FOR Scotland's next big thing . . . which is how they've have been touted for roughly the past six months . . . My Latest Novel are a decidedly strange proposition. They don't so much write songs as paint textures with their instruments. There are no real pop songs here, no three-minute indie workouts that would sound good on the dancefloor. Instead, there are songs which twist and turn, following their own tangents with a pleasing but occasionally frustrating disregard for the rules.

Comparisons to Belle And Sebastian have been made, but they're superficial at best, and revolve around the boy/girl harmonies and spoken word passages in west coast accents. My Latest Novel are somewhere else, though: halfway between the multi-instrumental reverie of Arcade Fire and the woozy, funereal beauty of their labelmates Dirty Three.

They're at their strongest when they let a groove lurch along, building momentum as it goes, until it hurtles headlong towards you, as on the gorgeous sixminute opening track Ghost In The Gutter.

Sister Sneaker, Sister Soul's plaintive violins have just enough windswept grandeur about them to be charming without being overdone; When We Were Wolves, meanwhile, is a brutal sea shanty dirge; you can almost see the entire band wearing eye patches in the studio.


Sister Sneaker, Sister Soul




IF you're a budding singer/songwriter, as Edinburgh-based Steve Adey is, it takes a certain amount of that wonderful thing, chutzpah, to cover not only Bonnie Prince Billy's I See A Darkness, but Bob Dylan's Shelter From The Storm, on your debut album.

Some would call it sheer folly.

The Bonnie Prince Billy cover sits in the shadows of Johnny Cash's own version, but Adey's reading of Shelter From The Storm (one of the highlights of Blood On The Tracks) turns Bob Dylan's fable into a languorous piano ballad which owes as much to Leonard Cohen and John Cale as it does to Saint Bob.

That Adey's own songs hold up in this context at all, let alone very well, should have him wiping his brow in relief.

On tracks like The Lost Boat Song and Evening Of The Day, Adey channels the spirit of Smog, minus Bill Callahan's caustic take on dysfunctional relationships; elsewhere, there are hints of the late Jeff Buckley's mournful tenderness.

Whether Adey's career will end up producing his own Shelter From The Storm . . . give him a decade and maybe the end of a great love . . . remains to be seen. That he might be capable, though, is reason enough to start listening to him now.


Evening Of The Day