Glasvegas – The Rightful Heirs?

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From the early releases on Alan Horne's Postcard label through to bands such as Jesus and Mary Chain and Mogwai, Scotland has always had a tradition of great independent pop music. The country has never had any shortage of young bands aspiring to make mythical records without giving a toss to the style, trends and fashions of London-based hipsters. Some become extremely successful, like Franz Ferdinard. Others reach for the mythical only to fall into obscurity, like the Pastels.

Reflecting on every Scottish band that I've personally been involved in - the Beta Band, Mogwai, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, Jesus and Mary Chain - I've found elements of their great music within the grooves of Glasvegas.

I first spotted Glasvegas in 2006, playing third on the bill at the King's Tut Wah Wah à la Oasis. They immediately caught my attention. They were rockabilly neds playing a frenetic homage to Elvis, art punk and noise. I got their myspace that evening and loved it. In fact I hadn't loved anything that much since the Jesus and Mary Chain demo tape in the 80s. Glasvegas' demos owed a heavy debt to both Suicide and the Jesus Mary Chain; the reverberating drum machine, the wall of feedback and the vocals from James Allen which alternate between threatening and fragile, all sung in a heavy Glaswegian accent. The songs are picture snapshots of the underbelly of Glasgow. I'm Going to Get Stabbed flails around with a frenetic energy of someone who literally is about to get stabbed while Daddy's Gone is a maudlin narrative about a lost relationship with a father. Both are underpinned by the intense drum machine and the Phil Spector-style bedsit DIY orchestras.

Instead of following the skinny jeans parade, Glasvegas are pure rockabilly, noise and doo-wop gold. Looking like they're from the 50s or else in Morrissey's current backing band, they're throwbacks to an era where wild excitement and rock'n'roll went hand-in-hand.

I became a big fan. And so have others. Tim Burgess, Carl Barât and Andy Bell to name a few. Whoever checks out the band live immediately gets the visceral, visual impact and the songs. They released their vinyl 7" of Daddy's Gone on Waks Records and it immediately sold out. They have opened up for Dirty Pretty Things and had sold-out gigs in Glasgow. Could they give a toss about the NME and major labels? No. Nowadays, its weird. Bands don't have time to develop. They sign to their single deals and if the single flops that's that. Down the toilet. Glasvegas have taken that essential time to work their thing into something greater. If they had released their earlier single on a major, it would have been promoted and if it didn't do the business in the charts would have faded away leaving the band to either break up or soldier on.

James Allen, the singer, always assured me that he had the skills to pay the bills and the band have started to deliver on the original early promise of the demos. Sure, songs like I'm Going to Get Stabbed and Flowers and Football Shirts paint a Scotland that few are willing to admit exists, to a soundtrack of Moe Tucker-meets-motorik drumming, fuzz guitars and rockabilly. But their new track, My Own Cheatin' Heart shows they have developed into something genius. It's a DIY epic of pop regret, the sound of Scottish Morrissey singing Del Shannon's songs with Phil Spector arrangements and Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz meeting Noel Gallagher's anthem addiction. An utterly unique proposition and totally soulful. For me, Glasvegas are the sound of young Scotland today. So who are your Franz Ferdinards and who are your Pastels?

© Words – Alan McGee (Original article appeared in The Guardian – Used by Kind permission)

Read 3089 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:40
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