Listen to this track by Anglo-Scot folktronica collagists The Beta Band. It’s “Human Being”, the second single from their second album, Hot Shots II, released in the summer of 2001.
This record was the follow-up to their first full-length and self-titled debut, a record that felt like a false start to the band themselves, who called it “shit” in interviews. That’s a little strong. But, it is an unfocused work, albeit with some great tracks on it (my favourite: “It’s Not Too Beautiful”, with its kind of a wonky nu-psych quality).
I personally think that the lukewarm reaction to their debut was because the compilation Three EPs had done so well, featuring a bona fide hit in “Dry The Rain”, a song that would go in my own top 100 of songs I could play over and over and never get tired of. Needless to say, expectations for their first album were very high when it came down to full-length records.
So how did they do one better with this one, after the lacklustre results of the first? Well, they revealed something about themselves as a band which had been a little lost on that debut record that is noted for its ecleticism, and not much for focus. I’m talking about songwriting.
Listen to this track by super-studenty Scottish pop band with a fey streak a mile-wide Belle And Sebastian. It’s “If You’re Feeling Sinister”, the title track to their 1996 sophomore record of the same name.
When I say “studenty”, I’m referring to a common, totally made-up sounding adjective often used by the British music press that describes bands who could otherwise be described as bookish, a bit earnest, full of musical loose ends, or in fact formed while in university. Sometimes, it’s just that last one, which certainly describes this band. Belle And Sebastian not only formed in university, but they submitted their first demos to the school’s label!
Needless to say, groupies, blow, and throwing T.Vs out of hotel room windows would not be in this band’s future (that we know of!). So, where were they heading? Well, for one thing they were headed to critical acclaim. Read more
Listen to this track by modern Glaswegian folk-rock outfit with big pop hooks, Snowgoose. It’s their single “Harmony Springs”, the title track from their full-length album of the same name, Harmony Springs. n
The record was released in vinyl form in time for Record Store Day this past April. But, it’s due to be released in all forms on October 30th – next week!
The band who created it enjoy an impressive pedigree, featuring members of both Soup Dragons and BMX Bandits (represented by guitarist and songwriter Jim McCulloch) and the mighty Teenage Fanclub (specifically guitarist Raymond McGinley). Dave McGowan (Isobel Campbell, Belle & Sebastian) on bass, Stuart Kidd on drums, and vocalist Anna Sheard round out the line-up. The band started off as an acoustic trio, later expanding to a quintet with McKidd and McGinley rounding out the sound and adding in a bit of electricity.
The record was laid down in Norfolk, and in their home town of Glasgow. Another Fannies connection is Norman Blake, who contributed to the project, as did noted violinist John McCusker, The Bluebells’ Dave McCluskey and Giant Sand’s Peter Domberknowsky. Not too shabby then, personnel-wise.