With song titles including ‘Scottish Grief’ and ‘Last of the Heroin’, it won’t come as a great surprise to learn that Caught in the Wake Forever (CitWF) is actually the debut solo album of Small Town Boredom’s Fraser McGowan.
Having turned his attention to his solo project in 2010, this summer has seen the release of his first full-length record, titled ‘Against a Simple Wooden Cross’, which was recorded and mastered in its entirety at McGowan’s home and released by Hibernate Records.
“I did everything myself - I have an attic conversion in my flat, my studio is up there,” McGowan tells us. “It was all recorded there using computers, 8-tracks, dictaphones and assortments of semi functioning gear. I did send the album away to get mastered but I wasn’t happy with the result so I just re-did it myself.”
While he’s certainly not a man renowned for light-hearted indie pop hits, the Paisley native has worked tirelessly to craft something deeply personal but at the same time accessible and strangely uplifting, given its subject matter.
“There are a few themes running through the record. A main one I suppose is loss, both relationships and loss of identity. Also alienation from proper working society - you try so hard but you just don’t seem to fit”, he explains.
“Also there is the theme of addiction in a few songs. Another main one is mental health problems and my disappointment and disgust at the NHS and other government-funded services available for people – it’s very much feed you full of pills to keep you quiet”, McGowan says.
It was this battle and dissatisfaction with the health services that fuelled the record, allowing McGowan to draw on extreme life experiences while also working to give back to those who made a difference – all the profits from the album will be going to Erskine-based mental health charity Crisis Counselling.
“They are a charity, most of the staff are volunteers and you basically pay what you can afford. They are a total life saver for not just me but for many people, but they are struggling financially with lack of funding, so raising a couple of hundred pounds with this CD is my way of paying something back”, McGowan says.
The record itself is every bit as fascinating as the story which spawned its birth, leaving the overall impression of a mixture between later Small Town Boredom vocal work and subject matter combined with the more heavily electronica-influenced tracks originally produced under the CitWF moniker.
Against a Simple Wooden Cross is all about the narrative of the album; these are not random songs to be consumed in any order, or one at a time, but a collection of stories, emotions and experiences to be digested whole.
The most striking aspect of the work is not that it was made entirely at home, or even the back story to how it came about. It stands tall as a remarkable debut record because it engages the listener on a one-to-one basis, like a fascinating stranger telling you their life story in a pub. You don’t dare get up to leave, even if you’re running late.
• Keep up to date with CitWF at www.caughtinthewakeforever.com, listen to more songs on Bandcamp, buy the record at www.hibernate-recs.co.uk and find out more about the charity at www.crisiscounselling.co.uk
• Small Town Boredom featured on Radar (2009)
RADAR: SHOWCASING THE BEST NEW MUSIC IN SCOTLAND
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