Always Destined To Be The … Next Big Thing

I posted this onto SMOG earlier this afternoon – but I get the feeling it is going to be somewhat overshadowed by a wonderful post about Jim, which I am sure he will love (who can blame him?). Anyway, I thought I’d also post it here as well. (I haven’t altered the words I posted.)


Back a few years ago, I posted something on the Simple Minds visitor wall. I think it was a review of a gig. It came from an independent fanzine. Jim replied to my post, saying he had fond memories of some of the guys who set up these kind of publications, recalling the names of Johnny Waller and Lindsay Hutton, particularly, on this occasion. Hutton had started a fanzine called “Next Big Thing”.

Well I stumbled on to a copy of Next Big Thing today, and there within the pages was an advert for Empires And Dance, as well as a glowing review of the album by Lindsay himself. (Albeit if he is somewhat disparaging to Roxy Music and Gary Numan in the process. Oops!)

It took me on my own little nostalgia trip. Of a time that I particularly loved being a Simple Minds fan. Thanks for those wee chit-chats, Jim. They’ll always be super special to me. I loved putting on my “researcher’s hat” for that one as when you replied to me you had said “I wonder what happened to Johnny and Lindsay?”, which had me off and searching for you. A time you made me feel both happy and purposeful.

If it doesn’t come out too clear for reading, then here is a transcript of what is written below.

“The danceable solution to teenage revolution? If Roxy were still any cop they’d be making albums like this. I don’t altogether go along with the belief that synthesisers always ruin things. There’s ample proof of the reverse here, but the fact that idiots like gerbil face Numan seem to represent the genre, mean that there is no media indication that there is life after electronics. ‘Empires’ is the 3rd Minds elpee and places them well up the league. Especially tasty are the opener ‘I Travel’ and the Jeepster style backbeat of ‘Celebrate’. If you’ve been put off by the moderne talk of Morley then think again kiddo, because this sound can co-exist with rock ‘n’ roll because it’s performed from the heart. Can you afford not to own a record by a band whose singer drew Noddy on the Berlin Wall in lime green chalk? Good wee group this.”

The Best of 2020?

Of course, the “Best Photographer” award for 2020 COULD go to someone for their work that had to wait 40 years to be seen – Mr Ronald Gurr…and the offering below….

But I jest…at least on offering up the award – but the photo is still just absolutely fabulous!

In response to his post today (his “Best of 2020”), here is…part my response to his choices, and part a broader explanation of mine.

And here is my response to him of my choices that I left in the comments of his post. (With replies to him kept in.)

Best Album : In Memory Of My Feelings – Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler
Best Single : Fools Tomorrow – Warm Digits (with a VERY close runner up being Bitter Tang by Michael Rother)
Best Cover Version : Absolute Beginners – Steve Harley
Most listened to song : New Gold Dream 12” German Mix (HONESTLY! Played usually 3 times over most mornings for the past several months)

Best Book : I haven’t read any new books other than…the obvious – but I really, REALLY want to read Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Best Photographer : Chris Leslie/Disappearing Glasgow – DITTO!
Best Podcast : The MainMan podcast (Mr Francis Gallagher’s a very close second!)

Best Film : Haven’t seen a film all year – apart from one documentary (see Best Docu)
Best Series : Not watched a series, either (how does a man who doesn’t like telly watch a TV series? *confused face*)
Best Documentary : Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm
Best Gig : Oh, Jim! Don’t do this to me!!! Let me pre-empt it by saying Copenhagen was BRAW! And…you know…I’m a very lucky girl for seeing both shows, I know! But I saw Bryan Ferry the week before! And…well, that was amazing too! But…for, venue, setting…uniqueness of the experience, band performance – it has to be Field Music at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (sorry, Jim! It was REALLY close though)

Best Journey: COPENHAGEN!
Best Decision : To go to Copenhagen – ALMOST decided against it.
Best Meal : Cafe Andaluz, Edinburgh
Best Drink : IRN BRU (I’ve got the taste for it now)

Worst Moment : How long you got?
Biggest Disappointment : The halting of the 40 Years+ Tour WITHOUT A DOUBT!
Person I’d Most Like To Have A Drink With : My brother, David. (He’d drink me under the table and I’d love every second of it!)
Person I’d Least Like To Have a Drink With : The EX president.

Biggest Thrill: Seeing Loch Lomond with my own eyes.

That’s it…on the spot, without much time to think. 

Happy New Year, Sir 😘😘

Review: In Memory Of My Feelings – Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler

It has been a little over 10 years since Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler first decided to team up with each other and work on producing music together. They quickly felt they had the makings of an album together. Little by little things came together, building on their work together when time allowed. A few years down the track with Catherine working on her on solo career as The Anchoress, and then being part of the touring band with Simple Minds and in between those things juggling with continuing work with Butler on what would become In Memory Of My Feelings. Talk about multi-tasking!

The album was all but completed for a number of years. Davies and Butler suffered knock backs. Record companies would show an interest and then inexplicably go cold on the idea. But both Catherine and Bernard knew they had a diamond here! They just needed someone else to see, feel and hear it! Enter Pete Paphides and his newly established record label, Needle Mythology. He knew the gem that was before him. And so, with one last little hiccup along the way (the test pressing of the album causing a problem which meant a one month delay from the initial release date of September 18th), Friday – at last – saw the release of In Memory Of My Feelings, on vinyl, CD and in digital format and through streaming services.

Was it worth the wait? My opinion – a resounding YES!

The Breakdown: It’s beautiful melancholia. Catherine has a knack for that. Its sparse chords and mirrored vocal harmonies exude fear and regret but…there is light. The best melancholic songs always bring a hope with them. There is hope. It ends in hope. There is love. Strength. And the offering of courage.

Ten Good Reasons: It has been my earwarm all day! There is sass and sensuality and sultriness. Relationships when they hit the rocks and flatline. Do we push on? Is there any sense in doing so? That’s what I hear in this song. Again, impeccable harmonies and fabulous guitar work from Butler. The final 30 seconds of the song is just…perfection. That repetition of “what a mess we’re in” and then the ending piano chords. Geez…I know that is something. Or is a nod to something familiar but I can’t put my finger on it! (Catherine might tell me if she sees this?)

Sabotage (Looks So Easy): Rocking. Just – pow – straight in! Intelligent lyrics. Just punchy and ballsy. Again full of sass and attitude. We’re not gonna take deceit lying down.

In Memory Of My Feelings: It’s like three songs in one! What a break up song! Just, the musical weaving and blending, ducking and diving. The harmonies! My god, the harmonies on this album are flawless! Delivery on the lyrics “because you can’t take it back / you’ve done it now / and that is that” during the bridge breaks (right term?) are just beautiful. This could be my favourite track on the album. It just has such layers to it. And the dark and light of it. It interplays with mood and colour. Light and shade. It’s fabulous!

I Know: Or is THIS my favourite track? THE HARMONIES! I want to die! And with Butler’s guitar riding it all underneath…geez! It really is a beauty this one. Tenderness. Such tenderness to it! A love that is blossoming yet already faltering? Everything is all tentative. It’s beautiful, this. Just really beautiful.

Judas: LET’S ROCK! Just to dry up those tears shed from the beauty of the previous track. It’s a rollercoaster, this album! A rollercoaster of gems! Just absorb the sensuality and sultriness of this one. And just eat up that jangling guitar. Sell it to me, brother! (I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. Lol)

No More Tears To Cry: It’s almost a gospel tune. What fabulous lines “here in my mouth / here in my heart / is the place where the hunger starts”. And fabulous guitar work for BB. Esp. on this track. His guitar work is strongest on this. Great middle solo. Oh, it’s SSOOO good!

The Waiting Game: I don’t usually hear much of Manic Street Preachers influence on Catherine, but I hear it really strongly on this track. Abandonment? It’s the worst! It’s the daisy petal game, this song. “He loves me. He loves me not.” We’ve all done it, even if just metaphorically most times…picking them petals off the daisy. Life is a waiting game…for buses, trains, planes, people to tell you they love you and want to be with you. This song is catchy AF.

The Patron Saint Of The Last Cause: When you don’t feel you are worthy of anyone’s attention or interest or kindness. Melancholic again, but delivered to sound lighthearted. “Hey, I’m a fuck up. Don’t be bothering yourself with me” to an upbeat tune.

F.O.H.: Again, those bloody harmonies. Hell! And then…
To be honest…this is the only track I am kinda grappling with. I don’t know what to make of it still. I am not saying I don’t like it. I just don’t find it so easy to express how I feel about it/what I’m getting from it. The jury’s out a little…but that’s okay. If we say this is one only song I am really not gelling with that well with then, that gives this album a massive 9/10!

The Bonus tracks:
Live To Tell is a stellar version of the Madonna original. Much more emotional to me. Catherine’s vocal performance utterly perfect. Lovely space left on the track too. Excellently executed. Better than the original.
The Patron Saint Of The Lost Cause (Harmonium Version) the air of lightheartedness on the album version is diminished somewhat by the barebones harmonium sound. It isn’t a bad thing. I really like both versions.

Why this album was such a long push to get to be released is truly perplexing having listened to it several times now. The rejecting record company’s loss and Needle Mythology’s gain. Congratulations to Catherine and Bernard. And well done to the both of you for having the courage of your convictions to know that what you had produced here deserved to have an audience because you were both SSOO right!

In Memory Of My Feelings is a very strong album. Great lyrics, fabulous harmonies, musically “on point”. Everything just fits.

I can’t recommend this album enough!
It’s near faultless.
It has to be a 9/10!

Jim’s Thoughts On Mac & Co – CAD & BB Album Review

A couple of little snippets from the latest Mojo magazine – Jim’s fave offering from the Bunnymen and In Memory Of My Feelings gets reviewed.

P.S. I wish I could be as unaffected as Jim is at the thought of someone not thinking of me with the fondest of thoughts – as the idea of him feeling that way with me (ie: he cannae stand me!) makes me want to cry my eyes out.

Curious About Kenny

I have just been perusing the latest issue of Electronic Sound magazine and was taking a cursory glance through the reviews section. King Creosote has a new release out called KY-10 (I’m going to assume it has something to do with his postcode and not anything to do with lubricant – as I think he is a Michelle – aka a Fifer…see what I did there?).

The review given has me rather intrigued. I think I may have to give King Kenny’s latest a listen this evening…

Turn Up The Funk – Warm Digits: Flight Of Ideas – Album Review

The follow up to 2017’s Wireless World sees the Newcastle duo expand on the lyrics and guest vocalists and they take the funk up a notch too! A fantastic trip into the topical point of how not every idea we have is the right idea and should be executed blindingly.

Following is my track-by-track thoughts on the new album.

Track one – Frames And Cages: Bang up-to-date but with undertones of Eastern mysticism and the soft wave of the signature Warm Digits sound. Pulsing rhythms through it. Love the ending. A strong album opener.

Track two – Feel The Panic (feat. The Lovely Eggs): First time I listened to it I felt it should have been the lead single, just my opinion. Great catchy lyrics. “Are you infallible? Or just gullible?” Andy’s drumming is a highlight on this. Great guitar licks from Steve as well. They bring out such a big sound for a duo. This track could currently not be any more topical!

Track three – The View From Nowhere (feat. Emma Pollock): A bit more of a laidback groove from the guys this track. Again, great lyrics. Great guitar licks from Steve.

Track four – I’m Okay, You’re Okay: The melody! I love this track. I actually find it very emotional. It’s reminiscent of something off Autobahn for me – just….the emotional impact of it. Gorgeous electronica. But also very organic. A very signature Warm Digits track for me.

Track five – Fools Tomorrow (feat. Paul Smith): Wow! What a track! The funk weaving through and Paul Smith’s voice works ssooo well with the sound. And the beat break around the three minute mark in the song? Divine! Again, tracks on this album are becoming incredibly topical.

Track six – Replication: Again, the melody that starts the track just pulls you in and then Andy drums like an animal. Great bass work and then manic but gorgeous waves of melody and riffs. Something pentatonic with the beat at times. Then another gorgeous beat break around the three minute mark. The bass on this is sublime!

Track seven – Shake The Wheels Off (feat. The Orielles): More funk coming along, but perhaps toned down a little compared to others. Great electronics on it and fab hooks and riffs going on in it. Again very catchy. “A real bone-shaker”, as the song says.

Track eight – Everyone Nervous (feat. Rozi Plain): Beautiful electronics and Andy’s drumming on it is fab. Great guitar reverbs towards the end of the track as well. Rozi Plain’s voice is so wonderful emotive. I find this a wonderfully soft and emotional piece. It actually gives me those goosebump chills of electricity when I play it.

Track nine – False Positive: TURN UP THE FUNK! Wow! Was blown away by this when they performed it at St Luke’s in Glasgow back in February. Great synth melody over the top too. Something you can really just funk out to. Might actually be my fave track on the whole album. If not then…it’s really up there!

Track ten – Flight Of Ideas: These guys really are the modern masters of the looped groove for me. I just love absolutely everything they produce. And – hidden singing sensation on the track – the one and only Steve Jefferis!

A cohesive collection of songs. A maturing of sound, I feel. A little less emphasis on the more motorik sound they had. They have certainly increased the funk ratio and the influences of the electronica that the band originally sprouted from has returned somewhat, but also matured.

Standout tracks for me are: Fools Tomorrow, Replication, Everyone Nervous and False Positive.

A very solid 4.5 stars out of five.

Flight Of Ideas is released on April 3rd, 2020, on the Memphis Industries label and can be pre-ordered online at the Warm Digits store. Click the LINK HERE for details.