Glasvegas, Tourguides of the Scottish Highlands
When Scottish music mogul Alan McGee first caught wind of Glasvegas in 2006, he must have felt a shudder of paternal pride: The young, ambitious Glaswegians are natural heirs to the legacy of Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, even Oasis—all acts that McGee’s Creation Records brought up. In the UK, McGee’s blessing still goes a long way: Glasvegas won an NME award and a #2 album on the British charts. Now they are turning their attention stateside: This week, they released their self-titled debut album to strong reviews, played The Late Show with David Letterman, and embarked on their first US tour. With a plaintive yet richly affirmative sound, Glasvegas’ homeland hits “Geraldine” and “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry” crest in big, stormy hooks that win over even the most patriotic American fans.
After this week’s sold-out show at The Bowery Ballroom, Glasvegas bassist Paul Donoghue taught Interview a little about the definitive, specifically Scottish songs, bands, even moments that the band considers pivotal to their musical education and development:
A current Glaswegian act who serve up poisonous punk-pop confections.
Paul Donoghue: An amazing female-fronted pop band from Glasgow who we’ve known for a while. The melodies in their songs are amazing and, the singer, Fili gets better every time you hear her.
Late, great 1970s Scottish hellraisers whose musical spectrum encompassed everything from skiffle to epic glam.
Paul Donoghue: Probably the closest band to us that’s ever came out of Glasgow. The heart and soul and passion drips off their records like sap from a chopped tree limb. Alex Harvey is one of the greatest Scottish vocalists to have ever picked up a mic.
Calling themselves “City scoundrels”, Madskull are musical magpies who defy categorization. Their eclecticism is fast earning them a hardcore Glasgow following.
PD: “James Allan has described them as the Glaswegian equivalent of The Wailers. Their mix of hip hop and guitars will leave your jaw on the floor.”
Bonafide Scottish Pop Classics
“Just Like Honey” by The Jesus And Mary Chain.
The sludgy pop gem that launched a thousand Black Rebel Motorcycle Clubs.
PD: “They took the drumbeat from The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and turned it into a great song. No one will ever better “Be My Baby”, though!”
“A Girl Like You” by Edwyn Collins.
This quizzical little song by the former Orange Juice frontman was a sardonic tribute to Iggy Pop. Though Edwyn’s deadpan crooning and surf guitars were anachronistic ingredients for 1994’s pop scene, it was a surprise hit.
PD: “One of the greatest guitar sounds I’ve ever heard. Edwyn [who suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2005] is also one of the most inspiring men around just now.”
A Quintessential Scottish Concert Experience
Oasis at the Barrowlands, October 2001.
A stadium sized band playing a small ballroom? Naturally, this concert went down in history as an iconic, career-defining live spectacle.
PD: “I was lucky enough to witness this event and it was truly special. That was the night when I knew I wanted to be in a rock and roll band. They blew the roof off the place.”
Photo by Sonia Grace