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Album Review: Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

 
By on Monday, 9th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

“What if we’ve been trying to get to where we’ve always been”, sings Andy Hull in Manchester Orchestra‘s returning track, ‘Simple Math’. It’s the title song from the Atlanta band’s new record and it’s ruddy brilliant. Starting slowly with Hull’s serene yet rough voice over a simple guitar melody and building up to one of the most powerful moments in the third effort from the rock group.

As far as third albums go, it’s hit and miss out there. With ‘difficult second album’ syndrome seemingly gone, it’s left to the third to either cement or lose a band’s place in music. It’s by no means an easy task, just ask The Strokes or suffer Pendulum’s Immersion. On the other side of it, when done well, a good third effort from the likes of Kings of Leon (‘Because of the Times’), Muse (‘Absolution’) and most recently Arcade Fire (‘The Suburbs’) can see you leave niche behind forever. So what is it to be for Manchester Orchestra with their new offering, ‘Simple Math’?

From introduction track ‘Deer’, it’s clear to see that there’s not been a huge change in the band’s influences or style. Influenced by what sounds like guitar heaven, Andy Hull seems to be in poetic conversation with the listener, inviting you into MO’s world for the next 45 minutes. Lyrically, little has altered. Hull leads the listener down a poetic maze, winding in his alternative world in which he questions every aspect of his life from the challenges of touring to his own marriage. Musically, ‘Simple Math’ is the halfway point between the fresh yet rough-round-the-edges ‘I’m Like a Virgin Losing Her Child’ and 2009’s hugely successful ‘Mean Everything to Nothing’ in it’s shiny sound and powerful chords. ‘Simple Math’ is certainly a brilliantly produced album by Dan Hannon (co-producer of ‘Mean Everything’, ‘Rocket to the Moon’) and every change in riff and tone is easilly picked up, meaning you can really feel the frequent power changes in Manchester Orchestra’s sound. Each track sounds like it could easily fit in to the already strong MO live set, adding even more soaring lines wherever they’ll fit.

Highlights come from the start, when second track ‘Mighty’ really kicks in with soaring guitar and vocals in a fantastic harmony and ‘Pale Black Eye’, which just exudes the kind of spirit that the Atlantans have made their trademark from day one. It’s not all brilliant though. At times, it can be difficult to define tracks on this album from ‘Mean Everything’ or ‘I’m Like a Virgin Losing Her Child”s overspill and last track ‘Leaky Breaks’ is nothing if not confusing and possibly the worst track the band have written to date. Aside from this, it could be plain sailing for the band. It’s not 2011’s rock version of ‘The Suburbs’, but it will certainly see Manchester Orchestra succeed in trying to get to where they may have always been, fantastic indie rock ‘n’ roll.

8/10

‘Simple Math’ is out today on Sony.

 

MP3 of the Day #335: Van Susans

 
By on Monday, 9th May 2011 at 10:00 am
 

Bromley, London’s Van Susans will be releasing their debut on 23 May on Beatnik Geek Records. In advance of that, the band are giving away a remix of their track ‘Bones’, a single we reviewed in January (read the review here). Listen to it and download it for free below.

 

(Great Escape 2011!) Video of the Moment #472: Foster the People

 
By on Monday, 9th May 2011 at 9:00 am
 

In case you have been living under a rock, below is the video for Foster the People‘s hit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’.

And just in case you have been living under a boulder, Foster the People is just one of four acts appearing at TGTF’s stage at Brighton Coalition this Saturday night (14 May) at the Great Escape. Their stage time is 8.45 PM. Stop by for good music, say hello to our staff and pick up a TGTF badge.

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Video of the Moment #471: Dutch Uncles

 
By on Friday, 6th May 2011 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s a Friday. So why not kick your heels up to the new video for Dutch Uncles‘s ‘Cadenza’, the lead track on their new album released last week. It’s got pastel balloons, it’s got shiny glitter and it’s got a (sort of) break-dancing singer.

I like this a lot.

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Read our review of ‘Cadenza’ (the album) on this earlier post on TGTF.

 

Album Review: Various artists – Kitsune Maison 11: The Indie-Dance Issue

 
By on Friday, 6th May 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Gildas Loaec knows a thing or two about dance music. His music label, Kitsuné, has been the jumping off point to success for the likes of TGTF favourites La Roux, Delphic and Two Door Cinema Club. This month, Kitsuné will release their latest music compilation – their 11th – named ‘The Indie-Dance Issue’. When asked about how this came about, Loaec says, “because I find this new CD is taking us yet one more step towards maturity. We’re perceived as a club label when really we’ve always been between ‘club’ and ‘indie’, and this new compilation sits right at the crossroad of the two.” This is an interesting comment, especially when you consider Delphic and Two Door Cinema Club in particular, both acts employing synths and guitars to create the kind of music that sends punters into a dance frenzy.

Considering all this very carefully, it’s not surprising this album has some great tracks from acts you may have heard of and those that have yet to rock our world. Let’s begin with the possible familiar names. Just last month, Coco wrote about a free download, ‘The Greeks’, from London trio Is Tropical. Having previously remixed ‘Come Back Home’ for Two Door Cinema Club’s deluxe edition of ‘Tourist History’ last autumn, the band is now ready to release their own debut album on 13 June. With almost Oriental sounding guitars at the start, it then turns into great dance floor filler once the beats are introduced. ‘Big Things’ by from the London quartet Fiction might be familiar if you listen to BBC 6music; it was on their playlist a couple short weeks ago. It’s less dancey and more chill, in a kind of cool, measured, Vampire Weekend-kind of way, with wiggly guitar lines and a seaside feel.

Housse de Racket, a French electronic duo we wrote about in late 2009 when they were releasing the double A-sided single ‘Synthétiseur’ / ‘Sur le Papier’, are getting ready to release their second album on Kitsuné later this summer. Their track ‘Roman’ appears on this compilation and is probably my favourite on this collection, the perfect balance between beats, guitars and synths to get your heart pumping. And Azari and III, who collaborated with Friendly Fires on the Suck My Deck tune ‘Stay Here’, lend their remixing talent to Brooklyn band Creep‘s song, ‘Days’. The xx‘s Romy Madley-Croft contributes her sultry vocals to this number. You can watch the video for the song below, directed by Casey Fischer of Fischerspooner.

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So now we switch gears to the lesser known names. Cosmonaut from Australia (not to be confused with any number of American, UK, and Irish bands of the same or similar name) bring the beats from down under, and boy, are they wicked. These blokes know their way around a synth. Geordie trio Polarsets released ‘Sunshine Eyes’ as a single on its own by Kitsuné in mid-April. It’s pure sun-dappled delight, a luscious cross between Foals and Cut Copy (stream the single below).

But ‘Kitsuné Maison 11’ does contain some more difficult to swallow tracks. ‘Phantastic Phone Call’ by Alexander Dexter Jones (yes, he is the son of Mick Jones, now living in New York) have vocals that are perfectly fine in their new wave effects, but the backing is problematic: if you’re a fan of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy like me, you can’t help sniggering, thinking this would better be suited to soundtracking the 1981 BBC Two miniseries based on his books. I’m usually not a fan of extended dance instrumentals unless there’s something exciting that grabs me on first listen, so tunes like Beat Connection‘s ‘Silver Screen’ and Welsh act Gallops‘ ‘Miami Spider’ (even with the Radio1 backing), while these are okay, they don’t meet my high expectations for Kitsuné. All in all though, there are more winners than losers on this album. Expect to hear several, if not many of these acts burning up dance floors in the near future.

8/10

‘Kitsuné Maison 11: The Indie-Dance Issue’ compilation album will be released on 16 May.

 

Bands to Watch #213: The Cast of Cheers

 
By on Friday, 6th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Ever wondered what would Foals would sound like if they were Irish? the Cast of Cheers are a maths rock four-piece from Dublin, the land of Eire. The band all started when singer/guitarist Conor started writing some songs in his home’s attic. Later on, joined by Kev, John and Neil (Conor’s brother), the band started recording their debut album ‘Chariot’.

‘Derp’ is my favourite song by them from ‘Chariot’, with an exceptionally long intro filled with catchy guitar riffs, soon joined with some thumping drum beats. The vocals fades in and out the song, thus creating a very dynamic feeling. ‘Derp’ is extremely intense and it feels like it’s the fastest 3 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life.

‘I Am Lion’, another track off ‘Chariot’, seems to follow what I think of as “the Cast Of Cheers songwriting formula”. Again with some heavy bass and intense drums, ‘I Am Lion’ also features some distorted vocals provided by Conor. It is definitely a song which will grow on you the more you listen to it.

Though unsigned, the band are currently working on a follow-up to ‘Chariot’, entitled ‘Rockets’, which is due to be released soon. But in the meantime, you can listen to ‘Chariot’ and download it for free below. And just if you’re asking yourself, who are some of the Cast of Cheers’ famous fans? None other than Two Door Cinema Club.

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

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