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Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin has unveiled a new video for ‘Coming of Age’, the latest single from her 2016 album ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’. We first encountered Jacklin at SXSW 2016, where she captured my heart singing a song about her kid brother. So, it seems singularly fitting to me that the aforementioned sibling has joined Jacklin for the ‘Coming of Age’ video, playing the on-screen role of videographer to Jacklin’s quasi-professional, blue-blazered reporter.
Jacklin-as-reporter and her brother take an “objective” look back at their hometown of Springwood as they trail back through their old haunts in search of “news.” Jacklin even manages to catch her old boss from Springwood Gardens Chinese Restaurant on film. “I didn’t think he’d remember me,” she confesses. “It’s been a decade since I spent my weekends cleaning plates and putting prawn crackers in the deep fryer.”
The actual footage for the new video was recorded by Jacklin’s high school friend Nick McKinley, who presumably spent a fair amount of time in the pictured Springwood scenes himself once upon a time. His nostalgic yet playful visual interpretation of the song makes it easy to believe Jacklin’s genuine incredulity in the chorus: “I didn’t see it coming, my coming of age”.
Julia Jacklin’s debut album ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ is out now on Transgressive Records. You can read TGTF’s complete past coverage of Jacklin right through here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 21st February 2017 at 1:00 pm
As this year’s SXSW Music Festival rapidly approaches and our preview coverage kicks into high gear, we’re once again excited to bring you showcasing artists’ answers to a special SXSW 2017 flavoured set of Quickfire Questions. Today’s installment comes via Charlotte Fontaine, who with her brother Hank are Los Angeles ‘new-wop’ act The Fontaines.
I have a funny story about how I discovered them. As we all know, there have been some contentious battles over which band with a specific name came first, the American or the British one, and who gets to keep the name and who has to affix “US” or “UK” (or something similar) to their name or worse, legal action ensues (don’t forget Hinds almost getting sued by The Dears). I was Googling for “The Fontaines” for our Live at Leeds 2016 preview last year, and apparently there’s a British band with the same exact name. Unfortunately for them, I found the American Fontaines first and there’s really no contest between them. Charlotte’s singing style is influenced by her love of doo-wop and Motown, and anyone like me who grew up on those classics, their sound really hits the spot, accompanied by a funky pop backing. Charlotte was game to answer our SXSW 2017 flavoured Quickfire Questions, so read on for her answers below.
To catch The Fontaines performing at SXSW 2017, we’ve been advised they’ll be appearing at Burger Records’ afternoon snowcase at Spider House Cafe and Ballroom on Thursday 16 March, The Planetary Group’s nighttime showcase at Tellers on Thursday 16 March and the Grammy Museum showcase featuring L.A. bands at the Market and Tap Room on the evening of Friday 17 March. As always, we suggest you checking in with each individual SXSW 2017 showcasing artist’s Facebook and other social media accounts, along with the official SXSW schedule, to confirm appearances closer to the time.
Describe your music / sound in three words.
Textured, temperamental, and taffy.
What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Eating! I keep hearing it’s one of the best food cities in the U.S.
Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Caddywhompus, what a name!
Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
A steamer for my voice. It looks like a very doctor-friendly bong.
If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I mean, if it’s a restaurant and bar, I’ll take the lobster. [A foodie…we’re going to be BFFs! – Ed.]
What was your favourite album of 2016, and why?
I’m so out of touch…what came out last year? I was listening to a lot of Nina Simone.
Will this be the first time you’ve played to American audiences? What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
It’s our first time playing SXSW, and so far we’ve heard it’s super crowded and a little insane. I can’t wait to perform in a new state!
Now, let’s get into our usual list of Quickfire Questions…
What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘You’re So Vain’ by Carly Simon.
What was your favourite song as a child?
I could not get enough of ‘Straight Up’ by Paula Abdul when I was in fifth grade. I made everyone who came over listen to it on my CD player.
What song always makes you laugh?
‘New Mistake’ by Jellyfish makes me smile.
What song always makes you cry?
‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King.
What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
I’ve never been in love.
What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
‘Fireflies’ by Owl City reminds me of my unrequited 9th grade crush. I cried to that song for a full school-week!
Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World’ by James Brown.
Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Charles Bukowski and Charlotte Bronte are at the top of my list.
If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Professional basketball player. At 5 feet tall, my body was just meant for that path.
If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
‘Tapestry’ by Carole King. Gotta have a little bit of heartbreak in heaven.
Many thanks to Charlotte of The Fontaines for answering these questions!
Header photo by Angel Ceballos
Over a decade into a music career that has been largely self-propelled from day one, singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop has naturally developed a tough skin. She wholeheartedly embraces that hard-won independent streak on her latest album ‘Memories Are Now’, which dropped last week courtesy of Sub Pop Records. Hoop and producer Blake Mills (Fiona Apple, Laura Marling) took the opportunity to break out on their own, recording Hoop’s fourth LP outside their familiar Zeitgeist Studios setting, where they previously worked under the watchful eye of American producer and A&R professional Tony Berg. Hoop says that on this record, Mills pushed her to streamline the musical arrangements, working without hesitation and using whole live takes where possible to maintain authenticity and momentum.
The album cuts right to the chase with eponymous lead track ‘Memories Are Now’. The song’s musical arrangement consists almost entirely of a stark guitar ostinato and Hoop’s vocal melody, with dynamic and textural interest created by means of artfully layered vocal harmonies. The austerity of the instrumentation allows Hoop to make her lyrical presence known in the unequivocal lines “I’m coming through, no matter what you say / I’ve got work to be doing, if you’re not here to help, go find some other life to ruin / let me show you the door”.
The album’s mood swiftly shifts from confrontational to reflective in ‘The Lost Sky’. We featured the haunting and beautifully-constructed lead single as our Video of the Moment #2227 at the end of last year, and it stands out as the centerpiece of the album proper. Working at the time without the benefit of a press release, our editor Mary interpreted the song and the promo video as navigating a romantic relationship with a mentally ill partner. It turns out that her instincts about emotional devastation and mental distraction weren’t completely wrong, as Hoop has since explained in her own description of the song’s obsessively repeating lyrical verses:
I have a dear friend who was in a horrific accident that left him in a coma for two weeks. We thought we had lost him. He woke up to find himself silently divorced. This was a heartbreak for all related, and I wrote this while we were waiting for him to wake up. His experience drove me to explore my own relationship with abandonment. When you don’t have any say in how a relationship plays out, when you’re cut off, there’s a relentless loop that plays again and again in your own mind of those words that you would say . . . if love was fair enough to let you speak it.
Gently plucked guitar and clicking percussion open ’Animal Kingdom Chaotic’, before Hoop’s chant-like vocals come in, creating a hypnotic pattern of call and response between the melody and the backing harmonies. The uneven rhythmic pattern of the central lines “you know you wanna but the computer says no / you know you wanna take back control” adds to the sonic interest and the thematic intrigue. The ironically sing-song quality of ‘Simon Says’ is balanced by a heavily distorted guitar line and rapid-fire pop culture references behind quaintly folky vocal harmonies and rhythms. The similarly alliterative ‘Cut Connection’ is vocally harsher and more forcefully punctuated in its visceral tribal-style rhythms, as Hoop invites “come on, be the drummer in my heart.”
Gentle and gradually modulatory, ’Pegasi’ draws inspiration from familiar Greek mythology in its romantic metaphor: “through many love lit moons / I served my rider well / I suffered the bid / and took his spur into my side.” The instrumental harmonies behind the song’s joyful opening verse are sweetly triadic, but they take a deft, finely-tuned minor key turn as doubt and despair creep into Hoop’s lyrical lines.
Hoop imagines two album tracks centering on religion as being “twins” on the album. “Religion is one of those things that wells up, and takes over, and shows itself in dangerous ways when it’s out of balance”, she explains. ‘Songs of Old’ makes use of common Christian imagery as well as some of Hoop’s most delicately beautiful singing in its thoughtful exploration of the social and cultural damage that can come from viewing one’s own religion as all-encompassing and supreme over others. Album closer ‘The Coming’ is a more overt renunciation of Christianity, with Hoop declaring in bookend lyrics “Jesus turned in his crown of thorns today . . . and the coming never came.”
‘Memories Are Now’ has its moments of lyrical elegance and traditional folk beauty, but those qualities never seem to be Hoop’s overarching concern in this collection of songs. Rather, the album leaves the distinct impression of artistic decisiveness, marked by a thematic and sonic sense of self-assurance that is often missing in the overanalysed subtleties and mildly suggestive subversions of the alt-folk genre.
Jesca Hoop’s fourth album ‘Memories Are Now’ is currently available on Sub Pop Records. TGTF’s previous coverage of Jesca Hoop is right back this way.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 21st February 2017 at 11:00 am
As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to 11 acts from London Town specialising in electronic music and DJaying. The summaries of acts below were written by Mary Chang, Rebecca Clayton, Steven Loftin and David Wriglesworth. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
Composing isn’t usually the most orthodox starting point for someone wanting to venture into a career in pop, but that’s exactly where Anna Meredith started her foray into music, and to great success. Before releasing her debut album, Meredith spent time as composer in residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, composed for the Proms, and gained a Masters at the Royal College of Music, amongst many other accolades.
In 2016, Meredith released her debut album ‘Varmints’. Her music draws on her classical history, combing grand electronic sounds with synth strings. Meredith’s LP is as unusual as it is impressive, and creates an immersive musical experience for the listener. ‘Nautilus’ is a must listen. (Rebecca Clayton)
Deeply emotional and airy synthpop, fit for a darkened, heartbroken night: that’s Aquilo (pictured at top). They don’t just have their heart on their sleeve, they’re grabbing it and shoving it in your face. Starting off with a couple of Soundcloud singles in 2013 that were picked up by various outlets, they then went on to play only their fourth show ever at Glastonbury 2014. Not a bad start for the duo, not bad at all. 2017 sees them finally releasing their debut album ‘Silhouettes’ and an opportunity to make waves at SXSW. (Steven Loftin)
Duncan Beiny, better known as DJ Yoda, is a multi-award-winning hip-hop DJ and producer, who has worked with pretty much everyone, from classical composers to neuroscientists. In recent years, DJ Yoda was asked by Dr Dre to record a guest mix on his inaugural Beats 1 show for Apple Music, and he was one of the artists to perform at Banksy’s pop-up bemusement park Dismaland.
DJ Yoda pioneers new forms of audiovisual entertainment, chopping and splicing classic movies with the hands-in-the-air clubbing vibe. In 2014, DJ Yoda was commissioned to rescore classic films as part of BFI’s sonic cinema event, and he produced a mash-up of BBC Radio 4’s entire station, remixing The Archers, the shipping forecast, John Humphries and more.
In 2017, DJ Yoda is taking his ever-evolving DJ sets, which take in a diverse array of styles, genres, decades and continents, all over the world, with shows at SXSW, Snowbombing (Austria) and Hideout Festival (Croatia). (David Wriglesworth)
Producer James Draper has been around a while: he’s already released a whole host of EPs, including his eighth, ‘Luminous’ (out now on M:UK), which Steven reviewed for us on TGTF last month. Lest you think Draper is a one-trick pony, think again. Not only is the Kent professional highly sought out producer, he has collaborated with and written pop bangers for big names like Ellie Goulding, Twin Atlantic and Rita Ora. It won’t be his first rodeo – Draper has been to SXSW before – so perhaps past experience will make his performances stand out from all the newbies? (Mary Chang)
Fifi Rong is London-based, but lived in China until she was 16 when she was enrolled in a boarding school in Bristol. She self-released her debut album ‘Wrong’ in 2013, and since then has worked with the likes of Skepta, featuring on his 2016 album ‘Konnichiwa’. In 2016, she released an EP, ‘Forbidden Desire’, which she funded through Pledgemusic.
Fifi Rong’s voice is husky and distinctive, and her tracks involve beautiful and unearthly electronic sounds, which focus on love and relationships. (Rebecca Clayton)
Croydon-born and bred, Jamie Isaac released his debut album ‘Couch Baby’ last year, a following two EPs released back in 2013 and 2014. Isaac attended BRIT School along with contemporary and sometime collaborator King Krule, but rather than following in the footsteps of the likes of Adele and Jessie J, Isaac is carving out a much different path.
Isaac focuses on pared-back, dreamy electronic rhythms and a gentle tempo that is both captivating and seriously chilled. ‘Couch Baby’ is an album that can only be described as easy listening, the type of album that you can put on in the background and relax to. (Rebecca Clayton)
Of the many young artists coming out to SXSW 2017, few can say they’ve already been nominated for an award, let alone won one. Harry Yeff, better known under his stage name Reeps One, is thus special because he’s a prize-winning beatboxer.
Even though the only instrument he uses is his own voice box, I’ve put him under the electronic category because SXSW has and I would venture to say they consider his voice as peerless an instrument like a synthesiser. Lest you think that his musical style is reminiscent of those spitting dudes in the ‘hood back in the ‘80s, I’ve included a more melodic example of his beatboxing below. (Mary Chang)
London-based producer and DJ Rude Kid is heavily entrenched in the grime scene, being able to cite the likes of Skepta, Wiley and Shy FX amongst his collaborators. Passionate about music, Rude Kid, who at one time was signed to Sony Music, released and experimental EP ‘One Week’ in 2012 which he created in just a week, before sharing as a free download.
He’s released a fair bit of music in his career so far, and spent much of 2016 showing his prowess as a DJ, and even started hosting his own grime radio show on Kiss FM. Rude Kid’s music features darker elements of grime, when compared to AJ Tracey mentioned in our review of the pop acts from London headed to SXSW. His 2015 EP ‘653’ in collaboration with Ghetts features the popular ‘One Take’, which has racked up millions of listens on Spotify. (Rebecca Clayton)
Christopher Taylor is the enigmatic producer and electronic singer/songwriter, who I suspected could be a hooded, yet groovy polar bear live in concert 3 years ago in DC. A lot had changed for Taylor following his well-received debut album ‘Tremors’ in 2014, and the extensive touring to promote the LP took its toll on him as well. Decamping temporarily to a house in sleepy Northern California to write and record follow-up ‘Rennen’ did him good: read my album review from last month for more details. How will a producer who favours dark clubs fare in sunny Austin? We’ll have to wait to find out. (Mary Chang)
Electronic in all the right places and all the right ways, SWEAT are one of the brightest stars in the upcoming UK music scene right now. Filled with crisp beats and youthful romantic tales, they’re onto a real winner. ‘Stay’, for example, features a beautiful composition that trundles along, disappears and then returns with even more grace and melody. (Steven Loftin)
Life-long friends Dan Cobb and James Cullen comprise electronic duo Tender. From the basement of their North London home, they’ve produced three EPs, ‘Armour’, ‘Tender EP II’ and ‘Tender EP III’. To coincide with the duo signing with Brooklyn-based label Partisan Records in July 2016, Tender released ‘Outside’, the first single to be taken from their third EP. Since its release, the single has been streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify.
For the year ahead, Tender look set to embark on a number of live dates, including shows at SXSW and a headline show at Oslo Hackney in London, before finishing off and releasing their debut album. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, Tender are no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]
Dario Darnell is no stranger to the electronic scene, having previously been in Picture Book with his brother Lorne Ashley. While Picture Book appears to be on hiatus at the moment, Darnell has struck out on his own as a one man multi-instrumentalist under the moniker Youngr. You could say that his career in music was pretty much assured: his father is none other than August Darnell, aka Kid Creole of Kid Creole and the Coconuts’ fame.
Darnell has taken a page from his father in writing and performing catchy pop tunes with a soulful r&b vocal, though in his case, he also takes advantage of a full synth setup and plenty of electronics in the absence of a backing band. He’s in the middle of a European tour at the moment and will be touring North America around his week in Austin. (Mary Chang)
Two Northern Irish artists, singer/songwriter Jealous of the Birds (aka Naomi Hamilton) and electronic musician Ryan Vail, have teamed up on a new collaboration titled ‘Love is a Crow’. Aptly enough, a human crow character, clad all in black, figures prominently in the song’s ‘Donnie Darko’-inspired promo video. He is intended to represent the ever-present spectre of uncertainty in romantic relationships, as Hamilton explains in the track’s press release:
‘Love Is A Crow’ touches on how sometimes, regardless of how passionate and fulfilling a relationship between two people is initially, one person’s doubt and vulnerability can self-sabotage it. In light of that, something about this love becomes damaged and almost sinister, which I think comes across beautifully in the song’s music video.
The new single is due for official release this Friday, the 24th of February, via Quiet Arch. The full release will include this version of the track, plus an instrumental version and remixes by The Cyclist and Die Hexen. The video was filmed in various East Berlin locations by director Joseph White.
Vail and Hamilton were excited to cross-breed their individual talents, each speaking highly of the other. Vail says, “After seeing her perform countless times, I started to discover this edge to her music that reveals itself the more you’re exposed to her. The sounds I developed were inspired by these findings.” Hamilton echoes his sentiment: “Ryan has this great quality of approaching this work with a kind of thoughtfulness that never gets in the way of productivity. He gets things done, which just made the collaboration simple and fun.”
Perhaps not entirely by coincidence, Ryan Vail and Jealous of the Birds are both scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017 next month in Austin, Texas. For up-to-date information about SXSW, keep following TGTF’s ongoing festival preview coverage, or check out the official SXSW schedule of artist showcases here.
American comeback band American Football have announced a short list of UK and Irish live dates for later this year, on the success of their second self-titled album ‘American Football (LP2)’. The band broke up almost immediately after releasing their self-titled debut LP on Polyvinyl in 1999, but Polyvinyl was also instrumental in American Football’s recent re-emergence. Following a deluxe edition re-release of their debut album, American Football played a series of well-received live shows in their hometown of Champaign, Illinois and in New York City. Seventeen years on from their first album, American Football dropped their sophomore full-length release last October, also on Polyvinyl. You can sample the understated semtimentality of album track ‘Desire Gets in the Way’ just below the tour date listing.
Tickets for the following shows are available now. You can find a complete listing of American Football’s upcoming live dates on their official Facebook.
Friday 1st September 2017 – Brighton Concorde 2
Saturday 2nd September 2017 – Manchester Albert Hall
Sunday 3rd September 2017 – Edinburgh Summerhall
Monday 4th September 2017 – Dublin Button Factory
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