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Album Review: Surfer Blood – Tarot Classics EP

By on Wednesday, 26th October 2011 at 12:00 pm

Surfer Blood are a busy band. The Florida-based group have been on the road virtually non-stop and bagging support slots for the likes of Pixies and Vaccines is an all right way of continuing. Of course, it can get boring touring the same album for an extended period of time, especially if crowds are most likely to only respond to singles. In light of this, Surfer Blood have penned and recorded a new EP to come as a stopgap between what we must assume will be a second record.

‘Tarot Classics’ starts almost where ‘Astro Coast’ left off, in a kind of halfway house between being interesting, like Vampire Weekend mixed with the Smiths and being incredibly dull, like the piles of landfill that flood indie hallways. Sadly, after the first two tracks, Surfer Blood fall off the first wagon, into the second. ‘I’m Not Ready’ has the kind of bounce that new British tour buddies the Vaccines are enjoying at the moment and ‘Miranda’ has the potential to fit in on the Drums‘ first material, but after that it’s like stepping into a puddle. You can get a bit of enjoyment from the splash at first, but then you realize that you’ve just stepped in dirty water and you’re now a bit wet. Your shoes are wet and you really wish you hadn’t bothered. Sadly, Surfer Blood have fallen into the trap that Bloc Party have and spent so much time on the road that their music and direction has self imploded. I’d much prefer to listen to the Drums’ ‘Summertime’ EP or part of the Smiths back catalogue than listen to anything more than ‘Miranda’ (which is free anyway; stream it below). ‘Tarot Classics’ is kind of like tarot cards themselves – a bit misleading. No classics here.


‘Tarot Classics’ from Surfer Blood is available this week from Kanine Records.


Album Review: Flashguns – Passions of a Different Kind

By on Tuesday, 25th October 2011 at 12:00 pm

Debut albums are always difficult. On the one hand you want to showcase your talent and the countless hours of material you’ve written over the past few years, but there’s also the desire and necessity of producing a record that’s popular. This is no easy task, especially if the music you’re fond of writing isn’t currently plastered all over the Top 40 and your scene sees no future. Luckily, UK indie pop isn’t exactly a niche sound and fans up and down the country are looking for the ‘next big thing’.

Flashguns could indeed be this ‘big thing’, but at what cost? Their debut record ‘Passions Of A Different Kind’ has taken a number of years to come to fruition, but for some the wait has been worth it. The upbeat indie pop is exactly as you’d expect from three guys who have been making a name for themselves during the scene’s explosion and with Foals-producer Luke Smith behind the desk, the poppier hits are assured.

Whilst Flashguns are fully capable of writing pop hits, that’s not where they shine. It’s the slower songs on this 10-track LP that lift it out of the ten-a-penny indie market and actually give the album some oomph and depth. ‘The Beginning’ is a slow, atmospheric number in the vein of Everything Everything‘s dreamier moments that doesn’t ooze pretension, but is full of the passion and soul you expect from a young band trying to make a name for themselves.

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The absolute highlight of the LP, though, is ‘Noah’. Flashguns sound much more comfortable in the realm of soundscaping rather than pop hit writing, and the big instrumentals are reminiscent of Brontide in their size and impact and the lyrics are just as infectious as any pop track – but with more meaning.

The (for lack of a better word) generic indie pop tunes aren’t necessarily bad, but there is a striking difference in the quality and drive behind the London trio. Opener ‘Sounds of the Forest’ is the usual fairly catchy, dancey-beat track that could gain airplay on primetime radio for a week or so but there’s nothing original of note. ‘Candles Out’ is another track that feels like it’s been written for airplay rather than substance. There are definitely a few hooks that lure you in, but for an album that took this long to release, the killer/filler ratio should be stronger.

‘Passions of a Different Kind’ is exactly as the name suggests. The passion of the band appears to be different to that of the fans they’re trying to win over. Flashguns sound at home in the heart-felt, atmospheric, slow song element, yet come across as a group of guys going through the motions for the remaining run-of-the-mill indie-pop tracks. Hopefully the next album will be an exploration into slower territory, with the radio-friendly indie kept to a minimum.


Flashguns’ debut album ‘Passions of a Different Kind’ is available now from Humming Records.


Album Review: Deer Tick – Divine Providence

By on Monday, 24th October 2011 at 12:00 pm

Words by Ellie Molitor

So rarely does a band encapsulate the essence of their sound within the first minute of a release. But Deer Tick lead singer John McCauley snarls a perfectly concise description of the Providence quintet during opening track ‘The Bump’, informing the audience right off the bat that “we’re full grown men, but we act like kids”. Though many have struggled to put these boys in a box, calling the band anything from American indie to country rock, McCauley seems to have hit the nail on the head. They are children who broke into their parent’s liquor cabinets and stumbled upon a wonderful blend of spirited anthems and drunken requiems.

The album dives straight into three of such anthems, tapping into the same kind of energy Deer Tick often brings to their live show. Rowdy, undisciplined and unabashed, these tunes sound like they were recorded at their favourite watering hole, halfway through a bender and just before a bar fight. This is not to say their efforts are to be discounted: McCauley’s voice, often noted as the driving point behind Deer Tick’s success, is never off point, and he shows off an impressive range in tone and projection.

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Though Deer Tick started as lead singer John McCauley’s whiskey-soaked bedroom project, it has grown into a rounded out group effort. This is the first album with vocal contributions from other members, and their efforts are not in vain. Guitarist Ian O’Neil gets his chance to shine, taking over lead vocals on ‘Walkin Out the Door’. ‘Clownin Around’ features drummer Dennis Ryan, and the song exploits Deer Tick’s country undertones without compromising the rock ‘n’ roll feel of the album, serving as a nice break from the rest of the album’s bacchanalia.

Another highlight of the album comes two tracks later with the ghostly ballad ‘Chevy Express.’ A call back to Deer Tick’s origins, this track shows off McCauley’s talents as a story teller and songwriter, weaving haunting imagery with the subtle sounds of a ghost town. Overall, it would be stupid to write this album off as a playlist of bar tunes. Sure, Deer Tick has a reputation for raucous live shows and drunken misbehavior, but there is depth here that should not be overlooked.


Deer Tick’s new album ‘Divine Providence’ is out today on Partisan Records.


Album Review: Little Red – Midnight Remember

By on Wednesday, 19th October 2011 at 2:00 pm

Editor’s note: We realise that this album was already released in Little Red’s home country of Australia in 2010 but they’re finally releasing it proper in America next week, so we wanted to review it this time around so if you missed it then, you won’t miss it now.

Words by Ellie Molitor

After a successful first release, Little Red seemed to have cracked the retro-pop code: who knew Brian Wilson and Julian Casablancas would make such beautiful-sounding, melodic babies? Little Red did, and they delivered with a fantastic debut, ‘Listen to Little Red’, an album that commanded audiences to update their iPods and take a gander at the Melbourne quintet.

Now Little Red have returned with a polished, well-considered sophomore release, ‘Midnight Remember’. Abandoning their cool, lo-fi sound, school boy demeanour and doo-wop cheesiness, this album accomplishes exactly what a sophomore release should: organic growth. It is impressive to see a band so young fail to get stuck in their vices, and instead mature as songwriters and artists. However, a healthy dose of what made fans fall in love with Little Red in the first place – their enchanting harmonies, charming, danceable melodies and instrumentally polished soundscapes – is still evident. Opening track ‘Get a Life’ brings listeners into Little Red’s world, one where summer never sets. Rampant with ethereal harmonies and looping instrumentation, it’s easy to get lost in their complex soundscapes. But lead singer Adrian Beltrame’s voice stands out amongst the buzz, and Taka Honda manages to create a sturdy backbone on the drums, making for a well balanced beginning to the album.

Highlights of the album include current single ‘Rock It’, a groovy track with foot-tapping bass lines and a riff on the keys that’ll be hard to get out of anyone’s head. Coming in about half way through the album, anthemic track “All Mine” keeps listeners on their toes with well-crafted releases of tension. All in all, this album captures the spirit of summer nights while still remaining a successful benchmark for Little Red’s maturation of sound. Their harmonies evoke simpler times, and paired with complex soundscapes, ensure listeners that they belong in the present.

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‘Midnight Remember’, the new album from Little Red, is released next week (25 October) in America on True Panther.


Album Review: M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

By on Tuesday, 18th October 2011 at 12:00 pm

Every now and then, an artist comes along that warrants every piece of their success and who consistently improves between albums. Anthony Gonzalez is one such artist and with albums such as ‘Saturday’s Youth’ (2nd in TGTF’s 2008 albums of the year) and a back catalogue of glorious dreampop under his belt, Gonzales decided that there was only one real way for the sixth M83 release to go. Double album time.

Right from the off, it’s something magic. “We didn’t need a story, we didn’t need a real world… We were you before you even existed” whispers the track before it erupts into a new electronic anthem in the form of ‘‘Midnight City’ (video below). What strikes me after these two tracks is how everything seems so blissful, yet maintains an air of something lost. Like how when you wake up from a dream and realise it wasn’t real. Everything on this album is so crafted and enchanting that you feel like you’re taken into a part of Gonzalez’ mind that only exists in an alternate universe. In reality of course, you could be in the office or on commute, in which case the from ‘Trains to Pluton’ through to ‘This Bright Flash’ you’ll be transported from your mundane task into an epic journey. Like a dream however, this will end after a few minutes, but that’s just disc one finishing, don’t panic. The conversational ‘When Will You Come Home?’ and the responding ‘Soon, my Friend’ close the opening half in a mellow manner and give slight respite to that sandwich you were eating with newfound zealousness.

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As the second disc starts, it’s a slightly different feel. More melancholy, until ‘New Map’ that is. As if you’ve gone back to sleep and are discovering a whole new world of dreams. Everything now sounds familiar and welcoming all the way through. The interludes are breathing points to what at times can be a breathtaking record. After the radio-friendly yet still fitting ‘Steve McQueen’ comes the buildup and epic climax of ‘Echoes of Mine’ before you’re transported to the inevitable yet long put off end of the second disc. ‘Outro’ is one last enticing fling to your imagination before you’re rather abruptly awoken once more. Check the office; no one noticed your lapse. Go on Facebook and Twitter, tell everyone, listen to the new M83 album, it’ll drastically improve 72 minutes of your life every day. A disc for each leg of your commute? You might just forget the world.

Author’s disclaimer: any lapse in concentration to the road may lead to a collision, be safe.


M83′s new album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ is out now on Mute. Gig info for 2012 is here.


Album Review: Real Estate – Days

By on Monday, 17th October 2011 at 12:00 pm

Real Estate cemented their place on the indie circuit with their self-titled debut, a record which brought almost brought you back to the surf rock days of the Beach Boys and no, not in that sucky way in which the Drums now do it. Tracks like ‘Beach Comber’ and ‘Pool Swimmers’ were fantastically written gems that had you swaying from beat #1. Now comes the tricky second album that comes after you do well first time out.

Alex Bleeker, Martin Courtney, Matthew Mondanile and Jonah Mauer have gone along the same lines with their next record ‘Days.’ It’s as chilled as, well excuse the simile, a big freezer. But sadly it doesn’t live up to expectations. There’s a point where sounding like you aren’t putting effort in at all just ends up sounding lazy. Sure, the slowly rising guitars are still there and it does get your feet tapping, but it’s hard to sense any kind of development in this band.

‘Green Aisles’ follows the same formula for success they found on their debut in being completely inoffensive to the ears, but just never managing to thrill or excite in the ways they managed earlier in their short career. The harmonies in ‘It’s Real’ rush from beautiful to the downright tragic and manage almost to bore me to sleep. There is no better way of describing this album then boring it seems. While the production and musicianship is flawless it just lacks that edge to make it exciting and that is where I feel Real Estate’s downfall will eventually be.

One of the redeeming points of this album is track ‘Kinder Blumen,’ with its casually beautiful instrumental climaxes with a fantastic catastrophe of sound. Bar this though, it’s hard to find merit with this album, it’s obvious that a lot of work has been put into the record as the craftsmanship is sublime. What they now need is a changeup, an X Factor. What that could be, I don’t know, but for sure it seems that it’s back to the drawing board for these surf-poppers from New Jersey.

Better luck next time boys.


Real Estate’s second album ‘Days’ is out today on Domino.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

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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