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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 2nd March 2015 at 6:00 pm
When Duncan Wallis, frontman for Dutch Uncles, throws shapes in one of their music videos and indeed, during live performances, it often seems like he’s a man possessed, or even possibly being controlled by strings from above.
In the Marple band’s newest video for ‘Decided Knowledge’, Duncan is turned into a live action puppet, as he sings and frolics his way across the Welsh seaside town of Llandudno. What’s even more remarkable? The attention to detail to the puppet ‘Muncan’, with his eyebrows, earring and even dance moves eerily matching those of Wallis’ own. Watch it below.
The song appears on the band’s album released last week, ‘O Shudder’, now available on Memphis Industries. For past coverage of Dutch Uncles on TGTF, go here.
Sunday the 22nd of February saw the final event of the weekend-long extravaganza of music that was the 6 Music Festival 2015, held on Tyneside. The venue was the usually prim and proper Sage Gateshead, which had been entirely taken over by the BBC, and, as a consequence, saw rather a transformation… of which more later.
But first, to the music. British Sea Power were the opening act in the enormous Hall One, with what amounted to an amuse bouche of a set, a bare four songs long, showcasing their art-rock sound in a the magnificent space. Coincidentally, the festival had chosen as their aesthetic theme that of foliage and trees – the stage was flanked by two towering baobabs – that perfectly matched BSP’s usual ivy-entwined microphone stands. ‘Waving Flags’ was immense as usual, and the electric-guitar-’n’-violin-combo in instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ was a gently evocative way to ease into the mood of the evening. Whilst it’s difficult to argue that BSP are capable of evincing hot-blooded passion, they are as bleakly majestic as a grey North Sea swell, and a fine live proposition.
Steve Lamacq introduced Gaz Coombes as “one of the finest songwriters of his generation”, and it’s difficult to argue with him. Not that you’d want to argue with the lovely Steve Lamacq anyway, nor leave him next to an open doorway lest his impossibly slight figure should get blown away in the breeze. Anyway, Coombes did his best to demonstrate how accurate Lamacq’s description was. He’s assembled a great band, so Coombes can stick to electric piano and acoustic guitar, which frees him up to throw some shapes and generally concentrate on being a frontman. He chooses the big hitters from his solo catalogue: the syncopated melodrama of ‘Buffalo’s allows it to be an appropriately assertive opener; ‘One of These Days’, a classic mid-tempo Coombes ballad, has lost nothing of its sheen due to familiarity and still has the capacity to move.
With his expanded band comes an ability to experiment with electronic textures and dance-influenced drum patterns, perhaps aiming to take the mantle of band-frontman-to-solo-artist-with-electronica-pretensions from Thom Yorke, of whom we’ve heard little of late. Latest single ‘20/20’ is a perfect demonstration of the Coombes method: some synthy bits, a driving acoustic guitar riff, and a complex yet accessible arrangement blended together to sound classic and novel all at once. It goes without saying that there’s an enormous, funkily noisy crescendo at the end of the song to wrap up the set. A spectacular performance from a man who is just getting better with age.
Neneh Cherry has a tough act to follow and she, astonishingly, nearly steals the show. Assisted by an Animal-inspired drummer, and just one more chap on synths ‘n’ things, her minimalist backing is all the more powerful for its sparseness, leaving plenty of room for her menacingly soulful voice. Everything she plays is taken from last year’s ‘Blank Project’, a challenging yet rewarding work. ‘Spit Three Times’ touches on depression and superstition, ‘Dossier’ is deliberately swathed in pulsating white noise and ‘Weightless’ flirts with techno in its second movement, before dropping some synthesised power chords like an android Diamond Darrell. Soulful, funky, avant-garde, whilst not herself the definition of ‘new’, her music is as cutting-edge as anything the festival would hear over the weekend.
In my preview of the festival I cautioned that, because there had been so many tickets sold, the Sage would be so packed that lots of people would miss the performance they wanted to see. I was partially correct – Hall One did reach capacity at times, with a glum queue of punters waiting patiently for someone to leave the hall so they could take their place – but overall the place was busy but not overcrowded. The main reason for this was the clever ruse of putting a stage in the main concourse between the two halls, so anyone not in an official auditorium could still see a show. Which brings us to Public Service Broadcasting, who drew a huge crowd to the concourse to hear them unveil new material from sophomore album ‘The Race For Space’ (our editor’s review of the LP is here). Last time I saw PSB they were a two-piece – Wrigglesworth on drums and J. Willgoose Esq. on laptop, synth, banjo, and, well, everything else. Tonight they’ve expanded considerably, adding another two members on “everything else”, and even a three-piece horn section on a couple of songs.
PSB are a lot of fun, and considering tonight’s BBC sponsorship, a rather apposite act to have, in their celebration of the very fabric of news coverage, in their worship of the sounds that have conveyed, and in some cases, actually created, the news. And their expanded sound is surely exactly what fans of their debut ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ wanted to hear. The low-key house beats of ‘Gagarin’ tease us into the set; newest single ‘Go!’ is the executive summary of the whole album, complete with “The Eagle has landed” sample. Where the last record dealt largely with the British perspective of World War Two and the decade following, ‘The Race For Space’ is firmly set in 1960s’ USA and USSR. Whilst they’re at it, it might have been interesting to hear PSB take a peek behind the Iron Curtain and explore the motivations for the space race – the Cold War is only obliquely referenced – but perhaps they rightly conclude that nobody ever boogied to a Joseph McCarthy speech, and stick smartly to space noises. Another good piece of work from PSB then, even if the music itself is a mere backdrop to the original fragments of dialogue and film. And, to bring us back to the Sage’s concourse, the sheer spectacle of their live performance filled the hangar-like space defined by the Sage’s exoskeleton like very few others would be capable of.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Martin’s roundup of the Sunday festivities at the Sage Gateshead at the 6 Music Festival on Tyneside, which will post tomorrow.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 2nd March 2015 at 1:00 pm
Editor’s note: I posted Leon’s surname as Spansword in the initial posting of this article, using the name on his Twitter account for direction. Whoops. Be forewarned, rock stars: if you want people to know who you are, use your real name!
Not long now before SXSW 2015! But just as we did for SXSW 2014 last year, we’ll be running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ and artists’ heads so they’ll tell us what they really think of the event. We’re at the eighth installment ahead of the big event happening in just 2 weeks, and today we’re chatting with Leon Stanford, lead singer of South Wales band The People The Poet this morning who on physical appearance alone looks to give Huw Stephens a run for his money in the cuddliness stakes. What anthemic song in the last 10 years does Leon wish he’d written? Have a read for that, why we probably shouldn’t ply him (too much anyway) with drinks in Texas and much more below.
Keen on learning more about The People the Poet ahead of their appearance at Latitude 30 at the Music Wales showcase Tuesday night in Austin? Read my band profile on them that posted here on TGTF last week through this link.
What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Being a band who are not really about looks, we mainly get excited about the same thing wherever we go and that’s getting fat and enjoying the local food and drink.
Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
I’d have to say Catfish and the Bottlemen who we’re lucky to be playing the same showcase as! They’re an exciting young Welsh band who are quickly becoming future headliners for all the big festivals.
Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Like every other diabetic rockstar I shall be carrying some insulin pens (the hard drugs) to keep me alive throughout the week of drinking, food and music.
If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I do like a milkshake being a bit of a shit diabetic so a white Russian or Baileys will do fine.
Also a surprise is always nice, as long as your idea of a surprise drink is not spiking it.
And now on to our usual list of Quickfire Questions:
What song is your earliest musical memory?
Probably something like singing Joe Cocker’s version of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ in primary school assembly. Oasis – ‘Wonderwall’, The Beatles – ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Praise Hosanna’ were my school’s idea of a good selection of morning hymns.
What was your favourite song as a child?
I always liked a bit of Tom Jones – ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’. Those 8-year old birthday parties would go mental when a bit of Tom came on, clothes would be flying everywhere but not a single party hat in sight.
What song makes you laugh? / What song makes you cry?
‘Short People’ by Randy Newman. He has a way of making you laugh and then the next minute he writes a song like ‘Losing You’ and that’s all you do is cry.
Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
I wish I’d written ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay ever since watching him (Chris Martin) throw a light around the stage to it whilst headlining Glastonbury. It’s such a beautifully written song.
Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Adam Duritz from Counting Crows is probably my all time favourite writer. His melodies and lyrics are incredible. [Read Carrie’s interview with Duritz from last year here. – Ed.]
If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
It seems quite easy to get a job as a manger for Cardiff City Football Club, so I would love the opportunity to show up Russel Slade (current manager) with my managing skills that I learnt from Club Manager 2007 (PC game). I had them promoted 2 years in a row to get them to the Premier League.
If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
AC/DC – ‘Highway to Hell’.
Many thanks Leon for answering our questions and thank you also to Tyla for facilitating.
To Kill a King are a band who believe in taking advantage of an opportune moment. At the end of 2014, after a full year of touring and with the release of their EP ‘Exit Pursued by a Bear’, the London-based group found themselves at bit of a crossroads. They begin 2015 with a new LP, the self-titled ‘To Kill a King’ that, while not a debut album, marks a new beginning for the band in more ways than one.
The band initially self-released their real debut album, 2013’s ‘Cannibals With Cutlery’, but their subsequent signing with Xtra Mile Recordings allowed both a full re-release of that album and expanded touring opportunities that spread their music to a much wider audience. As frontman Ralph Pelleymounter says in the press release for ‘To Kill a King’, the band wrote the new album with a bright future in mind. “On reflection, the first album does sound like a debut. This (new album) is the band coming into its stride.” And these are songs sound designed to be played on a bigger stage.
Their ambitions might have been thwarted by the recent departure of bass player Josh Platman, who announced on the 10th of February that he was leaving the band for personal reasons. But seemingly undaunted, the remaining members of To Kill A King (Pelleymounter, Grant McNeill on electric guitar, Ben Jackson on synth and keys and Josh Taffel on drums) have filled Platman’s slot with bassist Peter Hakola and forged ahead with the album release as well as their scheduled March headline dates in Europe and the UK. (Find a full listing of live shows on the band’s Web site.)
With a firmly established “carpe diem” mentality, the band have managed to avoid the curse of the sophomore album with ‘To Kill a King’, continuing their evolution away from the seminal folk rock sound that led to their early association with Communion Records. The songs on this album are dynamically expansive but dramatically concise, bursting at the seams with compelling choruses and striking instrumental bridges. The 11 tracks play through at a remarkably fast pace, smoothly shifting gears between anthemic refrains and quieter moments without ever losing their sense of forward momentum.
Opening track ‘Compare Scars’ moves quickly from a sparse and introspective introduction to the driving pulse and power chords of the chorus “I know it’s hard when they’re calling your name / but keep your head straight, keep your head straight”. Similarly, the LP’s lead single ‘Love Is Not Control’ belies its own title with an anxiously quick tempo and tense, repeated lyrical clips.
Pelleymounter’s expressive baritone is highlighted on standout track ‘Oh My Love’, which I described previously in my review of the ‘Exit, Pursued by a Bear’ EP. He demonstrates a solid falsetto in ‘The Chancer’ (streaming below), where the relentless intensity of the album backs off for a brief moment with the distantly echoed chorus “and the beat goes on my friends / life’s endless drum”. The bass groove and guitar riff of ‘Grace at a Party’ ratchet up the drama again as Pelleymounter sings about unexpectedly running into an ex-lover.
Penultimate track ‘World of Joy (A List of Things to Do)’ and brief final clip ‘Today’ brought a surprised smile to my face with their disarmingly buoyant instrumental arrangements and light-hearted lyrics. Focusing once again on the theme of living in the present moment, To Kill a King have here, and on the album as a whole, fully realized their intention “to be more optimistic and more life-affirming”. The bold intensity and clear musicality of ‘To Kill A King’ should give them even more reason to feel optimistic about their progress as a band and the direction they’ve chosen to take.
‘To Kill A King’ is out today on Xtra Mile Recordings. Just after the release, the band will begin a run of live dates in the UK.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 2nd March 2015 at 11:00 am
We here at TGTF have been busy little bees working on SXSW 2015 previews since November. Now that we’re in March, I started thinking that you fine readers may have missed a post (or three) along the way, and for those keen on picking up some new acts to follow and fanboy/girl over, you might need a way to have everything at your fingertips to help you choose who to see in Austin. As we’re getting down to the wire in the lead-up to SXSW (there’s only 2 weeks to go, yo!), this roundup will give a snapshot – albeit a pretty large one! – of all the SXSW showcasing artists we’ve featured over the last 4 months.
Over the next 2 weeks we’ll be bringing you even more SXSW previews, so keep it here at TGTF!
Bands to Watch previews of SXSW 2015 Artists (31):
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #311: Jessie Ware (England / UK – pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #312: The Ting Tings (England / UK – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #313: SOPHIE (England / UK – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #314: Rainy Milo (England / UK – pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #316: Rival Consoles (England / UK – electronic)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #317: Mallory Knox (England / UK – rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #318: Jay Prince (England / UK – hip hop / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #319: Charlotte OC (England / UK – pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #320: Ibeyi (France – pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #321: The Voyeurs (England / UK – rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #322: Brolin (England / hip hop / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #323: Alvvays (Canada / pop / rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #324: East India Youth (England / UK – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #325: Coasts (England / UK – pop / rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #326: Fatherson (Scotland / UK – rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #327: The Lonely Wild (US – folk / rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #328: Reuben Hollebon (England / UK – folk)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #329: B.Traits (England / UK – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #330: Modestep (England / UK – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #331: Pale Seas (England / UK – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #332: Howie Lee (China – electronic)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #333: Vision Fortune (England / UK – experimental / rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #334: The Pop Group (England / UK – punk / rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #336: Bad Breeding (England / UK – punk / rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #337: Dry the River (England / UK – rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #338: beGun (Spain – electronic)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #339: Rosie Lowe (England / UK – pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #341: Gengahr (England / UK – rock)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #342: Amason (Sweden – rock/pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #343: Lust for Youth (Denmark – electronic / pop)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #344: The People The Poet (Wales / UK – folk / rock / pop)
Quickfire Questions Featuring SXSW 2015 Artists (9):
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #79: Mark McCausland of The Lost Brothers (Ireland)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #80: Jon Warren of Dry the River (England / UK)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #81: Lorna Thomas of Skinny Lister (England / UK)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #82: Jonny Allan of Happyness (England / UK)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #83: beGun (Spain)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #84: Jessi Williams of The Lonely Wild (US)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #85: Logan Kroeber of the Dodos (US)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #86: Orla Gartland (Ireland)
(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #87: Leon Spansword of The People The Poet (Wales / UK)
Album Reviews Featuring SXSW 2014 Artists (8):
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: Emmy the Great – S EP
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: The Dodos – Individ
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – Club Meds
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: Ibeyi – Ibeyi
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: Carl Barat and the Jackals – Let It Reign
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Album Review: Rathborne – SOFT
Miscellaneous Features Starring SXSW 2014 Artists (21):
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1677: Carl Barat and the Jackals
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1702: Twin Shadow
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Review: Lewis Watson with Alicia Rae at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 14th November 2014 (Note: Lewis Watson has announced he won’t be showcasing at SXSW.)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Skinny Lister reveal promo for ‘Trouble on Oxford Street’, filmed at London 100 Club
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Longfellow play acoustic versions of ‘Gabrielle’ and ‘Where I Belong’ for Ont’ Sofa (Note: Longfellow have announced they won’t be showcasing at SXSW.)
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Single Review: Laura Welsh – Ghosts
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Review: Alvvays with Moon King at Newcastle Think Tank – 23rd January 2015
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: The Districts perform ‘Suburban Smell’ and ‘4th and Roebling’ for La Blogotheque
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Skinny Lister plays new track ‘This is War’ at Tokyo Shibuya Club Quattro
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1736: East India Youth
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1738: Carl Barat and the Jackals
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1739: The Dodos
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) MP3 of the Day #870: beGun
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1742: The Twilight Sad
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1743: SOAK
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1744: More Than Conquerors
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1745: Tei Shi
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Review: Emmy the Great with Louis Weeks at DC9, Washington DC – 17th February 2015
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Review: The Dodos with Springtime Carnivore at Club Congress, Tucson, AZ – 16th February 2015
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1752: Public Service Broadcasting
(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1753 (and more!): The Cribs
Folk/punk singer/songwriter Frank Turner is gearing up for the release of his latest new material, which comes not in the form of recorded music but rather in the form of a new book recounting his path “from the pub circuit to selling out Wembley Arena”. The book, titled ‘The Road Beneath My Feet’ is due out in hardback and e-book formats on the 26th of March.
In support of the book, Turner will embark on a short docket of live appearances, which will involve reading extracts from the book, taking questions from the floor and performing a smattering of songs from his extensive music catalogue. During the days of the tour Turner will appear at book signing sessions in Waterstones shops around the country. Book signing events are free; tickets for the evening shows are available now on Turner’s PledgeMusic site.
Turner is also on the SXSW 2015 docket as a panelist for an official music conference presentation called ‘Books Are The New Vinyl’. He’s also expected to perform a series of live shows in Austin as well.
Tuesday 24th March 2015 – Edinburgh Waterstones (book signing session)
Tuesday 24th March 2015 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Wednesday 25th March 2015 – Coventry Waterstones (book signing session)
Wednesday 25th March 2015 – Birmingham Glee Club
Thursday 26th March 2015 – London Cecil Sharp House
Friday 27th March 2015 – Manchester Bridgewater Theatre
Saturday 28th March 2015 – Leeds Waterstones (book signing session)
Saturday 28th March 2015 – Liverpool Library
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