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Live Review: David Ramirez with Liza Anne at Valley Bar, Phoenix, AZ – 4th November 2015

By on Wednesday, 11th November 2015 at 2:00 pm

Last Wednesday night, I trekked once again to downtown Phoenix for a gig at the intimate and all-but-hidden Valley Bar, which is quite literally nestled in a back alley between a couple of sandwich shops. The rainy weather didn’t stop a steady crowd from trickling into the venue, and before the gig started, I heard several punters chatting about the headliner, Texas alt-country songwriter David Ramirez, having obviously heard him or seen him live before. I, myself, was less familiar, having been turned on to Ramirez’s music after seeing a Tweeted recommendation of his latest single from none other than Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. I spent the two-hour drive to Phoenix from Tucson listening to Ramirez’s latest album ‘Fables’ via Apple Music, and it was just the thing to whet my appetite for the evening’s headliner at the Valley Bar.

Liza Anne

Lest I get too far ahead of myself, let’s start not with Ramirez, but with his guest on the night, Atlanta native singer/songwriter Liza Anne. Her tunes are the kind of starkly melancholic neo-folk I might have predicted, but with the added twist of prominent vocal harmonies provided by backing vocalists Sam Pinkerton and Molly Parden. Liza Anne’s opening set, which included haunting echoes of melody from her recent LP ‘Two’, had a cool, aloof edge despite its emotional lyrics that would prove to be in sharp contrast to Ramirez’s viscerally organic Americana style.

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Because I was fairly unfamiliar with Ramirez, I decided to stick to the standard policy of shooting photos only during the first three songs of the set, leaving myself free to enjoy the latter part of the show uninterrupted. And though I missed a few classic photo opportunities later on when Ramirez’s band was in full swing, I’m convinced that I made the right decision. Ramirez’s intensity on stage was hypnotic, and his band played with the kind of paradoxically effortless energy that can only happen when you’re playing with your “best friend(s) in the world”, as Ramirez would preface his introduction of each band member.

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To my surprise (and mild dismay), Ramirez started his lengthy headline set with two of the songs I knew best from ‘Fables’, namely ‘New Way of Living’ and ‘Harder to Lie’, the latter of which has been firmly planted in my head ever since the night of the show. He scattered songs from ‘Fables’ throughout the set, interspersing them with several older tracks that caught my attention, especially ‘The Bad Days’ from 2013 EP ‘The Rooster’. Not knowing the songs well enough to sing along, I was nonetheless delighted to be in the front row, alternately tapping my toes and swaying my hips to the band’s infectious rhythmic momentum. Ramirez’s alt-country style has perhaps a bit more country twang than I usually like, but the rough honesty of his singing voice and the integrity of his stylistic devotion to foundational country rock were quite simply captivating.

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The crowd were quiet at the beginning of the set, but slowly warmed up as Ramirez and his band went to work under the hot stage lights. Interaction was stilted at first, but the punters gradually got brave enough to respond to Ramirez’s banter. At one point, a cheeky request was made for a song called ‘Wandering Man’, and while Ramirez didn’t commit to it in the moment, he did play the song at the very end of his set, and it was clearly a longtime live favourite, featuring not only a rousing verse-chorus-verse, but also an extended bridge section where each of the instrumentalists on stage had a chance to show off his chops. Ramirez himself actually took this opportunity to exit the stage and head to the bar for a shot, with which he toasted the crowd before tossing it back and finishing the song with a blinding flourish.

Breathless from the frenzy of the final tune, I headed out to the lobby where the merch table was located. There I picked up a proper physical copy of ‘Fables’ and had the opportunity for quick hellos and handshakes with the band members before I headed out in the rain to drive back east to Tucson, while they headed west for the next stops on their current U.S. tour. Before I drove away, I took a moment to Tweet my own ringing recommendation to a friend in California, who would see Ramirez play a solo show on the following Sunday night.

The previous Gary Lightbody endorsement had been graciously received and reciprocated by Ramirez on Twitter, where he surely found a small legion of Snow Patrol fans (including myself!) among his new listeners, though Ramirez’s musical style is clearly more on the Americana-leaning Tired Pony end of the Lightbody spectrum. Ramirez might gain even more traction from Lightbody’s recommendation after the start of the new year, when he is scheduled to play a single live date on the 28th of January at Hoxton Square in London. A full listing of Ramirez’s upcoming live dates, including more U.S. shows with Liza Anne, can be found on his official Web site.

David Ramirez set list


Album Review: Fictonian – Desire Lines

By on Wednesday, 11th November 2015 at 12:00 pm

Fictonian Desire Lines album coverWe are now deep into autumn, pretty soon enough to enter into the cold days of winter. It’ll all too easy to fall into the trap of lethargy, to hibernate, to hide away from everyone else because we can’t be bothered to get out of bed. While it may seem that Fictonian, known to his mum as Glen Roberts, did exactly this when he escaped the urban sprawl of London in favour of rural Herefordshire and solitude, the creative juices that flowed when he was left to his own devices in the countryside have culminated in a truly beautiful collection of songs, in the form of his debut album ‘Desire Lines’, which will be released this Friday.

In an era where the imagination and genius of solo composer, one-man bands are flourishing and indeed, being applauded – if one needs convincing, have a look at the Mercury Prize recognizing C Duncan‘s ‘Architect’ and Ghostpoet‘s ‘Shedding Skin’ in the nominations for the 2015 gong and East India Youth‘s ‘Total Strife Forever’ in the year previous – Roberts’ talent should be closely examined and enjoyed through ‘Desire Lines’ as a potential contender for next year.

On ‘The Hat’, which features little other than the slow, gentle buzzing of an accordion (synths?) and piano, Roberts’ voice is husky and rough, recalling Bryan Adams in his early career, while also remaining wistful. With the warmth of its chords, ‘Make It Be Ours’ has a shuffling, sweeping chorus fitting for the most beautiful of torch songs: “see that star? / it isn’t too far / if it’s in your heart / let’s make it be ours.”

But the true standout of ‘Desire Lines’ is ‘I Remember’: majestic in its simplicity, the piano chords building up to Roberts’ words – “I believed in love / but it never comes / I wait” – sung with all the melancholy of love lost. Chris Martin wishes he could write something as emotional as this. This, however, is not to say Fictonian is a project stuck on slow, overly sad dirges. On the other side of the tempo spectrum, the jaunty melody and oom-pah rhythm of ‘Moira Junction’ mirrors “my heart is like a pendulum / swinging to and fro / don’t know which way to go” in the song’s story, giving you the feeling of a heart so badly broken, its owner can’t make a move in his confusion.

Then there are the little things that all added up make this an unusual, loveable album. With its unidentifiable plinks and plonks that Stornoway, Patrick Wolf and the recently returned Clock Opera would be proud to call their own, opening track ‘Anticipation’ is satisfyingly whimsical and a great beginning to the record. A similar whimsy appears again on ‘Mrs. Jones’, with an intro and outro having a delightful, wonky carnival-like quality.

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Previously revealed single ‘Little Blue Book’, playful with tambourine jingles and whistled notes, is probably the most poppy and accessible track on the album. Its gentle, lumbering, yet uplifting melody is easy on the ears, while the lyrics tell of accepting that life goes on, but the most important part to making the most of yours is to go after your dreams, so you won’t have to live with regret when you’re old. Words of wisdom.

The folky, disheveled troubadour sensibility and deadpan lyrics of life observed on ‘Full Circle Influence’, plus the background metallic clanking and Eastern melody leading the track out might sound like a strange way to end this album. But it clearly shows that Roberts has a great many ideas and could go in just as many directions on his future releases. Listening to this one song, I am reminded of later Stephen Duffy / Lilac Time, a criminally underrated songwriter and artist. When I mention Duffy’s name, I generally get glazed eyes looking back at me, because no-one’s ever heard of him or his genius. This musn’t happen with Fictonian. I won’t let it.

Have you ever listened to an album and got the distinct feeling that you’ve heard it all before? That you once held it beloved and have listened to it on repeat again and again? ‘Desire Lines’ is that stunning kind of record. And you will want to play it again and again.


The debut album from Fictonian, ‘Desire Lines’, is out this Friday, the 13th of November, on Distiller Music.


Video of the Moment #1953: Daughter

By on Tuesday, 10th November 2015 at 6:00 pm

On a grey, rainy, miserable day like this in Washington, there can be nothing better than a new video from the Communion-related band who have cornered the market on relationship doom and gloom, Daughter. Following on from the uber haunting ‘Doing the Right Thing’ unveiled last month, Elena Tonra “feels numb in this kingdom” in ‘Numbers’.

The person who’s feeling most numb, it seems, is the story’s main character, a mysterious woman in red who can cause terrible suffering on what appears to be chosen victims, and just by her looking and thinking about these poor souls’ misfortune. Weird concept for a video, but considering how unearthly and sinister Daughter have managed to make the song feel, it works. The band make a quick cameo in the club scene near the end, but it’s pretty quick, as if you’d miss them if you blinked.

Daughter’s second album ‘Not to Disappear’, the hotly-anticipated follow-up to 2013’s ‘If You Leave’, is out the 15th of January 2016 on 4AD in the UK and Glassnote Records in North America.

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Live Review: Third Eye Blind at Manchester Academy 2 – 5th November 2015

By on Tuesday, 10th November 2015 at 2:00 pm

When you’re a band that’s been around for 22 years, one thing you learn to do is how to put on a show. There’s an art form to it that’s almost as important as creating the music itself. Without the live show, you gain no traction with the fans, both old and new, and it’s this ability that has helped Third Eye Blind survive for this long.

Their current tour is in support of their latest record ‘Dopamine’, which is also their first in 6 years, but there certainly weren’t any cobwebs to be dusted off so to speak. Being introduced with a pounding drum track as the rest of the band took to the stage, frontman Stephan Jenkins finally appeared to a rapturous, almost-sold out crowd. Opening with comeback single ‘Everything is Easy’, the already frenzied audience, their unified fists in the air, were in the palm of Jenkins’ hand.

Jenkins informed us early on in the set that this was actually their first time playing Manchester and in fact they first got attention by major labels and thusly signed because they supported Oasis, Manchester’s favourite sons. Almost a symbolic homecoming of sorts. The end of ‘Rite of Passage’ featured a little teaser of U2’s ‘With or Without You’.

Controversial ballad ‘Slow Motion’ was a clear fan favourite. The song references a student shooting a teacher and was only eventually released on a greatest hits collection and not their second album ‘Blue’ as planned, but it’s clearly a song that hasn’t been lost to its infamy.

Constantly engaging with the crowd, be it through stage talk or hype gestures, Jenkins still has the lead singer-type charisma that very few acts in the modern age have. Splitting his time between guitar-toting frontman and bounding around the stage as a microphone-wielding icon, there was no divide between the band and fans. This is what can make or break a band; making that connection, giving the crowd a role in the show and Jenkins is truly a master of this, continuously checking in and inciting the crowd to “lose your inhibitions”. The encore was when things reached the peak of organised chaos: the obvious track everyone was waiting for and their massive breakout hit ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ was the epic finale we’d hoped it to be and more. Third Eye Blind haven’t lost a single aspect of what made them a success in ’97, and they sure still know how to put on a show.

After the cut: Third Eye Blind’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Third Eye Blind at Manchester Academy 2 – 5th November 2015


Deaf Havana / November 2015 UK Tour

By on Tuesday, 10th November 2015 at 9:00 am

Deaf Havana have recently announced a short run of tour dates to follow the release of their recent single ‘Cassiopeia’.  The new track will likely feature on Deaf Havana’s upcoming fourth studio album, which is expected out sometime next year.  You can watch the video for ‘Cassiopeia’ just below the tour date listing.

Tickets for the following live dates are available now, except for the already sold out show in Leeds.  You can read TGTF’s previous coverage of Deaf Havana right back this way.

Thursday 19th November 2015 – Leeds Wardrobe (sold out)
Friday 20th November 2015 – Edinburgh La Belle Angele
Saturday 21st November 2015 – Dundee Buskers
Sunday 22nd November 2015 – Liverpool Academy 2
Monday 23rd November 2015 –London Islington Assembly Hall

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Video of the Moment #1952: Bring Me the Horizon

By on Monday, 9th November 2015 at 6:00 pm

Hard-rocking Sheffield five-piece Bring Me the Horizon have a new, arresting video for their equally arresting track ‘True Friends’. Actually, ‘video’ would be diminishing their effort here. It’s more like a mini-episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, effectively using the passionate nature of the lyrics of ‘True Friends’ (“true friends stab you in the front…you got a lot of nerve / but not a lot of spine / you made your bed when you worried about mine / this ends now”) highlight unexplained, sinister goings-on in a family. It’s a graphic video, so if you’ve got a weak stomach, skip this, but if you like crime dramas, I can’t recall a music video in recent memory that gripped me and had me on the edge of my seat like this.

Both ‘True Friends’ the single and ‘That’s the Spirit’, Bring Me the Horizon’s fifth album, are out now on Columbia Records. Catch the group live on their headline UK tour to start next week.

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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 the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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