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Single Review: The Lost Brothers – Echoes in the Wind

 
By on Wednesday, 1st November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo for Gabriel Sullivan

Incredibly, we’re rounding the decade mark for Irish duo The Lost Brothers’ debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’. Since then, the guitar-toting singer/songwriters have released quite a bit of music and played shows all over the world, including multiple appearances at SXSW. Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, masters of an Americana, folk sound, have announced they’ll be releasing their fifth studio album, ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, in January on Bird Dog Records. Of the upcoming release, Oisin says, “Many of our albums have been quite desolate, but this one has tiny slivers of hope. We’ve been challenged, and that has made the songs richer. We have definitely polished the gloom a bit! Weirdly, it’s our most forward-thinking record.” It follows 2014’s ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, one of my favourite albums of that year.

To get our interest piqued for the upcoming release, they’ve revealed ‘Echoes in the Wind’, the lead single from the album. Like many of their past songs that have filled my ears with wonder, this is a song that takes full advantage of the pair’s gorgeously complementary harmonies and dexterous acoustic guitar notes. The only other instruments that appear on the relatively unadorned track are some twinkles of a piano and the beat of an ordinary drum, simply used to keep the beat.

In the span of 3 and a half minutes, McCausland and Leech do their best to disagree with Dylan Thomas’ words of “do not go gentle in that good night”. In the words of the chorus “hear the night come calling us home”, the duo sing wistfully, not regretfully or even rebelliously. “All we are is just an echo in the wind” should translate to a feeling of vulnerability, about the ephemeral nature of life, of each days passing ever so quicker towards the day we say goodbye to this green earth. However, when presented to you in this pair’s rich vocal tones and evocative guitar-playing, the emotion conveyed instead is the sense of contentment that we’re all in this together in this thing called life. ‘Echoes in the Wind’ is a great preview of what should be another stellar collection of music from these talented Irishmen.

8.5/10

The new single from The Lost Brothers, ‘Echoes in the Wind’, is available now. LP ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’ is scheduled for release on the 26th of January 2018 on Bird Dog Records. Catch up on TGTF’s past coverage on the Irish folk duo through this link.

 

TGTF Spotify Playlist: October 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 1st November 2017 at 11:00 am
 

October draws to a spooky end with Halloween, and TGTF’s October 2017 Spotify playlist is full of goodies for your audio trick-or-treat bag. TGTF celebrated Halloween day itself with the ominous title track from Royal Blood, ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ Several other song titles on this month’s list fall neatly into our ghoulish theme as well, including Everything Everything‘s ‘Night of the Long Knives’ and The Spook School‘s latest single ‘Still Alive’.

October 2017 also saw new music from established favourites Franz Ferdinand and Morrissey, along with up-and-coming artists like Barns Courtney and Lo Moon. Just like our taste in Halloween sweets, everyone’s music preferences are a bit different but whatever your mood or inclination, you’re certain to find something to your liking on our playlist this month.

If you do hear something you love, be sure to follow our monthly Spotify playlists. Just head over to Spotify, type “spotify:user:tgtftunes” (no quotes) into the search bar, and click the Follow button. You can connect with TGTF on social media via Facebook and Twitter too!

 

Single Review: Beans on Toast – Open Door Policy

 
By on Tuesday, 31st October 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Self-described “drunk folk singer” Beans on Toast (aka Jay McAllister) begins his new single ‘Open Door Policy’ on a decidedly pessimistic note: “the world is dying / shit is getting serious / everybody’s lying / it’s impossible to tell the truth”. But despite his initially despondent outlook, ‘Open Door Policy’ finds a ray of sunshine in its biting commentary on the state of Western politics and society.

McAllister’s typically simple folk arrangement allows complete focus on the dry humour and self-depracating wit in his lyrics. He places himself in seemingly contradictory roles throughout the song’s narrative, first identifying himself as “a pacifist, eternal optimist” and then declaring that “I am my own propaganda machine”. He also bemoans the prevalence of “dark money and big data, and the mass manipulation of the human race”, and I have to admit a certain admiration for any songwriter who can fit a phrase like that into a recognisable melody.

The video juxtaposes pixelated and otherwise distorted images of McAllister in a variety of  physical settings with another series of him experiencing virtual reality, presumably in an attempt to illustrate the weird blurring of the boundary between the two. The song itself might be a bit verbose, but ultimately, it’s worth listening through to the end for McAllister’s more hopeful conclusion, which finds a quaint visual counterpart in the pretty yellow dandelion on his hat.

7.5/10

Beans on Toast’s new LP ‘Cushty’ is due for release on the 1st of December via Xtra Mile Recordings. You can have a listen to its cheeky recent single ‘Taylor Swift’ on Spotify. Beans on Toast will be on tour with Xtra Mile label mates Skinny Lister through the end of this year; you can find details on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Beans on Toast is back through here.

 

Single Review: Django Django – Tic Tac Toe

 
By on Monday, 30th October 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Art rock geeks Django Django first burst on the scene in 2012 with their self-titled album. Chock full of psychedelic, toe-tapping earworms like singles ‘Default’ and ‘Love’s Dart’, the London via Edinburgh group captured the minds and imaginations of music fans everywhere with their percussive, witty tunes. Included in that group was this editor, who was so enamoured about their sound that I thought they deserved a Bands to Watch and I risked life and limb to see them play packed, sweaty showcases at SXSW, The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City of that year. LP ‘Born Under Saturn’, which followed 3 years later, wasn’t at rapturously received as its predecessor, some pundits noticing its lack of immediacy and its rough edges worn down.

Any concerns about whether Django Django had lost the plot appear to be unfounded. Earlier this month, they returned with a new track to build up excitement towards album number three, ‘Marble Skies’, due out at the start of January. ‘Tic Tac Toe’ begins with a white noise in the background that sounds like a plane taking off, or perhaps a balloon that’s being inflated by helium. How’s that for anticipation? Singer Vincent Neff’s first vocals out of the gate heavily echo, as pounding drumming usher in a melodic guitar line.

The overall effect of their hippy-dippy vibrations envelopes you, recalling the frenetic nature of exemplary earlier single ‘Hail Bop’ from their debut album. The main differences? For sure, ‘Tic Tac Toe’ is more in your face, refusing to be denied entry into the little grey cells in your head. The one thing that’s sorely lacking from the song is an opportunity for a grand sing-along: the lyrics, weighed down with reverb, have a feel good quality but are hard to follow in the milieu.

For its accompanying promo directed by John Maclean, brother of drummer David, the group decided to take an off-the-wall approach that matches their continuing ethos with their music. Take something incredibly important to the British – the milk in their tea – and send their leader off to source some. Trust me, it’s not as pedantic as it sounds. During his mission, he gets caught off guard. Just like fans like us have been by a little group named Django Django.

7.5/10

Single ‘Tic Tac Toe’ from Django Django is out now. The Scottish art rockers’ third album ‘Marble Skies’ will be out on the 26th of January 2018. All of our past coverage on the group is through here.

 

Album Review: JD McPherson – Undivided Heart & Soul

 
By on Friday, 27th October 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

JD McPherson UHS album coverHeader photo by Alysse Gafkjen

American retro-rock singer/songwriter JD McPherson recently released a new solo album, ‘Undivided Heart & Soul’. It’s an interesting title, for an artist who dabbled in cattle ranching earned a Master’s degree in visual arts before settling on a career in music. But now three albums in, McPherson has apparently decided that music is his permanent gig, and he’s gone all-in on this 11-track sojourn.

Prior to starting work on ‘Undivided Heart & Soul’, McPherson picked up and moved his family to Nashville from their hometown of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The move put McPherson in close proximity to a variety of collaborating musicians, and the album features contributions from Parker Millsap and Aaron Lee Tasjan, along with the influences of longtime friend Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and album co-producer Dan Molad. But the move didn’t come without an element of added pressure. “This record was difficult for me to make, difficult to write, difficult to record”, McPherson says in the album’s press release. “It took a lot for me to say that I can’t force these songs to be the way people are expecting.”

The album begins with essentially the kind of retro r&b feel that McPherson’s audience might well have predicted, with the head-on intensity and gritty guitars of ‘Desperate Love’ and the shuffling rockabilly of Butch Walker co-write ‘Crying’s Just a Thing You Do’. On closer inspection, however, the latter track is notably more emotionally complex in its lyrics, and the heavy guitar riff in the bridge section is a startling but welcome surprise.

In contrast, early single ‘Lucky Penny’, is decidedly edgier, taking on a modern blues rock feel in the vein of the Black Keys; a sharp and persistent guitar riff underscores McPherson’s ironic lament, “this lucky penny’s been nothing but bad luck”. Title track ‘Undivided Heart & Soul’ is similarly modern in its fuzzy, muted production, but its lyrics retain an old-fashioned, almost quaint sort of quality: “left alone and unrequited / I require your undivided . . . heart and soul”.

Most of the album’s second half harks back to McPherson’s more familiar classic rock ’n’ roll style. ‘Hunting for Sugar’ and ‘Jubilee’ are both is slow ballads that somewhat oddly reminded me of Leon Bridges‘ old school aesthetic, but without the smooth, suave vocal delivery. ‘Bloodhound Rock’ leans heavily back into the retro r&b vibe and feels infinitely more authentic to McPherson’s own natural tendencies.

Final tracks ‘Under the Spell of City Lights’ and ‘Let’s Get Out of Here While We’re Still Young’ both take on an edgier tone, the former in a gritty, classic rock ’n’ roll style and the latter with an almost psychedelic twist to the guitar sounds. Cowritten with McPherson’s wife Mandy, ‘Let’s Get Out of Here While We’re Still Young’ cuts to straight to the omnipresent contradiction in McPherson’s anachronistic approach: “we’ve worn out all the songs we’ve sung / come on, honey, let’s get out of here while we’re young”.

Though McPherson is technically adept in both styles, he never quite bridges the gap between studiously retrospective and self-consciously modern. His lack of clear commitment in either direction is perhaps the album’s only downfall. It’s striking that the songs on ‘Undivided Heart & Soul’ don’t inspire the same level of emotional investment from the listener that McPherson clearly made in writing and recording them, despite his very obvious best efforts. Still, the album is generally energetic and enjoyable. If you’re already a JD McPherson fan, you’ll find it to be a nice extension of his work.

7.5/10

‘Undivided Heart and Soul’, JD McPherson’s third studio album, is out now on New West Records. TGTF’s past coverage of McPherson is back through here.

 

Single Review: Adam French – Weightless

 
By on Thursday, 26th October 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

For farmers, the term ‘beast of burden’ came about to describe their working animals. Horses, donkeys and other creatures on the land were tasked to help with the most strenuous of jobs that were too difficult for man alone, carrying wares and ploughing the fields. What has become eminently clearer as mental health takes a more centre stage role in our lives is that as human beings, we ourselves can be burdened not just by physical weight in this life. The emotional toll of the romantic relationships we have with other people can be as equally burdensome, and carrying such a weight can come at a cost, one that is worthy of discussion and hopefully, resolution. In a quite evocative way, Cheshire-born singer/songwriter Adam French’s new single ‘Weightless’ demonstrates just this.

Structurally, French’s approach to the song is simple: initially, echoing, minor key electric guitar notes gently strummed, haunting in their sparseness, are the only accompaniment to his forlorn voice. A string arrangement comes in for brief moments throughout the song, low enough in the mix to continue the sombre atmosphere but without overwhelming everything else. Like previous single ‘Euthanasia’, the song speaks of an unbalanced relationship. “You say you’re gonna make it all right / how you gonna make it all right?”, he asks rhetorically. The pace is faster on these lines, as if he’s rushing through the words because he himself does not believe them.

In a slower tempo and with a beautiful lilt, French insists in the chorus, “only you can make me weightless”. This is just before he lets out an owl-like call that rings out in the echoes, emphasising the feeling of loneliness. The tempo speeds back up on the lines where loneliness turns into feeling lost and not himself at all: “I lose myself for a little while / remove myself for a little while / to prove myself for a little while”. The quickly, then slowly sung words provide an interesting contrast, the slower moments showing the full beauty of French’s voice. It’s when French pauses and lets his voice slink around the melody that you realise he has the potential of being Britain’s next great crooner.

A lovely ballad to tug on the ol’ heartstrings, ‘Weightless’ is a great first taste of his next EP, which will drop on the 8th of November. Watch this space.

8.5/10

‘Weightless’, the new single from singer/songwriter Adam French, is out now on Virgin EMI. The official video to the single is below. To watch an additional live performance of the song at London St. Stephen’s Church last year go here. To read more of TGTF’s coverage on him, follow this link.

 
 
 

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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