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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.

 

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.

 

Video of the Moment #2881: You Me at Six

 
By on Wednesday, 8th August 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s a big year for long-soldiering Southern alt-rock band You Me at Six. This winter, they are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album ‘Take Off Your Colours’ with a massive UK tour. The demand for tickets to this tour has been so phenomenal, additional dates have been added, but don’t expect tickets to the new gigs to last long. A month before the UK tour kicks off, they will be releasing a new album, ‘VI’ on the 5th of October via AWAL, on their own Underdog Records.

Their newest single ‘3 AM’ taken from the upcoming LP now has its own music video, which put frontman Josh Franceschi in an unusual position, squarely as an actor. Franceschi describes the gist of the video and the difficulties in making it: “The idea came from watching Wolf of Wall Street. In the film there is a scene where the main protagonist (Leonardo DiCaprio) has a split reality when under the influence of what he believes to be true and what is actually true. That just resonated with us. I worked quite closely with Dan Broadley (director) as I found myself doing a lot of ‘acting’ in this video. It was new, and a challenge, but he gave me the confidence to embrace it and also have the freedom to go off script.” Check out the ultra-poppy ‘3 AM’ and Franceschi’s acting chops in the multi-act promo video below. To catch all of our past coverage on You Me at Six, go here.

 

Album Review: Kodaline – Politics of Living

 
By on Wednesday, 8th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Kodaline Politics of Living album coverWhen I reviewed Kodaline’s sophomore album ‘Coming Up for Air’, I noted their “newfound self-confidence”. I also noted the Dubliners’ concerted effort to move away from their folkier, Gary Barlow-endorsed beginnings (‘Love Like This’, anyone?) and towards a more mainstream pop sound. That was 3 years ago. I don’t think I would have predicted this, but ‘Politics of Living’, out this Friday, is even more pop than their last. Is their confidence still on the up and up? I’ll have to see about that when they swing by Washington in December. Surely, this third album is a distillation of their attempts to continually evolve and grow as artists and musicians, with varying degrees of success. Like its predecessor, ‘Politics of Living’ is the product of their collaboration with producer Steve Harris and quite a few big names in the industry, including Steve Mac (Ed Sheeran), Johnny Coffer (RagNBone Man, Beyonce) and Jonas Jeberg (Dizzee Rascal, Kylie Minogue).

Kodaline appear to be most comfortable when they return to their roots, that is, when the production is relaxed, the tempo is slower and the emotions run high. The gorgeously simple melody that unfolds from the mostly a capella ‘I Wouldn’t Be’ sounds like it came straight from the lips of an Irish mother singing to her child. In this form, beginning with lead singer Steve Garrigan’s voice alone, then leading to perfect, four-part harmonies, makes the song unforgettable. ‘Angel’ and previous single ‘Brother’ (single/essay here) broach death and friendships, respectively, both holding the enduring strength of love with much reverence. They are a band who can uplift us even in our darkest days, the best example of this in the whistle-happy ‘Head Held High’. It isn’t hard to imagine that they’re sat “waiting for the sun to shine again” right along with us, supporting us.

The problem is when they go too far from their comfort zone to relate to more urban, Radio 1 palates. Replete with syncopated beats and flicks of tambourine, ‘Born Again’ and ‘Come Around’ sound too much like Glass Animals‘ retreads. If we were to view ‘In a Perfect World’ hit ‘All I Want’ as at the desperation stage of grief in a breakup, ‘Hell Froze Over’ is at the anger stage: “I would do anything for you / but I won’t do that again / we might never get closure / heaven knows it had to end”. Sure, we all get upset, but it’s hard to picture the squeaky clean and super sweet Kodaline lads truly lashing out at an ex.

Bridging the distance between the group’s best and their not so best on this LP are the grand stadium pop numbers that have been unveiled as previews prior to the album’s release. ‘Follow Your Fire’, wrapped up in its shiny production, is an upbeat, zippy pop number about living life without regrets. Piano-led “gospel-tinged” ‘Shed a Tear’ slows things down with a message akin to soul classic ‘Stand By Me’. ‘Politics of Living’ closes with the pop/soul mix ‘Temple Bar’, celebrating the famed district south of the River Liffey in Dublin. In it, frontman Garrigan repeats the rhetorical question, “where did it all wrong?” It’s one question I posed to myself about this album before I committed any words down for this review.

The elephant in the room on Kodaline’s third outing is the lack of direction. While the most heartfelt moments and poptastic singles are fantastic, the rest of the album misses the high bar the band already set for themselves. The variety of songs may serve to appeal to different groups of the music listening public but as a whole, the collection lacks consistency. Too bad.

6.5/10

‘Politics of Living’, the third album from Irish band Kodaline, will be released this Friday on Sony Music. Have a listen to ‘Worth It’, the latest taster to the album, in the embed below. To catch up on all of our past articles on the group, come through.

 
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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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