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Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Griff says; From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs.

St. Andrew's Day today and a good excuse to take some Scottish connected musicians I was going to write about anyway, and lazily throw them together in the style much loved by journalists and bloggers the world over. The first artist I want to introduce is Stephen Harrison (pictured), a singer/songwriter born in London, but for some time now based in Scotland. I think Stephen is exactly the sort of under-rated but highly talented artist that The Streetlamp exists to bring to your attention. Moving to Edinburgh and The College Of Art in 1977, he was a founder member of the post-punk group Metropak. In 1984, Stephen formed Heyday. When that band broke up in 1985, Stephen embarked on solo musical projects that are still evolving and through which he continues to create engaging music. These songs are released through Close Up Records UK. Very kindly, he also allows several of his songs to be freely downloaded on his page. I'm going to feature one of those tracks here; The Colour of Black Is Black, as I really think it's a wonderful song and I like the compelling yet simple video that Stephen has made to accompany it. This song is a great showcase for Stephen's pleasing baritone and is reminiscent of such Streetlamp favourites as Richard Hawley, Tindersticks and The Divine Comedy. Have a listen to Stephen's other tracks on and you'll hear a bit of Scott Walker and Bowie in there too, so whatever else you can say about him he certainly has impeccable musical taste.

Our next act is indie-pop trio The Social Services who are two thirds Glaswegian and one third Swedish (I suspect that's probably the perfect indie-pop mix). Anyway, they're playing at Glasgow Popfest this December, so if you can get along to see them then I suggest that you do so. In the meantime, they've made their fantastic song The Baltic Sea available as a free download on their page, so if you don't already have it now's your chance. I warn you though, once you've heard it you'll want to buy It's Nothing Personal, It's National Security, and no bad thing either. Here's the video:

Last, but not least, I want to draw your attention to the second hand marching band who, for the uninitiated, are a sort of Scottish, lo-fi, post-rock, indie-folk super-group. Featuring 20-plus members from multiple other bands, including The Just Joans, Eagleowl, The Lula Maes and The Belle Hops among others (some of whom have featured on The Streetlamp and some of whom certainly will in the future). The band have been together since the end of 2007 and play guitars, ukeleles, mandolins, triangles, accordians, trumpets, tenor horns, saxophones, trombones, glockenspiel, castanets, marching drums, melodicas, woodblocks, tamborines, bells, violins, flutes, clarinets and anything else available. They describe their music as untraditional folk music and I think that that is as good a description as any. The second hand marching band have lots of free songs available to download on and kindly invite you to help yourselves. I'm featuring two videos here (both songs available at; the first is the amazing A Dance to Half Death and the second is a rather fun, live, marching version of Don't!, which as it takes place through the streets of St. Andrews, rather nicely bring us back to where we came in. Enjoy!


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