How Does It Feel To Be Loved?
An indiepop record label


For reviews of "The Kids At The Club" go here

Reviews of Butcher Boy


The Guardian
Tip for Butcher Boy in the Guardian's Film And Music playlist

"Smiths-indebted Scots who appear on a charming indie compilation, The Kids At The Club. This is their first release, but it's wonderful: if they've got other songs like this, more than compilation appearances await them."

Review by: Michael Hann
Guardian review here


Is This Music?
Demo review

All twangy guitars and cinematic ideals, Glasgow 7-piece Butcher Boy make the cleanest most professional-sounding demo of the batch. With timeless songwriting style and effortless delivery, their guitar sound evokes thoughts of the (late lamented) Go-Betweens or Tindersticks (via their clear love of lush instrumentation), or even James’ pop ethic. More, please.


The Rain Fell Down
Review of Butcher Boy show at Britannia Panopticon Music Hall

Butcher Boy were every bit as good as I had hoped - I'd only heard the two MySpace songs before this. They're definitely in the same school (and league) as Belle & Sebastian and The Smiths, but a bit folkier. Stuart Murdoch did arrive about mid-show! John reminds you of him, the way he moves around on stage while playing guitar. They had a line-up of seven musicians, including Garry and Alison from All My Friends on bass and accordion/piano respectively. There was also a violin and a cello and the acoustics in the hall were still pretty good, even though it's not in very good repair. I wonder why the state or the council or whatever don't give them funds to restore it? They are raising the funds themselves now and all proceeds from that night went to this cause. Anyway, Butcher Boy hasn't released anything yet, the debut album is coming out in February or something. They've only been included on the Kids At the Club compilation, put together by Ian from How Does It Feel to Be Loved?.


Indie MP3

Scottish seven piece Butcher Boy follow up their appearance on the Kids At The Club Compilation with another two releases on the How Does It Feel To Be Loved record label. They will release their debut album Profit In Your Poetry on March 5th 2007. It will be however be preceded by a digital single titled Girls Make Me Sick which will be appropriately released on Valentines Day on i-tunes and the HDIFTBL indie store in high quality digital formats. There have already been some great words said about the album and based on the single and the compilation track I cannot agree more. I can hear aspects of some of my favourite artists here (Orange Juice, The Smiths, Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, Camera Obscura etc) but at the end of the day the only identity is their own and that is helped in no small part by John Hunt's vocal performance which go well against the lush, orchestral sounding music.



Glasgow's National Pop League is the sort of monthly art and music party that becomes a scene in itself, and for five years, lead Butcher Boy John Blain Hunt's DJ sessions were the reason to go. And after making a name for himself as the curator of the party that's inspired a Camera Obscura tune ("Knee Deep At The NPL"), this year sees Hunt strike out with a full band and a spot-on debut record. The Butcher Boys have studied their Smiths tunes, adding some Belle & Sebastian, some Tindersticks, some strings, and some dreary-day poetry to craft catchy, mood-spanning indie-pop.


Autonomy Gir

Butcher Boy: the new Belle and Sebastian? Okay, not quite, but I really like their sound. Judging from the tunes on their myspace, the track on the excellent "Kids At The Club" compilation and the one I just heard from indieMp3, the SUPER RAD "Girls Make Me Sick" (what a cool song title too!), their debut album "Profit In Your Poetry" (HDIF 002) should be something to look forward to.




Since we heard Butcher Boy's "Days Like These Will Be The Death Of Me" on the How Does it Feel To Be Loved? comp last year, we been dying to hear some more; and now we finally will. The debut full-length from Butcher Boy, Profit In Your Poetry will be released March 5th on the UK label How Does It Feel To Be Loved? Here's the first single from the record. Highly recommended for fans of Felt, The Smiths, and pretty much any other late 80s indiepop. It's a simple enough sentiment. Girls make Butcher Boy's John Hunt sick. I'm sure they make him jump for joy, too, but on this particular occasion, he's not feeling too good about them. Oddly enough, it's hard to grasp this message from the lyrics, because, unless I'm missing something, "it means the world to me to see you fall asleep, to feel your breath against my
cheek" doesn't exactly agree with the song's title. Words aside, this song's just great. The bright, Felt-y keyboards and chirping guitar seal the deal for me. Sign me up for the full-length.


Obscure Sound

A band who is recently making a splash in the blog atmosphere is Glasgow's own Butcher Boy. In the past few years, we've seen strong revivals of classic British punk, psychedelia, and 80s dance, among many others. One influential genre that has remained largely untouched has been one of my personal favorites: jangle pop. While it remains one of the most important genres of post-punk in the 80s, new bands rarely find themselves reaching the quality of early material from The Smiths, The Housemartins, and R.E.M.. Shying away from the traditional revivalism, Butcher Boy takes their chops from the bands they adored while growing up. Often consisting of seven members, most of the members have been well educated in the creation of music, particulary vocalist John Blain Hunt who sounds like some clever mixture of Paul Heaton, Morrissey, and Stuart Staples. They are quite fond of the Smiths relevance as well, comparing their music in similar circumstances as to "closing your eyes and listening to the first Smiths record". Well then, The Smiths' first record is one of my favorite of all time. They certainly bought me on that line alone. Of course, their influence is even noticabe in the song titles. 'Girls Make Me Sick'? Hah. A younger Morrissey would certainly agree. The song fits form as well, led by the frantically executed bass line of Garry Hoggan and the quick guitar strums of Basil Pieroni, the song eventually evolves into a catchy and fairly complex version with the surrounding of various keys and mixed percussion. Perhaps the vocal production seems a bit outdated, though I woudn't be surprised if this was entirely intentional. Either way, the song works and is in strong form. 'Keep Your Powder Dry' is excellent usage of the relationship between the electric and bass guitar. Each one synchronize with each other flawlessly behind the drums of Findlay Mackinnon. The song is abrupt and short-lived with only one chorus, but also intentional, this only leaves listeners in the band's intended position: begging for more.


Pop Musicology
Review of 'Girls Make Me Sick'

Do they? Well that’s fantastic news, because men who hate girls (men like Butcher Boy's head honcho John Blain Hunt) generally make the greatest pop music. Immediately business-like in its Orange Juice-lite pop bounciness, Butcher Boy's debut single reeks of impeccable heritage and finely-chosen influences. They say 'The Smiths if they'd been signed to Motown', I say Camera Obscura fronted by a cheerful Ian Curtis and a guarantee of maximum sexual frustration. What Butcher Boy excel in here is joyous simplicity veiling a heart of twisted juxtaposition and crippling sweetness. In other words, a classic Scot pop archetype. 'It means the world to me to see you fall asleep,' croons Hunt, before his ensemble explodes into crappingly happy chonking chords and suspensions that shudder around the room like laser-guided nuggets of pop-flavour pie in a food fight between Belle and Sebastian and Felt. Prettiness means nothing here, despite the fact that 'Girls Make Me Sick' is monumentally so. Rather, the importance lies in the cleverly judged symbiosis of pop function and earthquake-heartbreak. Butcher Boy deserve to continue in the footsteps of their Scottish pop forebears, and to eternally be awkwardly hampered by their own romantic ill-ease. If Butcher Boy don't make 2007 a vintage one on the strength of this dazzling single, then we're all doomed to a year of beardy post-rock, I guess. And we don't want that.

The Guardian
First sight feature

Who are they?
Think DJ turned musician, plus mates. But not in the way you imagine: this is no Andrew Weatherall or Paul Oakenfold. The DJ in question is a thirtysomething Glaswegian named John Blain Hunt, who has spent years running the National Pop League in his home city, a club night beloved of the kind of people who adore Belle & Sebastian.

So it's not samples and bleeps, then?
No. The seven-piece employ viola, cello and piano to complement the trad two guitars, bass and drums rock lineup. It's all swooning strings and keening melodies round here, thanks. It's pop as kitchen-sink drama: the action's in the emotions, not the explosions.

Would we be right to think this is a group who might be described as "sensitive"?
There's no way around it - Butcher Boy are unlikely ever to write a song called, say, Rock'n'Roll Woman; the ghost of the Smiths lurks in the shadows of their music. There's even an echo of There Is a Light That Never Goes Out in the song Why I Like Babies, when Hunt sings: "I'm happy in your car - the way the engine purrs would crack an iron heart."

Literary types, are they?
Yes, one suspects. Butcher Boy began as the pseudonym under which Hunt sent poetry to newspapers. The band's biog claims: "Butcher Boy was about books by George Orwell ... it was about films by Bill Douglas and Robert Bresson ... about an imaginary world of woods and darkness and absolute, precise beauty. About power-cuts and candles."

Hmmm. Does the world need more Smithsalikes?
Well, Butcher Boy aren't just Smithsalikes. You can hear a strong hint of Love in their filigree guitar lines, but their identity - while firmly in a British indie tradition - is very much their own.

They're inspired by Love in the same way so many second-raters are inspired by Brian Wilson, are they?
When "Brian Wilsonesque" is used to describe a group, it generally means: "They can do the harmonies, but forget about the melodies." And, granted, Butcher Boy are unlikely to have a Forever Changes in them (who does?), but the interplay of intricate guitar lines with strings is what summons up the memory of Arthur Lee, and Butcher Boy pay worthy tribute to his legacy.

Where can I hear them?
Girls Make Me Sick is released as a download-only single on February 12, followed by the album Profit in Your Poetry on March 5, on How Does It Feel To Be Loved? They play at the Windmill, London SW2, on February 9.

My Science Project

Schotse Smiths meets Northern Soul indiepop. Voorproefje van hun in Maart, op How Does It Feel To Be Loved?, te verschijnen debuut album. Die baslijn! Die drummer! Die afgemeten gitaarstootjes!

(The last bit of which is: "That bassline! That drummer! Those measured bursts of guitar!", in case you were wondering. Although we much prefer the original - gitaarstootjes!)


God Is In The TV

Are you constantly moaning about the state of indie (TM)? Are you on the look-out for a new band to cherish with all your heart? Enjoy the early works of Stuart Murdoch and co? Well then, you need to acquaint yourself with the delightfully twee pop stylings of Butcher Boy. If there's any justice in this world then they'll be the name on every bloggers lips by the end of the summer. Their forthcoming debut album (due out on How Does It Feel To Be Loved? early next month) should be a scorcher if this animated video for "Girls Make Me Sick" is any indication. Remember kids... you heard it here first-ish (I actually picked up on this band via The Guardian and The Bowlie Forum so I can't take all the credit).

Indie Mp3

Review of gig at Brixton Windmill

Once you get over the fact they sound like Belle & Sebastian - the early years - you realise you are watching something pretty special indeed. The band are wonderfully dynamic with the string section shining, supporting John Hunt's vocals down to a tee. Already the songs are well known with the audience joining in deeper into the set. The band even surprise us with a stunning version of The Weather Prophets Almost Prayed. This is good as it gets and looking around the crowd tonight most had a glint in their eye. I can see this band becoming a Smiths like obsession for some!


Drowned In Sound
Review of gig at Brixton Windmill

Everyone seems to be hell-bent on getting to the front for Butcher Boy. There's been the odd sprinkling of hype around London about this band thanks to favourable inclusion on the How Does It Feel To Be Loved? label compilation, but their single isn't out until two days after this show. How have so many people heard good things about this band? Is it just word of mouth and the sheer power of genial PR? No matter. The point is that people are genuinely excited about the songs written by John Blain Hunt of Butcher Boy and their humorously depressing overtones.

Despite this, things do start somewhat shakily. Songs struggle to find their own choruses, they finish before they get started and leave the ears confused. But then, thank Christ, they play 'Girls Make Me Sick', that single that no-one's supposed to have heard yet. And it's ace, beautifully sad and vibrant with string swells aplenty and the good sense not to hang around any longer than necessary. That's pop know-how. After that, every song they play suddenly becomes wonderfully dour and weirdly loveable, fizzing anthems to sobbing sadness and pity shot through with Motown panache and the homespun charm of Belle & Sebastian. One wonders why this couldn’t have been the case from the beginning. But then again, it's early days for Butcher Boy. We will be watching closely.

STV/The Skinny

Butcher Boy are built around underground cult hero and Glasgow pop guru, John Blain Hunt. They are purveyors of fine British indie pop, along similar lines to fellow Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian and most notably The Smiths. It is to their huge credit then, that Hunt and Co. have managed to fuse the heavy influence of these bands to create something which sounds completely their own, whilst capturing an instant and addictive charm that even Mozza would be proud of. Profit In Your Poetry, their debut album, occupies this tricky middle ground between being influenced by and blatantly copying your musical predecessors. Hunt's emotive and hauntingly melodic vocals, accompanied by delicate strings, carry the listener away on tales of cruel love, eloquently told and with consummate ease. The album comprises ten standout songs but the title track, There Is No-One Who Can Tell You Where You've Been and I know Who You Could Be are flawless – disappointing only in that they have to end. Truly Beautiful. 5/5

The Rawking Refuses To Stop

Can't go wrong with lo-fi indie pop, right guys? Butcher Boy play just that, combining a Motown-y shuffle with a very earnest, very blue-eyed singer. If this song is any indication, upcoming debut Profit In Your Poetry should be neither profitable nor especially poetic -- just stubbornly melancholy and ridiculously catchy. Which is certainly good enough for me.


Reason #1251 I love independent artists: the names. It’s hard to imagine turning
on the radio and hearing the DJ say that was a song by a band named Butcher Boy. There again it may not be that far fetched, though, since there is a singer who calls himself Pretty Ricky now…

Contrary to what’s in the picture, Butcher Boy is actually a seven person group from Glasgow, Scotland. They will release their debut Profit In Your Poetry March 5 in England. What makes them so noteworthy is their use of viola, cello and accordion in crafting Britpop/punk songs similar to the Smiths, Felt and other late 80s acts. I’ve only heard four cuts from the album, and I’m already predicting it will have an extremely long play life in my iPod, as well as possibly landing a spot in my mid-year best of list. In other words, give these songs a listen and tell me if you feel the same.

Capital Magazine

Butcher Boy’s debut album, released March 5 on HDIF, has been long in the dreaming. A project initiated in the late 1990’s by John Blair Hunt, the current band was drawn together in 2005 through the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Hunt’s National Pop League night in Glasgow. BB have earned flattering but entirely apt comparisons to Felt, Belle & Sebastian, The Smiths, and Tindersticks (for the latter, see ‘Trouble and Desire’). On an odder note, Hunt’s rather lovely voice is reminiscent of troubadour-ey Cat Stevens, and of contemporary nods to 70’s post-folk a la The Clientele. PIYP is markedly sincere; it’s not Smiths-esque one-liner comedy, but it isn’t remotely humourless and is earnest without pretension. There are lush, engaging dance numbers like ‘Girls Make Me Sick’, and melancholy love songs like ‘Fun’, saved from being saccharine by remaining steadfastly oblique - “cause disappointment’s noble when it’s someone else’s life, so we’re okay, we wouldn’t have wanted any other way.” If you want to be reminded that there is the purest kind of profit in poetry, that pop can push you over, dry your tears and save us all, this album is the friend you need. 

Pop'N Cherries

We met the boys on the "Kids at the Club" compilation and this is their debut single on the very same label "How does it feel to be loved". The debut album "Profit in your Poetry" is due on March 5. Arthur Lee's heritage with early REM reminiscence.



I feel that there is a lot of dishonesty inherent in pop music. As a whole, the genre is belaboured with scene-specific posturing, pretentious music snobbery, and a grating sense of fraternal exclusivity, all of which are designed to do little more than forcibly erect an aura of coolness and defend it to the death—or until it becomes unfashionable to do so, at which point the vultures of retro and irony swoop in to feast on what remains. While I admit that the same critique of vested self-interest could be applied to just about every musical genre out there, pop seems to be the most obvious transgressor. After all, the name (“pop” as an abbreviation of “popular”) is itself a dead giveaway that the genre is based on marketing a widely-saleable item.

I digress, but not without a point. It is this tradition of willful crap-proliferation that makes the real musical gems all the more valuable, though not necessarily in terms of dollars and cents. Or pounds and pence, which must needs be the case with the Glaswegian pop-rock septet, Butcher Boy.

The true value of any given band or recording is, at best, nebulous and irrecoverably subjective, notwithstanding the tradition of rock-crit scoring, “best of” lists, and the e’er-inflating market values of store-purchased albums and tickets for live performances. Still, there is something to be said for an artist whose work is self-referential without being masturbatory, inviting and open without sounding bland or trivial. To whit: in the lyric sheet introduction to Butcher Boy’s debut full-length, Profit in Your Poetry, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist John Blain Hunt muses about

“The things you remember when you’re little! Birds pecking the tops of milk bottles to get at the cream. The times of the tides, breath in cold air, the names of the planets, the definition and purpose of the seasons, the dates on coins, a whole penny of change to yourself… I am glad to have found these memories again, and to be able to call on them again. I am happy that, in the end, this is what our record is about.”

Our UK readers (I know that you’re out there) may recall Hunt from his time spent as a DJ with the National Pop League, a monthly dance night held at the Woodside Social Club in Glasgow. Having created Butcher Boy as an ad-hoc poetry project in the late 1990s, Hunt eventually went on to assemble a backing band of friends and interested compatriots—pianist Alison Eales, cellist Jacqui Grant, bassist Garry Hoggan, drummer Findlay Mackinnon, violist Aoife Magee, and lead guitarist Basil Pieroni. February 18, 2005, marked the first official performance by the current incarnation of Butcher Boy at the local RAF club in Glasgow; soon after, the band soon began to play their soothing, Smiths-ian tunes at venues in and around the Merchant City. In 2006, Butcher Boy’s first recording, “Days Like These Will Be the Death of Me,” appeared on How Does It Feel to Be Loved?’s Kids at the Club compilation, which garnered no small amount of praise from The Guardian and from that ubiquitous three-pronged publication based out of Chicago. You know which one, you dirty hipsters you.

As a debut album, Profit in Your Poetry sets the bar remarkably high for future Butcher Boy releases. Lead track “Trouble and Desire” does a fair job of establishing the backbone of Butcher Boy’s style: guitar reverb, poppy bass lines, anti-bombastic percussion, airily arresting vocals, and a pleasant backdrop of strings. A love song for a photograph, “There is No One Who Can Tell You Where You’ve Been” thrives on acoustic guitar rhythms and the commanding drone of a cello. Title track “Profit in Your Poetry” changes things up with a peppy blast of surf-rock guitar and ride-heavy rhythms backed by merging strings from Magee and Eales. “I think I understand why you make due,” croons Hunt, “so secretly I paint the mirrors blue / I can see you sleep and see you bleed / and I can see the profit in your poetry.”

The apologetic strains of “I Could Be in Love With Anyone” will doubtlessly remind listeners of similar Morrissey-inspired Glaswegian acts like Belle & Sebastian (albeit sans-twee), ditto for the confused lovesickness of “I Lost Myself.” Current single “Girls Make Me Sick” attempts to disguise its sad-sack themes with plenty of pop, wrapping upbeat percussion, a driving bass line, pop-rock jangle, and Mellotron accents around sentimental lyrics like “It means the world to me / to see you fall asleep / to feel your breath against my cheek / so southern and sorry.”

“I Know Who You Could Be” pairs its wishful thinking with captivating piano and string melodies, a ringing guitar riff, and yet another remarkably catchy bass line, while “Fun” pares things back for a coffee house ballad with a central acoustic melody that slowly branches out to include piano, bass, subdued percussion, and finally strings. “Keep Your Powder Dry” is one of the shortest and most endearing tracks to the album, its two minutes and fifteen seconds occupied by angular guitar riffs, bass, brassy percussion, piano, and a quick-and-tasty full-band outro. Final track “Days Like These Will Be the Death of Me” leads with classic-sounding strings before quick-switching to include muted guitar strumming, snare-centric percussion, fluid four-string rhythms, slide guitar, piano, and even an accordion. And, like all of Hunt’s work so far, it’s no slouch in the lyric department:

“This house is like a fire when the sun sets / it knocks me to my knees / and days like these will be the death of me.”
Well-worded, forthright, and endearing, Butcher Boy’s Profit in Your Poetry is a welcome reprieve from a UK pop scene full of over-inflated egos and hype-fueled success. Give a listen, and get to know these lads and lasses a little better. You’ll be happy that you did. 8/10

Drowned In Sound

A long line of Scottish miserablists finds itself continuing in full health with Butcher Boy's John Blain Hunt as a natural successor to Edwyn Collins. Much has been made of this seven-piece's potential as a thrashing, poetic and ebulliently winsome voice in the jangling dark, and with My Latest Novel jetting off to the States there's a multi-instrumental hole in the tapestry of Scottish pop.

And those who frequently make so much of these things are right to do so here. 'Girls Make Me Sick' is a triumphantly bitter and sad slice of whimsy, custom-built for the fey kids down the disco in 1996 and just danceable enough to make it appropriate in this decade. The boogie-orgasm basslines are sweetly buoyed by explosive strings and gentle melodica, all given ballast by Hunt's impeccable lyrics. He sings of wasted affection and the misery of reminiscence, but it's all delivered with such ballistic wit and glam-Ian Curtis swagger that you'd be forgiven for thinking that this man is in love.

He is not, and it is to our advantage.


John Blain Hunt is best known to Glaswegian indie scenesters as a club-runner. But his band’s debut, inspired by monochrome movies and bleak winters, walks the walk, and these cello-and-viola-flecked songs transcend their Smiths, Tindersticks and Felt influences. “I Could Be In Love With Anyone” aches with yearning, while “Girls Make Me Sick” out-Morrisseys the man himself: “A little pressure on my neck was all I ever wanted”. Regret, giro-funded couplets, sensual ambiguity – it’s all here, resurrecting a great British genre. 4/5

Written by: Chris Roberts


Liquor Is Quicker
Review of the Brixton Windmill gig

Butcher Boy are an up-and-coming musical ensemble from Glasgow. Promoting their recently released (and thoroughly recommended) debut album, they produce driving pacy rhythms layered over by beautiful soaring strings and perfectly completed with deep male vocals, sometimes staccato and forceful giving a feel of desperation and urge and sometimes soothing and harmonised to produce songs to make you weep joyful tears. They’ve been “Breaking Hearts for Fun” as they sing in ‘I Could Be In Love With Anyone.’ This is bitter-sweet cruelty in its most intoxicating and giddy form. They will break our hearts time and again and we will still beg for more.






Coast Is Clear

Ich bitte um Handzeichen - wer sehnt sich auch nach den Tagen zurück, als Belle & Sebastian noch richtig gute, melancholische Musik gemacht haben? Ich gestehe: ich gehöre zu diesen Renegaten... Und mir kann jetzt geholfen werden, denn es gibt eine neue Band aus Glasgow, die einfach wunderbaren Gitarrenpop im Stile der frühen B&S, Felt und den Smiths macht - Butcher Boy. Heute Nacht erhielt ich eine Mail ihres Labels How does it feel to be loved?, durch die ich auf deren Musik aufmerksam wurde. Und nachdem ich mir die vier Songs auf ihrem Myspace-Profil angehört habe, bin ich begeistert und verzaubert - ganz ganz großartige Musik, eine wehmütige Stimme, schmeichelnde Melodien - alles da für einen regnerischen Abend bei einem Glas schottischen Rotwein. Am 5. März wird ihr Debütalbum «Profit in your poetry» erscheinen, das ich mir definitiv sofort kaufen werde!

[Translation] Hands up all those who miss the old days when Belle & Sebastian used to make really good, melancholy music? I admit, I'm one of those renegades -- but help is at hand, there's a new band from Glasgow, who make simply wonderful guitar pop in the style of early B&S, Felt and the Smiths - Butcher Boy. Tonight I became aware of their music when I received an email from their label How Does It Feel To Be Loved?, and after I listened to the four songs on their Myspace profile, I'm inspired and enchanted - totally fantastic music, a wistful voice, melodies that caress - all you need for a rainy evening with a glass of Scottish red wine [?? -- translator]. Their debut album "Profit in your poetry" comes out on 5th March, and I'll be buying it immediately!

The Devil Has The Best Tuna

As a vegetarian I'd have preferred for to be reviewing Organic Farmer Boy but hey you can't have everything in life. Glasgow has long been a hotbed of left of centre maverick pop groups, think Orange Juice, Revolving Paint Dream, Aztec Camera, The Pastels, BMX Bandits , Arab Strap, Belle & Sebastian, I could go on but you get the picture. Well add another to that ever lengthening list. Butcher Boy are the natural heirs to the Glaswegian alt-pop throne. The band has existed in its current form since early 2005, but lead singer John Blain Hunt has played in various incarnations of the band since the late 1990s. Mr Hunt must have a well used copy of the NMEs C86 tape as well as a record collection full of early 80s and late 90s alt-pop because Butcher Boy carve catchy, emotion laced alt-pop that doffs it's cap to bands such as Felt , Belle & Sebastian, The Pale Fountains and The Divine Comedy without being in thrall to them. Like a Godiva Truffle dipped in vinegar, Butcher Boy songs sound sweet but have a pleasantly bitter after-taste. Their new single Profit In Your Poetry is about to be released on How Does It Feel To Be Loved, go buy it and let Butcher Boy into your life so that you too can spend evenings with your head resting on your partners lap, hands clasped together as if in joint prayer.

Is This Music?

According to the press release - doncha just love ‘em - Glasgow ‘hipsters’ will know John Bain Hunt as a regular DJ at NPL. Sadly, being chained to the itm? typewriter we don’t get out that much, but we do know of John’s other life, as main man behind Butcher Boy. Reviewed in itm? last year, we talked of his “timeless songwriting style and effortless delivery”. Who needs press releases, eh?

In fact, you hardly need put the CD on to get the general idea, take these introspective song titles: ‘Days Like These Will Be The Death Of Me’... ‘I Lost Myself’ - indeed almost every one of the 10 titles are in the conversational / confessional mode - the “I” or “Me” are very much Hunt / Butcher Boy, it would seem. The lyrics back this up - “my lips will crumble like ash when we kiss... I’ve been breaking hearts for fun” which somehow captures Morrissey and Murdoch in one tune.

There IS the suggestion made that it’s a second Tigermilk, but that’s a little misleading, musically-speaking at least - the main achievement in this debut is grasping the baton left by Morrissey and Tindersticks. But Profit in Your Poetry does weave grandiose epic pop, conjuring up vibrant visions of urban life and giving it a sheen that the grimy streets of Glasgow could only dream of. 4/5

The Guardian

Butcher Boy are a winsome seven-piece fronted by Glasgow DJ and scenester John Blain Hunt, a man steeped in that city's tradition of indie musical melancholy. Their minor-chord laments, beefed up by viola, piano and cello, recall Belle & Sebastian, though some tracks - most notably opener Trouble and Desire - veer into the Albert Camus-via-Adrian Mole lyrical territory once inhabited by Lloyd Cole. Yet the shadow of the Smiths looms largest over Butcher Boy, with the tremulous I Could Be in Love With Anyone echoing the perfect despair of Morrissey heartaches such as Reel Around the Fountain. Hunt's wordy self-regard can sometimes grate, but when he's not being annoyingly wet, this is a promising debut. 3/5

Written by: Ian Gittins





Drowned In Sound

"I have a vision and a whole philosophy on how things ought to be"
Butcher Boy - 'I Know Who You Could Be'

Now here's something interesting, and in what promises to be another superb year for independent Scottish music, it's coming at you straight out of Glasgow. The city that gave the world Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura now has another miserabilist pop ensemble to (dis)content itself with, and its chief architect John Blain Hunt proves himself to be a songwriter of enviable skill on this, Butcher Boy's maiden long player.

It's an album of immense subtlety and depth, the kind of record you can listen to fifty times and still discover hidden treasures on that fifty first spin. Being slowly seduced by an artist is always a joy, and that was very much the case with this album for this writer.

Not that happiness seems to be an emotion with which Hunt is particularly au fait, at least not in his songwriting persona. 'Girls Make Me Sick' is an oblique reference to the root cause of this discontent - gallows humour, then, for him to release it as a single 48 hours before the dawning of Valentine's Day. It's also the song most likely to draw in new listeners, reminiscent as it is of latter day B&S, complete with a jaunty boogie piano line.

Delve a little deeper, though, and the more bountiful treats reveal themselves. The brisk title track, opening with a sea-shanty guitar riff before stopping altogether to let Hunt deliver the payoff ('I can see... the profit in your poetry'), sounds like a fantastic, undiscovered Smiths composition, but it's to the song containing the lyrics that open this review I'd like to draw attention. Here, on 'I Know Who You Could Be', Hunt's ethereal lyrics skirt around an insistent bass line, casting him as troubled Glaswegian preacher leading the darkest of Highland orchestras - rarely has gravitas sounded this convincing.

If you think Scottish music begins and ends with The View and The Fratellis, you might want to look elsewhere but for the rest of us, this is a compelling record documenting those thousand-odd of shades of grey that exist between the blacks and whites of life. 9/10

Review by: Rob Webb



There's a reason for that title: Butcher Boy is the pseudonym under which frontman John Blain Hunt used to send poetry to newspapers. And throughout these ten slices of classic baroque-pop, it is Hunt's kitchen-sink couplets and unshowy sensuality that elevates this debut from the pack. His airy, seemingly innocent vocals can charm and devastate; often at the same time. Alternating pithy girl group stomps such as Girls Make Me Sick with atmospheric pot-boilers such as Trouble And Desire, the septet's peppy rhythms and filigrees of chiming guitars and stately strings have precedents in the likes of Love, The Chameleons and Felt. Immediate and rich, sharp and endearing, this Boy will become a long-term companion. 4/5

Review by: Nadine McBay






John Blain Hunt runs Glasgow club The National Pop League, beloved of Camera Obscura and Belle & Sebastian. His band are more obviously sinister, as Hunt sings in the stern tones of Morrissey inviting meat-eaters outside for "a quiet chat". The guitars also carry strong messages under their genteel shimmerings. If the occasional song feels shoehorned into the style, it's a mostly fine set of morbid acoustica. 7/10

Review by: John Earls


God Is In The TV

Glaswegians Butcher Boy hail from the same club as Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Literally the same club, The National Pop League, a monthly club night held at the Woodside Social Club, is a regular haunt for all of these bands, a night of “soul and passion, of poetry and perfect pop.” For five years John Blain Hunt played records there, holding a secret close to his chest. He had his own songs and lyrical poetry that rattled with ghosts of former lovers. Songs inspired by books by Orwell and Schulz, films by Douglas and Bresson and records by Guraldi and The Smiths: songs about “power cuts and candles.”

It was around Hunt that in 2005 the collective known as Butcher boy emerged, their own definite sound was created. Think early Belle and Sebastian haunted by a real past, the precise poetic pop of the Smiths tinged with a heavy Glaswegian sensibility. Think the tunes of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions matched to the intimacy of Arab Strap, most of all think wonderfully dark pop music, for nights out or those long dark midnights spent alone by your turntable, reading the inlay, and submersing yourself in the sound.

Opener “Trouble and Desire” doesn’t so much begin as sleepwalk into view, dark shuffling piano notes, suitably restrained orchestration and that ghostly whispering vocal, that trudges homewards. While the gorgeously broken hearted pop of “There is No-One Who Can Tell You Where You’ve Been” is one of the highlights. Luxuriously aching strings, Rickenbaker guitars, a whirling melody that sounds a little like The Hidden Cameras best work, and lovelorn vocals that bring to life a moment of sheer, clawing, heart pounding, tenderness. (“Beneath these arches I feel blessed/Hip To Hip Then Chest to Chest….I love to say that I love you/I call across an empty room.)

“Profit in Your Poetry” is even better, chiming guitars, and a dancing rhythm, blessed by simply wonderful precise pop lyrics. Part early IRS era REM, part primetime The Smiths: literally recounting moments lost in the past with sharp, literate, lyrical vignettes. I like to think it's about not allowing someone you love to give up on their creative dreams, but you can make your own minds up. (“I think I understand why you make do/So secretly I paint the mirrors blue/I can see you sleep and see you bleed/ And I can see there’s profit in your poetry”)

Things are taken down a notch or two with “I Could be In Love With Anyone” a slow burning, sensitive, Scott Walker-ish ballad, that’s highlighted by the gorgeously arcing violin parts, and some wonderfully poetic lines. The band’s first single “Girls Make Me Sick” is joyous: 50’s guitar bends, and heartbroken verses, build up to some great organs, violins, and a myriad of instrumentation; like primetime Belle and Sebastian, it's bittersweet kitchen sink pop that juxtaposes a great big danceable chorus with tearful vocals. Elsewhere “I Lost Myself” and “Fun” do rather suffer from the a chorus that lacks the punch of other songs found on the album. While “I Know Who You Could Be” is darkly grand: imbued with the spirit of 80s indie folk, its melody is infectiously melancholic, its lyrics deal in love’s wishful thinking.

“Profit In Your Poetry” may not quite be the seminal debut that the press release would have you believe, it’s a little indebted to the past for that: but by god its not far off. It's an album that’s sealed in its own vision of the world, rich with yearning folk pop songs, and unrequited poetic beauty. Emotional songs that live and breathe on repeated listens, songs that could yet see them follow their fellow Scottish musical friends into your sub consciousness. Treasure these tunes. 4/5

Review by: Bill Cummings

Yahoo Music

Scottish music seems to have been on the receiving of a bum rap of late. Thanks to the boiled meat'n'two veg stompings of The Fratellis and The View's terrace chant plagiarism, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the spiritual home of indie-pop had shut up shop and called it day. And the less said about Sandi Thom the better.

And yet through this morass of turgid musical hooliganism comes a beacon of hope as Butcher Boy - the brainchild of Glaswegian scenester John Blain Hunt - arrives with all the gusto of the cavalry to save a scene encircled by high profile dross. Such has been Hunt's passion in keeping the flame of perfect pop burning with his legendary club the National Pop League, that Camera Obscura were moved to pen the tribute "Knee Deep At The NPL" while kindred spirits Belle & Sebastian elected to launch "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" with a music quiz at the club.

Butcher Boy's real genius lies in confidently picking up the baton passed on by their hometown's aural forebears. Sweetening bitter lyrical melancholia with tunes and arrangements that are as fragile as they are beautiful, Butcher Boy strikes a precise balance between heartache and bliss. The pain of "Girls Make Me Sick" is tempered by a driving bass line recalling '60s soul at its best, while elsewhere, the twanging guitars of "Profit In your Poetry" illustrates the many joys that await throughout this debut.

The delicate, brushed strokes and gentle strums of opener "Trouble And Desire" evoke the ghost of Tindersticks, but this is no mere pastiche, rather a heartfelt gesture that sings in its own voice. Indeed, the sprightly bounce of "There Is No One Who Can Tell You Where You've Been" is enough confirmation that we're dealing with something quite special here. The achingly gorgeous "Days Like These Will Be The Death Of Me" brings the album to a stunning close. Treading the fine line between collapse and inner strength, it dares to face up to life's myriad hopes and fears and all points in between.

A stunning debut album that fulfils the promise suggested by the band's appearance on last year's "The Kids At The Club" compilation, Butcher Boy's sensitivities and indie-pop aesthetic ensure there is indeed profit to be gained from their poetry. 8/10

Review by: Julian Marszalek


'Profit In Your Poetry' is the debut release by Butcher Boy. Butcher Boy for this LP are a 7 piece band. But their principle songwriter is John Blain Hunt - who also runs the National Pop League club in Glasgow. This is also the second release on How Does It Feel To Be Loved? Records. And as a marker for this fledgling label - it's fine statement of intent - coming on the back of their wonderful - 'Kids at The Club' indiepop collection.

'Profit In Your Poetry' has been in my CD player for what seems like an age. I picked up my copy just before Christmas at the How Does It Feel club night. The LP has been a slow burn. A real grower. Initial impressions were favourable - but not to the point of being blown away. That came later. But make no mistake Butcher Boy have the songs to blow you away. Their sound could be best described as classic indie pop. But that doesn't do justice to the 10 songs on show here. It seems a little pointless picking out individual songs for praise as all songs on the LP are worthy of your attention. But if you want to start anywhere - go for the 'easy' access of debut single 'Girls Make Me Sick' and it's 60's tinged chug along rhythm. Beautiful.

If you want reference points? Think of the Tindersticks for John's vocal style. For the music think of the sweetest (and bitterest) moments of Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Yes, it's that good.There's also a nod to Morrissey. But this nod tends to be in the way John uses words and not his vocal delivery. It's not often a pop singer writes words that could and should be classified as poetry. John Blain Hunt does. And in places, it's like discovering a host of long lost Smiths songs - updated for the 21st Century - songs of love, loss and longing for a new generation of brittle hearts.
Over the past few months I have come to adore every heartfelt moment of this LP. It took it's time to fully reveal it's treasures. But if you give 'Profit In Your Poetry' the time - it will reward you handsomely.

Review by Trevor McCabe

Pop Musicology

It's important that the first line on Butcher Boy's debut LP is "I'm screaming in my sleep". While that could usually could be located in any pan-Scandinavian mongers of death metal's oeuvre, it is here employed to begin and set the emotional balance of a record of sweet, scornful and sometimes utterly scathing songs about the opposite sex and the frustrations they reap from one man – John Blain Hunt (soon to be appearing on Stars In Their Eyes as Ian Curtis and Edwyn Collins and Morrissey at the same time).

The song that line comes from, 'Trouble and Desire', is thoroughbred Scotchpop, softly cooing its spiteful woes at us before the music announces itself as being actually quite pretty as well. It's a neat trick that we all know to be executed finest by bookish boys from Scotland. 'I Lost Myself' is all scratched pianos and wispy acoustic fare, much daintier than anything else assembled here and all the better for the contrast. It's never tortuous to stroll through this much indie-pop, particularly when it's done this well, but those dynamic shifts are what stops good indie-pop music turning into Travis.

Best of all is the monster single 'Girls Make Me Sick', which should probably be heralded as the most convincing impression of ten years ago since Dolly the sheep was cloned again posthumously (lie). It batters along, battling with every female you know on the way, highlighting the peculiarities unstoppable of the male attachment and then stomping off in a cloud of whimsical Motown production. It's sick and sweet at the same time, but certainly not always balanced. Thankfully, this uneven balance lasts and entertains throughout the meagre duration of Profit… in a way that does just enough to avoid not being great at all times. Some songs are a little unfinished and need a sledgehammer chorus to make us all dance and sing, but this is just such a promise of greatness in a debut record.


Say Anything Syndrome

It's that time of the year again when the seasons are confused. There is rain for seconds, minutes, that absolutely drenches you, covers you head to toe in water, so that all you want to do is get inside the nearest grocery store and browse the shelves for products with nice packaging that you know you won't buy. But it stops, almost as quick as it started and there's you, left soaking wet, underneath a bus shelter, taking cover. And as the sun comes out, the clouds evaporate, but you're too wet to fully appreciate it.

I'm in Glasgow, and that's just how the weather is at the minute. Butcher Boy are also in Glasgow and they understand the seasons, the way they are so nonsensical, the way all this talk of seasons may just be a metaphor for life - how the good times and the bad times happen all at once, with no rest. Maybe that's why their music is a collage of musical touch-stones: the stripped back nature of early-day Belle & Sebastian, the shimmer and shine of Camera Obscura, the melodious harmonies of Voxtrot, and the oft miserable wordy foreplay of Morrissey.

Butcher Boy - I Know Who You Could Be

If the sweeping introduction of this song continued for a lot longer than it's mere forty-five seconds... I would be content. It could never outstay its welcome for me. The way it seems designed to soundtrack a camera sweeping in and out of valleys, plains of green grass, mundane villages with Post Offices, Telephone Boxes and Bus Shelters, before once again sweeping across and out away from the suburban sprawl, up the mountainside, before looking up to the sky just in time to follow a flock of seagulls on an outward journey.

Yet the introduction is short, never daring to even tread the line of repetition. Butcher Boy's music is one of economy, (ten tracks coming in at a mere thirty minutes), packed full of emotional strokes, charming melodies and pop sensibilities. Little is explicit in the lyrics, intentionally vague so that so much more is said than that which is explicitly stated. This is a glorious album that the listener is meant to embrace, hold tight against their chest like a pillow, like a lover, and make it their own. By causing listeners to read between the languorous lines, it can be at once universal and personal.

Butcher Boy - Keep Your Powder Dry

This song almost makes my cry. The delight, the delight! the delight! oh you don't understand, how could you? - you weren't there. As soon as it starts in with the shuffling, insistent percussion, and then breaks away into that melody! the melody! oh dear, it's lovely! The song shimmies and sways along a fine line between sadness and happiness, full of memories, oh those memories! Maybe the song is about a lover who never loved as fully as he/she was loved, or maybe its something else entirely. The story isn’t important though! It’s the style behind the content: throughout the lyrics, the sense of colour; Kodak images crystal clear upon the iris even in recollection! oh, the wonder! the shimmering of the clouds as the silver lining almost - yes it does, it does! - catches the Sun's light and, oh, how it shines! The melody carries this song - every instrument is at its beck and call, just waiting for the next twist and turn, the next stop sign, the next green-light, "it's ok! go! yea go! smile, darling, smile!" Even from the deepest valley you can see the Sun’s light if you look hard enough.

I've always appreciated music that could, perhaps, be described as twee, and enjoyed it for what it was. But it's never meant more to me than a pleasant soundtrack to a Spring Day. I think it was always the sense of faux-sincerity that, for me, it revolved around - these kids are delightfully rolling gorgeous melodies off the tip of the tongue - how unhappy could they really be? Yet with this album there's such a sense of wonder, and sadness, and a thousand other simple - yet so complex! - human emotions, that I think I begin to understand how a deliciously happy pop song can cause a listener to let a stray tear roll down their cheek. Profit In Your Poetry wears its influences on its sleeve - it's not revolutionary, yet, for me, it is. Maybe now when I look at a shelf with Belle and Sebastian CD's I'll give them a second look, instead of shrugging and thinking I've heard it all before. Maybe I finally understand this folk/pop/twee shtick after all: Even in sadness there will be memories of happier times and the hope for more.

John Blain Hunt, the leader of the band, says that Butcher Boy's music revolves around memories, an appreciation of the little details in life that make it worth living, especially the vivid sense of wonder! experienced as a child... but more than that; the idea that those moments are gone forever: they can't be brought back. For instance, when I was younger I would always ask my dad to make me tea and toast, despite being capable myself. And he always would, without complaint. But as soon as I decided to start making my own supper, the shared moment, the kind gesture, was gone forever. Today, there are only memories of that time when... Rain falls across the window. The sun will be out soon enough

John Blain Hunt ist im charakteristischen Sinne nicht weniger als ein naiver Poet der reimenden Gegensätzlichkeiten und im klassifizierten Ausdruck der Kopf der Glasgower Gitarrenpopper „Butcher Boy“. Auch wenn der Projektname nicht unabwendbar garantierte Freude bei jedermann aufkommen lassen muss, erweckt dieser bei mir doch durchaus positive Assoziationen. Denn es gab da einst einen gleichbetitelten irischen Film über die Geschichte eines sommersprossigen Teenagers, gespielt von Eamonn Owens, der bei allem durchgestandenen Lebensübel keine wirkliche innere Zerstörung davon trug. Oder anders, man muss nicht zwingend zu dem werden, was das Leben durch sein Tun verlangt. Doch diese Erinnerung hat nichts mit dem Musikprojekt zu tun. Vielmehr scheint die „schlächternde“ Anrede als Maske herzuhalten, um unter Blume, Nuss und Filet versteckt, auf das Leben mit Poesie zu hauen.

Doch ehe ich mich den Kontrasten des Erzählers John Blain Hunts versuche etwas zu nähern, soll der musikalische Stil des Gehörten kurz Erwähnung finden. Mit „Profit in your Poetry“ hat die Band ihr Gesellenstück abgeliefert. Mehrere Schaustücke unterschiedlichen Genres, im Zuge einer ordentlichen Fleischerlehre üblich, liegen auf grünem Samt wohl arrangiert und sorgsam drapiert zur Begutachtung bereit. So taucht man beim Albumnamensgeber „Profit in your Poetry” unwillkürlich in die guten Zeiten mit REM ein, beim Genuss von „I could be in love with anyone“ schmeckt der Gaumen noch lange nach den Go Betweens und bei „I lost myself“ schleckt man eine Spezialedition des Braunen Bären called „Delgados“ in 3:19min auf. Auch Felt, Belle and Sebastian und all das nette Gedöns aus ähnlichen verehrten Kehlen ließe sich hier und da zuordnen und erschmecken, doch als Geschmacksträger fungieren die Erstgenannten.

Mr. Hunt, sie sind etwas weiter weg von dem hier und jetzt eines kritischen Berliners und doch sind da ein, zwei, vielleicht auch drei Parallelen zu finden. Aufgrund der Absurdität an Begrenzung ohne tatsächliche Grenzen - Raum und Speicher des digitalen Universums – können gefundene Analogien nur kurz umrissen werden und rufen nach Kürzung. Die da wären Sehnsucht, Erkenntnis, Zufriedenheit. Genau in der oder ähnlicher Reihenfolge gestaltet sich wohl unser aller Leben. Die Sehnsucht ist der stille Antreiber unseres Daseins. Sie treibt uns zu den Orten und Menschen hin, die wir finden. Die Erkenntnis stellt sich später ein, sie mag ein ernüchterndes Wesen tragen und die Sehnsucht mit Vehemenz gegen sie antreten, doch gibt man sich ihr hin, dann wirkt sie erfüllend und liefert so den Raum für wahre Zufriedenheit. John scheint mit Butcher Boy sein Sprachrohr gefunden zu haben, um all diese erlebten Phasen verarbeiten zu können. Es dreht sich dabei viel um die Liebe, um seine Liebe, um das Unverständnis in ihr, die ihn zu dem gemacht hat, was er heute ist. Es geht um Männlichkeit, um Zweisamkeit, Verlieren und Gewinnen.

Nun, ich teile zwar nicht die Ergebenheit zum gleichen Geschlecht, auch wenn ich mir dazu in einer sehnsuchtsvollen Phase meines Lebens so meine Gedanken machte, aber das Gefühl an der Seite eines Menschen zu liegen und diesen Zustand für einen kurzen Augenblick ganz plötzlich vollkommen anders wahrgenommen zu haben, ist mir wohl bekannt. „Lying next to me you smell like places if not be“ beschreibt John den neu empfundenen Moment des einstigen banalen Zusammenliegens zweier Liebender. Ich vergleiche seine Botschaft mit der erlebten wirren Beobachtung, wie aus rosigster Haut der Beiliegenden ein faltiges Buch wurde, welches darüber hinaus übermächtig dick daher kam. Unendlich viele Seiten klein beschrieben, über jeden Versuch des Entzifferns erhaben. Eine Seite legte sich auf die andere und das Umschlagen wurde schneller und schneller, Unruhe kam auf, von Angst befallen. Was sollte ich tun, ich konnte es bei aller Begehr nicht lesen und ich möchte doch so gerne alles richtig machen mit ihr und uns und überhaupt. Jahre später werde ich darüber erneut nachdenken und erkennen, das diese gespürte Hilflosigkeit nichts anderes war, als ein erstes Zeichen ein erwachsener oder besser, ein bewusster Mensch zu werden.

Und so deute ich die Musik und Gedanken der Mannen hinter Butcher Boy. „Profit in your Poetry“ ist zum Einen nichts anderes, als ein zufrieden klingendes Tagebuch eines Menschen, retrospektiv geschrieben ohne Zorn und Tadel, nur mit der Brille der Vernunft zwischen den Augen geschrieben. Zum anderen fordern der versprühte Feinsinn, zum Nachdenken auf und lassen so über Erlebtes und einst Gedachtes anders denken. Um aber bei aller Eintracht nicht ermüdend zu werden dient Eales, Grant, Hoggan, Magee, Mackinnon, Pieroni und eben Hunt ein kurzer Blick auf das Leben ohne die errungene Brille und dann kann man schon einmal seine Band nach einem Facharbeiter nennen.
Platten so aufgenommen liefern prompt die Bestätigung, mit Stolz auf all die erlittenen Peinlichkeiten, Verbeugungen und Niederlagen im Leben blicken zu dürfen und an die Zeit zu glauben, wo sich investierte Gedankenbilder auszahlen werden.


Mail On Sunday

This week two backroom boys step into the spotlight, and each gives a good account of himself. First up is John Blain Hunt whose National Pop League club is a hub of Glasgow’s indie scene. Now Hunt has assembled about him a band, Butcher Boy. You might expect echoes of Belle & Sebastian and Arab Strap, and you’d be right to; but mercifully, the tendency towards arch tweeness in those acts is missing from Profit In Your Poetry. Butcher Boy operate not so much, as has been widely suggested, in the shadow of The Smiths as in the company of Tindersticks, Pulp and Lloyd Cole And The Commotions. Theirs is a literate, bohemian music nourished by the darker strains of Sixties chart pop, and distinguished by Hunt’s poise and nicely turned songs.

Review by: David Bennun


Sunday Herald
Preview of Glasgow RAFA live show - Number 6 of "Seven Things To Do This Week"

As a fundraiser for the Royal Air Forces Association, indie rockers Butcher Boy will play a gig in Glasgow on Good Friday. The evening's entertainment comes complete with tea, hot cross buns, a Glasgow film, a live performance of tracks from their critically acclaimed debut album and then dancing and drinking till 1am with the Spitfire DJs as support.


Preview of Glasgow RAFA live show

A few years ago, Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue lamented the death of the song at the hands of style; fashion, he said, had triumphed over substance.

Indeed, it's been a long time since an artist attracted column inches through artful wordsmithery and songcraft, rather than inebriated antics or a supposedly revolutionary pick'n'mix of styles. Resassuringly, however, Glasgow's Butcher Boy are getting attention for their songs.

Since its release last month, their debut album, Profit In Your Poetry, has earned them atttention for its lyricism and slanted romance, out of proportion to their hitherto modest pofile. Flipping from string-skirling kitchen-sink dramas such as I Know Who You Could Be to the Motown bluster of Girls Make Me Sick, it's an economical, immediate record powered by breezy confidence.

Rather than a wearisomely typical careerist band, measuring success in terms of My Space friends, Butcher Boy were almost an afterthought: velvety-voiced frontman John Blain Hunt spent the best part of the past decade writing songs, submitting anonymous poetry to newspapers and manning the decks at Glasgow clubnight National Pop League. Be thankful he got round to getting a band together.

Like those of Tindersticks and The Chameleons, Hunt's intelligent, unshowy songs are often so intimate you feel privileged simply to be listening to them.

Preview by Nadine McBay

The Skinny
Preview of Glasgow RAFA live show

This month's highlight might well be something a little more out of the ordinary; Butcher Boy are staging a benefit for the RAFA club on the 6th and planning something special to mark the occasion. The band say: "we're hoping to put a good evening together, with tea, hot crossed buns, a Glasgow film, a live performance, and then dancing & drinking till 1am." Butcher Boy are a gentle proposition in the first place, and have played some interesting venues in the past, including the Panopticon, a disused music hall. They take the efforts to deliver beyond the usual.


Rain Fell Down
Review of Glasgow RAFA live show

And I know what Butcher Boy could be, and certainly will become this year: the Best New Band From Scotland. They've already played in London and did a fund-raising gig at the RAFA on Good Friday, before heading out on their nation-wide tour next week. If you live in one of the towns they'll visit it is your duty as a pop fan to go and see them. Last night was fantastic, Garry said they've never been that good! They had their gear set up on the floor (only their drummer was on the stage), and it seemed much more intimate having them on eye-level height. They did a great version of "Almost Prayed" as well - The Weather Prophets cover Tom from Indie MP3 seemed to have appreciated at the London gig. There was no support act, but an old documentary (from 1963) about Glasgow called Glasgow Belongs to Me, which was quite funny. It was also John's birthday and we all got tea and hot cross-buns! There was dancing afterwards and towards the end they played Altered Images' "Happy Birthday" and gave John a cake.

All Music Guide
Review of "Profit In Your Poetry"

More likely named after Patrick McCabe's gruesome cult novel than the British folk standard of the same title, Butcher Boy is the latest entry in the long line of ultra-sensitive Scottish pop mavens, this time led by a former dance club DJ named John Blaine Hunt. His is not the Stuart Murdoch school of childlike twee-pop fancy, however. There is one exception to this blanket statement, the exceedingly Belle and Sebastian-like debut single "Girls Make Me Sick," a catchy little '60s-derived tune built on a bouncy bass riff and a noisy old-school organ part. That uncharacteristic excursion aside, the largely acoustic Profit In Your Poetry is deeply reminiscent of the Blue Nile, the Scottish chamber pop trio of the '80s and '90s. Unexpected instruments like viola and cello are fundamentally important to the low-key but richly detailed arrangements, which keep Hunt's plain but expressive voice front and center throughout. (Indeed, large sections of "Fun" are basically a cappella.) There's a large segment of the Anglophile indie audience that will buy the album based on no more information than this, but there's enough of a sturdily melodic core to these songs to appeal to the more discriminating fan of the indie chamber-pop style as well. 3.5/5

Review by Stewart Mason

The List

You won’t read about them in hype-hungry magazines or find them bombarding MySpace profiles with friend requests, and as a result Butcher Boy may well be one of the most exciting discoveries you’ll make this year. This debut from the Glasgow seven-piece boasts ten melancholy-tinged tracks of swoonsome guitar pop and pretty ditties complete with distorted riffs, warm string sections, rumbling drums and poetic lyrics which will worm their way under your skin after just one listen. Best of all though, Profit In Your Poetry is a genuine and utterly heartfelt listen which will soothe those sick to the back teeth of disposable fashion-fuelled music scenes. 4/5

Review by Camilla Pia

God Is In The TV
Review of Notting Hill Arts Club show

Butcher Boy are from Scotland, therefore music law states they will be superior to everyone else toda...and indeed they were. Opening with “There Is No One Who Can Tell You Where You’ve Been” and then playing nearly every track off their debut album. Highlights included ‘Profit In Your Poetry’ and ‘I Know Who You Could Be’; it is pure pop poetry with crashing reverb guitars, a string section and pianos that would make even Brian Wilson jealous. I hope this band become huge, because they deserve to be.






The Skinny

In March of this year, something beautiful crept out of Glasgow – the 23:47hrs sleeper train to London Town. Luckily, those of us without a trainspotting bent were also treated by local ensemble Butcher Boy, who released their debut album Profit In Your Poetry amidst non-existent fanfare and limited to an initial run of just 1000 copies.

Built around local cult music figure, John Blain Hunt, the band settled on their current seven-piece line-up in February of 2005 and began polishing Hunt's poetic tales into musical gems. These tales, written over a number of years, are refreshingly sincere reflections of Scottish life.

“At first I found myself embarrassed by the honesty and depth of emotion I was writing about,” Hunt reveals to The Skinny in his first interview. “It has only really been in the last 18 months that I've been comfortable with the lyrics. In my mind I've reconciled the fact that people might not like the emotions I'm portraying with the fact that I've created something completely heartfelt and without irony, through pure intentions.”

Indeed, much of Profit In Your Poetry references Hunt's childhood- most of which was spent in Ayrshire - and the difficulty he experienced “making sense of life.” “I took to writing short stories in an attempt to clarify things in my mind and explain these dejected feelings I was having. Now looking back, these stories - now songs - make more sense and have allowed me to reflect positively on that time.”

With its initial pressing shifting with some ease, and supported by a sold out show in London - which Hunt admits he was totally bemused about - Butcher Boy's debut has quite rightly been granted another run. “The reaction has been wonderful,” Hunt relates, “but ultimately the greatest feeling comes from knowing that I've created this piece of work from my heart and soul that I'm totally proud of.”

Although the record yields clear Smiths and Belle and Sebastian influences, Hunt is keen to stress the relative musical isolation in which the album was moulded. “I view the Butcher Boy stuff as entirely separate from all other music.”

So is this a reflection on the current crop of spiky Scottish upstarts? “I have no time for all this cocksure macho music going around.” The View? Fratellis? “I'm not sure I'd even recognise their songs, I just know that their presence in people's consciousness doesn't do those who are trying something a little gentler any favours. I don't get the appeal of their black and white sentiments, there doesn't seem to be much room for emotion or perspective.”

In line with Hunt's low-key outlook on the album's release and promotion, there's no real tour to speak of. “We wanted to do shows that were events, something different that we could make our own.” Hence their recent fundraising show at the the Royal Air Forces Association Club in Glasgow. Further one-off shows in Sheffield, Manchester and London are scheduled before the band head back into the studio around summertime. “We'll hopefully be back in September for some more shows and with more songs,” he assures us.

And while many bands make throwaway promises to visit their fans' hometown, Hunt's assertion that Butcher Boy will play Edinburgh before the year is out is as close to gospel as it gets, honest.

God Is In The TV

Glaswegian Five piece Butcher Boy, first came to my attention earlier this year when we stumbled across their wonderous debut single "Girls Make Me Sick." Their subsequent first album "Profit in Your Poetry" (released on smashing indie imprint/club How Does It Feel To Be Loved?)was a real treat, a brilliantly realised indie folk pop album, full of literate, heartfelt lyrics about their pasts: it drew favourable comparisons in my own mind to the likes of The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian, Arab Strap, and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. We caught up exclusively with Butcher Boy frontman and legendary National Pop League DJ, John Blain Hunt: for the band's first indepth interview.

How are you?
"A little tired, but sitting in on a quiet Saturday night, so not too disappointed by that."

How did Butcher Boy first form? Where did you find the other members? What roles do they play in the band?
"The band fell into place over the course of a couple of years. I recorded some songs by myself in 2001 and met our cellist Jacqui through that – I had gone to the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow with an advert looking for string players. I met our bass player Garry in 2002 – he came to one of my club nights and very kindly brought me back some Tootsie Rolls from a holiday and so he was in without question. I’ve known Basil and Findlay for ages, we’ve been friends for a long time. And again I’d known Alison for a while, through friends again. Aoife, who played viola on the record, was a friend of Jacqui’s. Jacqui had a baby a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been trying out new cellists over the past few months… for our next record we’re going to work with Maya… she’s just finishing up at the RSAMD. She’s a fantastic cellist, really inspiring."

Where are you all from?
"We mostly live in Glasgow… Basil lives in a town called Irvine just outside Glasgow. That’s where I grew up. Findlay is from Ardrossan in Ayrshire but he lives in Stourbridge. It makes rehearsing a little difficult so we always make the best use of the time we have."

Where does the name Butcher Boy come from?
"It’s from a few different places… I used to daydream about playing in bands but I wouldn’t get much beyond the band names and the song titles. I remember watching Dad’s Army once and feeling almost heartbroken by a fleeting appearance by Jonesy’s delivery boy Raymond. He seemed such a good lad, pedaling around Walmington-on-Sea on his bike. I thought Raymond would be good… but there was already a band called Raymonde, but he was the butcher boy, and I liked how that sounded. I also thought Arbuckle would be an interesting name, after Fatty Arbuckle. I suppose I liked the idea of a sweet sounding name that had a slightly sinister undercurrent. Fatty Arbuckle’s first film was called The Butcher Boy. But the name is mainly from Patrick McCabe’s book The Butcher Boy. I read that when I was 19 and was dumbstruck by it… so tender and so appallingly cruel and black at the same time. The film of it was great too."

When did you start writing lyrics?
"Only when I started to write songs.I never learned to play guitar until I was relatively old, maybe 19 or 20. I wrote a lot, but I never really tried to write poetry. I started writing songs seriously when I was 22.I only learned to play guitar because I wanted to write songs… I can barely play anything else."

What were/are your top five favourite records to play at the National Pop League?
"That’s really tough! If I was to choose favourites, they’d be the ones that mean the most to me and the ones that I associate with my favourite memories of the NPL. So I think I would firstly go for Love Goes On! By The Go Betweens… which is so incredibly uplifting and romantic and hopeful and sounds utterly amazing loud. It makes my heart burst to see people dancing to it. I’d also go for So It Goes by Nick Lowe and Don’t Fear The Reaper by The Blue Oyster Cult… I really enjoy dancing to them. Can We Start Again? by Tindersticks is another. Can I have a tie for fifth place with Grey Streets by Felt and Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions?"

What was it like to see some of the regulars go on to form successful bands (Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura etc.)?
"The first NPL was in 2001 so both of those bands were well in their stride before the Pop League. It’s a privilege to have them come, to be honest. And they’re very gracious about their records being played."

Your sound is often compared to the likes of the Smiths and Belle and Sebastian, do you think there's a sensibility you share with these bands or are they simply an influence upon you?
"The thing I admired about both Belle and Sebastian and The Smiths was that they lived entirely in their own worlds. I really like the idea of bands existing like that, with their own vocabulary… the first Smiths record, I think, completely stands alone like that, it’s such an odd, dusty, bookish place and I found, when I was younger, that I would get lost in that. And so I suppose I’ve wanted to try and create that myself for my band, I’ve wanted to create a place that was gentle and soft and strived for something beautiful. I didn’t want to feel embarrassed about that."

Your press release mentions some of your influences outside of music, (books by George Orwell and Charles Schulz films by Bill Douglas and Robert Bresson) do you think it’s important for bands to mention their other cultural influences?
"I feel it’s important in the context of our band, because the world in which it exists is specific. George Orwell is important because I really admire how concisely he wrote, and his economy with words, and the clipped, clinical brutality of his words too.
"Peanuts strips can genuinely move me to tears they’re so perfect. And the Bill Douglas Trilogy is a huge influence on how I write… more than other songwriters, really… because it really matches how I think about things and how I see things. I feel honoured to live in a world where that film exists, honoured that someone went to the heartache of making it so I could share it. Those things are really important to me, and to my idea of the band… so it feels important to talk about it when talking about our record. I don’t think it’s that importantly generally for bands to discuss cultural influences, they don’t make a better band."

What was the first Butcher Boy gig like?
"It was in a pub in Kilmarnock in December 1998. We were a three-piece, it was me and my pals Andy and Susan. I remember sitting down getting ready to sing and realising that this was something completely new, something I had never done before, and that I had no idea if something utterly terrible would happen to my body with the nerves. I made a pamphlet up to hand out to everyone there, it was a big list of things that I liked, stuff like cornflakes and cold milk. I was half-way through singing a song called Being Happy Being Dirty and the woman came out from behind the bar and told me to sing louder."

Do you think playing live the ultimate communication between artist and audience?
"We’ve not really played live enough to fully understand it. It might just be my slightly stilted view on things, but I think a record is a pretty impeccable form of communication. You can analyse it and roll it around and make it what you want. I’m not a fan of going to live shows generally. Having said that, we played a gig last night in Glasgow and I really, really enjoyed it… I enjoyed being able to shade the songs and being able to have them breathe. I think though, I more enjoy the idea of someone poring over our sleeve and drawing their own conclusions."

How did your relationship with the label/ zine/ night "How Does It Feel To be Loved?" begin?
"When I started doing the Pop League it didn’t feel like that were many indie clubs in Britain… I’d live in Sheffield for a few years and went to a club there called Offbeat which was genuinely life-altering for me… Chris and Gill who run it are so passionate about the music and are so caring about the people who come to the club… I came back to Glasgow and I couldn’t understand why there was nothing like that, everything seemed faceless. I thought maybe I was just not cool enough to know about it but I looked and looked and there was just nothing there.I wanted to have a club that had the same spirit I felt at Offbeat, something really passionate and heartfelt. So I started the NPL and was completely surprised it took off – I’m still constantly surprised by it, I am really flattered and honoured that people come. Ian Watson started How Does It Feel To Be Loved? a few months after I started NPL and from what I’d read about it, and from what I’d read about Ian, I knew that it had a similar ethos to what I was trying to do with the Pop League. My pal Iain is a HDIF regular, and the first time I ever went down was to surprise Iain… I loved the club. I got talking to Ian and guest DJed a couple of times, and when the band recorded a demo last year I sent Ian a copy, hoping he might play it at the club. Ian really liked it it, and told me he was starting a label, and offered to put out an album for us. I can’t believe how lucky we were to be honest."

There seems to be a timeless sound to your record, how long did it take you to shape the songs into their final form?
"I’d written a lot of songs over a five or six year period, and since the band formed properly in 2005 we’d rehearsed twenty or so of them… we picked the twelve that were probably closest to being fully formed to record but it wasn’t really until the last month or so before recording that we nailed the arrangements. I’d lived with the songs for such a long time though that I had a very clear idea of how I wanted them to sound. We had a definite policy that we wanted our record to sound fresh but that we didn’t want to do anything faddish and have it ruined by that a couple of years later."

What records were you listening to when you were making the album?
"I was trying my best not to listen to anything! I didn’t want to be unduly influenced."

Would it be fair to say that your album is mainly based upon memories and ghosts from the past?
"Yep – I’m an incurable nostalgist. I can’t help finding regret very romantic."

What do you mean when you talk about the songs being about "power-cuts and candles" did you have any bad bed-sit living experiences?
That’s my idea of a good thing! I like the idea of calmness and quiet… I like the idea of getting away from the hum of electricity. That was actually a very specific reference… one Christmas a few years ago I was staying at my mum and dad’s house and there was a three day power-cut… no heating… and I would go to bed with a hat on, wearing all my clothes, and read by candlelight… and that was one of my favourite ever Christmases. I never lived in a bed-sit or anything… I shared houses when I was a student but I never had to do much worse than clean the grill pan of sausage fat when I wanted to make a piece of toast.That used to drive me nuts.

I've read since I reviewed the record that the title song from your album "Profit In Your Poetry" is an attempt to encapsulate what the purpose of the band had come to be. How would you sum up that purpose?
"The song is about believing in the beauty you can create. It doesn’t matter if no-one else ever reads your poetry, the main thing is you do it. It’s a really difficult thing to do… it makes you tender and vulnerable… but there is such fulfillment in it, I believe. That’s how I feel about the band. "

What's your first single "Girls Make Me Sick" about? They don't always make you nauseous do they?
"Not at all! That song is written from a female perspective, mainly… I had the title years ago, way before I ever wrote the song. My girlfriend at thetime gave me a book called Love On The Dole by a writer called Walter Greenwood… it seemed really near the knuckle for its time, it was about a mill worker getting his girlfriend pregnant, it was written in the 1930s. The language was so vital and brutal. One of the chapters was called Girls Make Him Sick, and I thought that was such a funny, curt phrase… so I said to my girlfriend that we should write an album together and call it that. Everything I wrote after that was for this imaginary album. I wrote a short story a little later called Curdle, and I chipped away at it for a while, and that eventually became Girls Make Me Sick. There used to be more lyrics in it… the extra lyrics maybe made it a little clearer, but I like the fact it’s ambiguous and that there is room for interpretation in it. I thought if I called it something like Girls Make You Sick it would be a bit pious, as if I was trying to appear incredibly sensitive. I suppose generally it’s about believing in yourself, and not having to rely on attention for validation. You don’t need anyone to tell you you’re beautiful."

Will there be another single taken from the album?
"There won’t be… our next single will be a song called Juicy Fruit and that will be on our next album.

We'd call "Butcher Boy great indie, like what they use to make..." Do you think you stand apart from any scenes or movements currently being championed by the mainstream music press?

"I don’t know if we stand apart… but I know that I do not want to feel pressured to be a part of something we’re not. There is a very basic premis for the band – we want to make something beautiful and lasting. We don’t have any other agendas… we’re all grown adults with jobs and responsibilities and it seems almost too ridiculous for me to think about scenes. It’s a beautiful evening and the birds are singing and I’m going to go out and get coffee in a minute or two and that’s perfect to me… I’m not going to spoil it by worrying about how I’m going to brush my hair!"

What are your future plans?
"We’re playing three shows in three days next week, in Sheffield, Manchester and London… we’ve never done that before, so it’ll be interesting to see how we come out the other side… after that we’re going to work on arrangements for the next record. I’ve got ten songs for the album and we’re going to fill them out over the summer. We’ll be ready to record by the end of the year, and the record will be out early next year."

Thank you for your time.

Interview by Bill Cummings


Last year’s The Kids at the Club compilation of up-and-coming indie-pop, the first release from the label How Does It Feel To Be Loved?, was filled with spark and fashion: perky young things galore. But then there was Butcher Boy’s “Days Like These Will Be the Death of Me”, as dour as its title. Its final lines: “This house is like a fire when the sun sets / It knocks me to my knees / And days like these will be the death of me.” Yet it was pretty, with calming strings, and as melodic as its neighbors—in the literate pop tradition of Sarah Records and Postcard Records and other labels of yore that record collectors obsess over.

That same song is the bittersweet end to Butcher Boy’s debut album Profit in Your Poetry, the second release from that same label. Here the song comes not among dancefloor anthems but after expressions of anguish, sadness, worry over the past and the eternal, anxious present. It’s an entire album of word-precise, melodic, emotional songwriting, of the same sort as the Glasgow-based band’s introductory appearance promised. A dark mood weighs over all of the songs, though still some bounce with the energy of a solid pop hook. The songs’ protagonists wander through fogs of worry and indecision, and the songwriting makes us care.

The house on fire at the album’s end is an unsettling echo of the brief opening track’s image of our narrator in bed, wrestling with anger, confusion and sexual frustration (dirty dreams and grinding teeth). “I’m screaming in my sleep,” the song starts, ending, “I just want to find a way home.” That elusive feeling of “home”, missing even within your own bedroom, is a major theme of Profit in Your Poetry. The time-shifting lyrics to “There Is No-One Who Can Tell You Where You’ve Been” dive back and forth among memories, as if singer John Blain Hunt were singing to a photo album. The liner notes include a painting of nearly that: a man on his knees in front of photographs, laid out before him. A handwritten caption reads, “Butcher Boy is carefully arranging 500 photographs into chronological order, looking for anything in the faces that might indicate why he would do this.”

With memories come love: real, imagined or unattained. All of those types, and more, are at the heart of the album’s prettiest songs, which still cut with a sharp blade. “I Could Be in Love With Anyone” offers a sad swoon, and poetry: “Glass reflects my eyes and skin / But still my lips will crumble like ash when we kiss.” In the philandering chorus, our lovelost narrator tries to pretend that he doesn’t care, but his claim to be “breaking hearts for fun” doesn’t fit with the yearning and concern in the verses. The song “Fun” opens with the comfort of intimacy, seeming like the one moment of fulfillment on the album. But things are, of course, more complicated. “I was blinded by the times when we were fun,” the chorus goes, while the verses move from resigned, yet slightly caustic, apology for relationship failure (“Maybe I was slack or forgot to love you back”) to absolute bitterness (“If I tell the truth / I miss the autumn more than you”).

Throughout the album there’s a sense of uncertainty, of things never being as calm as they might seem, of no one ever really understanding what’s going on in their lives or why. Bodies are described and analyzed; moments from the past are longed for and despised; lives are lamented and rejected, their value lost. “I pull the stories to my chest / I let myself believe the one that I like best,” Hunt sings during the song “Girls Make Me Sick”. It’s an accurate description of the way the characters in these songs behave: creating their versions of the truth, choosing which memories to recall and what to make of them. And it presents an image of the songwriter doing the same thing: selecting photographs, looking at them under just the right light, and setting the rest on fire.

Review by Dave Heaton



To buy the album 'Profit In Your Poetry", go here
To buy tickets for Butcher Boy's London show on Saturday October 13th 2007, go here
To read kind words of praise from people who've bought the album, go here

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