TGTF will be on a break from 23 November to 5 December. Our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, can be read through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Album Review: Declan McKenna – What Do You Think About the Car?

 
By on Tuesday, 18th July 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Declan McKenna What Do You Think About the Car album coverSome people are just destined for greatness. Far less common in life are those who can predict such greatness in themselves. There might be some disagreement with this, but a recording of Declan McKenna when small seems to have been remarkably prescient. In response to his oldest sister Rosanna’s question, “Dec, what do you think about the car? Do you like it?” The 4-year old Declan responded, “I like it, it’s really good and now I’m going to sing my new album now.” Now the formerly nonsensical name of his debut album for Columbia makes sense!

In case you’re late to the Declan McKenna party, you can start by reading this Bands to Watch I wrote ahead of his appearances at SXSW 2016. Out of the gate in 2015 with ‘Brazil’, which handily skewered the hypocrisy of world football-governing body FIFA, McKenna showed himself to be more than just a wild card. He had the ambition of becoming a pop star with – gasp! horror! – a social conscience. This new record from the Hertfortshire teen is a convenient collection of his live favourites and past singles, including ‘Brazil’, ‘Bethlehem’ and ‘Paracetatmol’, all of which appeared on ‘Liar’ EP back in the spring. Unlike his mostly one-dimensional contemporaries, McKenna isn’t easily pigeonholed with one style or sound. While ‘What Do You Think…’ is certainly a 21st century album, produced by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford (The Last Shadow Puppets, Depeche Mode) and taking advantage of current technology, listening to it is like no other album out there today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f6KQbuNdW8

The LP begins with single ‘Humongous’: its instrumental solo and McKenna’s double-tracked vocals in the chorus give the feeling not of 2017 of a song of a past generation. Or at least the last one. The leisurely tempo of ‘Humongous’ eventually gives way to a frenetic ending, but not before McKenna thumbs his nose towards duplicitous politicians: “Do you care? / I’m big, humongous, enormous and small / and it’s not fair that I am nothing and nobody’s there”. The wonky waltzy rhythm of ‘Mind’ and its theme of teenage angst of young love not going quite right will remind you of early Mystery Jets. Maybe this shouldn’t come as such a surprise, since Ford also produced 2006’s ‘Making Dens’? McKenna’s voice on ‘I Am Everyone Else’ also has a Blaine Harrison quality, while the melody chirps along with both guitars and synths. There’s more synth action on the feel good ‘Why Do You Feel So Down’, on which one-man band McKenna sounds like a more electric Vampire Weekend.

However, what will more likely be more important to this 18-year old’s legacy is his willingness to go beyond the usual and often too simplistic teenage song topics. It’s been during the Millennial generation that the concerns of the LGBT community have been more widely aired. However, young McKenna took on the tragic suicide of Ohioan transgender teen Leelah Alcorn in ‘Paracetamol’ because “People need to start getting it.” Guitar-driven foot stomper ‘Bethlehem’ tackles the holier-than-thou stance of those willing to kill and die in the name of religion (“but you sin as you wish”). The not quite ballad, not quite pop song ‘Listen to Your Friends’ closing the album alludes to the importance of speaking up and out against injustices, instead of following everyone else’s apathy. This statement seems even more important following the young people’s vote in the June 2016 General Election; check out McKenna’s wail during the song in live performance below.

‘What Do You Think About the Car?’ is a debut that never has a dull moment, and it’s got as much variety as an assorted pack of jelly beans. A pleasant listen throughout, along with plenty of great lyrics to sink your teeth into and make you think, Declan McKenna should be proud of writing a debut record that has a good shot of standing the test of time.

8.5/10

‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, the long-anticipated debut album from pop wunderkind Declan McKenna, will be released this Friday, the 21st of July, on Columbia Records. Have a stroll through our archive of posts on the young McKenna here on TGTF through this link.

 

Video of the Moment #2380: Declan McKenna

 
By on Wednesday, 14th June 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Good news: indie wunderkind Declan McKenna has announced his debut album will drop next month. The socially-conscious teen from Hertfordshire who has already wowed with singles ‘Brazil’ and ‘Paracetamol’ will be unleashing ‘What Do You Think of the Car?’ will be available starting in the 21st of July on Columbia Records. And seemingly as he needed to provide proof of how massive the news of his upcoming debut is, he’s revealed a new promo video for album track ‘Humongous’. The accompanying video lives up to his name, as McKenna shows up in this promo as a King Kong-like presence presiding over urban blocks and windswept mountains and, of course, rocks out with his band while a lizard inexplicably gets involved in a fight with a politician with lobster claws. Um, okay. To read all of us our past coverage here on TGTF on the young Declan McKenna, including an appearance at Huw Stephens and PRS for Music’s showcase Tuesday night at SXSW 2016, use this link.

 

Blossoms / September and October 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 28th July 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Stockport indie rock band Blossoms have announced the release of their self-titled debut album on the 5th of August, along with a lengthy list of tour dates to follow the release. Leading into the September tour, Blossoms will play a special show at the Stockport Plaza at midnight on the 5th of August for fans who preorder the album via their online store, as well as an official album launch show at Kingston’s New Slang on the 11th of August. They will be supported on this tour by Declan McKenna and fellow North Westerners Cabbage.

Tickets for the following shows will go on sale tomorrow, Friday the 29th of July, at 10 AM. In the meantime, you can find TGTF’s previous coverage of Blossoms right back here.

Friday 23rd September 2016 – Birmingham Institute
Saturday 24th September 2016 – Bristol Bierkeller
Monday 26th September 2016 – Cambridge Junction
Tuesday 27th September 2016 – Norwich Waterfront
Thursday 29th September 2016 – London Forum Kentish Town
Friday 30th September 2016 – Manchester Academy
Saturday 1st October 2016 – Glasgow ABC
Monday 3rd October 2016 – Newcastle Riverside
Tuesday 4th October 2016 – Sheffield Leadmill
Wednesday 5th October 2016 – Leeds Beckett Student Union
Friday 7th October 2016 – Nottingham Rock City

 

Video(s) of the Moment #2112: Declan McKenna

 
By on Thursday, 9th June 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

::plays Twilight zone music:: We’re at a palindromic number for today’s Video of the Moment, so I thought I’d gift you with something special. Well, two videos for the price of one. How’s that? Declan McKenna, who wowed both Carrie and me at SXSW 2016 back in March, has a new music video out this week for his single ‘Bethlehem’. Continuing in the same fine fashion as in previous singles ‘Paracetamol’ and ‘Brazil’, the Hertfordshire teen tackles another decidedly un-pop topic in his lyrics.

As the first video below portrays – or at least what we’re led to believe – is that as might be expected for a song named after a famous religious site, ‘Bethlehem’ is about escaping the shackles of restrictive religion. Also included below is a live version of the single, with McKenna and his band rocking out in the studio last month. It’s cool to listen to and watch, as when Carrie and I saw him in Austin, he was performing alone and with the crutch of a tabletop of equipment and plenty of effects pedals. In this live video, you get a better sense of what it would be to see Declan McKenna play live. Watch both videos featuring ‘Bethlehem’ below. For more on Declan McKenna on TGTF, go here.

 

Live at Leeds 2016 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Monday, 18th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we recommend with all of our festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Live at Leeds is current at the time of posting, but we encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2016 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds on Saturday the 30th of April are still available at the bargain price of £32.50. This year for the price of £45.00, a VIP option is also available; it will allow you to jump queues at venues (subject to capacity), entry to the VIP bar at the First Direct Arena and free entry to the afterparty at the Wardrobe. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2016 alums: I’d be remiss not to give a shoutout to the artists we saw in Austin that we enjoyed and we think you will too (in order of appearance):
Barns Courtney (5:30 PM, Leeds College of Music)
The Sherlocks (5:30 PM, Leeds Uni Union Refectory)
Declan McKenna (6 PM, Brudenell Social Club main stage)
Clean Cut Kid (6:15 PM, Leeds Uni Union Stylus)
Autobahn (6:30 PM, Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 1)
DMA’s (6:45 PM, Leeds Uni Union Refectory)
Blaenavon (7:00 PM, Oporto)
Isaac Gracie (7:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church)
Pumarosa (8:00 PM, Wardrobe)
Haelos (10:00 PM, Belgrave Music Hall)

In addition to those acts, here are 10 more acts recommended from the amazing Live at Leeds 2016 schedule:

Atlantic Shore

In the mood for sparkling, upbeat synth rock? This quartet with ties to nearly all of the great Northern towns (Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester) will start your day at Live at Leeds on an energetic note. Check out Atlantic Shore’s latest single, ‘The Comedown’, which was released last month.

Atlantic Shore are set to perform at the Faversham at 12:30 PM.

The Jackobins

Staying in th’ North (this festival is in Yorkshire, am I right?), turn your attention to music of a harder edge. Forget Manchester for a moment: The Jackobins’ ‘Waiting on the Sun’ will remind you of Oasis in the brashness of their anthemic rock.

The Jackobins perform at Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2 at 1 PM. (Incidentally, Plaitum – who Rebecca introduced you all to when they received a shout for SXSW 2016 – will be playing at the same time of day at Headrow House.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb1STNc3D6o

The Velveteens

Let’s not kid ourselves, surf rock came back, so what’s to stop the other trends of past decades returning? Co-ed group from Leeds The Velveteens will be leading the charge when the revolution comes. ‘Simply Plain Mary Jane’? Hardly!

The Velveteens play at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room at 2:30 PM.

Demob Happy

From Leeds, you can either go north to Newcastle or south all the way to the coast to Brighton for Demob Happy. As a science boffin by (day) trade, I am more than a little amused they’ve got a song called ‘Junk DNA’. “Gene Manipulator” should have been my nickname in uni. Make of that what you will… And we could all use a little bliss, eh?

Demob Happy are scheduled to play at the Brudenell Social Club’s main stage at 3:00 PM, which make them a nice follow-up after The Velveteens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f6QEpLGoEc

Xylaroo

Cover me, folks, I’m going into Carrie’s usual bailiwick and into the singer/songwriter den. A girl duo signed to Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best label, Xylaroo have done a fantastic acoustic treatment to cover of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, turning a song I don’t even like to a palatable one (!), so suffice to say, I’m looking forward to their debut album ‘Sweetooth’ (not a typo) out the 3rd of June, which includes ‘Sunshine’.

So if singer/songwriter-y, harmonising type music is more your thing, you can catch Xylaroo at Leeds College of Music Recital Room at 3 PM.

Girl Friend

Okay, I’m outta there and back to my specialty and having gone on to another duo. Girl Friend, a girl/boy pair from Manchester (seriously, where else would they have been from? ha), do clean, crisp electropop that’s music to my ears and heart, not to mention my feet. Check out the fab ‘Nocturnal’.

Girl Friend will play the Belgrave Music Hall at 4 PM.

Jones

Jones has the kind of voice music producers clamour over: soulful, rich, strong. Her voice lend well to both electronic/urban pop and acoustic treatments. Judging from her collaboration with TGTF friends Honne on their track ‘No Place Like Home’, she’ll be a sought-after vocal talent for years to come.

Jones is set to perform at the Wardrobe at 7:00 PM.

Catholic Action

Ready to do some hand clapping in my favourite venue in all of Leeds? Then you’re definitely ready to have some fun with Catholic Action and fall in ‘L.U.V.’ with this band from Glasgow. We have!

Catholic Action will appear at Nation of Shopkeepers at 8:00 PM.

Anteros

Staying in the pop realm, we arrive at London’s Anteros. Their sci-fi name makes them sound like they’re from another planet. However, to our benefit, they’re just writing really great pop songs. Have some ‘Breakfast’ with them below.

Anteros perform at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room at 9:30 PM.

Fatherson

I’ve been a fan of these Scots and their uplifting, swooning anthems since I saw them in Edinburgh 2 years ago. And it’s a great time for them to appear at Live at Leeds, as they’ve just released their newest single, ‘Just the Point of Breaking’.

Fatherson appear at Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2 at 9:30 PM.

 

SXSW 2016: Friday night at Empire Control Room, Vulcan Gas Company, St. David’s Episcopal Church and Mohawk Outdoor – 18th March 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 12th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

The Friday evening of SXSW 2016 was fraught with challenges, most of which involved the weather forecast. Rain clouds threatened late in the afternoon but didn’t erupt into thunderstorms until early evening, just as the night showcases were beginning in downtown Austin. Mary had initially planned to see shows at Stubb’s and the McDonald’s Loft that evening, but both outdoor venues postponed their start times due to thunder and lightning in the area, not to mention the actual rain. Fortunately, my own plan for the evening started at an indoor venue, the Empire Control Room, with teenage alt-pop up-and-comer Declan McKenna (pictured at top).

Lightning flashed in the skies over Austin as I walked to the Empire Control Room, but luckily I got there before it began to rain in earnest. I found a spot near the stage well before the show was set to begin, but I was surprised at how quickly the room filled with punters. It took me a few minutes to realise that the swelling crowd was due to the closure of Empire’s outdoor venue, the Garage. The Control Room quickly filled to capacity, and Mary was delayed in joining me after her shuffling of plans for the evening.

Declan McKenna's pedals, Friday at SXSW 2016

The stormy weather was quite lucky for McKenna, who played that evening to possibly a larger audience than he expected. There were a few diehard fans at the front of the stage who had heard McKenna play already in the course of the week, but his songs were largely new to me. I was immediately impressed by his stage presence and pleasant singing voice, but as his set progressed, I saw that McKenna was more than just a boy with a guitar and a gift for words. He played the large stage like a seasoned pro, deftly managing his guitar, keyboard and an array of foot pedal effects in a manner that reminded me very much of the first time I saw another teenaged pop sensation, Ed Sheeran, way back in 2012. If you haven’t yet heard Declan McKenna, keep your ears on the radio for his catchy hit single, the FIFA-inspired ‘Brazil’.

AirLands, Friday at SXSW 2016

After McKenna’s set, I headed back out into the rain for a quick walk to Vulcan Gas Company, which was hosting a series of showcases sponsored by music distribution platform TuneCore. I was due to interview Scottish rock band Holy Esque before their set on the TuneCore showcase later that evening, but I turned up early to scope out the venue and caught a couple of interesting acts in the process. Brooklyn-based indie artist AirLands (aka Kevin Calaba) was on stage when I arrived, playing stripped back versions of his atmospheric, orchestrally-arranged songs. I’m not an avid television fan, but I might not have recognized recent single ‘Love and Exhale’ without the elaborate ornamentation of the recording even if I had heard it when it was featured on The Vampire Diaries last year. The song has also garnered attention from Google Play and Spotify, and it’s worth a listen if you haven’t come across it already.

Strange Fiction, Friday at SXSW 2016

Following AirLands were two Austin-based acts, retro synth-pop band Strange Fiction and solo artist The Wealthy West. Strange Fiction’s five-member arrangement created a markedly fuller sound than either of the surrounding solo acts, and their onstage energy was infectious as they centered their set around catchy single ‘Memphis’. The Wealthy West was naturally a bit more subdued, as I might have expected from the solo side project of The Rocketboys‘ frontman Brandon Kinder. The Rocketboys were selected to showcase at SXSW this year as well, but Kinder’s acoustic set featured a handful of introspective, gospel-tinged country rock ballads that seemed to come from a more personal place than what I’ve previously heard from the full band.

Wealthy West, Friday at SXSW 2016

At that point, I had to step away from the stage to meet up with the members of Holy Esque, and after trying in vain to find a quiet spot for our scheduled interview, the five of us ended up stepping outside into the alley for a very quick chat, which you can hear here. The band had gotten stuck in traffic on the way to the venue and were due onstage in short order, but despite this minor stress, Holy Esque cranked up the volume on the Vulcan Gas Company stage with their massive synth-rock sound. As promised in the interview clip, the band filled their short set list with songs from their new album ‘At Hope’s Ravine’, which was released just before SXSW and which had apparently garnered them at least one new fan. (You’ll see her in the second photo below, taken just before she was escorted from the stage.)

Holy Esque, Friday at SXSW 2016

Holy Esque, Friday at SXSW 2016

After Holy Esque’s set, I decided to take my chances on some of the unknown Special Guests listed on the SXSW schedule. Surprise slots were listed at several venues, including St. David’s Episcopal Church, which was hosting the always high quality Communion Music showcase. I arrived at the church too late to see Jake Bugg (sob!), but I got there in time to see another new-to-me artist, Australian singer/songwriter Ry X, who was playing just ahead of the scheduled Special Guest. His smooth neo-folk stylings and predominantly falsetto vocals struck me immediately as appealing to fans of James Vincent McMorrow and Bon Iver. You can listen for yourself in the recent video for ‘Only’, which will feature on Ry X’s upcoming album ‘Dawn’, due out on the 6th of May.

Ry X, Friday at SXSW 2016

In the interim after Ry X’s set, I found out from fellow audience members that the Special Guest on Communion’s showcase would be Liverpool singer/songwriter Låpsley, who I’d seen just the night before at Stubb’s. I recommended her to those who hadn’t already had the pleasure of hearing her sing, but I ultimately decided to test the waters elsewhere. I sent out a last minute tweet asking about the Special Guest on the docket at the Mohawk Outdoor and was pleasantly surprised to hear that it would be electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso, who had won me over at Tucson’s Club Congress back in 2014. In retrospect, Sylvan Esso’s appearance shouldn’t have been a total surprise, as Mary and I had seen a glimpse of Nick Sanborn’s Made of Oak side project set on Monday at Barracuda.

Sylvan Esso, Friday at SXSW 2016

By this time the rain had stopped, and I hastily made my way to the Mohawk in hopes that I could still get in. Once again, luck was on my side, and while I couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, I was excited to find a decent spot in the courtyard amongst a throng of fans who were already buzzing with the anticipation of hearing Sylvan Esso. The wildly popular duo had been conspicuously quiet in recent months, but much to my delight, they burst their bubble of silence at the Mohawk on Friday night with a handful of brand new, never-before-heard songs. While familiar numbers ‘Coffee’ and ‘Hey Mami’ were natural crowd favourites, the new tracks were were received with rapturous cheers and ecstatic dancing, not the least from yours truly, as I ended my rather arduous Friday night on a euphoric high.

Sylvan Esso, Friday at SXSW 2016

 
Page 1 of 212
 
 

About Us

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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it. If you want a track removed, email us and we'll sort it ASAP.

E-mail us  |  RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us