About Caroline Grape

When I’m not fighting crimes and generally saving the world, you can find me studying Fine Art Photography at the Glasgow School of Art. I may not actually don spandex and anonymous masks for a living (though I do have superpowers—shh! It’s our little secret), but I still aim to uncover the underground world and expose it to the masses. The underground world of emerging artists, musicians, and creative types that is. Glasgow may seem like Gotham to those unknowing, but thankfully I haven’t had to utilize my superpowers yet, and can spend most of my time leisurely exploring my other interests. An avid music enthusiast, I like to lounge in my underground bunker finding new artists and albums to change my life forever (or at least for the first two weeks of obsessive listening). When I venture out of my bunker, I’ll usually be found at galleries or trying to take in all I can of cultural events before the looming clouds of Scotland lay the city in darkness, and we are all doomed once again.

Waitress–The Film

Waitress, the film, is Stephen Sheriffs directorial debut. Originally studying Law, and then moving to New York to look into acting, Sheriff has now returned to Glasgow, armed to the teeth and hell-bent on creating something magical.

This film has been causing a lot of talk throughout Glasgow’s creative environment, and is much anticipated. What is impressive, is not only the fact that this is Sheriffs first-ever film and it is generating so much attention, but that it is doing so because he is aiming to show a different side of cinematic Scotland. He states in an interview with Mel Bestel, that so much of Scottish cinema has a history as being bleak, dark, and tackling a heavy reality. Though he does not dismiss this, he simply wishes to shed a little light on gloomy Scotland, and has therefore set out to make a film speckled with magical realism and elegance.

He is inspired by the likes of David Lynch and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whom are masters at the craft of distorting a story into a slightly askew reality, however always maintaining a polish and elegance. This bit of elegance, as shared by Sheriff in his filmmaking, has seen him collaborate with much of Glasgow’s underground creative lot; incorporating local actors, artists, costume designers, venues, and the like. Waitress has been crowd-funded and sponsored all across Scotland, involving the community and opening up for collaboration.

This makes the film such an honest inspiration for anyone with drive and a DIY mentality; it is testament to the positive abilities of incorporating and accepting that social networking is a massive part of our daily life. Sheriff has utilised this very effectively in his filmmaking, by being active on these platforms to facilitate his filmmaking process. Currently halfway through the filming process, Sheriff hopes to finalise the project by next year. Set to be thirty minutes long, many are already waiting with bated breath for the release of what will most likely be a little bit of sparkle in Scotland’s cinema history.

 

Keep an eye on their facebook and website for further information and tasty preview morsels.

Zoon van Snook

Zoon van Snook is the moniker of Bristol based Alec Snook. He recently released his second full length album, with the title The Bridge Between Life and Death, on Lo Recordings. The album sees him collaborate with Amiina, Sin Fang, Benni Hemm Hemm and Múm. Not surprising, then, that the album is built around field recordings taken in Iceland in 2009.

His previous records are the LP (Falling from) The Nutty Tree, and the single The Verge of Winter. If you are a fan of the collaborators on the newest record, you are guaranteed to be a fan of Zoon van Snook. A beautifully composed, cohesive and thoughtful album speckled with sound bytes and gloriously epic moments shrouded in twinkling piano and sweeping violins. In the background, muttering voices and the humming of life passing by create an intimately secluded experience. It is elegant, musing; tittering and tottering through a musical soundscape that seems so clearly inspired by the environment it was sampled from.

There’s a naturalness to the whole experience, especially on track Tjörnin Side, speckled with ”flaws” so to speak, which humanizes the music making process and discards the overproduction that is so common these days, in favour of a polished variability. It’s no surprise he’s mates with legendary Boards of Canada; he easily stands shoulder to shoulder in their category of beautifully experimental and enticing electronic music. The Bridge Between Life and Death has already garnered massive amounts of respect and recognition by the “powers that be” in the music world, and rightfully so. It reminds me of a tinkering box, all grown up and advanced for adults. Like a magical world contained within a case, and when you open it, a figurehead spins, creating a private narrative and landscape within your mind that only the holder can explore.

The Bridge Between Life and Death is out now on Lo Recordings, available for purchase and free to stream here.

Jonnie Common

I met Jonnie Common at the gig he played at Broadcast in Glasgow, in the beginning of May, after an electrifying set played in the basement. Normally I’ll skirt the opening acts of a gig, but thankfully I didn’t this time. With a name like Jonnie Common (yes, that’s his real name), you kind of have to be doing something original and inspiring. He’s been making music under this “alias” since around about 2009, and is currently signed to Red Deer Club records in Manchester, though he hails from, and is based in, Glasgow. The lyrics are off-kilter; subtly humorous, which becomes even more endearing with the Scottish dialect being so well pronounced. Not being afraid to show where he’s from, the songs are home grown and hark clear about his roots, something so refreshing in a world of homogenous song writing aimed at being universal. It’s clear on tongue-in-cheek song So-called Summer with the lyrics, The summer’s so cold/ I don’t know what to do when its warm and later on My brain is running down the back of my neck. If you’ve ever been to Scotland, you know the coma Scots are thrown in to when the thermometer passes 15 degrees. Always apt in his lyrics, the musical aspect is well orchestrated with a veritable children’s toy extravaganza of instruments used to create lots of layers and upbeat fantasies. There’s something vaguely familiar in his style, though it’s always easy to begin citing influences and sound-alike bands, but he easily falls into the category of originality as a great lyricist and musician. Currently working on a new album, with a working release date set for October, his new single Figurehead is out now. On Figurehead, Common sings: Though I can’t finish everything I start/I have the best intentions. Well, let’s hope he finishes the new album, as I, for one, can’t wait to hear what else Common has under wraps. Have a listen here.

Have a browse through his website, and keep an eye out for a final release date.

 

Hardeep Pandhal

Hardeep Pandhal is a recent Glasgow School of Art MFA graduate, by way of Birmingham (birth) and Leeds Metropolitan University (for his undergraduate degree). Firmly placed as a British maker, Pandhal’s work is surprising; using humour, bold colours, and not being afraid to think a bit differently about how we experience art. This makes his work decidedly not stereotypically contemporary British, as his work leans away from the current tendencies of allowing work to be dominated by clean lines and therefore constrained by framing and wall space. Pandhal’s work is vibrant, not shying away from the use of strong colours and pop culture references. Though there’s nothing ”flat” about his work; it tackles issues such as power and subjugation, picking up cues from experiences both his own, others, and imagined.  It offers a look into an alternate universe, completely imagined yet rooted in our reality. It’s rare that you’re afforded a smile when you walk into a gallery or museum, but that is exactly what I experienced when viewing Pandhal’s work at the Glasgow School of Art MFA Degree Show. His CV piece really hooked me, and keyed me in to the honesty and self-awareness it seems he has, alongside being able to point a finger back at himself and the art world with all its idiosyncrasies, without seeming bitter, jaded, or self-deprecating.

Pandhal is a diverse maker, being equally adept at using various mediums, such as video, illustration, installation, and a combination of all these. He says of his varied practice, “When I draw, I draw cartoons, when I do video, it’s quasi-documentary or spoof. I have been making a lot of autobiographical stuff – the point of this is demonstrate how difficult it is to make something pure and uninfluenced – or something not prescribed to an already informed audience. This is probably why my work is often said to be distinctive – it’s not really – I just do base stuff, which seems out of place  – or rare to find – at least it was on my course.” Pandhal is very clear on his influences, and sites his mum as making the most original art (makes our hearts melt). Other than that, it seems conversations with all limbs of the art world that he encounters and an open mind are the key factors inspiring his work.

 

If you’re curious to see more of his work, he’ll be showing at Bloomberg New Contemporaries at Spike Island, Bristol and ICA, London “alongside” his mum.

 

www.imyselfamwar.com

Deptford Goth

In the past couple of years, there’s been a slew of James Blake style artists avalanched onto the music world. As lovely as it is to hear men crooning over well-orchestrated electronic music, these acts oft tend to be very similar with little to discern the differences between them. And though, on paper London-based Deptford Goth may seem to be just another one of these close to pure replicas, and I assume he is often compared to Blake as the spearhead of this genre, thankfully he is distinctly different and, possibly even, more advanced than the young spearhead. His debut album, Life After Defo was received with critical acclaim and garnered Daniel Woolhouse of Deptford Goth moniker a solid fanbase.

The album features beats that are lingering and pensive, and the songs give the feeling of ten second magical moments drawn out into three and a half minutes.  It’s an album full of heartache and elation, wrapped up in fantastic songwriting and electronic music production. Though in person, Woolhouse may seem reserved and even shy, his songwriting is open and candid. What is most impressive is that Woolhouse is equally adept at creating lighter, softer-spoken melodies as he is at creating pulsating songs adamant at grabbing your attention with grimy, bass-heavy intros. However, the aspect that maintains fluidity throughout the album is the melancholic nature of every song. These are songs to break up to, fall in love, and feel the wave of romantic nostalgia – this is a harmonious life-affirming album if there ever was. Deptford Goth recently played Broadcast in Glasgow to an intimate crowd and the set was mellowed down, and brought along a cellist, which gave a distinct impression of just how genuine his music is. He bridges the gap between electronic and physical music, being able to make use of produced elements as much as playing the keyboard (it’s not just pressing buttons, folks).

Life After Defo is out on London label Merok (available to purchase through the usual sources), and there may be a new album in the wings. For now, sink your teeth into the video for Feel Real.

Teardrop Factory

Hailing from Brighton and signed to Faux Discx Records; it’s Teardrop Factory, ladies and gentlemen. The trio compose messy, distorted indie pop for all your listening pleasure. They are killer at creating little pop ditties, and their Topshop EP is four tracks of just that. Though they have a pop edge, they are still leaning towards the well-known slacker feel of the Pixies and Pavement, with lazily strummed fuzzy guitars, and persistent drums in the background. Sung over this, on closing song Topshop, It’s the weekend/and I try to divert your attention feels fairly apt accompanied by sunny boozing and cruising. A yearning and slight hint of teenage angst maintains a nice flow through the EP, and makes it ripe for living it up and worrying less. Its arrival is well timed, as it sits as a soundtrack for summers filled with fun, mistakes, lazy days, and good friends. If I imagine what the lovechild of Pixies and Sonic Youth would sound like (and what a beauty it would be), it’s not far off from Teardrop Factory. Not afraid of creating slightly alternative pop songs, they have a knack for making sure they get stuck in your head. There’s a track I can’t seem to get off my brain, which is my personal favourite, Vanity Unfair. A nostalgia-laced riffy guitar track with sweet ah-ah-ah’s sung over the distorted guitar, ready for you to close your bedroom door and play at full volume (teenage years throwback).

The Topshop EP is out on the 27th of May and available to order from their bandcamp (there’s a 7” record being made as well). It’s perfect for road trips, or just lying on your bedroom floor, when you wish you could escape just a little bit. If you’re unsure of buying the whole she-bang at first go, they’ve given out a free download of the song Vanity Unfair on their soundcloud.

Us Baby Bear Bones

Daisy Emily Warne and Puff Gandolfo head up the trio Us Baby Bear Bones together with Luke Phillips. Though the band name may invoke feelings of twee-ness and sugary sweet nostalgia, their music couldn’t be further from that. There seems to be a play on the foreboded naivety, as the first track from their new EP, what starts with a U and ends with an I, sets the tone with a punch of a heavy, eloquent backdrop that gives way to airy, yet forceful vocals. Their sound is polished, and enigmatic of grandeur, yet still maintains a sense of youth and the ruggedness that accompanies this.

Interestingly, there’s something reminiscent of great female pop legends, but battered in dream-pop and turned in electro-beats. Us Baby Bear Bones are definitely not afraid of giving you a big punch in the stomach with their forceful sound; the vocals doubled up by the density of bass. The opening track, Mountains, has been released as their first single from the new EP, accompanied by a video that is self-directed and self-shot by the band. Warne says of shooting, “we got the worst camera we could find and locked our selves in a room for eight hours with a ladder, a laptop, a projector, a PA system and just had fun.” They’ve also been kind enough to give all of you who can’t wait to get your bear claws into the album, a free track up on band camp! Download Rain here.

Us Baby Bear Bones formed in Brighton, where they continue to work and are currently signed to local label Love Thy Neighbour. What starts with a U and ends with an I will be out June 10th, and it’s looking to be an immediate success. The track Sun is bound to be an anthem, as much as the ending track Swamp is the perfect soundtrack to all festivals this summer. It seems as if Us Baby Bear Bones are shaping up nicely, and I can’t help but think of Warpaint’s The Fool, which blew up over the internet immediately after its release. Could Us Baby Bear Bones possibly have the same fate in store? We’ll have to keep an eye out.

Moscow Youth Cult

Moscow Youth Cult is a hybrid analogue/digital wonderbeast duo hailing from Nottingham that produce glitchy video game infused synth-pop, with a dark edge. That in of itself is quite a mouthful, so thankfully the guys of Moscow Youth Cult describe themselves, much more astutely, as VHS pop. They take a lot of inspiration from their own nostalgia towards the transition between the digital and analogue, which our generation is arguably the last to witness. In fact, their initial collaboration stemmed from doing a sound installation to celebrate the anniversary of an analogue video game, and from then on they’ve maintained this inspiration.

Their gigs are known for being all-encompassing; paring their performance with wow-flutter degraded VHS tapes projected and displayed on old, obsolete television sets. There’s an uneasiness to their sound, as well as their video material, that can be attributed to a lot of the old school analogue set. If you’ve ever re-watched your favourite childhood television program, you probably know what I’m talking about. These programs have lost their sense of innocence and naivety, which has been replaced by an extreme wave of nausea and paranoia lingering around the corner, projected by adulthood. Like an acid puked main character of such a show, Moscow Youth Cult is able to incorporate this creepy sense of doom with euphoria, creating a saturated manifest accompanied by overwhelming visual penetration (their music videos are proof).

Almost masquerading as the theme song for a video game hero, their atmospheric pop gives us the sense of a major event looming; as if an asteroid is about to hit Earth and it’s our mission to stop it. There’s a physicality to their music as well, found in the humanity of the imperfections created by this way of breeding sound. Super-charged with deep layers stacked high, not unlike one of their influences, mainstay electro-pop artists Boards of Canada; Moscow Youth Cult want you to dance while getting lost in their alternate reality. Happiness Machines is their full-length debut, which features fourteen tracks full of the uncanny and celestial. Rumor has it that they have a new album in the wings as well.

For more information, a free download of the Hive Glow EP, and masses of audio/visual assaults:

www.moscowyouthcult.co.uk

 

Just Handshakes

What better way to begin this project, Born in Britain, than with a band that were explicit about just that? Just Handshakes formerly went by the moniker Just Handshakes (We’re British), and though they’ve dropped the parentheses (I couldn’t help myself but include a cheap joke of said punctuation), they still leave no doubt about their heritage, hailing more specifically from Leeds.

An indie-pop band garnering more and more attention in the internet world, they have released several singles through the years since 2008, though the only full-length release so far has been a limited edition tape with the self-aware title Tapes, featuring recordings done in their basement during Easter 2012.

Due to release their debut album ‘Say It’ on California-based Bleeding Gold Records on the 20th of May, they have just released their single, London Bound, accompanied by a video. A hazy, slightly mournful indie-pop ditty as front-woman Clara Patrick croons in a fragile voice, “All our friends are London bound/They leave without making a sound” at the end of the tune. Though the lyrics may give the impression of nostalgia, the whole thing remains perfectly bittersweet as you can’t help but shake a little to the jangly and riffy guitar driving the song forward. And the best part is, you can download the single for free via Bleeding Gold Records bandcamp here.

Some of their main influences are Television, the Smiths and David Bowie. Though these are big names that many a band are not only inspired by, but end up sounding not (at all) dissimilar to, thankfully Just Handshakes have very much their own sound, though the influences are understandable and natural.

Just Handshakes have opened for some indie-cred worthy artists like Still Corners and TEEN, so they’ve already received the musician’s musician stamp of approval. Get your fingers and ears into this band before they blow up, and look forward to be able to sing a long on their forthcoming tour after their impending release. For the time being, you can purchase their basement-recorded Tapes album via bandcamp for a mere £5 (skip a beer or two this Friday—it’s worth it) to tide you over. However, there are only a few copies left out of an edition of 150, so hurry!

For more information, tour dates, and listening: www.justhandshakeswerebritish.tumblr.com