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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th January 2015 at 6:00 pm
Raucous rock duo Slaves have a brand new video for their single ‘The Hunter’. It’s out today on Virgin/EMI Records. The promo is colourful, a little silly, and plenty loud. Watch it below.
All past TGTF coverage on Slaves is this way. The duo will also appear on the high octane bill of the NME Awards Tour 2015 in February and March, which will also star Palma Violets, Fat White Family and the Amazing Snakeheads.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 12th January 2015 at 12:00 pm
The UK music scene is littered with bands and artists chipping away at the coalface of rock, essentially unwavering at the kind of music they believe is their strength, putting in the hard work of songwriting and gigging. While this approach does eventually pay off for some, it seems for most fledging bands, they’ll not had the luck to be discovered by an A&R bod who just happens to stumble into the pub where they’ve set up to play for the evening. So they continue on as they were. Yet every now and again, you hear a success story in which an artist realised he was going about it all wrong, was able to switch gears and head in an entirely different direction that ultimately paid off.
William Doyle, who now goes by the stage name East India Youth, has such a tale that led to his debut album ‘Total Strife Forever’ to be nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize. There can’t be much higher praise for a release I have to assume is a friendly poke at Foals‘ similarly titled LP ‘Total Life Forever’, which was also up for a Mercury gong 4 years prior. But the Bournemouth artist’s career in music didn’t start with the electronic music he’s now known for. Doyle previously fronted Doyle and the Fourfathers, a Smiths-esque indie band from Southampton who were championed early on by BBC 6music presenter Marc Riley.
Though the band seemed poised on the edge of breaking into the mainstream, Doyle himself found himself disillusioned by the touring and “playing with hundreds of Oasis-y, laddy, pubby rock bands”. Somewhere along the way, electronica and ambient sounds proved to be Doyle’s saviour, and Doyle re-emerged under the moniker East India Youth, christened after the East India Docks area in east London where he laid his head during his songwriting days for ‘Total Strife Forever’. It was John Doran, founder of The Quietus, who decided to take a chance on Doyle’s new venture, releasing his ‘Hostel’ EP as the Quietus Phonographic Corporation’s first ever issue.
Judging from the kind of attention East India Youth has garnered since the Mercury nom of Doyle’s debut album with the project, Doran had incredible foresight. From the iciness of opening instrumental track ‘Glitter Recession’ to the remarkably soothing vocals of LP standout ‘Heaven, How Long’, from the dancey abandonment of ‘Dripping Down’ and the freneticism of ‘Hinterland’ to the unearthly, quasi-religious tones of ‘Songs for a Granular Piano’, ‘Total Strife Forever’ is a richly textured effort. How Doyle will pull off the many facets of his acclaimed debut in Austin in March at SXSW 2015 remains to be seen but I, for one, am quite interested to see how he’s received.
Communion Records artists Bear’s Den have just premiered the video for their upcoming single ‘Think of England’, which appears on the band’s stunning debut album ‘Islands’, released back in October.
‘Think of England’ has the bitterly self-reflective air of winter about it, especially in its opening lyrics, “you’re not drinking as much as you used to / I’m the same old, same old / and all those fires that died in our bedroom / I was out, fetching wood.” Sparingly arranged with understated percussion and a poignant guitar riff, the track expands first into a breathtaking chorus and then further into a strikingly dramatic brass interlude.
Directed by Gareth Phillips, the austere black and white video montage features shadowy images of the band members stoically performing the song interlaced with visions of a gracefully restless female dancer, with special visual emphasis on the soaring brass entrance. Lie back and watch, or close your eyes and be transported by the sound.
With the release of ‘Think of England’ on the 2nd of February, Bear’s Den are poised to begin their winter tour of the UK and Ireland. A listing of live dates can be found here.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 9th January 2015 at 4:00 pm
Having already made plenty of waves back home in the UK, Welsh band Catfish and the Bottlemen marked a major milestone last night. They made their American late night tv debut appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in New York City, playing their hit single ‘Kathleen’ from 2014 album fan favourite ‘The Balcony’. Watch the performance below.
Read all of TGTF’s past coverage on the band, including Martin’s interview with frontman Van McCann at Kendal Calling 2014, here.
Toronto alt-pop quintet Alvvays are beginning 2015 as they ended 2014, with a flurry of activity. Their self-titled debut album was released last July and has been lauded as one of the best releases of the year by the likes of NME, the Evening Standard and Drowned in Sound.
The band spent the early part of last autumn touring in Canada and America, then hopped the pond to play in the UK and Europe with Real Estate and Foxygen before wrapping up 2014 with another round of headline dates in North America. Picking up precisely where they left off, Alvvays will open the new year with a full UK tour later this month, followed by European live dates in February and an appearance at SXSW 2015 in March before a spring tour of North America with Colin Meloy and The Decemberists.
Fans of indie pop bands like Belle and Sebastian or Teenage Fanclub will find sonic kindred spirits in Alvvays. The band’s lightly trippy, mildly ironic musicality consists of mid-tempo rhythms and melodic instrumental lines deftly woven into vocal lines that are slightly aloof and removed from the proceedings, both in their lyrics and their restrained dynamic affect. Hints of synthesized keyboards flitter about, keeping a sense of lightness over the full warmth of the bass. Lead singer Molly Rankin’s voice isn’t particularly distinctive except for its consistently pleasant tone, which never falls prey to the strange affectations that many female singers succumb to. Her vocal temperament and the muted production of the vocal effects are a perfect match to the deliberate emotional detachment in her lyrics; for example, the lines “so honey take me by the hand and we can sign some papers / forget the invitations floral arrangements and bread makers” in ‘Archie, Marry Me’.
While Alvvays’ sound seems almost suffocatingly homogenous at first, closer listening reveals subtle degrees of variety. ‘Adult Diversion’, the opening track on the ‘Alvvays’ LP, opens with punchy percussion and a blatantly hooky guitar intro that melts into a muted, understated vocal line. The aforementioned ‘Archie, Marry Me’ and current single ‘Next of Kin’ are upbeat and optimistic, while mid-album tracks ‘Party Police’, ‘The Agency Group’ and ‘Dives’ display a darker, hazier mood. The oddly titled ‘Atop a Cake’ is purely catchy twee pop, sharply constrasted by the starry hypnoticism of final track ‘Red Planet’.
Alvvays’ appearance at SXSW 2014 was a promising introduction for the Canadian quintet, and it proved to be the beginning of wildly successful year for a band whose star is clearly on the rise. The bar of expectation will undoubtedly be raised for their showing in Austin later this year, perhaps giving them an opportunity to expand upon the current limits of their style.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 8th January 2015 at 6:00 pm
I have to be honest, POP ETC fell off my radar after they changed their name from The Morning Benders, so I haven’t kept up what’s been going on in the camp of Chris Chu et al. As their newer band name suggests, their direction is pop, and they spent the first half of 2014 in Japan, where they’d scored Sony Music Japan record deal and also helped write for and produce J-Pop artists. They then returned to Brooklyn to work on POP ETC music.
Their latest reveal is the New Wave jam ‘Running in Circles’. The single is out now, and you can watch the lyric video for the song below.
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