Check out our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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Single Review: The Orielles – Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)

 
By on Friday, 19th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

In a few short weeks, Halifax friends The Orielles will be releasing their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’. The name came from an incident yours truly actually witnessed. In May 2016, the band travelled to Toronto to play Canadian Music Week, during which time they were up an astonishing 36 hours straight and played two late night shows. The second, at the Silver Dollar Room on the famed Spadina Avenue, a north-south thoroughfare that cuts through the Canadian cultural hub, was at 2 AM. Despite having gone without sleep for so long, the late night appearance proved to be a career-defining moment, noted by the band as one of their best shows to date.

Since we discovered them at the city version of Liverpool Sound City in 2013 and under a different name, the three longtime mates have grown up, and so has their music. ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ is the latest in their evolution, recorded as part of their debut album sessions at Eve Studio in Stockport. Singles we heard from them in 2017 like ‘I Only Bought It for the Bottle’ and ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’ had the psych, surfy feel that runs like a continuous thread through the band’s catalogue so far.

The Orielles 2018

This new single is also fun, but in a different way. Unexpectedly, as if out of the blue, ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ sees the Orielles at their funkiest yet. Seventies’ style guitar, with plenty of wub wub wubs and reverb, is joined by disco beats, chimes and bongos. There’s a lot going on here, and more than the band’s usual guitar, bass and drums setup. Esme Hand-Halford’s vocals, as dreamy as ever, are layered on top to tie a psych feel back to their songs that have come before this one. While it’s not like their past songs wouldn’t have gotten toes tapping in a club, this is their first tune so far with an overtly danceable vibe. ‘Blue Suitcase’, then, has the potential to cross over and get played in dance clubs, something their alt-rock predecessors didn’t have going for them.

As for the inspiration for the song, it came out of an incident that seems quintessentially English. Unlike in the States, rail travel is not merely a romantic notion in blighty but often a necessity to get around the country. Spying an abandoned suitcase on a train platform, the trio questioned among themselves what was in there. Schrodinger’s cat? Perhaps a giant fruit to take adventures with? I guess we’ll never know. But let’s tip our hats off to the owner of this wayward piece of luggage. If he hadn’t left it, this song might not have been written at all. Let’s not think about that. Let’s look to the future and for The Orielles’ ‘Silver Dollar Moment’.

7.5/10

Single ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ is taken from The Orielles’ debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’, expected to drop the 16th of February on Heavenly Recordings. They’ll be heading out on a UK tour in the middle of next month. For much more here on TGTF on The Orielles, go here.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Album Review: The Lost Brothers – Halfway Towards a Healing

 
By on Thursday, 18th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

The Lost Brothers Halfway Towards a Healing album coverRarely is there a pair like folk maestros The Lost Brothers. Despite having met and formed in Liverpool and now being based in Dublin, the influence of Americana on the songwriting of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland is undeniable. Like their 2008 debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’ produced in Portland, the duo returned to the land they are so indebted to. They touched down in Tucson to work with Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb on their latest album. According to the press release for ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, he had some unconventional production techniques. Gelb would pick up the duo in the morning for their day of work, then drop them off in the middle of the desert for a walk, presumably to get their creative juices flowing while being wholly inspired by the desolate environment.

Self-described as their “most forward-thinking record” and displaying “tiny slivers of hope” and less gloom than its predecessors, The Lost Brothers’ latest is a tidy collection of beautiful tunes worthy of inclusion in Leech and McCausland’s growing oeuvre. This album also sees the Lost Brothers collaborating with their friend, tourmate and fellow Irish troubadour Glen Hansard, who cowrote three songs on the LP. One of these, ‘More Than I Can Comprehend’, is a catchy little ditty does its best to describe the wonderment of love. In a span of just over 2 minutes, the song manages to be both tender and droll about the most powerful of human emotions: “Why draw a line through what matters most? / Darling, this love might just kill us both.” Another relatively uptempo number is ‘Cry for a Sparrow’, where the duo use the idea of a bird in flight, either soaring or diving, as a metaphor for the ups and downs of life.

But the slower, more pensive moments are where The Lost Brothers shine here. LP standout ‘Where the Shadows Go’ places you in a land created in the pair’s collective mind. Standing with them on a bluff, you can look over their beautiful domain while a forlorn horn section plays alongside their peerless harmonies. Previously revealed single ‘Echoes in the Wind’, reviewed by me here, brilliantly captures the ephemeral, yet beautiful nature of life.

Later in the tracklisting, the lyrics “I’ll get through somehow / slowing down on a poison ground” in ‘Nothing’s Going to Change Me Now’ seems tailor-made for these difficult times. A lonesome violin accompanies the words of a man jaded by his broken heart. The instrumental ‘Reigns of Ruin’ has a Mexican feel, no doubt a product of the location where they chose to create this record. Closing out the first half of the album if you’re partial to vinyl, it’s a truly evocative moment, transporting you to a different place and a different time. Things are slower here in the land of The Lost Brothers. And that’s quite all right.

The Lost Brothers only recently caught the ears of another songwriter well versed in beautiful vocals and equally beautiful songs, Richard Hawley, who compared their “tender close harmony singing” to that ‘50s legends The Everly Brothers. Given the mastery of their vocal and instrumental gifts, it’s only a matter of time for the rest of the world to catch up with this great Irish songwriting partnership.

8/10

‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, the new album from Irish folk duo The Lost Brothers, is scheduled for release on the 26th of January on Bird Dog Records. Watch the promo video for the title track below. The pair are one of several Irish acts to have been announced for SXSW 2018, taking place 13-18 March in Austin, Texas. Not going to Austin? No problem: catch them on their UK and Irish tour that will start on the 30th of January at London Lexington. To read more of our coverage on TGTF on The Lost Brothers, go here.

 

Album Review: First Aid Kit – Ruins

 
By on Tuesday, 16th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

FAK RuinsDespite their relative youth, Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit are slowly but surely establishing themselves in the arena of folk rock. If their 2014 album ‘Stay Gold’ was a career breakthrough for Klara and Johanna Söderberg, then new fourth album ‘Ruins’ is the work that will solidify their position as serious and dedicated musicians at the precocious respective ages of 25 and 27. The LP was produced by Tucker Martine and features contributions from Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Glenn Kotche (Wilco) and McKenzie Smith (Midlake).

The sisters Söderberg have undergone a renaissance since the heady days of ‘Stay Gold’. As detailed in the press release for ‘Ruins’, extensive touring led them to a breaking point, and for the first time in their lives, a physical separation. Johanna settled in Stockholm while Klara decamped with her fiancé to Manchester “to escape and find her own space.” But as Klara’s romantic relationship dissolved, she found her personal and professional relationship with her sister evolving in a positive way, and those events collectively inspired the songs on ‘Ruins’.

‘Ruins’, according to Klara, is “a documentary, and it’s quite sad.” It chronicles the end of Klara’s engagement without any poetic or musical equivocation. Unlike their previous albums, which leaned heavily on the pure beauty of the sisters’ seamless vocal harmonies, lyrics and authentic emotion are the main focus points on ‘Ruins’. “We don’t want it to feel perfect,” says Johanna, who served as a sort of editorial director for Klara’s songwriting on the album. “We want it to feel rough, gut-wrenching.” Opening track ‘Rebel Heart’ strikes immediately, with angular melodies and echoing vocal harmonies over a persistent, heart-thumping rhythm. The measured yodel in Klara’s vocal line, “why do I keep dreaming of you?” conveys an intense longing as she laments the self-perceived shortcomings that may have broken her romance apart.

Sweeter in tone and more country-tinged, ‘It’s a Shame’ strategically places its vocal harmonies over shuffling percussion and spare guitar chords. Here, Klara flirts with denial of the relationship’s demise, positing “maybe it’s all right / if I just spend the night” ahead of the clever harmonic modulation in the song’s anguished bridge section question “who have I become / who will I be / come tomorrow?” Current single ‘Fireworks’ poses a similar self-examination, “why do I do this to myself every time?”, but in a more muted and introspective musical context. The song’s ethereal backing voices imply a sense of detached memory, while the specific imagery in its title is expertly text-painted with muffled, distant sounding percussion.

At the heart of the album, ‘Postcard’ and ‘To Live a Life’ touch on the long-distance aspect of the central relationship, with anachronistic references to letters and phone calls rather than e-mails and text messages. But these allusions to tangible, if old-fashioned, things demonstrates both the charm and the skill in First Aid Kit’s songwriting; mentions of pop culture would certainly have felt out of place in the sonic milieu of guitar, pedal steel and high-lonesome harmonies.

The songs on the second half of ‘Ruins’ take on a more pensive tone as their themes progress to healing and acceptance. Title track ‘Ruins’ finds perspective in some of Klara Söderberg’s most profound lyrics, “I lost you, didn’t I? / but first, I think I lost myself.” Straightforward folk ballad ‘Hem of Her Dress’ alludes to the bitterness of seeing a former partner move on, and while the drunken singalong coda feels awkward, there’s no questioning its reason for being. Existential final track ‘Nothing Has to be True’ brings the album to a resolute close, declaring “we might have seen something / but we ain’t seen nothing yet” before diving headlong into a lengthy instrumental outro whose bold musical momentum clearly demonstrates First Aid Kit’s newfound conviction.

‘Ruins’ is a mature album for two women still so young, but its real strength lies in its sense of resilience. There is very little about this album that feels jaded, despite heavy thematic material and a vintage folk musical style. Instead, First Aid Kit have allowed their life experiences to revitalise their passion for making music, in the process crafting a collection of strikingly spirited and exquisitely emotional songs.

8.5/10

‘Ruins’ is due out this Friday, the 19th of January, on Columbia Records. TGTF’s previous coverage of the sisters Söderberg is collected through here.

 

(Charity!) Single Review: Frightened Rabbit – No Real Life

 
By on Wednesday, 10th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Over their five studio albums to date, Scottish indie band Frightened Rabbit and their emotionally-charged music, described by Ryan Leas of Stereogum as “the kind of music that demands a fair amount of emotional investment from the listener,” have wowed fans all over the world. In his impassioned vocals, Scott Hutchison lays out raw, painful emotions for all to hear. It isn’t surprising, and sadly so, to learn that someone who can pour that much feeling and sorrow himself suffers from mental illness, something that has spilled out of Hutchison on social media. He admitted in this illuminating interview with Luke Ottenhof of On the A Side last spring, “Sometimes I wish I had a better mode of communication for when I’m feeling depressed, anxious, any of those things, but it tends to just work itself out into a song. That’s the way it’s always been for me.”

Knowing his personal history, it is wonderfully inspiring that Hutchison is willing to speak publicly about his struggles and has gotten involved with raising awareness and money for mental health causes. In 2011, along with James Graham of The Twilight Sad, Emma Pollock of The Delgados and other local musicians, Hutchison was part of The Fruit Tree Foundation, a Scottish music project that released the album ‘First Edition’, written and recorded during an intensive collaborative workshop in Perthshire. Fifty percent of the album’s proceeds go towards Scottish charity The Mental Health Foundation.

This past holiday season, Frightened Rabbit revealed a new single, also to raise money for a mental illness charity. ‘No Real Life’ premiered on Christmas Day, its words chronicling the thoughts that can go on inside the confused mind of a patient with dementia, often caused by the chronic, progressive neurodegenerative Alzheimer’s disease. Hutchison’s vocals of “I see light in the crack of the doorway / that extra-terrestrial glow / so cocoon my body, transport me / I don’t care to live in this world anymore” document the quiet desperation of a sufferer for the pain and confusion to end.

The gentle instrumental folk rock feel throughout the song marries well with the sombre subject matter. When Hutchison’s voice is joined by those of his bandmates in an ethereal harmony, a sense of peace and calm is achieved. ‘No Real Life’ is a moving, respectful acknowledgement to those in the grip of dementia, a disease we must keep fighting to cure.

8/10

Frightened Rabbit have encouraged their fans to donate to Alzheimer Scotland, who offer services to assist people with dementia, their carers and their families. Like cancer, dementia is an illness that has touched virtually everyone and their loved ones. Particularly around the holidays, it can be a difficult time when someone you love is suffering from a condition for which there is yet no cure. We encourage all to consider this worthy charity and to donate what you can to ensuring in the band’s words, “With your help, their aim is to make sure that nobody in this country faces dementia alone.” To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on Frightened Rabbit, go here.

 

TGTF Spotify Playlist: December 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 9th January 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Happy New Year! Before we forge ahead into 2018, we’d like to share our final Spotify playlist of last year, which contains all the music featured here at TGTF in December 2017. Like November’s list, our December playlist is a bit shorter than usual, this time due to us closing up TGTF early at the end of the year. As you might expect, we reviewed a handful holiday singles last month, offered up by Paul Thomas Saunders, Tristen and Elbow.

Aside from the Christmas-themed fare, we also featured a new track from Manchester singer/songwriter Little Sparrow and a rather surprising live acoustic cover of an American punk classic performed by Northern Irish troubadour Ciaran Lavery. Among our album reviews, we highlighted new releases from veteran acts Morrissey and Belle and Sebastian, as well as the recent collaboration between The Staves and yMusic. In early December, editor Mary was in England and caught the Field Music-curated Us vs. Them festival at Leeds Brudenell Social Club and she also wrote an early preview of Live at Leeds 2018. We’ll certainly be previewing more events coming up in 2018, including our annual, multi-post previewing of SXSW 2018.

If you’re looking for an easy way to discover great new music in 2018, do yourself a favour and follow our monthly Spotify playlists. All you have to do is open Spotify, type “spotify:user:tgtftunes” (no quotes) into the search bar, and click the Follow button. To keep up with all our latest features, connect with TGTF on social media via Facebook and Twitter. (And don’t forget, our featured artists love social media follows too!)

 

Pay It Forward: A New Phase of TGTF in 2018

 
By on Monday, 8th January 2018 at 11:00 am
 

When I first started blogging in 2009, joining up at the Philadelphia-based PopWreckoning (this one, not the one currently at popwreckoning.com), I couldn’t have predicted what was to come. I was their first contributor in Washington, DC, and I also quickly identified as their British music expert, tasked to juggle all the British releases sent my way. Music blogging on the internet was alive and well, and advertising revenue was fantastic. Positions as the USA Editor of TGTF and contributor at ClickMusic, This is Fake DIY and The CALMzine followed. In the beginning, I considered the quality and quantity of my posts of equal importance. The number of reviews I wrote across 4 music reviewing Web sites over a period of 2 years, in 2010 to the start of 2012, still blows my mind.

And then the landscape of the music blogosphere changed. In case you haven’t noticed, many music blogs have come and gone. It’s been sad to see blogs owned by friends close, and for a variety of reasons, personal and professional. Music listeners, eager for instant gratification and sometimes desiring direction from their favourite artists, turn to Spotify and other streaming services now more than ever more to find new music rather than music blogs.

So then it falls on the shoulders of smaller blogs like TGTF to provide a boutique experience for those who want more than playlists. What we do here is a labour of love. It has never been my desire to follow the big boys and play their game. We take a deeper dive into releases that might only get a brief look in the culture section of the broadsheets, if they even get a look at all. It can take us longer to deliver a review of a release because my motto has always been to do what you do well, or don’t bother to do it at all. Our interviews with artists we see the potential for greatness in are longer than those of other outlets because we want to give you more insight into their art and who they are as people. We share tour dates and videos by artists whose music we support and while we will never comprehensive, what do we post is always of quality. Taken together, these are the things that are important to me, the things that have always been in important to me in running TGTF. I sincerely hope we’ve helped you find new artists to love and support. If we have, we’ve succeeded.

If you’ve followed us over the years, you will have noticed that we have helped promote charity concerts and reviewed charity releases over the years, including the Killers’ annual charity singles to raise money for RED, benefitting The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Maximo Park’s support of Migrant Offshore Aid Station; and Tristen’s recent Christmas single benefitting Doctors Without Borders. Into this year and beyond, we’ll be increasing our focus to raise awareness on such charitable efforts and hope you will donate what you can to those less fortunate. Are you a musician or a band currently working with a charity? Contact us through the TGTF Twitter and we’ll talk further on how we might be able to help you and your charity.

We are now living in a world where darkness has seeped into most every part of life. Music, for so many of us, has provided joy, hope, solace and comfort when we needed it most. The best way for us to pay this forward is to give our support to others in need. I hope you’ll embrace this new phase of TGTF with us.

 
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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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it. If you want a track removed, email us and we'll sort it ASAP.

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