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Single Review: Hooton Tennis Club – Jasper

 
By on Monday, 23rd February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

When we talk about surf pop, the mind often wonders to the heroes of the genre – The Beach Boys, Eddie and the Showmen and The Astronauts. Now in the 21st century, you turn to bespectacled teenagers looking awkward by the sea like Wavves, Best Coast and of course those kings of melancholy and tight jeans The Drums. Well, we’ve got a new addition to that triage, in the shape of Hooton Tennis Club, who come from that surfing capital of the world, Liverpool… Yeah. Not so much, unless you like bobbing around the algae off the back of the tour boats whilst trying not to catch E. coli or Ebola.

Their new single ‘Jasper’ was recorded at fellow Liverpudlian Bill Ryder-Jones’ mother’s house. So you’ve already got the image of an incredibly low budget recording effort, which makes for a very laid-back tune. That’s what ‘Jasper’ is, in a nutshell. It’s not brash, brazen or the band trying to be anything they’re not. There’s something distinctly languid and almost quintessentially English to the melancholic tones of Hooton Tennis Club. The single is a delightful slice of off-colour pop music. It’s Khal, Haz, J. Dean and Uncle Ry’s debut single and marks the band as one of the up-and-coming indie starlets for 2015. They’re not in the Royal Blood mould, but I can’t see the populist Radio 1-friendly rock market not getting on board with the four-piece.

What I can see though is the soundtrack to stoner sessions in basements in Soho, or chill-out vibes on a patio in Brighton as eight Bird’s Eye own brand burgers sizzle on the barbecue. The band have taken a leaf out of Teenage Fanclub’s books in their songwriting, to good effect. Now it remains to be seen whether after Jasper, whether Hooton Tennis Club can go and discover their own verve and sound…

8/10

Hooton Tennis Club’s debut single ‘Jasper’ is out today on Heavenly Records.

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(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #341: Gengahr

 
By on Wednesday, 18th February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

The name Gengar for anyone between the ages of 10 and 25 will probably only conjure up one image: a giant purple ghost whose unevolved form would not stop giving you grief as you went through Lavender Tower, and had that kind of mischievous, possibly paedophilic grin painted on its face. After sufficient airplay on the BBC’s specialist music outlets – BBC 6 Music and Huw Stephens’ programme on Radio 1 – Gengahr (see the difference) may bring an altered image into your consciousness.

The North London four-piece are fronted by Felix Bushe, a man who’s not afraid to take on the sublimely creepy in his lyrics (and videos for that matter): take ‘Powder’ for example, it’s a chilling almost Addams’ Family Values take on your classic ’80s flick. They’re supported by BBC Introducing in London on their wee jaunt to Austin, Texas and that automatically will hand them some clout in the hazy heat of the desert. They’ve already impressed at festivals in the UK with their morose take on indie-psych pop, with audiences at Worthy Farm, Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park all seeing the allure of this indie band.

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They’ve got the backing of some serious names as well, after sharing the bill with both Dry the River and alt-j and opening for the latter at none other than the O2, they’ll not be daunted by much that is thrown their way. They’re also releasing their debut record this year, so with a trip to SXSW on the cards, it’s undeniably a crucial year for the band if they really do want to evolve from a BBC Intro buzz band to an act with some real hype and credibility. They’re also going to be showing their faces at The Great Escape in Brighton and at a few festivals across Europe like the Best Kept Secret festival in Holland, so it’s likely that their name is going to be out there during 2015.

What are they about? Well, it’s indie noir, if you can conjure up that. The kind of music that you’d expect to see underpinned by a video of a man in a purple smoking jacket, with a twirly little moustache, puffing on a strong mahogany pipe. Are you there yet? No! Well how about this – a morose mix of electronic guitar phase mixes, which are reminiscent of ’70s pop combined with layered vocals and dark sultry undertones.

They’ve caused a stir in the UK and around Europe and now it’s time to see whether audiences in America are going to be captivated by Genghar. Catch them next month at the BBC Introducing / PRS for Music night Wednesday, the 18th of March, at SXSW 2015 in Austin, Texas.

 

Preview: 2000 Trees Festival 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd February 2015 at 9:00 am
 

We’ve all done it. Looked at that empty field down the road on a stuffy summer’s day, with a can in one hand and said, “yeah, I could put a festival on and that place over there would be fucking great. All my favourite bands would play, on the cheap of course, tickets would be tuppence and the cider would blow your bloody head off”.

Of course the difference between most people and the legends at 2000 Trees is that they bonny well went out and did it. And do you know what, it’s gone great.

2015 is set to be the eighth year where revellers descend on sleep Gloucestershire for some folk, fun and fornication and a whole whack of the best UK rock you can get your ears around. This year’s event takes place 9-11 July.

The first announcement for this year’s bash sees rejuvenated six-piece Deaf Havana topping the bill to make their bow at the festival. It’s been a while since the band stopped singing about ‘Friends Like These’ and moved on to a smarter, more mature sounding edge. In fact, their most recent record, Old Souls is testament to their transformation, into the UK’s very own Gaslight Anthem. Sure, James Veck-Gilodi may be one of the harder to like frontmen in Britain at the moment, but if one thing has gone down well at Upcote Farm in the past, it’s been a wholehearted, air-grabbing singalong. Just ask Mr Turner, he’s got a camp named after him. With the assets in Deaf Havana’s armada, it’s pretty obvious these guys will go down brilliantly at Trees.

Joining them on the bill are Arcane Roots, who will have likely be releasing their third studio album this year and went down incredibly well at last year’s bash. That aside, they fulfil the criteria for a Trees band perfectly: just under the radar British talent with incredible riffs and even better beards. Leeds trio Pulled About By Horses, another of those bands whose chaotic live show will surely ensure a rapturous reception from the Trees faithful, is also scheduled to appear.

Lower down the bill are the fantastic, Frank Turner-endorsed Solemn Sun who hail from that part of the woods. So you can expect the kind of hometown heroes welcome they’ll get. Tickets are currently £87 for the 3-day weekend plus fees. For more information, visit the 2000 Trees official Web site.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #336: Bad Breeding

 
By on Monday, 2nd February 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Stevenage is hardly a sleepy town, but it can’t be classed as a buzzing hub of musical creativity either. In fact, when you arrive there, the lasting impression is that there are an awful lot of underpasses and it feels like you may end up being involved in a scene out of Harry Brown, where Ben Drew “kicks your fackin’ ‘ead in”.

So it’s no surprise that Bad Breeding have burst free of this bite-size chunk of not-so-quaint suburban London and started making one hell of a racket. Their music hits you with an assault on all senses: seriously, you can smell the sweat, these guys are lively. Since Gallows faded into irrelevance, when Frank Carter decided to neuter himself and start singing about love and throwing knives in his dressing room, Britain hasn’t had a band flying the flag for old school punk values. We’ve seen pretenders from America like Trash Talk who have brought their own brand of chaos to our venues and festivals, but Bad Breeding are one of our own and deserve some recognition.

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They’re the kind of band you’d want at your house party… Well, if it wasn’t your house. Their music is refined chaos and their first singles ‘Burn This Flag’ and ‘Age of Nothing’ are testament to the aural attack their music offers, blending the best elements of modern hardcore with enough reverb to make your bowels shudder and void themselves. The foursome sound like what they are, a group of angry young men bursting out, in remarkably the same way Gallows did almost a decade ago with Carter leading the ferocious charge.

SXSW fell in love with Gallows once and there’s no excuse as to why Bad Breeding can’t descend on Austin and do the exact same thing. It’s music to rip your shirt off, mosh around and punch someone in the face to, pure unadulterated testosterone in the form of 3-minute bursts of fire. This is Britain’s angriest band, bursting at the seams with rage and foaming at the mouth ready to nut you at SXSW. You in?

 

Update: Liverpool Sound City 2015

 
By on Friday, 30th January 2015 at 9:00 am
 

They’ve been asking if they want to come back all these years, and this week it was confirmed that The Vaccines would indeed be coming back to Liverpool Sound City after a 2-year absence. They’ll be joining Belle and Sebastian and The Flaming Lips at the top of an already incredibly tantalising bill of talent.

The four-piece who shot to prominence of the back of their first album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ have barged their way back onto the scene in proper Vaccines fashion. That is, in the form of another 2-and-a-half minute banger, with guitars so fast you’ll miss them if you blink and a chorus as catchy as a cold at this time of year. The guitars are frantic, as they were on all of The Vaccines’ releases we’ve heard up to now, and the four-piece have undeniably stuck to the same formula that has worked so well for them over the last four years.

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‘Handsome’ may not have as killer a chorus as ‘Do You Wanna’, but it’s a fantastic pop song with wide appeal, there is no doubt. The new single is released on the 8th of March officially, but is already doing the rounds on social media and the radio, and all around it looks like everybody is pretty happy with what The Vaccines have produced. Will the album be on the same form? Well, from this evidence what can we expect from The Vaccines, more of the same…

As for who’s joining them on the bill at the rejuvenated Liverpool Sound City, which has been moved to pastures anew at the docks, there are some fantastic up and coming talents ready to catch the eye on Merseyside. Female four-piece Dum Dum Girls will bring a bit of shoegaze to the Sound City festival. Math rockers Dutch Uncles have also joined the bill and will be looking to move away from being a festival buzz band and to a group which can really excite people on a festival bill – is this festival the right platform? We shall see.

If overblown hipster chic is what you enjoy , eccentric duo The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger are certainly a feast for the eyes. Whether their off-colour take on psychedelic rock will captivate or confuse, they’re likely to be an interesting draw alongside Roni Size /Reprazent, The Thurston Moore Band, Gaz Coombes, F*cked Up, Evian Christ and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

But with a BBC Sound of 2015 nomination and countless plays of their new single on Radio 1, the act I’m undeniably the most excited about catching a glimpse of at Liverpool Sound City (barring the headliners anyway) are Slaves. Their no nonsense approach on indie rock and incredible tunes like ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie’ are certain to draw a capacity crowd to their slot at the festival, and as it did with me at 2000 Trees 2014, they’re almost certain to leave you asking, “Debbie… Where is your car?”

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #333: Vision Fortune

 
By on Wednesday, 28th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

I approached Vision Fortune with a sense of trepidation rather than excitement. Any band which decides to shroud its song titles in a series of Roman numerals, either by trying to be too avant-garde and arty for me, are obviously far too clever for a simple mind like myself to comprehend. Throughout the 3 and a bit hours I spent listening to these guys, I was left feeling like I really didn’t understand what was going on – lots of head scratching, bouts of melancholy – generally just feeling like whatever concept these guys are going for has gone completely over my head. It wasn’t pleasant to say the least.

I’m normally a big fan of anything prog/industrial. But throughout my time listening to the London band, I was just left a bit baffled. For example, during ‘XVII’ I felt like I was beamed up by some kind of creepy Roswell-esque / X-Files-style aliens. When I first dived in with this group, I was immediately thinking, these guys sound like a beefed up version of Tall Ships. However, when they move away from the Roman numerals on tracks like ‘Black Ocean Glow’, they do manage to create a rather pleasant soundscape, plodding through a desert in a stoner rock fashion.

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They’re nothing like what I’ve ever encountered recently, with their sound flipping wildly between the understated picking rhythms and thudding, whining tunes that sound more and more like a swarm of bees every time you hear it. Often it seems as if for vast swathes of tracks, the band have just left a tape in the machine and let it get stuck on a specific section for a good 2 minutes, as it jerks and squirms in the machine. You know that sound? Surely if I’m old enough to remember tapes, you all can too?

As a live outfit prospect, I’m intrigued to see how this will all work and I can see Vision Fortune somehow being a very popular draw at SXSW. I mean, music with seldom any obvious lyrics has worked incredibly well in the case of Public Service Broadcasting, whilst the mystery factor was enough to push 2014 breakout duo Jungle into the wider public’s eyeline. You only need to do things a little differently to get noticed and at SXSW I sense this is the kind of act which will draw lines snaking out of the venue, with the entire crowd formed up of industry trendsetters in their lens-less glasses, lumberjack shirts and nipple-length ginger beards. Hipster fodder they may be, but with such a distinctive sound Vision Fortune are difficult to ignore, despite the fact I’m now trying to.

Vision Fortune’s debut album ‘Country Music’ is out now on ATP Recordings; a trailer for the off-kilter LP is below. The band will be heading out on a UK tour in March, just prior to their scheduled appearance at SXSW 2015.

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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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