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More dour Scottish music

May 25, 2008

I’ve been on a major Malcolm Middleton kick since seeing him at the Hopetoun a few weeks back. Prior to the show, I only knew him as the guitar-playing half of the late, legendary miserabilists Arab Strap. While his solo material is less idiosyncratic (very few bands had a more distinct sound than the Strap), it’s got a lot of charm and humour.

Actually, Malcolm seems to relish the opportunities of self-deprecation and negativity. He didn’t smile much throughout the gig – and when you’re singing about death and heartbreak for an hour, that’s to be expected – but he cracked jokes throughout and you know he’s working a shtick as much as anything else. As he sings on “A Week Off”, “It’s easy hating yourself, it’s harder making it rhyme”.

His latest album, Sleight of Heart, is a bit of retreat from the full-band rock of last year’s A Brighter Beat, with mostly acoustic moodiness. In fact, it’s closer to his live show, which is just Malcolm, a guitar and an icebucket full of beer. The live show is pretty well documented on the limited edition Live at the Bush Hall, even if it was recorded a couple of years back. For a mix of jaunty melodies and scathing lyrics, it’s worth tracking down Malcolm’s albums or catching him live.

For now – here’s a taster.

Malcolm Middleton – “A Week Off”

Malcolm Middleton – “Break My Heart (live)”

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