[guest post] 2010 In Review, Vol. 2 - Meursault

Though I’ve unfortunately never set foot in Scotland, I’ve always felt a strong connection to the country based solely on the fact that my grandfather emigrated here from Glasgow in the early 1920s. In turn, a devoted music junkie like me would also then have an affinity to the many great bands that have come out of there over the past two decades or so – Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub, The Beta Band, and Arab Strap, to name a few. In the past couple of years there have been a handful of really exciting young Scottish bands to make their mark on the U.S. indie scene as well, from Frightened Rabbit to The Twilight Sad to We Were Promised Jetpacks. Though Edinburgh’s Meursault haven’t really infiltrated these shores just yet, the band continues the distinguished lineage of great Scottish bands, and it’s likely only a matter of time before they make their way across the pond too. They released their excellent sophomore album, All Creatures Will Make Merry, earlier this year, once again on Song, By Toad Records Like their impressive 2008 debut, Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing with Tongues, the new record mixes gut-wrenching acoustics, programmed and sampled percussion, lo-fi hiss, buzzing electronics, and the highly impassioned vocal presence of Neil Pennycook. It’s an intimate record without borders, and one you should check out if you haven’t as of yet.



MP3 :: Crank Resolutions

MP3 :: Sleet

(from All Creatures Will Make Merry. Buy here)


MP3 :: Nothing Broke

(from the Nothing Broke EP. Buy here)


MP3 :: The Furnace (alt version)

MP3 :: A Few Kind Words

(from Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing with Tongues. Buy here)



After beginning as the solo project of Pennycook, Meursault has added official new members to its ranks over the past few years, including guitarist Phillip Quirie. Quirie was gracious enough to share some highlights of the year for himself and the band before they get back to touring and working on new material:


1. Les Savy Fav – “Let’s Get Out of Here”

Of all the things I experienced in 2010, I am a little annoyed at myself for choosing a song as my highlight. But this song changed my year for the better at the time when I needed it the most. I just love it. Not only the directness of the lyrics, but that interplay between the guitars in the intro and verse, just slays me every listen. It’s the finest song the Pixies never wrote.


2. Playing at Glastonbury

I feel I should relate some of my highlights to the band, given that this is an interview with the band. Meursault have had a very very busy year with some highs and some lows, and this was definitely a high for me. For a band at our level, getting the opportunity to play at Glastonbury was really special. We arrived after a less than easy week involving a performance at a German festival, no sleep, and limited food intake. By the time we arrived at Glastonbury, we were pretty spent, so we relied on sheer adrenalin when we played, and it was an incredible experience. Check it out – a video:



3. Conquering Animal Sound / Debutant split 7” release

The vast majority of Meursault listeners are probably unaware that I also have a small solo project called Debutant. It’s me, some effects pedals, a guitar, and a loop pedal, and I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. In fact, I was doing it before I joined Meursault. It’s very much a self-satisfaction thing, and when I was invited to release a split 7” by Paddy and Andy at Gerry Loves Records (an awesome wee vinyl-only label started this year in Edinburgh), I was really taken aback. It was released in April 2010, and it is one of the few things in my life I am genuinely proud to have achieved, simply because I never thought I would. The Conquering Animal Sound track absolutely wipes the floor with mine, but to be able to hold a piece of vinyl in my hand, with my song and my artwork on it, is something I never thought would ever happen.


4. Touring

Touring is something I absolutely love doing. We realise that we’re in a very fortunate position to be able to do it from time to time; not nearly as much as we need to or want to, but tours are expensive and to be able to do one or two a year is still a good position for us to be in. In 2010, we did three tours – two in the UK and one in Europe, and a whole load of festivals in the summer. The latest UK tour in particular was a highlight for me, and for one or two others in the band too. The majority of the shows were busy and the people we met along the way who booked us, promoted us, fed us, came to see us, bought our records, and gave us somewhere to sleep, were just all incredible people. Some of them were people we had met and loved before, some of them were new people we met and loved for the first time. We love them all equally and without them, we’d obviously be absolutely nothing.


5. Rediscovering Lost in Translation

I know, I know, I know. I ought to be championing a 2010 release as my film highlight of the year, but the truth is, cinema in 2010 just failed to inspire or move me in any way. I don’t necessarily think that’s purely a reflection on modern day cinema – more that I don’t take an active interest in the cinema because I feel priced out of it. Additionally, as a film studies graduate, I actually took time off watching films because my focus became automatically tuned into analysing a film and offering some sort of critique, rather than blind appreciation. Blind appreciation is something I miss about watching films, despite its oxymoronic term. I really forgot how brilliant this film is, though. Two completely different people in similar circumstances finding hope in each other. It’s really quite beautiful, and it’s as sweet as it is sad. This film completely charms me. Pretty neat soundtrack, too.


6. Richard Skelton – “Landings”

I listen to quite a lot of ambient music, usually for the sense of tranquillity, space, intensity, and isolation that a lot of it tends to evoke. However, I came across this album this year and it struck me for different reasons. This album represents a culmination of field recordings taken from moors and hillsides in Northern England over the course of four years. A sarcastic “Wow…that sounds really exciting” is probably what you’re thinking. However, the compositions feature restrained and subtle string sections, which really helps direct each piece as a sort of narrative, and I found myself completely involved after less than two minutes of the opening composition. This album is like a journey through Skelton’s geographical surroundings, from the trickle of the small river, to the trek up the hillsides, past the ancient ruined crofts and vast moorlands.


7. Finally Settling In Edinburgh

I moved to Edinburgh, essentially, to join Meursault in August 2009. I moved with no money and no job, so the transitional period was more difficult than it needed to be, but I have resisted the urge over the past year or so to give up and move back to my home town where my family live and where there is a healthier job market, and I’m glad I resisted; I finally feel like I’m settling.


8. The World Cup

As a massive football (soccer) fan, I was really excited about the World Cup in the summer. But this became a highlight of my year, not because it was great; but because it was seriously fucking shit. It almost made me hate football. Fuck you, World Cup. You were a highlight of my year because you were so incredibly bad.


9. Antony Gormley – “6 Times”

Antony Gormley is a British sculptor who specialises in casting iron or bronze statues. “6 Times” is a multi-part work, consisting of six life-size iron cast figures, positioned at various points along the Water of Leith (a waterway which meanders its way right through Edinburgh). I was quite excited when I found out about this, and made the effort to walk the length of the waterway to locate these figures. They stand alone, isolated in the water. It’s very enigmatic, and the incongruity of juxtaposing human art with nature isn’t as obvious as you think it would be – the figures seem to blend into their environs, whilst still maintaining a placid sense of individuality.


10. The Snow

Scotland has been afflicted with heavy snow twice in 2010. This is rare. The British reaction is the same every year; when it first falls: “Ooooh, snow! Isn’t it beautiful!?” (queue lots of people taking “picturesque” photos and uploading on to Facebook); after a couple of days, the inevitable realisation that snow is, in fact, a hindrance, kicks in, and everyone’s Facebook updates involve berating the snow and the country we live in. God, I hate Facebook sometimes. The snow is absolutely great, and we should treasure it for as long as we have it, regardless of the inconvenience it presents.


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