Love, Susan
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Love, Susan

Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF

Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
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"Track Review - Alive - 1st May 2011"

My final review of this month is also from the UK, this time from Dundee in Scotland, Love, Susan is a five piece band who - should you happen to live in the area - are a live gigging band and judging from what I hear, they would be well worth a visit to see live. What? I know you think I am interested because it's a woman, but seriously, Love Susan are a cut above the average. Put it like this, whenever I am rounding out a month of reviews it comes as some comfort that the last track I have to handle is as good as Alive is. It does exactly what it says on the tin, if you know what I mean..

I feel ALLLLLLIIIIIVVVVVVVEEEEEEE...

If I were being honest, reviewing as much as I do is often more of a slog than a joy but once, just once in a while along comes a track that makes it all worthwhile and Alive is one of those tracks. The sort of music that leaps out of the speakers and gives you a great big feelgood hug. All five members of the band have put in long service at the musical coal face and their music has that hard edge of commercial credibility that often comes with (ahem) 'paying your dues'. Much more to the point, though, as good as the music is (and it is), what lifts it most are the vocal and songwriting talents of the aforementioned Susan - Susan McCathie (a Royal Academy of Music student in her time).

She is the main driving force here but it would be criminal not to name the other musicians involved because they all - each and every one of them - do a splendid job of fleshing out Susan's musical vision. Ed Muirhead, Kris Boyd, Gary McQueen and Bruce Langlands are all local musicians, and very accomplished ones too. Alive is a track from the band's first EP Look in the Mirror which has just been released and if this track is any indication this is definitely a Must Have EP. Right from the very first note Alive impressed me with it's warmth of sound, and blew me away when Susan started to sing. It's an incredibly commercial track that deserves to be heard simply as an example of how good it can get. Definitely a great find for me, that's for sure. - Steve Gilmore at RebelRiffs


"Gig Review - Duke's Corner, Dundee - 26th March 2011"

The stage curtains came together as Love Susan assembled on stage for a gig that was to celebrate the launch of their début EP. The sounds of the intro music - Yomanda's trance hit "The Launch" - emanated from the PA as the curtains were opened to reveal the band on stage. Visually, they were immaculate - the male contingent all dressed in suits, lead singer Susan looking gorgeous and wearing a beautiful black evening dress, the whole lot of them looking every bit like a prestigious showband on the opening night of a sold-out London Theatre production - just stunning!

As they started into "Such A Beautiful Smile", the sound was perfect - you could hear every word, every note. Susan's vocal a mix of strength and purity as the song swings along and leads into a jazzy guitar break with a real swagger to the rolling rhythm foundations, the feel one of fun and cabaret and big-time show-stopping promise.

The second song is a faster number with a decided country-rock flavour as Ed's piano work adds to the melody to another jazzy guitar lead, while Susan's vocal is just wonderful, seriously heartfelt yet so powerful on a song that is intricately arranged but flows in a sort of "'50's-meets-contemporary indie-dance" styled manner.

They then go into "What's Wrong With People", now completely re-structured, opening with funky rhythms as the guitar cuts in, synth adds depth and Susan's surging vocal purity weaves over the funk-soul flavour, the track flowing along effortlessly. As synth gives way to organ, the bass is right upfront as the funky beats underpin Susan's almost strident sultry vocal that rises slightly to the song's hook, soaring like a bird in the mid-section.

"You Don't Love Me" is introduced with expansive synth chords over which crisp acoustic guitar and almost delicate, heartfelt vocals provide a gorgeous ballad that slowly flows as the gentle drumming and deep bass enter the arrangement. The synth gives depth as the vocal rises and falls, the song becoming this beautiful, cyclical ballad that's positively mesmerising, stretching out in a similar way to Sarah Coloso's equally epic "Porcelain".

"Miracle Of You" opens with military drumming, deep bass throb with an ascending, flowing lead vocal before the band surges in and the song takes off in a haze of chunky piano chording, the vocals sounding almost multi-tracked as Susan somehow sounds like she's harmonising herself, the addition of a high-flying lead guitar, completing the picture. The song drops down to the verses as the piano playing dips and plinks then it's all onwards and upwards into another uplifting chorus. Susan's strong vocal really takes off as she injects this intense passion into the latter parts of the chorus – superb!

"Let The Rivers Run" starts with accelerated Elton John-styled piano work and harmony vocals then takes off into a storming slice of solid pop-gone-cabaret with a powerful vocal performance from Susan on a real surge of indie rock 'n' roll, the band swinging with urgency and strength, the sort of song that has the audience up and dancing. The singing really runs the scale as the pop train rides to its terminus.

Not sure of the title of the seventh track, but it's led by urgent electric guitar work and an equally fast but almost hushed vocal as it all opens up into a solid chorus, the song itself having the feel, and to a degree, structure of a more accelerated version of Blondie's "Maria", only injected with the soaring purity of Susan's hi-reg vocal as the band powers ahead in a hail of piano and guitar, a brief drum break heralding a return to the heady chorus.

"You Are In Love" is a ballad of sorts featuring slow and gentle piano, bass throb, crisp drumming, strummed rhythm guitar and a slowly flowing vocal.

"Night To Remember" opens with acoustic guitar as the bass picks up the rhythm over the high-flying lead vocal, drum beats cruising in as the guitar riff adds strength and piano adds melody. Then the whole band coalesces for a seriously uplifting, heady chorus.

"Through The Fire" began with the sound of church bells followed by cyclical electric guitar as the sultry vocal rises up and dives down. The band enter with lurching rhythms but the feel of the song is more ballad-esque only rises as the keyboard fills in the gaps as it heads towards another dramatic, multi-harmony-styled chorus.

"Silence" is introduced by deep synth and piano chords as another "hushed" vocal, full of feeling, emanates from the PA, accompanied by clattering cymbals and flowing bass, drifting out like ripples in a pond, which then pounds heavily as the drums drive forward in fast-paced military fashion, the synths work stretches out, the lead vocal just takes off as the synth takes the lead and this expansive slice of orchestral-sounding magic, pours out of the PA. The song then mutates into a strident rhythm with upfront synth as the vocal flies along, a Pink Floyd-esque guitar sustain adding the icing on the cake, and a chorus that lifts you up and carries you off into the night sky.

"Share The Love" is a heartfelt ballad with added harmonies in a kind of "'80's soul-pop" fashion, a kind of "Chaka Khan-meets-London Theatre" type of song.

For the final surge to the end of the set, the band launch into "Vegas" in a blaze of dancing rhythms, high-flying, high-pitched vocals, cutting guitar leads, solid piano melodies and propelled by strong and strident rhythm section work.

"Always Rock 'n' Roll" is pure fun, a seventies-meets-contemporary pop romp through a world of rock-pop, as the whole audience is either dancing or swaying (those that weren't seated, that is - and even some that were!) to the fast-paced slice of good-time almost Abba-esque surge, only sheer quality through and through.

The set ends with a spirited rendition of the absolutely magical song "Alive" that, with its chunky piano chords, that immaculate, impassioned vocal purity taking off like a rocket and the band providing the propulsion on a song that just surges into your head and refuses to leave, the hook swirling around for hours after.

So there it ends - a truly faultless, wondrous and awe-inspiring performance from a band with the brightest of futures ahead of them if they get noticed by the right people in the right places. - Dead Earnest


"It's All About The Love! - 24th March 2011"

Susan McCathie, frontwoman of Dundee funky pop/dance/rock band Love, Susan, is a trained classical singer and studied musical theatre in London with some of the best teachers in the world.

But now the former Lawside pupil has turned her back on all that glitz and glamour after discovering the real love in her life – writing and recording her own songs and singing them on stage with a live band.

Blessed with a fantastic voice (have we found the new Ronnie Spector?) Susan is now flourishing in the local music scene and the five-piece band is increasingly in demand across Scotland.

Less than a year after forming, they launch their début EP, Look in the Mirror, at Duke's Corner on Saturday, which should be a defining night for the band.

Look in the Mirror is five tracks covering a range of styles: the dance-floor-filling energy of Alive, cheeky pop-rock of Such a Beautiful Smile, the soulful Share the Love, the fun funkiness of Vegas and the sheer rocking and rolling of Always Rock and Roll.

Mind you, if she doesn't recover from a chest infection by Saturday, we could be hearing the new Bonnie Tyler!

“I hope my voice is better for the show – it's got a lot of improving to do between now and Saturday.” Susan admitted yesterday.

“The rehearsals have been good because we were able to run through the stuff OK, but the vocals weren't good 'cos I couldn't hit the high notes. I'm sure it'll be fine on the night though.

“I was trained as a classical singer but didn't really connect with classical music, so I thought I would try musical theatre.

“But my heart was really in songwriting and I wish somebody had taken me under their wing at the age of 14 and guided me to do that.

“I wasn't really part of the scene in Dundee at that time though, so I didn't really know anybody. I wish I did because I'm loving it now and really flourishing here.”

After returning to Dundee from London, Susan set about writing songs and formed the band in April last year with Gary McQueen (bass/backing vocals), Bruce Langlands (drums), guitarist Kris Boyd and keyboard player/backing singer Ed Muirhead.

Their impact was immediate with the name Love, Susan becoming a regular entry in the Rocktalk gig guide, the band going from strength to strength with exceptional feedback.

“We've had really good reviews of our gigs and we've just been playing as much as possible in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow,” Susan explained. “It's a wee bit hard to fit into a lot of gigs that are happening here – we're kind of doing our own thing, we're not really similar to anyone here right now, it's pop/dancy/rock so there's not a lot of that going around.
“But the band's only been together since April last year, so it's not even a year yet.”

Almost every aspect of making the EP was handled by the band – production, recording, mixing, mastering, even designing the artwork. Recorded at bass player Gary's own home studio over the past few months, it was a labour of love.

“The EP is finished now, Gary has done a fantastic job on it,” Susan said. “We did it all in his house, so we were able to take a lot of time over it and get it right. Gary put in a lot of sweat and tears and he's done a brilliant job.

“It should be a great night on Saturday – we'll be selling the EP and it's on sale from Saturday on iTunes.

“Sarah Coloso is supporting us – she's been a good friend to me since I came back and I get on well with her.”

Along with singer-songwriter Sarah, are the Phono DJs, plugging into the best in house music featuring live vocals, sax and percussion from 11.30pm. The music starts around 9pm. - The Courier & Advertiser


"Track Review - Alive - 23rd March 2011"

This track opens up with a guy playing piano in lead-lined gloves – jeez, he really hammers that thing – then this female singer comes in with this awesome vocal - smooth, firm of pitch, strong, delicious – it just flies, and you almost feel like you're at the start of an '80's Heart track – but then the band crash in and the whole thing rises up in this hail of symphonic majesty as the rhythm section drive ahead, the singer continues to rise and strengthen, reaching notes that even most female singers wouldn't even dare, that piano is the strongest darned playing you've heard on a track since Hornsby's glory days and the guitar adds the textural icing on the cake.

The song itself positively flares into this chorus as the band provide a canyon-sized musical expanse and the singer soars through the verses with lead and multi-tracked bliss, to the next crashing chorus that is as uplifting as it it is magical. The guitar shines on a red hot brief lead break before the piano chords accelerate, the vocal rises to the skies and the whole thing shoots out towards the universe in a powerful blaze of glory – it's epic, it's dramatic, it's emotive, it's memorable, it's something you want to play over and over – heck, it's just exceptional – get it – and get it now!! - Dead Earnest


"Gig Review - Dexters Bar, Dundee - 15th August 2010"

When Paula Knight asked me what Love Susan were like, all I could say was, "you'll see - they're very different from anything else around today". She found out soon enough how right I was. The band came on stage and immediately launched into "Such A Beautiful Smile", the singer's big-sounding vocals filling Dexters with gliding grace and pure power as the band tripped out this galloping sea of melodic complexities on a song that bounced along with the sound and effect of some worldwide-known cabaret classic and you could just imagine the audiences at some swanky upmarket nightclub or casino, being absolutely blown away by it right from the start. They finished the track, I looked to my right and there's Paula, whistling and clapping - I think she liked it!

Across a good dozen songs the band revealed a style that mixes quality pop, cabaret-catchiness, danceability, and an almost MOR-meets-indie contemporary addiction that just mesmerises you throughout the set, that amazing purity of powerful vocal unleashing the songs in rapid fashion. I still think that the ballads in the middle should be spread out more in the set as it dissipates the dynamics a bit, but still great songs that stay in your head long after you've heard them.

Paula was blown away - "What a great band" she beamed, intentionally going over to the lead singer to say good things at the end of the set. "They shouldn't be playing venues like this", she said, echoing long-held sentiments of mine. We agreed that the world is theirs for the taking - any good managers out there who understand where this band's at? - Dead Earnest


"Gig Review - Soul Nightclub, Dundee - 6th August 2010"

Love Susan gathered on stage and began with the song "Such A Beautiful Smile" and the first thing you notice about the female singer-led band is how amazingly fast the song's being played as the vocal really sings out with that richly powerful voice dominating. The bass is right upfront with the keyboard and guitar taking more of a background role as the song chugs and riffs and the hook takes hold.

The second track swings and flies with another memorable hook and choppy beats as the melodic vocal cascades to perfection.

The third song is stretched out sand becomes the band's anthemic piece as the song's performed tighter and harder, more jangly guitar work combining with the neat keyboard melodies.

The fourth track is slower initially but rises to a powerful, almost AOR-styled anthem as the vocal veers between wistful and strong, the band putting in a performance full of depth and strength with a suitably engaging lead electric piano break in there too.

"What's Wrong With People" becomes a real mix of rock and jazz as the singer really delivers the goods on a truly scything arrangement, the hook of the song being positively spat out with conviction as the band stomps albeit in a seriously tasty vein.

The 6th track starts as a ballad with impassioned vocal and guitar, before the bass kicks in, sticks clatter then a blast of electric guitar and keyboard stabs are heard as the vocal climbs higher and the intensity rises to a hi-flying chorus before swooping back down only to find another jet stream and repeat the process.

The 7th track begins with deep synth, wistful vocal and clattering percussion. The vocal becomes stronger as the synth waves ebb and flow and that voice rises blissfully as the drums shuffle along swiftly, the bass pounds and the intensity rises as the whole song takes off in majestic, melodic fashion, flying rather than exploding as the guitar finally cuts through in a heated blaze of glory. The song then stomps out as the vocal really takes off against the synth textures, the hi-register guitar and the tumbling, rolling rhythm section. This is one sensational song that really hits the spot and arguably the finest thing the band have written so far.

The 8th track was introduced as "the last slow one" and it was, too, starting as ballad, gradually driving and then flowing along nicely, not exactly the most engaging track in a live setting, but still decent.

Track 9 was billed as "being played live for the first time in public" starting with a wordless chorus from the female vocalist as piano and bass threaten dance-ability and it kind of does, as the rhythms section swings into action as the wordless, emotive vocal flies higher. The song proper begins as it all cruises along with choppy guitar, a river of keyboard with the seemingly effortless vocal gliding above it all. To use a seriously obscure comparison, it sounds like more commercial Magma in the way the song's vocal sounds and is arranged, memories of the "Attack" album shining through, as the song breaks out into a spectacular chorus.

Tenth track returns you to fast, jazzy and rocking, again, fast-paced with commercial-era Magma-esque choruses, a heated guitar break, neat use of dynamics, solid riffing and mid-hi range vocals on a song where the chorus is totally "un-pop" yet completely addictive.

They end with a cover of Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" -well, actually, no they don't - but it could be - they've got that style of rock 'n' roll-based jazzy pop that breaks out into a hi-flying chorus that you think's gonna break out into something else familiar as Beatles-meet-Elton-Meet-Chuck Berry in a modern, indie, jazzy stylee. Not a song I particularly got off on as a song, but as a set closer, makes a lot of sense.

Overall, though, I not only "get" this band now, I think they've really got something that sets them apart and, judging by the increasing quality of the newer songs, a good future ahead of them. - Dead Earnest


"Gig Review - Chambers Bar, Dundee - 23rd April 2010"

I'd been invited by their bass player to come along and review Love Susan play live. Oddly enough, I'd also been asked if I'd come to review The Sleepwalkers gig too. So, when I found they were on the same night, I accepted the offer. Of course, the chance anyone takes actually inviting me to review a gig is that I have to be honest in my opinion, no matter what happens. So...

I will admit that, more often than not, I won't listen to a new band before going to their gig, just so I can experience the true live sound of the band with no preconceptions. Which was the case here for Love Susan - which also probably explains my surprise when I heard the band play!

When the set began with a track that was almost jazzy pop, the sort of thing you'd expect to hear at one of those upmarket cabaret-styled London nightclubs where the meals are in 3 figures and the wine isn't far behind, I was taken aback. The female singer possessed a very wide range, with a powerful voice, mostly in the upper range and quite gutsy. While the piano added the jazz and the guitar was buried in the mix, the swing continued.

The second track was a bit more countrified but still in tee spirit and style - too classy to be classified as "indie" and where the piano is a central part of the sound, this time counterbalanced by the crispness of the electric guitar and a strummed acoustic as the rhythms bounce on what is quite a lightweight track with a solid foundation.

Third track was a ballad with a Bette Midler-esque opening as the electric piano floats, the rhythm flows delicately and the acoustic guitar underpins an ever rising vocal as the whole thing turns into an anthem, soaring to great heights before falling back to the verse, then rising once again. There's depth in the instrumentation and an uplifting vocal performance yet, even though it's all quite solid and emotive, it's all so "polite", the sort of thing that would have the wealthy, seated cabaret diners humming along as they ate by candlelight to the lights off the stage and the waft of the band.

Fourth track was a power ballad with a soaring chorus and a militaristic rhythm as the piano chords hammer away. The vocals fly over the instruments as the guitar is still very much more rhythm-based, while the song itself, with its rising, repeated hook, is probably the most memorable offering so far.

The fifth track is much more of a pop number with solid bass work, crunchy drumming, more solid piano work with the lead vocal delivered in a very heartfelt manner on a song that's a bit like "Shania Twain on steroids" as a strong verse heads into a harmony-laden chorus and, as a slice of pop-country-indie crossover, works a treat, although for my tastes, still far too clean and classy.

Sixth track is a slow ballad where the guitar finally comes to the fore as a lead vehicle with slowly chunky riffs as the voice weaves its solid spell with strength and delicacy and the song flows effortlessly forward.

The next track is as slow as a tortoise and equally mundane - a cover of something, I think - but picks up a bit and, if you didn't know it was a cover, would fit like a glove into the band's style as emotionally sung verses rise to uplifting chorus as the piano chops away and the band propel it with tasty strength.

Next is a more powerful number as the band finally picks up a head of steam and what is definitely the best song of the set so far, flies into view. The piano sounds deep and strong, the band strides out and flies as the vocals are really showcased from soft hooks through flowing verses to sky-high choruses.

Via another slice of countrified indie-pop where the vocal is superb but the backing sounds just too frivolous, we come to the last track which starts things almost as they began, returning to a more jazzy feel only faster-paced with a vocal roller-coaster and a tight performance from the band.

Overall, they do what they do, well enough and, while at first hearing not something I'm wholly into, I can appreciate that they have a lot to offer within their chosen framework, and owe it to myself to see them again for a second opinion. - Dead Earnest


"RockTalk 8th April 2010"

... then on Tuesday, Duke's local band night features Love, Susan, a female-fronted feel-good rock band.

Formed early this year by Dundee singer songwriter Susan McCathie, she has already played in and around Dundee and is establishing growing cult success and has decided to go electric.

Susan, a post-graduate student from The Royal Academy of Music (London) has formed a band that fuses contemporary rock/country/pop sounds with Susan on lead vocal and acoustic guitar, Ed Muirhead on keyboard and backing vocal, Kris Boyd on lead guitar, Gary McQueen on bass and Bruce Langlands on drums. The band's debut demo recordings will be on their website soon at www.lovesusan.co.uk - The Courier & Advertiser


Discography

Debut EP released on 26th March 2011 - Look in the Mirror

Always Rock and Roll from our EP has been played on Jim Gellatly's Amazing Radio.

Our full EP is available for streaming on Spotify.

Previous tracks with airplay and listed in Radio North Angus's top 10 songs.

What's Wrong With People?

Vegas

Night to Remember

Photos

Bio

Love, Susan are a five-piece feel-good rock band fronted by songwriter Susan McCathie. They have a modern rock sound with a heavy dose of good old rock 'n' roll thrown in – or, as one review put it, “great songs that stay in your head”.

Since the band formed in 2010, Susan McCathie (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Ed Muirhead (keyboard and backing vocals), Kris Boyd (guitar), Gary McQueen (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Bruce Langlands (drums) have headlined amazing shows at venues all across their home town of Dundee. They have also recently began to share the love across Scotland with successful gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“Growing cult success” (as one newspaper put it) made them decide to release a record and the result was the EP Look in the Mirror. Released on the 26th of March, the first hundred copies of the CD sold out in two weeks.

Promotion for the EP is also going well, with a track from the EP being played on a national radio station and the band being interviewed on a local station.

In the near future the band plan to keep on rocking their way around the country, spreading their brand of catchy, dance-y, funky music as they go.