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Single Review: High Hazels – Hearts Are Breaking

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd September 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

In July, I introduced you all to a new-ish band from Sheffield called High Hazels. Since that Bands to Watch feature, things have been on the up and up for the band: one massive thing that’s happened is their signing to indie label Heist or Hit Records, who also have Skint and Demoralised and Bad Veins on their roster. And just last week, the band announced on their Facebook that a test pressing of their debut single with Heist or Hit had been run successfully and being the nice boys that they are, they’d be giving it away to a lucky fan. Ain’t that sweet?

The name of the single, which has already been making the rounds on the interwebs, is called ‘Hearts Are Breaking’. I feel even more compelled to write about this single after seeing the poster for their single launch at the Sheffield Harley on the 4th of October when the venue unveiled it last month. It’s a strange combination of the English (take-a-way?) and American (flags, hot dog and hamburger stand) that I actually feel pained that I won’t be able to attend the party. Shouldn’t stop you, though.

I say strange, because I don’t hear anything particularly American about the single, which you can stream at the end of this post. Is it because I am American? Not sure. Need to get American blogger types together on this side of the pond to have a think on that. What I do know about ‘Hearts Are Breaking’ is that the overall sound achieved by High Hazels here is not unlike feeling like you’re inside one of those old-timey listening booths they used to have in record shops in the ’60s and the band is in there performing the song just for you. You’d think it would be claustrophobic, but it’s not. At all.

The guitars made echoey wrap around you like a warm blanket, which works well as the single release proper doesn’t happen until we’re deep into autumn days and nights. Singer James Leesley’s voice is bright even with the reverb effects, managing to soar with the words, “hearts are breaking / it’s never been as cold as tonight / a change of season / to hide inside / there’s a strange feeling right behind my eyes”. He’s not talking about contact lenses, folks. No, he’s elegantly describing the heartbreaking art of…crying. The image of being able to hide yourself as the seasons change, while time moves on and you can’t, proves emotionally evocative as well. The chorus “but even in the skies of a different hue, I won’t forget you / keep me in your heart a while, it’s true, I won’t forget you” continues on the same theme from earlier song ‘French Rue’. I think I just about fainted from the ache in my heart. The relationship is over and she’s far away from here now. But he’s still so much in love.

This is true beauty.

8.5/10

‘Hearts Are Breaking’, the debut single from High Hazels, will be released on the 7th of October on Heist or Hit Records. Three days prior on the 4th of October, the band will be holding a single launch party at Sheffield Harley; tickets are on sale now.

 

Single Review: Placebo – Too Many Friends

 
By on Thursday, 22nd August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

“My computer thinks I’m gay / I threw that piece of junk away / on the Champs-Élysées.”

This is as odd as it sounds, but what have you come to expect from Placebo songs and videos? That brand of gender ambiguous rock that Placebo have made their trademark continues in the video to ‘Too Many Friends’, their first single from the upcoming album ‘Loud Like Love’. It begins like some kind of futuristic thriller, on the kind of Minority Report / Fifth Element crossover, but in place of a Tom Cruise or a Bruce Willis we are drawn in by the alluring tone of narrator Brett Easton Ellis, author of American Psycho. Mr. Ellis draws us into a 3-second clip of a vicious assault that centres on gummy bears, a phone app and some inconspicuous groping.

It’s all in classic Placebo form. Trippy as balls, yet spellbindingly catchy. Perhaps not in the conventional sense that songs like ‘Nancy Boy’, ‘Infrared’ and ‘Pure Morning’ were, but catchy nonetheless.

The video goes on to both visually and psychoanalysing the various characters we’ve been introduced to by the nefarious Mr. Ellis. The song builds up from Brian Molko’s sultry alt-rock tones into a booming, blasting track glaring with alt-rock pomp, driven by the drums and bass of Stefan Olsdal and Steve Forrest and supplemented by the gaggle of strings that the boys seem to have come upon.

In honesty, as weird as this all sounds, it’s characteristic of Placebo.

What they come out with next is anyone’s guess, but I’d be damned if they don’t whack out the leathers and the S&M gear for video number 2 from ‘Loud Like Love’.

Watch this space…

6/10

Placebo’s seventh album ‘Loud Like Love’ is out on the 16th of September on Electric Lady Ltd.

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In the Post #110: Two Door Cinema Club bring out new song ‘Changing of the Seasons’

 
By on Tuesday, 20th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

We’re getting close to the end of the summer 2013 festival season, and this past weekend Two Door Cinema Club brought out something new to thrill their audience at V Festival: ‘Changing of the Seasons’, the band’s forthcoming single that premiered last week on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 programme. The song will appear on an EP out soon, but we don’t know more than that. I guess Two Door are trying to be mysterious, tantalising their global legions of fans? But the timing of new material, their first since sophomore album ‘Beacon’ was released in September 2012, couldn’t be better: the band will be headlining their biggest venues in a North American tour in October and November and will be playing their biggest show in Britain at London’s O2 on the 13th of December.

So what does ‘Changing of the Seasons’ bring to the table? Rolling Stone has reported that the new song sees the band “explore [a] new direction” with this “dance-friendly record”. This sounded really odd to me; when you’ve been kicking your heels up to a indie rock group’s music for 4 years (and in this particular case, since ‘Something Good Can Work’) with nary a thought that people *wouldn’t* dance to their music, it seems strange that anyone would call this a new direction. (Seriously. I take great care *not* to dance too hard at their shows because at this one in January 2011 I danced far too excitedly, hurting my legs so much, I was in pain every step I took for the next 3 days.) There has always been a joyful, optimistic quality to Two Door’s songs, and ‘Changing of the Seasons’ is no exception. But this time, there are two major differences.

One, this song represents a one-off collaboration with their musical buddy from Nantes, France, electronic wunderkind Madeon, who seems to turn anything he touches into gold. Just the mention of his name I’m sure has already sent his fans into a frenzy, which should be good for Two Door, exposing the dance set to their music. Madeon’s touch on ‘Changing of the Seasons’ isn’t too jarring at all, adding buzzy, bouncy yet smooth synth layers to the tune. However, Sam Halliday’s lead guitar is much less prominent, in a manner that might cause some alarm the same way Edd Gibson’s axe was less noticeable in Friendly Fires‘ 2009 single ‘Kiss of Life’.

Two, lyrically, it’s a pretty interesting story. The changing of seasons is used as a plot device to describe how a man is feeling about a woman. Woman leaves man, man gets upset with her leaving, woman has a change of heart and wants another night with him. But what this song is really about is how far he’s come beyond their breakup. Without her. The path to this is not your usual pop song fodder, is it? The way the woman requesting a booty call (“come back and spend the night with me”) is emphasised in the bridge, but the man is having none of it, dismissing her “when you say you won’t forget me / well I can tell you that’s untrue / ’cause every day since you left me / I’ve thought less and less of you”. He’s moved on.

But our protagonist’s strongest moment is the second half of the chorus: “and I’ve worn out all the reasons / to keep on knocking at your door / could be the changing of the seasons / but I don’t love you anymore”. While the pain of someone you love is something you wouldn’t wish on anyone and the emotions you feel can twist your insides, there will come a day when you will come out on the other side and be able to look back on what happened with pain but look forward with the knowledge that the seasons change. And life goes on.

7.5/10

The version of ‘Changing of the Seasons’ ripped from Radio1 can be streamed below. Two Door Cinema Club’s next release, a yet to be named EP, will be released soon.

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Single Review: Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?

 
By on Friday, 16th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Any wannabe likely lad born in the ’90s is about to have a dream come true here in this video for ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?': a night out with this generation’s version coolest of cats, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. Problem is, this night’s gone a bit weird, Mr. Turner has been up all night telling girls what he thinks of their dance moves and he’s taken something indiscriminate that’s got his head jumping to sixes and sevens.

He’s feeling a bit squiffy, and I think your shoes are in danger of getting covered in this afternoon’s McDonalds.

Fuck it, it’s Alex Turner.

The video seems pretty apt for the song, a tale of teenage-angst-ish lust, booty calls all told with sultry trademark AM charm. OK, so Turner is nothing but charming in this portrayal, as he goes hankering for a cheeky late night shag. Alex in his somewhat ‘lovelorn’ state mutters, “left you multiple missed calls / and to my message you reply / why’d you only call me when you’re high? / why’d you only call me when you’re high?”

‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ and ‘Do I Wanna Know’ have set the tone though for the upcoming record. It’s already showing the angle that the boys are going for, carrying on down the post-‘Humbug’ strand that the band have taken since their frenetic debut and equally popular follow-up. It’s still playing on the classic AM themes, of youthful angst, telling it like it is and they’ve done it again quite brilliantly.

And let’s be honest, a walk home with a classlessly inebriated Turner, soundtracked by this tune, is better than most post-night out trudges.

9/10

This single is available now digitally, but a 7″ of the single will be released on the 2nd of September with an exclusive b-side, new track ‘Stop The World I Wanna Get Off With You’.

 

Album Review: KT Tunstall – Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon

 
By on Thursday, 15th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

KT Tunstall Invisible Empire coverEarlier this summer, I reviewed Laura Marling’s new album, ‘Once I Was An Eagle’, which was, effectively, two separate albums folded into one release. KT Tunstall’s latest release, ‘Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon’, is a similar kind of collection: two sets of songs, each inspired by a significant event in Tunstall’s life. (In earlier interviews, Tunstall has stated these events to be the loss of her father and separation from her husband, Luke Bullen, who plays drums—notably—on only the first half of the album.) Just as Marling sought haven in America around the release of her album, Tunstall retreated to Arizona to record hers, finding inspiration in the desert for both the music and the album artwork.

Tunstall’s album is less experimental in nature than Marling’s, but it is pleasantly surprising in its own way. ‘Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon’ has a distinctly country kind of sound, which is unexpected, but in perfect keeping with the pensive, melancholic mood of the lyrics. Tunstall doesn’t lose her typical bluesy rock sound entirely, but rather flavors it with liberal inflections of traditional, old-fashioned country. The style suits the tone of her lyrics as well as the timbre of her voice, which sounds stunningly beautiful throughout the album. She deftly avoids the contrived effects that so many female singers rely on these days, instead keeping her singing light and flexible, without quite delving into the vocal gymnastics of her earlier work (‘Suddenly I See’, ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’). The overall effect is soft and soothing, even when she explores the lower register of her voice, where many singers can become harsh and grating.

Instrumentally, many of the songs depend on acoustic guitar and pedal steel for their country twang, but the other sonic effects are more eclectic. Bowed string arrangements fill out what might otherwise be a sparse acoustic sound on ‘Old Man Song’ and ‘Crescent Moon’, while ‘Honeydew’ features wind and brass instruments employed to a remarkably delicate effect. First single ‘Feel It All’ has a sultry blues feel, with a slinky guitar riff and fluidly singable chorus. The album ends with the psychedelic guitars of ‘No Better Shoulder’.

Upcoming single ‘Invisible Empire’ doesn’t strike as an immediately strong opening track, but echoes of the chorus played back in my mind as I listened to the rest of the album. Its lyrical musings on the mutable nature of reality foreshadow the remainder of the record in a very subtle way. After it was all said and done (or played and sung), my mind kept wandering back to this track as the focal point of the album. The video for ‘Invisible Empire’ can be viewed below.

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The regular version of ‘Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon’ contains 12 tracks plus the bonus ‘Feel It All—Band Jam’. The deluxe version includes three additional bonus tracks and a haunting cover of Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’, which by itself is worth the additional cost.

8.5/10

‘Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon’ is out now on Virgin Records. Tunstall’s next single, ‘Invisible Empire’, will be released on Monday (19 August).

 

Single Review: Frank Turner – Losing Days

 
By on Wednesday, 31st July 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

When Frank Turner and a load of his fans get tattoos in a music video, it’s fucking cool. It’s rock ‘n’ roll and just goes to show the devotion of his fans. They may as well be like the Frankettes, or Turnerphiles, I dunno. Something to make One Directioners puke up their porridge at least.

When Jared Leto asks fans to get tattoos for a Thirty Seconds to Mars video, he gets unified calls that he is in fact, a bellend. Perhaps that shows the contempt that Mr. Leto provokes in some sections of music fans, or perhaps it just shows the authenticity of the support for Frank. He didn’t have to put a call out to get this done, people just did. For Frank.

That’s pretty much the central theme for Frank’s new video for ‘Losing Days’, from his new album ‘Tape Deck Heart’ (review by Cheryl here). Following on with the theme of the album so far, it’s as expected a pretty gut wrenching tune, more reminiscent of his earliest work, than his most recent releases. ‘Tape Deck Heart’ is not one for the faint hearted, who joined in on the good ship Turner for tuneful ditties about travelling, like ‘The Road’. No, ‘Losing Days’ is deeper subject matter, but again an example of Turner at his heartstring-yanking best.

Blubbers steer clear.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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