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(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #113: Silences

 
By on Monday, 20th February 2017 at 1:00 pm
 

As this year’s SXSW Music Festival rapidly approaches and our preview coverage kicks into high gear, we’re once again excited to bring you showcasing artists’ answers to a special SXSW 2017 flavoured set of Quickfire Questions.

TGTF got a sneak preview of Northern Irish five-piece Silences at SXSW 2016, when their frontman Conchúr White had a last-minute opportunity to make the trip to Austin. We caught White for this interview during his initial SXSW foray, and he mentioned looking forward to having his bandmates join him for SXSW 2017. (In case you missed it, our full coverage of Silences at last year’s festival can be found right back here.)

Describe your music / sound in three words.
Passionate, Real, Diverse??

(If this will be your first time at SXSW) What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I was invited to play at a few unofficial solo shows last year and it was eye opener. It was probably one of the biggest turning points for me as a musician, There is just so much out there and if you don’t nail it, no one cares because there is probably an act on next door is killing it. It made me want to get better and come back with the group this year and here we are. Most of the group haven’t been to the USA so they’re very excited.

(If you’ve been to SXSW before) What advice would you give other bands who have never played at SXSW before?
Do as much as you can. Austin is beautiful, enjoy that. Enjoy the people and the atmosphere. I’ve never experienced anything like SXSW before.

Of the bands who have already been announced, do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
There are countless acts but I’ll give you two. Agnes Obel for the simple fact that she and her group are stunning. They performed at a festival we were at a few years ago and it was just one of the most special things I have witnessed. The other is Jealous Of The Birds. We have the same management but I recommend seeing her without any bias. Her songs are beautiful and people are really starting to take notice. Her band have come on leaps and bounds and I think they’re going to have a great SXSW.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
Just being there, appreciating the city and not being sick (hopefully). I had the flu last year so it kinda killed my buzz.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
I’m boring, you should ask our keyboardist though. He’s very unusual.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Please don’t we’ll probably be outrageously drunk already. Jokes, let’s get a shot.

Now, let’s get into our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Dancing to Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
Something by Oasis, maybe ‘Rock n Roll Star’.

What song always makes you laugh?
‘Monto’ – Dubliners. My dad used to sing it to me and it reminds me of being very young and laughing uncontrollably at the rude parts.

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What song always makes you cry?
So many, I’m such a baby. I was very hungover recently and burst out in to tears when ‘Fast Car’ [by Tracy Chapman] came on the radio…I know.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘Becoming A Jackal’ – Villagers.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
‘Poke’ by Frightened Rabbit.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
There are so many but right now, let’s say Death Cab for Cutie – the entire ‘Transatlanticism’ album.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
My favourite books are by Charles Bukowski. Favourite lyrics by Leonard Cohen.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’d probably have worked in business (unsuccessfully).

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Something I have never listened to before. Maybe ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ [by Pink Floyd]. I know, I know. I’m a fraud.

Many thanks to Conchúr for answering these questions, and to Sarah and Declan for their kind assistance.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: London rock artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Monday, 20th February 2017 at 11:00 am
 

As you might imagine, London leads the charge with the largest number of artists one city in the UK is sending to SXSW 2017. In this post, we introduce you to 17 acts from the capital who are experts in bashing it out on the guitar and drums and hitting you with a powerful voice. Yes, that’s right. Today’s edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 is all about the rock bands of London. The summaries below were written by Steven Loftin except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Artificial Pleasure
If the current The 1975 movement is your thing, then you’re welcome: Artificial Pleasure are sure to be a hit for you with their funkadelic, modern and sleazy in all the right ways sound, if you don’t want to dance during recent single ‘I’ll Make It Worth Your While’, then I’m sorry, there’s no hope for you. Although they only formed last year, it’s clear the future is certainly going to be bright for this band and their shows, filled with dancing feet.

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The Big Moon
At the forefront of the UK’s new indie wave, The Big Moon have heads rockin’ and rollin’ with a beautiful blending of retro sounds with a modern edge. Their debut album ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ scheduled for release in April is up for pre-order now, and this is definitely a band you will not want to miss out on, especially at SXSW. You can read Rebecca’s review of their single ‘Formidable’ back here.

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Blueprint Blue
A wonderful ‘60s vibe emanates from South London trio Blueprint Blue. With a hesitating innocence in their sound, all the way down to the wandering notes that fall out of place, it’s fun and light-hearted with no real offence.

Chelou
With a bluesy acoustic sound that builds itself around the use of atmospheric electronica, Chelou has a fresh noise that is filled with mood and melody. Think Chet Faker, with a bit more reserve and accompanied by some pretty sweet animation style videos. To also help you gauge him, consider the word ‘chelou’ is actually a French term for shady or suspicious. Talk about being on brand.

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Desert Mountain Tribe
London by way of Cologne, Desert Mountain Tribe are bringing that classic ‘60s garage, psychedelic sound to the modern age. Not messing with the formula too much, they’re raucous and do what they do well. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of the swinging throwback garage sound.

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Doe
London trio Doe’s ‘wonky alt-pop’ seems to draw directly from ‘90s Britpop, characterised by forceful, yet melodic guitars and a certain level of whimsy. Four years old (pretty long for an indie band these days) and having a whole load of releases under their belt already, their wry humour should set them apart from the rest of the pack in Austin. (Mary Chang)

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Feeder
A band who really need no introduction, Feeder have been around for decades. If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on their mammoth single ‘Buck Rogers’, then you have our pity and should check it out right now before you do anything else. Roaring back into life this year with new album ‘All Bright Electric’, Feeder are proving there’s life in the old dog yet.

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Jennings Couch
The oddly named Jennings Couch comprises three graduates of BIMM from Bristol, Brighton and London. There’s not a whole lot for us to go on about this new band; we can’t even share a full song with you, because their Soundcloud are private. What’s not up for disagreement is frontman Lei Jennings’s strong look, somewhere in between Meat Loaf, Fabio and Captain Jack Sparrow. We doubt they’ll be bringing a sofa with them, but we’ll report in from Austin about their live show if we can. (Mary Chang)

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Joey Fourr
Joey Prendergast used to be part of Tubelord, but since 2012 he’s been associated with London trio Joey Fourr. Lo-fi seems to be the word in rock these days, especially in America, so it’s not hard to imagine their tunes going over well in Austin, even if the group insist that their style of music is “WONK-POP 4 QUEER KIDS”. (Mary Chang)

Mantra
Pretty furious in sound and attitude, Mantra are another one of those upcoming bands with a chip on their shoulder and representing their generation. Songs about being outcasts in the world at large, they match this with good, old-fashioned solid rock ‘n’ roll with a bit of spit.

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Modern English
Formed in the late Seventies, Modern English are perhaps best known for their 1982 single ‘I Melt With You’, a song that soundtracked countless romantic moments as well as a Burger King commercial in the States. Releasing their eighth studio album ‘Take Me To The Trees’ in 2016, that was crowdfunded via PledgeMusic, they’ve proven that even with their 30+ years they still have that indie darling pull.

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Saint Leonard’s Horses
Reimagining himself and taking a band with him under the guise of Saint Leonard’s Horses, London songwriter Kieran Leonard has all the tales and all the talent. Having supported everyone from Ryan Adams to The Libertines, Leonard and his Horses know how to take you on a journey and give one hell of a ride.

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Shame
Shame, five teenage friends from Brixton, relish taking their shirts off onstage in the moment (hmm, Red Hot Chili Peppers much?). There isn’t much online on the band, but that’s because they’re just getting started. There’s another reason behind this: they’re being very careful about their image and making sure their sound is exactly what they want to unveil to the world. Their approach has paid off: they’ve already caught the eyes and ears of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, playing live for him in January as part of 6 Music Live. And they won’t be lying down after their close-up at SXSW 2017: they will be returning triumphantly to the UK for their support slot for California rockers Warpaint’s live dates in late March. No shame here. (Mary Chang)

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Skinny Girl Diet
It feels like 2017 could be the year Skinny Girl Diet thrive. Part of the Riot Grrrl movement, Skinny Girl Diet are as DIY and hardcore you can get and won’t take any of your crap. Young and riotous with an actual message, they sure haven’t forgotten the important platform provides for social protest. [The Fader in America have already picked up wind of these gals, so don’t drag your feet. –Ed.]

Splashh
Gearing up to release their second album ‘Waiting A Lifetime’ in April, Londoner’s Splashh are heading to Texas to make a…well…a splash. Indie rock at its finest, none too offensive and easily listened to.

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This Be the Verse
Time for something a little bit heavier and constructed. This Be the Verse is a new project fronted by one man that somehow has unrestrained power, yet twists it into cleverly constructed and sinister tracks. His self-titled debut album is an industrial horrorscape of brilliance and savagery.

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Ultimate Painting
More English indie rock, as only we can do it. Heartbreaking, yearning and like a rainy night in Manchester, Ultimate Painting also use influences such as Velvet Underground to attack with a more reserved chagrin. Being tipped by many UK outlets, they’re one band that 2017 is looking to be a real good time for.

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Ryan Adams / September 2017 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Monday, 20th February 2017 at 9:00 am
 

American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams has announced a list of live dates in the UK and Ireland for this September, in support of his newly released album ‘Prisoner’. Our own Steven reviewed the album back here, ahead of its release last Friday. You can have a listen to album track ‘Doomsday’ just below the tour date listing.

Tickets for the following shows will be available starting Friday the 24th of February. A full listing of Adams’ upcoming worldwide tour dates can be found on his official Facebook. You can read TGTF’s complete previous coverage of Ryan Adams through this link.

Friday 8th September 2017 – Belfast Ulster Hall
Saturday 9th September 2017 – Cork Opera House
Monday 11th September 2017 – Dublin Olympia Theatre
Thursday 14th September 2017 – Manchester Apollo
Friday 15th September 2017 – Edinburgh Usher Hall
Sunday 17th September 2017 – Gateshead Sage
Monday 18th September 2017 – Leeds Academy
Friday 22nd September 2017 – London Royal Albert Hall

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Album Review: The Courtneys – The Courtneys II

 
By on Friday, 17th February 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Andrew Volk

@3Courtneys

Courtneys II coverVancouver garage pop trio The Courtneys are back with a sophomore album that finds a way to combine ’80s girl-band pop and ’90s lo-fi grunge into a palatable package. I’m not a big fan of the slacker rock sub-genre, generally speaking, but new album ‘The Courtneys II’ keeps it on the brighter side with hooky guitar riffs and catchy bass grooves that are easily discernable amidst the general dampening and distortion.

Guitarist Courtney Loove leads the way in crafting a backdrop of fuzzy ambivalence overlaid with unapologetic pop-guitar melodies, followed closely by bassist Sydney Koke and drummer/lead singer Jen Twynn Payne. Twynn Payne’s singing voice is rather sullen and soporific, and her lyrics are somewhat less than profound, but her treble melodies fit nicely over the light, restrained powerpunk of the trio’s instrumental arrangements. (In case you’re curious, Courtney Loove is indeed a stage name; she’s explained it in this interview with The Stranger.)

The album’s opening track ‘Silver Velvet’ immediately displays the grungy guitars and bubblegum vocals that set the tone for the entire album. It’s infectious refrain, “and nothing you say / and nothing you do / could stop me from thinking about you”, is singsong simple, but that quality is probably what keeps it stuck in your head long after the song ends.

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Current single ‘Minnesota’ is a bit darker and muddier, with clanging percussion that threatens to overtake Twynn Payne’s vocals. Its lyrics are more melancholy in tone (“not easy to pretend it’s / not hard to let you go / so I’ll see you in the winter snow”), and though the vocal melody doesn’t particularly address that mood, it is echoed in the guitar riff and pulsating bass of the instrumental ending.

The upbeat and frenetic energy of ‘Tour’ captures the anticipation and anxiety of a band preparing to go on the road. Twynn Payne’s lead vocal seems more forward in the mix here, and it plays to the song’s advantage with more positive, ebullient energy coming through. Putting aside the deliberate detachment of the vocals in some of the other tracks on the record, she makes a strong connection in the lyrical lines, “what you have and what you want the most / it takes a long, long, long, long time”.

One of the most memorable tunes on the record is ‘Lost Boys’, which longtime fans of The Courtneys might recognise from just after the band’s debut. Written as an homage to 1987 teen vampire film ‘The Lost Boys’, the song has been floating around the Internet as a single since 2014. The version presented on the LP is cleaned up a bit and extended at the end: rather than fading out to the final lines “you look just like you did in 1986 / and that’s why you’re / a vampire teenage boyfriend”, the album version of the song leads into a groovy 2-minute instrumental outro.

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The album takes a slightly darker turn at the midway point, with the murky guitars and muffled drums of ‘Virgo’ and its bass-driven sister track ’25’. The former track conveys the all-encompassing haze of an early romance (“baby, when you are near / I lose all of my free time”), while the latter seems to be losing that initial excitement (“I doubt I would have tried / because I’m a Gemini / I’ll just change my mind”).

Sullen slacker anthem ‘Iron Deficiency’ is a track that probably could only have been written by an all-female band. Twynn Payne’s voice becomes a snarling, rebellious combination of speech and singing in the lines “my hair is breakin’ / my body’s achin’ / in the mirror, I look forsaken”. ‘Mars Attacks’ delves a bit into the weird with its singsong vocals and mindlessly repeated lyrics, but the instrumental bridge showcases a nifty guitar riff that’s not to be missed.

The Courtneys wisely save one of their strongest and most engaging pop anthems for the end of the album. ’Frankie’ starts with a vividly anticipatory intro and leads into an extended chorus at the end, maintaining the band’s characteristically grungy guitar work and a sense of light buoyancy at the same time.

While not overtly feminist in its lyrical content, ‘The Courtneys II’ bridges the gap between two typically male-dominated genres, ironic pop punk and lo-fi garage rock, intertwining the basic elements in a deliberately amorphous and distinctly feminine style. If you’re into deeply profound and poetic lyrics, ‘The Courtneys II” might not be the album for you, but fans of female voices and good guitar work won’t go wrong here.

7.5/10

‘The Courtneys II’ is out today on New Zealand indie label Flying Nun Records. The Courtneys will spend March and April on tour here in North America; you can find a list of their upcoming live dates on their official Facebook.

 

Album Review: Ryan Adams – Prisoner

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

Ryan Adams Prisoner album coverThere’s no doubting that American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams is one of the more prolific songwriters around. ‘Prisoner’ will mark his sixteenth release, which is one hell of an output for one mind. Naturally, you would imagine that at some point there would be a lull in the quality. Having released such a career-defining debut, ‘Heartbreaker’ in 2001, the pressure has been on him from the start, and he really hasn’t helped himself because over the years he’s managed to churn out a solid body of work through various guises and forms. Lest we forget 2005 where he released three albums in 1 year, one of which was a double disc.

The modern day Ryan returned to us after his “retirement” back in 2009 with 2012’s ‘Ashes & Fire’, an acoustic, soul-baring album that proved his songwriting chops were still as fine as ever. 2014 gave us his self-titled album that brought a bit more life to the party and also gave birth to the sound he’s choosing to envelop himself in: a supremely vintage, eighties vibe with confidence and power ballad-esque potential. ‘Prisoner’ continues this while harking back to his earlier years (we missed you, harmonica).

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The lead single from this effort came in the form of ‘Do You Still Love Me?’, which sticks close to the self-titled way of working, just with a bit more stopping and starting. The only trouble with the abruptness that careens throughout is it leaves you a bit dissatisfied. Like you’re constantly waiting for it all to culminate into one grand “fuck yeah” flourish. In terms of the chorus, there’s certainly a grabbing and encompassing melody to it. You can feel the heavy metal elements that he loves flowing through in the striking solo but lacking the ferocity that the genre usually shows, so it doesn’t hold as much sting.

Following this is the album’s title track that brings things down to a more reserved level. It’s a beautifully delicate number that brings out the rawness Adams is oh so adept at channelling into his music, especially considering the main inspiration for the album is his divorce from singer/actress Mandy Moore. The sparse and reverberant harmonica that kicks in during the outro is heartbreaking. Continuing with his mission to break open your emotions and spill them all over the floor, ‘Doomsday’ decides to just appear straight away with more harmonica, an instrument that when used right can cut you in two. Slightly more powerful than its predecessor, the post-chorus decides to try and pick you up slightly, but then the harmonica slinks back and pushes you back down and refuses to let go.

‘Haunted House’ doesn’t really differ from those before it, and in all in honesty, at this point in the record you wouldn’t expect any change. Adams is no stranger to musical experimentation, as shown from his back catalogue, but what he truly does best is tell his stories in a way that you can relate to. What listeners need to bear in mind when listening to ‘Prisoner’ is that while this may not be his strongest release, every artist makes records for a reason. This was one that he felt he needed to make, to those express dark and hurt feelings. No song shows this more than ‘Shiver and Shake’. A barren guitar, when twinned with Adams shaking vocals, is a dangerous thing, especially when you put those two ideas with lyrics such as “I’ve missed you so much I shiver and shake”. Thankfully, things pick up, only slightly, on ‘To Be Without You’. There’s a slight note of promise and hope, but ultimately it’s the lyrics that dash these ideas and leave you back in the gutter.

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There’s a bit more life in following track ‘Anything I Say to You Now’. The reverberant and ghostly guitars still ultimately reign supreme, but the chorus has a melodic quality not seen since Adams’ 2003-era release ‘Love is Hell’. As his voice echoes and falls away from the musical backdrop, there’s a certain call back to the sound of The Smiths. Rain-soaked Manchester evenings have always been a central player in Adams’ more disparate sounds, thanks to his adoration for Morrissey and co., and that is more than highlighted across the entire album.

‘Breakdown’ is where Adams decides to go bare bones and builds the song up around the exposed skeleton he starts with. As the chorus hits, the bass has a run that you can’t help but follow, while the guitars glimmer in and out of its empty spaces. Its active moment comes from the middle chorus, which leads to everything falling as if down a set of stairs. Slowly. It’s brutal, and you truly feel Adams himself wasn’t too far off from “heading for a breakdown”. ‘Outbound Train’, ‘Broken Anyway’ and ‘Tightrope’ go for a majority acoustic offence, which is a nice break from the glimmering guitar sound of the rest of the album. It also allows Adams’ words and voice to take centre stage, which is where the true strength of this album lies. Oh, and the saxophone on ‘Tightrope’. That’s cool.

Finale ‘We Disappear’ is the weakest moment of the album. It doesn’t add to the depth of the story Adams is trying to tell. Nor does it add any variance musically, though it does have moments of madness that are likely the true meaning behind ‘Prisoner’. As a whole, the record does little to evolve Adams’ sound. In fact, it seems so annoyingly close to his previous album, but ultimately it’s a record he had to make for personal reasons. So, we thank you, Ryan Adams, for sharing your life.

7/10

‘Prisoner’, the sixteenth album from American singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, is out tomorrow, the 17th of February on PaxAm/Blue Note/Capitol. To catch up on TGTF’s past coverage on Ryan Adams, use this link.

 

Single Review: Orchid Collective – Waited on the Sun

 
By on Wednesday, 15th February 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

For a band who have only been together just over a year, Orchid Collective are already making tremendous strides within the Irish music scene. Since the release of their debut EP ‘Courage’ in November 2016, the Dublin-based lads have gained a lot of mainstream media attention from the likes of Clash Magazine, Hot Press Magazine, Irish national radio station RTE 2FM and Nialler9, who recently premiered their most recent single from the EP, released last Friday.

‘Waited on the Sun’ is the second single from ‘Courage’, and it has been self-described by the band as “the perfect ode to the final days of winter.” The longing for warmer nights and brighter days is a sensation everyone can relate to, which is why the track’s anthemic opening brings familiarity, a sense of safety and warmth upon listening. The intro, which doubles as the chorus, acts as the driving force of the song. David O’Shea’s lyrics seem to work as a guiding light rather than its leading feature, leaving enough room for the instrumentation to take a leading role, something that Orchid Collective’s folk-rock predecessors failed to experiment with. This gives the track a hint of ambiguity opening its meaning up for personal interpretation by each individual listener, such as a sonic representation of that moment you notice the buds on trees opening up, indicating the first signs of spring.

The song has an overarching message of love and lust, but this is presented in a rather physical manner, less subtle than the change in seasons. Shea Tohill’s lead guitar parts take on the spotlight role, bringing a real vibrance to the track whilst highlighting the intensities of the song’s dynamics through the use of the extended range of his guitar. This leaves enough open space for Darra Doyle and Hugh O’Neill to experiment with their respective mobile bass lines and physical drum parts, creating tensions and resolutions where necessary.

With a subtle, light and breathy synth pad in the foundation of the track, plus intricate three-part vocal harmonies, ‘Waiting on the Sun’ is a song that can challenge patience and serenity, while displaying strong physicality and vitality.

7.5/10

‘Waiting on the Sun’, the newest single from Orchid Collective, is available now. You can also catch the band at their next headline show at Dublin Unitarian Church on the 4th of March. To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on the band, including editor Mary’s coverage of them at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 last October, go here.

 
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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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