April 3, 2010
In the current financial climate it’s always good to welcome back an urban music festival for a second year, especially one that has been refined to make it better than the previous one. Glasgow’s Hinterland is this year centred on The Arches and five other small venues, three within five minutes of Glasgow Central Railway Station.
Make Sparks are first on my radar, a band who like most bands within a 20 mile radius of Glasgow, will get rightly or wrongly get compared to Frightened Rabbit. There’s more to them to that and although I do indeed hear shades of We Were Promised Jetpacks and Franz Ferdinand. Their chiming, charming single ‘Rewind’ even throws a bit of a Postcard Records sound into the mix. If they write a few more songs like that with a little more of their own voice, their cover of Eminem’s ‘Just Lose It’ might well end up making its way onto Radio 1′s Live Lounge.
On the other side of Scotland, there seems to be more of a leaning towards Montreal, specifically of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. The Kays Lavelle are one such example of this, half an hour later in Sub Club. With the fiddles, banjos and pleasant nature of their songs it would be easy to lump them under a big tent with The Wilkommen Collective, Mumford and Sons and Broken Records – especially after these charming young men politely converse with the crowd about such pleasantries as their own weddings. That though would be sidelining the icy, elastic snap that their better songs employ.
Completing the lazy up-and-coming Scottish-band-what-sounds-like-current-established-Scottish-band bingo are Little Yellow Ukuleles who aim beyond The Wombats and Dananananaykroyd and towards Biffy Clyro with their angular, anthemic, stadium-aimed rock. “Unamazing, but with bold drum sounds” is my verdict.
Warrington’s Spectrals really impress me, with their laconic, louche Jonathan Richman-esque vocals, and that Moshi Moshi are releasing a single of theirs is no surprise. In spite of earlier Mary Chain comparisons (c’mon, this band isn’t even from Scotland! [Ed: he wrote that bit himself]), they will end up being put in the same pigeonhole as Girls, The Drums and The Strange Boys – check out the surfy instrumental and early rock ‘n’ roll aping for the reasons why. With some self released tapes in their discography, they might even get picked up by glo-fi aficionados broadening their palette this summer.
The main events back in The Arches are British Sea Power and Mystery Jets. A snazzy attired British Sea Power give a stirring, if short, performance of songs mainly from their debut – and a little from 2008′s Do You Like Rock Music? The set is bookmarked by ‘Scottish Wildlife’ from the Man of Aran soundtrack, and ‘Spirit of St. Louis’/ ‘Rock In A’ which sees a welcome, if inhibited, role for BSP’s Ursa Major, a 7ft bear-costume (with Jeffrey Lewis inside it) pawing at the band.
Dismayed with the way that should-have-been-hit-filled 21 was badly promoted by 679 before they dropped them, Mystery Jets‘ new songs are a welcome relief. Those that unfamiliar with their last album are converted by ‘Half in Love with Elizabeth’, ‘Young Love’ and a storming rendition of ‘Hand Me Down’, but in their armoury they seem to move on from Haircut 100 to wanting to soundtrack Top Gun. 3rd album Serotonin sounds like it’s going to be the soundtrack to the summer with massive soft rock, Blur circa Modern Life Is Rubbish, and even New Order on ‘Dreaming of Another World’ at hand.
It would be good to have the festival back next year, maybe roping in a few more venues and bands both local and national to compete with Stag and Dagger for dominance of the Glasgow festival dollar.