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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 21st October 2016 at 6:00 pm
Though they’ve relocated to London from Yorkshire, VANT haven’t lost their edge. The socially conscious band who released a new EP, ‘Karma Seeker’, back in the summer have a new music video for us today. You can read Steven’s review of ‘Karma Seeker’ through this link. ‘Peace & Love’ is their current single, which frontman and principal songwriter Mattie Vant describes this way:
We finished writing ‘Peace & Love’ in the wake of the Paris attacks. Atrocities like these are taking place worldwide on a daily basis, but it’s only when something happens so close to home that it truly grabs the full attention of our society. We live on a planet that has forgotten what the words ‘Peace & Love’ mean and what they stood for in the ’60s and ’70s. The power of the peace movement changed the world forever but our unity is starting to slip. ‘Peace & Love’ have become throwaway words, fashion statements, cheap symbols that have lost their value. We need to reconnect with their true meaning because, more than ever, we are living in a time that really does need ‘Peace & Love’.
They are currently on tour in October supporting You Me at Six. You can also catch them on tour in the UK in November, including their biggest show to date in London at Scala on the 29th. Their first gig next month is a Dr. Martens #STANDFORSOMETHING autumn tour show at Newcastle Cluny on the 12th of November. All their live dates are listed here on their Facebook.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 21st October 2016 at 4:00 pm
Glaswegian legends Teenage Fanclub released their tenth album ‘Here’ back in September on their own record label PeMa. For the music video for album cut ‘Thin Air’, they went back to their roots. Specifically, they headed for the basement of The 13th Note, a legendary venue on King Street in their hometown of Glasgow, to film this live performance video in brilliant technicolour. Watch it in its splendour below. Teenage Fanclub have a UK and Irish tour scheduled to begin in mid-November; they’ve also announced a show at London Shepherds Bush Empire in February 2017. To read more of our coverage of the Scottish band on TGTF, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 6:00 pm
Scottish girl duo Honeyblood are gearing up to release their second album at the start of next month. ‘Babes Never Die’ is scheduled for release on the 4th of November on Fat Cat Records. One of the early tasters from the upcoming album revealed to the public was ‘Sea Hearts’, which now has its own promo video.
It starts ominously enough by the sea, where a female-looking creature comes out of the lagoon. ‘She’ tries to assimilate into society, in this case a costume party where her strange behaviour actually fits in better than any other social situation. Will her cover be blown? Will this end well, or in tears? Watch the video for ‘Sea Hearts’ below and find out. For more of TGTF’s coverage of Honeyblood, including another early taster ‘Ready for the Magic’, follow this link.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 3:00 pm
To read the first half of my Saturday evening at Hard Working Class Heroes, follow this link. To have at your fingertips the entire HWCH 2016 archive here on TGTF, go here.
Tiz McNamara (Dublin via Cork) @ Tengu Downstairs
Joined by his bandmates from his hometown of Cork, Tiz McNamara built on the strength of his relaxed afternoon show at Urban Picnic with his evening performance. Dressed in a flowy white shirt (channeling Jesus, a higher power or Sting, perhaps?), he looked like he could have been performing in the Caribbean. But the subject matter of his songs are on a more everyman level. Admittedly, some of his songs were of the more melancholic, sad variety. But they’re a joy to hear in McNamara’s voice, in the way that sometimes you want to hear a song that will break your heart, because your heart’s been broken before and yet somehow, you’ve survived.
Despite the two being probably around the same age, McNamara strikes me as a more grown-up version of Lewis Watson: clearly lovely, lovable and writing songs that are entirely relatable. ‘I Hope You Know’ was a standout of both his acoustic afternoon and with band evening sets and showed great potential as a breakout singer/songwriter.
Elm (Dublin) @ Workman’s Club
Following their stripped-back performance at the HWCH box office at Filmbase Saturday afternoon, I was excited to see the contrast to Elm’s full five-piece band show that night at the Workman’s Club. They didn’t disappoint me, or anyone else at the club for that matter. They have a loud and large following already built up in Dublin; I felt squished like a sardine down the front for the band to start. Cat-calling for specific members of the band even before they took the stage and then while they were actually on the stage indicated without a doubt that their fans already have strongly associated each of their band members’ individual personalities, as if they were the Beatles or One Direction. I was floored. It feels like Elm have already outgrown an emerging music festival like this and whenever they’re ready to release a debut album, they’ve got legions of fans in Ireland chomping at the bit to buy it.
As for their performance, the band were tight, feeding off the energy of their excited fans. Their self-described “alternative baroque pop”, the instrumentation full of pomp, yet not overwhelming to frontman Dylan Walsh’s powerful vocal delivery, is a winner. Their unique sound is definitely something different to offer the often boring mainstream and I can see both UK and U.S. audiences warming up to their tunes.
Participant (Dublin) @ Tengu Downstairs
Steven Tiernan and his ambient project Participant ended my Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 on a rather unusual note. Tiernan himself commented after the festival that no live set he’s done as Participant is ever repeated, as he likes to experiment with what he’s playing with onstage, the songs he’ll play, the loops and samples used, even the song arrangements. He was creating his live sound with a friend performing with him, and to go with a voiceover of a mindfulness seminar. Not exactly what you might expect or want at a Saturday night show, but it seems rather appropriate for my state of mind and what I took from this music festival as a whole.
You’re never going to be able to predict what gems you’ll uncover at Hard Working Class Heroes, but there’s so much to discover here over the 3 days, whether you want to dance, to be touched emotionally, to be challenged, to feel blissfully chill. Open your ears, heart and mind, and you’re sure to find an act (or three) to fall in love with.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 1:00 pm
One more evening left to go in my Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 experience, and I was going to grab this opportunity with both hands. With a mix of pop, electronic and even some avant-garde on the docket for the first half of the night, I was ready to take in the artists on my schedule. Catch up on all my HWCH 2016 coverage through this link.
Saramai (County Meath) @ Wigwam
The trio Saramai from County Meath are named after their frontwoman and keyboardist Saramai Leech, who also happens to be the sister of the ginger-headed Oisin of The Lost Brothers. Regardless of origin, family connections in music enthrall me. I really should not be so surprised about talent running through families, especially Irish ones: consider Mary Black, her daughter Róisín O and her son Danny in The Coronas.
However, I was pleasantly surprised that Saramai and her band have a more pop, less folk, yet as polished a presence compared to her brother’s act, effortlessly moving between ballads and more upbeat numbers. It is something special when siblings have their own talents, and at Hard Working Class Heroes, Saramai the band has made clear that their chosen way forward is one expressed through sweeping emotion. They just celebrated the release of a new EP at a launch party last night at Dublin Whelan’s. Check out their new track and new accompanying animated video for ‘Trees’ below.
Swords (Dublin) @ Wigwam
From a less widely known band, we go on to a band who have been around the block. One wonders if like the Crookes, Swords named themselves after a part of the city most important to them: Swords is a commuter town north of Dublin most famous these days for having spawned Kodaline. Having formed 6 years ago makes them one of the granddaddy bands of this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes, they released their debut EP in 2012 and their debut album ‘Lions & Gold’ in 2013.
Despite only having three band members, it took awhile for them to set up, because they had a lot of gear, including wow, a full xylophone. Sadly, I only got to hear two songs, both sans xylophone, but enough to fully comprehend Diane Anglim’s voice, full of yearning ala Paula Cole, before I had to leave for another venue. Their newest album ‘Tidal Waves’ is scheduled to be out next Friday, the 28th of October.
Le Boom (Dublin / Brooklyn) @ Tengu Upstairs
Interestingly, drummer Aimie of Saramai’s band is one-half of Le Boom. They are a Dublin electronic duo who have also spent some time in the creative musical hub that is Brooklyn. Already garnering loads of attention and hype on both sides of the Atlantic, Le Boom are a no-brainer: clap your hands, move your body to the beat, and give yourself over to the music. Happily, the upstairs at Tengu wasn’t as gross and sweaty as it had been the night before, which meant you could actually enjoy and dance to their infectious beats.
Hiva Oa (Belfast) @ Tengu Downstairs
It was then a quick run downstairs to catch the last few precious minutes of Northern Irish band Hiva Oa. I had listened to them on YouTube and been impressed with their confrontational sound that isn’t simply punk. Live, they were loud, drum beats and guitar chords loud. Like Swords’ show earlier, I didn’t a big taste of Hiva Oa, but it was plenty enough to demonstrate to me that this is a band that follows their own (loud) drummer and no-one else. Check out their ‘Mk 2, Pt. 1’ EP released last week.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 20th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
The year I joined TGTF as its USA Editor, White Lies were on the longlist of the BBC Sound of 2009. So I feel a special kind of kinship towards the West London band. I like White Lies. I really do. I’ve seen them three times, and they’re a great live band. There’s no denying they’re a fantastic singles band: rattle off ‘To Lose My Life’, ‘Farewell to the Fairground’, ‘Bigger Than Us’, ‘There Goes Our Love Again’, all well received by fans and part of their ever enlarging oeuvre. But this is where their problems stem from. Whether purposeful or merely coincidence, they’re a band that has offered up three albums – 2009’s ‘To Lose My Life…’, 2011’s ‘Ritual’ and 2013’s ‘Big TV’ – with the highest of highs, only to leave you feeling let down with the rest of the album sounding hohum.
Unfortunately, this is the fate of their latest, ‘Friends’, released earlier this month on Fiction Records. The previously released single ‘Take It Out on Me’ begins the album at a heady height that the album never reaches again in its other nine tracks. What’s more, they’ve chosen to go in a disco direction on several songs on the LP, to varying degrees of success. Since their earlier beginnings toying with the grim fatalistic on ‘Death’ and ‘Unfinished Business’, they’ve been pegged as miserabilists, so the introduction of overly bright synths and beats seems like a massive disconnect.
As an album that primary songwriter and bassist Charles Cave has described as chronicling the spectre of getting older, of being pulled away from the mates you once felt so close to. Despite having an upbeat backbeat thanks to drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown, album track 2 ‘Morning in LA’, comes across clunky. The subject matter of ringing up a friend in Shanghai and finding it sad that it’s already morning in California may be of utmost importance to them. But as an American-based editor who corresponds daily with UK and Australian contacts out of necessity, it’s hard to be sympathetic.
‘Swing’ and ‘Come On’ are so lyrically uninspiring, as you’re listening to the album from front to back, your attention will dip way low once you’ve past ‘Summer Didn’t Change a Thing’, where Cave hides unrequited love behind a grandly anthemic façade. This song is so classic White Lies, you wonder why they can’t seem to repeat or improve on their basic winning formulas for a whole album. Do they get fidgety?
There are some great moments on ‘Friends’ that I would be remiss in not mentioning. ‘Don’t Want It Feel It All’ details the struggle of loving an unstable depressive, or possibly from the perspective of that depressive and the confusion within while trying to hold on to a relationship. It’s a brave move lyrically after the weirdness of ‘80s throwback track ‘Hold Back Your Love’ in which frontman Harry McVeigh oddly begs the object of his affection to deny love to him because he “wanna see what I feel without / every feeling is streaming out”. The excessively gay keys that accompany McVeigh’s yearning vocal are a strange juxtaposition initially, but somehow it works. The buzzing synths and big beats frame ‘Is My Love Enough?’, a rhetorical question posed by a partner to a lover, insisting that leaving is the kindest way forward, a disco version of Keane’s ‘Can’t Stop Now’.
‘Friends’ isn’t a bad album per se, but it does give one pause when considering it against the rest of White Lies’ catalogue. Charles Cave deserves props for confronting the march of time and what it does to relationships, but a disco beat may not have been the best choice to complement his often weighty topics.
‘Friends’, the fourth album from White Lies, is out now on Fiction Records. The band are in the middle of a European tour, before they return to the UK for a domestic tour beginning on the 22nd of November at London Shepherds Bush Empire. To see all of White Lies’ scheduled dates for the rest of 2016, go here. To read more of our extensive coverage here on TGTF on the West London trio, follow this link.
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