Honeyblood’s Hummable ‘Bud’ Is A Must-Listen

For further proof that you’d never survive life in Scotland, look no further than the blistering tunefulness of Honeyblood’s “Bud,” the A-side from a debut 7” by Glasgow’s hottest new duo. With the garagey thump of Shona McViccar’s drums and Stina Tweeddale’s raw guitar and silver vocals—like FatCat labelmates Frightened Rabbit, they lack a bass, but you won’t mind—is it any wonder they were signed on the basis of a two-track demo they recorded with one mic in a kitchen?  

Their name says it all, really: a sickly-sweet and sometimes sludgy flow underpins a rich, noisy jangle for songs that bite you while you’re busy swooning. We’re already salivating at the prospect of “Kissing on You,” the apparently addictive and “lo-fi punky” B-side to “Bud,” out on October 22, but for now enjoy the surprisingly heavy single and the no-frills charm of the Thrift Shop release—easily the best (or only) 4-track production you’ll hear this month.

 

The National & Frightened Rabbit Unite For The Ultimate Melancholy-White-Dude Tour

Good news for any sad-sack caucasians out there who enjoy music that tenderly removes your heart and takes it apart like a pocket watch and leaves the pieces scattered on the floor: Scottish quintet Frightened Rabbit, who had a strong showing with Pedestrian Verse in February, and The National, who drop their new album Trouble Will Find Me later this month, will join forces this fall to make you feel your feelings.

And while Frightened Rabbit is certainly capable of devastating you with the recorded version of their scrape and jangle, nothing can compare to the ferocity (or raw vulnerability) of their live shows. Witness this recent half-hour set from SXSW, which veers from blistering squall to stripped-down ballads. “Backyard Skulls,” a new song that comes around the four-minute mark, is a highlight.

Meanwhile, The National – maybe to assuage the pains of having to promote a new album – have been getting fairly conceptual with their old stuff. On May 5th, over at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, they played the song “Sorrow” from High Violet for six hours straight—105 times in all—with drummer Bryan Devendorf sitting out a single performance. Featuring a soulful, muted trumpet and cello-bowed guitar, it has the otherworldly grace of the band’s best work.

So, think you’re happy-go-lucky enough to withstand this double bill? Here are the dates you need to know:

9/8 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium

9/9 – Atlanta, GA @ Cobb Energy Centre

9/11 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte

9/12 – Asheville, NC @ Thomas Wolfe Auditorium

9/13 – Louisville, KY @ Iroquois Amphitheater

9/15 – Madison, WI @ Orpheum Theatre

9/17 – Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

9/21 – Troutdale, OR @ Edgefield Winery

9/22 – Vancouver, BC @ PNE Amphitheatre 

‘It’s Important to Be Brutal’: Frightened Rabbit’s Self-Discovery

Since the beginning of February, Frightened Rabbit have been selling out venues across the pond and here in the States as they continue to tour behind Pedestrian Verse, the fourth full-length album from the Scottish bastion of indie rock. This wouldn’t be the biggest deal for the band—who are used to playing for packed rooms in cities big and small, both international and domestic—except the record in question marks a major creative departure for the five-piece, in that it’s the first body of work they’ve truly collaborated on in their history as a band. They also hit the road four days after Pedestrian Verse’s debut on February 1, which means that Frightened Rabbit got to know the anthemic grandiosity of their latest in a live setting along with everybody else, despite the hours they clocked in the studio and in practice before departing Glasgow on their latest trek.

“It took us a couple of weeks before we were particularly great at playing the songs,” says Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit’s frontman and lead vocalist, hanging out before his (again, sold-out) show at Terminal 5 last night.

“We rehearsed like hell, but until you get out and play the new songs live, you might as well be in the rehearsal room for a day. We noticed it at the start of the tour that the songs are settling in. I think one of the things we found challenging was that the producer, Leo Abrahams, brought a very important sense of subtlety to this album that was missing on other ones. The details are very much missed if they’re not included, so we spent a lot of time figuring out how to incorporate these details live. We’re totally dead against backing tracks, so we tried to do a raw energy version of some of the songs, and it just sounded like a shitty version of that song. He brought such a subtlety to the arrangements that we had to really look at how we were going to include these details. The United States got the best end of the tour, definitely!”

Though the accolades they’ve raked in indicate otherwise (the tour’s been good since the get-go), Pedestrian Verse has, after months of relentless touring, begun to feel like the songs Frightened Rabbit should’ve been singing all along. Before, Hutchison would “lock [himself] away and not welcome any of the band into that process” when it came to arrangements and lyrics. With Pedestrian Verse, that artistic autonomy ceased, as each of Frightened Rabbit’s members contributed to the fabric of every verse and breakdown.

“This time around, it was an open kind of door,” says Hutchison. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be here in the rehearsal space every day, I’m going to be working on stuff as I always do, and you can come and go as you please.’ That was the start of a new process with us, because we never worked that way before, collaboratively. I just put records together myself. So that process was new—it was brand new—and we felt reinvigorated. The first couple of weeks, we were still finding our feet, not really sure how this was going to work. I’m still getting used to letting go of that kind of control, that kind of thing. When we did hit our stride, it was great. Thereafter, we realized that this is how we want to do it. Perhaps I’d come to a saturation point where I was getting bored with my own way of working and I needed something to refresh it, and that’s what really happened with this record. For me, I can hear it all over it. It’s got more energy. It’s bigger. It’s brighter. It’s just more exciting.”

“Late March, Death March” is perhaps one of the best examples of this newly defined collaborative effort, as the song was written and recorded with all five members of the band having a staring contest between them as they battered drums in a circle. “We were very aware that we wanted this to be in every sense a band record,” says Hutchison. “We’ve never performed as a five-piece in the studio before. It’s always been like, ‘Let’s do the drums and work up from there.’ Here, it’s the five of us playing drums round with a microphone in the middle. That just brings something you can’t get from layering, you know? That integral energy on ‘Late March, Death March’ comes from us just making eye contact—and not all of us are great drummers, either. It’s got sort of ragged parts that added to it. That was probably the only song on the album that was written in the traditional me, on my own, in a room kind of thing. The performance itself it very much comes from the five of us together.”

For Hutchison, it’s the final track on the album, “Oil Slick,” that serves as a defining moment for him, in that the song is one where all five members can be heard—even if that’s not so obvious to the listener on the first go around. The telltale traits of a Frightened Rabbit song—insatiable hooks, a rhythm that works for introspective vibing, the grandest love song you’ve ever heard in a live setting simultaneously, a chorus that’ll lift you up into the ether of euphoria or speak to your despair depending on your mood—are there, but this is the song of a new Frightened Rabbit, the one Hutchison is thrilled to continue with through the rest of this tour and onto the next record.

“It’s a song that’s all of us,” he says. “It’s a song that’s got space, and everyone’s characters within it. I guess only we can hear that. It encapsulates what we were trying to do with this record, in that it has both a kind of intimacy and a series of massive, big endings. This album kind of draws you in and out of being close with us, and then it casts you out into the crowd of an arena. This album’s supposed to pull you around. For me, is the jump-off for the next record is ‘Oil Slick.’ We take it from there and see where we go from that.”

Where that is exactly has yet to be seen, as the guys don’t write on the road and their fans haven’t gotten enough of Pedestrian Verse yet. They haven’t, either, and they shouldn’t, as this record is a steadfast, undeniable feat of collaborative prowess that marks a shift in the maturity and depth of a rock band that wants nothing more than to do right by the music they make. This record may have been a revelation for Hutchison, one that paved the way to self-discovery through collaboration, but it’s clear that the level to which he pushed himself creatively won’t be absent from future Frightened Rabbit efforts.

“I looked back on our catalog and tried to be as critical as I could with it, and say what was wrong,” he says. “I realized through touring that I was spending an hour and a half every night singing songs that were entirely about myself. That starts to sound and feel indulgent after a while. Though there are moments on this record that are definitely about my life, I was very much aware that I wanted to try and externalize that and look less inward. There are songs like ‘Acts Of Man’ and ‘State Hospital’ where I was consciously trying to push myself into writing about other peoples’ lives, just to see if I could. That was part of the challenge of that record, trying to consciously move away from some of the traps and easy tricks I’ve learned over the course of the past six or seven years. This time around, everything was up for questioning. Everything was like a forum, and nothing was precious. For that reason, we were much more brutal in the decision making process with this one, rather than me indulging myself completely. It was a process of self-criticism from start to finish… This time around I didn’t censor it. It’s risky, but it’s important to be brutal. You serve the album in a song, and it can’t be a personal argument. It has to be objective. I don’t mind being raw. I think it’s what our audience has come to expect and love.”

Follow Hilary Hughes on Twitter.

Get Moody With The Deep Red Sky

Are we going to look back on 2005-2015 as the decade that Scottish musicians taught us how to feel humanlike emotions once more? At this point I barely even need to name-check Frightened Rabbit / The Twilight Sad / We Were Promised Jetpacks to let you know what Edinburgh newcomers The Deep Red Sky sound like. But I just did.

The five-piece band’s debut album, Plans, is out on May 13; the first single is “Zombies (Things Don’t Stay The Same).” I want to tell you that it’s better than an episode of The Walking Dead, but that show is terrible, so: this song is much, much better than an episode of The Walking Dead. Chugging guitar and a ceiling-scraping chorus. What else could one need?

Well, for some counterpoint, how about a heartwarming music video about a kid being a real-life superhero? Yeah, that’ll work. You may also download the track for free via Bandcamp.   

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Your Daily Gloom: ‘Tell Me When We’re Having Fun’

My, you’re looking very pleased with yourself for some reason. Almost, dare I say it, content? Satisfied? Happy?! Well sit down and take a dose of sad-sack Scottish indie rock from The Twilight Sad—yes, “sad” is right in the name—and you’ll be cured of that debilitating good humor right quick.

“Tell Me When We’re Having Fun” is a B-side of sorts, a leftover from the recording sessions for the just-as-ominous No One Can Ever Know. The track finds the band operating well outside its tsunami-of-guitar mode, opting for plangent piano and strings that never, thankfully, congeal into something saccharine or schmaltzy.

Oh, and if your mood remains just a shade too bright, these mopers are on tour with countrymen Frightened Rabbit, who are every bit as bleak. So go and nod along in a melancholy stupor.

03/11 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore 

03/12 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up 

03/13 Los Angeles, CA Music Box / Fonda 

03/14 Santa Cruz, The Crepe Place * 

03/15 San Francisco, Rickshaw Stop * 

03/18 Denver, CO Gothic Theatre
03/19 Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre 

03/21 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theater 

03/22 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater 

03/23 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre 

03/24 Nashville, TN 3rd and Lindsley
03/26 Cincinnati, OH Bogarts 

03/27 Lousville, KY Headliners Music Hall

*Headlining Dates. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Flutes Double Down With ‘Kilburn’

Scotland’s Flutes made a splash across the pond last year with their self-titled debut album, instantly garnering comparisons to fellow sad-sack countrymen like Frightened Rabbit, The Twilight Sad, and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Their first single, “Auld Archie,” certainly lived up to that level of spine-tingling gravitas, meanwhile mining some of Radiohead’s skronky alienation in the bargain.

Flutes haven’t slowed down for a moment, and are now releasing "Kilburn," an entirely new track, on April 4. It solidifies the formula of slow crescendos and airy, open textures that evoke the band’s home, “the windswept coast of Fife”—until the crushing climax, that is.

But wait, you haven’t heard the best part yet: the totally earnest, dead-eyed cover of “What Is Love.” You’ll never see A Night at the Roxbury the same way again.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Frightened Rabbit Drops Video for ‘Today’s Cross’

I’ve been really digging the third album from Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, whose Pedestrian Verse combines the typical sad-sackery associated with that country’s musical output with a surprisingly upbeat sound. The album, which was released yesterday, features the stellar song "The Woodpile," and today the band has released their second single, "Today’s Cross." I have a feeling that anyone who has ever suffered from writer’s block in the face of a deadline and a blank sheet of paper will relate to this clip.

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Hear Frightened Rabbit’s Fourth Album ‘Pedestrian Verse’

Frightened Rabbit’s upcoming Pedestrian Verse is already one of my favorite albums of 2013. Sure, we’ve only had three weeks of the year so far, but I’ve spent a lot of that time listening to sad Scottish rock. Their fourth album drops on February 4, although you can already stream the whole entire gorgeous thing online.

Take a listen to the song’s first single, "The Woodpile," below, and two other jams from the album below.

If you like those selections, take a listen to the whole thing over at The Guardian

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter

Winter Begins When Frightened Rabbit Says So

I’m a huge Frightened Rabbit fan—having seen a wonderful drumstick-splintering set back when they were touring The Midnight Organ Fight, and now consider their moody, driving rock essential to the colder months. Because bare and wintry it definitely is. In fact, go out and experience some personal pain before you listen.

Frightened Rabbit’s fourth album, Pedestrian Verse, isn’t available till February, but it’s a doozy. As of right now, you can sample its charms in the form of a music video for “The Woodpile.” Despite its Scottish strains, it takes place in and around a New York bodega, exposing in a single panoramic shot all the people who crowd around an apparent gruesome incident. But the story unfolds with the band’s trademark caustic humour—not to mention grandeur.

So get excited! To have your heart broken again and again, I mean.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter