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(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #402: The RPMs

 
By on Tuesday, 20th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Another year, another chance for us music journos to guess who will be the next great British guitar band. Following SXSW 2016 alums The Sherlocks’ ill-advised Y Not poster Photoshopping stunt, the field is again wide open. Brighton band The RPMs are the latest hopefuls to get the nod from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins, Steve Lamacq, and Tom Robinson, as well as Radio X’s John Kennedy. They’re signed to Xtra Mile Recordings, also home to Frank Turner (making his umpteenth appearance in Austin next month) and Skinny Lister. They’ve also already been announced for Live at Leeds, Liverpool Sound City and Stockton Calling, just the beginning to what I would expect to be a pretty full calendar for 2018 for the group. Along with fellow Brighton band Yonaka who are also making their way to Austin, The RPMs are part of a growing scene by the sea on England’s south coast, proving you don’t have to decamp to London to be noticed.

Like many other young bands who skirt the line between pop and rock, their coming of age in this increasingly puzzling and disenchanting world we live in figures prominently in their music. Their 2016 EP ‘Digital Disobedience’ includes the foot-stomper ‘I Think It’s Stupid, But I Think It’s Love’ and ‘I Wanna Work at Abercrombie and Fitch’, continuing the strange trend of non-Americans wanting to be connected to something obviously American. 2017 EP ‘Agents of Change’ showed the group veering from pop into a more mainstream rock sound. ‘Oh My God’ sports an almost country rhythm, while ‘Help Me Start the Day’ has a more feel good rock-by-the-numbers kind of vibe.

The RPMs’ upcoming single is conveniently scheduled to drop the Friday we’re all in Austin, on the 16th of March. ‘Your Ghost’ has more in common with a song from the Killers: its synthesiser notes and slick production make the band sound like veterans, not newbies on the British music scene. The RPMs say their biggest influence is Liverpool’s The La’s, citing ‘There She Goes’ as the song they wish they’d written, and they’ve already been compared to British alt-rock royalty Arctic Monkeys. The reality of their music is somewhere in between: pop, all shiny and new for the young Radio 1 crowd, but with enough rock band potential that could spell mainstream success. I’ll be curious to see the reaction from Austin audiences to this latest rock band entry from England.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, The RPMs’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #400: The Homesick

 
By on Wednesday, 14th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

I’m a suburban kid whose way of life has been less tied to what was going on in the big city a half an hour away (Washington, DC) than doing my own thing and being successful at it. There’s a special sense of pride when you can do it on your own. So it’s terrible inspiring to hear about a band coming from a tiny town none of us have ever heard of, whose music is strong enough to get noticed far outside of their little bubble. While the capital of Amsterdam is famous for its canals and pot-friendly culture, it’s a world away from Friesland in the north of the country, where agriculture is king. It was in the fortified town of Dokkum in this Dutch province where The Homesick were hatched.

Far away from the influence of any other scene, the alt-rock trio of Elias, Jaap and Erik have been free to craft their own sound and go their own way in the world of Dutch rock music. Their 2013 debut EP, the irreverently titled ‘Twst Yr Wrsts’, featured the surf rock-y ‘Boys’ and a song extolling the virtues of listening to Johnny Cash on a Friday night. Last year’s ‘Youth Hunt’, the Homesick’s debut album out now on Subroutine Records, is littered with catchy, yet oddly beguiling tunes bashed out on guitar and drums in a family garage. This is a sound powered by youthful exuberance, yes, but leave your misconceptions that age and talent are somehow connected at the door. There is nothing pedantic about their music.

The driving rhythm and unapologetic reverb of ‘The Best Thing About Being Young is Falling in Love With Jesus’ is a mesmerising blend of the kind of music the lads say they bonded over: Joy Division and shoegaze. If you’re wondering what’s up with The Homesick’s preoccupation with religion here and in single ‘St. Boniface’, the ancient area known as Frisia and its then-pagan people were repeatedly a target for conversion to Christianity by the Anglo-Saxon missionary. In the latter, the nod to their literal origins (and the pilgrims that find their way to Dokkum, for that matter) reminds us of where they come from (sweet, no?), while its punctuated beats and shouts rise above the haze of echoey guitars. ‘Gucci Gucci’ is even more fun, the bounce of the guitar notes sounding more at home on the Malibu coast than Friesland’s.

The Homesick have a command of what makes for a memorable pop song. But the young Dutch group are able to use this within the confines of a rock song, confines they’ve set to be relaxed enough to let them experiment with time signatures and tempo. They sound vaguely like bands you know and love, but they’ve have turned the familiar enough on its head to be fresh and interesting.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, The Homesick’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #399: Holy Motors

 
By on Monday, 12th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

There was a bit in the news last week that the Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was physically up in Germany. I was thinking about this in the context of today’s featured band headed to Austin next month. Holy Motors are from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, a country that until 1991 was part of the Soviet Bloc. Although Estonia is one of the fastest financially growing countries in the EU, I imagine its relatively isolated location makes it difficult to put together a band, let alone a band who works well together and plays well together.

And yet, according to Holy Motors, that’s exactly what happened, and to our good fortune. The bedrock of the five-piece’s rock sound is the combined contribution of their three guitarists, lending a psychedelic, shoegaze-y air to their music. Most times droney, but at other moments more animated with the addition of synthesiser, Holy Motors’ sound is always atmospheric, ghostly. Adding to that overall feeling are the vocals of Eliann Tulve, her style of delivery more of an intonation than what can be called truly melodic.

This past Friday, the group released their debut album ‘Slow Sundown’, its title seeming all too eerily appropriate. The proceedings begin with ‘Honeymooning’, their first single. The song is ushered in by a gentle, languid guitar melody that’s like placing you in the loneliest of prairies seen in American cowboy Western cinema. On the more upbeat single ‘Sleeprydr’, the repetitive vibrations of synthesiser give the song a hypnotic quality, lulling the listener into a feeling of zen. It’s also interesting to note that the album was produced by Tampa rockers Merchandise’s frontman Carson Cox, who they serendipitously met at music festival years ago and later reached out to offer to produce their first single. The rest, as they say, is history.

Like a quieter young brother to The Twilight Sad, Holy Motors’ music is the melancholic contemplative soundtrack to your savouring of a dram of whisky in the dark, in your bedroom, all alone. Before the inevitable mad rush that comes with massive hype off the back of SXSW, I recommend you snag ‘Slow Sundown’ for yourself from Greenpoint, Brooklyn indie label Wharf Cat Records now.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Holy Motors’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #398: Chloe Foy

 
By on Wednesday, 7th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Dan Wiebe

As stated in her SXSW 2018 bio, Gloucestershire singer/songwriter Chloe Foy takes a page from the books of such peers as Laura Marling and Sharon van Etten in creating folk-pop songs with a distinct classical sensibility. Foy’s music is deftly melodic, with subtle textural undertones and complex harmonic variations under brittle yet agile vocals and elusively evocative lyrics. Her style is so completely unassuming that it might not attract attention on the first pass, but there is an earnest quality to her singing and a refined touch to her musicianship that come as a pleasant surprise to a patient listener.

‘Are We There Yet’, which is featured on Foy’s official Web site, was released last spring on her EP of the same title. Its graceful piano melody provides a lilting rhythmic motion under Foy’s floating vocal lines, “if you could stop loving this, I’ll forgive you all of this risk”. The electric guitar motif adds sonic texture to an otherwise straightforward arrangement, while layered vocal lines create both harmonic interest and dramatic tension.

Recent single release ‘Flaws’, from the same EP, is similarly delicate and gauzy, yet somehow earthy at the same time. Opening with muted bells and a gently plucked acoustic guitar, the song swells into a fuller instrumental sound as it progresses, with drums, brass and strings underscoring Foy’s gentle vocal refrain, “I know something you don’t know . . .”

Foy’s 2013 single ‘In the Middle of the Night’ hints even more strongly at an organic folk style, with guitar, plucked violin, and mixed percussion prominent in the instrumental milieu. The tempo throughout is upbeat and almost dance-like, and the addition of typical pop instrumentation (drums, guitar, and keyboard) adds a bright tone color to the end of the song. The song’s precipitously changing character is perhaps a metaphor for Foy’s own artistic evolution, as she observes in its lyrics: “I am a law unto myself, too many faces to dispel.”

Chloe Foy is still in the process of raising funds to finance her trip to America for SXSW. If you’re interested in helping her out, you can find her PledgeMusic campaign here. We hope to catch her live in Austin in March, but as with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, her appearance is subject to change. We suggest that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #397: Allman Brown

 
By on Monday, 5th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Jodie Canwell

London singer/songwriter Allman Brown excels at at the age-old craft of writing and performing unabashedly romantic love songs. Categorised by SXSW as folk/indie pop, his songs range from acoustic ballads to atmospheric neo-folk, but the thematic material remains constant. ‘Sweetest Thing’, the track highlighted in Brown’s SXSW 2018 bio, falls into the former category and has already garnered over 17 million plays on Spotify.

‘Sweetest Thing’ features prominently on Brown’s debut album ‘1000 Years’, which was released last year. Several collaborative tracks appear on that LP, not the least of which is the striking duet ‘Sons and Daughters’. Here, Brown is joined by Liz Lawrence, who aside from her own solo work has also worked with Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club. ‘Sons and Daughters’ was originally the title track to Brown’s debut 2013 EP, but it’s certainly strong enough to warrant inclusion on the long player, even 4 years after its original release.

Brown also experiments with rock and electro-flavoured instrumentation, leaning more toward the pop end of the folk/indie pop continuum. ‘Last Dance’ takes a decidedly rock-oriented turn, with heavy drums and electric guitars behind hazy vocals in its verses and a visceral chorus that opens with the evocative lyric “when we dance, dance, dance / with your arms around my shoulders / it’s all I ever wanted, now I know.” His latest stand-alone single ‘Bury My Heart’ layers his light, evenly modulated vocals over a subtly electronic backing. The song is set to appear on a new EP due out on the 16th of March, conveniently coinciding with his appearance at SXSW.

Brown reminds me a bit of a very young Ed Sheeran before Sheeran abandoned this kind of authentic, soulful pop-tinged balladry for the bland production-by-committee approach he now favours. Coincidentally, one of the songs on Brown’s ‘1000 Years’ is called ‘Shape of You’, though it’s a very different creature to Sheeran’s radio hit of the same name. That being said, Brown could easily become a star of Ed Sheeran proportions, depending on the path he chooses to take. Allman Brown is one to watch in Austin certainly, and for the remainder of 2018.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, this act’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #401: Febueder

 
By on Monday, 29th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Name any major population centre in Great Britain, and names of famous artists from the place roll of your tongue. Manchester. London. Bristol. Sheffield. Glasgow. There are so many more. The heritage of successful artists leads to the support system and the infrastructure that will foster the acts of tomorrow. Fans’ memory of artists past from a city can hurt up-and-coming acts, too. Febueder won’t have to worry about either. The duo are from Ascot, most famous for its racecourse and that famous week in June where the well-to-do turn up in their finery and watch their favourite ponies run.

Nothing could be further from watching racehorses than the music Kieran Godfrey and Samuel Keysell make. Well, unless equine champions happen to like r&b. Febueder are yet another entry into the most recent crop of English, blue-eyed soul acts. However, unlike similar-sounding artists like Tender, Honne and others who we’ve featured here on TGTF, electronics are not a cornerstone of their sound. They’ve been knocking around for the last few years, flying so far under the radar I’d never heard of them until I came across their name on the third SXSW 2018 shout list released earlier this month. Earliest EP ‘Soap Carve’, a product of Febeuder when they were still a trio in 2013, featured the experimental, alt-J-sounding single ‘Alligator’, on which the percussion and vocals fought for supremacy.

Fast forward to 2017, when as a duo they released ‘Morning Yawn’, a single from their most recent EP ‘From an Album’. Whatever they have done in the last 4 years, it’s translated to a more focused vision for their music. There’s a catchy groove underlying these tracks. Does ‘Stilts’ and its driving dance beat the best representation of Febueder? Or is it ‘Hence Worth’, where Godfrey’s voice exudes both yearning and confidence and you’re driven to move to the music with a slow, smooth undulation? I’m honestly curious how well this comes together live, and we’ll get that chance at SXSW 2018 in March.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, this act’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 
 
 

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. 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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