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By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 22nd September 2016 at 6:00 pm
It’s been an age since we’ve heard a peep out of Tall Ships. The Brighton hard-rocking band – now a quartet – haven’t released any new material since early 2015, so we’re pleased to hear they’ve returned. As its title suggests, ‘Meditations on Loss’ is meant to have an introspective bent. However, as previous Tall Ships releases, the new song has a loud, full freneticism that comes across as anthemic.
The accompanying video according to the band, is meant to “represent the futility of existence…The sprint from birth to death and the constant questioning of what we’re running from, for or to. The video was directed by, and features, close friends and family.” Indeed, this promo was directed by Tall Ships frontman Ric Phethean’s brother Ben. Ric’s cousin Tama also makes a guest appearance in the video. Watch the heart-pounding video for ‘Meditations on Loss’ below. The band will be also be returning to the road, supporting Cambridge group Lonely the Brave on tour in the UK in October and also make an appearance at Manchester’s Neighbourhood Festival on the 8th of October. For more on the Brighton band on TGTF, go here.
The video to Tall Ships’ new single ‘Will to Life’ plants images of families in the street throwing coloured powders at each other in an explosion of shades. It’s the kind of portrait that plants itself right at Tall Ships’ door, as their explosive, chiming riffs conjure up the smells and chaos that seems to be associated with the Indian festival of Holi, a time celebrating creation and renewal by Hindus all over Britain, effectively rejoicing in people’s verve for life. So it’s rather fitting their new lyric video goes hand in hand with this stunning tapestry of music and religion: I can just imagine an explosion of colour around the band as the first riff drops.
In essence, what Tall Ships have managed to show, and in just 4 minutes, is an evolution from where they were on ‘Everything Touching’ (arguably the best prog record of 2012) to where they are now, on their way to becoming a force in 2015. It’s a gorgeous track full of vitality and energy, bursting at the seams with quite simply a will *for* life. If you were a fan of their debut and of course, the blissfully insane beast that was ‘T=0’, then you’ll be pleased Rich Phethean, Matt Parker and Jamie Bush haven’t departed from the slightly unhinged formula which made you fall in love with them.
OK, they’re the umpteenth Brighton–based outfit to get to that difficult second album, but they’re not a flash in the pan, that’s a dead cert. With a strong semi-underground following, Tall Ships are going to be pulling up roots this year, as ‘Will to Life’ is the kind of song which will see their live set really take off; well, if Phethean can guarantee he can hit these high notes on stage…
It’s got singalong credentials and is off the wall enough to get the bods at 6 Music falling over their gillets. It’s the kind of song which will have you spilling that seventh pint of Carling from your plastic cup, whilst you wave your hands above your head. Whether this is going to a breakthrough is yet to be seen, but it’s obvious Tall Ships are coming out all guns blazing with this record. And I love it.
Tall Ships’ upcoming single ‘Will to Life’ will be released on a 7″ on the 25th of May on Too Pure Singles.
After two days of revelry and debauchery on the streets of Brighton, TGTF heads were heavy and the party decided that a debrief in Giraffe, a chain restaurant serving quite frankly the best breakfasts on the South coast, was appropriate to clear the haze from the past 2 days, and augur the body for the day ahead.
After the demons of the past two days were expelled, not literally I may add, I dragged myself to meet the extremely personable Itch, ex-frontman of The King Blues and generally lovely chap. You can watch the interview here. After a nice chat in his tour manager’s garden, I ventured to the Blog Up, where the impressive Embers were attracting a capacity crowd in the tightly woven confines of The Mesmerist. The sound in the venue made for a deafening spectacle, which wasn’t help by us at TGTF setting up camp right next to the main monitors. With earplugs donned, it was easy to see the attraction of Embers.
They’re young, good looking and have an archetypal tall, dark and handsome lad on lead guitar and vocals in the form of George Agan. Their sound is extremely big live though, there’s a splash of prog, with comparisons to Muse overarching throughout the set, but it’s all kept grounded by the fact they have a cutesy female violin player. It all is a bit more authentic for that fact at least. (7/10)
After a few drinks in Brighton’s most reputable watering holes with some of my compadres from my former life in Guernsey, it was back off on the long journey to Concorde 2 to catch one of my favourite bands Tall Ships. They’re a group who go about progressive rock in the right way, that being their own way. They’re not smashing dubstep into the equation and shoehorning in electro wherever they can, they’re making exciting guitar music on time signatures that excites me in ways that aren’t suitable for even here.
‘Phosphorescence’ sounds pristine, as if it’s been ripped straight from ‘Everything Touching’, their fantastic debut record. Whilst ‘T=0’ is the ultimate set closer, forget ‘Knights of Cydonia’, scratch all of that, and wow, it absolutely went off. The disappointment was that it seemed to only be certain sections of the crowd enjoying the expertly crafted riffage, perhaps they were all too worn out from Hacktivist’s drivel the night before. However, at least in certain small sections of the crowd it was obvious there was a deep appreciation of the musical chemistry going on in front of them, aloft on stage. (9/10)
My trudge back towards the pier is at least cheerier for the fact that I was to be reunited with editor Mary, and that I would shortly be watching one of my guiltiest pleasures The 1975. However, whilst I was on the guestlist, and 10 minutes before the band were scheduled to venture on stage, I was rebuffed by the bouncers on the door. Instead of fleetingly and pointlessly arguing my case to the two gentlemen, who were, I quote, “taking none of my shit”, I hopped step and legged it to The Dome to sneak into the capacity Bastille show. What I was to be met with was unbeknownst to me…
Think of the audience to your classic, McFly or The Wanted show; sprinkle a sparing dressing of awkward looking v-necked boyfriends, and voilà, you have the cornucopia of underaged girls amassed to pay tribute to their new favourite band Bastille. Bastille have literally everything going for them at the moment; frontman Dan has hair that does that flicky thing, I mean, do I even need to continue? Yeah, all right then. The tunes are horrendously catchy and are accessible to all, Radio 1 friendly and firmly embedded on the A-list. The throngs of screaming girls just add to the blurred hysteria around the band, who can seemingly do no wrong in 2013.
Their debut album ‘Bad Blood’ is there with Mumford and Sons‘ ‘Sigh No More’ just for its mass appeal alone. Hence why The Dome was at capacity when I squeezed my way through. Note: I’m 6’ 5″ and look like a potato, so for any poor girl whose view I blocked with my massive form, I apologise, but it was for the good of music…
The almost fanatical following that the band have developed led me to believe that the performance was going to be one of pure showmanship, energy and enthusiasm. Instead, Bastille slogged their way through a set that looked like it was almost a trial to them. They looked like they’d just fought of millions of Persians at the Hot Gates, and Spartans they are not, with their weariness etched clearly on their visages. Every note, from the album tracks, to set closer ‘Flaws’ was sung, well, flawlessly. Dan even did a little circumnavigation of the crowd during the encore. But overall the set seemed lacklustre. Perhaps the band have been on tour for too long, or it was an off night, but either way, it was a set to forget by these up and coming less-than likely lads. (5/10)
To close the festival for me, it was a trip to the seaside. To the stage where my first romance with The Great Escape began, Coalition, to watch for the second time of the weekend, Mikill Pane. My opinion was that he would be more suited to the late night slot, in a larger venue. This wasn’t the case though, as technical problems and an overawing backing band distracted attention from the fantastic London rapper’s lyrical prowess.
Mikill wasn’t being a diva, far from it, as the microphone was cutting in and out throughout the short set. But his reaction somewhat detracted from the excitement of what was geared up to be a livewire set, but sadly ended up being quite flat and repetitive. (6/10)
By Mary Chang
on Friday, 22nd March 2013 at 4:35 pm
Last year, I spent the majority of my time at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. It was so long ago now, I don’t really remember if it was more because it was a safe place for me because I knew exactly where it was on San Jacinto Boulevard, or if it was the line-ups that drew me there. In any event, at SXSW 2013 I was mildly disappointed by the programme being presented over the week, with a lot of bands that I just didn’t care for. Traditionally, Tuesday is the ‘easiest’ day of the festival, as there aren’t as many showcases put on because that’s the day the festival begins and a lot of the professional folks don’t make it into town until that afternoon. That said, that means every decent showcase will be rammed, which was the case with the Huw Stephens-curated UK Trade and Investment showcase that very night. I got in there early, figuring I wanted to hit the ground running, covering a whole slew of notable UK acts hand-selected by Huw himself.
The first band up was Y Niwl, an alternative surf pop band from Wales. First impression: their bass player was wearing a red knit hat that made me laugh, because the week prior our John Fernandez was trying to win a similarly epic winter hat in a Facebook contest. They don’t talk between songs and Huw even said in his introduction of them, “they told me to tell you ‘thank you’ now”, because they wouldn’t be stopping to chat. So between this statement and the hat, I went into this set chuckling.
I don’t speak Welsh so I can’t read you the titles of their songs or tell you what they mean, but all you need to know is that they’ve got a blend of the Shadows, the Ventures, the Surfaris and the Beach Boys (sans lyrics), with a penchant for both slower burning numbers and widely contrasting speedy ones that will remind you of the themes to Peter Gunn and the James Bond franchise. Y Niwl could definitely could be considered quirky on the basis of their handwritten set list that consisted solely of numbers (a special band code?) and not any recognisable words. Not even ones that looked like Welsh. Mysterious…
Folk pop singer/songwriter Lucy Rose was up next, wearing an Adidas t-shirt, black jeans and some kick-arse–looking trainers. I kept in mind from John’s interview with her at Reading last year that deep down he’s a metal / rock loving girl and that this outfit made more sense in that context. Being so slight, she had brought with her a special stool and all her pedals were placed on top of an equipment case so her feet could reach them. (Bless.)
What became immediately apparent from the first song out of the gate was this was not the same anxious, timid as a mouse girl I saw open for Bombay Bicycle Club in DC just a year ago. If there was a time for her to bring the goods, this was it, her first big American music industry appearance in Austin for her SXSW 2013 close-up. ‘Middle of the Bed’ wowed the folks I was with who had never seen her before. She offered up a brand new song, and in her usual self-deprecating self, she organised her band to play another song that they never play live, saying “this is going to be bad!” But there was no indication of anyone, much less Rose herself, of dropping the ball. Maybe the first time she came to America, she wasn’t confident in her performing abilities, but this night, no one could touch her.
Tall Ships from Falmouth were a jarring yet welcome band to follow the folk of Lucy Rose. John had nothing but compliments for their debut album ‘Everything Touching’ from last year, and generally speaking, our rock tastes differ quite a bit, so I was expecting something loud and frenetic. In that respect, they did our John proud, guitars and hair flying all the place. A little loud for me but the crowd were loving it. I almost didn’t want to leave, but I had a date with another band elsewhere.
This is where things went pear-shaped. I was supposed to be on the guest list for the big Media Temple-sponsored SXSW Interactive closing party at Stubb’s. For a month prior, the internet had been abuzz about the headline set by deadmau5 vs. Richie Hawtin. As you can imagine, it was one of the biggest draws of the entire week and while I do like deadmau5, I was more interested in seeing the band directly before me, our friends the Joy Formidable. With a press wristband, I knew I hadn’t a hope in the world of getting in, and they had arranged for me to get in through the guest list. I arrived a half-hour early, figuring that would be plenty of time to get into the venue and get a good vantage point. Something went wrong though, as when I went up to the guestlist line and the man with the list – all 12 pages of it – flipped through the list with lightning speed, said I wasn’t on it and could I call the people who put me on the list to get in touch with them?
Uhhh, that would be a little difficult to achieve because it was 30 minutes from the Joy Formidable’s set list and us bloggers are all too aware that bands get psyched up for their performances right before and we cannot expect them to be near their phones. A kind request for the man to look over the list one more time, more slowly, was met with a curt shout of “you’re not getting in!” Okay, then. I was also bristling as some women behind me, barking at security that they should be let in immediately because they were from the BBC. Sorry, but no-one was getting in unless you were on the guest list, whether you’re from the Beeb or not. The experience soured me on Stubb’s for the rest of the week and I refused to return. This was really disappointing to me as last year I had a very good night there seeing Kaiser Chiefs and the Temper Trap. While I realise that especially on that night when they were being shouted at by drunk festival-goers desperate to get in to deadmau5 that tempers all around were frayed, but being professional is part of running a venue, SXSW or no SXSW, and I don’t think any punter acting reasonably and civilly to staff deserves to be screamed at. Respect people, whoever they are. I walked back down Red River Street, defeated, hearing the faraway strains of ‘Cholla’ and wishing I was inside Stubb’s instead of kicking dirt down the sidewalk.
Well, what to do now but to return to Latitude 30? Remember that I said earlier in this piece that Tuesday night was light with showcases. I’ve never seen so many people outside Latitude 30, trying to get in. Then again, nearly every band I wanted to see there at SXSW 2012, I had arrived well ahead and managed to get inside with no problem. It became eminently clear that with my press wristband, I wasn’t getting back in for the 1975. Considering how much we’ve written about them on TGTF and the fact that I was probably one of few people who knew several of their songs, let alone heard of them, I was fuming. Those of you who have met me know exactly how short I am. Despite standing on my tippy toes, I couldn’t see a thing. They sounded amazing though, and judging from the screaming after each song, they got in and did what they needed to do: wow the Austin crowd.
The crowd significantly thinned out after the 1975’s set, allowing me to squeeze in to the side for Willy Moon. One of his songs was recently featured on an Apple advert here in America, so I imagined there would be a decent buzz around him. However, it appeared everyone I was in close proximity to was there to wait for Bastille, who I’d read in a press release the day before had hit #1 in the UK albums chart with their debut. In that respect, I thought Moon had an uphill battle ahead of him.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like him live, as I had always thought on record he was a bit gimmicky and too reliant on ‘50s style. But surprisingly I liked him a lot. As I had imagined in my head, he has a Little Richard / Jerry Lee Lewis frenzied throwback vocal style about him. But what I was not expecting was how animated he’d be on stage, hips swinging like a 21st century Elvis, crooning and preening. With a huge quiff and dressed to the nines in a smart suit, he just oozed cool. He had played a show in DC when I was poorly in February and boy, was I glad to have finally seen live.
I still don’t get the appeal of Bastille. Being Tuesday night, it was the last hurrah for the SXSW Interactive conventioneers, and I met several of them who were ending their last night in Austin with this rousing night with Huw Stephens. A new friend from London said that the Bastille sound is the sound of London right now, and maybe that is why I’m not getting it. Having heard the new Dan Croll single ‘Compliment Your Soul’ on BBC 6music earlier today, I am not so sure it is limited to London.
Since it had been such an arduous task to get back into Latitude 30 after the 1975’s set and after a ridiculously early night the night before not getting into Peace at Viceland, I couldn’t be bothered to leave the venue where I’d managed a cosy spot down the front for the evening’s headliner. Initially when I saw Dan Smith, he reminded me of one of my friends Matt, and I immediately starting missing him. There are synths and lots of percussion that make up the Bastille set-up, and make no mistake, Smith’s music is a lot of fun and it incites wild dancing wherever he goes. Surrounded by folks who were obviously into this kind of music, their arms in the air to the beats, I felt like a wet blanket. I just don’t fully understand why their debut album hit #1 on the UK albums chart. While I am not saying it is entirely soulless, there seems to be something missing there, at least for me, and it’s that block that keeps me from enjoying the music fully.
Overall impression of the evening: most bands very good, but Stubb’s security loses them at least a thousand points.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 15th January 2013 at 11:00 am
Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2013 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.
Carrying on with the genre section of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013 to continue through January each Tuesday, today we’re bringing you the UK bands slated to perform at this year’s SXSW that play rock, punk, metal and every combination in between. (Last week, we brought you the pop and pop hybrid acts list, which you can catch up on here.) Each part of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013 is a handy resource if you’re wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music.
What do all these acts in the rock / punk / metal genre list have in common besides being from Britain? Powerful guitars, punishing bass and drums and in most cases, vocals worthy of idolatry. How they achieve this differs from act to act, as you will read and see/hear below.
Belligerence (added 10/01/13) – heavy metal from Portsmouth. I’m finding it hard to find information on them, as there’s another band – also metal – from Prague with the same name…
File next to: Biohazard, Clutch, Pantera
The Blackout – Welsh post-hardcore band who have been soldiering on since their formation in 2003. Right, that means they’ve been around a decade. How many other bands, no matter what the genre, still exist after 10 years? They must be doing something right. Their next album, ‘Start the Party’, is scheduled to be out on the 21st of January 2013. We won’t post the name of their sweary big hit, but John mentions it in his day 2 roundup of Leeds Fest 2011.
Brutality Will Prevail – This Cardiff hardcore band had been signed previously to Alex Fitzgerald’s Holy Roar label and are now with Purgatory Records (sensing a theme here?), who this year released their latest album, ‘Scatter the Ashes’. Expect something punishing.
Touring with: Cancer Bats and Empress in March 2013 (maybe now they won’t appear at some of the dates on this previous organised tour, since the middle of it is smack dab during SXSW).
China Rats – Leeds lad rock. Legend has it that thanks to the tour bus of Bat for Lashes breaking down on the way to this year’s Benicassim, the band found themselves headlining the Valencia festival. Is ‘(At Least Those) Kids are Getting Fed’ a commentary on the North East, or a wider problem across Britain?
The Crookes – The Crookes made their SXSW debut in 2011 and when I finally met them in Brighton in May 2012, they were eager to return, so I’m really pleased for them getting another SXSW nod. This time, they’ll have the good time sounds of ‘Hold Fast’ (my top album of 2012) under their belts and I’m sure there will be a gaggle of new American fans of theirs (mostly female?) following their every move. I’ll be catching them as many times as I can, so do come and say hello.
Seeing that I’ve been a fan of theirs since the ‘Dreams of Another Day’ EP in 2010, there is a boatload of Crookes coverage you can read on TGTF, starting here.
Crowns – Coming off of their December tour raising awareness of UK homelessness, Cornwall’s Crowns will bring their fun rock ‘n’ roll sound to Austin. I missed their show at the Cornwall Pasty Company at last year’s Great Escape (really kicking myself over this…I mean, come on, that would have been the ultimate party conversation starter, right?) but I’m determined to catch them on American soil.
Read all of our previous Crowns coverage here.
The Enemy – my guess is that the Enemy are to be the younger equivalent of and will act like Kaiser Chiefs at last year’s SXSW: pulling in a good number of fans for their perfectly good but possibly unextraordinary sets in a post-Oasis breakup world. Since they’ve been around for a while (3 albums’ worth) in the UK, they’re not likely to be high on the average UK attendees’ must-see list, but I’ve never seen them before, so if they show up at Stubb’s, I might head on over.
Read our previous Enemy coverage here.
Evans the Death – This band already has a Rolling Stone description (huh?): “This London band mixes post–Smiths jangle and early–grunge sludge, as Katherine Whitaker explores varying shades of bad romance. Her raw emotion blends with slashing, whirling guitars to inject paralysis with weird power.” When you see they’ve been signed to Slumberland Records here in America (‘Allo Darlin’ and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart‘s American home), it all seems to make sense…
Sounds like: the Libertines, if they had a female out in front
Gallops – why do I feel the need to mention Mogwai every time I hear a proggy band? Wrexham group Gallops aren’t nearly hard enough to warrant the comparison, although with titles like ‘Astaroth’ and ‘Hongliday’ their Blood and Biscuits’ debut ‘ ‘Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore’, you’d not be putting experimental band in the pop box anyhow. (Something interesting I found on the band’s Tumblr: the linked to the Kitsune Maison 11 compilation – didn’t see that coming at all.)
Gallows – they’re punks. They deliver punishing sets at festivals, such as at 2000 Trees last year. And Frank Carter left them in 2011 to start Pure Love. That’s all you really need to know, right?
Hawk Eyes – punishing hard rock from Leeds. Their 2012 album ‘Ideas’ got top marks from Kerrang! and Artrocker so you know where this is going…
Nik Turner’s Hawkwind – the current incarnation of history’s first space rock groups.
Heaven’s Basement (added 10/01/13) – a hard rock band who has been soldiering on for quite a while (since 2008) and are releasing their debut album, ‘Filthy Empires’, this year. They’ve supported big names like Bon Jovi and Papa Roach, so is this an indicator of their hard rock prowess? We’ll see at this year’s event.
The Joy Formidable – what can we say about Welsh rock band Joy Formidable that hasn’t already been said? When you’ve been hand-picked by Dave Grohl as the man’s own favourite band right now, calling them “a killer live band”, ’nuff said really, yeah? The other facts that they are truly some of the loveliest people we have met and are always so happy about our coverage of them? That’s just icing on the cake. I’ve seen them several times now but the only time I’ve seen them at SXSW was on a live stream in 2011, which doesn’t really count, so I’m making it a point to catch them this time around.
Read all our previous coverage of the Joy Formidable here.
Kassidy – some have called them the Scottish Kings of Leon, but that’s just lazy journalism. We’ve been following the folky rock hybrid band since their early EPs in 2010, and trust us, they’re way better than the Followills.
Read our previous coverage of Kassidy here.
Kill It Kid – wow, I don’t have to write a piece on them, because they placed #10 on our 10 for 2013 list and Martin’s already done for me. Revivalist blues from Bath.
Klaxons – they’ve been around a while. They won a Mercury Prize in 2007 for ‘Myths of the New Future’. Their last album ‘Surfing the Void’ released in 2010 “>has a cat in an astronaut suit on the cover. Sorry, I’m having trouble sounding knowledgeable about Klaxons because I don’t really like them all that much.
Read our previous coverage on Klaxons here.
Little Barrie – ‘powerhouse’ is a word that seems to be following this Nottingham formed, London transplanted trio. But if you’re going to call Little Barrie a powerhouse trio, then surely you mean to compare to the greats of rock ‘n’ roll.
Sounds like: a more radio-polished Cream or at least a band that came out swinging in the Sixties, not in the Noughties
LostAlone – Derby band who have been described as “breathtaking Queen-style harmonies and classic metal bite” and compared to Muse. How is it possible that we’ve never heard about them, then?
New Ivory – according to MTV Iggy, these guys from London are the new knights of British indie rock. I am struggling to find a comparison, except maybe they sound like early Arctic Monkeys or Two Door Cinema Club, but not as catchy? (Yeah, I know. Damning with faint praise, aren’t I? Sorry.) Steve Aoki is a fan, having signed them to his Dim Mak Records. I dunno. Maybe they’ll actually sound better in person at SXSW.
Orange Goblin (added 10/01/13) – formerly known as Our Haunted Kingdom, on first glance you have to wonder if the new name was for a cuddlier image. So imagine my surprise that this is a heavy metal band! Having put out their first album in 1997, they’re definitely the granddaddies of the rock/metal/punk group, but having changed their sound from stoner/doom to their current more metal sound proves that they aren’t willing to stand in one place musically. A special live album for their devoted, ‘A Eulogy for the Fans’, will be released in March.
Palma Violets – I’ve refrained about writing about Palma Violets from Lambeth, South London, as what I’ve heard from them makes me think of The Vaccines, who came out of an NME promotional campaign firestorm and their #3 placing on the BBC Sound of 2011 poll with loads of fans clamouring to see them at major festivals. It’s 2013 now and look what’s happened: Palma Violets are on the BBC Sound of 2013 longlist. Overhyped band leads to foregone conclusion…appearing as a support act to headliners Django Django on the 2013 NME Awards tour next month sounds like an NME mistake then…
PAWS – Scottish three-piece banging out tunes in a garage-y, lo-fi style. It should come as no surprise that they have a strong DIY aesthetic, as they’re great fans of bands like Dinosaur Jr and the Pixies, even having a song called ‘Kim Deal’ in their arsenal.
Sounds like: the Cribs or Peace, if they were from far north of the border.
Peace – We won’t waste your time here, since the band have already been tipped on the BBC Sound of 2013 poll. Read our previous Peace coverage, including their 10 for 2013 profile (they placed #5 on this last readers’ poll), here.
Peers – 6music’s Tom Robinson was an early supporter of this Reading band in 2010, the year the young band, then all under the age of 18, played the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. The unsigned band cite Bombay Bicycle Club as a major influence, and if you squeeze your eyes real tight, you can hear Jack Steadman’s impact on singer Matt Thompson’s vocals.
Savages – dissonant post-punk via an unusual package – four women from London. Is it their anti-establishment stance that attracted the BBC Sound of 2013 tipsters? We’ll never know for sure but I guess imitating Patti Smith and looking sullen are the highest form of flattery? They could have at least smiled for the photos on their Facebook…
Sounds like: trying too hard to be a 21st century Siouxsie and the Banshees
Sharks – usually punk is associated with a lo-fi, scuzzy sound, but this band from Leamington Spa sound remarkably polished, with hybrid punk/pop songs that could have easily slotted in with the music I listened here in America in high school.
Sound like: a grown up Blink-182, or Green Day when they weren’t so political and were still fun
Tall Ships – math rock meets indie rock in an epic way via three high-spirited lads from Brighton. John adored their 2012 opus ‘Everything Touching’ and for a Foals loving nation, it’s a wonder they aren’t bigger in the UK. Foals? Who are they?
Read our previous coverage on Tall Ships here.
Tango in the Attic – Scottish band from Glenrothes having Two Door Cinema Club-type guitars with reverb.
File next to: Smith Westerns
Throne – there’s not a lot known about this London band, except that they’re known to ‘level rooms’ with their bad boy riffage when they appear in the Capital. You have been warned.
TOY (added 10/01/13) – psychedelic rock from a band made up of some members for the group Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong. I don’t feel like it’s really necessary to write about them, considering nearly every friend of mine rates them quite highly. Not really my thing, but I’m pretty sure they will do well in Austin.
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (added 10/01/13) – I nearly put Frank Turner’s band in the singer/songwriter category, but since his appearances at this year’s SXSW will be louder and more raucous than his solo turn last year at the Xtra Mile Recordings showcase, in the end there was no contest.
We’ve written quite about the man on TGTF, and you can read all of that through here.
Virals – vehicle for Worcester’s Shaun Hencher, who with his live band have most recently supported #5 10 for 2013 band Peace in the UK. Now Hencher’s looking to make a big splash at their American live debut at SXSW.
Sounds like: a cross between Male Bonding, Two Wounded Birds (RIP) and the Vaccines. Get yer sunnies out!
The Virginmarys – Macclesfield will soon be known for more than Ian Curtis, if this trio have anything to say about it. Their sound? Hard rocking, arse-kicking tunes.
File next to: Kasabian, Biffy Clyro
Wet Nuns – even with quite possibly one of the silliest names for a band ever, Sheffield duo Wet Nuns had a spectacular 2012, getting attention not only for their silly name but their punk crossed with blues schizophrenic sound.
Sounds like: the evil child borne from Band of Skulls and the Black Keys
While She Sleeps – is heavy metal more your thing? Then I suppose you should look to Sheffield and a band like While She Sleeps for your jollies. Luke caught them last summer at day 2 of Slam Dunk South.
Young Guns – this band has been around for quite a while, but it wasn’t until summer 2012 that they had an American record deal. Radio-friendly, not too hard rock sound made by youngish, good-looking boys in leather: in short, an American label signing coup.
Read all our previous coverage of Young Guns here.
The Zombies – “What’s your name? / Who’s your daddy? / Is he rich like me?” All kidding aside, the Zombies have been around for over 50 years. Fifty effin’ years. They called themselves the Zombies before it was hip to like zombies. Though they’re down to only two original members – Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent – contrary to popular belief, it was they, not Friendly Fires, who put St. Albans on the musical map.
Read Braden’s interview with Colin and Rod from 2 years ago here.
Electronic bands and DJs are up next week. So catch us next Tuesday for the third chapter of the genre section of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013!
Tall Ships’ debut record ‘Everything Touching’ represents the collective toil of three men from Falmouth with exceptional talent, both in the studio and live, as anyone who caught their headline set at Reading and Leeds Festival’s BBC Introducing stage will know.
They’ve been paying their dues since around 2008 and it only seems fair that a chance at the big time is theirs for the taking. The band consists of Ric Phethean on lead vocals and guitar, Matt Parker on bass and Jamie Bush on drums. In this record they have quite obviously just got the book, thrown it out of the window, gone downstairs, stamped on the book some more and then finally burnt said book to cinders. In a valiant attempt to be original, the songs pay no attention to any kind of musical conformity. While some bands around at the moment are doing quirky for quirkiness’s sake, these guys pull it off brilliantly. They haven’t attempted to be original, they goddamn have, and a big pat on the back for them for doing so!
The opening song of the album is a testament to this, in track ‘T=0’. There’s no dogmatic chorus, rinse repeat; no, instead the track is played out over a rattling repeater of a guitar riff that stinks of the kind of DIY ingenuity that this band hammer down throughout the record. Phethean’s vocals creep into the track midway through, but by then you’ve already got your foot stomping so hard to Parker and Bush’s frothing engine room of a bass/drum combo.
‘Phosphorescence’ reeks of their math rock credibility. They’re like a Foals before they started singing about “Cassius, it’s over”. The hammering bass in the song moves the track along and there’s even a hint of xylophone if you didn’t feel like you were in a secondary school classroom doing algebra already. ‘Oscar’ brings a groovy kind of funkadelic beat to the equation (see what I did there) and Phethean’s guitar is the centre point of the song, working in a way that makes me think of Mexican banditos. Go figure? This music does mad things with your mind. Mad kind of good though I may add! But then it goes from that to a strongly building crescendo, a really brilliant crescendo.
‘Ode To Ancestors’ is as beautiful as this album gets, with Phethean crooning how a girl is “a triumph of natural selection / every mutation leading to your perfection”. It’s a song more akin to a tribute to the brilliance of evolution and Darwinism than a tribute to a fine female, but it works all the same to make a truly stunning ballad.
A review of this album would not be complete though, without comment upon the 9-minute behemoth that is ‘Murmurtations’. It’s a triumph of the understated. Beginning subtly and building, it grows into the monstrous tune it is. An epic ending, to an unashamedly ballsy, epic and just ludicrously well-created debut album. More of the same, please.
‘Everything Touching’, the debut from Tall Ships, will be out on the 8th of October on Big Scary Monsters and Blood And Biscuits.