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Video of the Moment #2267: BANKS

 
By on Friday, 20th January 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Californian singer/songwriter BANKS released her second album last September. ‘The Altar’, the long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s ‘The Goddess’, was expected to be a wee bit different based on its earliest released songs including ‘Gemini Feed’. We featured the promo to ‘Gemini Feed’ in late summer as a Video of the Moment here.

In her latest video for ‘Trainwreck’, there’s a lot of strange things afoot here. For one, BANKS has a trio of bald, masked men filming her, but for what? Eating hard-boiled eggs has never been weirder, for sure. Watch it below. You can get ‘The Altar’ for your very own from Harvest Records now. For more of TGTF’s coverage on the artist, go here.

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Live Gig Video: watch White Lies’ new promo for ‘Don’t Want to Feel It All’, from 4th album ‘Friends’

 
By on Friday, 20th January 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

White Lies seem to be enjoying the live promo video format a wee bit too much. I used to think this all too familiar trend of using films from live shows was simply because the band was too lazy. Maybe they’re just getting old, or they think scripted videos are cheesy? Following the release of ‘Friends’, their fourth album, back in October, they released this live video for ‘Morning in LA’.

Two months on from that video, they’ve got another live one (no pun intended) for ‘Friends’ track ‘Don’t Want to Feel It All’. Like several of the tracks on their latest LP, it’s got a throwback feel and an ’80s vibe, with handclaps and synth marimbas. Yet the song still has that swaying grandeur that makes White Lies who they are and what they’ve always sounded like. There’s that feeling of loneliness, the anxiety settling in about losing hope, losing something of importance. It’s something this band captures oh so well, and seeing what’s happening in America today, the sentiment seems entirely fitting. Catch up on my review of the ‘Friends’ album through this link; for more of TGTF’s ongoing coverage of White Lies over the years, go here. They begin a tour of North America in DC on the 1st of February at the 9:30 Club; stay tuned for a post-gig report and an interview with Harry McVeigh from the night.

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(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Single Review: Diet Cig – Tummy Ache

 
By on Friday, 20th January 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

New Paltz, New York alt-rock duo Diet Cig are set to make a second consecutive appearance at SXSW this year, where they will usher in their debut LP ‘Swear I’m Good at This’. The album’s twee-titled lead single ‘Tummy Ache’ was unveiled last week, and as soon as I heard it, I recognised it from SXSW 2016, where Diet Cig had included it on their setlist at the DIY Presents showcase at Hype Hotel.

Lead vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano and her bandmate, drummer Noah Bowman gave a strong, energetic performance that night in Austin, and the recorded version of ‘Tummy Ache’ is true to their vivid live interpretation. Luciano’s whiny, overly-saccharine vocal delivery is almost enough to set my teeth on edge as she sings of “trying to find my voice / surrounded by all boys.” But she does present a very deliberate and ironic dichotomy in the musical context of the song’s bright, bold power chords and confidently emphatic rhythms. She comes across as shy and almost apologetic, despite the brash musical setting, in the lines “I don’t need a man to hold my hand / that’s just something you’ll never understand”. The song’s catchy final statement “my stomach hurts / ‘cos its hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt” is reinforced by increasingly intense background vocal layering as Luciano acknowledges both the outward conflict of a female rock star and her own inner turmoil.

Luciano certainly isn’t the first female frontwoman to tackle feminist subject matter in her songwriting, but based on the enthusiastically positive reception Diet Cig received last year, hers will be one of the most prominent feminist voices among showcasing artists at SXSW 2017. Keep an eye on TGTF for further coverage of Diet Cig as part of our focus on feminism at this year’s festival.

8/10

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Diet Cig’s debut album ‘Swear I’m Good at This’ is due for release on the 7th of April via Frenchkiss Records. They are currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017 this March, but as always, the showcasing artist lineup is subject to change. For news and updates on SXSW 2017, please consult the festival’s official schedule here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Diet Cig is collected right back here.

 

Video of the Moment #2266: Conor Oberst

 
By on Thursday, 19th January 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

We’d be lying if we said we didn’t spend more than a passing thought in TGTF Towers guessing who the surprise artists will be for the next installment of SXSW. As Omaha is one of a few unlikely points of focus on the music conference side of things for SXSW 2017, one has to wonder if Saddle Creek Records and/or Conor Oberst is set to make an appearance in Austin. The reclusive singer/songwriter has a new album, ‘Salutations’, set for release on the 17th of March on Nonesuch Records, just before SXSW 2017 calls it a wrap. You can check out an early taster from the upcoming LP, ‘A Little Uncanny’, in the video below. Oberst has a handful of live dates in the UK and Ireland at the start of February, all the details are this way. Read more on Oberst here on TGTF through this link.

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Live Review: Tom Chaplin at Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC – 17th January 2017

 
By on Thursday, 19th January 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

This time 2 years ago, Keane frontman Tom Chaplin took his first steps towards sobriety. Finally reaching a wall, he made the decision to stop using drugs after a prolonged period of substance abuse, which was sparked by self-doubt and anxiety towards making his first solo record. Well on the road to recovery and following the North American release last Friday of his poignant yet hopeful LP ‘The Wave’, Chaplin made a stop Tuesday evening in Washington, performing at the historic Lincoln Theatre on U Street in Northwest. It was his first time back in the Nation’s Capital since Keane’s last visit in 2012. It’s only natural that anyone who had previously seen Keane live would compare this performance to those past shows. As the charismatic lead singer whose dark backstory we knew little about until recently, Tom Chaplin was the face of wonderment, the killer voice propelling the tunes of his bandmate Tim Rice-Oxley.

While Keane songs were of course included in the mix to appease long-time fans, there were some obvious differences to how they were presented to us. Rice-Oxley’s animated, bombastic piano playing, for instance on upbeat track ‘Bend & Break’, had been a mainstay of the Keane sound. I noticed that during this show, while the piano was clearly there backing Chaplin, its presence felt slightly muted, making it clear it was Chaplin’s voice that was the star of the evening. Similarly, when ‘Crystal Ball’ made its appearance before the encore, his energetic leaps and bounds across the stage, reminiscent of the Keane days – to the delight of fans, of course – the focus of attention was unequivocally on Chaplin and the sheer vocal power he still delivers.

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Time, and I suppose a self-realisation of just how precious life is, has only strengthened his vocal abilities. While I questioned some of the lighting choices – seriously, who wants to be blinded by the stage lights for a song called ‘Bring the Rain’? – and Chaplin seemed uncomfortable singing early Keane single ‘Everybody’s Changing’ (nerves? bad memories?), these were minor quibbles, given the otherwise pretty much peerless performance. ‘I Remember You’ proved to be the ultimate combination, a track full of energy and audience handclaps, while giving him the perfect showcase for his dynamic vocal acrobatics.

His backing band, whom Chaplin himself put together last summer, are an incredibly tight unit for a group who have been together only a short time. More importantly, they offer something wonderfully different to what we might have otherwise expected at a Keane gig. Twin violins on ‘Bedshaped’ was an unexpected, unique way to present a classic Keane song. The band all joined in on the harmonies for inspirational title track ‘The Wave’; I was impressed by the richness of their combined vocals.

Guitarist Tobie Tripp and keyboardist Beau Holland provided acoustic backing to Chaplin’s soaring vocals on ‘Bound Together’ to open the encore. This bonus track, along with an audience reception to ‘Better Day’ so loud and rousing that he said he had to release this song as a single, provided additional highlights of the night. Imagine a cross between the themes of ‘On the Road’ and ‘Day Will Come’ from Keane’s 2012 album ‘Strangeland’, and you’ll get the idea. Chaplin dedicated ‘Solid Gold’ and the particularly poignant ‘Hold On to Our Love’ from the album to his long-suffering wife, the strong woman who has stood by his side through thick and thin.

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Though he shared with the audience that he had received bad news the day before that was making him “sad and lonely” and missing home, Chaplin didn’t for one moment let this affect his performance. It seems appropriate that for what Chaplin has been through, hitting rock bottom and having to claw his way back to some sense of normalcy, these struggles and successes he chronicles on ‘The Wave’, all of this has prepared him for the bumps as these in the road in life while staying sober. For him to share with us what he’s learned, the pain he’s endured as well as the amazing insights, it’s truly a priceless gift. Chaplin seemed truly humbled by the reception to his return to Washington, thanking the crowd quite a few times for providing the kind of personal connection that he said was the best medicine to soften the loneliness he had been feeling. It seems like such a small gesture from the fans, considering how for over a decade his famous voice has comforted and thrilled Keane’s worldwide legion of devotees. Am I looking forward to the next Tom Chaplin album? You bet.

Chaplin’s North American tour continues tonight at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom; for all his world live dates announced for the rest of the year, visit his official Web site. Catch up on my in-depth interview with Tom the week before the release of ‘The Wave’ in the UK through here.

After the cut: Tom Chaplin’s set list for the night.
Continue reading Live Review: Tom Chaplin at Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC – 17th January 2017

 

Album Review: The Coral – Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues EP

 
By on Thursday, 19th January 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

The Coral HMPMB EP coverMerseyside guitar rockers The Coral made their indelible first impression on the UK music scene in 2002 with a self-titled debut album that garnered the then-six-piece band a Mercury Prize nomination. Following that promising lead, the band recorded six more LPs over the course of the noughties before taking a five-year hiatus starting in 2010. During their off-time, band members focused on individual solo projects, and a previously recorded album, ‘The Curse of Love’, was released in late 2014.

In November 2015, The Coral announced a comeback, heralding the release of a new album, ‘Distance Inbetween’, which was released in March 2016. ‘Distance Inbetween’ was met with critical praise from reviewers at NME and The Independent, among others, and the band evidently felt the need to strike again while the iron was hot. They followed ‘Distance Inbetween’ with an EP release at the tail end of 2016, in the form of ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’.

The LP is a reimagining of ‘Distance Inbetween’, at least in parts. Of the tracks on the new EP, only ‘Holy Revelation’ and ‘Connector’ are taken from the full album. ‘Holy Revelation (Andy Votel’s ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ De-Mix)’ more than doubles the original track’s duration at over 8 minutes’ running time. It takes a fairly standard guitar rock track, which was quite catchy in its original form, and makes it into a psychedelic sonic exploration of the foundational rhythms and melodies. Surprisingly, it never feels self-indulgent. Instead, the band seem to be making themselves comfortable here, as if The Coral are stretching their legs and kicking off their shoes, allowing themselves some space to grow, and in the process adding depth and texture to their sound.

‘Connector’, the shadowy album opener from ‘Distance Inbetween’, is recreated here in a woozy and hallucinogenic synth dressing. The bass and the beat are both more aggressive in this Voyagers’ remix, and frontman James Skelly’s vocals are moved farther back in the mix to accommodate the dark dance-pop vibe. The EP features one brand new track, the verbosely subtitled ‘After the Rain (Post WW3 Return of the Super Turv Mix)’, which received airplay from Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music ahead of the EP release. Edgy and sinuous with a deep bass groove, its harshly synthetic instrumental bridge contrasts jarringly with frontman Skelly’s smooth, dark vocal melody.

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‘Unforgiven’, previously released as the b-side track to The Coral’s ‘Chasing the Tail of a Dream’ single from January of last year, is more acoustic sounding and less kaleidoscopic in color, but nonetheless psychedelic in its way. Its vocal and instrumental harmonies are weirdly wandering, but also warm and hazy around the edges, which allows the EP to close on a distinctly lighter and mellower note than where it began.

‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ is probably best thought of as an accompaniment to ‘Distance Inbetween’. Stylistically, it’s a bit all over the shop on its own, but in comparison to the tracks on the full LP, these songs make a little more sense. Taken in conjunction with the definitive precision and back-to-basics mentality of ‘Distance Inbetween’, ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ displays The Coral’s outside-the-box approach to music-making and their willingness to evolve their sound, even as their career stretches past the 20-year mark.

8/10

The Coral’s full-length album ‘Distance Inbetween’ and their latest EP ‘Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ are both out now on Ignition Records. For more on the Merseyside band on TGTF, follow this link.

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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