Album review: Eagleowl | Nightjar

Eagleowl: For the Thoughts You Never Had * * * *

(Song By Toad, 5)

Nightjar: The Moth Trap * * *

(Song By Toad, 6)

THESE are challenging times for small businesses, so you have to admire / feel sympathy for Matthew Young, who recently set up his Song By Toad record label in Edinburgh with modest aim of "hoping to lose as little money as possible".

Without wanting to tempt fate, though, you get the feeling he's going to do just fine.

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The label's first release, Meursault's intelligent electronica collection Pissing on Bonfires / Kissing with Tongues, met with a warm critical reception – not least in The Scotsman, where it scored a four star review a couple of weeks ago. And now here come two EPs from a pair of equally promising acts.

Eagleowl are Malcolm Benzie (violin, ukulele and vocals) Clarissa Cheong (double bass and vocals) and Bartholomew Owl (guitar and vocals).

They claim to "believe in doing things right, rather than doing things fast" and they deliver on that promise here with five slow-burn post-folk compositions that slyly worm their way into your auditory cortex, then put their feet up and flatly refuse to leave.

From the distinctly Appalachian harmonising of opener Sleeptide to the pleasing feedback throb of Blackout, these tunes cast a strange, hypnotic spell. Only the final track, Motherf*****, ventures into more upbeat territory, although upbeat for these guys is a relative term – 72 beats per minute isn't exactly going to cause any heart attacks among elderly listeners (although the lyrics might).

Bluegrass outfit Nightjar are fronted by Andrew McKay (banjo and vocals) and Jack Richold (violin and vocals) but they also count acclaimed folk guitarist Kris Drever, Aberfeldy bass player Ken MacIntosh and the band's former drummer Ian Stoddart among their number.

On the whole, The Moth Trap is polished but somewhat predictable. The delicate Lady of The Calico, however, and the Dirty Old Town-echoing Poor Man's Son, suggest they are capable of more.

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