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Album Review: The Coronas – The Long Way

 
By on Wednesday, 4th March 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Last year when lead singer of the Coronas Danny O’Reilly was explaining to RTE 2fm presenter Rick O’Shea how they never thought they would make it out of Ireland, I realised I had never really considered how bands outside America or the UK might feel like they’ve not reached their full potential or even somehow failed if they never are able to bring their music outside of their country’s borders. Having sold out countless venues at home and having already released three studio albums on their own label 3ú Records at home in Ireland, you can now certainly say the Coronas have made it out: last summer they inked a deal with UK heavyweight Island Records and if a physical gesture of their commitment was needed, the band also pulled up roots, now calling London home. I can’t help but think the name of their first album for Island, ‘The Long Way’, is a wry smile and nod to the years of graft and the lengthy journey they needed to take to get them where they are today.

While the album’s songs were written well before their signing to Island, some credit must be given to producer Eliot James, who also worked on Two Door Cinema Club‘s monster debut ‘Tourist History’ and Kaiser Chiefs‘ ‘Off With Their Heads’. Further, as you would rightly expect with the backing of a major label, the Coronas sound is much bigger and grander this time around than their last album, 2011’s ‘Closer to You’. The new LP begins confidently with heavy hitter ‘All the Others’, which peaked at #3 on the Irish Singles Chart when it was released there last May, the band’s highest charting single to date. It’s followed by the brash single ‘Just Like That'; its emotional lines “I’m not saying I want you back unless you say it first / ’cause I’ve said things just like that only to end up getting hurt” are so incredibly catchy, the desperate sadness of the words is masked. Almost. You also can’t help but chuckle at the hoovers in love in its accompanying promo; who knew the secret lives of our cleaning machines were so complicated?

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‘The Long Way’ is not a complete downer. However, one can’t really escape the feeling that some of the more upbeat numbers are a bit forced. ‘How This Goes’ sounds like a cardio workout at a music festival near you this summer, played at rapid speed and replete with echoing whoa-ohs. ‘Get Loose’ recalls the happy-go-lucky style of Jason Mraz, its bouncy rhythm certain to put a smile on your face, if not change your world. Is this what happens to a band after they sign their life away to a major? I try not to think about Maroon 5’s transformation after the ‘Harder to Breathe’ era.

Somewhat ironically, it’s the tracks that see the Coronas returning home, to the feeling they created on their first three homespun albums that feel the most genuine, as if you’re looking right into their hearts. ‘What a Love’ smartly utilises understated instrumentation to highlight O’Reilly’s warm vocals, which lift and open up in the bridge, as he encourages all to “choose the kind [of love] that gets you safe / someone to share the blame, but share the great…yeah it should inspire you”. ‘At the Same Time’ is my vote for clear standout, chronicling a painful breakup where “we both walked out from the same fight / but I never thought we’d give up at the same time”. While there is comfort to be found in the pop melody, with joyful piano and synths moving the song forward as if in parallel to be sympathetic to the protagonist’s need to move forward with his life, there’s no denying the underlying hurt (most likely the breakup of O’Reilly’s relationship with Irish tv presenter Laura Whitmore).

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When Kodaline first appeared on the scene in 2012, a lot of critics were saying they’d be the Irish Coldplay, but Kodaline’s mates the Coronas could very well be next in line to the piano stadium rock/pop throne. Another heartwrenching standout ‘If I Gave to Someone Else’ is a worthy competitor to ‘All I Want’ as O’Reilly asks miserably, “if I gave myself to someone else / would it hurt just a little less?” as Dave McPhillips’ bright guitar line throughout lightens the tune up considerably. With its melancholic moments, ‘The Long Way’ can be a tough listen, but the reward is in hearing the beginning stages of a band well on their way to becoming international stars.

7.5/10

‘The Long Way Home’ is out next Monday, the 9th of March, on Island Records. Catch the Coronas on their 2-week UK tour that begins on the 20th of March in Leeds.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2015: Australian artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW (A – G)

 
By on Wednesday, 4th March 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2015 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Sounds Australia brings a veritable cornucopia, by genre, of acts to many major music festivals around the world during the year, including TGTF May UK festival favourites The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City. Their Australian contingent always has a massive presence at SXSW, and this year is no exception. In addition to the annual, all-day Aussie BBQ advertised as the biggest Australian band showcase outside of Oz, it’s sure to be a good time with 25 of the hottest Australian acts performing at Brush Square Park on the Friday of this year’s festival. With much assistance from our Aussie friend NickiGirlStar, today and tomorrow we’ll be introducing you to many of the bands coming from down under. Whether you’re lucky enough to head out to Austin in 2 weeks or not, we hope you’re find a new act (or three) to fall in love with.

Ball Park Music (Brisbane)
These five twenty somethings from Brisbane, Australia play sunny, upbeat indie pop rock tunes since 2008. Lead singer Sam Cromack has a charismatic presence on stage not unlike Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. Very much a party and dance sound.

I’ve seen them inspire thousands at Australia’s major festival Splendour in the Grass to sing and dance to their pop anthem ‘It’s Nice to Be Alive’. Their popularity keeps growing, and it is not unusual for even the larger Sydney venues to sell out when they come to town.

‘Puddinghead’ is their second and current album and was released in April 2014. It includes the disco track ‘She Only Loves Me When I’m There’, which made #19 on the triple j Hottest 100 listing in 2014; they also successfully nabbed spot #58 with “Everything is Shit Except My Friendship With You”. Go check them out if you want to brighten up your day and have a bit of a groove.

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Bloods (Sydney)
This three piece punk group – two girls doing the guitar/bass thing and a token male playing drums – like to yell, jump around and belt out their punchy tunes at a rapid rate. Their debut album “Work It Out” was released in 2014.

They have been on the scene since 2011. They’re a popular act at indie festivals and also score quite a few support spots for visiting overseas bands when they come to Oz. A highlight of theirs in 2014 was supporting ‘90s American punk outfit Veruca Salt, which I thought was a pretty good match musically. Another notable support slot was for the Dum Dum Girls. Lead singer Sweetie oozes swag and keeps the other two in line. I always enjoy seeing Bloods and taking in their infectious girl punk sound, and I hope you do too.

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Carmada (Sydney)
You know how Pendulum changed the game a couple years ago, being an Australian band and bringing their fresh take on drum ‘n’ bass? Pendulum may be no more but Carmada, the musical marriage of solo musician/producers L D R U and Yahtzel, are about to melt your face off with a refreshing blend of electro, soul and hip hop. (Mary Chang)

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The Church (Sydney)
Where do I start with The Church? They have been in my portfolio of sounds to love since I can remember. It was 1980 when The Church launched their goth rock at a gig in Sydney. Thirty years later, they have been inducted into the Australian Recording Artists Association (ARIA) Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and have taken the wondrous 30-year anniversary tour “Future Past Perfect” around Australia and then to America in 2011.

In 2014 part of the band’s backbone, Marty Wilson-Piper, departed, with ex-lead guitarist and singer for Powderfinger Ian Hague coming onboard to fill the void. They also released their 25th studio album ‘Further/Deeper’ and were invited as the keynote speakers for Australia’s version of SXSW, BIGSOUND in Brisbane. In addition to SXSW, they’ll be touring America again this year.

The music of The Church is a mystical brand of goth rock that transports your mind to another plane. The emotion runs deep within the songs. Some of Australia’s classic rock songs have been penned by The Church, most notably ‘Under the Milky Way’, ‘The Unguarded Moment’, ‘Almost With You’ and ‘Metropolis’. Definitely go see The Church.

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Courtney Barnett (Melbourne); read past TGTF coverage on her here
Courtney Barnett has toured around the U.S. a bit and from what I hear, she’s had a good reception. I actually picked up her 2013 double EP ‘A Sea of Split Peas’ while on a mid-2014 California holiday; there it was all pride of place at Lou’s Records in Encinitas. There are so many great tracks on the double EP to get excited about: ‘Avant Gardener’, ‘Lance Jr’, ‘Scotty Says’ and ‘Out of the Woodwork’ that will have you singing and swaying and thinking why you haven’t already heard of Courtney Barnett. In addition, one of Courtney’s singles from 2014, ‘Pickles From the Jar’, won the #51 spot on the triple j Hottest 100.

I really enjoy Courtney’s work, her music and lyrics have a distinctive Australian flavour to them and she always comes across as she would be your bestie if you just happened to live next door to her. Courtney’s style is a mixture of shoegaze and jangly rock on the recordings, but she gets more worked up at a live show and really gets into the performance and rocks down with her band members Bones and Dave. I recommend you checking out her showcase at this year’s SXSW.

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The Delta Riggs (Melbourne)
These psych-rockers playfully known as ‘Le Riggs’ are no strangers to the USA, having played at Culture Collide and CMJ festivals in 2014. Their current persona is playful, especially witnessed in the filmclips for ‘The Record’s Flawed’ (think Sergeant Pepper-style pop art) and ‘Supersonic Casualties’ off their 2014 album ‘Dipz Zebazios’, which has been stirring up the punters and promoters alike. In early 2015 they will be supporting Foo Fighters across Australia and in the past have also supported Kasabian and Primal Scream.

Absolutely drop by The Delta Riggs’ set if you want to have a groove to some good rock beats and see a damn fine all star performance from the band and their superstar frontman Elliott Hammond, who has all the moves and energy and then some. I’ve been saying for years that Elliott is one of the best performers around, and it is most certainly time for him and his bandmates to shine.

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Demi Louise (Melbourne)
Let’s face it, the young female indie folk singer/songwriter genre is pretty crowded in the UK already, with Lucy Rose leading the pack. But Demi Louise might give all these ladies a run for their money this year at SXSW 2015. Check out the haunting ‘Ruins’ with its dextrous guitar work for further evidence.

Despite still being unsigned, the 21-year old Melbournian already has plenty of international experience under her belt. In 2014, she ditched the chance to perform on Aussie X Factor – although she had already passed the necessary auditions – to play at Liverpool Sound City, so she already has huge points in my book for wanting to spread her music the old fashioned way. She’s also opened for Gabrielle Aplin in England, as well as TGTF favourites Kodaline in their hometown of Dublin. (Mary Chang)

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Falls (Sydney); read our past coverage on Falls here
Acoustic folk duo Melinda and Simon hail from Sydney via Darwin (a far northwest tropical monsoonal city in Australia’s Northern Territory) who now live in Los Angeles after being signed to Universal in 2013. In Sydney they were the drawcard and brains behind Folk Club, where they performed every week for 5 years or more and also embraced other artists to perform on the bill to an appreciative audience that continued to build each week.

Folk Club helped the Sydney folk scene flourish. It was a magical time for all involved and we owe Falls a lot for being instrumental in this renaissance of Aussie folk music. Melinda and Simon were able to do achieve all of this because they were drop dead lyrically and musically good. It was always a joy to see them perform, the songs never lost their potency and continued to draw you week after week. It was not unusual for me to have tears in my eyes each Wednesday night as they performed their evocative songs such as ‘Home’, ‘Into the Fire’ and ‘Hollywood’.

Melinda has a lovely true full voice that will grab you by the heart and reminds me of another Australian folk singer, Judith Durham, who made such worldwide hits such as ‘Georgie Girl’ in the 1960s with her band The Seekers. I always felt that Melinda’s voice should also gain worldwide notice and am hoping this will turn out to be the case. Don’t miss seeing Falls, as they are a top-notch act worthy of attention and will appeal to all regardless of age and genre preference that some people may have.

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George Maple
Pop might be a bad word in some circles. But George Maple is trying to change that with minimalist electronic backdrops and her soulful voice singing about the not so pop topics of melancholy and sadness. With famous friends like Flume (on whose ‘Bring You Down’ she guested on) and Kwes, she’s already got incredible street cred. Oh, and by the way, George is a woman… (Mary Chang)

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The Gooch Palms (Newcastle)
Take a listen to ‘We Get By’ for proof that this girl drummer and boy guitarist like to shock as much as play a catchy punk rock tune. Energetic, raunchy, sometimes gross and in your face performances can be expected from this pair. Expect to get caught up in the moment by shaking your booty to their jaunty tunes. I would not be surprised if they have in mind some tricks of shock value level to dazzle their audiences at SXSW. Some of the international bands they have graced the stage with are the Thee Oh Sees, 5,6,7,8’s, Nobunny, Hunx and His Punx, Shannon and the Clams, and The King Khan and BBQ Show. I am sure you will find The Gooch Palms very likeable and the antidote to boring showcase performances.

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Stay tuned for part 2 of our coverage of Australian artists showcasing at SXSW 2015, which concludes tomorrow.

 

Communion New Faces / April 2015 English Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 4th March 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Communion Music has just announced the third installment of its biannual New Faces tour, which will take place this April in venues across England. The tour will feature a rotating bill, giving each artist a chance to headline at least one show and putting the emphasis on introducing up-and-coming talent to new audiences. Showcasing musicians include piano pop artist Frances, acoustic troubadour Tenterhook, singer/songwriter Charlotte OC (pictured above and profiled by our David ahead of SXSW 2015 here) and alt-pop songwriter Freddie Dickson.

If you purchase your ticket from MusicGlue via Communion’s Web site you will receive a free EP download featuring a taster track from each artist on the tour. Below the tour date listing, you can sample Frances’ latest track ‘A Million Lines’. Tickets for the following dates are available now.

Monday 20th April 2015 – Liverpool Arts Club
Wednesday 22nd April 2015 – Leeds Brudenell
Thursday 23rd April 2015 – Manchester Ruby Lounge
Friday 24th April 2015 – Oxford Bullingdon
Monday 27th April 2015 – Brighton Sticky Mike’s
Tuesday 28th April 2015 – London St. Stephen’s Church
Wednesday 29th April 2015 – Bristol Louisiana

 

Darlia / April and May 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 4th March 2015 at 8:00 am
 

Blackpool rock band Darlia will headline eight live shows in the UK this spring, following on the release of their mini-album ‘Petals’ last week and their recent February tour. Below the tour date listing, watch the video for the band’s latest single ‘I’ve Never Been to Ohio’.

Ahead of their own headline shows, Darlia will support The Wombats on their April tour of the UK. Tickets for the following shows will be available today, the 4th of March, at 9 AM.

Tuesday 14th April 2015 – Guildford Boileroom
Saturday 18th April 2015 – Warwick University
Friday 1st May 2015 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Saturday 2nd May 2015 – Stockton Georgian Theatre
Sunday 3rd May 2015 – Edinburgh Electric Circus
Tuesday 5th May 2015 – Manchester Club Academy
Wednesday 6th May 2015 – London Electric Ballroom
Friday 8th May 2015 – Birmingham Library

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(SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1755 (and more!): Bad Veins

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Bad Veins came out of Cincinnati native Benjamin Davis’ solo bedroom project, then becoming an engaging live act with fellow founding member Sebastien Schultz on drums. After high-profile support slots for big names like TGTF favourites Two Door Cinema Club and We Were Promised Jetpacks, in 2013 Schultz called it quits, with Jake Bonta replacing him on the skins.

‘The Mess We Made’ was Bad Veins’ 2013 album that includes Schultz’s drumming, and now in 2 weeks (just in time for SXSW 2015!), Bad Veins 2.0 will be releasing ‘The Mess Remade’, a rerecorded, remastered, redone rehash if you will of the album from 2 years ago. An addition to the new LP not previously available on the earlier album is a cover of the Muppets’ ‘Rainbow Connection’, which appropriately has a Davis-like muppet playing the guitar and singing to a dejected, bespectacled Bonta. Even Irene, Bad Veins’ stalwart reel-to-reel tape deck companion, is also lovingly brought to puppet life for this promo. Watch it below. Also included below is the redone cut of fan favourite ‘Kindness’.

 

6 Music Festival 2015 on Tyneside: Sunday Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

To catch up on the first half of Martin’s review of Sunday at the 6 Music Festival 2015, click here.

An event should never be defined by its headliners – and for such a prestigious event, it could be argued that 6 Music weren’t too bothered about the halo effect of an international superstar topping the bill. Headlining the dark ‘n’ moody dance room (usually known as the Northern Rock Foundation Hall) was Daniel Avery, whose set provoked some discussion. Specifically, what do dance music producers actually *do* live? He presses the odd button, tweaks the odd knob, but mostly spends his time gyrating with his headphones over one ear. The plinth is arranged so we punters can’t see what equipment he’s got or what he’s doing, so one has to assume he’s booted up a MacBook Air and just pressed play. Musically, it’s inventive stuff, both danceable and listenable, but I’d like a bit more of a live performance.

One thing’s for sure, people really love The Charlatans. When I say people, I mean the middle-class-of-a-certain-age that occupy Hall One tonight. Surely nobody in 1990 would have predicted that they would become one of the country’s most durable and sought-after live acts. Perhaps it’s their dogged tenacity that people like; their sound hasn’t really developed beyond the baggy themes that they’ve purveyed for the past 25 years. Tim Burgess is becoming a bit of an icon, despite only a moderately interesting voice and his unusual hinting-at-transvesticism shock of blonde hair and oversized cardigan. Or maybe it’s the ever-present Hammond organ that’s the secret to their success. It’s difficult to argue that The Charlatans are as important a band and the Blurs, Suedes and Stone Roses of this world, but they could certainly teach their contemporaries a thing or two about persistence, and it’s paid off in their well-received headline show tonight.

A quick glance at The Maccabees is enough to know they’re not going to outdo The Charlatans in the indie-rock stakes, and so it falls to Teleman to be unlikely winner of the ‘Headliner of the Day’ award. Their subtle, Krautrock-influenced songs are tinged with wide-eyed innocence, not to say the ghost of Sparks, and they manage to end up in a brilliant crescendo courtesy of an extended version of ‘I’m Not in Control’. Teleman have a refreshing, shiny newness to them that neither The Charlatans’ greatest hits set nor The Maccabees’ laddish jollity can compete with. It is perhaps surprising that 6 Music went with such safe, established headliners (Teleman excepted, of course), as the absence of Jon Hopkins was sorely felt. (Get well soon!)

I’ve been somewhat critical of the Sage Gateshead in the past: for being too uptight, too high-brow, and too authoritarian to really enjoy a night out there. But tonight, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s ironic that the combination of two deeply establishment entities should actually give rise to an event as comparatively anarchic as tonight, but that is what happened. In the year of her 10th birthday, Sage let her hair down – and it was beautiful. The most obvious example of which is the never-before-seen removal of the seats in Hall One, which your faithful correspondent accurately predicted would happen in a Tweet to the Sage – they were naturally tight-lipped about it in advance, of course, but it shows how much clout the BBC had over how the evening was run, and the Sage management deserve a huge amount of credit for taking the leap of faith and going along with it.


Tonight proved what power for simultaneous multi-disciplinary performance Sage has until now kept hidden beneath her taffeta. I’m prepared to stand corrected, but tonight was the first time that pints were thrown and spliffs were smoked in the Sage. A small victory for people with souls. The door staff even seemed to let their hair down a little and go with the relaxed atmosphere. Not entirely though: I got told off for standing on a step. It’s ironic that it should be the BBC, one of the biggest, most tarnished, most confused bureaucracies that the world has ever seen (let’s not forget that in a uniquely misguided spasm of dithering the powers that be came very close to shutting down 6 Music itself) that should encourage Sage to effectively shed her staid overclothes and teach her how to have a good time. At the age of 10.

Or perhaps that’s the one thing that the BBC’s good at, I forget. At any rate, whether through an honest desire to bring good music and the spotlight of publicity to the regions, or alternatively a desperate attempt to inject some much-needed credibility and goodwill into an ailing institution, this was a brilliantly-conceived and superbly-executed weekend that only a churl would see as anything less than a roaring success. Where next? Nottingham, Glasgow, Bristol? They’re going to have to work hard to top Tyneside.

Performances from across the weekend can be found on the BBC iPlayer or via the red button on any digital TV. Massive thanks to Kate and the festival publicity team for sorting out out accreditation.

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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