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Single Review: The Cribs – Leather Jacket Love Song

 
By on Wednesday, 16th January 2013 at 3:00 pm
 

Words by Edward Chapman

Some might say six-string icon Johnny Marr‘s involvement in anything gives it the automatic seal of cool approval but this is actually fair comment when it comes to the Cribs‘ ‘Leather Jacket Love Song’. A Clash/Libertines sawing guitar riff opening (which has ex-Smith Johnny’s fingerprints all over it) makes you keen to hear more of this ‘lost track’ and as always, chopped fringe vocalist Ryan Jarman is spot on with his spat-out vocals, just as he is here with plenty of memorable “oohs” and”’ahhhs” and hints at doo-wop that don’t sound old hat.

It’s a good old proper tune and chucks a lot at the ear, but a lot hits home nicely. Recorded in early 2010, it’s the last song the Jarman brothers made with Mr. Marr on guitar and it hasn’t seen daylight until now, though it has been played live once or twice. It’s a taster from the Cribs’ forthcoming singles collection ‘Payola’, which marks the band’s 10th anniversary.

With a song this good and such an instant earworm, it does beg the question why was this unreleased until now and just what other gems are there in the Cribs’ crypt? The jarring discordant ending may hold the (off) key to answering this, as it’s a bit abrupt and spoils things. – What was wrong with a fade-out, guys? But before we get too picky and before the finale, the song is pleasantly littered with youthful regrets. The intriguing song title is a clever nod to Ryan’s penchant for wearing such attire and yes, the Cribs remain among the best at doing that ‘indie rock thing’.

8/10

‘Leather Jacket Love Song’, the new release from Wakefield trio the Cribs, will be released on the 25th of February on Wichita Recordings, as part of new singles compilation ‘Payola’. A deluxe version with an additional 18 tracks of B-sides and rarities will also be available.

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Single Review: David Bowie – Where Are We Now?

 
By on Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

After a 10-year hiatus, the very release of new David Bowie material is an event in itself, spreading tendrils of anticipation across disparate media, almost regardless of the qualities of the song which heralds such keenly-felt anticipation. But what of ‘Where Are We Now’, in and of itself? What does it tell us about Bowie in 2013, and more to the point, is it any good?

It’s too tempting not to poke some gentle, if sacreligious, fun. The world-weary vocal performance, the deadpan video, and the confused song title bring to mind a favourite uncle or grandfather, suddenly waking in a temporary confusion from the back seat, perhaps when the car stops at Watford Gap services to take on Ginsters pasties and sticky sweets. This is not Bowie at his most assertive – the tempo is glacial, the instrumentation bland, the voice cracked and mournful. Indeed, one could go as far as to use the word dull. But the song does have its subtle beauty. It’s not clear what key it’s in – the chorus starts on the root note and ends on the root note, it’s just that those two notes happen to be different; chord changes are obscure yet work beautifully, and even though the voice is morose, it still carries all the distinctive hallmarks of that which has enchanted popular music for decades. Welcome back, David.

Lyrically, the theme is death and Berlin. Until the last minute, when things pick up, and it’s almost about love. And Berlin. The video shamelessly misspells some of the German capital’s name-checked landmarks and inexplicably casts Bowie as a double-headed soft toy, but hey, it’s all in the name of art. The most fascinating detail is the weary blow of the lips at 3:26 – the universal sign for “I’ve had enough now”. And perhaps he has – after years ensconced in New York domestic bliss, now it’s time for the carefully-choreographed comeback (together with an exhibition at the V&A and accompanying stratospherically-priced limited-edition catalogue, for goodness’ sake!).

But what if he just can’t be bothered? Why not just leave the legacy and be done with it? Time will tell, but I have my doubts whether Bowie’s heart is really in it. Compare his mood here with the activity of his contemporaries – Neil Young is still trashing guitars in squalls of feedback at age 67, and his old playmate Lou Reed is trading riffs with Metallica aged 70. The hope is high that the full album will treat a wider gamut of Bowie’s talents: at least he might do a little dance.

This is a deeply schizophrenic track. Superficially dull, but with exciting details. Plenty of talk of death, but with an uplifting finish. Daft-as-a-brush video that hints at Bowie’s fascinating and still relevant Berlin-period backstory. I don’t want to listen to it anymore, but still can’t wait for the new material. So, then: a dismal, error-laden piece of work from a recalcitrant, overrated pensioner, or a blinding opening salvo for the next chapter in the career of one of the most important practitioners of popular music of the last five decades? In fact, in keeping with the theme: it’s both. And it really makes me want to visit Berlin again.

Somewhere between a 6 and a 9/10

David Bowie’s long-awaited new single ‘Where Are We Now?’ is out now on Columbia.

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Single Review: Hurts – Miracle

 
By on Wednesday, 9th January 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Edward Chapman

‘Miracle’ doesn’t mess about. The lead single off Hurts‘ eagerly-awaited second album, out in March, kicks right off with an instrumental chorus Coldplay would be proud of. But the LED wristband moment doesn’t last long before singer Theo Hutchcraft rolls in with a rich Englishy vocal so lovingly sad that takes matters in a different direction as we find him searching for a, yes, miracle amid the throes of a dying relationship.

He seems to do sorrow in his sleep, which is both a blessing and a curse, although he is clearly capable of searing anguish; think Bono singing ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’. Hurts say they took a while to find the sound they were apparently long searching for, and ‘Miracle’ is strewn with downbeat-optimistic lovelorn lyrics given gravitas by the heartfelt baritone delivery. Yes, we’ve heard similar words many times before, but if they ain’t broke… And it’s a pleasant surprise to hear echoing guitar later in the mix: it’s interesting and puts this single in a higher class. Why can’t an ostensibly synthpop duo use a guitar if it works?

If you like that late ‘70s into the mid ‘80s Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys electro sound, coupled with a distinct now-ness, this track will further whet appetites for those hungry for the new album, even if it doesn’t quite satisfy lyrically, not scaling any particularly interesting heights. It’s certainly catchy though and like everything on their first album (2010′s ‘Happiness’) very deftly produced with Jonas Quant again at the helm. Move quickly if you fancy seeing them live, dates for many gigs in the upcoming European tour – including London in February and Manchester in April – have sold out already; previously announced UK dates are listed here.

7/10

‘Miracle’, the new single from Manchester duo Hurts, will be released on the 10th of March on Major Label. Their second album ‘Exile’, the long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s ‘Happiness’, will follow on the 11th of March.

 

Single Review: The Good Natured – 5-HT

 
By on Friday, 21st December 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Although ’5-HT’ is the first single from The Good Natured‘s debut album out next year on EMI/Parlophone (aka the Beatles’ label home), it doesn’t mean it’s the first bit we’ve ever posted on them. Far from it. Former editor Phil wrote a Bands to Watch feature on Sarah McIntosh’s then solo project in 2008 (read it here) that starred her gran’s Casio keyboard, narrowly rescued by McIntosh from the rubbish heap.

But the project has now evolved into a full-fledged three-piece electropop band, featuring McIntosh on lead vocals and keyboards, brother Hamish on bass and university mate George Hinson on drums. At first, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with what The Good Natured morphed into once they wer signed to EMI; I was so worried about Sara turning into a Britney or a Gaga, as her look became hyper-sexualised. Judging from the lyrics of this single however, this is electropop…with a difference. Maybe I’m too outspoken for a woman, but I’m sorry, I’m not a 50 Shades of Grey wimp, crippled by the need to be dominated by a man. If you’re going to be a woman and sexual, then don’t you dare be a Lana Del Rey type. Take ownership of it!

While not as immediate and animal as last year’s ‘Skeleton’, there’s a lot to love about ’5-HT’. If you’re wondering where the name came from, I immediately knew what it was, because I’m just a massive biochemistry boffin underneath. 5-HT is shorthand for 5-hydroxytryptamine, also known as the neurotransmitter serotonin, linked to pleasurable activities. How does this fit into a pop song? If you liked the self-assured swagger of Roxy Music‘s ‘Love is the Drug’ metaphor, this is in the same vein. “I fall deep / you kill the pain, my opiate / 5-HT / rush to the brain”: it’s not exactly chat up lines at your local, but rather more impressively, what a scientist might say in a paradoxically clever statement. Opiates, like heroin and morphine, kill pain and generally lead people to sleep…so how can this be, if we’re still talking about the pleasure chemical? Consider the bridge:

And it’s ripping through my heart when you kiss me
Feel you beating in my heart and running through my veins
And it’s ripping through my heart when you kiss me
Feel you beating in my heart and running through my veins
And it’s ripping through my heart when you kiss me
Feel you beating in my heart and running

An ex once said to me after reading some of my poetry about the love I had for him, “I don’t want to ruin your artistic expression, but this is how I see it, so plainly. I don’t think it’s dirty, it’s beautiful.” The sentiment rings true in this case too.

8/10

’5-HT’, the current single from the Good Natured, is available now. Their debut album will be out in early 2013 on EMI/Parlophone.

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Single Review: Everything Everything – Kemosabe

 
By on Tuesday, 18th December 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Everything Everything Kemosabe single cover2013 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.

9/10

‘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.

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Single Review: Biffy Clyro – Black Chandelier

 
By on Monday, 17th December 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

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.

8/10

‘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.

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About Us

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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