Scottish artist Malcome Middleton, of indie outfit Arab Strap, takes to the Róisín Dubh stage on February 3rd, 2019, with free entry to John Conneely Inc. after the gig.
‘Doubt wrapped in battered, shining beauty’ The Guardian
“Second album syndrome must be nothing to overcome when your debut was named 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine. You will be relieved to hear that his upcoming record requires neither excellent short-term memory to remember the title, nor happy pills to appreciate. Into The Woods is, in short, a slightly cynical yet never discouraging tour-de-force of pop; an undeniably strong record brought into being with a rare eye for detail and Malcolm’s careful arrangement.
As you might expect, the genesis of this record owes itself to a tale of woe. ‘Things all came to a head for me in 2001 when Arab Strap finished touring The Red Thread album. My life fell apart for the better and I didn’t leave the house for 6 months. I wrote songs for comfort and to wallow in for a while’. Still, this is the man who once said ‘Arab Strap’s the thing I do with Aidan that accidentally got us noticed one day’. Luckily, when Chemikal Underground got nose of Malcolm’s songs they were somewhat more enthusiastic, and the end result this time is Into The Woods.
Still, this is not quite the album you might be anticipating so far. ‘I tried to do something more positive’ explains Malcolm. Try – and succeed – he did. Opener Break My Heart laments and soothes with a single stroke (‘I wanted the record to sound like Pacific Ocean Blue by Dennis Wilson. I failed. I think you can hear the influence here though’) whilst double a-side single Loneliness Shines and No Modest Bear rock and skip together hand in hand. A Happy Medium must be the first cheesy-grin floor-filler to feature the refrain ‘Woke up again today / Realised I hate myself’. That the album comes full circle into bluegrass-stomp A New Heart offers a kind of resolution and chipper note to leave you on your way.
Of the title, Malcolm says ‘The album was originally going to be called ‘The Great Bear’ because of all the bear references. Don’t ask. I wasn’t that keen on it though and when I started thinking about artwork etc the same image kept coming into my head: a boy walking along a path into a forest. Then the whole concept of images came together and the name stuck.’
Despite claiming that ‘I think I’ll need to quit working in music in order to enjoy it again’, it’s not stopped the good and great of the Scottish music scene wanting to team up with him. There are notable appearances across the record from members of Mogwai (Stuart Braithwaite and Barry Burns), Delgados’ Paul Savage and Alan Barr, The Reindeer Section’s Jenny Reeve and fellow Strapper Aidan Moffat.
Some of these cast members might even find themselves thrust in front of a live audience soon, with Malcolm proclaiming ‘I’m trying to get a band together at the minute, bass and drums and piano, all stolen from the Delgados. I’ll still be doing acoustic gigs as well’.
With one eye on the future and an album as strong as this under his belt, Malcolm feels he’s turned a corner in more ways than one. ‘Life is great right now. I’ll soon be complaining that I’ve nothing to complain about’. As long as this turn of happiness doesn’t clog his creative cogs, we’re more than pleased for the guy.”