Broken Chanter, Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh ***
MacGregor will be most well-known to fans of Scottish indie-pop of recent times as the lead singer of indie-pop powerhouse Kid Canaveral, who have built a cottage career of high quality and much love from their loyal band of fans over the last decade. A mainstay of Johnny ‘Pictish Trail’ Lynch’s Eigg-based Lost Map label, KC have gone on temporary hiatus at the request of MacGregor’s songwriting partner Kate Lazda; a break during which MacGregor’s own travels in the Highlands and on the Isle of Skye saw him write this more folk-influenced suite of songs.
One of the elements which resonates most clearly throughout this short but well-formed set, however, was MacGregor’s continuing ability with a shining pop chorus. He writes inescapably catchy music, and not even a band make-up which was somewhat altered from that of Kid Canaveral could disguise that; the five-piece – which included sometime Hector Bizerk drummer Audrey Tait, who played on Broken Chanter’s original recordings in Co. Donegal – made use of fiddle throughout.
There’s a definite poignancy to the wistful Should We Be Dancing, a rolling anthem of too much drink on late night dates (it’s an unofficial tribute, says MacGregor, to Calton Road’s former Pivo bar), yet Wholesale bore a moody, synthesised drive and there’s an epic rock feeling to Free Psalm. MacGregor, bearded and plaid-shirted, appears to be moving his own sound away from the rustic authenticity of the landscape in which he created it and more towards the poignant electro-futurist folk of John Grant.