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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 18th December 2012 at 12:00 pm
2013 is shaping up to be a massive year not just for newer bands but also those that we have come to love on the strength of their debut albums. One such band is Everything Everything, who have already made available publicly their single ‘Cough Cough’, even though the actual release of the single doesn’t happen until the 14th of January. If they wanted to keep people’s anticipation up, they could have let this be the only thing from their new album ‘Arc’ to see the light of day until January. But no. They’re nice guys. They’d not do that to us. Instead, ladies and gentlemen, they’ve released both the audio and video for ‘Kemosabe’, and I will dissect for you now everything that is good – and indeed, amazing – about this new song.
For those of us who used to (and maybe still) watch ‘old’ television reruns, the word ‘Kemosabe’ has become synonymous with Tonto, the Native American sidekick and faithful friend of the Long Ranger. So initially, I’m thinking, okay, Everything Everything has written a song about the Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger? What does that have to do with anything? However, as is the case with so many of the band’s songs, the lyrics are confusing and come at you like rapid fire, but with an oh so catchy rhythm. Going off of the combative nature of ‘Cough Cough’, I’d venture a guess that ‘Kemosabe’ is not trying to rekindle nostalgia for a beloved ’60s tv show but rather use the memory of this show and its relative innocence as stark contrast to the wars being waged in the 21st century.
The song begins with the words “four walls and a cauldron of Kalashnikovs” (assault rifles), and you’re eventually led to “the border” where the protagonist is struggling with an internal battle, until the sobering lines, “but does it feel like you’re already dead? / and do you feel like your brain stopped delivering? / yeah, break my finger, shoot out my black eyes / what does it matter if everyone dies?” This sounds like the thinking of someone who’s already been through a war and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I have the impression that people in the military have to undergo a certain level of brainwashing in order to truly believe in and carry out the missions they do. How else can you justify the killing of another human being?
The chorus in ‘Kemosabe’ sound happy but they’re far from it…right? Someone is calling his faithful friend and telling him he’s alone. But what has happened? Has he done what he thought was “right” and killed all of the enemy? The Lone Ranger’s memory gets called in a couple times, for a few errant “hi-o Silver, away!” moments, but I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to be focusing on as the listener. Senseless killing and senseless death, two topics that are especially hard to swallow or even begin to talk about in wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre last week in Connecticut, aren’t exactly usual pop topics, yet the Manchester-based foursome are yet challenging convention. Even the video, which shows the band performing in a leafy forest, is kind of odd too: there’s one man doing physical stunts on the forest floor. Alone.
What has always impressed me about Everything Everything is how tight their songs sound; it’s like the four of them have become one body, and subconsciously each band member can react to and/or compensate for another. I didn’t think this was possible live, but I was proven wrong last year when they were forced to go acoustic. In ‘Kemosabe’, with all its background shouts, percussive elements and thudding bass, we’re being shown again how smooth a machine Everything Everything is. It honestly sounds like something from another world in its cleanness, and each time you listen, there is something else you discover that makes it all the more unique.
When a song follows you around – and I mean everywhere: the grocery store, the shower, even when you’re in bed, desperately trying to get some shut eye – and every time you think about it, you get a smile on your face, you know you have stumbled onto something good. I don’t expect ‘Arc’ to ape ‘Man Alive’ in any way, and of course I have no idea if they’ve gone and bettered the debut album. At the same time though, I’m not worried at all. These guys have got it in the bag. This single is for those who like to think…and for those who’d rather not think, it’s got a funky as hell rhythm that will remain an earworm for months to come.
‘Kemosabe’, the second single from Everything Everything’s forthcoming album ‘Arc’, will be released on the 14th of January 2013 on RCA Victor. A little confusingly, the release of ‘Arc’, the hotly anticipated follow-up to the 2010 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Man Alive’, will be released on the same exact day. The band are on tour in the UK in February. Watch the video for and listen to the Com Truise remix of the single below.
Long awaited by the faithful, Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro have released the first single off their upcoming double album ‘Opposites’, due out next month. ‘Black Chandelier’ starts with a syncopated a capella “drip, drip, drip” from the boys that then slides into a non-threatening melody that shows little novelty. With slightly trite lyrics, my first listen had me a bit worried: “it feels like we’re ready to crack these days you and I / when it’s just the two of us, only the two of us, I could die”. And then even worse, “you left my heart like an abandoned car”; it just didn’t sound like the band I had come to know and love. But the Biff-ness soars back with the tiniest alteration the second time around, “when it’s just the two of us and a cute little cup of cyanide”. Mmmm, cyanide…
It’s not always the words that draw you to a Biffy Clyro song. No, it’s the uniqueness of the timing, the melding of lyrical with a hard edge, the overall bizarreness of some of it. And that’s there, coming through on even this most radio-friendly of tracks. About three-quarters of the way through, we get a tasty bit of what we’ve come to expect with a couple of bars of crunching guitar and odd gasps from lead singer Simon Neil. It’s just enough edge to ensure that no one mistakenly plays this at a school disco. This is the kind of peculiarity that binds fans to the band.
The accompanying video, however, is absolutely brilliant and goes a long way to making the song less pedestrian in my eyes. Filmed in London last month by renowned directors Andy Delaney and Monty Whitebloom from Big TV, the mood is both menacing and poetic. Melding the fiery performance style that Neil and the Johnston twins are known for with a big cinematic feel from eye-popping graphics, the video itself is a masterpiece. I do want to say that when I first watched it, I really expected the “black” to burst all over the band covering them in it, not explode into mist. Perhaps there are outtakes where they tried that?
I was lucky enough to get to the extraordinarily intimate Warner U.S. preview gig earlier this month in New York City, so I have heard a good selection of the new tunes. I can honestly say that despite what Zane Lowe pronounced when he premiered the song, this is not the best Biffy has to offer this time around. But make no mistake, this is their single, like ‘Many of Horror’ before it. It has a place in the Biffy pantheon and will likely be a smash. Everything else I’ve heard so far is BETTER. So do not, DO NOT, miss them live, I say; see dates for their spring UK/Irish tour here.
‘Black Chandelier’ will be released on the 14th of January 2013 along with two non-album tracks, ‘The Rain’ and ‘Thundermonster’. ‘Opposites’, their new double album, will drop on the 28th of January.
Champions of the post-Libertines indie scene, Oxford act Foals haven’t been sitting on their uber-cool laurels. Having toyed with people with the frankly huge sounding Inhaler, they’ve now put out new track ‘My Number’ from their forthcoming third record ‘Holy Fire’, out in February.
With jingling math guitars overlapping scattered brushes with powerful guitar that made ‘Antidotes’ the most accessible album of its kind in a long time, and descending into the full light crashing sound that saw ‘Total Life Forever’ soar into their fans’ most cherished records, it’s not difficult to see Yannis and company in full command of the masses in the future once more. Finishing off a tour of tiny venues across the country may have whet the appetites of those lucky enough to be inside the sweaty rooms, but its created a sense of yearning for many more.
Sadly, ‘My Number’ features all the promise of Foals gone by, whilst not bringing it anywhere near to the reserved explosions of ‘Inhaler’. If they’d put this on ‘Total Life Forever’, it would have simply have been another album track and as such you have to question what ‘Holy Fire’ holds in store.
“You don’t have my number; we don’t need each other now. We don’t need the city, the creed of the culture now”, sings Yannis. It’s hardly the coded glory of ‘This Orient’ or ‘Spanish Sahara’ but even I’ll admit that it seems unfair to judge them against their lyrical best when ‘Cassius’ exists.
For now then, ‘My Number’ sits simply on the varied Foals shelf as a track they’ll no doubt be bringing forward with them; but don’t expect it to light up your festival season come the sunny months.
Foals’ new album ‘Holy Fire’ will be released on the 11th of February 2013. Watch them perform ‘My Number’ on Jools Holland last month below; the track premiered on British radio last night on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 programme.
Foals are back, Foals are back! Indie hipster alert: FOALS ARE BACK!
If you’ve had your head in the ground for the past few days you’ll have missed two key events. The first is that Barack Obama is still president of the United States of America. The second is that math rockers Foals have released their new single ‘Inhaler’.
Yannis Philippakis’ band of denim-clad, bobble hat-wearing, titans of indie pop are well and truly back. Their sound has been refined and yes, they’ve grown up significantly it seems. The bass riffs are unashamedly filthy, just as Philippakis roars about how he needs a little space. Jimmy Smith’s guitar tickles in the metronome-like fashion that you expect after the whimsical charms of ‘Balloons’ and ‘Cassius’.
The song just screams about the new inner maturity Foals seem to have found. Debut ‘Antidotes’ has gone from a stand-out part of Foals career to the foreword to a greater tale. ‘Total Life Forever’ was a sign of their growth as a band, with ‘Spanish Sahara’ singled out as one of the most beautiful tracks of the past few years. While ‘Miami’ reiterated that while they are trying to be a bit more grown-up, they can still write a belter of a tune with a unnervingly, unforgettable chorus. (And a bloody weird video.)
With ‘Inhaler’, these boys have come full circle to become a quintessential cornerstone of British alternative music.
‘Inhaler’, Foals’ new single, is available now. ‘Holy Fire’, their third album, will be out on the 11th of February 2013 on Transgressive Records. The promo video for the song, with some questionable but definitely mature content, is below.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 25th October 2012 at 12:00 pm
It has been quite a bit of time since the release of Fenech-Soler‘s debut album. The 2010 eponymously titled release spawned several high profile singles – the huge ‘Stop and Stare’, ‘Lies’, ‘Demons’ – and then there was a relative quiet. Unlike other bands who we could reasonably out as lazy gits, Fenech-Soler has at least one very valid excuse: in March 2011, lead singer Ben Duffy was diagnosed with testicular cancer and a UK tour was postponed for after when Duffy underwent a round of successful chemotherapy. Somehow he managed to come back “fighting fit” with little downtime; Fenech-Soler went on to play a dizzying number of summer music festivals and continued to work behind the scenes to make their live shows better and better. (To read more of my interview last year with Ben, including a discussion on how his cancer affected their working schedule and perspective, go here.)
It’s not like they totally went away. As what seems to be the way bands’ Web sites are going, they are avid Instagram updaters, with the images popping up on their their Tumblr. This is how we learned about the building of their new studio (from the ground up, literally) and got a sneaky peek at some of their equipment like we were flies on their wall. Last week, they took to YouTube to deliver some bits of song – just enough to get the masses excited for their return, but not enough to imagine the full picture…
…which brings us to Fenech-Soler’s new single out now, ‘All I Know’. As we usually do, I’ve embedded the video for the song at the end of this post. However, in this particular case, I feel like you should press play on the video, but then turn off your computer screen or look away from your mobile, because I don’t think the video makes a whole lot of sense when you consider the lyrical joys of the tune. It’s pretty and cool-looking, and while I’m glad it’s not a pair of actors pretending to be into each other and then hating each other at the end, I don’t think it stands up to the quality of the track.
Waves crash to herald the start of the track, before Duffy outlines a perfect relationship he had that “it started out good / like a fairy tale” that went bad because he strayed. Wait a minute. A man is admitting he’s the one saying “all I know is I did you wrong”? This is huge to women’s ears. Men never apologise, do they? Or least they don’t, even if we think what they did was wrong. The chorus continues, “all I know is that you’d be strong / without me / without me”: he’s laying it out there that he respects her for her own personal strength. He knew he could stand there out on her own, if she had to – and evidently, she had to because he “drifted away” from an above board, “no-one got hurt / because truth came first” union. He’s further admitting that he’s the bad apple here (“I’ve only got / myself to blame”), ruining what was so good (“I broke your heart / right from the start”). It’s almost like a male response to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’.
This song is an apology, done with a lot of class: there is no “I want you back!” kind of whinging or a blame game. No, he’s saying sorry, admitting defeat with his head held up high. And let us not forget that this is a Fenech-Soler song, and like any good Fenech-Soler song we’ve seen yet, it’s factory ready for the dance floor, with huge synth sounds and a very catchy melody going along with Duffy’s vocals. You can imagine the bodies bouncing and arms in the air at festivals next year for this very song. Better yet, there is no dubstep here. (Take that, you bunch of posers, Muse.) And dare I say it, this is the kind of vibe I wanted to hear from the new Delphic single. And we all know what happened there… Dance fans, pop fans: this is your new jam.
This single is epic. That’s all *you* need to know. Full stop.
‘All I Know’, the new single from Fenech-Soler, is available now digitally on Warner Brothers.
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 28th September 2012 at 1:00 pm
It has not been a great couple of months for drum and bass fans. Pendulum split, calling it quits in June. Then there was an egregious lack of a single album even touching on dance in the 2012 Mercury Prize nominations. What’s a dance fan to do? Manchester’s Santiago Street Machine new single, entitled ‘Sinking Stone’, may be part of the answer. This single follows ‘Face Your Fear’, which was released in May. (You can download a remix of that song in this previous MP3 of the Day post.)
Santiago’s vocalist Andy Chandler has the huskiness to match Rob Swire’s, but sounds a bit more familiar (and therefore more comfortable) than an Aussie accent. ‘Sinking Stone’ is nowhere near in your face, assaulting you in ‘Noisemaker’ fashion. Instead, the song starts out slowly, building speed and power. About 45 seconds in, everything comes together and in organised chaos fashion, the song takes flight. “Are you looking for a better life these days?” Chandler asks in the chorus, which made me think it was a response to our name sake, Doves’ ‘There Goes the Fear’, which is all about taking chances. Dance music has never been the bastion of amazing lyrics like the singer/songwriter genre has always been, so to have a song with such a compelling sound and thinking man’s lyrics is a definite plus.
Pendulum fans, take note: you don’t have to be sad anymore. Embrace Santiago Street Machine, and you can have a new band to cheer on at gigs. The thing that gets me about people complaining about dance music is that it’s too slick, “overproduced” and over synthesised. I know some others don’t feel the same, but when I hear a track like ‘Sinking Stone’, I can feel the music course through my veins, and it’s the beats that make me feel alive. I used to say that if dance music didn’t have the power to move a person, then that person must be a stone. But now I’ve sort of backed off that premise, because I think it does take a special ear to appreciate dance music and most people, if they aren’t bothered, won’t even have a listen. But to miss out on something like ‘Sinking Stone’ would be a terrible loss.
‘Sinking Stone’, the new single from Santiago Street Machine, is out Sunday (the 30th of September) on the band’s own Hijacker Records. Watch the official video below.