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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 26th July 2016 at 12:00 pm
Early evening the day before Valentine’s Day 2016, I started receiving frantic Facebook messages from people asking me if it was true about Viola Beach. What was true? I was confused. I hadn’t heard anything. I soon confirmed from multiple sources on social media that the unthinkable had happened. The band had left Norrköping, Sweden, following a well-received set at Where’s the Music Festival, their first appearance outside of Britain, and their car inexplicably went off a bridge, plunging into the water below. As a music editor planning just a month off from SXSW, I’d already pencilled in the band on my schedule in Austin, as had many of my professional contacts. It was unfathomable that young lives such as theirs were gone.
It was especially a terrible loss to the North West town of Warrington that Viola Beach called home, as early indicators suggested success would soon be in their future. Already having their brand of peppy pop receiving the support of BBC Introducing in England, they’d also been anointed with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase as part of the BBC Introducing bill at SXSW 2016, which they sadly never made it to. In their memory, the families of the band have decided to release their debut album this Friday on the band’s own Fuller Beans Records:
We are tremendously proud of everything the boys achieved in such a short space of time. Craig, Jack, Kris, River and Tom shared a huge passion, talent and dedication to music. We believe the best way to celebrate our sons’ lives is to release an album of their songs. This is their legacy and we know deep in our hearts that the boys would want the world to listen to the music they poured everything into. This was only the beginning for them and these nine songs were written with every intention to be shared, heard and, most of all, enjoyed. We hope that it brings you as much happiness listening to it as we know it did to them making it.
The music made by four wide-eyed lads is, as one might expect, innocent and sweet, or at least honest about that period of life (see ‘Drunk’). Self-released in autumn 2015, debut single ‘Slides and Waterslides’ is the perfect example of this. The song quickly made the rounds in the blogosphere not only in Britain, but also in America. American music blog Pigeons and Planes commented that the single had “a swagger that is not often found on indie pop records”. Let’s just say that this kind of swagger is more TGTF’s speed than Cher Lloyd’s. Despite its title, ‘Swings and Waterslides’ is actually a snapshot of puppy love. Lead singer Kris Leonard croons, “you’re not with me tonight / and only you could make it right”, before the chorus kicks in, with youthful shouts from his bandmates. Overall, the effect is, while greatly helped with a bright guitar melody (think early Two Door Cinema Club) and accompanying bouncy percussion, one of pure pop. The more I listen to this song, the more I hear the promise in Leonard’s voice. You can picture its potential of having as much mainstream influence as Liam Gallagher’s, as a new representation of young (and Northern) England. Now we’ll never know.
Many of the songs on ‘Viola Beach’ read as tropical pop numbers, with dashes of pop, hip hop and rock. While there’s an obvious reliance on upbeat guitar notes and drum beats, a nod to what’s popular with the kids these day, there’s also a smartness at play. They liked playing with the tempos, changing them from tune to tune to allow for different feels. The jittery ‘Like a Fool’ and ‘Get to Dancing’ (watch it live from their BBC Introducing session from Maida Vale recorded in late 2015 below) have moments when Leonard and his bandmates are shouting at the top of their lungs. They must have had a whale of a time recording those. In contrast, the echoey, chill vibe of ‘Really Wanna Call’ makes it sounds like it was recorded in the Caribbean.
Another previously released track ‘Cherry Vimto’ is relatively simple, but it showcases Viola Beach’s ability to slow things down and write a ballad. ‘Call You Up’ is another slower one, puts Leonard’s voice through its paces. It’s particularly interesting, as drummer Jack Dakin’s cymbal and other effects inexplicably crash in the background, as if to mimic the emotional tension within the song. One could reasonably hypothesise that this was their one experimental number on the album, and perhaps an indicator that they didn’t plan to stay in the tropical pop genre forever.
‘Boys That Sing’ closes the album and following Coldplay’s tribute to them during their headline set at Glastonbury this year. As Leonard sings it, it’s clear it’s about a girl he’s fallen for and yet, everyone thinks their union is crazy. The chorus goes, “and she said that together we could do anything / and she told me that she loves a boy who knows how to sing / so I learnt how to sing”, what comes across as the sweetest reason a young boy would ever use to decide to become musical. For one night, this song had its time on the world’s biggest stage, and it was beautiful.
I know that not everyone believes in heaven or the existence of an afterlife. I do. And I choose to believe that those who leave us, especially those who leave us before their time, they are with us in spirit and can see what we’re up to every day of our lives. Even though we didn’t have Viola Beach with us for very long, they reminded us that there is inherent joy in the making of music and it is a gift that is best shared and has no boundaries. Their families have had a terrible loss, but I hope that through sharing this album, this gift that they have kindly bestowed on us, they can see that even beyond their physical time on this earth, their boys will continue to bring joy to many.
The eponymous debut album from Viola Beach will be released posthumously this Friday, the 29th of July, on the band’s own Fuller Beans Records. Our thoughts on and coverage of the tribute to them at SXSW 2016 can be found through here.
Irish pop group Walking on Cars have recently announced a massive list of tour dates in the UK and Ireland for later this year, and we at TGTF are taking the opportunity to catch up on the band’s latest news. Since we last saw Walking on Cars, way back at SXSW 2015, they have undertaken a seemingly endless run of live shows supporting the release of their debut LP. ‘Everything This Way’ came out on Virgin EMI in back in January, and the band will round out the album’s first year with the headline dates listed below. You can watch the video for album single ‘Speeding Cars’ at the bottom of the page.
Tickets for the following shows are available now, but please be aware of an apparent conflict of dates for Glasgow and Manchester on the 14th of November. Information on those shows was not readily available at press time, and both gigs are still listed on the band’s official Web site. TGTF’s full previous coverage of Walking on Cars can be found back here.
Thursday 10th November 2016 – Belfast Limelight
Saturday 12th November 2016 – Dublin 3Arena
Monday 14th November 2016 – Glasgow Queen Margaret Union *
Monday 14th November 2016 – Manchester Queen of Hearts *
Tuesday 15th November 2016 – Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
Wednesday 16th November 2016 – Aberdeen Garage
Friday 18th November 2016 – Newcastle University
Saturday 19th November 2016 – Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday 20th November 2016 – Birmingham Institute
Monday 21st November 2016 – Nottingham Rock City
Wednesday 23rd November 2016 – Leeds Stylus
Thursday 24th November 2016 – Manchester Ritz
Friday 25th November 2016 – Liverpool Academy
Sunday 27th November 2016 – Oxford Academy
Monday 28th November 2016 – Cardiff University
Tuesday 29th November 2016 – Norwich UEA
Wednesday 30th November 2016 – Portsmouth Pyramids Centre
Tuesday 13th December 2016 – London Roundhouse
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 25th July 2016 at 6:00 pm
Their friends Hinds have already become huge indie stars. It’s The Parrots‘ turn now. Following on from being discovered by Heavenly Recordings at SXSW 2015 and invited to support Hooton Tennis Club, the Madrid trio are gearing up to release their own debut album next month. ‘No Me Gustas, Te Quiero’ is a first peek into the upcoming record, and the video for the single shows the threesome hanging out, inexplicably, in Morocco. Maybe they’ve been banned from making music videos in their hometown? If you’re a fan of Hinds, you’ll recognise and like the lazy, lo-fi sound that sounds oh so familiar: ‘Leave Me Alone’ was produced by the Parrots’ own frontman / guitarist Diego Garcia.
‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’, the Parrots’ debut long player, will be out on Heavenly Recordings on the 26th of August 2016, just in time for the start of the August bank holiday.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 25th July 2016 at 12:00 pm
If your musical tastes run to electropop, chances are you’re a fan of Metronomy, Tom Vek, or both. Tom Vek appeals to the nerdy, cerebral, introverted electronic fan because he’s the genuine article. He doesn’t put up a front, doesn’t pretend to be someone or something else. His music can be dissonant, with vocals jarring, often robotic. Joseph Mount, the mastermind behind Metronomy, makes his band a different kind of animal. At least in more recent years, the Metronomy sound has become more radio-friendly, leading to popular and critical acclaim (2011’s ‘The English Riviera’ was nominated for a Mercury Prize). While you can hear the self-deprecation in Vek’s songs on ‘Luck’, there often is a feeling on Metronomy tracks that Mount is being silly, smirking like a schoolboy at you.
On the beat happy ‘Old Skool’, the earliest taster of new album ‘Summer 08’, Mount’s voice mimicking the mesmerising bass line is the sonic equivalent of him with his hands on his hips, mocking you. Is the song meant to be cutting social commentary on rich kids and their shenanigans in the city? Never mind what it’s about. It’s an incredibly infectious banger, with its glitches and record scratches courtesy of Beastie Boys collaborator and turntablist Mix Master Mike. While Mount has always been at the helm, in the director’s chair if you will for Metronomy, this is oddly the first Metronomy album since 2006 debut ‘Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe)’ solely recorded in the studio and produced by Mount himself.
On ‘Summer 08’, Mount indulges his more weird and wonderful fantasies in this suggested sequel to 2008’s ‘Nights Out’. The oddest thing about this album is that while it’s unashamedly full of retro touches and appears to be looking backwards in time, it’s also strangely addictive left in his hands. Mount shines brightest when he approaches the genre of pop, even for a brief moment. The exemplary ‘Night Owl’ is a tour de force, where a less is more approach with an underlying hypnotic beat reminiscent of Fun Boy Three’s version of ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’. One set of sinister synths buzz, while another goes off and wiggles around in a chamber pop tangent.
As you listen on, there are plenty of moments on ‘Summer 08’ that could be easily classed as weird. Wonky opening track ‘Back Together’ might have qualified as art rock if it wasn’t for the sci-fi sound effects and joyful vocal bops. Whiny synths rule the day on ‘Miami Logic’; luckily, they aren’t so whiny that you’re tempted to turn the song off. ’16 Beat’, which Mount himself describes as “sweet” in the lyrics, appears to be a love letter to the most simple and basic drum pattern there is. Deceptively simple, yet easily manipulated into other forms for variety’s sake, it’s a good analogy to what Mount does with Metronomy releases and also specifically on this number.
It’s important to note that while like ‘Pip Paine…’, this is solely Mount’s artistic expression, getting by with a little help from his friends isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Swedish electropop queen Robyn guest duets on ‘Hang Me Out to Dry’, suggesting that if Mount ever gave up Metronomy to write for other artists, he’s got another (and dare I say it, more lucrative) career waiting in the wings. In the meantime though, let’s soak up the weird and wonderful as long as he wants to experiment and Mount wants to wink at us, thinking to himself, “everything goes my way”.
‘Summer 08’, the fifth studio album from Joe Mount and Metronomy, is out now on Because Music. For more coverage of Metronomy on TGTF, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 25th July 2016 at 10:00 am
If you were a child of the ’90s and recognise the band in the photo up top as they were back then in those days – or indeed, simply have a penchant for funny, chirpy, tuneful pop – you’re probably a fan of Barenaked Ladies. In May, they released the live album ‘BNL Rocks Red Rocks!’, recorded at the iconic outdoor venue in Colorado. To support this release, they’ve announced a series of live dates in the UK in September.
Thanks to our friends at Gigs and Tours, we have some tickets to this tour to give away. To be exact, we’ve got a pair of tickets each to their announced shows in Bournemouth (4th of September), Liverpool (7th of September) and Cambridge (8th of September). And being the decent sort we are, we want to gift them to three lucky readers of TGTF. What do you have to do to win, you ask? Read on, friends…
You’ll need to fill out the below form completely, all four steps. First, give us your full name. Second, give us your email address. (We won’t spam you, honest. We need a way to contact you if you win.) Third, please provide your full UK postal address so we can post you your tickets if you are one of the lucky winners. Fourth, we need to know which show you want to win tickets for (Bournemouth, Liverpool or Cambridge). Finally, to prove you’re not a robot and you actually like the band, answer this one question: what is the name of their time-themed megahit single from 1998?
That’s it. Of all the correct entries we receive, we’ll choose one winner for each of these three shows at random to receive a pair of tickets apiece to the concerts in September. All good? Be sure you get your entries in by 12 PM British time Wednesday, the 27th of July, when we’ll close the contest. As mentioned above, we’ll contact the winners by email, so make sure you’ve entered your email address correctly. Good luck! If you’d rather not chance it and want to buy tickets to this show, you can buy them direct from Gigs and Tours here. Their entire September 2016 UK tour is listed below. Tickets are on sale now for all shows.
Please note: this contest is open to UK residents only and you must be able to get yourself to the designated city for the show. Please check venue age restrictions; TGTF won’t be held responsible if you’re turned away at the door for being underage and not meeting such requirements. All duplicate entries will be discarded.
Friday 2nd September 2016 – Glasgow ABC
Sunday 4th September 2016 – Bournemouth Academy
Tuesday 6th September 2016 – Cardiff Tramshed
Wednesday 7th September 2016 – Liverpool Academy
Thursday 8th September 2016 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
Friday 9th September 2016 – London Roundhouse
This contest is now closed. Winners will be contacted soon by email.
Up-and-coming Irish indie rock quartet The Academic have scheduled a quick run of live dates in the UK for this October, including a London show at the Waiting Room on the 10th of the month. The Academic’s latest single ‘Mixtape 2003’ recently premiered on Clash and is streaming just below the tour date listing. The single will be released on the 12th of August.
Ahead of the October dates listed below, the young band will play European festival slots at Pukkelpop and Lowlands, as well as Irish festivals Timoleague and Rose of Tralee. Tickets for the following headline shows are available now.
Wednesday 5th October 2016 – Glasgow Garage
Thursday 6th October 2016 – Birmingham Rainbow
Monday 10th October 2016 – London Waiting Room
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