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Minisnap, an alternative Bats

Plus Alien Eyelid re-stock

Just working our way through some sublime pop music courtesy of the Tall Texan label from Minisnap and alternative country wonder on this second press of Alien Eyelid’s LP that we couldn’t keep in stock last autumn. Find em in the bio

Limited to 200, Bounce Around is gonna float a lot of yr boats.

Kaye Woodward, best known as guitarist with The Bats, shines out with a great collection of her own songs with this 1st full length album. Also features fellow Bats, Paul Kean and Malcolm Grant along with Marcus Winstanley and special guest, Andy Scott (brother of Robert Scott) on Charango.

Stunning, bright and swooning pop music from a re-configuration of New Zealand legends The Bats. Coalescing around the songs of member Kaye Woodward, these recordings hit straight to the heart. Familiar jangle/drones you’d recognise from the parent group abound but with Woodward’s utterly disarming voice. Hit up Innocent for that crunchy, dreamy minor chord slice of heaven, more traditional Twee-adjacent roller In A Dream packs a bass-y thud that’s pretty satisfying, the doomed romance of A Walk In The Dark, there’s a hell of a lot to love on this totally underrated beauty.

Houston’s Alien Eyelid follow up their previous Tall Texan release with stronger songs than ever and an expanded line-up. Featuring alumni of Lower Dens, Balaclavas, Buxton, and Hearts of Animals, ‘Bronze Star’ straddles the line between indie rock, country, and the country-tinged ‘Workingman’s Dead’-era Dead.

Monorail Albums Of The Year

13 records that made our 2023.

 

Almost made it. 2023 was pretty interesting – without music and various overlapping music communities I think we’d all be struggling. But whatever was out there, often menacing or uncomfortable, the music was strong, it didn’t let us down. We could still feel overwhelmed, enthralled, across something important. We’ve decided to document our year with thirteen records that meant a lot to us, that connected with our hearts. It’s a non-hierarchical list, a baker’s dozen, our 2023.

Stephen, Michael, Lauren + all of us here at Monorail

 

 

Monorail’s Records of the Year, 2023:

 

Belle and Sebastian – Late Developers (Matador)

 

 

There are so many colours to Belle & Sebastian, some obvious, some less so. If they were like the seasons surely they’s be deep into late autumn, early winter hues by now – and they really aren’t. Although there were moments of melancholy on A Bit Of Previous, Late Developers companion album, this excellent second instalment feels more like a new springtime. At its core is Stuart Murdoch’s undimmed enthusiasm for life, his ambitions, his questing. But it’s the combinations too, a group that is still so much greater than the sum of its parts – a mixture of eccentrics, rock classicists, daydreamers and doughty challengers. On earlier records they achieved a collective sound where it was almost impossible to isolate individual contributions – by that I mean it was absolutely a group sound. Now, with more space, more experience you hear everything, and everyone’s contributions – the soul chops, the Thin Lizzy guitars, the splashes of prog, the splashes of pop. They really are like no other group, they wander their own paths, they’ve always been really special. Writing this with a smile on my face listening to the wonderful almost pop single, I Don’t Know What You See In Me – proud to know them, proud that they’re still coming up with amazing music this far in. Winning weirdos forever. – SP

 

Belle and Sebastian- "I Don't Know What You See in Me" (Official Music Video)
 

Caroline Polachek – Desire, I Want To Turn Into You (Perpetual Novice)

 

 

I saw a meme the other day satirising shops and magazines’ 2023 end of year lists in which they all had Caroline Polachek – Desire, I Want To Turn Into You in their top 10s. I kind of know why, there’s something crushingly inevitable about how good Polachek would be on her second album. Her debut Pang was great but honestly, Desire… is stratospheric. Inevitably, it’s in our Baker’s Dozen because it’s bold, ecstatic, endlessly tuneful, meticulously produced. It’s a cornucopia of genre-trashing pop treasure and even if you’re no fan of avant-pop music, so much of Polachek’s art is undeniable. She’s a virtuoso singer but on opener “Welcome To My Island” she combines falsetto with rapping and it’s absolutely delirious, the second song sounds really like Dido and then later on she HAS DIDO as a guest, with GRIMES along for the ride, for God’s sake.The singles set the tone, veering from abstract R’n’B on Bunny Is A Rider to the best Spanish / Flamenco-influenced pop song since La Isla Bonita on Sunset. If you’ve ever liked pop music of any description, you should just surrender like we did the moment we heard this album. Like other current favourites Rina Sayawama and Charli XCX, Polachek is doing what all pop auteurs have always done: she’s pushing the pop songwriting envelope forward, writing her own script as she goes and the rest of us can only strap in for the ride. 2023 was, inevitably, Caroline Polachek’s year. – MK

 

Caroline Polachek - Smoke (Official Video)
 

Cloth – Secret Measure (Rock Action)

 

 

There’s a track on Cloth’s Secret Measure – their second full length and first outing for Glasgow’s Rock Action Records – that builds on a single two note melody. Secret Measure is a record that builds. It’s a quiet masterpiece, a body of work that simmers and weaves its way into the world through intricate, delicate guitar lines; melodies that are sparse yet full all at once. It’s not all guitar, of course, there’s equally affecting drum and bass accompaniments, but at its heart, Secret Measure is an album that explores the dynamic between two guitarists and all the ways that such a relationship can sound and coexist in the same space. Cloth is Paul and Rachel and Paul and Rachel are bandmates and twin brother and sister, too. It would be easy to call the music they make ‘pop’. It is pop music but it’s pop music with so much more – so much intimacy and space, so many moments to catch your breath. Their year ended with a few Slowdive support slots and their biggest hometown headline yet at Stereo. It goes without saying that Cloth are already ingrained in the fabric of Glasgow. – LT

 

Cloth - Ambulance [Official Video]
 

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru – Jerusalem (Mississippi)

 

I’m listening to the first piece on Jerusalem watching the customers in Mono eat their lunch, talking amongst themselves in conspiratorial tones; a small blonde child on a high chair is laughing and throwing their food at their parents. It’s 2023’s Christmas month in Glasgow, a meteorologically nondescript middle of December and Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru is describing the generosity and depth of the human spirit from her piano in the 1970s. There isn’t anything particularly tonally sad in Gebru’s piano improvisations, her runs and chords tend toward the major or diminished with splashes of minor but there’s something eternal in her spirit as it courses through the music, the piano’s inner workings, the microphone, the vinyl lacquers, the servers labouring under industrial, air conditioning units in California. On the title track the narrative dances on the edge of what it is to be human, there are little flurries of hope in the upper register before sinister falls into the lower keys. It’s all open, never resolving, asking questions and providing its own answers which you really have to feel to understand. These are wordless communications, letter-less words of affirmation, warning, consolation, empathy and sympathy beamed across the decades. When she does break her vocal silence, it’s heart-melting. Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru passed away a few months shy of her centenary this year and just after these lost recordings saw the break of day. If there’s any music that can provide solace and a little faith in humanity, Gebru’s hands gliding across this old piano 50 years ago is it. May she rest in at least as much peace as she brought in her time here. – MK

 

Jerusalem
 

Gina Birch – I Play My Bass Loud (Third Man)

 

 

The music you love in life isn’t always foreground but it has its own place in your heart ready to be remembered, to suddenly push everything else to one side and become centre stage all over again. For me this has happened so many times with The Raincoats, from their life-changing debut single, Fairytale In The Supermarket to its just as good follow-up, No One’s Little Girl, to Moving, their slightly under-valued third album with its wild rhythms and sweet singing. So many magical shows too, always with Gina’s loping, fluent bass playing and sometimes eccentric vocals an essential focal point. Not only was she foreground in 2023, she kind of owned it. Is there a music person of the year? Mine is Gina Birch. At the core of her audacious takeover was the bold, brilliant album, I Play My Bass Loud, and a series of shows that made us all feel that we’re part of an amazing counterculture that will not be broken. Not only that, she had her own gallery show of raw art paintings and fronted the Women In Revolt show at The Tate. I Play My Bass Loud, beautifully produced by Youth, is funny, angry, tender and incredible. You can never have too much bass. – SP

 

Gina Birch - I Play My Bass Loud (Green Man Festival | Sessions)
 

King Creosote – I DES (Domino)

 

 

“I’ve gone from seeing the bad in everything to seeing just a little bit of good in most things,” Kenny Anderson (AKA King Creosote) said in 2006, and that’s what I DES – his fiftieth record – is at heart, really. A realisation, or perhaps a celebration, of seeing the good in life and in people and all the moments that have led to the present. Time passes, things aren’t always linear, and that in itself is something to be celebrated. Sonically, I DES is awash with synths and programmed drums and yet it still feels like a folk record; a record that pays homage to the music that spills through the pubs of Anstruther, Kenny’s hometown. Kenny hails from the East Neuk of Fife – a small nook of villages on the east coast of Scotland – and his love for that tight knit community and the quiet normalities of non city living continues to shine above all else. We’ve had the opportunity to host some really special events this year – Thurston Moore Group, Miki Berenyi Trio, King Creosote’s I DES album launch on the day of its release. It was late into the year, Kings Court was packed and there was a real community spirit in the air. He played the record in full, front to back, and then returned to the stage with a surprise second set of fan favourites. That’s what Kenny does best – does it himself and lets us all be a part of it, too. – LT

 

King Creosote - It's Sin That's Got Its Hold Upon Us (Official Audio)

 

 

Paris Banlieue – Gueueseries (Snap! Clap!)

 

 

This one was on our radar for a while – it actually came out on cassette a couple of years ago. Maybe there’s still hope for that second Hairband record. Anyway, I tried to write it up in a way that it felt to me – both familiar and unfamiliar. I could see that it didn’t really follow adult music rules, it had that absolute freedom that comes without knowing too much. The moment before everything gets broken. Sometimes to know too much about something gets in the way – ‘don’t tell me’ are three words we need to pay more attention to. But ok I’ll tell you something. Paris Banlieue make music for the city and for the city’s outskirts too. They’re unlikely, magical, an Eric Rohmer film, a Marine Girls cassette, a Beat Happening song sung by Heather – music that belongs to a parallel world which feels both normal and slightly altered. They’re French, they’re Spanish, they’re young, they’re ancient. Join their club. – SP

 

Pistonnée

 

Pest Control – Don’t Test The Pest (Quality Control)

 

 

Metal in Monorail is something of a mirror world. I think it’s fair to say we’ve the most comprehensive catalog of underground and overground Heavy Metal of any shop in Glasgow but we’re more known for Vaselines than for Venom. Russell behind the counter holds the reins of the horse of the apocalypse, a master curator in his own right shaping the tastes of a lot of kids who come in specifically to shop for all things Kvlt but most of us have some appreciation for Satan’s own genre. Dep is an AVID Maiden collector, for example. Pest Control, for me, recorded the crossover hit of the year. I mean that in both the 80s Thrash-Crossover way but also in that its music that breaks out of genre boundaries. Hailing from the febrile, radical Leeds Metal and Punk scene, Pest Control are absolute masters of chunky thrash. The female vocal is like hot bleach frying the air on contact, the riffs have a ripping, heavy 80s bent (think Slayer, Testament, Forbidden) and the group converge on a pounding dynamic that reminds us of Power Trip. Like a lot of Hardcore the songs are rarely over 2 minutes long, the mid-paced mosh parts are meaner than Seige at their gnarliest and the whole thing is over just as you’ve completely destroyed your mailorder office in windmilling ecstasy. I saw these guys supporting Obituary earlier and it was like a scalpel, they came on, obliterated the place in 30 mins and walked off. Their label Quality Control is at the helm of this kinda music in the UK but Pest Control are peerless. – MK

 

Sweeping Promises – Good Living Is Coming For You (Sub Pop)

Sweeping Promises Have. It. All. A few years ago their debut Hunger For A Way Out blew a lot of away: released on punk/power pop label Feel It it had to go through 5 pressings before it was easy to get. Sub Pop came in on the action and co-released follow up Good Living Is Coming For You and for my money the band have only gone from power to power pop. The band’s references stack up like a tower of hit 7″ singles from the late 70s and early 80s. Pounding bass-guitar led slammers that recall anything from a more fuzzy XTC to Gang Of Four with a little more melody, slashing and frothing guitar assaults that intersect with the righteous, big-lunged vocals in a way that resembles The Go-Gos, Blondie, Sleater-Kinney or even, a little closer to home, hometown heroes Current Affairs. With all this post punk worship it’s easy to overlook the utter uniqueness of the arrangements, of the sound of the instruments. It feels like the whole mix has been filtered through a boom box rescued from a paint-splattered warehouse in the early 80s, a kind of furry compression crystalising the vocals up into a cripsy, heightened sector in the emotional spectrum. I know we probably say this about any punk or punk-adjacent record but everyone of these songs could be singles. The whole thing is so classy and in its own class. – MK

 

Sweeping Promises - Good Living Is Coming for You (Official Video)
Teenage Fanclub – Nothing Lasts Forever (Pema)

 

There’s no place like home and as every year passes, Teenage Fanclub feel increasingly like home to us. At this point the band have amassed an enviable discography, continually progressing and evolving. Though they can still break out the jams, this is not the band of Bandwagonesque. Augmented with new members (will there ever be a new Euros Childs album please?), 2023’s Teenage Fanclub feel quietly majestic, coated in glistening harmonies and a gliding backing band that feels like Zuma-era Crazy Horse playing some classic lost early 70s Laurel Canyon anthems. Teenage Fanclub have grown gracefully with their audience and Blake/McGinley’s songwriting feels worn in and vulnerable, tweaking the emotional pressure points in all the right places. Norman sounds not unlike a world-weary John Lennon on the piano-led melter I Left A Light On, with some beautiful glimmers of hope shining through. In fact there’s so much loving, understated detail through the album it feels like a big comforting blanket to break your fall. If you’ve even a passing knowledge of Monorail Music you’ll know we have a long history with this band, they’ve always been there for us and never more so on this beautiful record. – MK

Teenage Fanclub - Back To The Light
The Smashing Times – This Sporting Life (K Records)

One of the most satisfying developments in international pop music has been the 6th wave (is it the 7th? 8th?) of American Jangle, with a new generation of hip things singing our music back to us in ever-more inventive and fun ways. It’s hard to pinpoint when we realised there was a whole wave of inspired kids doing it anew, our heroes Slumberland and K Records have always documented whats been going on across the Atlantic of course but somehow this wave feels different. And all the groups sound different, it’s not a concentrated wave by any means and nor is it, as you’d be forgiven for thinking, concentrated in the Bay Area. Across the USA in Baltimore, Syd Barrett-obsessives The Smashing Times waxed just one of our favourites guitar pop records of the year. In a sea of doozies, This Sporting Life luxuriated in its own charmed weirdness. The band sound a little like if you left The Madcap Laughs, Apples and Oranges, The Village Green Preservation Society, some Freakbeat 7″s, Where’s Bill Grundy Now? and a couple of other records you can maybe name yourself on a vintage iron radiator and let it all melt together, the resulting heady fumes tickling your amygdala to delirious effect. It’s wonky, weird, wired, inspired and here to stay. This is your Sporting Life. – MK

The Smashing Times - Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Yo La Tengo – This Stupid World (Matador)

If you’ve read our 2023 staff picks zine then you’ll know that Yo La Tengo’s latest offering (and their seventeenth overall) appeared in four of our individual lists. We hear and discover so many records every day – naturally, working in a record shop and all – and there are special times when a release brings us all together and really resonates above genre and personal taste. There were a few this year, most notably the new Tara Clerkin Trio EP ‘On The Turning Ground’ and Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou’s ‘Jerusalem’ and, of course, This Stupid World. It’s an album that was recorded mostly live – Georgia, James and Ira all playing in the room together. It sounds live, or at least has all the components that make a live performance, that sometimes (usually) can’t quite be captured via a studio recording. Whatever that is – that feeling, that urgency, that closeness – the Hoboken trio have captured it all at once. There are moments on the record that sound like the group at their most blistering and boisterous yet, reminiscent of some earlier YLT eras – tracks like From a Motel 6 and records like Electr-O-Pura come to mind. But, with those pulsating bass lines and layers of fuzz comes a more stripped back and intimate look into three musicians at work, at their peak 17 records in, pedal steel and empty space in tow. One thing is for sure – Yo La Tengo are all we really need in this stupid world, after all. – LT

Yo La Tengo- "Aselestine" (Official Audio)

I think it’s fair to say that there were moments this year when the world felt overwhelmingly bleak. Hard to navigate. Heavy. Heavy Heavy. I think it’s fair to say, too, that music is where many of us found solace and comfort, passion and resilience. I can’t think of a record within the last decade that captured me quite like this one. Perhaps that’s a bold statement to make. It is a bold statement to make. Heavy Heavy, written with a ‘back to basics’ approach, is the fourth record from Edinburgh’s Young Fathers. Recorded in their secluded Leith basement studio over the course of four years, Heavy Heavy is nothing short of euphoric. I think my favourite thing about the artistic process behind Heavy Heavy is the National Geographic magazines all cut up and pasted to the walls of their studio amidst recording so it felt like the band had a choir in the room alongside them. It’s ironic, really, that this record was crafted in such an intimate space, because whilst it is their most intimate record yet, it’s also the loudest. It’s the sound of community, the sound of life…a mashup and celebration of almost too many genres to name. It’s Young Fathers and only Young Fathers. Watching the band on the Barrowlands stage this year was nothing short of a revelation. It felt less like a gig and more like a feeling…all of the feelings that live music and performance can give you, rolled into one. I could say so much about this record, but I think it’s best to let Heavy Heavy speak for itself. Holy Moly was my most listened track of the year. Make it yours too.

There’s still time. – LT

Young Fathers - 'I Saw' (Official Video)

That’s all folks. 13 records that made our year. Here’s to all the artists who were our soundtrack, and to all those who will carry us through the next 12 months too.

Hello,

It’s that time again. It always seems to come around quicker each year but…we’re here now and we’d like to show you all of our Monorail merch that we think would make a really good gift for the special people in your life. Or yourself. We’re not here to tell you what to do. There’s the arrival of Glasgow School t-shirts (exciting!), Liz Dew slipmats, tote bags, gift vouchers (digital and physical!) and hand numbered posters. There’s a really funny story about those which I’ll let you in on down below.

With the festive season in full swing and the big day fast approaching, we’d like to let you know about our last order dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery. I’m sure we’ll remind you in the coming days but please keep in mind that Royal Mail (and us) are always incredibly busy at this time of year. It’s advised you get your orders in as soon as you can! We really appreciate your support as always, especially during such a busy time.

Last order dates for guaranteed Christmas delivery:

Seasons greetings from all of us at Monorail

Join the Glasgow School here

Mustard Yellow on Navy Blue T-shirt, Gildan Softstyle

S, M, L, XL, XXL

Our Glasgow School logo is now wearable! Printed here in Glasgow by the lovely folks at T-shirt Cat. You’re an official member of The Glasgow School when you’ve got this on.

Model not included.

sporting
Order slipmats here

Leaf Green + Natural Slipmats

Available individually or as a bundle

 

Featuring Liz Dew’s custom design for Monorail’s opening in 2002. Originally designed for our shutters but now available on slipmats and totes alike — it’s that lovely.

Buy totes here

Leaf Green + Natural Tote Bags

Natural 100% certified combed organic cotton

These feature Liz Dew’s wonderful design for Monorail too. Printed locally in Glasgow and the perfect size for buying new records (at Monorail, of course).

sporting
Order hand numbered and signed posters here

Edition of 60, designed, hand numbered and hand signed by David Bellingham. Colour print on off-white 300 GSM, A3

Stephen was in charge of the production of these posters (according to Dep) and with a budget carte blanche ordered the posters to a high spec, a spec that spoke of Monorail’s innate excellence. Upon delivery of the posters it soon transpired that they were far too deluxe…and far too expensive…to be used as lamppost wallpaper. The prints were temporarily shelved so that we could present and sell them separately at an appropriate price rather than waste them in the perpetually rain-drenched streets of Glasgow.

18 years later, here they are. A piece of Monorail history, if you will.

sporting
Order physical gift vouchers here

Physical gift vouchers, available in a range of colours and amounts

Perhaps the best gift for that record lover in your life when you’re not entirely sure if they’d prefer Tenniscoats or Taylor Swift. We’ll even ship these out to you for free if you’re in the UK.

Please note that our physical vouchers can only be used in our Glasgow shop!

Buy digital gift cards here

Digital gift cards, available in a range of amounts

If you’re not able to visit us in Glasgow, or have a pal/family member/future self that would enjoy a browse on our site, our digital gift cards are the perfect gift. You can schedule your card to arrive on a specific date or send them to multiple recipients too.

Please note that our digital gift cards can only be used on our website! If you’re looking for a voucher that you can spend in-store, please grab the physical alternative.

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