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Bands to Watch #35: Team Waterpolo

 
By on Monday, 20th October 2008 at 9:35 pm
 

Team Waterpolo are the best thing to come out of Lancashire since the hotpot. And the two are strikingly similar, I’ll have you know.

Take the humble hotpot: Dice some lamb, add a couple of spuds and an onion for a taste sensation.

Take our Preston lads: Throw in some Wu Tang Clan, a pinch of Muddy Waters and a dash of The Beach Boys. This too gives an explosion for the senses.

But unlike this age-old pub grub, these lads are fresh, they’re funky and man do they have some killer tunes.

The school friends have been busy bees since they formed in 2007. A whirlwind of gigs, Radio One airplays and an NME soft spot for the hot pot foursome have brought them crashing down onto the radar.

All this attention would be meaningless if the music wasn’t up to scratch. But it’s supported by an invigorating sound that you won’t find in today’s culture of generic artists and 3-minute wonders.

It is hip hop, dance, punk, indie, new wave and a lot of pop. The music does not take itself too seriously but still manages to sound rich and inspired.

“Team Waterpolo will be splashing around in the mainstream by the end of the year,” say The Guardian.

“A youthful, eight-legged pop machine running on pure enthusiasm,” say NME.

Team Waterpolo have yet to release an album but can be found touring their way around the clubs of Blighty.

Be there or be square.

New single, So Called Summer is released on 27th October. We caught Team Waterpolo at Oxford Academy the other week – have a read of our review here.

 

Bands to Watch #33: Nicole Atkins

 
By on Friday, 3rd October 2008 at 11:45 am
 

New Jersey has a lot to be grateful for. The Four Seasons, Dionne Warwick and Lauryn Hill are just a couple of its greatest exports.

But now we make way for another.

Nicole Atkins is unlike anything you have heard before and I say this because she sounds like Roy Orbison and plays a mean guitar.

Her debut album, Neptune City, is big and dreamy. It will whisk you off your feet and carry you on a cloud to the sound of surf-guitar ballads and hazy piano melodies.

Produced by Tore Johansson (OK Go, Franz Ferdinand, Cardigans, New Order, Saint Etienne) it sounds like it came from anywhere but a small town New Jersey gal.

Having left her native city in the 90’s to seek fame in New York, she pays tribute to the shore town she was raised in. She calls out the bridges, bars and ex-boyfriends that she left behind.

Now older and wiser, Atkins calls her music pop-noir; it’s a little bit country, at times psychedelic with a dash from early musicals.

‘The Way It Is’ is my favourite track of the album. Atkins’ throaty vocals and frank lyrics against the backdrop of the orchestra is a contrast between old and new, not quite motown, not quite rock. And it is completely unique, just like her.

Fans of Rufus Wainwright and KD Lang need to check this one out.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – Maybe Tonight

 

Bands to Watch #28: Joan as a Policewoman

 
By on Thursday, 4th September 2008 at 2:50 pm
 

When you’ve toured with Sheryl Crow, you’ve got to be good. When Rufus Wainwright has handpicked you to duet with, you’ve got to be special. And when you were once a member of Antony & The Johnsons, you’re truly standalone.

Meet Joan Wasser, leading lady of American punk/soul band, Joan As Police Woman.

We know very little about Joan, strange considering she has been on the musical map for quite some time. Did you know that Jeff Buckley’s classic ‘Everybody Here Wants You’ was written about her? And did you know she was his lover when he died in 1997? Yes, there is certainly an air of mystery about Joan and I suspect she likes it that way.

Joan had her first piano lesson aged six. By 14, she had taught herself Hendrix’s Axis: Bold As Love on the violin. Inspired by the Washington punk scene, she began to experiment with a number of local rock bands. She joined Antony and his Johnsons in 1999, a move that she claimed saved her life. She
toured with Prince of piano rock, Rufus Wainwright in 2004. It was safe to say she had made it.

Now aged 38, Joan is fronting her own creation, Joan As Police Woman. Why that name?

“I wanted to be Joan Wasser, but back home, people kept mistaking my concerts for solo violin shows, because that’s what I was known for,” she says.

Joan was inspired by the 70s TV show Police Woman, in which Angie Dickinson played a cop who was tough and glamorous.

“People who got that reference got more out of it, and people who didn’t grew to love it.”

Their debut album, Real Life, opened our eyes. But their second album, To Survive, is set to launch them into our hearts and minds.

With Ben Perowsky on drums and Rainy Orteca on bass, Joan gives us vocals brimming with odes to Nina Simone, Chrissie Hynde and Dusty Springfield.

The songs are direct yet welcoming, addressing love, sex and loss with searing honesty. Joan says she feels part of a new generation of female singer-songwriters who have the guts to be emotionally direct. The lead single, ‘To Be Loved’ wraps around your soul with girlish wonder leaving you more than satisfied.

It is simply beautiful music.

To Survive, on Reveal Records, is out now.

 

Album Review: The Verve – Forth

 
By on Tuesday, 26th August 2008 at 10:10 pm
 

Like The Police and Pink Floyd, their reunion was anticipated for many years. They gave us the soundtrack to the 90’s and their classic anthem Bittersweet Symphony still gives a nation goosebumps a decade on. They’ve had their ups and downs, their break-ups and make-ups, but they’re back. For now, at least.

So, what of The Verve‘s comeback album?

Sadly, I wouldn’t hold your breath. It seems Richard Ashcroft decided not to hold his either because Forth, the latest offering from The Verve, is one long medley of melancholy music where one track ends and another begins without you even noticing. With many songs approaching the seven-minute mark, are they a brooding work or art? Or should we assume that the lads were so completely out of it that somebody forgot to press STOP?

Bands release their albums to coincide with a season or a celebration. Christmas for a ‘Best Of’ perhaps. Or Summer for a feel-good jam. But for these Wigan lads, it was the start of the football season that saw the release of their fourth album. And why? Because the timing is all part of their campaign to target, “The 25 to 44-year-old male-based market with a strong Northern regionality.”

But somehow, I don’t see United fans singing this album from the terraces. There are only four standout tracks for me and the rest fade into the background.

‘Love Is Noise’ see’s Ashcrofts tormented vocals and Nick McCabe’s experimental guitar come together and give us something truly rockin’. “Will those feet in modern times walk on soles that were made in China through the black prosaic malls,” sings Ashcroft. His lyrics have come a long way in a decade, you’ve got to admit. This song got a marvellous reception at Glastonbury this year.

Opening track ‘Sit and Wonder’ is a Wonder of its own, building from a menacing crackle to a dark and dangerous climax. The chorus where Ashcroft demands, “Give me some life” over and over is sure to be stuck in your head.

Then the soulful ‘Rather Be’, the head-nodding tune with the orchestrated melody. Forget Ashcrofts dreary lyrics, this is perhaps the most uplifting song on the album. ‘Judas’ has a certain lightness about it too, even if this one does plod towards the six-minute mark.

Forget save the best ’til last, this quartet of songs are certainly the best on the album. After these, The Verve sidle comfortably back into their default position: psychadelic dirge rock.

‘Numbness,’ ironically, will induce exactly what it says on the tin and ‘Columbo’ is more mind numbing than murder mystery. After what seems like a lifetime, ‘Appalachian Strings,’ at a grand total of 7:32 is a calming and spiritual come-down to the album if a little dull.

The music is directionless but I hate to admit that there is still something undeniably hypnotic about this album. It is safe but not outstanding. A little bit disappointing for the comeback of the year.

This is no Urban Hymns.

If you want songs you will remember for ten years, I’d re-think your purchase. But if you want The Verve at their most intense and experimental, go Forth and buy this album.

Forth, on Parlophone records, is out now.

 

Bands to Watch #26: Laura Marling

 
By on Friday, 15th August 2008 at 11:40 am
 

Just when you thought young British artists had sold out to instant fame, musical gimmicks and a kooky image, Laura Marling strolls along and restores your faith.

This 18-year-old is beyond her years. She has already been compared to Joni Mitchell and her lyrics posess a worldly wisdom that you certainly wouldn’t expect from a small town Reading lass.

You’ve gotta hand it to her, the girl’s got substance.

It all began around the family fire when her Dad taught her some blues on his old guitar. Marling was three.Through school, she played piano and drums and wrote songs in her dinner hour although admittedly, these were “absolutely awful.”

When new kid on the block Jamie T spotted Laura at her second ever gig and asked her to tour with him, it was safe to say that she had made it.

Typical Marling, she did something completely unheard of for the release of her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim (Produced by Noah & The Whale frontman Charlie Fink). Fed up with the way music had been reduced to MP3’s on bad headphones, she designed a beatifully crafted Song Box, complete with her album, postcards, trinkets and a ticket to one of her concerts. Genius.

“I want people to love music,” she says. “I want people to treasure it, not just my songs, but treasure music.”

Her album earned her a nomination for a 2008 Mercury Music Prize and rightly so. Her growing reputation also meant she bagged herself a slot opening shows for Naturalismo prince of folk rock, Devendra Banhart.

Forget Joan Baez. Forget Martha Wainwright. Her music is unlike anything you have heard before. ‘She’s Changed’ is a more telling look into the mind of a teenage girl than you’d get from an entire series of Jacqueline Wilson books. ‘My Manic and I’ is a haunting song which reflects the doubt and delusion at the heart of man.

Oh, and the vocals. Sweet but daring. Always complementing, never suffocating. She is leading the way for a new folk generation.

Laura Marling, alt folk darling.

Photos are taken from Rob Sinclair’s flickr stream and R.W.W.’s flickr stream, both under the Creative Commons License.

 

Bands to Watch #25: Magic Wands

 
By on Tuesday, 12th August 2008 at 7:21 pm
 

The White Stripes did it. Sonny and Cher did it. Johnny and June, they did it too. Now Nashville based Magic Wands are the latest loved-up couple bringing music to our ears.

The fairytale began in 2007 when Chris became addicted to a song he found on MySpace. ‘Teenage Love,’ penned by Dexy, is about that kind of butterflies-in-tummy adolescent lust: “This teenage love has got me stuck / Come over now so we can fuck.”

He got in touch and soon they were on the phone ’til the early hours, writing songs for each other and sending gifts across the miles like toy lions, handwritten poems and a glowing heart lamp. Yes indeedy, they were in love.

Both had come from a punk background and wanted to start afresh with something different. ‘Kiss Me Dead’ was the first song they recorded together. Over the internet.

Seperated by 2000 miles, the lovestruck pair decided that their future was together. Chris drove to Los Angeles where they hit it off- playing guitars, visiting old churches and wearing crowns they bought at a magic shop.

The couple finally made the move to Chris’s home in Tennessee where they started recording under the name Magic Wands, taken from Dexy’s favourite gift from Chris.

But the music isn’t quite as sickly as you would expect. Think David Bowie’s Goblin King. They’re a bit dark, a bit rebellious and very sexy. They will put a spell on you and you will like it.

With Chris giving us fuzzed-up guitar riffs and Dexy playing the role of a nu-rave Blondie, you can catch the Magic Wands touring America accompanied on stage by a five foot stuffed lion.

This is a tale about love, dreams and growing up. And it has a very happy ending.

MP3: Magic Wands – Black Magic

MP3: Magic Wands – Teenage Love

Magic Wands will release an EP in the Autumn.

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

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

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