C Duncan, Interviewed

I first heard C Duncan a few days before his debut album, Architect, found its way onto hipster coffee shop soundtracks the UK over, and before Duncan found his way into a demanding summer touring schedule, including The Wickerman and Latitude Festivals and a spot opening for Glasgow compatriots Belle & Sebastian.

I love the album (and reviewed it here) and was quick to book a ticket for C Duncan’s show at the Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Arts this pat June.  The meticulous maestro had taken a gorgeous album – one he crafted entirely himself, in his bedroom, calling on his skills as a multi-instrumentalist and his wits to build lush tracks out of handclaps and chairback stick-slaps – and turned it into a fast-paced and emotional live show, a one-man labor of love transformed with an excellent backing band before an eager audience.  Duncan and I chatted in the CCA cafe a few hours before the show: read the fully interview in The Skinny here, and listen to the recorded sit-down here.

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The Skinny – Reviews and Cultural Commentary

Independent, in-the-know, on the edge – journalism with panache and velocity.  The Skinny is a monthly culture mag serving Scotland and Northern England, covering the music and arts scenes in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Aberdeen, and Dundee.  I started contributing in June – you can find all my articles and reviews for The Skinny here.

Interviews and Features

Living Abroad in Edinburgh: An Ex-Pat Guide

WOMPS

C Duncan

Lydia Kavina (theremin virtuosa)

Live Reviews

SxSW 2016

The Edinburgh Festivals – August 2015 (The Black Sorrows, James Brown Is Annie, Japan Marvelous Drummers, The Sun Ra Arkestra, Antonio Forcione and Adriano Adewale, The Waterboys)

Positivus (Latvia) 17-19 July 2015 (featuring Placebo, Kasabian, St. Vincent, Warpaint, Jungle, Basement Jaxxx, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters)

T in the Park ,10-12 July 2015

Friday, featuring: The Cribs, Jessie Ware, Hozier, Model Aeroplanes, Kasabian

Saturday, featuring: The LaFontaines, Stillhound, Charli XCX, Enter Shikari, Vukovi, St. Vincent

Sunday, featuring: Admiral Fallow, Idlewild, Alabama Shakes, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks) – Glasgow School of Art, 16 June 2015

Earl Sweatshirt – Glasgow O2 ABC, 8 June 2015

Album Reviews

From 2019:

Cage The Elephant – Social Cues

From 2018:

Gorillaz – The Now Now

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Yonatan Gat – Universalists

Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart – Black Coffee

From 2017:

Benjamin Clementine – I Tell A Fly

Prophets of Rage – Prophets of Rage

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

BadBadNotGood – Late Night Tales

Beach Fossils – Somersault

Gorillaz – Humanz

From 2016:

The Last Shadow Puppets – The Dream Synopsis EP

Warpaint – Heads Up

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

WOMPS – Our Fertile Forever

The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything That You’ve Come To Expect

Lake Street Dive – Side Pony

From August 2015:

Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre

From July 2015:

Albert Hammond, Jr. – Momentary Masters

Ghostface Killah – Adrian Younge presents: Twelve Reasons to Die II

Gunship – Gunship

C Duncan – Architect

Admiral Fallow – Tiny Rewards

Two Trips to Glasgow: Adult Jazz, Kelvingrove, and 50,000 Graves

First Contact

Chance found me in Glasgow twice this week.  I had plans to come to the city for a day trip, to walk around and visit the Kelvingrove art and culture museum, but good vibrations led me to buy a ticket to the Adult Jazz show at the Glasgow venue Broadcast last Thursday night – I was meeting the writer Sam Edwards, who’d clued me in to the group – and I prepared to see two very different sides of the city.

Few people walked the wet pedestrian boulevards of central Glasgow Thursday night.  A bit of advice: traffic on the M8 (Edinburgh to Glasgow) is brutal just about every night between 3 and 7.  The Megabus and CityLink drivers know this, too,  but seem to have no way of combating it; nor do their timetables reflect this.  Plan accordingly. Luckily I left Edinburgh at 5 and was in Glasgow by twenty to 8, and, though my Google maps app was fried, I managed to find Sauchiehall.  A few solid-looking locals sparked Drum cigarettes on benches, and young consumers passed me, heading elsewhere; Broadcast offered warm respite, and craft beer.

As a Sam put it, Adult Jazz is the sort of band that makes you reevaluate your expectations of contemporary music – and then immediately to wonder if you’ve been obsession over wanky alt-pop.  The music is new – newness is the first word, the prerequisite to any attempt to talk about the band’s sound.  But push past this and you’ll find a real fluency and a knack for harmony – harmony which comes in some spinning concentrating gyre out of seeming discord.  You’ll find a masterful pop sensibility (in lines and handfuls of bars that tease you with their immediate mass-appeal), diverse rhythms, and something elusive, the quality, perhaps, that fires your doubt while moving you to return to the band, to listen to their album Gist Is, in full, again and again.  (Maybe after one more go-through you’ll have the right words …)

Before Adult Jazz, though, I was pleasantly surprised by two opening acts.

The first (I only heard mumbled versions of the name, unfortunately) proved agile and energetic.  They blazed through pop, reggae, slow-blues, and heavier fare, all tinged with a smart alt sensibility and floating on surprising three-part harmonies.  They fit Adult Jazz well: although the guitarist took most of the lead vocals and the bass players lines would have been called “show stealing” in any other context, there was something immediately refreshing about the act.  Only after the they left the stage, and Sam and I grabbed a Sam Smith India Pale, did we realize that the group had shown no marks of ego whatsoever – much like the music of Adult Jazz, which, before the show at least, was so complete of itself that we couldn’t imagine it coming from “individuals.”

When my mate and I returned from the bar upstairs with our Innis & Gunn lager tall-boys, the trio G-Bop Orchestra (touring with Adult Jazz this season) had assembled in the center of the floor under a disco-ball.  Across the dark room I could see the members of AG and the opening act looking on and grinning.

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