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By Mary Chang
on Friday, 27th February 2015 at 12:00 pm
SXSW 2015 will be a special time, as Music Wales will be presenting a nighttime showcase on the first night of the official SXSW Music festivities, on Tuesday the 17th of March. It’s just the beginning of an amazing week of evening (and afternoon) programming on tap for festival punters at the British Music Embassy, back at its usual home of Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard. The People the Poet from South Wales will open the Music Wales night and definitely start the UK contingent’s programming off with a bang. The band were bestowed the honour of being just one of 12 acts chosen out of over 450 who applied for Horizons, the BBC Cymru Wales and Arts Council of Wales project committed to supporting the independent music being made in Wales and helping them with their careers.
Formerly known under the moniker Tiger Please, the little bit folk, little bit pop, little bit rock band released 2009’s ‘They Don’t Change Under Moonlight’ and 2010’s ‘Seasons’ EP, both critically acclaimed. At the end of 2013, they released their long awaited debut album ‘The Narrator’, under their new name The People the Poet. The hard graft of the five-piece over the last 7 years plus paid off, with the self-released LP reaching #38 on the iTunes Rock Albums chart on release day without management or major label backing and it receiving a nomination for the Welsh Music Prize. Tyla Campbell of the band told me they had previously applied for a SXSW shout twice and without success, so third time’s absolutely a charm for them this year, as they make their maiden voyage to Austin next month.
We’re not sure where the band’s current name came from, but the juxtaposition of the two images their name conjures up – the passionate proletariat masses represented by “The People” contrasting with the calm, brooding and introspective “Poet” – describes their sound quite well. ‘Nobody Else Like You’, inspired by the loss of a parent, features guest vocals from legendary ex-It Bites frontman Francis Dunnery, his voice lending a bit more heft to The People half of their enterprise. In its sweeping grandeur whilst describing the life-changing event of fatherhood, track ‘Stabilisers (I Will Be)’ from ‘The Narrator’ will remind you of Coldplay and Keane at their most anthemic.
Lyrical content for the tunes on their debut album was all crowd sourced, with The People The Poet humbly asking their fans to send in true stories about their lives. This allowed the band to engage their fans in an incredibly personal way that I don’t think had ever been done before, so I have no reason to believe they won’t be able to get the crowd at Latitude 30 eating out of their hand and backing them in quick order either. Get in to see them in reasonably sized venues while you still can.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 26th February 2015 at 12:00 pm
Despite our reputation for being idealists and our ability to be hedonists in the California sunshine, Americans seem unable to do the electronic dance sound anywhere near as well as the Europeans. Case in point: Lust for Youth‘s 2014 album ‘International’, out now on Brooklyn vinyl-directed indie label Sacred Bones Records, shows off the Scandinavian ease in taking the humble yet versatile synthesiser to create an irresistable pop beat. The name was originally used for Swede Hannes Norrvide’s solo project, conceived when he realised that as a poor yet ambitious musician with only a toy keyboard to play on, it was better to make music alone.
While his earlier, dronier, rough around the edges sound was a product of his own artistic limitations or not is a matter of debate, but what cannot be disputed is the new sound of Lust for Youth – with Norrvide now joined by longtime live collaborator Loke Rahbek and new band member Malthe Fischer – as an electro powerhouse just waiting for their moment in the sun. Or maybe under the glint of the mirrorball on the dance floor. The promo video for ‘New Boys’, shot by the group’s friend Frederik Valentin and starring Frederik’s younger brother and Lust for Youth fan Oliver, has already met controversy for its potentially erotic interpretation / misinterpretation.
This all seems quite apt, considering the actual sound of the song recalls ’80s New Wave icons such as New Order and Depeche Mode, both of whom faced controversy themselves with their own sexually ambiguous monster hits. No matter how you feel about the video, this tune also has epic synth lines guaranteed to get your toes a-tapping. Another track from ‘International’, ‘Armida’, was unashamedly inspired by a Pet Shop Boys track “where they had sampled a woman’s voice on every snare drum, so we did the same and then the song just came by itself”. An beat ever so insistent urges you on to “shake your feet” and really, who could say no? I’m really hoping the now Copenhagen-based trio will be given the perfect atmosphere to lay down their synth lines in Austin when they showcase at SXSW 2015 in Austin in March.
Hot on the heels of her sold out February tour in support of debut album ‘Unguarded’ released on Atlantic in January (read David’s review here), pop singer/songwriter Rae Morris has announced a new set of UK headline dates for this October. Ahead of the new October dates, Morris will play the Dot 2 Dot and Love Saves the Day festivals in May before spending June and July opening for Tom Odell. Morris is also on the bill for several late summer festivals; check her Web site for full details.
Below the tour date listing, stream Morris’ upcoming single ‘Love Again’. Tickets for the following shows go on sale tomorrow, Friday the 27th of February.
Thursday 1st October 2015 – Leeds Stylus
Friday 2nd October 2015 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Saturday 3rd October 2015 – Edinburgh Liquid Room
Sunday 4th October 2015 – Newcastle Academy 2
Tuesday 6th October 2015 – Cambridge Junction
Thursday 8th October 2015 – London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Friday 9th October 2015 – Sheffield Leadmill
Saturday 10th October 2015 – Manchester Ritz
Sunday 11th October 2015 – Birmingham Institute Library
Tuesday 13th October 2015 – Brighton Concorde 2
Wednesday 14th October 2015 – Bristol Academy
Thursday 15th October 2015 – Southampton Engine Rooms
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 25th February 2015 at 11:00 am
Not long now before SXSW 2015! But just as we did for SXSW 2014 last year, we’ll be running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ and artists’ heads so they’ll tell us what they really think of the event. Our fifth interviewee is Jessi Williams of Silverlake, Los Angeles band The Lonely Wild, who I introduced you all to in this Bands to Watch feature in January. The poor girl is above board about her motion sickness and has some excellent tips for bands making their virgin voyage to SXSW this year. Have a read…
What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
PLAYING!!! We have been so busy in the studio and gearing up to release the album, it feels like we haven’t played in forever!! I’m about to explode (ya’ll may want to stay a few steps back from the stage). [Duly noted. We’ll bring ponchos… – Ed.]
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?
I hope to get to see some shows, but I haven’t even begun to figure out which ones. We’ve hit the party at Willie Nelson’s ranch the last two years and always have an amazing time there. I’m also planning on swinging by the Laguintas party. They’ve been awesome supporters and we LOVE their beer.
Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
It’s SUPER rock’n’roll…. I get terrible motion sickness. I travel with every kind of ginger candy/food, motion sickness pill, sea bands and any remedy that I can find. (Suggestions welcome). I am really grateful that we don’t travel by boat. [I always keep mints in my purse. Oh, and carry my mp3 player everywhere so I can queue up a favourite song if needed – Ed.]
If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I’m a whiskey gal. I’d love a Buffalo Trace or a Belle Meade. Thank you
What advice would you give other bands who have never played at SXSW before?
Be realistic and manage your expectations. The first year can be loads of fun. Just be sure to give yourself enough time between shows to get where you need to go. Realize it’s going to be hard to park and most roads will be closed, so booking 5 shows in a day is probably a bad idea. Also, there are A LOT of shows going on… don’t be super disappointed if you have some that aren’t well attended. Give it everything you’ve got every time though. You never know who is watching. We’ve made lots of great contacts at SXSW.
Now on to our usual list of Quickfire Questions:
What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘My Boy’ by Neil Young. ‘Old Ways’ was released when I was 3. My parents must have just played it over and over. I remember riding in my dad’s GTO on the backroads of southern Indiana listening to this song.
What was your favourite song as a child?
When I was 6-7, I was completely obsessed with ‘Touch of Grey’ by the Grateful Dead. I loved watching the video (on MTV- imagine that!!) I just thought it was so clever when they turned into skeletons and the dog stole his leg. My mom bought me the cassette tape, which I still have actually.
What song makes you laugh?
‘Wooden Ships’ by Crosby, Stills and Nash. The lyrics: “‘Say, can I have some of your purple berries?’ ‘Yes, I’ve been eating them for 6 or 7 weeks now, haven’t got sick once. Probably keep us both alive’”: WTH? Haha. AND Bob Dylan, ‘Bear Mountain Picnic’…. “cops a-comin’, me a-runnin”.
What song makes you cry?
‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, Every- Damn- Time. I used it to work up the tears I had to shed in our “Holiday” video released this past December. “What A Wonderful World” and “Imagine” are on that list too.
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.)
The Beatles, ‘I Saw her Standing There’. I was just 17 (get it?) and he was a college boy. We’d go stargazing in the corn field (that’s all I swear!) . We’d crank the Beatles, Beach Boys, Doors, Zombies…lots of British Invasion and Laurel Canyon folk stuff. That song in particular brings me back. It also sort of captures the whimsy and simplicity of being in love in high school.
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.)
Pearl Jam, ‘Spin the Black Circle’. ‘Vitalogy’ in general is just a GREAT album when you’re kind of ticked off and just want to let some aggression out.
Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Chasing White Light’ by The Lonely Wild. haha, but seriously, I think, lyrically, this is the best that Andrew (Carroll) has written to date and I’m so super jealous. Musically, too, it makes me feel all of the feelings.
If that sounds too self-promote-y, which I assure you is not my intention, I’d go with something by Neil Young, who is BY FAR my favorite songwriter. Maybe ‘Expecting to Fly’ or ‘Thrasher’ or ‘Powderfinger’ or ‘Mr. Soul’. I can’t possibly pick!!
Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
That’s so tough!!! I read most of his stuff years and years ago, but I will always adore Kurt Vonnegut.
If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I would have to be professionally sad. I kid.
I’d need to feel creative in some way and not stuck behind a desk. Woodworking or gardening maybe… So a landscaper?
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.)
What the hell kind of Heaven is that?! That God is a dick.
‘Dark Side of the Moon’. I’ve listened to a 1000 times or more since I was born and I’m still not sick of it, so I guess I could listen to it for, er, eternity.
Many thanks Jessi for answering these questions for us here at TGTF!
Los Angeles native and former Rooney lead guitarist Taylor Locke’s first solo album ‘Time Stands Still’ finds Locke somewhat at odds with his newly-appointed singer/songwriter status. After spending 10 years with Rooney and two more with his side project Taylor Locke and the Roughs, he is a bit uncomfortable working outside the context of a band, as he explains in the press release for ‘Time Stands Still’: “I think the term ‘singer/songwriter’ sadly evokes a white guy in a coffee shop strumming a fucking G-chord all day. I think this record sounds more like a band record…the band just takes occasional smoke breaks.”
True to Locke’s description, the album alternates between sparsely arranged acoustic ballads and the West Coast guitar rock sound of acts like Jackson Browne or Dawes. In fact, as I listened to ‘Time Stands Still’, I was strongly reminded of Dawes, particularly by the similarity between Locke’s singing voice and that of Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith. While not one of my favorite bands, Dawes do have their moments of brilliance, and so it is with Taylor Locke as well.
One of those brilliant moments is the opening track to ‘Time Stands Still’, ‘Burbank Woman’. It’s another one in a long and timeworn list of songs about the contradictions of the feminine mystique, but its lyrics manage to sidestep the usual clichés, as in the chorus: “she knew something that she didn’t say / deep in her heart there was a valley and no freeway to get there / never mind the miles of my persistence / she was gonna keep me at a distance”.
Unfortunately, those clichés catch up with Locke before the album progresses much further. Second track ‘The Game’ is an extended gambling metaphor, using stale poker jargon to describe a turbulent romance. Trite lyrics also plague the album’s first single ‘Running Away From Love’, whose bland musical arrangement and backing vocals would make qualify it as perfect material for the muzak in a department store.
But just when it seems like the album has taken a nosedive into the banal, Locke comes charging back with a groovy mix of guitar and synths behind the catchy chorus to ‘So Long’. Even better is the current single ‘Call Me Kuchu’, where Locke finds a rougher vocal tone to match the crunchy guitars and gritty lyrics. The call and response between voices in the chorus creates a haunting echo that lingers long after the song is over.
The second half of the album leans more heavily on Locke’s singer/songwriter abilities, and the lyrics to title track ‘Time Stands Still’ undoubtedly refer to his new venture: “it’s late in the game for fanning the flame / the wind is gonna blow out anyway / walk off the stage, turn a new page / call it what you will, time stands still”. Those words became even more meaningful recently, with the passing of the track’s co-writer Kim Fowley. Locke describes Fowley as the “Rock ‘n Roll Grandpa” who talked him into making a solo album in the first place: “The song reveals his sensitive, introspective side, that I count myself among the lucky few to have known.” With that possibly in mind, Locke allows his unadorned vocal line to take center stage over the vaguely gospel harmonies in the keyboards, which are delicately decorated by acoustic guitar and ringing percussion.
Taking a slightly different direction, ‘The Art of Moving On’ is once again purely in the singer/songwriter vein, but its cynical lyrics are contradicted by the forward momentum of the acoustic guitar melody. The finger-picked acoustic guitar rhythms and minor key harmonies in final track ‘No Dice’ are surprisingly reminiscent of Spanish art song, ending the album on a pleasantly unexpected note of newly piqued interest.
Ultimately, the singer/songwriter tracks on ‘Time Stands Still’ suffer slightly from Locke’s vocal delivery, which unfortunately isn’t one of the album’s strongest features. His singing works best in the bolder electric guitar arrangements, where the instrumental colour can take precedence over the vocals. Still, for an initial foray into solo performing, Taylor Locke has made a solid effort here, and one worth building upon.
Taylor Locke’s solo debut album ‘Time Stands Still’ is out now on Lojinx Records. Click here for a free download of its title track.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 24th February 2015 at 10:00 am
Beth Jeans Houghton has reinvented herself into a cardigan wearing, burger eating femme fatale called Du Blonde. She previewed songs from her forthcoming album last weekend at the 6 Music Festival in Newcastle and without a doubt, this new song ‘Black Flag’ must have been included in that set. Have a listen to the tune below and if you like it, you can get it for free from her Web site.
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