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Video of the Moment #2235: Wilder Adkins

 
By on Monday, 5th December 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

There’s something extraordinarily special when a video can perfectly encapsulate both a song’s contents and its creator’s aesthetic. When it comes to this new video for ‘When I’m Married’ from Birmingham, Alabama-based singer/songwriter Wilder Adkins, designer Ross Boone came up with is just about the most heart-wrenching thing you could feast your eyes upon.

Forget for a moment that Adkins’ earthly folk demeanour doesn’t just about fill your heart with the rawest emotions when the video first starts, an aged paper appears with handwritten opening titles. From here, the entire video is based around Boone’s artistic hand, including mistakes that are erased and redrawn, which could either simply be a part of the process or a more purposeful inclusion to show the ease at which mistakes are made in life. Maybe that’s just a writer’s opinion, though.

As the drawings progress showing the life and love of two mice, taking us through both the good and bad, you can’t help but become completely emotionally enamoured. The reason this is worthy of note is the fact it’s the perfect compliment to Adkins’ bare bones styling: he doesn’t leave any misconceptions or falsehoods, it’s all heart on sleeve, true troubadour work. Looking closer at the lyrics, particularly “I am yours and you are mine / and there’s a love that grows between us / like a gently creeping vine”, you can see where Boone has really taken the lyrics to a literal meaning, which is testament to both his work and Adkins’.

With the drawings forming a vine that is seemingly never ending as this story plays out, it’s not until the image pans out to reveal what is assumedly the artwork, featuring two people embraced. It’s the perfect introduction to this aspiring artist who released his new ‘Hope & Sorrow’ album earlier this year.

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Album Review: Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let the Kids Win

 
By on Monday, 5th December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Julia Jacklin Don't Let the Kids Win album coverAussie singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin, according to her Web site, found inspiration at an early age in the shape of Britney Spears, something I’m sure plenty of fellow ‘90s-born folk can relate to. This interest led to Jacklin taking singing lessons in her hometown of Blue Mountains – if you Google the place, it appears to be set in a landscape just as brilliant as the name suggests – before her interests moved on to Avril Lavigne and the edgier Evanescence. She went on to form a band with an old friend and initially as the singer, but then went on to write and play guitar too.

It’s always incredible to hear of people that work seemingly normal day jobs, and manage to create stirring and out of the ordinary music and art in their spare time. ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ is the debut album from Jacklin, which she wrote whilst she was working in a factory. Recorded at Sitting Room Studios in New Zealand, the ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ is a foray into the folksy and fanciful and is jam-packed with evocative and imaginative lyrics. It doesn’t actually sit comfortably into any one genre: it’s more of a melting pot of charming country rhythms, folksy storytelling and moments of bluesy indie rock.

Single ‘Pool Party’ opens with “I was shorter than my dad’s dining table / you were taller than my bedroom doorframe”. It’s just one of the tracks on the album that uses words to create quirky and playful imagery, yet is laced with a bittersweet kind of nostalgia. The rhythm of the track is slow and soulful, with old-sounding rumbles of bass and sharp drumbeats, tied together with a guitar that rolls along like it’s being played in a small town full of chequered shirt-wearing locals.

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‘Coming of Age’ is one of the heavier tracks on the album, although describing any of the LP as heavy is probably taking things a bit too far. It’s upbeat musically, with a country guitar jangling throughout. The chorus, which repeats “didn’t see it myself / my coming of age”, further adds to the wistful nature of the album. On her Web site, Jacklin tackles this topic: “When I was growing up I was so ambitious: I’m going to be this amazing social worker, save the world, a great musician, fit, an amazing writer. Then you get to mid-20s and you realise you have to focus on one thing”.

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A standout track is ‘Leadlight’, where Jacklin really shows off her melodic voice, gentle at times, then soulful and uplifting at others. It’s a stripped-back track, with just a steady drum and guitar at times, then swelling to include a choral accompaniment towards the end. Much like this is ‘Hay Plain’, which also builds up throughout the track after a soft start, but finishes just as gentle as it begins. The song has me missing a life that I haven’t even lived, as Jacklin transports you into the story she’s telling.

Similarly low-key is title track ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’, which features just Jacklin’s voice and a guitar as she sings nostalgically about valuing time with family and friends. It’s a sweet and sentimental track.

The whole album is easy listening but will also get you thinking about the carefree days of your youth if you feel like you’re already past them. Or hopefully make you appreciate them even more if you’re still living them. It can be comforting at times to realise that other people have the same doubts about getting older or, as Jacklin puts it, “yeah, we’re getting older, but it’s not so special. It’s not unique”.

8.5/10

‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’, Julia Jacklin’s debut album, is out now on Transgressive Records. Jacklin has a bunch of upcoming dates in her native Australia and New Zealand, until February where she’ll hit Europe, including dates in Germany and the UK. All dates can be found listed on her Web site, and her UK ones are listed in this previous post. For more coverage of Jacklin here on TGTF, go here.

 

Video of the Moment #2234: Biffy Clyro

 
By on Friday, 2nd December 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Hard-working Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro are well known for going shirtless at their high octane shows. I mean, you wouldn’t want them to catch a cold, would you? Naturally, many of their (female) fans are fans of them going sans shirts at gigs, so they can admire all their many tattoos. Right?

Their latest music video may not be sweaty at all, but those world-famous tattoos are given an unusual close-up. Quieter and less confrontational (or even poppy) than what we’re used to from Simon Neil and co., ‘Re-arrange’, from their summer 2016 album ‘Ellipsis’, is a sweeter, softer side to the threesome we see far too little of. The lyrical message, too, is really rather appropriate for this holiday season as well. Watch it below. For more on Biffy Clyro on TGTF, go here.

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Live Gig Video: VANT performs ‘Peace & Love’ in Newcastle from Dr. Martens’ #STANDFORSOMETHING tour

 
By on Friday, 2nd December 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

The purposeful controversy-causing London-based band VANT performed on the 12th of November at Newcastle Cluny. It was one in a series of shows on Dr. Martens #STANDFORSOMETHING autumn tour, which also starred twin brother dance duo Formation and Hackney MC Paigey Cakey. (A live performance by Formation from October at the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool on this tour can be watched here.) Today, we’ve got live video of VANT performing single ‘Peace & Love’ in frontman Mattie Vant’s childhood backyard of the North East. Watch the politically conscious band in all their live glory below. For more on the group here on TGTF, including a Q&A with him ahead of this appearance in the Toon, follow this link.

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Album Review: Esben and the Witch – Older Terrors

 
By on Friday, 2nd December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by William van der Voort

Esben and the WitchAll three members of gothic rock trio Esben and the Witch, Thomas Fisher (guitar/keyboards), Daniel Copeman (electronics/guitars) and Rachel Davies (vocals), have recently relocated to Berlin from their former base in Brighton. Along with the geographic broadening of their horizons, the band appear to have expanded their musical boundaries as well. Their latest release ‘Older Terrors’ looks, on the surface, like an EP, with only four songs on its tracklisting. But its total running time of 46 minutes is actually lengthier than both of the last two albums I’ve recently reviewed. (For reference, Skinny Lister’s ‘The Devil, the Heart & the Fight’ packed 12 concise songs into 36 minutes, and Bell X1’s ‘Arms’ kept to a svelte 9 tracks and 38 minutes.)

What does this mean? Have Esben and the Witch recorded four exceptionally prolonged alt-pop songs, or have they composed four miniature symphonies? I wasn’t familiar with the band before listening to ‘Older Terrors’, and I found it difficult to answer that question without context. My ambiguous first impressions of the album were of dramatic, slowly evolving musical arrangements geared toward creating a dark, ominous ambience, and a singer whose voice is by turns ethereally beautiful and emotionally tortured, often a blend of both.

A quick virtual trip through TGTF’s archive of past coverage on Esben and the Witch served to confirm my initial thoughts. In a a 2010 Bands to Watch feature, our writer remarked that “lead singer Rachel’s voice does, at times, bear a strong similarity to that of Florence Welch”. A review of the band’s debut LP ‘Violet Cries’ talks about the “Brighton trio’s fixation with darkness . . . feelings of dread and solemnity, [and] the overriding sensuality of it all.” Editor Mary used the words “eerie”, “sinister” and “haunting” to describe videos from Esben and the Witch’s second LP ‘Wash the Sins Not Only the Face’ and the phrase “stark and forlorn” to describe ‘Dig Your Fingers In’, the first single from third album ‘A New Nature’.

Looking back upon ‘A New Nature’, we can see Esben and the Witch starting to explore longer, and more expansive musical arrangements: two songs on that record are over 10 minutes long, and three others are over 6 minutes in duration. With ‘Older Terrors’, the band has completely set aside any preconceived notions of writing songs within a 3-minute box, instead choosing to develop musical ideas in a fashion more typical of classical composers than rock musicians.

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Opening song ‘Sylvan’ is comprised of three distinct sections, Davies’ serpentine vocal melody weaving through each, loosely holding them together with a series of indistinct but strangely evocative words and phrases. The primitive drum beat and slow harmonic tempo of section one gives way through an extended guitar riff to a stark, anticipatory middle section and ultimately to a dynamic and dramatic climax in the third and final section.

The minor key Spanish guitar melody warms but doesn’t disguise the sinister undertones in ‘Marking the Heart of a Serpent’. Davies’ vocal tone is once again light and limber in the fluid melodic line, almost hypnotic in quality, and it leads the unsuspecting listener to a bit of a shock in the dynamic attack of the song’s middle section. The lyricless instrumental frenzy of section three stretches into a coda that runs out of steam rather than coming to a conclusive finish.

‘The Wolf’s Sun’ opens with the protracted growl of guitars and singularly Gothic-sounding lyrics: “so lead me through the dark / your fingers clawing at my heart / clutching me against your breast / inside your crook, I’ll lay my head”. The hypnotic initial combination of steady bass ostinato and amorphous vocal melody evolves into a surprisingly groove-based middle section, and a positively primal freak out at the song’s end.

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Closing track ‘The Reverist’ opens with a slow, hazy instrumental prelude that evokes a vague visual idea of gradually emerging from shadow into a dim and misty light. Davies’ middle section lyrics, however, twist the narrative into something more sinister with the repeated phrase “ships on fire”. The musical arrangement follows suit, growing more and more agitated before it descends into the depths of its own eventual demise.

The broadly experimental nature of ‘Older Terrors’ is to be applauded, even if the songs themselves occasionally stretch past the point of cohesion. To use a drama-related analogy, which seems appropriate for such an inherently dramatic set of songs, there are moments where the plot wears a bit thin, and its devices, in this case the instrumental arrangements, become overly convoluted. Nevertheless, ‘Older Terrors’ leaves in its wake a post-apocalyptic sense of utter stillness and of dark, delicate beauty. A massively impressive effort, and for myself, an indelible first impression.

7/10

‘Older Terrors’, the fourth album from Esben and the Witch, is available now via Season of Mist. TGTF’s complete past coverage of Esben and the Witch is collected through here.

 

Video of the Moment #2233: Justice

 
By on Thursday, 1st December 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Parisian electronic duo Justice. Makes sense, though: they hadn’t shared any new music since 2012, and this year saw their album ‘Woman’ released to the wild. And now the disco-infused ‘Fire’ from the 2016 LP has its own music video. Probably the best thing about being known stars in the music world is being able to get whoever you want to star *in* your music videos. This promo is a good case in point, as Xavier de Rosnay & Gaspard Augé get to live out their fantasies by going on a road trip Thelma and Louise style. With none other than the iconic ‘Louise’, celebrated actress Susan Sarandon, the epitome of a strong ‘Woman’. Watch the music video for ‘Fire’ below. ‘Woman’ is available now from Ed Banger / Because Music. Admittedly old but still good coverage of past Justice releases can be found through this link.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours 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 no-one's watching.

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

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