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By Mary Chang
on Monday, 1st February 2016 at 4:00 pm
Blaenavon are a trio that hail from Liphook, East Hampshire. To be perfectly frank, I don’t know a whole lot about them. I *do* know that the indie group are one of 14 acts to have received PRS funding for their maiden voyage out to Austin next month for SXSW 2016, which is a great vote of confidence in both their musical talent and potential. The masses have also spoken: a gig this coming Thursday, the 4th of February, at London Lexington is already sold out.
On the aesthetic side of things, Blaenavon have received attention from posh fashion house Burberry: their lead singer Ben Gregory has been chosen as the face for Burberry’s spring/summer 2016 campaign. With that, the band were recently filmed by the company performing at a Christmas show at Manchester Albert Hall last month. In the below video, they’re seen performing ‘Dragon’ from their recent ‘Miss World’ EP. Have and watch and listen and let us know what you think of this up-and-coming English group.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 1st February 2016 at 12:00 pm
I didn’t think I’d ever encounter an album for which I’d have read that the artist in question had wanted the album to sound like a certain country, and then went on to actually achieve it. There hasn’t been one in recent memory that I can recall, so now I’m prepared to eat my words. The sophomore full-length effort from Brooklyn via Sydney duo High Highs is the source of all this confoundment. In the press release, multi-instrumentalist Oli Chang explains, “If you go to Australia, it’s a beach country…You have year-round summer, basically. That really influences the music.”
Despite ‘Cascades’ having been recorded in upstate New York, their hearts and minds were far away, thinking of home and the synthpop music they grew up with. In addition to their fondness for wide expanses of surf-y real estate down under, they’ve cited John Farnham’s mid-‘80s anthem ‘You’re the Voice’ and the back catalogue of Icehouse (a band also favoured by fellow Aussies Little May, who covered the band’s ‘Great Southern Land’ on their recent tour of America) as important inspirations for the new LP. Make no mistake, though: this album sounds fresh and bracing, not at all like a badge-covered denim jacket of that bygone era that’s simply been dusted off.
This desire to channel and, ultimately, also recreate this feeling of an arms wide open-type of freedom is palpable throughout the album. Opening track ‘Boxing’, which premiered in early December on influential Seattle radio station KEXP, moves forward in a pleasantly languid pace. The tune also tapped into the duo’s feelings of euphoria following their own early morning boxing classes, Chang describing the chord-driven instrumentation as “sound[ing] like a giant walking through a vast landscape”, while his recording partner Jack Milas’ breathy lead vocals add dreaminess. It’s a positive kind of dreaminess, too: one that will lift you out of the shadowy fog of this winter and onto a brighter plane.
Varying levels of this heavenly touch exist throughout ‘Cascades’, but through different filters. Album closer ‘Fastnet’ and ‘Movement’ see the duo flirt with r&b and soul, the former ending the proceeding with cool fingersnaps, while the latter favours bigger booms of percussion for added drama. Pop is approached splendidly on ‘Catch the Wind’, where a nice sequence of chord changes in the chorus are accompanied by further supporting this idea of liberty: “hey, you’re not alone / go break the mould / go where you are free.”
Album standout ‘How Could You Know’ is a great mix of pop and indie, with prominent guitars and a catchy Fleetwood Mac-esque beat playing off Milas’ voice extremely well, as if it was just another instrument in their arsenal. Another great, catchy moment is the LP’s title track, proving that even with a lot going instrumentally, in the right hands and with the right amount of restraint, a beautiful, timeless quality can be applied to a synth-driven pop song. Not too much, not too little. Just right.
When speaking of ‘Cascades’ as a whole, Chang says, “We just tried to make the record beautiful…We weren’t trying to be edgy or difficult – we were striving to make it as epically beautiful as we possibly could. Hopefully when people hear it, it will make them think of something that’s important to them.” Mission accomplished, guys.
The second album from High Highs, ‘Cascades’, will be out on this Friday, the 5th of February, on PIAS. For more on High Highs on TGTF, you can read my Bands to Watch introducing the duo originally from Australia that posted back last November here.
Halifax garage pop trio The Orielles have announced a list of live dates in anticipation of their upcoming single ‘Jobin’, which is due for release on the 25th of March via Art is Hard Records. You can listen to a live-in-studio version of ‘Jobin’ just below the tour date listing, courtesy of Cardiff Student Media.
Tickets for the following live shows are available now. TGTF’s past coverage of The Orielles can be found right back this way.
Thursday 11th February 2016 – Sheffield Bungalows and Bears (free show)
Saturday 13th February 2016 – Leeds Nation of Shopkeepers (DJ set)
Saturday 5th March 2016 – Birmingham Actress and Bishop
Saturday 12th March 2016 – Nottingham Maze
Friday 25th March – Manchester Soup Kitchen
Saturday 26th March 2016 – London Tooting Tram and Social
Saturday 2nd April 2016 – Reading Oakford Social Club
Sunday 3rd April 2016 – Bristol Louisiana
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 29th January 2016 at 6:00 pm
Blitzen Trapper will be in the UK in early February, playing Brighton Hope on the 7th and London Lexington on the 8th. Ahead of these live dates, the band from Portland have released a new EP this month, the three-track ‘Mystery and Wonder’. Included on the EP is the group’s own version of traditional tune ‘I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow, which they were asked to record specifically for American TV show Fargo.
Now, the title track of the new EP has its own promo video. It’s an intriguing watch, following a songwriter holed up in his room, doing his thing, while a witchy, vampy woman with a fag goes on an adventure. Where do these two end up at the end of this video? You’ll have to watch it below. For more on Blitzen Trapper on TGTF, go here.
Header photo by Holly Andres
Radiation City, founded back in 2009, have with roots in Portland, Oregon. So far, they have released two full-length albums, and their third, ‘Synesthetica’, is scheduled for release on the 12th of February on Polyvinyl Records. It’s a bit of a departure from their previous stuff. Past album ‘Animals in the Median’, which was released in 2013, is much more indie pop than the latest singles, although the synth element is still there. ‘Milky White’ is the second release from the upcoming album, and is another teaser of what is expected when ‘Synesthetica’ is released next month (the first was ‘Juicy’, which was released in back November). Jeremy Sherrer, of Modest Mouse and Gossip collaboration fame, produced the new LP, so you should have some idea about how exciting this track is.
‘Milky White’ is a pleasure to hear: it glitters and shines, like a track cut from a diamond made of synthpop. I honestly can’t stop listening to it! It’s funk, with an addictive bass melody popping throughout the track. The melody is layered over with various samples, organ parts, spirited guitar riffs and bleeping synth sounds, coming together to create something really unique. The choral vocals in the background enhance the soul feel of the track, further adding to the complexity of and the range of influences that ‘Milky White’ channels.
Initially gentle, the track builds into an incredibly addictive tune that’ll have you bopping along to by the end of it. There’s so much going on, but it’s done in such a way that the song doesn’t feel clumsy of overstuffed with unnecessary moments. It’s dreamy and otherworldly, conveying a gentle intensity. That’s the thing: it’s a whole lot of elements that don’t sound like they should work on paper, but they do. Picture a psychedelic James Brown or George Clinton bopping along to the rhythm of the track like I did. Following some personal issues that came about after the release of ‘Animals in the Median’, it seems like they’re back on track and more polished than before.
The new single is like a sign of positive growth in many ways: it’s bolder and gutsier than the older stuff, but it’s also terrifically elegant and controlled. If you do one thing today, make sure you give ‘Milky White’ a listen.
‘Synesthetica’ will be out in mid-February. Radiation City have tonnes of dates coming up in America and a few dotted around the UK, so if you’re a fan of the single, make sure to check them out live if you can.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 28th January 2016 at 6:00 pm
The Chemical Brothers have joined forces again with their director friends dom&nic, responsible for the legendary Chems videos ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ and ‘Setting Sun’. This time, it’s for the stunning new promo for ‘Wide Open’, featuring Beck, off their summer 2015 #1 album ‘Born in the Echoes’. Through the video, a young female dancer interprets the Chems’ song, gradually changing from her human flesh form into something decidedly less…human. Watch the video below.
Our past coverage on TGTF on the groundbreaking duo Chemical Brothers is this way.
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