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Album Review: Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy

 
By on Monday, 6th February 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

‘The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy’ marks Nada Surf’s seventh release. The New Yorkers have once again delivered a sampling of poignant rock music that can only be ascertained from years of collective experience. Now well into their 40s, the band is living proof that the hopes of youthful dreams can continue to prosper.

From the days in which Nada Surf were mere additions to ‘The O.C.’ soundtracks, the group have long since been held in high esteem on British shores. Their developing stature has continued to thrive, revealing an exclusive approach to American indie rock. This 10-track compilation does exactly this. Bursting out of its shell with the head-bangingly explosive ‘Clear Eye Clouded Mind,’ the listener is given a 4-minute taster of what is to come in the following 40 minutes. Thankfully, everything that follows is as exciting as promised.

Fast forward to the album’s intersection and you will find yourself at the doorstep of ‘The Moon is Calling,’ a track that I personally consider to be one of the best indie rock anthems in years. The melodies are memorable, the guitar riffs are magnetic and the lyrics are incredibly elegant, yet very simple. The track also demonstrates the higher-pitched vocals of lead singer Matthew Caws. Here, his resemblance to Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses seems increasingly noticeable.

‘The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy’ is a thoroughly enjoyable listen. More importantly, however, it is a record that can be revisited again and again. Each listen unlocks a more significant aspect of the mental psyche of adults performing a genre of music which is filled to the brim by a teenage majority. The result is a stirring grasp on the hopes and ambitions of youthful adolescence. In all, a well-respected album by a well-respected band.

9/10

‘The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy’, Nada Surf’s first new album in years, is out now on Barsuk.

 

Album Review: Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

 
By on Wednesday, 25th January 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

‘Attack on Memory’ does what it says on the tin. In this second release, Cloud Nothings have in fact, launched a menacing, music assault in the form of reinforcing ‘90s rock ideals. With Dylan Baldi at the helm, this relatively short, eight-track record keeps it short and sweet, but immediately gets right to the point.

Building upon last year’s self-titled debut, the band’s sophomore effort takes advantage of a far superior production budget. The result is an astounding intensification of every twang and percussive thrash. A listen to ‘No Sentiment’ (previous MP3 of the Day here) exemplifies Baldi’s manic tremolo pricking, making each strike of ‘plectrum to string’ incredibly audible.

Album opener ‘No Future / No Past’ (previous MP3 of the Day here; video below [warning: it’s very disturbing]) appears as a momentary ruse. The introduction focuses around a tranquil piano melody before exploding into a full-throttle roaring over a wall of furiously-distorted guitars. Skip a few tracks and ‘Stay Useless’ fills the void of ominous heavy post-rock. A gem amidst the other songs, it highlights the lighter, bubblier side to Cloud Nothings; it’s a direct reminiscence to the majority of the prior record.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/34974222[/vimeo]

Admittedly, there are times when Baldi’s brash vocals fall prey to an excessive use of elongating certain phrases and words. Perhaps it is the young singer’s uncanny resemblance to Kurt Cobain’s gruff, early yelping, but there are several instances in which this imitation sounds too forced. Although there remains a deeply-rooted ‘90s attitude in Cloud Nothings’ evolutionary process, their ethos can sometimes become indistinguishable from the similarities between the short start-stop songs. Nevertheless, ‘Attack on Memory’ offers a more energetic yet sinister alternative to their previous work: one that is definitely a step forward to developing the band’s already prestigious stature.

6/10

‘Attack on Memory’, the second album from Cloud Nothings, is out on the 6th of February on Wichita Recordings.

 

Album Review: Amy Winehouse – Lioness: Hidden Treasures

 
By on Thursday, 15th December 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Since its inception date, ‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’ was always going to be an inevitably two-sided mirror. In the instances where it falters musically, its eminence is reinforced by the tragic, yet melancholic legacy of Amy Winehouse. In many ways, ‘Lioness’ cannot be recognised as an album, but rather an assorted jumble of trimmings. With former assistants Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson at the reins, the pair has hoisted Amy’s past, unheard recordings and delicately mastered them onto a bed of original music. Documenting exactly a third of Winehouse’s 27-year lifespan, the record does not instantly stun the listener, but is instantly notorious. The mere ability to listen to her inimitable voice is priceless, and ‘Lioness’, although flawed in several ways, truly portrays the astounding uniqueness that made Winehouse the luminary that she is perceived as today.

Admittedly, the first few tracks are the strongest. Opener ‘Our Day Will Come’ serves as a blissful reminiscence of Winehouse’s youthful climb to stardom in true ‘Frank’-style. However, in songs such as ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, ‘Lioness’ falls prey to revealing a more lounge-orientated Winehouse than the soulful jazz figure we remember, and the result is a complete misconception of her true vocal prowess. Sadly, it is these features of the compilation that fail to encapsulate Amy’s true nature: a romantic, indisputable musical icon.

But the listener must understand that this is, indeed, a posthumous album; one that delves into the past 9 years of an exceptionally-gifted, but deeply troubled young singer. There are no morals to be learned from the record, nor should there be any. ‘Lioness’ simply epitomises the life, legacy and loss of one of British music’s most recognisable talents.

7/10

‘Lioness: Hidden Treasures’, the posthumous release of Amy Winehouse, is available now from Island.

 

Live Review: Wombats at iTunes Festival at London Roundhouse – 16th July 2011

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd August 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

It was a cunning move when the Scouse indie trio the Wombats swiftly arrived to fill in for the absent Duran Duran at this year’s iTunes Festival. They approach the stage confidently, performing ‘Our Perfect Disease’ (video here), the first track off this year’s release ‘This Modern Glitch’ (reviewed by John here). Tonight’s set list was to consist of a collection of the band’s signature, easy-to-digest tracks, including the fantastic ‘Party in a Forest’ and ‘Kill the Director.’ In fact, a babble of “This is no Bridget Jones!” could still be heard ringing around the reverb-filled halls, even after the fans had begun to file out of the venue.

One such highlighted moment was the raucous ‘Moving to New York.’ The delightful collective blaring of “it’s like Christmas came early for me!” is a certain indication of the looming stature that the Scouse trio has created for themselves in just a few short years. Their unique sound is remarkably fun and energetic, providing an enormously upbeat attitude to every member of the audience. Call it corny, but the ironic flair of ‘1996’ is simply wonderful. Interchanging between note-perfect vocal harmonies, the Wombats display an ever-improving sense of musicianship.

As the night continues, a small scuffle in the audience is noticed by almost immediately silenced by the slushy synth tones of ‘Techno Fan’ (video here), providing an instant sprinkling of positivity around the Roundhouse. As always with the Wombats, there are no long pauses between their tracks, aside from a quick guitar change or a much-needed wipe of a towel. Onstage banter included a geeky comparison of the towering ceiling of the Roundhouse to the Dynamic Duo’s lair, the Batcave.

A final rendition of ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ added a superb finishing touch. Although the superb energy of the band is no different to any other Wombats concert, there is a spark about the encore in tonight’s coliseum, and the band has proved time and time again that they are able to impress even the most diverse of fans with their dazzling finesse.

 

Interview: Brother

 
By on Thursday, 5th May 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

As of late, Brother have been recognised for soaring up the musical ladder directly into the big-time. With an arsenal of gigs lined up ahead of them, front man Lee Newell found the time to chat to TGTF. Having recently supported the Streets at London’s prestigious Brixton Academy, Lee thinks back to the reactions of the first ever Brother gig: “The first Brother show was a blur, we drank far too much and so we played awfully. We made a pact the next day to not get smashed before we play anymore. We leave the caning until after now. Well, we try at least.”

With several festivals welcoming the band this year, such as Rockness, Hop Farm, and Japan’s Summer Sonic, Brother will be sharing stages with some of the most prominent bands in today’s musical world. However, this feat is evidently well-deserved, as Lee comments, “I’ve always believed that we’d do it. It’s not rocket science. All you have to do is write some brilliant songs and you will be treated like a good band. I feel lucky of course I do, but it’s all relative. Like, if I look at my life now compared to a year ago I feel like I’ve been granted every wish I could have ever hoped for – getting signed, TV, magazines, radio etc. On the other hand, looking forward to the next year, we want a number 1 album, and we want to sell out big venues (among other things). You have to work your bollocks off to do that. Every day is a new challenge. We won’t stop until we get there.”

It isn’t news to any contemporary music fan that Brother have received large criticism as being a Britpop revival band, or an Oasis-duplicate. However, Lee firmly states that the band’s defined genre, ‘gritpop,’ is a domestic creation. “Gritpop was something we came up with ourselves. It was an answer to all the critics and journos hailing us a Britpop revivalist band. We most certainly are not revivalists of anything at all. We figured that if we were going to be pigeon-holed into a genre, then we may as well do it by our rules. Gritpop it is.” Despite the slanders of bring no more than ‘Liam Gallagher wannabes,’ Brother have stood strong and have reacted imperviously against these allegations. “Oasis have not been massive influences by any stretch of the imagination. They’ve written some of the best songs of the last 20 years, but sonically we are very dissimilar. I think the thing we have in common with them the most is the fact that I occasionally wear circular glasses.”

In a short space of time, the band’s name has erupted into the British music scene. But through all the adventures Brother have had so far, we asked whether there has been a particular moment which stood out for the worse. “I’ve not even had the chance to really sit down and think about what has happened really. We speak our mind, and that is a big part of our band. So of course you get the backlash. That can hurt occasionally. Other than that it’s a fucking roller coaster. The point of this band was to a) give us a vehicle to get out of Slough and b) get guitar music back on the radio. We’ve done both already, but now we have to make it a permanent fixture. There will be plenty of ups and comedowns but we’re ready for it.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAUeW6y6aHg[/youtube]

Brother release their next single, ‘Still Here’, on the 8th of May on Geffen Records. The band will be touring in May as well.

 

Live Review: The Wombats’ Album Launch at London Supper Club – 14th April 2011

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd May 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

If you search deep within the winding lanes of Westbourne Park, you’ll stumble across London’s elusive and prestigious Supper Club. Tonight’s main event belongs to that of the Wombats; it is the album launch of the band’s second record, ‘This Modern Glitch.’ (Read John’s review of the album here.)

Upon entry, one realises that this is very intimate occasion. The majority of tonight’s audience consists of friends and family of the Scousers. The lighted stage at the front of the club indicates one thing: the Wombats intend on performing the highly-anticipated new tracks. Clad in white suits, the band, led by lead singer Matthew Murphy, leap onto the stage. Despite the familiar audience, they play as if to 500 strangers. The amount of dedicated concentration that the Wombats emit is uncanny. Even whilst regularly switching between guitar, bass and also synthesiser, the three-part-harmonies always remain consistent and note-perfect.

It is bizarre to recognise that the band have only released one long-play record in the past; their debut rocker, ‘A Guide to Love Loss and Desperation.’ If one wonders why the group has received so much fame for only one musical effort, it is due to the sheer fact that the album was a perfect execution of dance-based pop/rock. All the hits are played tonight, including a superb ‘Moving To New York.’ However, as Murphy states, tonight is not so much based on the past, but the present. Diving headfirst into a barrage of the group’s most exciting new tracks, it is mandatory to recall record-opener ‘Our Perfect Disease’ and ‘1996.’ The songs are catchy, and heavily keyboard-driven. The transition between the two records is noticeable, as the latter produces a far more matured Wombats. As ‘Tokyo’ and ‘Jump Into The Fog’ are performed, the two previous singles are more than enough to sustain singing from every person in the white-walled club.

Promising to play the album in its entirety through the speakers after the show, the band close with the unmistakably distorted notes of ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’ to a frenzy of mosh pits. From what we’ve heard tonight, ‘This Modern Glitch’ truly lives up to the ascending stature that the Wombats have created for themselves in 4 short years.

 
 
 

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 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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