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Villagers / October 2018 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 9:00 am
 

Irishman Conor J. O’Brien, better known under his recording name Villagers, will be going on tour in the UK in the autumn. In the midst of the UK dates, he will also perform at Dublin’s Metropolis Festival on the 27th of October. A massive tour filling up most of his November will follow it. The UK tour will commence just a few weeks after the release of his fourth studio album ‘The Art of Pretending to Swim’, which is scheduled for release on the 21st of September on Domino Records. Enjoy album track ‘A Trick of the Light’ in its promo video form at the end of this post.

Presale tickets and album go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, the 20th of June, at 9 AM. The general sale begins on Friday, the 22nd, at 9 AM. Given the immense destruction from the fire that took place at the Glasgow School of Art last Friday, it’s unlikely the originally scheduled gig on the 18th of October will take place there. Stay tuned to Villagers’ official channels for more information.

Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 18th October – Glasgow Art School
Friday 19th October – Manchester Gorilla
Sunday 21st October – Leeds Wardrobe
Monday 22nd October – Oxford Academy 2
Tuesday 23rd October – London Hackney Arts Centre
Thursday 25th October – Liverpool Arts Club
Saturday 27th October – Dublin Metropolis Festival
Tuesday 30th October – Bristol Trinity
Wednesday 31st October 2018 – Brighton Old Market

 

Video of the Moment #2852: Dirty Projectors

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Dirty Projectors‘ new single is a significant departure from their eponymous album from 2017. One would surmise that band mastermind Dave Longstreth has gotten to a better place following his breakup with former bandmate Amber Coffman. ‘That’s a Lifestyle’, the latest new material to be revealed from their upcoming summertime LP ‘Lamp Lit Prose’, has a cheerful, upbeat feel. You could say its accompanying promo video, entirely animated and starring Grecian statues acting human, is similarly playful, so it’s all intentional. Watch it below. ‘Lamp Lit Prose’ from Longstreth and co. will drop on the 13th of July on Domino Records. For past coverage on Dirty Projectors here on TGTF, come through.

 

Live Review: ONR. with CrushnPain at DC9, Washington, DC – 15th June 2018

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: now more than ever, if you haven’t got a song that pulls the listener in and keeps their attention for more than 30 seconds, you’re sunk as an artist. On the more positive flipside of that, if you are a good songwriter and can write the kind of compelling song that stays with the listener, this talent will pay off massively in terms of getting your music paid attention to. Singer/songwriter Robert Shields, who now performs under the moniker ONR. (pronounced “honour”), is definitely one of the latter. In various projects and under various guises, he’s been quietly honing his craft, which has led to a major label signing last year, after Capitol Records industry bods heard his particularly strong demos.

It’s still early days for the Dumfries-via-Glasgow Scot and his live band: there are only a handful of ONR. singles out to date. An American tour this month, comprised of support dates with SXSW 2017 breakout American star Mondo Cozmo and their own headline dates, is, then, this continent’s first live taste of what amazing things Shields and co. can do. The support dates were announced first and I assumed I was out of luck, as the closest show to me was New York’s Mercury Lounge and on a Wednesday night. To my great excitement, headline dates were soon added, including a stop at my favourite intimate venue in the city of all, DC9, and late on a Friday night to boot.

CrushnPain Washington 2018 2

Two local acts preceded the Scottish band’s performance. My friend and I were too late to see electronic band Honest Haloway, but we arrived in time to witness one-man band CrushnPain. Looking remarkably like a bespectacled close Irish friend of mine, producer Austin Gallas looks unassuming behind two synths and a remarkably small set of controllers. Don’t judge a book by its cover: I was surprised and happy to enjoy his catchy jungle beats as he threw himself into his music. I bopped my head and moved my body to music that was better than some electronic acts I’ve seen at SXSW and The Great Escape. He rarely sang, but when he did, the vocals were dream pop variety and repetitive. To be fair, dream pop lyrics run a spectrum from ephemeral and intentionally lacking substance to floaty, yet thought-provoking. If he was shooting for the former, mission accomplished.

Recall that the first time I saw ONR. was last month at the massive Paganini Ballroom upstairs at the Old Ship Hotel. It was Friday night at The Great Escape 2018, and a massively promoted BBC Introducing showcase at that. Contrast this reception to ONR.’s shows in America, where Shields is largely unknown and without national backing. I have no doubt the Mondo Cozmo support appearances allowed him and his band the opportunity to win over audiences who might never have found his music in the first place, and these kinds of opportunities are priceless to artists debuting in new territories. The majority of acts from Britain have taken those tentative first steps in the Home of the Brave early on in their careers. Those coming to the headline shows are likely to be the true music discoverers, the open-minded people who click on the Related Artists tab in streaming services and are voracious to check out new artists who aren’t on everyone’s lips yet. These music fans are smaller in number but I’d argue they’re far more important in helping to break new artists than they are ever given credit for.

ONR. Washington June 2018 4

These were the fans who were treated to a full-scale, major club-like show in the 200-capacity DC9 Friday night. As mentioned earlier in this review, there are a precious few ONR. songs released, so I think everyone knew the set would be short. Shields and his band delivered an energetic performance, Shields as animated and bounding across the stage with gusto as he did in Brighton. Quick tempo tunes, including driving single ‘Love in Suburbia’ released on the day of the show (watch the promo video at the bottom of this post) and ‘American Gods’ released in February, gave the band quite a workout. A comparison of these to the slow burner 2017 single ‘Jericho’ highlighted the versatility and power of Shields’ voice.

They closed with ‘5 Years Time’, the combination of the vulnerability of the lyrics with the commanding instrumentation providing the ultimate showcase for the stadium-worthy bombast Shields has built into ONR.’s songs. I’m taking the strength of these early singles and this charismatic performance in DC as reliable indicators that ONR. will become a household name soon enough. Just you wait. Check out my interview with Robert Shields at The Great Escape 2018 through here. More photos from this gig are on my Flickr.

ONR Washington June 2018 1

 

Single Review: The 1975 – Give Yourself a Try

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Lily Cresswell

After a long wait for patient fans, spurred on only by the occasional cryptic Tweets and Instagram posts, The 1975’s single ‘Give Yourself a Try’ is finally here. The single is the first teaser for their third album ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’, which is due to be released in October. But was it worth the wait?

At first, the tune has the promise to be the song of the summer. The upbeat distorted guitar, driven by a straightforward beat, is bright and simple, so it’s easy to imagine dancing to this at a festival in the height of summer. The vocals enter and suddenly, a different tone is set. Matt Healy has changed up his usual vocal tone with a harsher edge; and combined with the American twang he has adopted, he’s created a Noughties’ pop-punk vibe. This differs from the softer, over reverbed vocals heard on tracks like ‘Paris’. Little vocal development occurs across the track, with Healy sounding unenthused for the entire 3 minutes and 17 seconds. The instrumental accompaniment is also lacklustre and basic, and it must be relatively boring for the rest of the band play. However, on a more positive note, you can’t help but be drawn in by the catchy guitar hook, which stands out due to the lack of any other interesting accompaniment.

Lyrically, ‘Give Yourself a Try’ seems to throw itself at every issue you could find on a millennial’s twitter feed. From depression to drug addiction and the lack of ‘context in a modern debate’, Healy slips through them all, line after line. This is reiterated in the video where we see Healy lying on a therapist’s chaise longue, speaking vaguely on personal identity issues. On one hand, it is progressive to be tackling such issues in a pop song. But on the other, this seems rather forced. Are the 1975 really bothered about these issues, or are they simply trying desperately to appeal to the millennial audience?

Overall, The 1975 are clearly aiming for a new sound and in this area, they are successful, as ‘Give Yourself a Try’ is undeniably different from previous releases. Despite this, the new single is disappointing, and although driven by its hook that gives the track the promise of excitement, the vocals and surrounding accompaniment falls flat, leaving the track miles away from matching the brightness of Healy’s new hair.

6/10

‘Give Yourself a Try’ is out now on Polydor and Dirty Hit Records. The single is taken from The 1975’s third album, ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’, which is set to be released in October 2018.

 

Video of the Moment #2851: Muncie Girls

 
By on Friday, 15th June 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Muncie Girls, the rock group from Exeter and not actually from Muncie (?), have a new video out for us this week. The trio offer up ‘Picture of Health’ as the first taster to ‘Fixed Ideals’, their second album and follow-up to debut ‘From Caplan to Belsize’. It’s a rough and tumble, but fun rocker of a track that ultimately is about paying attention and looking out for your friends, which we could definitely use more of in our lives, don’t you agree? ‘Fixed Ideals’ will be available on the 31st of August on Buzz Records (North America) and Specialist Subject Records (rest of the world). For our past coverage on SXSW 2017 alums Muncie Girls, use this link.

 

Great Escape 2018 Interview: Knightstown (Part 2)

 
By on Friday, 15th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Missed part 1 of this interview with Michael Aston, aka Knightstown? No worries, catch up through here.

A part of Michael Aston’s Knightstown project that can be polarising to some is his choice of using falsetto. Those familiar with and that are fans of James Blake, Jamie Woon and Wild Beasts won’t have any problem with this, but I wondered why there seems to be this tidal wave of male falsetto voices all of a sudden and how hard it can be to sing in such a higher, unnatural register for men. Aston explains there’s a mechanical method to the madness. “It can be [hard]. Actually, sometimes there’s a weird range, and there’s more than one segment to that range of the falsetto. My chest voice is up to C natural, middle C. And then there’s like a set of about six tones from there, which is the first part of the falsetto, which is my most comfortable range. It’s easier to control than the chest voice. Then when you get past G, it gets hard again, it’s gets more erratic. It’s sandwiched in between. There’s this sweet spot. You’re also needing to transition between three different registers, it can be quite challenging if you’re doing scaling.” That’s probably more than you need to know if you’ve never been a music student, but I eat all this geeky sort of music knowledge up.

Going back to his work with his cousin Tom, it turns out Aston wasn’t immediately keen on James Blake. He can look back at his time in the studio as a different kind of education, so that now he can look at Blake’s work rather intellectually. “I knew when we were making the album that my cousin Tom was a James Blake fanatic. It’s been interesting to see how long it took him (Blake) to gain currency. Mercury Prize, working with Kendrick Lamar, that kind of stuff. Personally, James Blake has been a real slow burner for me, I started out thinking, ‘this is too weird, even for me’. But I think it’s the latest album, ‘The Colour of Anything’, the more I listen to it, the more I think, ‘oh gosh, this guy knows what he’s doing’. This guy is always doing something new and doesn’t sell out at all.

“He always does something interesting. The textures of his songs are so transparent, you can pick out the different elements. You can focus on the beauty he’s created in the lines. It’s like going back to the rock counterpoint. My appreciation for him has increased exponentially, and now I’m at the point where I think he’s just an incredible musician. He’s definitely a touchstone, or a comparison for the route we were going down. At the same time, we wanted to be a bit more melodic and accessible. Melody and harmony are the two most important things to me.”

I ask Aston if he’s had a big ‘a-ha!’ moment while writing as Knightstown. “Yes, that was when I got the first draft back for a song [to be] on the album, called ‘Catcher’. That was the first time where my vision of it, when I gave all the material over to Tom, he came back [with the draft] and I remembering listening to it and going, ‘Oh! He’s on to something here. This is it!’ I’ve remained fond of that song.” He also lets me in on his favourite chord in another of his favourite songs he’s written, ‘Eyes Open Wide’, probably because it’s got layered strings, it’s almost Bjork-like…D major seventh plus nine chord in first inversion…” What’s that? That’s the sound of that bit of knowledge whizzing over my head. “Different chords give different feels.”

Much like his contemporary Chris ‘C’ Duncan who I interviewed in Washington late last year, Aston has a neverending desire to continue his artistic vision. “It’s hard to know exactly what this compulsion to write, to offer people an alternative music experience, is. You want to inject hope. I’m always interested in the artistic sweet spot between self-restraint and emotion…It’s about wanting to lift people’s spirits and find what moves them.”

There’s a lot of new music from Knightstown in the works, which is exciting: Aston tells me to expect two EPs and the debut album soon. He’s also proud of the most recent development of signing a production music contract with EMI, which has led to his first proper collaboration with live bandmate Hodson, as well as two fellow Brightonian producers, on what Aston describes as “ambient dance sort of stuff, it’s really good.” Their EP ‘Electronic Projections’, out on EMI Production Music in conjunction with FatCat, is described on the EMI Production Music as “Cool and captivating downtempo electronic offerings from the FatCat Records roster”. Intriguing. On top of radio play on BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music and Amazing Radio and garnering press with Clash Magazine and DIY, Aston feels good about how things have started for Knightstown “from having been signed from a demo”. Indeed.

The Knightstown EP ‘Keep’ is out now on FatCat Records. Many thanks to Michael for letting me pick his brain on various musical things and answering my questions about his solo project. All the best!

 
 
 

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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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