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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Album Review: Mt. Wolf – Aetherlight

 
By on Tuesday, 30th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Mt. Wolf Aetherlight album coverMt. Wolf have had a bit of a tumultuous time in the music business so far. Back in 2014, they were being compared to London Grammar and were expected to follow the same trajectory. Then they lost their then female lead singer, the kind of shakeup that might have spelled disaster to most other groups. The London trio – singer and bassist Sebastian ‘Bassi’ Fox, guitarist Stevie McMinn and drummer Al Mitchell – soldiered on with Fox and his falsetto taking centre stage to fill the void. This personnel change has appeared to work out in their favour: their 2015 EP ‘Red’ was well received, with single ‘VIII’ featuring Alexa Harley helping them to keep their position as a hyped band.

They took their time hashing out their official major debut to the world, spending 12 months with producer Ken Thomas (M83, Sigur Ros, Daughter) on the songs on their long-awaited debut album ‘Aetherlight’. Precision is the name of Mt. Wolf’s game, with edges as sharp as the interlocking diamonds that make up the band’s logo, yet delicately smoothed over. When I saw them in Austin, I branded them with the genre of atmospheric pop. Listening to ‘Aetherlight’, I guess with the benefit of headphones and the ability to block out everyone and everything else, I can tell I made a bit of a mistake. Los Angeles radio station KCRW have compared their sound to Bon Iver meets M83, which on paper is a combination that doesn’t see to make much sense, does it?

It’s when you hear Fox’s falsetto against gentle guitar lines and a background of expansive synths that you will begin to understand what they’re trying to do. In other words, it’s like listening to a singer/songwriter taking up the synth to add a different kind of emotional volume to the music, not an electronic artist taking up guitar for poignancy. ‘Soteria’, named after a Greek goddess of safety, is described by the band as “plea for forgiveness, and also a recognition that sometimes we need help to avoid the pitfalls that lead to making bad decisions in life.” It’s a good example of their connecting these disparate worlds, as the song begins in a slow, measured way, building towards an anthemic climax. Clear standout ‘Heavenbound’, an early single that we featured in a past Video of the Moment feature, also follows this formula, with beautiful, ethereal choruses.

What their music does have in common with more conventional electronic is track length: with the exception of opener ‘Intro’, closer pilfered from ‘Red’, ‘Exit (Burgs)’, and ‘Tucana’, songs on ‘Aetherlight’ are all 4 minutes or much longer. Singles need to be somewhere near or editable to 3 minutes in length for an important practical reason – to get radio airplay – but especially in these instant gratification days we live in, to also keep the listener’s attention. For those who like getting sucked into a dreamy electronic trance towards a slow build and indeed, those who enjoy considered instrumentals, by all means, walk, don’t run to get this album. Maybe my problem is that I never ‘got’ Sigur Ros?

However, for those of us who like a bit more oomph, direction and a pop bent, you will wonder why it’s taking so long for these songs to get going and to where they need to go. Two notable exceptions on here stick out like a sore thumb, and in a good way. Mt. Wolf chose to punctuate ‘Anacrusis’ with bombast and at earlier points, while a guitar-crashing crescendo awaits at its end. On ‘The Electric’, pounding drums add a much needed vitality otherwise absent on this record.

Having read interviews the band have done in the last 2 years, there’s no doubt that they have the self-determination to make the kind of music they want to make. The key to their success will be how much patience the average music listener has for their use of ambient backdrops arguably too timid for the singer/songwriter structures they’re trying into insert into them.

6/10

Mt. Wolf’s debut album ‘Aetherlight’ is out now on CRC Music. To read more of our coverage here on TGTF on the band, including my entirely unpredicted seeing them three times during SXSW 2017, use this link.

 

(Easter / SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2342: Mt. Wolf

 
By on Monday, 17th April 2017 at 10:00 am
 

As you probably have guessed, we receive far too many promo videos than I could ever hope to humanly post on TGTF. So when one of them pops up and thematically fits with a holiday theme, I find it not only serendipity but as if someone’s telling me I should post it. Such is the case with the latest and powerful promo video from Mt. Wolf for ‘Heavenbound’. While the story seems pretty cut and dry to me, the video’s director says of its message: “I think everyone will have their own interpretation of the video. For me, it was about the idea of death acting as a force to unite people. For some death offers the chance to reflect and ask for forgiveness; for others, it provides an opportunity to find peace and the ability to forgive.” I do wonder if it makes more of a difference ‘who’ you are vs. how your parents raised you to treat people unlike yourself; watch the video below to decide for youself.

Following a successful string of appearances in Austin last month for SXSW 2017 (check out the times I saw them through here), the London group will be releasing their debut album ‘Aetherlight’ on the 26th of May on CRC Music. The making of the album was supported by PRS for Music Foundation’s Momentum fund. To read back on all of our coverage here on TGTF on Mt. Wolf, use this link.

 

SXSW 2017: Get Buzzzed at the Brew Exchange and pop-ins at Output Belfast, the Glasgow Buckaroo and Sunday Best showcases (Friday, part 1) – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Getting away from the general hive of activity in Austin, at least once, is a good thing. Our friends at Music for Listeners put on several days of free afternoon shows out at El Sapo. West of Congress Avenue, there’s Waterloo Records and Whole Foods and their free shows. There’s also a whole host of bars that turn into venues while a whole bunch of people who are in town for SXSW remain oblivious to them. I’d never been to The Brew Exchange, but I took the opportunity to check it and the Get Buzzzed showcase sponsored by a few different music companies early Friday afternoon. While I was out there, Carrie held down the fort at the BMI brunch at The Four Seasons.

Mt. Wolf, Get Buzzzed showcase, The Brew Exchange, Friday 17 March 2017

Remember what I said about maximising your number of acts seen by visiting venues that have two stages? The Brew Exchange has two and with staggered set times, you could enjoy the music while also enjoying one of the many beers on tap, because what else would a place with a name like The Brew Exchange offer up in libations? Atmospheric electronic pop group Mt. Wolf played first on the stage actually inside the venue. (I also saw them Tuesday night at ScratcHouse at the Killing Moon / ReverbNation showcase there, as well as Thursday at the British Music Embassy.) Electro soul pop duo Aquilo followed them, playing with their backs to the open windows at the front of the place. Following two great but all too brief performances, Tom Higman and Ben Fletcher of Aquilo and I took a walk around the corner to do this interview.

Aquilo, Get Buzzzed showcase, The Brew Exchange, Friday 17 March 2017

Something I revel in when I’m at a music festival is talking to fellow music fans. On my walk back to the British Music Embassy, I met an Austinite who was a fellow hat wearer on this windy day, and we struck up a conversation. We had a mutual love for dance and electronic music, so I knew I had someone to show him back at Latitude 30. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, but my new acquaintance was best buds with the bouncer there, ha!

Ryan Vail, Output Belfast showcase British Music Embassy, Latitue 30, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

I had been rushing back to catch Derry electronic musician and producer Ryan Vail, who had first performed in Austin that week on the Generator NI and Belfast City Council-sponsored riverboat cruise that Carrie covered for us. I was eager to check out his live show. Our Adam had spoken highly not only of Vail’s music, having seeing him at an Output Belfast showcase in February, but also of the visuals by Plume Studios that were projected behind him as he performed. The combination of music and projection reminded me of Rival Consoles’ (Ryan L. West) performance on the same stage 2 years prior and also at The Great Escape 2015, both which I highly enjoyed. I was pleased to learn from Vail himself after his set that he not only knew of Rival Consoles but that they were fans of each other’s music. Hey Ryans, you gotta tour together. DO IT!

Ryan Vail, Output Belfast showcase British Music Embassy, Latitue 30, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

Vail is a unique electronic artist, in that he is equally comfortable with emotional, starker pieces, where the focus is on the piano, as he is with the comparatively more forward-thinking, ambient soundscapes within which he calls on his various effects and sequencers to help him build the experience. He is also not too shy to sing, which not all electronic musicians are eager to do, but I don’t think many of them fully understand this adds an important human touch that non-electro heads appreciate. I am always on the hunt for an engaging beat and an electronic tune that draws me in, and Ryan Vail’s music succeeds on both counts. Two thumbs way up.

I’m going to fast forward past my second time seeing / dragging Carrie to witness Welsh group The Sandinistas’s set at Valhalla and sitting in on Simon Raymonde’s talk with Eric Pulido of Midlake and BNQT fame and actor and music lover Jason Lee at the convention. It’s now night, and I’m queuing outside the Mohawk, a place I have to admit I’ve avoided since the tragic car crash in front of it during SXSW 2014. I was joined in the queue with a Japanese woman from a Kyoto blog who was very excited to see The Lemon Twigs. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the CD of Kyoto (Kyotan?) bands she gave me, but I hope to soon.

The Mohawk indoor stage was to be invaded by Scots via a showcase dubbed The Glasgow Buckaroo. It has been a few years since Scotland has had an entire showcase to themselves, so their return to Austin with the most bands from their region in recent memory was entirely welcome. Glaswegians Catholic Action, starring former Casual Sex drummer turned effective frontman Chris McCrory, would begin the festivities with their brand of fun, clap-happy pop/rock.

Catholic Action, The Glasgow Buckaroo, Mohawk indoor, Friday 17 March 2017

Is it wrong to compare them to the Beatles? The comparison seems inevitable tonight, as McCrory is sporting a floppy black hat that seems a purposeful nod to John Lennon. Will Catholic Action be the Next British Guitar Band, via Mud? The jury is still out on this but for sure, they had many a tail feather shaking at both the Mohawk and the British Music Embassy later that evening, as I can fully attest to.

Appropriately enough, the outdoor stage at Mohawk was revving up with another Scottish act. Young Sam Gellaitry began 4AD’s night there with his take on electronic dance, stood in front of his Macbook and equipment high above all of us. In this day and age, it’s unusual to describe the music from an electronic artist whose focus is on dance as “cinematic”, but I’d have to agree with Billboard here.

Sam Gellaitry, 4AD showcase, Mohawk outdoor, Friday 17 March 2017

Despite his young age, it’s obvious from listening to his tunes that the Stirling native has a lot of imagination and ideas, but he’s also honed his craft to be able to strike the balance between weird and wonderful and providing the masses something they’re going to embrace and dance to. I thought he was incredible. I was practically weeping that I had to leave his set early. Mark my words, one day I will interview him.

Speaking of weird, I was out of the Mohawk and down the street quickly to catch a bit of recent Sunday Best signing Laucan. Laurence Galpin performed as the first artist of the Rob Da Bank label’s showcase at Valhalla, where Carrie and I had been that afternoon. The alt-folk artist was joined by a cellist, as well as a backing track coming through the speakers of the venue that can only be described as vaguely terrifying. You don’t expect to hear other voices other than the performer on stage, so I was sufficiently weirded out by both that and the disorienting darkness of Valhalla. Galpin quipped that his intention for the set was for it to be truly an “immersive experience”, so he should consider his appearance there a success, even if it was a bit muted.

Laucan, Sunday Best Records showcase, Valhalla, Friday 17 March 2017

 

SXSW 2017: Brits and Australians, plus Bahranians and Mongolians (seriously!) Wednesday afternoon – 15th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 29th March 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

After the Nile Rodgers keynote speech at the convention center that was less than thrilling, I was ready for some live music. Carrie and I went down south to get our bearings ahead of Culture Collide’s taking over of Rainey Street for the rest of the week. If you’ve ever been to Rainey Street, you know that there a bunch of cutesy houses down the road that host day and night parties all week during SXSW. It’s an entirely different vibe than the clubs in the downtown area, but I never seem to get to spend much time down there.

After an aborted attempt in getting free tacos at Feed the Beat’s afternoon showcase at Lustre Pearl, I left Carrie to go next door to Bar 96. Ten Tonnes, aka young Hertford singer/songwriter Ethan Barnett, would be the first to take the stage at the Twix showcase. I was quite curious about him, as he was set to appear midnight that night at the Radio 2, PPL and PRS for Music showcase at the British Music Embassy, emceed by BBC Radio presenter Jo Whiley. We’d never heard of him before our SXSW previewing, so how did such a youngster get such a desired performance slot?

Ten Tonnes, Bar 95, Culture Collide / Twix, Wednesday 15 March 2017

His set at Bar 96 was his first-ever American performance, but he didn’t show any apprehension, launching into a series of bluesy rock and rockabilly numbers, including single ‘Silver Heat’, which just happened to be released the day after this performance. I think I speak for everyone watching this set that it’s a surprise (a pleasant one) to hear a young man sing and play blues rock and so convincingly. This business is full of musicians willing to sell their souls to make it, going towards genres and playing music their hearts aren’t into. However, it became crystal clear in my short interview with Barnett that he’s dedicated to this style of songwriting, and I’m sure he found loads of inspiration while being in America.

It’s unbelievable that I’ve not visited Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden all these years, but I finally made it this year. Somehow I managed to consume one of their fabulous bratwursts with sauerkraut after catching Australian Alex Lahey play Banger’s outdoor garden during the StubHub showcase there. I don’t know how many beer gardens there are in Melbourne, but surely this must have a bucket list ticked off for Lahey and her band.

Alex Lahey, Culture Collide / StubHub, Banger's, Wednesday 15 March 2017

She’s the kind of girl you know you’d have a fun night out boozing with, laughs all around. Like fellow Melbournian Courtney Barnett before her, you can tell Lahey doesn’t take herself or her music too seriously. She’s got a little pop song called ‘You Don’t Think You Like People Like Me’, which is an upbeat, funny ode that see Lahey thumbing her nose at pretentious people. Which is exactly what she’s not: I have on good authority from a blogger friend from Oz that he was not surprised she was only wearing t-shirts in Austin, but that she ran the risk of ruining her stage outfits with barbecue sauce. Ha. Somehow I don’t think that would have fazed her anyway. Check out her video for ‘Wes Anderson’ in this previous Video of the Moment feature.

I walked back up to 6th Street to a little hole in the wall called Big Bang Bar to see another Aussie band. It’s a good measure of a band to see their stage demeanour, no matter if they’re playing to 10 or 10 thousand. Despite only playing to a few boozers at the bar and a handful of interested people like me, Sydney electropop group Castlecomer gave it their all at their slot at the South X Big Bang afternoon showcase, filled mostly with American acts.


Castlecomer, South X Big Bang, Big Bang Bar, Wednesday 15 March 2017

While I’m sure this performance was very different than their appearance the next day at the Aussie BBQ at Brush Square Park, I thought Castlecomer sounded incredible in the small club. Frontman Bede, with a shocking amount of incredible hair that Pantene should get on right away for an advertisement opportunity, bounded around the stage and onto the floor like a madman to their catchy tunes. You can’t help but get drawn into dancing to the infectious beats of their music. Their incredible energy reminds me of Two Door Cinema Club in their early days, which is something even Two Door can’t manage to recapture. Delicious escapist fare.

Finding myself at a loose end, I returned to the British Music Embassy around the corner to see Mt. Wolf, playing a better attended show than the one they helpfully offered to open the previous night at Scratchouse. I’ll let you in on a trade secret unknown to bands and who have never played SXSW before: the people who come to the afternoon shows are different than the ones at your evening showcases. Being genuine and performing your best, no matter what time of day you’re playing, where or in front of how many people, is the key to your success in Austin.

Mt. Wolf, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

As I had predicted, Mt. Wolf’s brand of atmospheric pop worked well at Latitude 30. If you’re looking for something chill and with anthemic swells, this kind of music is for you. While their future may have initially uncertain after the departure of original lead singer Kate Sproule, Sebastian Fox’s falsetto is proving to hit the spot and indeed, in a different, better way. This was the second in a long string of appearances the band made in Austin.


Flamingods, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Flamingods are originally from the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain but they call the melting pot capital of London home these days. The self-described “exotic psychedelia” group brought a truly tropical air to Latitude 30 with their colourful outfits and their instruments unusual to Western minds, theirs being a unique rhythmic experience like no other that came to Latitude 30 that week. They’re proof it doesn’t matter where your music comes from or by whom, as long as it comes from the hearts of the people who make it. What is going on back home must pain the members of Flamingods, but by playing on the world’s stage that is SXSW, they make the statement that music shouldn’t have any borders.

Around the corner I went to the Second Play Stage at the Westin Downtown to see Magnolian. As the first-ever musical representative from Mongolia to showcase at SXSW, he had a lot riding on his shoulders. However, he needn’t have worried, as he and his backing band played to a crowd of interested listeners, including the Aussies who were slated to perform there next. As an American who outwardly looks Oriental, there’s certain prejudices that come into people’s heads automatically when they see me even before I open my mouth, so I was concerned there might be similar prejudices by the Austin crowds that came across Dulguun Bayasgalan and his band.

Magnolian, Second Play Stage, Westin Downtown, Wednesday 15 March 2017

However, and as supported by my chat with him and his band after this performance, Bayasgalan’s primary musical influences are Matt Berninger and The National, which comes across in his thoughtful baritone and songwriting. Rather than simply being a curiosity, I hope Magnolian’s visit to SXSW has led to Western connections that will further career and who knows, maybe one day he’ll get to open for the band who inspired him from thousands of miles away.


The Heart Collectors, Second Play Stage, Westin Downtown, Wednesday 15 March 2017

Following Magnolian at the Westin were Aussie acoustic folk purveyors The Heart Collectors, who I’d sadly missed at Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I on Tuesday morning. Dressed in comfy cotton and wearing hats that made them fit into the Austin scene perfectly, they pleasantly rattled through their set of mostly foot-stomping folk numbers utilising banjo, cello, mandolin and guitar. The band members took turns with lead vocal duties but their tight harmonies whenever their voices came together again were always beautiful. For those unfamiliar with the band’s music, a cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ came across not only as familiar but winsome. I included them on my list of best bets of the many Aussie acts coming out to Austin, and they didn’t disappoint.

 

SXSW 2017: bits and bobs plus the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase (part 1) – 14th March 2017

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

If SXSW Music was a car, the car will have just started on Monday night, followed by a solid, chugging purring as it was running on Tuesday. The worst clashes start Wednesday, when things really are in full swing, all the venues are open and are putting on their showcases. I knew what I wanted to see on Tuesday night, but the problem was I wanted to be all over the place! Los Angeles firm Force Field PR was putting on a showcase at the outdoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s, and it was a bonus that they were beginning before the magic hour of 8 when most showcases begin for the evening.

Cheer Up Charlie’s is one of the more unusual venues at SXSW, as you’re watching a band perform up against what looks like a mountain of boulders that could come down raining on them (and you) at any moment. The timing of Copenhagen band Rainbrother’s set was also fortuitous, as it seems many people I knew from the UK had stopped in to see them, including Steve Lamacq of BBC 6 Music, who included them in his on the ground reporting from Tuesday night at SXSW 2017 (go to 19 minutes 30 seconds on this programme of his; it appears that I may have accidentally bothered the man when he was trying to interview Slaves outside Barracuda on 7th Street, oops). What would have struck you immediately coming into this Tuesday night show was that there was a man projected larger than life behind them. With a guitar and a microphone, I wondered what the deal was. I thought maybe it was one of these cool, new-fangled technological advances because, well, all Scandinavians had mobile phones before we did, right?

Rainbrother, Cheer Up Charlie's, Force Field PR showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

…and then he told us. Lead singer Bjarke Bendtsen’s artist visa had been denied. The band’s solution: before coming out to America, the band videotaped Bendtsen performing alongside the band for their entire set, so they could project his image and sound while they played without him physically being there in Austin. While Bendtsen eventually made it to Austin for the band’s last 2 shows in the Texas capital, the stark reality that strange, nonsensical decisions about artists being able to perform in America sunk in. I give full props to these Danes for soldiering on without their leader and sticking it to the man. What might have simply been a perfectly agreeable performance by a Scandinavia dream folk band became an act of defiance. As one of my best bets of Scandinavian acts coming out to Austin this year, I couldn’t have been prouder of them.

Suburban Living, Barracuda, felte Records and Part Time Punks showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

One of the great things about SXSW is the fact that unlike Canadian Music Week or CMJ, venues are actually pretty close to one another. Although I could not spend my evening solely at the felte / Part Time Punks showcase at Barracuda that I enjoyed last year, I did stop in to check out Philadelphia’s Suburban Living on the indoor stage. Bespectacled Wesley Bunch leads the band, which as a unit remind me of the sweet, twee pop tones of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. You can check out Bunch’s full album from last year ‘Almost Paradise’ on most streaming services.

Future Thieves, Scratchouse, Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

When I finally made to Scratchouse for the Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro newspaper showcase, I was ready to be surprised by the first acts of the evening on both stages there, neither of which I had had an opportunity to research properly ahead of time. Seems like Nashvillians Future Thieves already had fans in Austin, as they played to a packed house at the indoor stage, their country-tinged pop hitting the spot. Check out their new single ‘Sucker’ below.

I then went to check out the backyard stage, where a band had already started their set. Dude with a big beard…hmm… he looks familiar… Then from the stage came “We are Mt. Wolf!” Yep, that’s Sebastian Fox, all right! New York’s Henry Hall had unexpectedly pulled out of the evening, and Mt. Wolf helpfully stepped in to help the hosts fill his slot. That’s another thing that you will oddly find: there will be one or two bands that you’ll see several times during the week without even trying, as if it’s serendipity. While I’ve always imagined Mt. Wolf’s synthy goodness with combined harmonies working well in a club, their sound didn’t quite fit with the American backyard party feel.

This Be the Verse, Scratchouse, Killing Moon / ReverbNation / Metro showcase, Tuesday 14 March 2017

With the staggered start times, it wasn’t long before the next band on the indoor stage went on Tuesday night. This Be the Verse has already received high accolades and plenty of attention from Kerrang!, which should tell you something about their music immediately. Yes, This Be the Verse is loud, industrial rock music from London, and it’s not for the faint of heart. The comparison to Nine Inch Nails is well deserved. Not for everyone, but I could see our former writer John Fernandez headbanging to their music.

The Dig, Swan Dive, Tuesday 14 March 2017

I popped out briefly from Scratchouse to get a taste of something different and more importantly for this nonsmoker, some air. I ran into my friends, New York band The Dig, as they were loading into Swan Dive for their 10 o’clock show. Bass player and sometimes lead singer Emile Mosseri is now sporting the platinum blond look, and I guess he wanted a different appearance to match their new direction on most recent album ‘Bloodshot Tokyo’, released at the start of February on Roll Call Records. While band member Erick Eiser has played keyboards on their past LPs, a synthesised organ sound is prominent on ‘Bloodshot Toyko’ tracks like ‘Simple Love’, which seems to reflect more whimsy in their songwriting process. It’ll take some time for me to listen to the new LP and compare it with their past releases like ‘Electric Toys’ for me to decide if I like the new direction.

Oscar Key Sung, Swan Dive Patio, Tuesday 14 March 2017 2

Swinging around the corner, I checked out the activity at Swan Dive Patio, where Oscar Key Sung from Melbourne, Australia was setting up. R&b and electronic elements often get mixed together these days into predictable pop formulas, but this artist on my list of best bets of the Aussie acts coming out to SXSW 2017 goes weirder, with amazing result that (probably) only an electronic geek could love. Hiding under a baseball cap, Sung’s grooves and vocals leaned soulful, the tunes feeling much more accessible live than they are presented online.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: London pop artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd February 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to the acts from London Town in the genre of pop who received a shout for SXSW this year. The summaries of acts below were written by Rebecca Clayton, Steven Loftin and David Wriglesworth; where noted, some acts have dropped out. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

ESKA
Zimbabwean-born ESKA is best described as an amalgamation of the psyche soul of Minnie Riperton, with the whimsical melodic twists of Kate Bush, arranged into an intoxicating meld for the post-digital age.

Throughout the 2000s, ESKA gained vocal credits on many independent releases, before releasing the ‘Gatekeeper’ EP on her own Earthling Recordings label in 2013. The EP attracted worldwide critical acclaim, with BBC Radio 6’s Giles Peterson describing ESKA as “one of the most important singers in the UK”. ESKA released her self-titled debut album in 2015, which received a nomination for the 2015 Mercury Music Prize. Fast forward 2 years, and ESKA is set to unveil new music from her hugely anticipated follow-up album. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, ESKA is no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]

IDER
Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville are better known as IDER. Since moving in together, the duo worked tirelessly on their project and emerged in April 2016 with their debut track, ‘Sorry’. Within minutes of the track going live on Soundcloud, Sorry received huge support from BBC Radio 1’s Phil Taggart, who labeled IDER as one of his “Future Firsts” on his weekly show. Two months later, IDER released their follow-up track, the vulnerable, yet beautifully balanced ‘Pulse’, which has since received over 1,000,000 streams on Spotify. This was followed by the release of ‘King Ruby’ and ‘Million’.

With only a few live shows under their belt, supporting Conner Youngblood, Tegan and Sara and Samaris in London, IDER have laid low, writing and recording their debut album, which is expected to be released later this year. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, IDER are no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]

The Japanese House
Do you need some melancholic synth pop in your life? Of course you do, it gives life that edge. The Japanese House manages to own this as well as have you begging for me. The fact it’s produced by The 1975‘s Matt Healy should give you a hint as to exactly how good we’re talking here. You can check out the ‘Swim Against The Tide’ EP available now. (Steven Loftin)

Joel Sarakula
Joel Sarakula is an Australian-born, UK-based soulful pop producer and singer-songwriter, who has travelled the world in search of his muse, gazing through his vintage glasses at his ‘70s tinged world.

In 2013, Joel Sarakula released his debut album ‘The Golden Age’. Singles ‘Bohemian’ and ‘I Will Deliver’ received numerous plays across BBC 6 Music, BBC London, XFM, Q Radio and Absolute Radio. Fans didn’t have to wait long for his follow-up, ‘The Imposter’, which hit store shelves in November 2015. This latest album took him to London, Berlin and Sydney, with a host of his musical comrades appearing on the record.

Joel Sarakula is a regular fixture on the festival and club circuit in the UK, Europe and Australia, having made appearances at Latitude, Glastonbury, The Great Escape, V-ROX Vladivostok and Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg, among others. (David Wriglesworth)

Kate Nash
Kate Nash is the Harrow-born indie pop singer/songwriter who rocketed to fame in 2007 with her punchy hit ‘Foundations’. Nash went on to release a bunch of other singles from the album ‘Made of Bricks’, including ‘Pumpkin Soup’ and ‘Mouthwash’, that cemented her as a cornerstone of quirky, bright indie pop. In 2013, she shared her third studio album ‘Girl Talk’, which she released independently, saw her head for a punkier direction. Always being outspoken about politics and women’s rights and issues, Nash also worked to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline last year. She’ll be appearing at SXSW this March, with the follow-up intention of releasing a new album this summer, which she is recording in Los Angeles. Stay tuned… (Rebecca Clayton)

Mt. Wolf
In 2011, an inexperienced Kate Sproule turned down her first-post college job to pursue a music career to form Mt. Wolf (pictured at top), alongside her childhood friend Stevie McMinn and his college mates. The risk paid off as, after only two EPs into their career, Mt. Wolf became established as a signature sound. However, the band announced their decision to split 2 years later, due to creative differences in the band.

After a year’s hiatus, Mt. Wolf reunited with a new line-up as pictured at top, consisting of Sebastian Fox (vocals/guitar), Stevie McMinn (guitar) and Alex Mitchell (drums). The band’s electronic and acoustic elements have earned them comparisons to the likes of London Grammar, Mogwai and Sigur Ros.

The future is looking promising for the band, having received funding from the BPI’s Music Exports Growth Scheme (MEGS), as well as a separate grant from the PRS Foundation. (David Wriglesworth)

PIXX
Hannah Rodgers, better known as Pixx, is a young singer/songwriter from Chipstead on the outskirts of London. Born to a music-loving family, Pixx’s creative side was nurtured and encouraged from a young age, with her talent earning her a place at The BRIT School, which also counts Adele, Ella Eyre and the late Amy Winehouse among its alumni.

Inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Aphex Twin, Pixx – whose name is adopted from her grandmother’s nickname – released her recording debut ‘Fall In’ in August 2015. This was quickly followed by dreamy, synth-pop tracks ‘Baboo’ and ‘Grip’.

2016 was a busy year for Pixx, as she joined Daughter and Glass Animals on tour as a support act, played at a host of festivals including Latitude and performed at a 4AD showcase in the UK and the U.S. Pixx is currently in the process of finishing her debut album, which is due for release in early 2017. (David Wriglesworth) [As of 21/2, Pixx is no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]

Roses Gabor
Once upon a time, Roses Gabor was working at a bank while working on her music career on evenings and weekends. In 2005 she sang on the Gorillaz track ‘Dare’, and since then she has appeared at a number of the band’s shows and tours to provide vocals, and featured on a number of other artists’ tracks, including SBTRKT’s ‘Pharoahs’ released back in 2011. More recently she’s featured on Basstrack’s funk-inspired ‘Get Your Way’.

In 2012, she released the single ‘Stars’, before releasing a follow-up single ‘Rush’ 2 years later. Gabor’s music is tranquil electro-dance, and features shimmering synth rhythms that show off her svelte vocals. (Rebecca Clayton) [As of 21/2, Roses Gabor is no longer listed on the SXSW Music Festival schedule.]

Sykes
Sykes are a sparkly, electro alt-pop outfit from London, made up of lead singer Julia Sykes, lead guitar/ bass player Kristian Taylor and Will Grid Brown on drums. Unsigned, the band is yet to release an album but they have shared a bunch of singles/EPs since they started writing together. The band has been featured on Radio 1, and they have supported the likes of Bleachers and Charli XCX live, as well as appearing at a number of festivals including Glastonbury.

The band released the popular ‘Gold Dust’ in 2014, garnering attention for the trio. Title track ‘Gold Dust’ is joyful, with a glittering childhood sentimentality to it, and echoes the dreamy alt-pop quality of the band’s music. They also released an EP in 2016, ‘Younger Mind’. (Rebecca Clayton)

 
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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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