When I think of Scottish music I don’t instantly think of punk or hardcore. The long shadow of Postcard Records is slowly fading and bands like Belle and Sebastian, Arab Strap and Mogwai now the old guard of Scottish Indie. In recent years a bolder, more intense sound has come bursting out of the two big cities (although I probably just never really noticed it before). Glasgow has produced the extreme, pounding Comfort and the short-lived but brilliant hardcore band Anxiety. Now it’s Edinburgh’s turn. The Shan are a three piece hardcore band who have a sense of humour about them.
To judge a book by it’s cover, with the artwork style and song titles like “Bits Of Shit”, on their recent ‘X-Flies’ EP, I had them pegged as probably being a “hilarious” ska punk band.
Their name comes from an Edinburgh slang term, meaning unfair, disappointing, terrible or bad.
So, when I actually pressed play on their three track EP, it was an extremely pleasant surprise. The chugging guitar intro of “Grave Love” is chased by Josh Lohr’s menacing drums and Calum Piercy’s rumbling bass. Vocalist/guitarist Gordon Cockburn reveals himself to be a performer from the Henry Rollins and Ian McKaye school of punk.
“Bits Of Shit” follows and is like pure 80s US hardcore. If you told us this was a Discord Records or SST band I would absolutely believe you. They keep it short and sweet, closing with another breathless belter in “Bullets”. It comes abruptly to an end and leaves us wanting more.
Fortunately there’s a whole album to check out, released in 2019, so I’ll definitely be investigating further.
There’s nothing complicated or revolutionary about The Shan’s music but ‘X-Flies’ EP really hits the spot. A great slab of hardcore punk!
You may enjoy this if you like: Minor Threat, Black Flag, Anxiety, The Minutemen