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Single Review: Rosie Carney – Winter

 
By on Tuesday, 21st November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Enigmatic and introspective Donegal-based singer/songwriter Rosie Carney has released a slow but steadily captivating stream of singles since signing to independent record label X Novo in 2016, including the acutely personal ‘Awake Me’, which TGTF reviewed back in the early part this year.  More recently, as we come to the close of 2017, Carney has unveiled a new track titled ‘Winter’, which captures both the fragile beauty of the upcoming season and the cold embrace of loneliness that sometimes accompanies it.

Carney’s ‘Winter’ is a stark and exquisitely executed metaphor for a broken relationship. Musically, its delicate acoustic guitar and bowed string instrumentation creates an intricate and shadowy harmonic backdrop for her brittle yet graceful vocal lines. Lyrically, Carney mingles poetry that clearly recalls the characteristic darkness and biting chill of winter with lines that are equally evocative of despair and desolation, as in the opening verse of the song: “I watch the leaves fall down at midnight / there is no sound but humming streetlights / I feel the cold that sleeps on my back”. Contemplating a solitary life without her lover, Carney sings, “I’ll count the days until they’re longer / but who said this haze would make me stronger?” Despite the haunting spectre of doubt, her musical accompaniment does gather courage in its dynamics, as the distant piano melody adds a shimmer of light in the sonic background, and a faint dusting of backing vocals provides depth behind the lingering lyric melody, “I’ll try forgetting you . . .” The final violin melody wraps around to reiterate the song’s introductory motif, leaving behind a poignant sense of longing even after the last strains of sound fade away.

7.5/10

‘Winter’ from Rosie Carney is out now. Carney will perform in London’s Notting Hill Arts Club on the 12th of December as part of CRC Music Presents, along with Night Flight and a secret headline act to be announced later. TGTF’s previous coverage of Rosie Carney, including an interview with her from last year at SXSW 2016, is collected right back here.

 

Single Review: Charles Watson – No Fanfare

 
By on Thursday, 16th November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Singer and producer Charles Watson, best known until now as part of Sheffield alt-pop duo Slow Club, has just debuted his first solo material in the form of an atmospheric and synth-laden single titled ‘No Fanfare’. Watson gave some broad hints at the style of his solo work in Slow Club’s 2016 LP ‘One Day All This Won’t Matter Anymore’, which we reviewed right back here. The divide between his artistic leanings and those of his musical partner Rebecca Taylor was already beginning to surface on that record, and the two of them have apparently decided to follow their separate muses for the time being. (Taylor has also released solo work under the moniker Self Esteem.)

With light, ethereal instrumentation and Watson’s delicately introspective vocals, ‘No Fanfare’ doesn’t exactly soar, but instead gracefully floats through the listener’s sonic consciousness. That quality is surely intentional, and it seems remarkably appropriate to the song’s persistent lyrical examination of the ephemerality of relationships. “What chance have we got / when the flowerless sing of flooded orchards?”, Watson sings over a strummed acoustic guitar and a wash of amorphous synths.

His lyrics straddle the line between poetry and prose, often blending indistinctly into the soundscape. But musically, his idea still comes across. The synths adopt a mild wail of sorrow ahead of the pleading question “was it the cool mountain air / making your mind feel calm and empty / or was it the absence of myself?”. The addition of brass halfway through the song brings a hint of richness and warmth to the sonic texture, and a gorgeous electric guitar solo injects an air of poignant longing before the track comes around to close, as if at peace, back where it began.

7.5/10

‘No Fanfare’ is out now on Moshi Moshi; take a listen to it just below. You can read our past coverage of Charles Watson as part of Slow Club through this link.

 

 

Single Review: Roo Panes – A Message to Myself

 
By on Monday, 13th November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Sophie-Emma Rider

Dorset singer/songwriter Roo Panes has recently released his first taste of new music since his 2016 album ‘Paperweights’, in the form of a standalone single titled ‘A Message to Myself’. The new track takes a slight step away from Panes’ previous guitar-based songwriting style, which I had described as “earthy” and “organic”, and expands his sonic palette to encompass a more atmospheric, almost ephemeral quality.

‘A Message to Myself’ starts with an ethereal “ooo” over a simple piano accompaniment, before Panes’ deep yet effortless baritone enters. His lyrics are poetic in form and a bit obscure in meaning, but his self-directed message seems to be about finding clarity and peace in the solitude of his own mind, away from the influence of the outside world. “If I’d heard every word / or read every line upon the shelf”, he sings in the title lyric, “I’d still need a message to myself”.

Though it consists only of two verses and a simple refrain, the song spans over 5 minutes in length without ever losing its gentle but steady momentum. Produced by Bassi Fox of Mt. Wolf, the subtle instrumental details in the arrangement set an ambient, introspective tone as well as adding hints of texture and color to the overall soundscape. The falsetto vocal in the refrain will appeal to fans of Bon Iver singer Justin Vernon, and Panes uses his naturally melodic singing voice as a deftly integrated part of the instrumental texture in the song’s lengthy and delicately layered coda.

7.5/10

Roo Panes’ newest single ‘A Message to Myself’ is out now on CRC Music. Talented photographer Sophie-Emma Rider has published a series of photos of the equally talented and remarkably photogenic Roo Panes on her own Web site, which you can find by clicking here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Roo Panes, including a lovely interview from SXSW 2016, is collected through here.

 

Single Review: BANNERS – Someone to You

 
By on Tuesday, 7th November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

BANNERS – known to his mum back in Liverpool as Mike Nelson – has had a busy 2017. Building on the momentum of last year’s self-titled EP, he’s released a slew of singles this year, including ‘Firefly’ (which I reviewed back here) and ‘Someone to You’, a recent mainstay at SiriusXM’s Alt Nation. ‘Someone to You’ has some interesting lyrical choices, as it is alternately self-deprecating and inspiring. It comes across as genuine as the figurative ticker tape that runs in all of our hearts: feeling a host of emotions all at once, and not a singular one, is as normal and human as it gets. The song is a wonderful foot-stomper, with an incessant, irrepressible beat, and lyrics that beg to be sung along to.

The literal translation of the song’s title is the want to be important to someone else, as in the shoulder to cry on and the rock when things get tough. In conventional, straight relationships, the man is supposed to be in the role of provider and protector, the strong one. With the words in the chorus “and if the sun’s upset and the sky goes cold / then if the clouds get heavy and start to fall / I really need somebody to call my own”, he is stepping up to the plate to be that protector. However, Nelson also recognises that in a relationship, there should be reciprocal give and take. He’s ready to be vulnerable, to be led to a better place by a strong partner: “And if you feel the great dividing / I wanna be the one you’re guiding / ‘Cause I believe that you could lead the way”.

I’d like to highlight Nelson’s reliquishing of the lead role in a relationship, because it seems to be in recognition of something much bigger than the two people in a committed relationship in this song. He’s acknowledging that we’re here on this green earth not to be self-centred, selfish and completely absorbed in material things and in our own lives. We’re here to be kind, to do for others, for a greater purpose and to affect positive change even when the times get rough and to make a difference to others. Have you sensed a recent shift in how you’re feeling lately? Some of us are already actively working on this. I don’t think I need to convince you with the refugee crisis, the election of President Trump, the Brexit vote to leave the EU, the armed response to the Catalonia referendum, the numerous senseless acts of violence that have killed so many people, the list goes on and on…there are a lot of angry people and people hurting in this world right now. You need to decide if you’re going to join the movement to make this a better place or if you’re going to sit back and do nothing.

For the promo video, Nelson goes to a school and decides to engage with its misfits, guys you might not have given a second thought to before they’re too nerdy and keep only to themselves. Nelson makes it his personal mission to psych these guys up, spending time with them to boost their confidence, to get them away from behind their desks and into shape, radically changing their outlook. As someone who was painfully shy and had pretty much nonexistent self-esteem in high school due to medical problems that made me different from everyone else, I could have really used someone like BANNERS cheering me on in my corner back then. If you don’t relate at all to this, if you were hated on at school, I guess…congratulations? You’ve missed something important, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”

And the ending of this video! You’ll never guess what happens at the end, so make sure you watch it all the way through. Please share it: it’s a video that is sure to raise a smile and hopefully make a difference in someone’s life.

8/10

‘Someone to You’ and the EP that it’s on, ‘Empires on Fire’, are out now on Island Records. For more on BANNERS here on TGTF, check out all of our coverage on him through here.

 

Single Review: The Lost Brothers – Echoes in the Wind

 
By on Wednesday, 1st November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo for Gabriel Sullivan

Incredibly, we’re rounding the decade mark for Irish duo The Lost Brothers’ debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’. Since then, the guitar-toting singer/songwriters have released quite a bit of music and played shows all over the world, including multiple appearances at SXSW. Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, masters of an Americana, folk sound, have announced they’ll be releasing their fifth studio album, ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, in January on Bird Dog Records. Of the upcoming release, Oisin says, “Many of our albums have been quite desolate, but this one has tiny slivers of hope. We’ve been challenged, and that has made the songs richer. We have definitely polished the gloom a bit! Weirdly, it’s our most forward-thinking record.” It follows 2014’s ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, one of my favourite albums of that year.

To get our interest piqued for the upcoming release, they’ve revealed ‘Echoes in the Wind’, the lead single from the album. Like many of their past songs that have filled my ears with wonder, this is a song that takes full advantage of the pair’s gorgeously complementary harmonies and dexterous acoustic guitar notes. The only other instruments that appear on the relatively unadorned track are some twinkles of a piano and the beat of an ordinary drum, simply used to keep the beat.

In the span of 3 and a half minutes, McCausland and Leech do their best to disagree with Dylan Thomas’ words of “do not go gentle in that good night”. In the words of the chorus “hear the night come calling us home”, the duo sing wistfully, not regretfully or even rebelliously. “All we are is just an echo in the wind” should translate to a feeling of vulnerability, about the ephemeral nature of life, of each days passing ever so quicker towards the day we say goodbye to this green earth. However, when presented to you in this pair’s rich vocal tones and evocative guitar-playing, the emotion conveyed instead is the sense of contentment that we’re all in this together in this thing called life. ‘Echoes in the Wind’ is a great preview of what should be another stellar collection of music from these talented Irishmen.

8.5/10

The new single from The Lost Brothers, ‘Echoes in the Wind’, is available now. LP ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’ is scheduled for release on the 26th of January 2018 on Bird Dog Records. Catch up on TGTF’s past coverage on the Irish folk duo through this link.

 

Single Review: Beans on Toast – Open Door Policy

 
By on Tuesday, 31st October 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Self-described “drunk folk singer” Beans on Toast (aka Jay McAllister) begins his new single ‘Open Door Policy’ on a decidedly pessimistic note: “the world is dying / shit is getting serious / everybody’s lying / it’s impossible to tell the truth”. But despite his initially despondent outlook, ‘Open Door Policy’ finds a ray of sunshine in its biting commentary on the state of Western politics and society.

McAllister’s typically simple folk arrangement allows complete focus on the dry humour and self-depracating wit in his lyrics. He places himself in seemingly contradictory roles throughout the song’s narrative, first identifying himself as “a pacifist, eternal optimist” and then declaring that “I am my own propaganda machine”. He also bemoans the prevalence of “dark money and big data, and the mass manipulation of the human race”, and I have to admit a certain admiration for any songwriter who can fit a phrase like that into a recognisable melody.

The video juxtaposes pixelated and otherwise distorted images of McAllister in a variety of  physical settings with another series of him experiencing virtual reality, presumably in an attempt to illustrate the weird blurring of the boundary between the two. The song itself might be a bit verbose, but ultimately, it’s worth listening through to the end for McAllister’s more hopeful conclusion, which finds a quaint visual counterpart in the pretty yellow dandelion on his hat.

7.5/10

Beans on Toast’s new LP ‘Cushty’ is due for release on the 1st of December via Xtra Mile Recordings. You can have a listen to its cheeky recent single ‘Taylor Swift’ on Spotify. Beans on Toast will be on tour with Xtra Mile label mates Skinny Lister through the end of this year; you can find details on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Beans on Toast is back through here.

 
 
 

About Us

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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