Nothing is a fairly surprising and serious change of pace for a bunch of guys straight from the Philadelphia hardcore scene. Their sound is just about as mellow as you could imagine, with dragging, muted vocals and distortion galore. Some things never change though (and it works for Nothing) a band which despite their reputation for creating top class shoegaze, also manages to be as loud, in-your-face and generally more hardcore than most hardcore outfits.
The band has been around since 2012, with the most recent of their three studio albums, Tired of Tomorrow, dropping in mid-May of 2016. It seems, so far at least, that every release the band makes is met with instant acclaim. This is perhaps best explained by the fact that they are pretty established as a ‘critics favourite’-type of band.
The band claims as part of their biography to have adopted the style that they have, with its conscious negativity, casual nihilism and general apathetic view on everyday occurrences, as a kind of coping mechanism for life, using noise and suppressed anger as a way to keep everything together.
It is a novel approach not only to life, but also music, and most importantly, it is easy on the ears. Well, except for the volume.
La Belle Angele, Edinburgh
If you want to end summer on a high note, (or you are still in denial of the approach of autumn) with something upbeat and positive, and you understandably want to avoid standing in a queue for the Big Cheese, seeing Model Aeroplanes at La Belle Angele is probably a pretty safe decision to make.
The quartet, originally hailing from Dundee, are best described as ‘fun’, making the kind of music you could easily end up hearing on the radio or in one of the city’s student clubs. It is incredibly catchy and will almost certainly give you a pretty persistent earworm that may or may not drive you insane.
Starting out in music straight out of high school, the band were part of the BBC Introducing lineup at T in The Park early in their four-year career. The years since have seen the release of about half a dozen singles from the young outfit, along with consistent touring.
It is perhaps no coincidence that they stop in Edinburgh right in the middle of Freshers Week, coinciding (rather conveniently) with the release of their latest EP, Something Like Heaven.The release is a continuation of Model Aeroplanes’ bubbly, vaguely tropical brand of pop. This unique brand is bound to entertain crowds looking for a fun night out.
The Lucid Dream
Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Fuzzy psychedelia is back; originally a staple of sixties American rock music, in more modern times the style has achieved a kind of fond nostalgia that almost seems contemporary when paired with newer styles.
A primary influence on bands like Carlisle-natives, The Lucid Dream, psychedelia comes as a much-needed sense of eccentricity to what might otherwise come across as yet another local indie band.
Far from this, The Lucid Dream bring together not only the fuzz-draped wooziness of classic psych but the simplicity of 1960s pop ballads and the electronic leanings of modern indie rock, forming a sort of shoegaze-y puddle.
Following the release of their second full-length LP in 2015 and a string of solid singles, the band appear to be taking an even more conceptual route than usual if previews of their upcoming record, Compulsion Songs, give any indication of what’s to come; featuring ‘eight minutes of space dub’, the record promises to be a trip, as does any live experience. After all, they are called The Lucid Dream.
The Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Shield Patterns is all about music as an emotional experience. If you think that is too far out there for you, wait a minute: this stuff is worth it.
Manchester natives Richard Knox and Claire Brentnall teamed up in 2013 and have been busy since making gorgeous, layered electronica that is frank and lush as hell.
Brentnall’s crooning vocals are manipulated to weave throughout layers of bass, ominous percussion, the muted chimes of bells, echoing synths, you name it, and the result is a production that is immersive and intimate and truly interesting to listen to.
The duo stop in Edinburgh as part of their second headlining tour, having just released their second full-length LP, Mirror Breathing, on Knox’s label, Gizeh Records.
Having garnered an impressive amount of buzz and praise from critics in the three short years they have been active, including rumours that they are mind-blowing live and you should definitely not miss them, the performance – set in Assembly Roxy’s amazing vaulted central hall – might just be unforgettable.
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
Inverness natives and amazingly-named Schnarff Schnarff are the kind of band that seems instantly familiar.
Maybe it is the Foo Fighter’s-esque style to their sound (particularly in the lead single from their debut EP, ‘Fear’), or maybe it is their eerie similarity to the waves of-of alt-rock/post-grunge/brit-pop bands that have come and gone since the late nineties.
Regardless, it is encouraging to see the kind of music coming from the far corners of Scotland that can be compared to the products of music scenes with far greater support and resources as well as areas which are more readily associated with ‘musical quality’.
Vic Galloway has referred to Schnarff Schnarff’s style as ‘staccato grunge pop’, and in a way the label does make sense; the brisk tempo of the band’s sound defies the traditions of ordinary grunge, yet they sound more modern and far less formulaic than early 2000s post-grunge pioneers, working the developments of modern pop into the styles of established rock tradition.
Following the release of their debut album, The Evil That We Do (produced by lauded Scottish producer Paul Savage), the band will play King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in their adopted home of Glasgow as part of their latest national tour.
There is a pretty obvious folk influence to Saint Sister’s vocal-driven indie aesthetic. Indeed, with the addition of a harp to several of their most popular tracks, the traditional Celtic aspects of their style becomes completely unmissable.
Yet, the Irish duo are capable of additional musical complexity as well. Their debut release, Madrid, features a lead single of the same name and marks not only their biggest critical success in what is so far a fairly short career, but also a significant shift in style. Madrid blends the duo’s folk influences with electronic elements, creating a beautiful, atmospheric mixture which seems equal parts folk and smooth RnB. It is bound to sound amazing experienced live.
Gaining the most attention in their native Ireland, Saint Sister are beginning to venture a bit further from home. They stop in Glasgow as part of their second UK tour following a string of performances on the British festival circuit.
Saint Sister come highly recommended for those looking to expand their musical interests with some highly accessible folk as well as to those looking to treat themselves to a thoroughly relaxing evening of acoustic appreciation and positive vibes.
The Garage, Glasgow
Hip-Hop is a criminally underrated genre in Scotland considering how well the artists who do manage to make their way up here tend to be received. For young guns, planning a jaunt across the Atlantic is usually a first-time affair. The bigger artists, on the other hand, go straight for the huge crowds in Manchester and London. Whenever American rappers do come through, though, it is bound to be a raucous, debauched affair.
There are so many cultural connections coming together under one international roof: a love of weed, strong, sweet booze, street-slacker style and general angst. Hot off festival appearances at Flog Gnaw Carnival and Lollapalooza, Flatbush Zombies are known for bringing high energy, interactive performances to their fans (as well as copious amounts of dry ice). A warm-up set from A$AP Twelvyy seals the deal as a NYC affair.
If you are keen to party like a rockstar, extortionate “meet and greet” packages are also for sale, although you might be able to earn backstage access with a spectacular somersault stage dive.
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow
Welsh outfit Pretty Vicious likely have a few years ahead of them to grow even more annoyed by cracks about their age. While it is true the quartet of rockers have started up at an almost unbelievably early point in their lives, it is worth noting that although they are still in their teens, they have also begun to attract a small amount of critical attention for their sound, enough to land them a set at Glastonbury in 2015 as part of BBC Introducing and now their second headlining UK tour, all within the last two years.
Starting with a string of digitally-released singles and building with their recently released EP Cave Song – named for their first hit single – the four-piece have suddenly found themselves on a rocketing trajectory. Comparisons between Pretty Vicious and established British bands like Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys, while perhaps not yet quite justified, are credible in terms of their style, and with the band’s noteworthy technical abilities, there is no visible limit to what they might do.