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(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2012: YAK

 
By on Thursday, 11th February 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Leading into the release of their debut LP ‘Alas Salvation’, YAK have just unveiled the video for their latest single ‘Victorious (National Anthem)’. This dizzyingly kaleidoscopic visual representation is matched only by the sonic psychedelia of the song itself, which compresses its frenetic, fuzzed-out intensity into a concise, 2-minute clip.

Discussing YAK’s upcoming album, frontman Oli Burslem explains: “I was trying to make it a slightly schizophrenic record that had all these different elements, but had so much of everything that by the end . . . everybody would be like, ‘What the hell was that?’”. Whether or not the full album lives up to that description remains to be seen, but ‘Victorious (National Anthem)’ could easily be the shot in the arm that gets things started.

YAK’s first full album ‘Alas Salvation’ is due out on the 13th of May on Octopus Electrical/Kobalt. The band will appear at SXSW 2016 ahead of May headline dates in the UK. Our past collection of YAK coverage can be found right back here.

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Live Gig Video: Lewis Watson and band perform first taster of new material, ‘Maybe We’re Home’

 
By on Thursday, 11th February 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

Oxfordshire singer/songwriter Lewis Watson wowed me live 2 years ago with tracks from his album ‘The Morning’. This month, he’s previewed upcoming material with a taster, ‘Maybe We’re Home’. While most of the tracks on ‘The Morning’ LP favoured a more folky, simpler feel, this new single is fuller and richer, suggesting Watson’s songwriting is maturing at a good clip. That said, there is still plenty of emotion in the shades of Watson’s voice, which I consider one of his greatest gifts to us. Watch Lewis Watson and his band perform ‘Maybe We’re Home’ below. Let’s hope we hear much more from him soon!

All past coverage on Lewis Watson on TGTF is through this link.

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Single Review: Let’s Eat Grandma – Deep Six Textbook

 
By on Thursday, 11th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

From the outset, an act’s name like Let’s Eat Grandma sounds awfully aggro, doesn’t it? So you might be quite surprised that the duo are actually a pair of teenagers from Norwich. Multi-instrumentalists Rosa Walton, aged 16, and Jenny Hollingworth, aged 17, have been best friends since the age of 4. Given the fact that they look like they could easily pass as twins, you have to wonder how long they have been making music together. It must have been long before Let’s Eat Grandma was even a thing. Based on their tender age, I was mighty sceptical upon hearing the buzz about the girls ahead of the first night of Norwich Sound and Vision in their hometown last October.

The scepticism continued when I saw their garb onstage at Norwich Arts Centre: yellow-green sparkly tops, baggy trousers and bared midriffs. Based on this, and perhaps if I’d not heard anything about them prior to that moment, I’d have expecting something along the lines of Lorde or Charli XCX to come out of the speakers, but I was in for a refreshing surprise. Now on famed indie label Transgressive Records, ‘Deep Six Textbook’ is Let’s Eat Grandma’s first offering since being signed. Instead of going in a far too predictable pop direction for youngsters their age, they’ve decided to do something totally different, which is what I’m guessing their act’s name is supposed to suggest: forget what’s expected, and get ready to be wowed by the unexpected.

The debut Let’s Eat Grandma single is exactly along those lines. There is an unending feeling of atmospheric desolation: unemotional programmed beats with equally unemotional chords emanate from a synthesiser. The girls’ voices, both innocent and unearthly, are then introduced alongside the slowly lumbering melody. I can’t think of anyone else doing music right now like this, described on the press release as “[crossing] the worlds of experimental pop and progressive weirdness”. They’re like a plodding, non-rhythmic, ghostly version of the xx, but with loads of hand-clapping games. Which can’t be a bad thing, right?

7/10

Let’s Eat Grandma’s debut single for Transgressive Records, ‘Deep Six Textbook’, is available for digital download now. A special coloured vinyl 7” release follows on the 18th of March.

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(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #379: Roo Panes

 
By on Thursday, 11th February 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Dorset folk-pop singer/songwriter Roo Panes is set to release his second album, titled ‘Paperweights’, at the beginning of next month, just before he heads across the pond to Texas for an appearance at SXSW 2016.  Editor Mary recently featured the video for his newest track ‘Where I Want to Go’ right back here, and the song’s deep bass groove, perfectly matched by the reverberant depth of Panes’ singing voice, inspired us to take a deeper look into his catalogue.

Panes’ first LP, 2014’s ‘Little Giant’ was a bit more traditional than what we’ve heard so far from ‘Paperweights’, employing layered vocals, bowed strings and foundational piano figures under Panes’ rhythmically plucked acoustic guitar. One of the album’s most dynamically expansive arrangements is found in its title track, where the anticipatory bass line and drum pattern build strong dramatic tension under Panes’ exquisitely restrained vocals.

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In the press release for ‘Paperweights’, Panes presents the new songs as a very genuine sort of gift: “Here’s a bit of me, to help you understand a bit of you.”  The songwriting quality he most prides himself upon is his heartfelt authenticity, which leads him to write “material that truly connects on an emotional level.” His broadly soaring instrumental arrangements are indeed the kind that make your heart swell, even while his richly-textured vocals and redolent poetic imagery slowly seduce your imagination.

SXSW-featured track ‘The Original’ has a hint of Bon Iver in its airy introduction, but Panes doesn’t succumb to the incoherent falsetto of Justin Vernon, instead allowing his warm, rich mid-range voice to blend with the round tones of the acoustic guitar. Like many a songwriter before him, Panes explores the feminine mystique in his lyrics, reverently singing “behind that painted lady, there’s a masterpiece” in the song’s first verse and in the second, “when the sun descends, she’ll be the swan song silhouette”. He gives the vague impression that this might be a song about lost love, but it’s the kind you would expect from an older man about a woman far in his past, perhaps the one who got away. If Panes’ velvety vocal timbre seems incongruous to his relative youth, the subtle wisdom in his poetry certainly contributes to the illusion.

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Roo Panes is scheduled to play three live dates in England at the beginning of March, leading up to the release of ‘Paperweights’ on the 4th of the month. TGTF’s previous coverage of Roo Panes, including a brief preview of his trip to SXSW back in 2013 can be found here.

 

Video of the Moment #2011: Baio

 
By on Wednesday, 10th February 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Things have definitely gotten…interesting in the Vampire Weekend camp as of late. Two weeks ago, founding member Rostam Batmanglij announced he was leaving the band, but he left the door open to future collaborations with his former bandmates, or at least one of them: “[Vampire Weekend frontman] Ezra [Koenig] and I will continue to collaborate on future projects and future VW”. Three days after the announcement, he revealed the track ‘Wood’. (The remaining band members – Koenig, drummer Chris Tomson and lead guitarist Chris Baio took to the Midwest last month to stump for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, where they sung ‘This Land is Your Land’ with the presidential candidate.)

But this all is nothing new to Vampire Weekend’s lead guitarist Baio, who released his solo debut album ‘The Names’ last September. If his Facebook is to be believed, he’s left New York for London, and perhaps this may give us a clue on dance pop direction. Or so I’m guessing, anyway. While there’s definitely still a feeling of Vampire Weekend – see ‘Contra’ track ‘White Sky’, for one – the song is much more dancier than the NYC band went in for 2013’s ‘Modern Vampires of the City’, which seems to suggest Baio wasn’t ready to give up the dance groove and African rhythms just yet.

I was actually more amused by this video for album title track ‘The Names’ than I expected, with Baio and a skull hamming it up. I thought their unconventional “date” would be appropriate ahead of Valentine’s Day. Watch it below. ‘The Names’ the album is out now on Glassnote Records.

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(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #377 and #378: Lusts and Moats

 
By on Wednesday, 10th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

Lusts and Moats are a pair of up-and-coming indie rock acts from the UK, hailing from Leicester and Biggleswade, respectively. But a five-lettered, monosyllabic name isn’t the only thing they have in common. Both channel the spirit of the shoegaze era, as well as some of the giants of new wave.

Leicester duo Lusts, brothers Andy and James Stone, released their debut album ‘Illuminations’ in 2015. These siblings got the idea to start a band together following a trip to Paris, writing their entire album in their parents’ bedroom while playing films on a projector, to “see what ideas were conjured up”. The ‘Illuminations’ LP is a dreamy mix of new wave, psychedelia and indie rock: a fine example of what 21st century music has to offer. For those who worry that music isn’t as great now as it was in the good ol’ days, Lusts might just be the band to change your mind.

The first single to be released from their debut album and the one that caused quite a stir last year is ‘Temptation’, a hazy number with tantalising drum, bass, guitar, and synth rhythms that dance together across the track, and with vocals floating amongst the music like a ghostly spirit. Similar not only in title but also in style to New Order’s ‘Temptation’, both songs portray a melancholy dreariness, albeit with Lusts’ being faster-paced and glimmering with more of a shoegaze haze. Title track ‘Illuminations’ is reminiscent of early Vaccines, especially the vocal comparison to Justin Young’s smoky baritone. Musically, it’s comparable too, particularly at the beginning of the song when the jangly guitar breaks in. I can just picture it being the perfect soundtrack for an edgy independent film about an underdog or outsider.

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The duo have been compared to Echo and The Bunnymen so often, they must be tempted to question their own creative originality. But these comparisons don’t stem from the media’s need to dilute Lusts’ captivating variety of gloom. It’s because Lusts transcend the time they’re in and have created a debut LP so put together and sure of itself. They sound like a band coming into the game with what they want to do already worked out, and it’s easy to imagine them following in the trajectory of the Vaccines, or even Arctic Monkeys, both bands whose debut albums were impressively put together and self-assured.

Moats (pictured at top) are a quartet from Biggleswade who, like Lusts, have a variety of new wave and post-punk influences. Their latest single ‘Hungry’ has been played on BBC Radio 1, and BBC Radio 6 and received attention on BBC Introducing’s markets in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The band has also just announced that they will be touring with Brighton band Yonaka in March. Yonaka have an edgy pop-inspired sound that will tie in well with Moats’ gritty pop-esque indie rock.

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Back in 2012, Moats released their debut LP ‘Singapore’ under a “name your price” scheme for the entire nine-track album. It was also recorded, mixed and produced independently, further showing their indie spirit. 2015 saw the album’s opening track ‘Toothache’ remastered and released on Spotify. The tune is an exciting blend of stuttering guitar rhythms, with a soothing indie pop beginning, leading to a heavier build towards the middle when the band’s Matt Duncan’s throaty growl erupts on the track. ‘Toothache’ has a similar sound to the xx, particularly with the addition of Asya Fairchild’s vocals. As the relatively under-the-radar singer/songwriter living in Brighton joins Duncan on the track, but she succeeds in acting as a gentle antidote to Duncan’s edgy drawl.

New single ‘Hungry’ begins gentle and mournful, with the soft, spooky pluck of a guitar riff teasing along the track over the gentle motion of a drumbeat. Then Duncan starts singing, his raw, sharp vocals standing out well against the melody. As the grandiose guitars break out about halfway through the track, before being fragmented by slower, quieter moments, instrumentally I’m reminded of Editors. Duncan’s lead vocals are filled with a gritty appetite, echoing a quote from a recent interview, in which the song is described as being about “craving something really badly and constantly working hard towards feeding that craving”. Imagine a dialled down Frank Carter.

Moats operate on the post-punk frequency that has done so much to shape contemporary music. Having said this, the combination of Moats’ music and Duncan’s intense, and oftentimes harrowing voice moves the band into the realm of the uncharted.

Both Lusts and Moats seem to be pushing at the edges of the genres that inspire them. The two bands have a number of dates lined up for the coming year, and both are scheduled to appear at SXSW 2016 in Austin.

 
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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.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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