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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th August 2014 at 1:00 pm
Seems like just yesterday we were writing about Dry the River like a brand new band. (It was actually 3 years ago.) This week, they released their second album ‘Alarms in the Heart’ on Transgressive Records, and in case you haven’t picked yourself up a copy or you want a have a listen first, they’ve made it available for streaming below.
The ‘and more’ part of this post? The band filmed a making-of documentary of their time in Iceland recording the new album. We’ve embedded the documentary below the album stream. Enjoy.
You can peruse TGTF’s archive on Dry the River through this link.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th August 2014 at 12:00 pm
Words by Jennifer Williams
Former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and his crazy legs return to music with the shimmery Britpop influenced-single ‘No Shows’ from his forthcoming debut solo release ‘Hesitant Alien’.
For over a decade, Gerard Way helmed one of the most beloved and occasionally reviled bands of recent years. After the release of their fourth studio album ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ in 2010, things started to go downhill for the group and Way pulled the plug. In an interview with NME, he had two choices: “Break the band or break me.” The release of’ No Shows’ follows on the heels of free download track ‘Action Cat’.
In ‘No Shows’,Way drops rock ‘n’ roll excess, returning to his art school roots. The video for the single sees Way and his backup band The Hormones performing on Pink Station Zero, which looks like Top of the Pops from outer space, with club kids from 1984 dropped in for good measure. It is as awesome as it sounds. Way, looking sharp in his suit and tie and Kool-Aid coloured hair, shows off incredibly spastic legs that you aren’t sure if he is trying to dance or having tremors.
I was pulled in straight away by its glam rock riff and airy harmonies, and all of a sudden it feels like 1994. Things shift a bit midway through the track, taking a detour into shoegaze country; the crisp guitars get the full fuzz pedal treatment. One thing that hasn’t changed is those epic one-liners when he sings coolly, “it’s not love if it’s just fucking”. Don’t know how well his plan to reboot Britpop in America is going to work out. I suppose we will find out in a month’s time.
New Gerard Way single ‘No Shows’ is out now. Way’s solo album ‘Hesitant Alien’ is out the 30th of September on Warner Brothers Records.
London singer-songwriter Tom the Lion, aka Tom Visser, officially released his debut album ‘Sleep’ on the 11th of August on Wrasse Records. Initially an independent effort pursued by Visser and his manager, the album was picked up by Rough Trade earlier this year and garnered enough support on its own merits for a full release. We here at TGTF have already featured one of its tracks, ‘Silent Partner’, as well as the non-album track ‘Wasting Sunlight’.
Visser is a multi-faceted musician who writes, plays, and produces all of his own material. His early musical influences started at home, where his mother exposed him to classic singer/songwriters like Rickie Lee Jones and Bob Dylan and his jazz musician father introduced the likes of Miles Davis and Chet Baker. It does seem that having a background in jazz produces a particular willingness to experiment with sound, and Visser is no exception in that regard. On ‘Sleep’, he balances a strong sense of poetic lyricism and melody with a variety of instrumental textures and harmonic choices to shade the album’s fundamental melancholy tone with subtle degrees of emotion.
‘Sleep’ feels like a break-up album, though it hasn’t been specifically billed as such. The obliquely evocative lyrics mingle sadness and regret with hope and optimism, beginning with the opening title track. Its anthemic chorus “you could wait a lifetime for this / strike my name off the list” is one of the album’s most uplifting moments, despite the later lyric, “you’re on your own with one last wish.” ‘Every Single Moment’ is a similarly straightforward track with an appealing chorus, “as if this is your last phone call / may I just hear your voice / as if this is your last power chord / can I just let you talk”, that builds to the climactic repeated ending line “I love every single moment.”
In contrast, tracks like ‘Oil Man’ and ‘November’s Beach’ are stark and edgy. ‘Oil Man’ has a thin, synthetic sound that emphasizes its strange, unsettling harmonies and eerie vocal tone. The machine-produced drums on ‘November’s Beach’ create a crisp chill under the diffuse shimmer of keyboards and guitars. ‘Winter’s Wool’ features a groovy bass line and guitar melody under its smooth instrumental sheen.
The album ends with a especially nice sequence of memorable tracks. The delicate texture and uneven rhythm of ‘Ragdoll’ adorn some of Visser’s most poignant lyrics, “you lost without a fight / just to be polite…you’re a ragdoll in my arms / with no charms / I’m a tyrant in this land / blood on my hands”. The persistent rhythm and and guitar line in ‘Heal’ lead into another inspiring chorus with the determined lyric “I choose now to heal”. ‘Come to Life’ ends the album with another tinge of sadness in the haunting lyric “The note you left behind / on the pillowcase I’ll find / I’m nothing but disguise / dressed as your lover might”. Its deliberately unresolved emotion is representative of the album as a whole, which is a series of vignettes left to speak for themselves rather than being painstakingly expanded or meticulously explored.
In that way, Tom the Lion distinguishes himself from artists to whom he is likely to be compared to, including inevitably Bon Iver. Visser’s songs are similarly impressionistic, with the same falsetto vocal that Justin Vernon and Thom Yorke fans adore, but their brevity gives them a greater sense of emotional urgency and allows the unique experimental aspects of the music to make a more powerful impression.
Tom the Lion’s debut album ‘Sleep’ is available now on Wrasse Records.
Alec and Becca King are better known as This Boy That Girl, a brother and sister pop/hip-hop duo from Los Angeles. The siblings are currently supporting Aaron Carter on his American dates and are a part of the Anti-Bullying Tour. They took some time out from their busy schedule to talk to There Goes The Fear.
This Boy That Girl was formed three years ago when Becca would play acoustic guitar and Alec would freestyle over it. Inspired by the likes of Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, Eminem and Ed Sheeran, the duo have recently released their first EP, ‘Breaking Bad’ (no relation to the crime drama television series of the same name).
‘Sweet Life’ is the lead single from the EP which, according to Becca, is about “hanging out with your friends and just having a good time”. She continued: “It’s not about having everything you could ever want, it’s about appreciating what you have and making your life a ‘Sweet Life’”. The music video for ‘Sweet Life’, which was directed by Sequoia B, shows This Boy That Girl dancing and partying in colourful environments. “It was so much fun,” said Becca, “It was our first legit video shoot so we were so excited. All our friends came out and it was fun.”
The duo are currently supporting Aaron Carter on his American tour. Becca described the experience as “really awesome! The fans are amazing and Aaron is super cool”. As well as the Aaron Carter tour, This Boy That Girl are also a part of the Anti-Bullying Tour – a 20 city tour spearheaded by Champions Against Bullying. “We’ve been sharing our story through our music with our audience,” the pair said, “Most of the fans are from high schools and middle schools. It’s been amazing.”
Siblings are well known for not getting on with each other, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with This Boy That Girl. “We’ve had small sibling rivalry things but nothing huge,” said Becca, “It’s all fun and we have each other’s back at the end of the day.” As for the future, This Boy That Girl are going to “keep writing and performing”. Becca added: “If you haven’t heard of us yet… you will.”
This Boy That Girl’s debut EP ‘Breaking Bad’ is out now on Big Dream Productions.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 27th August 2014 at 12:00 pm
This week marks the release of ‘Closing Time’, the latest album from Erland and the Carnival. While the band are on an indie (Full Time Hobby), considering that many bands can’t even get past their first albums without getting dropped, losing interest in the endeavour or breaking up, being able to say you’ve put out your third LP to the wild is a major accomplishment. The band, featuring the strong songwriting partnership of Orkney frontman Erland Cooper and ex-Verve guitarist and keyboardist Simon Tong, show off in fine fashion on ‘Closing Time’ their best work yet.
While 2011′s ‘Nightingale’ saw the band stretching their artistic arms towards the fanciful, with songs that might have felt more at home soundtracking films and/or utilising quirky electronic sounds, this album’s strengths are the storytelling in each of the individual tracks and the emotional content therein. The album begins with the twinkly title track, with precious xylophone and keyboard notes. Is it a death knell for a release to announce, repeatedly, from the start, “closing time / time to get you out of my mind / time to get you out of my life / nothing lasts forever”? Not necessarily.
The feeling stands more as a motto for the collection of 10 songs, an indicator of what is to come. And when I used the words ‘emotional content’ before, I meant it. There are some truly heart-wrenching moments on this album. ‘Closing Time’ expresses regret over a failed relationship and also possibly death (“please don’t talk about me when I’m gone / I’ll keep to the shadows after the light has gone”). Despite its upbeat tempo and seemingly gay guitar work, Cooper’s self-deprecation is on display in ‘Wrong’, as Cooper insists he’s “plain wrong” and begs for someone “can you help me?” as strings sympathetically hum.
Previous single ‘Quiet Love’, which features backing vocals and guitar for surprise guest Paul Weller, is a study in loneliness, a lilting paean to waiting for the Right One to come along but in the meantime, it’s perfectly okay to find peace in being alone. On standout ‘That’s the Way It Should Have Begun (But It’s Hopeless)’ Cooper might not be as witty as Neil Hannon, nor would the Divine Comedy mastermind be likely to use electronic chords or effects, but the feeling of hopelessness in a relationship being played out over a pop melody is very Hannon-esque.
The other major theme on this album is mortality. While touched upon on the title track, closing number ‘Daughter’ best exemplifies this. Written with a half bottle of whiskey and shortly after Cooper became a father for the first time, his process to describe leaving this world is an attempt to reassure (“just before I say goodbye / loving you won’t die”). Of the song, Cooper says, “I was trying to write and record the simplest song that can say a number of deeper things while saying something completely obvious.” The song is actually not that simple: while it features a repetitive but music box-like soothing piano melody, it features some looped backing vocals interspersed throughout that I guessed were the band’s attempt to mimic the disorientation one feels when nearing the end. The result is a song that is beautiful but also unsettling, unearthly.
Also haunting is ‘They’re Talking About You Again’, a conversation about “a different kind of love” (presumably homosexuality) and whether we will arrive in Heaven exalted (“will there be stars in my crown? / the evening sun’s going down / are we blessed in the mansions of rest? / will there be stars in my crown?”). In the tune, the guitars are suitably downbeat, as are the descending piano notes that are alternately forlorn and beautiful.
In the face of all this darkness and depth, some lighter moments feel out of place. ‘I Am Joan’ was originally titled humorously in honour of Tong’s nickname of ‘Joan of Arc’ for Cooper and sounds more like the prog folk rock band they began as 6 years ago; it comes across as enjoyable, but it’s fluff nevertheless. ‘Birth of a Nation’ is poptastic with its bright synths and marching gait, so there’s no question why this was chosen as a single. But it’s lightweight compared to some of its song brethren on ‘Closing Time’. Still, as a whole, this album proves Erland and the Carnival can write and record serious, yet touching, beautiful stories with engaging melodies. They also aren’t afraid of putting their heart on their sleeve or broaching some serious topics in popular song. And on all three counts, they should be truly commended.
Erland and the Carnival‘s third album ‘Closing Time’ is out now on Full Time Hobby. The band will be on tour in the UK in October. If you’re quick, you can hear the band live on BBC 6music iPlayer on a session they recorded with Marc Riley on the 6th of August.
After playing a summer full of festivals including Glastonbury and the Green Man Festival, The Pictish Trail (otherwise known by the name Johnny Lynch) has just released a new single to follow the April release of ‘Wait Until’. Called ‘Long in the Tooth’, the new track is also taken from his double album ‘Secret Soundz Vol. 1 & 2’, which was released in June on Moshi Moshi Records.
Directed by Cardiff-based photographer and filmmaker Ryan Owen Eddleston, the video for ‘Long in the Tooth’ was filmed on the Isle of Eigg in the Scottish Inner Hebrides as Lynch hosted the first ever Howlin’ Fling Festival. While the song itself seems to discuss a dwindling friendship, the video sees a grinning Lynch in the back of a truck, picking up an assortment of friends as he rides through the scenic landscape. Lynch’s raw, rocky vocal style matches the scenery quite nicely, but the jangling and jaunty instrumental sounds, along with the mildly incongruous electronic sound effects, are an interesting contrast to the glum and gloomy lyrics about having “lost what we had so long so completely now”. At the end of the video, Lynch and his mates are dropped out of the truck, presumably to make happy memories on a camping adventure. The unseen truck driver leaves them in the distance as the song trails off in its repeated refrain.
‘Long in the Tooth’ was officially released this past Monday, the 18th of August, by Moshi Moshi. Along with the single release and its accompanying video, Lynch is also debuting his new Web site and blog at www.thepictishtrail.com.
The Pictish Trail is scheduled to appear at the Stirling Fringe Festival in September before embarking on a co-headline tour with labelmate Sweet Baboo at the end of November. Details on those shared dates can be found in our earlier feature here.
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