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Single Review: SG Lewis feat. Clairo – Better

 
By on Wednesday, 11th July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

SG Lewis is not your garden-variety DJ. Probably the best description I’ve read on him is from this i-D article from last year, penned by former Heartbreaks singer Matthew Whitehouse, no less: “bit like if Bon Iver had gone to university in Liverpool and discovered club culture through a night out at Chibuku.” Though he is most famous through high-profile collaborations with soul singer Ray BLK, rapper Dave and decidedly not urban at all singer/songwriter and friend JP Cooper, it should be noted that Lewis is no slouch in the songwriting department. He’s a producer who when given the task of coming up with a tune, he gives as much thought to the nuts and bolts of the songwriting as he does to the production needed to make it a dance floor banger.

Last week, he released new single ‘Better’, which stars the topline lyrics and voice of Clairo, a 19-year old Bostonian YouTube sensation. The two had a chance meeting in Los Angeles to write together and the rest, as they say, is history. The pop song is a true 21st century creation: Lewis was quick to give credit on Facebook to his two cosongwriters, Montreal via Vancouver Juno-winning beat producer Pomo and guitarist Danny McKinnon. The song is pure summer, full of handclaps and the production remarkably simple on purpose, as Lewis explains, “I kept the beat unquantized from the jam as I felt like it gave the record an old disco feel.”

Uncluttered and with this old school feel, your ears naturally focus on Clairo’s vibe-y vocals and the spare backbeat that effortlessly accompanies her. The lyrics are from well trod on, but always welcome pop territory: Clairo sings of unrequited, or at least thwarted love. As I’m sure some of you know, this kind of love can be difficult to accept, especially when you know it can never be, even if all you want is to be close to someone you care about: “I know it isn’t right / you creep into the night / maybe you want a friend / maybe not in this life / why is it so hard, hard to please you / all I wanted was you in the room”. ‘Better’ may not be the flashiest pop entry of 2018, but it’s wonderful proof that songwriting is more important than all the bells and whistles in the world.

8.5/10

‘Better’ by SG Lewis and featuring the vocal talents of Clairo, is out now on PMR / Virgin EMI. Back in April, Lewis released ‘Dusk’, six tracks that represent the first part of a three-part album. Stay tuned for ‘Dark’ and ‘Dawn’ to follow later this year.

 

Video of the Moment #2867: Youngr

 
By on Tuesday, 10th July 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Son of Kid Creole Dario Darnell, aka Youngr, was one of my favourite discoveries at SXSW 2017. The multi-instrumentalist signed to Island Records has largely spent his time on the road since, culminating in his writing of the single ‘Lost in Translation’. To make the promo video for the song, he decided to enlist members of the public to participate in a supposed social experiment to communicate with another person but without speech. Then they turned the song on and told the participants to move however the mood took them. Described as ‘pop-funk’ on the press release, ‘Lost in Translation’ is an exuberant dance number that lets the charismatic Youngr be the ringmaster of a whole lot of fun. Watch the colourful video for it below. Want to read our past pieces on the artist? Go here.

 

Video of the Moment #2866: Fizzy Blood

 
By on Monday, 9th July 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Even I had a stuffed pink flamingo growing up. In case you didn’t know, there’s been this ongoing debate over whether pink-coloured clothing is appropriate specifically for girls. So it seems like the new song and video from Fizzy Blood from Leeds might have been fuelled by this debate. True to form, the Yorkshire band have come out with another punishing single, ‘Pink Magic’, which of course is the prevailing color in its accompanying promo video. What is unexpected is the number and types of pink things poured on or thrown at the band during the course of the video. Watch it below. In addition to summer festival appearances, the group have announced two headline shows in September: at home at the Brudenell Social Club on the 19th of September, followed by another show at London Boston Music Rooms on the 20th. For all of our past coverage on Fizzy Blood, go here.

 

Single Review / Essay: William Doyle – Millersdale

 
By on Monday, 9th July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Back in 2015, William Doyle released his second album under the nom de plume East India Youth. The emotional, electronic bliss of ‘Culture of Volume’, which dropped on XL Recordings a short time after his showcasing at SXSW 2015, was one of my top 5 albums of the year. North American, European and UK tours to support the album followed, but then Doyle announced in March 2016 that he was ditching the East India Youth project altogether. He disappeared for a time, re-emerging later that year to release ‘the dream derealised’, a collection of nine mostly instrumental, self-described “abstract and lo-fi pieces”, with all of the album’s profits going to mental health charity Mind.

In an article with The Line of Best Fit, Doyle explained, “I’m releasing them now as a cathartic measure, and as a message for others who may be going through difficult times themselves…What I told myself at the time, what I can tell you now: You are not in danger. You are not going insane. You are not alone.” The detachment from reality that results from derealisation, also known as depersonalization disorder, often occurs with or is triggered by other mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Read more about it here at Psychology Today. As brave as this public acknowledgment and support of mental health was, it wasn’t a one-off. Doyle has spoken at a number of events since with his first-hand knowledge of the hard slog artists go through while living out their dream vocation and the mental health problems that come as a consequence of participating in an all too often unforgiving industry. He is also working with the NHS to develop a “a mental healthcare ‘package’ that can be bought by labels and written into record deals.” Things may be moving slowly towards healthier musicians’ lives, sure, but there is reason to be optimistic, if cautiously.

Following the death of his father, he was uprooted to a Southern residential development called South Millers Dale in Hampshire. The overly ordered, cookie-cutter style of the neighbourhood was in direct opposition from the traumatic incident that led him to the new environment. As he wrote a few days ago on his Facebook page, “It was a stark change of scenery, and a strange environment for a 13 year old to process loss and experience grief. Something about the modern suburb’s artificiality, with its planned and plotted nature and its winding, serpentine roads, seemed to jar when overlaid with something so human as grief.” Doyle has since relocated several times but had the opportunity to revisit the house 2 years ago, helping him to evoke “the untethered spirit of creativity” that led him to first begin making music in his suburban bedroom as a teenager and dream of a musical career.

New single and 5-minute opus ‘Millersdale’ is the next chapter of Doyle’s mental health journey. The euphoric feel of past tracks on the 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Total Strife Forever’ and ‘Culture of Volume’ is here, along with the unfettered release of free jazz in the intro and at the bridge. His vocals recall the jaw-dropping beauty of those on ‘Carousel’ but this time, they’ve got more oomph, evidence of hope and confidence. The accompanying promo video for the single starring Doyle is a perfect foil to the song. Directed by Sapphire Goss, contrasts are smartly utilised to address the light and the dark, familiarity and disorientation, the seeming humdrum of suburbia and fireworks.

In the new promo photos to go along with the release of ‘Millersdale’, Doyle is no longer dressed in a suit like in the East India Youth days. Instead, he’s in tailored khaki from head to toe, looking like he’s about to go on safari. The suburban David Attenborough, perhaps? Maybe, maybe not. The most important things to William Doyle these days is having control over his art and not chasing anyone else’s schedule or measures of success. And like for all my friends in this pressure cooker of a business, above all, I hope he’s happy.

7.5/10

William Doyle’s new single ‘Millersdale’ is out now. Stream and/or buy the song and read the lyrics at his Bandcamp. To read our past articles on his previous project East India Youth, go here.

 

Video(s) of the Moment #2865: Bang Bang Romeo

 
By on Friday, 6th July 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s rather a big deal when I see a British band in the very early stages of their career pop up in both U.S. and UK PR emails. It doesn’t happen often, so that means Bang Bang Romeo from Doncaster is already turning A&R heads on both sides of the Atlantic. Ahead of the release of their debut album in October worldwide on Eleven Seven Label Group, they have unveiled the promo video for single ‘Shame on You’. It’s a great showcase for frontwoman Anastasia Walker’s powerful vocals and overall for the band’s upbeat indie persona previously seen on ‘Natural Born Astronaut’. Check out ‘Shame on You’ below, in both promo form and live at Isle of Wight 2 weekends ago.

 

Bands to Watch #409: KAWALA

 
By on Friday, 6th July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo of KAWALA by Aron Klein; words by Lily Cresswell

Five-piece London band KAWALA are a relatively new addition to the alternative-pop music scene, making their debut with single ‘Small Death’. Contrary to popular belief, the name does not appear to be a reference to the cane flute commonly used in Arabic music, though its addition would be rather interesting to the band’s sound. The fresh new group consists of Jim Higson (vocals), Daniel McCarthy (guitar, backing vocals), Ben Batten (drums), Reeve Coulson (bass guitar) and Dan Lee (guitar).

The most striking thing about this single ‘Small Death’ is the variety of sounds and moods that are all entwined within this one song. There are soft and acoustic undertones, enhanced by vocal harmonies that weave in and out of each other seamlessly, but yet there is also a hint of a typical indie upbeat vibe signified by the bright, staccatoing guitars. Throughout ‘Small Death’, Higson touches upon topics of melancholy, self-discovery and love through cryptic lyrics that add a poetic beauty to the song like, “Hold me here / wash away / take me from day to day / and do I care or will I cave?” The lyrics touch upon death in both literal and figurative ways – “This could be my last breath (why am I supposed to care?)” – takes the single to a deeper place. ‘Small Death’ successfully hit a sweet spot of mellow liveliness, piling the pressure on the group for their then forthcoming EP.

Despite the high standards of the first single, debut EP ‘D.I.L.Y.D’ meets them and goes beyond, foreshadowing exciting things to come from KAWALA. The EP consists of four tracks, the aforementioned ‘Small Death’, ‘Do It Like You Do’, ‘Funky’ and ‘Mighty River’, each showcasing the diverse sounds of the band. The electricity of the EP has already been picked up by Spotify, who have been giving the band substantial amounts of support and have included tracks from it on several nationwide playlists. The band have also sold out numerous headline shows and played festivals such as Dot to Dot Festival and The Great Escape. This early success is due to continue with more gigs and festivals in the pipeline, perhaps most notably their headline show last night at the BBC’s Radio 1 Introducing show at London Lexington alongside supports Apre and Zuzu.

Despite being a pretty new group, they’ve already released a series of visuals to captivate fans and welcome them to their world. Alongside the EP, Kawala have released an official music video for the spelled-out EP title track ‘Do It Like You Do’. The video is simple but poignant, showing all sorts of people from different walks of life, perhaps a nod to the sort of audience you can expect from a band with such accessible music. They’ve also released a tour video to accompany the single ‘Funky’, titled ‘A KAWALA Story’. Although it’s easy to hear this in their music, the personality of each band member shines through and shows us the fun and energy they put into each tune. If their live shows this year, including the aforementioned show at the Lexington and appearances at RIZE festival in London next month and Manchester’s Neighbourhood Festival in October, live up to KAWALA’s growing hype, their future is very bright indeed.

For more information on dates and how to get tickets, visit KAWALA’s official Facebook page. The EP ‘D.I.L.Y.D’ is now out on Mahogany Records, the new venture between Mahogany Sessions and Marathon Artists.

 
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About Us

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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