Scottish new music round-up: February 2021
We make an attempt at unpacking the overstuffed musical suitcase that is February's new Scottish releases, featuring Randolph's Leap, Lizzie Reid and more
For a short month, February is really packing in the releases, feeling akin to trying to fit a month’s worth of clothing into a suitcase when you’re only going away for a long weekend (if you can remember that sort of thing, of course, idk). We’re delighted, then, to be reintroducing our long-overdue album reviews this month, so you’ll find reviews for the new Mogwai and Blanck Mass records in the mag, and our thoughts on Django Django’s latest effort, Glowing in the Dark, will be on this very website later this month. With the rest of this page we'll do our absolute best to pack as much in the suitcase as possible, starting with Lizzie Reid.
We’ve mentioned Reid in these pages a fair bit since hearing Seamless last October, a heart-on-sleeve account of a past relationship. Follow-up single Always Lovely was similarly emotive, with lyrics that cut deep, perfectly balanced with Reid's sparse, considered guitar work. Her debut EP Cubicle is finally out this month (10 Feb) and is a real thing of beauty, feeling both complex and effortless in equal measure. We cannot recommend it enough.
In similar territory, Kim Grant, formerly of Tongue Trap, has gone solo, now performing under the moniker Raveloe (pronounced Rave-low) and is releasing her debut EP, Notes and Dreams, this month (12 Feb) via Glasgow indie label Olive Grove Records. Lead single Abalone, which we premiered at the end of last month, is moody and beautifully cinematic, carried by Grant's stunning vocal, and the rest of the EP pleasingly follows suit.
Following his debut release – No Life – as cyber-cowboy A.R. Pinewood last year, the ever prolific singer-songwriter Adam Ross returns this month in his more human form as eight-piece Randolph’s Leap release Spirit Level (26 Feb) via London DIY label Fika Recordings. Even though the album’s titular track references an unsettled spell when writing the album, this latest effort from Randolph’s Leap is likely to help your spirits level up as across its ten tracks it rarely lets up in energy, and is peppered throughout with Ross’s signature lyrical wit with lines like: ‘I like Big Momma’s House 2, but I prefer the novel.’
Catching us off guard this month, is the transportative early bird // night owl (19 Feb) from Edinburgh folk duo Dowally. There's just something so comfortingly familiar about this record, making us nostalgic for folk festivals we went to in Auchtermuchty as a child. Dark Clouds takes us to a hillside bothy in the Scottish Highlands, while the second half of Geese From the East has us longing for a night out at a bruise-inducing ceilidh, and Turkish Reverie makes us pine for island hopping on the west coast of Scotland.
On the same day, Scottish charity Vox Liminis release their latest collaborative Distant Voices EP which sees songwriters paired with people who have experienced different facets of the criminal justice system. Looking At Colours Again is instantly engaging as Donna Maciocia sings on opening track Rewind: ‘If I could put the cassette back in the machine / Rewind, record over, rewrite the scenes / Undo the stupid mistakes I made’. It’s an early highlight in a brilliant EP filled with moments of true honesty and vulnerability, not to mention excellent musical arrangements, which is to be expected as it also features contributions from Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott, Fiskur’s Ross Clark, Jo Mango and Martha Ffion.
Elsewhere, Glasgow hip-hop producer Steg G releases Live Today (25 Feb), featuring collaborations with Solareye, Empress, CCTV and Freestyle Master. The following day, Nightshift, featuring members of Robert Sotelo and Spinning Coin, release Zöe, their superbly hypnotic new record.
January releases you may have missed...
Towards the end of January, artist, designer and musician Tommy Perman very quietly released Positive Interactions, a 20-track album inspired by and featuring happy sounds recorded and sent to him by friends all over the world, which includes everything from birdsong and dishwasher bleeps to pet sounds and xylophone as played by Jonnie Common’s young daughter on Tiny Golden Quacks, a track delightfully named by Common’s son.
Used as a form of therapy to help Perman get through a hard year, in exchange for emailing him a happy thought (firstname.lastname@example.org) you can get in on the happiness too as you’ll receive a download of the album. “An album made from happy sounds in exchange for a happy message”; has there ever been anything more wholesome?
Elsewhere, Sulka released Take Care, his debut album on Lost Map Records; exploring trip-hop, future garage and electronica, Marcel Moliner released High Place Phenomenon, his debut EP as Nice Humans; dream-pop outfit Auld Spells released That’s the Way It Goes, a gleaming exploration of climate crisis; new electronic duo Gefahrgeist released their moody second single, Nukular, and MALKA’s latest morsel of poptimism can be found on Reach Out as she sings: ‘The light will always follow the dark’, making us feel just that little bit better as we eased out of January.