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Single Review: Marika Hackman – Drown

 
By on Friday, 19th December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Singer/songwriter Marika Hackman has recently announced the release of her debut LP ‘We Slept At Last’, which is due in February. Looking back at her prior collection of EP releases, including her seven-track outing ‘That Iron Taste’ from early 2013, it’s difficult to imagine why she hasn’t put together a full album before now. However, if the LP’s first single ‘Drown’ is any indication, the time she’s spent mulling over the details might translate into a set of songs well worth the long wait. Released on the 8th of December, ‘Drown’ immediately announces itself as being more complex and multi-faceted than standard singer/songwriter material. Despite her young age, Hackman has here displayed an already mature talent, lacing her darkly brooding lyrics with richly intricate and often unexpected musical elements.

Hackman’s lyrics are rife with metaphor and symbolism but nebulous enough to leave any concrete interpretation to the imagination of the listener. She sets up a clear rhyme scheme in the first verse, only to blur it in the second verse, and though the choruses are clearly stated, the song’s overall feeling is ethereal and elusive. The second verse in particular implies a hopelessly unrequited longing: “and I was born with a healthy appetite / for all that glisters white and pure in the night / I had to find your words, your heart / well, where can I start?”

The ambient sound of the song’s introduction is at clear odds with the gentle rocking of the acoustic guitar entrance, providing an early hint of the internal conflict that will play out in the lyrics. The lugubrious, deliberately lethargic vocal melody has an interesting chromatic flavor that clearly suggests an intricate art or folk song aesthetic rather than the usual straightforward tonality of singer/songwriter fare. Open harmonies between the double-tracked vocal parts give an impression of vast emptiness, and the dramatic gradual layering of the instrumental arrangement builds to an unavoidable sense of doom when the low strings come in at the end.

8.5/10

The disturbingly literal, yet somehow graceful video for ‘Drown’ by Marika Hackman can be viewed below. The single version of the track is available now via Dirty Hit Records, or you can receive it as an instant download when you pre-order ‘We Slept At Last’, which drops the 16th of February 2015.

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Preview: Wychwood Festival 2015

 
By on Friday, 19th December 2014 at 9:30 am
 

The first acts for Wychwood Festival 2015 have been announced by organisers. Legendary reggae band UB40, Scottish brothers The Proclaimers and British vocalist and musician Ghostpoet (pictured above) are among the artists performing at the family-friendly festival.

Held at Cheltenham Racecourse, Wychwood Festival 2015 will take place 29-31 May. Other acts appearing across the weekend include Dreadzone, Electric Swing Circus, Rusty Shackle and Fickle Friends.

Headlining the main stage on the Saturday are the newly-reunited founding members of UB40. Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue are expected to perform hits such as ‘Red Red Wine’, ‘Kingston Town’ and ‘Falling in Love With You’. Also playing the main stage on the Saturday are The Proclaimers. The pair, who are best known for tracks including ‘500 Miles’ and ‘I’m on My Way’, most recently worked on a Christmas charity single, a cover of The Farm’s ‘All Together Now’. Meanwhile, 2011 Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet will headline the Big Top Stage on the same night.

Speaking about the announcement, festival director Graeme Merifield said, “We are hugely excited to welcome UB40 (with the exceptionally talented Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue back together) for what I have no doubt will be an incredible Saturday headline performance on our Wychwood main stage.”

Wychwood Festival celebrated its tenth birthday in 2014, which saw performances from the likes of The Boomtown Rats, The Levellers, The Stranglers and Craig Charles. Merifield added, “The tenth birthday celebration this year was an absolute delight and, with this firmly in our mind, Wychwood 2015 is set for even bigger and better things.”

Early bird tickets, which range from £18 to £119, are available until Wednesday, the 31st of December. Further acts are expected to be announced in the new tear. You can find out more about Wychwood Festival 2015 on the official Web site.

 

In the Post #140: Laura Marling returns with title track ‘Short Movie’ to upcoming March 2015 album

 
By on Thursday, 18th December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

After a relatively lengthy quiet period since the 2013 release of her fourth album ‘Once I Was An Eagle’, here’s some good news for you folkies. Laura Marling has revealed plans to release her fifth album in the new year. Take a step back for a moment to consider that Marling isn’t even 25 yet, and she’s about to release a fifth collection of tunes. Kind of puts life and achievements in said life in perspective, doesn’t it?

‘Short Movie’, which will drop in March on Virgin Records, will be her second under the influence of her now no longer newly adopted hometown of Los Angeles. In terms of the aforementioned perspective, the title track, the first taster from the album, seems to be Marling’s personal advice in dealing with life head on. The song begins with “I’m paying for my mistakes”, followed by the spoken “that’s okay”. Hmm, okay… It’s unclear at this point if she’s indifferent or come to peace with her life choices. Later on the song, before the song gets louder and more frenetic at the 1/3 point, the words “I think I could get away with / half the things that I say, but no / I can’t give you up, oh no / I’m not gonna stop” indicates a sticking by to these choices, specifically in the act of loving someone despite everyone else in her life not understanding why.

However, what really is jarring in ‘Short Movie’ is the line “it’s a short fucking movie, mate”, which comes along relatively early and is a refrain used throughout the song. Not knowing Marling personally, I don’t know if she swears like a sailor in daily life, or if packing up from and leaving London for the sunnier climes – and plastic people – of SoCal has changed her. (Her conversion to American is complete: “movie”, not “film”?) But seeing that the 2013 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ doesn’t bear an explicit content sticker, the inclusion of this refrain seems like a more obvious, concerted effort by Marling to be more blunt in her language, even if the serene melody that initially accompanies it doesn’t match the sentiment. It’s uncomfortable but appears purposeful.

As the song increases tempo and loudness at the midpoint and beyond, the instrumentation complements the lyrical content with a meaning that life is too short to not be true to yourself, and you should live your life the way you want, with no regrets. With ‘Short Movie’ marking Marling’s first self-production credit, one wonders if this will be the moment where she truly bares all about her past and lost love, as the first taster looks to be a bold statement of who she is as an artist in this moment in time, as ‘Sophia’ was 3 years ago.

7/10

The ‘Short Movie’ album, Laura Marling’s fifth, will be out on the 23rd of March 2015 on Virgin Records. TGTF’s extensive archive on Marling can be found here.

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Preview: Flow Festival 2015

 
By on Thursday, 18th December 2014 at 9:30 am
 

Florence and Machine, Major Lazer and alt-J are among the first acts confirmed for Flow Festival 2015.

Held in Finland’s capital Helsinki, the 12th Flow Festival will take place between 14-16 August 2015 and is set to showcase a range of local and international talent. Other artists confirmed for the 3-day festival include Flying Lotus, Todd Terje, Run the Jewels, Future Islands and Foxygen.

Headliner Florence and the Machine are currently in the studio recording the follow-up to the critically acclaimed album ‘Ceremonials’. In addition to Flow Festival, the indie rock band are also set to headline Oya Festival in Norway, as well as making appearances at Hurricane (Germany) and Rock Werchter (Belgium). Florence and the Machine has yet to announce any UK dates for 2015 (at the time of writing, at least).

Major Lazer is the dancehall electro project from American producer Diplo. Their hits include ‘Get Free’ (ft. Amber Coffman), ‘All My Love’ (ft. Ariana Grande) and ‘Pon De Floor’ (which was famously sampled by Beyonce in ‘Run The World (Girls)’).

Meanwhile, alt-J, who received the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2012 with their album ‘An Awesome Wave’, are set to perform in Finland for the first time. The indie rockers recently announced that they would be performing at New York’s 18,200 capacity Madison Square Garden in March 2015.

Flow Festival takes place at the disused Suvilahti power station, which is just a short walk from the centre of Helsinki. Last year, the festival attracted over 60,000 people, with over 150 artists performing. Such acts included the likes of Of Monsters and Men, Kendrick Lamar and Disclosure.

Tickets for Flow Festival 2015 are on sale now, and cost €159 (approximately £130) for the three days. Further artists are expected to be added to the line-up in early 2015. You can find out more about Flow Festival on the official Web site.

 

In the Post #139: Esmé Patterson flips the perspective on pop music with concept album ‘Woman to Woman’

 
By on Wednesday, 17th December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

American singer/songwriter Esmé Patterson recently debuted the video for her new single ‘The Glow’, which will feature on her upcoming album ‘Woman to Woman’. The album was conceived as a response to the portrayals of female characters in popular songs such as Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ and Elvis Costello’s ‘Alison’. Patterson herself explains the origin and concept of the album this way: “I was learning to play a Townes Van Zandt song called “Loretta”, and I started thinking about how many songs were just a woman’s name, and how these women are frozen in time, and frozen as archetypes, frozen in black and white. And I thought they deserved to be coloured in.” Back in June, Patterson was invited to discuss her idea at Denver, Colorado’s TEDxMileHigh conference, where she played three songs from the album in addition to providing her commentary.

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The lead track from ‘Woman to Woman’ is called ‘The Glow’, in reference to the classic Beach Boys song ‘Caroline, No’. It explains how life might have caused the fictional Caroline to “lose that happy glow”, as mentioned in Brian Wilson and Tony Asher’s original lyrics. Patterson’s counter-lyrics are somewhat brooding, but her musical treatment is optimistic, with a harmonic modulation near the end indicating that Caroline might just have the strength to move forward from her heartbreak.

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The songs on ‘Woman To Woman’ were inspired by a wide stylistic range of popular artists, from early 20th century blues man Leadbelly to the aforementioned King of Pop. The track listing for the album is as follows (corresponding popular songs listed in parentheses):
1. Valentine (Elvis Costello – ‘Alison’)
2. Never Chase A Man (Dolly Parton – ‘Jolene’)
3. Oh Let’s Dance (The Kinks – ‘Lola’)
4. Tumbleweed (Townes Van Zandt – ‘Loretta’)
5. What Do You Call A Woman (Michael Jackson – ‘Billie Jean’)
6. The Glow (The Beach Boys – ‘Caroline, No’)
7. Louder Than the Sound (The Band – ‘Evangeline’)
8. Bluebird (The Beatles – ‘Eleanor Rigby’)
9. A Dream (Leadbelly – ‘Goodnight Irene’)
10. Wildflower (Bob Dylan – ‘To Ramona’)

Recently signed to Xtra Mile Records (the home of Frank Turner and To Kill a King), Patterson is due to release the ‘Woman to Woman’ LP worldwide on the 2nd of February 2015.

Rating for ‘The Glow’: 8/10

 

Preview: Reading and Leeds 2015

 
By on Tuesday, 16th December 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Round and round the big festival headliner roundabout goes. Will it be Muse? Unlikely, give it another few years. Foo Fighters? I’d bet good money this is going to happen. Blink-182? Bit early! Metallica? Yeah, why not! They’ve not released anything as a band proper since 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic’!

Upon the announcement, what did Lars Ulrich have to say about playing Reading and Leeds for the fourth time? “We are practically the house band.” You’re not wrong, Lars.

Now, I’m not saying the announcement of undeniably the greatest thrash metal band touring at the moment is a bad thing. But it does seem that these big ticket festivals are becoming overly reliant on a select group of supergroups, rotating the same headliners and introducing a new name to the melting pot oh so infrequently. Queens of the Stone Age and Paramore joined the top table patriarchy last year through their co-headline slot. But really the first time a band reached the line-up summit was Biffy Clyro in 2013. Their headline set at Reading and Leeds last year raised the bar, showing exactly what a band who have been lifted to the top of the bill can achieve with the proverbial wind of change in their sails.

Fast-forward to 2015 and we have, as mentioned by Mr Ulrich, Metallica topping the bill for the fourth time. You know what you get from the Americans, which I can pay testament to after Sonisphere earlier this year. You get a headline set full of flair, personality and tunes. They slayed Glastonbury and left egg on many a head with their superb showmanship. It’s an even safer booking for Reading and Leeds, as heavy metal tends to go down far more favourably in front of 100,000 16- and 17-year olds off their heads on warm Kopparberg and MDMA, compared to 200,000 woolly liberals stoned off their heads stumbling around a farm. Nobody can deny that when the opening riffs of ‘Master of Puppets’ drops, the tweens and the hardcores will all unite in throwing some horns. It’s a no brainer.

As for the rest of the first announcement, the most enticing has to be the return of Jamie T. ‘Carry on the Grudge’ dropped in September of this year and encapsulated everything any fan of the 28-year old poet wanted. The tunes were the kind which burrowed their way into your cerebral cortex and didn’t budge. The South London-born singer-songwriter went away and evolved forward and I can see Richfield Avenue going absolutely mental for him.

As for the rest, Wilkinson is one of those bookings which will appeal to the Snapchat generation, much in the same way Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did last year. For me, I feel it’s not the way I would like to see the festival going.

But I also understand that an event like Reading and Leeds needs to sell tickets.

D’uh.

To purchase basic weekend tickets for Reading Festival 2015, go here, where the price currently stands at £205 plus fees. For tickets to its more northern counterpart Leeds Festival 2015 offered at the same price, head this way.

 
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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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