Pack up your money and pick up your tent. Wise words from Bob Dylan, especially if you are making your way to a campsite at one of the leading music festivals. Some people are already home, showered, and have even cut their wristbands off, while many others have weeks before they get fully into the festival vibe. Were summers always this long?
Anyways, the music is the most important thing, whether you got down in the dirt or live-tweeted Glastonbury from your couch. As you’d expect, SNACK Bits has plenty of songs and artists for you to check out, showcasing Scotland to the world.
Michael Cassidy’s Wandering As Water album is a stark reminder of how inadequate the words folk music are in trying to describe or explain a record quickly. It’s plaintive; it’s pop; it’s a lot of fun in places; and, of course, it’s thought-provoking. ‘Tell Me Who You Are’ could start a dance in an empty house, while ‘Last Boy in the Room’ packs a finger-picking punch. As a nation, we have many artists who do this style of music so well, but we should never take it for granted.
One thing we don’t take for granted is an infectious dance track, and TAAHLIAH continues to get us up on our feet. ‘Fall Into Place’, the artist’s new single with Tsatsamis, is glorious. It’s probably a lot sexier and more suggestive than we think it is, but musically, it’s perfect for dance floors, fields and anywhere the lights go down.
If it’s all getting too bright and sunny for you, or as sunny as it gets around here, find some refuge with Cloth. ‘Lucid’, the early track from the band’s forthcoming EP on Rock Action, Low Sun, is a dark and marauding little number, prowling with methodical menace. The whispered vocals may not carry volume, but they carry far more weight and power than a screamed diatribe. Rachael Swinton stands to the fore, but the twin duo, with brother Paul, have the musical backing that takes these soft warnings to a higher level. It’s not a summer banger, but sometimes it is precisely what you need at this time of year.
And for darker sounds with a lot more energy, VUKOVI deliver once again, and a song titled ‘Hades’ leaves you in no doubt of the power and attitude on display. Janine Shilstone remains a darkly beguiling singer, and this song should get the crowd moving when she and Hamish Reilly hit the road for an extensive UK and European tour in October. The final leg at SWG3 just before Halloween should be a perfect way to mark the season, if you’re so inclined.
There’s more rock and anger on offer this month, with ‘Parasite’ by Shredd tearing things up. Remember, you don’t need to wear bright colours to enjoy summer. If black is your thing, you do you.
‘Ornamental Ponds’ might look at how grandeur becomes mundane over time, but Blush Club have delivered a quirky and wry track that deserves a few listens. The final race to the end takes the song on a journey that you didn’t see coming, but all in all, we can take more of this. This is just as well, as an EP is due in September. There’s a delicious statement in the song running ‘it all seemed better decades ago,’ especially from a modern-day band who sound as though they’d be better suited to the days when MTV played music and squeezed alternative bands into a two-hour time slot, once a week.
We’ve still got Alter by Susan Bear on regular rotation at SNACK Towers, and that’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. It’s a lovely, dreamlike record, ideal for the warmer days when your mind isn’t fully here. Take a wander with it in grand style, with ‘Mario Golf 2’ and the very danceable ‘Slack’.
And because we don’t want to keep you here when you should be out doing something more productive, let’s pick up the pace. ‘The March Onto Forever’ by CAFOLLA is as grandiose as the song title and their capital letters suggest. It’s a slightly pompous electro funk number, but that’s the sort of genre where you can get away with that outlook!
‘(God)less’ by Andrew Combs is like the trudge through a muddy campsite to your tent, car, or bar. It’s a bit slow and plodding, but there’s a sense of optimism at every step. ‘Feel It’ by Leif Coffield washes over you like the ridiculous rush of being in a field at 6pm and the clouds parting to reveal sunshine after a dull day of rain. It’s fleeting, but you’re glad you had it.
If DopesSickFly haven’t been signed up for every tent or outdoor stage where people congregate to dance to slightly generic yet pleasing funk, promoters have missed a trick. ‘Red Light’ is easily the match of these feel-good sermons that some local bands have made a career out of.
The same goes for Sweet Dreamer, although they fit into that electro-pop space, playing to an audience with every second person wearing at least one roll of aluminium foil as clothing. ‘Playing Along With The Bad Guys’ is upbeat fun, and will go down very well for many.
Enjoy yourself: it’s later than you think. But equally, it’s still early, so don’t try and do everything on the first festival night. We’ll maybe see you in August, but let’s be honest, there is every chance the editor will discard this column for some nonsense about the Edinburgh Festival; let’s hope we get to charge Airbnb prices for the privilege!
Honourable mentions this month go to Slim Wrist’s ‘The Soft’ (Lovely, pulsing, restrained electronic pop. Their debut album Closer For Comforting due later in the summer), Pizza Crunch with ‘Wilting Youth’, and Lady Neptune’s ‘TIME 2 MAKE U FEEL GOOD’ (Gabber/Un-Happy Hardcore that conjures 90s Saturday afternoons, clad in Ichi-Ni-San, collecting flyers and buying mixtapes from 23rd Precinct), released on Night School Records.