Scottish alt-rock miserablists The Twilight Sad have enough full studio albums under their belt to start turning towards compilations and rare track collections. The Oran Mor Session was of course recorded in the venue mentioned in the title, and finds the band in fine form attacking a number of tracks from their last album Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave. On Fatcat.
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I went down to see the Twilight Sad when they played in acoustic style at Jumbo records a few months ago. To my surprise my brother was in the crowd and afterwards he informed me that although he really likes them he did have concerns that they were a bit...well...you know.... a bit too Scottish. There's no getting away from in, the Twilight Sad are Scottish men.
Their last album 'Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave' is the ultimate grower. It reveals it's wares not after one listen but after about seven - you have to give it time. This album is one of those pleasant but non-essential things bands do between real albums. It's a document of the Twilight Sad playing at Òran Mór a popular arts and entertainment spot in Glasgow. As with that Jumbo show they've stripped the songs back and reworked them in acoustic style. What this reveals is that beneath the noise and mayhem the band are fantastic songwriters. James Graham's lyrics are full of bleak twists and turns and it's great to be able to hear his words above where a din is usually placed. Played quietly the songs take on a particularly Caledonian type of melancholy and if I'm tempted to write Del Amitri at this point then I hope you know I'm not meaning it as a diss.
Thing is, without the dynamics of the full band you just don't get the visceral thrill and the album passes by in a pleasant blur. Also other than a sweet cover of Arthur Russell's 'I Couldn't Say It To Your Face', long term fans will know all these songs off by heart so there's no real surprises. For the uninitiated, I'd start at one of their studio albums (they all have really long titles - can I bother to type them? Ok then ...either 'Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave' or 'Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters' ) before delving into this acoustic side.
But on a quiet night, when you are in a hut by Loch Lomond with only a crackly fire for company these songs are going to sound beyond perfect.
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