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Album Review: The Coronas – Trust the Wire

 
By on Thursday, 22nd June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

The Coronas Trust the Wire album coverThe Coronas are back with their impressive fifth studio album ‘Trust the Wire’. After four previous albums, and a decade together as a band, The Coronas have made huge strides from their days at University College Dublin. A short stint on the major label Island Records, 4 years on and off touring and topping the bill at this year’s Sea Sessions in Bundoran. ‘Trust the Wire’ sees the band taking an interesting approach to their writing. Self-described as a “mature, atmospheric and understated sound”, the album shows more control within the slow building, reserved songs, whilst touching on ‘70s tinged electronic rock, sunshine soaked songs and of course a hint at the band’s indie folk roots.

There’s no better way to introduce fans to the band’s progression than album opener and first single ‘We Couldn’t Fake It’. So far from the band’s already established indie pop sound, a heavy use of electronic instruments seems a bit of a risky move in beginning the album with. However, it’s executed brilliantly, as the pulsating sound of the electric drum kit instantly draws attention before the beautiful amalgamation of swirling synths combined with the sharp texture of guitars captures a subtle nostalgia of old Coronas, as well as the excitement of their new direction. The single sets the mood for the album, which in a nutshell is about self-belief and trusting your instincts.

’A Bit Withdrawn’ continues the focus on electronic features. A simple drumbeat carries the song, creating space for the reverb-soaked accompaniment from the rest of the band. The introduction of a vocoder takes the track to a whole new level, its very careful use adding an ambient, dreamlike level to the track has never heard in The Coronas’ music before. Sandwiched between these two progressive tracks is a rousing, festival ready, summer anthem. ‘Real Feel’ contrasts brilliantly by producing a light-hearted, bouncy but driving, indie pop hit reminiscent of their earlier releases. In just the first three tracks, The Coronas prove how versatile they can be, by proving their newfound confidence in their musical maturity.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9JqtIiKsMA[/youtube]

‘Give Me a Minute’ marks the midpoint of the album, a heartfelt song about singer O’Reilly feeling anti-social after some live shows. Although some of the lyrics might be misconstrued as an ode to a lover, the lyrics actually speak from a moment of vulnerability and introversion. The song is constructed on a slow build, which again feels unfamiliar for The Coronas and their back catalogue of big indie anthems. However, no matter what sound the band is aiming for, O’Reilly proves he can always deliver a punchy, hook-ridden vocal melody with a stunning tone.

LP ballad closer ‘Look at All the Lovers’ was inspired by O’Reilly feeling envious of important couples in his life, namely his parents and bassist Graham Knox and his wife. The track begins with the smooth sound of an electric piano and features double-tracked vocals, which could be symbolic of O’Reilly’s thoughts. The slow build structure of the song allows for the gradual progression into a full sound, allowing the rest of the band to join in very subtly to support O’Reilly, maybe in more than one way. A self-indulgent end to the album and a little unlikely when it comes to closing a Coronas album, but if we take their word for it, to “trust the wire and do it blind” it was definitely the right choice.

‘Trust the Wire’, oozes strength and emotion from start to finish. Brimming with self-belief and honesty, it preaches a message of hope from a place of despair, felt through the lyrics and the band’s attention to detail within its delicate, intricate arrangements. It’s safe to say The Coronas are back, with a sound fizzing with ambition, with a subtle yet stately grandeur.

8.5/10

‘Trust the Wire’ is available now in Ireland from the band’s own label So Far So Good; its UK release will be tomorrow, Friday, the 23rd of June. If you would like to catch the Coronas live either during a short list of Irish summer dates or their European Autumn tour, go here. To read more of our past coverage on The Coronas here on TGTF, follow this link.

 

Album Review: Charlie Fink – Cover My Tracks

 
By on Tuesday, 20th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Charlie Fink Cover My Tracks coverThe tagline for alt-folk singer/songwriter Charlie Fink’s latest project ‘Cover My Tracks’ is an intriguing one: “An idealistic young songwriter sets out to write a 21st Century pop masterpiece and vanishes without a trace. Might her personal songbook be the key to unlocking the mystery?” It’s rare enough to encounter an album with a pre-conceived plot line running through it. But Fink, it seems, has taken the idea even further, bringing his narrative drama to full fruition.

A few years back, Fink provided the musical score for playwright David Greig’s stage production of Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’. Building upon that experience, Fink has crafted his debut solo album ‘Cover My Tracks’ as the soundtrack to a complete, though reportedly very minimal, stage production of the same name, scripted by Greig and performed by Fink and actress Jade Anouka. Fink is credited with music and lyrics for the new production, and his recordings of the songs comprise the album version of ‘Cover My Tracks’.

Though ostensibly part of a fictional storyline, the songs on ‘Cover My Tracks’ feel very personal. Straightaway, opening track ‘Firecracker’ makes reference to a fateful meeting with a fellow songwriter in 2005, bringing to mind Fink’s history with songwriter and former Noah and the Whale bandmate Laura Marling. It’s impossible not to wonder if Fink’s concept was inspired by the enigmatic Marling, but it’s also a question that doesn’t require an answer, as his songs weave a tantalising story of their own.

Fink writes from the perspective of the aforementioned female protagonist, which draws an interesting parallel with the shifting gender perspectives on Marling’s recent album ‘Semper Femina’. But where Marling’s was a consciously elusive writing technique, Fink had a very clear and defined purpose in mind. After toying with the idea of writing different characters on Noah and the Whale’s 2013 LP ‘Heart of Nowhere’, Fink has here narrowed his focus to the development of a single character, one that his listeners connect with almost immediately.

The early part of the album’s tracklisting comprises the expository part of the stage play and explores a variety of musical contexts. After introducing his character in ‘Firecracker’, Fink moves through the warm, folky ballad ‘Anywhere You’re Going is On My Way’ and channels the spirit of Lou Reed in ‘I Was Born to Be a Cowboy’, a lighter, shuffling arrangement that works as well independently as it does in the context of the full album.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/FM87P9KWbfg[/youtube]

Lofty string and wind arrangements provide a soft tone color and a sense of momentum under Fink’s otherwise austere neo-folk style. ‘The End of the Legendary Hearts’ is a broadly melodic narrative that combines those musical touches with his witty, incisive lyrics (“though I still meant every word that I said, I do regret throwing a drum at your head”). Slow ballad ‘Give Me the Road’ has a hint of musical theatre that borders on schmaltzy, until Fink sings the unlikely line, “I want to sing in a country bar and get laid under a clear sky of stars”.

Album centerpiece ‘Orpheus is Playing the Troubadour’ combines self-conscious classical art song references with Fink’s starkly exposed alt-folk. This marks the pivot-point of the plot, and Fink’s narrative takes on a third-person perspective as he sings “it’s so hard being so close but still just out of reach”. The underlying mystery in the storyline is played out in increasingly dark and introspective musical arrangements on the album’s second half. Standout track ‘The Howl’ is a fine study in this dramatic progression, with its anxious guitar rhythm and shifting instrumentation, which foreshadow the song’s final rumination, “and I wonder, surely this is Hell”.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/FDAOCyWxtog[/youtube]

In typical musical theatre style, lyrics from ‘Orpheus in Playing the Troubadour’ are reprised in later tracks ‘I’m Through’ and the poignantly wistful ballad ‘Someone Over Me Tonight’, which includes some of Fink’s most beautifully poetic lines. Likewise, the slightly jazzy, consciously artful arrangement of ‘Here is Where We’ll Meet’ ends the album proper on a strong note, both musically and lyrically, as Fink sings “from now on, here is where we’ll meet / in the space where the rhythm’s incomplete / in the silence that floats / between the pulse of the notes” ahead of the instrumental postlude ‘Firecracker, Pt. 2’.

While the plot of ‘Cover My Tracks’ might have been inspired by people and events from his past, Fink gives the overall impression on the LP that he is looking forward. Letting go of his previous incarnation as frontman of Noah and the Whale once and for all, Fink seems to have found a firm footing in the dramatic realm, even as he explores unusual and as yet uncharted artistic territory.

9/10

Charlie Fink’s debut solo album ‘Cover My Tracks’ is out now. The stage production of ‘Cover My Tracks’ has recently finished its 2-week run at The Old Vic theatre in London, but Fink has announced plans to tour the stage adaptation more widely this summer (dates are posted on his official Web site). David Greig’s production of ‘The Lorax’, with music by Charlie Fink, will return to The Old Vic this October.

 

Album Review: Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

 
By on Monday, 19th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Royal Blood How Did We Get So Dark album coverIn the days leading up to me writing this review, I think my subconscious wanted to be sure it got a say in the final piece. The kick arse riff of ‘Loose Change’ woke me up a few mornings in a row, reverberating through my head as a reminder of how good the 2014 debut album from Royal Blood really was. And how far they could fall from grace with a lacklustre follow-up. The title ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ suggests we’re about to descend into the murky, sometimes maniacal recesses of bassist Mike Kerr’s anguished heart once again. The good news is, the devil may care duo from Brighton do well in expressing this anguish. The bad news: the oddest part of listening to this album is you are left wondering many times if they could have gone darker, literally.

Axeman vocalist Kerr moans in the opening title track, “How did something so sweet tear us apart?” The question is, are ready to ride “On a sinking ship with a heavy heart” for a second time around? My guess is if you’re reading this, you are probably a hard rock fan who owns ‘Royal Blood’ and have been chomping at the bit for this. As all good major label signees do, they promoted the upcoming album heavily with early tasters. Excellent first single ‘Lights Out’ (review here) suggested we’d have another tour de force on our hands in 2 months’ time. The punishing guitar melody and drumbeats of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ sounds oh so good too, but with the headscratching lyric “my love calls like a whistle”. Uh, I’m going to leave that one there…

Before the new Royal Blood album hit digital retailers and the high street last Friday, my reaction to most recent taster ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ gave me the gut feeling I wouldn’t be loving this album like their last. While you expect Kerr’s vocals to be bracing – I mean, that’s what’s singing on hard rock records is, right? – on this track, they’re borderline annoying. The title is sung as essentially one note repeated, with an inflected whine on the end of the line. Because you know what the song is about, mind games in a physical relationship (“you only cry when I love you / I only lie when I make a sound”), maybe the annoying repetition is intentional? I can’t imagine playing this song repeatedly, though, for that reason. (If you recall, ‘Out of the Black’ is similar vocally too, so it’s like this is ‘Out of the Black’-Lite.) Unfortunately, ‘She’s Creeping’ that follows does not bring things back up to debut album calibre. What will annoy this time is Kerr’s guitar line acting as the only prominent accompaniment to his lyrics that seem painfully directed to mobile-clutching millennials: “Did my message send? / God knows I’ll send it again”. And let’s not forget the lack of muscle and firepower over all on the track. Let’s forget this track altogether.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BermIHe03zU[/youtube]

Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher manage to pull things back on ‘Where Are You Now?’, with noteworthy riffing and Kerr’s lovelorn words: “I’ve tasted every potion / it don’t taste like you / you’re a teardrop in an ocean / still drinking through”. ‘Hole in My Heart’ starts unpromisingly and the verses aren’t exactly rousing, but the choruses don’t let you down, with both Kerr and Thatcher delivering swift punches with their instruments. You just wish they could have kept up with the same level of intensity throughout this entire album. Without it, you’ve got some really great, down and dirty tracks dotting an otherwise mostly unremarkable landscape.

By no means is this second outing a whimper, but questionable decisions here and there will make you wonder whose wisdom in the Royal Blood camp it was during recording and production that led them to dial it back a bit.

6/10

Royal Blood’s second album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ is out now on Warner Brothers. They’ll be embarking on an arena tour of the UK and Ireland in November. To see more of TGTF’s coverage on the Brighton hard rock duo, right this way.

 

Single Review: Barns Courtney – Golden Dandelions

 
By on Friday, 16th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

English-American alt-rocker Barns Courtney has been barnstorming North America on his current Shoestring Tour. You might remember that we here at TGTF first encountered Courtney at SXSW 2016, where he blazed through a memorable set at the British Music Embassy and gave us this late night post-show interview. Earlier this month, Courtney bolstered the skyrocketing momentum he’s built since then with the release of a propulsive new single titled ‘Golden Dandelions’.

The song’s vigorous tempo and sweeping dynamic aren’t too far out of Courtney’s usual wheelhouse, but the addition of the piano adds a new depth to the musical arrangement. Immediately anticipatory and and anxiously energetic, the track centers around the chorus lyric “she said lay me down in golden dandelions / ‘cos I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life” and the enticing cliffhanger “follow me into the dark . . .” But the bridge section and third chorus constitute the real sweet spot of the song. It’s a brief moment, but its rhythmic sophistication and musical refinement are unexpected for the typically brash singer/songwriter, slowing things down for a brief but perfectly timed moment of dramatic tension and providing a glimpse of Courtney’s evolving musical refinement.

8.5/10

[youtube]https://youtu.be/XPiL73l8bcw[/youtube]

‘Golden Dandelions’ has apparently been a part of Courtney’s live set for a while, but it’s now an official single, released on radio as well as iTunes and Spotify. Though there isn’t yet a promo video for the track, you can watch a live performance video from American radio station The Current just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/eeoz4LFdJkM[/youtube]

Barns Courtney will be on tour in North America through the beginning of August before he returns to the UK for appearances at Reading and Leeds Festivals. He has also scheduled two Scottish shows for this autumn, one at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh on the 19th of September and one at Glasgow’s Hug and Pint the following night. You can find a full listing of Courtney’s upcoming live shows on his official Facebook. Our own past coverage of Barns Courtney is back this way.

 

In the Post #159: Everything Everything preview fourth album ‘A Fever Dream’ with teaser ‘Can’t Do’

 
By on Thursday, 15th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Everything Everything have been hinting at new material for quite a while now. The anticipation that has been building has clearly worked. A series of four live shows – a paltry number for a band with a profile like theirs – starting next week in England are all sold out. Heck, even Fenech-Soler were asking me 2 months ago if I had access and had heard their new album yet. (For the record, I haven’t.) They finally let the cat out of the bag Tuesday night with Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1, revealing a new single as the Hottest Record in the World. While ‘Can’t Do’ doesn’t wow as much as previous album previews ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Distant Past’, but it fits comfortably as part of the next chapter to the Everything Everything saga. We don’t know a lot about their next album besides its title and that it’s been produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Depeche Mode).

On their last LP released in 2015, frontman and falsetto enthusiast Jonathan Higgs said it was representative of the politics and the times. ‘Get to Heaven’ was indeed jarring and challenging, yet it proved satisfying if given enough attention. Higgs’ comments on their newest material suggest a different, more hedonistic intention, which makes sense, given the frenetic pace of their new single. In the press release for it, Higgs says, ‘’Can’t Do’ is about trying to bend to the world and fit into it. Nobody is normal, nobody knows what normal is. ‘I can’t do the thing you want’ – we don’t care we just want you to dance.”

The music video sees possessed zombies in the underworld doing just that, in an Everything Everything-flavoured Thriller style video. Some of the zombies are wearing masks, matching the band’s own in their new profile photo on Facebook. Is it a commentary on the false faces public figures and indeed, even sometimes we ourselves put on? Is putting on a mask a sign of bravery, of stiff upper lip, of keeping on keeping on because we must? Or is it a disguise to hide cowardice, plain and simple?

Certainly more simplistic and less in your face than their other memorable, now classic singles – ‘Photoshop Handsome’, ‘Kemosabe’, ‘Regret’ – ‘Can’t Do’ still maintains the group’s never-wavering originality. In particular, while listening to it, its unsettling rhythm makes you feel like you’re suffering from a persistent tremor that won’t go away. Will the new album have scathing observations of the world as we know it? Or have Everything Everything given up on their philosophical rants? We’ll have to wait until August to see what the rest of ‘A Fever Dream’ has in store.

7/10

‘Can’t Do’ is out now. ‘A Fever Dream’, the fourth studio album from the Manchester-derived Everything Everything, will be out on the 18th of August on RCA Records. To read our pretty hefty archive of Everything Everything articles here on TGTF, start here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myQVHve73vk[/youtube]

 

Single Review: Darlia – Beam Me Up

 
By on Wednesday, 14th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Back in 2013, Darlia released a debut EP ‘Knock Knock’. This was followed by festival appearances and releasing a debut album, ‘Petals’, in early 2015. Now in 2017 we have a new release from the Blackpool-born trio, the ensnaring ‘Beam Me Up’.

The band has been compared to Nirvana many times before. After reading that was the case, I was determined to approach the band with a fresh point of view, but I inevitably found myself comparing Darlia’s sound to that of Seattle’s finest. It’s a resemblance that is particularly evident on previous grungier tracks from the band, like ‘I’ve Never Been to Ohio’ and other tracks from ‘Petals’.

On ‘Beam Me Up’, produced by the band’s own Nathan Day and Frank Colucci, the similarities are still there. There are Cobain-esque notes in Day’s throaty vocals as well as echoes of Cobain’s vulnerable melancholia in the songwriting. Day himself states that he writes music because he can’t afford a therapist, and you can certainly feel the cathartic energy in the track.

Featuring a gently lilting piano in the intro and a chorus packing a solid alt-rock momentum with twanging guitars and whirring electronic notes throughout the whole song, it’s a track that satisfies the grunge-loving teenager in me. Day has the near-monotone drawl in the verses, with the hoarse shout in the chorus down to an art.

There’s honest emotion in lyrics like “wouldn’t it be good / if it was understood”, and “I’m a broken doll”, which, paired with the mysterious synth sounds and upbeat tempo, helps the song from slipping into a self-pitying vibe. You get the feeling this is just Day being himself, and that’s part of the appeal of Darlia’s sound.

8.5/10

Darlia’s new single ‘Beam Me Up’ is out now on Ignition Records. So far this year, Darlia have supported Twin Atlantic on their UK tour, but you can catch them on a number of dates later this year, including Community Festival 2017 at Finsbury Park, and Neighbourhood Festival 2017 in Manchester. It’s been a bit since we wrote about the Blackpool rockers, but you can catch up on all our past coverage of them through here.

 
 
 

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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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