We'll be on hiatus the week of 4 October to give our editor Mary a holiday.
We'll resume normal service here on TGTF on 13 October.
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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 13th October 2015 at 2:00 pm
If you didn’t know where you were going – and unlike me, you didn’t actually see a staff member open one of the blue and white-painted vault doors facing the canal and go in – you might walk by the Tin Music and Arts centre in Coventry and completely miss it. This literal hole in the wall turned out to be a venue that oddly made me feel at home, a sentiment that was echoed by the night’s headliner, who said it reminded him a lot of DC9. It’s a non-profit entity, so in addition to being an independent live venue, the fine folks there are also doing good works for the good people of Coventry. Definitely the kind of place I like to put my money into. (Feel the same way? You can donate to them directly here.)
The opener for the evening were The Harpoons, whose name sounds like a band from a city with a seafaring past and an aggro look, playing hard rock. So imagine my shock when the four-piece from Melbourne, Australia took to the stage with one guitar and no drum kit (two of their band members are on synths). Even more surprising was when their female lead singer opened her mouth, releasing a soulful croon. Whether her voice is meant to be paired with programmed drum beats, I haven’t quite decided yet (the latter, I guess, was why they were chosen as support that night in Coventry), but they’re a different kind of band than I’m used to from Melbourne (The Temper Trap, Husky, The Delta Riggs). She made light about the fatal bus accident earlier in town and how she has managed to mispronounce the town’s name, and I realise both quips may have been down to nerves but nevertheless, it was awkward.
Having read that there would be precious few chances left this year to see East India Youth (aka Bournemouth-born William Doyle) perform his current album for XL Recordings, ‘Culture of Volume’, before he goes into hibernation to write album #3, I’d made it a special trip to Coventry for this Saturday night show. Off the back of seeing him showcase on the opening night of SXSW 2015 at the Huw Stephens’-curated Music Wales showcase at the British Music Embassy, then an afternoon show Saturday for Brooklyn Vegan, I had some idea of what to expect: kinetic, frenetic, sweaty, emotional. I did wonder, however, how it would be possible to segue between tracks on ‘Culture of Volume’ and his 2014 Mercury Prize-nominated debut ‘Total Strife Forever’: to me, they seem two completely different animals, written in what I understand to be two very different headspaces.
It speaks well of Doyle’s talent that except for those brief moments cueing up his Macbook, synth or any one of his sequencers, his set was amazingly cohesive from the moment he spoke, practically whispering into his microphone, “hello Coventry. Let’s start.” Despite that opening whisper, the live versions of ‘Turn Away’, ‘Hearts That Never’ and ‘Beaming White’ from ‘Culture of Volume’ saw Doyle whip about onstage like a maniac, whether he was frantically playing notes on his synth, pressing buttons or turning dials, or had taken to the free area behind his setup to go mental with his bass. (Headbangers unite!) Pausing once to express his annoyance with and to admonish some loud talkers in the audience, it’s clear he’s an artist for whom being in control of how his music sounds from the stage is really important.
As Doyle said when I chatted with him in Austin in March and in many other interviews since, he is committed to making sure the live experience for his fans is an animated one, not confined to synth button-pushing. I can appreciate an artist who becomes completely swept up in his music like this, letting go of inhibitions to become one with his art. ‘Heaven How Long’ from his first LP, although it begins serenely enough, turns into a crazy experience with pounding beats that led many of us in the room to sway our bodies to the euphoric, life-affirming rhythm. (Actually, I’m on the fence on whether the song is meant to be life-affirming or not. But that’s a matter for my other site Music in Notes, not here at TGTF.) As the most manic track on ‘Culture of Volume’, ‘Entirety’ is a monster on record; live, Doyle’s treatment of the song is even more bonkers, and delightedly so to any electronic music fan who revels in watching his favourite artist completely go for it, throwing all caution to the wind, limbs flying.
While as a solo artist Doyle has made his name on his experimental, sometimes challenging, primarily instrumental soundscapes, it cannot be overemphasised how good his voice is when he chooses to use it. On ‘Culture of Volume’, he made the decision to go more pop, spending more time and vanity in front of the microphone. From this Hot Press interview, it sounds like his third album may see him take a step back from it, which I think is a travesty. On ‘Looking for Someone’ live, there’s a forlorn starkness to the opening spare drum beats and the words “just for me and no-one else / I need something for myself”, yet Doyle’s voice is comforting, Everyman, when he sings that he’s been misinterpreted as being emotionless: “you think I feel nothing, you think I feel nothing / you don’t know how wrong you are”. Being a fan of the genre for years (and also always in the minority, being a woman), it’s been my perspective that electronic itself is nearly always misunderstood by those on the outside, that it cannot possibly convey emotions anywhere near as well as others.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those of us who know, who feel it all, we can sense those emotions from the music. And deeply. Closing his set in Coventry with the slowest, most cinematic and breathtaking track from the current album, Doyle came out from behind his electronic setup, choosing to instead stand in front of us to deliver ‘Carousel’. Holding on to that one last beautiful sung note, he left everyone in the place mesmerised. Fantastic.
It will be some time before we get another album from Will Doyle. But in the meantime, we can take consolation and hold fast to the elation, the poignancy in his first two albums. And hope he will hurry back soon. As of this writing, East India Youth has three live UK appearances this year at a festival in Brum and two gigs in Scotland (Edinburgh and Aberdeen); for more details, go here. Past TGTF coverage of East India Youth is this way.
After the cut: East India Youth’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: East India Youth with The Harpoons at Coventry Tin – 3rd October 2015
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 13th October 2015 at 1:00 pm
The knowledge we’ve gained collectively at TGTF as a UK/US music Web site from major industry events has been absolutely amazing since I joined up as USA Editor in the spring of 2009 and while under my leadership as Editor since summer 2010; I’ve personally covered major music events on three continents and have had life experiences that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. But there came a point in my blogging career this past summer, over 6 years since I began, when the usual suspects on the music professional calendar felt like they just weren’t cutting it anymore. I needed to broaden my horizons, to reboot, to find something fresh to add another notch to my belt.
A friend of ours at Generator NI suggested I look into a conference and festival taking place in October, not my usual time of the year to visit the UK. Further, I was told it took place in East Anglia, a place I’ve not had the opportunity to visit in my 9 years of travelling to the country. Sounded like a good shout, eh? Starting today and through the rest of this week, I hope to give you a better idea of and a flavour for Norwich Sound and Vision, the East of England town in which it takes place in and why everyone – from music professionals to the obsessive fan – would do well to look into this boutique happening. Though it’s smaller than The Great Escape, it’s one of the better-run events on the calendar, staffed by passionate local leadership and staff truly devoted to the cause.
I had been aware of the strength of Norwich’s musical community, having noticed that at every Liverpool Sound City we’ve attended (prior to this year when the event was moved to the docklands, at least) always had a Norwich-sponsored showcase. Of course, you wouldn’t put on such a regional showcase unless 1) you had secured the financial support from local culture-related offices (read: there are people in your area who are excited about and want to help you spread the word about local talent) and 2) you felt the quality and potential of the artists in your area were incredible enough to want to shout about it to a wider audience outside your region.
I had the good fortune of having the time to attend both days of the conference and all three nights of the festival. Though the number of delegates is significantly less than that who attend the Great Escape, I thought the programming was excellent, covering a wide range of topics that would appeal to music professionals already in the industry, those looking to make moves into other parts of the business, and budding artists. (In the coming days, I’ll also be bringing you my thoughts on the showcasing artists I witnessed live while in Norwich.)
As the industry landscape changes, especially in terms of how an artist makes enough money not just to survive and break new markets, most usually without the backing of a major label, it’s obvious there is no ‘one size fits all’ standard model towards the yellow brick road of fame and fortune for a new artist. Nor is there one single benchmark of success for every artist to denote he/she/they has/have ‘made it’. Despite both acts first growing their fanbase in Britain and then made successful forays into America and beyond, success achieved by Bear’s Den and Public Service Broadcasting came to be via different paths. Stories like theirs give me hope for the future, and I hope they do the same for you, too. Syncing and streaming, also discussed in their own panel talks, are two topics that should be important to every new band, with the potential for revenue in either or both that could prove significant.
I have to admit that living in TGTF’s little corner of music industry land for quite a few years now, I haven’t needed to give much thought to how many little details must be sorted out, and in good time, to put on and to promote a major music festival and make it successful: sorting out event licences; keeping the local residents happy; making sure there is adequate police, fire brigade and medical emergency services in case god forbid something terrible happens. I know now why there are so many people I have come to know and become friends with that are involved with them, and I will certainly leave those kinds of headaches and heartaches to them. Case in point: Paul Kennedy, cofounder of The Zeitgeist Agency, who PR for Kendal Calling among many other festivals during the year, an event our Martin has covered for us several times including this year, had the unfortunate task of dealing with the fallout of a punter’s death this year at their festival.
The sad example serves as a reminder that although music festivals are big business and are about the organiser’s bottom line and yes, money talks, but it’s important to remember that we’re all part of a greater community, and we can and should be looking out for each other. Ultimately, I feel there are enough of us, with the good in our hearts, all in this together, and we will keep this industry alive and thriving. That’s something we all should feel good about. But that doesn’t mean we should ever rest on our laurels. From there, we need to keep going. And keep pushing.
I recently said, in tears to a manager friend, that as a music editor I often feel like a soldier in a war that will never end, where artists are fighting with each other for regional funding and festival slots and they can’t count on album sales because young people are stealing their music and not respecting their hard work. Quite often, I don’t feel like I’m ever doing enough to help new artists. If I can speak from a purely selfish standpoint, hearing the varied points of view from so many people from different walks of life in our industry made me feel a bit more comfortable at least with my own position, and where TGTF fits in with all of that.
Wherever you are, whoever you are in the music world – whether you’re a professional supporting an artist, you’re an artist making music or you’re a fan who buys concert tickets – what you do and how you act within this world does and has an effect.
Keep fighting the good fight, everyone!
Just in case there was any doubt that I was actually there, here’s a photo of the canal near where I stayed in Norwich. Not going to get that kind of view at most festivals!
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 30th September 2015 at 4:00 pm
Presumably to talk up her current North American tour – she played the Royale in Boston last night – Lianne La Havas has revealed this live video from a performance in Germany this past summer. In it, the BBC Sound of 2012 alum (a vision of loveliness in green leopard print) and her band perform ‘Green & Gold’, a pretty chill track from her current album ‘Blood’, at Grünspan in Hamburg. Watch the live performance below.
The singer/songwriter’s second album ‘Blood’ is available now from Warner Brothers. You can catch all of TGTF’s past coverage of Lianne La Havas through this link.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 29th September 2015 at 4:00 pm
The next release from Scottish trio The Twilight Sad will be their live ‘The Oran Mor Sessions’ song collection. Just exactly as it sounds, the new release features songs from their 2014 album ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’, recorded live at the beautiful, legendary venue in Glasgow.
Last month, we shared with you this live gig video of James Graham, Andy MacFarlane and Mark Devine performing ‘It Was Never the Same’. Today, we have for you the latest reveal from the sessions, in the form of a reworked version of the album title track. Watch it below.
‘The Oran Mor Sessions’ will drop on the 16th of October on FatCat Records. Catch all of TGTF’s previous coverage on The Twilight Sad here.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 23rd September 2015 at 4:00 pm
If you’ve been following TGTF for the last few years, you know that one of my favourite bands is London’s Longfellow. Frankly, I’m still really annoyed that they’ve still not been signed to a major yet. The details surrounding a recent live performance of theirs in the Capital reinforces this annoyance.
BBC Radio 2 has been a longtime supporter of the band, playing their singles during the day, which should tell you a lot about the band’s sound having mainstream appeal. One further, Radio 2 invited the band to headline the BBC Introducing tent at their annual autumn ‘Festival in a Day’ BBC Radio 2 Live at Hyde Park 2 Sundays ago, and they drew a massive crowd. Major labels, are you listening? Here is the band performing their most recent single ‘Choose’, their indie label Fierce Panda’s 300th single, and we have the video thanks to the kind folks at BBC Introducing. Watch it below.
You can read my review of ‘Choose’ here. For more Longfellow goodness, sashay this way.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 22nd September 2015 at 4:00 pm
Adelaide, Australia band Atlas Genius are currently on tour in America. Earlier this month, the group – lead by brothers Keith and Michael Jeffery – stopped in at the House of Blues in San Diego, where Yahoo! filmed this performance of ‘Molecules’, a single from their second album ‘Inanimate Objects’,that was released on the 28th of August, which followed their popular debut album, 2013’s ‘When It Was Now’. Watch the performance below.
Next in the album track listing after ‘Molecules’, I reviewed another of Atlas Genius’ singles, ‘Stockholm’, back in July ahead of the LP’s release. For more on Atlas Genius on TGTF, here.
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