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Video of the Moment #2748: The Xcerts

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Scottish trio The Xcerts have announced their next album will be out in the new year. ‘Hold On to Your Heart’, their fourth LP, will be out on the 19th of January 2018 on Raygun Music, and they’ve already announced a UK tour for February and March to promote it. Tour dates unveiled so far are posted here on their Facebook.

This week, they have a promo video out for the title track, which has been described by frontman Murray Mcleod as providing closure following the implosion of a long-term relationship. You wouldn’t be able to tell from the visuals here alone, as the band are accompanied by a very cute dog for a frolic on the beach in Brighton. It’ll make you think of The Great Escape, for sure. Which is a good thought while we’re headed straight into the dark days of winter! And with that, we’ll be off until the week of the 4th of December. Happy Thanksgiving for those who celebrate it. For more on The Xcerts here on TGTF, go here.

 

Handmade Festival 2016: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 12th May 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

If you missed Steven’s review of Leicester’s Handmade Festival 2016 that covered the bands he caught on Friday, you can catch up right back this way.

Now that the event had settled into full swing, the Saturday of Handmade Fest came along like Christmas morning. Beginning earlier at 3 PM, the second day of the festival kicked off with a band so ridiculous in concept yet perfect in execution, missing them was simply not an option. Jurassic Pop solely write songs based around the Jurassic Park franchise, going as far as to have their bass player wear a velociraptor head. The songs were rifftastically solid, especially the rendition of ‘All That She Wants’ by Ace of Base, adapted so that the velociraptors from the scene where Robert Muldoon, the Jurassic Park gamekeeper, dies with the infamous last words “clever girl…”, are the focal point of the lyrics. (Though the band state they wrote it first—jokingly, of course—we don’t want any affidavits created from this article, please).

Taking to the stage in the allowed 15-minute time afterward, Happy Accidents were a surprising breath of fresh, chipper, air. Bouncing around like sweet-filled children, they brought the second day, which had thick grey clouds looming over it, into a metaphorical rainbow-laden field filled with fast, poppy punk music and smiles.

Sadly, I missed Cleft, who according to numerous people I spoke to, were one of the bands of the weekend. I did however manage to catch OhBoy!, who were phenomenal in every sense. Their powerful show matching the strength of their songs, the future is definitely going to be bright for this stellar band. The main talk of the entire weekend though were the later slots on this fine evening, kicking off with Cambridge’s own Lonely the Brave, who gave one of their most powerful performances I’ve seen to date, with their new songs creating a fierce, undertow to the already epic songs from their debut. After their set finished, the majority of the crowd, in the typical sheep fashion of this small festival, flowed down to The Scholar Bar where we awaited Scottish pop punk band The Xcerts. You got the sense that a lot of the crowd had been waiting to see the raw emotion and power of The Xcerts for a very long time, and the atmosphere in the room reflected this perfectly.

Headliners of the night were fellow East Anglians Deaf Havana (pictured at top), who, also road testing new material, created an explosive atmosphere which was fuelled by the crowd’s response to their heartfelt and angst ridden material. Overall, Saturday proved to be the strongest of the 3 days of the festival, with Sunday proving slightly weaker through no fault of the festival’s own. It cannot be stated enough that festivals such as Handmade are important in not only developing the cultural scene of whatever city they happen to be in, but they also give bands who otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity to play in an environment like this, or to get the exposure that would give them even one more fan that will fuel their passions. Moving past that slight digression, we will enter the final day of Handmade 2016 in part 3 of my review, which will appear on TGTF tomorrow.

 

Handmade Festival 2016: writer Steven’s best band bets

 
By on Tuesday, 26th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo of The Magic Gang by Dan Kendall

If you didn’t already heed our warning that Handmade Festival this weekend in Leicester is the festival to be at this season then perhaps, just maybe, the below list of acts that you’re going to be missing out on will change your mind. And for those who will be joining us in during the weekend, take the below list as a starting point for your own weekend musical adventure, there’s plenty to not miss out on so let us give you a bit of guidance. (To read Steven’s earlier preview of Handmade, go here.)

Lacura – Academy 3, Friday 29th April, 17:00

Drops of psychedelia amongst massive indie sounds, Lacura are your perfect opener to the weekend. It’s a toss-up between Lacura or ESTRONS, and Lacura just pip it with their dreamscapes and ethereal feel.

The Magic Gang – Scholar Bar, Friday 29th April, 18:45

To continue your ease into the festival, The Magic Gang (pictured at top) will use their harmonious, ‘60s psych-pop style to command your elation and help you forget about that outside world. Friday afternoon’s never sounded so good. (For past coverage on The Magic Gang on TGTF, go here.)

Black Honey – Scholar Bar, Friday 29th April, 19:45

Black Honey are gaining a lot of momentum with their dreamy, shoe-gaze-esque rock and vocals that call to mind Lana Del Rey if she actually gave us what we wanted rather than slow tempoed ballads. (For past coverage on Black Honey on TGTF, go here.)

We Are Scientists – Academy 2, Friday 29th April, 22:00

As mentioned in our preview piece, the indie duo who are affable beyond belief are gracing our shores again in support of their fifth studio album. With a guaranteed good time to close out the first day of Handmade, to miss out on We Are Scientists would mean depriving yourself of laughs and such major tunes as ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’, ‘After Hours’ and new single ‘Buckle’ from brand new album ‘Helter Seltzer’. (For loads more coverage on We Are Scientists on TGTF, go here.)

Jurassic Pop – Scholar Bar, Saturday 30th April, 15:00

In case Jurassic Pop have slid under your radar, they are a band who write songs solely based around the Jurassic Park film series. Debut EP ‘Jurassic Park 4 1/2: The Erotic Adventures of Jeff Goldblum’ is filled with punk, indie and spoken word. If this alone isn’t enough to get you to see the band then nothing will.

OhBoy! – Scholar Bar, Saturday 31st April, 17:45.

This will be around the half way point of the festival, so chances are you’ll be a pleasant state of jubilation and will want to continue this. OhBoy! are you best bet here, with songs that are both ferocious and charming, they’ll certainly kick your Saturday evening off.

The Xcerts – Scholar Bar, Saturday 31st April, 21:15

Powerful pop songs that call to mind fellow Scotsmen Biffy Clyro at their lightest. The Xcerts have been around for 10+ years and over this time you’re guaranteed they’ve worked out a killer live set that will match the brawn of their sound. (For past coverage on The Xcerts on TGTF, go here.)

Johnny Lloyd – Academy 2, Sunday 1st May, 17:15

If you haven’t heard ‘Hello Death’, the debut single from ex-Tribes frontman Johnny Lloyd then you are missing out something extremely special. Heartfelt and solemn, it’s a thunderous track that is surely going to be a wonder to behold live.

USA Nails – Scholar Bar, Sunday 1st May, 19:45.

Harsh, abusive sounding punk that calls to mind Black Flag and Minor Threat, USA Nails are a safe bet to ensure you leave the festival with ringing ears and to get that final bit of energy out of your system.

Beans on Toast – Academy 2, Sunday 1st May, 22:00

Of course, the hardest question of any festival is who to see to on the closing night. With a couple of fine choices, Beans on Toast is potentially the perfect physical representation of that festival ideology, be it a metropolitan one like Handmade or Glastonbury. With songs filled with observation and thought that appeal to every straight minded one of us, when this is matched with the sing-a-long stylings, you have a guaranteed memorable closer and one that will stick with you on that tired, hungover train journey home. (For past coverage on Beans on Toast on TGTF, go here.)

 

SXSW 2012: Day 4 – around the world in one afternoon on Sixth Street and Latitude 30 – 16th March 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd April 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

Only at SXSW can you manage to travel to multiple countries in a span of a couple hours. Well, not literally of course, but it is possible to see bands from many different corners of the globe in one afternoon. I achieved this in just hours on the club-filled Sixth Street, followed swiftly by the Discovering Scotland showcase at Latitude 30. Sixth Street is every bit as legendary as the tourist trap t-shirts that advertise its amazingness. Everywhere you turn, you will either run into a band hanging out, playing a gig in a club with the doors wide open, busking on the corner, etc. etc. etc. It really is like a Disneyland for gig-goers. To get inside the venues, you’ll need a wristband like I had or a music badge. But if you were a local and had neither, you’d probably be just as happy walking up and down the street, stopping wherever you heard some music blaring out of a club you like.

And sometimes you just want to walk around and see what’s on offer. The loud, punky guitars emanating from Spill Bar, which turned out to be M for Montreal’s home for the week. But in the meantime, Spill was playing host to a Planet Quebec showcase, and I’d stumbled in right smack dab in the middle of Machinegun Suzie’s set. I’ll admit, my planned schedule didn’t include me specifically seeking out hard rocking bands, let alone female hard rocking ones. This Canadian Web site describes them as being purveyors of stoner-rock, which I don’t really agree with. The Montreal band basically play as loud and as fast as humanly possible, best typified by the song ‘Bad Stripper’, with all the instruments up to 11. They’re the kind of band my mum would be afraid of me liking…

I got a little tired of them speaking mainly in French – err, I totally get you want to talk to your countrymen, but as a frustrated American shouted in a purposely mocking, fake French accent, “I don’t know zee French, speak English!” – and went a-walking. I heard the heavy dance beats of Ishi, a Dallas dance band. I queried the doorman to ask if it was a band or a DJ in there, and he replied “DJ”, so I kept moving. Sorry to Ishi if you were actually performing in your four-piece lineup, but going on the word of the guy at the door, I didn’t feel like watching some dude scratching records. So I kept moving, mostly people watching and enjoying the sun.

After their Northern Ireland showcase appearance Wednesday night I’d been personally invited by Cashier No. 9 to watch them play the Music from Ireland showcase at Irish pub B.D. Riley’s, and after such a warm welcome from Angela Dorgan – and free Irish breakfast! – I planned to head back to the watering hole for an afternoon of bands. So after I left the PRS brunch, I arrived at the Irish pub in the middle of Squarehead’s set. A trio from Dublin who self-describes themselves on their Facebook as “JUNK POP”, they’ve got a strange name, don’t they? My guess is that ‘squarehead’ is equivalent to the American derogatory name of ‘blockhead’, but hearing their music, I’m not really sure what the connection to what they sound like is to their band name. (Very confused.) They’ve got a classic pop sound and I might have passed them by if I’d seen the names of some of their songs – ‘Midnight Enchilada’? ‘ – but if you like the sunny, surf-y mode of the Beach Boys and/or the reinterpretation via the Drums, this is the band to check out.

Next up were my dream Norn Irish line-up: General Fiasco, followed by Cashier No. 9. They played in this order the other night at the Tap Room at Six. The difference? This time they played in the best possible place for them – an Irish pub! – with the windows opened outwards towards the street. The raw, unbridled energy of both of these bands, framed by the beautiful rays of the sun, was quite a sight to behold. Seeing them play Wednesday was great, but this showcase appearance was even better, packed with people who had no doubt heard about the Wednesday night show and were curious about these groups of Northern Irish guys playing infectious pop and rock. General Fiasco gave their new song ‘Sleep’ (video below) its only second time ever live airing, and it was great – it sounded like classic GF. Well, as much as classic as you can after a great debut album and some amazing singles and EPs.

Cashier No. 9 started with the inspirational ‘Goldstar’ (video below) and their version of ‘The Lighthouse Will Lead You Out’ this afternoon dazzled even more than the other night, with percussionist and harmonica player Philip Wallace going to town with his bongos, curious folk peering into B.D. Riley’s to try and figure out what was going on. In between bands, I introduced myself to Jenny Huston, the famed RTE 2fm (Irish national) radio presenter who I’d recognised from video interviews she’d done in the past couple years at Oxegen. She was surprised and shocked I recognised her but was quite happy to hear that her interviews were getting out outside Ireland. (That they are, Jenny!) I was more than honoured when she emailed me the week following after I’d returned to DC and asked me to give my top 3 bands of SXSW (you can listen to that segment below as well).

I felt terrible leaving, but after Cashier No. 9, I needed to rush over to Latitude 30, as I’d been extended another personal invitation – by Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway, no less – to come down for the Discovering Scotland showcase. This was the second of two Scottish-themed showcases, the first being the Wednesday night Easy Tiger Patio showcase with We Were Promised Jetpacks as the headliner that I caught earlier in the week. Three Blind Wolves were just completing their set and left the stage to allow the Xcerts to set themselves up. As on Tuesday night’s Xtra Mile Recordings showcase, the Scottish rockers didn’t disappoint, with Murray Macleod belting the lyrics out as if his life depended on it. Great band live, I hope enough – and the right – people saw them in Austin and will offer them a record deal.

But I was really there to see the Twilight Sad. This band was supposed to play in Washington in DC in February, but then we got the awful news that their visas had not been approved in time and the show had been cancelled without even being rescheduled. Enjoying ‘No One Can Ever Know’ (album review here) immensely, I wanted to see it performed live. Instead of regular mike-checking (“hey hey!” “one two, one two!” “yeah YEAH!”), frontman James Graham instead recited the value of pi up to at least 10 decimal places. I lost count after a couple numbers because I was spellbound as he was saying this in his Scottish brogue. (Hot.) I don’t think I was standing in the right place – the wall of sound and guitar grinding sounded muddled to me. You can watch older song ‘And She Would Darken the Memory of Youth’ below. Sadly, I was disappointed. Also kind of sad: I was looking forward to parking my bum on a church bench that very evening. Definitely getting old.

 

Live Review: The Xcerts and Man Without Country at ILMC show at Camden Barfly – 9th March 2012

 
By on Friday, 23rd March 2012 at 5:00 pm
 

The ILMC is a conference that comes to London once a year and in between a lot of industry meetings and themed events, there’s a fair few showcases of some of the best up and coming music. Tonight, TGTF is at Camden Barfly for one such show and aside from the incredible mismatching of the trio of acts on display, is rather optimistic about the evening’s proceedings.

The night begins with powerful electronic artists Man Without Country. The Welsh band’s music on its own is a storm of enthralling music, but when translated live creates an atmosphere that’s hard to break out of. With a series of smoke and lights the band create pulsating silhouettes of themselves whilst playing true to record in a synth-heavy setup. Tracks from their ‘King Complex’ EP and new single ‘Puppets’ feature in their relatively short, yet powerful set as those present stand silent and still.

After the endearing Northern charm of Karima Francis brings acoustic guitars and a small increase in crowd enthusiasm to the dark upstairs of the Barfly, it’s time for rock music to echo through the small venue. Tonight’s headline act are the Xcerts, and even though it’s an industry show they don’t seem to have any issues with playing to the full. Whilst the volume may be a bit low and the “professionals” are standing comatose at the back, there are maybe ten people at the front who’re here for the band and they have no qualms making that clear.

“I like your hair!” shouts one. “Oh, the last time someone said that, there was, erm, trouble…” frontman Murray Macleod replies before getting back into the swing of things with new track ‘Shaking in the Water’. The Scottish rock band’s heavy touring schedule may have left them sounding flat from time to time over the last few months, but seemingly revitalised by their national support slots for Brand New, they’re back on electric form for tonight. Playing from both of their records’ singles collection the set is little of a surprise, but for industry members, it’s probably the best choice. They’ll be on the festival circuit this summer, but it’ll be the next album’s material that could turn all these half hour slots into hours in major venues for the Xcerts. Tonight, they’ve proved why.

 

SXSW 2012: Day 1 – Xtra Mile Recordings showcase at Latitude 30 – 13th March 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 21st March 2012 at 3:00 pm
 

Being the editor of a UK music blog, it seemed only fitting that my first night would end at the British Music Embassy’s home for SXSW, at Latitude 30 on San Jacinto Boulevard. To be quite honest, I was planning on an as stress free as possible first night, and when we were having a walk around, I flipped through my book to see with some shock that Frank Turner was playing a showcase there that very night. I expected to completely miss Frank in Austin, as the only official appearance I’d heard about was an invite-only party Wednesday night that I did not get an invite for, even though I asked. I’m really wondering who was invited to that party, but it’s just as well, as being surrounded by punters passionate about Frank Turner was probably better than hanging around stuffy industry types, yeah?

Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun was first on the bill, which was an Xtra Mile Recordings showcase put on in conjunction with AiM. Lockey, from Cheltenham, quipped that the rest of his band was home in England and since they were so jealous he was at SXSW, he wasn’t sure when he returned if he still had a band. I’m not as good of a judge of the singer/songwriter genre as Cheryl is, but I’d say Lockey is a pretty good sample, as the conviction in his singing was obvious. Despite this being his first trip to Austin, he had enough guts to climb down into the audience and perform with voice and acoustic guitar only, playing to a round of new fans.

The next band up is probably not new to most of you; I’d certainly heard of them before but had never seen them perform live. The Xcerts from Aberdeen cranked it up several notches on the awesome scale with their wild and crazy set, with singer Murray Macleod belting his heart out. Several times I expected his teeth and tongue to fall out of his mouth, as he was singing so hard, and maybe his legs to get dislocated for catapulting himself in the air, legs flailing like a rock star whenever possible. (They were so great, I made it a point to see another Scottish showcase that featured them on Friday.)

However, the energy in the club reached the boiling point when the next band, screamo Cardiff rockers Future of the Left, took the stage. I’ve seen their name on countless festival bills in the past – and sometimes confusing them with the Futureheads – so I was curious what they sounded like. Well my friends, if a small town American girl liking Future of the Left is wrong, I don’t want to be right. This really isn’t my genre at all – it’s too loud, too frenetic and too hard – but the raucous performance, spurred on by a primarily fanboy audience and combined with an at times blinding light and smoke show, was an incredible sight to behold and music to one’s ears, truth be told.

They even managed to play directly to the crowd when dedicating ‘Robocop’ to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, threatening that if anyone at the show voted for him, they’d…well, actually they didn’t say, but I think the sentiment came through loud and clear. And from the people that were cheering in response to their threat, my guess is that the majority of SXSW attendees aren’t Republicans and/or are very progressive thinkers, so the equivalent I guess would be if We Are Scientists showed up at the Great Escape and complained about David Cameron. Way to endear yourself to the crowd.

After such a fired up performance from Wales, Frank Turner had his work cut out for him. He’s been enjoying an increasingly bigger and more devoted fanbase in the States (good on him), so it’s really not a surprise to see so many people crammed in to one place for the expressed purpose of seeing him play. How unlucky am I: both times I’ve seen Turner, he’s been solo and minus the Sleeping Souls, his usual backing band. But as everyone who has seen him knows, him being by himself doesn’t affect the performance at all. In fact, I’m imagining without a band, he can be more personal and I think it actually works in the singer/songwriter’s favour. He proclaimed half his songs would be the hits and the other half would be new songs. With nearly any other artist, a statement like that would be met with boos, jeers and possible physical confrontation. Not these fans.

One of the standout new tracks was ‘Tattoos’: it’s witty as hell, making fun of people’s tattoos that sag and fade as the years wear on, but with the prevailing message that even though you might not believe in what you did when you got those tattoos, you wouldn’t trade the special memories of those days for anything. I forget the exact line now, but there’s one part of the lyrics where Turner is emphatic, saying he would go back in time and get all the same tattoos all over again, because those memories are so important to him.

A song about tattoos is pretty appropriate for Austin; I never could tell if it was because there were so many music industry types at SXSW (who, as we all know, can be covered in tats as well) or it’s because all the Austin locals have tattoos, but nearly everyone I saw roaming the streets during this festival had at least one arm completely covered or at least part of a back with body art. (On my last day in town, I saw a girl on a bus with tiger stripes tattooed across her face and from the neck down. No joke.)

No tattoos for me so I can’t really relate directly to Turner’s sentiment, but I do share his feelings on never forgetting your best memories. As crazy as SXSW was, looking back at it now, I can smile about the people I was lucky enough to spend time with and saw gig and laugh about some of the accidental run-ins with celebrities. So with day 1 done and dusted, I left Frank Turner’s adoring masses – the venue was rammed so punters were spilling out on to the street – and headed for a couple hours’ rest before the onslaught of day 2.

More photos (and in higher resolution too!) from this showcase can be viewed on my Flickr.

 
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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. 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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