Valentines Day. Ugh. Bah love bug. Unless your ticker’s been recently impaled by Cupid’s arrow, the chances are you’ve either forgotten about it or tried your hardest to forget about it. It’s the only day of the year where you can declare your undying love for someone with an anonymous letter without getting hauled up in court. It also happens to be one of the few days Hallmark execs can justify a Dom Perignon-soused breakfast.
Who says romance is dead? Well, we do. Seeing as we live in the era of Tinder and Plenty of Fish, it’s clear the love bug pretty much popped its clogs at the same time as another beastie; the Millennium one.
Anyway, there’s plenty of musical goings on this month that you’ll no doubt fall head over heels for, which’ll probably help alleviate the fact your Valentines Day’s got a bigger chance of seeing a reformed Guns N’ Roses than any actual form of roses (ie not Axl’s tribute act). Trust us, that’s not happening.
Speaking of being solo, there’s a litter of excellent, singular artists dotted around the country this month. There’s the pensive Algernon Doll supporting the hard-pressed bunch that are Circa Waves (13 Feb, Tuts), the shadowy banjo hymns of northerner Dr Wook as he opens for Paper Aeroplanes at Inverness’ Ironworks (20 Feb), and a Glad Cafe double bill of Caleb Major – who launches his debut EP – and the precious, autumnal chants of Glasgow-based songstress Ela Orleans (18 Feb and 23 Feb respectively).
As February opens on the 1st, it’s either knuckle-raps, rib-cracks or neu-rap, with The Amazing Snakeheads at Broadcast, Jamie Scott (one half of Conquering Animal Sound) launching his new hip-hop venture MC Almond Milk (and subsequent LP PC World Music) at the Glad Cafe, while over at Stereo one of the most exciting releases this year, the album Dead from native trio Young Fathers, will finally be unsealed.
Born To Be Wide celebrates its tenth birthday at Electric Circus (6 Feb), with a retrospective gaze back with eminent DJs on their favourite Scottish records of the last decade, as well as Vic Galloway (BBC Radio), David Balfour (Record of the Day) and Dave Corbet (DF Concerts) divulging their knowledge on the music industry.
If you want to get in early with a Valentines present but are financially fettered, a spontaneous trip up to the Cairngorms won’t make the paper in your wallet disappear faster than a Brazilian lumberjack could manage. The Last September (6 Feb) and The Katet (13 Feb) play at the Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore, and you can do no wrong with spectacular views, fresh air and a brilliant, homely bar, venue and lodge hybrid, which also feeds and waters revellers, all for reasonable rates.
In Glasgow, PAWS will hurl out much of their new album Youth Culture Forever at Mono (7 Feb), and Young Aviators will headline Broadcast, a gig where Lost Map Records promising newbies Tuff Love support. Their Junk EP will be released shortly, and is evidence that you’d do very well to arrive considerably early at the venue.
On the same night across the way in Edinburgh and Stirling, Little Comets play Cabaret Voltaire, and The Winter Tradition take things down a notch at the Tolbooth, having plied their trade at King Tuts the night previous.
Over the weekend beginning 8 February, The Glad Cafe are hosting The Glasgow Pop!South All Day-And-A-Halfer, with acts more bubbly than a Tory MP’s stomach at an Eton mansion party. The Spook School, A New International and the lovable TeenCanteen are all set to turn up, among others, with weekend tickets available for £14.
If jangly beats fail to get your heart racing, you could always head down to the 13th Note, where on the same night Glasgow rapper Loki will deliver arterial jet sprays of politically charged lyrics, on a massive bill also including Werd, Snow, Spee 69, Kritikal, and Subkonsious (and many more hip-hop artists with homegrown brogues).
MILK clearly share the same (lack of) sentiment as this column, and their annual Anti-Valentines bonanza wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the invention of the electric guitar and lo-fi recording equipment, with Honeyblood, Secret Motorbikes and The Yawns all handpicked to play (12 Feb). If none of those acts tickle your pickle, there’s Carnivores to chow down on across Bath street at Bloc, which promises to be as romantic as a winch in a skip. Carnivores are known to make as much noise as possible, which means you’ll struggle to hear your soulmate ask you to pass the pepper, so best skip the planned romantic 2-4-1 Bloc pizza that night.
Top grade experimental electronica will be flung your way if you head over to the Old Hairdressers on 13 February, as Machines In Heaven will excitedly showcase material from their upcoming album bordersbreakdown.
The dreaded day itself can be softened by Kid Canaveral‘s Lumber Party at Stereo, where the band will do their very best not to remind you of your letterbox’s awful silence by dishing out free digital copies of their new single ‘Who Would Want To Be Loved?’ with each ticket. Not only that, but they’ll inform you a pink heart-shaped version of it is available at the show too. Malcolm Middleton and the glorious Randolph’s Leap will be accompanying the band (also in physical form).
There’s a Clutha fundraiser at the Barrowlands on 15 February featuring Frightened Rabbit and Big Country, and the emerging FOREIGNFOX launch their debut EP We Float Like Sinking Ships in Dunfermline the same night, with support from Hector Bizerk and Friends In America.
Back over at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow, there’s the Sunshine Social (15 Feb), and Alasdair Roberts‘ folk supergroup The Furrow Collective on 22 February. Two days previous, Stirling’s Tolbooth will also host folky musings, with McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle (20 Feb), while there’s slacker vocals and ‘surf and tough’ hooks abound in Stereo as Deathcats support Drenge and TRAAMS (22 Feb).
After having successfully raised – through Kickstarter – over £4500 to head over to SXSW, Edinburgh’s Meursault will play a couple of gigs to return their gratitude, first at The Haven Café, Newhaven (21 Feb) and then at secret venues on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile (23-24 Feb).
Finally, as a singleton, at least you’ll be able to boast to your friends that February did indeed include one bout of Casual Sex (just make sure to leave out the part it was actually the Glasgow group playing at the Electric Circus on the 28th, the one you spent 90% of standing at the back crying into your 7Up).
Though remember, there’s nothing wrong with being alone and heartbroken. Most of the music ever to exist wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for some heartache. Just try to not look too embarrassed when you lock eyes with the postman, as he hands over your sea-shell-decorated self-sent Valentines Day envelope. After all, it could be worse… He may have had to personally deliver his own letter.
And for all your lovebirds, just think, when you scribble down the declaration of your eternal endearment, when you hand over that mixtape of your spouse’s favourite songs, or when you empty your bank account for the gift they just ‘had’ to have, remember you’re actually celebrating the death of an 1800 year old imprisoned Bishop who spent his last waking hours in excruciating pain due to intense and horrific torture.
Not so romantic now is it?
Photograph by sarahluv