Play: Burnt Island - Music and Maths
Burnt Island are a Glasgow indie darling's dream band. From working with the Chemikal Underground label to forthcoming support from Aidan Moffat, they've checked enough cool points to chill every rum and coke poured in Sleazy's on a Friday night.
Luckily for them, and us, there's substance and musical merit there too.
While their sound has shades of The Delgados or even wistful Americans Midlake, it's the songwriting that sets them apart, no doubt aided by the fact that they're fronted by novelist-cum- guitarist Rodge Glass.
"The band started out from when I did a song with Vashti Bunyan called 'The Fire' on Ballads of the Book, an album put out by Chemikal Underground a couple of years ago", he explains. "I am mostly known as a writer and Vashti used one of my poems as the lyrics for the song, but when she invited me to play guitar and do some harmonies on the song I really enjoyed the experience and wanted to put a quiet band together."
Originally published in the Under the Radar blog
The music is as understated as their sleepy seaside namesake (think soft plucky guitars, delicate flute licks and demure viola), creating a perfect backdrop for Glass's engaging lyrics and warm vocal tone.
Unsurprisingly, Glass's literary background is key to the way the songs take shape and helps explain why Burnt Island make the ideal accompaniment to a Sunday afternoon curled up with a good book. He cites poetic predecessors Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan as influences, as well as brooding indie-rock outfit The National.
"The core of our songs are the lyrics, and we build everything outwards from there. So that affects the arrangement, the harmonies, the instruments chosen for each song - everything," Glass says. "I like the songs to be ambiguous enough for listeners to have some gaps to fill in for themselves, but rich enough in imagery to have something worth listening carefully to."
To mark the release of their mini-album Music and Maths on the 15th of March, the band are set to take off on a mini-tour beginning on the 7th at Mono.
"After the launch we're doing an acoustic set at Glasgow's Book Festival the night before and playing with Emma Pollock and Josh Pyke at Tut's on March 19th. Then there's a couple of dates in Edinburgh shortly after, one at the Roxy Art House with Kays Lavelle, Alan Bissett and Adam Stafford.
"Does that count as a world tour?" Glass asks.
"Not quite," we reply. But here's hoping the Burnt Islanders catch fire outside Scotland soon.
Watch Burnt Island live at the following dates:
6 March: Aye Write Festival (Gutter Showcase) @ Mitchell Library, Glasgow (Rodge solo)
7 March: Album launch at Mono, Glasgow (with Aidan Moffat, the Second Hand Marching Band and Benni Hemm Hemm)
19 March: King Tut's, Glasgow (supporting Emma Pollock)
24 March: The Forest Caf, Edinburgh
26 March: Roxy Art House, Edinburgh (with Alan Bissett, Adam Stafford and The Kays Lavelle)