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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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(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #325: Coasts

 
By on Thursday, 15th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by TGTF Head Photographer Martin Sharman at Live at Leeds 2014

With the success ginger-haired maestro Ed Sheeran has seen over the last year in the States, coupled with the rise to prominence of the next in a long-list of warbly voiced singer/songwriters like George Ezra, I can only see the now London-based Coasts career going in one direction. The band sound and look like they’ve been genetically engineered to be an A&R rep’s wet dream. The lead singer’s voice has the same inherent likeability which has seen Ezra and Sheeran do so well in the last year. Whilst the tunes wouldn’t sound out of place in a club, in a bar or on Radio 1 or 6Music, they’re intrinsically mass-marketable. And I’ve struggled to find what *not* to like about the four-piece.

OK, I’m jealous seeing as they’re destined to be incredibly successful and they’re four good-looking lads who say they spent most of their time whilst recording sessions playing Call of Duty and FIFA. I mean, their music is sounds effortless, so you can probably believe that they are dossing off on video games. But still, the melodies on ‘Wallow’ are reminiscent of the kind of multi-million selling grooves which Coldplay did quite well off of on 2011’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’. ‘Oceans’ has a chorus which demands to be remembered and a beat which refuses to be anything but toe-tappingly brilliant.

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They’ve already got a pretty substantial following on social media, with more than 30,000 Facebook likes and almost 45,000 followers on Twitter, so it’s safe to say these guys are no secret. In fact with around many dates in the States announced for this year already, some of them already selling out, Coasts are going to no doubt be hot property at SXSW, with every big label, blog, Web site and agency running after tickets to their appearances.

This four-piece are sure to be one of the breakout hit bands of 2015. If their live performances can live up to what they’ve laid down digitally, then I’m positive we’ll not be able to turn a radio on for half an hour without getting blasted with Coasts.

 

(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #321: The Voyeurs

 
By on Wednesday, 7th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

I’m always going to struggle with a band whose name effectively boils down to the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at sexual objects or acts, especially secretively. But if I turned away at every band with a silly or lecherous name, I’d probably have a far blander musical palette. [John also introduced us to Casual Sex in TGTF’s SXSW 2014 coverage. – Ed.]

The Voyeurs are a tricky bunch, fusing art rock and an uncanny swagger that you wouldn’t expect from a band who’ve just released their second album ‘Rhubarb Rhubarb’ on Heavenly Recordings. The trio of East Londoners have irrefutably been influenced by other floppy haired bands with silly round glasses who’ve come from the area, ala The Horrors.

But the place where the biggest similarity can be drawn is between this group and another group of rather unlikely British lads who struck gold in America, much in the way I expect The Voyeurs to at SXSW 2015 in March in Austin. They are Franz Ferdinand and if you close your eyes and listen gently then the riffs on ‘Pete the Pugilist’ and ‘Train to Minsk’ can almost correlate perfectly with some of the guitar work on the Scots’ self-titled album and their seminal effort, ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’.

High praise for a group who seem to come up with these melancholy phrases when they please, littering their most recent album ‘Rhubarb Rhubarb’ with them. Again, not sure on the name. They’ve got a different kind of mystery to them compared to a lot of the British acts making their way to SXSW, and for that fact are likely to draw a storm. Whether they will look a bit too much like sulky British adolescents, clad in their black turtlenecks and big circular rimmed glasses is yet to be seen; they’ll probably do best to avoid looking like Daniel O’Reilly (Dapper Laughs) when he went on Newsnight too. But their brand of sleazy art-pop is distinctly un-American, so whether it goes down as well as bangers and mash on a warm day in Texas or more like Kentucky Fried Chicken bought when travelling through Victoria Station is yet to be seen.

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(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #317: Mallory Knox

 
By on Thursday, 18th December 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Soaring choruses and humongous riffs. The kind that have you grappling with your air guitar in the kitchen as your spuds boil over in the saucepan. There’s a lot of good British rock around at the moment, but Mallory Knox are part of a select few who demand you take notice of them. They’re up there with We Are the Ocean, Royal Blood, Marmozets and Deaf Havana: the kind of bands who will live past the hype which brought them into the public’s perception.

Firstly, it helps that the likes of BBC presenters Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens have already got on board with these boys and plastered them across Radio 1’s output. It also helps that they aren’t afraid of touring wherever they can: testament to this is a year and a half ago, when the band were climbing to the heights they’ve managed to stay at, when they played Guernsey’s Chaos Festival. They absolutely tore the roof off the tent, to the 500-ish people they played to.

It’s further evidence that SXSW could be a huge juncture for them, where they can begin flogging their wares to the extremely lucrative U.S. market. Mumford and Sons and One Direction have managed – why can’t balls-out British rock do the same?

Songs like ‘Shout at the Moon’, ‘Ghost in the Mirror’ and ‘Lighthouse’ are all the kind of anthemic tunes which will lodge their place in crowds brains and have them umm-ing and arr-ing on the way home about whether to get straight onto iTunes and download their tracks. It’s hand on heart kind of stuff, which has already given them a fantastic name for themselves in the UK.

This Cambridge five-piece are going to stand out. Of that there is no doubt. Even if in the beginning it’ll be for being one of the only bands at the festival who won’t be arriving at the festival with synthesisers, a half-finished haircut and a whiny voice.

No gimmicks, no nonsense. Mallory Knox will have SXSW punters shouting at the moon in March 2015.

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Preview: Reading and Leeds 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 16th December 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Round and round the big festival headliner roundabout goes. Will it be Muse? Unlikely, give it another few years. Foo Fighters? I’d bet good money this is going to happen. Blink-182? Bit early! Metallica? Yeah, why not! They’ve not released anything as a band proper since 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’!

Upon the announcement, what did Lars Ulrich have to say about playing Reading and Leeds for the fourth time? “We are practically the house band.” You’re not wrong, Lars.

Now, I’m not saying the announcement of undeniably the greatest thrash metal band touring at the moment is a bad thing. But it does seem that these big ticket festivals are becoming overly reliant on a select group of supergroups, rotating the same headliners and introducing a new name to the melting pot oh so infrequently. Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore joined the top table patriarchy last year through their co-headline slot. But really the first time a band reached the line-up summit was Biffy Clyro in 2013. Their headline set at Reading and Leeds last year raised the bar, showing exactly what a band who have been lifted to the top of the bill can achieve with the proverbial wind of change in their sails.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we have, as mentioned by Mr Ulrich, Metallica topping the bill for the fourth time. You know what you get from the Americans, which I can pay testament to after Sonisphere earlier this year. You get a headline set full of flair, personality and tunes. They slayed Glastonbury and left egg on many a head with their superb showmanship. It’s an even safer booking for Reading and Leeds, as heavy metal tends to go down far more favourably in front of 100,000 16- and 17-year olds off their heads on warm Kopparberg and MDMA, compared to 200,000 woolly liberals stoned off their heads stumbling around a farm. Nobody can deny that when the opening riffs of ‘Master of Puppets’ drops, the tweens and the hardcores will all unite in throwing some horns. It’s a no brainer.

As for the rest of the first announcement, the most enticing has to be the return of Jamie T. ‘Carry on the Grudge’ dropped in September of this year and encapsulated everything any fan of the 28-year old poet wanted. The tunes were the kind which burrowed their way into your cerebral cortex and didn’t budge. The South London-born singer-songwriter went away and evolved forward and I can see Richfield Avenue going absolutely mental for him.

As for the rest, Wilkinson is one of those bookings which will appeal to the Snapchat generation, much in the same way Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did last year. For me, I feel it’s not the way I would like to see the festival going.

But I also understand that an event like Reading and Leeds needs to sell tickets.

D’uh.

To purchase basic weekend tickets for Reading Festival 2015, go here, where the price currently stands at £205 plus fees. For tickets to its more northern counterpart Leeds Festival 2015 offered at the same price, head 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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