN by Pat McGuire

Forget about the timeline – I hear “Flickering Flame” begin with a some rasping guitar chords and a non apologetic lyric. “Dead Man’s Shoes” meets us on the other side but only if we get there. And then a drumbeat from his pedals gets another chorus of “Gerry Cinnamon nana nana na na” going to take us into a cover of “Good Feeling” but done the Gerry Cinnamon way and not Flo Rida.

Gerry does covers in his set, Beck’s “Loser” gets a good workout. But for me his cover of Dougie MacLean’s ”Caledonia”, as imperfect as it was, is just perfect anyway. Some people only know it from adverts on the telly. Others know it from late night parties, when we are not in Scotland. Usually played by the least drunk mate in the room with the rest of us waiting for the chorus. In King Tut’s we are still in Scotland, but we all join in the chorus anyway. Why? Because it’s a great song and Gerry gets us to “take the roof off!”  It was “pure dynamite” Gerry, it was.

(With thanks again to John McKinlay)

After the gig, a few of us retire to The Priory and meet up for post gig drinks. I’m heading out for a smoke and hear a round of cheering and applause. I’ve never heard that much joy at me leaving a pub before. Then I realise it’s because Gerry has just walked in. He gives me a handshake then a hug and his eyes are watery. Genuinely surprised at his reception. As I lope up the steps I hear the chant again… “Gerry Cinnamon, Cinnamon nana nana nana na na!”

Gerry Cinnamon @ King Tuts by Pat McGuire

Gerry has some gigs coming up :

Glasgow Green as part of the Commonwealth Games Festival : 31st July and also 3rd August.

Prestfest in Prestwick on 2nd August.

He also has an EP due out this Autumn so check his FB page for more info :


Pat McGuire.

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The Last Ever T In The Park At Balado And I MIssed It – Pat McGuire

And so the weekend crunched to a halt on Sunday night at Balado. All day in Glasgow tired people with back packs have been getting off trains and buses and going home to go to bed. Painted faces and hung-over smiles. I saw some of them as I wandered into town to pick up some prints. Those lucky, lucky bastar….. people.

You see, I didn’t get to T in the Park. I didn’t get a media/photo pass and even if I did I would probably not have made it due to personal issues. Much like the World Cup I had to watch it on the telly.

I was at the very first ever T in the Park though in 1994. I had a ticket for the Saturday and could hear the bands from my house on the Sunday too. It was at Strathclyde park so I could actually walk it home, drunk and happy, no back pack, with Rage Against The Machine still ringing in my head. Still not quite believing that I had seen the Manic Street Preachers and didn’t realise that Richey wasn’t there (A huge tent support blocked my view of where he would have been.) The Wikipedia page has the days mixed up by the way for 1994. I know because I listened to Teenage Fanclub and later on Primal Scream from my doorstep. They played the Sunday and my ticket was for the Saturday. I’m pretty sure Blur where on the Saturday too and I only caught some of their set before going to see another band on the main stage. But, I was rather drunk at the time.

I was there with my brother Mick, and also Steven and Haz from my band, and a few other people. All the people in bands or into music in Bellshill, Viewpark, Uddingston, Motherwell, Hamilton etc that I knew were there. It seemed to be somehow a validation of us as bands and musicians and fans of live music that T in the Park was happening right on our door step. Punks and alt rockers and indie kids merged with goths and some metal fans too. Even the local Police where quite nice that day.

Going to the ‘Port a loos’ was fraught with danger and excitement (and excrement too). I had resisted for a few hours until I had to go for a slash. Whilst waiting my turn I heard someone shout from outside the fence “Jimmy are you there?” I shouted back “Aye mate, right here!” Just as a wind up, and a carrier bag containing one half bottle of Buckfast, one half bottle of Vodka, 40 smokes and an oddly wrapped substance which was of an oily bluish black colour contained in small tight cellophane came flying over. Oh and a least 4 packets of Rizlas…

I hope “Jimmy” didn’t get into trouble from his mates. But I took this carrier bag of joy and shared it amongst my friends so it didn’t go to waste. And I’m sure I caught some it’s bounty as Rage Against The Machine played their set that night.

So now we have just had the last Balado T in the Park. And many of you will have been there, or watched it on the telly, but for those of us who couldn’t be there here is what we/you/I should have seen.

Okay I love The Pixies, love Biffy Clyro too. But for this article I’m talking about smaller bands or bands that are yet to become huge. We all know Paul Weller played and Jake Bugg and some band called Bastille. They all get heavy coverage and bloggage and so on. Heavy rotation on the radio is cool but sometimes it can mean you miss the hidden gems in a festival that is so varied. I watched the Manics on the telly, enjoyed it, but rather than going on about them, I’m going to go on about these next bands who played the last T in the Park at Balado.


Fatherson : I’ve seen Fatherson a couple of times, Ross their singer used to work in the same place as me but we didn’t know each other. A friend of mine JP suggested them, and later I got to see them at the Oran Mor and do some pictures, then I got to shoot at their QMU gig in Glasgow too. Ross also does open Mic nights at Box in Glasgow, and he and his band are what you commonly call “bloody nice blokes.” I would have been in the crowd singing along to their set, if I was there. Luckily they were on the telly, and of course on the BBC iPlayer thingy for people like me who didn’t get to the gig:

In the King Tuts Tent at T in the Park :

If that link goes down go to their Facebook, I’m sure it’s full of fan videos and links.


Next is a band called Slaves. Not seen them live even though they played up here not too long ago. I should have seen them at King Tuts but thought I was going to be covering Shellac the same night instead. The Shellac thing fell through so I missed my chance. Such is the way of the world. I won’t miss them next time though. Slaves are almost as if Ant and Dec suddenly got ready to rumble, but for real with a drum kit and a guitar, more talent and a good use of expletives. My mate Jimmy (not the Jimmy who supplied the booze in the bag) told me I should see them and I’m going to as soon as I can. Slaves are a wee bit mental, possibly not work safe too (why are you reading this at work?)

Slaves on facebook :


The Twilight Sad were suggested to me by Richard, a man who forces me to drink Wild Turkey just about any time we end up in the pub together. When I say “forced” of course I mean “encouraged” and by “encouraged” I really mean “suggested” and by “suggested” I mean of course I wanted to anyway. A writer we both like would use that demon spirited drink as a tool or an enabler. Much the same as I use a certain tonic wine made by monks… Anyway The Twilight Sad are an immense band. They sell out shows when they play in Scotland and have played all over the world. I’ve only seen them doing stripped down sets twice and not as a full band. Another glaring omission in my gig history was The Twilight Sad playing with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Yes, The actual RSNO at Paisley Abbey.. google that!). Anyway here they are at T in The Park… well no actually. Their set is not up yet so you need to check Yertube for fan videos in the meantime.

So, it’s all over until next year. I hope if you were there you caught some new bands or at least bands you hadn’t seen before. All the headliners were great of course, but all of the bands make the weekend. Tastes vary too, no one can force anyone else to like a band or artist. If a band gets to play at T in The Park they tend to be of a certain calibre so we know they are at the very least decent. My point is sometimes seeing a band lower on the bill can be more rewarding that you would have thought.

Am I sad that T in the Park is moving from Balado? Not really, never went there. I watched it all on telly. I only went to the first one then had to grow up a bit and become a productive member of society (I say that with a heavy touch of irony.) I lost my Rock and my Roll when I was 30. However over the last few years I have got back into live music. I might be a bit creaky around the knees and back, but my ears still work and so do my eyes. For as long as I am able to, I will try to write about and take photographs of bands that are out there, doing gigs and releasing records and writing songs. So I missed a festival? Big deal. There will be more and I will cover them when I can. Meantime, watch bands on the telly, but also go out and see bands live. Buy T shirts and CDs from the bands at the gigs (it might just pay for their petrol and drinks). If you are in a band or wanting to start one up. Go out and do it. Now is your time to give it a go. Or write a blog or video/photograph bands. Book a live gig night. Make a scene, do it, and if it fails at least you tried.

Pat McGuire.


Follow me on twitter @patmcguire1969  and also @PMGphotog if you want to read more of my stuff.

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Jamie Coleman, Gerry Cinnamon, John Paul McIver & Aaron Fyfe @ King Tuts (preview) : Pat McGuire

By Pat McGuire

King Tut’s Summer Nights festival has being going for 5 years now and always seems to get the right balance of new talent on the bill. Last year I was lucky enough to catch a few of them and they were excellent bands with the right mix each night.

This Friday is a bit special for me though as I’ve covered Jamie Coleman before and been looking forward to doing a review on Gerry Cinnamon for while too. The other acts on that night are well worth checking out too (as are all the acts playing the KTSN festival this year).

I’m saving my words for the actual review which will be up on Voice of Scotland after Friday, but for now here is a preview on the gig.

Gerry Cinnamon is a lovely guy. He runs an open mic night on Wednesdays at The Priory on Sauchiehaull Street and has played Tut’s in the past. ( see John McKinlay’s live video here CLICK ). Sadly apart from seeing him at the open mic nights and on John’s videos I’ve yet to see him do a full set live. Can’t wait to see him play his amazing acoustic loopy goodness on Friday.

Gerry Cinnamon on Soundcloud.

Jamie Coleman played at Tut’s earlier this year supporting John Lennon McCullagh. Since then he has Supported John Power from Cast / The La’s as well as The Alabama 3. I caught him a while back at Pivo Pivo ( my review and interview are here CLICK  ). Jamie is a true troubadour, always playing and writing songs. He does a lot of work for great causes too. Not to be missed.

Jamie Coleman on Soundcloud.

Paul John MacIver : Don’t know a lot about this guy yet. This is just a preview but I had a listen on his Soundcloud page and liked what I heard. You should too :

Paul John MacIver on Soundcloud.

 Aaron Fyfe : Likewise I’ve not seen him as yet, but again his Soundcloud page promises some great songs.

Aaron Fyfe on Soundcloud.

So there you have it, four great artists for £6.50 on a Friday night in one of the best venues in town. I’ll be doing pictures and a proper review after the event, so why not pop along and have a listen. See you there.

For Gig Info : CLICK

Pat McGuire

Follow me on twitter via @pmgphotog or pop me an email via

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Rank Berry @ Pivo Pivo : Glasgow July 1st 2014 : Pat McGuire

I was invited along tonight by the lovely Laura Scott of the Scottish Tour Collective who co manages the headliners tonight: Rank Berry. As I was working until 9pm I missed the support acts in full, however it seems one of them didn’t make it so Wesley from One Last Secret was called on to do an acoustic set instead. The other support was from Deadbeat Ragdolls and whilst I only caught their last 2 songs sounded like a band I might look out for in the future.

I’m accompanied by “Half Day” McVey, a friend, co worker and one part of a mysterious music duo called….well I can’t tell you that or it wouldn’t be a mystery would it? We meet Laura outside and have a chat and a smoke then head in for some nice lagers to try to chase away the memories of our previous shift at work. I’ve covered bands at Pivo Pivo before and it’s a nice wee venue. This doesn’t stop me from getting lost on the way to the gents though. Only half a pint of lager into the night and I’ve lost my bearings already. Things could get tricky.


Rank Berry by Pat McGuire

I set up my camera for the venue and Rank Berry take to the stage. They are a 4 piece from Dumbarton who use the conventional rock band set up, 2 guitars, vocals, bass and drums. I notice right away that the bass player Marc Doherty is wearing the same Ramones T shirt as me (albeit in a different colour).

Rank Berry by Pat McGuire

This bodes well I think. Fair enough the lead guitarist Brian Kerr is wearing a Kiss T shirt, but at least he is not wearing make-up. Singer Jamie O’Donnell has that Jesus look, a bit like Samaras does, it’s the beard/hair combo.

Their drummer Grant Dallas exhibits that manically possessed appearance common amongst guys who batter their instruments for a living. It’s all good though, this is what Rock n Roll is about. A dynamic between band members that pushes its way into the music and out via the PA to your ears and crashes into your brain just in time for your eyes to tell you it’s on its way.

Rank Berry by Pat McGuire

Rank Berry do Rock n Roll like a bar band would in the southern states of the USA. I grab a JD and coke to help that mood along, and also because the lager is just not doing it for me. I’m taking pictures and also making notes on my phone, whilst drinking JD and Coke, knowing where the Gents is, and talking to “Half Day” McVey. Multi tasking like a mofo so to speak.

The band are tight and obviously used to playing live. They have done larger venues than this in the past so a smallish venue is no issue to them. It might also explain why the lead guitarist would leap off the stage and do a circuit of the venue now and then to give his wireless kit a workout. This could have ended in tragedy as one of the bar staff moved a table back to the adjoining alcove near the end of the gig, but he spotted it just in time.

Rank Berry by Pat McGuire

The band deliver a tight set with perhaps too many cover versions for my liking. They do The Faces “Stay With Me” and also “Crossroads” the way Cream did it. I was impressed with their cover of “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival though. I guess my take on cover versions is that it’s more interesting to take a song that is not in your particular musical genre and make it your own. That is just my opinion though. On the bands own songs they do a great job. At one point Grant uses cowbell. And we all know there is always room for more cowbell. I’m not knocking the band at all by the way. It takes time to learn and play together and maybe if I caught them in a larger venue there would have been more audience feedback too. That loop you get when the audience are up for it and the band responds and the audience get more into it and so on. Perhaps too, if I was just watching the band instead of taking notes and photographs it would have been more enjoyable for me.

The last song “Good Times” just about takes us to the curfew. With that brilliant crescendo you get at the end of Rock tunes. You know the one with the fills and rolls and hard major chords ringing out on the guitars until it crashes to a stop.

Rank Berry are a decent band, maybe I caught them on the wrong night for me. I will go and see them again just as a punter to see if I get more into it. I’ll never knock anyone that takes to a stage and plays to an audience live. It’s an investment in time and money to get to that point. Anyone that does that has a special place in my heart. Go and see them live and find their stuff on Yertube and make your own mind up. I’d say good band maybe just the wrong night for me.

Pat McGuire.


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No More Tiger : A New International @ Broadcast Glasgow 28th June 2014

I consider myself a lucky guy. I have a wonderful family and some pretty cool friends. I also have been able over the past few years to photograph and write about some amazing bands. Some people do it as a job, others for kudos, me I do it because I love it and it keeps me sane. Also, call me old fashioned but I try to only cover bands/artists that I like or feel engaged with. It’s not my job, it’s more of a vocation. That doesn’t mean that sometimes I’ll go to a gig with almost no previous knowledge of the band. I like to be pleasantly surprised too.

And so last week I was on social media, posting drunkenly some of my favourite tunes as I do ( I love this music thing so want to share that with you all…) and a message popped up from a friend asking me to come along to the gig tonight. To be honest I had heard of the acts on the bill and thought why not. They seem okay. What have I got to lose?

I did a cursory Yertube search, found it interesting and cleared my extensive diary entries forthwith ( Haircut, football game on telly, read a last chapter of a pulp novel…), went to work and did 5 and half boring hours of “work”.  My evening was now free to go to the gig. As me and some of my friends say “Yaldi”.

I’ve never been in Broadcast before despite it’s close proximity to my house. So when I walked in and a Hen night/Pub golf party was there I felt a slight twinge of uneasiness. This was swiftly assuaged when I went out for a smoke and the football was over. The Hen night/Pub Golfers wandered off down Sauchiehall Street to “party” in other places. I’m sure they had a lot of fun and hope they didn’t get arrested.

In the venue downstairs there is a mix of cool people, cooler people and me, a square dude with a camera. Speaking of cool. I had spoken to Biff Smith from A New International before the gig, he kindly showed me the room before the performance so I could work out my shooting angles. Biff is instantly easy to speak to and very affable and friendly. Also he had to disengage from our conversation to speak to his “Wee Mammy” before the gig. Again, call me old fashioned, but when someone calls their Mother, their “Wee Mammy” I tend to like them. Also in the room is Duglas T Stewart (BMX Bandits) who was the friend who had asked me to come to the gig. His partner, Chloe Philip is the bassist in No More Tiger who headline tonight. Duglas is one of the many people who have done me favours in the past that allow me to get to shows like this. I’m not name dropping by the way, just stating a fact.


A New International may be know by some people in their previous form as The Starlets, I’m not au fait with that band because I’m a square dude with a camera, but I hear they were a rather good indeed. They assemble onstage with Biff in a neckerchief and clipper hat almost resembling  a 1920′s cartoon hero and begin to play. Immediately I’m channelling Jacques Brel and perhaps Django Reinhardt.  A New International seem to favour songs that begin in A minor (which is not a bad thing at all) then swing and sway into almost Gypsy Jazz with an overlay of Violin and Trumpet and some particularly good twangy surfish guitar. Biff delivers torch song vocals which in some parts remind me of Billy MacKenzie (Associates) and Leonard Cohen. If I closed my eyes for a moment, I could swear I was in Paris after the “Great War”. Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Man Ray, Picasso are all there watching. Young men in the corners are smoking Gauloises and discussing the human condition. I open my eyes and instead it is a basement venue in Glasgow. However the music still seems to swirl around like a ghost of another century, the echoes of which are still hanging in the air above, in the architecture and the names of places nearby. One of their songs tonight – Valentino, could easily feature in a Tarantino movie. It has that same filmic element. In fact many of their songs contain a dramatic theme. Imagine Nick Cave if he lightened up a bit and we are getting close. The whole band are fantastic musically, it is not a one man show but an ensemble piece. “we come here to break your hearts.” Indeed they do with a sophisticated and romantically toned set that enthrals the crowd and a certain square dude with a camera. I’ll not bore you with my take on A New International further, other than to encourage you to see them live, close your eyes, and tell me where they take you.

No More Tiger by Pat McGuire

Headliners tonight No More Tiger are also an ensemble group. Sure they have guitar, bass and drums but they also have some odd keyboards and at one point a ukulele played by their drummer Carlo. On one level they kind of remind me of an early The B 52s with their bouncy pop and roll. Maybe it’s Jimmy’s deep voice with Chloe and Flore’s vocals as a counterpoint. However that is just a first impression based on some quick Yertube results. No More Tiger do songs about buses (Bus Song) and the CIA (Company man)  and having a Doppelganger (oddly entitled Doppelganger.) And also one about text/internet language (OMG MY LUV 4U). Jimmy’s sense of humour seeds the lyrics with a witty finesse and makes the gig a very enjoyable experience. At one point from the left of the stage I see my mate Stevie and his mate Dougie dancing away on the right. You know you own a crowd when they are smiling and dancing.

No More Tiger have that nice oddness you get with light indie pop music when it is done just the right way. They might not be to everyone’s taste. But then again not everyone has taste. If A New International reminded me somewhat of Paris in the 1920′s then No More Tiger suggest a more 1960′s vibe. In fact at one point the vocals (on  Hymn) seemed to ping pong from Jimmy/Chloe/Flore almost like an early song by The Who.

I’ve not read any press on the band so my ears were fresh to them. Some people might find their stuff twee or kitsch but I found it quite life affirming. Good music performed well with a clever sense of humour and great arrangements. It’s all about the song and the performance for me, be it punk/metal or pop music. Both bands tonight were a pleasant surprise and left me wanting to see them again. Always a good thing in my book.

Pat McGuire.

Links :

No More Tiger :

A New International :

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Method of Destruction : Kingpin : Certain Death @ Audio Glasgow June 25th 2014 : Pat McGuire

A Wednesday night in Glasgow. Sunny and pleasant for a change. Of course I have a hangover and hay fever combo just to make me feel rubbish. I endured work and all its mundane confusion with my sights firmly set on tonight’s gig. Will I feel out of place? Will I stay on soft drinks? Do I need my ear defenders? These are the type of questions running through my head as I got the bus into town, luckily the answer was “no.”

Outside the Venue I meet Den, Lev and Gary from Kingpin (the band I’m here to cover) and had a wee chat. Guitarist Neevo was away trying to find a crack dealer at the time, or looking for a “Ho” or riding a motorcycle away from a bank robbery…or maybe just in the toilet. I’m joking of course but that’s just to invoke a stereotype of Hardcore/Thrash bands that seems fairly common, i.e. That people who play a certain type of loud music are innately crazy criminalists and smoke crack whilst robbing banks to pay for prostitutes. I don’t think Kingpin do any of that though, well at least to the best of my knowledge.


Kingpin are pretty cool guys, I know Den but had never met the others. They are upbeat, a bit cheeky, and full of banter. They are obviously looking forward to the gig and their energy levels are high. I leave them to their pre gig routine (snorting white powder from young ladies body parts…nah I’m kidding) and wander inside to get a beer. The venue is a typical under a bridge space with exotic toilet facilities. The barman is effervescent as I ask what lager they have on tap -”Nane, jist cans.” So I get a Red Stripe with a lovingly prepared rusty lid and sip it warily. I think my last tetanus injection should see me through the night.

Certain Death 7-1 sized

First on are Certain Death, a band from Kirkcaldy who feature 2 vocalists and kick-start the gig with some speedy punky thrash interlaced with a light garnish of rap. Between songs they interact with the crowd, asking who has ever been on the dole before doing “Giro Day” which is a corker of a tune.  Heavy riffage and great dynamics ensue. I almost lose a filling from one of my back teeth when I’m standing too close to the P.A. to get my photos. A small price to pay when seeing a band who really enjoys what they are doing and knows how to work the room. Ideal stuff to make me forget about my potential death from the rusty can of lager and blow my hangover off to F*ck too. I will make sure I catch them again soon. See the links at the foot of the review for more info.


So I wander back outside for a smoke after Certain Death’s set. Feeling more alive than I had 30 minutes previously. Still feeling hay feverish, but no hangover. Maybe rusty lager is the curer?

Kingpin. What can I say about Kingpin? (Apart from their predilection for crime and drugs…again I’m joking, honestly.) I’ve missed a few of their gigs over the last wee while and am really looking forward to seeing them live. Just before they begin and are setting up on stage I sense a quiet before the storm. Lev sits at the front of the stage for a few seconds almost as if he is mentally preparing himself. The crowd seems to get more excited too. A tension is imperceptibly hanging in the air and I get the feeling that I might need to visit the exotic bogs and snort some…sorry have a quick slash so that I don’t miss a second of their set. I also grab a rust free can of lager too. It’s always best to be prepared.

Kingpin 8-1 sized

Kingpin 3-1 sized

Kingpin do an immense set. Which is no easy feat considering that MoD, the headliners from the USA have not played Scotland for decades. I don’t think it matters to the band too much though as they just get tore in and do their thing. Den underpins their special blend of Thrash/Hardcore with some floor splitting drummage which is almost industrial. Gary knocks the f*ck out of his bass whilst looking carefree and relaxed. Neevo’s guitar squeals and grinds and chugs along on top while he head bangs like a good un’ (so much so that in one of my shots he looks like Chewbacca from Star Wars when the moment is frozen.)  Lev stomps the stage and roars his lyrics. They Serve Themselves is a classic example of how to take speed and energy and release it an sonic explosion that f*cks up your eardrums in a nice way. By that I mean when you find yourself walking along the street the next day and a bus or train passes close, and you think of the drum fill that would signal the tempo change.

Kingpin by Pat McGuire

Last Warning from intro to the end invokes dark metal/thrash/speed punk and is angry and still structured. Almost like a Greco-Roman statue with a bearded philosopher looking a bit pissed off. Speaking of being pissed off, Lev’s face seems to signal anger and disdain but I read it more as concentration. It’s a totally physical performance and the way Kingpin use the stage is a workout in itself. Gary at one point takes off his top. No doubt for the ladies in the audience (there were some, it wasn’t a total sausage fest). Neevo seems to be wearing multi coloured surfer shorts too. Maybe he is going to a narly skate party later? And Bitches Leave (Think Robocop, not misogyny) is wry and heavy in equal measures. I’d heard the demo before, but live it really takes off, I hear an echo of Beastie Boys Sabotage in the first section, but you may not. Either way you have 20 seconds to comply…

Kingpin by Pat McGuire

Kingpin have tons of gigs coming up, check their page at the bottom of the review for more info.

And so, Method of Destruction are on next. I grab a smoke and let my camera cool down as I’ve taken too many pictures and had to change memory cards mid set too. I get back to the bar to get a can of lager. I speak to a few people who have especially come to the gig just for Method Of Destruction. It’s a huge thing for them as the band have not played here for decades. I’m a bit off the radar for the band so claim no previous knowledge whatsoever. I did do some research though, just the usual Yertube searches. I liked what I heard musically. Also the band were either inside or outside the venue most of the night. And New York accents are not too unusual in Glasgow anyway. I think I nodded to the drummer a few times whilst the other bands were on, he looked a bit like a mate of mine from Boston (The City in the US, not the band called Boston…) and Billy Milano and the others were watching the support acts too at the back of the venue.  Their brand of raw thrash erupts and a mosh pit develops. I don’t know what their songs were called to be honest but going by the crowd reaction they played their back catalogue as well as a few from Milano’s previous incarnation-Stormtroopers of Death.

Method of Destruction by Pat McGuire

He quipped in between songs about not knowing whether to eat or f*ck a haggis (so he did both) and has the type of larger than life charisma that makes a great front man. The band are no slackers either (despite being from Austin, Texas) and kick arse and bring the night to a close. The smell of sweat and denim and leather probably still lingers in the venue.

Tonight was a perfect gig in that all three of the bands all brought their own take to a similar genre, technically you couldn’t put a sheet of paper between them. I had a great night and wandered off home with my ears ringing. Great stuff indeed.

Pat McGuire.

Links :

More pictures : see for full band sets

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Universal Thee At Beresford Lounge 30th May 2014 – Pat McGuire

I’m sitting in the Variety Bar with my friend Tom Perrie (Brother of Andrew Perrie, bassist with Universal Thee) waiting for another friend “Half-day McVey” to arrive. We are ruminating if the goldfish are real. There is a faux fireplace on a screen in the corner so it’s entirely plausible that the fish in the tank above the stairs are also just clever fakes, perhaps a few LCD screens in a box configuration? They could even be in a real tank but just fake robotic fish? Anything is possible these days. Maybe if I took one out and put it in my pint we would find out the truth? Luckily the band come in just as I’m about to test my theory. I’ll find out next time but for now the goldfish are safe.

Universal Thee have just finished sound check for the gig tonight and require some liquid refreshment. So we huddle up under the fake fireplace and get some drinks in. As a band they have the right dynamic even sans instruments. James Russell (singer/guitarist) is a slight chap with an air of inquisitiveness, always looking around as if he is soaking in information all the time. His wife and fellow singer Lisa Russell is charming and chatty and very down to earth. Robin Spivey (guitarist) is quiet and seems shy (but when he has his guitar strapped on it’s a different story, more about this later). Andrew Perrie (Bassist) is affable and intelligent and only has an iPhone for “work reasons“. He also plays bass with his eyes closed a lot (this becomes apparent as I work through the photographs I took on the night). Drummer Kevin Haddow is tall and slightly scary looking-as all good drummers should be. It has been said that the best bands are like a gang, if so then Universal Thee are a gang that could beat you in a pub quiz, and perhaps also in a fight in the car park afterwards if you cheated.

Back in March I reviewed their Album-Back to Earth and missed seeing them live. So I’m really looking forward to getting some shots and seeing them tonight. As an added bonus I get to spend some time with them and their Manager James Scott pre gig too. As we leave The Variety Bar the band are wondering if they can take some food into the venue. I suggest getting a “pizza pass” to go with their band passes, I’m not sure if it worked.

We cross the road and sit outside The Beresford. Sipping drinks in the sunshine that pours down Sauchiehall street and chat about comedy TV shows. Synthesizer Patel and Wilco being a key topic at one point. Their Manager James and I have a few surprising things in common too, involving criminal gangs in Wishaw, and schools in Viewpark and him having a hairy time in Bellshill once. It’s a small world. I hasten to add none of us were in criminal gangs in Wishaw…

This is not the bands first gig in Glasgow, they have played here a few times before. But it’s my first time seeing them live so I’m champing at the bit for the venue to open so I can experience some Universal Thee up close, and personal. I’ve never been in the Beresford Lounge in its present incarnation before. But it would have been nicer for the acts on the bill if there was a sign outside advising that a show was on, and perhaps one directing people downstairs to the gig too. This is no fault of the promoter(Laura Scott of the Scottish Tour Collective). The fact that a few bands have gigs/album launches on at nearby venues doesn’t help either, but that is just bad luck. (Holy Ghosts were doing an album launch in Nice N Sleazies. Eastcoastdefector were playing at Broadcast too.)

Before Universal Thee come on however we have a nice acoustic set from Madeline Orr, followed by Scott Cowie doing comedy and guitar. Both enjoyable sets that were only really hampered by there being a small crowd. And a key thing here too, the bar downstairs was closed, causing people to drift upstairs if they wanted a drink.

Universal Thee 2 for VoS

All of that aside though I was there for Universal Thee live. So I stocked up on booze and nicotine prior to their set thus enabling me to take my pictures and enjoy the show. And what a show it was. On the LP the band might sound slightly reserved, live however they rip it up, rock out and get tore in. Their songs have a certain oomph factor. Structured noise and melody whilst still being faithful to the recorded versions on the LP.

Universal Thee 4 for VoS

They open with Bear in the Hospital which was my favourite track on the album when I reviewed it back in March. To quote myself from that article – “A wonderful yet minimalistic song that covers all the bases for good indie rock.” Played live it is heavier and of course louder. That is why we go and see bands in the first place is it not? To hear a song organically and happening in front of us. Out front the sound is good and the band could and should be playing to a packed house. As it is though some of their friends from fellow Edinburgh band Ded Rabbit who were playing the Attic at The Garage next door are there. Wesley and Fraser from Kilmarnock’s own One Last Secret too. Along with a few punters who hung around from earlier. And of course Tom, “Half-day McVey” and myself.

Universal Thee 6 for VoS

The band crack open the bottle of fuzzy pop that is Bone Collector next. This is one of their songs that openly shows their Pixies influence. I’m almost back in my early 20′s when I saw The Pixies in London, if I closed my eyes I could be there. Robin Spivey’s guitar licks and the song’s dynamic really make me think is Joey Santiago here tonight? Tiger Tiger has an short but effective intro before the song springs to life. Wonderful stuff. James and Lisa’s vocals intertwine and move around the song like a spider walking up your spine. Bendy guitars take us to the end, but I still want it to go on, and on and on. Universal Thee then do two songs that I hadn’t heard before and which are not on the LP. Why do you have to be so unkind and Xang. Causing me to malfunction in operating my camera so I retire to a table to have a sip or two of the drinks that Tom and “Half-day McVey” have bought me. Crisis resolved I go back to shooting pictures. Andrew Perrie is still playing his bass with his eyes closed. Kevin Haddow is hammering the drums(despite having to use a spare hi hat stand as a cymbal stand) and Make a little Money begins with more bendy guitar and segues into lovely vocals and quirky walking bass lines.

Universal Thee 5 for VoS

As the set draws to the last third. The band take it to Down which while the song’s lyrical content might be about something unpleasant, strangely lifts my spirits with it’s lovely noisy passages and heavy drums. Robin Spivey is not a shy guitarist, he is evoking guitar gods as he pulls something ethereal from his Telecaster. I’m hearing echoes of Sonic Youth as my ears get blasted from the side monitors and the amps. Wolves of the Netherworld then rips us all a new one! I’m genuinely scared at one point as the lyrics seem to be about what their manager James and I were talking about before the gig (criminal gangs…) but I’m sure it is not.

Always end on a high note and leave them asking for more. So the last song does this indeed. Aranis Natas is rocking us out on a high. I don’t know if the sound guy set his faders to malky, or if it’s just my ears, but it sounds loud even in the quiet parts. Menacing and almost industrial. Indie rock has never sounded so good, really!

Universal Thee 3 for VoS

I’m sad that the gig had to end, but it left me wanting more. I’m glad I finally got to see them live, meet them in person and do some pictures and review. It vindicates me, makes me feel whole. It might have changed my life too. And to quote “Half-day McVey” (not his real name, he is a musician and producer in his own right, and hopefully I will be doing a feature on his projects soon.)-”Reminds me of Uresei Yatsura crossed with Pavement. In a good way!”


After the gig I wandered over to Sleazies with “Half-day McVey” and the band went back to Edinburgh. It was a cracking night all in all. When Universal Thee come back to Glasgow I’ll be there to see them and I urge you to give them a listen too. They are one band who are definitely going places. I foresee bigger venues and maybe even some festivals on the horizon. Catch them while you can, up close and personal.

Pat McGuire.


Universal Thee gigs coming up :


27th of June in the Green Room in Perth.


5th July at River in Glasgow.


11th July Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh.


18th July Audio Soup Festival in Dunbar.


26th July The Corrina in Perth.


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Audio Soup = Awesome Soup

By Neil Kerr

audio soup

I have waited a while to post this review as the good folks at Audio Soup put on more than one party a year, and having been given press access to their first of 2014 the Equinox Party I was left seriously impressed. So I decided to wait a wee while for the soupers to reveal the line up for their main event, a three day festival taking place in the awesome setting of the Lammermuir hills in East Lothian, my home. More on that later.

The Equinox Party was quite an event, it took place in a large warehouse type building at Belhaven near Dunbar which is also in East Lothian and incorporated two main events, a band stage and a dance tent, both of which were well set out with times well displayed and easy to locate. A good start. After a quick tour of the site and a wee chat to some of the ticket holders affectionately referred to by the organisers as “soupers”, I was already quietly impressed with organisation and I had yet to hear a drum beat. A trip to the well stocked bar for a coke (designated driver) and I was further impressed to see locally made Thistly Cross Cider was predominant behind the bar, local venue local organisers and locally made drinks great work by the organisers, keep that up its the way to go with this type of event, they really should support the communities that they are in as much as possible.


Now for the actual event, the music and musicians we had all came to see, and there was a lot of people there an excellent turn out. First up were an act I had never seen before called Ska Ya Man bringing to our ears a unique mix of reggae ska music or was it ska reggae? Either way it was good, light hearted and entertaining, the stage was excellent too with some great visuals going on in the background. Ska Ya Man did a great set which got people to their feet and up to the front of the stage with ease, Their set was a great listen and well rehearsed, a great start to the day and well worth a look if you hear of them playing locally to you.


Next on stage were another act I had never seen before calling themselves The Support Act a band name that doesn’t lend itself to thoughts of great music, for me anyway. Gladly I was wrong these guys were just excellent their set got my attention from the first song and kept it until the last beat, the female vocalist delivering a flawless performance and the rest of the four piece act, one of whom I am sure was back on the stage later that day, were just as precise in their delivery, another great act. Also at this point it was coming to my attention that the sound being produced by the Audio Soup team was excellent quality.


The next act was another unique act a solo performer called Pauly Piper, a flutebox is the best way to describe him….. beatboxing and playing his flute to great effect, he has to be seen to be believed, unusually entertaining and great fun to watch, the organisers here have certainly done their homework. The following act The Girobabies were equally entertaining, although not my taste of music, the act was tight and clearly passionate about their music their lyrics to the point and sometimes risky another all round great act.


I have to point out that by this point in the day I was becoming very aware of the general manners of the people around me, the audience, the “soupers”. What a great bunch of people they are, an example of this came when my can of coke was accidently knocked out my hand by a dancing souper who was consumed by the music and dancing happily as I tried to squeeze by with camera and coke in hand, I was chancing it carrying both at any rate. At most gigs this would have gone unnoticed. However this cheery chap immediately was very apologetic and insisted on procuring me a new can, even though I protested that it was my own fault for chancing it through the tight space and not to worry, this guy disappeared still dancing into the crowd only to find me 10 minutes later on the other side of the stage carrying a shiny new coke for me. And he was not a solitary case I spoke to many soupers that day and all bar none were polite and only too happy to talk, they even let me stand in front of them to take pics, and anyone who knows me will know that this means that the person behind will be seeing nowt as i am not a wee chappy, what a great bunch of people you soupers are I raise my hat to each and every one of you.


Back on the stage I was feeling unsure of the next act appearing on stage, there were ten people there including not one but two saxophonists, I was wondering how this would sound, ten of them up there I thought was possibly a bit risky. I was very very wrong. This act was genius, and the sound people there at Audio Soup absolutely nailed it . The band are a band that have appeared on these pages in the past The Post Orgasmic Sunshine Band our Harsharan interviewed the band a while back. They were awesome so good i had to post on facebook how great the act was straight after they finished, I loved them. I spoke to the frontman Al after they came off stage and he was so modest about their sound a great guy.


The next act were also awesome, again I was unsure when a dj, a Bassist, a Guitarist, a Violinist and a guy with what appeared to be a penny whistle took to the stage. I was wrong again I am pleased to say. The Grousebeater sound system were brilliant too, unique, different and daring music using dance beats and adding some catchy riffs on the afore mentioned ensemble of instruments. It was brill, and well worth a look if you ever get the chance, all the acts were.


That includes the last act of the night before the DJ sets an act called The After Hours Quintet, another unusual act that were enjoyable, not the headline act I would have chose but then the crowd loved them, I did too just not the headline for me, I will leave you to guess which act was.

I should mention at this point the Elektical tent that was there… I visited it briefly and liked what I saw there too, I was there for the bands though. In that tent there was hip hop  acts as well as a top line up of DJ’s and the folks I asked who had been were impressed, unfortunately the reporter who was there from voice to cover that area was not too well and had to leave… Next time for that.

Big up to Audio Soup,awesome work from all involved, the set was top notch the sound second to none and the organisation in general was just great, impressed is possibly not a good enough description of how I felt as I left that night. I raise my hat once again to all involved thank you for having me and I look forward to the summer festival over the weekend of the 18th to the 20th of July 2014 where the organisers have arranged over 100 acts across the weekend and much much more. If the Equinox Party was anything to go by then this weekend is set to be outstanding. Find out all you need to know using the links below and check out the photo gallery too, see if you can spot the bassist that was in 2 bands.

Thanks again soupers for a day I wont forget.

Audio Soup facebook

Audio Soup Official website

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Universal Thee : Back to Earth : Album review by Pat McGuire.

  By Pat McGuire

 Universal Thee are a band from Edinburgh, consisting of James Russell on Guitar and vocals, Lisa Russell on vocals, Robin Spivey on guitar, Andrew Perrie on Bass and Kevin Haddow on drums.  I got their album to review as I was too ill to go and see them play live in Glasgow on Monday night ( 31st March ). I’m still bummed that I didn’t make the gig, but they were kind enough to send me the Album to review anyway.

Hearing this band initially you might think you were listening to something from that great epoch of indie rock that came out of the USA in the early to mid nineties. Do you remember Surfa Rosa? Doolittle? Have you ever listened to Slanted and Enchanted?

Back to Earth is Universal Thee’s debut album released on Eventual Heirs Records. And it rocks and sways and almost topples over around hooky guitar riffs, wobbly bass lines, almost vulnerable vocals and drums that keep it all tied down but also flip over themselves sometimes for added fun. Following on from the excellent Single “Aranis Natas” which was released in January, “Back to Earth” is an album full of quirks and treats. As a debut album it showcases a band that seem to know where they want to go musically. And that is wherever the hell they want to! The record segues easily between quiet and loud and quiet again. No apologies from me for using that term inversely. They like The Pixies which is a good thing. And I’m talking about The Pixies pre the several recent nostalgia tours. Before Black Francis was Frank Black and Kim Deal formed The Breeders. When that band were still a band in the true sense. I love The Pixies, they changed my life in a great way. I hope that Universal Thee change someone’s life too.

So the album, it’s all over the place in a good way. From the opening track to the ending, you really don’t know what exact dynamic will hit on the break or verse. It leaves you feeling a bit insecure but at the same time resolved when it either crashes into some mellow choruses or heavier guitar noise. “Bone Collector” the opening track could be a tribute to “Debaser” by The Pixies. Sonically it shares some of the same themes. But at the same time also could be an early Buzzcocks song with the widdley guitar lines too. It also has some nice vocal touches that make it nicely different to the aural influences I detected on first listen. It ends suddenly with some feedback fading away, gently…

Tiger Tiger” paraphrases in part William Blake, I assume it’s about poetry but it could easily be about something else. I really don’t know, and I like the fact that what seems as an obvious lyrical theme suddenly flies into something else. “Wolves” is a quirky trip of a song, possibly the only one so far that is Pavement-esque to my ears. If it was a bit slower and had more cowbell it could almost be Malkmus as his crew. It is hook filled and short and sweet, like a good well behaved indie/pop tune should be. “Feeling Fragile” will be my hangover song and one I wish I had to aid me through all my previous hangovers in the past, but will come in handy the next time I wake up in a house with a strange address in a place I don’t know, with that feeling. “Everything’s broken you know” – Yes I have been there many times before. Now I have a theme tune to wrap my moral failings around.

Eric” hits my Pixies trip right on the nose. Short song, starts, does what it does, ends. Perfect.

And then they come to “Down” which is a grower of a track. There is more to this song than you get a first, they almost sound angry…breaking the twisty quirky spell that we have encountered so far. Listen to it at least three times and see if you get it too.

The other tracks on the album are all just as good. Hooks and lines and turnarounds, faux floppy/sloppy playing but really tight at the same time. Whispering backing vocals and melodic leads. “Aranis Natas”, I mentioned earlier. So for me the album track that really does it for me is “Bear in Hospital“. A wonderful yet minimalistic song that covers all the bases for good indie rock.

As a debut album, sure it wears it’s influences proudly and there is nothing wrong with that. At the same time Universal Thee do sound different to other bands with the same record collections. I can’t quite put my finger on what that is, maybe because they have a contemporary twist and have filtered it all via 21st Century mores and recording techniques?  Or maybe it’s because they were too young to see the New Wave, No Wave and the original Indie Rock phenomena first hand? This only adds a freshness and newness to the genre. Essentially it doesn’t matter though. The end result it what counts. A very good debut album indeed with some cracking songs too. I really regret not seeing them live last Monday.

Universal Thee are still a fairly new band so if they are lucky they won’t be gobbled up by the music industry and perhaps get to make some more good records on their own terms.


Pat McGuire.


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