Check out our coverage of The Great Escape 2018, SXSW 2018 and more through here.

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Single Review: Cassia – Get Up Tight

 
By on Thursday, 9th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

With the blazing sun heating up the last few weeks for us here in the UK, we really are in need of some great summer tracks to keep us going. Luckily enough, up-and-coming indie Northern band Cassia have released their new single ‘Get Up Tight’ just in time. The tune has been teased at for a while now, at first being part of the band’s live repertoire, but after several cheeky teaser videos including this one, Cassia finally gave in and officially released the punchy track.

The summery instrumentation of ‘Get Up Tight’ has been kept bright with the use of twangy guitars and accented beats. The accompaniment never lags and is energetic from start to finish. Despite its repetitive nature, there isn’t a moment that feels boring. At any point in the song, you are able to pick out each instrument and its part perfectly: there’s always something else to catch your attention, even if it’s the fifth time round on the riff, an unusual quality in a song. Quite often, bands of this genre go a little over the top on instrumentation, Blossoms being a prime example, but Cassia have balanced it expertly, creating enough interest whilst allowing the audience to fully appreciate each instrumental aspect of the tune.

Admittedly, the vocals take a little getting used to. You almost have to tune your ear to Jake Leff’s diction like you would to someone with an unfamiliar accent, but it’s worth the acclimatisation. There are some unmistakable similarities to other artists within Leff’s voice, Van McCann of Catfish and the Bottlemen being the most prominent, but there is also his own unique and definitive style mixed in. Leff’s vocal expression is cool and blasé, especially in the chorus where he casually half-speaks the title line, adding a laid-back feel to the song. The lyrics continue this relaxed theme with a ‘Devil-may-care’ attitude, blatantly obvious in lyrics such as, “She’s in love with someone else / none of it does bother me”. This lyrical perspective, combined with the punch of the bright accompaniment, really makes ‘Get Up Tight’ a tune to kick back and relax in the sun to. For a band with relatively little experience in the music industry, Cassia have demonstrated some real expertise in their crafting of their new single.

8.5/10

Single ‘Get Up Tight’ from Macclesfield’s Cassia is available now from Distiller Records. They are currently on tour around Europe; for information on those dates and their future autumn UK tour dates, visit their official Web site. https://www.wearecassia.com For more of TGTF’s coverage of Cassia, follow us here.

 

Great Escape 2018: Day 2 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 6th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It was good to take a breather with my friends the Orielles because I was about to embark on the hardest walking period lined up in my Great Escape 2018 schedule. Thanks to Google Maps, the walks I took were more picturesque and slightly less bad than I had expected. Discovering a leafy, pedestrian-only lane on the way to the Green Door Store made walking up and back down down to the sea a total of four times made me forgot how much my feet were burning. Almost.

I was eager to see Declan Welsh and the Decadent West in action. While there’s been a proliferation of politically-minded punk bands in England, if the same thing is happening in Scotland, I’ve clearly missed it. Like my good friend Matt Abbott, East Kilbride’s Welsh is a poet at heart, having taken up the causes of socialism and supporting Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Just as one might expect, he began their set alone with a poem dripping with emotion and vitriol. Welsh later made the audience laugh with his best attempts in Spanish language delivered with a Scottish accent before he and his band launched into ‘No Pasaran’. Introducing the LGBT and sexual liberation anthem ‘Do What You Want’ as “a sex-positive song”, Welsh sent the audience into a bit of an amusing tizzy, the tune beginning slowly before becoming a wailing guitar number.

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Coincidentally, the next act I would see was also Scottish. I noticed this year’s Great Escape Festival was largely devoid of electronic acts. If this trend continues, it makes me less likely to attend in the future. ONR. (pronounced “honour”), Robert Shields with this band, was on the top of my list of acts to see at SXSW 2018 (see preview here), so when he cancelled his band’s appearances last minute, disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. When I saw ONR. added to the BBC Introducing bill Friday night, it felt like a reprieve. Back down at the Old Ship Hotel, a mass exodus from its upstairs Paginini Ballroom followed the set by the showcase opener Leicestershire soul singer Mahalia, spilling out onto Ship Street. Yes, I arrived too early. No way was I going to miss this.

The disappointment of ONR.’s absence in Austin was wiped away, evaporated by the powerful spectacle of this very performance Friday night. Having seen The 1975 here in 2013, right before they hit it big, it’s an important venue to me, a place where British acts play before they become musical giants. You’re inside the Old Ship Hotel, a Grade II-listed building built in 1559, watching a band perform on what is probably a centuries-old stage but with 21st century equipment and lighting. For the bands, it must be like performing in an old church, history speaking from its walls and feeling history being made while onstage. Perhaps I’m being dramatic, but it does feel extraordinarily different to see a band here than any other place in Brighton.

ONR Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

Under a dizzying light display, Shields followed his bandmates out on stage to deliver a commanding performance worthy of the bombastic pop hits he’s written under the ONR. name. The power of the beats and synth-driven instrumentation matched Shields’ booming vocals. 2017 debut single ‘Jericho’ is a masterclass in how to write a pop song: slow burn them with a verse, then knock ‘em up over with the muscle of the chorus. The ONR. set closed out with ‘Five Years Time’, with its anthemic, thunderous choruses. BBC Introducing describes them playing their newest single ‘American Gods’ at the recent Biggest Weekend as “stadium-ready rock”: whatever you want to call it, this is massive stuff. ONR. are currently in America, due to play shows supporting Mondo Cozmo and their own headline shows on both of our coasts over the next fortnight: all the details are through here.

Sticking with the Scottish theme and buoyed by the energy of the ONR. set, your intrepid music editor went back up the hill and back to the Green Door Store for Rascalton, another one of my festival tips. Their style of high-octane, melodic guitar punk was just the ticket, ‘Lust’ being an example of a less than 3-minute long tour de force. Seeing three Scottish acts calling Glasgow (or close) home back to back, it’s heartening to see that there’s no Glasgow ‘scene’ or specific sound, but rather musicians who are committed to writing music their way and aren’t bound by what the often clueless pundits back down in London think is hip now. I’m going to guess one of the band member’s mams was down front, wailing, dancing and waving her arms about and, well, if you can’t get excited about your son’s band doing well, you’re clearly doing it wrong.

Rascalton Friday the Great Escape 2018 2

I didn’t have the luxury of pogoing on my sore feet like her, so it was time to go back down again to the Old Ship, finally getting to see Ten Tonnes. I’d run into him earlier and he’d remembered me earlier from when I interviewed him at the Twix showcase at SXSW 2017. His recent songwriting collaboration with ex-Kaiser Chiefs Nick J. Hodgson on single ‘Lay It On Me’ left me less than enthused on what looks like a more poppy direction.

However, after seeing it live, I think I’m having a change of heart. I watched his fans go absolutely mental, dancing to this very song at the Paginini Ballroom. What do I know, eh? As he and his band performed ‘Silver Heat’ at a frenetic pace, I was transported back to that outdoor stage at Lustre Pearl on the day before the single was released when he performed it alone. The set ended up with the winsome ‘Lucy’ and its “Luc-EE! Oh oh oh oh!”s ringing in my ears. I think I’ll always prefer the more bluesy, rockabilly version of Ethan Barnett, but I will take him and his music however it comes packaged to me,

Ten Tonnes Friday the Great Escape 2018 1

At this point, I’ve been reduced to crawling up the hills of Brighton, this time to make my way to the Hope and Ruin, previously known to me as the Hope. Following queueing outside and watching a belligerent smoker almost get into a fight with one of the bouncers, I’m finally let in. The downstairs area has been turned into a tropical-looking DJ room for the Great Escape, a partly dismantled piano greeting you presumably supposed to pass for high art. Upstairs, I arrived for the last few songs by South Wales post-hardcore (what does that even mean?) band Dream State.

This would be a time when having the knowledge of by either former TGTF rock writers John Fernandez (now at the BBC) or Luke Morton (now at Metal Hammer) would have come in handy. I was reminded reading one time on TWLOHA about how despite the aggro look of the bands and their fans, the hard rock community is, surprisingly, one of inclusion and support. Packed in the room like sardines, you could feel the crowd shift, everyone craning their necks to watch female lead singer CJ roam across the long stage, engaging with fans. While I sincerely wondered how CJ wasn’t ripping her vocal cords as she screamed, her emotion, backed by her bandmantes’ blistering rock was palpable, fans shouting for more. I fully admit screamo and emo et al. aren’t specialties of mine, but any good music critic worth his/her salt knows when they’ve witnessed heart and passion.

Braden and I were reunited when he joined up with me to watch Cassia (see my tip on them prior to Live at Leeds 2018 through here). As mentioned previously, there were PA issues at the Killing Moon and LAB Records showcase at the Hub that day. The Macclesfield band with huge hype already behind them were due to open that showcase. As you might expect, this show at the Hope and Ruin, their only other appearance they had scheduled in Brighton during the Great Escape, was rammed with their fans disappointed in the earlier set.

Cassia Friday the Great Escape 2018

I’m going to guess that if you’ve heard of Macclesfield, it’s probably because of Joy Division or Peter Crouch. Cassia seem poised to change that. I don’t think anyone would associate the North of England with tropical music, so their brand of trop-pop sets them apart from virtually everyone else, save perhaps London’s Kawala, who were also in town for the Great Escape. With no windows to prove we were actually in Brighton, Cassia’s sunny, guitar-driven tunes brought us to an island paradise we didn’t know we needed. Easy to consume light fare ‘Out of Her Mind’ was perfect to end a long day of walking and bands.

For more of my photos from Friday at the Great Escape 2018, go here.

 

The Great Escape 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 8th May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on The Great Escape 2018 taking place next week is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the festival’s official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Three-day wristbands for the event in Brighton 17-19 May are still available at the price of £70 plus handling if purchased online; delegate passes that include both access to the daytime industry convention and all music showcases are available at the price of £275 plus handling. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available from The Great Escape official Web site. If you’d like to read my previous, more general preview of The Great Escape, it’s through here.

As mentioned in part 1 of my Live at Leeds best bets preview, and alluded to in part 2 as well, there are quite a few acts that appeared this past weekend at Live at Leeds and/or Liverpool Sound City that will also be appearing next week at the Great Escape in Brighton.

Bad Sounds (Friday 11:15 PM, Horatio’s)
Black Futures (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Green Door Store)
Boy Azooga (Thursday, 12:00 PM, Latest Music Bar; 2:00 PM, Dr. Martens stage; 9:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
Cassia (Friday, 12:45 AM, The Hope and Ruin)
Hollow Coves (Thursday, 12:45 PM, Komedia Studio Bar and 10:15 PM, The Old Courtroom)
Knightstown (Saturday, 12:15 PM, One Church)
Lady Bird (Friday, 2:15 PM, Dr. Martens stage and 10:15 PM, The Walrus)
Rascalton (Thursday, 1:00 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
SHEAFS (Saturday, 8:45 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
The Ninth Wave (Thursday, 3:30 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Friday, 9:30 PM, The Haunt; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
The Orielles (Thursday, 2:30 PM, Beach House and 9:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Tors (Friday, 6:45 PM, St. Mary’s Church)
Vistas (Saturday, 2:30 PM, The Hope and Ruin)
whenyoung (Thursday, 6:30 PM, The Haunt)
Zapatilla (Thursday, 10:15 PM, The Walrus)

SXSW 2018 (or earlier) alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw in March in Austin (or even in previous years) who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at the Great Escape. They’re sorted by alphabetical order, as some of the acts who are bigger draws are appearing more than once, so organising the list by first appearance may not necessarily be useful to you.

All Our Exes Live in Texas (Thursday, 12:10 PM, Komedia [Aussie BBQ stage]; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Dermot Kennedy (Thursday, 9:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Friday, 4:00 PM, Beach Club; Friday, 10:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre)
Dream Wife (Thursday, 8:45 PM, Beach Club)
Her’s (Friday, 1:00 PM, Beach House; Friday, 10:15 PM, Horatio’s)
IDLES (Thursday 10:00 PM, Beach Club)
Jealous of the Birds (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 2:00 PM, Jubilee Square)
Jerry Williams (Thursday, 7:45 PM, Hope and Ruin; Saturday, 12:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Joshua Burnside (Friday, 1:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar [Output Belfast stage]; Saturday, 12:15 PM, Latest Music Bar)
Let’s Eat Grandma (Friday, 9:15 PM, The Old Market)
Lo Moon (Friday, 8:30 PM, Coalition)
Mansionair (Thursday, 9:15 PM, Komedia)
ONR (Friday, 8:30 PM, Paganini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
Pale Waves (Thursday, 7:00 PM, Wagner Hall; Thursday, 11:00 PM, Horatio’s)
Rachel K Collier (Friday, 12:20 PM, Latest Music Bar [Horizons / Gorwelion showcase)
Sam Fender (Friday, 2:30 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 8:00 PM, Sallis Benney Theatre; Saturday, 1:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar)
Stella Donnelly (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Komedia; Friday, 7:45 PM, Unitarian Church; Saturday, 1:20 PM, Dr. Martens stage)
Superorganism (Friday, 10:15 PM, The Old Market)
Ten Tonnes (Friday, 6:30 PM, Coalition; Friday, 10:45 PM, Paginini Ballroom at the Old Ship Hotel [BBC Introducing stage])
The Homesick (Friday, 2:30 PM, Komedia Studio Bar; Saturday, 10:15 PM, Green Door Store)
The Spook School (Thursday, 12:15 PM, Horatio’s [Showcasing Scotland stage]; Saturday, 8:30 PM Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)
TOUTS (Thursday, 8:15 PM, Patterns upstairs; Friday, 3:30 PM, Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar)

::gasps:: Okay, so now that we’ve gotten all those shining stars with loads of potential out of the way, I’m going to focus on five additional acts in this post. I’ve chosen those from the pool of acts appearing at The Great Escape but who did not appear at Live at Leeds last Saturday.

Basement Revolver (indie rock / lo-fi; Hamilton, Canada; 2:15 PM, Green Door Store; 6:15 PM, Patterns upstairs)
One of the upshots of attending The Great Escape is that it has arguably the most international line-up of any emerging music festival in the UK. Female-fronted Basement Revolver is one of a handful of acts having travelled thousands of miles to Brighton, besides the Aussies, of course. Bringing their reverb-heavy guitar chords and the sweet voice of Chrisy Hurn, they’ll have two chances on Thursday to wow Brighton crowds.

CRIMER (synthpop / dance; Switzerland; Thursday, 10:15 PM, Bau Wow; Friday, 1:30 PM, Bau Wow)
You a fan of Depeche Mode’s beats and Dave Gahan’s sultry drawl? I’m gonna put it out there and say you’re gonna love CRIMER from the Continent. The Great Escape blurb presumably supplied by him describes his look as pure boyband, but don’t let his hair parting put you off. Seems a bit strange that they have him on early Friday afternoon (I’d suggest you see him on the Thursday night instead) but hey, maybe he can turn Bau Wow into a sweaty disco before the 2 o’clock hour. Wait and see!

Declan Welsh and the Decadent West (punk; Glasgow; Friday, 12:30 PM, One Church and 7:15 PM, Green Door Store; 9:15 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
I think it’s come time in this list to bring in something more subversive. I guess I don’t think of Glasgow as being very punk: perhaps it’s because both times I’ve visited, everyone’s been super nice to me, including the very large man with a very large ginger beard who shared a table with me at Nice and Sleazys. But I digress. Quoting their TGE bio directly, “Donald Trump and Theresa May watch out! The Revolution will be well dressed and speaking in Glaswegian.” RAWR.

Franc Moody (funk / dance; London; Friday, 2:40 PM, Beach House)
Not a guy from France, phew! No, Franc Moody is a London collective bringing da funk and da dance to Brighton’s seaside. Apparently they have been doing this for a while, in so-called ‘infamous’ (::giggles thinking of Three Amigos:: ) warehouse parties in Tottenham. Friday afternoon at TGE is oddly full of dance acts, so I can only hope that no matter what the weather, Franc Moody (and everyone else for that matter) can manage to get bodies bumpin’ before official wine o’clock.

Saint Raymond (pop; Nottingham; Thursday, 3:30 PM, Marine Room [Harbour Hotel])
This singer/songwriter has already been out on the road with the likes of Gabrielle Aplin, Ed Sheeran and HAIM, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that Callum Burrows’ style of music is firmly in the pop genre. Burrows blends a synth-driven ‘80s sound with feel good pop lyrics. Apparently in the early days back home in Notts, lazy journos compared him to local acts Jake Bugg and Dog is Dead. No more.

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 1st May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Part 1 of my best bets of Live at Leeds 2018 is through here. Want to read the more general preview of this annual Yorkshire event, which lays out all the big names appearing in Leeds on Saturday? Follow this link.

The Ninth Wave (post-punk; Glasgow; 5:00 PM, Oporto [BBC Introducing West Yorkshire stage])
There is a gothic darkness to the music of The Ninth Wave, not surprising for a band from Glasgow, I suppose. Synths and guitars come together with competing male and female lead vocals for a beguiling combination of power and emotion. While they are compared to bands like Pixies and The Cure and I personally hear White Lies in their music, too, this is a band who are insistent on carving their very own niche in the UK music landscape. NB: The Ninth Wave will appear Sunday at District at Liverpool Sound City and also have appearances each of the 3 days of The Great Escape, including Thursday afternoon at the Showcasing Scotland showcase at Horatio’s.

Cassia (indie rock; Macclesfield; 6:15 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Miss the sunny, chirpy sound of Vampire Weekend? Seems odd that the British saviours of this kind of calypso rock would come from the North. Or is it? As a sonic salve to bring themselves and their countrymen out of the grey doldrums that all too often hangs on the northern part of England, Cassia’s music might sound just perfect by the seaside in Brighton. NB: This group will appear at Liverpool Sound City at Hanger 34 on Sunday and at the Hope and Ruin early Saturday morning the 19th of May at The Great Escape.

Vistas (indie rock; Edinburgh; 7:00 PM, Trinity Stage)
Edinburgh’s Vistas name The Strokes and Two Door Cinema Club as major influences, so if you’re into that kind of infectious, melodic indie rock guaranteed to keep your toes tapping, this is the band for you. Tipped by BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway as a band to watch in 2018, this band from the capital up north are big on hook-filled choruses to fill this year’s summer festivals with joy.
NB: Vistas are scheduled to perform at Constellations at Liverpool Sound City on Sunday the day after Live at Leeds, and they will also perform at The Great Escape on Saturday the 19th of May at the Hope and Ruin.

The Beach (singer/songwriter; London; 7:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Beach is not a band from London but solo artist George Morgan. Why the stage name? He once dreamed of being a marine biologist, but that was long before he soldiered through London open mike nights with nothing more than a dream. A chance YouTube upload garnered wider attention on the young artist and signing with RCA. Keep an eye on this up-and-coming talent whose vocals range from gentle and emotional to heart-wrenching and epic.

Boy Azooga (indie rock; Cardiff; 8:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Davey Newington was formerly the drummer for Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, getting to play Glastonbury and other festivals with the young pop prodigy. Now as Boy Azooga, he’s getting the opportunity to put out his own music on Heavenly Recordings and play gigs with a live band of his very own. With seemingly a little bit of everything in rock, plus maracas (!), Boy Azooga will put on an interesting show in Leeds, for sure. NB: The band will also appear Thursday the 17th of May at The Great Escape, playing three shows.

Bad Sounds (hip-pop / soul; Bath; 8:30 PM, Leeds Church [Dork stage])
Most of the Live at Leeds schedule this year is singer/songwriters and the more conventional rock bands, so I’m glad to come across a group like Bad Sounds. Brothers Ewan and Callum Merrett’s contrasting musical preferences have led to their mixture of hip-hop, soul and pop anchored by a beguiling beat. A party-like atmosphere pervades their music, leading to the conclusion that their performances must be a great deal of fun. NB: Bad Sounds appear at the Great Escape on Friday night the 18th of May at Horatio’s.

Indigo Lo (hard rock; Southampton; 9:00 PM, Lending Room)
A few years ago, we covered Southampton heavy hitters Dolomite Minor as they lumbered around the UK with their hard rock. In 2018, they’ve returned, renaming themselves as Indigo Lo. On their debut single under their new name, ‘A World That Turns’, it sounds like they haven’t lost any of their edge. Most excellent news.

JW Ridley (electronic / lo-fi; London; 9:15 PM, Wardrobe Bar)
Like the name of his single, JW Ridley is ‘Somewhere Else’. Dreamy electronics and dissonant guitar notes frame the singer’s echoey vocals for a kind of sound not easily pigeonholed by genre. While I realise this sort of thing isn’t for everyone, I’m all for pushing artists who aren’t afraid to sound different and do their own thing. Do you, JW Ridley.

Zapatilla (electronic; ?; 10:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
A cloaked, barefoot figure stood in the shadows on a stage and a SoundCloud owned by an electronic producer. That’s all I’ve been able to find on Zapatilla. Of course, mystery begets intrigue, and I’ll be interested to see what exactly is behind this man’s mystique. NB: Zapatilla appears Thursday night the 17th of May at the Walrus during The Great Escape.

Rascalton (garage rock / punk; Glasgow; 11:00 PM, Hyde Park Book Club)
Another entry from Glasgow, another tip of Vic Galloway’s, but this time on the punkier side of things. Rascalton sounds like the name of an anarchic village, where disorder is the rule of the day. While there is a fair level of craziness here, it’s organised, enjoyable chaos, with ample opportunity to headbang or cut shapes, should you choose to do either. NB: Rascalton appear Thursday afternoon the 17th of May at the Showcasing Scotland showcase and also on Friday night the 18th of May at The Great Escape.

And there you have it, ladies and gents. Twenty new acts for you to sink your teeth into as you go forth safely on your musical discovery Saturday night at Live at Leeds. Have a great time!

 
 
 

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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. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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