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The BBC at Glastonbury 2014 (Sunday): James Blake plays ‘Retrograde’ headlining the Park Stage

 
By on Monday, 30th June 2014 at 11:00 pm
 

Wherever you were this weekend, whether you were at Worthy Farm or not, us here at TGTF have you covered when it comes to Glastonbury 2014. The dedicated people they are, the folks at the BBC have been working all hours during the festival and feeding us live coverage as it becomes available. What does this mean for you? We’ll be passing along all the best bits to you, our faithful readers.

2013 Mercury Prize winner James Blake closed out the Park Stage Sunday at Glasto. Here is the dubstep boy wonder performing ‘Retrograde’, off his Mercury-winning album, at Glastonbury 2014.

For more of the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage online, head this way. Stay tuned for more videos from Glasto 2014 right here on TGTF.

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Mercury Prize Shortlist 2013: Is It Even Relevant Anymore?

 
By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That time of year has crept up on us again. Yesterday evening, the nominees for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2013 Albums of the Year were revealed in London. Maybe this is the direction the Mercury Prize nominations will be going in from here on out, but it’s rather startling how mainstream this year’s shortlist is. In past years, there was always one or two curveballs thrown in the mix of straight-forward, famous artists and well thought of indie. Not so much in 2013…which leaves me wondering if this competition is even worth my time anymore in the years going forward.

Let’s examine the biggest names first. The now Josh Homme-influenced Arctic Monkeys just got in under the wire, with their new album ‘AM’ literally just made it to store shelves this past Monday. They don’t need any help selling records. (Technically, they also fall under the next category I will examine, but for the sake of argument, it’s this album people are focusing on, not one 7 years ago…which won the gong that year.) Neither does legendary artist David Bowie; his March 2013 surprise release ‘The Next Day’ also makes an appearance on the shortlist.

Then there are the repeat ‘offenders’. Dubstep wonder boy James Blake, whose self-titled debut album in 2011 garnered a Mercury nod back then, is yet another safe and predictable choice. Given their headline slot at Latitude Festival this year and continually rising star, Foals‘ nomination for ‘Holy Fire’ (review here) is not such a shock. But they were nominated for and lost in 2010 for ‘Total Life Forever’. I’m a great fan of Conor J. O’Brien’s songwriting, but this year’s ‘{Awayland}’ pales in comparison to its predecessor, Villagers‘ 2010 opus ‘Becoming a Jackal’.

While he was 1/2 of the nominated collaboration with King Creosote in 2011’s ‘Diamond Mine’, Jon Hopkins makes another appearance, this time by himself for ‘Immunity’. There is also no escaping the fact that the selection of Laura Marling‘s ‘Once I Was an Eagle’ (review here) comes across as particularly lazy: the woman’s been nominated two times already prior to this. I’m all for equality when it comes to music awards and it’s great that this year there are two female singer/songwriters on the shortlist, but surely there has got to be another woman – and in the folk genre, certainly – whose album would have been up to snuff to the Mercury voters instead of giving Marling another nomination.

Next, let’s look at the acts that are toeing the line between their indie background and their big chance at the mainstream. Having enjoyed a successful 2012 with sold out shows and his debut album selling very well, Noel Gallagher‘s sneery young protege Jake Bugg makes a not so surprising appearance on the shortlist. Popular Brum soul singer and #4 on the BBC Sound of 2013 list Laura Mvula also receives a Mercury nod this year for ‘Sing to the Moon’. Helps quite a bit that both of them are on majors (Mercury and RCA, respectively) and therefore had major label muscle to help along the promotion of their debut albums.

If there is one saving grace of this year’s shortlist, it was that instead of a truly oddball experimental jazz album getting a nomination, dance is for once decently represented with not one but two good albums: Disclosure‘s delicious brand of house in the form of ‘Settle’ and Rudimental‘s drum and bass-rich ‘Home’. But wait a minute. They’re on majors too, Island and Warner. Hmm… The one oddball nominee, if they can be called that, are post-punk girl group Savages. They might not be a household name – yet – and they’re on an indie label (Beggar Group’s Matador) but they were already firmly in our brains from their BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nomination. Yawn.

This all begs the question, just how relevant is the Mercury Prize in 2013? Also, was it ever relevant? And when did it stop being so? While it has never been a dirty little secret but rather an obvious known fact that major label backing helps with funding, which leads to promotion and visibility opportunities and therefore record sales, this is probably the year more than any other in the past in which the expensive fee to enter the Mercury competition comes through loud and clear as the reason why this year’s list is sadly predictable. In a piece by the Guardian’s Michael Hann, Kerrang! editor James McMahon said the egregious lack of metal on the shortlist year after year is a major oversight: “The thing is, within the rock music industry there’s a bit of debate about how bothered people are with an award like the Mercury. The other year we were pushing the idea of Bring Me the Horizon being nominated as an innovative, exciting British rock band who want to be seen out in the world – but they didn’t enter. If the rock industry doesn’t have any belief in its relevance, what can the Mercuries do? But if it were genuinely the 12 best records of the year, it would be blinkered to ignore metal.”

Hann’s article goes on to point out that Leeds buzz band Hookworms chose not to enter either, their frontman MJ explaining, “The nondescript thousands in marketing fees and physical product is even more shameful [than the entry fee]“. Even ubiquitous rock journalist Pete Paphides took to social media yesterday to bemoan the situation: “It’d be good to have a music prize where part of the sponsorship meant bands not having to pay hundreds of £s to be eligible for contention.” Quite right. There is no one obvious solution to “fixing” the Mercury Prize because let’s face it, like all award shows, it’s a business, and businesses exist to make money. But it’s a shame that what the Mercury Prize used to be known for – bringing attention to lesser known acts that otherwise might not get their time in the limelight – seems to have been all but been entirely forgotten.

 

Live Gig Video: Watch NPR’s recording of James Blake’s entire set at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 12th May 2013

 
By on Friday, 24th May 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

It wasn’t really until this past trip to Britain that I started actually feeling quite proud of being from Washington DC. When I was in Glasgow, a friend of Frightened Rabbit‘s who had come over for a recent tour of the States said how lovely the venue and staff at the 9:30 Club were and how he wished he could visit again soon. When I insisted to the Crookes that one day they would play there, they were ever so self-deprecating, referring to the club’s hardcore punk history as the starting point for Fugazi and other local bands of that scene: “we’re not punk enough for the 9:30 Club!” A fan can dream, can’t she?

Time and time again, I heard stories of how well bands and their people had been treated at our flagship club venue and of course, everyone seems to talk about the 9:30 Club cupcakes like they were manna from heaven. When I explained to them that the bakery that makes them is not far from where Cheryl lives, one of the members of Kodaline exclaimed, “does she go there everyday? I would if I could!” Haha. So I think I’ve now been tasked to order and deliver a box of these babies to every friends’ band that comes into town, just in case the band in question isn’t actually playing at the 9:30 (Oh Cheryl…?)

The closest thing we have to the BBC in America is NPR, and is often the case, NPR will record shows at the 9:30 Club live from the sound desk and also run an accompanying live chat on their Web site. We’ve just received word in town that the video of James Blake‘s sold out show at 9:30 is now streaming online on NPR, and you can watch it in its entirety below. Generally speaking, when NPR does record live shows, it’s usually only audio, so you know that if they videotaped this, this was something pretty special. As should be expected, the set is chock full of tunes from his latest album ‘Overgrown’ released last month, but he couldn’t not do some favourites from his debut in 2010. Enjoy.

 

Video(s) of the Moment #1175: James Blake

 
By on Thursday, 11th April 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

James Blake just released his latest album ‘Overgrown’ this week on Polydor. We’ve got two videos for you. The first is the animated video for album track ‘Voyeur’, which is unusually being released on Blake’s own 1-800-DINOSAUR label. (If you were wondering, it’s the name of Blake’s own club night at London’s Plastic People club.) The second is for the title track ‘Overgrown’, in which he looks like he’s pulling a Jamie Woon and not as well. Watch them both below.

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Video of the Moment #1129: James Blake

 
By on Sunday, 17th February 2013 at 10:00 am
 

The man that I think we quite rightly can blame on the current dubstep revolution James Blake has a new video clip out for new song ‘Retrograde’. It’s like he predicted the Siberian meteorite fallout earlier in the week. Watch it below.

Blake’s new album ‘Overgrown’ drops on the 8th of April.

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Video of the Moment #668: James Blake

 
By on Thursday, 22nd December 2011 at 6:00 pm
 

James Blake has been super busy in the studio this year. Not willing to rest on his BBC Sound of 2011 runner-up laurels, he released not only his self-titled debut but an EP called ‘Enough Thunder’. Here is the video for ‘A Case of You’ and yes, if you’re wondering, it’s a cover of a Joni Mitchell song.

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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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