> SNACK Bits (March 2024) – Scotland’s Essential New Music Guide - SNACK: Music, film, arts and culture magazine for Scotland

SNACK Bits (March 2024) – Scotland’s Essential New Music Guide

Some things are best unwritten

Bits is a column that is firmly out of touch with the heavily discussed pop culture of the day. Yes, we know Taylor Swift won the American Football Cup in February, but as to why Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Natasha Bedingfield are getting another spin in the spotlight, who knows? If we make it through the Oscars, we might have bluffed our way through another awards season, and with the clocks going forward, we’re counting the days to summer festivals.

It’s a varied bag with respect to styles and genres this month, although a lot of quality to please you, no matter what you’re into. Yes, even that: there’s no shaming here, so let’s get things moving on a serious note.

The uneasy and careering canter of ‘I Drink Therefore I Am’ is an on-the-nose retelling of the times alcohol takes over our lives. Whatever your relationship is with alcohol (and the genuine one, not the one you tell others), anything which encourages frank discussions and assessments should be encouraged. It’s not an easy listen from Stephen Durkan, perhaps more of a narrative or scene soundtrack than a song you return to, but as a statement or a gateway into honesty or reappraisal, it’s very welcome.

Stephen Durkan’s ‘I Drink Therefore I Am’ is reeased 8th March

An artist’s relationship with alcohol is also the focus of ‘Half Price Fantasy’ by Grayling, albeit with a very different sonic landscape. Here, pedal-steel licks vie with a world-weary vocal to create something so sumptuous you could sink into for an entire weekend.

Photo Credit: Rosie Sco

And as a further warning to look after yourself, here’s a song about your favourite artists dying at a young age. As the title suggests, ‘TWENTY7CLUB’ from Alx Romance is an ode to the age so many stars bow out, and the fragile state our heroes often inhabit while still wowing audiences.

It’s a dark tale with hope of redemption, or at least a brighter future, and this is replicated in the music. The verses are murky but the choruses are pure pop, while the track rolls out on the two-minute mark. Well, it’s better to burn out than fade away.

Mapped By A Forest provides jangling guitars, but at a slower pace than you’d normally associate with this style. That’s no bad thing, and quite refreshing, bringing a mournful feel to ‘Our Place In The World’. It’s not going to pull up trees by itself, but it’s melodic, meaningful, and should sit well alongside the more powerful moments in their catalogue.

Mapped By A Forest – Our Place In The World (Official Video)

‘How Long’ is a smooth showcase of Nicky Murray’s strong vocals and a backdrop of instruments which wouldn’t be out of place on Radio 2. If you like light and jazzy numbers where the vocals do a lot of the lifting, this will make you feel at ease. Nicky also features on the bill at Glasgow’s Glad Café on 9th March, with the Gladcast Two event raising funds for Glad Radio.

Nicky Murray – How Long

‘Second Thought’ by The Wits might be a track that wrestles with anxiety, but it’s lively and sure to put a bit of spring in your step. No matter how the world turns, there will always be kids with guitars harking back, even as they do their own thing, working their way through their issues. It’s clean, well put-together and enough to warrant further investigation if choppy guitars and an anthemic sheen are your bag.

And if you love guitars, look out for Polly and ‘Mother Knows Best’. It’s released just before Mothers’ Day, so if you need to buy a present, this track is a gentle reminder. Your mother might like this song, she might not, and if you think this is a set-up for a cheap gag about your mother, you’re in the wrong place, my friend.

It might be a gentle reminder, but that’s the only gentle thing about the track. From the measured, menacing start to the hyper-powered end, and with impassioned vocals all throughout, it’s a heavy track that chugs along nicely.

A more traditional Mother’s Day gift comes in the form of Siobhan Wilson’s FLOWERCORE 1 EP, although this is released after that big date on the calendar. Siobhan is all in on her flower project, including a Kickstarter campaign, and the initial tracks are the light and lovely moments you’d expect from such a consistent Scottish artist. ‘Snowdrop’s Tune’ is a pleasant start to the release, but it’s a stirring and reflective collective of the nature that exists in the artist’s immediate surroundings.

Photo Credit: Greg Ryan

Referencing Judy Collins wasn’t on our bingo card for this month’s column but ‘Reborn & Grown’ by Jane Frances takes us there, and a good few other places. There are moments that are positively lovely, particularly the pre-chorus lifts. If you’re a bit tired of the way Britain is heading back to the 1970s, take a trip across the pond to enjoy a fresh take on a sound that will spark a nostalgic glow. The strings and vocals are especially delightful, and it’s cheering to have something so pleasant now and again.

‘Reborn & Grown’ from Jane Fraances’ forthcoming album ‘Graceful Wanderer’ will be released on Friday March 29th via Stash Recordings

Delightful is also one of the apt descriptions for Alison EalesFour for a Boy EP, a sweet collection fuelled by ukuleles, accordions and charming vocals. It could be the ideal antidote to tough days.

There’s a lot more to come from Josienne Clarke this year, notably the Parenthesis, I, album in May, but single ‘Most of All’ is a nice way to ease into that. A traditional folk-style song with delicate guitar picking, recorded in a lo-fi way, allowing an artist to expose themselves to the world to poke and peer at. It’s just what you need at times.

Josienne Clarke – Most Of All (Official Video)

By the time you come back to us next month, we’ll probably still be getting our head around ‘Eyes’ by Amateur Cult. There’s a great deal going on in less than four minutes, with the squelching synth a great way to kick things off while the motorik drums and squealing peals of sax are a great way to bring things home.

You’ve also got the post-funk, new-wave step back in time, with more than a knowing wink from Bikini Body and ‘Mr Tinnitus’.

If you’re into your breaks then don’t miss Scottish/Malaysian-Chinese rapper/harpist Anise Pearson AKA Queen of Harps with her atmospheric DnB earworm ‘Where Will You Find Me’.

Where Will You Find Me by Queen of Harps is OUT NOW

And we’ll end with an act we’ve mentioned a few times, who are causing a ruckus with their new EP: Martha May & The Mondays. ‘SPIT!’ as its title suggests it’s raw and punky, but ‘Tennis’ lulls you in with a seductive musical backing that sounds like the most indie of laid-back pop. And then the lyrics kick in. Oh my! ‘Touch Me’ is far more frenetic, continuing the sexually charged flow, and will cause merry chaos in live shows. ‘War Games’ has a brattish energy, wrapping up the EP neatly. Martha May & The Mondays have lived up to their billing with a short, sharp collection that will grab attention and ensure you need to catch your breath.

See you in April, you fools.

Martha May & The Mondays ‘SPIT!’

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