Alasdair Roberts has been based in Glasgow for the past ten years. His first releases consisted of home-made four-track recordings of his songs under the name Appendix Out, including four songs on the Up Records (of Accrington, England) compilation 4×4 (1995) and the Ice Age 7” on Drag City subsidiary Palace Records (1996). Many of these early recordings also featured Alasdair’s boyhood friend David Elcock.
Appendix Out went on to release three albums on the Drag City label: “The Rye Bears a Poison” (1997), Daylight Saving (1999) and The Night Is Advancing (2001), the latter of which was produced by Drag City’s Rian Murphy and Sean O’Hagan of High Llamas. The band line-up was ever-changing, but throughout its existence variously included, among others, David Elcock, Louise Dowding, Eva Peck, Tom Crossley, Aki Okauchi, Gareth Eggie and Kate Wright of Movietone.
Around the time of The Night Is Advancing, Alasdair was gradually becoming more and more immersed in the traditional song and balladry of the British Isles, resulting in the first release under his own name, the solo guitar-and-voice album of traditional songs The Crook of My Arm (Secretly Canadian, 2001). In 2001 Alasdair also found the time to collaborate with Jason Molina and Will Oldham; the result was the Amalgamated Sons of Rest EP (Galaxia), a brief collection of songs written by the three individuals, covers, traditional songs and one co-written track.
A couple of years later, the Appendix Out name was abandoned for good with the release of Alasdair’s second album, the Rian Murphy-produced Farewell Sorrow (Drag City, 2003). Unlike its predecessor, this record consisted of Alasdair’s self-written songs and featured a half-American, half-British backing band of Tom Crossley, Gareth Eggie, Bill Lowman and Rian Murphy. Although by this point Alasdair had played extensively in the UK and Europe, both alone and with accompanists, in late 2003 he and his band embarked upon their first month-long US tour.
Alasdair’s third album No Earthly Man (Drag City), produced by Will Oldham, was released in 2005. A collection of traditional British ballads of a tragic nature, this time Alasdair was accompanied by a large cast of players including Isobel Campbell, Tom Crossley, Gareth Eggie, Phil Johnson, Kirsten Koppel, an anonymous chorus of farm-workers, Caroline Ross, John McCusker, Alex Neilson.
Alasdair (accompanied by a band featuring Tom Crossley, Gareth Eggie and Gerard Love) released a new album, another collection of self-written songs entitled The Amber Gatherers in January 2007 on Drag City Records.
He has toured and trodden the boards with such artists as Joanna Newsom, Magnolia Electric Co, Bill Callahan/Smog, The Decemberists, Charalambides and Heather Leigh Murray, Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Kiila, Dick Gaughan, Waterson/Carthy, Donald Lindsay, The Yummy Fur, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Eddi Reader (doing the songs of Robert Burns), Eyes and Arms of Smoke, Jack Rose, The Anomoanon, Shirley Collins, Richard Youngs and too many others to mention. Thanks to them all.
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