SXSW 2013 coverage
Liverpool Sound City 2013 coverage
Great Escape 2013 coverage
Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter
! ~TGTF HQ x
There’s been somewhat of a revival of dream pop lately. The haunting music, the soaring vocals, the slow tempo drum beat, it’s almost the anti-indie. Gone away are the three chord thrashing of guitars and droning singing, now it’s time to get emotive. Today the Antlers are releasing their fourth album, ‘Burst Apart’, which is the second LP with the current line-up. Originally starting in 2006 as a solo effort from lead vocalist Peter Silberman, The Antlers are now a fully fledged indie rock trio with their hearts open wide.
‘Burst Apart’ is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed concept album ‘Hospice’. Despite the new album not telling a story (especially not one as dark as ‘Hospice’), there is still deep emotion to be found within. Opener ‘I Don’t Want Love’ showcases Silberman’s falsetto talent beautifully, with the high notes sounding as just as majestic as the low. Somewhat similar to Everything Everything‘s slower tracks, the Antler’s have mastered the art of minimal indie. Below, watch a live performance the band did of this song for Bowlegs at the Great Escape last month.
Starting as they mean to go on, ‘Burst Apart’ is practically Dream Pop 101 – incorporating the soft yet powerful vocals of Silberman, with the simple percussion from Michael Lerner and the atmospheric keyboards of Darby Cicci. ‘Parentheses’ starts like the music from a horror film, its eerie keyboard and trumpet combo works brilliantly to create an ominous soundscape. As the song progresses more elements are introduced, including guitar that’s not too far removed from Muse.
Unlike many albums, the Antlers haven’t bundled the stronger songs together. Throughout the 11-track opus, there are a number of pit stops for you to stop whatever you’re doing and take in the music. ‘No Widows’ is at times comparable to Arcade Fire in the size of the sound created and the vocal harmonies. Built around a drum beat, vocals and keyboard, it’s impressive the sound the band are able to produce. Although the pace never changes, the emotion involved is evident. Silberman’s dulcet tones suck you into his world, it’s hard not to feel a response.
The later tracks in ‘Burst Apart’ are equally as important and powerful. ‘Hounds’ and ‘Corsicana’ work brilliantly side by side and create an almost hypnotic state for the listener. The “oooh”s in ‘Hounds’ will stick with you all day like a musical leech, but not as irritating. The stand-out track on the LP, though, belongs to ‘Corsicana’. The powerful and passionate music is driven forward by Silberman’s desire to stir emotion, his voice on this record soars high above the music and above all other indie singers. It’s satisfying to hear someone who isn’t practically talking with a guitar but is able to carry notes to such an astonishing degree.
‘Burst Apart’ is more than an exercise in displaying Silberman’s talent, but a project by three musicians to create a meaningful record and keeping it simple. The sounds created are at times so big it’s incredible to think the Antlers are only a trio. The raw power and emotion that can be heard and felt in every song is mind-blowing, it’s definitely an album to put on and listen to rather than have in the background. Just listen, it’s worth every second.
‘Burst Apart’ from the Antlers is available today from Transgressive Records. The New York band have a string of dates in the UK in November – details here.
By CoCo Wong
on Friday, 10th June 2011 at 12:00 pm
Before I start the actual review, I must say that I’ve been a huge fan of London-based trio Is Tropical since I first listened to them. Funnily enough, the first song of theirs I heard was not a proper single, but a rather epic instrumental B-side ‘Tan Man’. I was so captivated by the synth work and the relentless drum beats. Ever since, I had to have my regular dose of Is Tropical.
The track which opens the album is, coincidentally, the A-side to ‘Tan Man’ – ‘South Pacific’. I always considered it very calming, with its graceful video featuring shots after shots of the blue ocean (watch the video below). The next track, ‘Land Of The Nod’, alongside with ‘Berlin’, caught my attention upon the first listen of the album. The lyrics from the chorus “drift me onto the Land of the Nod” seem to work very well as I always doze off to it under too many inappropriate circumstances. Anyway, the track is fun and bridges the listeners from the rather calm ‘South Pacific’ to the crowd mover ‘Lies’.
The rich beats heard throughout ‘Lies’ keep the whole song subtly-paced. Not too fast, not too slow, but at a moderate speed that people can still dance to. Next comes ‘The Greeks’ (snag the free mp3 here), with a video that has gone viral within days of its upload. The secrets of having over a million views on YouTube after 5 days of its upload? Not only the video content is ridiculous (ridiculously good!), but also because its refrain constantly loops in the song. Needless to say, the refrain is utterly catchy. I guess these are probably the reasons why ‘The Greeks’ is now a big hit online.
Moving on to the latter part of the album, ‘Oranges’ sounds fresh and juicy, just like the fruit. The thrashing guitar opening definitely makes a statement. The song itself serves the same function like orange juice, as suggested by Is Tropical, “to keep one awake”. If you’re feeling a little bit sleepy, I’m sure the energetic intro can wake you up in no time. The next track, ‘Berlin’, is definitely a highlight of the album. It never ceases to put a smile on my face, even on the darkest days: a very happy song with an encouraging-sounding chorus: “I let myself go/ Just let yourself go”. The last two tracks on the album share a lot of similarities and go very well together. Both of them have a perfect match of sick bass line and also intriguingly intense drums. In ‘Zombie’, the guitar riff heard right before entering the next verse is just pure awesomeness. Finally, here comes the last track, ‘Seasick Mutiny’. It can almost be treated as an instrumental as it only has a tad of highly distorted vocals.
On a whole, the album is an enjoyable journey. I had a lot of fun listening to it, as well as reviewing it. Want to give it a listen before purchasing it (on limited edition vinyls maybe)? You can now do so now on Is Tropical’s Facebook page.
‘Native To’ will be released next Monday (the 13th of June) on Kitsuné.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 9th June 2011 at 12:00 pm
Van Susans released an EP entitled ‘We Could Be Scenery’ in late May, and it’s taken me some time to finally put my pen to paper and review it. Primarily because the first time I listened to it, I had a rather extreme reaction to it (as you will read) and then wanted to put it down and come back to it later to see if I still felt the same way. And yes, I had the same reaction again. What do I think this album will make you do? Go out rounding up your mates to go down to your local for a pint, because you remember just how important they are to you. Has modern music made you cynical? This EP should change your mind.
When I reviewed their single ‘Bones’ at the start of 2011, I kind of had it in my mind based on that one song that they would fill the stadium piano rock void left as Coldplay soldier on with their post-’Viva La Vida’ snooze and Keane‘s possibly ill-fated foray into r&b.
But cast any such possible misconceptions you may have from hearing only ‘Bones’ aside. ‘Bones’ is great, but so is the rest of this strong EP. Let’s start by examining ‘Cha Cha Bang’, the opening number. It’s got grinding guitars that (dare I say it) sound a bit Biffy Clyro? Thankfully, the vocal is like a stallion reined in at the gate, and it’s more “raise your pint” / “hug your mates and let’s sway in time” territory. ‘Get Up, Get Out’ is pensive, with singer Olly Andrews’ voice dripping with emotion. This song would have been fine with just his voice, but his bandmates add some great harmonies that make this song warmer. (Yeah, and where is that pint?)
Since the last time I wrote about Van Susans, they’ve added a violinist , Caroline Atkinson. Her contribution to the band shines in ‘Plans’, as it begins in a mournful way. But trust this band to turn any sad day into a brighter one. Oh god. I think I just about died when I heard it for the first time. I actually got chills. Check out the chorus: “I will wait for you / and you, you’ll wait for me / and one day we’ll get married on a hillside / so everyone can see”. I’ve just melted into a puddle on the floor. You can watch the video for ‘Plans’ below. Something else that’s just occurred to me, for anyone like me who misses the Tenth Doctor….singer Andrews looks awfully like David Tennant. (Even without the resemblance, I’m expecting this band to have a strong female following in short order.)
Then the EP reaches its end with ‘Glow’, taking the band back to the piano as the central instrument at first very gently (“she makes me feel like starlight” is one particular line I’m fond of), before working the whole thing from the ground up into a massive singalong, with perfect guitar chords framing everything. As I’ve written on TGTF before, I’ve never been a massive fan of Coldplay: for some reason, they never seemed to elicit the feelings and tears for me that I saw on my other friends’ faces. But I imagine what I feel when I listen to this EP is what Coldplay fans felt when they heard ‘Parachutes’ for the first time.
I’m definitely rooting for these guys. With a tear in my eye.
The ‘We Could Be Scenery’ EP by Van Susans is available now from Beatnik Geek Records.
By CoCo Wong
on Wednesday, 8th June 2011 at 2:00 pm
Can you already feel the heat approaching? (Sorry to those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s, er, cold.) It’s about the middle of 2011 now and I think it’s safe to conclude that summer this year will be filled with a load of energetic electronic music. Leading the trend is trio Foster the People from Los Angeles, with their debut album ‘Torches’ dropping later this month.
Before giving the album a listen, I must say that I’ve already fallen deeply in love with their EP, featuring the three hits ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, ‘Helena Beats’ and ‘Houdini’. The other 7 songs on the album differ so much from their EP tracks, but still are very up to their high standard.
‘Call It What You Want’ is an uberfun track. It feels like walking into a tropical party held in the middle of a rainforest, and everyone’s dancing to this song. The piano on this song is also very bouncy and dynamic, which adds to its quirkiness. I have heard rather polarising opinions on the next song that follows, ‘Don’t Stop’. Some hate it and some love it (kind of like marmite, I suppose?) I’m on the love side. It acts as a ‘neutraliser’ on the album in my opinion, for it is less synth-based as compared to the other tracks on ‘Torches’. It’s a very bubbly song – perfect to kickstart a mesmerising Monday.
Moving on to the later part of the album, ‘Miss You’ is rather a letdown. The transition from the verses to the chorus is a little bit awkward. In contrary, the last track ‘Warrant’ is really the icing on the cake. Thought you’ve had a really enjoyable 33 minutes of synth-filled music? ‘Warrant’ is there to surprise. Foster the People really know how to leave the best till the end. Being the longest track on the album, it has a relatively long intro which slowly progresses into a jam of drums, bass and piano. ‘Warrant’ gives the album a very neat ending and a sweet aftertaste.
In a whole, ‘Torches’ is an album of fun. Despite ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ being about a homicidal teenager, it doesn’t diminish the fun that lies in the music. It’s a smart call that the album is released in June, so there’s enough time for people to know the songs well enough for some constant blasting to take place in summer.
‘Torches’ by Foster the People drops in the UK on 27 June, but it’s already out in America.
Ex-Million Dead frontman Frank Turner is another of those stereotypes, the same ol’, same ol’ story of a lead singer of a hardcore punk band with a small cult following to becoming a folk singer songwriter. We’ve heard it all before eh, there was that guy… err and the ex-lead from… err who did it before him. BORING.
Okay, so I’m lying. Frank Turner is a man, who has in the space of a decade gone from a man who fronted a hardcore outfit, to an idol for many, who can now get away with a capella songs about forests and history. In the time since Million Dead broke up Frank Turner has gone about forging a reputation as, excuse the cliché, “The hardest working man in rock”. He played 24 gigs in 24 hours when filming the video for ‘The Road,’ he’s played over 1000 gigs all over the world, he’s released 2two full length albums. And his third, ‘England Keep My Bones’, is out today.
‘England Keep My Bones’ is Frank returning to England hard. While ‘Poetry Of The Deed’ had songs about the American virtue of liberty and about travelling the world, this record is closer to home. It’s a quintessentially English record from start to finish. Lead single ‘Peggy Sang the Blues’ is a tribute to Turner’s grandmother. (Watch the video here.) The song is Frank at his best: it’s got those trademark hooks that you expect from him, but they aren’t the kind of hooks you’ll be hearing on Radio1 every day. They’re hooks with some real power and vigour in the lyrics. Songs like this are a brilliant representation of just why Frank Turner is so loved among his fans. He writes the kind of songs which make you want to jump up and dance with your best friend with a massive beaming grin on your face.
My personal highlight on this record though is the brilliant ‘One Foot Before The Other,’ Turner shouting down a microphone “I WILL REMAIN!” and how he will “creep through your capillaries”. Hardly the prettiest of images, but Frank is almost going back to his punk roots with this one, but it still remains quintessentially folk.
Before this though is Turner’s a capella number ‘English Curse’ that he debuted live on his recent tours. This isn’t the first time that Turner has delved into the world of a capella singing though; on his last live DVD, he sang old British folk song ‘Barbara Allen’. He obviously liked it enough to go away and do some more research on British folk history and returned with this powerful tale about a curse… an English one no less. Here Turner demonstrates the sheer power of his vocal talent, in a song which while sounding bizarre alone sounds strangely, completely right on this record. Leaked single ‘I Am Disappeared’ appears on the record as well, where Turner dreams of pirate ships, pioneers and Bob Dylan and is another song that builds beautifully to become the kind of song that doesn’t belong in the small academy venues Frank frequents, but in arenas in stadiums.
Surely it’s not far off for the self-made punk rock troubadour, one thing is for sure though, ‘England Keep My Bones’ is a solid record with all the tunes and character to really turn some heads, mine’s been turned for a while though and I think anyone who wasn’t watching before after listening won’t be taking their eyes of this man from Winchester.
‘England Keep My Bones’, the new album by Frank Turner, is out today on Xtra Mile Recordings.
Editor’s note: We realise this album has been out since March in the UK. But we thought it was high time to take a closer look at it…
The Vaccines. The hype around these four Londoners at the moment is enough to drive any band to almost Gallagher-esque levels of cockiness, the title of their debut record ‘What Did You Expect From the Vaccines’ tells it all, really. They know they are good, they know you want to listen to them; they don’t think they need to try really and it’s when they stop trying that they are at their best.
Some of the songs sound lazy almost as if the songs just kind of fell off of the fretboards of their guitars. ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ (watch video here) is a picture perfect example of this: clever lyrics, lazy hooks, simple. But the final four tunes in the album (‘All in White’, ‘Wolf Pack’, ‘Family Friend’, ‘Somebody Else’s Child’) are the best examples of this, of how they can with a simple bass riff, some echo effects, double tracking on their guitars and a few “ahhhhs” can create an indie pop track that you want to hear again, no matter how lazy ‘All In White’ sounds.
You get the feeling if the Vaccines started trying too hard that it wouldn’t work though. Think for a moment about when people are yearning for endless genre crossovers, with synths dripping from it all, a samba rhythm with a undertone of jazz… Why not just play good old fashioned guitar music? Well the Vaccines do this, with catchy tracks that get your feet tapping: it’s as simple as that. The production is good, but the record all the same doesn’t feel overproduced.
Single ‘If You Wanna’ (watch the video here) is the most radio-friendly track and this works to its favour as while the album is palatable, without the initial draw of ‘If You Wanna’ will you listen to the entire record? I say no, so I ask of you, prove me wrong, eh? Skip track 2. But if you do this, you’ll see this is where the album falls down slightly. But only slightly though; it is a lot of the same kind of ideas. But when you have a good idea, you run with it, yeah? That’s how they have done this; they got a good idea, perhaps one you may have heard before. Get a drummer, a bassist, a lead guitarist (let him grow his hair a little so you can stay ‘alternative,’) and a good looking frontman who wields his guitar like a machine gun and has a powerful voice. Ta-da! Good ol’ fashioned British guitar music.
This is a polished record and as I mentioned, it does include a lot of the same idea. So it leads me to question, while they have hit the mark with this record, are they going to fall at hurdle number two (the second album)? Time is the only thing that can tell that, but for now England has their own Strokes and while this may not be their ‘This is It’, it could be the start of something.
‘What Did You Expect from the Vaccines?’ is available now from Columbia.