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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 13th January 2017 at 6:00 pm
London lo-fi group Happyness are heading out to SXSW 2017 and Austin for a second time in March. Though you might think lo-fi rockers would be slackers by their laid-back sound, this trio has been hard at work over the last year. Back in September, they released the ‘Tunnel Vision on Your Part’ EP, which featured the opening track ‘Anna, Lisa Calls’, which we featured in this previous Live Gig Video feature here.
Now they’ve announced the release date for their sophomore album, the follow-up to 2014’s now beloved ‘Weird Little Birthday’. ‘Write-In’ will be released on Moshi Moshi in the UK and Bar/None in America on the 7th of April, just a few weeks after their appearance at the big dance in Austin. For an early taste of their upcoming second album, have a watch and listen to lead single ‘Falling Down’ just below. To read more on Happyness on TGTF, come right this way.
Brooklyn-based chamber-pop collective San Fermin didn’t give themselves a lot of room for growth when they began their career with eight members back in 2012. Personal and professional space comes at a premium in a rock band so large and so diverse, and lineup changes are almost inevitable. San Fermin have seen their share of those, especially among their roster of female vocalists. However, the band’s latest single ‘Open’ shows both a slight change in musical direction and a renewed emphasis on the female voices in the group.
‘Open’ presents itself as atmospheric and ethereal, almost intangible, in contrast with the heavy clamour of earlier tracks like ‘Sonsick’. Here, a tapestry of soaring strings and high, lilting vocal melodies is gradually woven with threads of bass, percussion and guitar, creating a steady dynamic ascent. But lead singer Charlene Kaye, backed by a descant vocal from bandmate Rebekah Durham, sets a thematic tone of emotional descent into illicit longing with the song’s suggestive opening lines, “Finally, are you ready for me? Is she gone?”
The jarring sonic dissonance in the instrumental bridges between verses is perhaps a less-than-sublte reflection of the lyrical protagonist’s inner turmoil, but the overwhelming impression of the song is one of exquisite sensuality. Kaye’s delivery of the chorus line “give me your mouth, give me your skin” is both possessed and possessive; haunting in its desperation, but also alluringly seductive.
San Fermin’s longtime bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone describes the track as follows: “‘Open’ was the keystone of this new record – the song I kept coming back to that shaped the direction of everything else. It’s a call from that little nagging voice telling you that you might be a bad person, or at least want bad things.” If nothing else, the song will leave you wanting to hear more of San Fermin’s sharper, smoother new sound.
San Fermin’s new single ‘Open’ is taken from their forthcoming album ‘Belong’, which is due out later this year on Downtown Records / Interscope. The band is currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017; keep an eye on TGTF for our coverage from Austin later this year. Our extensive previous coverage of San Fermin, dating back to their self-titled 2013 debut LP, is right back here.
Leeds rock band Menace Beach, co-fronted by Liza Violet and Ryan Needham, have announced their sophomore album ‘Lemon Memory’, due out next Friday, the 20th of January, on Memphis Industries. Named for a “citrus based curse” said to have been placed on Ryan and Liza’s house, the album opens with the macabre ‘Give Blood’, which is streaming at the bottom of this page.
Immediately following the release of ‘Lemon Memory’, Menace Beach will set out on tour through the UK, including stops in London and Glasgow and a homecoming show in Leeds. Tickets are on sale now. Then in March, Menace Beach will make their American debut at SXSW 2017, so keep an eye out for TGTF’s coverage from Austin. In the meantime, you can check out our review of their 2015 EP ‘Super Transporterreum’ right back here.
Tuesday 31st January 2017 – Sheffield Picture House
Wednesday 1st February 2017 – Leicester Cookie
Thursday 2nd February 2017 – Birmingham Hare and Hounds
Friday 3rd February 2017 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Saturday 4th February 2017 – Southampton Joiners
Monday 6th February 2017 – Oxford Bullingdon Arms
Tuesday 7th February 2017 – Brighton Hope and Ruin
Wednesday 8th February 2017 – London Moth Club
Thursday 9th February 2017 – Cambridge Portland Arms
Friday 10th February 2017 – Liverpool Magnet
Saturday 11th February 2017 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Sunday 12th February 2017 – Glasgow Broadcast
Wednesday 15th February 2017 – Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s
Thursday 16th February 2017 – Newcastle Cluny
Friday 17th February 2017 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Kettering psych rock band Temples have announced a list of live dates to be played in England this spring, following the release of their forthcoming second album ‘Volcano’. The new LP is due out on the 3rd of March via Heavenly Recordings, and the band have also unveiled a new track from it, titled ‘Strange or Be Forgotten’. Bassist Tom Walmsley describes the impetus for the song: “We’re continually inundated with pressure in modern life to have to make something of ourselves and leave behind a legacy in this world. ‘Strange Or Be Forgotten’ is our way of questioning the necessity of having to be all so individual and unique – when really it’s our true selves that should be celebrated.” You’ll find a stream of ‘Strange or Be Forgotten’ just below the tour date listing.
Temples’ upcoming shows in England are part of a larger European tour; you can find a full listing of their live dates on the band’s official Web site. In the midst of their English tour, Temples will also make a stop at the 2Q Festival in Derby on the 1st of April. Tickets for the following shows will be available today starting at 10 AM.
TGTF’s previous coverage of Temples, including a live review from Kendal Calling 2015, is collected right through here.
Sunday 26th March 2017 – Newcastle Riverside
Monday 27th March 2017 – Sheffield Leadmill
Tuesday 28th March 2017 – Manchester Academy 2
Thursday 30th March 2017 – London Brixton Electric
Friday 31st March 2017 – Brighton Concorde 2
Sunday 2nd April 2017 – Birmingham Institute 2
Thursday 27th April 2017 – Bristol Trinity Centre
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 12th January 2017 at 6:00 pm
Christopher Taylor, better known as the shadowy, hooded, electronically gifted producer creature SOHN, releases his second album tomorrow. ‘Rennen’ will be available from 4AD from all good physical and online shops in 6 hours for the Brits and the Irish, and a bit longer for us here in the States. You can read my review of the highly enjoyable LP back here. The album opens with ‘Hard Liquor’, which now has its own music video.
The promo takes full advantage of the juxtaposition of light and dark, black and white, and in a beautifully artful way. The video also plays to the darkness of alcohol dependency and depression. Watch it below. I’m very excited to get a chance to see Taylor play live again after more than 2 long years in Austin in March, as he’s scheduled to perform at this year’s SXSW 2017. To read more of TGTF’s coverage of SOHN, peruse the archive through here.
I confess that until recently, I’d never heard of The Blue Aeroplanes. However, after reading up on the Bristolian band’s history and influence, as well as the work of its various members, it’s pretty clear they’re connected in some way to a wide range of artists that I’ve been listening to for a long time. From ex-members working with the likes of Placebo and Massive Attack, to reportedly being the best band that Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield has seen live, it feels like The Blue Aeroplanes have, whilst remaining relatively underground, permeated the layers of music history.
The Blue Aeroplanes haven’t released an album in 6 years, since ‘Anti-Gravity’ in 2011. Bearing in mind their first studio album came out in 1984, it’s quite an impressive feat in itself that they’re putting out new material after all this time. That’s even before you consider the band’s incredible history. The Blue Aeroplanes have released almost 12 studio albums across 4 decades and have had a dizzying history of band members over the years. The band’s current lineup also consists of long-serving drummer John Langley, Gerard Starkie, Sharp (bass), Bec Jevons (guitar/vocals) and Mike Youe (guitar).
Their latest, ‘Welcome, Stranger!’, was just released last Friday through Art Star and a PledgeMusic campaign. The album has an old school feel to it, particularly in the edgy drawl of guitars and lead singer Gerard Langley’s distinctive smoky vocals evocative of ‘90s shoegaze. This is a rather wonderful and eclectic mix of subdued indie upbeat rock with Sprechgesang. I can’t tell if I think it’s brilliant or just a bit mad, although I guess there’s not reason why it can’t be both.
Tracks such as ‘Here is the Heart of All Wild Things’, Poetland’, ‘Retro Moon’ and ‘Nothing Will Ever Happen in the Future’ feature Gerard Langley speak-singing over the track, pulling it off with a biting poetic flair. In the latter, he speaks over a gently twanging guitar during the verses, before singing “we want to be wanted / we need to be needed / we love to be loved” during the chorus. I’d argue this is more a pithy comment on celebrity culture than a personal confession. On ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree!’, which opens up to a steadily beating drum before a shoegaze-esque guitar breaks in, Langley and co. repeatedly sing out the title of the track. It even features Langley imitating a crow in a strained squawk. This one is a must listen.
A bit like ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree!’, ‘Elvis Festival’ is brilliantly strange: “You sing badly / but no one cares / you are Elvis”. Other lyrics from it made me laugh out loud at first (“his wife sewed on the sequins / but he made the cape himself”), but then I couldn’t stop playing it for the simple guitar riff and drum beat and brilliantly utilised cowbell that had me dancing along, wishing I was at a festival. ‘Skin’ is a little more upbeat, a diversion from other tracks on the album. Not only does it feature vocals from Bec Jevons (also of IDestroy), but it’s also a straight-to-the-point, fast-paced track. It’s an interesting contrast to the other obscure tracks on the album. Jevons sings, “this is my skin and I welcome you in”, with skin being the central focus of connecting to someone else, not only in tactile terms, but the idea of letting someone into your skin and seeing the world the way that you might see it.
Overall, it’s an interesting and exciting listen and deserves to be properly heard to appreciate the songs’ witty wordplay. Its timeless quality makes the LP sound like it could have been produced any time over the past couple of decades. Despite the fact that I found it an enjoyable listen, it’s unlikely to remove the band from their underground cult status and into the mainstream. Having said that, from what I’ve read of the band so far, it doesn’t seem like that’s likely to be their goal. ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ feels more like the work of a band that is making music for the joy of it rather than for fame or notoriety. And it’s sure to be an album that will please the existing fans that have been waiting patiently for new material.
The Blue Aeroplanes’ latest album ‘Welcome, Stranger!’, out now on Art Star, definitely deserves a listen, if you’re not already a fan. The band are in the midst of a UK tour this month; check out the UK dates listed on their official Web site. The bits we have here on TGTF on the band are back here in our archive.
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