Saturday, 28 April 2012

SUSAN FASSBENDER and KAY RUSSELL - 'Twilight Cafe - The Demo Collection (1981-1985)'

More than 30 years since 'Twilight Cafe' reached number 21 in the UK charts, Platform Records are delighted to be releasing 'The Demo Collection (1981-1985)', a 20 track album of previously unavailable recordings from Susan Fassbender and Kay Russell.

Available at all download stores from April 30th 2012, the collection includes the original demo version of the duo's hit single, as well as several songs which will be familiar to Fassbender/Russell fans, including several of those featured on the second and final of their CBS 7'' singles. Lots of unearthed gems are included too, and the range of styles and impressive arrangements make up a fantastic 70 minutes of music.

All tracks mastered from cassette by William at Soundworks Studios, Leeds. Additional mastering, sound processing, track compilation and pack shot design by Ewan McKenzie. Pack shot pencil drawings by Dianima.

With grateful thanks to the family of Susan Fassbender, and to Kay Russell.

+ For an exclusive interview with Kay Russell, and a review of the album, CLICK HERE. +

Susan Fassbender
Twilight Cafe (The Demo Collection 1981-1985)
Platform Records
Susan Fassbender's classic hit single 'Twilight Cafe' should have been the springboard to a successful chart career. Chock full of memorable melodic Pop Rock with superb keyboard work it bounced into the charts in February1981 and promised much for her career. Unfortunately two equally infectious follow up singles, both issued as Fassbender-Russell with her songwriting partner Kay Russell, failed to chart and a mooted album never materialised. Sadly, the Yorkshire born musician took her own life in 1991 but thanks to Kay Russell this collection of cassette tape demo's has been cleaned up and transferred to digital and remain as fresh, sparkling and easy on the ear as the day they were committed to tape ensuring that her legacy lives on. This may be on the lighter side of Rock but this does not detract from what is a fine collection of radio friendly Pop Rock.

Steve Ward Classic Rock Society Magazine Review July/August edition 2012.

Monday, 2 April 2012

The OK Social Club - 'The Shape Of Things To Come' - reviews round-up.

THE OK SOCIAL CLUB The Shape Of Things To Come ****
Edinburgh upstarts The OK Social Club may be reminiscent of the Strokes, but they manage to hang on to their Scots accent on this slice of pop brilliance.

The opening strains of ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ by Edinburgh’s OK Social Club tells you everything you need to know – they’re taking the happier, poppier elements of Scottish music, from Bis to Dananananaykroyd, and they’re updating them for the 21st century.
The debut single from the band, there’s certainly promise on show here. It’s nothing life changing – but then again, whose debut single is these days? – but it is most certainly enjoyable fare from a young band. ‘Shape of Things To Come’ brims with energy, and even shows a nice change of pace as the song moves towards its close, with a singalong coda that should get even the most jaded of gig-goers singing along.

The single is backed up by ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream and ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’. ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ is pretty standard b-side fare, a nice song, but nothing to really take notice of. ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’, however, is the real hidden gem of this three-track collection. An end-of-night song that bookends the single nicely – opener ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ sings: “What did I do last night/How did I end up here” whilst closer ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ says: “And now/All that’s left/Are photographs/And battle scars”.
All in all, ‘The Shape of Things To Come’ is a decent debut single. ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ is the only song that doesn’t leave much of an impression, but the other two songs show that there’s certainly promise, and if this is The Shape of Things To Come from The OK Social Club, then maybe it’s worth keeping an ear to the ground. (3.5 out of 5)

The OK Social Club - ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’/double B-side, ‘Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ and ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’, Single

Sunny, fresh faced, highly melodic, catchy Indie which bowls along, in well matched harmony, beautifully delicate, nimble, mellow bass, the star, supported by scrunchy, cheerfully careering guitar , energetically optimistic, sensitive drums and soulful vocal, Scottish accent appealingly apparent. Though employing familiarly engaging stock musical phrases, all three songs melodically, memorably endearing, poignant , individual touches providing unexpected pleasure, particularly the break, three quarters though 'The Shape Of Things To Come’, built around wonderfully laconic bass. Twist, Learn, Kick and Scream’ adds touch of ‘60’s Kinks style, in vocal effects and melodic construction, with hints of Bragg and Two Tone, while more contemplative ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ , most obviously Indie pop, infectiously anthemic.

Sunshine and lollipops, in the form of The OK Social Club, greet you on The Shape Of Things To Come and just like Hansel and Gretel – you’re going to gorge yourself on their gorgeous, upbeat tunes – a modern spin on REM by us, the dour faced Scots – with feel good indie anthems as the result.

Opener ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’ serves as an explosive, exciting introduction to your new watering hole, fast and energetic – it’s a great way to set the tone.

Next track up, the oddly titled ‘Twist, Learn, Kick And Scream’ drops the tempo, but not the optimism – the indie instrumentation showing a sharper edge, with darker, more abstract lyrics as a result.

Closer ‘Twisted Young Gentlemen’ is an effective encore; simple lines, big choruses and straight grooves allow everybody to participate.

It’s nice to see a band taking a smiling sideways glance at things in what’s becoming an increasingly dark world.

Words: Matthew Slater

RELEASED? 2nd April.
SOUNDS LIKE? Interesting,
no sooner has Scotland got
its own and superior version
of Billy Joel in Michael
Maclennan than they go and
produce the very noises that
ye olde Arctic Monkeys
were supposed to be making
all along. The Ok Social
Club perform this neat trick by molecule mining the shafts pre-drilled by Ballboy and whacking in all those clanky basslines that Clor were supposed to save EMI with. That's the short and simple answer to the 'sounds like?' question and it's the only answer that you need because Ballboy are and Clor were damn good and The Ok Social Club are damned good
IS IT ANY GOOD? Yes, it's fair to say that The Ok Social Social Club give me reason for hope.
WHERE IS IT?'s my brick...

The OK Social Club have been creating a little buzz around certain circles for a while thanks to their brilliant tight live performances of catchy guitar pop with a slightly punk edge.

The band have taken their time with their debut release The Shape of Things to Come, out now on itunes and available to view on YouTube at

A guitar riff appears out of a flurry activity before a catchy acapella vocal takes you off on a guitar-pop trip for three-and-a-half-minutes.

There are echoes of The Cribs and the poppier moments from The Libertines.

The main hook/chorus; You want to see us fail, you love it when we go, a little too far off the rails. is used to good effect throughout the song, turning into a terrace style chant towards the end.

The band pack a lot into the 3-minutes, slowing things down, speeding things up, taking things out, adding bits in. They clearly have an ear for a hook and a melody, two things I am very fond of personally. I am a sucker for a good guitar pop song and this is a good one.

I need to give the record a rating for this website, something I hate to do as it is up to people to make their own minds up. I mean what is a 5/5 record? You Set The Scene by Love, Whats Going On? by Marvin Gaye?

This gets 3/5 for me. Energetic, full of hooks and melodies and promising a lot more. Having seen the band live on a couple of occasions I know they have loads of tunes up their sleeves.

Charming early summer stuff here from Edinburgh’s The Ok Social Club who seem to combine the sounds of We Were Promised Jetpacks with The Boo Radleys. 7/10

Edinburgh scamps The OK Social Club’s dynamic new single is a melodious little ditty that veers from the indie rap sheet of early days Twang and parades the energy of fellow Scots The View.

Emporium - 'The Umbrella Shop' and 'From Another Planet' - reviews round-up.

*** Singles of the Week ***

Sounding not unlike something that might soundtrack a TV documentary about '90s Brit-pop - St. Etienne would, of course, curate the thing - Emporium's rather gorgeous ability to craft perfectly-honed melodies is certainly not in doubt with this - it's bloody lush. "The Umbrella Shop" (26th Mar - 4.5 stars) is a little bit Pulp (early), a little bit Cherry Ghost with a slice of Cud and a topping of Super Furry Animals. And that's all good. Very good. (4.5 out of 5)


You have to bear in mind that
Emporium are a band who've been active for
fourteen years and they now sound like, well,
they sound like Emporium. For the object of
this particular exercise I can suggest that
sounds like Alan Parsons Project and The
Idle Race are in there, but 'Umbrella Shop'
is really the sound of Emporium in full,
shifting, tinkling, drifting, psyche guitar
studded mode.
IS IT ANY GOOD? It's lovely, Emporium are
lovely, you are lovely, buy the lovely record.

Emporium - ‘The Umbrella Shop’/ ‘She Won’t Come Out To Play’, Single

Beautifully sumptuous sounds, evocative, tender piano paints prettily sparkling motif, mellow bass, steely guitar, orchestral strings and brass, storyteller, choir boy, honeyed vocal whispers warmly illuminated night time tale, washed by gentle chorus, woven seamlessly together into atmospheric epic of gas lit London.

‘She Won’t Come Out To Play’, similarly fully orchestrated and chorused, swings between sunny optimism and melancholic, despondent undertow, maudlin vocal describing sad tale of girl who just can’t face the day.

Both pieces, not structured songs, more sung narrative than poetically lyrical, melodically meandering, descriptive instrumentation, drawing on Classical idioms, showcase and support the star voice and its tale, could be from a, as yet unwritten, Musical score.

Scottish band Emporium kept layered progressive psychedelic pop harmonies alive, releasing a a string of albums and a couple of singles that garnered them rave reviews form the cognoscenti. The trio was basically a studio band, although they did tour for a bit in 1998. The band dropped from the radar in 2007 only to surface again in 2011 with the new album Silver Brainwaves. This year year has brought two new tracks so far: Mindbender and The Umbrella Shop (which will be released a single).

The 17 track collection From Another Planet - The Best Of Emporium (1998-2011) on Whimsical Records serves as handy introduction for newbies. Long time fans can plug the holes in their collection with the rare remixes and one-offs. It's hard to pigeonhole their sound, bur think the poppy songs of Pink Floyd ca. 1970 mixed with Beach Boys orchestral inklings dipped in Zombies-alike Odessey and Oracle melancholy.

Lead singer Ewan McKenzie falsetto gives their songs a pastoral quality that will go down well while lounging on lazy Sunday afternoon (or any other day of the week). Best enjoyed with a bottle of good wine and a basket of tasty tidbits.


For some reason I started off by listening to the latest single release, “The Umbrella Shop”. Described in Scotland’s premier tabloid as “a psychedelic cross between The Small Faces and The Beach Boys”. And for a second I glanced at the calendar and clock to see if time had stopped somewhere in the 60′s.

Emporium produce a retro-pop sound of sweet harmonies and melodies sung over luscious piano, string and horn arrangements, that are almost impossible to find in today’s music which is primarily constructed by loops, samples and beats.

They seem to have captured the essence of world renowned pop music composer, Burt Bacharach’s timeless music pieces, which were characterized by unusual chord progressions, striking syncopated rhythmic patterns, irregular phrasing, frequent modulation, and odd, changing meters.
Throw-in a vocal style which ranges from 60′s bands like the “Beach Boys” or “The Turtles” through to latter day acts like “Soft Cell” or even “OMD”. Plus add some Brit synth-pop rhythms, et voilĂ , ladies and gentleman you have Emporium!

Album highlights include, the watercolored harmonies of “Mindbender”, the beat momentum of “Wasted” and the slower, ethereal lead vocal of “Dice Man”.

My personal favorite track is the haunting “Mind Games”, while other tracks of particular note are “Elevate” and “She Won’t Come Out To Play”.

Seventeen tracks, is a lot of music and I could write page after page describing it, but music needs to be listened to. Needless to say, if you’ve experienced the 60′s musical era you would need no introduction to this album at all, and only have to enjoy it’s nostalgic karma.

However, if you, like many of our younger readers, belong to the new beat generation, my best suggestion would be to get over to the “EMPORIUM” website straight away and savor the sounds of their timeless melodies, set within a genre long gone by, and all but lost to modern music. If not for the stoic and solitary efforts of Scottish band EMPORIUM.

A 14 year anniversary? There seems to be no suggestion for a gift between tin at ten years and crystal at 15 years – perhaps that’s why the vocals gloriously meander around like a lost sheep inside the slightly proggy, psychedelic musical musings of ‘The Umbrella Shop’. Quite strange but not totally unendearing either. 6/10

Hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland - Emporium have just released "From Another Planet - The Best Of Emporium (1998-2011)", a compilation of songs by the Scottish combo containing 17 tracks.

The band has gained a great reputation in the United Kingdom (also covered in world-famous publications such as the NME) because of their very unique sound formula: beat pop (think The Small Faces and Beach Boys) with a psychedelic twist and very interesting arrangements.

Since the very first opening notes, the listener is brought hand in hand into a journey through the songs - the tunes build a very peculiar and dreamy landscape with a very unique vibe that fascinates and intrigues greatly.

Although the band proclaims 60s influences, an 80s touch is also intelligible, while a more modern approach to melody is part of the picture too, infusing the music with great personality. A superb testimony of over 14 years of music!

Edinburgh, Scotland-based whimsical pop trio Emporium, celebrate their 14 years of being together by releasing this compilation of seventeen-songs. They also added a new track into the mix, entitled The Umbrella Shop. [Check out the music video here.]

Their vintage-esque sound reminds me of a mix of a more-psychedelic version of The Sea and Cake, with hints of The Catherine Wheel, Pink Floyd and Depeche Mode.

I had the opportunity to interview Ewan yesterday, his answers were very refreshing and interesting to read. Always good to get to know the band a little more:

Briefly introduce yourself, and the band:
I’m Ewan, and currently I am ‘Emporium’. There was a fixed line-up at one time - in the early days. We played gigs for a while, but then the guitarist left to re-locate, and we continued as a duo for 5 years (with Brent Inglis on Bass), really as a recording outfit but also because we both enjoyed playing music so much, and the process of recording/production. We both really believed in the songs, and felt they deserved to be heard. We knew we had an original sound, and saw the potential to stand out from other artists .I’ve recently been recording completely on my own, I wanted to challenge myslef, so decided to make the next Emporium record effectively my first solo album.

In no particular order, list your top ten inspirations, even if they’re not musical:

The Countryside (especially in Scotland)
Universal spirituality (NOT religion!)
Old films (especially 70’s)
Watching the stars
Strange Chords which have no name
Paul and Linda McCartney’s RAM album (the greatest album ever released)
David Icke

What are your thoughts on the current status of the music industry?

Where the major labels are concerned - absolutely dismal. They’re not interested
in the art of songwriting anymore, it’s just a production line. They have ‘writing teams’ who can’t actually write proper melodies - they are incapable. It’s very ‘cliquey’ and the whole process is driven by money (obviously). They keep signing more of the same drivel, over and over again. Young singers are too easily influenced by other singers (their singing style) and have become copycats. Lack of originality in general. Style over substance in many cases.
And of course there are the TV talent shows and a particular mogul who has so much to answer for.
Technology and modern recording methods have also spoiled music production and have allowed people with no or minimal talent to make records.
It’s all like a dreadful cancer.
Creatively, Independent music is as healthy as ever, but in a sense has never been as so suffocated as it is now due to the dominance of Pop and RnB via the major platforms . So much fantastic music stays under the radar because the industry over-all is driven by money, power, style and politics.

I noticed on your site that you released your latest album “From Another Planet..” on Whimsical Records. What are your ties to the record label, if you wouldn’t mind explaining?

Started Whimsical in 1999 as a label for Emporium to release our music.
In 2005, following completion of the album ‘Silver Brainwaves’, I decided to develop the label by signing other acts, initially for singles deals. We also started a publishing business (Whimsical Songs) as well as a label servicing business (The Music Elevator) which comprises release co-ordination and promotion to media via subsidiary label Platform Records.
We’ve had some independent chart success in the UK and noticeable airplay and reviews with various bands and artists.

What’s the music scene like where you live in Scotland?

Pretty good, although Glasgow (Scotland’s biggest city) tends to dominate.
Scotland has always punched above it’s weight musically (within the UK) and there’s a rich creative pool of talent here. It’s frustrating too though, as traditionally acts have had to go to London to ‘make it’ via a major label. There are lots of independent labels here though and bands with ‘cult’ followings. Superb live venues and festivals - some of the best in the UK.
If Scotland gets independence (and I hope we do), then the music industry here will be forced to expand - have more of a ‘self contained’ business with improved infrastructure, then Scottish bands could make much more of an impression in Scotland initially (via tv/radio/charts) before venturing outside of their own country.

What would you hope people think about when they hear your music?

Evocative, planetary, beautiful, unexpected, dreamy, moving, uplifting, stirring, bizarre, intelligent, hypnotic, sumptuous and atmospheric.

Have you ever bought an album for its cover? Which one?

NEVER have, never would either.

What’s one place/venue in the world you’ve always wanted to play?

No-where in particular.

What’s your least favorite thing about being in a band?

The politics and closed mindedness of the industry which prevents the music
from reaching it’s full potential.

What’s your most favorite thing about being in a band?

Creating music and the escapism of it.

In your opinion, what’s the best way for a band to make $ these days?

Licensing their music (e.g to an advert, film or computer game).

If you could go back and change anything in your career, what would it be?

Wouldn’t change anything.

Do you feel like you sell more music online or at shows?

Haven’t recently played shows, so rely on online sales.

How do you feel about the new “facebook timeline”?

Don’t like it. They’ve gone and changed it for reasons which remain a mystery.
Makes it more difficult to navigate, and it’s particularly unpopular amongst musicians
I hear, for the purpose of e-commerce and building a fan-base.
Myspace destroyed their website for musicians a while back, and now Facebook. Maybe it’s deliberate? Who knows? If it aint broke, don’t fix it I say.

If you could interview any musical celebrity, alive or dead, who would it be?

Billy Mackenzie (the late lead singer of The Associates)

Who inspired you to sing?


Any advice to up and coming bands?
Be as original sounding as possible - try not to be heavily influenced by any particular
band or singer. Don’t EXPECT to ‘make it’ or to earn much money, regardless of how talented you actually are - as there exist obstacles of politics and bias which can put a stop to you having a thriving career.
Be in a band because you love music and genuinely believe in what you are creating. If you don’t then there’s no point, unless of course you are part of a money making machine which has nothing or little to do with the art of music, but that’s all so far removed from where I’m coming from with Emporium, I can’t identify with it.
Bottom line: Make music for YOURSELF to enjoy listening to (music that you would ideally like to hear) - then if anyone else likes it, it’s a bonus!

Do you all play in the band for a living?

No, we’ve all had other jobs in addition. For me, currently it’s Music Publishing and Promotion.

I noticed that you guys have known each other for a really long time, how did you meet your band mates?

When we started out, through other bands and adverts in music shop noticeboards.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I say “U.S.A.”?

Cheerleaders, that’s all. (No offence intended).
This is like Teenage Fanclub, They Might Be Giants, and The Beach Boys, and a sprinkle of the Pet Shop Boys. I really like it. The music sort of reminds of children’s television shows, but morose. I don't know if its my aforementioned love of Scottish indie that makes me like it (although I don't think that it would work if Mumford and Sons had Scottish accents). This is good well crafted indie pop, and much better than the artwork makes it look.