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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: this year’s conference programming in the Music Culture & Stories track

 
By on Friday, 23rd February 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Music is such an important part of the fabric of our lives, and the effects of the stories that music makers tell through their art often go far beyond their original inspiration and intent. In the Music Culture & Stories track of the 2018 SXSW Conference, there’s plenty for the music fan to sink her/her teeth into on the influence of song and in the many directions music can take us our minds and hearts.

Documenting Music and Musicians
Though we may not be actively thinking about it on a regular basis, those who document music, musicians and the legacy of their art and how they have done this documentation have affected the way we consume and ultimately remember the music that has moved us. In an early afternoon session on Tuesday 13 March entitled ‘LONDON ROCK: The Unseen Archive’, Alec Byrne will discuss his decade-long career as a London rock photographer. Attendees will enjoy a slideshow of his rare images of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, and many other artists. These images have been stuck in an archive for almost 40 years, only resurfacing recently as part of Byrne’s book. Photographers have been some of the few in the industry who have crossed and allowed into the emotional inner sanctums of musicians, so Byrne will have some unique stories to share.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 14 March, panel session ‘Preservation & Appreciation of Album Art Today’ will discuss the effect of the size limitation of album covers in digital streaming platforms. With such a small graphic size available, how we can continue the artistic appreciation of the art form that was once so important enjoyed during the original heyday of vinyl in the ‘50s and ‘60s? Albums like The Beatles’ ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ and the banana of ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ are remembered almost as much for their cover art as they are for the music they contain.

Music, Our Minds and Our Emotions
How music makes us feel is an important key to what we like and remember and what resonates with us emotionally. In ‘Ballads: A History of Emotions in Popular Culture’ on the afternoon of Saturday 17 March, University of British Columbia’s David Metzer will discuss his book The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé. Metzer believes when a ballad is written and released to the public and what is going on in the world at the time can influence how that song is experienced by the listener. Taking things on a more philosophical level, Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou of Zent Records in ‘The Task of the Artist in the Time of Monsters’ will provide his personal views on how artists through their songcraft “have a unique role to play as our nation comes to terms with these dark days.” (date TBA).

Two members of London rock band The Fish Police (header photo from their Facebook) have autism, and their conditions have informed the way they write music and unapologetically. Alongside staff from internationally acclaimed creative organization Heart n Soul, they will offer their unique perspective on making art in their own unique musical universe in the session ’Exploring Music Through the Lens of Neurodiversity’ early Wednesday afternoon (14 March). On a slightly different tack, local radio station KUTX will be taping their podcast This Song at SXSW 2018 on Thursday afternoon (15 March). Podcast host Elizabeth McQueen will be interviewing hip-hop artist and writer Dessa, who will describe a life-changing song and how it influenced her new album ‘Chime’. [NB: This taping will be held at the Wisteria Room at the Fairmont Hotel on 101 Red River Street and not at the Austin Convention Center.]

Iconic Venues
Some music clubs live on in memory, even long after they physically no longer exist. In
‘From CBGB to the World: A Downtown Diaspora’ on Friday 16 March, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, Modern Recording artist Chris Stamey, Talking Heads members Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth, and visual artist Julia Gorton will recall what made the New York City dive bar special and why it’s remembered even today.

Despite the widely reported assault on music venues across Britain by property developers, we thankfully still have venues in North America who have stood the test of time. Session ‘The Horseshoe: the Roots of Canadian Rock n’ Roll’ will explore how this venerated institution in Toronto has survived for decades and been the starting point of a career for many Canadian rock acts who then went on to stardom beyond the Great White North. Closer to home and heart for Texans, ‘The Broken Spoke: Austin’s Legendary Honky-Tonk’ and its over 5 decades of support for live country music will be discussed on the morning of Tuesday 13 March by none other than its long-time and only proprietor James White.

Musical Legacies
In terms of American musical heroes, who casts a bigger shadow than Elvis? In a featured session on Wednesday afternoon (14 March), there will be an exciting conversation about the upcoming three-hour, two-film HBO presentation on Elvis Presley that will premiere in April and includes “a comprehensive creative journey from his childhood through the final 1976 Jungle Room recording sessions”. The panel will include Presley’s widow Priscilla, legendary Memphis music writer and producer David Porter, director Thom Zimny and producer Jon Landau. Arguably Elvis’ counterpart in rap Tupac Shakur will be fondly remembered in ‘Still Thuggin: Tupac Relevance Over 20 Years Later’ on the afternoon of Friday 16 March.

In more recent, fast-paced times, there’s been the question of whether musical stars made through appearances on reality tv shows will live on or will they be quickly forgotten. In ‘Now What? Life After Reality TV Singing Shows’ on Saturday afternoon (17 March), Cas Haley (2007’s America’s Got Talent), Blake Lewis (6th season of American Idol) and NAKIA (1st season of The Voice) will share their experiences before, during and after appearing on millions of tv screen around America.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 events we cover here at TGTF, music conference programming is subject to change. We suggest you consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule for the latest additions and editions.

 

Video of the Moment #2794: Courtney Barnett

 
By on Thursday, 22nd February 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Courtney Barnett has some exciting news. The Aussie slacker rock artist will be releasing her sophomore album ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’ in May. This follows the critical acclaim she received for her collaboration with Kurt Vile on last year’s ‘Lotta Sea Lice’.

To preview the upcoming record, she’s unveiled a promo video for the feminist-leaning LP lead single ‘Nameless, Faceless’. On backing vocal duties is Kim Deal of Pixies and Breeders fame; both she and her sister feature on Barnett’s album. Check out the Aussie artist on already revealed North American tour around the time of the release of the new LP on the 18th of May on Mom + Pop, Marathon and Milk! Records. For more on Courtney Barnett on TGTF, go here.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #403: Rhys Lewis

 
By on Thursday, 22nd February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

As I’ve mentioned in past live reviews, solo artists have to bear the brunt of all the attention thrown their way, positive and negative. I always think of a quote from George Harrison where he said he felt sorry for Elvis because Elvis didn’t have a gang of friends he did like the Beatles. I tip my hat to every singer/songwriter who has had to audition alone, in front of countless audiences of industry bigwigs, endured rejection after rejection, and made it to the other side with head and heart intact with a record deal. Massive respect. All that taken together, when I’ve discovered a young new British artist with a major label deal, I can be sure that this person has impressed an awful lot of people and must have a lot of potential. It was this potential I heard listening to the songs by Rhys Lewis. I don’t think he has even hit the age of 25 yet, roughly around the same age as the Beatles when they were discovered. However, Lewis has one thing the Beatles famously never did: he got a deal with Decca Records.

The now London-based artist didn’t become a success overnight. Originally from Oxfordshire, Lewis started playing in a covers band with his brother, eventually moving up to performing alone at local open mic nights. Like many aspiring musicians in America, he worked in food service in pubs and credits those days with strengthening his work ethic. He’s also had the opportunity to travel and work in international studios, which have no doubt moulded his songwriting style. In late 2016, Decca released his debut single ‘Waking Up Without You’, the bluesy hit shooting up to the top of Spotify’s Viral Hits chart. With his beautifully smoky vocals drawing comparisons to Al Green and Marvin Gaye, it comes as a surprise to hear that the young man from Oxfordshire was not always comfortable as a singer. Thankfully, he’s gotten over these nerves and will be coming to Austin next month to wow us.

His most recent single ‘Bloodstains’ (listen here), released on the 9th of February, has a more upbeat pop melody guaranteed to keep your toes tapping. The song paints a picture of a beautiful anguish, of being in love with someone you know who isn’t good for you. Loving her hurts him. Lewis soulfully sings, “your love so bitter but I like the taste / your love’s so bitter but it’s sweet that way”, as if there’s an odd sense of comfort, possibly through sheer masochism, that love like this is supposed to hurt. A new EP, ‘Bad Timing’, arrives tomorrow, the 23rd of February.

Feeling things deeply comes naturally to him, as evidenced in earlier single ‘Living in the City’, where a boy from Oxfordshire honestly expresses his misgivings of living in the big smoke, far away from the land he knows best. While moving to London might still be a necessarily evil for some UK artists to attain success, it seems nice that we will be able to host Rhys Lewis away, from there at least for a few days, and hear the stories he sings from his heart. So far, he’s been announced to be opening the BBC Radio 2 evening showcase sponsored by PPL and PRS for Music Wednesday night, the 14th of March, at Latitude 30 and hosted by Jo Whiley.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Rhys Lewis’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2793: Courtney Marie Andrews

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

Arizona native alt-country singer/songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews is set to follow her 2016 album ‘Honest Life’ with a new and powerful LP titled ‘May Your Kindness Remain’. The new record is due for release on the 23rd of March via Fat Possum/MamaBird (U.S.) and Loose Music (UK). In the interim, Andrews is scheduled to appear in Austin early next month for SXSW 2018. Last week, Andrews unveiled a new promo video for the uplifting, gospel-flavoured album track ‘Kindness of Strangers’, which you can view below.

Filmed in Los Angeles by The Brothers Wright, the ‘Kindness of Strangers’ promo has a muted lo-fi aesthetic created by the combined effects of a 35mm lens and super 8 film. Double exposed images of Andrews capture the internal sense of loneliness and introspection in the song itself, which she says was “written directly after some legendary musicians took their own life.” She continues, “It sparked this long and deep thought about how we all feel disconnected with each other at some point in our lives. When you’re at your lowest of lows, even a friendly cashier can make your month. Human connection is essential for survival, and I’ve felt that void at so many different points in my life. This song portrays that void, and how even the smallest amount of kindness can save you.”

Following her stop in Austin for SXSW, Courtney Marie Andrews will cross the pond to play a run of live dates in the UK and Ireland this April. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Wednesday 18th April 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Thursday 19th April 2018 – Edinburgh Summer Hall
Friday 20th April 2018 – Dublin Whelan’s
Saturday 21st April 2018 – Liverpool Arts Club
Sunday 22nd April 2018 – Manchester Gorilla
Monday 23rd April 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Tuesday 24th April 2018 – London Islington Assembly Hall

 

Single Review: Ten Tonnes – Lay It On Me

 
By on Wednesday, 21st February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s this time of year when we here at TGTF start to get nostalgic about our times in Austin and the acts we discovered there. Ethan Barnett, stage name Ten Tonnes, has been busy since I covered him live at SXSW 2017 last year. He performed at the Twix afternoon showcase at Bar 96 on Rainey Street on Wednesday, where I interviewed him. He also appeared at the Radio 2 showcase that evening, hosted by BBC Radio In Concert presenter Jo Whiley. It was a big week for him, as his new single ‘Silver Heat’ was released while we were in Texas. An EP with a rollicking title track single, ‘Born to Lose’, followed in the summer. More music lovers were introduced to his music in a blistering array of festival appearances and UK tour support slots with Stereophonics and RAT BOY. Getting out on the road and gaining confidence is in front of audiences will no doubt come in handy as his career progresses.

Barnett now has a new single out this month, and it’s notably different from his previous bluesy efforts. The first song Barnett says he’s written with someone else, ex-Kaiser Chiefs Nick Hodgson, ‘Lay It On Me’ eschews the frenetic guitar chords of ‘Silver Heat’ and the adorable vocal twangs of 2016’s ‘Lucy’. As if to cash in on the current popularity of lo-fi, an echo effect on Barnett’s vocals makes it sound like he’s singing to us down a tunnel. Is this necessary? Not really. A driving rhythm chugs along as he shows remorse of having left behind someone he truly loves. These verses of regret lead to an instrumental crescendo, oddly just over 30 seconds into the song. The vocal punctuation of “I know it’s been a while but I’m back again / back again to face the symphony” is an elegant way of stating he’s facing the music and owning up to his mistakes.

One step further, he’s offering to be anything his partner needs, as if it’s a modern ‘Lean On Me’. The single ends with a chaotic climax of banging guitars and Barnett’s vocals fighting with the cacophony. It’s an odd way to end a song with such a positive message, like we’ve gone from being totally serious to totally silly. The acoustic version of ‘Lay It On Me’ played solely by Barnett on a guitar feels truer to who he is an artist. Maybe it’s a sign that he should go back to writing alone to stay true to the artist he wants to be?

6/10

‘Lay It On Me’ from Ten Tonnes is out now on Warner Brothers. You can compare the studio single version and an acoustic live version by Barnett alone in the embeds below. To catch all of our past coverage on Ten Tonnes on TGTF, go here.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2792: Skinny Lister

 
By on Tuesday, 20th February 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

London folk-punk rockers Skinny Lister are about to embark on a wide-ranging American tour, including a stop in Austin, Texas next month for SXSW 2018. To get their party started with a characteristic burst of energy, the band have just unveiled a subversively political new promo video for their latest single ‘Thing Like That’.

The ‘Thing Like That’ video features co-frontman Dan Heptinstall in a rare solo appearance. Here, Heptinstall rebelliously flaunts a one-piece zippered Union Jack suit as he traverses the streets of London, provoking a subtle but noticeably varied array of responses from the people around him. ‘Thing Like That’ appears as a bonus track on the deluxe version of Skinny Lister’s late 2016 album ‘The Devil, the Heart & the Fight’. The album is available now via Xtra Mile Recordings.

A full listing of Skinny Lister’s upcoming tour dates in America, where they will be supported by Xtra Mile labelmate Will Varley, can be found on their official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Skinny Lister can be found back through here.

 
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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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