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Bands to Watch #247: Young Kato

 
By on Friday, 1st June 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

There is a far too much maligned type of band in the music business: the boyband. Having been a massive fan of the late ’90s boyband scene (Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, 5ive, most of the lot), I have a fondness for this genre most likely not shared by my blogging contemporaries. While boybands won’t win any music awards except in popularity polls, what they do – and what they do very well is sing well and present incredibly catchy songs in an attractive package – shouldn’t be minimised or belittled. You might not like One Direction, but (don’t groan) they’re already starting to gain traction in America, as are the Wanted, who had their first headline North American tour last winter. Love ‘em or leave ‘em, boybands are here to stay, so you might as well stop whinging and get used to it.

The latest? We’ve heard about a new band from Cheltenham who’s been signed by well thought of Manchester indie label LAB Records. Called Young Kato, they’re six boys, boys being the operative word here: the collective average age of the band is 18. They’re making a big splash this weekend.. Tomorrow they will play their biggest gig yet with another teenage idol you’ve certainly heard of, Pixie Lott, at the Bristol Diamond Jubilee Concert at Cribbs Causeway. And then on Sunday (3rd of June) they will release the single ‘Drink, Dance, Play’.

I know what you’re going to say. That title sounds awfully trite. Then watch the video below. A gentle synth intro leads into a rather suburban scene. They’re drinking coffee (or perhaps tea?) out of little cups, not pints. Good on them for not glamourising drinking; after all, don’t forget who their core audience will probably be. A woman in dress clothes dances with reckless abandon; there’s something very freeing about that. There’s also brief scenes of a scantily clad couple snogging – let’s face it, sex sells – but it’s not for long, so it can get by the censors. Verdict: pretty good. And get used to it, because you’ll be hearing it on the radio soon enough.

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But what actually turned me on to this band initially was going through my feed on Soundcloud and finding their track ‘When Lights Go Out’, which I think is actually catchier and less boyband-ish than the single. If you’re still reading this post, you have got to have a listen to this song too. (And ooh, it’s even a free download.) Remember what I said about boybands and not dissing them because their songs are insanely catchy? I can’t stop playing it. While I’m not agreeing with their press release stating this is “an amazing, punchy track likened to the pop offspring of Friendly Fires and Morrissey” – they sound like neither, though you could argue the wide-eyed wonderment of their singer sounds awfully like early Two Door Cinema Club – this track is likeable, fresh and fun enough that they could be the next hit of this festival season.

Definitely one to watch. With their debut EP out on the 23rd of July and produced by Gordon Mills, Jr. (Placebo, Ed Sheeran), you can expect quality product. Good luck, lads.

Saturday 2nd June 2012 – Bristol Cribbs Causeway (Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Festival)
Wednesday 20th July 2012 – Cheltenham 2 Pigs
Thursday 21st July 2012 – Gloucester Park Festival
Thursday 26th July 2012 – Birmingham Rainbow
Friday 27th July 2012 – Bristol Thekla

 

(Liverpool Sound City 2012 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #246: Golden Fable

 
By on Wednesday, 16th May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Golden Fable is the side project of Tim McIver and Becca Palin, otherwise known as cult act Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam. Got that? Tim and Sam are known for their gentle instrumental pieces and produced a well-reviewed album in 2010’s ‘Life Stream’, but mid-2011 they decided a new style and name was in order, and Golden Fable was born.

Maintaining the delicate instrumentation, but adding more loops and proper lyrics to their material made the name change worthwhile. First single ‘The Chill Pt. 2’ is a fragile, delicate thing, building with mellotron flutes to a dispersed vocal peak. New release ‘Always Golden’ (video below) has a more conventional song structure, with Becca’s keening, ethereal vocals the main hook, as gentle drums, strings, and sundry electronic clicks add depth and detail. Not afraid to include found sounds such as birdsong and running water, the sound is as clear and refreshing as a Welsh mountain stream.

See Golden Fable play Liverpool Sound City on Saturday (the 19th of May) at the Bombed Out Church at 19.00; they just appeared at the Great Escape last weekend. They will also make an appearance at London’s Oh Inverted World club night at the Old Queens Head on the 24th of May (this is a free gig) and Standon Calling the first weekend of August.

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Bands to Watch #245: 2:54

 
By on Tuesday, 15th May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

2:54 have already made 2012 theirs with an acclaimed showing at this year’s SXSW and supporting role on the Big Pink’s February UK tour. Their eponymous debut LP is set to be thrust in to the ether on the 28th of May and was produced by the legendary Alan Moulder of Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails fame). Also, they’ve somehow managed to shoehorn in a European tour, with a brief return for the UK festival season. The Bristolian sisters have laid out a smorgasbord of live tantalisers in anticipation of the release of lead single ‘Creeping’ on the 18th of June, supporting the xx at their comeback gig tonight, followed by their biggest show yet at London Scala with Gross Magic and Echo Lake on the 7th of June.

Originally from the green shores of Ireland, siblings Hannah and Collette (separated by 2 years of existence and little else) did as many sisters do and ended up sharing both tastes and possessions. Luckily for the discerning music lover, their tastes were weighty and abrasive grunge and their possessions were a pair of beaten guitars.

Their curious moniker is derived from their love of the Melvins, specifically the point in ‘A History of Bad Men’ (from their 2006 release ‘[A)] Senile Animal’) where the girls describe the bass as “doomy and dreamy”. It follows that they cite their most potent influences among the ‘Riot grrrl’ movement with bands like Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and Huggy Bear. In reality their sound is closer to the shoegazing, adolescent angst of early Queens of the Stone Age, Bad Brains, The Melvins (of course) as well as recent tour compatriots Warpaint and Effi Briest.

The minimalist grunge of the title track from their debut single ‘Creeping’ has an air of Horrors latest release ‘Skying’, made viscous by the powerful fuzz of the guitars, a Joy Division bass line and slight incoherence of the lyrics. The imagery is that of a Vivienne Westwood style interpretation of urban decay, as it builds through a walking bassline, up to a satisfying crescendo given air by the tone of the guitar solo.

Accompanying track ‘The March’ has a fluidity to the guitar that reverberates cavernously, and while the vocals are again muffled (by this time you get tempted to search NHS Direct to check for the effects of tinnitus) you can make out a melody that wouldn’t be out of place in 90s dance music. You can only assume that this powerfully minimalist formula of a stock core rhythm dressed up in differing shades will form the basis to the entire first album. The formula has already proved ample enough to persuade Zane Lowe to give them air time on his Radio1 show; Huw Stephens has done the same but saw fit to dedicate the entirety of his to 2:54 on May 10th. So, if this response is anything to go by, then there may be a fair few more people ready to rave about this refreshingly original partnership come album release day.

2:54 play Chats Palace with the xx tonight, with an album preview show at Rough Trade on the 31st of May and Scala (all London shows) on the 7th of June. Their eponymous debut will be released the 28th of May while their lead single ‘Creeping’ will be released the 18th of June on Fiction.

 

Bands to Watch #244: Wildeflower

 
By on Monday, 14th May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

I’m not sure what’s in the water lately, but there’s definitely an increase of ‘60s-influenced bands. Just this week I had the pleasure of reviewing Weird Sounds’ debut album, ‘Choreography,’ which could pass as a lost Beach Boys album; now we’ve been introduced to Surrey six-piece who have obviously been dusting off their Beatles records.

Led by frontman Max Kinghorn-Mills, Wildeflower are releasing their debut single today via a new UK label Stella Mortos. Entitled ‘Good Girl’, the song is rife with Beatles-esque three-part harmonies that makes for perfect listening on a spring morning.

If I had to compare them to a band of recent time then the pianos and vocals are extremely similar to some of the slower Grizzly Bear tracks. Think close to ‘Ready, Able’ from their 2009 album ‘Veckatimest’.

Wildeflower may spend their time recording in bedrooms and in the countryside, (‘Good Girl’ ends with some beautiful rain sounds), but the band are performing live at the Fire Station in Windsor to celebrate their single release; an acoustic show that looks to be well worth the ticket price.

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Wildeflower’s single ‘Good Girl’ is out today (14 May) and is available in extremely limited edition (limited to 250 copies) 7″ vinyl.

 

(Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City 2012 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #243: Django Django

 
By on Wednesday, 9th May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

You’re probably wondering why it’s taken us so long to cover Django Django officially. I already had an inkling they were going to be a big deal after their self-titled debut album came out at the end of January, following on the strength of the very poppy and very infectious ‘Default’. However, it wasn’t until I caught them at the Vic Galloway-curated SMIA night at Easy Tiger Patio on the Wednesday of this year’s SXSW that I felt had a better informed opinion of the band. Now that I have that, I feel comfortable talking about them with some level of authority. That and I figured it wasn’t worth fighting with everyone else over the last 3 months, every other outlet that was anointing them just solely based on ‘Default’ that they were the best thing since sliced bread. So here goes…

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The basics: they met at art college in Edinburgh but didn’t actually get together until later, and in London; they’re not named after Django Reinhardt but ‘Son of Django’, a rave record that caught the attention of singer Vincent Neff, who turned his back on a probably lucrative and successful architecture career; Neff is from Northern Ireland (Templegrove, Derry to be exact), a tidbit gleaned out of an interview he did with RTE 2fm’s Jenny Huston at SXSW; ginger drummer David Maclean acts as their producer. Got all that?

I’d now like to dispel the ‘psychedelic’ label. While there’s a definite detached air of cool pervading their music, I think ‘psychedelic’ is a too simple genre for Django Django. The psychedelic age back in the ’60s is probably best remembered for stoned hippies, smelling of hash and going round with their flower power, and the music of the times, which seemed to be made by slightly better looking, better dressed musicians who were also under the influence. What seems to be forgotten is that even with the drug haze that hung in the air, there were some really lovely harmonies that came out of the period, typified best by bands like the Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, and later on the Eagles. The harmonies on ‘Django Django’ make this album transcend any other pop album; there’s a richness just on the vocals alone that have few real competitors in the music market today.

But it’s not just the harmonies that shine on this fine debut. The music, which is rhythmic and wholly engaging at times, mesmerising and beguiling at others, sometimes fights with the vocals for centre stage on this album. In other cases, I’d say this is not a good situation of the two halves of a song being at odds with each other. But instead, Django Django plays the lyrics off the music and vice versa, creating a mini-world with each song. Take for example, ‘Storm’ (video below), their latest single that was on this past Monday. Yes, it’s psychedelic looking with its bright colours and unfocused images, but forget that for a moment.

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Listen to the beginning rhythms right from the start. Hypnotising. There’s a verse that goes “you are made / of complex sums / I’m counting all my fingers now I’m down to my thumbs” – it’s witty in the droll funny way Morrissey did it with the Smiths, but Django Django have the benefit of an even more earworm-y melody. ‘Waveforms’ follows a similar rhythmic path, though the vocals lift off from the ground to reach the heavens, with admittedly a trippy lyric of “and you wanna know why / all the rivers run dry / when I see you again / I see the look in your eyes…”, before heading back into percussion land, bouncing in such a way you’d have to be dead not to bop your head around and chair dance. Incredible, memorable pop. Good stuff.

What I hope you take from this piece that Django Django is far, far more than just ‘Default’. You’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you didn’t check our their debut album, which is guaranteed to be an album everyone will be talking about in years in come, as well as appearing on top albums of 2012 lists. They’re not just psychedelic. They’re timeless.

Catch Django Django at the Great Escape on Thursday 10 May at the Pavilion Theatre at 23.45 and Friday 11 May at 22.15 at Blind Tiger as part of the Fly Magazine showcase. They will also appear at the Red Bull Studios Live at the Garage at Liverpool Sound City on Thursday 17 May at 23.30.

 

Bands to Watch #242: The So-So Sailors

 
By on Thursday, 3rd May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

For some reason, I have a soft-spot for Omaha, NE. Home of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and the college baseball’s World Series, Omaha is pretty much dead center of the United States and is not the easiest place to get to – or leave, I imagine.

But what is seeping out at the moment is the wind-whipped Midwestern sounds of the So So Sailors. Focusing on bright, piano-driven pop melodies, they evoke a laid back, happy mood that can easily accompany your afternoon gin and tonic. Headed up by Chris Machmuller on vocals and piano, and rounded out by Dan McCarthy (Wurlitzer), Alex McManus (guitar), Brendan Greene-Walsh (bass) and Dan Kemp (drums), the So-So Sailor Sailors are still shopping for a label in America, but No Dancing Records snapped them up for an Ireland/UK release on 10 June. Their six-song EP ‘Young Hearts’ features the free track ‘Des Moines’, which you can listen to and download for your very own from, the widget below.

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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