Editor Mary is in Toronto for CMW 2016 this week.
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(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #112: Callum Norton of Broken Hands

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Canadian Music Week (CMW) 2016 is here! I am now in Toronto, soaking up the sights but avoiding the CN Tower (I’m mostly afraid of heights) and waiting for some of my UK brethren to get here so we can share a plate of poutine. We’re wrapping up our CMW 2016 preview posts and before we get stuck in on the event proper, I’ve got another set of answers to our TGTF Quickfire Questions for you. This time, our kind interviewee is Callum Norton, drummer for Canterbury rockers Broken Hands, who released their debut last autumn. Last week, ahead of their appearances this week in Canada, I posted this live video from their recent BBC Introducing session at Maida Vale for Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music. Callum’s brother Dale answered the SXSW 2014 version of the Quickfire Questions 2 years ago, so it’s nice to keep in all the family for this set that are of course CMW 2016 flavoured.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Energetic space rock.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Canada’?
RUSH!!!

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Toronto? Have you been before?
Never been before, CN Tower…a revolving restaurant in the sky! And obviously playing to people we’ve never met!!

Of the bands who have already been announced (https://cmw.net/music/artists/), do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Eagles of Death Metal, for sure.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase for your time at CMW that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
SGGE Manual. [I’ve asked around and am still not sure what this is. I’m going to guess it’s something percussion related? – Ed.]

After CMW, what’s up next for you? Writing and recording? TGE / summer festivals / etc.? Do tell!
We’ve got a couple of festivals coming up in the UK, Isle of Wight and Lodestar Festival. Then lots of writing and some European support dates with Deaf Havana.

We’re now moving on over to our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘The Okey Cokey’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Happy Birthday’ (‘cos I knew what it meant!)

What song makes you laugh?
Tommy Cooper – ‘Don’t Jump Off the Roof Dad’.

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What song makes you cry?
Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.

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.)
Lou Reed – ‘Vicious’.

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.)
Anything by Ellie Goulding.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Elton John and George Michael – ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’.

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Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Jim James.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Carpet laying.

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.)
‘ABBA Gold’.

Cheers Callum, we appreciate you answering these! Thanks too to Matt for chasing these up for us.

 

Album Review: Tourist – U

 
By on Monday, 2nd May 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Tourist U album coverThe Tourist debut album has been a long time coming. Electronic singer/songwriter and producer William Phillips hasn’t exactly been sitting on his hands in the last few years, however. He’s been biding his time with a series of EPs – ‘Tourist’ in 2012, ‘Tonight’ in 2013 and ‘Patterns’ in 2014 – and collaborated with several of current British pop royalty such as Lianne La Havas and Years and Years. In 2015, he won a Grammy for Song of the Year for his co-writing prowess for Sam Smith’s monster hit ‘Stay with Me’, a piece of trivia that probably hasn’t been advertised enough. On the other hand, dwelling on that fact could detract from Phillips’ own preferred mode of creativity, as a smart, inventive, engaging electronic artist.

On the last day of SXSW 2014, I caught Tourist at an afternoon showcase at the now-gone Holy Mountain. It didn’t matter that it was 1 in the afternoon. Phillips was in his element, creating a wall of sound in front of us, hunched over a Macbook and a tabletop full of equipment, and that’s the image I have of him while listening to ‘U’, envisioning him in the recording studio, laying down these tracks. The allure of electronic music for many is in its ambiguity, the need for the listener to really tune into the many elements of a track to achieve full-on appreciation for the art and the mood the creator intended. (In stark contrast, most top 40 pop is obvious, with its inclusion of a chorus, a hook, and verses that usually follow the same rhythmic pattern, all fitting neatly into a 3-minute bite of music.) Throughout the album, Phillips as Tourist shows his deft hand at developing soundscapes full of texture, of contrasts through light and dark, from contemplation to euphoria.

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A great example of this is ‘Wait’. The track chugs along slowly with an insistent backbeat, with wub wubs and percussive flourishes towards a higher, smooth plateau of enjoyable consciousness for the listener. Another great moment on ‘U’ is previously released single ‘Run’, which was promoted with a NSFW video. Phillips describes it as “…a song about falling in love”, saying that he loved the Ozzie Pullin-directed video “because it’s so pure. It sums up the driving essence of what it means to be human.” After hearing his explanation of it, you hear the music and it all makes sense: at the core of the song is its pulsing heartbeat, a reminder of being alive and as an extension, the energised feeling you get when your heart is doing backflips over someone you’re attracted to.

Skittish in nature and with video game-esque blips and bloops, ‘Foolish’ is one of the more inspired moments on ‘U’. ‘Waves’ is similarly interesting: the song begins as if a casual dance stroll before it progresses to brighter, rave-worthy beats. The album ends on a wonderfully tropical note with ‘For Sarah’: gentle chords usher the track, which swells towards an expansive, shinier, lighter conclusion. Oddly, the one misstep on the record appears to be ‘Too Late’. Although the bpm is up for much of the track, the mood is largely one note, feeling like the sonic equivalent of your head being beat into a wall.

When I heard the Tourist album was going to be called ‘U’, I inwardly groaned, thinking that it was designed to appeal to a favourite text shorthand of millennials. But the more I’ve thought about it, ‘U’ represents a coolness that you yourself can embrace, by diving into this music, acknowledging it for the art it is. While it’s true that electronic music may not be for everyone, the songs contained on this album have a level of sophistication granted by Phillips’ way to putting together plenty of unique instrumental components and embellishments, and are therefore worthy of your time.

8/10

‘U’, the debut album from Tourist, is out this Friday, the 6th of May, on Monday Records. To read TGTF’s past coverage on Phillips’ work as Tourist, go here.

 

Preview: Roskilde Festival 2016

 
By on Monday, 2nd May 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Across 8 days in late June into early July, some of the biggest names in contemporary music, along with some incredible up-and-comers, will descend on the Danish island of Zealand to take part in the open-air Roskilde Festival. From the 25th of June to the 2nd of July, Roskilde will be featuring an incredible 183 acts across nine stages at the largest music festival in Northern Europe.

Wednesday will see the likes of Wiz Khalifa and At the Drive-In on the Arena stage, as well as Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes on Avalon and Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners on the Orange stage. Also on the Orange stage, earlier in the day, will be The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, a group of musicians torn apart by the war in Syria but reassembled in January of this year and who will be performing alongside Damon Albarn and guests. The orchestra, who have previously worked with Albarn on Gorillaz’ ‘Plastic Beach’ album, will be a sight to see. From what I’ve seen on YouTube, they look pretty incredible and I can only imagine how they sound live.

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The always crowd-pleasing Hinds from Madrid, who released their debut LP ‘Leave Me Alone’ earlier this year, will be representing the Spanish indie rock scene. Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band of Ghana are sure to be a dance-fuelled joyful experience, bringing Afro-funk and a carnival-esque feel to the Avalon stage: a must catch for anyone wanting to experience a spectacular African inspired sound.

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On Thursday there’s another wide variety of acts to see, with most musical tastes catered to. Tenacious D, CHVRCHES, PJ Harvey, Santigold and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are a selection of the eclectic mix of acts that will be playing throughout the day. Dev Hynes as Blood Orange, who you will recall going by the name Lightspeed Champion in the past, is also among the line-up and will be one to catch for any soul/funk lovers, while London female post-punk outfit Savages are a good shout for anyone hoping to catch something a little heavier. You can also catch hitmaker Elle King, a dusky-voiced soul-rock singer who released her debut album in 2015 and whose banjo-laced music is given a country sounding edge, on Thursday.

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Moving on to Friday, there’s again plenty for everyone. Biffy Clyro will be playing on the Arena stage, which should be a good show considering the trio have just announced their new album ‘Ellipsis’, their newest since 2013. Foals will also be playing, along with Skepta, M83 and Neil Young and Promise of the Real. Aussies Tame Impala are not to be missed, as their infectious psychedelic pop rock will have even the stiffest of dancers bopping along. Also on Friday, James Blake will be playing, as well as the incredible Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose bluesy indie folk will be perfect for those that don’t fancy catching Biffy Clyro.

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Saturday brings music behemoths New Order to the stage, along with LCD Soundsystem, Miike Snow and The Last Shadow Puppets (pictured at top in their younger days, but who have just released a new album.) I also came across Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra while researching the festival and am hooked on their funky, jazz-trimmed abstract style; I am now jealous of everyone that will get to see them in action. Brazilian-born singer/songwriter Dillon is not to be missed, his throaty voice and gentle, electronic melodies accompanied by piano evocative and moving. The Entrepreneurs are also worth catching: their lofty, eerie sound is described as “noise and romance” on the band’s Facebook, and this sums them up pretty well.

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The festival also offers, along with the incredible array of music detailed above, the opportunity to participate in or simply witness the mad splendour that is the annual Naked Run. Yes, that’s right, men and women competing in a race in all their naked glory for a ticket for next year’s festival. There are still tickets available for this year if you fancy getting involved in the action, and the festival website details travel and accommodation information.

 

Album Review: Adam French – Face to Face EP

 
By on Friday, 29th April 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Adam French EP coverThe Communion New Faces Tour is in full swing this week, and one of the hottest artists on the lineup is Congleton singer/songwriter Adam French. Ahead of the Communion tour, French was signed to Virgin EMI and was featured by BBC Introducing from Stoke during a stop in New York City on his recent trip to America. French was travelling in America to promote his new EP ‘Face to Face’, which has already received radio play in the UK by Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1.

French’s distinctive husky singing voice makes a forceful first impact on the EP’s title track, with the eponymous lyric in the song’s opening line “I’m face to face, telling everybody what I want to say”. A deep groove and propulsive rhythm create a strong hook under the repeated chorus “I give you that feeling / for you to embrace / so when you look at us / there’s a smile on your face”.

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‘Face to Face’ is followed by the stark guitar intro of the EP’s first single ‘Euthanasia’, which underscores the once-again evocative opening lines “I guess I never was and never will be / built to last or yours to keep”. An insistent, rolling keyboard line propels the tempo under the song’s brooding chorus, and the restrained drum beat builds a very palpable tension through the bridge and into the unresolved final repeat.

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‘The Optimist’ features some of Adam French’s most evocative, if not particularly optimistic, lyric verses, such as “I’m a flare in the sun / I’m the damage that’s been done / I’m a ghost in the night / I’m the dark that’s shading out the light”. A light underscoring of strings in the instrumental arrangement adds depth and grows to prominence as the song ends, but it feels somehow unresolved, never quite reaching the potential of its emotional intensity. Halting tribal rhythms underscore the predatory final track ‘Hunter’, as French’s lyrics become more overtly aggressive. The thick rasp of his voice is particularly effective in the savage lyric “you’re preying on the hunter / he’s coming for you”, which leads into the fast shuffle of the chilling chorus, “I get the feeling that I could tear you apart / blood will be beating away from your heart / so I sink my teeth right in”.

The ‘Face to Face’ EP, as a whole, is immediate and assertive, packing a quick and concise one-two punch with its dramatic rhythms and French’s gripping vocals. The dynamic and emotional development of the songs is somewhat truncated, leaving me with the feeling that French’s songwriting and/or production could use a bit of fine-tuning, but his passion and intensity will undoubtedly make a sharp impression in live performance, attracting attention from potential new fans as well as already interested listeners.

7/10

Adam French’s new EP ‘Face to Face’ is available now on Virgin EMI Records. TGTF’s previous coverage of French, including our Bands to Watch feature from last summer, is collected right back here.

 

Max Jury / May 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 28th April 2016 at 9:00 am
 

Des Moines born Max Jury has scheduled a handful of live dates in the UK for late May. The 23-year-old Midwest singer/songwriter is gearing up to release his debut album on the 3rd of June on Marathon Records. He’s spent the last 2 years living mostly in his adoptive home of London, and now he’s ready to road-test his new material, including recent single ‘Numb’. Tickets to the following shows are on sale now. Below the dates, you can stream another single from his self-titled new album, ‘Beg & Crawl’.

Wednesday 25th May 2016 – Bristol Louisiana
Thursday 26th May 2016 – London 100 Club
Friday 27th May 2016 – Nottingham Bodega
Sunday 29th May 2016 – Manchester Gullivers
Monday 30th May 2016 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 

(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #109: Throwing Shade

 
By on Wednesday, 27th April 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Hard to believe but I’m just days away from my first Canadian Music Week (CMW) in just a few days, so leading up to the event, we’ll be previewing some of the acts I’m keen on seeing while I’m in Toronto. We’ll be asking some of these artists to answer a special list of Quickfire Questions tailored specifically to CMW 2016. Today, we’re being graced by the presence of DJ / producer / artiste extraordinaire Throwing Shade (real name Nabihah Iqbal), who showcased last month on our continent at SXSW 2016. Given her hard-working musical ethic at home, I was very curious to see what music inspired her as she grew up and what continues to inspire her. Read on…

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Cosmic. Dreamy. Textured.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Canada’?
Drake.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Toronto? Have you been before?
Never been before, so just looking forward to exploring a completely new city

Of the bands who have already been announced (https://cmw.net/music/artists/), do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Just wanna try and see as much new music as possible.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase for your time at CMW that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Chocolate wafers.

You are receiving funding from PRS for Music Foundation to make the trip over to the pond to showcase at CMW. Tell us about how you got involved with PRS Foundation and what their funding means to your trip / your career.
PRS for Music Foundation have a strong reputation for supporting new music in the UK and a few people recommended to me that I should apply for funding with them. So I did… And I was lucky enough to receive it! Without their support, my trip to CMW wouldn’t have been possible.

After CMW, what’s up next for you? Writing and recording? TGE / summer festivals / etc.? Do tell!
I’m DJing in Prague straight after CMW. Then back to London where I’ve got quite a hectic schedule of DJ and live dates over the next few weeks. Need to make time for making music too though… So I’ll see how it goes.

Tell us about your time in Austin for SXSW 2016. What were the highlights and lowlights? What was your favourite moment?
SXSW was incredible! It was my first time there. Highlights would have to be my three performances, being part of the Ninja Tune party, meeting Moodyman, seeing SOPHIE play, and meeting lots of great people. Not many lowlights, except the fact that I spent way too much on Uber :-/

We’re going on to our usual list of Quickfire Questions now…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Michael Jackson – ‘Smooth Criminal’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
Anything by Michael Jackson.

What song makes you laugh?
‘OAR 003-B’ by Oni Ayhun.

What song makes you cry?
Right now, ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’ by Prince.

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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.)
Dunno… maybe something off Joanna Newsom’s first album ‘The Milk-Eyed Mender’.

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.)
Joanna Newsom’s second album ‘Ys’.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Isis’ by Bob Dylan.

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Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Herman Hesse (but I have more than one).

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Human rights barrister.

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.)
‘My Favourite Things’ by John Coltrane.

Many thanks to Nabihah for her time in answering our questions.

 
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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.

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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