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Single Review: Neon Wolf – A Place to Call Home

 
By on Monday, 10th August 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Neon Wolf - A Place to Call Home single coverSpritely, guitar heavy indie pop hailing from Ireland. Nope, I’m not talking about TGTF friends Two Door Cinema Club. This time it’s Neon Wolf, the five-piece from Kilkenny who have confidently touched upon their fellow Irishmen’s knack for an infectious guitar melody. Let’s be clear, then, that they are by no means rivals for the same crowd. Oh no, whilst there may be similarities, it’s their latest single ‘A Place to Call Home’ that has a jubilant, crowd-pleasing indie pop crunch that touches on a completely different set of influences. Take the euphoric, Prides-esque sensibilities in their euphoric drums, or a catchiness borrowed from Fickle Friends. It’s all there as vocalist Rob Grace flaunts, “it’s so hard to reach out again…”

It comes as little surprise then that production credit goes to Joe Cross, who is well versed in this breed of deft pop hooks and bouncing choruses, having worked with the likes of Chloe Howl, Kid Astray, and even Hurts. This might be Neon Wolf’s tale of having to let go and leave things behind, but they sure as heck give things a positive spin with Cross behind them. What to make then of the 3 gratifying minutes that your ears are about to be blessed with, then? Expect colourful synth outbursts and biting electric guitars through the verses, capped off by building harmonies of “higher love”. When the chorus fires up, they fizz with incandescent, tropical pop/rock attitude, sharpening their riffs as the bouncy energy continues.

The band’s pop-heavy assault is set to continue with a new EP coming soon, whilst their London debut also beckons at the 1,500 capacity theatre-turned venue Koko. It’s not exactly your average first gig in London, but a setting where their penchant for dazzling, stratospheric summer-pop will light up every corner of the room.

8/10

The ‘A Place to Call Home’ single by Irish band Neon Wolf is out now on Killing Moon Records.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMjO7QARxXM[/youtube]

 

In the Post #145: Foals tease with title track of forthcoming fourth album ‘What Went Down’

 
By on Friday, 19th June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Foals have been slowly teasing out news of their new album over the last fortnight, with chatter rife on Facebook and Twitter after a serious of shady photos were uploaded to the social platforms. It’s been 2 and a half years since ‘Holy Fire’, and on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show on Tuesday, they premiered the brutish title track to their forthcoming album, ‘What Went Down’.

The band formally return on the 28th of August, when Warner Music release the band’s fourth studio album featuring 10 new songs, all recorded in a 19th-century French mill. On listening to ‘What Went Down’, there’s the distinct influence of the album’s producer James Ford, who has previously worked with Arctic Monkeys and HAIM. Their opening is bracing and ferocious, with punching guitar riffs and a striking similarity to Kasabian.

“I buried my heart in a hole in the ground..” begins frontman Yannis Philippakis anxiously. That anxiety doesn’t last long though, as soft howls creep in alongside fiendish drums and a general atmosphere that just screams ‘danger!’ In seconds it’s as if he’s gone from introverted and tepid, to riled and ready to size you up for a back-street brawl.

Sure enough, the growing danger erupts as Philippakis shrieks, “when I see a man, I see a liar!” and his bandmates aggressively shred through the chorus with vigour. According to the accompanying press release, Philippakis himself has said, “I wanted to tap into my inner madman…feel like I was channelling some sort of fevered creature”, and that’s exactly what he’s pulled off here.

As one fan commented online earlier this week, Foals have the perfect ability on each new record to sound as they did on their debut, but also unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. It’s a pinpoint summary of ‘What Went Down’, where the English rockers’ are abrupt and scuzzier but still dabble with flagrant, ambient guitars and a galloping electronic organ that slices through the chaos. This is a 5-minute onslaught where they’re more upfront and unabashed than they’ve ever been before. The message that Foals’ are back is crystal clear; what they must now prove is that they’re more intense and visceral than any of their earlier manifestations. This is the perfect brawling starting point…

8/10

Foals’ fourth album ‘What Went Down’ will be released on Warner Records on the 28th of August. For all past coverage of Foals on TGTF, head this way.

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

 

Live at Leeds 2015: Chris’ Roundup

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Many a student night in Leeds has started at the University’s various music bars, and Live at Leeds 2015 was no different. The one key difference was that the action kicked off at midday. A trip to Mine saw Tibet, a young contingent from Wales with a ’60s sound and punchy guitars, take the stage. The Cardiff band have gathered support from Huw Stephens recently, and shows with Misty Miller are also helping raise their profile. They induced a vibrant punk sound to a crowd of 60 or so. ‘She Don’t Know’ takes influences from The Kinks, with attacking drums and an upbeat chorus, and it holds their set together. The blissed out B-side ‘My Girl’ has a mature sound, with building slacker rock and brooding harmonies. All in all, they deliver a cohesive and bouncy set and given their catalogue remains so small right now, that’s a feat.

Across town at Oporto we catch LIVES, a Liverpudlian contingent who have kept a quiet online presence so far. Sheltering from the drizzle outside, Oporto is almost shoulder to shoulder, and the quintet deliver a promising show of indie. “While you were waiting, use your imagination.” calls vocalist Jamie on ‘White Lies’ (streaming below), which is one of the few songs the quintet have actually released online. For the past year, it really has been a case of using your imagination, as we’ve waited eagerly to hear more. Since their breakout track though, they have been writing hard, and there are some exciting tracks played today. Sweeping indie riffs and rocky choruses course through the energy of this band, as they do on ‘Short Memory’, and despite the bright bursts of energy, frontman Jamie remains firmly in control. He makes it look so effortless that you almost forget he’s there during the thrashing peaks, before he throws himself towards the crowd and looks back to the stage as he takes in the hard-hitting soundscape his bandmates produce.

We pay a trip to The Key Club next, as things get heavier with a set from Get Inuit. Recently signed to Alcopop! Records, the Kent four piece seem to find the label “dirty pop” following them around almost inevitably, and it all makes sense in a live setting. They come across brutish, with psych riffs shooting through their set rapidly, as Jamie Glass leads the four-piece through their recently released EP. ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ has a penchant for supersonic hooks and gutsy cries from Glass, as they jump across the stage. If there wasn’t a barrier, then they would probably have jumped off it. The crowd gives a warm reception nonetheless, as ‘I Would’ slams into lofty instrumentals and ‘Dress of Bubblewrap’ offers another nod to their fuzz-pop panache, which should see its way onto a debut album before 2015 is out.

Up the road at Leeds Uni’s Beckett campus, Port Isla arrive slightly later than planned due to tech problems. The venue fills (and punters rapidly begin to get impatient) almost as quickly as the Suffolk band’s rise since opening for George Ezra and playing a host of festivals in the past year. ‘In The Long Run’ is where their set begins, with joyful harmonies and an upbeat melody. Ever the showman, Will Bloomfield quickly apologises for the delay…”we were doing our hair” he explains cheekily. With their original set list out the window, they fire off a volley of incredibly well written folk pop that includes ‘Volcano’. No sign of their equally upbeat numbers like ‘Steamroller’ or ‘Sinking Ship’, however they are energetic and heartfelt all at the same time, as Bloomfield leads the band as though he’s been a frontman for years. He’s engaging to watch and witty too, not to mention his talents across guitars and keys, particularly as he charms on a song which he explains is about the band’s native Suffolk. The show is slick, and the songs keep getting better as the instrumentation continues to come together and now has added synth treats.

From stadium sized folk pop to indie rock, a return to Mine sees Dundee’s finest Model Aeroplanes pull out all the stops. Rory Fleming (vocals and guitar), Grant Irvine (guitar), Ben Buist (bass) and Kieran Moyles (drums) are undoubtedly on their way to some big things. As on of the tightest bands playing in this overcrowded genre, they make sure you remember them with a bevvy of infectious tracks, and this set includes new single ‘Drunk in the Pool’. They’re in danger of being renamed the ‘single-slayers’ given their canny knack for exuberant melodies, as Irving and Buist provide jagged guitar thrills on ‘Club Low’ and Fleming adds lyrics and persona that other young bands spend years trying to find. This band click so well on stage that they make it look like every show they play is the only show that matters, and from ‘Innocent Love’ to ‘Crazy’, the fun they have on stage quickly rubs off on the crowd.

Leeds’ reputation for live music would struggle without the community-owned Brudenell Social Club, which is where Bloody Knees take to the stage next. The trio from Cambridge produce the most spirited performance of the festival, as their garage punk roars into life with the seismic likes of ‘Stitches’. “And I’m covered in blood, but at least I’m having fun” yells vocalist Bradley Griffiths as the Brudenell comes to life with a circle pit.

Their energetic performance goes on to include a bloody moment no less, as the band’s close fans show reckless abandon to the slew of burly riffs, one reveller in the pit ending up with a bloody nose. The party continues until The Magic Gang bring a little more peace at first, the slow jam guitars of new single ‘Alright’ restoring some kind of normality. By the time their set launches into the JAWS-esque guitar lines of ‘No Fun’ however, bodies are flailing around the room again. There’s plenty of crowd-surfing from this loyal 50 or so fans who are present, with bodies tossed in the air triumphantly, before ‘She Won’t Ghost’ wraps things up. The Brudenell may have had one of the smallest crowds of the day, but it’s also clear this was the wildest crowd Leeds had to offer, clearly a sign of these fledgling band’s having some of the most passionate fans going.

Back in the city centre, Laura Doggett takes to the stage as part of the Communion-curated line-up at Holy Trinity Church. The West Country songsmith delivers a stunning performance, with spiralling vocals and an angelic soundscape of keys and percussion. Her breakout tracks ‘Phoenix’, ‘Old Faces’ and ‘Moonshine’ exemplify her graceful delivery; however, through the angelic twists of her songs, it all feels a little bit too well staged. There have been comparisons to the likes of Florence Welch sonically, but she remains rooted to the spot with only subtle hand gestures to inspire her performance. She proves stunning nonetheless, and more live exposure will hopefully see her sets become more vivid and expressive in the future.

Closing at Holy Trinity is Lucy Rose (pictured at top), on the path towards her second album, the follow up to ‘Like I Used To’, due out this July. Plagued by technical problems, she takes to the stage repeatedly to apologise for the delay, and some 45 minutes late appears acoustically and taking song requests from the audience. Humbled by the support of her patient fans, her acoustic renditions of ‘Shiver’ and ‘Night Bus’ were one of the most priceless ways she could repay them.

Despite being itching to show off her new material, she reluctantly succumbs to performing with a more stripped-back sound, until her band spring to life on ‘Bikes’ as the keys kick in and all technical problems are resolved. In an instant, the crowd grows delighted, whooping and hollering as Lucy and her band beam at the turn of events.

Taking to her electric guitar with defiance, she treats us all to her newest material that oozes of progression. There’s a marked development from the somewhat stripped back, even cagey stories of her debut, with the likes of ‘Our Eyes’ carrying a distinct set of bass lines and reverberating synthesis. “Wait, we are not fine, wait you are not mine…” she says with a grit that would have been out of the ordinary on her softer, folk tinged debut. This confident output makes for a striking arrangement of her other new tracks too; ‘Like An Arrow’ has the kind of resplendent, upbeat harmony she’s renowned for, but just carries an assertiveness that’s been missing in the past. ‘Until The End’ is another new track that has some punch to it, whilst she also performs ‘I Tried’, with a more left-field electronica influenced sound.

It’s a preview of an even more promising next step from Lucy and her band, and amidst the problems of this evening, the new tracks are well received. Seeing her perform in an intimate venue or church environment has been a must in the past, for the song writer who honed her craft at open mic nights. If her evolving sound and flourishing live show tonight is anything to go by though, she’ll be playing far bigger venues before the year is out and still captivating every member of the audience…

 

Album Review: The Cribs – For All My Sisters

 
By on Friday, 24th April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

The Cribs For All My Sisters album cover“If you look at me from a different angle, do you see something that you just can’t handle?” calls The Cribs frontman Gary Jarman early on during the band’s sixth studio LP ‘For All My Sisters’. There’s something apt, if a little ironic about that: The Cribs come from a turbulent time, one where they’re outspoken about their peers, and regularly shifting their sound (not to mention producers) from album to album. On this sixth outing they’re not asking for a ‘reset’, to be considered again by anyone who’s passed by their 13-year stint without realising. Instead they’re simply looking for another chance to grab your attention; it’s a reboot, if you will.

2012’s compilation ‘Payola’ has helped draw a line under their early works, and on the Ric Ocasek (of the Cars’ fame)-produced follow up, they live up to this heritage as indie disco darlings. Mid-tempo, powerhouse rock greets you on opener ‘Friendly Free’, with scrawny riffs bleeding out around the howled vocals. The Cribs have rarely been so accessible, and the catchy pop jaunt of ‘Different Angle’ does a lot to help that perception. There’s teasing riffs and a jerky freneticism, all captured with the sense of abandon and Yorkshire swagger that made ‘Men’s Needs’ stand out 8 years ago.

It’s neither the first nor last of their classic sounding, punk-rock collection; ‘Burning for No One’ risks staying with you all day for another yelping chorus of “rose-tinted romance”, even if the comparison with a burning candle is not quite as raw or vivid as the antics they might have covered in the past. The heavier sound of ‘An Ivory Hand’ is a punkier addition meanwhile, woven with poisoning guitars and bolshy drums, all of which remain enthralling during the nostalgic atmosphere they channel.

Much has been made of ‘Simple Story’, Ryan Jarman’s ballad on the album, so I’ll say little more about the lyrics and let you decide for yourself if he’s considering life as man’s best friend or an entirely different animal. “Let me off the leash and watch me running the grass…” is hardly a lyric that’s going to help his case, but after 3 minutes, his introspective pitying and subtle synths give way to a highlight of the album in ‘City Storms’. It’s forthright and refreshing, a slice of dizzying, hook-laden guitars that carry a Peace-like quality. ‘Summer of Chances’ has equally appealing bursts of skittish rock, as they rattle off gutsy lyrics throughout, not least with the snarky remarks of ‘Diamond Girls’:- “sometimes I wonder if I got you wrong, you don’t have to agree, you’re not as straight as you wanted to be…..how did you get so free?”.

For an album that marks the first of two from the band in 2015, The Cribs have returned with a convincing sound. This is the brothers at their most ingenious, returning to feel-good guitar music, with ‘Pink Snow’ adding a decisive final blow as the album’s closer. At 7 minutes long, it veers from a grungy sombreness at first, to a climax of euphoric, earthquake inducing riffs and howls. Regardless, it points to The Cribs rekindling their unique tenacity that no other band has. With this album of flat out, rough cut riffs from the Yorkshire stalwarts, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that their sensibility for writing bold punk rock is nowhere near close to drying up. In fact, it just got a whole lot stronger.

8/10

‘For All My Sisters’, the sixth album from Yorkshire band The Cribs, is out now through Sony Red / Sonic Blew. Listen to the audio of ‘Different Angle’ below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gij6PrxtB2o[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Hudson Taylor – Singing for Strangers

 
By on Thursday, 23rd April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Hudson Taylor Singing for Strangers album coverBrothers Harry and Alfie Hudson Taylor picked up their craft from a young age, busking on the streets of their hometown of Dublin. With that experience in mind, along with the success they’ve since had across the UK and Europe, the pair’s debut album ‘Singing for Strangers’ has managed to capture their endearing presence and disarmingly beautiful folk-pop.

Amidst their young years, their warming collection of handclaps and triumphant harmonies exude a charming maturity, first highlighted by ‘Just a Thought’. A racing piano melody and rousing choruses keep their opener light and bouncy, leaving it all too easy to draw comparisons with fellow Irish gents, Kodaline. The same goes for the blissful hooks and anthemic choruses of ‘Chasing Rubies’ and ‘World Without You’. However, the duo can, and do play the aces up their sleeves.

On ‘Butterflies’ they produce a resplendent folk ballad, a gorgeous arrangement of genteel acoustic guitar chords and yearning lyrics. It gives you the first notion of how versatile their sound can be: it’s timeless if you wish to coin the cliché, but there’s a sense of honesty and growing confidence through the record. “Wish I could have told her I’m freaking out” and “when I broke into her heart, I threw away the key” cry the vocals on ‘Night Before the Morning After’; by the time you reach ‘Weapons’ however, they’re shouting out to shed any secrets and “put down your weapons”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIAu1U3RKCo[/youtube]

From this confidence comes the blistering Americana inspired ‘Battles’. They’ve found a different pool of influences, channelling fiery folk this time, as their love story transpires and burns vehemently. “We are tied to the truth….the tie that binds me to you” they spout with fierce delivery, as they do battle with your emotions in the album’s closing stages.

Their call to arms is followed by another burst of personal defiance, as the tempo-shifting, blues inflected ‘Don’t Tell Me’ carries similar gusto. It feels a little repetitive and relentless, but nonetheless they manage to create some impact; it’s not as punchy as the track’s predecessor, but it’s got all the right intentions, even if it doesn’t have the same vigour and lunging refrains. ‘For the Last Time’ and ‘Off the Hook’ go on to highlight their stripped-back heritage; it’s something of a sobering and delicate come down after the radio friendly first half of the album.

In all, Hudson Taylor’s debut is a brief moment to sit back, mull over their many EPs and think “well, aren’t these chaps going to be about for a long time”. The production of their songs has become more elaborate and grandiose, but, the songs remain straightforward and heartfelt. Though it is not a re-education of folk music, nonetheless it’s an incredibly enjoyable explanation of where modern folk has got too; and in a number of places, where it’s heading too.

7/10

‘Singing for Strangers’, the debut from Irish brothers Hudson Taylor, is out now via Polydor Records.

 

Single Review: Seafret – Atlantis

 
By on Wednesday, 8th April 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Heralding from Bridlington in the North East of England, Seafret have been steadily receiving more and more attention since their debut track ‘Give Me Something’ last year. Meeting at an open mic night, frontman Jack Sedman was just beginning to discover his vocal talents, whilst Harry Draper (guitarist) was already regarded as an experienced local musician. The pair quickly hit it off, going on to form a partnership as Seafret, a duo that are now proving equal parts haunting and majestic.

In their hometown this nautical term depicts the soft mist that rolls off the North Sea in summer, but it’s a fitting label for the sense of mystery and longing that their music brings. Despite moving to London, the pair continue to be influenced by their hometown and its oceanic connections, with Harry pointing out, “when you live there you take it for granted. I never missed it before. You don’t realise what it does to you when you’re there”. It’s an influence that’s distinct throughout their early material, including new single ‘Atlantis’. Beyond the aquatic title they create a charged atmosphere, woven together with spiralling vocals and percussive gems, all as they prepare for a UK headline tour and the summer’s early metropolitan festivals.

They have 2 EPs under their belts now, but their wistful sound is growing in impact and sincerity with every release. Next upcoming single ‘Atlantis’ is defined by Sedman’s dramatic vocals, pitching from pacifying howls, to melancholy choruses. “I can’t save us, my Atlantis oh…” he cries, as his lyrics of a reluctant breakup are bolstered by a piano backing that induces yet more shivers.

They bring you back down as quickly as they started, as the lofty harmonies give way to their acoustic origins and a sense of nostalgia returns. It’s their most contemporary work to date, but they’ve kept a tight chemistry here between expansive, cinematic musicality, and equally bewitching lyrics. Mellow they may be, but packing such a powerful punch with their songwriting is going to send Seafret soaring as high as their enchanting choruses by the end of the summer.

8/10

‘Atlantis’, the new single from Seafret, is released on the 11th of May via Sweet Jane Recordings.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PbAT6zOihc[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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