I have to hold my hands up, recently I have been neglecting the blog a bit. It's not that I don't love running this site, I am still as passionate as ever about new music, I simply don't have the time to keep on top of things nowadays. Running Olive Grove, managing Randolph's Leap, being a dad, husband and having a real life job, surprisingly doesn't leave me with too much time come and have good old ramble on here. Hopefully as things calm down a bit in the New Year I'll have more time to post about music that I have been enjoying. Which in a very roundabout way brings me to the band Flutes and their self-titled debut album which came out at the start of this week. Some of you might remember that I featured them as a Fresh Meat band all the way back in September, which was followed by this review by Boab of their last single, Auld Archie.
Now for me personally, Auld Archie is up there as one of the best songs that I had heard all year, so I had very high expectations for this album and I am pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed. Flutes self-titled album is one of my favourite albums of 2012, what makes it even more special for me is that quite simply I didn't see it coming. On a daily basis I get loads of music sent to me, some of which is pretty good, some not so and some which makes me want to rip my own ears off. Flutes though had something that bit special about them that made me stand up and take notice, in what I could best describe as WTF moment.
In many ways the album reminds me of a combination of numerous Scottish bands that I love, from De Rosa to Frabbit, there's even a wee splash of what I would describe as being John Knox Sex Club-esq in there. Then again I don't think it's fair to try and pigeon hole them like that, as it's so much more than that. Anyway, it was for that reason that I decided to ask Godfrey from the band to talk you through an album that I love and I hope you do too...
I'm not really sure how this ended up sounding so massive and aggressive, but I'm glad we ended up there. I'd had some ideas around the lyrics for a few days and had been trying to fit them around Rob's repeated guitar part which underpins the tune. When we sat in his flat in Maida Vale, the lyrics seemed to work quite well although we were concerned the track didn't really go anywhere and had concerns around the level of repetition. We then took it to Andy (bass, piano) and Alex (drums) who really nailed the dynamics. Initially Alex was really anti the big swing beat although we eventually persuaded him and he now loves playing it live (I think). The extra instruments (choir, clarinet, cello, organ, piano) were all added during the production process with Jamie Savage (from Olympic Swimmers) pushing us to experiment more than we ever had before. We asked a couple of friends of ours to play the cello/clarinet parts referencing The Clangers (wee weird stop motion mousy looking fellas who live on a moon) and a Radiohead track called Life in a Glasshouse. Louise (cello) and Trish (clarinet) have been playing together for years and both just went insane with their parts - I remember sitting in the studio being totally in awe of them. The final bit was the choir which was a recorded really late at night at Chem19. We asked the other band if they'd be up for singing in exchange for a couple of tins...and then Jamie worked his magic on the mix. We knew it had to be the first single as I think we're all pretty proud of how this one turned out.
It's What's Between That Makes Us Happy
Probably the only tune on the album you can actually have a wee groove to. This is one Rob penned on his tod and I contributed a couple of lines here and there. It's got a weird structure and initially we found it really tough to play as a band. It's unusual for us as well as it cracks in straight from the start - something only a couple of our tunes do. I think the refrain of 'Give us love, give us loss, give us all that's in between' is beautiful and am incredibly pissed off that I didn't write it. In fact, it's a bone of contention in the band and Rob and I regularly have bare knuckle fist fights about it mid way through the final chorus.
This is No Country For Old Men
I think this is one of the older tracks on the album and in fact it was written when we were still called Pushboxer. As with Auld Archie, Rob had written a cracking guitar part and I was trying to find a melody/some lyrics that would compliment it. My grandad was on his last legs at that point and was receiving some pretty below par treatment in the hospital he was in...hence the title 'This Is No Country For Old Men'. The song's written from his point of view reflecting on his life during his last few days among us. I feel like this was the first song we wrote where we started to push ourselves in a different direction (from the Editors covers band we once were). Andy and Alex really clicked on this tune and I love when the drums kick in. Jamie then pushed us to add the massive guitar crash at the start. We were all pretty resistant at first, but I love it now as I feel like I'm in Mogwai (if only for 3 or 4 seconds) when we play it live.
Until we wrote This Is A Lift, this was by far the most lyrically direct and explicit song we'd ever written. I remember Rob and I being nervous about playing this to Alex and Andy as we thought some of the lyrics were a bit clunky. Andy loved the chorus and said he could envisage some strings to compliment the vocals so we cracked on with it. Given the lyrics I was keen to have a female voice singing alongside me so we asked a friend of ours Siobhan Anderson (formally of French Wives) to come along to Chem for a day and sing it. She also added some staccato violin at the end alongside Louise's cello part which really helped to bring the song to a close.
The oldest track on the album named after a park in San Francisco. I think this was written right at the start of 2009 and initially I thought it would remain a Pushboxer song as I think it's the most poppy song on the album (despite being 5 minutes long). We always had trouble with the arrangement (at one point it was gigantic in an attempt to copy Interpol's Not Even Jail) although settled eventually on something soft yet with a driving pulse. The song used to be much shorter until Jamie asked us to write an extra verse off the cuff while we were recording. The verse that starts 'As your moving west' was written in about 5 minutes so I'm extra pleased with how it turned out. There's also a cheeky wee trumpet part in there if you listen closely.
This is a tongue in cheek song about how artists and poets always seem to attract the most beautiful woman...and then treat them like shite. The crazy sounds you can hear in the background at the start and the end were recorded very early in the morning after we'd all had a bit too much to drink. I ended up screaming Tam O'Shanter into two mics while Jamie, Rob and Andy wandered about hitting things. It felt a bit pretentious and stupid at the time but in fact I think the poetry and noises actually compliment the song quite well.
This Is A Lift
I was extremely anxious about this going on the album as it's so bare and, well....not exactly abstract. I wrote it just as we were finishing the album when we were fishing for an elusive eighth track. Andy heard me playing it one night through the wall (we live together) and emailed me the next day so say 'potential eighth track?'. And so it was.
The first time we performed this live was at our last gig as Pushboxer (Dec 11th 2009). I remember a few people saying they liked the melody so we kept on working the track up and eventually added in the piano and cello parts. I like how different this is to Auld Archie as they book-end the album quite well.
Flutes self-titled album is out now, you can order yourself a copy directly from the bands Big Cartel page. You can also pick yourself up a copy at Avalanche Records in Edinburgh, where they will also be playing an instore on Saturday 15th December at 4pm. They're also headlining Nice n Sleazy's in Glasgow the night before (Friday 14th), where they will be joined by some very secret special guests (I don't think I am allowed to tell you who they are though).
If you're looking for something that bit special that your friends probably won't have heard of yet, then I would urge you to check this album. Actually anyone with ears should check this album out as it's fucking ace.