Scottish Music Round-up: November 2021
Spanning a multitude of genres, from rock’n’roll to hip-hop via folk and experimental, November is another busy month in Scotland's release calendar
All-female and non-binary songwriting and production collective Hen Hoose release their debut album, Equaliser, on 5 November via Tantrum. An astounding piece of work, it traverses pop, rap, R’n’B, folk and more, featuring myriad talents like Emma Pollock, Amandah Wilkinson (Bossy Love), MALKA, Elisabeth Elektra and Beldina Odenyo (Heir of the Cursed); produced by Susan Bear, it flows effortlessly, pleasing at every turn and with every collaboration. Read our chat with Hen Hoose founder Tamara Schlesinger (MALKA) here or in our November issue; elsewhere in the mag, you'll find some thoughts on The Idea of You, the first record in six years from Glasgow outfit Admiral Fallow.
Paisley singer-songwriter, and one half of electro-pop outfit DRIFT, Linzi Clark releases her debut album on 5 November. Exploring love, identity and growth in her songwriting, All I Have Now is an exquisite debut bringing to mind the likes of Julia Jacklin – read our full feature here. We also speak to the inimitable Callum Easter this month about System, the politically-charged follow-up to his debut studio album, Here or Nowhere.
Due on 19 November via Moshi Moshi Records (in association with Lost Map Records), System sees Easter evolving as an artist and is his most fully-formed release to date. Bringing to mind Mungo Jerry on Little Honey and glam rock on Find Em A Home, oftentimes across System it feels like Easter is either channelling Marc Bolan or Tom Waits and it’s a thrill; the addition of the Leith Congregational Choir across the record is inspired, while the instrumentation from start to end is nothing short of enticing, with unexpected staccato panpipes, interesting percussive elements and pleasing synth squelches in all the right places. What’s more, the catharsis in the lyricism on the title track – ‘Come on, fuck the system’ – feels much needed right now.
Following a 2018 SAY Award-shortlisted nomination for his 2017 album Gold, Kwame Barfour-Osei, aka Kobi Onyame, returns this year after a pretty busy 18 months which, as well as writing this new record, saw him get married and become a dad. In a world filled with relentlessly releasing artists, four years can seem like a long time between records, but Don’t Drink the Poison (26 Nov) is more than worth the wait. Combining African highlife rhythms with hip-hop beats, the love Barfour-Osei has for his wife is a prominent topic across a record brimming with hope, buoyant instrumentation and rich production.
Also releasing her first album since 2017 this month (19 Nov) is the supremely talented Annie Booth. Due on Last Night From Glasgow, Lazybody is a beautiful collection of songs. A storyteller at heart, a real high point of Booth's record comes near the middle with the back-to-back punch of the eerie spoken word Nightvan and the hopeful, warm and rich in strings Tropic, with a key change and twinkling chimes so glorious in the final third of the song it becomes almost dreamlike. Most importantly, bolstered by beautiful piano and string arrangements, Lazybody places Booth’s voice front and centre, offering up an intimate quality most find hard to achieve on record.
For a more experimental approach to string compositions you'll want to seek out the debut solo release from composer Rufus Isabel Elliot. Due via GLARC (Greater Lanarkshire Auricular Research Council) on 28 November, A/am/ams is a "story of two characters, A/am/ams and E/e/e, walking forever down an eternal beach [...] an apocalyptic story about love and loss". Brought to life by Scots traditional singer Josie Vallely, aka Quinie, it’s a uniquely rewarding listen for those who have the patience. Of the release Elliot says: “This work crosses traditional and experimental practices with classical music. It has an intersectional approach, bringing folk together from both within and [outwith] the trans and non-binary community. We all have different voices, and that is really important.”
Making a long overdue return this month are electronic rock outfit Union of Knives, who release Endless From the Start on 12 November, their first album since 2006’s Violence and Birdsong. Returning with a new line-up of Chris Gordon, Anthony Thomaz and Peter Kelly, the album also features a couple of very welcome vocal features from Ladytron’s Helen Marnie; her unique, almost frosty vocals perfectly matching the moodiness of the tracks. Endless from the Start is an exceptionally pieced together album, full of pleasing pulsations and rhythmic twists and turns, making for a very welcome return for the Glasgow trio.
On 10 November, Glasgow-based, Australian-born Zerrin releases her debut EP, Consolations. Written, recorded and self-produced at home during lockdown, its five tracks are tantalisingly atmospheric, dark and moody, as they tackle topics like self-esteem, the pressure to succeed and anxiety about the future. Zerrin’s vocals bring to mind the playfulness and acrobatics of The Long Blondes’ Kate Jackson, especially on lead single Give Them What They Want, one moment deep and rich, the next high-pitched and gleaming.
With a mature sound well beyond her 23 years, Cara Rose releases five gorgeous piano ballads that make up her stunning How It Feels EP (19 Nov); on 5 November Tamzene releases her home tapes EP, while at the end of the month Ask Alice releases her Heartwork EP (26 Nov). On 12 November, Robert Sotelo releases Celebrant, his latest album on Upset the Rhythm, and there are some great singles out this month too including Swamp Monster, the latest slice of fun from Crush Mouse (3 Nov); Jill Lorean releases the hypnotic Kneading (4 Nov) on Andy Monaghan's (Frightened Rabbit) new label Monohands Records; Linburn releases his debut single, Anderson Shelter (4 Nov); Dio Zelus and Bluewave release the bright and summery what i want (5 Nov) via Ayrshire College label Sun Turtle Records; and Katherine Aly releases the soft and heartfelt Rules (26 Nov).