Check out our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, through here.

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Single Review: Barns Courtney – Sinners

 
By on Tuesday, 13th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Barns Courtney Sinners singleIncorrigible alt-rocker Barns Courtney has paired up with an equally incorrigible partner-in-crime, Carl Barat (of The Libertines and Carl Barat and the Jackals fame), for what seems on first glance like it should be a bad-boy match made in heaven (or perhaps . . . somewhere else?). The two have co-written a rather aptly titled new single called ‘Sinners’ to follow up on Courtney’s excellent debut album ‘The Attractions of Youth’. Where the songs on ‘The Attractions of Youth’ seethe with youthful angst and energy, ‘Sinners’ takes a slightly heavier and noticeably more jaded tone, which is almost certainly attributable to Barat’s contribution.

The deep blues rock feel of the musical setting is exactly what you’d expect from this collaboration, but Courtney’s vocal delivery almost immediately stands out as special. His voice is strategically raw and dark in the song’s opening lines “fortune, fortune, smiling fate / I haven’t seen you much of late / need you now and cannot wait”. That spiteful sneer twists into a bitter, beaten down growl in the second verse, where he sings of “drinking gin and dropping lines / wasting beats of this heart of mine”.

Unfortunately, the chorus refrain of ‘Sinners’ doesn’t quite deliver on the dramatic promise in its verses. Rather, the chorus feels hastily thrown together, with liberal “yeahhhhs” rounding out the rhythms where words apparently failed. “I must be good for something”, Courtney moans, presumably searching for something more than “dancing on cold feet [and] marching on cobbled streets”. He doesn’t quite find it in ‘Sinners’, but the track will serve well enough to hold off the hordes of madding fans demanding something new from him after the whirlwind success of ‘The Attractions of Youth’. If you’re among that number, take a listen to ‘Sinners’ just below.

6.5/10

‘Sinners’ is out now on Virgin EMI. Our complete previous coverage of Barns Courtney, including a cheeky interview at SXSW 2016 is collected right through here.

 

Video of the Moment #2451: Barns Courtney

 
By on Friday, 13th October 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

ICYMI, fiery Anglo-American alt-rocker Barns Courtney released his bombastic debut LP ‘The Attractions of Youth’ at the end of last month. Simultaneously with the album release, Courtney also unveiled a new promo video for his new album’s latest single, titled ‘Kicks’. Less anthemic than many of the other tracks on the album, ‘Kicks’ instead takes on a darker and more distinctly ominous tone.

As you might well imagine, its video comprises bawdy images of drinking, dancing, sex and fistfights as Courtney gets his eponymous “kicks”, but there is also a vaguely menacing plotline underlying this visual representation. To that end, video director Paul Capra employs grainy, lo-fi cinematography that matches the gritty, distorted guitar sound in the track, and shots of Courtney’s own dazed and sweaty face match the frenzied anxiety pulsing through the song’s rhythmic foundation. Surprisingly enough, very few actual kicks are executed in the video’s action sequence; watch for yourself below. ‘Kicks’ features on Barns Courtney’s new LP ‘The Attraction of Youth’, out now on Virgin EMI. TGTF’s complete previous coverage of Barns Courtney is back through here.

 

Album Review: Barns Courtney – The Attractions of Youth

 
By on Thursday, 28th September 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Album CoverBritish-American rocker Barns Courtney apparently has only one speed setting, and it’s full throttle, all the time. He’s been on a fast track to success since his appearance at last year’s SXSW 2016.  At the time, his collection of released music was a bit haphazard. He had a pair of blazing singles, ‘Fire’ and ‘Glitter & Gold’, propelling his momentum, and he released an EP titled ‘Hands’ later that year. But the long-term project of recording a full album seemed to be a bit of a challenge, especially given his relentless live schedule. Fast forward to autumn 2017, and Courtney’s highly anticipated LP is ready for release, primed for consumption by over a year’s worth of touring on both sides of the pond. The album, aptly titled ‘The Attractions of Youth’, is as full of piss and vinegar as Courtney himself, bursting with the fire and enthusiasm of a young artist on the edge of massive stardom.

Most of the songs on ‘The Attractions of Youth’ aren’t new to fans who have been following Courtney on the live circuit. But the album cuts are every bit as powerful as his live performances: his production team have definitely found the sweet spot in that regard. First impressions being the strongest, the album opens with established single ‘Fire’, easily its most powerful individual track, followed in quick succession by ‘Glitter & Gold’. From there, a refreshed version of gritty EP track ‘Hands’ is followed by the relatively sweet recent single ‘Golden Dandelions’, which for all its sentimental romance manages not to sap away the breakneck pace of the tracklisting.

As blindingly good as the first part of the album is, its real gems start to come out later in the sequence, starting with the spoken introduction to ‘Hobo Rocket’. In this track, Courtney displays both an ironic sense of humour and a musical awareness I might not have given him credit for on first glance. Centered on a theme of homelessness and desperation, the song’s energy takes flight in the chorus, “gonna fly on my hobo rocket / outta time, nothing in my pocket”. It’s a musical reference that somehow manages to conjure two different Beck songs, ‘Loser’ and ‘Where It’s At’, and is quite simply awesome. The subtle artistry is further solidified in the following studio-manipulated interlude ‘Hobo Outside Tesco, London’. [Is he hoping for a grocery store advert sync? – Ed.]

Current single ‘Champion’ is another rock anthem tailor-made for a sporting soundtrack. Courtney’s husky singing voice works remarkably well in the fire-and-brimstone context, and the song’s lyrics about rising from the ashes are both darkly determined and uplifting in the same vein as Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’. The bruised and swollen ‘Never Let You Down’ (streaming below) is more angular and slickly polished, with a jangling piano added to the instrumentation and a hypnotically groovy instrumental bridge. ‘Goodbye John Smith’ and ‘Little Boy’ demonstrate Courtney’s folkier sensibilities, the former showing an exquisite sensitivity in the vocal delivery, while the latter takes on a charming Americana feel.

Courtney once again goes balls to the wall in the characteristically unapologetic rock anthem ‘Rather Die’, where his delivery is nothing short of absolutely convincing in the lyric “I take a beating but I’ll never give up, I think I’d rather die”. But he saves one final surprise for the album’s close. Eponymous track ‘The Attractions of Youth’ dials back the intensity, but only slightly, as Courtney once again turns on his sarcastic humour in a deliberately over-the-top, circus-style album finale.

The rapid-fire success of Barns Courtney’s early singles is firmly validated with ‘The Attractions of Youth’. The album’s 14 tracks could possibly have been culled down a bit, but in total, they serve to display the voracious hunger behind Courtney’s skyrocket to commercial fame. And though such early success is often volatile and short-lived, Courtney has also demonstrated a compelling intellectual artistry that will sustain his career beyond the initial flash in the pan.

9/10

Barns Courtney’s debut LP ‘The Attractions of Youth is due out tomorrow, the 29th of September, on Virgin EMI. Courtney will finish his current UK tour with a show at London’s Dingwalls on the 5th of October. TGTF’s previous coverage of Barns Courtney is right back here.

 

Barns Courtney / September and October 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 19th June 2017 at 9:00 am
 

If you read our recent review of Barns Courtney‘s new single ‘Golden Dandelions’, you’ll have seen already that the English-American rocker had announced a pair of shows in Scotland for this autumn, following the summer festival season. Courtney has now announced a fully-fledged UK tour, including those two Scottish shows in September and a date at London’s Dingwalls on the 5th of October.

Tickets for the following shows will go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, the 20th of June. Our previous coverage of Barns Courtney, including a live review from SXSW 2016, is right back here. If you haven’t heard it already, you can check out Courtney’s hit single ‘Fire’ just below the tour date listing.

Friday 15th September 2017 – Brighton Hope and Ruin
Saturday 16th September 2017 – Leicester Cookie
Monday 18th September 2017 – Newcastle Think Tank
Tuesday 19th September 2017 – Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms
Wednesday 20th September 2017 – Glasgow Hug and Pint
Friday 22nd September 2017 – Manchester Soup Kitchen
Saturday 23rd September 2017 – Sheffield Picture House Social
Monday 25th September 2017 – Bristol Louisiana
Tuesday 26th September 2017 – Oxford Cellar
Thursday 5th October 2017 – London Dingwalls

 

Single Review: Barns Courtney – Golden Dandelions

 
By on Friday, 16th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

English-American alt-rocker Barns Courtney has been barnstorming North America on his current Shoestring Tour. You might remember that we here at TGTF first encountered Courtney at SXSW 2016, where he blazed through a memorable set at the British Music Embassy and gave us this late night post-show interview. Earlier this month, Courtney bolstered the skyrocketing momentum he’s built since then with the release of a propulsive new single titled ‘Golden Dandelions’.

The song’s vigorous tempo and sweeping dynamic aren’t too far out of Courtney’s usual wheelhouse, but the addition of the piano adds a new depth to the musical arrangement. Immediately anticipatory and and anxiously energetic, the track centers around the chorus lyric “she said lay me down in golden dandelions / ‘cos I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life” and the enticing cliffhanger “follow me into the dark . . .” But the bridge section and third chorus constitute the real sweet spot of the song. It’s a brief moment, but its rhythmic sophistication and musical refinement are unexpected for the typically brash singer/songwriter, slowing things down for a brief but perfectly timed moment of dramatic tension and providing a glimpse of Courtney’s evolving musical refinement.

8.5/10

‘Golden Dandelions’ has apparently been a part of Courtney’s live set for a while, but it’s now an official single, released on radio as well as iTunes and Spotify. Though there isn’t yet a promo video for the track, you can watch a live performance video from American radio station The Current just below.

Barns Courtney will be on tour in North America through the beginning of August before he returns to the UK for appearances at Reading and Leeds Festivals. He has also scheduled two Scottish shows for this autumn, one at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on the 19th of September and one at Glasgow’s Hug and Pint the following night. You can find a full listing of Courtney’s upcoming live shows on his official Facebook. Our own past coverage of Barns Courtney is back this way.

 

Video of the Moment #2197: Barns Courtney

 
By on Monday, 10th October 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

British-American alt-rocker Barns Courtney has just unveiled a new video for his recent single ‘Glitter & Gold’, which is picking up steam here in America via television adverts for sports network ESPN. If you recall, we at TGTF featured Courtney earlier this year during our coverage of SXSW 2016: you heard it here first! ‘Glitter and Gold’ appears on Courtney’s EP ‘Hands’ which our Rebecca reviewed back in June. You can watch the new video just below.

Courtney is set to spend October and November on tour in North America, first supporting English singer/songwriter Tom Odell, and then taking up with L.A. alt-pop group Fitz and the Tantrums. A full listing of Barns Courtney’s upcoming tour dates can be found on his official Facebook, including his return to the UK for a one-off show at London XOYO on the 30th of November.

 
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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.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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