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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: best bets of UK hip-hop and jazz artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 2nd March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

As many of you TGTF readers probably know, hip-hop is not our strong suit, and neither is jazz. Instead of shooting pretty much in the dark, I decided to ask a friend of TGTF better versed in these genres to weigh in on the acts who have been given shouts to SXSW 2018. Read below for recommendations from Irish musician Tadhg Byrne of Meltybrains?, Sim Simma and ChoiceCuts fame. Take it away, Tadhg…

AJ Tracey – An absolute don. Worked with him before and his showmanship is top notch. His flow, his delivery and his attitude onstage is brilliant. He’s already on his way to superstardom! [AJ Tracey was given a shout to SXSW last year. You can read Rebecca’s thoughts on him in the London hip-hop and r&b artist preview from the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 through here. –Ed]

Big Zuu – Comes from the same MTP crew as AJ, he’s very much cut from the same cloth. Great style, delivery, sense of humour, perspective, all the attributes of a top rapper. He’s less well-known, but could be next to blow up big.

Ezra Collective (pictured at top) – I’ve only heard great things about them, one of the hottest young groups to come out of London. They melt jazz + Afrobeats to create something really fresh and exciting!

IAMDDB – She is amazing, I’ve seen her perform twice already. She’s going to be a big star, one of the best voices in UK soul, jazz and hip-hop. I’d even call her Erykah Badu’s soul child.

Moses Boyd – One of the best drummers ever, such an important musician for the rise of the new jazz scene in England. He blends so many influences into his sound. He is the sound of London. [Moses Boyd appeared in Austin last year. You can read Steven’s thoughts on him in the London jazz, world music and singer/songwriter artists preview from the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 through here. –Ed.]

Nadia Rose – Brilliant, cheeky and witty MC. I booked her for The Sugar Club in Dublin, and she gave one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Reminds me of a younger UK Missy Elliot. Stormzy‘s cousin.

Not3s – Young, new and exciting singer making big strides in the London rap scene. His flow is very similar to J Hus. He’s only starting out, so I expect to see more [of] his own style [to] appear as he grows. [Not3s has been announced as part of the Saturday night Radio 1 / DIT showcase at Latitude 30, the home of the British Music Embassy during SXSW 2018. He is scheduled to perform at 12 midnight on the evening of 17 March. – Ed.]

Nubya Garcia – A brilliant saxophonist who has played with some of London’s best jazz groups as a special guest, as well as releasing her own music, which is incredible. Another true great in UK jazz.

Stefflon Don – One of the sickest rappers you will ever hear. ‘16 Shots’ is my favourite dancehall/rap tune of 2017. She’s got such a powerful presence on stage and her feminine attitude is incredible.

Zara McFarlane – Beautiful singer, with one of the best voices to come out of the UK. She’s a brilliant collaborator!

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2799: Totally Mild

 
By on Thursday, 1st March 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Aussie dreampop quartet Totally Mild have unveiled a new promo video in the lead up to their appearance at SXSW 2018 in Austin, Texas later this month. The video is for a track called ‘From One Another’, which features on Totally Mild’s sophomore LP ‘Her’, out now on Chapter Music. The song and its accompanying video reflect one of the many facets of ‘Her’, which band frontwoman Elizabeth Mitchell describes as “a record of failure and victory, new desire, stale romance, queer domesticity and what comes when the party is over.”

As with previous promo ‘Lucky Number’, Mitchell herself makes an appearance in the video for ‘From One Another’, but this time in something more like a cameo role. Directed by Tobias Willis, this new video has a stark, lounge-y setting and a fascinating cast of characters that is somehow familiar, yet mildly uncomfortable throughout.

In addition to their performances at SXSW, Totally Mild will play a one-off show at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade on the 19th of March. As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Totally Mild’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #405: Jade Bird

 
By on Thursday, 1st March 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Francesca Allen

Editor Mary covered London-based singer/songwriter Jade Bird briefly last year leading into SXSW 2017 and Live at Leeds 2017, but we think she warrants a closer look ahead of SXSW 2018 this month. Bird’s early life and musical influences intertwine to create a unique and thoughtful sound, with country, rock, and jazz styles intermingling seamlessly in her songs. Her ‘Something American’ EP was released last summer via Glassnote Records.

The press release for Bird’s newly released cover of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Right Through You’ provides some enlightening context to what looks on the surface like a typical girl-with-guitar setup. “Born in Hexham, UK, Jade’s early life was spent mainly in flight as an ‘army brat.’ One of [her] life’s few constants proved to be the influence of strong working women. At first via her mother and grandmother, who largely raised her, but later the female role models within the musical subcultures Jade become obsessed with, from empowering country heroines like Loretta Lynn to iconic alternative songwriters like Patti Smith. Alanis Morissette‘s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was a similar early touchstone.” With this in mind, ‘Right Through You’ seems to be a particularly apt choice. It fits nicely both in Bird’s voice and in her dryly ironic (yes, I went there), mildly rebellious style.

Bird’s current single ‘Lottery’ was released earlier this year, also on Glassnote. Its recorded version is upbeat and bright, with a jaunty guitar accompaniment and a distinct rock tone to its vocals. The lyrical conversation between Bird’s youthful protagonist and her lover is related in an offhand tone, but its between-the-lines subtext is much deeper: “I’ll tell you about a guy that I’ve been with / you ask how old is he and I laugh, twenty-six / nah, but he’s thirty / how messed up is that?”

The acoustic version of ‘Lottery’ is surprisingly different to the original recording. The musical accompaniment is shifted to solo piano, and its subtle jazz harmonies are a clever change from the song’s previous country-rock stylings. Bird’s voice is more exposed here, and a little shrill in moments, but it holds up remarkably well as the dynamic and dramatic intensity rises.

For those of you on the eastern side of the Atlantic, Jade Bird is currently in the midst of a UK headline tour which will run through the 11th of March. If you’re in the market for a last minute gig, tickets for the following shows are available now.

Thursday 1st March 2018 – Norwich Waterfront
Friday 2nd March 2018 – Nottingham Bodega Social Club
Sunday 4th March 2018 – Brighton Green Door Store
Monday 5th March 2018 – London Village Underground
Tuesday 6th March 2018 – Birmingham Hare & Hounds 2
Thursday 8th March 2018 – Glasgow Poetry Club
Friday 9th March 2018 – Newcastle Think Tank
Saturday 10th March 2018 – Salford Eagle Inn
Sunday 11th March 2018 – Leeds Oporto

Following these shows, Bird will hop a plane for America and SXSW. If you’re on this side of the pond and can’t make it to Austin, you can catch Jade Bird on her spring and summer North American tour dates with Colter Wall and First Aid Kit; a full listing of Bird’s upcoming live dates can be found on her official Web site.

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: best bets among American artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats by Brantley Gutierrez

As you might expect with an American music festival, SXSW is typically heavy on American showcasing artists, and SXSW 2018 won’t be any different. This year’s music festival lineup features a load of big names that you’ve probably heard before, along with a few new ones that, if they’re not familiar already, likely will become so very soon.

Our ongoing preview coverage of SXSW 2018 has already highlighted a few up-and-coming artists on the showcase schedule, including grunge rock band Bully and alt-country singer Courtney Marie Andrews. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is elusive Los Angeles alt-rock trio Lo Moon, who made mild waves with their SXSW appearance last year. I expect them to make a bigger splash this time around, on the strength of their just released self-titled LP, which includes new track ‘Wonderful Life’.

Among the major players heading to SXSW 2018 are a handful of TGTF alums who have broken through to mainstream success. We first covered songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff way back in 2011, but the course of his career dramatically changed in 2015, when he convened a new band called the Night Sweats and released their hit self-titled album. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats have recently announced a brand new LP called ‘Tearing at the Seams’, which is due for release just before SXSW on the 9th of March and features lead track ‘You Worry Me’.

North Carolina alt-pop duo Sylvan Esso previewed songs from their 2017 album ‘What Now’ at a surprise SXSW 2016 show; their appearance this year could once again herald new music on the horizon. Austin native David Ramirez wasn’t in top form when I saw him at SXSW 2017, but he may be in better shape this year, playing songs from his beautiful recent album ‘We’re Not Going Anywhere’, which he has toured extensively since its release. SXSW 2015 showcasing artist Natalie Prass has just announced a brand new album ‘The Future and The Past’ due out on the 1st of June; she will presumably highlight its soul-tinged single ‘Short Court Style’ on her showcases in Austin next month.

Among other past TGTF mentions on the SXSW 2018 list are Nashville singer/songwriter Liza Anne, who will release her new album ‘Fine But Dying’ on the 9th of March and Milwaukee quartet Field Report, whose new album ‘Summertime Songs’ is previewed in the stream of ‘Never Look Back’ just below. Fellow Nashville singer Tristen and Philadelphia duo Vita and the Woolf, both acts we’ve coincidentally covered in conjunction with Irish alt-rockers Bell X1, also made the showcase list for this year’s festival in Austin, along with New York’s Sunflower Bean, who showcased at SXSW 2016, and L.A. rock band Warbly Jets, who made an appearance at SXSW last year.

American artists new to TGTF include Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes fame, and Buck Meek of alt-rock band Big Thief, neither of whom we’ve seen in a solo capacity before. Satellite radio listeners here in the U.S. might already be familiar with Mt. Joy and NoMBe, who have both been featured on SiriusXM Alt-Nation, while public radio devotees will no doubt have heard Portland singer/songwriter Haley Heynderickx and New Orleans funk/soul group Tank and the Bangas on NPR.

For dedicated indie fans, a pair of duo acts, Denver’s Tennis and Baltimore’s Wye Oak have made the SXSW shout list, along with the always eccentric Okkervil River. In the heavily represented Americana category, sure winners include a trio of Nashville acts: singer/songwriter Nikki Lane, country rock trio Liz Cooper and the Stampede and veteran country/bluegrass collective Old Crow Medicine Show.

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #404: ONR.

 
By on Tuesday, 27th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Some of Britain’s musicians and bands have the unusual desire to hide their identities. As this isn’t really a thing here in America, I’ve always wondered why that was. I’ve been thinking about this more lately, considering that revealing who you are could potentially be devastating to any chance of upward mobility in the business. If you’re related to another famous artist, you run the risk of always being compared to that person: consider Pixie Geldof, the lead singer of Violet, or Jakob Dylan, Bob’s son. Maybe you’ve simply reinvented yourself under a new name and don’t want any of the baggage of your previous artistic efforts.

In an effort not to raise his ire and to keep things the way he wants them, I won’t unmask who Scottish electronic artist ONR. (pronounced “honour”) is, or who he used to play with. You can find this information online if you look hard enough. For now, enjoy the romantic air of mystery swirling around this up-and-coming songwriter whose face I hadn’t seen until last week. His anonymity is unlikely to last long: he’s signed to Capitol Records here, which suggests once he’s got an album ready to be released, we’ll be seeing his name and face around these parts much more often.

New music from ONR. has only been coming along as a teensy trickle. In 2017, he released his debut single, the brilliantly tense ‘Jericho’, described by the artist as “an old-fashioned protest song…it harbors a sort of gentle aggression throughout.” A slow-burning track, it takes the Biblical imagery of the River Jordan and being purified by the waters, before moving into more rhythmic, Depeche Mode-esque territory. In the instrumental bridge, booming synth notes skip across the keyboard, pairing complementarily with the intriguing backbeat. ONR.’s voice becomes an urgent shout, the song reaching a satisfying crescendo at its conclusion.

While follow-up single ‘Five Years Time’ has some similarities to ‘Jericho’, it’s still very much has its own identity. Its synth bombast will make any New Wave fan swoon. However, I think it’s the equal parts of vulnerability and sexiness in ONR’s voice that have the potential to cause mainstream music fans, never mind just the indie fans, weak in the knees. The lyrics seem ambiguous enough to me, as if he’s singing of human frailty and our vices, of the dark corners of our pasts and the anxiety of what will come in the future. “Is it simple, is it brave enough? / To go gentle into the cut?”

His newest single released this month, the cardiovascular workout ‘American Gods’, is ONR.’s love letter to the land of the brave. It begs the question, is he clairvoyant? Will ONR. soon be considered a musical god here in America following his live appearances at SXSW 2018? I’ll be standing by in Austin to see exactly what materialises.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, ONR.’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #129: Courtney Marie Andrews

 
By on Monday, 26th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

American alt-country artist Courtney Marie Andrews left her home in Arizona at the tender age of 16, taking up a life of music and full time touring. Her official Bandcamp page shows a fairly lengthy list of early EP and LP releases, but Andrews’ major breakthrough came with her 2016 album ‘Honest Life’, which was picked up by Fat Possum/Mama Bird in the U.S. and Loose Music in the UK, and re-released in 2017.

Less than a year has passed since that release, but Andrews already has a brand new album recorded and ready to go. ‘May Your Kindness Remain’ is due for release on the 23rd of March, just after Andrews’ scheduled appearance at SXSW 2018. ICYMI, we recently featured the album’s latest single ‘Kindness of Strangers’ as our Video of the Moment #2793. Andrews is one of the artists I’m most looking forward to seeing in Austin this year, and she was gracious enough to answer our set of Quickfire Questions ahead of the event.  Read on to get better acquainted . . .

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Words, Imagery, Feelings.

Is this your first time at SXSW? What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I can’t believe after ten years of touring this will be my first SXSW. I’m hot-diggity ready! Ten years is too long to not attend and perform at one of the quintessential music festivals, as a full-time musician.

Of the bands who have already been announced, are there any you’re particularly interested to see? If yes, who are they and why?
I’m very excited to hear Marlon Williams play, ’cause I think he has an incredible voice. I’m also very much looking forward to playing at Luck Reunion and hear Willie [Nelson] play that night. I’ve been hearing about that part of the festival for years, and I’m very excited to finally experience it.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
I’m looking forward to rockin’ the hell out with my band and catching up with all my pals in the music world.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
I always pack one too many pairs of earrings and only ever end up wearing one pair the entire tour. Bad habit.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Depending on the night. If it’s chill, a glass of Pinot Noir. If it’s rowdy, a shot of tequila. Somewhere in the middle, I’ll go for Gin & Tonics, Whiskey Gingers, Margaritas with salt, or Manhattans. My drink of choice is very mood oriented but those are my top picks.

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

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘Edelweiss’ from Sound of Music.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin, or ‘Blue’ by LeAnn Rimes.

What song always makes you laugh?
‘We’re Not the Jetset’ by George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

What song always makes you cry?
‘River’ by Joni Mitchell.

What song reminds you of a specific memory? (For example, the first time you fell in love, the first concert you ever attended, etc. It’s up to you if you want this to be nice or naughty!)
Jerry Garcia’s entire ‘Lonesome Prison Blues’ album reminds me of the time I spent four nights on a Greyhound bus on the way to New York. I sat next to some of the nicest prostitutes and convicts, and I felt like I had lived every lyric Jerry sang about on that record. Every time I see a Greyhound bus I feel the urge to listen to that record.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Ooooh, that’s so hard. SO MANY. Off the top of my head, I’d say ‘Picture in a Frame’ by Tom Waits.

Who is your favourite artist? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer, or an actor, visual artist, etc.)
A Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin love child, in a perfect world.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I would probably try my hand at writing novels, or try and become an anthropologist. Those are careers that always seemed to hold a lot of stories in them, and I could never do something that didn’t involve a story.

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.)
SO HARD. I’d bring Paul Robeson, ‘The Power and the Glory’, because that feels like a good album to listen to in “Heaven.”

Along with her own new album (naturally!), Andrews also recommends an upcoming release from one of her Mama Bird Recordings label mates. “The opener for my U.S. tour, Matt Dorrien, is releasing a beautiful new album on [the 27th of April]! I’d definitely look out for that one!” (NPR featured that album’s lead single ‘Baby I’m So Lost’ back in January; it’s well worth a listen.)

Andrews has a full slate of shows lined up for her time at SXSW 2018; you can keep up with her showcase appearances by checking the official SXSW 2018 schedule. Following SXSW, Andrews will hit the road with her band for live shows in the North America, Europe, and Australia. Details of her UK and Ireland shows are right back here, and a full listing of her upcoming live dates can be found on her official Web site.

Our thanks to Doug for arranging this e-mail q&a.

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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