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SXSW 2014 preview coverage
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A whacking great 150 new acts have been announced for The Great Escape 2014 this year. The UK’s answer to South By Southwest is situated on the calming, classic British seaside town of Brighton from the 8th until the 10th of May.
Joining Kelis, Royal Blood and Charli XCX on the line-up is first and foremost Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins, whose inimitable take on melodic electronica has seen him work with Imogen Heap and Brian Eno. Breaking out and going solo, we have The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., who whilst being well known for the exploits of ‘Last Nite’ exploits, is attempting to cut his teeth as a lone performer – what a place to pick up fans TGE is, eh?
One of my picks, of the newly added acts to the bill has to be BBC Sound of 2014 darling George Ezra. His bluesy-melodic pop shows a maturity well past his age, and to hear ‘Do You Hear the Rain’ in a small venue is sure to have the hairs on the back of your neck, not just standing to attention, but saluting and giving a little ‘Ten Hut’ as well.
Close to our hearts at There Goes The Fear is another one of the new additions: Jimi Goodwin, who is best known as the frontman of Doves, he’s another one who only recently has decided to walk the walk of a solo artist, and Brighton seems as good a place as any to see how he is managing on his own.
Other highlights on the bill now are Scots Casual Sex, who will be showcasing at SXSW 2014 before coming out to Brighton, new-age folkers Dry the River, Go Wolf and rap collective Ratking. And last but certainly not least, Wild Beasts will be making a triumphant return to Brighton to headline at the Dome on Friday night, supported by These New Puritans.
To buy tickets and get more information on the Great Escape 2014, visit their official Web site. You can also read John’s original festival announcement here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 6:00 pm
Ahead of their appearances in Austin next week for SXSW 2014, CYMBALS have a brand new video out for ‘Erosion’, featured on their latest album on Tough Love Records, ‘The Age of Fracture’. (Carrie reviewed it here.) A spinning skull, waving blades of grass, computerised pastoral scenes, robotic dogs and cats – it’s all here. Watch the video below.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 1:00 pm
Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2014 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts, and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.
Just 1 week off now from the official start of SXSW 2014 and we’ve arrived at the sixth part of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: the genre of singer/songwriters and folk artists. Whether they are single person artists with just a microphone and/or a guitar, or they’re a multi-person strong team of musicians, singer/songwriters have the ability to evoke feelings and emotions in us sometimes we didn’t even know we had. Read on…
Carrie writes: “Fans of the late Amy Winehouse will be interested to hear up-and-coming pop diva Juliette Ashby. Though Ashby was reportedly close friends with Winehouse, her music bears only the slightest tinge of Winehouse’s gritty soul flavor, instead leaning more toward the sparkly dance pop of stars like Ellie Goulding or Lily Allen. Ashby’s debut album ‘Bittersweet’ will be available for preorder on the 3rd of March.
Self-described as “acoustic soul”, Nottingham-born Bailey brings a soulful, almost jazzy edge and a welcome difference to the singer/songwriter category.
Alt-folk collective Cocos Lovers formed in Kent in 2008 when its members decided to quit their day jobs and travel through Europe, busking and making music however and wherever they possibly could. Predictably, the influences on their style are widely varied, including English folk and choral music, American Southern gospel and Spanish flamenco, as well as the complex rhythms and tonalities of African and Eastern traditional music.
Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Cocos Lovers here; two of their members also answered our SXSW 2014 flavoured Quickfire Questions, which you can read here.
Carrie writes: Hackney native Cousin Marnie has the unique distinctions of claiming an Alfred Hitchcock heroine as the inspiration for her stage name and counting both Loretta Lynn and Kanye West among her main musical influences. Her single ‘Cain’ is an eerie combination of biblical text, stark instrumental texture, and delicate vocal timbres in the verses, juxtaposed with heavy bass and savage rhythm in the chorus. Watch the lyric video for ‘Cain’ below, and try not to think too much about what might have become of the little white bunny.
Carrie writes: “Honeyblood’s twee grunge pop has drawn fully warranted comparisons to California groups Best Coast and Haim, not only for the female lead vocals, but for the laid-back vibe, fuzzy garage band tone and mildly rebellious lyrics.”
Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Honeyblood is here.
Carrie writes: “The hipster literati in Austin next spring will no doubt flock to see British singer-songwriter Kieran Leonard, whose esoteric and often politically-charged folk rock challenges both emotion and intellect. His intensity may be off-putting at first, especially to a casual listener, but his entrancing singing voice and cynically provocative lyrics are worth a bit of extra attention.”
Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch piece on Leonard here.
Carrie writes: “South London band The Melodic have just finished touring America with Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit in support of their debut full length album, ‘Effra Parade’. ‘Effra Parade’ is a light and jaunty mix of carefree melodic lines, casual vocal harmonies and diverse instrumental textures. While musically whimsical, the songs’ thoughtful lyrics often deal with larger intellectual topics, such as the Pinochet-era political turmoil in Chile in ‘Ode to Victor Jara’”.
Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on the band is here; frontman Huw Williams also answered our SXSW 2014 flavoured Quickfire Questions set here.
Carrie writes: “Blurring the lines between jazz, classical, world music, and folk genres, this set of four songs reveals a wide array of musical influences, as well as a broad set of lyrical and compositional ideas. The songs hinge on minimalist grooves and the repetitive plucked rhythms of Mulvey’s acoustic guitar, but the unique harmonies and eclectic instrumentation generate surprising sonic variety.”
This Hitchin guitar-toting singer/songwriter with a penchant for sweeping, ethereal vocals has already been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Antony and the Johnsons. Check out ‘Raise Your Love’, which showcases his expansive voice.
Welsh singer/songwriter Stephen Black might have named himself after Linus Van Pelt’s (Peanuts) too cute nickname, but he does a good job bridging the heartfelt with the occasional squealing guitar jam.
Tom the Lion
Cheryl writes: Thomas Lombardi, performing under the moniker Tom the Lion, is splashing back onto the scene after a 3-year absence. Debut album ‘Sleep’ is poised to give this Londoner a career jolt. Blending low-fi, chamber pop and modified symphonics, ‘Sleep’ is a mysterious, masterful work. Previous release ‘The Adventures of Tom the Lion’ brought him under the radar commercial success even though it was an amalgam of live performance and limited edition vinyl-only EPs. Despite the difficulty in finding his music – currently available only via Rough Trade or his Web site, it is worth the hunt (hint: try Soundcloud). Both works hold gems that identify this singer as an endearing entry into the male singer/songwriter milieu.”
Cheryl’s full Bands to Watch feature on Tom the Lion can be found here.
Though he’s based in London, singer/songwriter was born in Denmark and is of English and Uruguayan ancestry. Looking for a bit of 21st century blue-eyed soul in Austin? You’ve found him.
Carrie writes: “Brighton-based four-piece Wildflowers center their folk rock sound around the vocal harmonies of sisters Siddy and Kit Bennett. Siblings almost always have a unique ability to perfectly match their vocal diction for seamless harmonies, but the sisters also share a love of rebellious female songs, citing Alanis Morrisette as an early musical influence. Hints of Morrisette certainly appear in Wildflowers’ lyrics and Siddy Bennett’s vocal delivery, but the overall sound leans more toward the bluesy country of Patsy Cline. The Bennett sisters cite their nomadic, bohemian upbringing as an influence on their music as well, with American bands like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac informing the full-scale vocal harmonies they share with band members James Ashbury and Kendal Sant.”
Want to read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Wildflowers? Right this way.
Carrie writes: “Withered Hand is the stage name of Scottish folk singer/songwriter Dan Willson, whose second full length album, ‘New Gods’, is due for release in mid-March (the 10th of March, just in time for SXSW!) by Fortuna Pop! Records. According to the label’s press release for ‘New Gods’, Willson took up songwriting around age 30 when a series of life events sparked “a period of reflection” that led to the creation of his deeply introspective first album ‘Good News’. ‘New Gods’ is a variation on that theme of self-examination, equally perceptive and evocative, but with a mellow touch of wry humor to soften its blunt honesty.”
To read Carrie’s review of Withered Hand’s upcoming album ‘New Gods’, go here.
Gabby Young and Other Animals
Carrie writes: Gabby Young is a classically trained opera singer turned ‘Circus Swing’ songwriter whose globally-influenced brand of folk music has been grouped into an eccentric genre all its own. Her singing voice is indeed glorious, but even more spectacular are the energetically jazzy rhythms provided by her 8-piece backing band, Other Animals. This lively showcase is sure to inspire dancing and debauchery in Austin. For a quick teaser, watch the video for ‘I’ve Improved’, from the group’s Kickstarter-funded third album ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’.
More of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 to come this week. Stay tuned!
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 12:00 pm
Here in America, we don’t have the BBC. If you switch on your radio here in Washington, most of what you are going to get on the corporate-owned radio stations are same old top 40 mainstream hits every hour. Thanks to the internet, music fans young and old have the opportunity to learn about bands far beyond just what mainstream radio is telling us what we should like, and I think that’s amazing. It’s very important to me that TGTF brings attention to great new music and bands to people of all ages, but probably the most important to educate about good music are the kids. They are the key to music’s enduring future. Without them, we’re destined to a future of major label manufactured Mileys and One Directions, with indie music unsupported and underfunded, dwindling away. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I come from a very large family (you should see the size of our Thanksgiving get togethers), and one of our most avid readers is my cousin’s daughter. She’s a junior in high school here in the DC area, and because she’s been very interested in what we do at TGTF, I’ve been bringing her to shows with me, and she’s been so eager to learn about new music. I was thinking about her when I started thinking about how I was going to write this Bands to Watch, as the kids in the band in question are around Kara’s age. They might be young, but the more important thing is that they’ve got heart. And from what I’ve heard from them, they’re pretty damn talented too.
The Busker’s Sons are a young rock group from Macclesfield, the town generally most famous as being the birthplace of Ian Curtis and Peter Crouch, though our John thinks of it more recently as the place that birthed the Virginmarys. I used the word “young”, as they’re all in college now, and they only just formed last summer, having met each other in high school, though three of them – singer Alex Briscoe, guitarist Harry Gold and drummer Micah Whadcock – had played in another band before this one.
I hope this doesn’t result in a tidal wave of Tweets in my direction – but it probably will, now that I’ve opened my big mouth – but I found the five-man strong group on Twitter and did some investigating, which led me to their Soundcloud. (Note to new bands: if you aren’t already on Soundcloud and you aren’t using it to your advantage, you’ve lost the plot.) Earlier this year, the band self-released an album, ‘Northern Ignorance’; if I had no idea how old these guys were or where they were from, I’d assume they were 1) older and 2) already signed. Why do I say this? I’ve seen some pretty bad opening bands in my time as a music editor, bands that can’t figure out how to write a proper melody and/or write lyrics that mean something and aren’t just words thrown together without much thought; I’m stood there in front of the stage, wishing I was somewhere else. But somehow The Busker’s Sons have already figured this all out – and winningly – well before they’re even legally allowed to drink. I’m imagining this is same kind of epiphany Martin had discovering The Orielles.
It can be hard to find videos of a new band. When I went looking on YouTube for one of the Busker’s Sons, I found this surprising gem filmed in what I’m sure is some bandmate’s bedroom. Very rarely can us music writers see the evolution of a song from an earlier stage to the recorded version, but you can with ‘Disguise’ by watching the video below, followed by streaming to the album version from the band’s Soundcloud. The track appears on the album but was an earlier song released previously on an EP. It’s good. It’s really good. It got stuck in my head after the second listen.
The ‘Northern Ignorance’ album showcases a variety of styles, which signals to me the band haven’t settled on exactly what direction the Busker’s Sons plan to go in. ‘Bury Your Head in the Sand’ displays a harder edge, with Briscoe channeling Alex Turner and Ian Brown, and the stomping rhythm of ‘Mose’ further proves they could be a rock band versus a pop one. The sweet melody of ‘Over My Shoulder’ will make you think early Beatles, while the guitars of ‘Magazines’, another album standout, morph from the those of early frantic Two Door Cinema Club or Hot Club de Paris into those of the Libertines, then back again. The LP also features two covers, the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ and Editors‘ ‘Munich’, both of which benefit from Briscoe’s higher register, with the former sounding more comfortably bluesy than the Fabs’ original, if that’s possible.
‘Northern Ignorance’? Hardly. While the band cite their local heroes Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Joy Division as major influences, they don’t sound like they’re copying any of them. If they can keep on writing gems like these, The Busker’s Sons have a good chance of making a name for themselves and maybe one day, we’ll be writing about them, just like those other legendary bands from Manchester.
Prepare to embrace mother earth: I’m talking grabbing her by the grass skirt, jumping in a big muddy puddle and rolling around until you smell a bit compost-y. Sound like your cup of herbal tea? Get yourself heading down south then, to the land of propa’ cider, tractors and a host of other rural clichés – as 2000 Trees (10-12 July) returns to Upcote Farm in Cheltenham.
Established in 2007, the organisers’ mantra was to ensure they didn’t become everything they had grown to hate – this being the corporate commercial entities which they believed most modern festivals had become – the corporate sponsorships and ‘supposed soullessness’ of most major UK festivals. To do so they’ve kept their event true to its now deeply dug roots:
• Maximum 5,000 people
• Locally produced food and drink
• Friendly atmosphere
• A commitment to stay get as close to carbon neutrality as is humanly possible.
With these cornerstones of the festival set, the rest of the weekend is of course focussed on the best live bands available – with every act being personally approved and vetted by the bookings team before being added to the bill. The fruits of this stringent and possibly unique selection process are an eclectic mix, bringing to Cheltenham some of the most exciting live acts doing the rounds at the moment, from a plethora of genres, folk to funk, rock to rap.
Such is the nature of 2000 Trees line-up, that if you were to put a poster up on the wall, throw a dart at the line-up then throw it again, the artist or band it lands on would bear no similarity to the other. While some festivals may target a specific genre a la Download, Sonisphere, etc., 2000 Trees really does cater for most.
Highlights of the bill have to be led by Public Service Broadcasting (pictured at top) – a band whose live show is best described as an aural assault of post-rock goodness, with smatterings of wartime announcements and Chemical Brothers-ish synths.
Since Trees’ inception, Upcote Farm has been a clamour for a Reuben reunion and a performance from the boys – since that doesn’t seem like it’s coming around the corner anytime soon – ex-Reuben man Jamie Lenman will have to do. Bringing with him an almost cult following, his new groove metal album ‘Muscle Memory’ fully showcases the artists immense creativity and eccentricity.
Prog-rockers Tall Ships are also on the bill and are an act not to be missed. Mixing a huge heavy sound with a distinctly minimalist approach, and in this creating a truly unique live experience. One of my favourites Arcane Roots will be appearing across the weekend too, alongside a favourite at the festival – Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – I mean, who won’t lose all of their shit to ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, yeah?
To book tickets and get all the nitty gritty details, visit the official 2000 Trees Web site.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 3rd March 2014 at 6:30 pm
Electro soul act Jungle will for sure be wowing SXSW 2014 audiences next week, and ahead of that, they have a brand new video for new single ‘Busy Earnin’. Is this a 21st century episode of Fame or what? Watch it below.
Read Martin’s Bands to Watch feature on Jungle here.
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