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By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 27th July 2016 at 6:00 pm
Oxford dudes Glass Animals have unveiled another cut from their upcoming album ‘How To Be a Human Being’, their second album due out at the end of August. ‘Youth’ follows the first taster revealed back in May, ‘Life Itself’, which I reviewed back then. Frontman and primary songwriter Dave Bayley says the song was based on an anecdote told to him that particularly resonated with him:
Someone told me a story about her son once that was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. What she said was completely heartbreaking, but she told it with such optimism and such a sense of calm. She was on the verge of crying, but she was also smiling and something in her face said that she had found a way to be happy again. This song is trying to get at that sentiment.
The video for the new single follows the waitress first introduced in June in the ‘Life Itself’ promo and what appears to be her son, now lost to her. As you listen to the track, it may sound familiar to you as it does to me. There appears to be an effect used on here identical to one also utilised on Bayley’s remix of BANKS’ ‘Drowning’ 2 years ago. Watch the video for ‘Youth’ below. Glass Animals’ sophomore LP ‘How To Be a Human Being’ will see the light of day on the 26th of August on Caroline International / Wolftone. For more on the Oxford quartet on TGTF, head here.
Following the festival’s disastrous relocation to Strathallan Castle last year, the organisers of T in the Park were keen to reassure fans that this year’s event on the castle grounds would be different. However, by Friday morning, news had surfaced of two deaths and the theft of a cash machine from the main arena, so I was feeling apprehensive before I even arrived. While I was not present in 2015 to comment on how much the layout or travel to and from the festival has been improved, I felt there was still issues. The unnecessary walk from where we arrived to the actual entrance was lengthy and needless, as I was not searched once on the way. However, I was excited to have finally arrived to see what Tin the Park was really all about.
I headed straight towards the BBC Introducing stage. I have always found that despite their boasting of a huge array of global stars, it is often the smaller tents that contain the hidden gems of festivals. I spent quite a lot of my day going in and out of this tent, discovering a few acts that I can imagine will be huge in the coming months.
Scottish native singer/songwriter and lead singer Charlotte Brimner of Be Charlotte, exhibited a captivating combination of raw hip-hop talent, combined with a beautiful and enthralling singing voice. Probably the heaviest band of the festival, Northern Ireland-based four-piece Making Monsters gave an exhilarating performance. Lead singer Emma Gallagher’s explosive vocal and presence onstage is something to be marvelled at, as she moves with ease from deep guttural growls to soaring melodies.
Winner of the illustrious Brits Critics’ Choice and BBC Sound of 2016 polls Jack Garratt has had an impressive year. Taking to the main stage at T in the Park, his mash-up version of Justin Timberlake and Craig David’s ‘Senorita / 7 Days’ was a highlight of his set, making both songs his own while also showing his endless flair for crafting songs. His performance was impeccable, a faultless act by a raw troubadour talent and an electronic magician. Moving around the stage with vigour, he moves with ease from each instrument including drums and guitar as he has evidently mastered more than one craft.
Rapper Tinie Tempah pulled what seemed to be the largest crowd daytime on Saturday, playing smash hits such as ‘Pass Out’ to a very excitable crowd. Having previously seen Tinie perform with a full band, I found it disappointing that the rapper was only backed by a DJ for his performance at T in the Park. While it was an extremely enjoyable performance, I felt something was lacking in the form of a band accompaniment which could have added to his performance. Despite this, the audience hung on the rapper’s every word, proving he’s the perfect midday act to set the tone for Day 2 at the festival.
It was about half way through the day that Biblical-style rain descended upon the festival, making this year’s T in the Park one of the muddiest festivals I have ever attended. The grounds became so bad that it was difficult to make my way across to other stages and at one point, I even wrapped my feet in plastic bags. After hiding from the rain for what seemed forever, underneath anything that would cover me, I made my way towards the other side of festival. Playing the Radio 1 stage ahead of the release of their sixth album were the Kaiser Chiefs, who proved that they are still able to pull a huge crowd. After the last few weeks of political unrest and in the wake of Brexit, the band’s song ‘Angry Mob’ gave fresh resonance to the lyrics, the crowd singing along ecstatically.
I decided to stay around the Radio 1 stage for the rest of the night, as the thought of wading through the now knee-deep mud to see someone press play on the decks was unappealing. The mesmerising set of Manchester alt-rockers The 1975 (pictured at top) made for a superior alternative headline set. Lead singer Matt Healy tells the crowd that this is the first time the group have ever been asked to headline a stage at a festival, so this is a special event.
Their hit ‘Love Me’, the song that launched their new record, erupts with its smooth and Prince-esque funk. You get a real sense of a band who have fully bloomed from pop obscurity into arguably the biggest band of the year, something which is magnified by the audience’s reaction of seeing it live. The hypnotic staging with its colourful light show, alongside Healy’s undeniable presence, makes for the perfect combination. Drawing their set to a close with an encore of ‘Chocolate’, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Girls’, the band finished their set – and Saturday at T in the Park – on a high.
We here at There Goes The Fear have been long awaiting the release of English singer/songwriter Shura’s debut album. If you don’t believe me, you can check out our editor Mary’s previous thoughts on earlier unveiled tracks ‘White Light’ and ‘The Space Tapes’. ‘Nothing’s Real’ was released earlier this month on Polydor Records. Without a doubt, it goes above and beyond any expectations we had of the album since our first taste of Shura back in June 2015.
Placed in an equally effective order, these are 13 incredibly well crafted songs, each of which gather many influences from the ‘80s synthpop era and shed a new light on it by combining the sound with a hint of post-Noughties European house music. The LP keeps the listener in a constant state of ecstacy, no matter the setting. Songs such as ‘Touch’, ‘Kidz ‘n’ Stuff’ and ‘2Shy’ reveal the romantic side to the album. With lyrics about lust, longing after the one you want, and the promises made between couples, these tracks could be envisioned at an ‘80s slow dance prom. ‘What Happened to Us’, ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ and ‘Make It Up’, on the other hand, could be used to soundtrack a feel good indie teen summer party movie. Either way, ‘Nothing’s Real’ is sure to provide the listener with the dying need to dance in any setting.
The album opens with a short intro track simply titled ‘(i)’, lasting only 1 minute and 30 seconds long. The minimalistic nature of ambient pads and the soothing sound of vinyl hiss transports us into dreamlike state in. In a way, it’s as if Shura anticipated the impact her album would have and wanted her listener to feel as comfortable as possible before transporting us back to the 1980s seen through the eyes of a New Wave, indie hipster of 2016.
Next on the track listing, the title track of the album bursts through the introductory soothing feeling set in place by ‘(i)’ with a sound totally reminiscent of late ‘80s Madonna, but with the production approach of European DJs like Todd Terje (‘Inspector Norse’) and Tensnake. All melodic elements, from the Motown-inspired bass line to the string embellishments in the chorus, even down to the tone of Shura’s voice and phrasing of the vocal melody, point towards Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ and ‘Like a Prayer’ albums. The sounds used in producing these elements, however, are extremely modern. The bass is rounder with more grit, making it sound overall more full, the guitars are sharper, and the lead synths act as sound effects more so than a melodic element. The only thing, if anything Shura lacks in her songs is the use of head-filling hooks. However, this is not to say she doesn’t make up for it in harmony and chord voicings, which themselves act as hooks.
The same electronic influences in ‘Nothing’s Real’ crop up throughout the album, particularly in tracks such as the previously unveiled ‘Indecision’ and single ‘White Light’. Although they appear 6th and 12th on the album, they both stick closely to the fundamental sound presented in the title track. The main difference between these and ‘Nothing’s Real’ is that they provide a moodier, emotional sense of harmony and melody. ‘Tongue Tied’ also veers slightly from the pre-established EDM vibe, into a more chilled out down tempo performance, mainly by featuring normal pop instruments like guitars to introduce the groove and melody, rather than relying on processed synth sounds to fill out the song. That’s not to say the track stands any weaker than the others. It merely means the unaffected sound gives way for Shura to showcase her keen ear for melody and rhythm in her vocal parts, and her microscopic attention to detail is showcased too by working them perfectly around the surrounding music.
Romantic, fun and thought-provoking, ‘Nothing’s Real’ is many things, but above all it is virtually flawless. It acknowledges the hype of post-Noughties pop music, which seems to be a throw back to the ‘80s, best exemplified by The 1975. But instead of following it, it’s as if Shura almost has been studying the trend from a distance, then picked out the weak points to discard them, whilst easily making the strong points stronger. Be sure to pick up a copy, as this album is definitely not to be missed as a great soundtrack to the summer.
‘Nothing’s Real’, the debut album from Shura, is now available from Polydor Records. For more on Shura on TGTF, including our coverage of her performance at the Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales night at SXSW 2015, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 26th July 2016 at 6:00 pm
Glaswegian alt-rockers Twin Atlantic are previewing their upcoming album with a new track for us. Single ‘No Sleep’ is a ballsy, hard-hitting reminder of the Scottish band’s pre-2014’s ‘The Great Divide’ punk stylings. It will appear on ‘GLA’, the group’s fourth album, which will see the light of day on the 9th of September on Red Bull Records.
The music video for ‘No Sleep’ is simplistic, described by guitar-playing frontman Sam McTrusty as “a simple video, us in our element, our natural environment. Just playing and reacting to the music. We didn’t want to dilute the track with an elaborate visual. The textures projected behind and onto us were inspired by the album art we made for ‘GLA’. This is us. This is our music.” Watch it below. The band have announced live tour dates in the UK in October and December; check this past tour date post for details. For more on Twin Atlantic on TGTF, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 26th July 2016 at 12:00 pm
Early evening the day before Valentine’s Day 2016, I started receiving frantic Facebook messages from people asking me if it was true about Viola Beach. What was true? I was confused. I hadn’t heard anything. I soon confirmed from multiple sources on social media that the unthinkable had happened. The band had left Norrköping, Sweden, following a well-received set at Where’s the Music Festival, their first appearance outside of Britain, and their car inexplicably went off a bridge, plunging into the water below. As a music editor planning just a month off from SXSW, I’d already pencilled in the band on my schedule in Austin, as had many of my professional contacts. It was unfathomable that young lives such as theirs were gone.
It was especially a terrible loss to the North West town of Warrington that Viola Beach called home, as early indicators suggested success would soon be in their future. Already having their brand of peppy pop receiving the support of BBC Introducing in England, they’d also been anointed with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase as part of the BBC Introducing bill at SXSW 2016, which they sadly never made it to. In their memory, the families of the band have decided to release their debut album this Friday on the band’s own Fuller Beans Records:
We are tremendously proud of everything the boys achieved in such a short space of time. Craig, Jack, Kris, River and Tom shared a huge passion, talent and dedication to music. We believe the best way to celebrate our sons’ lives is to release an album of their songs. This is their legacy and we know deep in our hearts that the boys would want the world to listen to the music they poured everything into. This was only the beginning for them and these nine songs were written with every intention to be shared, heard and, most of all, enjoyed. We hope that it brings you as much happiness listening to it as we know it did to them making it.
The music made by four wide-eyed lads is, as one might expect, innocent and sweet, or at least honest about that period of life (see ‘Drunk’). Self-released in autumn 2015, debut single ‘Slides and Waterslides’ is the perfect example of this. The song quickly made the rounds in the blogosphere not only in Britain, but also in America. American music blog Pigeons and Planes commented that the single had “a swagger that is not often found on indie pop records”. Let’s just say that this kind of swagger is more TGTF’s speed than Cher Lloyd’s. Despite its title, ‘Swings and Waterslides’ is actually a snapshot of puppy love. Lead singer Kris Leonard croons, “you’re not with me tonight / and only you could make it right”, before the chorus kicks in, with youthful shouts from his bandmates. Overall, the effect is, while greatly helped with a bright guitar melody (think early Two Door Cinema Club) and accompanying bouncy percussion, one of pure pop. The more I listen to this song, the more I hear the promise in Leonard’s voice. You can picture its potential of having as much mainstream influence as Liam Gallagher’s, as a new representation of young (and Northern) England. Now we’ll never know.
Many of the songs on ‘Viola Beach’ read as tropical pop numbers, with dashes of pop, hip hop and rock. While there’s an obvious reliance on upbeat guitar notes and drum beats, a nod to what’s popular with the kids these day, there’s also a smartness at play. They liked playing with the tempos, changing them from tune to tune to allow for different feels. The jittery ‘Like a Fool’ and ‘Get to Dancing’ (watch it live from their BBC Introducing session from Maida Vale recorded in late 2015 below) have moments when Leonard and his bandmates are shouting at the top of their lungs. They must have had a whale of a time recording those. In contrast, the echoey, chill vibe of ‘Really Wanna Call’ makes it sounds like it was recorded in the Caribbean.
Another previously released track ‘Cherry Vimto’ is relatively simple, but it showcases Viola Beach’s ability to slow things down and write a ballad. ‘Call You Up’ is another slower one, puts Leonard’s voice through its paces. It’s particularly interesting, as drummer Jack Dakin’s cymbal and other effects inexplicably crash in the background, as if to mimic the emotional tension within the song. One could reasonably hypothesise that this was their one experimental number on the album, and perhaps an indicator that they didn’t plan to stay in the tropical pop genre forever.
‘Boys That Sing’ closes the album and following Coldplay’s tribute to them during their headline set at Glastonbury this year. As Leonard sings it, it’s clear it’s about a girl he’s fallen for and yet, everyone thinks their union is crazy. The chorus goes, “and she said that together we could do anything / and she told me that she loves a boy who knows how to sing / so I learnt how to sing”, what comes across as the sweetest reason a young boy would ever use to decide to become musical. For one night, this song had its time on the world’s biggest stage, and it was beautiful.
I know that not everyone believes in heaven or the existence of an afterlife. I do. And I choose to believe that those who leave us, especially those who leave us before their time, they are with us in spirit and can see what we’re up to every day of our lives. Even though we didn’t have Viola Beach with us for very long, they reminded us that there is inherent joy in the making of music and it is a gift that is best shared and has no boundaries. Their families have had a terrible loss, but I hope that through sharing this album, this gift that they have kindly bestowed on us, they can see that even beyond their physical time on this earth, their boys will continue to bring joy to many.
The eponymous debut album from Viola Beach will be released posthumously this Friday, the 29th of July, on the band’s own Fuller Beans Records. Our thoughts on and coverage of the tribute to them at SXSW 2016 can be found through here.
Irish pop group Walking on Cars have recently announced a massive list of tour dates in the UK and Ireland for later this year, and we at TGTF are taking the opportunity to catch up on the band’s latest news. Since we last saw Walking on Cars, way back at SXSW 2015, they have undertaken a seemingly endless run of live shows supporting the release of their debut LP. ‘Everything This Way’ came out on Virgin EMI in back in January, and the band will round out the album’s first year with the headline dates listed below. You can watch the video for album single ‘Speeding Cars’ at the bottom of the page.
Tickets for the following shows are available now, but please be aware of an apparent conflict of dates for Glasgow and Manchester on the 14th of November. Information on those shows was not readily available at press time, and both gigs are still listed on the band’s official Web site. TGTF’s full previous coverage of Walking on Cars can be found back here.
Thursday 10th November 2016 – Belfast Limelight
Saturday 12th November 2016 – Dublin 3Arena
Monday 14th November 2016 – Glasgow Queen Margaret Union *
Monday 14th November 2016 – Manchester Queen of Hearts *
Tuesday 15th November 2016 – Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
Wednesday 16th November 2016 – Aberdeen Garage
Friday 18th November 2016 – Newcastle University
Saturday 19th November 2016 – Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday 20th November 2016 – Birmingham Institute
Monday 21st November 2016 – Nottingham Rock City
Wednesday 23rd November 2016 – Leeds Stylus
Thursday 24th November 2016 – Manchester Ritz
Friday 25th November 2016 – Liverpool Academy
Sunday 27th November 2016 – Oxford Academy
Monday 28th November 2016 – Cardiff University
Tuesday 29th November 2016 – Norwich UEA
Wednesday 30th November 2016 – Portsmouth Pyramids Centre
Tuesday 13th December 2016 – London Roundhouse
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