Monday, 31 January 2011

Long Fin Killie

Hello, I'm a new writer for the Punch Table. I'm Edwin, and I have my own blog at Most People Are DJs which focuses on my weekly radio show. I, like Toby, love indiepop, but I also like noisier stuff too, which I guess I'll be posting more of for balance. In that spirit, here's my first band feature: Long Fin Killie.

The new Mogwai record has a guest vocal (on 'Mexican Grand Prix') from Luke Sutherland. It's not the first time he's collaborated with Mogwai; he's from the same Glasgow scene and played violin on some of their previous records. But although he's probably most heard (if not recognised) for his Mogwai stuff, he's also a brilliant songwriter and musician in his own right.

Sutherland's first band was Long Fin Killie, who released 3 albums and a few EPs and singles on Too Pure around the end of the nineties. They're fantastic records, with a clear sense of progress between each (carrying on into Sutherland's more recent trip-hoppy stuff with Bows). LFK play a mixture of taut, nervy, mathy post-punk and more atmospheric and repetitive pieces, especially on the earlier albums, and their third, Amelia, at times veers into drum and bass. Their best songs take the clean and choppy guitar sounds of American math-rock and post-hardcore, mix them with drums which almost touch on funk patterns but sound strangely appropriate, and then add Sutherland's unique vocals over the top. Don't mistake this for indiepop, no matter how jaunty it might sound: this stuff is bleak. Homophobia, racism, sexual perversion and the grotesquely obese are all subjects for Sutherland's brutally sharp barbs. The lyrics are constructed in an observational, poetic style, full of self-referential call-backs to other LFK songs (which I always like in a band) and sometimes even borrowings from indie superstars ('Headlines' reinterprets the ooh-oohs from Pavement's 'In the Mouth a Desert'). Lyrically this isn't post-rock: it's post-modernist rock, with cryptic layers of meaning to play with. Sutherland's since published three literary novels.

Of the albums, Houdini's the most ambient-sounding, and features a guest vocal from Mark E. Smith; Amelia's the most conventional of the three. But Valentino, their second, is brilliant, confrontational and yet somehow pop and one of my favourite albums of the nineties. Have a listen to the opener, 'Godiva': clattering post-hardcore guitar melts into that reedy falsetto singing about a "well-aimed Cantona". One of the great under-appreciated bands, and a welcome reminder of the potential of really experimental rock.


  1. I really need to get into them more, they sound pretty ace. Although maybe slightly pretentious...

    Welcome to the blog!

  2. Yeah, they're super pretentious obviously. But definitely worth a go.