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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 19th May 2015 at 6:00 pm
While on holiday the last 2 weeks, I had a great many discussions about Mumford and Sons and their new, banjo-less (and to me, shockingly double bass-less as well) direction with friends and industry folk alike. In March, John mused over the questionable decision by Reading and Leeds 2015 bookers to have the formerly tweedy nu-folkers headline the August bank holiday festival. However you feel about Marcus Mumford and his crew, their third album ‘Wilder Mind’ is not going anywhere anytime soon, whether it be from the physical and online record shops where it has already achieved a #1 placing or mainstream radio. Therefore, it probably behooves you to at least give some of the new material a shot. Hey, at least you tried, right?
‘The Wolf’ is the next single from Mumford and Sons, due out the 29th of June on Gentlemen of the Road / Island Records. In the official promo for the song, the band plays live and without their trademark tweed, looking more Kings of Leon than themselves. Odd? Good? Bad? Have a go below and let us know what you think.
Just ahead of their highly-anticipated debut album release, boisterous punk rock duo Slaves have announced a new set of headline tour dates for this November. The pair are currently wrapping up their spring headline tour, which included two sold-out nights at the London Scala. Slaves’ new LP ‘Are You Satisfied?’ is due for release on the 1st of June, along with new single ‘Cheer Up London’.
Tickets for the following live dates will be available for general sale starting Friday, the 22nd of May at 9 AM; an exclusive presale runs tomorrow (Wednesday, the 20th of May). Previous TGTF coverage of Slaves can be found right here. Just below the tour date listing, you can watch Slaves cover Skepta’s ‘Shut Down’ in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.
Saturday 14th November 2015 – Bristol Anson Rooms
Sunday 15th November 2015 – Cardiff Student Union
Monday 16th November 2015 – Portsmouth Pyramid
Wednesday 18th November 2015 – Norwich Waterfront
Thursday 19th November 2015 – Glasgow ABC
Friday 20th November 2015 – Newcastle University
Saturday 21st November 2015 – Manchester Ritz
Monday 23rd November 2015 – Leeds Becketts Student Union
Tuesday 24th November 2015 – Liverpool Academy 2
Wednesday 25th November 2015 – Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
Friday 27th November 2015 – London Forum
Header photo by Michael Busse
Unbounded by genre stereotypes, South African singer/songwriter Jeremy Loops combines urban hip-hop rhythms with folky acoustic instrumentation in his recent single ‘Down South’, which features vocals by rapper Motheo Moleko.. Beautiful scenery and bright sunshine are interspersed with live performance action in the upbeat single’s accompanying video, and Loops has added his own personal touch by including footage of both his mother and his horse Troy.
While he spends his nights making music, Jeremy Loops spends his daylight hours fighting deforestation and championing environmentalism with homegrown organization Greenpop. His social message melds with tales of lost love and wanderlust on his debut LP ‘Trading Change’, due out on the 11th of August via Yebo Music.
We at TGTF have featured several top-notch Swedish acts on our pages in recent months, including First Aid Kit, Amason, and Tove Styrke. We’ve also featured our share of female garage rock artists, including Aussie singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, Manchester quartet PINS, and Scottish duo Honeyblood. So my ears might have been fatigued from overexposure to subdued female vocals juxtaposed against heavy, distorted guitar and bass lines when I had my first listen to latest Swedish sensation Pale Honey.
The Gothenburg-based duo, comprising Tuva Lodmark on guitar and vocals and Nelly Daltrey on drums, recently released their self-titled debut album, following on last year’s ‘Fiction’ EP. ‘Pale Honey’ is replete with serpentine guitar and bass lines, lightly chugging percussion, and the double-tracked echo of Lodmark’s restrained vocal delivery, which is by turns sullen and sultry, depending on the lyrical intent. Lodmark and Daltrey worked with producer Anders Lagerfors in locations ranging from Stockholm to Paris to create a emotionally distant lo-fi sound that switches between what the album’s press release calls “themes of disheartenment and melancholy, empowerment and strength”.
While the album occasionally feels monotonous and one-dimensional, its unpredictable dynamic and rhythmic shifts manage to keep it interesting, even when the songs don’t fully engage. The deep, resonant guitar line and mellow “do-do-do-do-do” melody in the opening verse of ‘Fish’ explodes without warning into a larger, more expansive dynamic. Recent single ‘Youth’ opens with a similar stripped-back texture before kicking into overdrive for the chorus “I feel fine when you’re not mine / I get around, no I’m not bound.”
The album loses traction with the slower, sultrier ‘Bandolier’, where the growling guitar riffs become a bit over-repetitive and the vocal line is overly subdued. While the guitar line takes on a noticeably brighter harmonic tone, the monotonous rhythm and relative lack of dynamic contrast make the song seem longer than its four and a half minutes. Likewise, ‘Lonesome’ maintains sonic interest with synthesized background effects, but its aloof vocal delivery and repetitive rhythmic ideas fail to make a solid connection.
‘Fiction’ sees the notable addition of brass and cowbell to the otherwise monochromatic instrumental palette, but further expansion of the synthesized effects in the second half of ‘Desert’ seem to appear from out of nowhere and don’t fit comfortably in the song’s overall texture. The laser-like sonic effects are more effective in the context of the dramatically reverberant guitars and dark harmonies of recent single ‘Tease’, which finds Lodmark experimenting very successfully with a richer, rougher vocal quality as she intones the memorable lyric “Baby, I like you better when you dress in black.”
It’s perhaps telling that ‘Pale Honey’ seems to alternate between repetitive monotony and wildly erratic shifts in mood and intensity. Pale Honey seem somewhat constrained by their own minimalist tendencies as well as by their two-woman lineup, which may have necessitated the overuse of synthesized production effects. But their sporadic forays into expanded texture and brighter harmonies are among the best moments on the album, and the potential for growth and refinement of their style is readily apparent.
‘Pale Honey’ is out now on Instant Records, but if you prefer to listen before you buy, the album is also streaming in full on Consequence of Sound. Pale Honey will play a one-off show at the London Islington on Wednesday the 20th of May.
Icelandic folk-pop quintet Of Monsters and Men have returned with a new single, titled ‘Crystals’, from their forthcoming second LP ‘Beneath the Skin’. The darkly anthemic track was first accompanied by an abstractly interpretive lyric video, but the band have expanded on their visual expression of the song in the necromantic official video featured below. Filmed in the band’s native Iceland by directors Arni & Kinski, the video portrays an eerily prismatic tableau of the band members operating a magical Dr. Frankenstein-esque machine.
‘Beneath the Skin’ is due for release on the 8th of June via Island Records. Previous TGTF coverage of Of Monsters and Men can be found here.
Courtney Barnett has just revealed a new single titled ‘Dead Fox’ from her album ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit’. On the surface, the song is one of the lightest and most upbeat tracks on the record, but its subject matter is somewhat weightier, dealing with “the destructive powers of big business (and) the death and destruction caused by corporations.”
The accompanying video for ‘Dead Fox’ was directed and animated by Rory Kerr and Paul Ruttledge in response to Barnett’s subversive concept of animals taking revenge on human beings. The vivid, childlike animation seems innocent at first, much like the musical quality of the song itself, but it takes a grisly turn as animated foxes, emus and sharks in a variety of vehicles are shown glibly running down human pedestrians.
As announced earlier in the week, Courtney Barnett will be touring the UK in November and December 2015.
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