Editor Mary is in Toronto for CMW 2016 this week.
Ongoing coverage of the event will be on our Twitter and on the site this way.

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Video of the Moment #2076: Radiohead

 
By on Wednesday, 4th May 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Oxford art-rock quintet Radiohead abruptly vanished from the realm of virtual reality over the weekend, deleting their official Web site and all of their social media postings on Sunday. But after a bank holiday Monday of radio silence, the band just as suddenly reinstated themselves online on Tuesday with the release of a video for their new track ‘Burn the Witch’. The single track release has naturally prompted speculation that Radiohead’s ninth studio album is imminent, especially given the band’s rapidly growing schedule of live tour dates.

The video for ‘Burn the Witch’, directed and designed by Chris Hopewell, is an anachronous clay animation sequence set in a “Model Village” that seems somehow stuck in a past time. In the context of this curious temporal framework, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s lyrics, “red crosses on wooden doors / if you float you burn / loose tongue around tables / abandon all reason / avoid all eye contact / do not react / shoot the messengers / this is a low-flying panic attack”, seem to be a commentary on the fear-mongering and reactionary politics of modern Western society.

With the dramatic build up to the video’s release and the moralising message of the song itself, it’s hard to decide whether Radiohead’s release of ‘Burn the Witch’ is the worst kind of pretentious gimmickry or avant-garde rock artistry at its new millenium finest. Watch the video below and decide for yourself.

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If you’re keen on checking TGTF’s past archive of Radiohead coverage, including a review of the band’s 2011 album release ‘The King of Limbs’, please click here.

 

Video of the Moment #2075: Pumarosa

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

London five-piece powerhouse Pumarosa have followed their hit track ‘Priestess’, which made a strong impression on me at SXSW 2016, with another visceral and vaguely mysterious single centered around an elusive female character, this one titled ‘Cecile’. In sharp opposition to the essentially sensual nature of the song itself, the band have accompanied the new single with a rather metaphysical video focused on the increasingly commonplace idea of virtual reality technology.

Calling the video a “playful exploration of . . . how desire might lead us into other worlds”, Pumarosa symbolize the ephemeral nature of their title character’s affections with the intangibility of a series of computer-generated simulations. Film director Rebecca Salvadori expands on the idea, saying, “we are alone and simultaneously together in dealing with a river of images that constantly submerge us. The ‘Cecile’ video is an experiment towards a constructed visual chaos.”

The video is an interesting juxtaposition of visual and auditory imagery, but if all its existentialism is too much to take in on a Monday afternoon, you can always close your eyes and get lost in Pumarosa’s instinctively visceral groove. Watch and/or listen just below.

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‘Cecile’ is out now on Chess Club / Mom + Pop. Pumarosa will play a one-off headline show on the 7th of May at London’s ICA, ahead of planned festival appearances at The Great Escape and Latitude 2016.

 

(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #112: Callum Norton of Broken Hands

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Canadian Music Week (CMW) 2016 is here! I am now in Toronto, soaking up the sights but avoiding the CN Tower (I’m mostly afraid of heights) and waiting for some of my UK brethren to get here so we can share a plate of poutine. We’re wrapping up our CMW 2016 preview posts and before we get stuck in on the event proper, I’ve got another set of answers to our TGTF Quickfire Questions for you. This time, our kind interviewee is Callum Norton, drummer for Canterbury rockers Broken Hands, who released their debut last autumn. Last week, ahead of their appearances this week in Canada, I posted this live video from their recent BBC Introducing session at Maida Vale for Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music. Callum’s brother Dale answered the SXSW 2014 version of the Quickfire Questions 2 years ago, so it’s nice to keep in all the family for this set that are of course CMW 2016 flavoured.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Energetic space rock.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Canada’?
RUSH!!!

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Toronto? Have you been before?
Never been before, CN Tower…a revolving restaurant in the sky! And obviously playing to people we’ve never met!!

Of the bands who have already been announced (https://cmw.net/music/artists/), do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Eagles of Death Metal, for sure.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase for your time at CMW that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
SGGE Manual. [I’ve asked around and am still not sure what this is. I’m going to guess it’s something percussion related? – Ed.]

After CMW, what’s up next for you? Writing and recording? TGE / summer festivals / etc.? Do tell!
We’ve got a couple of festivals coming up in the UK, Isle of Wight and Lodestar Festival. Then lots of writing and some European support dates with Deaf Havana.

We’re now moving on over to our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘The Okey Cokey’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Happy Birthday’ (‘cos I knew what it meant!)

What song makes you laugh?
Tommy Cooper – ‘Don’t Jump Off the Roof Dad’.

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What song makes you cry?
Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Lou Reed – ‘Vicious’.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Anything by Ellie Goulding.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Elton John and George Michael – ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’.

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Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Jim James.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Carpet laying.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
‘ABBA Gold’.

Cheers Callum, we appreciate you answering these! Thanks too to Matt for chasing these up for us.

 

Video of the Moment #2074: Drowners

 
By on Monday, 2nd May 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

New York post-punk Drowners are an act responsible for one of my favourite moments from SXSW 2016 on Saturday night. It should have been a given that I would enjoy a band who named themselves after one of my favourite Suede songs.

They’ll be releasing their second album in late June, and early single ‘Cruel Ways’ now has its own promo video. Taking a simplistic approach, the band – Welsh frontman (and sometimes model) Matt Hitt and Americans Jack Ridley, Erik Snyder and Daniel Jacobs – are filmed in a claustrophobic, darkened club. It actually feels appropriate for the lyrical subject matter, as Hitt’s powerfully acerbic words about a failing relationship with the bombastic musical treatment both feel like they’re fighting the environment they’ve found themselves in.

‘On Desire’, Drowners’ sophomore album, will be released on the 24th of June on Frenchkiss Records.

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(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #111: Aled Rees of Cut Ribbons

 
By on Monday, 2nd May 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

We are now at the actual week of Canadian Music Week (CMW) 2016. I know, exciting! And we’re rounding things off in our preview of the festivities with the last few CMW 2016-flavoured Quickfire Questions answered by actual artists scheduled to showcase at the festival. Cut Ribbons released one of my favourite albums of 2015, ‘We Want to Watch Something We Love Burn’, last summer. We are lucky today to have Aled Rees, guitarist and singer/songwriter of the Welsh band, answering our TGTF questions for us. Which beloved author who favoured a drink (or three) in his time does Aled name as his favourite writer? You’ll have to read on to find out…

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Pop with teeth.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Canada’?
Arcade Fire.

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Toronto? Have you been before?
It’s our first time, we are really excited. We’re looking forward to checking out the sites, going up the CN Tower, all the touristy things really. We are going to have to take a trip outside the city to Niagara Falls too.

Of the bands who have already been announced (https://cmw.net/music/artists/), do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
We’ll catch the bigger names like Eagles of Death Metal and Tegan and Sara for sure. There’s a cool new British band called The Orielles playing, we’ll probably go catch those guys, and we’ll definitely go catch our homeboys and girl HMS Morris! Other than that, just really excited to wander around Toronto discovering new bands and eating lots of poutine!

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase for your time at CMW that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Lluan. We are saving the price of a plane ticket by packing our singer in our hand lugguage.

You are receiving funding from Arts Council Wales to make the trip over to the pond to showcase at CMW. Tell us about how you got involved with Arts Council Wales and what their funding means to your trip / your career.
They have been incredibly supportive over the last couple of years. It’s organisations like the Arts Council that makes things like this possible.

After CMW, what’s up next for you? Writing and recording? TGE / summer festivals / etc.? Do tell!
Lots of writing. We are hoping to get the new album finished and get a few of the tracks recorded before the summer festivals begin. There is a lot more acoustic guitar on this new one but that doesn’t mean that they are stripped back and bare, quite the opposite actually.

We’re switching over to our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
It’s probably just aimlessly strumming the open strings of my dad’s old Shaftesbury guitar when I was about 3. I must have driven my parents mad. I still have that guitar too.

What was your favourite song as a child?
I can’t really remember but it was probably something folky like Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Paxton or Ralph Mctell.

What song makes you laugh?
‘Word Up’ by Cameo. Whenever I hear that song the thought of that red codpiece always makes me laugh. It reminds me of a back to front baboon.

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What song makes you cry?
Sigur Rós – ‘Ára Bátur’ at Abbey Road. When this kids start singing I have to use the old, ‘I have something in my eye’ excuse. Anything by Elliott Smith. His songs are beyond beautiful.

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What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Taylor Swift used to make me feel angry every time I listened to her but through listening to Ryan Adams covering ‘1989’, not so much now.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
There are just so many. I say out loud almost on a daily basis that I wish I had written some song or other. ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen was the most recent to date. That line, “It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift,” is just genius.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
It’s Hemingway. Not so keen on the decimation of the Serengeti or the bull fighting bit but I can fully support his “Write drunk; edit sober” maxim.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’ve always wanted to have a crack at writing a children’s book, so hopefully I would be doing that, but who knows? I could just as easily have become the ringmaster of a cat circus.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
If God said anything at all to me I would have to rethink a lot of things. Also, if I was going to heaven, you would have thought they would already have it.

Thanks Aled for your kind answering of our questions. See you all in Toronto!

 

Album Review: Tourist – U

 
By on Monday, 2nd May 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Tourist U album coverThe Tourist debut album has been a long time coming. Electronic singer/songwriter and producer William Phillips hasn’t exactly been sitting on his hands in the last few years, however. He’s been biding his time with a series of EPs – ‘Tourist’ in 2012, ‘Tonight’ in 2013 and ‘Patterns’ in 2014 – and collaborated with several of current British pop royalty such as Lianne La Havas and Years and Years. In 2015, he won a Grammy for Song of the Year for his co-writing prowess for Sam Smith’s monster hit ‘Stay with Me’, a piece of trivia that probably hasn’t been advertised enough. On the other hand, dwelling on that fact could detract from Phillips’ own preferred mode of creativity, as a smart, inventive, engaging electronic artist.

On the last day of SXSW 2014, I caught Tourist at an afternoon showcase at the now-gone Holy Mountain. It didn’t matter that it was 1 in the afternoon. Phillips was in his element, creating a wall of sound in front of us, hunched over a Macbook and a tabletop full of equipment, and that’s the image I have of him while listening to ‘U’, envisioning him in the recording studio, laying down these tracks. The allure of electronic music for many is in its ambiguity, the need for the listener to really tune into the many elements of a track to achieve full-on appreciation for the art and the mood the creator intended. (In stark contrast, most top 40 pop is obvious, with its inclusion of a chorus, a hook, and verses that usually follow the same rhythmic pattern, all fitting neatly into a 3-minute bite of music.) Throughout the album, Phillips as Tourist shows his deft hand at developing soundscapes full of texture, of contrasts through light and dark, from contemplation to euphoria.

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A great example of this is ‘Wait’. The track chugs along slowly with an insistent backbeat, with wub wubs and percussive flourishes towards a higher, smooth plateau of enjoyable consciousness for the listener. Another great moment on ‘U’ is previously released single ‘Run’, which was promoted with a NSFW video. Phillips describes it as “…a song about falling in love”, saying that he loved the Ozzie Pullin-directed video “because it’s so pure. It sums up the driving essence of what it means to be human.” After hearing his explanation of it, you hear the music and it all makes sense: at the core of the song is its pulsing heartbeat, a reminder of being alive and as an extension, the energised feeling you get when your heart is doing backflips over someone you’re attracted to.

Skittish in nature and with video game-esque blips and bloops, ‘Foolish’ is one of the more inspired moments on ‘U’. ‘Waves’ is similarly interesting: the song begins as if a casual dance stroll before it progresses to brighter, rave-worthy beats. The album ends on a wonderfully tropical note with ‘For Sarah’: gentle chords usher the track, which swells towards an expansive, shinier, lighter conclusion. Oddly, the one misstep on the record appears to be ‘Too Late’. Although the bpm is up for much of the track, the mood is largely one note, feeling like the sonic equivalent of your head being beat into a wall.

When I heard the Tourist album was going to be called ‘U’, I inwardly groaned, thinking that it was designed to appeal to a favourite text shorthand of millennials. But the more I’ve thought about it, ‘U’ represents a coolness that you yourself can embrace, by diving into this music, acknowledging it for the art it is. While it’s true that electronic music may not be for everyone, the songs contained on this album have a level of sophistication granted by Phillips’ way to putting together plenty of unique instrumental components and embellishments, and are therefore worthy of your time.

8/10

‘U’, the debut album from Tourist, is out this Friday, the 6th of May, on Monday Records. To read TGTF’s past coverage on Phillips’ work as Tourist, go here.

 
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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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