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In the Post #20: Hockey

 
By on Thursday, 20th August 2009 at 12:00 pm
 

I first heard of Portland new wave band Hockey through their single ‘Too Fake’ that got a lot of play on BBC 6music, back when the Mid-Atlantic air was still cold and snow was on the ground. (Admittedly, my ears perked up further when I heard they were the support act for a Friendly Fires UK headlining tour.) It’s only now, in the middle of the sweltering summer, that they’ve started to make waves in America – oddly enough, in a television advert for J.C. Penney (an American department store), in which the Shoes remix of ‘Too Fake’ plays while high school students turn the school cafeteria into their own fashion catwalk dressed in supposedly ‘school hip’ duds from the store. I’m too old and cynical to buy into this but to young, impressionable teens of America, good tunes usually translate to thoughts of, ‘oh yeah? This song is cool! I need those clothes!’ Leading to the sounds of ringing cash registers all over the nation. (Isn’t capitalism grand?)

I’m really excited that an indie band I only knew about from a radio station across the pond is finally getting some love in our own country. Whether mainstream exposure and association with a middle America department store will help or hurt the band’s profile is unclear. But one thing’s for sure: the adverts are certainly getting the band noticed stateside, and for an indie band, that is always a good thing. And hopefully it won’t take too long for the next single to show up on American radio.

‘Song Away’ is the third single from their forthcoming debut album ‘Mind Chaos’. It’s bouncy and bright upon the first listen, just as fresh as ‘Too Fake’ was to my Hockey-virgin ears back in the winter. Listen to a couple more times, and the lyrics are humourous as they are memorable: “this is believe me music / this is forget me music / this is who can love me you know / this ain’t no Roxy Music“. I give props to any band who can crowbar the name of Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno’s old band into a song, because you know if the song gets popular, kids will inevitably investigate who that Roxy Music is (which I think you will agree is better than kids not ever hearing ‘Love is the Drug’ or ‘Virginia Plain’.) If the official video can be believed (see it below), this song should be tearing up homecoming dances this autumn.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=61862633

Hockey’s debut album ‘Mind Chaos’ will be released on 24 August in the UK. Hockey’s ‘Song Away’ single drops on 14 September.

 

Live Review: Friendly Fires and Phenomenal Handclap Band at le poisson rouge, New York City – 12th August 2009

 
By on Tuesday, 18th August 2009 at 9:38 pm
 

e-lpr-phb4Le poisson rouge (“the red fish” in French) is a cute little club at number 158 Bleecker Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. A sign outside insists it “serves art and alcohol”, which sounds like a somewhat pretentious designation for a venue hosting Friendly Fires, a decidedly unpretentious band. Upon entering the club, you see that the small lobby upstairs sports an aquarium, set off on an angle, filled with koi (but not one truly red fish was to be seen). Why I am going on about LPR? I guess it’s because I never thought a band like Friendly Fires, whose members have insisted their music is for everyone, would be playing some place artsy-fartsy like this. However, after the end of a two-night mini-tour with the band, this was decidedly the swankier and more interesting of the two venues (for one, it’s got a very wide stage making it easier for punters to be closer to the action). But before I digress further, let’s get to the music…

Starting the evening off right were native New Yorkers the Phenomenal Handclap Band. Like most smaller bands I’ve come to know and love, I found out about them through a favourite BBC Radio show – specifically Radcliffe/Maconie on Radio2, who hosted the band for a short, three-song set the second week of July at the Manchester Oxford Road studios. On the strength of that performance, I was really looking forward to seeing this big band live. And I do mean big – their live show comprises 8 people, each who sing and play an instrument. If you like to dance to mad beats, kick-arse guitar lines, synths, cowbell, tambourines, or any combination of these – you will really like this band. The fresh ‘You’ll Disappear’ will remind you of the best, glitter ball disco tunes from the ’70s. The summery ’15 to 20′ has an infectious chorus and will get your whole body bopping to the beat. The PHB will be joining Friendly Fires out west for 2 California dates, in Pomona on 23 August and Los Angeles on 24 August), but us Washingtonians are lucky enough to have them all to ourselves at DC9 on 21 August.

After the stage was emptied of the PHB’s many instruments, it was time for Friendly Fires’s crew to start setting up their stuff. Sound problems caused this to take a lot longer than some of the patrons wanted to wait, who cat-called the crew and annoyed the rest of us who realized rather prudently that waiting for everything to be set just right would allow for the best performance possible by the band. Lead singer/synth player/bassist Ed Macfarlane was jumping up and down outside the green room door like Tigger, obviously impatient to get onstage and get things underway. It was well after midnight before the lights went down again and the band finally took the stage. Macfarlane, obviously upset by the delay and boos, ventured forth with an apology: “sorry for the wait. We’re going to make it up to you!” And with that, they launched into my absolute favourite track of theirs, ‘Lovesick’.

t-lpr-ff9Anyone who wanted to dance at the sold-out venue (which I believe was the majority of gig-goers that night) had only one option: sway with the rest of the crowd, which resulted in a mass of bodies pulsating to the Fires’s beats. With so many people, it was really hot, and after just dancing to and reveling in one song, I think everyone in the club was just as sweaty as the guys onstage. Macfarlane’s arms glistened with sweat as he sang and exhibited his now legendary inexhaustible style of dancing. This was the first time I got to see their new single ‘Kiss of Life’ performed live, and wow, it was great. Macfarlane introduced it by saying they had to play it a couple times after false starts to their concertgoers in Toronto but frankly, I couldn’t fault them for the version I heard this night. Jack Savidge’s drumming, Edd Gibson’s wicked guitar solo, and Macfarlane’s sultry vocals combined to make this one hot song for the summer. Maybe if they play it live more often, it’ll be even better…

The night ended with their now-usual set ender, ‘Ex Lover’, but with a twist. Per usual, Gibson got his cordless vacuum out and was driving it along the fretboard of his guitar and making zoom-y noises with it. Then Macfarlane surprised me by all of a sudden grabbing the speaker directly in front of me and turning it towards us, causing the screaming sounds from all the instruments to seem even louder. Cranking it up to eleven. Yep, that’s what the Friendly Fires are all about.

I’d like to give mad props to Will and the other staff at LPR for keeping things under control outside the venue, especially as many, many people walked up to the door nonchalantly expecting to buy tickets and then were shocked and upset when they were turned away, or turned up late and tried to jump the queue. It could have turned ugly and it didn’t, and they did their job with smiles.

After the jump: Setlists and photos…
a-lpr

Continue reading Live Review: Friendly Fires and Phenomenal Handclap Band at le poisson rouge, New York City – 12th August 2009

 

Video of the Moment #104: Jack Penate

 
By on Tuesday, 18th August 2009 at 6:00 pm
 

I might as well admit it to the world: I’m a sucker for a well-written pop ballad. (Maybe this has something to do with my two X chromosomes?) But it was quite a shock to me that Jack Penate, the London soul singer who earlier this year brought us the decidedly tropical-themed ‘Tonight’s Today’ and the dance-poppy ‘Be the One’, should come along with a tear-jerker of a tune to win my heart.

Filmed in the Jordanian desert solely on a Super 8 camera while Penate was on holiday, the bleakness of the surroundings suits the subject of the song and makes the point that you don’t need to fork over a massive amount of money to make a flashy video that’s memorable.

 

In the Post #18: Richard Hawley – For Your Lover Give Some Time

 
By on Monday, 17th August 2009 at 12:00 pm
 

Richard-Hawley-coverRichard Hawley is arguably Sheffield’s finest guitar-toting bandolero. If you haven’t followed his career since he was in the Long Pigs or collaborating with close mate Jarvis Cocker, he has released 5 solo albums since 2001, using his amazing songwriting talents to record songs sure to be timeless classics. He got my attention via 2005’s ‘Coles Corner’ and 2007’s ‘Lady’s Bridge’, both of which are sentimentally tied to Hawley’s affection for his hometown. They brought me back to a simpler era of songwriting when the focus was on a man and his guitar, where there was no electronic wizardry for a songwriter to fall back on. Hawley’s quiff even recalls back the days of Brylcreem adverts, Cliff Richard, and Elvis Presley. In his leather jacket, he epitomizes the word ‘hip’. And he is back this fall with a new album-length offering.

Hawley previously brought me to tears with ‘Valentine’, so it should come as no surprise that he has done it again, making me turn on the waterworks with his latest single, ‘For Your Lover Give Some Time’, now available digitally from iTunes. It’s the first single from his sixth album ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ (to be released on 21 September in the UK). The track has very un-rock ‘n’ roll cello and violin background instrumentation and is as tender as rose petals falling softly to the ground. It sure sounds different than everything else out there right now and I encourage you to give it a listen, especially if you’ve never heard any of Hawley’s solo stuff before. It just might make you a believer too.

‘Truelove’s Gutter’ will be released in the UK on Mute Records on 21 September in the UK.

 

Video of the moment#102: Golden Silvers

 
By on Saturday, 15th August 2009 at 6:00 pm
 

Hot on the heels of their headlining spot on the NME Radar Tour this September and October, Golden Silvers are back with a new single, ‘Please Venus’, and a video to go with it. It’s no ‘True Romance’: this one is black-and-white themed, but it’s not without its moments of colour and humour. And the “bah bah bah“s will get into your head.

The ‘Please Venus’ single drops in the UK on 31 August.

 

Video of the moment #101: The Airborne Toxic Event

 
By on Friday, 14th August 2009 at 6:00 pm
 

The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight

Atmospheric SoCal pop rockers the Airborne Toxic Event are coming back to the UK in November. But you may not yet have seen the music video for the paean to lost love, “Sometime Around Midnight”, which involves singer/guitarist Mikel Jollett getting his angst on in what appears to be a Los Angeles flat while having flashbacks of his ex, and his bandmates are there too, incongrously playing their instruments in the same flat. A bit surrealistic, but we like it.

 
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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. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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