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Album Review: City and Colour – The Hurry and the Harm

By on Wednesday, 12th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

City and Colour Hurry and the Harm coverCity and Colour is Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green, formerly with the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. Green’s side project started out in Alexisonfire’s heyday in 2004, but he eventually left the band to focus on his work with City and Colour and refine his more melodic folk leanings. Fourth album ‘The Hurry and the Harm’ is a lovely piece, both gentle and exploratory. I am repeatedly struck by how often I am drawn to musicians who have turned their hardcore sensibilities into gorgeous acoustic guitar driven music.

Truth be known, I didn’t even know the genre folk punk existed until a few years ago. Green’s music is a step lighter than the likes of Frank Turner and Rocky Votolato in that respect, more folky and less aggressive than the other two. But with a full band behind him, Green has developed his sound from the quiet acoustic bit that drew him into solo work into full arrangements that offer him an opportunity to showcase more musical style than just the simple voice and guitar of his previous releases. Much more expansive than previous albums from Green, ‘The Hurry and the Harm’ has great drums, guitars and strings sprinkled throughout. Not afraid to experiment with the soundscape, Green still keeps the focus on his strong suit, words and melody.

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Full of introspection and insight, the album addresses the very internal struggle of yearning and the quest for meaning. The title track itself is a treatise to the hurry-up society we live in today and how it does nothing to fulfill our deeper needs. Lead single ‘Thirst’ (lyric video above) is the most distinctively different with full drums and distortion filling it out to a full on rock song. ‘Two Coins’ is another heavy with bass that resonates both sonically and lyrically, its stark loneliness matches the rumble of the bass. The tune sets out to contemplate the redemptive quality of trying to find your way: “I’ve always been dark / with light somewhere in the distance / I’ve been so unforgiving / stranded in old traditions”. But there is still plenty that is vintage City and Colour to enjoy. ‘Of Space and Time’ rings clear with just the gentlest of augmentation to round out Green’s dulcet tones. While the searching quality of the lyrics suggests it is just another melancholy lament, it actually hints at reaching the end of the journey and being satisfied.

Perfect for a laid back Saturday afternoon in the garden, ‘The Hurry and the Harm’ could easily soundtrack a lazy summer, cool drink in hand swinging in a hammock. City and Colour will be touring much of Europe in June and will hit the UK for Reading and Leeds in August.


‘The Hurry and the Harm’, the latest album from City and Colour, is out now through Dine Alone Records/Cooking Vinyl Records.


Album Review: Black Sabbath – 13

By on Tuesday, 11th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

Black Sabbath 13 coverOver three decades in the reckoning, and to the delight of metal aficionados from New Mexico to Beijing, the eponymous genre defining metal band Black Sabbath are back with their original line-up of founding member Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi. The result of this reunion and their exposure to producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin (Foo Fighters, Slayer) is ‘13’, their mammoth comeback to the mainstream and a call to arms to metallers worldwide.

With Ozzy back on vocals after the tragic death of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi as the axe man, Geezer Butler providing the bass and Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk sitting in on drums, the sound on ‘13’ is suitably triumphant, with a sense of an impending apocalypse. The ominous commencement of the album ‘End of the Beginning’ is Sabbath at their doom filled best, with Ozzy’s trademark vocals cutting deep from the word go as he croons “Is this the end or the beginning/or the beginning of the end”. Rubin’s influence is apparent from square one, with the producer’s epic sounds resonating throughout the record, and epic seems to be what the aim was on this Sabbath record, with seven of the eleven songs on the record clocking in at over 5 minutes.

To enjoy this album though, you need to forget all pretence of any drama within the legendary metal band, and you certainly need to forget Ozzy’s ill-fated solo record and that dreadful duet with daughter Kelly. This record is about a shameless progression of what made the band a pillar of modern metal. Bring Me the Horizon have produced arguably the most progressive and defining metal record of the past 12 months, but in ‘13’, you have a re-emergence of old-school metal. ‘13’ is best epitomized by a line from the opening track, “rewind the future to the past”, and that is exactly what the band have done on ‘13’.

It’s not exactly back to basics, but Black Sabbath were never in any way basic, they were a progression of what was before them and now, they have set a marker to all bands in metal 2013. Sabbath are revered amongst bands and fans of the genre alike, and it would have been difficult for them to go wrong on this record, and that’s why it almost feels like a bit of a safe effort. Single ‘God is Dead’ is undeniably classic Sabbath, from the booming drums, to the trademark strumming of the Iron Man himself Iommi.

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The record falls a bit flat with the staccato guitars that intersperse the mid-section of ‘13’. It feels a bit uncharacteristic of Sabbath, and also again feels very safe. But the album does show a lot of the character we have come to expect from a Sabbath record. It’s obvious why they are so well-regarded and are held in such esteem and their relevance is as poignant in 2013, as it was decades ago at the bands inception. ‘13’ delivers in that respect and seasoned fans will lap this record up; however, if this to be the start of Sabbath 2.0 then a more ambitious approach must be considered. For now though, having the original line-up back producing mammoth tunes like ‘Loner’ and ‘God is Dead’, is quite enough for this not so Iron Man.


‘13’, Black Sabbath’s long-awaited reunion album, is out now on Mercury.


Album Review: John Wean – Rock is Dead. Long Live Paper and Scissors! EP

By on Monday, 10th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

While I was on holiday in Scotland last month, having finished way too early in the night after the Treetop Flyers gig at Electric Circus, I was bored and flipping through the channels on the telly in my shoebox of a room in Edinburgh and chanced upon BBC Alba, the digital Scottish Gaelic station part owned by the BBC but with most of its content produced in Scotland. Once I got over some of the foreign language that totally went over my head, BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway appeared (looking as jovial as the time I met him at SXSW 2012), then disappeared to let a rock band take the spotlight. I squinted. Wait a minute. These lads look familiar… Isn’t that John Wean? I practically screamed in light of my good luck.

Young Glaswegian rockers John Wean have been on my radar since the summer of 2011, when I heard early single ‘Desperate Dan (She Told Me She Was Single)’. While they’ve been around for a while and certainly have racked up quite a few gigs under their belt (according to their Facebook biography, they’ve supported another band favourite of mine, Stockton’s Young Rebel Set), they’ve only released one past EP and a single here or there. Last summer’s ‘New York Doesn’t Love You’, for one, was a standout. But now the quartet have their second EP out with the very humourous title ‘Rock is Dead. Long Live Paper and Scissors!’ But the content, at least from the start, is no joking matter.

If you’re the type like me who is easily offended by strong language, steel yourself for the opening line of ‘Drive Time’. Despite the poppish instrumentation, borderline cutesy rhyming scheme in the verses and oh oh ohs, this is not a happy song. At all. It’s the distillation of a man’s crushing realisation that the woman he loves is a conniving two-timer: “I’m laughing ‘cos I can’t believe what’s coming out / you’re lying to the bone, and I’m just finding out / I’m laughing ‘cos I can’t believe what’s coming out /you’re crying down the phone, but now I’ve sussed you out”. The song ends, satisfyingly and appropriately, on an unfinished note; this leaves it raw emotionally.

As a music reviewer, it’s a given that you go into a song titled ‘Ecstacy’ bemused. Is this song going to be about making love, or the party drug? My impression is the former, and to be honest, I’m relieved, because it’s so anthemic, with its feel good singalong chorus and noodling guitar lines. “My heart’s beating, won’t you find that feeling?” is the repeated refrain, as the singer explains all the beautiful places he’s found himself in, yet he’s still remembering that moment in winsome vocals, full of the wonderment of…well, something truly special and wonderful. After the pain-inducing ‘Drive Time’, it’s welcome. Another nice touch: the first 5 seconds of ‘Ecstacy’ is a cinematic, symphonic intro. (That didn’t go unnoticed, guys. Nice one.)

Three songs in, and you’re at ‘For the Girl’, which the band recently released a promo video for. (Watch it in this previous Video of the Moment post.) This is more of the John Wean of the ‘New York…’ I remember. It’s the most radio-friendly of the four tracks on this EP, but it’s got the most confounding lyrics. At first, I thought the song represented a single argument between two suitors fighting over one girl. But the more I think about it, I wonder if it was written such that it’s really two separate arguments that are happening in our protagonist’s head: his desire to convince the girl he loves that the boy he’s with isn’t the right one for her, and also to tell off another suitor, “hands off, she’s mine”. All that aside, the incredible catchiness of the song – delivered by a driving drum beat and rhythmic guitar – isn’t likely to be lost on Radio1 and if you’re not a lyrics geek like me, ignore the above and just enjoy the song.

And then we come to the end and ‘November’, which is only what I can describe as chaos: white lines, police fines, street fights, dog bites. Instrumentally, the crashing guitars and drums sound great. But on this EP, I liked this the one the least; it’s more of a germ of an idea than a fully formed song than the other three. But three good tracks on a four-track EP from a very young band just starting to really release material? Pretty damn good.


‘Rock is Dead. Long Live Paper and Scissors!’, the new EP from Glaswegian band John Wean, is out now. Stream EP track ‘Ecstacy’ below.


Album Review: Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

By on Friday, 7th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

Camera Obscura Desire Lines coverI’m a huge fan of Belle and Sebastian. And as a huge fan of Belle and Sebastian, I feel like I have to come clean and admit that I have been cheating on them with another Glaswegian indie-pop group who also thrive on their quaintness (quaintosity?); a band more twee than Zooey Deschanel walking a clowder of cats around the garden of her thatched cottage.

It all started in 2010 when I was eagerly awaiting Stuart Murdoch and co.’s eighth album, ‘Write About Love’. Whilst impatiently trying to find something to fill the gap whilst I awaited its release, I found Camera Obscura (or rather, Spotify Radio found them for me). Their latest release at the time, ‘My Maudlin Career’, had dropped the previous year to almost universal acclaim and I decided to see what the fuss was about. I quickly found out. With gorgeous instrumentals and precious vocals, Camera Obscura are without a doubt the closest thing there is to a female counterpart to Belle and Sebastian.

Camera Obscura are a relatively unknown band with a few relatively recognisable songs in their repertoire. ‘French Navy’, arguable one of their best tracks, has been doing the rounds on British television adverts for the past couple of years, which has done great things for their exposure.

Now three years on from my first encounter with them, ‘Desire Lines’ is to be released: the band’s fifth studio album, their first of which to have been recorded in the United States. The album continues the band’s exploration of wistful themes and again brings memories of the long summers days spent doing absolutely nothing in the sun. It’s quintessentially Camera Obscura down to a tee, something that could be its own downfall for some listeners. In other words, the band have not evolved at all since their previous effort 4 years ago. Belle and Sebastian have managed to remain fresh since their first album nearly 20 years ago, something that Camera Obscura have failed to replicate with ‘Desire Lines’. With the exception of a couple of tracks, the album throws the usual catchy, summer pop tunes at you in abundance.

One of the standout tracks on the LP has to be ‘Cri de Coeur’, which my GCSE in French can tell you is roughly translated as ‘Cry of the Heart.’ Down tempo and sentimental, lead singer Tracyanne Campbell truly sings a tale from the ‘coeur’. It’s a welcome turn away from the usual upbeat pop songs that dominate Camera Obscura albums and the hypnotic percussion makes the song almost like a lullaby. (Note to self – business idea: Have Camera Obscura release an album of children’s lullabies. That would sell.)

On the subject of vocals, it would be hard to review ‘Desire Lines’ without paying great compliment to Tracyanne Campbell’s sweet pipes. They carry a sentimental and wistful tone that is without a doubt Deschanel-esque, (even if the band were around even before the world caught Zooey Fever). In fact, the entire album could have been a She and Him album without the Him. Coincidentally, the bands will be touring together for a string of dates this year in the United States.

Campbell’s crooning takes a back seat on ‘New Year’s Resolution’, instead the lead guitar riff takes the centre stage and it works perfectly. Playing almost like a duet between the guitar and vocals, it is a refreshing change to hear the rest of the band take the limelight. Although a great song, the smooth Fleetwood Mac-like track transitions awkwardly into the next song ‘Do It Again’. Any soothing feeling caused by the former tune quickly evaporates and you are once again taken to the usual happy-go-lucky pop song that we expect from the band.

Overall, the Glaswegians-that-aren’t-Belle-and-Sebastian have released a great summer album. While it’s an album that won’t break boundaries in the indie-pop game (and doesn’t even break boundaries for Campbell and co.), it is nonetheless a great listen.


Camera Obscura’s ‘Desire Lines’ is out now on 4AD.


Album Review: Ben Folds Five – Live

By on Thursday, 6th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

Ben Folds Five Live coverHot on the heels of their recent world tour, Ben Folds Five have released ‘Live’, a compilation of live recordings from a selection of those shows. The band have been touring since last summer in support of their most recent studio album, ‘The Sound of the Life of the Mind’. From that album, the new live record includes performances of ‘Erase Me’, ‘Sky High’, ‘Do It Anyway’, and ‘Draw A Crowd’. The new songs sit comfortably among a mix of favorites from Ben Folds’ back catalogue, with and without the rest of the ‘Five’. (I assume it’s commonly known by now that Ben Folds Five is composed of three members: Ben Folds, Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge. If not, then you’re now in on the joke.)

Overall, the tracks on ‘Ben Folds Five Live’ are tight performances. The three musicians sound sharp and well-rehearsed, but they maintain the spontaneity and dynamism that can only happen when the songs are second-nature. Ben Folds’ singing voice sounds particularly crisp and energetic throughout the album. The sound quality on the recordings is amazingly good, and crowd noise amazingly minimal. Most of the selected tracks are fairly true to their studio recordings, so familiar fans won’t be alienated, but there is plenty of variety to keep things interesting.

Of course, the real fun of live performances is in the improvisatory moments, and here ‘Ben Folds Five Live’ doesn’t disappoint. ‘One Chord Blues / Billie’s Bounce’ is full track consisting of a spirited and profane 12-bar blues vamp in which Folds pokes fun at his own musical pedanticism. A 9-minute long version of ‘Narcolepsy’, recorded before an appreciative Japanese audience, highlights the inventive ad-libbing abilities of all three players.

Hit single ‘Brick’, a given on Folds’ live set list, is handled nicely here. Prominent bass gives the song more depth and movement than on the original recording, but otherwise its simple, poignant beauty is untouched. Wisely sandwiched in the track listing between a runaway train rendition of ‘Do It Anyway’ and the bawdy ‘Draw A Crowd’, ‘Brick’ mellows the up tempo mood of the album only for a brief moment.

The end of the album is set up almost like an encore, with band member intros, thank yous, and good nights preceding the final track, ‘Song for the Dumped’. By this point, I found myself rocking and dancing along as if I really were at a live gig. Indeed, the live shows must have been brilliant, particularly at The Warfield in San Francisco, where 5 of the 15 tracks on the album were recorded. I missed Ben Folds Five last time around, but after hearing ‘Ben Folds Five Live’, I’ll make it a point to catch them on tour this summer.


‘Live’, the new live album from Ben Folds Five, is out now on Sony. You can stream the whole album on the Wall Street Journal here. Ben Folds Five will join Barenaked Ladies and Guster on the ‘Last Summer On Earth’ tour of North America this summer.


Album Review: Youngblood Hawke – Wake Up

By on Wednesday, 5th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

Youngblood Hawke Wake Up cover Youngblood Hawke, a sparkling, poppy quintet from Los Angeles, have released their debut album ‘Wake Up’. Through trials and tribulations that you would never guess from the perky, exuberant music, they have succeeded in making an album that has some pretty serious things to say in a package that brilliantly presents it as bright synth pop. With references to addiction, overcoming adversity and the difficult things you have to endure for your passions, the twist put on it is that there is always a redemptive quality. Sometimes it is through sheer will, but with effort, it’s never too late to make it through. I am happy to see all four of the songs from their eponymous 2012 EP make it to the album, because there wasn’t a dud in the bunch – ‘Stars (Hold On)’ is still my favourite. (You can watch the band perform a studio version of that track here.)

Youngblood Hawke open their album, like they opened their live show when I saw them last October, with ‘Rootless’. It’s the kind of pulsing groove that gets you going and is a perfect opener. They quickly flow into their single, the perfect summertime anthem, ‘We Come Running’. Fresh and bright with a chanting chorus sung by the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir, you can just see summer flowing around them. ‘Dreams’ hits a little harder with some driving synth grounding it. This is the song that probably gets them the most deserving comparison to Passion Pit. With some deeper bass underneath and Martin’s piercing falsetto, it’s a bit epic in its dealing with making choices.

‘Dannyboy’ is a track inspired by a friend of the band, Danny McGuire, who was put into a coma after being hit by a drunk driver. Its words exhort him to ‘wake up’ and enjoy the beauty of the world. Deceptively, as with many of their songs, despite its joyful sound Danny never woke up. Of the songs new to me, ‘Live and Die’ drew me in the most, a tune that tells you to go for it when you are passionate about something, “Gonna find my fortune / gonna steal our fame / gonna live and die along the way / Gonna reach up higher / gonna feel the flames / Live and die along the way”.

Earlier I had predicted that the band had grabbed hold of just the right combination of indie pop and California sunshine to make waves. Youngblood Hawke have crafted tunes that are insanely catchy and have a beat that is imminently danceable, if just the tiniest bit too similar to one another. However, all Youngblood Hawke really needs is a champion to get them played on the radio to send them shooting into the stratosphere à la Imagine Dragons.

The iTunes version of the album has a 13th track called ‘In Our Blood’ and the Spotify version has a 13th track called ‘Survival’. ‘Wake Up’ is available now on Universal Republic Records.


Wake Up’ is available now on Universal Republic Records in America but if you’re in the UK, you’ll have to wait until the 29th of July to nab it on Universal.

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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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