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Album Review: Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos

 
By on Thursday, 27th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Kate Tempest Let Them Eat Chaos album coverRapper, poet and playwright Kate Tempest is a force of nature to be reckoned with. In 2013, Tempest won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry, the youngest-ever recipient of the award for her performance piece ‘Brand New Ancients’. She was branded by poet Ian McMillan as someone “who would be leading our national cultural conversations for years to come”. Her sensational first album, 2014’s ‘Everybody Down’, was also nominated for a Mercury Prize. Her latest offering ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ does exactly that by providing a raw and honest social commentary on modern life.

Similar in nature to her first album, ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ is also a concept album. She takes us on a compelling journey through the lives of seven fictional characters who are each awake at 4:18 in the morning, and we are introduced to the issues defining their lives. Throughout the album, it is very easy to become involved with each of the characters who, while living separate lives and unknown to each other, are intrinsically linked. Each of the tenants tales are drawn together to create a bigger picture of how issues such migration, drugs and alienation affect us all. Despite being separated by walls, floors and buildings they are all connected by a shared fate. Tempest’s fictional narratives are accompanied by electronic music while lyrically, she seamlessly mixes together rap and performance poetry.

Despite it being a few years since her last musical offering, Tempest was certainly busy in between times. The release of her book ‘The Bricks That Built the Houses’ and her poetry collection ‘Hold Your Own’ meant that although Tempest was not actively creating music, her attentions were not taken away from social conscience. There are several recurring themes throughout the album, especially the prominence of drugs. On tracks such as ‘Ketamine for Breakfast’, we hear the story of Gemma contemplating her younger years that were blighted by drug use. Her lyrics here are emphatic and perhaps contain moments of truth. Rapping “My future is bright, but my past is tryna ruin me” is a devastatingly poignant sentiment of modern life and class divide,. and there is a restlessness and urgency to the chosen rhythm.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym3iGD7uNn8[/youtube]

In times of such uncertainty, especially for young people in the UK post-Brexit, Tempest’s brutal honesty can be refreshing. Exposing modern truths of gentrification in London, ‘Perfect Coffee’ tells the tale of tenant Zoe as she packs her life into boxes. The reality, where the poorest of communities are being forced out of their homes and council flats are being exploited into million pound rentals, is harrowing: “The squats we used to party in are the flats we can’t afford”. It is a despairing portrayal of what London has become to represent: corrupt with greed, content in alienating the most vulnerable of people.

‘Europe is Lost’ is particularly poignant, with Tempest moving seamlessly through the song with fury. Each topic she touches on is more relevant than the last, speaking about politicians, oil spills and poverty. Barely stopping to take a breath, there is an anger to her delivery with cutting lyrics: “We have learnt nothing from history, the people are dead in their lifetimes dazed by the shine of the streets. Look the traffic is still moving, the system too slick to stop working, business is good. There’s bands every night in the pubs and there is two for one drinks in the clubs and we scrubbed up well “. It is a stark reminder how we, while all aware, choose to ignore what is going on around us in favour of easy and empty living.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOXXdYtZSbQ[/youtube]

The final song on the album ‘Tunnel Vision’ is a reflective musing by Tempest. The protagonists on each of the songs who were once strangers all become tied together in a shared epiphany of their surroundings. The notion of this album being commercially successful is a hard sell, considering it is an amalgamation of hip-hop and poetry. But the content Tempest is so passionately rapping about is so relevant and relatable. Her writing is extremely provocative and powerful and can stir quite a lot of emotion when listening to it. The album as a whole, then, is truly excellent as both a musical entity and critique of modern society.

8.5/10

‘Let Them Eat Chaos’, Kate Tempest’s second album is out now through Fiction Records. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Tempest, go here.

 

Album Review: Hockey Dad – Boronia

 
By on Monday, 17th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Hockey Dad Boronia album coverAustralian pop-punk duo Hockey Dad has created the perfect soundtrack for the endless summer you’ve always dreamed about with their debut album. It follows their first EP ‘Dreamin’, which received tremendous success in 2014. With a strong following in their homeland, ‘Boronia’ should prepare them for equal successes in the UK.

The album title ‘Boronia’ takes its name from the street that singer Zach Stephenson and drummer Billy Fleming spent infinite days just a few houses apart. Friends for over 15 years, the duo have taken many of the life experiences that drew them together and put them all on the one album. With an Australian invasion going on at the moment with acts such as Tame Impala, Sia and Iggy Azaelia making waves in the UK, it seems to be the right time for Hockey Dad’s moment in the spotlight.

The album begins with the track ‘Can’t Have Them ‘and instantly impresses with its distorted guitars and grabs your attention from the get-go. A build-up of teenage hormones, the song is effortless in reminding us of the longing and angst of first love, while retaining its irreverent vibe and attitude. As we go through the album, there are many recurring themes that seem to epitomise the teenage experience such staying out late, partying and falling in love.

Hockey Dad are a band that exudes youthful enthusiasm, especially on tracks such as ‘Jump the Gun’ with its pop punk vibe. Catchy lyrics such as “I don’t want to go home, I’m having too much fun” reiterate the carefree nature of the duo. With its dynamic drums and lively guitars, the song blends together to create the perfect summer sound. Even the music video pays homage to the duo’s favourite pastime with the pair seen catching some waves and hanging by the beach.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/mtNK4EI2XN8[/youtube]

Although throughout the album there isn’t many moments of lyrical triumph, “Two Forever” hears Stephenson deliver a heartfelt message with dreamy and poignant vocals. There’s no mistaking the duo’s relationship as the ultimate bromance, and Stephenson’s honest admission of this affection to Fleming is warm and sincere. Dismissing all other women for his friend with the words “I don’t need love, I don’t need no woman, I don’t need that shit, because I got you, man“ is a lovely ode and one of the album highlights. Other tracks on the album revel in the feeling of summer love and are just as irresistible and infectious as your first summer fling. The seductive bassline of ‘Hunny Bunny’ will have this song in your head long after it has finished playing.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/eIH4LmUyk_Q[/youtube]

While generally a good album throughout, there is a distinct lack of experimentation with the duo sticking rigidly to what they know. With little progression since their EP ‘Dreamin’’ there is a monotonous feel to the album. Lacking originality, there is a possibility that the album may just be thrown to the side with many other bands coming through with a similar sound. However, Hockey Dad have never pretended to be anything other than what they are. With their enticing dose of summer nostalgia could very well see the band exceed expectations.

5.5/10

Australian duo Hockey Dad’s album ‘Boronia’ is out now on Kanine Records.

 

Preview: Home Gathering 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 31st August 2016 at 10:00 am
 

After the success of its first year, Home Gathering is set to return with one of Tyneside’s most celebrated bands, The Unthanks. As last year, the band will oversee and curate the festival across two of Newcastle’s most historic sites on Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of September. The Unthanks have long held ambitions of running their own festival one day, and after the triumph of their first Gathering last year, the festival has continued to grow and is set to be even bigger in 2016.

The Mercury Prize-nominated Tyneside band were thrilled to have some Newcastle’s finest acts such as Hyde & Beast and Richard Dawson on their first bill. Describing Home Gathering as a festival of everything they like, Adrian McNally of The Unthanks says this event is “Not just music, our favourite local beers and food artisans, stalls with local artists and makers. We’ll have a hand in every detail to ensure that despite our own largely miserable music, it will be a party from start to finish!” The magnificent Richard Hawley will headline the Friday night, supported by The Young’uns, winners of Best Band at the BBC Folk awards for the last 2 years running. Richard Hawley’s eighth studio album released last year, ‘Hollow Meadows’, has received national acclaim.

Saturday will see London three-piece Kitty, Daisy & Lewis take to the stage. The sibling-led band, renowned for their love of everything vintage, are signed to Radio 1 presenter Rob da Banks’ label Sunday Best, have opened for massive acts such as Coldplay and Jools Holland. Finally taking centre stage themselves, The Unthanks will headline the Saturday night with their award-winning brand of English folk firmly celebrating their North East roots. In the decade between Rachel Unthank and the acclaimed debut Winterset’s ‘Cruel Sister’ and The Unthanks’ eighth record and BBC Folk Award-winning ‘Mount the Air’, the band have achieved a lot. After touring Africa with Damon Albarn and being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank have always done things their own way. Bringing their own unique blend of award- winning jazz and folk to the stage will ensure a show the audience will not forget.

Improving on from last year, the atmospheric post-industrial Boiler Shop, which will be used as the main venue, has been expanded vastly. Adding a lot of indoor toilets, a bigger bar and relocating the artisan food sellers outside, in a bid to reduce the background noise suffered by quieter artists last time. Furthermore, for more intimate shows, there will also be performances at the beautiful Mining Institute just around the corner. The festival will also play host to spoken word poet Liz Berry, folk royalty in the form of Marry Waterson and fearless musical maidens The Moulettes. There will also be an exceptional airing of Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which will be performed by the Liverpool String Quartet.

McNally says further of the festival: “The line-up not only reflects our tastes but our influences too. We don’t think music fans will find a more varied bill and we hope, most of all, you’ll like something you weren’t expecting to. Having covered a lot of musical ground ourselves as The Unthanks, we know we are very lucky to have an open-minded and venturesome audience, ready to trust and join us on our journeys. To paraphrase Mark Twain, it’ll be like the weather – if you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes.”

To purchase day or weekend tickets to Home Gathering Festival 2016, go here.

 

Single Review: The Academic – Mixtape 2003

 
By on Thursday, 28th July 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Indie pop four piece The Academic, who are based in Mullingar, have become one of Ireland’s most exciting new young bands. Honing their own infectious blend of indie pop and rock, the band have been building quite a reputation for their live performances. The band released their debut single ‘Different’ in early 2015 to a rapturous reception, while also receiving airplay by both Radio X and BBC Radio 1. Touring extensively throughout 2015, the band also supported Catfish and the Bottlemen, Kodaline and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, while also managing to sell out their own headline shows.

Having stormed the past 12 months, the band’s latest release ‘Mixtape 2003’ has been receiving considerable attention after the success of their first EP ‘Loose Friends’, which was released in October 2015. As the name ‘Mixtape 2003’ suggests, the song takes a nostalgia-inspired trip back to when mixtapes were our main means of listening to and sharing music. The band also seem heavily influenced by bands from the early Noughties such as The Killers, Kings of Leon and also The Strokes, with the song drawing heavy influence from that era.

One is instantly hooked by the song’s energetic and melodic guitars, coupled with the simple but catchy lyrics. This all makes for the perfect quintessential indie hit, similar in style to lyrics we would have heard from bands such as The Kooks or The Cribs in the infamous year referenced in the song title. Lead singer Craig Fitzgerald paints a picturesque scene of a carefree youth: “In my car there’s a cd, a mixtape of 2003, a better time for both of us, of skinny jeans and roll ups”. The song itself manages to capture that raw and raucous energy that the band have become increasingly famed for across Ireland. Succeeding in balancing contemporary charisma and retro vibes, The Academic have blended both these elements together to present the audience with their own unique indie sound.

7/10

‘Mixtape 2003’ by The Academic will be released on the 12th of August 2016 through Room 6 Records. The band will be touring the UK in October; details are here.

 

T in the Park 2016: Saturday Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 27th July 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Following the festival’s disastrous relocation to Strathallan Castle last year, the organisers of T in the Park were keen to reassure fans that this year’s event on the castle grounds would be different. However, by Friday morning, news had surfaced of two deaths and the theft of a cash machine from the main arena, so I was feeling apprehensive before I even arrived. While I was not present in 2015 to comment on how much the layout or travel to and from the festival has been improved, I felt there was still issues. The unnecessary walk from where we arrived to the actual entrance was lengthy and needless, as I was not searched once on the way. However, I was excited to have finally arrived to see what Tin the Park was really all about.

I headed straight towards the BBC Introducing stage. I have always found that despite their boasting of a huge array of global stars, it is often the smaller tents that contain the hidden gems of festivals. I spent quite a lot of my day going in and out of this tent, discovering a few acts that I can imagine will be huge in the coming months.

Scottish native singer/songwriter and lead singer Charlotte Brimner of Be Charlotte, exhibited a captivating combination of raw hip-hop talent, combined with a beautiful and enthralling singing voice. Probably the heaviest band of the festival, Northern Ireland-based four-piece Making Monsters gave an exhilarating performance. Lead singer Emma Gallagher’s explosive vocal and presence onstage is something to be marvelled at, as she moves with ease from deep guttural growls to soaring melodies.

Winner of the illustrious Brits Critics’ Choice and BBC Sound of 2016 polls Jack Garratt has had an impressive year. Taking to the main stage at T in the Park, his mash-up version of Justin Timberlake and Craig David’s ‘Senorita / 7 Days’ was a highlight of his set, making both songs his own while also showing his endless flair for crafting songs. His performance was impeccable, a faultless act by a raw troubadour talent and an electronic magician. Moving around the stage with vigour, he moves with ease from each instrument including drums and guitar as he has evidently mastered more than one craft.

Rapper Tinie Tempah pulled what seemed to be the largest crowd daytime on Saturday, playing smash hits such as ‘Pass Out’ to a very excitable crowd. Having previously seen Tinie perform with a full band, I found it disappointing that the rapper was only backed by a DJ for his performance at T in the Park. While it was an extremely enjoyable performance, I felt something was lacking in the form of a band accompaniment which could have added to his performance. Despite this, the audience hung on the rapper’s every word, proving he’s the perfect midday act to set the tone for Day 2 at the festival.

It was about half way through the day that Biblical-style rain descended upon the festival, making this year’s T in the Park one of the muddiest festivals I have ever attended. The grounds became so bad that it was difficult to make my way across to other stages and at one point, I even wrapped my feet in plastic bags. After hiding from the rain for what seemed forever, underneath anything that would cover me, I made my way towards the other side of festival. Playing the Radio 1 stage ahead of the release of their sixth album were the Kaiser Chiefs, who proved that they are still able to pull a huge crowd. After the last few weeks of political unrest and in the wake of Brexit, the band’s song ‘Angry Mob’ gave fresh resonance to the lyrics, the crowd singing along ecstatically.

I decided to stay around the Radio 1 stage for the rest of the night, as the thought of wading through the now knee-deep mud to see someone press play on the decks was unappealing. The mesmerising set of Manchester alt-rockers The 1975 (pictured at top) made for a superior alternative headline set. Lead singer Matt Healy tells the crowd that this is the first time the group have ever been asked to headline a stage at a festival, so this is a special event.

Their hit ‘Love Me’, the song that launched their new record, erupts with its smooth and Prince-esque funk. You get a real sense of a band who have fully bloomed from pop obscurity into arguably the biggest band of the year, something which is magnified by the audience’s reaction of seeing it live. The hypnotic staging with its colourful light show, alongside Healy’s undeniable presence, makes for the perfect combination. Drawing their set to a close with an encore of ‘Chocolate’, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Girls’, the band finished their set – and Saturday at T in the Park – on a high.

 
 
 

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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.

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