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Bands to Watch #350: C Duncan

 
By on Wednesday, 1st July 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Having been surrounded by music from an early age, Glasgow-born Christopher Duncan (better known by his alias C Duncan) is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter. With classical musicians for parents, C Duncan was encouraged to learn the viola and the piano as a child, before taking up guitar, bass guitar and the drums during his school days. He then went on to obtain a degree in composition from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, whose notable alumni include James McAvoy, Alison Brie and David Tennant.

In December 2014, C Duncan released his first single ‘For’, a slow-paced arrangement with hypnotic vocals. The track, along with his follow-up ‘Say’, received high praise from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Huw Stephens, Vic Galloway, Steve Lamacq, Ricky Ross and Clive Anderson (on Loose Ends). Other supporters of C Duncan include BBC 6Music, Radcliffe and Maconie, The Guardian, NME and Amazing Radio. His music has also been played on various television programmes, including BBC1’s Waterloo Road.

Not only is C Duncan a talented musician, but he is also an accomplished painter, having had his work exhibited at galleries throughout Scotland. Highly influenced by Grant Wood and Gerhard Richter, C Duncan provides the cover art for his own records, expressing the same musical ideas through painted image.

One of the cover arts he has painted himself was for his upcoming debut album ‘Architect’, which features a detailed and stylised aerial view of a Glasgow side street. The album was written and recorded in C Duncan’s Glasgow flat on a bedroom studio setup, gradually adding each layer and each instrument one at a time. Despite being a time-consuming process, this allowed him to lovingly assemble the intricacies and subtleties for his collection of music.

You can listen to C Duncan’s debut album, Architect, when it is released on Friday, the 17th of July on FatCat Records. A day later, C Duncan will be the support act for Belle and Sebastian’s huge, outdoor concert at London Somerset House.

 

Low / October 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 25th June 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Header photo by Zoran Orlic

American veteran indie rock band Low have announced details of their new studio album ‘Ones and Sixes’, due for release via Sub Pop on the 11th of September, along with a list of worldwide live dates to support the album.  The international dates will include the band’s first tour of China as well as their largest ever headline show at the London Roundhouse on the 10th of October.

A full list of Low’s upcoming live dates can be found here.  Ahead of their UK headline dates, Low is scheduled to appear at the End of the Road Festival and Ireland’s Electric Picnic.  Tickets for the following UK shows are on sale now.  Below the tour date listing, you can stream the haunting new track ‘No Comprende’, which will feature on ‘Ones and Sixes’.

Wednesday 7th October 2015 – Manchester Cathedral
Thursday 8th October 2015 – Glasgow Art School
Saturday 10th October 2015 – London Roundhouse

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Album Review: Everything Everything – Get to Heaven

 
By on Monday, 22nd June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Everything Everything Get to Heaven coverWhen we first heard Manchester’s Everything Everything’s first single ‘MY KZ UR BF’, it was clear they were a band who weren’t going to follow anyone else’s lead. Their debut album ‘Man Alive’ was a watershed moment in indie, their percussive, off kilter sound catching the eyes and ears of the 2010 Mercury Prize nominating committee. Follow-up ‘Arc’, which followed in January 2013, continued their raison d’etre to push sonic boundaries, but maybe not with the same success. Here in June 2015, the group have returned with their third album ‘Get to Heaven’, and just as we usher in summer festival season, Everything Everything have already surfaced at their live appearances nattily dressed in matching suits, as if aping the Temptations. Hmm…

Speaking about the new album to NME, Jonathan Higgs said the effort was borne out of the uncertain, worrisome time it was written in: “I think you’d have to be blind and deaf to have lived through 2014 and not shed a tear. If you put out a record this year and it’s all smiles, then I think you’re a liar, basically.” Going on that statement, it’s not surprising at all that ‘Get to Heaven’ is both jarring to the ears and challenging. The question then is, is this an album that you’ll want to queue up start to finish again? Is it a summer must-have? Without a doubt, it definitely sounds different from ‘Arc’, much more muscular and energetic than the more dour, introspective moments we heard on the last record.

The earliest revealed singles from Everything Everything’s third album prove their continued excellence in writing a hit pop song. The bounce of ‘Distant Past’, owing much to its powerful drums, funky bass line and Higgs’ trademark staccatoed, MC-style lyrical delivery, is an earworm of the highest calibre. Going back to that mention above about their new look as a 21st century Temps, the harmonies of ‘Regret’ have a gospel feel, while Higgs leads the proceedings with his lilting falsetto in the chorus. The overall effect is mesmerising.

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‘Spring / Summer / Winter / Dread’ surprised me the most on this record, as musically it’s the band’s most overtly mainstream pop effort to date. If it weren’t for the words where Higgs accuses “I know what you are / a thief and a murderer too / you stole the face that you wear / from a craven baboon”, with the kind of synth action it has, it would feel at home on a Bastille album. And the tune ends with a guitar lick Eddie Van Halen would be proud of. Where the heck did that come from? Maybe that was meant to echo the underlying sentiment of wanting rebellion. Another standout on ‘Get to Heaven’ is opening track ‘To the Blade’, which has both moments of gentleness and in your face freneticism.

Much of this album is, as alluded to earlier by Higgs’ quote to the NME, unsettling to the listener. ‘Fortune 500’ has a sinister bent towards the Royal Family, yet with a weirdly New Wave-y way, with synths more to the foreground than its percussion. ‘The Wheel (Is Turning Now)’ is rappy, buzzy, skittish, hitting out at blind politicians leading the blind. “I’m going to kill a stranger / so don’t you be a stranger / oh baby, it’s all right / it’s all right to feel / like a fat child in a pushchair / old enough to run / old enough to fire a gun” are probably going to be the defining lyrics of this album, and eerily so that the release date is just days after the Charleston Emanuel AME church massacre, but what the band was getting at writing ‘No Reptiles’ was the insanity of emotional detachment from what we should be feeling when horrors are committed against our fellow man.

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And that’s the point of ‘Get to Heaven': to get you, the listener, to stand up and take notice, if not get angry, go out there and really do something about the injustices you see. While it’s admirable for its moral focus, it’s not exactly light fare for the summer lyrically. I commend Everything Everything on is having written an interesting record that on the surface is enticing rhythmically, and if one in 20 young people listening to their songs on Radio 1 is inspired by their music, then they should consider it a job well done.

7.5/10

Everything Everything’s third album ‘Get to Heaven’ is out on today on RCA. Catch them on tour in November in the UK. For all our past coverage of the band on TGTF, right this way.

 

Album Review: John E Vistic – What Will Be EP

 
By on Wednesday, 17th June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

John E Vistic What Will Be EP coverI first encountered Johnny V as the support act for Radio 2 favourite Jon Allen at the end of last year at Newcastle Cluny 2. Mr Allen wasn’t my cup of tea, but I found Mr John E Vistic a more interesting character, and for my own benefit, if nobody else’s, it’s worth revisiting my summary of his set: “All told, Vistic does come across as a reasonably genuine article, a young-no-longer musician just trying to make an honest penny from his bare songs.”

Nothing too controversial there, you might think. However, he took enough exception to write to me and give me a six-point plan of how better to compose a music review, including the accusation of my having a “five second attention span”. Sheesh. That’s the same as a goldfish. Come 2015, he’s releasing his newest EP, ‘What Will Be’, and I’ve managed to stop sobbing into my teacup for long enough to have a listen to it. Well, 25 seconds of it anyway, given it has five tracks. Hope that’s enough for you, Johnny?

After which preamble you might forgive me for confessing to a slight irritation that ‘What Will Be’ is actually pretty decent. The title track is an end-of-the-night waltz, perfect for that whisky-soaked smooch with a new friend: an unconventional choice for opener. Slightly more upbeat is old favourite ‘Gamblin’ Man’, with a sound signature familiar from Jon Allen’s work; no surprise, as they share a producer in Tristan Longworth. If you’re partial to a flutter and want to hear the pain of losing made music by a kindred spirit, look no further. This is also an example of Vistic’s stylistic similarity to a certain (whisper it) Robert Zimmerman – his gruff vocal delivery and tooting blues harp solo see to that – but it’s a comparison he’s not very fond of, so I’d keep it under your hat.

One has the suspicion that being radio-friendly doesn’t come naturally to Vistic: in the preceding brace of songs, he’s toning down his literary pretensions and tendency towards darkness in favour of a more immediate, if less complex, reference point. The final three tracks are surely more true representations of his inner thoughts. ‘I Wait for No Man’, with its defiant lyric and big psychedelic climax, sees him unveil the full range of that careworn voice and make large with a distortion pedal and Hammond organ. That’s more like it, frankly. ‘Long Time Gone’ is in a country-tinged rocker and introduces fellow Bristolian Katey Brooks in a bittersweet tale of self-loathing. An acoustic version ‘Til My Loneliness Has Gone’ completes the collection, appropriately embellished with a darkly portentous piano.

The only shame here is that I can’t find anything naughty enough to say that might provoke another irked response from the man himself. Yes, it’s a bit safe, a bit Radio 2, but since that station continues to demonstrate a previously unsuspected fondness for heavy metal, even that particular remark has lost its sting. And a man’s gotta earn a crust somehow, after all. Ok, I give up, I’ll have to settle for being polite. As Vistic’s ‘Gamblin’ Man’ says, “the chance is in the numbers”. So whatever that means, I’m going with it.

7/10

‘What Will Be’, the new EP from John E Vistic, is out next Monday, the 22nd of June, via Black Heart Studios. Listen to EP track ‘Long Time Gone’ featuring Katey Brooks below.

 

Rat Boy / September and October 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 9th June 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Essex producer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Rat Boy has announced an autumn headline tour of the UK to follow his April support slot with Circa Waves and his scheduled summer festival appearances, which will include Reading and Leeds.  The teenaged Rat Boy, known to his mum as Jordan Cardy, shared production duties for his debut single ‘Sign On’ with Gorillaz producer James Dring.  The track was released via Hometown Records on the 1st of June.

Tickets for the following headline shows are available now.  Just below the tour date listing, you can stream ‘Sign On’ courtesy of Rat Boy’s Soundcloud.

Wednesday 16th September 2015 – Nottingham Bodega
Thursday 17th September 2015 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Friday 18th September 2015 – Liverpool Studio 2
Saturday 19th September 2015 – Leeds Wardrobe
Tuesday 22nd September 2015 – Skelmersdale Library
Wednesday 23rd September 2015 – Stoke Sugarmill
Thursday 24th September 2015 – Birmingham Sunflower Lounge
Friday 25th September 2015 – Leicester Cookie Jar
Sunday 27th September 2015 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Monday 28th September 2015 – Guildford Boileroom
Tuesday 29th September 201 – London Dingwalls
Wednesday 30th September 2015 – Southampton Joiners
Thursday 1st October 2015 – Bristol Exchange
Friday 2nd October 2015 – Falmouth Mono
Saturday 3rd October 2015 – Rayleigh Mill Arts and Events Centre

 

Live at Leeds 2015: Chris’ Roundup

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Many a student night in Leeds has started at the University’s various music bars, and Live at Leeds 2015 was no different. The one key difference was that the action kicked off at midday. A trip to Mine saw Tibet, a young contingent from Wales with a ’60s sound and punchy guitars, take the stage. The Cardiff band have gathered support from Huw Stephens recently, and shows with Misty Miller are also helping raise their profile. They induced a vibrant punk sound to a crowd of 60 or so. ‘She Don’t Know’ takes influences from The Kinks, with attacking drums and an upbeat chorus, and it holds their set together. The blissed out B-side ‘My Girl’ has a mature sound, with building slacker rock and brooding harmonies. All in all, they deliver a cohesive and bouncy set and given their catalogue remains so small right now, that’s a feat.

Across town at Oporto we catch LIVES, a Liverpudlian contingent who have kept a quiet online presence so far. Sheltering from the drizzle outside, Oporto is almost shoulder to shoulder, and the quintet deliver a promising show of indie. “While you were waiting, use your imagination.” calls vocalist Jamie on ‘White Lies’ (streaming below), which is one of the few songs the quintet have actually released online. For the past year, it really has been a case of using your imagination, as we’ve waited eagerly to hear more. Since their breakout track though, they have been writing hard, and there are some exciting tracks played today. Sweeping indie riffs and rocky choruses course through the energy of this band, as they do on ‘Short Memory’, and despite the bright bursts of energy, frontman Jamie remains firmly in control. He makes it look so effortless that you almost forget he’s there during the thrashing peaks, before he throws himself towards the crowd and looks back to the stage as he takes in the hard-hitting soundscape his bandmates produce.

We pay a trip to The Key Club next, as things get heavier with a set from Get Inuit. Recently signed to Alcopop! Records, the Kent four piece seem to find the label “dirty pop” following them around almost inevitably, and it all makes sense in a live setting. They come across brutish, with psych riffs shooting through their set rapidly, as Jamie Glass leads the four-piece through their recently released EP. ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ has a penchant for supersonic hooks and gutsy cries from Glass, as they jump across the stage. If there wasn’t a barrier, then they would probably have jumped off it. The crowd gives a warm reception nonetheless, as ‘I Would’ slams into lofty instrumentals and ‘Dress of Bubblewrap’ offers another nod to their fuzz-pop panache, which should see its way onto a debut album before 2015 is out.

Up the road at Leeds Uni’s Beckett campus, Port Isla arrive slightly later than planned due to tech problems. The venue fills (and punters rapidly begin to get impatient) almost as quickly as the Suffolk band’s rise since opening for George Ezra and playing a host of festivals in the past year. ‘In The Long Run’ is where their set begins, with joyful harmonies and an upbeat melody. Ever the showman, Will Bloomfield quickly apologises for the delay…”we were doing our hair” he explains cheekily. With their original set list out the window, they fire off a volley of incredibly well written folk pop that includes ‘Volcano’. No sign of their equally upbeat numbers like ‘Steamroller’ or ‘Sinking Ship’, however they are energetic and heartfelt all at the same time, as Bloomfield leads the band as though he’s been a frontman for years. He’s engaging to watch and witty too, not to mention his talents across guitars and keys, particularly as he charms on a song which he explains is about the band’s native Suffolk. The show is slick, and the songs keep getting better as the instrumentation continues to come together and now has added synth treats.

From stadium sized folk pop to indie rock, a return to Mine sees Dundee’s finest Model Aeroplanes pull out all the stops. Rory Fleming (vocals and guitar), Grant Irvine (guitar), Ben Buist (bass) and Kieran Moyles (drums) are undoubtedly on their way to some big things. As on of the tightest bands playing in this overcrowded genre, they make sure you remember them with a bevvy of infectious tracks, and this set includes new single ‘Drunk in the Pool’. They’re in danger of being renamed the ‘single-slayers’ given their canny knack for exuberant melodies, as Irving and Buist provide jagged guitar thrills on ‘Club Low’ and Fleming adds lyrics and persona that other young bands spend years trying to find. This band click so well on stage that they make it look like every show they play is the only show that matters, and from ‘Innocent Love’ to ‘Crazy’, the fun they have on stage quickly rubs off on the crowd.

Leeds’ reputation for live music would struggle without the community-owned Brudenell Social Club, which is where Bloody Knees take to the stage next. The trio from Cambridge produce the most spirited performance of the festival, as their garage punk roars into life with the seismic likes of ‘Stitches’. “And I’m covered in blood, but at least I’m having fun” yells vocalist Bradley Griffiths as the Brudenell comes to life with a circle pit.

Their energetic performance goes on to include a bloody moment no less, as the band’s close fans show reckless abandon to the slew of burly riffs, one reveller in the pit ending up with a bloody nose. The party continues until The Magic Gang bring a little more peace at first, the slow jam guitars of new single ‘Alright’ restoring some kind of normality. By the time their set launches into the JAWS-esque guitar lines of ‘No Fun’ however, bodies are flailing around the room again. There’s plenty of crowd-surfing from this loyal 50 or so fans who are present, with bodies tossed in the air triumphantly, before ‘She Won’t Ghost’ wraps things up. The Brudenell may have had one of the smallest crowds of the day, but it’s also clear this was the wildest crowd Leeds had to offer, clearly a sign of these fledgling band’s having some of the most passionate fans going.

Back in the city centre, Laura Doggett takes to the stage as part of the Communion-curated line-up at Holy Trinity Church. The West Country songsmith delivers a stunning performance, with spiralling vocals and an angelic soundscape of keys and percussion. Her breakout tracks ‘Phoenix’, ‘Old Faces’ and ‘Moonshine’ exemplify her graceful delivery; however, through the angelic twists of her songs, it all feels a little bit too well staged. There have been comparisons to the likes of Florence Welch sonically, but she remains rooted to the spot with only subtle hand gestures to inspire her performance. She proves stunning nonetheless, and more live exposure will hopefully see her sets become more vivid and expressive in the future.

Closing at Holy Trinity is Lucy Rose (pictured at top), on the path towards her second album, the follow up to ‘Like I Used To’, due out this July. Plagued by technical problems, she takes to the stage repeatedly to apologise for the delay, and some 45 minutes late appears acoustically and taking song requests from the audience. Humbled by the support of her patient fans, her acoustic renditions of ‘Shiver’ and ‘Night Bus’ were one of the most priceless ways she could repay them.

Despite being itching to show off her new material, she reluctantly succumbs to performing with a more stripped-back sound, until her band spring to life on ‘Bikes’ as the keys kick in and all technical problems are resolved. In an instant, the crowd grows delighted, whooping and hollering as Lucy and her band beam at the turn of events.

Taking to her electric guitar with defiance, she treats us all to her newest material that oozes of progression. There’s a marked development from the somewhat stripped back, even cagey stories of her debut, with the likes of ‘Our Eyes’ carrying a distinct set of bass lines and reverberating synthesis. “Wait, we are not fine, wait you are not mine…” she says with a grit that would have been out of the ordinary on her softer, folk tinged debut. This confident output makes for a striking arrangement of her other new tracks too; ‘Like An Arrow’ has the kind of resplendent, upbeat harmony she’s renowned for, but just carries an assertiveness that’s been missing in the past. ‘Until The End’ is another new track that has some punch to it, whilst she also performs ‘I Tried’, with a more left-field electronica influenced sound.

It’s a preview of an even more promising next step from Lucy and her band, and amidst the problems of this evening, the new tracks are well received. Seeing her perform in an intimate venue or church environment has been a must in the past, for the song writer who honed her craft at open mic nights. If her evolving sound and flourishing live show tonight is anything to go by though, she’ll be playing far bigger venues before the year is out and still captivating every member of the audience…

 
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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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