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By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 at 6:00 pm
Christopher Duncan, better known by his stage name C Duncan, had an incredible 2015 on which to build on for this new year. The classically trained young Scottish singer/songwriter’s debut album last year, ‘Architect’, which was released on FatCat Records, was nominated for the 2015 Mercury Prize. He’ll be releasing a new self-titled EP in 2 weeks’ time, on the 19th of February; the new release will include BBC 6 Music recorded session track of ‘Garden’, and three new, previously unreleased songs: ‘A Year or So’, ‘The Age for Love (is the Wrong Age for Me)’ and ‘Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops’.
Going back to ‘Architect’, today’s videos of the moment focus on the first track of C Duncan’s debut. Nearly a year ago last February, Duncan himself uploaded a promo video for ‘Say’; a year on, he’s got another promo for it, which is being called ‘the US version’. Compare and contrast them below. As warned by the artist himself on his Facebook about the new video, “And yes, the video has a butt shot. Ooh lordy lordy!” (Ha!) All I can think of, though, is it must have been awfully cold to be naked, stood there all alone on a deserted loch!
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 at 4:00 pm
Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats released their self-titled debut album last summer (Carrie reviewed it here and it’s already garnering the Denver-based musician and his band a lot of attention. Most recently, Britney Spears herself last week posted some video onto her Instagram of the salacious dancing she did in nothing but her underwear to ‘Son of a Bitch’, which sparked this hilarious parody from Rateliff himself. Now we’ve got live videos from the group, so if you’re having a hohum first week of February like we are, you’ll enjoy this.
Last month, the band played a show at the El Rey in Los Angeles. That’s where these performances of ‘I Need Never Get Old’ and the aforementioned ‘S.O.B.’ were filmed. Watch them below. For all of TGTF’s coverage of Nathaniel Rateliff as a solo artist as well as with his band the Night Sweats, go here.
Bloc Party are the definition of the word ‘evolution’. If you listen back to the sharp indie tones they burst onto the scene with ‘Silent Alarm’ back in 2005, you would struggle to believe that you’re listening to the same band now in 2016. Technically though, you aren’t listening to the same band. Only one half of the original lineup remains, with the band citing increased tension and disagreement in the barracks the reasoning for this.
What Bloc Party do here on ‘Hymns’ is, at the root of it all, be consistently inconsistent. This is something we’ve come to expect of them. Although after their debut they didn’t evolve the sound too much on 2006’s ‘A Weekend in the City’, third record ‘Intimacy’ was a full-on revolution in terms of the sound they created. Focusing more upon dance and electronic than indie rock, it was a brave and bold move that saw tracks such as ‘Flux’ and ‘One More Chance’ becoming massive Bloc Party staples, just sans guitars. Fourth album ‘Four’ was the weakest in this evolution, where the collapse of the band was seemingly imminent, and a Kele Okereke solo album showing where this evolution stemmed from. Now, none of this is necessarily a bad thing; It shows they can develop and evolve beyond being a one trick pony. But to the extent shown here, where one track is barely similar to the next, you find it hard to engage and follow the record. But, it’s still entertaining, as much as a McDonald’s burger is still food, but it’s not so exciting, so you just don’t Instagram it.
Opener ‘The Love Within’ was our first look at this second coming of Bloc Party, and it was met with a mixed reaction. The sound itself is not too dissimilar to that of ‘Four’ or ‘Intimacy’, but it’s the approach they take that lends itself to the confused reception. It seems almost abrasive in its attempts to be an opening statement telling us this record won’t be a return to 2005-era Bloc Party. This continues through to ‘Only He Can Heal Me’, which is a soft, yet dark dance track.
Track four ‘Good News’ becomes almost the Bloc Party twist on country, with a devilish helping of slide guitar that complements the chord structure beautifully. Of course, the next track is the exact opposite: ‘Fortress’ is soft, a sentimental dance track that relies upon a low rumble of bass to push it forward with synthesised drums providing the percussion rather than the human equivalent found in new drummer Louise Bartle.
‘Into Earth’ has a softer version of the twinned, alternating guitar progressions we’ve come to love and adore from both Okereke and co-guitarist Russell Lissack. Think ‘Banquet’, but if it was given some Valium. “You’ve seen the colour of my cash, does it not impress you, was I too flash?” is sung almost seductively by Okereke. The majority of the record from here carries on into a similar fashion: there are no particular fast numbers per se, and it all remains at a steady tempo, which can at times be a bit of a struggle to get through.
This is an evolution that Bloc Party have taken which, on an artistic level, has a lot of merit, though strictly it wasn’t necessary. While on the previous two albums, they’d already broken past being a straightforward guitar band and proving they had more to say, this new LP feels like an accumulation of trying to bury that past forever and sending out a new statement of who they are what they do now. Obviously it breaks boundaries and attempts new sounds, but at the same, it can be quite dull. Hopefully with time the new lineup will begin to pull together a sound that is a more controlled culmination of everything they’ve done so far rather than a proverbial smorgasbord of anything and everything.
Bloc Party’s fifth album ‘Hymns’, their first in 4 years, is out now on Infectious Records in the UK and Vagrant Records in North America. They’re currently headlining the NME Awards tour through next Friday, the 12th of February at Birmingham Academy. They’ll also be appearing at the 6 Music Festival in Bristol the weekend directly after, as well as SXSW 2016 in March in Austin. To read more coverage on Bloc Party on TGTF, head here.
Welsh rock trio The Joy Formidable have just unveiled details of their new album ‘Hitch’, along with a list of UK tour dates for next month. ‘Hitch’ was recorded in the band’s North Wales studio and will be released on the 25th of March via their own label C’Mon Let’s Drift. You can watch the provocatively graphic (read: NSFW) video for the album’s first single ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’ just below the tour date listing.
Laura J Martin will play support for the following February UK dates. Tickets are on sale now. Our extensive past coverage of The Joy Formidable is right back here.
Sunday 21st February 2016 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Monday 22nd February 2016 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Tuesday 23rd February 2016 – London Oslo
Wednesday 24th February 2016 – Birmingham Rainbow Courtyard
Thursday 25th February 2016 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Header photo by Laura Allard-Fleischl
Fresh off a run of January support dates for The Maccabees, London indie rockers The Big Moon have announced a spring headline tour of the UK and Ireland. The new list of dates will follow the band’s mid-March trip to America for SXSW 2016. Fellow TGTF writer Rebecca introduced the all-female quartet in a Bands to Watch feature right back here.
Support for The Big Moon’s following live dates will be played by Virgin Kids. Tickets are available now.
Wednesday 30th March 2016 – Nottingham Bodega Social Club
Thursday 31st March 2016 – Hull Adelphi
Friday 1st April 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank
Saturday 2nd April 2016 – Glasgow Stereo
Monday 4th April 2016 – Belfast Mandela Hall
Tuesday 5th April 2016 – Dublin Workman’s Club
Thursday 7th April 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friay 8th April 2016 – Leicester Cookie
Saturday 9th April 2016 – Cardiff Moon Club (Dim Swn Festival)
Monday 11th April 2016 – Bristol Start the Bus
Tuesday 12th April 2016 – Southampton Joiners Arms
Wednesday 13th April 2016 – London 100 Club
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 2nd February 2016 at 6:00 pm
Ask most anyone here: it sure is a scary, uncertain time here in America. Minneapolis electronic group Polica clearly agree, as their latest promo video for ‘Wedding’, from their upcoming third album ‘United Crushers’, shows. Scenes of militarised police are included alongside scenes of a brightly coloured, Sesame Street-style setup starring frontwoman Channy Leaneagh. In the politically charged video, she teaches children about peaceful protests – even showing in a craft class how to make your own teargas mask – and safe practices around police. It’s both weirdly powerful and sad that such a video had to be made, and unsettling as this is, it’s reflective of the world we live in now.
‘United Crushers’ by Polica will be released on the 4th of March on Memphis Industries (UK) / Mom+Pop (US) / Pod + Inertia. Channy Leanagh and co. will be appearing at the 6 Music Festival in less than a fortnight now in Bristol (all the details here), followed by a now sold out gig at London Village Underground on the 15th of February. The band also will be appearing at SXSW 2016. For more on Polica on TGTF, go here.
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