Check out our coverage of The Great Escape 2018, SXSW 2018 and more through here.

SXSW 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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SXSW 2018 Interview: Harry Pane

 
By on Wednesday, 18th July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

My final interview of the SXSW 2018 music festival was with English singer/songwriter Harry Pane, who played a mellow late Saturday afternoon showcase at the Hilton Austin hotel’s Cannon and Bell Lounge as part of SXSW’s Second Play Stage series. Pane played a relaxed set in this acoustic setting and even engaged in some friendly banter with the intimate crowd between songs, which encouraged me to approach him for a quick chat after he finished playing.

Harry Pane internal

This performance at The Hilton marked Pane’s final show of SXSW 2018, and he seemed happy to take time for an interview after a busy week of gigging in Austin. “I did six [shows], overall. But they were kind of stretched out enough that it was enjoyable instead of just, like, an endurance test.” His shows included an official showcase at Stephen F’s Bar, as well as a set at one of my favourite Austin venues, The Tiniest Bar in Texas, and a radio performance for KSGR, where he peformed alongside fellow English songwriter and TGTF alum Frank Turner. “I [had done] a songwriting workshop with him and his band, who are really, really nice people”, Pane said of Turner. “He was on the KGSR show too, and he very kindly mentioned my name and gave me a shout out, which was really good.”

This year was not Pane’s first experience at SXSW. He played the festival once before, back in 2016, and that experience allowed him to come into SXSW 2018 with clearer expectations. “I kind of went in blind to that one, and I had one showcase. Didn’t really know what it was about or what I was doing”, Pane remembers. “This time around, two years later, I’ve done a few more things, worked a little harder. I feel this one’s been way more beneficial, and a lot more fun, actually.”

As a fully independent artist, Pane appeared in Austin without a band or entourage in tow, which made the small Second Stage venues a near-perfect fit for him. “I have a double bass player at home, and I’m trying to sort of slowly build a band, put it together. But at the moment it’s just me, on my own.” When I asked about label support, Pane demurred. “I’m not in a position to even talk about labels. I’m with AWAL, who are an amazing support for independent musicians.” AWAL is billed as “Kobalt‘s unique alternative to the traditional music label”, offering services to independent musicians who want to maintain control and flexibility. Pane continued, again very frankly, “If it came to the crunch, I do think that they would look after you way more and take less money off you.”

We also talked about the unique challenges of recording music as an independent artist, and Pane discussed them candidly in terms of his own current experience. “My last EPs that I did, I recorded with Dani Castelar, who worked with Paolo Nutini and other people that I really like.” He laughed, “I’m name-dropping now . . . But it’s really good, because we’ve got a really good friendship now, and I’ve got this kind of understanding with him where I record with a guy in London, on a cheap rate, and I send my stuff over to him, and he mixes it. He tweaks it and polishes it. This is a way I can afford it at the moment.”

Releasing singles, rather than full albums or even EPs, is Pane’s current way of keeping his name and his music afloat in the vast milieu of singer/songwriters. “At the moment I’m feeling like that’s working more, at my stage, to release song by song. I released the EP last year, [‘The Wild Winds’] and it was beneficial for the single, the leading song of that, but the other songs kind of got wasted within that EP, they got sort of lost.”

At the time of this interview, Pane had freshly released a new single called ‘Beautiful Life’. When I asked about forthcoming releases, Pane confessed, “I’ve got some songs in the pipeline, but nothing quite ready yet.” However, he has been keeping busy in the interim. This Friday, the 20th of July, Pane will release a new single titled ‘MacArthur Park’. While no preview of the track is yet available, you can pre-save ‘MacArthur Park’ on Spotify and iTunes now.

Harry Pane is scheduled to appear onstage at Penn Fest in Buckinghamshire on the 21st of July and at the Towersey Festival in Oxfordshire on the 27th of August. You can find a full listing of Pane’s live appearances on his official Web site. TGTF’s previous coverage of Harry Pane is collected here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Buck Meek

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Buck Meek, far right, with his band at Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018

If you’re a regular TGTF reader, you might already be familiar with the name of singer/songwriter Buck Meek. We’ve covered Meek before in his role as part of alt-rock band Big Thief, both in live review and previous SXSW coverage. Back in March, during SXSW 2018, Meek came to Austin as a solo artist, to preview his now-released debut LP, which is simply titled ‘Buck Meek.’ I caught a very quick moment with Meek after his set at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion to ask him about the new album.

‘Buck Meek’ technically isn’t Meek’s solo debut, following on his previous EP release ‘Heart Was Beat’ from back in 2015. That EP includes the memorable track ‘Sam Bridges’, which he played in a slightly different form in the Revival Tent at Luck than what I remembered from a live performance in Phoenix with Big Thief several years ago. Discussing his set on the day, Meek agreed. “That [song] had a more country feel. I mean, we’re playing it with a slide guitar player today, who kind of mimics the [pedal] steel, and with a country drum beat and everything.”

Having only seen Meek before in the context of Big Thief’s edgy folk rock, I was curious about the more obvious country influence I heard on display in his solo work. “I think there’s influence there”, Meek says. “I grew up in Wimberly, Texas, south of Austin. I grew up listening to, surrounded by country music. So it’s always been, I think, an influence. And to be honest, this set, I catered more towards that feel.”

But many of the songs on ‘Buck Meek’, the album, defy easy classification as straighforward country songs. Musically, the record’s foundational country tone is obfuscated by elements of what Meek describes as “grunge, and punk rock, and more esoteric stuff.” Early single ‘Cannonball!’ has a distinct twang to it, most prominently in Meek’s vocal lines, but its laid-back rhythm section is unmistakabely jazz-tinged, and its electric guitar riff is pure blues rock. ‘Ruby’ is a charmingly elusive, rhythmically complex track which Meek explained to Uproxx as “the suspension in love, when time folds in on itself, when the first instant of meeting cycles through the idiosyncratic friction and ancient affection of years together, which again cycles into infancy and eager fascination — all contained within a sideways glance.”

Thematically, ‘Buck Meek’ touches on a wide array of subject matter, from platonic male friendship (‘Joe By the Book’) to a plane crash in the French Alps (‘Flight 9525’), and an intriguing cast of characters, including a widow named ‘Sue’ and a devoted canine ‘Best Friend.’ In the end, the heart of the album is revealed in final track ‘Fool Me’, a late night country bar classic, with a plaintive piano melody and Meek’s self-deprecating vocal evoking the mild yet persistent yearning of one last slow dance on an otherwise deserted dance floor.

‘Buck Meek’ was released on the 18th of May on Austin record label Keeled Scales. Buck Meek will spend the remainder of the summer on tour supporting the release of the album, including the following run of dates in the UK in August. In addition to the shows listed below, Meek will support fellow country artist Courtney Marie Andrews at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 21st of August and at Southampton’s Talking Heads on the 22nd of August. You can find a full listing of Meek’s upcoming live dates on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Buck Meek is collected through here.

Monday 20th August 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Thursday 23rd August 2018 – London Islington
Friday 24th August 2018 – Manchester Gullivers
Sunday 26th August 2018 – Dublin Grand Social
Monday 27th August 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 28th August 2018 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Sam Lewis

 
By on Thursday, 21st June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Nashville singer/songwriter Sam Lewis seemed very much in his element at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion, which took place just outside Austin during SXSW 2018. The weather was sunny, the atmosphere was mellow, and the music was abundant. I heard Lewis perform at the early-by-SXSW-standards hour of 11 AM, and later in the afternoon I had a chance to chat with him about his new LP, ‘Loversity’, which was released on the 4th of May.

Sam Lewis internal(photo by Sarah Bennett)

Despite the afternoon sunshine, a strong breeze was blowing as we found seats on a quaint wooden swing set, and Lewis broke the conversational ice by asking about the windscreen on my voice recorder. “Tell me what’s on your recorder right now, because this thing looks kind of like, remember Don King, the boxing promoter? It looks like his hair.” (He wasn’t wrong; if you’re not American or have no idea who Don King is, check out photos of Don King through here.)

I asked Lewis about the Song Swap he’d played that morning with Courtney Marie Andrews, Caleb Caudle, and Kevin Kinney, and he responded with a wry smile. “With 100 percent honesty, I think all four of us were were asked to come play, and then we found out a couple of weeks ago that it was at 11 AM and it was a Song Swap, so we all kind of got a chuckle out of that.”

Lewis played three songs on that set, and I was surprised that none of them were from his new record. His explanation was disarmingly candid: “I didn’t feel like playing any of those.” But he continued, talking about the songs he chose to play instead. “I played ‘Virginia Avenue’, [which is] a song about where I’m from, and ‘In My Dreams’, which is off of my first record, and I also played a song called ‘Little Time’ which is a John Prine-inspired song I wrote with Taylor Bates in Nashville.”

Lewis released his self-titled debut album in 2012 and followed it up with ‘Waiting on You’ in 2015. His new third album, ‘Loversity’, centers around its eponymous title track, which sprang from a moment of spontaneous inspiration. “I was touring a couple of years ago, just outside of Richmond, Virginia, and I passed by this really cool, colorful building.” The sign on the building was partially obscured, and in his road weary state of mind, Lewis couldn’t quite make out what it said. “I saw this building, and all I saw was ‘-ersity’. I knew that there was missing letters or something, [but] I just blurted out ‘Loversity’. A friend of mine was with me at the time, and he looked it up real quick, and he was like, ‘That’s not a word.’ And I said, ‘Well, I really dig that, I don’t know what that means, but I’m going to find out what that means. So, I wound up writing a song called ‘Loversity’.”

‘Loversity’, the album, is an eclectic group of songs, both in terms of musical style and lyrical subject matter.”I don’t know where it’s going to wind up living as far as genre,” Lewis admitted. “Like with many things, there’s an identity crisis [in music], everything’s been cross-pollinated. It’s getting called ‘cosmic country’, it’s getting called ‘country funk’. I’ve heard all sorts of different things. It’s got a little bit of everything, because I’m not a big fan of limitations, but exercising all of your abilities.”

“I’m really proud of [this] project,” Lewis said about ‘Loversity’, which he produced, working with Brandon Bell at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville. “I’m a big fan of this project because of the people involved.” Lewis recorded the album with his former band, who now tour full time with Chris Stapleton and could only join Lewis in the studio. Despite having given a solo acoustic performance earlier in the day, Lewis said, “That’s where I’m going with everything, full band. Like, I experimented with horns on this album. There’s two songs that have horns, and I can see how you can get a little crazy with that, because it’s really fun.”

The individual songs on ‘Loversity’ are more philosophical than actually political, though some of them do touch on political ideas. “They’re getting thrown into a political realm, which I’m fine with, but they’re not political songs,” Lewis said. The common thread among them is a thematic motif of unity and sharing, and Lewis confesses that “they’re personal songs. I needed to hear those songs, too.”

I had a confession to make at that point as well, that I had only listened to the album once before meeting Lewis that day. He was undeterred, encouraging me not only to “try it again,” but to “try it at different times, try it it inebriated, try it non-caffeinated, try it in a car . . .” In the time between the interview and this publication, I’ve taken his advice, and I’ll pass it along to you. ‘Loversity’ is a perfect listen if you’re searching for an uplifting message in trying times, if you need a soundtrack for a long drive, or if you simply want a soulful groove on a hot summer night. Try it.

‘Loversity’ is available now via Sam Lewis’ official Web site. Our thanks to Sarah for coordinating this interview.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Dan Bettridge

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

If you’re a long time TGTF reader, you might remember that Welsh singer/songwriter Dan Bettridge was originally tapped to make the trip to America for SXSW 2017. (If not, you can read our SXSW 2017 preview coverage here and here.) Sadly, unexpected visa issues prevented Bettridge and several other international artists, from making the trip last year.

I met with Bettridge on the Wednesday night of SXSW 2018, at the Focus Wales showcase hosted by downtown Austin club the Townsend. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes before he played his set on the showcase, and we naturally started with a chat about the aforementioned visa challenges. Specifically, Bettridge had a problem with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which determines eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows citizens of 38 approved countries, including the UK, to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

If that sounds complicated to you, you’re not alone. “To be honest, I think it was a clerical error,” Bettridge said. But the ordeal inspired his management team to write a guide for international musicians planning to travel to America ahead of his rescheduled trip to Austin this year. “I think that was helpful to some people, because people are still confused, you know, artists and management, about how to get their band over here. So the more we share about it the better, I guess.”

I mentioned the current American political climate as a potential obstacle for visiting musicians, and Bettridge quickly agreed. “Yeah, it’s a nightmare! I mean you’re supposed to be able to do it with an ESTA, but people are saying, just for security reasons, go and get a visa which is a bit of a pain, really. But I got [a visa] this year.”

“You don’t strike me as a security risk,” I joked. Bettridge laughed, “No, that’s just what people said! I don’t consider myself a security risk.”

At that point, we turned our attention to Bettridge’s impending set, and I asked him what I might expect to hear when he took the stage. “It will be all new stuff,” he said, “it’s kind of, how do I explain it?” He paused for a moment, and I empathised with the ever present challenge of trying to describe music in words. “I guess it’s soul rock, with a little bit of country thrown in sometimes. I guess that’s the best way to explain it.”

That intriguing description led to discussion of Bettridge’s forthcoming LP, ‘Asking for Trouble’, whose release format is equally intriguing. In the midst of the digital age, when so many musicians are releasing singles and EPs rather than waiting to put out a full album, Bettridge has struck a very deliberate compromise with the new project. “It is going to culminate in an album,” he explained, “but I’m releasing it in ‘Waves’ of four songs at a time.” The idea behind the staggered release, he said, is “to take advantage, really, of everything turning to streaming. It’s just more digestible. It’s a 16 track album, so I think it just wouldn’t work, putting it out in one piece.”

Bettridge also wanted to encourage his listeners to take some time with the new songs. “Sometimes huge artists will bring out albums, and the following week they’re just forgotten about, you know, they’re just dead. So [this] was another way of prolonging the release and trying to get every song to be [heard] without interruption. I think four songs is a good number of songs to be released at a time.”

The individual ‘Waves’ are each carefully constructed and deliberately different from the final album tracklisting. “It’s a little bit eclectic,” Bettridge said of the full LP. “There’s some really driving rock songs on there, and then there’s also some more sort of pop sensibility songs on it. The ‘Waves’ are gathered together where the songs make sense together, so there won’t be so much of a shock when the full album does come out. There’ll be three ‘Waves’ in total, and then the final ‘Wave’ will be kind of like a completion of the album. So when people buy the album, they’ll still be getting songs they haven’t yet heard.”

Despite the temptation of that payoff at the end, I suggested that the ‘Wave’ approach might be asking a lot from Bettridge’s listeners in terms of thoughtful comprehension of the music. “I kind of thought I was making it easier for them!” Bettridge exclaimed. Still, this is clearly an album for dedicated listeners, even with accessible singles like ‘Heavenly Father’ in the mix.

Dan Bettridge’s LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ is due for full release on the 6th of July. In the meantime, you can listen to Waves One, Two, and Three on Spotify or on his official Soundcloud. Bettridge will be on tour in the UK this summer, playing headline shows and festival slots.  TGTF’s collected coverage of Dan Bettridge is right through here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Allman Brown

 
By on Thursday, 31st May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

My first interview at SXSW 2018 was with English singer/songwriter Allman Brown, who I met before his very first SXSW showcase on the Tuesday night of the music festival, at Austin’s Seven Grand. We had already featured Brown as one of our Bands to Watch leading into SXSW, and he kindly answered our Quickfire Questions ahead of the festival, but this interview was a nice chance to chat with Brown one-on-one, and to get quick preview of what I was about to hear from him on stage.

Brown had already had a bit of an adventure leading into the music festival, which he related to me in the beginning of our chat. “We flew to Dallas, and we were supposed to have a gig in Dallas but I had to cancel that, sadly [due to illness]. So, then we drove, we got the Greyhound, because we’re English, so we thought we had to hit that American stereotype and get the bus to Austin.” It turned out that the 4-hour bus trip from Dallas to Austin was less than scenic, but being an avid reader, Brown took the opportunity indulge his favourite hobby. “I was reading ‘The Nix’ by Nathan Hill,” he explained. “It came out, I think, like two years ago. It was a big hit in the States. It was brilliant. It’s all centered around a lady who abandons her son. And it’s the back story of her through like, the 1968 Chicago riots, and why she did it. It was quite intriguing.” He further described the story as a “multigenerational family drama, but also quite funny, and (it) dealt with pop culture as well.”

I mentioned that we don’t always get such detailed book recommendations at There Goes the Fear, and Brown smiled a bit sheepishly. “Reading is breathing, I live to read. I just read today, actually, the novel of the new Joaquin Phoenix movie, ‘You Were Never Really Here’. I just read the novella it’s based on. It was pretty savage.”

Brown’s readling list recommendations naturally led the conversation into possible literary influences in his music. When I asked him if he has consciously introduced his reading into his songwriting, he demurred a bit. “I think if I read a book that I really like, that gives me a certain feeling, I might take that feeling and try and put it into a song. But I try not to imitate anyone because it doesn’t feel organic to me.”

From there, the discussion turned to Brown’s own repertoire, which at this point includes his 2017 album ‘A Thousand Years’ and his most recent EP release ‘Bury My Heart’, which came out on the Friday of SXSW. In discussing the EP, Brown mentioned, rather casually, that it was his first release as a full-time musician. “I was always working in restaurants and bars and stuff for like 10 years, but I managed to go full-time music just after my daughter was born, actually.” Like any proud father, Brown was clearly eager to talk about his family, and I expressed surprise that he would choose to turn to music full-time just after having a baby. “She brought all the good luck,” he beamed. “She’s now 15 months. But it was okay, I didn’t rush into it. It happened gradually, but I felt secure to make the change.”

Brown was away from his family for only eight days on his trip to Austin, but he jokingly described it as being “horrible.” I told him that, based on my own experience, eight days at SXSW would go by quickly, and he agreed. “Honestly, eight days in Austin is not the worst place to be,” he admitted, “it’s a beautiful city, nice people.” But getting back to his wife and daughter, he says, “I did a tour [once] for about 10 days, and that’s kind of my limit. Anything longer, I’ll just bring them with me.”

The background music and chatter at the Seven Grand got gradually louder as the start time for the evening’s showcase approached, and I took that cue to ask Brown about his set list for the show. “It will be a bit of a selection really, because it’s just me,” he confided. “I don’t have the band, which I quite like sometimes, because it’s good to sort of keep your chops. I spent years just playing by myself. So, a couple of new songs, and some old favourites from the album. I mean, they’re my old favourites,” he laughed.

“But you kind of have to gauge,” he continued. “South by Southwest seems quite quite rowdy and upbeat so far. You know what I mean, like the crowds are quite energetic. So, if there’s no space for the really, really delicate fingerpicking songs, I won’t play those. I’ll just try and read the room.” Talking about gauging the audience, I asked him how familiar he thought the crowd might be with his songs. “I have no idea,” he confessed. “There’s a couple of songs off the album which are doing well on Spotify, I think they’ll probably be well known. I’m guessing it’s the newer stuff that they won’t have any idea about. I try and imagine that every gig I play, I have to convince the audience that these are songs that they should enjoy. I try not to take it for granted, like I’ve got to do my best every time and that’s all I can do.”

Following his Tuesday night show, Brown played a handful more shows during his time in Austin, including a second official showcase at the Barracuda on the Saturday night and a potential Sofar Sounds show, which was yet to be confirmed at the time of the interview. I haven’t yet found any evidence of that show online, but Brown is a Sofar Sounds veteran, having performed shows in London, New York, and Paris in the past. Just below, you can watch a vintage clip of his 2012 NYC performance, courtesy of Sofar Sounds.

Brown did a brief tour of North America at the start of May, following on the success of his SXSW appearance, and played a short string of shows in the UK at the end of the month. His new EP ‘Bury My Heart’ is available now.

 

SXSW 2018: Wrapping up with a final conference session and Saturday evening showcases – 17th March 2018

 
By on Thursday, 3rd May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor Mary and I started our final day at SXSW 2018 with a leisurely brunch, but we both had a full schedule of options for Saturday afternoon and evening. (You can read Mary’s Saturday recaps here and here.) I decided in the moment to play the day by ear, and my rather uncharacteristic spontaneity paid off in the form of several new-to-me acts, which I very much enjoyed.

Metzer internal

Before I set out to hear any live music, I did attend one last conference session at the Austin Convention Center. As a connoisseur of the singer/songwriter genre, I couldn’t pass up University of British Columbia musicologist David Metzer‘s discussion titled ‘Ballads: A History of Emotions in Popular Culture’. Here, Metzer explored the ballad’s changing role in popular music from the 1950s to the present, highlighting listeners’ growing desire “to experience feelings in bigger and bolder ways” and performers’ stylistic tendency to emote in increasingly virtuosic fashion. The presentation was necessarily brief, and Metzer used a simple but effective comparison between Whitney Houston’s iconic performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and Dolly Parton’s original version to make his point. True music nerds like myself can find a more expanded discussion in Metzer’s book, ‘The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé’, which I promptly ordered when I returned home from Austin the next day.

Harry Pane internal

After a quick walk around the Trade Expo and a celebratory green cocktail for St. Patrick’s Day, Mary and I both had time to check out SXSW’s Second Play Stages, which feature official Showcasing Artists playing acoustic “happy hour” shows in the lounges of downtown Austin hotels. These shows are casual and quite intimate, with small crowds gathered in close and passersby stopping to listen at the fringes. I chose the Hilton’s Cannon & Bell lounge, where English singer/songwriter Harry Pane was playing his final set of the week. Pane was both relaxed and engaging on the small stage, and his songs were candidly emotional in this stripped back setting. His performance of ‘Fletcher Bay’, written after a trip to New Zealand with his late father, was particularly moving. You can have a listen to a similar live performance courtesy of London Live Sessions just below.

After a quick post-show interview with Pane (which will publish on TGTF in the coming days), I headed to Barracuda, whose two stages were hosting the combined Artist Group International and Xtra Mile Recordings showcase. While there would undoubtedly be a larger crowd later in the evening, when British folk-punk artists Skinny Lister and Frank Turner were slated to play the outdoor stage, the mood was mellow in both venues when I arrived for the beginning of the night’s set list.

Many Rooms internal

First on the outdoor stage was Houston singer/songwriter Brianna Hunt, performing under the moniker Many Rooms. The audience was thin at this point in the evening, and Hunt’s muted demeanor on stage didn’t attract the punters’ attention straightaway, but as her set continued, the fragile beauty of her songs gradually drew focus to the stage. Many Rooms’ debut album ‘There is a Presence Here’ is available now on Other People Records; you can listen to album track ‘which is to say, everything’ just through here.

Non Canon internal

Between sets on the outdoor stage, I peeked inside to catch a couple of songs from Allman Brown, who had caught my attention earlier in the week, while I waited to hear English folk singer Non Canon. Non Canon is the mildly pretentious stage name of singer/songwriter Barry Dolan, who describes the term as “anything [that] exists apart from the story we know and love”. His music is true to that description, pairing obscure literary allusions with pop culture references in an odd, but ultimately thought-provoking way. Though his set here was stripped back to voice and guitar, his recordings feature a fuller array of instrumental sounds and unusual harmonic variations, as evidenced in ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’.

The remainder of the Barracuda lineup included The RPMs (who Mary saw the previous afternoon) and Will Varley, as well as the aforementioned Skinny Lister and Frank Turner. As I had seen the latter three recently (Varley and Skinny Lister in February at Phoenix’s Valley Bar, and Turner on Thursday evening), I decided to head to the Parish, which was hosting British indie label Bella Union.

Field Division internal

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Bella Union is a sure bet for high quality songwriting and musicianship, but also for music that is a bit off-the-beaten-path. Their Saturday night showcase at the Parish was no different. I missed indie pop songwriter Ari Roar, but arrived in time to catch American folk duo Field Division. On the surface, this pair, comprised of Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton, is yet another in a long string of Laurel Canyon-influenced artists, but on closer listening, their powerful lyrics and sharp instrumental arrangements create a deeper and more tangible sonic presence. Keep an eye out for their debut LP ‘Dark Matter Dreams’, which is due for release on the 22nd of June and features the propulsive motion of ‘River in Reverse’.

Hilang Child internal

More subdued but nonetheless hypnotic, electronic dream pop artist Hilang Child (aka Ed Riman) took the stage next and dazzled the growing audience with his effortless vocals and deftly textured instrumental layers. His carefully crafted soundscapes are replete with splendid dynamic and harmonic colour, which fill in and expand beautifully upon his delicately poetic lyrics. Hilang Child’s standout track ‘Growing Things’ will feature on his upcoming debut LP, which is due out later this year.

Tiny Ruins

New Zealand folk band Tiny Ruins has evolved from the solo work of frontwoman Hollie Fullbrook into a full four-piece ensemble, though they were represented in Austin by only two of their number, Fullbrook and bassist Cass Basil. Their thoughtful folk songs were mesmerising with just the pair of them, but they added another dimension of rhythmic interest when drummer Jim White joined them on stage midway through their set. Tiny Ruins’ third album is due out on Bella Union later this year; in the meantime, take a listen to the subtle yet exquisite ‘Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens’, courtesy of Flying Nun Records.

Xylouris White internal

Jim White took only a brief hiatus from the stage after Tiny Ruins’ set before returning for his main show as part of avante garde folk-rock duo Xylouris White. Xylouris White finds the virtuosic Australian drummer joining forces with equally skilled Cretan lute player and singer George Xylouris to create a musical experience that is best described as “intense”. Any words I write here will undoubtedly fail to convey the awesome power of their live performance. The unlikely but fluidly-synchronised pair released their third LP ‘Mother’ back in January, and it’s not to be missed for anyone excited by the idea of dynamic jazz-rock-folk fusion.

Ezra Furman internal

The final act on the Bella Union bill, and the final act for me at SXSW 2018 was Ezra Furman, whom I’d seen on Thursday at the Luck Reunion. The late night atmosphere of the Parish on Saturday night was an entirely different context for Furman and his band The Visions, and the dark drama of songs like ‘Suck the Blood from My Wound’ took on a new level of depth and potency in this set. Here, Furman combined his intellectual, heavily metaphorical lyricism with a visceral musicality to create a full gestalt that was somehow greater than the simple sum of its parts. In this regard, he fits in nicely with his Bella Union colleagues, who all made a positive impression on this showcase, and who made my last night in Austin a uniquely memorable one.

 
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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. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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