Under the radar - 28/11/2011

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Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon report on the latest from Scotland’s underground music scene

LAST year The Little Kicks (www.thelittlekicks.co.uk) frontman Steven Milne provided our track of the month with a song from his solo project, and now returns to the slot with his band.

The Aberdonian four-piece release their eponymous album today and manage to blend the 1980s Scottish pop sound of Orange Juice, Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole with some neat synth lines and a contemporary twist.

Having just completed a UK tour, The Little Kicks are currently deciding which song to release as a single and have the luxury of several equally deserving candidates. Apparently they have ruled out Do Something New, but as it is one of our favourites we have plucked it out as our track of the month. The Little Kicks will be among the acts supporting The View at Aberdeen’s AECC on Hogmanay, while fellow Dundonians The Mirror Trap will accompany them on tour from 17-20 December. They have just released their debut album, The Last Great Melodrama, and have a DIY video to accompany it (http://youtu.be/i5G2jPhJ6iw).

Click here to download ‘Do Something New’ by The Little Kicks, which is our track of the month

Over the years Belle & Sebastian have proved a creative springboard for some great female artists, notably Isobel Campbell and her namesake, Camera Obscura frontwoman Tracyanne. Now it looks like another member of the colossal clan could be on course to have her profile boosted.

Claire Campbell, who records as Abagail Grey (www.abagailgrey.com), is due to release the seasonally titled tracks Icicles and Winter on 5 December. Co-produced by Belle & Sebastian keyboard player Chris Geddes, they boast a folk-pop quality, which in the case of the latter is enhanced by the type of string interlude usually found on 1970s disco recordings.

Also worth looking out for is Donna Maciocia (www.moochacha.net), who recently sold out Edinburgh’s Sneaky Pete’s for the launch of her debut solo EP Fists At The Sky. The multi-instrumentalist singer previously fronted the band Amplifico, and has recorded with the likes of KT Tunstall and Aberfeldy. Combining an individual and witty lyrical approach with some great tunes, she is definitely worth looking out for in the coming year.

Former track of the month providers, Homework and Withered Hand, are due to wow Belgian audiences on 17 December as part of the new music showcase event hosted in Ghent. Organisers had originally been looking for Glasgow acts to underscore its UNESCO City of Music Status. However, in the end they opted for acts respectively hailing from the Highlands and Edinburgh.

Organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay are again offering emerging acts the chance to perform at the capital’s Street Party. Perhaps as a result of some controversy over last year’s Hog The Stage decision by judges, the winner will be decided by the general public, with acts competing in a ‘busk-off’ on 3 and 4 December. Whoever has the most money in their guitar case from busking in the streets will share a bill with Primal Scream, with proceeds going to charity. For more information visit www.hogthestreet.com

Although the number of job opportunities at record companies and in the overall industry has declined in the past decade, the number of music business courses offered by universities and colleges appears to have mushroomed. For those keen to learn and gain a qualification without paying the salaries of career academics, Edinburgh’s Academy of Music & Sound has launched a six-month apprenticeship which offers hands-on experience in many key areas. Some places are still left and anybody interested should contact Edinburgh@academyofmusic.ac.uk by the end of the week.

• Olaf Furniss and Derick Mackinnon host the music business social night Born To Be Wide. The next event is on Thursday at Electric Circus in Edinburgh, and features a seminar focusing on all you need to know about going into the studio. Find out more at www.borntobewide.co.uk