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Spare Snare / De Rosa / Broken Chanter

Dundee Beat Generator (Saturday 5th January)

By • Jan 6th, 2019 • Category: gig reviews

If you were to select the best of Scottish indie pop, one decade at a time, you’d probably not do so in reverse chronological order, but that’s what promoters the Cool Cat Club and Manic Pop Thrills have done. Although in a live setting, it’s perhaps fitting that the young upstarts should pave the way for their elders.

Betters? Time alone will tell.

Representing the new breed is Dave MacGregor out of pop masters Kid Canaveral. KC have, admittedly, been around for a while, but while his band mates pursue their own projects, MacGregor is… well, also solo, kind of – Broken Chanter, however, now encompassing Jill O’Sullivan of Sparrow and the Workshop fame. While it’s the frontman’s songs that put him on the watchlist, with ‘Don’t Move To Denmark’ and ‘Should We Be Dancing’ standouts, the former Bdy_Prts member is a vital cog in this new machine, offering delicate harmonies as well as plaintive violin, and employs both, centre stage, on one tune. A little bit folky, rocking out on occasion, they’re not folk-rock – instead offering a slew of catchy and dare-I-say-it commercial tunes, If it’s not a shortlist for Scottish Album of the Year there’ll be something wrong with the world, or my hearing, even if the long player’s late summer release date is painfully far away.

Representing the middle ground are De Rosa, 10 years on, having celebrated a decade of their first long-player ‘Mend’. They trawl their impressive back catalogue, from ‘The Engineer’ and ‘On Recollection’ from that debut ak the way to ‘Devils’ from 2016’s ‘Weem’, but there’s the new (to me) ‘Mystery Walks’ which suggests there’s another decade’s material in them, and their new release con’t come soon enough.

Spare Snare – formed two decades ago – are the veterans on tonight’s bill (sorry, gents). And while many acts from that era are on the chicken-in-a-basket circuit with revisitations of their classic releases, the Dundee-formed five-piece are doing retro with a difference.

It’s a not-so-well-kept secret, but new album ‘Sounds’, a trawl through their back catalogue, was recorded by audio engineering legend Steve Albini, responsible for classic works by Nirvana and Pixies. And while he’s not on hand tonight, the residue of his work in the Chem19 studio last year has remained, with the band playing an extra long set with tracks from the ‘new’ album sounding as muscular and crisp as ever.

Augmented by Ali Hendry out of Randolph’s Leap on trumpet and vocals, they rattle through the years, with a clutch of tunes not part of the new sessions revisited, such as early single ‘Thorns’. But it’s gratifying to see that (relatively) new songs like ‘Grow’, ‘I Am God’ and ‘Hope You Never Go’ easily standing up alongside ‘Smile It’s Sugar’ and ‘I’ll Get By’.

However, the encores – ‘Super Slinky’ and ‘Bugs’ – recall that debut release ‘Live At Home’ showing that while you can teach old dogs new tricks, you can’t keep a good one down.

Spare Snare. De Rosa and Broken Chanter

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