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

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Video of the Moment #2446: Joshua Burnside

 
By on Monday, 2nd October 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s been a banner year for Northern Irish artist Joshua Burnside. In May, he released his album ‘Ephrata’, out now on Quiet Arch. (You can read our thoughts on it through here.)The LP went on to be nominated for the Northern Irish Music Prize, no small feat to shake a stick at. So the timing seems just right for the unveiling of a new video for ‘Ephrata’. ‘Holllllogram’ features lazy, feel good vocals from both Burnside and Alana Henderson, and it seems fitting to post it just as we’re headed into autumn and bidding summer adieu. Watch the video for ‘Holllllogram’ below. We understand Mr. Burnside will next be heading to Nashville for some recording and reflection, presumably after this coheadline tour with PORTS this month. For more of our coverage on Joshua Burnside here on TGTF, go here.

 

Joshua Burnside and PORTS / October 2017 English/Irish Tour

 
By on Friday, 11th August 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Two great talents from Northern Ireland will be coheadlining on a tour in October that will take them through England and Ireland. Joshua Burnside (pictured above) and band PORTS have different musical sensibilities, which I think makes for a good pairing. They’re alike enough that their own fans will likely take to the other act. Burnside released his album ‘Ephrata’ in May, and you can read Adam’s review of it here. The release of PORTS’ debut album ‘The Devil is a Songbird’ shortly followed Burnside’s; you can read about their album launch party in Derry through here. Tickets to the entire tour, whose English leg takes place in the first week of October and Irish leg follows on the last week of October, are on sale now. For more on Joshua Burnside here on TGTF, use this link; for PORTS, go here.

Monday 2nd October 2017 – Manchester Night and Day
Tuesday 3rd October 2017 – Liverpool Parr Street Studio 2
Wednesday 4th October 2017 – London Paper Dress Vintage
Friday 6th October 2017 – Newcastle Jumpin’ Jack’s
Wednesday 25th October 2017 – Cork Cyprus Avenue
Thursday 26th October 2017 – Kilkenny Debarra’s
Friday 27th October 2017 – Limerick Dolan’s Warehouse
Saturday 28th October 2017 – Dublin Whelan’s

 

Album Review: Joshua Burnside – Ephrata

 
By on Thursday, 4th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Joshua Burnside Ephrata album coverAs far as singer/songwriters go in the North of Ireland, Joshua Burnside is one whose songs are unlike anything you have ever heard. Blending elements of Irish folk music with South American rhythms and his recent fascination with gothic folk and Americana, Burnside has created his own unique strand of alternative folk, accumulating fans from both sides of the Atlantic.

Burnside is set to release his debut album this Friday. Since the release of the album’s second single ‘Blood Drive’ on the 30th of March, the anticipation building for ‘Ephrata’ is higher than ever. Named after a small town in Pennsylvania that Burnside visited whilst on tour a few years ago, the LP is a musical diary of his thoughts, emotions, dreams, experiences and philosophies. The album seems to serve a pivotal point in Burnside’s career, transitioning him from indie folk to a strand of alt-folk that incorporates world music, found sounds, synths and subtle experimentations with techno.

In the two opening tracks, albums singles ‘Blood Drive’ and ‘Tunnels Pt. 2’, Burnside showcases the fluidity in his songwriting, proving that no style or sound is out of bounds for him. ‘Blood Drive’, despite its menacing title, presents a Sufjan Stevens-style of delicacy. The intricate finger-picked guitar enchantingly rolls over the chord progression, filling out the sound to start the song strong. Moving from strength to strength, Burnside executes a sophisticated and captivating vocal melody in the chorus. Despite the track’s apocalyptic lyrics, they wrap the listener in a blanket of comfort even upon first listen.

‘Tunnels Pt. 2’ presents a darker, slightly rougher side to Burnside’s writing. The lyrics convey the idea of technology taking over man’s natural state: “now I don’t know where the wires end and my veins begin / God help me I’ve seen everything” concludes the third verse, reflecting the duality of being both man and machine. With that in mind, the music drives the message with a sharp, jagged, rhythmic epicentre held down by Joshua’s brother Connor on drums, particularly in the first half of the track. Rigorous guitar stabs accompany the strict timing of the track, whilst harsh feedback and pulsating horns help to fill out the track with unfamiliar sounds. The second half of ‘Tunnels Pt. 2’ is much more musically sparse matching the emotional turbulence of the song. Crashing drums, loose, visceral guitar chords and the repetition of lyrics, which include “I’m sinking down / just let me go”, represent a defeated man overcome by his biggest fear, technology.

The charm of ‘Ephrata’ comes from the blend of unlikely musical styles, particularly from South American Cumbian music. Its Eastern European influences create an intelligent blend of ethno musical folk. ‘26th Street,’ about the assassination of political satirist Jamie Garzon, marks the midway point of the album. The track features a heavy waltz-like piano rhythm, accompanied by off-kilter accents that instantly bring a sense of urgency to the track, as Burnside’s lyrics act like the news report from the day Garzon was shot. The beauty, however, lies in the seamless transition between the verse and the subsequent sections, which effortlessly erases the sense of unease and replaces it with a feeling of relief, particularly during the light-hearted vocal hook backed by the violin. We hear more influences of world music further down the album. Another waltzy track, ‘Unrequited Love’, sees heavy use of an accordion to highlight the harmony, the role Burnside’s violinist Rachael Boyd would usually fill in his tracks.

Throughout the album, Burnside’s varied subject matter includes relationships, technophobia and politics, all taken from his own personal experiences. One very important detail within ‘Ephrata’ lays in the album’s apocalyptic undercurrent and its continuous reference to PTSD, touched upon briefly in ‘Blood Drive’. The album’s title track ‘Ephrata’ speaks directly of said darker themes, and Burnside explains further: “How something as routine as getting your blood taken can set off a fight or flight-style anxiety attack, all of a sudden it’s as if the world is ending.” “Ephrata, Ephrata / I thought the world was ending / when the market burnt down” explains the story behind the song and consequently the title of the album in just one lyric. Burnside strategically masks this troubling lyrical theme with the use of upbeat Colombian rhythms, layers of additional percussion, soft harmonies and heavy use of a nylon-stringed guitar. The genius to ‘Ephrata’ is that whether you’re focused on the words or the music, it’s like listening to two very different songs.

It was a challenge to choose the right tracks to represent ‘Ephrata’, so don’t think of those featured to be necessarily highlights. I’ve merely scratched the surface of this album by telling you about the singles. However, to truly absorb Burnside’s music ‘Ephrata’ is an album that deserves your full attention. It’s not very often one experiences such a delightful blend of unconventional compositional techniques, including using found sounds and world music together. That, mixed with brooding and sometimes chilling lyrical themes and a beguiling sense of musicality, is what makes ‘Ephrata’ so undeniably intoxicating and alluring.

9.5/10

‘Ephrata’ is due out tomorrow, the 5th of May, via Belfast’s own Quiet Arch Records. If you wish to catch Joshua Burnside live check out the short list of UK and Irish dates here. Read Adam’s review of his live appearance at Output Belfast back in February follow this link.

 

Output Belfast 2017 Music Conference and Showcase Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 28th February 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

To read the first half of my roundup on Output Belfast 2017, click here.

Between the daytime seminars and the evening gigs was the perfect time to grab a bite, and head over to the Oh Yeah Centre for a drink and a chat. Networking is key at these events, so why not spark up some conversations and elaborate further on some of the points made throughout the day The speakers were done for the day, the bands were getting ready for the evening shows and everyone else had time to kill. If you found yourself at a loose end, you could have popped to a little room to the left of the front door to the Oh Yeah to catch a stripped back set from Beauty Sleep ahead of their gig at The Dirty Onion.

At 8 PM, the evening’s events kicked off, and with some truly amazing acts. Ryan Vail was one of the first to showcase his fantastic new bespoke live, audiovisual show, which he created in partner with Plume Studios, AVA Festival and Generator NI. Enclosed in what looked like a cage of coloured vertical lights, Vail stood alone on a backlit stage, casting a dark and ambient silhouette across the venue like a physical representation of Vail’s heavy and intricate music. A huge overhead screen projecting real-time outdoor scenes of forests and skies Plume Studios shot themselves, altogether creating an incredible performance made possible by a great network of contacts only found at Output.

The great thing about Output is the wide variety of eclectic artists they book each year. If Ryan Vail lighting up the MAC isn’t your thing, you could also catch theatre pop artist Sullivan & Gold at the Black Box Café, “decent folk” singer/songwriter Robyn G Shiels upstairs at the Duke of York, or indie rockers Junk Drawer at Voodoo. At any given time, there was always an incredible selection of artists to choose from, including some of this year’s SXSW artists New Portals, Silences and Jealous of the Birds. Belfast’s own Robocobra Quartet, another SXSW 2017 showcasing band, landed a play of their song ‘Correct’ on Daniel P. Carter’s rock show the following Sunday night, off the back of their show in at Output.

In the midst of running from venue to venue, trying to catch as many bands as possible, I managed to score some personal highlights, dark, electronic pop outfit Hiva Oa being one. They took the stage following Junk Drawer’s grungy, fuzz-infested rock and gave all that they had. Hiva Oa produced a huge sound consisting of tight drum grooves, experimental synths and melodic vocal melodies, which presented a interesting blend of electronica, hip-hop and alt indie that kept the crowd moving from start to finish. The band left their first single ‘A Great Height’ until the end of their set, which was close to shaking Voodoo to bits. Chris McCorry’s heavily distorted synth entered like an approaching stampede, before Christine Tubridy’s pounding drum groove acted like a pacemaker that could set everyone’s hearts to the same beat. Unfortunately, it was harder to make out Stephen Houlihan’s topline; however, as he swayed and stumbled around the stage, it all made for an equally engaging aesthetic performance.

Joshua Burnside was another highlight of the evening. I had caught him 2 weeks previously in Derry. when he played with a full band. His stripped-back set in Black Box Café was equally as astonishing, if not more as when I first seen him. Burnside beautifully serenaded a room filled with people with just his guitar and the exceptional Rachel Boyd on violin. Aside from the cheers between songs, the place was silent, which only added to the fragile atmosphere Burnside created with his songs. One song in particular that I felt hit home to a lot of people that night was the recent, unscheduled release of the politically-orientated ‘Red and White Blues’. Although it is a political song, it speaks from a deeper place relating to Burnside’s own upbringing and family history, with the idea that politics – particularly Irish right- and left-wing politics – is adversely affecting the way some people think and their freedom of speech and abstract thinking. When he performed this track at Output, he had complete attention of his audience, as if the whole conference’s attendees stopped to hear his words and melody. As he strummed the last chord, the room once again erupted in awe and approval. No matter what your views are, it is a beautiful song.

As it was my first year attending Output, I admit it was a little overwhelming. From the minute, you enter the MAC for registration, there is an awareness of being surrounded by top industry professionals. However, once I understood that everyone was there for the same reasons, mainly to network and grow their relationships within the industry, I felt a true sense of community. It helped that the importance of relationships and support in the community was often touched upon in many of the seminars, and in Bob Lefsetz’ case forced onto many of the attendees this year. For musicians/bands, PR and management companies, producers and even a few academics, Output Belfast is without a doubt the perfect place to be for anyone involved in the Northern Irish music industry.

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.

 
 
 

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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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