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Album Review: The Parrots – Los Niños Sin Miedo

By on Thursday, 1st September 2016 at 12:00 pm

The Parrots Los Ninos Sin Miedo album coverMadrid band The Parrots formed in 2008 when members Diego Garcia, Alex de Lucas and Larry Balboa met at university and instantly found comfort within a group of like-minded artists, photographers, DJs and musicians. The band’s previous EPs ‘Aden Arabie’ and ‘Weed for the Parrots’ were released in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Following their signing to Heavenly Recordings, the trio wasted no time in preparing for the release of their debut album: ‘Weed for the Parrots’ was released in May last year and by September, their album was already fully recorded.

I’m not very clued in on the music scene of mainland Europe, let alone specifically the DIY scene. But when you take The Parrots, often described as a garage rock band, and their debut album ‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’, there seems to be quite a focus on rehashing previous eras of popular music and regurgitating them. Some would say note for note. However, their album takes us back further than garage, as far back as the Sixties’ Los Angeles surf scene, when bands like The Road Runners and The Surfaris were topping the charts. The Parrots employ devices of surf rock but with the added apathy of stoners, because essentially that’s what they are. Twangy lead guitars weave around chord progressions that don’t stray far from chords 1, 4 and 5, held together with bass lines that stick to said chord tones with a simple open drum groove, would sum up of the album if boiled down to technical terms. But that’s not what we’re about here at TGTF, so let’s dig in further.

‘Too High to Die’ isn’t exactly the perfect example of what The Parrots are about, but it clearly showcases all of the elements listed above. There is a delicacy within the opening track that is almost misleading towards the rest of the album. Lightly reverberated guitars and a bass line that uses the major third exclusively lead the listener to believe The Parrots are serious about what they do, when actually they are three party animals that smoked and drank their way through the recording process of this album. The additional percussion and irregular hand clap rhythm are a nice touch, which show a bit of thought went in somewhere to keep the song interesting. The atmosphere is instantly shattered towards the midpoint of the track, when Garcia rips into a badly played solo, on a guitar with so much gain it sounds more like feedback than notes being played. I must add in here that these solos are somewhat of a constant throughout the album, even though they add no significant value to the music and do not progress the tracks in any way.

‘Let’s Do It Again’, along with ‘Casper’ and ‘E.A. Presley’, make up the bones of ‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’, each of them carrying the same fundamental elements heard in ‘Too High To Die’. On each, there’s an allowance for a bit of experimentation within the production as well as the band’s delivery. As each of these tracks pass, there is a growing sense of relaxation on the band’s part, to such an extent they aren’t caring at all when it comes to the boundaries of what is acceptable or not, notably with Garcia’s vocal projections. He applies more grit and gradually turns his projection of notes into a moaning of sounds. As the album progresses, Garcia’s vocals become more and more erratic and less confined to the fact that he is a singer in a band.


But the album isn’t totally filled with light-hearted jangly guitar melodies and major chord progressions. Sometimes songs don’t even have a progression at all, as is the case in ‘Jame Gumb’. A constant rolling bass line goes over one chord that Garcia rings out once every four bars plus a vocal melody that disguises itself within the depths of the sound creates an heavy, eerie atmosphere. Again, the track doesn’t seem to have much substance. With the Parrots, there is very little movement when considering song structure or subject matter. So rather than triggering a specific emotion or telling a story, it’s more like music for the sake of being music.

The Parrots do a great job in providing a sense of nostalgia within their surf rock reminiscent sound. However, instead of attempting to further the genre, with fresh and innovative ideas, The Parrots provide a basic outline of the greats they idolised and filled in the rest with whatever they felt like playing. If this album had of come out during the time of any of their biggest inspirations – Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Groupies or Marc Bolan – the Parrots as a band wouldn’t be so openly accepted as they are today. The level of musicianship and performance quality within ’ Los Niños Sin Miedo’ wouldn’t live up to standard of the greats listed above. As far as they’re concerned with 2016, it appears that The Parrots have decided music has gone has far as it can go and now that we’ve reached the limit, they’ve started over.


‘Los Niños Sin Miedo’, the debut album from Madrid garage trio The Parrots, is out now on Heavenly Recordings. For more on The Parrots on TGTF, go here.


Album Review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich – After the Rain

By on Tuesday, 23rd August 2016 at 12:00 pm

Benjamin Francis Leftwich After the Rain album coverSince his 2011 debut album ‘Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm’, Benjamin Francis Leftwich has been on somewhat of a hiatus, releasing just the four-track EP ‘In The Open’ in 2012. Shortly after the EP’s release, his father was diagnosed with cancer, causing him to cancel a North American tour that winter. His father sadly passed in April 2013, leaving Leftwich distraught: “I just needed to live outside of music”.

Two long, hard years later, Benjamin Francis Leftwich has released his long anticipated second studio album ‘After The Rain’ this month. On the new LP, Leftwich is essentially serving up his life over the past few years on a plate, as he addresses the pain and heartache he went through as he grieved the loss of his father. As a commemoration, ‘After The Rain’ is both melancholic yet optimistic in its delicate yet grand decorum.

The album opens with the previously released ‘Tilikum’, which was also his first release in 3 years. Its meandering guitar melody intro sets the scene perfectly for Leftwich’s vocals to return in the whispering falsetto previously engraved in our minds in 2011. As he paints a picture of the times shared with his father, the track continues in a delicate, ghostly fashion, the musical equivalent to a light, late afternoon autumn breeze. Each part of the song, from the female backing vocals harmonising the topline to the light brushwork on the drums, were thoroughly thought out and perfectly executed when sculpting the overall sound of the track.


Although the same elements are used throughout, third track ‘She Will Sing’ carries more of a tribal feel. With a lot more momentum, the song shows a far more exciting side to the album. The heavy use of added percussion, together with a rhythmic vocal melody, play a huge part in creating vigour within the track. Aside from these two major elements, we continue to hear a very delicate vocal tone, Leftwich’s trademark fingerpicked guitar melody that meanders around the chords and an equally as soft and simple pad sound that weaves together with the guitar.

‘After the Rain’ can be categorized instantly with a few similar artists. Twinkly guitar lines and falsetto vocals scream Bon Iver and Ben Howard, which we hear religiously throughout. This works for Leftwich, and it works well. But when we look past the obvious, specifically in tracks like ‘Kicking Roses’ with its minimalist indie electronic vibe, and the abstract sample sound used in ‘Mayflies’, the music points towards The Postal Service and James Blake. Considering Leftwich’s similarities with singer/songwriter types, these outsider influences are like a breath of fresh air. The only downside is that they don’t appear as often as one would like. An equal blend of the two separate reference groups would be perfect in pulling the whole album together, rather than an overuse of folky, easy listening elements and an underuse of the electronic ones.

‘Mayflies’ is the only song on the album in which elements from both sets of influences are utilised cohesively. A colourful, off-beat drum groove intertwined with a simple, syncopated guitar melody form the foundations of this folk-orientated track. The vocal melody has been planned carefully to allow for downtime during the verses, with longer phrases and fewer syllables, with the change to a more rhythmic melody with much sharper projection. Intriguingly, Leftwich puts focus on the aforementioned abstract sample sound, specifically throughout the end of each chorus. The use of this sample here effectively gives the track a lot more momentum, while carefully adding one more element of interest and surprise for his listeners.

Emotionally and lyrically, this is an incredible album with great use of instrumentation. It is touching and emotional in a very direct way, a window intosome of Leftwich’s very personal matters. Sonically, I feel it could take a little more work. The broadening in sounds and experimentation with influences is a well-accepted addition to the album; however, these moments come few and far between. If executed as strongly as we hear in ‘Mayflies’ or ‘Kicking Roses’, he could be onto a very unique and individual sound, and one that could be the groundwork for something bigger.


‘After The Rain’ is out now on Dirty Hit Records. Benjamin Francis Leftwich will begin a UK tour next month on the 21st of September in Norwich. This will be followed by mainland Europe and American tours in October through December. For more on TGTF’s coverage on Leftwich, go here.


Album Review: All Tvvins – IIVV

By on Monday, 15th August 2016 at 12:00 pm

All Tvvins IIVV album coverWho in our readership enjoys math rock? Who within that group remembers Adebisi Shank and Cast of Cheers? If so, this is the album for you. ‘IIVV’ is the debut album by Irish duo All Tvvins. Released last week on Warner Brother Records, it is packed full of anthemic choruses and guitar riffs unimaginable within the world of pop, creating a new brand of synthpop suitable for rockers. You must be thinking, synthpop for rockers? Yeah okay… But once you hear the history of the band, it will all become clear.

When Adebisi Shank unfortunately announced their split and played their final two shows in Dublin the same year, guitarist Lar Kaye teamed up with Conor Adams, former singer and guitarist for Cast of Cheers, to form what we now know as All Tvvins. Almost instantly, the pair gathered attention from a wide-ranging audience around Ireland. Within 1 year of forming, the pair were signed to Sargent House Records (And So I Watch You From Afar, Mylets). I had the immense pleasure of catching one of the duo’s first ever-gigs in a small bar called McHughes in Belfast in 2014. I was instantly hooked and now, just 2 years later, they are signed to one of the biggest labels in the industry and have released their long anticipated debut album.

The album begins with a song the pair only previously released via a live session video from The Meadows studio in Dublin. ‘Book’ is essentially an introduction to All Tvvins and a snapshot of what they do best: produce catchy, gritty, powerful synthpop, whilst somehow keeping things guitar-orientated. Kaye’s strong, heavily rhythmic guitar riff acts as the main feature, taking the place of a top line and a chorus. This proves a common feature throughout the album, where the chorus isn’t a traditional chorus with memorable lyrics and a catchy melody, but the return of a potent riff and all elements of the music gluing perfectly together.


‘Thank You’ follows ‘Book’ in the track listing and continues this trend. However, this time, a bass riff is utilised instead of guitar, which is supported brilliantly by a pre-established huge, simple drum groove. This paves the way for Adams’ bass line, soaked in chorus, to continue as a prominent feature, carrying the fundamental harmony of the song as well as strengthening the vocal melody. Essentially, ‘Thank You’ is two rockers from Dublin taking on common subject matter: relationships. With lyrics like “did I want to be awake all night / surely that would end in another fight” and “I feel no love for you, I feel no pain for you” it’s easy to see a scene of emotional abuse. As the track progresses, Adams cleverly blends lyrics from the verse and those from the chorus together to construct an inner conversation with oneself as the relationship crumbles. Only after they are relieved of the despair can they profess their thanks.

The first three tracks of the album ooze upbeat feels and memorable lyrics emanating playfulness, with a hint of vigour and adrenaline to them. However, by the time we reach the midpoint, passing the Foals-inspired ‘End of the Day’ and meaningful ‘The Call’, we reach a more serious side of All Tvvins, shown on ‘Too Young to Live’ and Darkest Ocean’.


With its Temper Trap-style guitar part and a Kate Bush-influenced drum groove, it was inevitable ‘Darkest Ocean’ would be a single for All Tvvins. In its form prior to this album, the song carried a lot more body and grit, so much so that the lyrics to the pre-chorus seemed more like an order than merely a lyric. But with the new team of producers, including Cam Blackwood (George Ezra) and Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys), the production acts as an instrument in itself. Clean, smooth guitars which are intertwined with some warm pads and samples shimmer across a tight and punchy low end. This provides the perfect ornamentation for a beautiful instrumental, which is glued together by the short, rhythmic phrases of Adams’ swarthy vocals.

As we travel towards the end of the album, the emotions lift to present a sense of accomplishment. Uplifting choruses and encouraging lyrics from tracks such as ‘These 4 Words’ and ‘Unbelievable’ create a perfect end to the album. At first I felt they were the weaker tracks on the album. However, after a few consecutive listens, I finally fully appreciated them. The attention to detail put into ‘Unbelievable’ in instrumentation and use of sonic space is incredible. With very little accompaniment, the track is heavily based around the drum groove and of course the lyrics, somet that without a doubt will be screamed back at the pair at every gig.

‘IIVV’ combines the attitude and drive of guitar-orientated pop/rock with the groove and intricacies of synth.pop. All Tvvins have created something very fresh and invigorating, paving the way for a new breed of pop.


‘IIVV’ is out now on Warner Brothers. All Tvvins embark on a European and UK tour this autumn, which you can find the dates for here. Make sure to check them out live if they come through your town. They are not to be missed.



Single Review: Warpaint – New Song

By on Monday, 8th August 2016 at 12:00 pm

Warpaint are cool. Everybody knows it. Their free spirited demeanour, which comes through their music, is something that instantly attracts any listener. You might not get it, but you like it. They were doing hipster before it was stretched to extremes and became annoying. Basically, they were doing it when it was cool and new and interesting. On a personal note, as a bass player, anyone who looks that cool playing a white, vintage Rickenbacker 4001 in an Adidas hoody has got my attention.

And now that I’ve got yours, the girls are back with a brand new single aptly titled ‘New Song’ because why not? They’re Warpaint and they can. It’s been released ahead of their recently announced third studio album, ‘Heads Up’ to be released later this year.

‘New Song’ is everything one would expect from Warpaint; It’s cool and emotive with the right amount of obscurity. It’s also intelligent, seductive and without a doubt grooves so hard. The track presents a perfect blend of classic Warpaint and the new, much anticipated Warpaint material. In the song, Stella Mozgawa lays down the foundations in the form of a fat disco drum groove, supported by Jenny Lee Lindberg’s syncopated, off-beat bass line. Both bandmates collaborate for that perfectly sculpted bass and drum sound heard on their previous albums ‘The Fool’ and ‘Warpaint’.

The textural effect of synth pads is replaced with a rhythmic lead pattern, made from samples of the band’s autotuned voices. In doing this, they have structured the song such that each element is individually contributing to the track, rather than just being a supporting player. This idea carries on too into the guitar parts. On their previous efforts, they relied on a lot of reverb and delay as they quietly yet beguillingly noodled around chords. However, on ‘New Song’, the guitars focus around one motif that appears after each chorus and acts as checkpoint throughout the song, allowing the song to sink deeper into the mind of the listener upon each return.

The new release doesn’t exactly scream classic Warpaint, but that’s okay. Instead, the single gives us a glimpse of how the girls are progressing and how they can change things up in their music. ‘New Song’ provides comfort in knowing the strides Warpaint are making to return, and if this is just a snapshot of what it will be, I can’t wait for the album to drop!


Stream ‘New Song’, the new one (no pun intended) from Los Angeles rockers Warpaint below. Their third album ‘Heads Up’ will be released via Rough Trade Records on 23rd of September. For more coverage of Warpaint on TGTF, follow this link.



Album Review: Shura – Nothing’s Real

By on Wednesday, 27th July 2016 at 12:00 pm

Shura Nothing's Real album coverWe here at There Goes The Fear have been long awaiting the release of English singer/songwriter Shura’s debut album. If you don’t believe me, you can check out our editor Mary’s previous thoughts on earlier unveiled tracks ‘White Light’ and ‘The Space Tapes’. ‘Nothing’s Real’ was released earlier this month on Polydor Records. Without a doubt, it goes above and beyond any expectations we had of the album since our first taste of Shura back in June 2015.

Placed in an equally effective order, these are 13 incredibly well crafted songs, each of which gather many influences from the ‘80s synthpop era and shed a new light on it by combining the sound with a hint of post-Noughties European house music. The LP keeps the listener in a constant state of ecstacy, no matter the setting. Songs such as ‘Touch’, ‘Kidz ‘n’ Stuff’ and ‘2Shy’ reveal the romantic side to the album. With lyrics about lust, longing after the one you want, and the promises made between couples, these tracks could be envisioned at an ‘80s slow dance prom. ‘What Happened to Us’, ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ and ‘Make It Up’, on the other hand, could be used to soundtrack a feel good indie teen summer party movie. Either way, ‘Nothing’s Real’ is sure to provide the listener with the dying need to dance in any setting.


The album opens with a short intro track simply titled ‘(i)’, lasting only 1 minute and 30 seconds long. The minimalistic nature of ambient pads and the soothing sound of vinyl hiss transports us into dreamlike state in. In a way, it’s as if Shura anticipated the impact her album would have and wanted her listener to feel as comfortable as possible before transporting us back to the 1980s seen through the eyes of a New Wave, indie hipster of 2016.

Next on the track listing, the title track of the album bursts through the introductory soothing feeling set in place by ‘(i)’ with a sound totally reminiscent of late ‘80s Madonna, but with the production approach of European DJs like Todd Terje (‘Inspector Norse’) and Tensnake. All melodic elements, from the Motown-inspired bass line to the string embellishments in the chorus, even down to the tone of Shura’s voice and phrasing of the vocal melody, point towards Madonna’s ‘True Blue’ and ‘Like a Prayer’ albums. The sounds used in producing these elements, however, are extremely modern. The bass is rounder with more grit, making it sound overall more full, the guitars are sharper, and the lead synths act as sound effects more so than a melodic element. The only thing, if anything Shura lacks in her songs is the use of head-filling hooks. However, this is not to say she doesn’t make up for it in harmony and chord voicings, which themselves act as hooks.


The same electronic influences in ‘Nothing’s Real’ crop up throughout the album, particularly in tracks such as the previously unveiled ‘Indecision’ and single ‘White Light’. Although they appear 6th and 12th on the album, they both stick closely to the fundamental sound presented in the title track. The main difference between these and ‘Nothing’s Real’ is that they provide a moodier, emotional sense of harmony and melody. ‘Tongue Tied’ also veers slightly from the pre-established EDM vibe, into a more chilled out down tempo performance, mainly by featuring normal pop instruments like guitars to introduce the groove and melody, rather than relying on processed synth sounds to fill out the song. That’s not to say the track stands any weaker than the others. It merely means the unaffected sound gives way for Shura to showcase her keen ear for melody and rhythm in her vocal parts, and her microscopic attention to detail is showcased too by working them perfectly around the surrounding music.

Romantic, fun and thought-provoking, ‘Nothing’s Real’ is many things, but above all it is virtually flawless. It acknowledges the hype of post-Noughties pop music, which seems to be a throw back to the ‘80s, best exemplified by The 1975. But instead of following it, it’s as if Shura almost has been studying the trend from a distance, then picked out the weak points to discard them, whilst easily making the strong points stronger. Be sure to pick up a copy, as this album is definitely not to be missed as a great soundtrack to the summer.


‘Nothing’s Real’, the debut album from Shura, is now available from Polydor Records. For more on Shura on TGTF, including our coverage of her performance at the Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales night at SXSW 2015, go here.


Album Review: Big Deal – Say Yes

By on Monday, 18th July 2016 at 12:00 pm

Big Deal Say Yes cover‘Say Yes’, Big Deal third album, was released in mid-June on Fat Cat Records. Unfortunately for the transatlantic duo, it wasn’t easy getting to that point. They ran into many complications along the way, one of which involved Kacey Underwood having his laptop, filled with demos, stolen from his apartment. They had also split from their previous label Mute, which meant they had to borrow money to self-fund their new album. In this respect, the new record stands for a lot to Big Deal, to such an extent that when asked about it, they explain “it is about taking all kinds of heartbreak and defeat, and just looking at it dead in the eye and going for it.”

Big Deal essentially began in London in 2010 when Kacey Underwood taught Alice Costelloe some songs on guitar. Prior to ‘Say Yes’, they released two studio albums via indie record label Mute: ‘Lights Out’ in 2011, followed by ‘June Gloom’ in 2013. Costelloe says, “‘Lights Out’ is about not being together, ‘June Gloom’ is about being together and ‘Say Yes’ is about breaking up and trying to make sense of it all.” With such a depiction of an ever-meandering relationship in mind, one can really get a grasp on how the duo set out to portray this in the album. One aspect in particular is the complete utilisation of bassist Jesse Wong and drummer Jessica Batour, whom together bring the album a whole new level of attitude.

The album’s opening tracks ‘Hold Your Fire’ and ‘Avalanche’ showcase Wong and Batour perfectly; the monstrous drum sound and aggressive guitar riffs, doubled on bass throw you right into the deep end, and in a way that represent the struggles the band had experienced with the album and how they overcame them. The dynamic fluctuations and expressive vocal melodies in each meandering section together paint a sonic picture of a break-up, taking you through the stages of grief, anger and confusion bubbling at the surface of those involved.

Following closely at the heels of ‘Avalanche’, and in keeping with the portrayal of problems, is album title track ‘Say Yes.’ The track focuses on the band’s determination to turn negatives into positives. It was fight or flight for the duo, and thank god they chose to fight. ‘Say Yes’ is an ode to Big Deal’s ambition and strive to pull themselves out of the slump. Led primarily by Costelloe’s vocal performance and lyrics, the track gives us a look into what the couple was going through in their moment at professional life rock bottom. The jangly guitar line and accompanying open string chords don’t provide much substance within the verses. However, this works because the heavy hitter of the track is the most definitely the screeching, war cry of a chorus, propelling the message “I won’t tell you, won’t tell you / everything works out right.” Each chorus is emphasised further by the moments of tension that precede them, whether it’s a chord change to the 7th creating suspense before resolving, or dropping the guitars out completely and chanting lyrics like “I was ready, I was ready / are you ready, are you ready / just let it happen!”


As the album moves into its middle stage, there is a gradual shift in emotion, from anger and aggression to somewhat sadness and disparity. It feels almost as if the band are taking a moment to step back and reflect on the events surrounding the making of the album, rather than attacking them head on as on earlier tracks. Songs like ‘Lux’ and ‘Veronica’ carry an overtone of said emotions,. However, the beguiling yet beautiful melodies within contradict these feelings, ultimately revealing the sense that the healing process has begun in this metaphorical breakup. ‘Kitty Pride’, with its upbeat tonality and nonstop bounce, marks a turning point for the band, in which they decide to pick themselves up and move on from the crumbling relationship. With lyrics “it’s not over / just starting over / we’ll get over / getting older” accompanying the catchy melody, it’s very hard to avoid the message the band are delivering.

The album winds down to a resting feeling of relaxation and accomplishment as it approaches its final few tracks. We also see a throwback to Big Deal’s roots when they were merely a guitar and voice duet, playing sweet yet gritty songs like ‘Talk’ and ‘Homework’. ‘Still My Dream’ and the album closer ‘Idyllwild’ replicate this period of their career very closely. ‘Idyllwild’ in particular is filled with emotion in every aspect. The key to this song is to wait and expect the unexpected, specifically approaching the 6-minute, 50-second mark. The verses carry a graceful blend between Costelloe and Underwood’s voices amongst the backdrop of delicate chords that plod along with a sense of safety. That is, until the chorus, when a huge wall of fuzz juxtaposes the previous feeling with one of pure disparity.

The duo have stated that they did everything backwards in terms of discovering themselves and developing their sound. However, how they got here doesn’t subtract from the fact that ‘Say Yes’ is Big Deal’s strongest release yet. If this is the direction in which they continue in, things are going to get very exciting.


Big Deal’s third album ‘Say Yes’ is out now on Fat Cat Records. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Big Deal, 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.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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