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Video of the Moment #1812: Gengahr

 
By on Wednesday, 27th May 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Ahead of the release of their debut album for Transgressive Records, ‘A Dream Outside’, which sees its release on the 15th of June, Gengahr has released the video for their ‘Heroine’. The promo for the London indie rock band’s latest single is special in that it’s the first one of theirs in which the band actually appear in. Check out the artsy visuals for ‘Heroine’ below. If you preorder the album, you’ll get the single for free and instant download.

Catch Gengahr on tour in the UK in October; all the details of their tour are this way. All past coverage on Gengahr, including their interview with Carrie in Austin at SXSW 2015, is available here.

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Liverpool Sound City 2015: Day 1 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 27th May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Liverpool Sound City is in its seventh year and for the first time has moved from its spiritual home within the centre of the city. Before, the music was irretrievably mixed up in a maze of streets within the heart of Liverpool; the festival turned the already vibrant area into a thronging haven of musical activity, with bands popping up in warehouses and on the street in a metropolitan mezze of musical delicacies to amuse any palate. This year still served up a veritable banquet to satisfy any taste buds, but this time festival-goers needed to travel 20 minutes outside of the centre of Liverpool for the event.

Bizarrely, this report from Liverpool Sound City 2015 comes from the Docklands this year. The setting is quaint, if you manage to block out the industrial sprawl you’ve walked past to get there. One of the unique selling points of Sound City in its earlier guise was its central location. So the decision to plonk it way down the road has left many, including this writer, scratching their heads and with sore feet from walking to the secluded site.

Luckily, I found a solution: Liverpool’s version of the ‘Boris Bike’ to get me from the centre of the city where 99% of the hotels are to the festivals site. Again, the site is a departure from the dotting of venues around the city, as now in a more conventional festival manner, each stage is within a set perimeter.


My first impression of the actual layout of the site was one of confusion, but in such tight confines, after 15 minutes of ambling around with a dazed look on my face I managed to get my bearings on where everything was. The most striking feature was, understandably, the giant disused warehouse that was being used as The Baltic Stage. The first band up in the vast venue were Barberos, a three-piece from Merseyside, but not exactly one straight out of the textbook.

Yes, all dressed head to toe in sparkly silver morph suits, Barberos feel like they’ve been transplanted out of the realms of science fiction and onto a stage where their primary aim is to creep the shit out of you. From almost start to finish, their tribal roars and wave of drums echoed furiously around the disused warehouse, while the screech of their synths worked to either drive people from the venue or numb them into a stupor. Their sonic assault on almost every one of my senses proved too much and after three songs I felt my eardrums literally splitting in two and decided instead to go and sample less screechy and space age music. Perhaps they’re just scores ahead of their time? To quote Marty McFly, “your kids are gonna love it’. (5/10)


At the end of Stanley Docks, where the festival now calls its home, was The Atlantic Stage, which was acting as the Main Stage. Scottish band Neon Waltz, who’ve recently been snapped up by Noel Gallagher’s management, were first on and whilst they drew a good crowd for the first band of the day, their performance was all a bit glib and dry. It felt like for the 30 minutes they were building to something which might be a little more exciting, like the second time you sleep with someone, but in the end you just realise the exciting bit is never going to come, despite how much promise is shown at first. Plus the lead singer, whose mum then tried to banter me off on Twitter, *does* look about 2, despite being 18 or 24. I’m not sure really. (6/10)


Despite a classic seafront breeze chilling everyone on the docklands to the bone, a rather large crowd had amassed at The North Stage for Francopop artist HollySiz, not least because her outfit left little to the imagination. Immediately, HollySiz had the crowd fixated on her, throwing herself around the stage like a ragdoll. Opening with the inflammatory ‘Tricky Game’, she already conjured up images of your early ‘80s Europop with strong synths and a staccato pace.

It wasn’t exactly Kraftwerk but HollySiz had an air of authority that she demanded from square one on The North Stage. The closest mainstream comparison of the last few years I can give to her was Gossip, although I’d argue HollySiz had an air of the rock and rolls about them. She had the presence of Beth Ditto though, but without the hairy armpits. She finished the set by leaping into the crowd and taking a leaf out of the Slipknot / Frank Turner books by getting everyone to sit on the floor and leap up. Now, anyone who can do it as successfully as she did before the sun goes down at around 6 in the evening on a chilly Liverpudlian day has definitely made an impression. (9/10)

Briefly, I stumbled into The Cavern Stage, to catch a glimpse of old-fashioned Derry four-piece The Clameens. It was light-hearted spiky pop guitar riff driven music, with influences like Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club and The Undertones shining prominently through. Songs like ‘She’s Got My Heart’ and ‘Follow’ had the crowd swaying and jumping up and down, whilst their happy-go-lucky demeanour meant the audience all had a well needed dose of summery smile injected into them before they faced the gloomy Liverpool skyscape on the way out of the tent. (7/10)

Bad Meds were next on my port of call (get it, I’m at the docklands and I just said ‘port’) in the setting of the Baltic Stage. Within the confines of the giant disused warehouse, their reverb laden rock sounds utterly enormous and the sheer simplicity of their songwriting works to make the unconverted thoroughly converted. I mean, what’s not to like about songs where you remember how you died in 1995, or that one about how you left a cult?

The highlight though is undoubtedly ‘It’s Grim Up North’, their take on the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu song. The concept: a list of lots of cities in the North and how grim they are. It’s just about that offensive that you can probably say its genius, and it’s not half true too: I mean, have you been to Crewe? It’s grim. 10/10 for originality. Probably less for friend-making in the region though… (8/10)

Stay tuned for the second half of John’s day 1 report from Liverpool Sound City tomorrow.

 

Video of the Moment #1811: Frankie and the Heartstrings

 
By on Tuesday, 26th May 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

We can now anoint Frankie and the Heartstrings with the title of Sunderland’s nattiest dressers. In their new video for foot stomper ‘Think Yourself Lucky’, they’re all images of lounge lizard loveliness, clearly vying for the title too of the North East’s answer to the Temptations with their smooth moves. And if you like the idea of Frankie Francis romancing a tattoed man in a dress, this video’s for you. (Ha!)

Frankie and the Heartstrings have also just announced today an album launch party at Newcastle Cluny for the 10th of July, when their third album ‘Decency’ sees the light of day. Buy tickets for the event here, and while you’re at it, check out our past coverage of the band, will you?

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Video of the Moment #1810: FFS

 
By on Friday, 22nd May 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

I wasn’t sure what to make of FFS – the supergroup formed from the merging of minds from Franz Ferdinand and Sparks – to be honest. it’s like chocolate and peanut butter; they’re two great things that are amazing on their own. On the other hand, put them together and they’re also very good. I think in the case of both of these bands, legends in their own right by themselves, it was a matter of like a Brian Eno-esque Oblique Strategies to do something completely out of the box and merge creative forces.

So far, the strategy has paid off, at least to my ears. ‘Johnny Delusional’ is the first promo video the new collective have made, as described on their press sheet, they were very cognisant of the importance of their first video outing: “The first video for a brand new band sets the tone of how they may be perceived forever and we wanted a video that was mysterious, kinetic, artistic, and, well, made us look good.” See if you agree by watching the video for the single below.

‘Johnny Delusional’ will be released on the 8th of June on Domino Records.

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Great Escape 2015: Day 3 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 22nd May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my coverage from the Great Escape 2015 on Saturday is this way.

Le Galaxie @ Patterns downstairs (Jack Daniel’s)

So after getting my brains beaten in by a band from Cardiff, I was expecting for something a bit different at Patterns downstairs with Landshapes. However, when I arrived at the venue, there was a brief lull, and then an epileptic fit of strobes accompanied with throbbing beats. Uhhh, I don’t think this is Landshapes? (I was informed later that due to another band pulling out of the lineup, all the acts were going on a half-hour early. If you’re keen on Landshapes, you’re in luck, the London band was on Marc Riley’s 6 Music show Thursday night.) I realised quickly that I was now watching Le Galaxie from Dublin, which was fine by me because I was in the mood for some real electronic after a so far real dance-less Saturday at the Great Escape 2015. While Carrie covered the band at the full Irish breakfast at SXSW 2015, I am pretty sure the stars aligned on purpose so I would be at Patterns at that very moment to catch them.

Le Galaxie at the Great Escape 2015

Most dance music runs to one theme, love: how to get it, how to keep it and what to do when you lose it. With enough dB in the background to keep your heart pulsating. Having a charismatic frontman is paramount. In the case of Le Galaxie, Michael Pope knows how to shake what his momma gave him. It is not what you expect from a hulking Irishman with an epic beard; he looks more like he should be playing with Fleet Foxes, not fronting an electronic band. (I didn’t see the tattoos that are apparently also a trademark of his.) Watching him shake his arse and show off his fancy footwork in front of a Brighton crowd absolutely loving it was quite the sight to see. ‘Put the Chain On’ was a banger, the song that sticks out in my mind because the band was so on point. I think that was one of several where Pope took his microphone and went straight to the barrier to commune with the fans. Another big one was ‘Lucy is Here’, a darker, older but still goodie track. This is exactly the kind of band I expect would have an amazing – and deservedly so – draw at a festival like Ultra. It’s not just synths and buttons pushed. Pope and co. make sure everyone is included in their dance party, and it’s an unforgettable experience.

Young Kato @ Shooshh

Next on my hit parade for Saturday night was Young Kato, who I’ve been following since their early days. They’ve now released their debut album on Republic of Music this month, ‘Don’t Wait ’til Tomorrow’, which has been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be happier for the lads. Their show at Shooshh would be their crowning moment at the Great Escape 2015, where they would show off their new tunes and bring out the older ones for devoted fans. ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, which always ends up being a ridiculously fun exercise in jumping up and down, yelling and screaming the chorus, never disappoints, and it sure didn’t disappoint in Brighton. The vibrancy of the uber optimistic ‘Sunshine’, the title track of their autumn EP last year, closed their set out on a high note. Onward and upwards, lads!

Young Kato at the Great Escape 2015

Even though it was a little chilly to me, the dry weather was nice in Brighton, which means there were queues at most venues thanks to eager punters everywhere you went in the city. The Spiegelpub and Spiegeltent area around hub of transit activity The Old Steine was a new one to me, but I was very intrigued with the premise: being inside it was very much like being at an outdoor festival, which means if the weather is good, it’s fantastic, but if the weather’s crap, every man for himself.

Keston Cobblers’ Club @ Spiegeltent (Jazz Cafe Presents…)

After getting some cheesy fries with loads of mayonnaise and feeling like an idiot for eating them with a fork (hey, I still had to take photos, yo!), I entered a Moulin Rouge-themed area where Keston Cobblers’ Club would be playing. I have my favourite songs off their debut album ‘One, for Words’, and hoped I would hear them. One of the catchiest tunes off their debut, ‘Your Mother’ is a unique one, with horns and banjo joining the fray, the band’s lush harmonies sounded beautiful against the instrumentation. The group also showed off some new songs from their upcoming second album ‘Wildfire’, which will be released in June.

Keston Cobblers' Club at the Great Escape 2015

Sadly, I was drowned out for the request for a slower one by the rest of the crowd, which in the end is fine because I would have preferred them to gain new fans than to make one music editor happy. The crowd was in the mood to dance or to be more accurate, to stomp. While I was stood in the front of them, it quickly became a square-dancing hoedown, punters pleased with the up tempo gaiety their songs provided them on a mild night by the sea. At one point, I was sure I was going to be stamped to death, as everyone was so boisterously stomping their feet on the wood floor of the Spiegeltent. All’s well that ends well, though: after their set was over, new fans rushed like the dickens to the front to buy their CD. A job well done, then.

Blossoms @ Green Door Store (Dr. Marten’s)

I had been thinking for a long while how I wanted to end my Great Escape 2015 experience and after a friend had disappeared from me post-Keston Cobblers, I decided my original plan was best. I rushed quickly back up Brighton’s hilly streets to the Green Door Store, the site of my most epic fail at the Great Escape to date. Two years ago, at the same crowded venue, I got nowhere near the front so I could hear Teleman but could not actually see them. This time, I wasn’t about to be denied. I was a little pushy but was never rude and by the grace of god, I finally saw a clearing and was down the front for Stockport’s Blossoms, who I’d enjoyed at the BBC Introducing stage at SXSW 2015. I think it was a pleasant surprise for the band to see me, as they didn’t even know I was at the festival.

Blossoms at the Great Escape 2015

Watching a middle-aged man in sunglasses (remember, it was nearly midnight by this time, and dark) and a leopard print shirt, grooving to Blossoms, that image from this year’s event will definitely stay with me. He was clearly feeling and breathing in their psychedelic pop vibes, as were many down the front. Kitted out with their new shoes courtesy of stage sponsor Dr. Marten’s, the five-piece were on point. I still don’t know what ‘Blow’ means, it probably has some rude explanation that would make me blush, but for some reason I really connect with its sound, and I admit I have played the video for the song a few too many times on YouTube, Tom Ogden’s vocal line in the chorus is just about perfect, and bloody hell, you must be a stone if Josh Dewhurst’s guitar solo doesn’t bring you to near tears.

Afterwards, I went to go thank the lads for a hell of a set. We all hugged and they asked me, “when will we see you again?” Ha. I couldn’t cry then. It’d be too embarrassing. But I hated knowing I was going home the next day. But hopefully that reunion with them and everyone else I met up with in Brighton will be sooner than later. Fingers crossed.

 

Album Review: Northern American – Modern Phenomena

 
By on Friday, 22nd May 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Northern American Modern Phenomena coverIs there any city in the world that has shaped the content of popular culture more than Los Angeles? Sure, New York is more photogenic, London is cooler (in every sense), and Paris more romantic, but there’s something about the sprawling, palm-tree ambience of LA, where everywhere is 45 minutes by car away from everywhere else, that has made it the epicentre of the world’s film industry. Therefore how LA thinks is crucial to how we see the world – through the big screen at least.

It simply wouldn’t be possible for the city’s music scene to be as influential and lucrative as its films, but they’ve had a good go. From the country-rock days of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Eagles, through the ‘80s and ‘90s hard rock and hair metal phase, to today’s diverse offerings, whose alumni include Best Coast and Local Natives, there’s certainly a lot to commend LA’s music scene. There can be no doubt about the continent from which Northern American spring; we can add their name to the long list of LA hopefuls too.

Not that you’d really infer their city of origin from throwing on their début collection, ‘Modern Phenomena’. The first bars of opener ‘Feel Like Whatever’, with its baggyesque drumming, washy synths and trebly, languidly optimistic vocal, could have easily been recorded in Manchester any time between, say, 1992 and 2008. This most certainly is not the L.A. of sleaze and rock ‘n’ roll excess as screamingly documented by Axl Rose and Nikki Sixx. Where Northern American are concerned, Los Angeles sounds like dusty boulevards, tumbleweed, and thousand-yard-stares over the firmament into the mountains and deserts beyond. Guitars are used as watercolour backdrops rather than aggressively riffing their way into one’s skull.

As the instrumentation subtly changes throughout the set, from shimmering electric pianos to eclectic percussion, the one constant is Augusto Vega’s minimalist yet assertive bass playing. He manages to achieve the subtle trick of being solid yet melodic, creating a foundation yet pushing the music forward with admirable persistence, at times having the confidence to drop out completely for a few bars, making the impact of his reappearance all the more intense. Well done that man.

‘So Natural’ is the archetypal chilled-out ballad, complete with hazy vocal and a gently psychedelic instrumental break. The title track comes in at under 3 minutes despite its sweeping ambition: keening strings reinforce the main guitar riff, while the none-more-chilled voice can just about get it together to give a gently chiding commentary on the perils of conducting one’s life through the vector of silicon-based devices. Two minutes in there’s a big crescendo, when the band might even be breaking a sweat, but don’t worry, it’s not long before they can have a nice sit down.

As you might be guessing, if there’s one criticism to be levelled at this collection is that it’s almost too relaxed: certainly there’s nothing here that’s challenging or dangerous in a conventional sense, or that might give a more balanced documentary of the dubious virtues of their home town. Nevertheless, the side they have chosen to reflect, the hanging-out-by-the-pool-with-a-piña-Colada one, is amply and ably discharged here. For those of us lucky to have the opportunity to party in such style, there’s little more of an appropriate soundtrack than ‘Modern Phenomena’.

7/10

Northern American’s debut LP ‘Modern Phenomena’ is due for release on the 1st of June via Heist or Hit Records.  Previous TGTF coverage of Northern American is right this way.

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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