Today we catch up with freelance radio presenter, Stuart Macaulay to find out the lowdown on what albums have been getting him through the lockdown.
From his ‘Strictly Scotland’ show on Pulse Radio and his ‘Fresh Favourites’ weekly playlist, Stuart is the go to guy to when it comes to the local music scene! Have a read below to find out what albums Stuart couldn’t self-isolate without!
Album One: The Snuts – Mixtape EP
Why did it make the list? Where do I even begin with this EP? With the rise of The Snuts, the worrying thing for most groups, especially Scottish groups, is can they come up with something to set them apart from everything else in the industry at that moment. The EP had me gripped from first listen even down to the interludes, which were executed superbly with the Behind The Scenes feel of the creation of the tracks, in particular Interlude 2 where you hear the bass guitar riff, which in itself has me singing along, that’s right to a guitar riff. The single Don’t Forget It (Punk) – Demo takes me right back to the sound so familiar with the 90’s and it is the kind of song which will forever make me turn the volume up to as loud as it can go. In particular the song has something that just reminds of “Bohemian Like You” by The Dandy Warhols. The opening guitar riff of Don’t Forget It Punk, makes me attempt the woos, awfully I might add, so familiar in Bohemian Like You. But it’s the inclusion of Boardwalk that completes the EP for me. With an EP that’s very in your face, before all of a sudden, taking it back multiple levels showing the extent of Jack Cochrane’s vocals.
Favourite Track: Don’t Forget It Punk – Demo
Album Two: Lucia & The Best Boys – Eternity EP
Why did it make the list? Lucia & The Best Boys truly were a grower for me, but my god what they have grown into in my estimations are one of those groups that make you proud to say “They’re Scottish”. On the buildup to seeing them live back in December 2019 at Hopscotch put on by Jack Saunders at King Tuts alongside Spyres, The Dunts, Declan Welsh & The Decadent West and The Ninth Wave, I really had no idea what I was in for with Lucia & The Best Boys. That soon changed when I seen them live as they truly showcased what live music is all about. You could feel a change in energy in the room as soon as they took to the King Tuts Stage and one thing Lucia really does have is a presence on stage; if you have no idea who she is, you will by the end. They released the EP at the end of January, and my interest had risen in the group by then following the live performance. What makes this EP so perfect though is it’s impossible to pick a favourite song from the album, it changes so frequently which showcases just how good the EP is. Upon release of the EP, Good Girls Do Bad Things was a single which had already been released & that single had a real feeling towards it, I could be walking to pick up a pint of milk but with that song in the background, it felt like a badass task. The EP dropped and it was all eyes set on City Of Angels. The single just really gripped me by sounding almost like a fairytale, yet it’s still got the dark & badass sound which is executed so well by the group. However, my favourite single at this moment in time, which as I mentioned may well change in a few weeks time, is the outstanding piece My God. If there was ever a single you had to blow somebody away with a musicians voice, that is the one. The best part about the single, from record to live, there is no difference. Lucia’s voice alone will get us through quarantine.
Favourite Track: My God
Album Three: The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware
Why did it make the list? They’re the marmite of the music industry, you either love them or you truly dislike them. One of my favourite groups over the course of the last decade especially. I’m not quite like a large number of The 1975 fans where they believe anything they touch is perfection. From my personal opinion to go from Me & You Together Song recently to The Birthday Song really does just highlight the desire for the group to always be on the front foot and be edgy, however it doesn’t always work. The second album however, highlighted when they get it right, they get it spot on. A large number of people had show an interest in the group from Manchester following the release of their self titled debut album and I was one. From the indie/alternative heavy sounds of Sex, The City, Robbers & others to move on to a more indie-pop sound was a bold move. It’s always said, musicians & artists should “stay in their lane” and many times we’ve seen it be proven, however the follow up album, in my opinion, is what made the difference for the boys & showed they have the capability of festival headliners. The more pop infused sound of Love Me, She’s American & The Sound are evidence of songs that are perfect for a sold out crowd. However, the top single for me from this album was a song I very often feels gets overlooked, A Change of Heart. The song is the perfect blend of new & old. With lyrics tying back to previous single Robbers yet still managing to produce the chorus that has everyone singing the words whilst draining their phone battery, thanks to the flash in the air.
Favourite Track: A Change of Heart
Album Four: Arctic Monkeys – AM
Why did it make the list? I know your first thought. He’s picked an album from Arctic Monkeys & went with this!? As you’ve probably figured out from the last album; there is nothing that I love more than artists changing up their sounds and getting it right. This album was exactly that for the Arctic Monkeys boys. From the older albums, Arctic Monkeys were one of the groups, if not the group, that made heavy guitar sounds the most sought after sound. With songs like I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, D is for Dangerous, When The Sun Goes Down & Fluorescent Adolescent enough to fill any dance floor it was interesting to see the switch up made for this album. When it was released it 2013, it was their first album in two years following the release of Suck It and See back in 2011, it was as if they had found a totally new sound which proved they were more than just boys who liked to make noise. It was impossible to take notice of them with singles such as Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?, Do I Wanna Know? and R U Mine?. The pick of the lot for me though was Arabella, it’s the perfect song for Alex Turner, at a point when he knew and the world knew he was at the peak of his powers and could have the Arctic Monkeys fans go crazy over the most simple sound. It really does show with this song in particular, Alex Turner knows exactly how to have Arctic Monkeys fans and music lovers alike wrapped around his finger. The only negative about this album? You could argue it was the stepping stone for the release of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.
Favorite Track: Arabella
Album Five: VUKOVI – Fall Better
Why did it make the list? VUKOVI continues to be a group that astounds me. With a music scene that is booming in Scotland it was only by chance I bumped in to the sounds of Janine & Hamish. Having come across the single Aura which very much had the sounds of a high energy futuristic rock song. If you are a fan of a mosh pit – VUKOVI is the new group for you. I don’t think they know the definition of “chill” with a sound that is so in your face, yet you don’t want to push it away. It’s so difficult to draw comparisons to them, if I had to fling one name in there, it would have to be very much like Enter Shikari.I think what it is that draws me in to the album & VUKOVI in particular, is the vocals of Janine are not far off Hayley Williams of Paramore in from the RIOT! days, especially in the single Run/Hide. It’s amazing to hear music of this level coming from Scotland, in particular, Ayrshire!
Favourite Track: Play With Me Cos I Can Take It
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Stuart’s Twitter: @stuartsworld
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