Release Date: Sep 15, 2009
Record label: Carrot Top
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The predominance of digital-editing software and increased use of sampling have made piecing together an album a much easier task than it once was. Ashes Grammar, the sophomore album from Philadelphia septet A Sunny Day in Glasgow, doesn't sound composed with modern tools-- overdubs ad infinitum-- but like pop music masterfully puzzled together. Featuring bushels of tracks that blur the line between interlude and song, many listeners will associate the two-dozen-strong tracklist with either unfinished business or lazy editing, but Ashes Grammar is a surprisingly disciplined affair.
'Surreal' is one of those adjectives that is bandied about much too carelessly. Tossing a word around this nonchalantly does its meaning a great disservice. Synonym sibling 'fantastic' has had its implications similarly skewed as narrow overuse of both has resulted in their being associated with all things positive and good. So we turn to Messrs.
It takes a very specific mindset to submerge yourself in A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s albums. Scribble Music Comic Journal, their debut release, was both refreshing and daunting. Led by the versatility of ringleader Ben Daniels, they had established themselves as ambient pop maestros. It seemed to reflect the two sides of the same coin theory - under layers of synthesized, sugary pop, there was also very dense and textural guitar work beneath washes of noise.
Although this Philadelphia band does have loose ties to Scotland, its name seems more metaphorical description of its sound than a geographical placement: dim, misty, and elusive, with moments of light breaking through the clouds. On the band's second LP, Ashes Grammar, the group maintains its experimental layering of noise, beats, and reverb but pops it up a bit with some nearly discernible lyrics and livelier rhythms, at least in comparison to 2007's Scribble Mural Comic Journal. A Sunny Day in Glasgow seems to be striving for something abstract, almost elemental in its sound -- something that permeates the subconscious to be felt rather than heard.
On 2007’s Scribble Mural Comic Journal, Philadelphia’s A Sunny Day in Glasgow blossomed into a formidable talent wielding their own tweaked strand of shoegaze/dream-pop. It is a feat all the more impressive given that those are two seemingly exhausted genres. Their particular strand nods as much to usual suspects like My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins as it does to current psych-dabbling electronic acts like High Places, Caribou, and Four Tet.
A Sunny Day in Glasgow seemingly came out of nowhere a few years back with a delightfully klangy and blissed-out EP, The Sunniest Day Ever, an even klangier and more blissed-out full-length, Scribble Mural Comic Journal, and a loosely gorgeous and lengthy tour EP, Tout New Age. All of this music was both arty and accessible in the best ways, basically by sounding unique on one hand but instantly pleasurable on the other. Yet, as they release their sophomore full-length album, Ashes Grammar, the band is still flying pretty far under the radar.