Tag Archives: 2014

Benthic Lines- Dan Lyth and the Euphrates

Title: Benthic Lines

Artist: Dan Lyth and the Euphrates

Release Date: 12th May 2014

Label: Armellodie Records

Drifting sighs of melody signify the opening of a shimmering album. A myriad of unusual instruments accompany deadpan statements of depression. Saxaphone and Steel Drums are used as casually as electric guitar riffs. Ocassionally female vocalists toot along with the tune. Ever present are confused roots in both classic indie, and psychadelic pop.

Benthic Lines is the first album Dan and the Euphrates have made for Scottish indie label Armellodie Records. Yet again the folks at Armellodie have cherry picked the best of unusual indie music. Benthic Lines is a fascinating album with many faces.






Goodbye Cagoule World

Title: Goodbye Cagoule World

By: Benjamin Shaw

Released: 2014

Label: Audio Antihero

Benjamin Shaw orchestrates a chaotic entrance to his album. After a moment of silence,the sound splutters in with pre-recorded rhetoric. Icy daggers of music then grow from these first fuzzy words.

Sung lyrics are eventually introduced, following the accomanying patterns of elongated violin strokes. The lyrics are often harrowing and reference mental health issues, including the trap of agrophobia, repeating: “Because you never leave the house.” These simmering words add to the crinkles, quirks and beeps that make the album sound like it is being transmitted from a post-apocalyptic world. Although in other places the music does calm down into a slow, but rhythmic saddness.

As a result of all this, the album is a confusing combination of wild emotions- but that isn’t a bad thing. The music takes the listener with the sound, through blasts of emotion, that are still quivering in the listener’s head when the next wave of feeling hits them. It is a compulsive listen and should be heard as a complete body of work, from start to finish; something uncommon amongst the contemporary hunger for itunes single tracks.




Yoke and Arrows

Title: Yoke and Arrows

By: Rob Hindle

Publisher: Smokestack Books

Released: 2014

‘Yoke and Arrows’ is a combination of fictional narrative; factual account; biography and poetry. Hindle takes the story of Fredrico Garcia Lorca’s life and death, amongst the Spanish Civil War, and embellishes it into a layered narrative.

Hindle’s collection takes on a range of voices, often within a single poem. Each voice has a link to Lorca, or the atmosphere that is a background to his death. This use of voices leads the reader into learning about Lorca, in various guises, without hearing from the man himself (I suppose Lorca’s own writings already cover this).

When Lorca does die, Hindle deals with it as a cold fact: “One says next morning Garcia Lorca is dead’. By presenting it plainly as a fact, Hindle allows Lorca’s death to sink into the marsh of dead bodies from this period of Spanish history. However this also creates a condradiction, as Hindle has chosen Lorca as the subject of his book.

The poems observe the constant oppression of the Spanish Civil War, as well as linking the war to stories that span back hundreds of years. However they also describe romantic, natural scenes which seem to symbolise some kind of freedom; even if it is freedom that is impossible to reach. As a result the poems also show how the beauty of nature can be utterly destroyed by the war-waging whims of humankind.

‘Yoke and Arrows’ is an education in history, philosophy and politics. The facts of historical situation are put alongside interesting and poetical moments of abstraction and description.




An Interview with Lewis Cuthbert (Playwright)

I met up with Lewis Cuthbert to discuss his new short play, which will be on at The Dog and Parrot pub in Newcastle this Monday (the 17th). The play will be performed as part of a scratch night that starts at 8PM.

Tell me a bit about your play.

“The play I’ve got on is called ‘The Waiting Game’.  It’s the story of a family who gather at the hospital when their father is in a coma; possibly dying. It’s ended up being about how things that happen to you when you’re a child continue to affect you as an adult. Yet besides that it is a comedy, and focuses on character interaction.”

“I’m playing a part in it and I’ve accidentally given myself all the lines! Which I didn’t intend because I only stepped in at the last minute.”

So you didn’t write yourself in?


“No, it was an accident. It’s probably going to look bad though, because the character is very smug and vain, but it honestly wasn’t intended to happen like that.”

Did you study drama?

Yes I studied Drama and English Literature. That’s probably why I didn’t get a job!

Where did you get the idea?

“I’m worried that I’ve stolen the general premise from Arrested Development. “


“But really I think I must have just been a bit bored on Boxing Day and started writing. Although it isn’t very festive!”

Did you write it all in one go?

“The first draft, but that was only about ten pages, and then I expanded it later.”

Why should people come and see it?

“My play is funny and hopefully thought provoking. It’s also great to come and support a fringe venue, and the development of new writing.”

Is this the first play you’ve written?

“No I’ve written…”

(He counts them up on his fingers)

“…Six full length plays and a few shorts. I started writing in 2010, and I soon sent one of my plays off to a national competition called ‘The People’s Play Competition’ and I came second. I also had one play on last year at the Dog and Parrot which was well received, and it was a nice packed house. I’ve also written seven episodes of a sitcom. Most people say I’m mad for that because when you’re submitting your work they usually just ask for one episode.”

Have you ever tried writing in other styles, for example prose?

“Yeah I’ve tried, but I’m not as good at it. Dialogue comes instinctively, whilst with prose you have to think descriptively and I tend to lose interest. But it is something I would like to try and do.”

Does your play relate to your life in any way?

“I hope people don’t think so- in terms of what the characters get up to! However psychologically speaking you could probably unpick something, as is always the case.

What are your ambitions with playwriting?

“Obviously I would like something to be put on in a professional venue some day and that’ll be a start. I’ll think about the future when I get past that.”

What is more important for you- character or plot?

“Character. If you’ve got good characters you don’t actually need that much of a plot, you could get by fine without it. For example I’m writing a play with (a friend) Colin and it’s basically ended up with two characters trapped in a laundrette, debating psychology and philosophy. I mean there is a zombie apocalypse in there as well…”

Brave Mountains

brave mountains

Title: Brave Mountains

By: Appletop

Label: Armellodie Records

Released: 2014

It is easy to draw comparisons within indie music; but ‘Appletop’ are one of the few bands that can actually live up to these comparisons. So here it goes: there are enough rapidly strummed and blistering chord changes for ‘Arctic Monkeys’ to pop into my head as a immediate reference point. Yet with a second, closer, listen; the psychadelic grit of the album is more comparable to other dreamy indie staples like ‘The Horrors’ or ‘Two Door Cinema Club’. In this style the lyrics are crooned lazily, drifting through on a lilo of harmonics (occasionally punctured by harsh vocal contrasts). The album would certainly be perfect for any music lover looking to expand their collection of psychadelic indie albums.

Of course ‘Brave Mountains’ does also have many moments of originality, especially within the lyrics. My favourite track on the album is ‘Nikolai’. It is a slow song, with the guitar riffs tuned right down to melodic strumming. However it is the lyrics, which slide alongside the music slick with sexual tension, that really get to me on every listen.

So buy this album for music that sneaks up on you with quiet, though intricate, dark suggestion…before it slaughters you with heavy guitar playing, and lyrics crackling with all kinds of energy.

P.S. Yes that is a good thing.





The Years by Tom Duddy

Title: The Years

By: Tom Duddy

Publisher: Happenstance Press

Released: January 2014

As a posthumous book of poetry, there is a lot of life packed into ‘The Years’. It is certainly comforting to see how Tom Duddy’s words continue to sparkle even after his sad death.

Duddy’s poetry is filled with references to wisdom through life experiences, as well as evident prolific reading. He turns a keen analytic eye to both areas, so that his poetry reads like rhythmic philosophy. He also continually suggests that poetry is the primary purpose of his life- whether reading it or writing it. In ‘Blue Chalk’, Duddy discusses education and how learning to read was vital to his development as a person, and as a poet because: “poems learned by heart/ would teach us to love, one day”. He does later express some transient doubts about the usefullness of art; but the quote from ‘Blue Chalk’ still sums up the overall message of the collection: that poetry is a reflection of life. Poems can teach us about life, and life can teach us about poems.

Duddy also sees the importance of leaving a space for the reader’s imagination within literature: “on the empty-no-crowded space between chapter and chapter, between/ the end of one page and the start of another.”

As a whole ‘The Years’ is a collection that resonates with stories from all of the crevices of Duddy’s life. A selection of the poems also show the shadow cast by their writer’s impending death; yet this only allows the collection to go further-  using both light and dark elements, allows for a sharper contrast between the poems.

Armellodie Records 2014 highlights

James Blunt- hating, Scottish indie label ‘Armellodie Records’ have released a free compilation of tracks; as an indication of what we can look forward to from them in 2014. Here are some of the highlights:

Saint Max & The Fanatics- Afraid of Love

High-pitched explosions from their vocalist are dotted throughout the track. These delighted wails are maintained alongside 60s-style rhythmic guitar. ‘Afraid of Love’ is a combination of styles, and the pace differs throughout; yet it still manages to remain fresh. The song makes further ‘Saint Max& The Fanatics’ s releases an exciting prospect for 2014.

Gastric Band- Brad Shitt

A rather obvious play on ‘Brad Pitt’s’ name nevertheless gives way to an interesting and independent track. The music wavers in and out of your consciousness. It takes the listener from dreamy music-scapes; to something that vaguely resembles reality; and then onto ground that is definitely paved with nightmares. Going with the title’s theme, it could certainly be the soundtrack for a dramatic climax of a (considerably disturbing) film.

Galoshins- Bleeps

This is the trippiest track on a very odd compilation (don’t get me wrong- I live for the strange).  It sounds almost like the narration of a lively space-war. I have to admit that I can’t understand what the lyrics are, or if they are even words; yet it all fits into the track. It is a short blast of sound that keeps you going, and I am anxious to hear more from this band.

The Hazey Janes- The Darkness Ends

This track hit me due to its contrast with the rest of the compilation. It sounds like it should have come out of Texas, or at the end of an episode of ‘Justified’. It doesn’t quite click with the evident Scottish accents and distinctive vigour found in the other songs; yet it is just as immediate as the other tracks and displays similar heightened emotions.