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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 17th April 2015 at 6:00 pm
Off the back of their incredible time at SXSW 2015 last month including the Music Wales night Tuesday in Austin and the sold-out UK tour that followed, Catfish and the Bottlemen have something new for their fans today. The promo for ‘Homesick’, off their 2014 debut album ‘The Balcony’, gives the devoted a sneak peek behind the scenes of what touring life is like for the Welsh band. Watch it below.
The band have back to back shows scheduled in London in November at Brixton Academy, but as you might have already predicted, they have long since sold out. Check out past Catfish coverage on TGTF, including Martin’s interview with Van McCann at Kendal Calling 2014, here.
The video to Tall Ships’ new single ‘Will to Life’ plants images of families in the street throwing coloured powders at each other in an explosion of shades. It’s the kind of portrait that plants itself right at Tall Ships’ door, as their explosive, chiming riffs conjure up the smells and chaos that seems to be associated with the Indian festival of Holi, a time celebrating creation and renewal by Hindus all over Britain, effectively rejoicing in people’s verve for life. So it’s rather fitting their new lyric video goes hand in hand with this stunning tapestry of music and religion: I can just imagine an explosion of colour around the band as the first riff drops.
In essence, what Tall Ships have managed to show, and in just 4 minutes, is an evolution from where they were on ‘Everything Touching’ (arguably the best prog record of 2012) to where they are now, on their way to becoming a force in 2015. It’s a gorgeous track full of vitality and energy, bursting at the seams with quite simply a will *for* life. If you were a fan of their debut and of course, the blissfully insane beast that was ‘T=0’, then you’ll be pleased Rich Phethean, Matt Parker and Jamie Bush haven’t departed from the slightly unhinged formula which made you fall in love with them.
OK, they’re the umpteenth Brighton–based outfit to get to that difficult second album, but they’re not a flash in the pan, that’s a dead cert. With a strong semi-underground following, Tall Ships are going to be pulling up roots this year, as ‘Will to Life’ is the kind of song which will see their live set really take off; well, if Phethean can guarantee he can hit these high notes on stage…
It’s got singalong credentials and is off the wall enough to get the bods at 6 Music falling over their gillets. It’s the kind of song which will have you spilling that seventh pint of Carling from your plastic cup, whilst you wave your hands above your head. Whether this is going to a breakthrough is yet to be seen, but it’s obvious Tall Ships are coming out all guns blazing with this record. And I love it.
Tall Ships’ upcoming single ‘Will to Life’ will be released on a 7″ on the 25th of May on Too Pure Singles.
Jacob Dillan Summers is something of an unlikely songwriter. Having evolved through a sheltered fundamentalist Christian childhood into a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps and from there into an ill-fated love affair that led him to Alaska and back, Summers eventually found himself in Los Angeles, where he took on the unlikely moniker Avid Dancer and wrote an equally unlikely debut album, titled ‘1st Bath’.
On first listen, ‘1st Bath’ has all the trappings of a record written in Southern California: mellow guitar tones and light, laid-back vocals recorded in a gauzy haze of distortion and distance. More generally atmospheric than evocative of a specific emotion, the album has the pleasant warmth of a sun-soaked day along with the mildly disorienting effect of the sun shining into your eyes. I had my first full listen to ‘1st Bath’ during a trail run in the Tucson desert, and it occurred to me in that setting that the album is aurally equivalent to the bright shimmer of midday sunlight, its sharp clarity initially obscured by the glare.
Opening track ‘All the Other Girls’ sets the tone for the album with an echoing background vocal melody over a groovy foundational bass and Summers’ detached double-tracked vocals opposing the intense emotional longing of the main guitar riff. This track also sees the first of several surprising instrumental choices, in this case the sax solo that extends to the end of the song. Early single ‘All Your Words Are Gone’ has a ’60s acoustic folk vibe, and Summers’ singing is mildly reminiscent of Paul Simon over the lines “find your joy / find your joy today / don’t have to look so hard / don’t have to look so far”. The vibraphone melody in the ending adds a very delicate and genuine quality to an already outstanding example of songwriting.
In the middle of the tracklisting, Summers dials up both the tempo and the emotional intensity of the album. The distorted guitars and skittering percussion of ‘Not Far to Go’ relay a more anxious feeling, while ‘All the Things You Keep’ tosses aside the previously relaxed pace for a prominent bass groove and restlessly pounding drums. By the time the buzzing synths of ‘Medication’ kick in, the vibe of the album has definitely sharpened to a harder edge. ‘I Want to See You Dance’ completely abandons the shimmering effect of the earlier tracks and takes on more of an ’80s synth pop style with a vibe that feels almost more punk than folk.
From this point of denouement, Summers backtracks through gentle folk ballads (‘Whatever’s on Your Mind’) and California dream pop (‘Nobody Else’) before touching on the vaguely country twang of ‘Why Did I Leave You Behind’ and closing with the edgier electric guitars and discordant harmonies of ‘Up Against a Wall’. The wide stylistic variety is balanced by the album’s consistent melodicism, in both the vocal and instrumental lines, and its overarching lo-fi production quality.
Avid Dancer emerged from the ashes of Jacob Summers’ previous life, and his songcraft clearly continued to evolve over the course of writing ‘1st Bath’. The album is a carefully constructed and well thought out collection of songs which manages to experiment with a variety of styles while maintaining a sense of flow and cohesion very rare in a debut. Its summery sonic combination of glimmering sunlight and breezy detachment will no doubt make a perfect accompaniment for vacations at the beach or cruises along the coastline with the top down.
Avid Dancer’s debut album ‘1st Bath’ is available now via Grand Jury Records. Our past coverage of Avid Dancer, including his appearance at SXSW 2015 and my interview with him in Austin, can be found here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 16th April 2015 at 6:00 pm
Lonely the Brave released their debut album ‘The Day’s War’ last year, and things have gone so well, they’re releasing an expanded edition the 8th of June called ‘The Day’s War – Victory Edition’, which will include new tracks not on the original album, plus redux and live versions of songs from the original.
The ‘River, River’ single is bracing and unrelenting, and it’s understandable from watching the video below why it’s a firm fan favourite. However, until the promise of the new ‘Victory Edition’, it stood unreleased. Fans get their wish when the new release drops in June.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 16th April 2015 at 4:00 pm
I get this incredibly happy feeling when I see a UK band I’ve been following for a long time finally get the attention they deserve on this side of the pond. London-based Life in Film have been soldiering on for the last few years, having caught the eye of those fashion hounds at Burberry as early as 2010, leading me to write this Bands to Watch on them the following year. Well, ladies and gents, I am here to tell you graft does pay off, as Life in Film are now gearing up for the release of their Stephen Street-produced debut album ‘Here It Comes’ the 4th of May on ECC Records (the American release follows on the 5th on +1 Records). Now everyone – I’m telling you everyone, from Consequence of Sound to Teen Vogue, from Nylon to Pigeons and Planes – want to talk to them, and I just want to say…well, I was tipping this band way before all of you!
Ahead of the album’s release, Germany-based Berlin Sessions had the foresight to videotape the band playing these stripped back acoustic versions of ‘Get Better’, ‘Alleyway’ and ‘The Idiot’, which all appear on ‘Here It Comes’. If you happen to live in North America, you can catch them as the main support for Liverpool’s Wombats on their tour of our continent starting next Tuesday in Toronto. I’d recommend you catch them now while you still can. Catch all our past coverage on Life in Film here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 16th April 2015 at 12:00 pm
Last summer, London-based alt rock / pop outfit Longfellow released the highly enjoyable ‘Prelude’, a so-called mini-album of tracks. More than an EP but marginally less than a full album, it certainly whet my appetite for further from the five-piece. I’ve been told their debut album is on the horizon (let’s hope it’ll see the light of day later in 2015), but on Monday, the band will release the EP ‘Remedy’, which will tide us over until we get their debut.
‘Remedy’ is a curious title, isn’t it? Are we talking about a cure of medicinal means, or something less literal or obvious, like Little Boots and her “dancing is my remedy, remedy”? There may only be four songs on offer here, but as a neat little set of songs, they run the gamut of human emotion in love and present different options for resolving relationships. The EP begins with strong single ‘Where I Belong’, which at first sounds vaguely stalkerish until you queue it up a couple times.
I was quickly got sucked into the mesmerising rhythm and held onto the spare yet somehow sultry guitar and piano notes (placed perfectly, I might add), and then I fully understood where the song was going. The chorus – “I confess it / I wanna see right through / wanna keep you ’til you’re dust and bone / I want to love ’til my heart stops beating / wanna hold you ’til you turn to stone” – indicates the protagonist of this song is, yes, obsessed with the object of his affection, but the overwhelming sense of loving desire overtakes eeriness. We previously featured ‘Medic’ as a Video of the Moment, and as has been described here and elsewhere, there’s a reason why Longfellow has been tipped to be the successor (and I pray the eventual toppler) to stadium kings Coldplay. Driven by piano tremeloes at the start, it continues to build to an anthemic chorus of “we need to work it out, work it out / we all need a little love sometimes”.
‘Chokehold’ is another beauty but its tempo is gentler; its premise is in stark contrast to ‘Where I Belong’, as it chronicles the need to get out of a toxic relationship, and how important it is to let go when a good thing has gone bad. The one oddball on the EP is track three, ‘Fabric’, which incorporates percussive, echoey synths against at times r&b lead vocal for a more mainstream pop effect. It’s not bad but some reason, it’s not entirely believable from these lads (“you’re so cold, you make my temper rise”), so here’s to hoping the debut album as a whole sounds more like the other three tunes. Fingers crossed.
Longfellow’s new EP ‘Remedy’ is out next Monday, the 20th of April, on Fierce Panda Records. Catch them at Live at Leeds on the 2nd of May and playing a headline show at Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in London on the 5th of May. For past TGTF coverage on Longfellow, head this way.
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