Dumb Instrument. The Silent Beard. Roberto Cassani. Man Flu

A couple of idiosyncratic Scottish releases here which run the gamut from pauky, almost gallows, humour to broad pastiche. Dumb Instrument are an Ayrshire troupe who apply a wonderful kaleidoscopic background to Tom Murray’s defiantly Scots voice which veers more towards King Creosote than The Proclaimers. Deadpan, insouciant, Murray almost croons his way through the songs which capture the dogged, world worn, stoical and “get it up ye” spirit of the West of Scotland male. Be it the presumed perennial question of Buckfast Vs. Hash, The battle Continues with its lounge jazz louche or the song proposed by the Daily Record as an alternative anthem, Suffering From Scottishness, which has a glorious widespread musical vista with sweeping piano and winsome harmonica as Murray paints a picture as vivid and gritty as a James Kelman novel. Elsewhere Remember Now opens with a lengthy instrumental passage with some fine keening pedal steel and spritely mandolin before Murray launches into a portrait of a lustful lass in her finery. Jealous Of The Junkies transports Tom Waits to somewhere like Coatbridge ( and apologies to Coatbridge here, ’twas the first name that cropped up) while The Savoy Cabbage Murderer is an absurdist look at vegetarianism and No-One Knows what It’s Like To be Me stomps along like a Caledonian Harry Nilsson. A favourite of ours is the fairground themed Five against One but the real deal is on the heart rending Missing Grannies where Murray is supported by a female harmony on a tender and nostalgic window into the past, almost like an Oscar Marzaroli picture set to music. The Silent Beard is an album that reflects such luminaries as Michael Marra, Ivor Cutler and much of the Fence Collective. It’s drenched in a Scottishness that discards kailyard nonsense and joins forces with the current revaluation of the nation in a sense. Aside from that it’s a great listen.
Dumb Instrument are in Glasgow this Friday at Steampunk Cafe, Aug 7th : The Tron Kirk, Edinburgh while Dumb Instrument will jointly headline The Verb Tent at Belladrum on Saturday 9th August with Roberto Cassani and playwright Hamish MacDonald in a Show called ‘Not The Referendum’. On Stage at 11.30pm.

In contrast Roberto Casssani & The Tickety Two are a much more one dimensional act with their tongue set firmly in their cheek. Cassani plays double bass and is joined by the ubermeister of Scottish guitar licks, Owen Nicholson with Dave Clelland on drums. Cassani writes comic songs, singing with an Italian accent while the trio as a whole are spot on with the music. No slouch on double bass himself Cassani surely won’t mind us pointing out that Nicholson’s guitar parts are the bees knees as he vamps, riffs, plucks and grooves in the manner of the best jazz guitarists. The trio set up makes for some fine listening and Cassani’s humour reminds one of the great late Slim Gaillard with a dash of Louis Prima although the ghost of Joe Dolce threatens to appear on some of the more pronounced Italian parodies. The humour is broad based, think of seaside postcards as they were celebrated by George Orwell, but a few of the songs hit the mark with Office Christmas Party in particular already lined up for this year’s festive celebrations. It’s probably best to view the disc as a fine souvenir for anyone who enjoyed a live show from this combo.

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