Often, the hardest thing about forming a new band is coming up with a name. It can be a long and tortuous process. Especially, in the internet age. A new band have to ensure the dot com address hasn’t been taken. If it has, it’s a case of starting the process all over again. Either that, or negotiating with the owner of the dot com to buy the address. That can be an expensive and time consuming process. So for most bands, it’s case of starting again.

That’s been the case since the birth of rock ’n’ roll. Even the biggest band of all changed their name. The Beatles started life as The Blackjacks, before briefly becoming The Quarrymen and then The Silver Beatles. It wasn’t until July 1959 that The Silver Beatles became The Beatles. Since then, countless other bands have had a similar struggle to come up with a suitable name. 

In 2007, Glasgow based singer-songwriter Louis Abbott decided to formed a new band with  Kevin Brolly, Philip Hauge, Sarah Hayes and Joe Rattray. They settled on the name Brother Louis Collective. Two years later, and the Brother Louis Collective changed its name to Admiral Fallow. The rest as they say, is history.

Since then, Admiral Fallow have toured the world, and played at some of the biggest and most prestigious venues and festivals. Admiral Fallow have also released a trio of albums. Their most recent album Tiny Rewards, was released on Nettwork in May 2015. At the end of the year, Tiny Rewards found its way onto many of the best of 2015 lists. Recently, however, Tiny Rewards found its way onto another list.

This time, it was the long list of twenty albums that have been nominated for Scottish Album Of The Year Award.  Tiny Rewards is hoping to reap not so tiny  reward of £20,o00 which is the first prize for the Scottish Album Of The Year Award. However, before that, Tiny Rewards will have to make it onto the shortlist of ten. If and when it does, then Admiral Fallow are already in the money.  Even the nine runners-up win £1,000 and a Graduate Design Commission valued at £2,500. However, Admiral Fallow have been nominated for the Scottish Album Of The Year Award before Alas, it was a case of close but no cigar. Maybe this time it will be different? After all, Tiny Rewards was one of the best Scottish albums of 2015, and is the latest chapter in the Admiral Fallow story. It began in 2007.

That’s when Glasgow based singer, songwriter and  Louis Abbott decided to formed a new band. This wasn’t going to a traditional indie band. Instead, Brother Louis Collective were going to fuse orchestral and indie pop. To bring this about, Louis was joined by four other Glasgow based musicians. This included the rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Philip Hauge and bassist Joe Rattray. They were joined by a two musicians who would help create the orchestral sound. Sarah Hayes played flute, piano and accordion, while Kevin Brolly added clarinet, keyboards and percussion. Along with Louis Abbot, they became Brother Louis Collective.

With a lineup in place, the Brother Louis Collective set about honing their sound. The five friends quickly began to define their sound. Through the rest of 2007 and throughout 2008, the Brother Louis Collective were gaining a reputation as a popular live act. So in early 2009, Brother Louis Collective decided to record their debut single.

For Brother Louis Collective’s debut single, These Barren Years was chosen. The B-Side was Gypsy Woman. These Barren Years was well received upon its release in March 2009. The single brought the Brother Louis Collective’s music to a wider audience. With the Brother Louis Collective’s recording career up and running, the band decided to change their name.

Usually, bands change their name early on in their career. However, after nearly two years, the band realised something wasn’t quite right. That was the name. This resulted in a rethink, and Brother Louis Collective became Admiral Fallow. 

Given that the Brother Louis Collective already were a popular live band, and were attracting the attention of critics, a change of name could’v backfired on Admiral Fallow. All the time they had spent during the last two years could’ve been in vain. 

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Instead, the last two years had been time well spent. The newly named Admiral Fallow had spent much of the last two years playing live. This allowed them to hone and tighten their sound. It also allowed the band to grow their fan-base. Already they were a popular draw wherever they played. So, it made sense for Admiral Fallow to record their debut album.

Boots Met My Face.

In June 2009, Admiral Fallow made the short journey from Glasgow to Blantyre, in Lanarkshire. That’s where former Delgados Paul Savage and Emma Pollock’s studio is situated. Admiral Fallow were following in the footsteps of many successful Scottish bands. 

At Chem 19 Studios, Admiral Fallow met former Delgados’ drummer Paul Savage. By 2009, he had established a reputation as a successful and talented producer. Paul was the go-to-guy producer for many Scottish bands, including up-and-coming bands. This made him the perfect person to produce Admiral Fallow’s debut album.

While Admiral Fallow were an experienced live band, they had only recored one single. Recording an album was very different. So, producer Paul Savage guided Admiral Fallow through the recording process. In total, ten tracks were recorded at Chem 19 Studios. 

The ten tracks were written by Louis Abbott. He describes the songs as autobiographical, and document his childhood and youth. Each song is based upon a person or event. This includes Subbuteo, where Louis remembers being beaten up in Edinburgh, where he grew up. A lyric from Subbuteo also provided the album title, Boots Met My Face.

With Boots Met My Face recorded, Admiral Fallow started looking for a record label to release their debut album. However, that search was put on hold briefly, as Admiral Fallow played a band-storming set at Scotland’s biggest music festival.

Although Admiral Fallow had only been together two years, they were chosen to headline the Sunday night T Break stage at T In The Park. For a Scottish group, this was a huge honour, one they must have hoped would help in Admiral Fallow’s search for a record label.

That took a while. In March 2010, Admiral Fallow opened for fellow Scot King Creosote at the Fence Collective’s Homegame Festival. Then in April 2010, Admiral Fallow supported The Futureheads in Glasgow, This was perfect timing.

In April 2010, Admiral Fallow released their debut single Squealing Pig on Lo-Five Records. That however, was a mere aperitif. 

Later in April 2010, came the release of Boots Met My Face. It was released to critical acclaim. A great future was forecast for Admiral Fallow, who were about to head out on the festival circuit.

Admiral Fallow renewed their acquaintance with King Creosote at the Glasgow West End Festival. They then played the Wee Chill, Rockness and Insider festivals. However, it was at T In The Park that Admiral Fallow made a triumphant return. This time, Admiral Fallow were playing the prestigious BBC Entroducing stage. A lot had happened to Admiral Fallow since they took T In The Park by storm a year earlier. There seemed to be no stopping Admiral Fallow.

They had played their first Scottish tour in August 2010. Then later in 2010, Admiral Fallow opened for another Scottish band, Frightened Rabbit. Then in October 2010, Admiral Fallow released the second single from Boots Met My Face, Subbuteo. This was the perfect way to round off 2010. 2011, looked like being a big year for Admiral Fallow.

In February and March of 2011,Admiral Fallow hit the road, and completed their first tour of Britain. This was to coincide with the reissue of Boots Me My Face. Then on 13th March the band flew to Austin, Texas for SxSW 2011. Given this is one of the most prestigious American festivals, this was a huge boost for Admiral Fallow. During their time in America, Admiral Fallow were embraced by American critics. The critics forecast a great future for Admiral Fallow. They weren’t wrong.

Tree Bursts In Snow.

Just like Boots Met My Face, Tree Bursts In Snow was recorded at Chem 19 Studios. This time however, some guest artists would join Admiral Fallow. Among them were former Frightened Rabbit vocalist Gordon Skene, Jo Mango, Kenny Reid, Tom Gibbs and Tom Stearn. These guest artists featured on three of the ten tracks that became Tree Bursts In Snow.

Before the release of Tree Bursts In Snow on 21st May 2012, Louis Abbot explained what the title meant. Tree Bursts In Snow Louis explained is: “the sound and the image of an artillery shell exploding into a cluster of snow-drenched trees.” It was a poignant picture that Louis Abbot was painting. Especially as he went on to speak about gun crime in America and: ”the effect that losing friends through violence, in particular during times of war or conflict has on young men and women.” Louis had thought deeply about this, and on Tree Bursts In Snow combined social comment and poppy hooks.

When Tree Bursts In Snow was released, critics were won over by Admiral Fallow’s sophomore album. Superlatives were exhausted praising the Glasgow’s band’s unique brand of orchestral and indie pop. Admiral Fallow’s star was in the ascendancy, and would be during the rest of 2012. 

During the 2012 festival season, Admiral Fallow played The Great Escape, Glastonbury Festival, Latitude, Cambridge Folk Festival, Green Man and the  End of The Road festival. There were also appearances at Sligo Live and Crossing Border. Later in 2012, Admiral Fallow were asked to open for Scottish indie pop royalty Belle and Sebastian. Admiral Fallow also opened for Paul Heaton and The Low Anthem. All this was good experience for Admiral Fallow, who were quickly becoming one of Scotland’s most successful musical exports.

That’s been the case in the last three years. Admiral Fallow have gone from strength to strength. They’ve continued to play live, and are now recognised as one of the best Scottish live bands. However, in late 2013, Admiral Fallow cut back on the live shows they were playing. They had an album to record. That album would become Tiny Rewards, which was released on 25th May 2015.

Tiny Rewards.

Admiral Fallow’s weren’t going to rush their third album. Work began in late 2013. Admiral Fallow wrote the music and Louis Abbott wrote the lyrics for Tiny Rewards. This was Admiral Fallow’s third album, and second album for Canadian label Nettwerk. 

Unlike previous albums, Tiny Rewards wasn’t recorded at just one studio. Three studios, Angelic, Red Kite and Voltaire Road Studios were used. So were the familiar surroundings of Chem 19 Studios. That’s where Paul Savage took charge of “additional production.” However, Paul Savage wasn’t in charge of production. This time around, Admiral Fallow and Cameron Blackwood produced the twelve tracks that became Tiny Rewards.

At the three studios, Tiny Rewards’ twelve tracks were recorded by Admiral Fallow and friends. The rhythm section featured guitarist and vocalist Louis Abbott, drummer and percussionist Philip Hauge and bassist Joe Rattray. They were joined by a two musicians who would help create the orchestral sound. Sarah Hayes played flute, piano and accordion, while Kevin Brolly added clarinet, keyboards and percussion. They’re joined by cellist Jackie Baxter, violinist Kristian Harvey and guitarist Stu Goodall. Once Tiny Rewards was recorded, it was mixed by Paul Savage and mastered by in London by Mandy Parnell. 

Only then was Tiny Rewards ready for release. The big day was 25th May 2015. That’s when Tiny Rewards was released to widespread critical acclaim. Tiny Rewards was hailed as Admiral Fallow’s finest hours. Here’s why.

Opening Tiny Rewards is Easy as Breathing. A pounding rhythm section, stabs of keyboards and searing guitars create a dramatic wall of sound. In the midst of the arrangement, a piano carries the melody. It’s present when Louis Abbott delivers a soul-baring vocal. He doesn’t so much deliver lyrics, but lives them. Behind him, the thunderous, mesmeric arrangement has an anthemic sound. During the break, the arrangement is stripped bare. Just wistful harmonies, and piano accompany Louis before Admiral Fallow kick loose. By then, it’s easy to imagine East As Breathing becoming a festival favourite.

A drum machine and synths are deployed on Evangeline, as Louis delivers a slow, melancholy vocal. Soon, chiming, crystalline guitars, bass and keyboards are added. They fill out the arrangement, as slowly and dramatically Louis delivers the lyrics. By then, Admiral Fallow sound like a 21st Century version of The Smiths. Later, Sarah Hayes’ backing vocals are the perfect foil for Louis. They’re reminiscent of Lorraine MacIntosh of Deacon Blue. As the arrangement continues to grow, electronica and indie pop combine head-on. It’s a potent partnership, one that’s not short of poppy hooks.

Beeps courtesy of a synth and drums combine with a myriad of  disparate sounds on Happened in the Fall. They create a lo-fi, left-field and almost robotic arrangement. Very different, is Louis’ despairing vocal. As his vocal drops out, a guitar rings out, and cuts through the arrangement. Then  Louis, accompanied by Sarah Hayes, delivers a tender, hurt filled vocal as he sings: “ it Happened in the Fall” When Louis poignant vocal drops, a blistering guitar gives way to a wistful piano and strings. They frame Louis’ vocal as accompanied by harmonies, memories come flooding back.

From the opening bars of Good Luck, it’s obvious something special is unfolding. A piano and drums combine, before a scorching guitar is unleashed. Then a roll of drums signals the arrival of Louis’ vocal. Slowly and deliberately he delivers the lyrics. Harmonies augment his vocal, as the arrangement grows in power and drama. Admiral Fallow aren’t afraid the unleash their inner rocker. Similarly, they’re not afraid to vary the tempo. This grabs the listener’s attention, and forces them to listen. A pleasant surprise comes when Sarah takes charge of the vocal. She’s a talented and versatile vocalist. Later, though, the baton passes to Louis. He takes charge of the vocal. Aided and abetted by harmonies, a storming, hook heavy anthem unfolds.

Against the chatter of a radio playing, a piano plays and Holding The Strings begins. Drums provide the heartbeat as Louis delivers an emotive vocal. Ethereal harmonies, keyboards, a crystalline guitar and the rhythm section combine. Soon, the tempo is rising and the arrangement takes on a rocky hue. Dramatic flourishes and variations in tempo are used, before the rhythm section and guitar drive the arrangement along. Louis seems to have reserved one of his best vocals. With Sarah encouraging him every step of the way, he breathes life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics, delivering the lyric “we are old” poignantly.

As a piano and drums combine on Sunday, the track takes on an almost hypnotic sound. Then when Louis’ vocal enters, it’s obvious he’s singing about being at a festival. “Far from being alone, surrounded by tents and future friends.” Soon, the track takes a dark twist. Especially, lyrics like; ”take those pills, you bought to take the guilt.” This leaves the listener to wonder what caused the guilt? Was it one night stand? From there, the arrangement becomes a lysergic merry-go-round. It also takes on  rocky and sometimes dramatic sound. Meanwhile, Louis and Sarah combine, bringing to life the guilt on the day after the night before, as they leave the festival behind, and return to their respective lives. 

On the count of “5,6” a drum and crystalline guitar combine on  Building As Foreign. They’re joined by Louis’ vocal and a prowling bass. Like so many of Admiral Fallow’s songs, the lyrics are based upon Louis childhood. That becomes apparent straight away:“how we ended up here, with the start we had is amazing.”  He goes on to remembers “measuring his height by the door,” his first football strip, and “first kiss.” Accompanied by ethereal harmonies, pounding rhythm section and searing guitar, memories come flooding back for a wistful, grateful Louis.

A lone guitar opens Salt. It’s just two minutes long, but is a quite beautiful song. The arrangement is understated. Just a chirping, mesmeric guitar accompanies Louis. He’s accompanied by Sarah. She’s a perfect foil for Louis. They’re like yin and yang. They compliment each other, on what’s a beautiful ballad. It shows another side to Admiral Fallow.

Drums pound and crack, while washes of keyboards sweep in on Some Kind of Life. Slowly, the arrangement unfolds. Admiral Fallow don’t rush. They drop in a piano and bass. After a minute, Louis’ heartfelt vocal enters. As he sings: “I left the house and started the next chapter,” confusion and uncertainty fills his voice. Has, and is, he doing the right thing? Behind him, the rest of Admiral Fallow create one of the best arrangement. It unfolds in waves, as Louis delivers an emotive, soul-searching vocal. He describes this as a “never ending tussle with the mind.” By then, the arrangement has grown in drama and power.  When Louis’ vocal is added, Some Kind of Life takes on anthemic sound. It’s also one of the highlights of Tiny Rewards.

The drums that open Liquor and Milk are similar to those on Building As Foreign. However, this time, it’s mesmeric, deliberate stabs of piano that accompany the drums. They frame Louis’ vocal as he reminisces. Accompanying him is Sarah, her vocal equally impassioned and emotive. Their vocal take centre-stage, as the drums and piano provide the accompaniment. Later, strings and percussion are added, as the arrangement reaches a crescendo.

Carousel see the tempo rise slightly. Admiral Fallow jump on the merry-go-round. It’s has a much more upbeat sound. Driving along the arrangement along are the piano and drums. They accompany Louis. However, Sarah steals the show, combining power and emotion. Meanwhile, a bass, keyboards and drums power the arrangement along. Louis and Sarah combine, hopefully singing: “get yourself out from under the weather, stick another pin in that map you drew, get yourself out from under the weather, and I long for this to be the pin you want to do.”

Melancholy. That describes the slow, deliberate introduction to Seeds, which closes Tiny Rewards. Louis, accompanied by the piano, delivers a wistful, deliberate vocal. Drums rumble, while keyboards and piano combine with a clarinet. They set the scene for Louis and Sarah. As they sing: “we sow seeds wherever we go,” there’s an element of hope amidst the melancholia. It grows, as the arrangement builds, and Tiny Rewards draws to a close.

Three years after the release of their sophomore album Tree Bursts In Snow, Admiral Fallow returned recently with Tiny Rewards. It was released on the Canadian label Nettwerk. Tiny Rewards was well worth the three year wait. 

With its mixture of anthems, future festival favourites, heart wrenching ballads and cinematic tracks, Tiny Rewards is a captivating album. Lyricist and vocalist Louis Abbott is aided and abetted by Sarah Hayes. Together, they bring the lyrics to life, breathing life, meaning, emotion and sometimes, melancholy into the twelve tracks. Other times, there’s a hopeful, sound on Tiny Rewards, which is a career defining album from Admiral Fallow.

Six years after the Brother Louis Collective became Admiral Fallow, the Glasgow based band are now one of Scottish music’s most successful exports. No wonder, given the quality of music on Tiny Rewards. It manages to surpass the quality of Tree Bursts In Snow. Many people thought Tree Bursts In Snow was an album Admiral Fallow would struggle to surpass. However, after three years hard work and the a little from help from their friends, Admiral Fallow return with Tiny Rewards, the eclectic album of their career.

Tiny Rewards sees Admiral Fallow jump onboard the Carousel and combine disparate musical genres. Everything from electronica, folk, indie pop, indie rock, orchestral, pop, psychedelia  and rock is combined by Admiral Fallow. The result is Tiny Rewards, the finest, and most captivating and eclectic album ofAdmiral Fallow’s career.



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