Catching Up with Colin Clyne
One of the biggest success stories to emerge from San Diego’s singer-songwriter scene over the past decade? Colin Clyne. Though originally from and now, once again based back in his native Scotland, Clyne spent a decade in San Diego, touring and emerging as a major talent, releasing his first two albums, and scoring San Diego Music Award trophies for Best Acoustic Performer in both 2011 and 2012.
Heading back to Scotland in 2013, things have since only ramped up for Clyne. In 2014, his album, The Never Ending Pageant, hit #6 in the UK country album charts, meanwhile he now has a backing band, the Carrons, for select gigs.
In California Clyne’s music was often considered folk or singer-songwriter, due to his Scottish roots, some even called it world music. Meanwhile, in Europe, Clyne’s tunes are considered Americana. “Honestly, people still struggle to put a label on my music,” he laughed. “It was easy to get the folky, Celtic thing in the US because I sing with a Scottish accent and play an acoustic guitar. In the UK I guess it’s received as folky/ Americana / rootsy with a Scottish accent. The sound is usually dictated by the direction of the songs.” Playing full band shows adds a new dimension to Clynes tunes. “I do enjoy playing with the band (Colin Clyne and the Carrons) but I also love playing solo. I’ll continue to do both. It may appear the same but from a solo point of view I connect with myself much better. As a band you are connecting with others and trying to create a collective energy.” The Carrons are named after the river Carron that runs through Clyne’s hometown of Stonehaven.
While he’s happy to be back in Scotland, there are lots of things he misses about his time in San Diego. “ Our friends. The weather. The breweries. Hanging with Alan Sanderson. The music scene and its people. Walking the trails of Torrey Pines with my man Peter Seltser. Causing havoc in the Gaslamp. Everything, really,” he mused. Have his experiences in San Diego made it into his songs? “Of course. I lived there for a decade, although nothing’s really been name checked as such. I usually have a running pot of approximately 30 songs and my current batch of new songs have a few references. Mostly the political ones!”
Fans will have to be patient to hear new recordings. “I’ve still a bit of promoting to do with Pageant,” he explained. “I wanted to actively push that till next summer. However, I’m writing, collecting, arranging all the time. We’ll see how the song pot is looking sometime next year. I’ve also just been invited to join a songwriting guild with the potential for writing songs for more established major label acts, we’ll see how that pans out.”
In the meantime, Clyne will be touring Ireland in February opening for eighties hitmakers Big Country. Any chance of a return to California? “Man, I hope so. Watch this space.” www.colinclyne.com
Question of the Month:Does your pet influence or affect your music?
Al Chan / The Rubinoos: “Yes, his name is Mojo and he is instrumental in keeping me going in music. He’s quite a happy dog, and therefore I’m a happy person!”
Jim Ryan / The Cardiac Kidz: “My dog Ringo is part Boxer and short hair Ridgeback. As far as influencing my music directly no, but every time I call him I’m brought back into remembrance of my musical roots…. the Beatles!”
Lety Beers / Schizophonics: “We have a dachshund, named Beanie. She is definitely the band mascot. She usually watches Pat practice in the living room. We really want to find a way to tour with her. She’s so little and low maintenance.”
Joey Harris / The Mentals: “For a while we had cats that could not resist leaving their mark on every amplifier and guitar I ever brought into the house. I suppose the aggravation might have led to some darker lyrical ideas. I have a song called “She Put His Head on a Stick and Now He Always Looks Surprised” that I wrote when we had those cats. Also I wrote a song called “Ridin’“ about a very sweet girlfriend who used to take me horseback riding.”
Scott Mathiasen / The Shifty Eyed Dogs: “I do have a pet… yes. His name is Homer and he is a pit bull-German Shephard mix. I wouldn’t say my pet influenced me musically, as he quit playing the Jews harp years ago. But he keeps me in a good frame of mind both in life and in creative endeavors.”
Lindsay Matheson / Flaggs: “I have a 12-year-old pitbull. I haven’t yet written a song about her but she’s by my feet and listening anytime I’m down in my studio recording. I like to think of her more as my main engineer she approves and vetoes my demos. You may even hear her collar jingle faintly in the background of some of my recordings.”
Dave Humphries: “[I’ve written a tune called] “These Eyes,” now the official song of Friends of Cats.” Noting the name of his beloved cat, Teddy Boy: “Oh, and the Paul [McCartney] song “Teddy Boy,” of course (is where his name came from).”
Donna Larsen: “Our 11-year-old Akita-Shepherd mix, Goldie, is my biggest moral supporter! She comes out to lie across from me during practice and gives me her good vibes!! She is my little angel! Her tastes lean toward mellow, and she hides when the band rehearses! I do consider myself lucky. She’s never howled and run. In my Childrens’ Picture Songbook I have a song about two dogs called “Little Ditto Doggie” and about his furry friend, Fred.”
Blaise Guld: “Yes and definitely. I have a female pug named Greta. I got her when my ex girlfriend and I were still together. Now we have joint custody. She helps with my anxiety, reacts to certain things I play (everyone’s a critic) and has even made a weird noise that inspired a melody I wrote.”
Joe Macaskill / Pony Death Ride: “Yes, we have two cats and we’re writing a whole album about them. Okay, cats in general, I guess. But if we don’t have cats we don’t have a cat album!”
Deborah Gee / The Cherry Bluestorms: “Our pet parrot Winston handles our website and is our main in house interviewer. Sometimes his insight into our music is so astute that it makes us consider our music in a new light. On the other hand sometimes he just poops on Glen’s shoulder and says ‘that’s good stuff.’ I have a wee video of him saying that.”
Lando Martinez / Hocus: “Hocus is named after my cat that we brought back from England. He was a tough old tom cat that took no crap from humans, dogs and other animals. During his 16 years of living, he was frozen, ran over by a car, lost in the woods of Missouri for three months, raised a chocolate lab with no issues. He would come home from his nightly adventures with cat claws in his head, torn ears, missing teeth, and even made a car full of Cholos wait for him to cross the street. The lowrider car was driving down the street and they saw Hocus crossing and they stopped and they are yelling, ‘Andale Gato,’ and he took his time crossing. His perseverance in life that he did what he wanted no matter what odds were thrown at him that he will succeed. Which even though he was a cat he taught me to stick to my guns and keep rock over any obstacles that have faced me.”
Huntertones – s/t
Love it! From Brooklyn comes an instrumental, horn driven Jazz / R&B / funk six track monster. There are really good songs here, such as “Song For Arthur,” which injects some sweet soul to the proceedings, including some nice lead guitar work from Joshua Hill, setting up some great counter melodies against the brashness of the horns. The albums masterpiece though is “The Gwiz,” penned by trombonist Chris Ott, which combines a lyrical song hook taken up by the various instruments and set against Hill’s ace guitar and inspired song segments – seriously, check the band and fluid run of guitar notes that runs 3:38 – 4:18 and then note how sparse the next song section is featuring just trumpet, trombone and sax. So good it could be a standard.
The only complaint here might be that there are only six songs, though they do range all the way up to the 9:46 “Welcome To The Neighborhood.”That said, there is no filler here, each tune is solid, with really great arrangements that, yes, remind me at times of prime era Chicago or Steely Dan, though funkier. Jazz fans are gonna love every note of this release, but so will anyone who appreciates funk, soul or really good music.
Produced by White, Lampley, Ott. Recorded at Vital Studios, Columbus, Ohio and Benny’s Wash ‘n’ Dry, Brooklyn New York. Engineered by Fred Blitzer, Mike Landlot, John Huibbell. Mixed by Bassy Bob. Mastered by Dave Darlington, One Bass hit , New York. www.huntertones.com
Astra Kelly – Back to Ten (Rockaway Records)
One of the things I love about the San Diego music scene is it’s collaborative nature and nowhere is that better exemplified than singer-songwriter Astra Kelly’s latest album. The 11 tracks here feature an impressive list of artists, each guesting on a track, including Gayle Skidmore, Podunk Nowhere, Jeff Berkley, Marta Z, Simeon Flick, Trent Hancock, Carissa Schroeder, Matt Davies and Cathryn Beeks. It’s a solid collection of acoustic guitar based tunes, only one of which, “Lullaby Lady,” would be classified as Americana – complete with Jeff Berkley on banjo amongst other instruments – the rest falling squarely into singer-songwriter territory. Even with such a large and varied cast, it’s a cohesive disc. The obvious single here would be “Drive,” a nice mid-tempo rocker that fits Kelly’s vocal like a glove, topped by a sweet sing-a-long chorus. On a more melancholy tip, “Touch ‘n’ Go” is also striking, featuring Johnny Janiga’s shuffling guitar and Heather Janiga’s harmony vocals, its sparse arrangement part of the songs appeal – it’s really about the vocal melody and Kelly delivers. All the songs here are of high quality, but the five co-writes here with Carissa Schroeder, including all the ones I’ve mentioned, have a particular spark. Top grade.
Produced by Astra Kelly. Co-produced, recorded, mixed and masterd by Josh Mallit at Rarified Recording, San Diego, CA. Graphic design by Arin Winkler. Photo by Sarah B. www.astrakelly.com
Nine tracks mixing piano based jazz, hip-hop, indie pop and spoken word. The single here is the jaunty album closer “Wash,” which swerves between two different time signatures, making for a striking tune that lines up modern jazz against a touch of indie pop. Also good are the torch songs, such as “Yello Hazy,” tunes full of nightclub atmosphere and in this particular song, a nifty keyboard solo at 2:03 that elevates the whole song through it’s Tom Waits-ish outro. Also good is “Delta,” which is a near rock number that shifts it’s tempo, one of the tricks in Kiravell’s arsenal that point to what a good composer she is. This is a good Sunday morning record, with a contemplative feel, most evident in Kiravell’s hypnotic piano playing.
Produced by Meniyka Kiravell. www.kiravellmusic.com
The Lemon Clocks: – Time To Fly (JAM/Lemon 002)
Jangly, Psychedelic, Chiming Rickenbacher’s, Garage Rock from this trio which includes powerpop hero Jeremy Morris, Todd Borsch and Stefan Johansson, all of whom share guitar, bass, keyboard and vocals duties. This is definitely a kitchen sink release, with no sonic trick missed, and plenty of creative use of reverb, echo and space age sounds to match the hooks on the songs. You get 15 tracks here, the dense general sound heavy on the jangle and evoking a mid sixties blend of Byrds, Seeds, Monkees, Pretty Things, Moving Sidewalks, The Who and so on – more modern minded folks might find sonic parallels with later Husker Du or perhaps a more garage oriented take on the Church. There is some stellar guitar work here, with tracks generally in the pop single time range, though the closing “End of the Beginning” comes in at 15:07. This all hook filled material, but my favorites are the harder edged garage numbers such as “Time To Fly,” based around a repetitive fuzz guitar riff that recalls the Moving Sidewalks. That said, the albums clear single is “Finally Found Our Home” which takes a Who inspired riff and give it a nice melodic spin at 1:35 – it’s great, classic sounding powerpop and I especially love the electronic flourishes that come in around 2:24, catchy stuff. If you’ve liked other Lemon Clocks recordings, you’ll like this one as well, but anyone who enjoys sixties influenced music will find this a really good album worth repeated listens. Definitely deserving of shelf space. http://www.jamrecordings.com
Lee Micheals – Heighty Hi (Manifesto 45809)
The perfect introduction to Micheals music. Playing a range of organ / piano based tunes, ranging from R&B driven to pop, these days Micheals is only remembered for his mega hit, “Do You Know What I Mean” (#6, 1971) though his version of “Can I Get A Witness” was also a minor chart contender (#39, 1971). That’s a shame, because as this comp effortlessly shows, Micheals was a heck of a player. This 20 track collection is a sampler for a more expansive seven CD box set, but is an excellent taster, collecting singles and key album tracks from his stint on A&M Records, 1968-1971. Fans of classic rock, especially early 70’s Elton, Dr. John etc will find this album a must. www.manifesto.com
Mod Hippie / Tomorrow Then (Karma Frog 0631) :
It’s all right there in the group’s name, but in case there is any doubt, the picture of a Vespa on the cover, confirms it – this album is sixties influenced. I hear the sounds of post ‘67 San Francisco and everyone from the Turtles to Simon & Garfunkel in the influences, but that’s just for starters – this is a disc that reveals new things with every listen, pop in the best sense of the word, with earworms a-plenty. The album is based around the nucleus of guitarists Doug McGuire and Connor Claxton, bassist Teresa Cowles (who can be seen in the film, Love and Mercy as bassist Carole Kaye) and drummer with Eric Negrete, Adam Marsland (who also handles production), Matt Zook, Gil D’Orange, Janette Neumann and Probyn Gregory (Brian Wilson Band) filling out the ranks. My favorite here is “Shimmering Sound,” a harpsichord backed hypnotic tune set to a loping beat, with wonderful harmonies, all topped by the Theremin work of Mr. Gregory. Makes me think of a blend of the Zombies and Turtles. The album is worth adding to your collection right there. But that’s just for starters. To my ears, the probable actual single here is garage rocker, “Captain Invincible” with McGuire and Cowles vocals well matched and a nice and properly fuzzed out guitar solo from Claxton (at 3:10). It’s worth noting how great the harmonies sound across the board (but check “Reality Place”), the whole disc in fact sounds superb – there’s a lot going on here and it’s all crystal clear. Also really good is “Your Heart, New Heart” a storming rocker with eaqual parts jangles and circular buzz saw guitar riff, but what I love most is the little bridge they sneak in at 2:41 – nine seconds that prove what good songwriters and arrangers this crew is. Meanwhile, “Easy Way Out,” reminds me a bit of a just post Denny Laine Moody Blues or a frantic early ELO – great stuff. Very Recommended.
Produced, engineered and photography by Adam Marsland at Karma Frog Studios, Reseda California. Mastered by Earle Mankey at the Psychedelic Shack. Art and Design by Greg Matecko. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tomorrow-then/id1048779526
Jimmy Ruelas – Charlebois
Eleven tracks of top flight blues, glam and Americana tinged rock ‘n’ roll, split between terrific rocker, such as “Ennui,” and ballads such as the piano backed album closer, “Smoke Your Youth (Charlebois)” which brings to mind vintage Bolan/Bowie. There is a sonic range to the disc as well, mixing up the usual rock band line up with a nice cello accompaniment to the ballad, “Pony.” The key to this disc is the songs and Ruelas has plenty of gems. “Ennui” is my favorite of the rockers, coming across like a lost Rockpile classic. It’s a hard call, but the single here is “Climbing”, a terrific glam/powerpop tinged stomper that’s all melody and custom made for radio, a really good song. The album would be essential listening on those two tracks alone
Written and Produced by Jimmy Ruelas. Co produced, engineered, mixed by: Ben Hasdovic. Recorded at Studio West. Mastered by Brad Blackwood / Euphonic Mastering. Additional Engineering Alec Moore, Daniel Bourget. www.facebook.com/jimmyruelasmusic
Various Artists – David Gilmour & Friends (Mojo)
Music fans should be sure to check out Mojo Magazine’s free compilation CD’s that come with each issue. Some are merely very good themed collections – such as the recent, My Generation, disc with the W ho on the cover and rare tracks from The Artwoods, John’s Children etc. Other comps, such as this David Gilmour inspired collection (and recent similar Paul Weller discs) are actually welcome additions to the artists discography. This one collects a few collaborators (Crosby & Nash), bands inspired by Gilmour’s work (Ozric Tentacles), but more importantly gathers together a number of his guest appearances on other’s recordings, with tracks from The Pretty Things, Ben Watt, Robert Wyatt and more. Top it off with an exclusive version of the Beatles classic, “Here, There and Everywhere” by Gilmour himself, alongside his son, and you have an album that’s essential for any Gilmour or Pink Floyd fan, and an engaging listen for any rock fan. In San Diego I recommend Paras Newsstand on 30th St or Hillcrest News on University near Sixth. www.mojo4music.com