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Video of the Moment #2884: SG Lewis feat. Clairo

 
By on Monday, 13th August 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Last month, two young rising stars revealed the delicious fruits of a recent collaboration. English DJ and producer SG Lewis joined forces with American teenage YouTube sensation from Clairo on the exemplary single ‘Better’. You can read my review of the single through here. Last week, they brought out the song’s promo video, which stars both of them as seen through a fisheye lens, being pals in a disco and driving around town in an open-top convertible. With the sunglasses, it feels like we’ve stepped back in time, and there are so many other questions here, such as, does SG Lewis do his own stunts? Ponder these while watching the video for ‘Better’ below. The single is out now on PMR / Virgin EMI. We’ll be collecting articles on SG Lewis posted on TGTF through this link.

 

Album Review: Slaves – Acts of Fear and Love

 
By on Monday, 13th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Slaves Acts of Fear and Love album coverKent punks Slaves started 2018 with releasing the first record from their own record label Girl Fight, Lady Bird’s ‘Social Potions’, in February. A music editor’s first thought upon hearing a band has started their label is to wonder whether the band plan to reduce their own creative output to nurture other artists. Put away that worry for the time being with ‘Acts of Fear and Love’, Slaves’ third studio LP, which follows 2016’s ‘Take Control’. Following their brief flirtation with hip-hop and collaboration with Beastie Boys’ Mike D on track ‘Consume or Be Consumed’, the pair decided to return to work with Jolyon Thomas, producer of their breakthrough debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’

The record begins with the “OI!” and dissonant guitar notes of acerbic ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’. Lyrically, it’s a blistering commentary on the pretty people who don’t care about anything except posing for photos on their phones and posting them on social media, but it’s not particularly fast. As an opener, this works well to ease the listener in for what’s up ahead. The most abrasive of all is ‘Bugs’, with brutalist guitar riffs and pounding drums accompanying lead singer Isaac Holman’s growls. “Another letdown generation! / Full of inaccurate information! / Another letdown generation!”: there seems no other intention but to rile up the fans to shout along with him. On the other side of the spectrum, pop-punk previously released single ‘Cut and Run’ is the most accessible track here, with its fast tempo and relatively reserved lead vocals from Holman. Jarring squeals of microphone feedback in the last third of the track seem to be the one rebellious moment, you know, in case you’ve somehow missed that this is a Slaves single.

There are some signs that that Holman and his compadre Laurie Vincent may want to be known for more than just loud instruments and shouting: take, for example, ‘Daddy’, which features only melodic notes from an electric guitar for instrumentation. “There were things he wishes he did / back when he was a kid” laments Holman, who is occasionally accompanied by the sweet voice of a female backing vocalist. Makes one wonder if Holman, now with a toddler of his own, has begun questioning his own mortality and is heading for the mid-life crisis he sings about. Guitars grind and drums pound on the title track, but only in between Holman’s wry observations on life, or perhaps more correctly, regret: “it’s funny how you forget things / so important at the time / it’s funny how you forget things”.

‘Chokehold’, the other single to precede the album’s release, is a sneering retelling of being dumped, surprising in that Holman admits that in the presence of his mates “I pretended that I didn’t care / but on the inside I was burning, my eyes trembling”. It seems the lads have grown up, previously lashing out at ‘Angelica’ on the last go-around, now having been in a more committed relationship where real feelings were felt and hearts were broken. The guitar lines on ‘Magnolia’, an ode to that creamy off-white paint colour that Holman insists lives on at least one wall in 65% of UK homes, bear similarity to those on ‘Chokehold’. Er, maybe ‘ode’ is the wrong word to use. On the track, Holman mocks conformity and living up to societal ideals but in a different way to ‘The Lives They Wish They Had’.

‘Photo Opportunity’ is the most interesting track on ‘Acts of Fear and Love’, as it seems to be a snapshot of what’s going on in Holman and Vincent’s heads these days. In between the loud bursts of sound, the dueling thoughts of not wanting to be stopped by a fan for a photograph and feeling directionless despite having ‘made it’ reminds us that for all their fame, they’re just normal blokes who have their moments of insecurity and lack of direction. While the overall sound of this third album from Slaves is indeed louder and more primal than on ‘Lose Control’, the surprising moments of nonaggression suggest there might be a day when Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent want more than to shout at us and make our ears bleed. It’s a conclusion I’m pleasantly surprised they’ve arrived to faster than I expected.

8.5/10

Slaves’ third studio album ‘Acts of Fear and Love’ will be out this Friday, the 17th of August, on Virgin EMI / AMF Records. They’ll be touring the UK in November. To catch up on our past coverage of Slaves on TGTF, come through.

 

Video of the Moment #2883: Amber Arcades

 
By on Friday, 10th August 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

I don’t know how on earth this happened, but I managed to miss not one, not two, but three of Dutch singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graaf’s (that’s Amber Arcades to you) song previews of her upcoming album. ‘European Heartbreak’, the follow-up to 2016 debut ‘Fading Lines’ (review here) will be out next month. I’m horribly late to the party, I know, but I hope my posting of the promo video for ‘Where Did You Go’ makes some amends. The video is quirky and stars both de Graaf and her amazingly wild-haired partner Edwin Louis, who as a pair decide to take to the wilderness and test their relationship. But not quite how you might expect. Watch the video below. Keep an eye and ear out for ‘European Heartbreak’, which drops on the 28th of September on Heavenly Recordings / PIAS. To catch all of our past writings on Amber Arcades right here on TGTF, follow us this way.

 

Album Review: Hilang Child – Years

 
By on Friday, 10th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Thomas Harrison

Hilang Child Years coverLondon-based singer/songwriter Ed Riman, known professionally as Hilang Child, captured my attention earlier this year at SXSW 2018, with his memorable performance at the official showcase of his record label, Bella Union. While the lighting and atmosphere at the Parish that night contributed to the brilliance of his show, it was the vivid soundscapes he created on stage that echoed in my mind long after the evening was over. Riman’s solo performance at SXSW was a natural precursor to the release of his upcoming debut album, titled ‘Years’.

Thematically, this LP is a prolonged introspection on reaching adulthood and the ephemerality of youth. As with many such intropective albums, ‘Years’ is sonically atmopheric and suggestive of moods rather than specific storylines. To label its music as “impressionistic” would be accurate but might call to mind the wrong ideas: Riman paints here with broad, sweeping brushstrokes and vivid colors rather than the soft, misty haze that term generally implies. The most immediate example of that bold sonic quality is in the album’s opening track ‘I Wrote a Letter Home’.

The main focus throughout ‘Years’ is on Hilang Child’s overarching sonic textures. In this regard, Riman says that he has learned through experience to trust his instincts in writing and self-producing these unique soundscapes. Speaking of his early recordings, he remembers, “I was always more excited about my home demos, recorded on a laptop, than the final recordings. I learnt that the only way I could convey the sound I wanted was by producing it myself, despite having little knowledge or ability in production.”

This is not to say that Riman completely ignores lyrics or melody; it’s simply that he uses them in service to the overall sound. His song forms don’t always follow the predictable verse/chorus/verse pattern, though his lyrics and do contain fragments of refrain, and his light, flexible vocal tone blends seamlessly into the instrumental backdrop. His piano melodies are bright and well-defined, standing out against the instrumentation in a way that his singing voice doesn’t, but they are not designed as catchy hooks or motifs. He enriches his textures with interesting percussion throughout the album, adding a distinctive rhythmic quality and sense of motion to the pensive, slow-moving harmonic progressions.

Riman allows his vocals to come to the forefront on ‘Sleepwalk’, arguably the album’s centerpiece, where Riman wonders, rhetorically, “what’s it all for, what can I show? / for 25 years alive, don’t know if I’ve ever tried, I’m sleepwalking tonight”. His hazy instrumental backdrop is propelled toward self-absolution by a shuffling rhythm, and his lilting vocals are powerfully emotive as he sings the final lyric, “this darkening down inside ends tonight’.

Following a brief instrumental interlude titled ‘Boy’, Riman makes another bold statement in ‘Starlight, Tender Blue’, which features layered synths and vocal lines over brooding guitar lines and heart-pounding drums. ‘Rot’ returns to the more pensive side of things, with the permeating warmth of its musical arrangement illustrating the sentiment behind its opening lyric, “even after everything I know, I’m not the bitter one”. ‘Endless String’ is similarly muted and self-reflective, its whispered vocals anchored into a rhythmic and tonal context by strong underlying piano chords.

Riman rounds out ‘Years’ with a flourish, or rather two of them. The anthemic recent single ‘Crow’, which is perhaps the most easily accessible individual track on the album, outside its full context. The song’s emphatic rhythm and and melodic piano lines are among the album’s most memorable moments, and Riman’s vocals reach their peak intensity in its swelling chorus. The album’s elusively-titled final track ‘Lissohr’ is deliberately more evasive, with an amorphous instrumental underlying vocal layers that echo as if from a great distance.

In the press release for ‘Years’, Riman mentions that his stage name, Hilang Child, translates from Malay as “missing child”. Certainly the thematic material on this album reflects a young adult’s struggle to find identity, but in terms of Riman’s musicality, the name Hilang Child might be something of a misnomer. Ambitious in its scope and brave in its sonic exploration, ‘Years’ presents Hilang Child as a composer who is clearly finding his place, with confidence in his own skill and a keen sense of clarity about his sonic vision.

8/10

Hilang Child’s debut LP ‘Years’ is out today, the 10th of August, on Bella Union. TGTF’s coverage of this intriguing artist at SXSW 2018 can be found through here.

 

Video of the Moment #2882: The Joy Formidable

 
By on Thursday, 9th August 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

This autumn is going to be fantastic. How do I know? Welsh alt-rockers The Joy Formidable will be releasing their fourth album ‘AAARTH’ at the end of September. The group themselves have had a good 2018 so far, having appeared in June in the Robert Smith-curated Meltdown Festival in London, where they gained lots of new fans, and they have loads of summer festivals left to appear at. While they’re out gigging at a festival near(ish) to you in the UK, they’ve left for us some aperitifs from the upcoming LP. The latest is punchy single ‘The Wrong Side’, full of grinding and squealing guitars. The song now has a colourful, psychedelic promo to go with it, which you can watch below. Stay tuned for ‘AAARTH’, which will be released on the 28th of September on Hassle Records. For all of our past coverage here on TGTF on The Joy Formidable, use this link.

 

Single Review: Cassia – Get Up Tight

 
By on Thursday, 9th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

With the blazing sun heating up the last few weeks for us here in the UK, we really are in need of some great summer tracks to keep us going. Luckily enough, up-and-coming indie Northern band Cassia have released their new single ‘Get Up Tight’ just in time. The tune has been teased at for a while now, at first being part of the band’s live repertoire, but after several cheeky teaser videos including this one, Cassia finally gave in and officially released the punchy track.

The summery instrumentation of ‘Get Up Tight’ has been kept bright with the use of twangy guitars and accented beats. The accompaniment never lags and is energetic from start to finish. Despite its repetitive nature, there isn’t a moment that feels boring. At any point in the song, you are able to pick out each instrument and its part perfectly: there’s always something else to catch your attention, even if it’s the fifth time round on the riff, an unusual quality in a song. Quite often, bands of this genre go a little over the top on instrumentation, Blossoms being a prime example, but Cassia have balanced it expertly, creating enough interest whilst allowing the audience to fully appreciate each instrumental aspect of the tune.

Admittedly, the vocals take a little getting used to. You almost have to tune your ear to Jake Leff’s diction like you would to someone with an unfamiliar accent, but it’s worth the acclimatisation. There are some unmistakable similarities to other artists within Leff’s voice, Van McCann of Catfish and the Bottlemen being the most prominent, but there is also his own unique and definitive style mixed in. Leff’s vocal expression is cool and blasé, especially in the chorus where he casually half-speaks the title line, adding a laid-back feel to the song. The lyrics continue this relaxed theme with a ‘Devil-may-care’ attitude, blatantly obvious in lyrics such as, “She’s in love with someone else / none of it does bother me”. This lyrical perspective, combined with the punch of the bright accompaniment, really makes ‘Get Up Tight’ a tune to kick back and relax in the sun to. For a band with relatively little experience in the music industry, Cassia have demonstrated some real expertise in their crafting of their new single.

8.5/10

Single ‘Get Up Tight’ from Macclesfield’s Cassia is available now from Distiller Records. They are currently on tour around Europe; for information on those dates and their future autumn UK tour dates, visit their official Web site. https://www.wearecassia.com For more of TGTF’s coverage of Cassia, follow us here.

 
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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. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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