A day to celebrate record stores and all their delightful wares and in Edinburgh’s case, their unwavering support of Scottish bands, signed and unsigned.
Having got into Edinburgh with about four hours to spare, I still somehow managed to miss most of the afternoon entertainment. Such is the time lapse that often occurs in this city. So I reached Stockbridge while it still had the lingering air of sets by Meursault and PAWS, Pennycook’s mighty vocals and PAWS’ feedback no doubt reverberating round the cobble streets even now. VoxBox was bustling with punters laden with shiny vinyl and the buffet table complete with cupcakes and beer was somewhat depleted. A nice touch.
On to the Electric Circus for the main event – this one hosted by Avalanche Records, who earlier in the day had Withered Hand and ballboy play live in their Grassmarket shop.
The evening show would see us treated to The Last Battle singing their way through a stripped back set of their stripped back folk pop. A special treat in honour of the covers theme was thrown in with a rather unique performance of none other than Warren G & Nate Dogg’s ‘Regulate’.
Turns out it wasn’t to be the only strange choice of cover as Emily Scott would later present AC/DC by ukulele in the form of ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Wanna RocknRoll’. Emily benefited more than the openers in terms of a quiet listening crowd, captivated by her soft Irish lilt and vintage tone. She courageously presented a number of new songs, all well received. Proudly promoting the benefits of RSD, Emily reassured the crowd that had they missed out on spending money on records so far there was one last record shop open inside her handbag. Good saleswomanship!
And so to the apt choice of headliners in Star Wheel Press, the tweed-clad americana heroes of Avalanche record sales. Singer Ryan Hannigan must secretly rue the day he decided to hand print covers and sleeves for their outstanding debut album ‘Life Cycle of a Falling Bird.’ Even the hardiest supporters could not have foreseen the extensive sales this album has achieved over the past year from just one independent record store. Now having to turn his hand and printing press to designing covers for a vinyl edition, one wonders how much longer supply can keep up with demand as the band begin to pick up speed and celebrity fans to boot.
Live, Hannigan goes to his own world, likely to be somewhere between the hills of Perthshire, the little piece of heaven that is County Down and the shores of the Mississippi. Eyes closed, going with the flow, beautifully supported by the female vocal harmonies and an extremely tight set of musicians, Ryan’s enthusiasm for his carefully crafted songs is evident and the crowd love it. Opening with delicate new song and superbly titled ‘Being Michael Jackson’s Son’ the band seemed right at home yet ready for more. Obviously nothing but an Elvis cover would suffice for this band, so a charming version of ‘I can’t help falling in love with you’ it was then! Album classic tracks like ‘Railway Lines’ and ‘Turning Black’ were perfected live and more experimental versions of ‘Falling Bird’ and ‘Lay the Baby Down’ were a breath of fresh air. Their tongue in cheek lyrics and laidback casual sway should not be taken lightly, these guys mean business and they show that with flair in their ‘encore’ of gospel stomp ‘Hey Lord (An Existential Inquiry)’.
Star Wheel Press perfectly demonstrate the value and the art of creating an entire album, vinyl or otherwise, that will endure, and are a treasure in modern times.