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Love is the end…

 
By on Friday, 5th April 2019 at 11:00 am
 

Header and in-text photo by Abel Maestro Garcia in Andalucia, Spain

A funny thing about change. When you’re the one changing, it can be hard for others to see you as something other than what you have been and what you have been to them.

I knew there would come a time where I would draw the curtains and turn the lights out at There Goes the Fear. After a year as USA Editor and after I took over the reins of TGTF from founder Phil Singer in the summer of 2010, it wasn’t uncommon for me to lose sleep or skip meals to write and work on my photos for my posts. I went through eye strain and posture problems and heard repeated concerns from my doctors that my fatigue was being exacerbated by my overdoing my loyalty to TGTF.

Still, I persisted. I feel proud of the artists we’ve introduced to you before they became household names and award winners, as well as those who didn’t reach such heady heights. I have always felt the two primary pieces to the remit of TGTF were 1) to help artists along in their careers, to the point where they could have self-sustaining careers and 2) to bring them to the attention of you, the readers, who might not otherwise have come across them. I’ve spent a quarter of my life (so far) on something that has become way bigger than a Chinese-American girl from the DC suburbs could ever have imagined. I take great pride in what we have accomplished here.

I will look back at my 10 years of music blogging here at TGTF with much fondness. I interviewed and got to write about so many great musicians and their music. I got to travel and cover music events around the world, some of which where we ran showcases. I had the privilege of working with some wonderful writers, and I thank them all for their contributions here. If you read an article here and stepped away with a new musical love, or you’re in a band or manage one and we helped you be more financially successful, then I’d say we achieved our key goals.

Before my last birthday, nearing the end of November 2018, I heard an avuncular voice say to me in a soothing tone something intriguing. “You have been writing about the lives of so many others. Now is the time to write about your own.” With this invisible nudge from the divine, I will be working on writing up my memoirs of the many experiences I’ve had through TGTF and in my own personal life.

This isn’t goodbye forever. TGTF will still be online but in a dormant state for some time. If, while your visit here now or in the past, you find something useful to you, I’d appreciate it if you could click on an ad or two on the Web site. Just as before, any ad revenue collected will go back into hosting costs. There may be the occasional Tweet to the @tgtf Twitter or post to the TGTF Facebook account. I will still be around and available on @theprintedword if you simply want to say hey.

When I was in university, I used to say to myself that I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the music that comforted me in my darkest days. Music is, and will continue to be, the greatest uniting force we have as human beings. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support of me, our writers and of course, the musicians and bands.

 

Video of the Moment #2938: Titus Andronicus

 
By on Thursday, 4th April 2019 at 6:00 pm
 

I have avoided posting lyric videos in the Video of the Moment slot unless they’re done really well. In the case of the newest video from Titus Andronicus, I think the visuals and where they were filmed are appropriate, almost painfully so, for who they are trying to address in the song. One of the first photos I ever saw of the New Jersey band looked like a candid shot of the entire group in front of the seated Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial. If you have ever had the opportunity to visit my hometown of Washington, DC, and be a tourist, you are probably aware that the memorial to our storied 16th president sits on the east side of the Reflecting Pool that was immortalised by the footage and photos from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech in 1963. Further, if you stand in the Lincoln Memorial and look due east, you will see a massive obelisk, better known as the Washington Monument. When I was a kid, I used to call it the Giant Marble Pencil.

In about half of this video for single ‘(I Blame) Society’, frontman and singer/songwriter of Titus Andronicus Patrick Stickles is seen passing off cue cards with the lyrics to another band member. In the other half, he and another man in a hoodie covered with band badges are stood in front of another, lesser-known obelisk (I’d guess probably in Arlington Cemetery?) where the cards continue to be passed off. What do the cards say? While the choice of words is certainly vitriolic, Stickles and co. cover ground on inequality and the death of the American dream that many of us in wish we had a platform like this from which we could say them. Handily enough, their upcoming sixth album is called ‘An Obelisk’, and it follows 2018’s ‘A Productive Cough’. Produced by Bob Mould, it will be released on the 21st of June on Merge Records. Want to read more on Titus Andronicus here on TGTF? Right this way.

 

SXSW 2019: catching up with my top 6 acts of the festival – 16th March 2019 (Saturday, part 3)

 
By on Thursday, 4th April 2019 at 1:00 pm
 

One of the great things about SXSW as a whole and that doesn’t really happen at UK or Irish multi-day city festivals is that you usually have an opportunity to catch acts again. If you didn’t get a good look and listen the first time around? No problem! If you enjoyed yourself so much on the first go-around, good news, you can get a second helping! Rather conveniently, the 6 acts I saw again on Saturday turned out to be my favourites from this year. If you haven’t heard of them, you have been alerted. Write their names down, put them in your phone, tattoo them lovingly on your body, I don’t care what you do. Remember them, because they are who I thought shone the brightest this year in Austin.

ROE at Flatstock Stage, Austin Convention Center (see also Thursday the 14th of March at Output Belfast at Latitude 30; read more on her on TGTF through here)
As Music and Film wind down as the week ends, Saturday at the Convention Center during SXSW takes on an entirely different feel. Part of this is the growing influence and attendance of the Gaming portion of SXSW. It’s family-friendly, so it’s not uncommon to see kids at the Flatstock Stage with their parents. Two young girls were dancing around and in front of the ever-approachable ROE, her guitar and her impressive setup of electronics. She gestured around to her setup, quipping, “Me and my band members are having a great time here!” A very funny moment.


ROE Flatstock Stage Saturday SXSW 2019

In all seriousness, though, young Roisin Donald from Derry has a charmingly disarming nature, and the sincerity of her onstage banter continues into her songs, written out of personal hardship and deep emotions. One of the biggest hurdles a singer/songwriter of any genre has to overcome is one of credibility, and ROE has gotten past this easily before she is even allowed to touch a beer in our country. If there is one important message that we all should take to heart from the young people making their way in the music business, it should be that young people have a lot of say and can do it thoughtfully. All we need to do is listen. And if you haven’t seen an artist or band at the Flatstock stage, you simply must. It’s free to all, so what’s stopping you?

Mansionair at Antone’s (see also Thursday the 14th of March at Clive Bar; read more on them on TGTF through here)
Established before I was born, Antone’s is an Austin institution for the blues. When I first starting coming out for SXSW 8 years ago, I knew I would get there one day, but it just never happened over the years. While not an official showcase, American audio innovators Shure hosted 2 days of afternoon ‘Bedroom Sessions’ in the upstairs area at Antone’s on Friday and Saturday, free to anyone in the know. It wasn’t until I got there Saturday afternoon that I realised they weren’t kidding on the theme. Beds were on the floor where punters could sit or stand, and there was also a big bed onstage, I guess in case any of their scheduled acts needed a catnap? Ha. Jack Froggatt of Australian electropop group Mansionair was well aware of the strangeness of it all, commenting from the stage that “it all feels like a dream I once had”, as he felt disorientated because of the bed’s presence and drummer Alex Nicholls was on his right when he’s usually on the left.


Mansionair Shure Bedroom Sessions Saturday SXSW 2019 2

As weird as it must have been for the artists, without a doubt, it was one of the more imaginative performance spaces I witnessed this year. With coloured balloons in the air and plenty of seating if the audience wanted it (it’s Saturday, are you kidding?), I appreciated the super chill atmosphere. Neither stuffy as a traditional seated venue or a free-for-all like Clive Bar Thursday afternoon, it was more like a Sofar Sounds-kind of situation where you’ve been welcomed into an intimate room. Though I felt abnormally tethered to my chair during set closer ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’, I felt that Mansionair ‘beat the odds’ and gave a good performance, weirdness nonwithstanding. Following this unusual appearance, I also saw the Sydney trio perform in DC, which you can read about here.

APRE at Latitude 30 (see also Thursday the 14th of March at the International Day Stage)
Just prior to Boy Azooga at the British Music Embassy, London-based, electronic-driven duo APRE began the BBC Radio 1 showcase in exemplary fashion. Had it been my choice, I would have put them later on in the lineup for the night, as their super-energetic pop show here definitely puts them in my top acts seen at SXSW 2019. Alas, Radio 1 didn’t ask me for my advice. Moving effectively and effortlessly from song to song, from slow vibe to more upbeat, mark my words, these guys are gonna go far.

APRE British Music Embassy BBC Radio 1 SXSW 2019

Though it was so late in the week, Charlie Brown and Jules Konieczny gave it their all, proving to be some of the most energetic performers I’ve seen in a long time. ‘Gap Year 2008’, their rhythmically spellbinding single with an unforgettable chorus and a killer guitar line, was my set highlight. I thought they were so good, you would have heard no complaints from me if they had just repeated their entire set a second time. Read my pre-SXSW 2019 Bands to Watch on them through here. I’m glad they and Boy Azooga were the last bands I’d see here. Sniff sniff, sob sob.

Jealous of the Birds at Swan Dive (see also Wednesday the 13th of March at Central Presbyterian Church; read more on her TGTF through here)
Perhaps it already happened long before she and her band arrived in Austin and I just missed it by virtue of my being stuck here in the States. But I feel that the now Belfast-based Naomi Hamilton and her recording name/entity Jealous of the Birds truly came into her own this year at SXSW 2019. Hamilton rocked hard in sharp purple plaid and bright yellow suits and was backed by her band who were also thematically dressed in tartans, so the professional feel of their performance was unmatched by anyone else I had the pleasure of seeing.

Jealous of the Birds Swan Dive Line of Best Fit Saturday SXSW 2019

Their busy week of gigging was capped off by an early evening performance at the Line of Best Fit showcase at Swan Dive, jam-packed with punters. The closest I got was crammed in on the side, white wooden railing in my face, somewhat mesmerised by the bobbing of her bass player’s new armadillo arm tattoo he got on this trip, ha. While the mood at Central Presbyterian Church Wednesday was overwhelmingly one of reverence, this last performance by Jealous of the Birds was one of revelry and pure joy, as bright as the gold of Hamilton’s suit.

The Dunts at 720 (see also Wednesday the 13th of March at Latitude 30)
Okay, so I wimped out and didn’t join The Dunts and the other excited moshers at the Rascalton show Friday night at Valhalla. Still, The Dunts themselves were scheduled to produce a sonic thrashing at my favourite place to see hard rock in Austin, 720, so how could I say no? I was stood safely by the bar (my version of being game, ha) as the Scots began their campaign of making the loudest, chaotic noise possible.

Although they bowed out of an earlier Second Play Stage appearance, arguing they weren’t an electronic kit band, their reputation off the back of their sweaty performance at the British Music Embassy Wednesday afternoon must have spread like wildfire. Though I didn’t see it firsthand – I smartly arrived early to stake my vantage point – a long queue had built up outside 720, no doubt curious to see what the fuss about these lads from Glasgow was all about. Some of the band reportedly celebrated a bit too heartily afterwards, necessitating yours truly acting as a big sister to assist in reuniting them. I remember what it was like at that age and frankly, had I gone down as well as they had in a foreign country on arguably the biggest stage for international emerging bands, I think I would have been celebrating, too! All good.

whenyoung at Swan Dive (see also Thursday the 14th of March at the Velveeta Room and Friday the 15th of March at B.D. Riley’s)
I decided to end my music loving time at SXSW 2019 with a band who had wowed me twice earlier in the week. I just couldn’t stay away. London via Limerick three-piece whenyoung also performed at the Line of Best Fit’s Swan Dive showcase and boy, did they bring it. I don’t think I can reiterate enough just how much fun their music is and how powerfully spirited they are in live performance. Run, run now, and get your tickets to see them live. Do not press snooze on this.

whenyoung Swan Dive Line of Best Fit Saturday SXSW 2019

You can’t help but enjoy the colourful, dynamic spectacle of whenyoung. Then when it’s over, you take a deep breath and walk away with a big, goofy grin on your face. We have enough pain and sorrow in this life, and there’s a time and a place for that kind of music. Saturday night at SXSW, all you want to do is live in the moment and go for it. Of all the bands I had the glorious opportunity to see live in Austin this year, whenyoung best epitomised the feeling of carpe diem.

And with that, my SXSW 2019 was over. To everyone who made SXSW possible, to all the staff, friends, artists and bands who made my experience so wonderful this year, I salute you. Goodnight and goodbye.

 

SXSW 2019: a mishmash of bands not yet seen during the week – 16th March 2019 (Saturday, part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 4th April 2019 at 11:00 am
 

In past years, I’ve used Saturday as a breather. I usually use it as a lie-in day. By then, everyone’s spent: they’ve drank too much, they’ve run around too much and the reality that we’re all going home on Sunday is sadly starting to set in. I also Saturday as my catch-up day to try and pick up anyone I might have missed during the week. In order to make this post and the next and last of my SXSW 2019 live review posts efficient, I will recount in this post the bands I only saw on Saturday.

Fatherson at Latitude 30
Fatherson are no strangers to TGTF or to Austin for that matter, having come out here for SXSW 2015 when frontman Ross Leighton had a much larger beard! The Scottish trio have undergone a musical evolution since then, trading their previous more all-encompassing anthemic sound for (dare I say it?) a more poppy, mainstream rock approach. These details inside a music editor’s mind were lost on the British Music Embassy crowd, Austinites and for-the-week British expats enjoying the music being bashed about on stage.

Fatherson British Music Embassy Saturday SXSW 2019

Rizha at Austin Taco Project
I wouldn’t call Rizha an accidental find, as I happened to be passing through and wanted to be sure I did not miss who was up next. She is a young (19) Argentinian now in university in Madrid, continuing a musical career that I understand began in 2013. Most, if not all of her songs, contain swear words and therefore have been anointed as explicit on Spotify. This ordinarily wouldn’t disqualify an act for me, but I wasn’t impressed with the music or Rizha’s singing. Had I been a good 2 decades younger (or 3?), this music might have spoken to me. As it was, I found her synth-reliant music unremarkable.

Rizha Austin Taco Project Second Play Stage Saturday SXSW 2019

On the other hand, the Austin Taco Project, attached to the Hilton and which opened just in time for SXSW 2018, is worth a visit for the delicious tacos and the very nice bartenders, even if you’re not there to see a band on their Second Play Stage. While we’re talking about the Hilton, I’d be remiss to not mention the Hilton’s other restaurant Cannon + Belle, which also acts as a Second Play Stage during SXSW. Carrie and I saw Holly Macve and James TW there in 2016.

Kidsmoke at Austin Taco Project
The next band were much more up my alley. Having run around like somewhat of a crazy person on Wednesday night, I could not stay at the Focus Wales showcase for Welsh band Kidsmoke. Luckily for me, the Wrexham four-piece made another appearance at the Austin Taco Project before leaving for home. I’ve seen the term ‘pastoral pop’ being bandied around when they’re discussed, and I think it’s a good description of their music.

Kidsmoke Austin Taco Project Second Play Stage Saturday SXSW 2019

Maybe it’s just me, and admittedly I have never been to Wales (!) but I have this romantic vision of its picturesque countryside, of rolling green valleys and white blots of sheep. If I had the opportunity to drive around this beautiful land, I’d want Kidsmoke’s newest single ‘Passenger’ playing while I had the windows rolled down, my hair flying in the breeze. Want to make it feel like it’s summer every day? Guitar-driven melodic pop? Yes, please!

Boy Azooga at Latitude 30
Arguably the biggest success story out of The Great Escape 2018, Cardiff’s Boy Azooga capped off a busy week in Austin with a 9 PM appearance at the British Music Embassy during BBC Radio 1’s showcase. Probably dead tired, Davey Newington and his live band showed no signs of flagging and certainly brought out their Four Tops-ey dance posturing to the Latitude 30 stage. Coming into Austin on a raft of hype, the song ‘Taxi to Your Head’ seemed quite appropriate by title, its funky grooves received well by the audience. The laidback ‘Jerry’, another from the critically acclaimed debut album from last year, ‘1, 2, Kung Fu’, was another set highlight.

Boy Azooga British Music Embassy BBC Radio 1 SXSW 2019

 

Video of the Moment #2937: The Twilight Sad

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd April 2019 at 6:00 pm
 

Around the start of this year, The Twilight Sad released their fifth album. ‘It Won/t Be Like This All the Time’, the follow-up to 2014’s ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’, followed Robert Smith’s endorsement of the Scottish band and some impressive slots supporting The Cure. The latest new promo video to be unveiled from the still relatively new long player is the nonsensically titled ‘Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting’, which guitarist Andy Macfarlane has admitted is a bit of a throwaway title chosen from an advertisement for the actor he happened to see flashing on his computer screen.

The song itself is about the negative feelings we have and negatives actions we take after a breakup. For the music video, the group went into another direction entirely. Frontman James Graham found old Super 8 reels from the ‘60s among his grandfather’s belongings; these reels were processed with colours, and the band projected them on the abandoned Govanhill Baths in Glasgow. The overall mixture of untouched film, processed film and the actual baths as they exist today combine for a disorientating experience that matches the glitchy art aesthetic the Twilight Sad were going for on the cover of ‘It Won/t Be Like…’ awfully well. Sonically, the visuals match the energetic song. Watch and listen to ‘Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting’ below. ‘It Won/t Be Like This All the Time’ is out now on fellow Scots Mogwai’s Rock Action Records. Catch up on all our past coverage on The Twilight Sad through this link.

 

SXSW 2019: a morning with Johnny Cash – 16th March 2019 (Saturday, part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd April 2019 at 1:00 pm
 

Photo of Johnny Cash from the official SXSW Web site

I’ve spent time in March in Austin every year for the last 7 years. And yet, all this time, I have never seen a film that was part of SXSW. That all changed this year. Of the days I knew I would be in Austin, I looked at the films that were playing and when, and I found something that I could slot in on Saturday morning, when most revelers would still be asleep. Or hungover. Or both. ‘The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash’ is a new, authorised documentary on the Man in Black that I saw at the Alamo Ritz. It’s a welcome continuation for those of us whose knowledge of Cash’s history, personally and professionally, is limited to the dramatisation of his life portrayed in ‘Walk the Line’ superbly by Joaquin Phoenix.

Grief over the death of his brother in childhood, the freedom of the open road as part of touring, and the effect of the Folsom Prison concerts are the primary touchstones music documentarian director Thom Zimny and screenwriter Warren Zanes come back to again and again in this film. It is, as one might expect, a much more comprehensive review of Cash’s life from childhood to the end than ‘Walk the Line’ ever could be. It benefits from soundbites from first-hand interview tapes with Cash, his family and friends, and they serve to drive home the relenting reality of his life as you experience the film.

I have been thinking about Cash’s addiction to amphetamines during his early touring years over the last few days before writing this, and I can’t help but draw a line between the reality of artists having to do a lot of late night driving to get from town to town and the tragedy that befell Liverpool Her’s and their tour manager last week. Like any other job, there will always be inherent dangers to being a musician, but to continue progressing in your musical career shouldn’t be a risk to your health or kill you. I don’t know how we do this, and I know Help Musicians UK and similar organisations exist, but we have to continue providing support to the music community. We simply must.

I had not been aware of just what a big influence gospel music was on Johnny Cash. His mother, upon hearing his adolescent singing voice, told him, “God has his hand on you. Don’t ever forget the gift.” I found incredibly bittersweet that although this gift of an incredible voice brought joy and emotion to his many fans, the actual act of singing appears to have been how he felt he could attempt to exorcise the many battles raging in his mind. His description of begging his brother not to go to work the morning he died, based on his own premonition that something bad would happen to him if he went, is painfully poignant. The theme of mortality would haunt Cash his entire life. Through substance abuse and the decline of his career, it is touching how Cash’s career was revitalised late in his life when Rick Rubin believed in him and put his trust in his talent. I’d say God or some other divine being(s) had a hand in making that happen.

As is the case with many musicians, Cash’s children who were born during the earlier years of his career had a mostly absentee father have different recollections than John Carter Cash, who was born when Cash was much older and realised the importance of family. Soundbites from his children and friends add another level of authenticity that wouldn’t have been possible if this hadn’t been an authorised documentary. Taken together, the clips of interviews make you feel not like you’re being talked to but you’re part of the conversation. I know when I’m watching a documentary, I want to have a personal connection with the subject. ‘The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash’ succeeds in this in spades. Leaving the Ritz, I was covered in tears. I hope this film gets a worldwide distribution deal soon.

 
 
 

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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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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