Tuesday 29 December 2015


Not content with providing a constant, top quality electronic soundtrack to your year, Glasgow's Hot Gem have two superb events lined up to help you first see in the New Year and then continue that party for as long as you're able on New Year's Day.

On Hogmanay, Glasgow's Shoot Your Shot collective will be at the Hillhead Bookclub providing a jamboree of incandescent nonsense and they'll be joined by guest DJ Paul Thomson from Franz Ferdinand. Paul's set will depend entirely on what he feels is right for the party and on what he has in his record bag on the night. Expect an eclectic set but primarily expect an unforgettable end to 2015. 

The Facebook page for the gig is here https://www.facebook.com/events/195224687487204/ - go and join up right away.

It doesn't end there though. On New Year's Day, again at The Hillhead Bookclub, Hot Gem present NYD: Stay Fresh featuring Floating Points. Getting Floating Points on board is a huge coup with their acclaimed debut album  Elaania being one of the high points of 2015 and this event promises to be another cracker. Why not start 2016 as you mean to go on?

Once again, there's a Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/861086497342421/  - you've no excuse for not signing up.

Keep an eye out here throughout 2016 for news of Hot Gem's releases and gigs. There's going to be a lot coming from the label this year and you won't to miss any of it.

Tuesday 22 December 2015


Rodney Cromwell's Age Of Anxiety (Happy Robots Records) was one of the albums for 2015 for me as I'm sure you'll have read about already. Every listen to it reveals another layer of analogue synth loveliness and, at times, it genuinely brings to mind the likes of peak New Order and Kraftwerk. That's not to say, though, that this is a distinctly retro sounding album. It's as fresh sounding as you'd like and, with each listen, more and more clever pieces of electro production reveal themselves, meaning you want to come back to the album time and time again. If you haven't checked it out yet, then you obviously have to rectify that immediately and when you're doing that, grab the Black Dog remix ep too for even more Cromwell goodness.

I had a chat with Rodney Cromwell, or Adam Cresswell as he's known in real life, recently to find out all about Age Of Anxiety.

APA: Age Of Anxiety is one of this blog's albums of 2015. How did the album come about and what were its inspirations?

RC: Wow. Thanks. I'm genuinely still taken aback that anyone likes it. The album certainly didn't come together overnight. A couple of tracks had been gathering dust on my hard-drive since 2009 when my old band Arthur And Martha split. I really didn't think that I would ever release another record; I sold loads of my gear at a boot fair and started writing a novel instead.

But, there was something about making music that kept on drawing me back in. It became a sort of sonic therapy. During the period I recorded the LP, I had a serious job and mortgage, I had become tied down to the drudgery of London commuting and I had also become a father, which was fantastic, but as you can imagine meant more responsibility. I was also coming to terms with other personal issues, notably dealing with panic attacks and anxiety. So, I suppose the album was inspired by a need to find a creative escape from adult concerns and existential angst. I toyed with the idea of the new songs becoming a second Arthur And Martha record, especially after Alice (a.k.a Martha) recorded some great parts. But, as soon as I had the title Age Of Anxiety that idea really didn't work; the whole album was just too personal, too tied to my own life experiences.

In late 2014, I turned my studio into a nursery, as we had a second sprog on the way, and I decided to just mix the whole thing down to get rid of it - which took about four hours. Before I knew it, I had a melodic lo-fi synth heavy retro pop album in the can, and thanks to some coaxing from friends, I was persuaded to actually release it. I should note that since the record came out I've not written a word of my novel. The literary world can breathe a sigh of relief.

APA: How pleased are you with the reaction the album has had?

RC: Obviously you can't expect to make a left-leaning, alternative, electronic record on ancient gear and get it reviewed in the Daily Mail or featured on Sky Arts, but I am beyond pleased with the reaction. It was barely a year ago that this ethereal, fantastical concept of an album started to look like it might actually happen, and now people are talking about it being the best record I have ever made. It goes without saying that it has been fantastic to have got some great reviews and a load of radio play, and I am incredibly thankful for every piece of exposure, but I have been most touched when people have said that the record has helped them in dealing with their own mental health issues. Clearly I didn't release the record out of some benevolent desire to make the world a better place, but if it has made a few people feel less like they are suffering in silence, then it has all been worthwhile.

Although I have genuinely never sought anything more than cult appeal, I would love nothing more than to sell the last few boxes of CD's currently living under our staircase.

APA: What bands influence you? I sense bits of Kraftwerk and New Order on the album for example.

RC: yeah of course Kraftwerk, New Order, Giorgio Moroder - they are all massive influences. Their music is part of my DNA and I don't think I could ever make a record that wasn't influenced by them. With this album, I wanted the music to be a "safe space"; upbeat, uplifting and familiar enough to counter balance the cynical and world-weary lyrics and, for that reason, there was no attempt to disguise influences, just to enjoy them.

The most positive influence is always when you hear a record that makes you sit up and think "wow, I wish I could have done that" - the sort of songs that inspire you to just keep pushing harder, or quit. The two records I was mostly listening to while making the album were Racine Carree by Belgian megastar Stromae and See You On The Ice by actress/singer Carice Van Houten. Neither of them sound much like my album though, they are just good records with their own sound. This week's listening is mostly Lilies On Mars, Gabe Knox, remi Parson, Hologram Teen, Tiny magnetic Pets, Ummagma, Johnny Hawaii and the new Pye Corner Audio, whenever the kids let me near the record player that is.

APA: One of the things I love about the album is the almost exclusive use of what sound to me like wonderful analogue synths. Have I misheard entirely?

RC: You have heard entirely correctly. I love analogue. So much of music made today is neat digital sequences of ones and zeroes, with vocals pitch-corrected to oblivion and mixes compressed to hell. I wanted to do something that felt a bit more lo-fi, organic and real; to capture some of that lo-fi excitement of the pre-digital age. With this record, there was no big studio, no plethora of special guests, just me and my close friends and family and a load of shitty unreliable thirty year old gear.

In terms of equipment I use, I only own four analogue synths: a Moog Rogue, a Moog Opus 3, a Korg MS-10 and an ARP Quartet. Probably 75% of the synth sounds on the album are from the MS-10 and the ARP. I can't understand artists who feel the need to own loads of synths. There is so much you can get out of just one. I am sure anyone who owns more than a handful is trying to make up for deficiencies elsewhere in their life. There are also a lot of vintage effects on the album; tremelo, delays and phaser mostly. In fact, there is so much phaser and delay on this record, I'm amazed any of it sounds even vaguely in time.

APA: Songs like Barry Was An Arms Dealer and You Will Struggle manage to combine emotional depth with electronics. Do you find this sort of thing difficult? It's too often wrongly said that synths can't generate an emotional feel.

RC: I suppose I must find it easy because I can't say I've thought about it. I've never found it hard to put my heart on the line, whether for songs like Victor Safronov or Bicycle Theives off the first Saloon album or for something like Cassiopeia on Age Of Anxiety which is about the loss of two close friends. The hard part is trying to show emotion without sounding overly earnest, self-pitying or slipping into cliche.

And as for anyone who thinks synths can't display emotion, well they've clearly not spent as much time in the company of synths as I have. My Moog Rogue is like the seventh member of the family, after the wife, the kids and the cats. The washing machine is probably the eighth member.

APA: The remix EP is a wonderful thing too. I love that the remixes are what I'd call proper remixes rather than just a DJ's interpretation which pays no attention to the original track. Was that the intention with the EP?

RC: Thanks. The main intention was to make it a collection of songs that sit together and to make an EP that stands up on its own, where you don't need to skip any of it. All filler, no killer. The difference with making the EP was that by then, people were interested in what I was doing, providing pressure that wasn't there with the album. So in making the EP, I worked with my brother Dom Cresswell who has a music technology degree and was taught by John Foxx, so he really should know what he's doing. In fact, many of the best things I've ever worked on have had Dom's input somewhere. My favourite track on the EP is probably You Will Struggle (Glitchy Disco Mix). With that one, I wanted to prove that I could do something a bit more contemporary sounding, but at the same time sounding like a massive retro hi-NRG track. The Best Of Divine was probably a massive influence on this EP to be honest.

APA: What does 2016 have in store for Rodney Cromwell?

RC: Well there sure as heck won't be a new album! I want to enjoy milking this one. I'll probably do another EP if I can decide which track to pick as the lead. I'm going to do some remixes ; Dom and I have just finished one for the great Canadian band Meter Bridge which was a lot of fun. Mostly, I want to play more gigs though. My band and I have actually only done a handful so far, mainly because I've been too busy with all the other promotional bureaucracy to look for bookings. So, if anyone wants to put us on, please get in touch and save me a job. We are all nice people and we have a very reasonable rider (herbal tea bags, cheap red wine and white kittens etc).

APA: Finally, because this blog started life as a place for me to bore people about Depeche Mode, what's your favourite Depeche Mode track?

RC: Well, Violator is probably the most complete pure synth album of all time (APA - correct!). Every cut is absolutely flawless - the combination of great production, songwriting and an astonishing singer. But, if I had to choose just one track, it would probably have to be one of the Vince Clarke uber-pop numbers, I think New Life probably edges it, but ask me tomorrow and it will probably be a different answer.


Rodney Cromwell Bandcamp https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/
Rodney Cromwell Facebook https://www.facebook.com/happyrobotsrecords/?fref=ts
Happy Robots Records http://www.happyrobots.co.uk/

Saturday 5 December 2015


So here we are. The final award of this award season which is the biggie - Album of the year 2015. The winner this year, which will be revealed shortly, is one of this albums that comes along every so often that grabs you and strikes a chord, causing you to play it over, over and over again. Before we get to that one though, we've 19 other choice cuts to get through and they start with...

20. Mt Doubt - My Past Is A Quiet Beast
The debut album from Edinburgh's Mt Doubt brings to mind the likes of The National and Radiohead before Thom bought a laptop. It's a wonderful record that is enhanced further when you see Mt Doubt live where the songs take on new life and sound stadium sized. Impressive stuff.

19. Paper Dollhouse - Aeonflower
The first of three Night School Records entries on this chart, Aeonflower is a dark, ambient electronics that transports you to places you didn't know existed. A fascinating record
18. Woodenbox - Foreign Organ
Foreign Organ was an album that I played a lot this year. It brought to mind the likes of Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs in places and in More Girl Than Friend, it gave us one of the songs of the year.

17. Tame Impala - Currents
The move from psych-rock to an almost wholly electronic sound suited this blog as well as Tame Impala. What, on first listen, is a sprawling album, soon turns into a remarkable piece of work and Let It Happen is just one of those songs - very, very special

16. Kill The Waves - The One That Could Have Been
Kill The Waves basically take elements of bands I love (The Cure, Radiohead), add an impressive indiepop sheen to them and create quite wonderful music. As debuts go, this album was as solid a start as you could hope for

15. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
Every time I listen to this record, I hear something new. It's a stunning thing and tracks like Mr Noah are some of the most original music I've heard in years

14.  Chvrches - Every Open Eye
Following The Bones Of What You Believe was going to be tricky but Chvrches pulled it off and songs off the quality of the likes of Clearest Blue and Afterglow are quite brilliant. It maybe doesn't have the punch or variety of their debut, but Every Open Eye was a confident, impressive second album.

13. YuTaNi - At The End Of A Day
Another debut album, this time from Connor from Machines In Heaven in solo mode. There's nothing not to love about this record - part ambient, part experimental, all electronic and all lovely

12. Sally Dige - Hard To Please
This collection of intriguing European electronic pop was a real hit with me. Like a darker Yazoo, fronted by Siouxsie Sioux, Berlin based artist Dige produced filled with subtle pop charms.

11. Turtle - It's a Good Thing
One of Turtle's many releases in a productive year, It's A Good Thing really hit the spot. Part Thom Yorke like experimentation, part pop, part dancefloor, this was a collection of outstanding tunes that confirmed that Turtle is a rare talent

10. Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?
This is Hot Chip's best album yet. No fillers, just a focused, punchy album that impresses from start to finish. They sound better than ever

9. The Deadline Shakes - Zealots
The Deadline Shakes are a Glasgow sextet who make some of the most wonderful music you're going to hear. Not afraid to look for influence among the likes of Sparks or Paul McCartney, they take those influences and add a modern twist to them, producing quite splendid music. Zealots was a real treat and it's an album it's difficult to stop playing. I reviewed it for XS Noize and you can read that below

8. Miaoux Miaoux - School Of Velocity
In a year of impressive Scottish albums, it's impossible to ignore School Of Velocity. Miaoux Miaoux's sound moved onto a different level with this record and it's as fine an example of electronic pop as you'll hear. Superb.

7. MG -MG
Martin Gore's solo records usually involve a set of beautifully presented cover versions. This time, no doubt inspired by the outstanding VCMG project he undertook with Vince Clarke, he released an album of techno influenced instrumentals that really hit the spot. Europa Hymn was especially beautiful, like a call band to Depeche Mode's most beautiful instrumentals like Agent Orange.

6. Rodney Cromwell - Age Of Anxiety
Do you want outstanding synthpop with a twist of New Order and Kraftwerk? This is for you. Age Of Anxiety is a real favourite of mine and it's a record everyone should hear. Top notch stuff - Barry Was An Arms Dealer may well be one of the great synth pop songs.

5. Apostille - Powerless
Night School Records boss Michael Kasparis unleashes his alter ego Apostille giving us the closest thing there is to a modern Fad Gadget. An incredible record and one I insist everyone on earth listens to

4. Beliefs - Leaper
Beliefs produce music that draws much influence from classic shoegaze/late and early 90's indie, bringing to mind acts like The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Ride, My Bloody Valentine and so on. bands you want to hear basically. They add their own twist to it and, with Leaper, they produced a stunning album. Listen to 1992 and tell me I'm wrong

3. Everything Everything - Get To Heaven
I only discovered Everything Everything this year. If a band can produce a track as good as No Reptiles, they'll do for me. Get To Heaven is simply a brilliant album and one of this year's real highlights.

2. New Order - Music Complete
It's a fact that Technique is one of the pillars of music. With Music Complete, New Order essentially nearly matched Technique.  This was a surprise in many ways and what a surprise. Rejuvenated, refreshed and as important as they have ever been

And the album of the year is...

1. Priest - Priest

Priest are Madeline Priest and David Kazyk, an Orlando based duo who this year released an album that absolutely blew me away. Priest is a synthpop masterclass, an album that is perfect from start to finish. Using 80's electronic sounds as a reference point, Priest manage to capture all that is wonderful electronic pop and the album is a joy to listen to. The song Waiting For The End To Come is the standout. It's as if someone decided to create the perfect synthpop song - it has everything you'd want and it feels timeless, much like the album as a whole. It's not too often that albums come along that genuinely move you - Priest was one such album and it's a deserved Album of The Year. Madeline took the time ot have a chat about the record and you can read that below. First though, treat your ears to Waiting For The End To Come

APA: Congratulations on winning the Almost Predictable for Best Album . How's 2015 been for you?

MP: Thank you so much! We are honoured. 2015 has been pretty great - between releasing our full length record back in May and our tour in September and early October, we've been pretty stoked about everything, And all our supporters have been amazing, to say the least.

APA: How have you found the reaction to the album - it seems to have gone down very well.

MP: Everyone's reception has been pretty great! That's always a nice feeling. The whole release took a bit longer than originally anticipated, so the wait was difficult because we wanted our fans to hear it. It was worth it in the end though. When we finally released The Game back in February, we were very excited because we felt it was the perfect representation of what we'd been working on and gave an idea of what to expect. The support through shows, blogs, social media and whatnot was overwhelming, but in a good way. It's all very humbling.

APA: The whole album is superb, but if I was only allowed to pick one track it would be Waiting For The End To Come. It feels like a timeless electronic pop song, Tell us a bit about it

MP: That's one of my favourites as well. It's kind of just a longing love song but still has that feel good vibe to it as well. Makes me feel like I'm in an angsty 80's teen movie!

APA: And if you could pick one track from the album, what would that be?

MP: I'd honestly have to pick Waiting For The End To Come. It's so difficult to actually choose because I love Broken and Staring At The Walls as well. I go through phases. Dave would definitely choose White Nights which I also love.

APA; What or who are your songwriting influences?

MP: I've had so many musical influences, past and present. But a lot of times, it's just feelings from experiences, places and people. I just kind of draw inspiration from all over the place.

APA: You toured the US in Autumn this year. How did you enjoy that and what was the response to the gigs?

MP: Yes, we finally had out first little tour! It was a great experience. Dave's hone on tour before, but this was my first time. I'd never been to any of the cities except Atlanta, so it was fun seeing new places. The responses were pretty great, It was so fun meeting people who came to see us and those who didn't, but liked the show anyway. One thing I never announced was that I actually got really sick three or so days in - fever and chills and shit. Luckily we had a few days between shows, so I was able to get somewhat better before performing in Chicago. That was kind of a bummer, but the gigs and people made up for it tenfold. We met so many awesome people and I look forward to going back to each city.

APA: Glasgow where this blog is based is fast developing a reputation for electronic music lead of course by Chvrches who you're no doubt familiar with. Are you a fan?

MP: Of course! I love them! I actually just saw them back at the end of October. They came to Orlando the day after my birthday so that was a present to myself. It was such a fun show - I love Lauren Mayberry.

APA: What are Priest's plans for 2016? More touring? If so. any plans to visit the UK?

MP: We have some things in the works, so we are absolutely hoping and planning to do some more touring, and of courtse I would absolutely love to come to the UK. really hoping we can make that happen at some point. But, other than touring, we are working on new material and are very excited about it!

APA: Finally, this blog started life as a Depeche Mode blog, so there has to be a DM question. What's your favourite DM track?

MP: I'm so bad at choosing things like this (see fourth question!) because there are so many good ones, I'd have to say Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence. I love both of those videos too.


You can't argue with an DM choice that picks the greatest song of all time ever Enjoy The Silence can you? Thanks very much to Madeline for taking the time to chat. I can't wait to hear what Priest come up with next.

The same goes for all the acts I've featured in this post, the previous 4 Almost Predictables 2015 posts and in all my posts this year. What started off as a place for me to bore the world with endless Depeche chat has turned into something I never thought it would become and, as a result, I've got into so much amazing music both from home and abroad and met so many cool people. I hope that 2016 will see me carry that on and thank you for taking the time to read what write. It means so much to me, genuinely.

Here's to 2016!

Friday 4 December 2015


E.p's are wonderful things. 3 or ideally 4 choice cuts featuring a lead track and 2 or 3 others that are above the level of a standard b-side as throwaway tracks on an e.p. simply won't do. This year, there have been a number of e.p's that have been fantastic and, in the tradition of end of year post type things, here are my top ten e.p's of 2015, starting at number 10 with....

10. Leitbur - The Moment That I Knew You
The blog expanded its borders this year to take in electronic music from all over the world. Leitbur are a Los Angeles based duo who produce 80's influenced synthpop that is quite marvellous in places. Stranger in LA, the lead track from this e.p. is the one to listen to

9. Gus Harrower - Mystery e.p.
Gus is a 17 year old singer/songwriter from Edinburgh with a voice that belies his years and a remarkable knack for a tune. The Mystery e.p. was his first release and it promises much for the future

8. Tuff Love - Dregs e.p.
Tuff Love are getting better and better with each release and Dregs is their standout release thus far. They have limitless potential this band. Get into them now.

7. Turtle - Colours e.p.
I love Turtle. He is a hugely prolific electronic writer who followed this e.p. with an album of entirely new work. Colours is a mix of mellow electronics and clever production that you won't fail to love

6. Wozniak - Auster
Wozniak make noise that would scare a jumbo jet and it's marvellous. Auster was a a storming release and one that I've played over and over again this year.

5. Okraa - Vultur e.p.
Released on one of my favourite labels Hot Gem, Colombian artist Okraa's Vultur e.p. is a superb slice of dancefloor friendly electronica. One to watch.

4. MG - MG e.p.
MG is of course Martin Gore. Martin Gore can do no wrong. This remix e.p. featuring two tracks left over from the MG album was naturally brilliant.

3. Eyes Of Others - Nightwalking e.p.
I really got into Eyes Of Others this year. It's synthpop fused with a DFA type feel that is endlessly enjoyable. The Nightwalking e.p. is spot on from start to finish.

2. Rolemodel - Claire e.p.
Rolemodel are on the Toronto based Hand Drawn Dracula label which I've become obsessed with this year. Claire is as good as you'll get and is basically perfect. Rolemodel are up to something very special indeed

1. Machines In Heaven - Displacer e.p.
Ah Machines In Heaven. They never fail to disappoint and Displacer displayed new sides to their sound which continues to evolve quite brilliantly. It rightly wins the Almost Predictable for E.P. Of The Year. Here's the review http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/machines-in-heaven-displacer-ep.html and here's what the band had to say about their year:

APA: Congratulations on winning the Almost Predictable for Best E.P. of 2015. How's the year been for you?

MIH: Thanks very much! Pretty good, quieter gigs wise than 2014 but we've had our own studio for the first time and it's been great fun recording the second album together. It's the first time the three of us have recorded an album from scratch together and big fun it is too! The album is shaping up nicely - we can't wait for you to hear it!

APA: What have been your highlights of the year?

MIH: Playing the Sunday Circus party at the Fruitmarket was a blast; a gig at London's Shoreditch House was awesome and quite a different one for us and we played our first ever boat party at Loch Lomond in the "summer." We were so loud we cut off the P.A. In terms of other people's stuff, favourites have been Grimes, Luke Vibert, Tame Impala and Arca's new record Mutant.

APA: Displacer was an e.p. I really loved and the title track is a cracker. Tell us a bit about the song

MIH: Thanks again! The last release (Hindu Milk) was a 5 track e.p. so this time we decided to do a more traditional "single." It snowballed into an e.p. however after the remixes started coming in. Writing Displacer was probably the most democratic and organic process yet. We were quite busy at the time so we worked on it separately. Davey came up with the pulsing chords and string parts first. Greg then took over, rearranging it and adding all the weird synth bits. Finally, Connor got his hands on it and added smoothness - guitars and ambience, Davey then came up with the lyrics in one take which is pretty standard. When we got together to mix it, Davey commented that it had evolved beyond all recognition. It sort of took on a life all of its own...

APA: I thought some of the remixes released on and after the e.p. were great. What was your favourite?

MIH: Can we polite and say all of them? (APA - aye go on then). We were very lucky to get mixes from four producers we love. The Drvg Cvltvre one was great because he was actually very faithful to the song, replacing the strings with that dirty synth line. We were sitting around listening to it thinking "shit - that's better than our version!" We loved the Revenge dub version because he just left a ghost of Davey's vocal in there which sounded great. And Nightwave took a similar approach but with that distorted electro sound she does so well. Our pal James from Errors did a glitched out, dreamy, beat laden version which is Davey's favourite, under his Infant Telekon moniker.

APA: Your recent live sets have seen you play experimental sets. Is this a hint of what's to come from you?

MIH: We've always been experimental, even on our poppiest stuff. Displacer, our poppiest song, has that weird, melting synth at the end which takes it somewhere different. But in essence, that's exactly what we're trying to do - make catchy music that has all sorts of experimental stuff bubbling underneath. And that's what you can expect from LP2 - albeit spacier and a bit darker.

APA: What are your plans for 2016?

MIH: The second LP (still untitled, though we finally have a shortlist!) will be out in early 2016 with a single first. A lot more live shows and hopefully some festivals. We'd also love to play the rest of England and make our mainland Europe debut.

APA: Finally, given how this blog began, there's an obligatory Depeche Mode question. What's your favourite DM track?

MIH: very tough call as there are so many, but let's stick our necks out and say Only When I Lose Myself and, somewhat inevitably, Enjoy The Silence.


Fine Depeche choices there! Thanks very much to Machines In Heaven for the interview. I can't wait to hear the new stuff which you'll be able to read about here early in the New Year.

Machines In Heaven - https://www.facebook.com/machinesinheaven/?fref=ts

Thursday 3 December 2015


2015 has been a year when my ears have been stuffed with outstanding new tunes both from seasoned artists and from new ones.  One of the many wonderful things about writing this blog is the number of tunes that artists send me to listen to, so Best Single focuses on songs that have been sent to me or that I've stumbled upon online.  That means Everything Everything miss out for No Reptiles and Hot Chip miss out for Hurrache Lights but they'll cope. This isn't going to be a top twenty however as I don't want to miss anything out from what has been a great year for music - instead, it'll be a review of sorts followed by the virtual handing over of the virtual award.

Electronic music is this blog's main thing and a number of acts I've got to know and whose music I love have released a number of singles this year and they are all worth listening to if you haven't already. Leading the way are Tongues who's three singles (Anymore, Religion  and You Never Knew Me) have all been on heavy rotation round here this year. Check out Tongues Soundcloud page other them all. What makes Tongues stand out is the sheer digital perfection of their take on electronic pop. At the other end of that spectrum, you'll find the "melancholitronica" of Shards three singles ( Just To Get Something Started, Afterwards and Sad Sayonara, Goodbye) fit the band's self anointed description perfectly. Clever, thoughtful electronic music that, like Tongues, won't fail to move you. Again, check out Shards Soundcloud page to enjoy the music yourself.

Apache Darling are another band who've rightly grabbed a lot of attention this year. Firebird  was an example of powerful synthpop that really caught my ear this year. Their powerful love performances are always worth catching too. Also on the pop front, Kloe's Grip and Touch were highlights this year. You suspect that big things await Kloe. One of my real favourites this year were Twi§ted, the Glasgow based duo who are going to be huge next year. Everything they've released this year has been superb and Scunnered  was a close runner up to the event winner of this award. Here's the video for the track that the band released last week

Continuing the electronic theme, Shona Brown had a superb year with her 10 in 10 project which saw her release a single a month from November 2014 onwards. This year's Your Silence Is So Loud was my favourite of the bunch. Fiona Soe Paing's Heartbeat and Analog Angel's Your Breath  showed new exciting sides to acts, both of which promise much for the future.  Let's not forget HQFU too whose Dust & Dirt  and Ca$hle$$ Lip$ have already seen an Almost Predictable head her way. YuTaNi gave us one of this year's great tracks with Mt. Minakami. Away from Scotland, synthpop singles by Rodney Cromwell, High Jinx and the superb Priest were also highlights. Death Of Hi Fi's superb Swim Away is also a track you really have to catch from 2015.

It wasn't all synthpop though. Edinburgh's Gus Harrower produced confident, insanely catchy pop with Girl I Didn't Know and the marvellous Mt Doubt's Soak was a towering beast of a song. Wozniak and Kill The Waves also produced some superb material and Woodenbox gave us one of the songs of the year with More Girl Than Friend.

There's only one Almost Predictable however and this year, the Almost Predictable for Best Single goes to The Insomniac Project for their frankly perfect debut single In And Out (Of My Head) which this blog was proud to exclusively preview in August. This band is surely bound to get bigger and bigger. Their music is infectious and their live performances already have something of a celebratory air to them that should only see them play to bigger and bigger audiences as they develop. One to keep and eye on for certain. I caught up with Debz and Andy from the band for a chat. Before we get to that though, have a listen to the track

APA: Congratulations on winning the Almost Predictable for Best Single for In And Out (Of My Head). How's 20125 been for you?

Andy: It's been a great year, put simply. Even though we launched as a band in late 2014, we feel that this has been the first year that we can look back on and appreciate what we've done. We've hit a few milestones that we wanted to hit and, most importantly, we are on the up and pushing forward with more exciting things. We're played some great shows and still have a couple more to play, so for me, personally, having the connection and energy on stage and seeing it rub off on the crowd has been a highlight.

APA: What have been your highlights of this year?

Debz: There are two highlights for me. Our single launch at Sleazy's was mega. The venue was packed and the atmosphere was amazing. (APA: I was there and it was). I have to say though, our recent gig at King Tut's with Crash Club and Our Future Glory was something else! I've seen so many of my favourite bands play there, so I felt a bit giddy. It was a wicked night, although I think I'm still feeling the effects of the overzealous lighting man and his extreme strobe action!

APA: How did you find the reaction to the single? It seemed to go down extremely well.

Debz: We were a bit overwhelmed with the reaction to the single, so many kind words from bloggers and journalists. It was definitely what we wanted for the first single, but it's certainly not what we expected. In fact, we got quite a few emails that we were looking at thinking "Is this spam? Because if not it's AMAZING!"

APA: Your live shows are fast developing a reputation for being something special - how have you found the reaction to your gigs this year?

Debz: We've only played a small number of gigs, so to see people dancing and singing along to stuff is brilliant. I'd like to think we always bring loads of energy to the live shows, so it's amazing to see the audience getting into it too. We're definitely going to try and play a lot more next year.

APA: What are your plans for 2016?

Debz: As well as getting a few more gigs under our belt, we're working on a new single. I get the feeling 2016 will come with as many surprises as 2015. We've got a bit of a plan in mind, but the exciting thing is seeing what unexpected things happen along the way.

Andy: Yeah, as Debz say, we do have a plan in mind, however, ultimately we just want to keep growing as a band and keep having fun. We feel we've only just scratched the surface as far as exploring sounds and writing material is concerned so there will be plenty of time spent creating new songs and, critically, letting our fans hear them live and on record.

APA: Finally, given how this blog began there's an obligatory Depeche Mode question. What's your favourite Depeche Mode track?

Andy: Got to be honest, I'm not the biggest DM fan (sorry) (APA - that's ok...) however they do have a couple of cracking songs. Personal Jesus is really tribal and has a great drive to it - out of their big hits that's definitely my favourite. As a more left field option. The Things You Said from Music For The Masses is a really nice song. It screams 80's New Romantic, however it does have a sense of timelessness about it and some of the synth lines and lead parts are beautiful. It's a sort of lullaby almost, similar to Asleep by The Smiths which is another song I love


Basically, picking The Things You Said forgives any suggestion of not being a big DM fan - easily one of the band's most wonderful tracks. Anyway....thanks very much to The Insomniac Project for taking part and I look forward to hearing what the band has to come for 2016. As for all the other bands who've sent me songs this year, thank you too and please feel free to keep sending as much music as you want next year and beyond.

Congratulations to The Insomniac Project - well deserved!

Wednesday 2 December 2015


The second Almost Predictable in this miniature awards season I'm hosting is for Label Of The Year. It's been a great year for several favourite labels of mine - Hot Gem have continued to build their impressive portfolio with releases from Machines In Heaven, YuTaNi and Okraa and Toronto's wonderful Hand Drawn Dracula have released nothing but solid gold with outsanding records from the likes of Rolemodel, Fresh Snow and Beliefs really hitting the spot. Glasgow's Olive Grove also released one of the records of the year with Woodenbox's Foreign Organ. As ever, Mute Records has obviously been amazing too of course.

There can only be one winner though, and that winner is Glasgow's Night School Records. This year, the label has had a 100% record when it comes to releasing music with superb albums from Paper Dollhouse Sally Dige, Molly Nilsson, Rose McDowall, Liberez and Paco Sala. Not content with merely putting out these albums and running the label, label boss Michael Kasparis has been insanely busy himself touring in support of his alter ego Aspostille's quite brilliant  2015 album Powerless.

One aspect of Night School Records that I can't fail to acknowledge is the love that goes into each release. For a vinyl collector, the label is a joy with marvellous limited edition coloured vinyl releases for the Sally Dige Rose McDowall and Molly Nilsson records a real highlight of the year. Getting an album is always a special thing, but when you get one that has been put together with such care, it adds a new level to the experience. I caught up with Michael for a chat and to make a virtual presentation of his virtual award

APA: Congratulations on your Almost Predictable and a great 2015. How has the year been for you?

MK: Hey, thank you so much! It's been intense. At the end of every year in the last four, I've felt like the year has passed so quickly that I've not even had time to take stock. This year is no different, probably even more so. The year began with me mixing my first solo record and it's going to be ending with my playing it out in Europe.

APA: How have you found the response to the various releases on the label? There's been a lot of coverage for the likes of your Apostille release which must have been pleasing.

MK: It's all relative and, to be honest, I only pay attention to the reception as much as I need to. I used to take it personally that I could work on something that means the world to me - and to the artist involved - but then it's out there and only a select few hear it and appreciate it. That's the nature of the beast, I get that. It's great that something will come out on Night School and get a lot of reviews and people's reaction, whether it's Rose's album or Molly's, or something like Liberez will come out and get a lot of critical acclaim. 

Sometimes it doesn't translate into breaking even on a release, but that's the risk you take. The Apostille album: I'm not going to pretend it's anything other than a vanity release. I had a couple of offers from other people to do it, and I think I'd like to go down the route of getting someone else to release Apostille in the future, but I felt like I wanted to do Powerless exactly how I wanted it done. The people that picked up on the record seemed to really like it. I've had a lot of nice feedback which is great. It's kind of my nature never to be satisfied though so I've always got my eye on the next thing, improving, evolving...

APA: Your vinyl releases are all special. The likes of the Sally Dige, Rose McDowall and Molly Nilsson releases were all wonderful for example. Is it important to the label to make these releases something special?

MK: Thanks! I can never look at a releases as if from a conveyor belt. Each release is the result of stress, planning, enthusiasm, love and plenty of hair-pulling, from me as much as the artists involved. So, when the finished product is in my hands, it has to reflect all of that. I'll never understand how anyone in my position can have a "that'll do" approach to their label. You get a lot of major labels or even big indie labels who produce records and you look at how they've done it, and how much they're charging, and you just think this is someone at the other end of a spreadsheet. Even though the main focus is on vinyl, I should also point out that we take equal care with the CD's, cassettes, T-shirts, whatever! I suppose each release is special by default!

APA: Tricky question perhaps, but what's your favourite Night School release been this year?

MK: I couldn't possibly pick one. That's probably lame but so be it (APA - not at all!). Every release we do usually sits in my headphones for at least three months in the lead up to release, it becomes part of my life. I was super excited to get Sally's record out this year after several years of trying, the Liberez record was incredible for me, Molly's album Zenith is probably the highpoint of her career thus far, the Rose McDowall record is one of my favourite albums of all time so the fact I re-released it blows my mind. It goes on. The Paper Dollhouse album is just so involving and emotional, and of course my record is about as personal a "project" as you can get. The Paco Sala album is wonderful too

APA: What's been your highlight of the year?

MK: Again, there are too many. Here's a few: playing Berghain to 850 people through that sound system; Molly Nilsson playing 1995 at the Monorail festival I helped organise in October; Liberez live at Cafe Oto; playing with Sally Dige as on-stage mascot/mixer at Creepy Teepee festival in the Czech Republic; my set at Creepy Teepee too; playing guitar on Since Yesterday with Rose McDowall in St Pancras Parish Church with my friends in the backing band in May. There was also Beserktown Festival in Orange County in the summer, though that's not label related. It's been a good year.

APA: What are the label's plans for 2016?

MK: Mmmm. Next year is the label's 5th anniversary, which is crazy when I think about it. I've basically got more plans than means at any one time, so I can't say anything categorical at this time. However, one big thing is that I'm going to be launching a sister label to concentrate on reissues. I'll use the same methodology and attention to detail but have a label that is exclusively reissues. We're continuing Rose McDowall's reissue project with at least two more releases. I've got the debut album from at least two new artists that I'm really excited about that you might know from other guises. There's at least TWO new Happy Meals releases; they've just started sending me demos which is super exciting (APA: that's more than super exciting if that's possible). There will be more from Molly Nilsson of course. My dream is to perform in the Molly Nilsson all-stars, as in with a live band, so I think I might try and pressure her to do that. Basically, there'll be more of the same as this year, but probably even more until I have a happy, mental breakdown.

APA: Finally, given how this blog began life, there's an obligatory Depeche Mode question. What's your favourite DM track?

MK: I'm definitely a fan, but unabashedly a populist one. I have a few albums, but it always comes back to the singles for me, Probably something like Everything Counts or See You. Vince Clarke is a genius obviously. I'm trying very hard to make the next Apostille album sound like Erasure, but it turns out that's quite difficult.


Thanks very much to Michael for taking the time to answer my questions. As you'll see, 2016 looks like it may even top 20156 for Night School Records and that would be quite something. Personally, I can't wait for the new Happy Meals material and the Apostille album is going to be unmissable. 

Night School Records http://nightschoolrecords.com/
Night School Records Twitter https://twitter.com/NightSchoolRecs
Night School Records Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/nightschool

Tuesday 1 December 2015


Every year, I hand out awards to artists who have made my musical year. Whilst these awards don't carry any cash value or even physical prize, they are designed simply to say thanks to the bands and musicians that I've featured - thank you for the music as Abba might say. Anyway, instead of one big post this year, there are going to be five over the first five days of December and the first one is Best New Band.

One thing this blog tried to do this year was take a look at new bands as they popped up on the blog's radar. Scotland, and Glasgow especially, has had a remarkable year for new music and the number of acts I've come across and the sheer talent of those acts, has been quite stunning. The bands I've featured in our New Bands 2015 (or at least new to the blog) section have been:

Add to that list the likes of Mt Doubt and The Deadline Shakes and you have quite a collection of acts. There can only be one winner however and we're delighted to award this year's Almost Predictable to HQFU an act that has had a ridiculously successful year. Despite only having released two, admittedly outstanding, singles (Dust & Dirt and Ca$hle$$ Lip$), HQFU has attrracted plaudit after plaudit and ultimately ended up supporting Chvrches in London in September at their album launch show. HQFU's music has been one of this year's standouts for me and a really fresh take on electronic music and so it's a pleasure to name HQFU Best New Band.  Sarah Stanley a.k.a HQFU kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.

APA: Congratulations on winning the Almost Predictable for Best New Band. How's 2015 been for you?

HQFU: Thanks so much for the award and for giving a shit! I appreciate it hugely. 2015 has been a very busy year for me, especially after the release of Dust & Dirt mid-year. It gained a lot more attention than I expected and things kind of took off from there music wise and since then I've just been gigging my ass off trying to get a feel for my new live act and get some people interested in live sows I guess. I've also been on a steep learning curve with everything the "industry" has had to throw at me over the past few months. I'm just glad no-one has told me they hate me and my music is shit and my fragile ego has managed to remain intact so far.

APA: How have you found the reaction to HQFU?

HQFU: It's been very positive and I seem to have fooled many into thinking I'm 22 or something so for that I'm very lucky! I think I'm old enough and stubborn enough not to come across as a cookie cut performer. I hope, and I feel I like maybe people think it's something new, I don't know. It's very hard to perceive your own self and your own work because of the angle at which I'm making it, and the angle others are consuming it at. I'm glad, though, that there have been things said that sound like people don't see me as a run of the mill construct, as I don't think I am. I'm not just a musician and I'm also very serious about the integrity of my work, regardless of how people perceive it.

APA: Both Dust & Dirt and Ca$hle$$ Lip$ are stand out tracks for me this year. What or who are your influences when writing?

HQFU: Well they are the only tracks I was "allowed" to release right now! I'm learning to take the PR advice of more seasoned experts haha! I've no idea what influences me day to day or when writing. If I'm being honest, I both dread and pre-empt this question in every interview. I don't have time to sit and note down what influences me. When I write, I might have a different person in mind per line, or I might be imagining something from someone else's perspective, but in my words. Making inspires me more than anything. I'm a maker at heart, and so when I start making the rest comes into focus. Then you hone and edit and get rid of the redundant content. I know I'm diverting from the question here - if I gave a list of musicians or artists who I like, it would merely be to pacify this question and it wouldn't mean shit to me so I won't. Sorry for maybe seeming antagonistic! (APA - not at all!) I just don't know who has time to sit and think to remember what influences them. I think we're all just inspired by our surroundings and environment and if you have the type of mind that turns that into music or art, that's just consequential.

APA: What's been your highlight of the year?

HQFU: Maybe Sandi Thom's youtube video of her crying because Radio 2 wouldn't play her track. That was fucking hilarious

APA: What are your plans for 2016?

HQFU: Well it's shaping up to be a busy year by the looks of things. My new extended EP goes to press this month, so should be ready to pre-order bang on 2016, the I'm doing Vic Galloway's first Quay live session of 2016 on January 4th so that's nice. Then it's really gigging and punting the vinyl once it's made. There will be a few wee tours outside Glasgow, starting with my first London headline show. I think I'll be kept plenty busy - I'll also be working on the album. I'm quite a prolific writer, so there will hopefully be some studio time in there as well so there will be plenty to select from when compiling the album. Other than that, fuck knows what I'll end up getting up to.

APA: Finally, given how this blog began, there's an obligatory Depeche Mode question - what's your favourite DM track?

HQFU: Maybe, Master & Servant. I do like to play games and master and servant sounds like a lot of fun ;)

Thanks very much to Sarah for taking the time to have a chat. I'm really looking forward to the EP and album and you'll hear all about them here next year. Thanks too to all the bands listed above for the time you gave me this year. Look forward to hearing lots more from all of you very soon