People, Places, Maps
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People, Places, Maps

Dunfermline, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF

Dunfermline, Scotland, United Kingdom | SELF
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"Review: People, Places, Maps - King Tut’s 08/01/12"

SINGER Ryan McGlone gratefully thanked all the friends who had journey the breadth of Scotland to see his band propping up the bill at one of King Tut’s series of January-enlivening New Year’s Revolution band nights.

“We know some of you have come a long way,” he said to those from his home town, “Dunfermline’s a barren wasteland.”

He might have overplayed that one a wee bit, although visions of his mates braving Mad Max 2 on the M8 just to see a gig in Glasgow on a Sunday night were leavened by the fact that People Places Maps are a band of quality, who do the soundtrack of escaping provincial doldrums into the wide world outside so well.

McGlone personifies this sensibility, a young and faintly nervous guy with jet-black hair and a tendency to physically emote by stamping on the spot and fluttering his hand against his heart as if he were Mariah at the Superbowl.

His voice is a robust, thickly-accented holler, a real find in such an unheralded group.

The five musicians playing alongside him (including three guitarists and a drummer in a Vaccines T-shirt) back his unstinting if occasionally slightly overblown lyricism with a dynamic sound that makes a feature of consistently notching up tempo and volume throughout a song.

In particular the fiery I Get So Cold I Get Nervous, the sun-kissed twang of Plans and expansive album title track The Distance Tricked Us seem intent on staking this group’s claim to be the new Idlewild. - David Pollock - The Scotsman


""The Distance Tricked Us" Album Review"

It’s a brave band that chooses a name featuring punctuation. Since it seems a fair number of the literate population can’t use it properly at the best of times, the ever-present risk of getting missed in the search results because of a stray full-stop or a misplaced comma is always going to be a worry. Indeed, I’ve seen several attempts at this name scattered around the internet already with varying levels of similarity to the band’s preferred version. But that’s perhaps a fair indication of where People, Places, Maps are coming from – they do things properly, they don’t cut corners and they work damn hard at what they do. But they’re not going to get too upset if we don’t dot our i’s now and then I’m sure. So, having passed comment on their free-to-download EP earlier in the year I’d been looking forward to this release for a while. Then in a pretty typical muddle of work, travel and general senility I completely missed the release and find myself catching up a little later than planned. But here it is at last, the debut album – notably completely shorn of any confusing punctuation on it’s stark, atmospherically out-of-focus cover – but still as achingly desperate to convey it’s messages as ever.

Opening gambit “Pyromaniac” is strident, urgent pop dotted with explosive squalls of guitar which propel things through plenty of stomach-flipping dynamic shifts, just the way this kind of music should. The rhythm section here – nominally Matt Arnott and Steven Ferguson – is particularly robust, solidly driving the angry initial burst of the album forward as it means to continue. Title track “The Distance Tricked Us” starts with a dizzy swell of melodic guitar lines and develops in an anthemic vein, which also runs through Ryan McGlone‘s breathlessly eager vocals. This is proper guitar pop music in that long Scottish tradition which links bruised emotions to irresistible swirls of melody. The moody organ-based shimmer of “I Get So Cold I Get Nervous” couples with an acoustic guitar and a lyrical, regret-tinged vocal delivered in a heartfelt Dunfermline vernacular. There is a lightness of touch here that is often missed by bands who use their debut album to attempt to convey all of their ideas in one hit. People, Places, Maps though, show a surprising understatement and manage to focus the songs almost perfectly. Lyrically too, the songs here aren’t afraid to tackle sometimes tricky, raw concepts which don’t often belong in pop music – illustrated well by dark-edged couplets like “in our advancing years/she needs me to conquer her fears” which hint at difficult times and uneasy thoughts.

Loathe as I am to make gratuitous comparisons, the broader canvas deployed on “The Distance Tricked Us” reminds me of bands like Endor perhaps, who make a virtue out of their multi-instrumental talents without appearing showy or over-egging things. So when, amid the little touches of piano and carefully brief washes of strings, a female vocal foil is introduced on “Bury Your Head” it marks a gentler musical approach which is no less direct and insistent. The album includes a number of the tracks from the debut EP, which I’ve mentioned before here including the painful ache of “Sarah’s Song” which is just as moving and gently emotive now as it was on a first listen. Sitting here among a wider selection of People, Places, Maps work it remains a stand-out and is surely guaranteed to melt the hardest of hearts. “High Regard” is a little more upbeat and delivered on a cinematic scale – adding a piano and some distant string sounds, and working up into a miniature epic with enough rough edges to keep it rooted in real life. The album closes with “Deconstruct the Familiar” which may well serve as the band’s manifesto just now with it’s opening line of “Although we might start small/we’ve got big plans on the go“. Again the rhythm section urges this song through it’s quiet opening into a soaring tangle of guitars.

It’s a curious time to be releasing a record, as the end-of-year-lists are already compiled and hitting the blogs, and folks are busy making sure they’ve namechecked all the right people in their picks for the top next year. It would be easy enough to let a release just now slip entirely through the net perhaps? But where this record stands out and demands attention is in the unashamed attention to writing great tunes, literate lyrics and splicing them into an honest, spirited collection of songs. People, Places, Maps manage endlessly to deploy the neat songwriting trick of elevating commonplace minutiae into significant moments, and capturing them to deliver little shocks of familiarity. So if you find yourself idly browsing for something to spend that iTunes gift voucher on, forget the pick-of-2011 lists and the albums everyone else thinks you should hear and give this a go. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

“The Distance Tricked Us” is available from iTunes. You can still download the non-album track “Fear of the Modern” for absolutely nothing at Project Rodney. - Songs Heard On Fast Trains


"EP review - Mike Newman"

There are times when I wonder if I’ve done the right thing by trying to write about some of the music I stumble clumsily across. Of course there is always that fear that others have said it all before and better – but then I hear things which make me want to jump up and down and tell people to listen. That’s exactly what I used to do in fact – but these days, the prospect of me jumping anywhere is a fairly alarming one, and there just aren’t so many people around me who are interested in music. So this at least provides me with an outlet for those moments of enthusiasm.

First hearing People, Places, Maps… was just one of those moments. I was always going to be intrigued of course by a band with a name like that – my long-held conviction that music and place are intrinsically linked, all wrapped up in a single band name. It’s perhaps a tricky name in some ways, awkward to write and hard to say quickly. But it sums up the songwriter’s art, and the wide-angle range of this debut EP comprised seemingly of recent demo recordings. I’ve been listening to this for a couple of weeks now – mostly when on trains or walking around town – and the sense of movement and momentum in these songs is summed up perfectly by the title it seems.

People, Places, Maps… originate from Dunfermline – a place I know little about beyond once applying for a job there. Its one of those places I imagine, not unlike home here, where the gravitational pull of nearby large cities with their dizzying eddy of venues and oversupply of average bands makes getting heard a struggle. Credit then to this talented bunch for getting their music heard via this collection of songs which is freely available from their bandcamp. Kicking off with the melodic jangle of “Plans” which sets out the band’s stall ably – assured and lyrical pop music with a deceptively catchy guitar line weaving in and out of the track until it reaches a noisy, life-affirmingly epic conclusion. Next up “Hotel Room” strides off with a nod to the tradition of Scots Americana which has always been done so well in the central belt. The emotional pull of the vocals harking back to the theme of place with the desperate sounding cry of “I walk down the same old streets…” as a well-placed violin joins the track. It’s easy to do strings badly – too much, too often or just in the wrong place. People, Places, Maps… avoid this – deploying them where they belong to maximum effect. “Splinter” goes on to ground the band in the growing group of slick, professional melodic rock acts which Scotland is producing – alongside Make Sparks and Trapped in Kansas among others.

The stand-out track for me remains the wonderfully understated “Sarah’s Song”, starting with a gently strummed acoustic guitar and centred on a vocal duet, the song tackles the raw and difficult subjects of grief, powerlessness and remembrance. The violin returns in the company of piano to accompany the male and female voices which spin a truly affecting tale. With this subject matter, what is essentially a pop song could easily be clumsy and trite – but the band avoid this with an openness and honesty which seems to mark them out lyrically from other similar acts. If this bunch of songs are really just tentative demos put out to get the band heard, then this is clearly an act to watch carefully because the skill and sensitivity deployed on this small but near-perfect collection of songs is going to produce some remarkable results in future. - shoft.org.uk


"PPM live at Box, Glasgow - Harris Brine"

“I can’t take the heat!” howls front-man Ryan McGlone, as the loose drums lead in People, Places, Maps’ first song ‘Pyromaniac’ in their poignant performance at Box earlier this month. His strong Fife accent commands the first few minutes of the song, until the full six-piece band tear into an instrumental, announcing themselves as the future of Scottish music in spectacular style. Follow up song ‘Veins’ continues their strident presence, with high-tempo drum rhythms accompanying McGlone’s brooding vocals. The lead singer still manages to find a way to be involved when PPM erupt into another instrumental near the end of the song, seizing a drumstick and savagely beating the crash cymbal. After some onstage banter, the slow guitar rhythm lures the audience into the Dunfermline bands most accomplished melody, ‘Plans’, a simplistic but empowering harmony destined for pristine production and musical recognition. The lead singer delivers his vocals with absolute conviction, and invites the audience to “make some plans” before the lead guitar takes them off on a mellow aural journey.

PPM try out a few newer songs to saturate the middle of their set, and despite some of these being very Twilight Sad-esque in sound, they fail to grasp the audiences attention. It is not until they perform brand new song ‘Bury Your Head In The Sand’, with its gradual build-up and emphatic chorus, that they regain the interest of the crowd. Follow-up ‘Sarah’s Song’ is not as potent without the missing female vocal, but still delivers a small dose of the potential of the song-writing of this group. In a unique style, they execute the conventional slow structure and melodic chorus of ‘Hotel Room’, with McGlone’s strained vocals serving to fill every possible second with his sincere lyrics. The fading outro is interrupted by the loudest applause of the night from the indebted audience. After finishing with ‘Splinter’, in which the singer repeatedly sings “Goodnight!”, People, Places, Maps leave the stage knowing that they have just demonstrated a small measure of their future potential.

It’s evident that the band have only been together for a number of months. In between songs, they appeared disorganised and nervous, but once they are playing, it’s easy to assume they have been together for years. The drumming is particularly strong, and leads several of the songs with genuine ferociousness. The co-ordinated rhythm from three guitars would be expected to drown out the vocals; instead they emphasize them, allowing McGlone free-reign to be as emotive as possible. If People, Places, Maps were to be bracketed, they would be Idlewild, Frightened Rabbit, My Latest Novel and Twilight Sad all rolled into one big Scottish cake, with a bit of Interpol thrown in for good measure, but it would be stupid to do so, because their innovative melodies and sincere lyrics, combined with McGlone’s soft but broad Scottish accent is unlike anything heard before.

By Harris Brine

If you want a delicious sample of the future of Scottish music, download the six track album at http://peopleplacesmaps.bandcamp.com/ - Strathclyde Telegraph


Discography

Debut album "The Distance Tricked Us" (released 16/12/2011)

Free Single "Fear Of The Modern" (released 30/09/2011)
available at: http://beta.projectrodney.com/peopleplacesmaps

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Bio

We Formed in May 2010 and played our first gig in October of that year. We have been gaining a fanbase by playing shows in Edinburgh/Glasgow/Dunfermline over the last year and a half. We recorded our debut album with Marshall Craigmyle (There Will Be Fireworks, Dykeenies) at Old Mill Studios in Strathaven and played a sold out gig at Sneaky Petes in Edinburgh on the albums release on 16th December 2011. More recently we have shared stages with the likes of fellow luminaries There Will Be Fireworks and Bwani Junction, as well as Scots Heavyweights The Twilight Sad in support of their UK Tour, and have been featured in Jim Gellatlys new music column in The Scottish Sun. With favourable live reviews in The Daily Record and The Scotsman of our recent gig at King Tuts New Years Revolution festival (in which comparisons were drawn to Scottish legends Idlewild) already under our belts, we are looking forward to expanding our fanbase and playing bigger and better gigs in 2012.