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Single Review: Foo Fighters – Run

 
By on Thursday, 8th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

2017 marks 20 years since Foo Fighters released ‘The Colour and The Shape’, quite easily the strongest Foo Fighters albums to date. Couple that with Dave Grohl and co. finally getting to headline Glastonbury, and there was always a severe inevitability of new material coming out. With a surprise release of new single ‘Run’ last week, along with a typically hilarious video, it would appear as if that time has finally come.

With their career spanning over 2 decades, it’s natural that not everything will be a hit. Some things take a little longer than others to sink in, and that’s the situation ‘Run’ finds itself in. The initial reaction to finding a new Foo Fighters track is the same as finding a restaurant when you’re hungry. You’re ravenous for it, but you consume your food so quick that nothing really digests properly. Which is why it’s taken between six to seven listens for ‘Run’ to fully hit home for me, and it’s a bona fide monster of a track.

In all of its shimmering glory, the guitar pattern that opens up the song leads you down a familiar path. You think that the Foos are back to please the masses with a song that will flutter, but out of nowhere, it turns into a carnivorous beast with some trademark Grohl howling. The guitars transform themselves from the light to the dark with a thunderous drum build. Out of this building chaos comes a lone guitar riff that sparks a vibe of attitude and lightens the load before everything comes chugging back in.

It feels like Foo Fighters have crept back to the same modus operandi that birthed ‘Wasting Light’ (the last good Foo Fighters album, and just as good). The distorted Grohl screaming mirrors that of ‘White Limo’ from the aforementioned album, while the intensity also comes from, assumedly, a similar place. This could be due to the fact the last Foos’ album ‘Sonic Highways’ came with its own documentary-style TV show, itself a great watch and novelty, but it probably influenced the album more than it should have. (Can we please focus on how good ‘Colour & The Shape Is’?).

It’s not been mentioned if this is part of an album or just a stray single. Either way, they’re heading down the right path once more. Moving away from the subdued rock that came previously, there’s more derangement to the heavier moments, and the melodies carry themselves with such ease, you feel yourself floating above them. There’s a reason the Foo Fighters are one of the world’s premiere rock bands. They do what they do, and they do it well.

8/10

‘Run’ is out now on RCA Records. You can watch the music video below, but note that it’s NSFW, unless you’re into synthetic old lady bits. You can read more coverage of Foo Fighters on TGTF by following this link

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifwc5xgI3QM[/youtube]

 

Single Review: Demob Happy – Dead Dreamers

 
By on Friday, 2nd June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

A chugging, amassing creation that isn’t too dissimilar to the Muse you wish you would hear, this new offering from Brightonians Demob Happy is, in all honesty, pretty fucking good. Starting with a ridiculously distorted bass that rumbles through and just refuses to relent, just how we like it, the guitars join in, and the song becomes an entity unto its own.

Their first new music since Demob Happy’s debut back in 2015, ‘Dead Dreamers’ is full of the kind of sleaze you yearn for from rock ‘n’ roll, something that just exudes a drunken swagger. Demob Happy are an embodiment of what’s been missing for a while in guitar music. As mentioned previously, there are supremely Muse-like elements – think the rockier side of ‘Absolution’ – but without the air of pretence. This is roots rock ‘n’ roll, no qualms about it.

Getting back into the make-up of the track, the verses from frontman Mark Marcantonio use a similar fashion to UK punk pioneers The Stranglers. It’s a delivery that matches the same chugging style of the music behind it, with a British strictness that doesn’t actually take itself too seriously. Continuing along with The Stranglers’ theorem, references to “dead preachers in a foreign town” brings to mind the use of similar religious matter in The Stranglers ‘Nice ’n’ Sleazy’. It’s like taking a walk through of the best bits of British rock music.

Though all this is good and well, it’s the chorus where the track breaks out into a roaring, epic monster. The chugging rhythm turns into a full-on furnace of power. Synths even join the mix to add a lighter layer, accentuating the soaring falsetto that Marcantonio engages. His voice is unrelenting throughout, the vocals hovering above the beautiful chaos below until it drops and turns back into its simpler self.

The confidence both the band and track show throughout ‘Dead Dreamers’ is mirrored in the architecture. It sticks to the standard verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, etc. It doesn’t need to be more than what it is: a great track that will awake your inner rocker and get you living your life. It’s a notion that’s reciprocated in the video for the track. The band influence three puppets of themselves into becoming…well, themselves. A visual testament to the insular nature of guitar music and the cyclical nature of influence. Or it’s just because puppets are cool. Everybody loves puppets.

‘Dead Dreamers’ is a track that has the makings of being a rock staple, with ballsy bass lines, vocals that are filled with depth, meaning and unapproachable highs. There’s something special that Demob Happy have that should surely see their eventual follow-up album be something we should all keep watch for.

9/10

Demob Happy single ‘Dead Dreamers’ is out now on Atlantic Records imprint Taste and Tone. Catch up on TGTF’s past coverage on the Brighton rockers, including their appearance at Live at Leeds 2016, through this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDUpbzl30us[/youtube]

 

Single Review: DJ Shadow (feat. Nas) – Systematic

 
By on Tuesday, 16th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

‘Systematic’ is the new release by Californian experimental DJ and producer DJ Shadow, and featuring lyrics from the hip-hop legend that is Nas. Before the record even starts, we are off to a good start and luckily, the track itself doesn’t disappoint.

DJ Shadow’s body of work has musical influence that stretches far and wide having released countless musical productions merging elements of hip-hop, rock, jazz and soul amongst other genres. He released his first full-length album ‘Endtroducing’ in 1998, which was the first ever completely sampled album, and even has a nice spot in The Guinness Word Records to prove it. After a lengthy career that has cemented his place as a pivotal figure in the world of experimental hip-hop, Mr. Shadow returned in 2016 with album ‘The Mountain Will Fall’, his first release for 5 years, which features equally politically charged hip-hop track ‘Nobody Speak’ featuring Run the Jewels. The marriage of experimental sounds and politically-charged rap works well, and Shadow suits the position of the beat master behind the show, the longevity of his career and signature sounds making him a well qualified professor.

Then we have Nas, an urban icon whose musical influence is felt beyond the world of hip-hop, and continues to leave an indelible mark on the culture. Nas’s debut ‘Illmatic’ was another key ‘90s hip-hop release, ground-breaking in the way it fused social commentary and progressive hip-hop beats from the likes of Pete Rock, Q-Tip and DJ Premier. Having both made seminal musical debuts back in ye old days of the ‘90s, new single offering ‘Systematic’ sees the two musical heavyweights come together in this track made for season 4 of the HBO show Silicon Valley.

Neither artist are new to collaborating and its shows on this slick, beat heavy offering. The track has a timeless sound to it, free of any musical trends or record label influence (not surprising, as the track is released on Nas’s own label Mass Appeal) and sounding like an honest expression of what both artists do best. ‘Systematic’ sees Nas bring his steady flow of socially conscious lyrics, which he delivers in a clear and concise way, never short of flow and rhythm. The music and lyrics are a marriage that fit perfectly, in sync and intertwined from the start. “Close your eyes / cover your ears do not listen / try to feel what I’m saying/ to make you feel is my new expression”, the chorus instructs us, and when Nas instructs, you listen. We hear an unknown sampled vocal that states, “Remember the past / cherish the present and work for tomorrow / the time is now’. This addition sounds both important and urgent.

The show explores the politics of those selected by the system to succeed, through the genre of comedy. The track mirrors the show’s theme of exploring a corrupt system, but switches comedy for the medium of music, and urges people to observe and act on a system in turmoil. “The system will defeat itself / never stays in a steady state / it over heats itself / it only feeds itself”, Nas tells us. In a moment in history where politically-charged dissident voices seem more important then ever, ‘Systematic’ is a breath of fresh air that gives exactly what we have come to expect from both artists. It’s also a nice stop-gap to whet our appetites for Nas’ much-anticipated album this year. Time to all come together and have a big old anti-system block party, hosted by Nas and DJ Shadow. Anyone else down?

7/10

‘Systematic’ by DJ Shadow featuring Nas is out now on Mass Appeal Records. The song will also appear the forthcoming ‘Silicon Valley: The Soundtrack’ to be released on the 23rd of June on the same label. To read more of TGTF’s coverage of DJ Shadow, use this link.

 

Single Review: Chess Galea (feat. Harry Morley) – Rise

 
By on Monday, 15th May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Following the release of her debut album last year, Chess Galea has unveiled her latest single, ‘Rise’, a heart-breaking fusion of soul and pop. In case you aren’t familiar with the name, Galea (real name Francesca Galea) grew up in Malta, where she fell in love with pop music before going to study at the Academy of Contemporary Music in London, whose famous alumni include Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner. Since graduating from ACM, the singer/songwriter, who cites Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and Madonna as influences, has single-handedly managed to gain radio airplay in Australia, Malta and the UK. Galea was also nominated for Best Solo Artist at the Malta Music Awards.

To date, Galea has released two EPs, ‘Babygirl’ and ‘Tuxedo’, both of which were the result of two successful Kickstarter campaigns. These were closely followed by her debut album ‘1869’, an eclectic mix of feel-good pop, soulful r&b and stunning ballads. This latest track, ‘Rise’, is a plea to a former partner, who used to be her shoulder to cry on. However, since their break-up, Galea has struggled to shake off her feelings for her ex and the fear he has found love again with someone else: “So how can I keep going strong, when I’m too scared you’ll move on?” Galea sings. You can feel her dismay, as the words evoke vivid memories of past relationships and heartbreaks. But there’s also a sense of optimism too: “Things never turned out to luck, so I’ll make some luck of my own”.

Not only does ‘Rise’ showcase Chess Galea’s ability to write deep, meaningful lyrics, but it also demonstrates her melodic, soulful vocal range, perfectly complementing Harry Morley’s tinkling piano and organ chords.

7/10

Chess Galea’s single ‘Rise’ is out now. Learn more about this young singer/songwriter on her official Web site.

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

 

Single Review/Essay: Loyle Carner – Ain’t Nothing Changed

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner, better known by his stage name Loyle Carner, has had quite a year so far. The South London-born hip-hop musician released his debut album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ in January 2017 to critical acclaim, as well as embarking on a sold out UK and European tour. Musically, Loyle Carner brings an organic, lyrically conscious form of hip-hop we haven’t heard too much of coming out the UK for some time, and often associated with seminal American artists such as Mos Def, De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest.

This is not to say Loyle Carner doesn’t sound intrinsically British, because he does. As soon as the vocal kicks in there is no mistaking that London accent, part of the newfound pride and prominence we have seen in the recent years of UK MCs rapping in their own accents and moving away from adopting a American twang. There is raw emotion and family grief laid bare in his lyrics as he raps over laid-back, often jazz-infused beats provided by DJ, producer and fellow wordsmith Rebel Kleff. There are no 140 bpm beats that the current grime resurgence has flooded the streets with, but mellow head- nodding beats that bring a relaxed, ‘feet up and put the kettle on’ vibe. Loyle Carner tells stories that conjure up inner city images of desperation, personal loss, love and tales of friends whose destiny seems written for them.

Previous single ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’, originally released in 2015, is getting another airing, as is so often the case with artists who are received well beyond initial expectation. The track was re-released last Friday with its original video of an imagined Loyle Carner in his old age muttering the words ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ as he sips he tea, cooks and watches football. The stand out part of this composition is the mellow, jazz-tinged saxophone that runs though out the track, providing a melancholy that perfectly fits the lyrics of the repetitive circle life appears to move in around him. “I feel it but can’t conceal it see, this inner city responsibility’s killing me”. On this track, Loyle observes his environment, takes it in and spits it out through his sleepy, yet anything but tired bars. The track manages to breathe new life into UK hip-hop, while talking about a gloomy sense of life feeling stagnant: not an easy feat, but it works beautifully.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5toq05ctFk[/youtube]

On this track, and indeed on album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ as a whole, we hear a style free of any overly started masculine bravado that so many in the rap community seem to have built into the their fibre. Instead, when listening to Carner, we hear a vulnerability almost impossible for the listener to ignore. You get the sense that putting words to music is nothing but vital to Carner, an indispensable outlet that carries him though life. When we hear him rap on 2015 single release ‘BFG’; “Everyone says I’m fucking sad, of course I’m fucking sad I miss my fucking dad”, we get a sense of a young man who needs to air his emotions and is able to do so in a pure and honest way that attracts the sort of fanbase that Loyle has, ‘Loyal’ being the keyword. His last single release ‘The Isle of Arran’ exemplifies this personal tone in the powerful opening lines, “Know that I’ve been grieving, know that I’ve been holding out hoping to receive him, I’ve been holding out for G and he was nowhere to be seen when I was bleeding”. These are the words of a man who is willing to bear all and more, in this tale of young fatherhood, masculinity and personal memories of his granddad, moving the absent father stereotype around and showing a side of young fatherhood not so often portrayed.

With a string of new UK tour dates just announced throughout September and October, 2017 looks set to be an active year for the young hip-hop maestro. In an exciting time for UK urban music, Loyle Carner brings something unique and lyrically brave while drawing inspiration from the established traditions within hip-hop. And I, for one, feel better off for it.

7.5/10

‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ is available now from AMF Records.

 

In the Post #158: Ghostpoet returns with politically-charged single ‘Immigrant Boogie’

 
By on Monday, 24th April 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

In just 6 weeks, the next UK general election will take place and in the footsteps of Brexit last summer, the outcome of the vote will no doubt have unprecedented consequences on the country and the rest of the world. The return of Obaro Ejimiwe, better known under his stage name Ghostpoet, and his own unique viewpoint is fortuitous, and not a moment too soon. Late last week, he unveiled a stream of ‘Immigrant Boogie’, his first new material since 2015’s Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Shedding Skin’. Here’s Ejimiwe’s own description of the song:

It’s a first person account of a difficult journey across borders, partly intended to ask those who have questioned the arrival of refugees in recent times what they would do in the same situation. The song is written in two halves – the first hopeful for a brighter future, while the second sees hope snatched away by forces beyond the control of the storyteller. There is an important story to be told there, but I wrote the song in a way that aims to capture a broader human truth: that while we are all working for a better life for ourselves, we have to accept that we are not in control of the outcome.

There’s no escaping the haunting notes of the lead guitar line, or the distorted synths lending a feeling a disorientations. The overall musical effect is a sinister one, meant to mirror the desperate mindset of fleeing refugees. Ejimiwe intones, “I was dreaming of a better life / with two kids and my loving wife / I can’t swim, the water’s in my lungs / and there it ends, a life that’s just begun”, in a vocal style more like Gil Scott Heron’s spoken word than that of a traditional singer/songwriter.

As the song progresses, the sense of desperation increases, a repeated note sounding like an oncoming locomotive as the song heads for a cacophonous end. The single is also notable for its vocal guest star Charlie Steen, lead singer of South London punks and SXSW 2017 alums Shame. As the first taster of what we’re told have been Ghostpoet’s recording sessions over the last few months in London Town, the potential for his next album to be politically cutting seem quite bright.

7.5/10

New single from Ghostpoet ‘Immigrant Boogie’ is out now on PIAS. To read all of our past writing on Ghostpoet here on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7OkcTaMBrY[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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