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Thursday, Feb. 29
The Indiana Daily Student

Scots on the Rocks


The name of Scottish rock band Glasvegas is perhaps even more apt than its members intended. As a portmanteau of Glasgow, Scotland, and Las Vegas, the name invokes both their city of origin and their cited influences: Elvis Presley and the rock/pop sounds of the 1950s and early 1960s. However, the name “Glasvegas” also perfectly captures the sound of their music.

Fitting the general image of Glasgow, their music is downcast and the lyrics are gritty. Singer-songwriter James Allan offers up tales of broken families, street violence, social workers and seasonal affective disorder. At the same time, like Las Vegas, their sound is bold, brash, overdone and a bit cheesy. Combining big, sweeping instrumentals and vocals with chilly drones and hints of Phil Spector-era girl groups, Glasvegas sounds somewhat like a cross between the Jesus and Mary Chain and U2.
For most of Glasvegas’ self-titled debut, this formula works well enough, but there are moments when the band’s ambition leads them off the rails into an embarrassing crash.

Album opener “Flowers And Football Tops” is fine until it ends in an eye-roll-worthy interpretation of “You Are My Sunshine.” Likewise, the album hits a bump with the eighth track, “Stabbed,” in which Allan does a spoken-word piece about gang violence while a piano plays Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14. Fortunately, it’s short. And then there’s the fact that, for all the praise U.K. critics have awarded Allan’s lyrics, many Americans will have difficulty following him through his thick Scottish accent.
Still, the gang from Glasgow hit more often than they miss. Anthems like (most of) “Flowers and Football Tops,” “Geraldine,” “Lonesome Swan” and “Daddy’s Gone” could well inspire you to sing along – despite not fully understanding the words.

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