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Album Review: Fink – Wheels Turn Beneath My Feet

 
By on Tuesday, 6th November 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

The fabulous three-piece Fink have released a live album entitled ‘Wheels Turn Beneath My Feet’. Referencing a life changing moment from their song ‘Wheels’, this collection ably captures the undulating, moving, live Fink experience. Recorded at various magnificent venues like Amsterdam’s Paradiso and London’s Union Chapel, the songs span Fink’s career. With thirteen tracks, this album is packed with the best Fink has to offer. Since it is from the current tour, half of the tunes are from the most recent album ‘Perfect Darkness’, but starting off with ‘Biscuits’ from the first album, Fin Greenall, Tim Thornton and Guy Whittaker let you know they have no intention of ignoring their roots.

Having just seen Fink play live, I can attest to the authenticity of the album. Greenall and company can take these works and elevate them so that they soar without the production that surely goes into a studio effort. An absolute revelation occurred for me during ‘Sort of Revolution’. There have been times before when seeing a truly inspired live performance caused perfect clarity regarding a certain musical performance style; for example, purposely creating feedback or live looping. It was just such clarity that was afforded me on this track. But this time it was ‘playing the pedals’. The end of this track is a genius tour de force of pedal manipulation that makes it all make sense.

There are a few times when I think the original recordings shine a bit brighter than the live versions. Perhaps because it is my #1 favorite Fink song, ‘Perfect Darkness’, is a song that hits much deeper in the studio version for me. I can’t quite reconcile the deep, oozing sensuality of the song with the rather spare treatment it gets live. But the clarity in songs like ‘This is the Thing’ and ‘Warm Shadow’ shine through live in magnificent form.

However, the fundamental feelings I have about Fink’s music still hold true. The music, lead singer Greenall’s voice, and the lyrics can best be described as sex, whiskey and smoke – but slow, meaningful sex, single malt, Islay whiskey and deep, flavourful pipe smoke. This is not your average drunken encounter with a fag hanging from your lips. If you have not had the pleasure of delving into this rich, weighty music, please take a listen to this live album. It very well may inspire you to take a look at their other stuff. Because quite frankly, Barry White will have no place in your life after you listen to Fink.

8/10

‘Wheels Turn Beneath My Feet’, the new live album from Fink, is available now on Ninja Tune.

 

Album Review: Fossil Collective – On and On EP

 
By on Monday, 29th October 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Fossil Collective are a duo with immense potential and without being cliché, with the world at their feet. They expand to a five-piece when playing live, but after having a listen to the band in person, I’m of the opinion that they flourish on record.

The split of their band Vib Gyor saw Dave Fendick and Jonny Hooker from Leeds branch out to become Fossil Collective. They already made a stir with their first musical outing ‘Let It Go’, released in January, was a record that saw the band hone their sound and allow the public a brief taster. Fendick and Hooker are both multi-talented and instrumentally ambidextrous, so when you listen to these boys don’t expect your dogmatic bass, guitars, drums and keys. Nope, these guys are here to smash some boundaries.

They obviously aren’t fussed about conventional song structure as this four-song EP is a testament to experimental sound. They’re not Einstein-ing and re-defining the laws of their field; rather, they’re testing and probing at the edges and having a general prod at the general conventions of indie music. The songs though are beautifully put together and are the kind of music that it’s almost impossible to stay still too. You’ll either be nodding your head or tapping your feet by the end of this brief EP, I guarantee it.

My personal highlight is ‘River’s Edge’ (stream at at the bottom of the post), which begins as a kind of folky hybrid, with a catchy kind of rhythm that feels almost reminiscent of Dry the River. And everyone likes Dry the River eh, they’re lovely! In next track ‘Silent Alarm’, you get treated to a stripped-down, pensive number, a thought provoking almost ballad, with some poignant and thoroughly beautiful lyrics.

The EP’s opener ‘On and On’ is a testament to why Fossil Collective are being so heavily fancied by critics. They blend together a fantastic range of varied instruments, with some fantastic vocal harmonies thrown in their almost for fun, as the music is more than emotional enough for me, thank you! The final song ‘Fog’ is a bit of a let-down for me, though; clocking at less than 2 minutes, it doesn’t get going and finishes the EP on a sour note. But there’s potential, obviously: what have I been gushing over for the last 400 words, come on!

Fossil Collective need the opportunity to record a full length record now. I feel they are ready and I think listeners to this EP will both yearn for such a record and want it as much as me.

8.5/10

‘On and On’, the new EP from Fossil Collective, is out now on Dirty Hit.

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Album Review: The 1975 – Sex EP

 
By on Wednesday, 24th October 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

After the moderate disappointment of the ‘Facedown’ EP, the 1975 have a lot to prove with this, their second EP in 4 months. The feeling with ‘Facedown’ was that the group were holding back, only putting one ‘big’ track ‘The City’ on it. Whilst other tracks, namely ‘Woman’, were powerful growers that displayed the group’s ability to calm down and produce quiet tracks with raw emotion, it wasn’t the EP many were expecting. So, what does the ‘Sex’ EP have to offer?

Well, for starters, an intro to match that of any strong record. It’s got a more upbeat feel that signals what’s to come. Its slow build into a blend of Star Slinger and late Kings of Leon whilst still maintaining a lyrical subject that doesn’t drop their Manchester nights-out roots pushes their sound as a unit forward more than anything on Facedown and it’s a refreshing change.

After this excitement though, the second track, ‘Undo’ is a sad return to filler music. It sounds like a track that’s had more effort put into the delicate production than the actual music it forms. Could it sound good as a powerful track? Probably, but we’ll never find out. The disappointment doesn’t last long however as the centerpiece of the 1975’s hype up until now, ‘Sex’ pulses through your ears next. With every confident beat leading up to the “and this is how it starts”, you feel that the potential that’s desperately been trying to burst out of the Mancunian group has finally found a home and as the refrain of “she’s got a boyfriend anyway” blares out, you can almost picture venues nationwide shouting it right back at them with understanding adoration. Top this off with the glittering guitar line of ‘You’ closing the EP, you feel that they’ve finally achieved the sound that will see them survive.

They may have had multiple name changes, re-recordings and the rest of it, but the 1975 have stayed true to themselves and whilst their current sound is that of shiny production, it’s still got the raw power at its heart that should see their debut record push them forward, come the new year.

8/10

The 1975’s next EP ‘Sex’ is out on the 19th of November on Dirty Hit.

 

Album Review: Savoir Adore – Our Nature

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd October 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

The name Savoir Adore roughly translates to “to know love” in French, and it’s quite an apt name for the pairing of best mates Paul Hammer and Deirdre Muro, whose friendship has led to the release of a concept EP, a debut album, then another EP and now, their second album ‘Our Nature’. Funded by money they raised from Kickstarter, the album and all of its promotional efforts including this North American tour have a humble DIY beginning, but this is a band that wear their hearts on their sleeves, and you can feel that in their music.

Earlier this year, I reviewed their EP ‘Dreamers’, released on Neon Gold, ahead of seeing them at this year’s Great Escape. The two primary songs on that EP, the title track and ‘Sea of Gold’, also appear on the new album. As I alluded to in the EP review, these two tracks are quite different, as if showing two different sides to the electronic duo. This feeling continues in ‘Our Nature’. I think I would have been happy with 12 tracks that were similar to either of these songs, but at the same time, but there are generally three groups of songs proffered here.

One group can only be described as fairy tale fantasy pop. ‘Loveliest Creature’ (a live version of which you can watch below), which sounded amazing in the upstairs performance space at Life in Brighton, is bouncy like ‘Dreamers’ and chronicles the feelings you get when you fall in love and everything comes together perfectly. It’s followed by ‘Sparrow’, featuring some of the most beautifully recorded harmonised vocals in all creation. I’m not sure what exactly the lyrics mean – particularly, “don’t you follow me into the ground” sounds like an more palatable sentiment than the one in Daughter‘s ‘Smother’, but the happiness of the way this song sounds belies any possible darkness it in the lyrics.

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The second group are what I think of twee pop entries: think The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. You might be confused for a moment, because ‘At the Same Time’ sounds like it was written by Kip Berman, except I don’t think Berman ever sings about things like catacombs. Further, ‘Imagination’, ‘Anywhere You Go’ and ‘Our Nature'; these are really great examples of dream pop done right.

The third group of songs are the overt dance numbers, which by the way took me completely by surprise when the band played in Washington last weekend (live review forthcoming). The Late of the Pier-esque ‘Regalia’ is the lead single from the album and appears past the halfway point on the album. The Miami Vice chase-flavoured, New Wave feel of ‘Speed Bump’ and seeming nod to Cut Copy in ‘Sea of Gold’ come even later in the album, as if to move the listener away from the dream pop start. The highlight of the album is ‘Empire of Light’, the band’s current single. With the infectious as all hell bass line and primary melody and the shaking of maracas, I challenge you not to let this get into your head. Even the horn fanfare is placed oh so well; it’s not repeated throughout so to get on your nerves, but its appearance is enough to make you remember the unique addition.

The one oddball of the bunch is ‘Wild Davie’, which is folky and sounds like Bob Dylan (well, Bob Dylan before ‘Duquesne Whistle’, anyway); I can overlook this as a one-off. Hammer and Muro have mentioned in a recent interview that Savoir Adore allows them to experiment with and discovering new sounds, so all in all, I’d say this album as an experiment is a success. Get this album and prepare to be enchanted. Oh, and get your dancing shoes ready for those dance tracks, because this duo also know how to groove.

8/10

‘Our Nature’, Savoir Adore’s second album, is out now on Popular Recordings.

 

Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

 
By on Monday, 22nd October 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by guest reviewer Carrie Clancy

When I listened to the first track on Jake Bugg’s new self-titled album, I had two immediate thoughts: one, he doesn’t sound very British, and two, is he really only 18 years old? This album is full of Americana-type folk, but with a modern lyrical twist. Mix in some nifty guitar work and a surprisingly melodic singing voice, and there you have it, ‘Jake Bugg’.

Bugg’s musical style has already been widely compared to that of Bob Dylan, and while that comparison seems almost too obvious, it isn’t entirely inaccurate. Vocally, Bugg sounds more like Arlo Guthrie or Paul Simon, but he definitely has the down-and-dirty Dylan vibe going for him, even at his tender young age. In contrast to the grittiness of his music, Bugg’s singing voice has quite a pleasant tone, with good range and flexibility. The production on the album isn’t overdone, but I kept thinking that the songs would have an equally strong impact if they were stripped back to just guitar and vocals. (I hope to hear this firsthand next month, when Bugg tours America, opening for Snow Patrol and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.)

Bugg’s English accent does peek through through at times as the album progresses, and it comes almost as a surprise. The first few songs have a very definite American country sound. Fast-paced folk rockers ‘Lightning Bolt’ (reviewed by Tom here) and ‘Two Fingers’ that open the album will surely appeal to fans of Mumford and Sons. ‘Slide’ has more of a contemporary alt-rock sound, reminiscent of Oasis, whom Bugg claims as one of his major musical influences. Overall, the 14 songs on the album are cleverly sequenced, with pure folk-country songs like ‘Trouble Town’ situated next to the more contemporary sounding ‘Ballad of Mr. Jones’. The final track ‘Fire’ closes the circle back to the lo-fi, Americana folk sound, almost as if Bugg is bringing his listeners back to his own musical roots.

Listening more closely to Bugg’s lyrics, I found myself amazed that someone as young as he is can write songs with the kind of emotional maturity and musical depth found here, though some of the lyrics (“a friend took me aside, said ‘everyone here has a knife'”) are a little unnerving coming from, as it were, the mouth of a mere babe. Like his musical contemporary Ed Sheeran, Bugg seems to have wisdom beyond his years, and it shows in his songwriting. I will certainly be interested to see where his music evolves from this promising beginning.

8.5/10

Jake Bugg’s eponymous debut album is out now on Mercury. Catch the singer/songwriter next year on his UK/Irish tour. Tom’s interview with Bugg and his answers to our Quickfire Questions are here. Watch some studio footage related to ‘Two Fingers’ below.

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Album Review: Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

 
By on Thursday, 18th October 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Nowadays, bands rarely get past their third album before sinking into obscurity, never to be seen again. It takes something special for a band to continually release music over a 20 year period and still find new fans to add to their ever-growing horde – especially a band that don’t fit in to the mainstream music mould. One of the bands to defy convention are the Massachusetts maulers Converge, who have just released their eighth album ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’.

Converge have been in hearts of hardcore fans since their breakthrough record ‘Jane Doe’ in 2001, and have since grown beyond the genre boundaries into metalcore and math, attracting masses of ‘heavy music’ enthusiasts in the process. The new LP picks up where they tentatively left off with a deafening, fast-paced dose of visceral hardcore punk.

Clocking in at 38 minutes, Converge cram in a whopping 14 tracks of destructive hardcore goodness. Hints of Fall Of Troy and Psyopus are forced to the surface while Converge try and decimate your eardrums through a relentless audio pounding. ‘Trespasses’ is a continual roller coaster of carnage that crashes and smashes into a wall of drum rolls and guitar thrashes, while ‘Empty on the Inside’ is the ongoing sound of a 1,000 feet robot drop-kicking your city into oblivion. It’s music to punch walls to.

In true fashion of the mathy metallers, there’s no discernible structure to their songs. Trying to find a chorus at all can be a struggle, so it’s best so strap in and let the barrage commence. Out of the 14 tracks on the LP, only five break the three minute barrier, leaving you in a dazed amorphous mess unable to put together a sentence. The album often delves into noise rock territory with its unending punishment of blast beats and fret fiddling, but keeps its roots solely in punk rock with elements of Black Flag and Fucked Up.

It’s hard to pin down exactly where ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’ falls in the vast array of this year’s hardcore offerings, but it’s definitely near the top. Converge have always been innovators in music and the record undoubtedly stands out within the recent influx of hardcore releases, thanks to its deviations from the norm with hints of grind, math, metalcore and death metal. It’s an amalgamation of everything angry, passionate and venomous in modern music, and it’s brilliant. Get the windmills moving!

7/10

‘All We Love We Leave Behind’, Converge’s latest album, is out now on Epitaph Records.

 
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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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