Tuesday 23 February 2010


I’m blogging over at the Guardian on Richard Thompson’s appointment as the artistic director of Meltdown 2010. Come and add your thoughts here.

Swede Swede Music

"There is something eternally refreshing about catching a band on the first show of their first tour after the release of their first album. Banter remains untarnished by overuse; smiles appear spontaneous and gratitude genuine; mistakes are swatted away with a giggle and a sly curse. Hope – that most intoxicating of emotions – fills the air like the scent of fresh cut grass. When the group march off stage at the end of the set and plonk themselves behind the merchandising table, it almost seems churlish not to hand over your cash, if only to buy into the dream that, right now, everything seems possible."

I review First Aid Kit’s Edinburgh show here, and talk to the audaciously talented and impressively composed Klara Soderberg here.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Art Attack

This week at theartsdesk I talk to the brilliant indigenous Australian singer Gurrumul, who made the best-selling world music album of 2009, and review Jonathan Meades’ fearless, provocative and highly perceptive film essaying the less-than-peachy state of the Scottish nation. If you any interest at all in music and the arts, you must keep an eye on theartsdesk. It's updated several times daily and features some of the best writers and writing anywhere.

Poetic Justice

"I’m New Here is not the summation of Scott-Heron’s career. It does not tie up the loose ends of his talent, nor is it assured enough to count as a rebirth. It’s not a singer’s album, nor a musician’s album. It’s barely even a poet’s album. It is, however, a survivor’s album, and one that doesn’t shirk from laying bare the cost of making it through a world of darkness. The merciless gaze Scott-Heron previously turned on the soul of America and society’s manifold ills has now been aimed squarely at himself."

In the Sunday Herald I review the extraordinary album that marks the return of Gil Scott-Heron. He's coming to Edinburgh in April. Miss him at your peril.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Go Down Easy

Last week we held a One Year Wake for John Martyn over at theartsdesk, to mark the first anniversary of his death on January 29, 2009. In the piece I recalled the time I visited John at his home in Thomastown, and also relived the hours after his death, when I spoke to many of his friends.

Also on theartsdesk, I review the really rather wonderful debut album by Swedish sisters (pictured) First Aid Kit, called The Big Black and the Blue: Fact: there is no harmony quite like a sibling harmony. Nice jumpers, too.

Finally, closer to home, I sneak down an alley over on Glasgow's south side to relive the glory days of Park Lane studios with,among others, the lavishly sideboarded Justin Currie of Del Amitri, a band I still love just a little despite myself. More here.