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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 6:00 pm
Will Phelps, aka Tourist, has a new video out for ‘Wait’, which is probably best described as an electro pensive single. The promo’s monochrome treatment suits this melancholy well; you can buy the single on Sunday (26 October). We’re sure to hear more from Tourist soon, as word on the street is he’s inked a deal with Polydor and his debut album is expected in 2015. Exciting times. Watch the video below.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 4:00 pm
Earlier this month, Funeral for a Friend took a #STANDFORSOMETHING, playing during October’s Dr. Martens’ tour in the UK. Watch them perform ‘Roses for the Dead’ at Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire below.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 2:00 pm
Scotland is a beautiful, unique place. So it makes total sense that everyone I know from there is also beautiful (and if the person is male, chances are he has a beautiful beard) and makes unique music or is involved in promoting music made by such musicians, such as “Uncle” Vic Galloway of BBC Radio Scotland. I feel quite lucky I’ve had the chance to visit multiple times now, and every time there are more new and exciting things I encounter that make me fall in love with Scotland that much harder. (And no, to be clear, Visit Scotland is *not* paying me to write this.)
That old phrase goes, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade”. One of my planned gigs in Glasgow was cancelled, but a friend messaged me a couple days before I went up to Scotland that I could instead see some other acquaintances of mine play in Edinburgh instead. I always say things happen for a reason and I want to thank five people in particular for going out of their way of making this American feel welcome, it really meant a lot, cheers gents!
To be completely honest, I knew little of Fatherson going into this gig at the University of Edinburgh’s student union, Potterrow. One piece of trivia I did know: they call Glasgow home, which makes it all the more strange that on the Scottish leg of their UK tour this month, they didn’t actually play in Glasgow, calling instead only in Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen. However, considering I’ve just learned 2 days ago that they’ve been given a shout for SXSW 2015, the timing couldn’t be beat for me to see the Glaswegian band in action.
The main reason I’d taken the train 1 hour east (quite happily, I might add) was to see Model Aeroplanes. Regular readers of TGTF (and Generator, for that matter) will be aware that I think the world of these lads from Dundee, having met and seen them play at Liverpool Sound City this year. Despite their young age, they’re already churning out catchy guitar pop not unlike some Irish lads from Bangor called Two Door Cinema Club did a couple years ago. (And we all know what happened to them. BOOM.) Earlier this year, they released the single ‘Electricity’, which has gained them a whole new group of fans. In Edinburgh, they previewed for us upcoming single ‘Club Low’, which follows in their current vein of upbeat indie style. ‘Dive’ was another new song that got an airing, and I can’t wait until they have a full album to release, as I expect it to do massively well with well-written pop gems like this.
‘Crazy’, another previous single, is exactly the kind of thing that I would expect to blow up on Radio 1 and sounded fab, as frontman Rory Fleming-Stewart vocals bounced to match Kieran Smith drum beats, then oozed around the melody. Fleming-Stewart makes for a very charming frontman, cracking jokes between the tunes while also positively riling up the audience for what was to come. All throughout their set, I watched as Ben Buist took over his territory as Model Aeroplanes’ bassist, banging out his notes like a windmill-like, throw caution to the wind style. It was reminded why I love playing bass so much. Lead guitarist Grant Irvine looked serious all night, but I think the explanation was he was concentrating: they were supporting good friends of theirs, for what would turn out to be a huge night for the Glaswegians.
Fatherson, originally from Kilmarnock but now based in Glasgow, released their debut album ‘I Am an Island’ in April on indie A Modern Way. I can’t say I’ve even heard the album, and since it was so last-minute that I was going to show up to see them gig, I decided I wouldn’t prepare and be pleasantly surprised. I will preface my opinion of them by saying this isn’t my usual kind of music, but having seen them now and the frenzy they threw the punters in Edinburgh into with their guitar rock, I may have to rethink this. Their style is bombastic guitar rock with heart, the likes that haven’t really been seen all that much – or well for that matter – in America lately, so I expect them to do very well in America. With loads of bright flashing lights and loads of Scottish voices around me singing along to every word, it felt very strange to be witnessing a revolution of sorts, a new movement that I knew nothing about prior to this night.
The lyrics of LP opening track of ‘An Island’ may give some clues why this indie band already has very, very devoted fans in Scotland already. Singer/guitarist Ross Leighton has a booming voice (and much better than Scott Hutchison’s), and when he begins the song in a soft and measured tone, you’d have to be a robot to not feel the mourning from where these words came from. I can’t even begin to relate to the melancholic feelings that must exist in those Scots who voted yes in the referendum. In many ways, Scotland is an island: they have their own fierce identity, and damn anyone who would try and take it away from them. ‘I Like Not Knowing’, with riffs loud enough to knock you on your arse, would be a good example young indie bands should use as how to write a song with melodic guitars that builds up to a climax. Another set standout, previous single ‘Mine for Me’, starts up quickly and never loses momentum. It’s also a song that’s wonderful to sing along to.
Regardless of the referendum’s outcome, one thing I take away every time I visit Scotland is that you can never break the independent spirit of its people. I feel this very strongly every time I step into Showcasing Scotland at SXSW too. This show with Fatherson and Model Aeroplanes, with both bands seeming to be poised for the big time, was yet another sonic illustration that the Scottish music scene is alive, well and ready to rip you a new one. (Sorry! I asked around. I couldn’t come up with a more lady-like phrase to describe this.)
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 23rd October 2014 at 6:00 pm
Are you ready to dance and “got not room for hating”? Danish singer/songwriter Oh Land has a new video out for ‘Head Up High’, which has an incredibly dancey vibe. Not to mention a positive, uplifting message too. Err, generally. While it’s got a single girl (looking kind of like Channy Leanagh of Polica?) doing a dance in a room by herself in the same vein as Sia’s over-played single ‘Chandelier’, the end of the video see our protagonist destroying stuff. (I’m guessing this is meant to indicate the destruction of old, to be replaced by the new? I hope so…) Watch the promo below.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 22nd October 2014 at 6:00 pm
Longfellow are currently in New York City for CMJ this week, but those of us who don’t happen to be in the Big Apple shouldn’t feel too downtrodden. They’ve kindly left behind the gorgeously shot video for ‘Polaroid’, which appears on their mini-album ‘Prelude’ that was released in July on Fierce Panda Records. (You can read my review of ‘Prelude’ here.) The promo, starring actress Victoria Emslie, can be watched below.
And ok, if you happen to be at CMJ (you miserable, lucky devils), you can catch Longfellow at their official CMJ showcase on Friday (the 24th of October) at Coco 66 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at 11 PM. Not to be missed!
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 22nd October 2014 at 2:00 pm
Header photo by Mary Chang; other photos by Martin Sharman
Many moons ago, I had seriously entertained moving to Manchester. The common question from local friends: “why would you ever leave America for some place that rains all the time?” Over the years I’ve become friends with quite a few musicians from the place and even if it weren’t for all the people I know there, there is no denying that the city is the North’s main hub for music and bands. While I’ve visited several times now over the last 8 years, I’ve only ever seen shows at the Apollo (Morrissey; Fenech-Soler supporting), the Opera House (Morrissey), Bridgewater Hall (Morrissey), Gulliver’s (City Reign) and the Deaf Institute (Dutch Uncles with Fiction supporting; the Orielles; School of Language), and I still haven’t made much of a dent on the enormous list of venues whose doors I’m still yet to pass through. Really though, there have only been two venues left I’ve been really keen in visiting for gigs: Peter Hook’s FAC251 and the Soup Kitchen. I had the opportunity 2 Saturdays ago to finally see a show there and by one of my favourite electronic artists as of late.
Located on Spear Street in the ridiculously vibrant Northern Quarter, The Soup Kitchen is smack dab in the middle of all the action. Although it’s only been open for 2 short years, it has already become a meeting place for locals not only for their amazing food. As the name suggests, they do amazing soup (among others, Johnny Marr is a fan), as well as maintain a brilliant seasonal, entirely from scratch in-house menu. But as you can imagine from me spending the time writing up this feature, they play host to some pretty fab gigs too, most often put on by local promoter legends Now Wave.
Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control, Martin and I missed the two opening bands on this particular night, but thankfully we arrived just in time to catch Cloud Boat’s full set. As often happens at the madness that is SXSW, I missed both showcases by the London trio, but as it turns out when I had a word with them after this show at Soup Kitchen, coming out to Manchester to see them was probably for the best anyhow. (I also had a lovely chat in the wee hours of the morning with Tom, Sam and Andres in Liverpool the following night, and you can expect that interview feature with them in the coming days when I’ve finally come to from this jetlag.) I’ve blathered on long enough about the venue, let’s talk about the band and the show!
Cloud Boat released their second album for R&S imprint Apollo Records in July, so it made sense that ‘Model of You’ would be well-represented on this evening. ‘Carmine’, their opening track for the evening, was the perfect start of what was mostly incredibly atmospheric, gorgeously made music. The gentle sweetness of ‘Hideaway’ also made an early appearance in their set; from that point on, I was at a loss for words. These days I feel like I don’t come across enough vocalists that make me weak in the knees. Tom Clarke possesses a gift, an often ethereal voice that seems couldn’t have come from anywhere but the heavens, and I just don’t understand how the full package of Cloud Boat isn’t more famous and popular yet.
While I was disappointed that one of my favourites from ‘Model of You’, ‘Thoughts in Mine’, didn’t make the cut in Manchester, the performance of ‘Aurelia’ more than made up for the omission, with its upbeat tempo and Clarke’s repeated refrain of “wondering if I should dive in” making for sure one of the standout moments for the night. ‘Portrait of Eyes’, with its glitchy beats and haunting vocals, proved also imposing, with the lyrics, “the first page of my map is in colour / a scrapbook for all that I love / the second page of my map is all selfish desires / and looks like the work of a child”.
I may say it too often, but I don’t really care: I think some people get the massively incorrect impression when confronted with a band that has loads upon loads of electronic equipment and gadgetry onstage that it indicates a lack of heart and a lack of talent. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Us fans of any genre touched by electronics know that if anything, the true artists of this kind of music work that many times harder to prove that they’re the real deal and not reliant and are entirely unlike the manufactured pop stars of our generation. Many times, and also true of Cloud Boat as you will read in my interview with them, their musical backgrounds didn’t even start with electronics. So before you judge a band by their gear, I urge you to listen to their music with an open mind and an open heart.
Tunes from their debut ‘Book of Hours’ also made a welcome appearance. ‘Bastion’ was pure beauty in its sparseness, and being able to hear songs from both albums at the same gig shows you immediately how the band has progressed and evolved. The biggest shame of the evening was that they couldn’t have played longer; as it was a Saturday in Manchester, there was a dance night to follow after Cloud Boat’s set, which meant an early curfew. But I’m not going to complain too much. I’m really happy to have finally have seem Tom, Sam and Andres live and this show in this Northern town has whet my appetite for many future shows and hopefully many more releases from the London act. Wishing you every success, guys.
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