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flag Scotland - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 24 - 10/05/98

Music as Art Form
Around Scotland

Edinburgh's well known for its Arts festival - you've heard of the Festival I'm sure, which encompasses both the International 'Official' Festival plus the Fringe, best known for stand-up comedy. So it's odd that music, at least, rock music, has never capitalised until recently on the massive influx of visitors to the city during this period. Until a couple of years ago, that was, when a bunch of chancers loosely associated with the Cas Rock venue, local band PoliceCat and Human Condition Records decided to take matters into their own hands. Planet Pop has now been running for 3 years and increased in size and stature, attracting the likes of Sleater-Kinney and Comet Gain to perform alongside local stars such as Idlewild and the Pastels. Other people have spotted the success of Planet Pop and brought other alternative music to the capital - last year the Flux mini-festival persuaded the Divine Comedy to duet with Michael Nyman, and this year saw similar unusual collaborations, such as Spiritualised teaming up with Steve Marland and Nick Cave backed by The Dirty Three. Also on the agenda was the Serge Gainsborough tribute, which as well as sundry BMX Banditeers and members of Teenage Fanclub, also saw Belle and Sebastian turning up as surprise guests to pay tribute to their favourite Frenchman.

The 'festival' is now almost a Scottish trait, with other cities such as Aberdeen (who to be fair have hosted an annual alternative festival for some years) having one coming up soon, while East Kilbride, not known in the same international terms as the other cities, somehow has enticed Scanner across the water to do a show with Future Pilot AKA, as well as the usual workshops, seminars that you usually associate with such an event. You might be surprised to learn that Scotland, with all this activity, has no alternative radio station (and only 2 hours national indie music available to the public). You might also have learned of the takeover of London's music station Xfm by Capital and its subsequent about-face to what amounts to chart music. This is bad news for Scotland, as previously reported, the Central Scottish radio licence is open, and the likes of Alan McGee and his station The Hub won't want those making the decision of who should get the franchise to think that indie music radio can't survive. "They've jeopardised my bid" said McGee of Capital's move. And the 3 other indie bids too.

Anyway, with live duties over for the time being (despite the 10 Day Weekend's ploughing on with another months worth of events including bringing Alex Chilton and Chip Taylor to town), the bands etc. can get back to the usual business of releasing records. Arab Strap will this month have their final release on Chemikal Underground before they depart for the richer pastures of GoBeat, a for me disappointing remix of Soaps, and The Delgados put out another single from Peleton - The Weaker Argument. Brand new from the label is Magoo's Swiss Border Escape, with a new album to follow. The new Belle and Sebastian album will also follow in mid-September, but to no avail, as the album of the year, barring a miracle, is Animals and Me by Spare Snare. With a lot of engineering done by Paul Savage from the Delgados at the CU studios, it's a much cleaner album than their previous works but still retains the excellent songwriting you'd expect. Few songs last more than a couple of minutes, the band favouring the technique of establishing a hook then rather than doing it to death, leaving you wanting to hear more. I haven't tired of this album over the dozen or so listens I've already given it.

Despite this peak arriving rather early in the year, we'll be back next month to see if we can find any contenders for runner-up.

Copyright © 1998 Stuart McHugh e-mail address

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