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22 Apr 2017

Big Hogg “Gargoyles” 2017 UK Prog Rock Cantenrbury scene

Big Hogg “Gargoyles” 2017 UK Prog Rock Cantenrbury scene  Release date: March 31, 2017
The Canterbury Sound may be more remembered as a short lived scene during the early 70’s. The collision of English folk, jazz and prog creating a style of music which would become the cornerstone of acts such as The Soft Machine, Caravan and Hatfield And The North. A whimsical Englishness, suffused with technical playing, it was a world away from rock and roll.
It therefore seems strange to hear those sounds once again through Big Hogg’s music, more so for being from Glasgow which is a world of culture away from the genteel progressive sounds. Scotland has always had a knack for surprising though, and beneath the hard exterior lies a country which understands human emotions and is unafraid of embracing them. That Big Hogg take this and magnify it through the classic Canterbury Sound makes them all the more interesting and exciting.
Getting off to a sprightly start with ‘Solitary Way’, a song that owes as much to Belle & Sebastian as it does to Canterbury, it’s syncopated rhythm and playful flute sets out an adventurous path, albeit one which you can easily jump on, such is the delightful lilt of the vocals. Shared between Sophie Sexon and Justin Lumsden, the boy/girl dynamic becomes an important part of the music.
Brass also plays an important part too as Vegan Mothers Day’ demonstrates but it’s on the much deeper fare such as ‘Star Of The Show’ that you get an indication of hidden depths within this band. Beneath the slight, jaunty exterior lies a band willing to push at the edges of their music and find little avenues of digression which turn the song on its head. Take the simplicity of ‘Drunk On A Boat’ who’s sentimentality hides a woozy unease, matched by arch vocals which you never quite know what they really mean.
Perhaps the highlight is when they really cut loose on ‘The Beast’, a progressive and almost theatrical piece which switches from breathlessly urgent vocals to bombastic guitar, forever edging towards a climactic ending of which you are quite uncertain. It’s Big Hogg brimming with confidence in their music, unafraid to follow their own path, and it is this that makes us fall for them so much.
Maybe a bit too different for the usual prog fan, its hard to see where Big Hogg will find their niche, but by doing what they want to do, they will still find an audience. With the ability to cross over from breezy indie pop to prog they may have actually hit upon a wonderful formula. Either way, Gargoyles is a sublime piece of work which will keep the open-minded music fan happy for a long time. A complete joy, it is playful, deep and yes, whimsical. All the things that made the Canterbury Sound so wonderful in the first Martyn Coppack........

Following my eye-catching review of their debut album, how could those strangely comprehensible Glaswegians Big Hogg fail to be noticed by the big boys down in That London? Quite easily in all probability, but in the real world these winsome Scots have signed away their souls and worse to The Man, aka Bad Elephant Music. To be serious for a mo’, it is fitting that a label that has no truck with genre pigeonholing should end up being called home by this merrily unclassifiable bunch of ace tunesmiths.

Gargoyles takes the many shreds of the tattered Big Hogg flag left fluttering breathlessly in the breeze from that first album and runs with them, developing them into a more cogent whole as a “Big Hogg sound” emerges, weaving together old school jazz rock, vaudeville, classic pop and r’n’b infused rock’n’roll, all mashed together with a carefree Cantabrian aplomb.

The seriously bereft PR info sheet gives no clue as to who writes these tunes, but whoever it is, on their own or in combination, they are capable of writing some serious earworms, one of many examples being the insidious motif in The Beast, a tune you will find yourself humming in the supermarket checkout queue, or during that interminable staff meeting on Monday morning, but hopefully not out loud or the boss will be giving you the eye. The album opens with the fuzzy warble of Solitary Way, a kind of XTC on barbiturates as it swings and sways languidly along, gently but persistently rocking the listener awake. Not your usual barnstorming album opener but one that eases the listener into Big Hogg World, a musical theme park of many varied delights
A feature is the regular appearance of the brass section, which serves to lend the album a swing, and no little downtown bonhomie. The album mooches along in a pleasant laid back fashion, evoking a Canterbury vibe as it saunters on down the road. In fact one could well imagine Kevin Ayers sonorous tones singing the reflective lyrics of Star Of The Show.

Sophie Sexton gets to take the lead vocal on Drunk On A Boat, more dreamily woozy sighing into the bottom of a glass. This is turning out to be one of those lazy summer afternoon records, despite being released well within winter’s grip, where natural surroundings inevitably mean it tends to take on a more melancholy air.

Short instrumental interludes are scattered through the album, almost as an invitation to get up and go and recharge your glass, but closer inspection reveals that they are worth listening to on their own merits. The impishly accentuated Waiting For Luigi leads to the longest track on the record, and thankfully The Beast injects a much needed blast of energy as the beats increase and the party vibe takes hold, trombone dancing merrily. “Under my skin, The Beast grows and grows”, as tales of unbridled lust take hold of Sophie. Much joyful instrumentation and a fab guitar break take it to the bridge. The album has been leading up to this, and it settles down thereafter, resting back into its previously comfortable groove.

The bluesy swagger of the first album is toned down a touch in favour of more sophisticated songwriting, but it’s still here, Gold And Silver being a case in point. There is an easy confidence exuding from these zeros and ones, and Gargoyles shows a band that has quickly come into full bloom. Devil’s Egg closes proceedings, sort of, with a hypnotic wah-trip through deeper psychedelic surroundings than before, asking us “Don’t you want to see all the madness…all the badness?”, in which case “Open the egg”. This is a contrary note on which to end, at odds with the otherwise more warm-hearted vibe, and proof that Big Hogg continue to evolve. After the short glimpse of folksy whimsy that is Little Bear, one can safely say that whatever comes next will be well worth checking Trenwith..........

Big Hogg were formed in Glasgow in 2008 by Justin Lumsden (guitar, vocals) and Richard Merchant (trumpet, cornet), a pair of jazz-loving booze hounds with far too much spare time on their hands. They swiftly recruited trombonist and RSAMD graduate Ross McCrae, flautist/singer and sometime gogo dancer Sophie Sexon, and a variety of rhythm sections to flesh out their mix of modal jazz improvisations and Lumsden's Beefheart/Dr John inspired songs.

Influenced by the blues, rock and jazz of the seventies, Big Hogg are set to release sophomore album, Gargoyles, digitally on 31 Mar with a vinyl option available from 7 May, via Bad Elephant Music. “We are thrilled and excited to be working with Bad Elephant Music on the release of our new album,” says Lumsden. “Their no-nonsense attitude is a welcome relief in these difficult times.”
The latest single to be taken from Gargoyles is Solitary Way. “The song is heavily influenced by Buffalo Springfield – kind of folk rock with a Motown beat,” explains Lumsden. “I wrote it at a time of deep concern for a close friend who was experiencing hardship but becoming increasingly withdrawn as a result. We recorded it in isolation at Gorbals Sound studios and it basically set the tone for the rest of the Gargoyles album."

The Skinny are delighted to be premiering the music video: “The video was the brainchild of Chris McCrory,” Lumsden tells us. “He filmed and edited the whole thing. Chris is maybe better known for his band Catholic Action and his production work but I've always held his promo films in high regard. We invited a bunch of our pals down for the shoot and everyone got into the weird folk horror vibe – it's a bit of pagan nonsense.".....Music Team ............

Justin Lumsden – Guitar, Vocals and Bass (track 1)
Richard Merchant – Trumpet, Cornet & Tenor Horn
Ross McCrae – Trombone & Wurlitzer Electric Piano
Sophie Sexon – Flute & Vocals
Nick Gaughan – Drums, Percussion, Electric Piano, Bass, Synthesizers (track 4)
Tom Davis – Bass
~ with:
Lavinia Blackwall – Vocals (tracks 3 & 12)
Sybren Renema – Saxophone (track 12)

01. Solitary Way (3:45)
02. Vegan Mother’s Day (2:53)
03. Augogo (2:39)
04. Laudation (1:35)
05. Star Of The Show (4:23)
06. Drunk On A Boat (4:27)
07. Waiting For Luigi (1:47)
08. The Beast (6:24)
09. Gold And Silver (3:50)
10. Mercy (0:27)
11. My Banana (3:32)
12. Devil’s Egg (4:40)
13. Little Bear (1:20) 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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