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SXSW 2018: Friday afternoon at the Full Irish Breakfast and British Music Embassy – 16th March 2018 (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 4th April 2018 at 11:00 am
 

During the week at SXSW, those of us who have day jobs outside of the music industry must check in on occasion on what pays the bills. While I was stuck in our hotel dealing with emails and loose ends, Carrie left early to make our now annual visit to the BMI brunch, so stay tuned for her coverage on the artists who played there at the Four Seasons this year. After getting things in order, I hopped over to B.D. Riley’s for the annual Full Irish Breakfast sponsored by Music From Ireland and First Music Connect, both great friends to TGTF. To my happiness, the place was already full up at noon, requiring quite a bit of jostling and patience to get a bartender’s attention and to find a spot where you could lay out your complimentary breakfast.

Accompanying the free food – with white pudding this year, yes! – were plenty of Irish-born talent raring to go, going nicely with the green décor B.D. Riley’s had already set out ahead of St. Patrick’s Day the next day. Joshua Burnside and his band, who wowed us on the Output Belfast boat ride Tuesday morning, began the day of festivities at the Irish pub. Looking tan in the face (or was that sunburn?), he looked relaxed performing his sixth and final performance in Austin in front of a room of Texan strangers.

Joshua Burnside Friday at SXSW 2018

It’s no wonder why his album ‘Ephrata’ won the Northern Ireland Music Prize in 2017. Burnside’s unique usage of world music influences while maintaining an inherent Irishness through the lilt of his gorgeous voice made the LP released last year unlike anything else. The crowd approved of Burnside and his band’s early yet wonderfully spirited set. A particularly lovely moment was when Burnside went part acoustic for his single from last year, the politically charged and very Northern Irish ‘Red and White Blues’. While its poignant meaning may have been lost on the audience he played it to, the combination of his strong voice accompanied only by acoustic guitar had a quiet beauty, before the rest of his band joined in for added oomph.

The Lost Brothers are Irish, yes. But if you looked at them on the street with their cowboy hats and acoustic guitars, you’d swear they were Americans born and raised in the Wild West. No strangers to SXSW, B.D. Riley’s or Austin for that matter, they took to the stage at the pub with their usual performance aplomb. Whether performing on a boat or in a venue on dry land, the Lost Brothers are the consummate professionals.

The Lost Brothers Friday at SXSW 2018

They arrived in Texas with their latest album effort ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, recorded in Arizona, and the critical acclaim it has received so far, all deserved. (Read my glowing review of the LP through here.) ‘Echoes in the Wind’, the lead single from the album, came across as effortless, as did more recent single, the sweet, yet humourous ‘More Than I Can Comprehend’ (promo video here).

The third act at the Full Irish breakfast was also ready to put his last SXSW 2018 appearance in the can. Cork’s Talos, who closed out the Music From Ireland showcase at the Velveeta Room the evening previous, was back out with his band and alongside the blinding sunshine streaming in from 6th Street. It was a good thing for musicians from abroad and music fans alike to hide inside B.D. Riley’s for the afternoon: for the first time that week, the mercury reached over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 32 degrees Celsius plus). The sunny afternoon provided contrast to their performance Thursday night, though the sun or heat didn’t dampen their enthusiasm or Eoin French’s falsetto.

Talos Friday at SXSW 2018

Friday was the only afternoon at SXSW 2018 I had some free time to spend at the British Music Embassy. And it was a good day for it, as a slice of sticky toffee cheesecake and a bloody Mary awaited me at Latitude 30. I arrived just as most visitors were finishing up their lunch and ready for the first act, The RPMs. Brighton’s brightest prospect in the pop/rock stakes began the afternoon at the Embassy with gusto, blasting out their upbeat tunes with vigour.

The RPMs Friday 4 at SXSW 2018

Although he must have been boiling in his leopard print jacket, lead singer Jack Valero was a great frontman, flashing a winsome smile and showing a youthful exuberance. Under the better lighting of and with the better sound system of Latitude 30, they shone, and plenty of Americans who hadn’t heard of them until that moment started taking notes. I know, because a bunch of people came up to me and asked me to spell their name and for help finding their Facebook. Ha. I was glad to be of service.

Next up on the bill was Natalie Findlay, the Manchester songstress who scorched former writer Martin’s eyes and ears at Liverpool Sound City 2013. Since those days, she’s morphed like a chameleon many times, never staying put in one specific genre. In an otherwise all-male lineup, it was nice to introduce some good ol’ fashioned girl power into the mix and remind the Americans in attendance that there’s great female talent coming out of Britain, too.

Findlay Friday at SXSW 2018

Flyte’s closeup has been a long time coming. We’ve been writing about them for quite a long time; they nabbed the #5 spot in a reader’s poll here at TGTF at the end of 2013. Last year, they released their long-awaited debut album ‘The Loved Ones’, the culmination of years of hard graft. Performing songs from it live in Austin must have tasted so sweet.

Flyte Friday 2 at SXSW 2018

The group from London sounded decidedly different from the acts before them, with a Beatles-esque indie rock edge. While I thought it was unnecessary for them to do a cover (Alvvays’ ‘Marry Me, Archie’), Americans next to me swayed their head to Flyte’s version, stoked in their unexpected selection. Unexpectedly, I found myself at the bar and next to an unlikely fan, or so I thought: folk pop singer/songwriter Lucy Rose stood spellbound watching them play, only stopping to occasionally note to her drinking companion how great Flyte were. Couldn’t have had a nice endorsement, eh?

Dance funk purveyors Le Galaxie were the perfect choice to close out the Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s. Led by well-bearded frontman Michael Pope and performing with ex-Fight Like Apes MayKay on occasional vocals, they turned the Irish pub in the late afternoon into an enthralling disco, the thumping of their catchiest tunes reverberating in every molecule in the place.

Le Galaxie Friday at SXSW 2018

I last saw them in the basement of Audio in Brighton (now Patterns) at The Great Escape 2015. Times may have changed but some things stay the same, and thankfully, Le Galaxie is in the latter. It may not have been 5 o’clock yet in Austin, but it was 5 o’clock somewhere, and punters had no problem shaking a tail feather to their songs.

 

SXSW 2018: Tuesday morning brunch with Output Belfast and my first taste of this year’s music conference – 13th March 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: emcee and organiser Mark Gordon with Touts

Following my frenzied Monday night at SXSW 2018, I started off Tuesday at a slightly more relaxed pace, with my third visit to the Output Belfast Boat Party. The party consists of brunch on a boat, floating down the Colorado River, with entertainment provided by the some of the finest musicians Northern Ireland has to offer. While the brunch and the scenery are always pleasant for this affair, it’s really the high quality of the music that draws me in every year, and Output Belfast didn’t disappoint in 2018.

Lost Brothers internal 2

Following brief speeches by organiser and emcee Mark Gordon of Score Draw Music and Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala MacAllister, the music began with folk duo The Lost Brothers, who had a hand in organising the inaugural Northern Irish boat party back in 2015. They were back in Austin this year with an excellent new record in tow, titled ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’. You can read editor Mary’s review of the album through here.The album was recorded in my adopted hometown of Tucson, and the distinct southwestern desert flavour of the new songs, along with The Lost Brothers’ yearning vocal harmonies, actually made me feel a bit homesick. Midway through their set, the Lost Brothers were joined by Austin musician Ragtime Willie, who had also appeared here back in 2015 and who added the bright tone color of resonator guitar to the muted sonic mix.

Joshua Burnside internal

After a brief stage break, 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize winner Joshua Burnside began his set. As our Adam McCourt reported in his review of the prize-winning album ‘Ephrata’, “the album seems to serve a pivotal point in Burnside’s career, transitioning him from indie folk to a strand of alt-folk that incorporates world music, found sounds, synths and subtle experimentations with techno.” Burnside’s eclectic sound was more rock oriented than I expected in this live performance, where he was accompanied by a brilliant band comprised of drums, bass, and trumpet alongside his own electric guitar.

Touts internal

Lest we in the audience be lulled to sleep as our boat ride drifted from morning into afternoon, the final act on the docket seemed deliberately designed to recharge and revitalise our senses. Derry punk-rock outfit Touts gave off a sullen demeanor that disguised their raw, frenetic energy, and they made more much more exuberant noise than might be expected on a polite brunch cruise. These lads are young and still relatively new on the scene, but in terms of unfiltered potential, I’d put them high on the list of acts to watch from SXSW 2018. Touts also appeared on the BBC Introducing showcase at Latitude 30 on Tuesday night; you can watch part of that performance just below.

After disembarking from the boat, Mary and I parted ways (you can read her Tuesday afternoon recap here), and I headed to the convention center to catch my first conference session of the week. In The Horseshoe: The Roots of Canadian Rock n’ Roll, author David McPherson shared his thoughts on celebrated Toronto music venue The Horseshoe, drawing from his recent book on the topic, titled ‘The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History’.

David McPherson

McPherson was joined by Horseshoe owner and concert promoter Jeff Cohen, who talked about the challenges of maintaining a high quality music venue in an age when so many mid-size venues, notably New York’s CBGB and The Bottom Line, have been forced to shut down. Cohen emphasised his focus on two main factors: his customers and the artists they come to see. Patrons are consistently drawn in by food, drink and the opportunity to interact with other music-loving patrons, while the artists are rewarded with a quality performance opportunity, including full crowds to play for each night. From the sounds of things, the Horseshoe is likely to be a mainstay in the Toronto live music scene for many years to come. If you find yourself in southeastern Canada for whatever reason, it might be worth your time to check the Horseshoe’s schedule of events–chances are one of your new favourite bands will be gracing its stage.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2808: The Lost Brothers

 
By on Wednesday, 21st March 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, Irish folk duo The Lost Brothers, had a busy week in Austin during SXSW 2018, playing five shows in various clubs and on a boat. And they weren’t even there for the whole festival! While it may have seemed strange that they didn’t stay in Austin for St. Patrick’s Day, they had a good reason to be away. The pair instead travelled to Carrie’s current hometown of Tucson, Arizona, to do a sold out show there where they had recorded their latest album.

‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, released in January on Bird Dog Records, seems to have been their breakthrough moment, receiving top marks not just here on TGTF but also from Q Magazine, Uncut, Mojo and The Mirror. I described single ‘More Than I Can Comprehend’ as “catchy little ditty does its best to describe the wonderment of love”, led by Leech’s drawl. You’ll read soon our coverage of their performance of this song and a few others on the Output Belfast boat ride on Tuesday morning, sponsored by Belfast City Council. Their next live appearances will be in Australia in April. To read all of our past coverage on The Lost Brothers, go here.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Album Review: The Lost Brothers – Halfway Towards a Healing

 
By on Thursday, 18th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

The Lost Brothers Halfway Towards a Healing album coverRarely is there a pair like folk maestros The Lost Brothers. Despite having met and formed in Liverpool and now being based in Dublin, the influence of Americana on the songwriting of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland is undeniable. Like their 2008 debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’ produced in Portland, the duo returned to the land they are so indebted to. They touched down in Tucson to work with Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb on their latest album. According to the press release for ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, he had some unconventional production techniques. Gelb would pick up the duo in the morning for their day of work, then drop them off in the middle of the desert for a walk, presumably to get their creative juices flowing while being wholly inspired by the desolate environment.

Self-described as their “most forward-thinking record” and displaying “tiny slivers of hope” and less gloom than its predecessors, The Lost Brothers’ latest is a tidy collection of beautiful tunes worthy of inclusion in Leech and McCausland’s growing oeuvre. This album also sees the Lost Brothers collaborating with their friend, tourmate and fellow Irish troubadour Glen Hansard, who cowrote three songs on the LP. One of these, ‘More Than I Can Comprehend’, is a catchy little ditty does its best to describe the wonderment of love. In a span of just over 2 minutes, the song manages to be both tender and droll about the most powerful of human emotions: “Why draw a line through what matters most? / Darling, this love might just kill us both.” Another relatively uptempo number is ‘Cry for a Sparrow’, where the duo use the idea of a bird in flight, either soaring or diving, as a metaphor for the ups and downs of life.

But the slower, more pensive moments are where The Lost Brothers shine here. LP standout ‘Where the Shadows Go’ places you in a land created in the pair’s collective mind. Standing with them on a bluff, you can look over their beautiful domain while a forlorn horn section plays alongside their peerless harmonies. Previously revealed single ‘Echoes in the Wind’, reviewed by me here, brilliantly captures the ephemeral, yet beautiful nature of life.

Later in the tracklisting, the lyrics “I’ll get through somehow / slowing down on a poison ground” in ‘Nothing’s Going to Change Me Now’ seems tailor-made for these difficult times. A lonesome violin accompanies the words of a man jaded by his broken heart. The instrumental ‘Reigns of Ruin’ has a Mexican feel, no doubt a product of the location where they chose to create this record. Closing out the first half of the album if you’re partial to vinyl, it’s a truly evocative moment, transporting you to a different place and a different time. Things are slower here in the land of The Lost Brothers. And that’s quite all right.

The Lost Brothers only recently caught the ears of another songwriter well versed in beautiful vocals and equally beautiful songs, Richard Hawley, who compared their “tender close harmony singing” to that ‘50s legends The Everly Brothers. Given the mastery of their vocal and instrumental gifts, it’s only a matter of time for the rest of the world to catch up with this great Irish songwriting partnership.

8/10

‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, the new album from Irish folk duo The Lost Brothers, is scheduled for release on the 26th of January on Bird Dog Records. Watch the promo video for the title track below. The pair are one of several Irish acts to have been announced for SXSW 2018, taking place 13-18 March in Austin, Texas. Not going to Austin? No problem: catch them on their UK and Irish tour that will start on the 30th of January at London Lexington. To read more of our coverage on TGTF on The Lost Brothers, go here.

 

The Lost Brothers / January and February 2018 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Thursday, 2nd November 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Irish folk duo The Lost Brothers have announced details of their forthcoming new album ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, due out on the 26th of January next year. Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech recorded this latest LP in Tucson, Arizona, and its first teaser track has the distinct feel of the American Old West about it, with stark instrumentation, distantly reverberant vocals and a faintly Spanish-tinged rhythm in the guitar line. In case you missed it, our own editor Mary has written a full review of that first single, ‘Echoes in the Wind’, right back here.

Following the release of ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, The Lost Brothers will embark on a tour of the UK and Ireland, including stops in London, Dublin and Belfast. Prior to their early 2018 dates, McCausland and Leech will play a handful of warm up shows in Navan and Omagh in mid-December. They have also announced a single American date, in New York on the 12th of March 2018. You can find a full listing of The Lost Brothers’ upcoming live shows on their official Facebook.

Tickets for the following shows are available now. You’ll find TGTF’s previous coverage of The Lost Brothers, including a live review from SXSW 2015, collected back here.

Tuesday 30th January 2018 – London Lexington
Thursday 1st February 2018 – Sheffield Picture House Social
Friday 2nd February 2018 – Liverpool Leaf
Thursday 8th February 2018 – Dublin Sugar Club
Friday 9th February 2018 – Wexford Arts Centre
Saturday 10th February 2018 – Waterford St. Patrick’s Gateway Centre
Wednesday 14th February 2018 – Belfast Black Box
Friday 16th February 2018 – Virginia Ramor Theatre
Saturday 17th February 2018 – Ballybofey Balor Arts Centre
Friday 23rd February 2018 – Limerick Dolans
Saturday 24th February 2018 – Cork St. Luke’s

 

Single Review: The Lost Brothers – Echoes in the Wind

 
By on Wednesday, 1st November 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo for Gabriel Sullivan

Incredibly, we’re rounding the decade mark for Irish duo The Lost Brothers’ debut album ‘Trails of the Lonely’. Since then, the guitar-toting singer/songwriters have released quite a bit of music and played shows all over the world, including multiple appearances at SXSW. Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech, masters of an Americana, folk sound, have announced they’ll be releasing their fifth studio album, ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, in January on Bird Dog Records. Of the upcoming release, Oisin says, “Many of our albums have been quite desolate, but this one has tiny slivers of hope. We’ve been challenged, and that has made the songs richer. We have definitely polished the gloom a bit! Weirdly, it’s our most forward-thinking record.” It follows 2014’s ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’, one of my favourite albums of that year.

To get our interest piqued for the upcoming release, they’ve revealed ‘Echoes in the Wind’, the lead single from the album. Like many of their past songs that have filled my ears with wonder, this is a song that takes full advantage of the pair’s gorgeously complementary harmonies and dexterous acoustic guitar notes. The only other instruments that appear on the relatively unadorned track are some twinkles of a piano and the beat of an ordinary drum, simply used to keep the beat.

In the span of 3 and a half minutes, McCausland and Leech do their best to disagree with Dylan Thomas’ words of “do not go gentle in that good night”. In the words of the chorus “hear the night come calling us home”, the duo sing wistfully, not regretfully or even rebelliously. “All we are is just an echo in the wind” should translate to a feeling of vulnerability, about the ephemeral nature of life, of each days passing ever so quicker towards the day we say goodbye to this green earth. However, when presented to you in this pair’s rich vocal tones and evocative guitar-playing, the emotion conveyed instead is the sense of contentment that we’re all in this together in this thing called life. ‘Echoes in the Wind’ is a great preview of what should be another stellar collection of music from these talented Irishmen.

8.5/10

The new single from The Lost Brothers, ‘Echoes in the Wind’, is available now. LP ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’ is scheduled for release on the 26th of January 2018 on Bird Dog Records. Catch up on TGTF’s past coverage on the Irish folk duo through this link.

 
 
 

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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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