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(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #383: Autobahn

 
By on Tuesday, 8th March 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Autobahn are a spirited post-punk five-piece from Leeds. They will be taking their brand of haunting melancholy from the post-industrial North to SXSW 2016 in Austin next week. Fronted by Craig Johnson on vocals, with guitarists Gavin Cobb, Michael Pedel, bassist Daniel Sleight (bass) and Liam Hilton on drums, the band released their debut LP ‘Dissemble’ back in August 2015 on Tough Love Records. They kicked off this year with a winter tour across Europe, which wrapped up in February.

If you haven’t heard of the band before, don’t let the name ‘Autobahn’ fool you into thinking they have anything to do with the German highway system or the famous fourth studio album by the electronic band Kraftwerk. The band, who have been together since 2013, have created a confident and ballsy debut LP that positively oozes a raw, feral and unforgiving attitude. There is a dark intensity to ‘Dissemble’ that demands to be paid attention to.

It’s the dark intensity that draws comparisons between the band with the likes of Joy Division and the Chameleons. Like Ian Curtis and Mark Burgess before him, Autobahn lead singer Johnson has an intense depth to his vocals that border on gloomy. Similar also musically, a number of Autobahn’s tracks, such a ‘Society’ and ‘Beautiful Place to Die’, open with the biting bass or guitar sounds reminiscent of those in Joy Division and Chameleons songs.

‘Dissemble’ is a powerhouse of an album, bursting with confidence and atmosphere. When listening to the album, it’s easy to believe that you’ve somehow managed to tune into a radio station that has tapped into a frequency sent directly from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. It was recorded in a disused church over a 6-week period, and it’s almost as though the desolate and eerie gloom of such a setting has seeped into the fabric of the record.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D7XJ5HXXQs[/youtube]

‘Society’, Autobahn’s most played track on Spotify, is a stand-out favourite from the album, from the jarring bass guitar introducing the track, to the dense drawl of Johnson’s vocals. The song builds into a solid track that pulsates with the energy of controlled chaos. The lyrics, whilst not wholly decipherable, challenge the warped version of reality that is imagined throughout the LP. ‘Immaterial Man’ is another standout, and like ‘Society’, opens with a firm and ominous bass line. The trippy bass continues throughout, layered over with intense drumbeats and resonant guitars, with Johnson’s melancholy voice moving through the song. They’ve started out their career with such a fearless and intense record that it’s going to be exciting to see where they go next.

Autobahn are set to appear at SXSW 2016 in Austin, as well as the London Calling Festival in Amsterdam, both in March.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #382: The Sherlocks

 
By on Tuesday, 1st March 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

The Sherlocks are an alt-indie fourpiece from Sheffield comprising two sets of brothers. They boast over 500 gigs under their belts: impressive, particularly when considering that they are yet to sign to a record label. The band have released a couple of new singles over the past few months: ‘Heart of Gold’ was released in October 2015, and ‘Last Night’ was released in January.

I remember people talking about The Sherlocks during my breaks from uni, when I would visit my hometown just outside of Sheffield. I still see references to the band popping up on my Facebook feed. Just last week an old school friend checked into a gig at The Duchess in York headlined by The Sherlocks as part of their UK tour. They’re often spoken about in the same sentence as Millburn or Arctic Monkeys; it’s inevitable, of course, considering all three acts have spawned from Sheffield’s lively music scene. There’s a sense of ownership over these bands in the way that people from Sheffield and the surrounding areas speak, the stars of the indie and alternative music scene are the local treasures and heroes.

Impressively, this is a band whose success has come off of the back of the hard-work put into the hundreds of live shows that they have done over the past few years and the loyal wave of followers that has swept them along as a result, rather than through publicists or record labels. But the hype has spread beyond Yorkshire, and the band has recently played sold out shows in Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham amongst others.

They’ve been together since 2010, and in that time have amassed an impressive collection of live performances, including supporting The Enemy at some gigs on their 2014 tour, and supported The Libertines at some shows on their tour earlier this year. They’ve developed a sound that is both evocative of their various influences, from The Jam to the Arctic Monkeys, while also distinctly original. ‘Live for the Moment’, their debut single, peaked in the Official UK Singles Chart at number 91, shortly followed by their second single ‘Escapade’, which reached number 45.

‘Heart of Gold’ is a punchy indie number, with an addictive hook and catchy chorus. Prepare to feel the urge to dance around the room when hearing it for the first time. It’s a continuation of their earlier singles, but with a slight lean towards a more indie pop sound, similar to the Pigeon Detectives. The jingle of the opening guitar rhythm, the jump of drums and lead singer Kiaran Crook’s brash yet smooth vocals breaking into the track set up the heartfelt number. The lyrics are also great, evoking Alex Turner’s style of writing about the everyday. “When you’re sat on your own at home crying / why couldn’t we have tried?”: you just know that this kind of lyric wouldn’t sound the same without a ballsy Northern accent.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv7-1eJGrFE[/youtube]

Their latest single ‘Last Night’, whilst belonging to the same vein, feels different from their other stuff. There is a confidence to it that is evident in the marching drum beat and static guitar sounds that introduce the track, before the guitar bursts into a crisp, melodic riff. The lyrics, like ‘Heart of Gold’, tell a common story that many will be able to relate to the morning after a night of drinking. There are bold moments in the track, from the distorted warbling at the end, to the tinny megaphone-like echoes of Crooks’ voice throughout, and the overall feel of the song has a fantastic feel to it, like the band have really found their footing.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4GW14_Sodk[/youtube]

The Sherlocks have plenty in store for 2016. Last summer saw the band play Reading and Leeds, and this coming summer they are already announced to be appearing at Y Not Festival in Derbyshire in addition to their visit to Austin for SXSW 2016 this month, which includes a prime spot on the BBC Introducing and PRS for Music Foundation showcase Wednesday night in Austin. They have a number of upcoming dates for 2016, including a return to the acclaimed live music venue in their hometown, Sheffield Leadmill in June, and announced this week that they will be playing The Great Escape held in Brighton this May.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #381: Declan McKenna

 
By on Monday, 22nd February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

It’s rare to have an artist heading out to SXSW 2016 who’s not only younger than our drinking age (age 21), but also below the legal adult age here (age 18). But I think this speaks more to Declan McKenna’s talent and the rarity of his outspoken art than anything else. The Hertfordshire teen won Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition last summer, beating out previous featured on TGTF band from Newcastle Shields and many other young hopefuls from around Britain. Winning the competition gave him a sweet £5,000 prize from PRS for Music Foundation, a wonderful and direct investment to his future in music. But his win also resulted in zealous courting by many UK record labels, eager to sign the talented teen. He ultimately chose to go with major Columbia Records.

This doesn’t mean, however, that’s McKenna has signed away his name and responsibilities to a major to live high on the hog. Far from it. Last year, he self-released two hard-hitting singles, ‘Brazil’ and ‘Paracetamol’, the former claiming the #1 spot for 3 straight weeks on the American SiriusXM Alt Nation station’s Alt 18 countdown. ‘Brazil’ is McKenna’s personal indictment of FIFA and professional football, citing the hypocrisy of giving the country the much desired World Cup competition money maker in 2014 while much of its local population suffered in poverty.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39r0QFD1oPM[/youtube]

Similarly, ‘Paracetamol’ – better known on American shores as acetaminophen or its trade name Tylenol – on which he collaborated with electronic favourite and one of my personal favourite people Tom Vek, tackles another hot button topic, the misrepresentation of transgender teens by the media. How many young folk do you know are stepping out to make their politically charged opinions known on a world stage, and do it well? Already drawing favourable comparisons to Jamie N Commons and Jake Bugg, there’s nothing to stop this young, precocious talent from taking off.

Declan McKenna is scheduled to perform Wednesday afternoon, the 16th of March, at the Radio Day stage in the Austin Convention Center, as well as Friday evening, the 18th of March, at Empire Control Room.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #380: David C Clements

 
By on Friday, 19th February 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Belfast alt-folk songwriter and SXSW 2016 showcasing artist David C Clements is set to release his debut album ‘The Longest Day in History’ later this week. Due out on Friday the 19th of February, the new LP has taken shape over several years of evolution, starting with an EP of the same title which was released way back in 2012.

Clements’ songs themselves have a similarly evolutionary inclination, as I first experienced with the expansive ‘Hurricane’, originally released on that early EP. The EP version of ‘Hurricane’ is truly swoon-worthy, beginning with a series of uplifting gospel-tinged verses and building to an emotional unleashing of lyrics in the coda, which ends on the prophetic line “It was the longest day in history”. ‘Hurricane’ is set to feature on the full-album version of ‘The Longest Day in History’, along with ‘I’m Still Alive’, which is the featured track in Clements’ SXSW 2016 artist profile. Like ‘Hurricane’ before it, ‘I’m Still Alive’ is anthemic and inspirational, rhythmically propulsive and dynamically spacious, sweeping to completion with a swelling final coda.

As a bit of a sneak peek into the new album, Clements released a separate EP last November titled ’My Dear Mother’. “The idea with the ‘My Dear Mother’ EP [was] to start introducing the new material without giving the game away just yet,” Clements said. “I wanted to be able to share something straight away from the album as well as some music that didn’t end up on it.” That eclectic mix of music includes the EP’s title track along with new versions of older songs “When We Go” and “On the Border” as well as a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Philadelphia’. Just below, you can watch a live studio performance of ‘My Dear Mother’, filmed by Brian O’Kane and Thomas Camblin (who Mary and I happened to meet during this interview with Travis is a Tourist at SXSW 2014).

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SnBZVhDLjXQ[/youtube]

David C Clements’ debut full-length album ‘The Longest Day in History’ is out today, the 19th of February; album pre-order is available on Clements’ Bandcamp page. Ahead of his scheduled appearance at SXSW 2016, Clements will play an album launch show at Belfast Limelight on Friday the 11th of March, featuring guests Luke Sital-Singh and Callum Stewart.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #379: Roo Panes

 
By on Thursday, 11th February 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Dorset folk-pop singer/songwriter Roo Panes is set to release his second album, titled ‘Paperweights’, at the beginning of next month, just before he heads across the pond to Texas for an appearance at SXSW 2016.  Editor Mary recently featured the video for his newest track ‘Where I Want to Go’ right back here, and the song’s deep bass groove, perfectly matched by the reverberant depth of Panes’ singing voice, inspired us to take a deeper look into his catalogue.

Panes’ first LP, 2014’s ‘Little Giant’ was a bit more traditional than what we’ve heard so far from ‘Paperweights’, employing layered vocals, bowed strings and foundational piano figures under Panes’ rhythmically plucked acoustic guitar. One of the album’s most dynamically expansive arrangements is found in its title track, where the anticipatory bass line and drum pattern build strong dramatic tension under Panes’ exquisitely restrained vocals.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/60SAYoPz6Zc[/youtube]

In the press release for ‘Paperweights’, Panes presents the new songs as a very genuine sort of gift: “Here’s a bit of me, to help you understand a bit of you.”  The songwriting quality he most prides himself upon is his heartfelt authenticity, which leads him to write “material that truly connects on an emotional level.” His broadly soaring instrumental arrangements are indeed the kind that make your heart swell, even while his richly-textured vocals and redolent poetic imagery slowly seduce your imagination.

SXSW-featured track ‘The Original’ has a hint of Bon Iver in its airy introduction, but Panes doesn’t succumb to the incoherent falsetto of Justin Vernon, instead allowing his warm, rich mid-range voice to blend with the round tones of the acoustic guitar. Like many a songwriter before him, Panes explores the feminine mystique in his lyrics, reverently singing “behind that painted lady, there’s a masterpiece” in the song’s first verse and in the second, “when the sun descends, she’ll be the swan song silhouette”. He gives the vague impression that this might be a song about lost love, but it’s the kind you would expect from an older man about a woman far in his past, perhaps the one who got away. If Panes’ velvety vocal timbre seems incongruous to his relative youth, the subtle wisdom in his poetry certainly contributes to the illusion.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/M_tTAL75AWw[/youtube]

Roo Panes is scheduled to play three live dates in England at the beginning of March, leading up to the release of ‘Paperweights’ on the 4th of the month. TGTF’s previous coverage of Roo Panes, including a brief preview of his trip to SXSW back in 2013 can be found here.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #377 and #378: Lusts and Moats

 
By on Wednesday, 10th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Lusts and Moats are a pair of up-and-coming indie rock acts from the UK, hailing from Leicester and Biggleswade, respectively. But a five-lettered, monosyllabic name isn’t the only thing they have in common. Both channel the spirit of the shoegaze era, as well as some of the giants of new wave.

Leicester duo Lusts, brothers Andy and James Stone, released their debut album ‘Illuminations’ in 2015. These siblings got the idea to start a band together following a trip to Paris, writing their entire album in their parents’ bedroom while playing films on a projector, to “see what ideas were conjured up”. The ‘Illuminations’ LP is a dreamy mix of new wave, psychedelia and indie rock: a fine example of what 21st century music has to offer. For those who worry that music isn’t as great now as it was in the good ol’ days, Lusts might just be the band to change your mind.

The first single to be released from their debut album and the one that caused quite a stir last year is ‘Temptation’, a hazy number with tantalising drum, bass, guitar, and synth rhythms that dance together across the track, and with vocals floating amongst the music like a ghostly spirit. Similar not only in title but also in style to New Order’s ‘Temptation’, both songs portray a melancholy dreariness, albeit with Lusts’ being faster-paced and glimmering with more of a shoegaze haze. Title track ‘Illuminations’ is reminiscent of early Vaccines, especially the vocal comparison to Justin Young’s smoky baritone. Musically, it’s comparable too, particularly at the beginning of the song when the jangly guitar breaks in. I can just picture it being the perfect soundtrack for an edgy independent film about an underdog or outsider.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju_OZm2htSI[/youtube]

The duo have been compared to Echo and The Bunnymen so often, they must be tempted to question their own creative originality. But these comparisons don’t stem from the media’s need to dilute Lusts’ captivating variety of gloom. It’s because Lusts transcend the time they’re in and have created a debut LP so put together and sure of itself. They sound like a band coming into the game with what they want to do already worked out, and it’s easy to imagine them following in the trajectory of the Vaccines, or even Arctic Monkeys, both bands whose debut albums were impressively put together and self-assured.

Moats (pictured at top) are a quartet from Biggleswade who, like Lusts, have a variety of new wave and post-punk influences. Their latest single ‘Hungry’ has been played on BBC Radio 1, and BBC Radio 6 and received attention on BBC Introducing’s markets in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The band has also just announced that they will be touring with Brighton band Yonaka in March. Yonaka have an edgy pop-inspired sound that will tie in well with Moats’ gritty pop-esque indie rock.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so2NX2q72wk [/youtube]

Back in 2012, Moats released their debut LP ‘Singapore’ under a “name your price” scheme for the entire nine-track album. It was also recorded, mixed and produced independently, further showing their indie spirit. 2015 saw the album’s opening track ‘Toothache’ remastered and released on Spotify. The tune is an exciting blend of stuttering guitar rhythms, with a soothing indie pop beginning, leading to a heavier build towards the middle when the band’s Matt Duncan’s throaty growl erupts on the track. ‘Toothache’ has a similar sound to the xx, particularly with the addition of Asya Fairchild’s vocals. As the relatively under-the-radar singer/songwriter living in Brighton joins Duncan on the track, but she succeeds in acting as a gentle antidote to Duncan’s edgy drawl.

New single ‘Hungry’ begins gentle and mournful, with the soft, spooky pluck of a guitar riff teasing along the track over the gentle motion of a drumbeat. Then Duncan starts singing, his raw, sharp vocals standing out well against the melody. As the grandiose guitars break out about halfway through the track, before being fragmented by slower, quieter moments, instrumentally I’m reminded of Editors. Duncan’s lead vocals are filled with a gritty appetite, echoing a quote from a recent interview, in which the song is described as being about “craving something really badly and constantly working hard towards feeding that craving”. Imagine a dialled down Frank Carter.

Moats operate on the post-punk frequency that has done so much to shape contemporary music. Having said this, the combination of Moats’ music and Duncan’s intense, and oftentimes harrowing voice moves the band into the realm of the uncharted.

Both Lusts and Moats seem to be pushing at the edges of the genres that inspire them. The two bands have a number of dates lined up for the coming year, and both are scheduled to appear at SXSW 2016 in Austin.

 
 
 

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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