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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 18th July 2014 at 10:00 am
Glaswegian synth poppers Prides have something very special for us this Friday morning. The trio have chosen to put their own spin on the Cyndi Lauper ’80s tearjerker classic ‘Time After Time’, deciding to take a stripped back route. Listen to the free download exclusively here on TGTF below and if you like it, you can take it home with you too.
Dr. Martens have withstood the onslaught of – and reinvented themselves through – many – if not all – musical eras, fads, and fashions. No doubt ‘60s rockers found them very handy for keeping their feet protected from the tarmac, forcing a sticky gearlever to shift on a careworn Triumph and for kicking mods in the shins. Into the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, punk and the skinhead movement found DMs perfectly matched their aggressive image, even though most punks no doubt went home to their mums to tuck them in with a cup of cocoa at night.
Later on in the decade, as the hardness of punk split into gothic nihilism and dayglo optimism, Dr. Martens could be found on the feet of both groups – the perfect match to both a pair of leather trousers and a floaty flower-print dress. And then came the 1990s, and with it came grunge, a musical movement tailor made for a decent pair of sturdy footwear. Truth be told, there’s barely an era in music that DMs haven’t been associated with, continuing to the present day. So it’s no surprise that the brand has decided to become directly involved in a bit of music promotion.
Now in its second year, the Dr. Martens #standforsomething tour promises to repeat last year’s achievement of “taking some of the most exciting live acts around into tiny venues”. Which makes it sound like they’ve managed to get White Denim to play a phone box, and that isn’t really the case. I’m not sure the venues involved would agree with the “tiny” description – Newcastle’s Cluny 2 has raked seating, a balcony and 160 capacity. Nor is it unusual for the bands involved to play mid-size venues: Eagulls are playing the Cluny on their own headline tour, for instance.
Such pedantry aside, Dr. Martens have come up with an exciting, directional lineup, heavy on bands that feature the words “post”, “punk”, or indeed “post-punk” in their bios. Wales’ Funeral for a Friend have been plying post-punk pop with a distinctly American twist for over a decade now, and the public’s appetite shows no sign of waning. Leeds’ Eagulls are a touch more ramshackle, more punk and less metal, but nonetheless play in the same league.
A pattern emerges when we come to We are the Ocean – distorted, upbeat guitar riffs, insistent, double-tracked vocals and clean-as-a-whistle production. Only their mothers could tell them apart from Funeral. Things take a left-field turn in Los Campesinos! (pictured at top); instead of distorted guitars, there’s violins, any manner of improvised percussion and vocals that are more sung than screamed.
And then there’s the matter of Sydney’s Tonight Alive. Fresh from gracing the soundtrack of the latest Spiderman film, Jenna McDougall brings her impressively toned abdomen and similarly toned vocal cords to the humble environs of Newcastle’s Cluny 2. A combination of laid-back Australian surf style and distinctly Transatlantic musical chops, there’s no doubt that Tonight Alive will bring a dose of glamour to Tyneside – and to be fair to the promoters, considering the auditoria Tonight Alive are used to playing, the Cluny may indeed appear tiny in comparison.
When you boil it down, #standforsomething is nothing more than a short series of unrelated gigs across the country with a rather large marketing budget attached. The bands are already touring the UK: Tonight Alive, for instance, hit London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, completely independently, before their Martens-sponsored Newcastle date. Similarly, this gig closes We are the Ocean’s and Funeral for a Friend’s tours, whereas it falls directly in the middle of Eagulls’. Nonetheless, a good bit of promotion for some decent bands never goes amiss, so whichever way you slice it, if you’re into DMs, good music, or perhaps even both, there’s no better way to spend a night with your fellow leather enthusiasts. And you might bounce home with a bit of free swag. Catch the tour on the dates listed below and register on the Dr. Martens Web site here to register for tickets.
Saturday 4th October 2014 – Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire starring Funeral for a Friend
Saturday 11th October 2014 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach starring Eagulls
Saturday 25th October 2014 – Liverpool Shipping Forecast starring We are the Ocean
Saturday 8th November 2014 – London Lexington – TBA
Saturday 22nd November 2014 – Birmingham Flapper starring Los Campesinos!
Saturday 6th December 2014 – Newcastle Cluny 2 starring Tonight Alive
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 17th July 2014 at 6:00 pm
alt-J have a brand new promo for ‘Hunger of the Pine’, the first taster from upcoming album ‘This is All Yours’, out in late September. (Read my review of the single here.) The video seems unnecessary violent, and it’s as if they’re trying to be metaphorical here, showing physical suffering in place of not always visible emotional torment. One can hope. Watch it below.
‘This is All Yours’, the Cambridge group’s second album, will be out on the 22nd of September on Infectious Music. Previous coverage of the band on TGTF can be found here.
From the moment I arrived there was a definite air of nostalgia around the place. Sonisphere is undeniably a festival for a section of the gig-going public, that is too lethargic and stubborn to embrace the pace of change music is making at the moment. They lament the days ska disappeared (if it ever was) from the mainstream music agenda and don the t-shirts of band who are certainly not playing the festival, but they want you to know ‘THEY CARE!’
Underlining the wistful air of sentimentality were ageing veterans of ska Reel Big Fish. They’re a band who knows how to cater for the longingly nostalgic audience, and that’s by playing nothing but the hits. There was only one song from their newest release ‘Candy Coated Fury’, which consequently got the same kind of reaction from the crowd that you would expect if Aaron Barrett came out onstage dressed as Vladimir Putin and started spouting anti-Ukranian propaganda.
The rest of the set was a journey through the nether regions of the California six-piece’s assorted back catalogue, which finished somewhat triumphantly with their rather enjoyable cover of ‘Take On Me’ by a-ha. They received a lukewarm reaction from the crowd for the majority of their set, barring the final cover which provoked slightly more frivolity. (6/10) But, their inclusion on the line-up is one of the things which confuses me about Sonisphere as a festival.
It’s a metal festival, targeted at the black t-shirt wearing population who choose to grow their hair past their neck, swing it around them like a lasso at random times, seemingly to display their dominance as either the smelliest or sweatiest member of any crowd. So what is a ska band like Reel Big Fish doing there? And what have bands like All Time Low and Weezer been doing hanging around the likes of Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth?
Somehow though, when it works, it works beautifully, as the Dropkick Murphys showed later on the Saturn Stage, emerging after a musical prelude that was almost long enough to rival the theatricality of ‘Glastallica’ the previous week. The run-up doesn’t serve to stifle the flow of the show though, as the seven-piece bound onstage like a bag of excitable puppies let loose in the kitchen when you’re chopping the veg for dinner. They aren’t bloody annoying like those puppies though (I’ve got a thing against dogs at the moment as I think I’m allergic, OK?).
Set opener ‘The Boys Are Back’ is flowing with the kind of good cheer you find at your local pub when it’s Irish night and the beer is flowing. Ken Casey has the pride his music enthuses rolling out of him in droves, whilst vocalist Al Barr looks every bit as mean as ever dressed in the kind of polo shirt and cap you see Frodo Baggins wearing in Green Street before he slogs someone right in the gob.
Barr is a marauding presence, as he paces menacingly along the front of the stage, stirring the crowd into a frenzied whirlpool. It’s singalong anthem after singalong anthem from the Massachusetts homeboys. My personal highlight had to be a rip-roaring cover of the traditional folk number ‘Black Velvet Band’, which was furnished with a gloss of punk bite. The audience was joined in unison for the penultimate tune, as they covered AC/DC’s classic ‘Dirty Deeds Done Cheap’, before skipping of the stage to one of their classics, ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’.
This all proved to me that you didn’t need to be a roaring, denim jacket wearing, Satan-worshiping metal band to fit in at Sonisphere. You were welcomed with open arms as long as your music had a bit of an edge to it. Dropkick Murphys had that in spades and left Knebworth Park as champions, after a rabble-rousing set that William Wallace himself would have been proud of. (10/10)
Sandwiched in between Reel Big Fish and Dropkick Murphys are titans of sludge, Mastodon, who troop through a set with just enough of their classics to justify a good outing for songs from their new record ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’. ‘Chimes at Midnight’, ’High Road’ and ‘The Motherload’ sit unobtrusively next to tracks like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Blasteroid’, as the band take you away to a starry-skied world with their thudding, yet entirely melodic tunes.
At the helm, Troy Sanders conducted the orchestra of majesty behind him, whilst still grasping the 30,000 strong audience within the palm of his hand, from up high on the Saturn Stage. The titanic melodies that Mastodon have made their trademark over the past decade soared out over the fields of Knebworth, drawing in a considerable crowd. They’re the kind of outfit that the smaller bands who graced the weekend’s line-up can watch slam out a set of huge tunes and give them the will to aspire to play higher on the bill. (8/10)
By comparison on the same Stage, Alice in Chains produced an utterly flaccid performance, devoid of any real showmanship. They bumbled through a set which catered for anyone wanting to hear the hits, as ‘Man in the Box’ and ‘Them Bones’ received an airing. For a band gracing the upper echelons of rock royalty, the crowd could most definitely have expected something more than the dour showing they got from the titans of grunge.
Perhaps with all the line-up changes William DuVall and co. have gone and lost what made them so brilliant to watch. Or maybe the four-piece couldn’t handle the almost unbearable rays of the sun beating down from high upon the Saturn Stage. (5/10)
Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of John’s review of Sonisphere 2014.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 17th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
After a 2-year hiatus that saw frontman Jonny Pierce chance a short-lived solo career, The Drums are back, reinvigorated and curiously back to how they were when they first got started in 2008: simply a duo starring Pierce and best friend Jacob Graham. When the band, then a four-piece, first hit the indie scene in 2009 with then Steve Lamacq favourite and summer stunner ‘Let’s Go Surfing’, things looked pretty superficial. When I interviewed Pierce and then drummer Connor Handwick in the autumn of 2010, it was obvious to me quickly, especially from Pierce’s erudite discussion of the importance of film and photography to him while drinking a hot cup of tea, not booze, that there was more to the Drums than meets the immediate eye.
For better or worse, their self-titled debut album shot to #16 on the UK Albums Chart that same year, probably due to the sales of people who didn’t scratch below the surface. However, I think those fans who bought their sophomore album ‘Portamento’ and might have wavered in their loyalty or those expecting another album chock full of chirpy tracks like ‘Me and the Moon’ and ‘Best Friend’ might have trouble stomaching this leaner, meaner version of the Drums.
The vibe off taster track ‘Magic Mountain’ suggests the red satin jacket and high school sports jerseys Pierce has favoured in previous incarnations of the band might be up for retirement permanently. Why do I say this? Because, well, despite naming their song with the same moniker of one of America’s enduring theme park franchises Six Flags, this sound pretty dark. If anything, except for maybe the joyous handclaps at the start, it sounds like it was concocted in a mad scientist’s lab. A mad scientist from Scooby Doo, maybe.
Otherworldly synth notes wiggle and shake against menacing Graham’s guitar notes. Pierce sings high up the scale, the minor key vocal line appearing purposefully dissonant against the instrumentation and driving rhythm. Further examination of the lyrics adds causes additional confusion: “inside my magic mountain we don’t have to be with them / inside my magic mountain our hearts are on / inside my magic mountain I don’t have to be with them / inside my magic mountain our hearts are on”. Is “my magic mountain” some kind of euphemism? I can’t take this seriously.
It’s strange structurally as well, with an unnatural pause at 2 minutes 25 seconds before the song starts again. In its premiere with Noisey, Pierce describes the song as ” ..about shedding off what binds you and protecting what’s good, finding a safe place away from everyone and everything that wants to destroy you”. Hmm. Perhaps maybe ‘Magic Mountain’ is meant to be a grower, but I can’t see it appealing to their pop fans who swooned over ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. This is the Drums, mark IV. I still have an open mind about their future, but this left me cold.
No word yet on when the third album from the Drums will be released, but the word on the street is that the album was completed earlier this year, so I’m expecting something out before the year is out. I’m also guessing from their Soundcloud that they’ve started their own label, Minor Records. Should be interesting to see what comes of it, even if it’s sinister. Watch an album teaser from the duo below.
Scottish duo Honeyblood have announced a list of UK tour dates to accompany the release of their self-titled debut album, out now on FatCat Records. The pair bring their special brand of sugar-coated garage pop back to this side of the pond in September, between summer tour dates in America and European dates in October.
Thursday 11th September 2014 – Stirling Tolbooth
Friday 12th September 2014 – Dunfermline PJ Molloys
Saturday 13th September 2014 – Glasgow CCA
Tuesday 16th September 2014 – Newcastle Cluny
Wednesday 17th September 2014 – Sheffield Old Fire Station
Thursday 18th September 2014 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friday 19th September 2014 – Manchester Soup Kitchen
Monday 22nd September 2014 – Bristol Louisiana
Tuesday 23rd September 2014 – London Sebright Arms
Wednesday 24th September 2014 – Cambridge Portland Arms
Thursday 25th September 2014 – Leicester Scholar Bar
Friday 26th September 2014 – Birmingham Hare and Hounds
Saturday 27th September 2014 – Brighton Hope
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