Posts tagged the stagger rats

Posted 1 year ago
THE STAGGER RATS – SCORPIO LEISURE
Take a group of young men with a clear commitment to producing their own idiosyncratic quality music without worrying about transient trends and fashions, give them a few years to develop their skills and gain experience touring the UK and Europe, then enable them to record a full selection from their repertoire – the result is ‘Scorpio Leisure’ by The Stagger Rats. They have clearly listened to and learned from a wide range of artists from previous decades as there are echoes of many greats to be heard within the multi-layered production here.
I recently met them ahead of a gig in Camden when they asked me what I thought of the album; although I was familiar with a couple of tracks, I had to admit that some others were much less familiar – I always like to reserve judgement until I have heard an album a number of times before trying to offer opinions. I have now been able to listen carefully on a number of occasions and feel ready to summarise my impressions.
Although memories of early Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Small Faces and The Sensational Alex Harvey band were triggered whilst listening, these simply served to add depth to the resulting tracks. There is no hint of any attempts to simply re-cycle previous decades, the band have simply been open to consider whatever might be best for their songs and work towards producing something very special. The Stagger Rats have a very distinctive and current sound and benefit from two main vocalists, Daniel Paylor has a clear and wide range to complement Callum Easter’s wonderfully unique style.
The tight instrumentals provided by Daniel and Craig Mcmullen’s guitars, Callum’s keyboards, Terry McDermott’s bass and Kai Wallace’s drums span jaunty, trebly and upbeat to complex, intertwined and thoughtful. The vocals are at times light-hearted and fun, and at others rather emotive. Their lyrics are well-crafted and interesting, in ‘Small Town Tale’ they give away their Edinburgh roots, how many others will bemoan not being able to “get chip sauce on a chip roll”?
The single ‘Sleeping Off Ecstasy’, one of the slower paced inclusions, is delivered with much feeling. ‘Fuzzy Fuzzy’ is such a joy and always makes me feel good when it treats my ears. ‘Paper And Glass’ begins with some tribal drumming and ‘Red Hands’ kicks off with wonderful jangly guitar, whilst the Hammond organ features strongly at the start of ‘Comprehension Suspension’. All told this collection of thirteen varied tracks is a wonderful introduction to The Stagger Rats for anybody who is keen to diversify their music collection. The cover artwork features the band presented in a Jack Vettriano style and would be so good to see as a twelve inch vinyl sleeve.
1/ Maybe When I Get A Bit Older
2/ I’m In Love
3/ Fuzzy Fuzzy
4/ Comprehension Suspension
5/ Shasta Cascade
6/ Red Hands
7/ Sleeping Off Ecstasy
8/ Whippet Snack
9/ Small Town Tale
10/ Paper And Glass
11/ Shine A light
12/ Man Of Morals
13/ Drinking Song

THE STAGGER RATS – SCORPIO LEISURE

Take a group of young men with a clear commitment to producing their own idiosyncratic quality music without worrying about transient trends and fashions, give them a few years to develop their skills and gain experience touring the UK and Europe, then enable them to record a full selection from their repertoire – the result is ‘Scorpio Leisure’ by The Stagger Rats. They have clearly listened to and learned from a wide range of artists from previous decades as there are echoes of many greats to be heard within the multi-layered production here.

I recently met them ahead of a gig in Camden when they asked me what I thought of the album; although I was familiar with a couple of tracks, I had to admit that some others were much less familiar – I always like to reserve judgement until I have heard an album a number of times before trying to offer opinions. I have now been able to listen carefully on a number of occasions and feel ready to summarise my impressions.

Although memories of early Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Small Faces and The Sensational Alex Harvey band were triggered whilst listening, these simply served to add depth to the resulting tracks. There is no hint of any attempts to simply re-cycle previous decades, the band have simply been open to consider whatever might be best for their songs and work towards producing something very special. The Stagger Rats have a very distinctive and current sound and benefit from two main vocalists, Daniel Paylor has a clear and wide range to complement Callum Easter’s wonderfully unique style.

The tight instrumentals provided by Daniel and Craig Mcmullen’s guitars, Callum’s keyboards, Terry McDermott’s bass and Kai Wallace’s drums span jaunty, trebly and upbeat to complex, intertwined and thoughtful. The vocals are at times light-hearted and fun, and at others rather emotive. Their lyrics are well-crafted and interesting, in ‘Small Town Tale’ they give away their Edinburgh roots, how many others will bemoan not being able to “get chip sauce on a chip roll”?

The single ‘Sleeping Off Ecstasy’, one of the slower paced inclusions, is delivered with much feeling. ‘Fuzzy Fuzzy’ is such a joy and always makes me feel good when it treats my ears. ‘Paper And Glass’ begins with some tribal drumming and ‘Red Hands’ kicks off with wonderful jangly guitar, whilst the Hammond organ features strongly at the start of ‘Comprehension Suspension’. All told this collection of thirteen varied tracks is a wonderful introduction to The Stagger Rats for anybody who is keen to diversify their music collection. The cover artwork features the band presented in a Jack Vettriano style and would be so good to see as a twelve inch vinyl sleeve.

1/ Maybe When I Get A Bit Older

2/ I’m In Love

3/ Fuzzy Fuzzy

4/ Comprehension Suspension

5/ Shasta Cascade

6/ Red Hands

7/ Sleeping Off Ecstasy

8/ Whippet Snack

9/ Small Town Tale

10/ Paper And Glass

11/ Shine A light

12/ Man Of Morals

13/ Drinking Song

Posted 1 year ago

THE STAGGER RATS – ‘THE DUBLIN CASTLE’, CAMDEN – 08/12/12

Serendipity would be an ideal word to apply to my weekend – things had worked out to allow me to travel the three hundred and fifty odd miles south to be in London when Kenelis were launching their new EP ‘Move’ – and as if that wasn’t good enough, shortly before I left home I discovered that Scottish band The Stagger Rats would be in London that same weekend. Their first appearance at ‘The Islington’ coincided with my date with Kenelis, then they were due for a stripped acoustic set at ‘The Hospital Club’, but I would be able to stay to attend the Saturday night show at ‘The Dublin Castle’ in Camden.

I arrived in Camden and soon caught up with the band, managing to record an interview with them in their tour bus, cleverly disguised as a white van. Then I was inside the venue and appreciating the end of a set by Gaptooth, a young lady doing her bit with assorted electronics to provide her support ‘band’. I enjoyed what I heard and noted some echoes of ‘Gary Numan’ in the music that accompanied her clear and thoughtful lyrics. This brief experience was yet another wonderfully unexpected element to add to the weekend’s mix. Her single ‘Ladykillers’ was released on the Monday following the gig and I will certainly look out for more from her in the future.

Then The Stagger Rats had completed their set up and were into full flow with ‘I’m In Love’. Callum Easter’s Hammond organ provided a considerable contrast to Gaptooth’s Korg, Apple Mac etc. The very sharply dressed Daniel Paylor must surely have surprised any audience members who hadn’t heard him before with an unexpectedly deep voice priojecting from his small frame as he played guitar and sang centre stage. Craig Mcmullen provided a further guitar layer along with his hat, whilst Terry McDermott and Kai Wallace kept everything tight on bass and drums respectively. A few minor tech issues didn’t really interfere, even a need to swap bass guitars was quickly dealt with and allowed the set to continue, ensuring the audience were treated to a great selection of songs sampling the new album ‘Scorpio Leisure’ along with a couple of others. The second song ‘Maybe When I Get A Bit Older’ kept things upbeat with their distinctive and tight instrumentation – crisp guitars, bound together with the full organ sound on a foundation solidly laid by bass and drums. Next the single, ‘Sleeping Off Ecstasy’, slowed things down a few notches and allowed the band’s versatility to be further showcased. ‘My Marie’, almost like a spirtitual, and ‘Hubba Bubba’ quickly followed leading towards another pair from the album; the slightly frantic ‘Red Hands’ being a further demonstration of their ability to play tight, well arranged rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and then the absolutely delightful ‘Fuzzy Fuzzy’ with its retro feel and extremely memorable chorus that always makes me feel so good. One of the attractions of The Stagger Rats is that they appear to be very comfortable to develop their own style with scant regard to the latest passing trends – good, honest, idiosyncratic and well executed are all definitely terms that I would happily apply to their performance. I can imagine that anybody with an open mind and a love of unpretentious rock music would be very happy to find a copy of ‘Scorpio Leisure’ in their Christmas stocking when the 25th arrives.

With Christmas lights and decorations throughout the city, the closing selection was a further nod towards the festive mood, but not necessarily the most traditional of Christmas songs. The selection of a song from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s ‘Framed’ album was truly inspired. As Callum introduced it I overheard somebody behind me, state in a strong London accent, that he couldn’t understand a word that had been said – I had to turn and note that it had made perfect sense to me, but then again I’m just very familiar with the Edinburgh / Scottish East Coast accent! ‘There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree Mother, They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight’, was a wonderful fun a way to end the set. Certainly I would have loved them to have played more, but with a further two bands due on stage I had to content myself with having been lucky enough to have been there for the excellent performance. Sadly, with weekend engineering works due to close my overland route back to South East London, and a drive back north the following morning, I was unable to stay around to see Belter and Joy Revision.

Posted 2 years ago

This really makes me feel so good every time I hear it!

Posted 3 years ago

THE MOST FUN I’VE EVER HAD IN A CLOTHES SHOP – EVER!

It all happened very quickly – Tuesday afternoon was when I first heard about it, and by 4.30pm on Thursday 4th August I was there. The location was the Replay clothing store in Glasgow’s Ingram Street. Everything seemed to have gone perfectly – a quick glance at Google StreetView before leaving home was all the route planning I had done yet when I stopped just after leaving the M8 to enter my destination into the SatNav I discovered that it was only 250m away on the right, and there was a multi-story car park right in front of me on the left!

Just what was the reason for me travelling over eighty miles to get to a clothes shop? Quite simply, it was excellent music – specifically, the opportunity to see Dimbleby & Capper perform live in Scotland for the first time; but also to see The Stagger Rats live for the first time. Replay had organised a promotional series of in-store gigs in advance of the Bestival Festival, Isle if Wight (8th to 11th September). Two other bands were on the bill, one was The Imagineers, whose name I seemed to have memories of coming across previously; the fourth band were not to be announced until the evening got under way.

As it was a free gig with entry on a ‘first come first served’ basis I arrived early and was keen to ensure that I could get in. A very helpful assistant by the name of Lindsay pointed me in the direction of good food and assured me that I would be able to gain access after I had eaten. When I returned, Lindsay even helped by taking a photograph of Laura and I, something that I had never got round to doing previously. Sound checks were well under way by then and I started to chat with others who were there. Chris (Replay’s Marketing Manager) provided further details, Bob (The Stagger Rats’ Manager) brought me up to date with the band’s recent exploits, and Lisa (from No Half Measures) informed me that the fourth, and headlining band, were Go Go Bot, a band that I remembered from ‘The Jan & Shirley Show’ on Generate Radio.

The first band up were The Imagineers complete with acoustic six string, acoustic bass, semi-acoustic guitar and drum kit, got the evening under way. The semi-acoustic player looked particularly intense as he focussed on being part of a very tight unit. I found their sound to be quite retro in style with jangly guitars that at times were reminiscent of the finest surf guitars of the 1960s. One number was introduced ‘Wild West Show’ style, “Ladies & Gentlemen, we’d like to welcome you to a show …….” A very determined and energetic performance, enhanced by lovely Scottish accents. A movement below the lead singer’s machine head caught my eye, on closer inspection I confirmed a broken top string. Such was the intensity of his playing a second string had broken before the set came to an end. How would one catalogue The Imagineers, what genre did they play? Contemporary folk-rock? Personally I don’t really care, I simply know that they rocked and I enjoyed it!

By the end of the first set, the shop must have been pretty much at capacity and after a fairly quick change-over Dimbleby & Capper were ready to go. Not only was this the first time D&C aka Laura had played in Scotland, it was the first time that I had seen her play accompanied by other musicians. As an additional surprise, it was a very rare occasion for her supporting musicians to appear without masks! Josh adopted a seat behind the drum kit kindly lent by The Stagger Rats, whilst Simon alternated between bass and helping out on the drums.

Opening track was ‘CashCow’, something that I had heard for the first time in Birmingham. ‘LyreBaby’ then ‘Let You Go’ quickly followed, then a new track to me ‘Educated’, a very welcome addition to D&C’s growing repertoire. The wonderfully fun cover of The Crystals’ ‘Then He Kissed Me’ led into ‘Want This’ which has morphed since I first heard it into an even more powerful number accompanied by driving tribal bass beats. I feel so privileged to have been able to experience D&C’s musical output develop in a very exciting way, with continued hints of even better to come. Sadly, although I would have wanted much more, ‘Want This’ turned out to be the penultimate number and led into the closing one which was another new one to me. I still have to discover what it is titled, possibly ‘LadyLover’, I can’t be sure about that, but I will clearly remember Laura’s interesting choreographed gestures to accompany her lyrics describing her intentions with regard to where she was planning to “rest” her “heartache”!

Next I had to move aside from where I had been standing to watch as The Stagger Rats’ gear was set up, this included a wonderful, clearly cherished, Hammond organ. The band were soon installed and blasted off – Hammond power underscored a clear determination to ensure that we would remember this performance for a long time. Despite the urgency and drive of the Hammond, the keyboard player, Callum, couldn’t have been more laid back and he injected a degree of humour with some of his comments to the audience. As with The Imagineers, I’m not interested in trying to categorise the content of the set. My musical tastes encompass so many different styles and that is quite probably why I enjoyed them so much – definitely not a band where every song sounds the same. There was great variety of texture and depth to the set, all bound together by a very tight rhythm section and raised up by the amazing Hammond organ. Vocals were shared, with both singers bringing more pleasing Scottish accents into play.

I had first heard of The Stagger Rats a few moths previously when I met Callum’s mother at a gig in Edinburgh’s Sneaky Petes. Since then she has kept me regularly informed about what the band had been getting up to. It was great to finally see them live. A video for their new song ‘Fuzzy, Fuzzy’ was released following this gig with the song being made available for download soon after (check out the links at the end of this post).

Due to the helpful sharing of equipment the fourth band were soon playing. The slickness of the changeovers put a lot of dedicated venues to shame and I would gladly return to Replay for another gig in future. This evening was, in fact, the first in a series of three leading up to the Bestival event. The other two being scheduled for Replay stores in Carnaby Street and Covent Garden.

Go Go Bot added yet another style of music into the evening’s cocktail, they are promoted as a ‘synth disco trio’ but I personally find that a fairly unhelpful label and again find myself categorising them simply as ‘a band that I like’. I know that my reluctance to label may make my little ‘reviews’ fairly meaningless, but I don’t really write them to try to impress others by demonstrating a dazzling ability to churn out clever sounding comparisons and put downs. In fact, if I ever came across a disappointing gig, band or album, I would most likely choose not to write anything rather than write anything negative.

Anyway – back to Go Go Bot! This turned out to be yet another inspiring, high energy and varied performance. Some of their songs sounded vaguely familiar due to some of them having been previously played on ‘The Jan & Shirley Show’ – Generate Radio continuing to prove its determination to seek to promote new Scottish talent. I fully believe that the directors Kyle and Oscar really have earned the station’s nomination for The 2011 Scottish New Music Awards and wish them all the best for the Award Ceremony to be held in Glasgow next month.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all concerned for such a great evening.

Replay – for hosting, organising, providing the free bar, and particularly for flying Dimbleby & Capper up from London.

All bands – The Imagineers, Dimbleby & Capper, The Stagger Rats and Go Go Bot, for such brilliant music.

Lindsay for all her help.

Rab Ha’s – for Cusquena and wonderfully tasty fajitas

Clash video summary

http://www.clashmusic.com/feature/replays-road-trip-to-bestival-glasgow-report

The Stagger Rats, ‘Fuzzy, Fuzzy’

video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqSDl0l253Y

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