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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 20th February 2015 at 4:00 pm
In anticipation of her fifth album ‘Short Movie’ to be released on the 23rd of March on Virgin EMI, the prolific Laura Marling has been dangling carrots at us. In December, the title track was revealed in all its glory, and now we can have a listen and watch to a live performance from another LP track. Sporting a pixie haircut, Marling cuts a harder figure as a true rocker chick playing ‘False Hope’ with her band in a studio. Watch the video below.
Marling has announced a UK/Irish tour for April and May this week; tickets are on sale now and all the details of the tour are this way. Past coverage on the songstress can be found here.
Touring musicians don’t always get holidays off, and so it was on Presidents’ Day (a federal holiday here in America) that I headed to downtown Tucson to see San Francisco alt-rock duo The Dodos at Club Congress. Club Congress is an intimate standing-room only venue situated inside the historic Hotel Congress, but its atmosphere is surprisingly casual for such a location. I arrived a few minutes before the doors opened for the show, and for the sake of accuracy, I should mention here that “doors” is largely a figurative phrase at Club Congress. There is only one door leading into the club from the hotel lobby, and it can be opened and closed at will. I took a seat inside the door and just next to the ticket desk while I waited, and I spied members of the band and crew passing through as they made their preparations for the show. This happens at Club Congress because, aside from the single front door, the club has only one loading door at the back of the stage, and no backstage area at all.
When the “doors” officially opened, I was able to get inside quickly and claim a spot directly in front of the stage. While I normally covet the opportunity to be front and center, it turned out to be unnecessary for this show. The opening act, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Springtime Carnivore (aka Greta Morgan), turned up with a full band supporting her sound. And because the sound in the venue is quite good, I wouldn’t have needed to be up close to hear all the finely-tuned details of Morgan’s exquisite singing voice. Springtime Carnivore’s set was made up exclusively of tracks from her self-titled debut album, the instrumental arrangements varying from vibrant keyboard-laced pop to a simpler Greta-with-guitar approach. Though I wasn’t familiar with the songs before Monday night, I quickly found myself humming along with the catchy ‘Keep Confessing’ and grooving to the darker sound of ‘Sun Went Black.’ Springtime Carnivore left us whistling the charming chorus riff of ‘Name on a Matchbook’, and I made a quick dash to the merch table to grab a copy of her CD.
The transition time between Springtime Carnivore’s support set and The Dodos’ highly-anticipated set was amazingly brief, especially considering that the bands were fully responsible for their own gear. The room had filled in considerably while Springtime Carnivore was on stage and looked full to capacity by the time The Dodos struck into the opening chord of ‘Goodbyes and Endings’. Despite being a rather ironic opening choice, the forceful performance immediately captivated the attention of the audience. From the very outset, the duo endeavored to recreate the relentless wall of sound they achieved on recent album ‘Individ’, following their opening number with another track from that LP, current single ‘Competition’.
After the incredible concentration and physical exertion of these first two songs, drummer Logan Kroeber was obliged to stop and ask a crew member to bring him a towel. His request provided one of several welcome breaks in the action where The Dodos showed themselves to be more mellow and relaxed on stage than the rigorous mood of their music might indicate. Their back-and-forth banter was low-key but engaging, touching on the opening act, the local weather, and few inside jokes that their longtime fans seemed to appreciate.
The more dedicated fans in the audience also appreciated the opportunity to hear a few songs from The Dodos’ back catalogue. Playing without the aid of a written script, Long and Kroeber debated briefly about which “deep tracks” they might include, in the end deciding to stick with their original game plan. Two songs each from 2008 album ‘Visiter’ and 2013 LP ‘Carrier’ punctuated the newer material, along with a vigourous performance of ‘Black Night’ from the pair’s fourth studio album ‘No Color’.
The set proper was bookended by another huge sonic bulwark in the form of two more tracks from ‘Individ’, culminating with the album’s resonating final track ‘Pattern/Shadow’. It was a dramatic finale to an intense program of music, and the The Dodos left the stage without further remarks, allowing the song its full impact.
When Long and Kroeber returned to the stage for the encore, their mood was substantially lighter. They engaged in a bit of conversation with the audience, even considering a request someone had passed forward on a napkin from the bar. There was a bit of tongue-in-cheek discussion about whether to address Springtime Carnivore by her stage name or her given name before she was invited back to the stage to join in a light-hearted and harmonious version of ‘Sleep’, originally recorded with Neko Case. After a round of applause for the angel-voiced Ms. Morgan, The Dodos wrapped up with apparent crowd favorite ‘Men’.
The brute sonic force of ‘Individ’ proved itself to be more impressive in person than in the studio recording, which is occasionally mired in its own emotional and dynamic weight. The energy and spontaneity of live performance added a much-needed dimension to The Dodos’ sound, and hearing their older songs in that context has prompted me to explore their earlier music a bit further as well.
The Dodos’ sixth album ‘Individ’ is out now on Polyvinyl and Springtime Carnivore’s self-titled debut LP is available on Autumn Tone. Both acts will appear at SXSW 2015 next month in Austin, Texas.
After the cut: Springtime Carnivore and The Dodos’ set lists
Continue reading (SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Review: The Dodos with Springtime Carnivore at Club Congress, Tucson, AZ – 16th February 2015
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 19th February 2015 at 2:00 pm
A few inches of snow from winter storm Octavia the night before may have put Washington, DC, on temporary city snow emergency status. But it wasn’t enough to keep punters away from the debut appearance of Emmy the Great in our fine city Tuesday night. The DC date was the second in a short string of East Coast dates Emma-Lee Moss and band arranged for this week to support the January release of her latest new material on the ‘S’ EP, now out on Bella Union.
The opener for the evening was Baltimore/Washington musician Louis Weeks, accompanied by his buddy Noah on guitar. Wearing a jumper and tall winter hat with a large puffball on its top, he would have easily blended in with the snowball fighters earlier that day at Meridian Park. While Weeks looked like he was ready to brave the great outdoors, he was keeping his brand of alt dream / folk pop firmly inside the much warmer confines of DC9. The track Weeks chose to start his set, ‘Clementine’, floated on the delicacy of his voice, reminding me of Bon Iver or even a more introspective Jack Johnson making music forlornly in a bedroom.
Weeks later explained that ‘Calder’, though named for the late American sculptor Alexander famous for his mobiles – his largest hangs as a permanent installation to welcome visitors in the modern East Wing of our National Gallery of Art – was also a loving nod to his grandmother, as well as part of his own interest in the process of human ageing. Both songs appear on his 2014 album ‘Shift / Away’, which you can listen to and download for free the entirety of ‘Shift / Away’ from the widget below or from his Bandcamp. Weeks’ stage patter also provided welcome entertainment, by and large amusing the audience, while providing a nice, humble segue to the headline act.
I had waited 7 years to see Emmy the Great live, and I am pleased to say without a doubt, it was worth the wait. Emma-Lee Moss is known for her humour (often self-deprecating) on social media, which has humanised and endeared her to over 12,000 followers strong on Twitter and the nearly 19,000 people who have liked her profile on Facebook. The four songs on the ‘S’ EP are, on varying levels, a departure from her previous anti-folk, singer/songwriter style that she has been most known for. These days, you can count on a long-haired hipster singer/songwriter to be wearing either a t-shirt or plaid and jeans, but not Emmy, whose dark hair was in a neat plait and dressed all in white.
This choice of clothing was, I’m guessing, to provide a dramatic counterbalance to the projections on the a/v screen behind her and her band: two all-black-clad Emmy the Great holograms with dance moves synchronised to all her new songs. Emma herself got into the spirit of things by mimicking the moves, making for a mostly awesome but also admittedly slightly creepy production. But no matter how she was dressed or what the twin projections were up to behind her, there was no denying that her Moss’ voice was peerless and beautiful. She and her band (her brother Robin on guitar and friend Michael on synths, keys and backing vocals) were equally at ease with the newer, electronically charged tunes from ‘S’, including dance thumpy ‘Solar Panels’ and set closer and single ‘Swimming Pool’, as they were with older numbers more suited to an acoustic setting (‘Dinosaur Sex’, ‘Paper Forest’).
Throughout the set, Emma cracked jokes, charming everyone in the room with her disarming nature. Early on she greeted us with, “happy pancake day! Happy belated President’s Day. Happy Valentine’s Day for Saturday. And I hope you have a happy Easter!” Laughter ensued. She quipped later that she and her brother were “wombmates. Stay tuned for the sitcom on Fox this fall”. As if she needed to prove she hadn’t forgotten where she’d come from, they returned for an crowd-sourced encore, performing both ‘We Almost Had a Baby’ and ‘Two Steps Forward’, but not before insisting to the crowd she could not remember how either of them went, then imploring us not to video the songs and post them on YouTube. (Will have to see about that…)
Three new songs – ‘Algorythm’ [sic?], ‘Phoenixes’ and ‘Dance With Me’ – suggest Emmy’s comfort with embracing and going forward with a dreamier, poppier, electronic sound, what she described as “living in a 2.0 world” in my interview with her posted on Monday. One certainly hopes we’ll be seeing album #3 and hearing much more from the lovely Ms. Moss before 2016. At least those of us lucky enough to be in Austin next month for SXSW 2015 will get another chance to see her perform live.
After the cut: Emmy the Great’s set list.
Continue reading (SXSW 2015 flavoured!) Live Review: Emmy the Great with Louis Weeks at DC9, Washington DC – 17th February 2015
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 18th February 2015 at 4:00 pm
Australian alt-rock folkies Husky have announced they’ll be releasing their long-awaited second album and follow-up to ‘Forever So’ in April. ‘Ruckers Hill’ will no doubt feature the single ‘I’m Not Coming Back’, which the band released to the wild last summer (read my single review here). They recently took to the Melbourne suburb of Prahran, Victoria, to film this live performance of the single. It’s lovely. Watch it below.
Header photo by Sophie Harris-Taylor
Alternative pop songwriter Fyfe has announced a run of spring tour dates to follow the release of his debut album ‘Control’, due out on the 9th of March via Believe Recordings. Along with the tour date announcement, Fyfe has also unveiled the video for his next single ‘Solace’, in which he is transformed into living art by director Daniel Brereton and visual artist Sophie Derrick.
To see previous TGTF coverage of Fyfe, click here. Tickets for the following shows are available now.
Tuesday 24th March 2015 – Brighton Green Door Store
Wednesday 25th March 2015 – London Electrowerks
Friday 27th March 2015 – Bristol Louisiana
Saturday 28th March 2015 – Birmingham Sunflower Lounge
Sunday 29th March 2015 – Nottingham Bodega
Tuesday 31st March 2015 – Manchester Castle
Wednesday 1st April 2015 – Glasgow Nice and Sleazy’s
Thursday 2nd April 2015 – Leeds Brudenell Games Room
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 6th February 2015 at 4:00 pm
Not long now! Kodaline‘s hotly anticipated second album ‘Coming Up for Air’ is out on Monday on RCA Victor. You can read my review of it ahead of its release here.
Last month we posted this video of the Dubliners performing album track ‘Ready’ acoustically at Ocean Way Recording in Los Angeles, where the album was recorded. This week, they have another video from the same session, and this one is (no pun intended, and at the risk of sounding redundant) of ‘The One’, one of the LP’s ballads that works extremely well in an acoustic setting. Watch it below.