SAVAGE Mansion had planned to be setting out on a UK tour with their Lost Map label boss Pictish Trail this week. But while Craig Angus’s band of indie rockers are holed up at home like the rest of us instead of packing up the tour van with amps and crisp multipacks, at least fans will know the lyrics to new album Weird Country by the time resheduled dates come around.

That’s not to say Weird Country is a slow burn. Recorded with producer Chris McGrory of Catholic Action, the 12-track record refines the fractured melodies, punkish DIY energy and lyrical wit which drew the attention of early supporters Frightened Rabbit, Johnny “Pictish Trail” Lynch and BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, Marc Riley and Gideon Coe.

A further endorsement from US musician Bob Nastanovich must have sent Savage Mansion’s spirits soaring: Nastanovich was the right-hand man to Stephen Malkmus in 1990s slacker heroes Pavement and played on Silver Jews records with the much-missed David Berman. The influence of both classic outfits was proudly worn on Savage Mansion’s debut album Revision Ballads, launched just over a year ago at The Hug And Pint, a Glasgow venue particularly close to Angus’s heart.

“Stephen Malkmus changed my life, no doubt; my music taste spun on buying Wowee Zowee on a day trip to Glasgow when I was 15,” says the Perth-raised guitarist and songwriter. “I listened to it on the bus home and I thought it was mad – funny as hell. And also great. It was the first moment where I realised rock music could be playful and that was a great thing.”

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Recording Weird Country with McGrory at the Hermitage Works, a studio and rehearsal space in North London, was an enjoyable mix of hard graft, supermarket white wine and kipping on the floor. There would have been plenty of camaraderie too: bassist Jamie Dubber and guitarist Andrew Macpherson are McGrory’s Catholic Action bandmates, and the album also features rich harmonies courtesy of guest vocalists Martha Ffion aka Angus’s partner Claire McKay, and Taylor Stewart, who played drums on Revision Ballads.

If listeners mix the two up on Merrie, a melodic sing-a-long featuring several golden lyrical couplets such as: “Are you getting married to that man?/I’ve tried to hate him but I can’t”, that’s because Stewart’s vocal range is considerable.

LEWIS Orr is behind the kit for Weird Country, his dexterity evident in woozy, country-tinged tracks Battlefield Boss Dream and Not To Levitate and the careering punk of There’s No Time To Waste, which Angus says is “aimed at specific men in my life who bottle things up”.

“He’s a magnificent musician and he definitely helped us up our game with the album,” says Angus of Orr, after noting how Stewart left the band shortly after the recording of Revision Ballads to focus on his own music as Romeo Taylor, an eccentric alter-ego pitched somewhere between a gone-to-seed Lewis Capaldi and Limmy’s techno-loving “Eckied dad”.

If his happy hardcore masterpiece Kingdom Of Scotland became the anthem of an independent Scotland, it’d likely stun opposing sports teams into submission or have them abandoning the match for a rave.

The National: Front left: Andrew Macpherson, Craig Angus, Jamie Dubber, Lewis OrrFront left: Andrew Macpherson, Craig Angus, Jamie Dubber, Lewis Orr

“Taylor’s an amazing singer – so much range,” says Angus. “He’s much better at being the centre of attention than being a rock, which I mean as a compliment. He’s unique, so very funny but also genuinely a sensitive guy who can write beautiful songs. He’s been back playing live with us again doing backing vocals and tambourine and it really makes a difference.”

Whereas Savage Mansion began as a vehicle for Angus’s songs, key shifts between Revision Ballads and Weird Country are a more collegiate approach and an attitudinal change.

Angus quit his job to become a full-time writer in late spring 2018; a time when Macpherson would visit once a week to work on ideas together. One fruit of those sessions is The Puppeteer, a baroque delight recalling early era REM or the sublime dueling guitars of Television’s Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd.

“I think that’s my favourite one too,” says Angus. “It was one that definitely benefited from Andrew and I writing together in my flat before we did proper band run-throughs. A lot of it was down to talking. We spoke about REM and Peter Buck a lot and we spoke about The Kinks a lot, Wilco. There was direction to it. So The Puppeteer as it exists now is wildly different to how it once sounded, to the extent I was really unsure about it going down to record, but it totally popped out as a favourite really early on. The guitar part is so dynamic, it drives the whole track to be like that. The rhythm section on that song is terrific. I’m able to really enjoy what they all brought to the table as musicians on that one.”

ON Revision Ballads’ liner notes, Angus self-deprecatingly called himself a “timewaster”. Now he’s more respectful of the songwriting process – and the fact he’s a dab hand at it. These are songs that reveal themselves in increments and change meaning depending on context, like an abalone shell shimmering in the sun.

More than any musician, except perhaps Ray Davies, Angus says writers such as James Joyce and John Steinbeck directly influence his work.

“Fundamentally I love stories,” he says. “I got back on a John Steinbeck kick at the end of last year and it made me realise that kind of simple language used to convey big ideas, that’s my bread and butter.”

Weird Country, which can be pre-ordered now from Lost Map, is the first set of songs Angus has written from scratch and based in his adopted Glasgow home. It feels special.

“I’m really attached to it in a way I’m not attached to anything I’ve done before,” Angus says. “I’ve always cared a lot, but I think the belief thing was an issue. This feels like the first time I’ve got it right.”