Scotland. Such a nice word. Phonetically at least. Rolls off the tongue so easily. Evocative too, eliciting so many pleasant images. At least it does if you’re a Japanese tourist whose holiday hasn’t been raped raw by midges and weather. For the lucky few, returning home with nothing more onerous than an excess baggage charge for stockpiling tartan, why, Scotland is the nicest word of all.
For those of us who are obliged to live here on a full-time basis, Scotland’s connotations are more subjective. Sometimes it’s great being Scottish; sometimes it’s shite, but most of the time, Caledonia is the least of our concerns. When you’ve been raised in the schemes, ducking from meth queue to dole queue, Scotland is a word that can get to the back of the queue, for there are far more pressing two-syllable words to spit out:
Hunner; didnae; mucker; loonie; naeb’dy; buckie.
MOG scatters such words like discarded tonic bottles across Everyone Out, the debut – and possibly final – album from Bang Dirty. Words are MOG’s speciality, and they flow effortlessly from the Glaswegian’s tongue, their provenance and pronunciation unmistakably Scottish.
But that shouldn’t be surprising, given that this is an unashamedly Scottish affair, recorded in Edinburgh by a musical triumvirate of Stuart Jackson, Adam Holmes and MOG. Producer, singer and rapper respectively, with the latter spinning tales of love, loss and law-breaking over the music his cohorts have concocted. Everyone dabbles in everything on Everyone Out.
In spite of its homegrown credentials, one word you won’t hear on this album is Scotland. There’s not a Scottish shout-out to be had, but then there’s no need for one to assert Bang Dirty’s identity.
After all, in what other country could you hear such lines as ‘Walk into Tesco wearing a fleece and you stuff the fucking cunt with bacon and cheese’ ?
Ah, we do like to say cunt in Scotland. Much to the consternation of other nationals, who fail to understand that, deep down, we’re a bunch of good cunts who are nothing if not nice.
Good cunts, bad cunts and slippery cunts; they’re all vividly portrayed on Everyone Out by a smorgasbord of characters played by a cavalcade of guest rappers. On Careless Vengeance, MOG and Jinx go toe-to-toe as drug dealers-turned-enemies; Deeko talks murder on Where Did You Go?, while in Tale of Two Cities, El Green curses the crack epidemic that’s decimated the scheme. Then there’s the redoubtable Big Radge Andy, who uses Addiction to scorn junkies who break their toes off to show them to Ross Kemp, as well as the aforementioned heist of victuals from Tesco.
Elsewhere, Everyone Out references everything from computer hacking to the Meadows park; this is an album that’s in touch with its roots – right down to the last postal digit.
Everyone Out may be eclectic, original and suitably Scottish, but is it any good?
Sadly I can’t say.
Not because I’m incapable of saying – I mean, does it look like words are in short supply round here? – but because I’d prefer not to. You see, although Bang Dirty isn’t my doing, I know its crew well enough for my verdict to give rise to claims of nepotism (or at least it could if anyone gave that much of a fuck).
There are two options: you can either listen to the tracks and form your own opinion, or you can click on the tab below and read a review that my friend Patrick has kindly written. Should you elect for the latter option, I should warn you – he’s quite a happy camper.
Click to Read
Opener Not Nice is a statement of intent, shimmering acoustic guitars accompanying MOG’s emphatic vocals. On first listen, I was positive that the chorus would be a letdown, but when the hook kicks in, Adam Holmes’ harmonies wash over me in an awesome way.
Then there’s TX Funk which boasts a groove funkier and blacker than anything Justin or Jamiroquai – or any other artist of recent years, for that matter – has come up with.
The pop single Brand New (my vote for most uplifting song of the teenies) is a joyous ode to hitting on the opposite sex. It’s also got a great West Coast Whistle.
In terms of lyrical craftsmanship and sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Take the lyrics to Careless Vengeance, delivered by MOG and Jinx, which address the futility of turf wars.
MOG’s solo material seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying in a narrower way, especially Went South, though that track was surpassed by Ze Muney (great song; a personal favorite). But I also think that MOG works better within the confines of Bang Dirty than as a solo artist – and I stress the word artist.
Where Did You Go? is the album’s darkest track. Has the concept of loss ever been rendered more sinisterly in an indie song? I don’t think so.
My favorite Bang Dirty track is Break Up, a moving ballad borne along by taut strings that bounce lightly. Though it could easily pass as one of Adam Holmes’ solo efforts, because the themes of loneliness and alienation are folk staples, it is Stuart Jackson who deserves much of the credit for the song’s arrangement.
Addiction is the album’s real surprise – Ed Uncovered called it an edgy number with a bass-line that’s sicker than a three-swedger wank in the Hutchence position. It couples bleak lyrics with a great beat. This is hip-hop, but not as we know it.
The other standout track, When the Story Unfolds, is a touching song about the loss of trust. We can expect new things from Adam Holmes, but even if we didn’t, he would remain the most exciting and original Scottish folk voice of his generation.
The penultimate track is Tale of Two Cities. Its universal message crosses all boundaries and instills one with the hope that it’s not too late for us to better ourselves, to act kinder, even while others are letting us down. It’s an important message, crucial really, and it’s beautifully stated.
When Holmes raps ‘Big man gave me my tax back’, on the closing track, you can feel the gratitude that only an alcoholic given a handout can know. Entitled Did It On My Own, the song is beautifully voiced by MOG, who deftly references previous ZA release, Bonded in Bombs. Is there a more self-aware and painfully honest song in hip-hop?
Then it’s over, the album ending just like it began: with the Tollcross rain battering on the window panes. That was Bang Dirty. I was Pat Bateman. Now everyone out.
★ Download Everyone Out by Bang Dirty
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