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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 19th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
At the first music festival I ever covered was a then little-known folk band from London called Mumford and Sons. I missed them because I was on a tour bus interviewing another band, but a journo’s gotta do what a journo’s gotta do. And we all know what happened to them, don’t we? I have been pondering what Mumford have been up to lately, seeing that their third album has yet to materialise after nearly a year from the time they said they’d be working on new songs. In the meantime though, I have been poring over the SXSW 2015 band list and considering who might sneak into their nu-folk while the tweedy Londoners have their backs turned. Perhaps The Lonely Wild will be just the people to do it.
Hailing now from the band-heavy and musically productive area of Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, the Lonely Wild’s humble start was back in 2010, when lead singer and guitarist Andrew Carroll moved to the area to study music, meeting band mates Ryan Ross (multiple instruments) and Andrew Schneider (guitar) in school. After some line-up changes following the release of their 2011 debut EP ‘Dead End’, they’re now a five-piece, with the addition of multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Jessi Williams and drummer Dave Farina.
In April 2013, they released their debut album ‘The Sun As It Comes’ on their astrologically named own label Ursa Major Recordings, which benefitted from circulation through Sony’s RED Distribution. ‘Everything You Need’ has the folk plus horns sound reminiscent of ‘Winter Winds’; ‘Keep Us Whole’ could be an outtake from Husky‘s ‘Forever So’. At seemingly the opposite side of the sound spectrum, Carroll favours a twang in his voice in the first half of the contemplative ballad ‘Buried in the Murder’. But there’s a twist: he then brings out a raspy vocal while a rock guitar squeals to usher out the track. (What? Where did Jimi Hendrix come from? I know! I was surprised about that as you were.)
It’s this combination of indie folk vs. indie rock that just might endear them to mainstream radio: their sound is not hugely edgy (thus playable to the masses), but edgy and interesting enough to be hip. extremely hilarious, judging by the Thanks to their fans, their second album (name yet to be revealed) has already passed its PledgeMusic goal. Interesting, its release date is not until April 7, 2015, some 3 weeks after SXSW 2015. Guess the Lonely Wild will be using Austin as the new LP’s training ground, and with the expectation that Communion will host a showcase or two in March, I’m looking forward to see what punters will think about them. Something else they have going for them: they’re extremely funny, going by the video they filmed to encourage fans to donate towards the making of their album (watch below).
Header photo by TGTF Editor-in-Chief Mary Chang at Edinburgh Potterrow, October 2014
Fatherson are Scottish, and they’re not afraid to show it. Singer Ross Leighton has a beautiful, broad Scots twang which, along with the chunky four-piece instrumentation, immediately gives the music a personality: a windswept, weatherbeaten one, evocative of grand vistas of freshwater and granite, flavoured with the tang of freshly-trampled heather. Nowhere is this effect more apparent than on ‘Hometown’, from debut LP ‘I Am An Island’. Check out the “we have it all figured out” refrain for ample proof.
Fatherson deliver a more straight-ahead guitar rock experience than their Celtic peers such as Admiral Fallow; while their music falls broadly into the vast folk-rock canon, there’s a great deal more rock than folk here. Which is not to say that they lack subtlety – their aforementioned ability to conjure up the musical equivalent of a burly kilted man throwing a tree trunk is testament to that, as are the vocal harmonies and the string arrangements that pop up unexpectedly from time to time – but they pack a punch when they really put their minds to it. Which is to say, most of the time. Imagine Travis with overdriven guitars, or perhaps Foo Fighters if Dave Grohl was from a Kilmarnock council estate, and you’re not far off.
2014 was the year that Fatherson moved into the big league. A UK and European tour, a spot in the King Tut’s tent at T in the Park, support from Zane Lowe: all points to a band gaining momentum. Appropriately, then, that they should be looking forward to a SXSW 2015 slot in March. Their sole celebratory homecoming show post-Austin is at the Head of Steam in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which will surely turn out to be one of those “see-them-just-before-they’re-massive” shows that the HoS is so good at. I’ll see you there.
Header photo by TGTF Head Photographer Martin Sharman at Live at Leeds 2014
With the success ginger-haired maestro Ed Sheeran has seen over the last year in the States, coupled with the rise to prominence of the next in a long-list of warbly voiced singer/songwriters like George Ezra, I can only see the now London-based Coasts career going in one direction. The band sound and look like they’ve been genetically engineered to be an A&R rep’s wet dream. The lead singer’s voice has the same inherent likeability which has seen Ezra and Sheeran do so well in the last year. Whilst the tunes wouldn’t sound out of place in a club, in a bar or on Radio 1 or 6Music, they’re intrinsically mass-marketable. And I’ve struggled to find what *not* to like about the four-piece.
OK, I’m jealous seeing as they’re destined to be incredibly successful and they’re four good-looking lads who say they spent most of their time whilst recording sessions playing Call of Duty and FIFA. I mean, their music is sounds effortless, so you can probably believe that they are dossing off on video games. But still, the melodies on ‘Wallow’ are reminiscent of the kind of multi-million selling grooves which Coldplay did quite well off of on 2011’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’. ‘Oceans’ has a chorus which demands to be remembered and a beat which refuses to be anything but toe-tappingly brilliant.
They’ve already got a pretty substantial following on social media, with more than 30,000 Facebook likes and almost 45,000 followers on Twitter, so it’s safe to say these guys are no secret. In fact with around many dates in the States announced for this year already, some of them already selling out, Coasts are going to no doubt be hot property at SXSW, with every big label, blog, Web site and agency running after tickets to their appearances.
This four-piece are sure to be one of the breakout hit bands of 2015. If their live performances can live up to what they’ve laid down digitally, then I’m positive we’ll not be able to turn a radio on for half an hour without getting blasted with Coasts.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
The UK music scene is littered with bands and artists chipping away at the coalface of rock, essentially unwavering at the kind of music they believe is their strength, putting in the hard work of songwriting and gigging. While this approach does eventually pay off for some, it seems for most fledging bands, they’ll not had the luck to be discovered by an A&R bod who just happens to stumble into the pub where they’ve set up to play for the evening. So they continue on as they were. Yet every now and again, you hear a success story in which an artist realised he was going about it all wrong, was able to switch gears and head in an entirely different direction that ultimately paid off.
William Doyle, who now goes by the stage name East India Youth, has such a tale that led to his debut album ‘Total Strife Forever’ to be nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize. There can’t be much higher praise for a release I have to assume is a friendly poke at Foals‘ similarly titled LP ‘Total Life Forever’, which was also up for a Mercury gong 4 years prior. But the Bournemouth artist’s career in music didn’t start with the electronic music he’s now known for. Doyle previously fronted Doyle and the Fourfathers, a Smiths-esque indie band from Southampton who were championed early on by BBC 6music presenter Marc Riley.
Though the band seemed poised on the edge of breaking into the mainstream, Doyle himself found himself disillusioned by the touring and “playing with hundreds of Oasis-y, laddy, pubby rock bands”. Somewhere along the way, electronica and ambient sounds proved to be Doyle’s saviour, and Doyle re-emerged under the moniker East India Youth, christened after the East India Docks area in east London where he laid his head during his songwriting days for ‘Total Strife Forever’. It was John Doran, founder of The Quietus, who decided to take a chance on Doyle’s new venture, releasing his ‘Hostel’ EP as the Quietus Phonographic Corporation’s first ever issue.
Judging from the kind of attention East India Youth has garnered since the Mercury nom of Doyle’s debut album with the project, Doran had incredible foresight. From the iciness of opening instrumental track ‘Glitter Recession’ to the remarkably soothing vocals of LP standout ‘Heaven, How Long’, from the dancey abandonment of ‘Dripping Down’ and the freneticism of ‘Hinterland’ to the unearthly, quasi-religious tones of ‘Songs for a Granular Piano’, ‘Total Strife Forever’ is a richly textured effort. How Doyle will pull off the many facets of his acclaimed debut in Austin in March at SXSW 2015 remains to be seen but I, for one, am quite interested to see how he’s received.
Toronto alt-pop quintet Alvvays are beginning 2015 as they ended 2014, with a flurry of activity. Their self-titled debut album was released last July and has been lauded as one of the best releases of the year by the likes of NME, the Evening Standard and Drowned in Sound.
The band spent the early part of last autumn touring in Canada and America, then hopped the pond to play in the UK and Europe with Real Estate and Foxygen before wrapping up 2014 with another round of headline dates in North America. Picking up precisely where they left off, Alvvays will open the new year with a full UK tour later this month, followed by European live dates in February and an appearance at SXSW 2015 in March before a spring tour of North America with Colin Meloy and The Decemberists.
Fans of indie pop bands like Belle and Sebastian or Teenage Fanclub will find sonic kindred spirits in Alvvays. The band’s lightly trippy, mildly ironic musicality consists of mid-tempo rhythms and melodic instrumental lines deftly woven into vocal lines that are slightly aloof and removed from the proceedings, both in their lyrics and their restrained dynamic affect. Hints of synthesized keyboards flitter about, keeping a sense of lightness over the full warmth of the bass. Lead singer Molly Rankin’s voice isn’t particularly distinctive except for its consistently pleasant tone, which never falls prey to the strange affectations that many female singers succumb to. Her vocal temperament and the muted production of the vocal effects are a perfect match to the deliberate emotional detachment in her lyrics; for example, the lines “so honey take me by the hand and we can sign some papers / forget the invitations floral arrangements and bread makers” in ‘Archie, Marry Me’.
While Alvvays’ sound seems almost suffocatingly homogenous at first, closer listening reveals subtle degrees of variety. ‘Adult Diversion’, the opening track on the ‘Alvvays’ LP, opens with punchy percussion and a blatantly hooky guitar intro that melts into a muted, understated vocal line. The aforementioned ‘Archie, Marry Me’ and current single ‘Next of Kin’ are upbeat and optimistic, while mid-album tracks ‘Party Police’, ‘The Agency Group’ and ‘Dives’ display a darker, hazier mood. The oddly titled ‘Atop a Cake’ is purely catchy twee pop, sharply constrasted by the starry hypnoticism of final track ‘Red Planet’.
Alvvays’ appearance at SXSW 2014 was a promising introduction for the Canadian quintet, and it proved to be the beginning of wildly successful year for a band whose star is clearly on the rise. The bar of expectation will undoubtedly be raised for their showing in Austin later this year, perhaps giving them an opportunity to expand upon the current limits of their style.
Brolin describes himself on his Soundcloud page as “a bedroom producer, self-taught, self-analysing, into beats, space and melody”, though his music abilities also stretch to vocals, songwriting and remixing. The London-based artist has gathered a large online fanbase and has built up a strong reputation for his formidable live shows, despite choosing to keep his identity concealed with a mask (so that people focus on his music, supposedly).
Further adding to Brolin’s mysterious nature was the accompanying music video for his debut single ‘NYC’, which displayed vintage clips of the Big Apple. Released in October 2012, the track received airplay from Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1, as well as 6Music and XFM. Almost a year later, Brolin launched the ‘Cundo’ EP. ‘Reykjavik’, the lead single from the extended play, was co-produced with electronic artist Luke Abbott and producer David Pye (whose credits include Dido, Faithless and Wild Beasts). This was closely followed by the release of the ‘Portland’ EP a few months later, to coincide with Brolin supporting electronic producer Gold Panda on his UK tour.
Brolin continued to put out new music in 2014 with the launch of his ‘Flags’ and ‘Swim Deep’ extended plays. The lead singles from each of the EPs is expected to feature on his debut album, which is currently pencilled in for a 2015 release. The year also saw Brolin collaborating with a number of UK underground stars, including FTSE, Raffertie and South London Ordnance, as well as producing remixes for the likes of Chloe Howl and Lulu James.
Watch this space as 2015 looks set to be a big year for Brolin. The masked artist is set to release his debut album and is also lined up for a number of festival appearances, which includes a set at SXSW 2015 in Austin, Texas, in the middle of March. For a free mixtape from the man, visit his Bandcamp.