Recently I wrote this on Twitter:
Dear Scottish Music, can we have more sunshine pop this year and less beardy check-shirted navel-gazing miserablism please? Thanks. #fb
— Jocknroll (@jocknroll) January 15, 2014
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Now I like a bit of moody introspection as much as the next indie kid old enough to know better but generally it isn’t my go-to music of choice. I like pop. Not the saccharin-soaked clinically-clean meaningless pap music beloved of the X Factor generation. I like my pop to have substance and style and humour and to take me along an altogether different musical road. The great and good of Scottish music will wax lyrical at length about many of the great miserablist bands this country has unearthed in recent times and if that’s their thing then great but, no, not for me thank you. I’ve tried to like it but I only dip in a toe occasionally for some needed contrast – too much sugar isn’t good for your teeth kids – a sojourn from my comfort zone but not as a main musical meal. Let’s have some happy sounds in 2014.
My postman (okay, not “my” postie, he does deliver to others) brought me two CDs today, which, while musically different, both have the qualities I look for in a prospective musical partner, a GSOH. In, let’s face it, the dourest month of the year, what better way to lift the spirits that a couple of helpings of fun-filled humorous pop?
I first saw Randolph’s Leap in January 2011 at a gig celebrating the BMX Bandits umpteenth anniversary in the world of pop. In fact it was Duglas T Stewart’s recommendation that drew me towards Adam Ross and his merry men and women. I’d only heard bits and pieces up until then but it wasn’t until that first live outing that I found myself caught up in the infectious folky indie pop shenanigans that emanated from them. I downloaded everything I could, as soon as I got back to Fife! I think, at the time, they were bestowed the title of My New Favourite Band. Since then I’ve seen them in various combinations from full band to Adam solo and everything in-between about a dozen times.
Numerous weird and wonderful singles (and that’s just the formats) have come and gone, as well as cassettes, downloads and a compilations. But now, at long last, they release their first proper grown up hi-fi album, Clumsy Knot.
The album continues the tradition of delicate indie folk, ramshackle whimsy and wonderful wit and wisdom from frontman and songwriter-in-chief Adam Ross, with new songs rubbing shoulders with live favourites. My personal favourites are Weatherman, in which he spites that his ex-girlfriend’s new beau because he “talks like a weatherman” and News, which squeezes more into 80 seconds of song than any tune has a right to have. It was also released as a single in the form of a Randolph’s Leap mug! I look forward to ingratiating myself with the newer tracks and making my acquaintance in a live surrounding on February 14 at Stereo when they guest star (as a full band) at Kid Canaveral’s Lumber Party. Feel free to join me for a slow dance.
The album has its official launch on Saturday 5 April 2014 at Kinning Park Complex in Glasgow. Early bird £6 tickets are currently available HERE.
I have Ally Gourlay to thank for introducing me to the confectionary pop delights of Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation. A regular fixture on Ally’s Art School Dancing radio show playlist the band threatened to dominate his end-of-year Hogmanay Hundred countdown with three tracks in the Top 20. Two of those tracks – Snowballs and It Takes All Sorts… – make an appearance on their debut album, The Highs and Lows of Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation. The sleeve is liveried, as are all their releases, in cycling-themed colours. While previous singles have doffed casquettes to past cycling teams Système U and Z-Peugeot (a one-time home of Scot Robert Millar), the first long player comes bedecked in the striking red polka dots commonly associated with the Tour de France’s King of the Mountains leader/winner.
A case of style over substance? Not at all. The cycling obsessions – for this self-confessed fan of the sport – only adds to their brilliance in my eyes, as does the continued reference through the lyrics to chocolate bars and other brands of confectionary. Music, cycling, chocolate and cake? What’s not to love? The Highs and Lows promises to be ahead of the peloton of pop for the rest of the year. It’s an album that will give something different on every listen. There’s infectious pop, groove-laden hypnosis, soundtrack noodlings and lo-fi noises and – something for all the family. Think the love child of World of Twist and The Wondermints. Hopes are high that Kevin Retoryka (nee O’Donnell) will return home with the band for gigs in the near future but until then let this album make your mouth water. Now pass me some Battenberg.
Randolph’s Leap’s Clumsy Knot is released by Lost Map on vinyl and CD/download on Monday 7 April 2014
The High and Lows of Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation is out on Everyday Life Recordings on Monday 17 February 2014 as a CD and gorgeous picture disc vinyl album (with download)
Forthcoming live adventures from Randolph’s Leap:
Feb 14th – Stereo, Glasgow (with Kid Canaveral/Malcolm Middleton)
Feb 15th – The Hop, Wakefield (Adam solo)
March 7th – The Tunnels. Aberdeen (with Kid Canaveral)
March 8th – The Beat Generator, Dundee (with Kid Canaveral)
March 9th – The Lexington, London with Kid Canaveral (Adam solo)
March 14th – The Glad Cafe, Glasgow with Seams Fogarty (Adam solo)
March 15th – Words and Music Festival, Perth
March 31st – The Hidden Door, Edinburgh
April 5th – Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow (Album Launch)
April 18th – Wales Goes Pop!, Cardiff
April 19th – Stockton Calling, Stockton
May 3rd – Brew at the Bog, Inverness
June 20th-22nd – Solas Festival, Perth
August 1st-3rd – Cloud Spotting Festival, Gisburn Forest, Lancashire
Long overdue outings from Jacques Caramac and the Sweet Generation:
20th Feb – Alleycat, London
8th Mar – The Sebright Arms, London
14th Mar – Fallow, Manchester