Wednesday, 29 April 2009

INTERVIEW: Paper Planes

New Jersey girl and vocal stunner Jennifer Paley fronts the Glasgow-based Paper Planes, otherwise composed of "the boys": Craig, Fraser and Christopher. Together PP make what they describe as "updated surf sounds with post punk beats, raw trashy rock and roll, American yelps and drawls," while citing the easily understable influences of Modern Lovers and Velvet Underground and additionally sounding a little like Siouxsie, a little like Hole. Not at all a bad cocktail, my friends. Jen and Fraser tell The List what's up.

I've read that Jennifer was here, then she went home, then came back. Is she here to stay?

Fraser: Jen came here for a term of study abroad at the Glasgow School of Art from a university in Pennsylvania. She decided she liked it too much to leave so she put through a transfer. She graduated from GSA this past June and is now on a "fresh talent" visa which allows her to stay and do fresh and talented things for the next year and a half. Hopefully by then there will be some other kind of obscure visa she can acquire to stay a bit longer. We'll see.

How did everyone meet and work out that you should be making music together?

Fraser: The boys were previously in male-fronted Glasgow bands without much success. Jen really liked these bands and was at most of the gigs, she had a love for music but had never really had an opportunity to create any. When the latest of these bands disintegrated, Jen was there. The boys had always wanted a female front lady and in the words of Chad, "You can always put an American girl talking over some noise and it'll sound amazing." So that was it, Jen started talking over the boys' noise and songs were made.

This April will be your one year live performance anniversary. That's mighty speedy - how'd you put yourself on the map that quickly?

Fraser: We take our time, come out of hiding when it's appropriate and go back into the cave when necessary. Only playing the songs we love to play and not trying to mould ourselves to anyone else's standards... and quick sharp sets, no chat, no frills, always leave 'em wanting more.
What do you hope to accomplish by this time next year?Fraser: We'd like to expand in every which way, more ears, bigger venues, t-shirts perhaps. Yeah t-shirts, that's what we want.

Which one of you is the most lyrically responsible and what kind of things are you writing about now?

Fraser: Jen solely writes the lyrics and leaves the music up to the boys.

Jen:The lyrics are completely spontaneous, I don't sit down and say I'm going to write a song about this... they just happen.. and sometimes they don't. I've written about personal experience, dreams, places, and on one occasion, just listed off the words I played in a game of scrabble. Whatever works, but as a whole, the more vague the better. As with most things, you need to let people use their imaginations and find what they want in things.

Anyone else on the Glasgow scene to look out for?

Fraser and Jen: French Wives. Phantom Band. Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers. We are the Physics.

Paper Planes play Glasgow's Hinterland Festival at The Classic Grande on May 1.

Also published here in The List

Sunday, 19 April 2009


Despite a lyrical admission to listening to death metal bands, Withered Hand makes pensive and pretty 'antifolk' music sprawling with all sorts of questions and quiet conversations while his Neil Young-ish voice mingles joyously with varied accompaniments including that of a banjo, harmonica and mandolin. Dan Willson spoke to The List recently about being Withered Hand (but not the banjoman) and touring with whomever else can fit in the van.

How long have you been around and how’d you get your sound together?

I have been performing and making drawings as Withered Hand for two and a bit years but before that I spent sixteen years mostly learning blues scales and listening to metal. I had a kind of artrock band called Peanut for a while, which eventually helped me over my fear of singing. That was a big step for me. I never dreamed I could sing songs in front of people. When I became a parent and hit my thirties I got my hands on an acoustic guitar. I started writing quiet, simple songs at home and, with a little encouragement, I got more courage and found my voice. I have people and movements who have inspired me to carry on but I try to write about things I know, nothing too complicated really. Musically, I keep it simple, plus I’m both a much better lyricist and much worse guitarist at this stage in life than I have ever been, which helps.

Who do you work with musically, and what do they do? Are you the banjo man?

I wish I was the banjoman! To date, Neil Pennycook (of Meursault) is usually the banjoman. I can get a tune out of most things with strings but I’m not really sure I’m what could be called a musician. I find it fascinating working with people who can play other instruments and sing. I write songs alone. Sometimes when I play a show, I play my songs with friends. I've been real lucky so far. I have mostly been playing shows with a band comprising Alun Thomas (also of The Leg) on drums, Hannah Shepherd on cello, Neil Pennycook (of Meursault) on banjo and backing vocals and sometimes Chris Bryant (also of Meursault) and Bart Owl (of Eagleowl/Occasional Flickers) are drafted in on percussion and mandolin respectively. Occasionally, Jo Foster (Fence Collective) sings with me. In fact, all of these people appear in some shape or form on my forthcoming album, which, thanks to a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, is a collaboration with the well-known American producer Kramer (Low, Galaxie 500, Daniel Johnston). This can occasionally get tricky to organise and there is only so much room in the van, so there are still occasions where I play solo. That’s the way the songs are written so in a sense that's their purest form, if not the easiest on the ear. Last month I recorded my second EP with Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) in Fife, and that was just me and my guitar and he ended up playing accordion and drums and stuff on some songs, which was fun. I genuinely think sometimes people hear the songs and slightly flaky delivery and if they like them, they want to help.

You play in Edinburgh often, are you based in the city?

Yes, I am based in the city. I think Edinburgh is a great place for new music right now, it's an exciting time. I have been here for just over twelve years but my family is originally from the south. It would take a lot to pry me away from this town.

I read on MySpace that you're influenced by acid. Really?

I can't comment. As a parent, I have to say: Hey, kids, don't do drugs. Not even mushrooms. But as an artist I have to say I’m influenced by everything I’ve ever done.

Where do you buy your music from and what was the last album you bought?

I don’t really buy much music these days, sadly. I think the last album I bought was a very beautiful album called Lost Wisdom by Mount Eerie featuring Julie Doiron and I bought it direct from Phil Elverum via his website. It’s cool you can do that now with the internet. Other than that, if I am passing I can never resist popping into Avalanche on Cockburn Street to browse but usually it just makes me feel old.

What else do you do when you're not Withered Hand?

I bite my nails/try to be a good person.

Withered Hand performs Sat 18 Apr in Avalanche Records, Edinburgh as part of Record Store Day; Sat 18 Apr at Fence Homegame, Anstruther; Sun 10 May at The GRV, Edinburgh; Sun 24 May at The Bowery, Edinburgh with Defiance Ohio and Billy Liar; Sat 6 June at Old St Paul's, Edinburgh (acoustic set); Tue 9 June at The Bowery, Edinburgh

Also published here in The List

Friday, 17 April 2009

Song of the Day: This Love is Fucking Right! by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, off of their self-titled album

These guys are from NYC but with the amount of obvious Scottish influence, their reception here has been open-armed. Not only do they audibly embrace the Stone Roses as much as they do Belle and Sebastian, The Pastels and Teenage Fanclub, but it must be pointed out that 1. They are all extremely good looking. I mean seriously. Peggy is my new girlcrush, although the view she must have inside their tour van is not even fair either. And 2. They know how to name a song. I haven't had such fervour over a song title, EVER, I don't think. This just goes to show something I have always strongly believed - sometimes the use of an exclamation point and an f-bomb is just so fucking right!

No Spotify link to this song unfortunately however there are a few other songs freely streaming on their myspace page here. They are all equally great. The point of this post was mainly to point out the best song title in the world, and how intensely attractive this band is.

Friday, 10 April 2009


It Hugs Back hail from Kent, and will soon serve Glasgow some of their self-described 'soft-centered dream pop'. After touring with artists like Scout Niblett, Monade and New Pornographers, this tender-hearted foursome will now share the bill with Canadian electro-wizzes Holy Fuck. Guitarist and vocalist Matt gives The List the lowdown.

How did you and your cohorts get together?

We first met a school many years ago now, stayed friends and started this band after finishing school and before starting university, getting to play a few songs I’d written over that summer and it's just kept on going - which has be nice!

What's been your band's best moment to date?

So far, finishing our first album is the first that comes to mind. We recorded and mixed it ourselves in our own small studio and I spent a fair number of hours in there wondering 'How it will ever feel finished?' But it then it did - and I’m very happy with it.

What do you listen to together, say on the road?

We listen to a lot on our travels up and down the country. I guess Wilco are always a favourite in the van along with, lately, some Steely Dan, Sam Prekop, Deerhunter & Deerhoof.

Last record you bought?

The last record I bought was two days ago and it was Qui by The Sea & Cake.

What to expect at the Scotland gig?

We’ll have been in tour playing pretty much every day for a month by the time we get to Scotland. We’ll be on fire I like to think, or be tired, but I’m going with the first one. It’ll be good. It's at the Oran Mor and that is a very lovely place to play.

It Hugs Back play Oran Mor with H**y Fuck in Glasgow on May 11.

Alsopublished here on The List

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Song of the Day: Some of Shelly's Blues by The Monkees

Just really loving this Mike Nesmith song today. Have always digged the Earl Scruggs version but no one does it quite like The Monkees. Listen to the real deal here: The Monkees – Some of Shelly's Blues

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Cannot get enough of this Song of the Day: Kiss my Name by Antony and the Johnsons from The Crying Light

Spellbinding, abundantly beautiful, Antony orchestrates his most hypnotic voice amid violens, flutes, piano and dramatic melodies while he pleads 'Oh mama kiss my name, I am trying to be sane.' Just like the rest of The Crying Light, the single doesn't tire; it begs to be absorbed repeatedly as the record is undoubtedly the best thing these modern times have rustled up in quite a while. Poetic as Donovan and as arresting as Beethoven, Antony is my new musical Messiah.

Listen here: Antony & The Johnsons – Kiss My Name

Kiss my name
Mama in the afterglow
When the grass is green with grow
And my tears have turned to snow

I’m only a child
Born upon a grave
Dancing through the stations
Calling out my name

Oh mama kiss my name
I am trying to be sane
I’m trying to kiss my friends
And when broken, make amends

Kiss my name, the curtains white
The turtle doves embroider light
As I lie, murdered in ground
The rain compacting sodden sound
Of songs I sang the years before
When it was time to rain
Upon the coal that I became

Monday, 6 April 2009

Song of the Day: False Eyelashes by Dolly Parton

Ahem. A little diddy from me to Dolly

Well Dolly I sure love yer gall
You're the best damn doll of them all
Your God is your fortress
Yeah but you still hike up your dress
And have yourself one hell of a ball!

LOVE her. Anyone who admits that "it costs a lot of money to look this cheap" is a hero of sorts. Here is False Eyelashes, Dolly in the raw

Dolly Parton – False Eyelashes

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Mac Daddy Song of the Day: Do I Love You (Indeed I do) by Frank Wilson

Do I Love You (Indeed I do) is such a rare recording by the Motown producer Frank Wilson that the original sold for around £15,000 to a Scottish DJ who has now put the same sacred 45 vinyl up for auction. Yesterday the bid was over £17,000 for the most sought-after record ever known, but is expected to exceed well over £50,000, proving that the single is indeed the Titian of soul.

A guy in London was kind enough to provide a video on youtube of Wilson performing this song on piano plus a sideshow of the work of art itself as it spins and sends the northern soul world into a frenzy.


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Interview: Thomas Truax

A mechanical mastermind, Thomas Truax manipulates random objects into his own bizarre and genius musical instruments, a vision as well as sound that cannot be missed live. While Nick Cave comparisons are understandable, theatrically and voice-wise, pigeonholing this man is unthinkable. The List caught up with Truax during his UK trek to get an enthralling glimpse into one fascinating creature.

Were you a geeky science kid?
I was a junior mad scientist, shy yet accused of making grand speeches in the dark from my crib.

Tell me a bit about the onstage accompaniments. How many contraptions have you come up with and what was the most recent one?
I've built lots of strange instruments, some of which are fairly simple like a new one called the Black Tambourine which is the first instrument I've built that actually bites my fingers whilst I play it (with plastic teeth). I hadn't intended that, but that's how most of my best ideas emerge, by accident. The Hornicator, my best known instrument, was like that. It's built on the frame of an old gramophone horn, literally bells and whistles attached, but originally I just picked it up thinking it would be part of another instrument, one of my mechanical rhythm machines, of which I've got several. The latest is Mother Superior. Louder, stronger, groovier than my last drummer, Sister Spinster. They're all good bandmates, they don't eat up the rider, complain, or fill the van with farts.

Your recent single Joe Meek Warns Buddy Holly was released on February 3 2009, the death anniversary of both great men - did you do that because of your own fixation on Buddy Holly, or a fixation on Joe Meek, or perhaps a fixation on Joe Meek's fixation on Buddy Holly?
The third. I like when you find some luminary figure can also be a fan, like we all can. Joe was ahead of his time, had a home studio and released independent records decades before the rest of us. In fact he seemed to live in some kind of world where time's rules as we know them didn't apply much at all, as in predicting the death of Buddy Holly to the day over a year before it. Pity he got so paranoid. A fascinating character. As was Buddy Holly, but the song's about Joe.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm on the road at this moment. In an hour I'll be onstage in York. This tour is the pre-release tour for my new album 'Songs From The Films Of David Lynch', so at least half the songs in the set are covers that were featured in Lynch films. When on the road everything becomes about putting on the best show I can, and replacing batteries or fixing broken equipment, etc. That's something I spend a lot of my days doing.

When did you move to the UK and is your heart in London or New York?
After about two decades really loving New York, it started to gradually grow wrong for me there in many ways. I like it better from a distance now. So my heart is in London now, which sort of opened its smoky arms to me, rather than knock me hard. We'll see, so many things in life are transitory, it's not good to stay put for too long.

Name five influences: living, dead, inanimate, etc
Caffeine, cats, the vibration of a mobile phone, Nino Rota, Debussy, John Lennon, Alfred Hitchcock, my girlfriend, the smell of ginger, the full moon. Oops, that’s 10. Better slow down with the caffeine I guess.

What kinds of theatrics await us on Thursday and Friday?
Depends on what’s still working by then, in part! But whatever shape we're in, it'll be wild at heart.

What was the last song you listened to?
A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harem

Thomas Truax will play Apr 2 at Brel, Glasgow and Apr 3 at Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh.

Also here in The List

Song of the day: My Heartbeat's Dying from Lust Lust Lust by The Raveonettes

A delightful little diddy, if also (lyrically, emotionally) morbid. A fuzzy mix of 60s girl group pop with 90s shoegaze dipped in some Mazzy Star for great music fans of the millenium. Love them.

The Raveonettes – My Heartbeat’s Dying (bonus track)