Home » Archive for category 'OOTB Reviews' (Page 5)

OOTB Reviews Archive

OOTB 348 – 23 June 2009

Posted 23/06/2009 By admin

OOTB 23/06/09

Calum and Jimmy Carlyle

Orkney’s finest kick us off with a jaunty tale of childhood games and playing soldiers in the street, named eerily ‘Commando’. Their second is a protest song which talks of ‘the promise of better days’. Jimmy has the rhythm on guitar, while Calum embellishes on Mandolin, giving warmth to the whole. On their third, though, they swap instruments and pick up pace for a slip-jig. Its got a beat that Bongshang would be proud of. Finally, ‘A Place To Hide’ features great interplay and harmonics. Very fine.

Freeloadin Frank

‘Empire State Building’ is a love story of epic proportions, featuring a particular gorilla and his gal. ‘Cannabis is very good for you’ is fairly self-explanatory – “the perfect antidote when you are blue.” Frank is on form tonight – by the end of this number, he has them in his thrall. ‘Bloodshed On The Way’ voices a deep distrust of politicians, as humour takes a backseat to the satire. How better to end the set than the legendary ‘Magic Cornflake’? It is “the only way to travel”, apparently, and is dedicated to Darren Thornberry (who will be traveling, not tripping his little socks off as the song suggests).

Ron (debut)

Just a squashee this time for Ron’s OOTB debut. ‘Deeper than the ocean’ shows off Ron’s energy and voice, even though I feel I’ve heard the lyrics before. In contrast, his second, which talks of “whisky where the bible used to go”, is more original, and better shows off his songwriting. More of this would be welcome.

Harry (debut)

“I like to bike, you like to stab old men” Yeah, nothing like a bit of random killing to put a dampener on a relationship. Harry is a comic singer, and surprisingly enough appearing in the Edinburgh Film Festival in ‘Baraboo’. His second piece is “a lullaby”, but features not only the same acoustic ska of his first song, but enough terrifying tales to petrify any youngster – spiders, vampires, their mother. Clearly a fan of Sublime, his third is more ska, and also wonderfully twisted – “if you tried to leave, I’d kill your family.” It’s funny stuff, although his stage persona could do with being reigned in a wee bit. Finally, a break-up song, of sorts. “Everybody hates you” It’s nice to see an antihero in a song for once.

Paul Gladwell (Featured Act)

Antiheroes are something that Paul almost specialises in, but throughout his set tonight he adeptly shifts gear and mood between just about every song. He starts with delicate fingerpicking – “Your guilt is hard to swallow.” It’s a curiously low-key number to begin with, but it seems to work. His second is all word-play, with the stand-out line being “you are my flower(flour) when I have no dough.” Cracking. Next one is fast and desolate, and talks of “Actors on a stage”. Following this, he shifts mood in a second, back to beguiling melancholia – “For me, it seems, an ordinary life is not enough.” Paul writes intelligent lyrics, and packs them in. I could fill reams with those worthy of note. It’s a good approach to songwriting – take as many good ideas as would fill three songs, then fit them into one. Paranoid Android did just that. ‘Tell me what to believe’ is a pertinent comment on the state of the media, or rather the media of the state. Satirical and biting. He then makes 7/8 sound like the most natural time signature for an enveloping love song, or sorts. “When whispering sweet nothings for the thousandth time feels like nothing.” Emotive. ‘If you let me tag along’ is bouncy and attention-grabbing. Again a complete shift of gear. All the while, the guitar play is complex but never overshadowing the lyrics, and played to a tee. For his penultimate, he settles an unusually straight guitar part, almost Dylan-esque, for more melancholy. Finally, antiheros to the fore, as he unleashes his dark and malevolent ‘The End is Nigh’. It is positively throbbing with coiled energy. “Don’t read your holy book – I’ll just rip out the page.” Suberb.

Cam and Ed

A possible first for OOTB – a guitar and drum combo. It may even be their first outing together, I’m not sure. They start with ‘We’re Hanging On’, which is impassioned. Head and shoulders above, however, is ‘An Early Call’. I’ve seen Cam do this solo before, but never noticed the lyrics, which are about being a GP. “Our lives had barely touched, but the poor soul seemed resigned.” Beautifully emotive – helped by Cam’s distinctive vibrato and fine voice. On ‘Keep It Going’, he sings “we’re almost out of time.” The drums add an urgent metronome, but due to unusual time signature changes they are ragged in parts, though this will no doubt improve with practice. For their last, they cheekily pull out a cover (gasp) of Tim Buckley’s Dolphins. Whilst a shorter version than I’m used to, it has to be said that Cam’s voice IS Buckley’s, so he suits it perfectly. The full version on OOTB 350 (July 7), perhaps?

Broken Tooth

Before giving us what I consider to be the best ever rendition of his epic ‘Hold Fast’, Tooth addresses the sometimes misunderstood lyrical content, which focuses on religious bigotry among other things. It is articulate and passionate, and lends huge weight to the song’s delivery. The stand-out lyrics are still “to spread their message of peace, they write it out in blood and sword.” Awesome.


“I’m not going to lie to you, so I don’t make a sound” He can certainly craft some fine tunes and words. He seems new to performing, but he makes up for any inexperience with an engaging liveliness. His second song was written in France, and is full of optimism. His voice is best when he lets rip – with practice this power should find its way into all his singing. His third was almost never performed, so worried was he about the fingerpicking. Well, he shouldn’t have fretted – it is a quiet lullaby of s song and he seems to play it faultlessly. Beautiful. His last is dark and funky, full of ringing high notes. Again his voice benefits from roaring a bit. Much potential.

John Watton

Fluid fingerpicking of the highest order. “I love to walk the Cleveland way” he sings on his first song. Folk music with integrity. ‘Standing Tall’ is a heavier piece, and uses an effects box with great subtlety. No easy task. Clearly a hugely experienced performer, this is a very polished set, and a joy to watch. ‘Station Master’ is blues, but again done very well. “I didn’t say goodbye, I just kept on moving on.” And indeed, this will John last performance at OOTB for a wee while. Hope he returns as soon as possible. Top notch stuff.

Cameron Phair

He opens with a big sounding guitar: all open 5ths. “So I’m older now – what have you got to say for yourself?” Good start. His second is a ballad in the best Scottish/Idlewild style. “waited for the sky to change”. This is the best I’ve seen Cameron so far – he certainly looks very comfortable on stage, and enjoys good banter with the audience. A skill in itself. His last is something about letting footwear govern your view of the world. Maybe I wrote that down wrong. “You’re walking with your mind too fast”.

Colin Brennan (debut)

His style is a mash up of country-folk, so he says. “Home is where the heart is,” but it means different things to different people, as he illustrates. His second is all escapism and aspiration – “Adios to all this concrete” Some of his lyrics can tend towards the pedestrian, but occasionally he’ll pull out a gem – “love’s a gift that’s surely hand made” His last piece is anything but light and optimistic, but again he produces some quality words – “I’m not in the ground today, but it sure feels like I’m on my way.” I’d like to hear more.

OOTB 347 – 16 June 2009

Posted 16/06/2009 By admin

OOTB 20090617

It was a quiet night at the Tron compared with the exceptional throngs we have had in recent weeks, but all the best people were there. In fact Liam Gallagher popped in: I didn’t have the gall to ask him if he knew any Oasis covers, but if you are reading this, then there is a good chance you missed it. That’s your fault. Man, you should have been there.

Sean Donnelly

It’s the first time I’ve seen Sean and I was very much impressed. His sang an unaccompanied number followed by two with guitar. Despite singing in a pronounced Scottish accent, the style was very much the faux English folk song and reminds me of all those 1970s folk revival bands. The material all sounded like it was about love and meadows and generally good-for-the-soul stuff. Actually we get very little folk music at OOTB so it’s a welcome change. The standard is set very high for the rest of the performers.

Broken Tooth

Haddow waxes lyrically about Sean’s accent and BT is cornered. He insists that the blues cannot be sung in a Scottish accent – he won’t do it, and instead surprises the lot of us with his most outrageous stunt to date:

Tonight the tooth-father riffs his way magnificently through a blistering set egged on by the eager crowd who are wowed by this lithe sinuous figure enrobed modestly in a thoroughly blues –appropriate posing pouch and anointed in what can only be described as a petroleum-based substance.

You had to be there.

Iain Roberts

I’ve not heard Iain before, but I’m guessing that the first song is usually played with a band and somewhat heavier guitars. It’s a slightly dark indie with more delicate verses and heavier riffing choruses. His second is called Lent. Unfortunately I can’t hear the words and the meaning is lost on me – sounded nice though. His last again has multiple changes of time and tempo  – something I’m more accustomed to hearing in thrash metal than folk. This is a risky move – if it’s done confidently and accurately with a really tight band, it can be really effective, If not if can be slack or it can just sound like you can’t decide how the song goes. I’m hoping he has a good drummer. Fingers crossed.


‘You can drown your melancholy with a bottle of beer or a Bob Dylan track’. This song had its debut last week when Bunmi had just written the lyrics and improvised a melody for us – then (as you would expect) it wandered a little aimlessly albeit with a lot of promise. Tonight it sounds more like a melody – it has clearly been worked on and is much better developed. Without any backing it doesn’t quite feel like the finished product, but I for one could happily listen to his voice for hours. If you’ve got soul, you’ve should check out this performer.

Hannah O’Reilly

There’s not a lot I can say about this popular OOTB perennial. Hannah’s songs are often sad – and achingly beautiful with it. But tonight catches her in a different mood. She’s in lurve and the songs (off her new album Stiletto) reflect that change in her. Ms O’Reilly is renowned as a prolific songwriter and Stiletto is only one of several albums she has planned for release this year. The benefit of writing a lot of songs in a compressed timespace is that they hang together as a body of work in a way that an 18-month slog can never achieve. Hannah insists she has a cold and won’t be able to sing – but tonight she actually sounds the best I’ve heard her.

If there was any criticism – and I don’t want to be too harsh, there’s beginning to be a pattern in the piano-based songs of open fifths in the left hands and repeated figured in the right and they are all very similar – I’m think the vocals and lyrics are sufficiently varied to keep interest. I’m just hoping the songs come across as more as a album of work rather than being too samey. I haven’t heard the album so I’ll reserve judgement on that one.

Songs included ‘Two Hands’, ‘Foolish’, ‘Storyville’, ‘Galloway slap’, ‘Bones’, ‘What’s left of me?’, ‘Conversations with break’, ‘Round’, and the cheeky ‘Dimes’ finished the set.

Calum Carlyle

The room has become noisy – yes, Liam Gallagher did wander in and this has caused a little flurry of noise which is frankly making it hard for the performers, Calum has to attempt to play over the worst of it.

His first is ‘Living Proof’ which seems to get half the room singing along – it’s probably my favourite of his at the moment. He insists that it sounds better with the band – but in my mind he performs better tonight.

Walking through shallows (shadows?) is an older song and as with some of CCs songs the guitar has more than a hint of mandolin-playing style about it. One Hit Wonder is tight and cool – it may be an early song, but the playing is skilful. Calum may not have enjoyed playing over the rabble, but a bit of aggression did wonders for the performance.

Sam Barber

No Exit : Sam says he has been recording this song all day so it should be fine – and indeed it is – I’d certainly have accepted his live performance as a take – it is punchy and rhythmic.

The choice of Heracles: Wikipedia informs me it is a painting by Carracci where Heracles is depicted with two women flanking him, who represent the opposite destinies which the life could reserve him: on the left the Virtue is calling him to the hardest path leading to glory through hardship, while the second, the Pleasure, the easier path, is enticing him to the vice. Admittedly the choice seems to be between whether you prefer your women to wear fine clothes or just underwear. One should note however that Heracles is the only one with no clothes – so make of that what you will.

I’m not sure if Sam is facing the same dichotomy – most of us would simply love the choice.

The song: I could take it or leave it.

Sophia : Sam is back on fire for this last one – its just strumming, but he’s making the guitar sound much more expensive than it is.

Sam Hird

1st song is a little like a quiet Muse or Radiohead number – it has the most involved and interesting harmony of the evening so far.

His 2nd is in an open tuning and in a totally different style. Its not stairway to heaven, but if I say it builds as it goes from a gentle start up to  raunchy riffing, you’ll have an idea of what’s happening here. It’s the pace, the poise, and the performance of the song which make it work so well.

Tokyo is his last – which is in a different style again: more Simon and Garfunkel territory here. It’s a varied and well balanced set. I’m a fan.

Darren Thornberry

Darren has trimmed his beard and tonight looks more like Yusuf than I’ve ever seen him. Actually the sweetness and gentleness with which he sings make it not such a bad comparison.

He sings ‘This Thing I Do’ which is cute in the extreme, but always makes me feel like I’ve intruded on something that should be sung to Rebecca alone.

Whereas the first is a romantic song about the start of a relationship, his second, a new song, is more of a confessional about a mature relationship.

He ends with Hovering – at which point I’m running for my bus – my apologies to anyone who sung at the end of the night.

Compere: Calum Haddow

Sound: Calum Carlyle, David O’Hara

Review: Daniel Davis

OOTB 345 – 2 June 2009

Posted 02/06/2009 By admin

Review by Darren Thornberry

Story time with JOHNNY GUITAR. Did you know he once performed nude in Hair and protested Princess Anne in an episode of Rebus? We learn all this before the first string is plucked. My love is like a feather in the night: melancholy tune written on Arran. Following are a couple of bluesy numbers and a drop down to D with a slide. “To be developed …” Johnny smirks and I agree. He mentions Busking for Cancer, which is worth a look at buskingcancer.co.uk.

A trio of dedications from MUTANT LODGE aka Nick with a Why? Songwriter is tops with many forgotten lines and a couple of truly funny false endings. Mr. Lodge plays a tidy instrumental piece written for none other than our very own web dude. I am interested in this lovely piece of music. Bad Blues – the finger does not make it all the way up the nose during the “self respect” refrain, but geez the man is on fire! Great performance by Nyk.

RODDY RENFREW turns up with his shiny new left-handed guitar, and what a sweet sound it makes! Step Outside is a playful tune that has a, well, sunshiny feel that is right for Edinburgh this week. Then comes Family, a tune that describes the misery and glory we all experience in our dysfunctional families. What is pleasure and pain? Renfrew croons, leaving some meat on the philosophical bone for us to chew.

Douglas - 2 June 2009

Douglas, standing next to an enormous pint glass - 2 June 2009

World traveller DOUGLAS finds similarities between trying to find God and trying to get sex. Despite soundman Malcolm finding the sweet spot on Douglas’ Yamaha, making it sound lovely and bright, the melodies on the first two songs are hard to track. In fairness, these are very new tunes Douglas is testing and that’s exactly what OOTB encourages. He returns to familiar territory in a song he wrote in Morocco and it is indeed nicely polished. “Wake me in the morning with a prayer …”


Sam Barber exits the stage after a job well done - 2 June 2009


It’s a treat to have Sam here. Not only is he a nimble guitarist, but his songs also leave a high watermark, both lyrically and melodically. Sam can take on love, mythology and politics and wrap it all in memorable, upbeat tunes that stay with you. For me, the highlights of his set are the guitar walk down in the chorus of Sophia; the devastating lyrics of Over by Christmas; the booming 12-string hook in Theory of Everything; the tenderly played Non sequitur; and this phrase “tears fall like acid rain from a god” in the set opener.

Not only does JONAH debut with a nylon stringed guitar and harmonica, but he also gets to stick his hand in the silver bag of dreams. More on that later … Jonah is a nice surprise. Some really delicate playing and moody lyrics. Best song is Purple Sky, a tale of meeting a restless American lassie at the train station and all that unfolds from there. Wonderful stuff, Jonah. (Fruit pastels – that’s what he pulls from the S.B.D.)

RYAN – most improved!

I’ve been listening to Ryan play for a number of weeks now, and I have not been that impressed with his songs because I get the feeling he’s not convinced either. But tonight I hear and see marked improvement. His singing is better, stronger, and he seems more at ease than in previous weeks. Maybe the string of performances at OOTB has helped his confidence. It’s a treat to see someone coming along and getting better. I love it. Gun Metal Blues is quality. Ryan’s got a few tricks we haven’t seen, and I expect he will continue to reveal more of the songwriter that’s in there. Good job mate.

Hello again JOHN WATTON. This fellow is a seriously great performer. His set has the place hollering. He leaves it all on stage with Gambler – an absolutely thunderous song by a seasoned talent. “Don’t need no lucky ladies to watch my sevens land!” This blues riffin’ ace has undoubtedly graced other stages in his day. Awesome.

One of the better vocal performers of the night, CAMERON has a nice even tenor. The timbre of his voice and songs remind of one of my all time favourite bands – Jellyfish. Cam’s had shoulder surgery since his last OOTB performance, but he’s playing away with nary a wince. I will see him later, much later, in the evening, eating chips outside Whistlebinkies. He even offers me one.


Hmmm. Floyd plays a brooding three songs, but vocally things are rough and I am straining to hear what he’s singing. Floyd says his last song is special to him, and I’m paying close attention. He’s singing about getting no rest, no sleep, and he does indeed look tired. Really nice guy, and I hope to see him back once he’s had some kip.


Sunglasses hide his eyes, but the irony is on display. Musically speaking, there is room for improvement, but that’s true of us all. Sample lyric from Keep Your Friends Close: “You made out with my friend Euan / I must look like such a goon.” Explore the mystery further at myspace.com/bessiethumper.

OOTB 344 – 26 May 2009

Posted 26/05/2009 By admin

Matt Snyder

Matt is our first debut of the night. His set is purely instrumental piano which is a refreshing start to what is almost always a guitar-fueled evening. His first tune is a jazzy number. This really demonstrated his passion for playing. I’d love to see him on a real piano, I think he would totally rock out! His second is a half improv classical piece, which was beautifully melancholic. He ended on another jazzy number which was definitely my favourite of his.

Jim Bryce

Jim’s first song was his self-proclaimed ‘screechy’ number. Played on the keyboard I loved his screechy, almost bluesy song, and with a bit of scat singing thrown in I thought it was brilliant. His second was an incredibly poignant ballad for an old friend. He finished on a comedy number about the British abroad. It was perfectly perceptive and funny.


As our second debut of the night, Anna silenced the crowd with her a cappella intro to her first song. She has a unique style which I enjoyed a lot. Her second song was equally as captivating. I’d definitely love to see more of her here.


Bravely Ryan is performing a brand new song this evening. The subject is something we can all relate to; not turning into your parents. The lyrics were quite chilling. I’m guessing he really doesn’t want to turn into his Dad! In contrast Ryan’s second song is a very old one. He just plays two verses because apparently it gets a bit boring. I don’t agree at all, in fact it’s probably my favourite of his set. He ended with a song called soldier, which is a song about sex. ‘Not in a bad way’ he informs us……whatever that means!

Roger Emmerson

In the music circuit this guy is known as the ‘Blues Father’. I wasn’t sure if he would live up to this huge name but he did not disappoint. He started with a song about drinking and stereotypes. It had some great finger picking and that classic blues instrument, the harmonica. I am a total sucker for any tune that has a bit of that in it. He then moved on to a beautiful song called photographs. It was here where I really gave in to the ‘Blues Father’. I am now a fan.

Roger gives us a wee story about the name of his next tune, when he promptly tells us that it has nothing to do with that! Its called ‘Media’. With lyrics like ‘You are my Media…….. I am your Jason’, It sounds like a love song to me. He moves seamlessly on to a song about redemption. Roger assures us that he is old enough to sing this. No comment…..

He then picks up the tone with his summer song. As soon as it starts I know I’m going to love this song. Then he lets rip. ‘Lets dance!’

In contrast ‘A cut away’ was an incredibly poignant song about his brother. I enjoyed the passion that went into this song.

To finish Roger announced that he would do a cover. There were lots on sharp intakes of breath by the crowd at this but personally I loved it and thought that it was the perfect end to a great featured act.

Broken Tooth

Toothy, getting into it - 19 May 2009

Toothy, getting into it - 19 May 2009

With lyrics such as ‘If hell don’t want me, I’m going to crawl back to your side’, this was a true Broken Tooth set. I have to say though, I think this was probably one of my favourite times seeing him play. It was quite a diverse set with some, true to form, brilliant guitar playing. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Miller’s Daughter’ as I felt he connected more with the lyrics.

Jonny Pugh

Jonny, in true Pugh fashion delivered a set of beautiful acoustic tunes and accomplished guitar playing. He played the classic ‘On Fire’, which was sentimental and heartfelt. He then played two new songs. The first of which was slightly more melancholy but it was his last song that really did it for me. It was a great tune which left me singing the ‘hey, hey, hey’ part for a long time afterwards.


Although this is not his debut at OOTB, I have never seen him play before. It is an impromptu set he informs us, and if this is true I am pretty impressed. He starts off with a song called ‘Russian Dolls’, which is about what is going on in the world today. He then moves on to sing about being grateful for being alive. He also has a slight Scottish twang in his singing voice, which I do enjoy listening to. I hope to catch another set soon.

OOTB 343 – 19 May 2009

Posted 19/05/2009 By admin

OOTB REVIEW 19/05/09

The Weather Underground.

The Weather Underground starts out with a bold guitar riff. His bouncy
chords slide nicely into some distinctive harmonics that his voice whispers through. He punches out signature sequences throughout the song, which are particularly effective. Nice bit of edge but not too in your face.

His second song “rain” was definitely appropriate for the evening, as we all
walked in “soaking wet through.” It has a nice mellow sound, and moves along nicely like the rain, as well as compassing a good use of repetition in
“rain, rain, rain” he seems to word paint himself away as his slot fades

Calum and Jimmy Carlyle

It’s nice to finally hear the echoing voice of Jimmy Carlyle, as I had only
heard it on CD until now. Their first song opens up with the unusual sound
of the mandolin, it really shines through this unplugged evening, making its mark immediately, but yet it maintains a lovely flowing sound with Calum’s well played guitar part.

This happy, nice sounding story ironically turns out to be a song full of
angsty, Scottish Pride and it doesn’t take any crap. No-one can argue while it’s being proudly sung out.

Their second song is also a political song, this time it’s much more laid
back but yet still interesting and full of charisma. Calum and Jimmy open
this song with a very powerful yet cheering accapella verse that really
enhances the sound of their harmonies. The vocal melodies weave in and out of each other as the bassy guitar part drives the song along, leaving space for the mandolin to fill in the spaces.

There were some great gaps in the vocals, which really allowed the two
instruments to show us what they could do and definitely makes the most of the overall sound.

Calum and jimmy’s lively songs have a brilliant folky undertone and they
really brought the best out of their distinctive sound tonight. I thoroughly
enjoyed listening.


Neil’s voice immediately changes the sound, a great contrast to Calum and
Jimmy’s very lively performance. Neil’s gentle voice is quieter but yet still heard. He has a few subtle leaps in the vocal melodies which keep the
songs interesting, and despite the mellow sound in the opening the guitar
has drive and builds up into some firm strumming that keeps the song bold
and yet still maintaining the lovely gentle sound in his voice.

“I dance like a loon at 3 in the morning” “the red eyed monster in your
living room”

His quirky and interesting lyrics work well, keeping the attention on him. I
had the urge to sing harmonies throughout this song, especially during a few of the repeated melodies. I particularly like how Neil inverts the vocal melody as he ends his song; it is a really nice touch.

Neil also used some complex guitar parts though out the rest of his slot
which give a nice contrast to his gentle stuff and really enable the voice
to stand out, he keeps the beat well when he kicks in the strumming on the
guitar, then before ending the song he takes a different route up the fret
board and fades out nicely.

Broken Tooth

“If hell don’t want me, I’m going to crawl back Onto your side”

If anyone had fallen asleep, Jim definitely woke him or her up.

He opens with a gritty and involved guitar riff. Jim has a bit of a country
feel about him when he sings, reminds me a little bit of Jack White.

He has a really nice instrumental section where he really shows us what he can do on the guitar before layering his distinctive vocals on top.

“Caught up in a loop hole before you man the fuck up and move on”

It’s really nice to hear a guy sing about his weakness rather than his
strengths, because I find, it’s sometimes quite easy to forget that men have emotions.

I particularly like Jim’s passion and how he speeds up his guitar in the
guitar solo bits, it really changes the dynamic of the song for a while
before he returns to his original style. This makes the song more interesting especially as he maintains the stomping rhythms through out the
changes. The length of his songs seem to be the only thing that lets them down but he does however, maintain the use of interesting lyrics right the way to the end, which I think is particularly effective.

“There is a demon in the moonshine” and “I believe my time has come”

A great performance from Jim Thomson.


Ryan gets more confident every time I see him. He is full of potential and
he’s lyrically brilliant, if not a little strange at times, but in a good
way of course.

It’s such a relief to hear people sing about stuff other than love… and
even when we heard his “love” song, it definitely was different to every
other love song I have ever heard.

Ryan starts off with an up beat guitar riff, his edgy voice cuts through the
guitar. He uses a nice mixture of bold singing and more beautiful melodic
vocals throughout his song, creating a nice contrast.

“I lost my faith, might, god and love and law.”

He uses a few nice pauses to great effect throughout which direct his
passionate words through well, delivered guitar playing.

“I don’t know how to tell you this” “I’ll say it once”

The word “once” creates a really nice dramatic stop.

His funeral song was short, sweet, and lyrically impressive and well, those
of you who missed it, your loss, you should have been there.

Ryan definitely makes an impact with his individual style and unusual, yet
interesting lyrics. I really enjoyed his slot again and I’m looking forward
to seeing how he progresses over the next few months.

Hopefully he will still be, “Running around with a butterfly net.”


Jamie is another performer with drive. He has a very sophisticated voice.

“I don’t turn every corner in this maze of emotion”

The song changes only subtly throughout but yet he still manages to keep the attention on him. It was very well performed indeed; I wish I could convey such a presence with such little change in my music.

The pauses break up the guitar part well and make it more interesting.

“You walked away from me”

“Only wishes come true in fairytales”

This fairy tale song, he played because the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest sang a song about Fairytales… I have to say, that Jamie’s fairytale song is much better than the Norwegian, Alexander Rybak’s song.

Jamie’s second song was a very moving song about his daughter.

“In my life I try to be the best I can be, I provide for you and keep you

His conversation style lyrics you would imagine would be spoken but he sung them, keeping them profound and full of emotion.

“I thank you” the lift in pitch in the voice towards the end of the song was
nicely done and worked well.

Jamie’s last song was even more moving. It was about the late Billie Mackenzie who committed suicide after the death of his mother.

“I hope you found what you were looking for.”

“So many people cried, the day his music died”

Jamie uses a simple but consistent guitar riff throughout this song, the
emotions conveyed and the tone hides the simplicity before he ends on a the
question “why?”

A very powerful and enjoyable slot from Jamie.


Angus breaks into his first song with the sound of a keyboard. This is the
first electric element we have experienced so far tonight. He does really well singing over the keyboard without amplification in the voice.

His conversational style singing really stands out and makes the song
interesting from the very beginning. He has a great sound and these
individual and well thought out lyrics stream out over some hammered on yet lovely sounding keyboard sequences.

“Bus to appear” “downtown San Francisco checking on your money”

“There is really only one solution do I have to spell it out?”

I really appreciate it, when songwriters ask questions in their music; it creates a lovely ambiguous feel. Despite this, and the content of his lyrics, his songs are still happy sounding and are easy to listen to.

The chorus in his first song is only subtley different to the previous part
of the song but it is very effective. His booming vocals keep everyone’s
attention as this San Francisco story is sung out.

“you’re never gonna change that law”.

I’d love to hear some of Angus’s music on a grand piano. His second song has
happy innocent vocals that work well with the keyboard and convey a little
bit of musical animation.

“My head’s full of strange ideas”

An inverted ascending scale in the higher register gives the song a grand

Bouncy, involved and with a consistant rhythm and good dynamic contrasts, Angus firmly ends a very enjoyable set.

Nyk Stoddart

Nyk starts with something mellow! Yes you heard me right, something mellow.

I like it, it’s nice to hear his softer side.

The first song has a finger picked opening.

“footsteps echo in my dreams”

“I feel the colour of evening, It’s nice to feel the wind”

Some lovely lyrics from Nyk here.

I love the gentle guitar playing that you would never expect from him.

Humming in the middle of some softly strummed guitar parts is another great
contrast to his normal sound.

His new song opens with muted chords, he sings out some words straight off an envelope, which is much more interesting than having lyrics written on a piece of paper.

The strumming in this song is a little harder than the previous mellow
sounding one, but yet it’s still not quite the crazy, normal sounding Nyk
song. This does give him the perfect opportunity to play his ascending and
descending gentle guitar solo’s which flow along nicely.

“Mr Sleaze” a requested song by myself of course.

Nyk’s bouncy chords open one of my favourite songs, partly because it was
written for me but also because it’s and awesome song!

“Mr Sleaze is an outragous and bad, really, really bad man”

“Mr Sleaze gets under the skin”

“Hey hey hey” is the returning theme that everyone likes to sing along to.

A great performance from Nyk.


Funky, intricate guitar part starts off John’s set.

This song has a happy feel and a folky storyline.

The catchy opening guitar riff is repeated throughout the song between the verses to great effect. This man is very good at the guitar indeed.

John has a nice voice, it’s full of character and conviction.

“We love to walk the cleavand way”

“I swear I could not love you more as these shadows lengthen”

A Happy unrequieted love song is next with an interesting guitar part and a
nice charisma.

“I used to be creative”

“I’m losing my grasp and I’m all burnt out”

John jumps about the register vocally aswell as with the guitar creating a
very folky, yet soulful sound.

Another happy sounding song ends his set, which is great at the end of the
night, I really love Johns style, if only there were more happy sounding
songwriters about.

“You’ve not got the decency to get off the floor”

“Pull up that blind and see the light”

“Forget these lies when you wash them all away”

These well written lyrics, full of imagery, lend themselves well to the

The rhythm is constantly challenged, breaking tonights boundaries with
interesting, effective and involved guitar parts, every single note falls
perfectly in time, even in his great spikey rhythms.

After a couple of taps on the guitar his song fades out, ending his set and leaving a mark on the Edinburgh Acoustic scene.

Nicky (written by Johnny Pugh)

Nicky is completely unfazed by the lack of vocal amplification, She blows
the audience away with this rendition of my favourite song of hers, “In

This song really benefits from the accompaniment of the two guitars (since she is joined by Calum Carlyle)

The song conveys a sense of freshness and change.

“it’s been a long time, but my heart still seems to move”

“Catch my eye on you” is her second song. It begins with tense, broody

It’s a testament to Nicky’s vocal that she can over power the terocious
strumming of two guitars. Nice overlapping vocals from Calum. Songs of frustrated desire I guess, the angst of the lyrics are delivered
convincingly by Nicky’s vocals.

Nicky’s last song is “Between the floorboards”

The song starts with Nicky being poetic and reflective before exploding into a rock refrain.

“Because everything feels like… I can’t describe”

Excellent use of dynamics throughout the song, some intelligently plucked
chords from Calum add a touch of depth in the accompaniment.

A polished performance once again!

Review written by Nicky Carder with help from Johnny Pugh.

OOTB 342 – 12 May 2009

Posted 12/05/2009 By admin

Debutants ‘Fitzroy Soul’ kick off tonight’s OOTB. They have a real ‘smoky bar’ sort of sound, with plenty of rock and blues influence on show. Nice harmonica playing as well. Their second is somewhat darker, a gently iterated fingerpicked guitar line gradually builds into an almost grunge-like sound. Some great guitar interplay at the end, in what I thought was the duo’s strongest of the set. The set ends with “Journeys”, which drops the tempo and reverts back to a bluesy sound. An interesting and unpredictable chord progression keeps the listener interested. Some nice lyrical ideas on show in this one; “as my world falls on a spindle”. Some really tight playing from a clearly well rehearsed duo, with some interesting and original songs.

Roger – It’s a real pleasure to see Roger return to OOTB after a couple of months; he is both a hugely talented musician and a gifted songwriter, which makes for an extremely entertaining set. “Cutaway” begins with furiously strummed chords which provide ample backing for Roger’s virtuoso harmonica playing, the harsh tones of which mirror the lyrical content; “I can’t sing about you” he bitterly laments. “Venice” has a different feel, the vocal line follows the staccato riff of the guitar. The lyrics tell the story of a doomed love; “strange love, so young is what I said”. Again the guitar work is highly proficient, with intelligently used hammer-ons and pull-offs. His last is an instrumental homage to gaffer tape, which has some purely inspired playing; most guitarists struggle to solo over the altered dominant chords Roger uses, so to do so on a harmonica in such an unpertubed manner is a little mind-boggling. Cracking stuff!

Calum Carlyle– Playing tonight under his alter ego Caramel Curly, Calum begins with the enigmatic “My penis is a gyroscope”- this is full of observational gems such as “you can get to heaven even if you’ve got a penis”. The whimsical lyrics and Calum’s adept performance make it easy to forget that this is quite a complex piece to perform. A great, fun start to the set. This is followed by (the now poignant) “Living Proof”, which has now become engrained in OOTB folklore. I say poignant because the ‘hippy’ in question now looks a lot less hippy-esque. However, the song is still a cracker, and it had the audience singing along as ever. Again, Calum is really skilled at writing lyrics which are equally humourous but also thought provoking, with some astute observations about nuclear power. Calum ends with one of his new bandmate’s, Nicky Carder’s songs “Ice Cream”. Calum brings out a different side to the song which I quite enjoyed; the vocal is perhaps slightly more restrained, which places the focus on the intelligently crafted lyrics. Another strong set!

Bobby - 12th May 2009

Bobby - 12th May 2009

Bobby – “Things to do when Nothings on the Telly” is a hilarious piece, with some excellent folky guitar. I always enjoy Bobby’s performance of this song, he always conveys the cheeky charm of the lyrics perfectly. His second is slightly more biting, taking electoral apathy as its topic; “Blame it on the martians/ they weren’t even there!” is a memorable line. Again, the use of finger-plectrums allows Bobby to pick out some complex rhythmic patterns, which make his songs sound all the more authentic. His last is an ode to the joys of busking on Rose Street “to pay for food and drink and hash”. As ever, Bobby supplements his performance with a great stage presence, an enviable trait for any performer.

Rob Sproul-Cran with Johnny Pugh (review by Darren Thornberry)

Rob Sproul-Cran and Johnny Pugh - 12th May 2009

Rob Sproul-Cran and Johnny Pugh - 12th May 2009

1. Japan – this song is a delicate, delicate thing. The guaranteed hush occurs as Rob finds his ghostlike voice and the lyrics spill out in a remarkable melody. I’m humming along, trying to be objective, but I can’t. I love it.

2. The Day He Died – Johnny plays some sweet harmonics; Rob sings “Memories you forgot you had come bubbling to mind.”

3. I See Stars – this may be Rob’s strongest song. It has grown on me a lot over the past couple of months. The live version tonight is a beast and shows off their collaborative talent. But still, you MUST hear Rob’s immense recording at www.myspace.com/robsproulcran

4. A Nice Day at the Beach – Very cool and yes breezy tune with interesting chords. Johnny unleashes the monster of rock and the duo hits their stride. Awesome.

For the last two songs, Rob stands alone and brings out some very special stuff.

5. The rock song with unintelligible lyrics. There is a Zeppelin-flavored beat throughout and while I cannot understand the words I don’t care because I am filled with surprised glee at the sound of Rob’s blues. This is what makes him standout – the ability to stop your heart with one lilting song and then plunge a needle full of adrenaline into it with the next.

6. Father. So quiet tonight that I strain to hear what’s being said. This short, quizzical, lovely song always gives me a knot in my throat. I’m afraid to know what it’s about.

Wonderful set from someone who will go far. Were you lucky enough to have his website written on your arm?

Nicky Carder and Calum Carlyle

2/3 of the new supergroup around town Neoviolet take to the stage for a couple of numbers next. Although they have only begun playing relatively recent, their first song shows that their collaboration has all the ingredients for success. Calum’s assured musicianship compliments Nicky’s natural songwriting extremely well. “The Train Station Song” is another example of this; Calum’s accompaniment is never overbearing, and adds depth to the song which allows Nicky to really let rip in the vocal. Some great harmonies as well. I very much look forward to hearing a full gig from this outfit very soon.

Jim Whyte

A quick squashee from Jim next who provides us with a tub-thumping new song. I’ve never heard Jim sing like this before, and I must say it’s absolutely brilliant! Great to hear him doing angry bluesy stuff! Its a cracking song as well packed with (self referencing) nautical imagery. Good to see that Jim is on fine songwriting form and I hope to hear some more where this came from!

Jonny Pugh (review by Darren Thornberry)

Listening to Flux, I find myself thinking that Pugh is a songwriter in the Dylan tradition. He’s a very poetic lyricist and wonderful guitarist. My partner describes his voice as “warm chocolate.” Loose ends, written in his angsty period, is actually a pretty sweet song. “Am I holding you down? My love what will become of these loose ends?” Mmmm, pensive stuff. Lyrics on his last song are irresistible. “Your forgiveness when it’s blind won’t see you through. I hurt you the most, it’s true. And I don’t know why you love me, but you do.”

Johnny’s approach to the stage is humble and subtle, and that makes his grace as a songwriter fill up the room.


Cameron’s first is an adaption of a poem written by his granddad. It has a really laid back sound, which belies the wistful tone of the words; it is testament to Cameron’s performance that the words sound completely original to him. Its one of those songs which really benefits from the sparse accompaniment of a single guitar. Great start. His second is a new one, but its played like its been part of Cameron’s set for years. Using intelligently placed harmonics, Cameron creates a dark brooding atmosphere, with long pedalled notes in the chorus. The tension is allieviated in his third with an up-beat carefree number, with a stupidly catchy chorus. “The only thing we fear is love” he sings. Nice, well balanced set.


Another debutant, Matthew’s first is in D. It has some interesting musical ideas (I particularly like the move to the Gm chord), and the confidence grows as the song progresses. “This Town ain’t the best” begins with insistent strumming has some lyrical gems; “They left me no choice/ I stole a Rolls Royce” is frankly close to Shakespearean. Brimming with confidence in his last, we are treated to a good old fashioned rock and roll romp. Great to hear yet another new face at OOTB.


Another confident debut. His first is reflection on the human condition, to which there is “no easy way out”. Again, some nice lyrical ideas on show. On his second “Walking Along”, he is accompanied by a mysterious bongo player, which complimented the rhythmic style of the music well. A real foot-tapper. His last is the strongest of the set; it has a really psychedelic sound, with prolonged drawling vocals which had my head reeling (this may or may not have been helped by the fact I was on my 5th pint at this stage). An really original song which I enjoyed. My only comment would be perhaps to learn the songs a little better to ensure that the performance remains uninterrupted. Otherwise a strong debut.

Cracking night at the Tron, I thought it was a really high standard; see you on Tuesday!

OOTB 341 – 5 May 2009

Posted 05/05/2009 By admin

A pocketful of Harmonicas”

or the review of 5/5/09

a multimedia play by Rego Gunloop the 17th

Chapter One – “Musos palace”

(Stage set: An open mic venue in the basement of the Tron, Edinburgh)

(Sound effects: baudy shouting from outside, whilst glasses clink, and a busty male barmaid laughs uproariously – the first character appears at the mic…)

Mr Broken

After thrashing Black Beauty to bits (metaphorically of course!) during the sound-check he starts “Summer Rose”. This reminds me of the time that a bargain basement sooth-sayer once said to me “ribbons and bows” but he was insane so I didn’t give him any money and he shot me with a water pistol. Oh, and Jim’s song is good – a sound about not getting any – esp. between 25-35. What a world!

He sounds like my gran on steroids sometimes though – “reach into the cage” he sings – I think he has a thing about hamsters – maybe not – next, he hoots like Little Richard with an improvised song. Finally, in “Guns in the desert” – the hero walks out of the saloon and out of the town because he realises we sold and they bought. We sold and they bought. The arms trade is an ugly business – and the less said about the leg trade the better….

Sam Barber

One of my favourite performers, who reminds me of haircuts – we see too little of him here, and so it’s most welcome to hear his songs at OOTB again. After trying to bribe me wiv 5p and a bit of chewing gum (students eh ?) I lied when I said I’d give a good review, so here it is:

“Story of my life” is a song that consist of C9ths as far as my myopic ears can tell – it is buskesque, but with a folky pop melody.

His speciality – his trademark is 12 string chordings which adds something chimey to proceedings. Whatever those are.

“Theory of everything” is an award-winning song – which has groovy key changes, and I’ll have a short back and sides please mate.

I wish I was intelligent enough to understand his lyrics though – but it seems like a mixture of Einstein singing a love song. Finally, “Thursday” – despite being sung on the wrong day, has a spangly and high-capoed sound with almost modal chordings – he also sings “yeah” in a hip way. We demand to hear more of your fine pop talents Mr Barber – please return soon! We also have a house pair of scissors…

Dave Robertson, aka Heroin in a Nutshell

A regular performer at OOTB who has been travelling all the way from Dundee just to play at our humble open-mic, Dave has been a most welcome presence here – one of the new van garde perhaps ?

“This is the real world” is a song about Celeb types – quiet intro then stabby loud/soft with some great melodic touches – proving Dave has much more talent than most celebs…

“Welcome to the jungle baby” he sings with a sincere & passionate vocal. Tarzan suddenly appears and draws a cartoon – or was that just in my mind ?

“Streets are fucking empty…you’d better hack it baby” is a fab catch-line – he sure can hit those high notes too – when the chorus kicks in it just sails away…

“Question” – Dave dedicates this song to OOTBs own musoprof Calum Carlyle, with some very striking and dynamic chords, and a mesmerising vocal. Has a delicious flamenco thing going in places as well. Nice key changes. And maybe a bit of “nu-Radiohead” perhaps (apologies for the comparison!) – which may mean mournful and reflective, but angry and dynamic. It’s always a worth-while journey for Dave to play here, for him and us, as we always look forward to his songs.


He states that this first song is his oldest surviving song – he writes loads apparently, but like Victorian children only some make it to adulthood…

“Mexico” – which has nowt to do with Mexico, with words like “bones structures mainly, god and love. Say once, once!

“Talk amongst yourselves” has some very intricate finger-picking here – which reminds me of James Taylor again, but it slides into a resolving major-fifteenth, so that’s all right then…James Taylor is the name of our sheriff in these parts by the by – he wears a badge, but has no gun…so that’s all right then.

Overall, some cool songs…hope to hear more soon!

John Watson (debut)

Driven up from Scarbourgh today – “Ace in my pocket” is a great picking blues – you can tell he’s played a few places – within a few bars – he’s captured everyones attention. “Slidey backshifting devil of a man” he sings whilst playing great, well-placed blues riffs. “Station master in this godforsaken town” is a slower tune but just as well played – even Billy the Kid would keep in his guns, and hide behind the busty male barmaid, after such great playing.

“We’ve got our problems” finishes with it’s jazzy, but bluesy feel – but with sophisticated progressions. Truly mind-blowing. We hope you return sir! – your amazing playing keeps us from complacency!

Bill Phillips

OOTB’s poet laureate recites his most famous poem

And we all say “Intermission!”

In a surreal twist of theatre, the narrator steps up to the mic. Darren Thornberry takes over the story…

Nyk Stoddart adjusts his spectacles mid-song like the consummate professional he is - 2 June 2009

Nyk Stoddart adjusts his spectacles mid-song like the consummate professional he is - 2 June 2009

Nyk Stoddart

MantlePeace is a pensive little ditty. Nyk hears footsteps in his head, which may or may not be a good thing. The tune here is funerary, mournful, lyrically abstract.

Mr. Sleaze – ahhh, this song deals a fatal blow to its subject. Nyk shows off some vibrato and the modulation is a nice layer to the song.

Kitten in a Bong. Who me? No one will own up to actually putting the cat there, but as Nyk indicts the ancient hippies it would be foolish to deny the funny fantasy. After all, it’s just a made up story.

The Narrator steps through the saloon doors, and as people dive into corners, expecting a showdown, a figure appears on the far end of the bar and the narrator faces him…

Jim Whyte

The ancient mariner of OOTB sings his new song “Ship” – “do de doo do dee do” on a stormy, jaunty sea – he’s trying to “fit my ship together” – like airfix ? – I do like those model planes. From the lyric “Sailing across the sea” he goes into a more plaintive mode…but soon it gets louder and louder…I think that’s called “rousing”.

“I’ve found love” is one of my favourite songs of his. Genuinely moving, it’s about finding something you didn’t expect…how love makes you act strange…

“Live feed” – this song may be about reality TV, where he “blacks out my windows – turn on my TV…there’s a fly on the wall…watching it all”…Then there’s the Jerry Springer bit…fab!

Jim has obviously not lost his talent to mesmerise an audience…more new songs soon Jim!

Darren Thornberry

I can’t possibly do a review of this man’s work, and do it any justice, but nonetheless:

Our very own Darren Thornberry plays us .”Chips and Curry”.


“Curry!” the audience scream.

Darren then plays his love song to Edinburgh, whilst mentioning “South and North Bridge” and the moving lyric “The silence has no mercy so we talk awhile instead”. Beautiful.

“Is it true ?” is a melancholy number with his signature heartfelt singing – class.

Darren has a rare talent for song-writing and performing, that combines honesty, catchy melodies, and memorable lyrics. When he departs these shores for the US pretty soon, he will take a part of us with him…not literally obviously, as that would be messy and painful…seriously though, OOTB won’t be the same without him.

Ha! I get the final word, maybe. I’ll dodge the bullet after all, thanks to the incredible writing skill of Darren Thornberry:

Nyk Stoddart

Mutant Zombies – the ultimate show closer goes down a treat. Nah nah nah nah nah. Full stop.

The director shouts “Cut!” – and the barber comes out – does everyone’s hair, and everyone leaves. Everyone’s forgotten the sheriff, however, and he’s gone wrong…in fact he now looks like Yul Brynner…

OOTB 338 – 14 April 2009

Posted 14/04/2009 By admin

Mutant Lodge

Nyk started off with a set of new material, the only thing you can expect about Nyk’s songs is that you don’t know what to expect. Mr Sleaze was a bright and buzzy satire about a music night host who only opens his mouth in order to change feet. Well that’s my interpretation anyway. “Kitten in a Bong” Nyk insists is just a made up story, but it must be true because I read it in The Metro, “Ancient hippies sit around all day long, listening to Gong”… quite! The set finished with burst of frenetic weirdness with “Calypso”, a surreal moment in anybody’s life.


Peter’s set featured a harmonium and Mongolian throat singing, I promise that I’m not making this up! I’ve heard throat singing before, on paper it looks like it should be impossible as the singer generates an overtone to their own voice so that they’re singing two notes at once. It sounds a bit like a Step Phaser or some kind of high pass filter. Peter used the Harmonium as a drone note as he sang in a clear tenor voice, liberally incorporating celtic melodies and high Bel canto notes. The first two songs were about Selkies, a Scottish version of the mermaid legend in which some seals have the ability to shed their sealskins and take on the form of a beautiful human. The stories about them usually don’t end well with some poor love struck human falling in love with a Selkie when they’re walking on the land and stealing their sealskin so that they can’t ever return to the Sea. There have been a number of folk songs written about them over the years, and I’m sure Pete’s second song was based on one of them. There are some singers who can make calm descend over a room and silence an audience, Peter certainly has that enviable gift. A beautiful voice… perhaps someone to consider for a featured artist slot, the ruling junta at OOTB can ponder that one. In any case it would be a pleasure to have him back at some point


So I was up next and at a bit of loss as what to follow Peter with. For the record it was:
Guns in the Desert
Hearts and Spades
Muses Song
I gave a little speech about my strange belief that music literally is Magic. We talk about music quite happily in magical terms, ie “enchanting, bewitching, evocative, spellbinding” etc In the middle ages composers were encouraged to avoid using the devils interval, a flattened fifth, because of the belief that it really did conjure up Ol’ Nick, Beelzebub, the Adversary, The Prince of Lies, Set, Satan, The Lord of this World, Lucifer himself. Not that I believe a word of that b*llocks! Oh by the way the flattened fifth became the backbone of the blues and heavy metal.

Calum Carlyle

Calum opened with “The Acid Test” which sounded slightly reminiscent of Jimmy Page’s guitar work, maybe it was just the 12 string that he was once again using to great effect. Shirat HaYam (Song at the Sea) is based on a song from the Old Testament that Calum took the brave artistic decision to learn phonetically and sing in the original Hebrew. Interestingly the song name checks Elohim, a name for God which can be translated as “Gods and Goddesses”. Well I find it interesting as it seems to suggest to me that the early Jewish people didn’t believe in a monotheistic patriarchy. On a lighter note the vocal line at the beginning, homage to “Paint It Black” at all Mr Carlyle? Calum slipped in a cheeky cover of Storyville a song by Hannah O’Reilly, you’ll hear more about her and the song later.


Young Ryan commanded the stage next with a song called Trotsky’s Ghost, apparently about a middle management type wigging out on crystal meth and imagining that he’s being haunted by the spectre of the dead communist; in terms of theme and music it reminded me a bit of Morrissey and The Smiths, or similar intelligent literary rock. The second song was called “Destroyer” about the end of the world as we perceive it; I love it when songwriters don’t do the regular “boy meets girl saga”. Again another cover was brought to stage on this relaxed night with a version of a Joanna Newsom song. It translated very well from the original harp and squeaky voice of the original, which Ryan let me have a swift listen to when we were outside for a fag during the break. Hope to see you back down the Tron again soon, Ryan.

Nicky Carder and Calum Carlyle

This was the first time I’d seen Nicky and Calum play a set together properly. Nicky’s songs have always sounded to me like they’ve been written with a full band in mind, so it was noteworthy to hear the first stage her sound being fleshed out with more musicians. The interplay between the two guitars was a respectful dance with Calum proving to be an effective foil. Nicky seems to skirt close to a lot of potential pitfalls without actually falling in any of them. She’s got gift for strong melodies and the songs are instantly accessible, but the lyrics are intelligent and quirky enough to avoid becoming lightweight pop rock. Nicky’s got an impressive amount of raw talent (she rides a mean unicycle too; I promise I’m not making this up). It’s going to be interesting to see how her style gets further refined as she’s come an awful long way during her journeyman period with us. A little bit more diversity, with some light and shade, and exploring some different keys could perhaps broaden her appeal. Right now though it’ll be intriguing to find out how the band sound once the ground work has been fully realised.

Hannah O’Reilly

With her opening song I think Hannah pulled a first for Out of the Bedroom by playing a song that had previously been played by another act that night. “Storyville” is about EJ Bellocq a photographer from the early 1900’s based around New Orleans. After his death a portfolio of 89 relaxed and realistic sepia images of whores from the Storyville area of New Orleans, (the city’s notorious legal Red Light District and the legendary birthplace of jazz) were discovered on the original glass plates. With the song Hannah performs a trick similar to the photographs themselves, which aren’t really standard erotica, in creating something slightly melancholy and beautiful from something potentially sordid. The chorus references the unfound series of prints that Bellocq was supposed to have taken later in the opium dens of New Orleans Chinatown. “And then the opium flowed as far as we know, time stood still in 1915.” Apparently Hannah doesn’t really think of herself as a piano player, which is a little unfair as the arrangements are handsome yet understated, and slightly unconventional. Her last song, a new one for which she was still on the book, featured a weird quirk of not having the tonic chord from the key she was playing in. Eg playing in the key of G, but without a G major cropping up. HA! Told you that I’d explain the theory behind that Hannah!


Gordon 14 April 2009

Gordon 14 April 2009

Gordon, who I think was a first time performer at the Tron, gave us a harmonically rich piece with sparse lyrics and an indie rock mumble, the guitar carrying most of the piece which segued neatly into his second song in a similar vein . I was talking to Gordon about Bob Dylan before his set; it was only his last piece, a more conventional singer-songwriter acoustic number that has anything of the Zimmerman about it. It would be good to see Gordon back again at some point, as the material certainly had potential and I’d be interested in hearing what else he can bring down to the basement bar in the Tron.


Alex and Matt split the last three songs between them, Alex was up first and sang in a rich baritone with a very slight country tinge to it. He struck me as a man who is all about the song in a very meat and potatoes, back to basics kind of a way. That’s not a criticism, just because you’ve got a simple set of bricks doesn’t mean that you can’t build something interesting out of them, in fact second song, and my favourite, wouldn’t have sounded out of place being played by the Band or some other .60s/70s luminary.


Squeezing in one song at the end, Matt in flannel shirt and baseball cap gave us the first airing of a new song, a summery yet heartfelt number which rounded off the night nicely.

Review: Jim Thomson

Compere: James Whyte

Sound: David O’Hara

OOTB 336 – 31 March 2009

Posted 31/03/2009 By admin

Review 31/03/09

Tonight was no ordinary OOTB- as the banner across the stage proudly proclaimed to all and sundry, tonight’s OOTB was all in aid of Oxjam; this could mean only one thing: bring on the covers!

Rosie Bell – Rosie’s first is a wistful piano ballad, singing of “making a world of music”- Rosie’s lyrics are full of acute observations, and really engaging. Her second is a hilarious cover of “hallelujah”, castigating the plethora of performers who constantly murder what at heart is a great song: Rosie sings about “the critic scribbling ‘this song wrecked my night’”- quite the contrary in this case; Rosie sets the tempo for a cracking night.

Cameron and Scott (and the shaky thing from Ghana) – This duo begin with a cover of a song by Angus and Julia Stone (no, I haven’t either). It’s a real foot-tapper- the shaky thing from Ghana is certainly a sound investment. Really enjoyed the backing vocals at the finale; fine performance. Anyone could have been forgiven for expecting some sort of ZZ Top tribute on the second song given the matching black guitars; instead we get a cover of PJ Harvey (I personally breathed a sigh of relief)- another strong rendition, some tight harmonies, and neat guitar interplay on show- the duo brought a rawness to the song in its stripped down arrangement which may be lacking in the original. Good stuff!

Nicky – Nicky begins with a cover of a song by ‘Soil’ who are a really heavy rock outfit apparently. This is what a covers night is all about; Nicky really makes the song her own; it’s a different style to her original material, but the heavy rock chords provide ample background for her trademark powerhouse vocal. I can really imagine not liking this song in its original incarnation, however I thoroughly enjoyed Nicky’s rendition; perhaps not as much as our compere this evening, but I did so all the same.

Her second is just a brilliant concept: Bonnie Tyler sung as hard acoustic rock- I certainly wouldn’t have recognised this one, and with a bit of polish, this could be a cracking cover when Nicky performs it at the unsigned competition she’s in; best of luck with it Nicky! Now all together…. “I NEED A HERO!!!!”

Broken Tooth – Jim starts with a song that confirms a fear which we all subconsciously harbour…yes, ducks would given half the chance “mock your hair style, and sleep with your wife”. Definitely one very few will have heard before on tonight’s bill…ha ha. Never mind… his second is an acapella rant about “What keeps mankind alive”- this is almost a piece of acting; Jim really portrays the anger, with fine enunciation and lots of vehemently rolled ‘r’s. We saw a really different side to Broken Tooth tonight and a really entertaining one at that.

Out of the Oxjam – For the first minute or so I don’t think anyone in the band let alone the audience knew exactly what was happening- but the OOTO band gave us a fantastic country jam version of “Don’t Look Back in Anger”- it was a venerable Band Aid of OOTB stalwarts, with Broken Tooth and Cameron joining the whole jamboree on stage. The performance was infectiously jaunty- solos and dischords were added at each performer’s discretion, though kept on track towards the end by Peter, who sang the song powerfully- I particularly enjoyed the line “Please don’t put your life in the hands/ of a country western band”. A raucous romp through a britpop classic. Brilliant.

Hannah – Dusty Springfield on a ukulele; what’s not to like? I thought the arrangement on this was a really original idea; the sparse backing of the uke focused attention on vocal, whose purity and pitch gave the lyrics a real sweetness. There was even room for a whistle solo; again, what’s not to like?

Sam – I must profess something of an interest at this point because Sam begins with a cover of one of my absolute favourite artists, Ryan Adams. This was an unbelievably accurate rendition. If you closed your eyes, it pretty much could have been the man himself; Hannah’s backing vocals added a layer of authenticity to this Americana acoustic ballad “Strawberry Wine”. On his second, Sam shows great versatility in the vocal singing a Kings of Leon song (can’t remember the title), proving he can do rock as well as ballads. Another original cover, and another cracking set from two of the most exciting new acts at OOTB at the moment.

Calum Carlyle – Calum really enters into the spirit of the evening playing covers of OOTBers. He starts with crowd favourite “Gimp Boy” (originally by Nyk Stoddart)- Calum’s snarling vocal gives the song a nasty edge which was well suited to the song; as usual the audience joins in with the triumphant chorus. Next, we hear a cover of Nicky Carder- really interesting to hear this; although the arrangement was pretty similar, Calum gave a very different rendition in the vocal, less angry than Nicky’s perhaps, but it gave the song a different perspective. Calum didn’t seem too happy about his performance, but I thought it was a fine tribute to both performers.

James Bligh – I’ve not seen James play before, but I was very impressed by his skilled finger picking. Very Jose Gonzalez-esque. I particularly enjoyed his second which had a wonderfully ethereal ending. The vocal could do with a bit more confidence, as it was a bit quiet in places, but there’s no doubt the talent is there. Strong set from James, I hope to see him return soon.

I then took to the stage to play a cover of Rob Sproul Cran’s “Japan”, and “Build me up Buttercup” (not written by Rob Sproul Cran). This is what our irreverent host Mr. Calum Haddow had to say about the whole endeavour:

“Jonny Smells of win.”

One for the myspace methinks. Thanks for the fine praise Calum.

Scott – Really good to hear another poet at ootb, however this performance seemed a little rushed, perhaps because of the 10 minute slot. The material was difficult to engage with because there were scant breaks between each piece. Scott is undoubtedly a skilled poet and I would be interested to read his stuff – his material is peppered with acute observations, and there is a breadth of content on show. Next time though it would be great to hear a more ‘in depth’ set with fewer poems, which would allow the audience to really engage with the material. Hopefully we will get the opportunity to at some point.

Nyk – “Mr Sleaze” is a scathing character piece from Nyk – perhaps influenced by Calum’s snarling vocal on his cover? Interesting to see Nyk doing this different sort of material. Next though we are treated to classic Stoddart, with unfettered acoustic psychadelica. Class.

Anthony (debut) – Anthony may have been a wee bit nervous before coming on, but he delivered a confident performance. “Policeman” is a great idea for a song, with some fantastic lyrics; Anthony really paints a picture in the words, which are convincingly delivered. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of his second, but it begins with furious strumming, and sings of more conventional songwriter fare (broken hearts et al.); nothing wrong with that though! Anthony clearly has an ear for a catchy melody, and hopefully we shall hear some more tunes from him soon. Promising stuff.

Gerry - 21 April 2009

Gerry - 21 April 2009

Gerry – Gerry’s first showcases his impressive voice, with some excellent sustained notes, over intricate hammer-ons and pull-offs on the guitar. “I’ll take my chances and run” he sings. His second “Dogs coming in” is a rockier number, with a really memorable chorus. Again the performance is committed, with another strong vocal performance. A really enjoyable set, from a clearly talented performer.

Cameron – Next up, Cameron treats us to some heart-rendering original material- he sings of dying “by your side”, silencing the audience with a desperate tale of loss. His second is a confessional piece, which lends the performance an air of authenticity, as he sings about “the trouble with the straight and narrow”. A really engaging couple of songs!

A tense bidding war ensued for the final two songs of the night (which saw £12 go to Oxjam); then clouds descended, the horseman of the apocalypse appeared, a woman fainted…Calum Haddow had taken to the stage. He performed a swing version of “New Born” by Muse. I don’t really know what else I can say. You had to be there.

Cameron (returns)! – the joint victor of the bidding war supplemented his earlier set with a fine cover of “Disco 2000” by Pulp. I had never heard this done acoustic before, but it worked really well, and had the audience gleefully singing along. A fine way to end an absolutely cracking night at OOTB!

review by Jonny Pugh

OOTB 335 – 24th March 2009

Posted 24/03/2009 By admin

OOTB 335 – 24th March 2009

It’s another mammoth pot-pourri of excellent music tonight at OOTB, so without further ado, here’s what i wrote about it, hurriedly, and on borrowed paper…

Furious (Willie) – Furious starts us off with a ninetiestastic slice of what was once enthusiastically called Britpop. It’s quite nice that Britpop’s lasting legacy is the singer-songwriter ethic. Furious exemplifies this well. His second song recalls the nineties as well (for me anyway), and it’s another slow one. His third picks the pace up a bit though, it’s called Curiosity which, given his stage name, would look great on the cover of a single. It’s quite complex and entertaining. This is my favourite of the three for sure.


Alex & Donald (Seven Deadly Sins) – They start with Miss Parker, a bittersweet country pop song, a bit like a strawberry milkshake on a hot day. The bridge has a bit of harmonica which is nice. Good harmonies too. They carry on with Silver on Gold, more twin guitar countryness, there’s some lovely lead guitar on this song. They quickly plug their band (Seven Deadly Sins) and finish with a song which is a bit groovier, sort of a timechanging rock folk acoustic vibe. Colin mentions to me that the chap on the right has “good hands”, surely a compliment!


Nicky Carder – This is the first public performance of Nicky’s newest song, I’ll Find You Unexpectedly, about a chance meeting between three musicians in Glasgow Central station, an upbeat pop number with foot tapping rock overtones. Nicky’s busy guitar playing is a great backing for her soaring voice. Secondly she plays Little Purples, it’s a quieter, contemplative number made all the more poignant when you realise it’s about her shoes! Finally, one of my favourites, Between The Floorboards. This is the song Nicky played when she successfully qualified for the regional finals of “Vodafone Live & Unsigned” (which will be held in Newcastle on 2nd May). Always a pleasure!


Broken Tooth – I personally think it’s fine to use some of your fifteen minutes to state your opinions, but Broken’s comments about the arms trade seem to be a bit lost on the audience. Still, he keeps it short and appropriately plays his new song Guns In The Desert. The guitar part in this is particularly nice. Mister Tooth does a great job of making a six string guitar sound like a twelve string here. He tells us a quick story about the Hellfire Club and launches into Hoodoo Man, one of my favourites off his CD actually. I like the atmosphere f this song and it’s been a while since i’ve heard it. Again, lovely guitar. Finally, a new one, Muse’s Song, about songwriting. He did this recently at the Blazer, more confidently in my opinion, i feel like Toothy sometimes comes across better in a lower tech setting, though to be honest the highly lamentable lack of a monitor speaker at OOTB may well be the low tech setting that’s putting him off his game slightly in this song. If so, he’s coping valiantly.


The Angel Conversations – Nice to see these guys again, still playing as a duo rather than as a larger band as they used to do. It doesn’t stop them playing some powerful ballads though. They introduce their second as one they’ve “not quite written yet”, but to me it sounds like a good one with plenty of highs and lows, with a good combination of quiet verse and noisy chorus. They finish with Rain and Shine which is very well sung and very well played, and it swells up beautifully for the middle 8. I think my favourite of the set was the new one though, which is always a good sign.


Townhouse – Playing as a three piece band, a configuration i haven’t seen them in before, Townhouse sound professional from their first note. Lisa Paton has a really powerful voice and it’s backed well by the band. Interesting songs too with plenty of hard hitting lyrics. Key changes and unexpected harmonies crop up frequently too, but always in the context of the song, like a well folded cake mixture. Very smooth and very tight, but still very real.

I’ve heard Stuart and Lisa separately before, and playing as a duo, but with the full three-piece band they take it to another level, it really works. They’re really good at singing harmonies with each other. By the third song, Lisa’s got her mandolin out. It’s excellent to hear mandolin driven songs at OOTB, there should be more of it. Keep it up Lisa! The third song also features a whistled hook line from Stuart which genuinely sounds as good as a flute.

Townhouse were only going to play five songs but luckily they relent and play Stuart’s excellent song about childhood social conditioning. It’s great, one of my favourites of his actually. You should hear it. They finish with a stormer of course and leave us wanting more…


Lorraine McCauley and Peter Michael Rowan – Lorraine and Peter are two thirds of a soon-to-be-unleashed band, the third party of which is Rob Sproul-Cran, should be interesting. Anyway, Peter plays a different instrument for each of the three songs, mandolin (yeah!), fiddle and guitar. Lorraine has a lovely voice made of chocolate and camembert, and Peter’s accompaniment is very complimentary to it. He knows how to add to the music without obstructing the song. I’ll certainly look forward to hearing the full ensemble. Their first Edinburgh gig as a three piece will be at the Blue Blazer on Sunday 17th May (get there for 8pm, free admission).


Colin Milne – Playing his much talked about glute he tells us “all these songs are sort of true, with exaggerations, you know”. Colin’s unique. He gives us three surprising songs as usual(!). Colin’s got a unique songwriting style, a unique outlook on life and a unique demeanour in general. Not only that but his lyrics are enough to make anyone blush! He’s a true performer, and i don’t think he plays his songs many other places than Out of the Bedroom, we’re lucky to have him!

Calum Carlyle – I played a song next and when i got back to my seat, the following review had magically appeared on the page! Written by Mr Pugh possibly, here’s what it says: Whispers in the Wind – an intelligently picked chord progression around G effortlessly accompanies Calum’s gravelly vocal. Not his usual vocal style but I think it’s a really effective change for this song. Laid back, but upbeat song, really catchy chorus, again with some great bassline runs.


Ryan – Ryan seems a bit nervous, but he performs admirably regardless. He says his first, Soldier is “the oldest song I’ve written that I don’t hate”. He manages to rock out though, despite technical issues. His songs are slightly uneasy, slightly apprehensive, but there’s a certain unashamed amount of rock in there somewhere. His final song is a murder ballad, one of my favourite subgenres at the moment. This one’s about euthanising your loved one after she’s been shot, not played for laughs at all, which is good. He assures us he’s never done this in real life, which is a relief to me at any rate.

Sam – Sam’s great. He’s a powerful performer with a strong voice and lovely expansive guitar playing. Beautiful fingerstyle guitar parts and really catchy vocals, he’s a joy to listen to actually. It turns out i have heard Sam before at an event in Orkney, here’s the review: http://www.orkneyfolkfestival.com/23.pdf Many people had left by the time Sam came on which was a shame because i thought he was one of the best solo performers this evening. He’s a bit like if David Gray was incredibly good and could also play guitar like Bert Jansch.


Ivor – One instrumental from Ivor, another interesting fingerstyle guitarist. It’s lovely and it involves quite a lot of interesting harmonics and hammer-ons. Quite an organic piece, it’s the sort of thing that could easily go on a CD as the first track even though it’s an instrumental. Nice work, Ivor, worth staying up past bedtime for!

Jonny Pugh Compered and Jim Whyte did the sound (i think) and Calum Carlyle (who?) did the review.

WP Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com