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Pictish Trail

LIVE: Lost Map 10 presents Pictish Trail, L.T. Leif, Firestations – The Crescent, York, 12/07/2023

“Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear Lost Map,
Happy birthday to you!”

Lost Map Records is 10 years old. And this is most certainly cause for celebration. The DIY indie record label and music collective was set up on the Hebridean Isle of Eigg in 2013 by the charismatic Scots musician Johnny Lynch. Since then, Lost Map has developed a wonderfully innovative and musically diverse roster of more than 35 artists, including Rozi Plain, who played here back in January as part of Independent Venue Week; recent label recruit and another regular visitor to these shores, Amy May Ellis; and spiritual jazz man Alabaster dePlume who will be performing just down the road a piece at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds come November.

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, Lost Map is presenting a series of special events that will take place up and down the country over the next couple of months. These will include appearances at Bluedot festival, Lost Map’s very own Howlin’ Fling festival on the Isle of Eigg at the beginning of August, and Green Man festival, each one featuring different artists from the record label.

The second date on the schedule is here in York, and tonight we have performances from Johnny Lynch himself, in his regular guise as Pictish Trail (albeit this time in stripped-back solo form), the Glasgow-based Canadian singer-songwriter L.T. Leif and their band, and Firestations, the exciting alternative-pop, five-piece outfit from Walthamstow.



And who better to get the party started than Mr Lost Map Records himself, Johnny Lynch? He tells us that to commemorate the occasion of the label’s 10th birthday, they thought they would have “a wee roadshow”, though he was very quick to point out this would not include Dave Lee Travis, Noel Edmunds or, most reassuringly, any paedophile for that matter. He proceeds to belt out a handful of top tunes, including a couple of tracks from Pictish Trail’s most recent album, last year’s Island Family, all interspersed with his customary bursts of irreverent humour.



Johnny Lynch is an everyman. He is a singer, songwriter, musician, raconteur, stand-up comic, and all-round good egg. He is also this evening’s compère, and after his initial set – yes, he will return later – Lynch introduces L.T. Leif. The four-piece band fronted by Leif produce a delightful set, strongly weighted towards material from their latest Lost Map recording, Come Back To Me, But Lightly. They open with the album’s penultimate track ‘The Sign On The Window’ and end, rather fittingly, with its final track ‘The Brightest Part of the Room’, a song about the difficulties in saying goodbye. In the interim, they beguile us with songs about belonging, desire, conflict, and inner turmoil. They dedicate a deeply heartfelt ‘The Best’, from last year’s Introducing – L.T. Leif cassette to the Lost Map family and the clear connection they feel towards all who are associated with the label. They convey a true sense of community spirit.



After a short interval, here comes Johnny. Again. This time he is electronic Johnny, performing songs that his regular Pictish Trail touring band struggle to play “as they (the songs) have too many donks.” He rattles off another four tunes, this time each one informed by subject matter as varied as getting destroyed by booze at a beach party on Eigg, a bad acid trip at Glastonbury Festival where Lynch encounters “a bear with hearts for eyes”, and the man’s favourite film of all time, Fargo. He is a natural-born entertainer.

And so it is left to Firestations to close out this really rather wonderful Lost Map birthday celebration. Their brand new album Thick Terrain is released this Friday, and they treat us to several songs from it, including ‘Travel Trouble’, ‘Undercover’, and ‘Also Rans’ all of which are anchored by major-key melodies, glistening two-part vocal harmonies, the occasional trumpet, and every indication that this will be their best record yet. They disappear into the night in a swirl of hypnotic psychedelia, and with it, the Lost Map roadshow heads off in the general direction of South Street Arts in Reading, safe in the knowledge that they have already left behind many very happy people here in York.



Photos: Simon Godley

More photos from Lost Map 10 at The Crescent, York

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.