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Video of the Moment #367: Kings of Leon

 
By on Wednesday, 15th December 2010 at 6:00 pm
 

I’m of two minds about the video for ‘Pyro,’ the new single by Kings of Leon. On one hand, the video is gorgeous and perfectly displays the deeper meaning of the song in a very artistic way. On the other hand, it’s a bit slow and there is not nearly enough of the band in it. Watch the video below and let us know what you think of it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFp7q-IJqno[/youtube]

 

Video(s) of the Moment #365: Adele

 
By on Tuesday, 14th December 2010 at 6:00 pm
 

The video for ‘Rolling In the Deep,’ the first single off of Adele‘s second album, ’21,’ is rich in imagery, switching from scene to scene, no doubt in an attempt to provide visuals that stand up to her amazing voice. The end result is that there is not enough of Adele in the video, which is a shame because she’s a beautiful and charming woman. In fact, I prefer the first video of this song that they put up, which was set to black and white footage of Adele in the studio. Check out both videos below and let us know which you prefer!

‘Rolling In the Deep’ (official video)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYEDA3JcQqw[/youtube]

‘Rolling In the Deep’ (studio footage)

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

 

Album Review: Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer

 
By on Thursday, 25th November 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

The album may start out “Well, hello there! My name is…not important,” but on the heels of the incredibly catchy single ‘F**k You,’ not to mention his work in Goodie Mob and Gnarls Barkley, chances are by now you’ve heard of Cee Lo Green. And fans of his latest single wont be disappointed: with a few exceptions, ‘The Lady Killer’ is packed full of catchy, soulful pop gems.

It starts out well, with mid-tempo track ‘Bright Lights, Bigger City’ and its beat that at times is reminiscent of ‘Thriller.’ It’s a song about going out on a Saturday night, and if there was any justice in the world, it’s the kind of track I’d love to hear in the clubs of Washington, DC. Singing about “cocktails and conversation, music and making love,” his powerful and distinctive voice is showcased to its full potential. But as great as it is, neither it, nor, to be honest, any of the other tracks can really match the sheer brilliance of lead single ‘F**k You.’ My review copy of ‘The Lady Killer’ included the censored version of the track, which opts for the much less fun lyrics “forget you!” and “ain’t that some shhhhh…”. Much of the brilliance of ‘F**ck You’ lies in its bluntness, so I believe it does lose a little in translation, but not enough to keep it from being insanely catchy and the most memorable track on the album.

Though nothing can match ‘F**ck You,’ there are a few tracks vying for second place. ‘Love Gun’ featuring Lauren Bennett is literally explosive, using the sounds of gunshots in its percussion. Their voices work very well together, with Lauren taking the first verse and Cee Lo taking the second — it’s a shame he didn’t use her on any of the other tracks. There is a very retro feel to the guitar riff and horns, but the beat is very modern, which makes for a great combination. With lyrics like “Who knew that one to the head and one to the heart could make you feel alright” and “Are you ready for the showdown? Tonight it’s gonna go down,’ it uses a gun fight imagery to describe a relationship.

‘Cry Baby’ is very poppy and fun, and because of this is very accessible. So is ‘It’s Okay,’ which despite its cheesy lyrics like “It’s okay to say that you love me, / ’cause I think of you, I still think of you” is a hell of a lot of fun. It has a similar piano line to ‘F**k You’ at times, and Cee Lo’s falsetto when singing “PLEASE baby, PLEASE lover” is awesome. His collaboration with Phillip Bailey, ‘Fool for You,’ juxtaposes harsh rhythms in the verses and a smooth chorus of “I’m a fool, such a fool for you” to great effect. It has a sort of strutting rhythm to it, which makes it one of the most original sounding songs on the album. But ‘Satisfied’ is the song that really gives ‘F**k You’ a run for its money. On an album full of retro songs, it out-retros them all with the use of motown-style backup singers adding ‘Oohs’ and ‘Babys’ behind Cee Lo’s vocals.

Unfortunately, a few of the songs fall short of Cee Lo’s true potential. This isn’t to say they’re horrible — compared to a lot of the auto-tuned drivel out there these days, they’re actually quite good — but songs like ‘Old Fashioned,’ ‘I Wan’t You’ and ‘Wildflower’ are lacking that certain something they need to be truly great. They’ve got the album’s characteristic retro sound down, but there is nothing about them that would make them classic. In places, the orchestration is too heavy and overwhelming, and lyrics like “I’ll even quit my job. / Loving you, I’ll make it my job” just don’t cut it when you know Cee Lo is capable of quips like “I guess he’s an xbox, and I’m more Atari.” And ‘Bodies’ relies too heavily on gimmicks like whispers and, um, intimate sounds, and not enough on Cee Lo’s incredible voice. But after the ups and downs, Green closes out ‘The Lady Killer’ with a spectacular cover of Band of Horses‘s ‘No One’s Gonna Love You.’ While some of his songs fall flat, it has real soul and personality to it, and showcases his voice spectacularly well. ‘No One’s Gonna Love You’ is a reminder of what Cee Lo is capable of at his best — it’s just a shame not all of the songs are as good.

6/10

Watch the video for ‘Bright Lights, Bigger City’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBhdIcb84Hw[/youtube]

Lead single ‘F**k You’ was TGTF’s Video of the Moment back on 10th September.

 

Live Review: Jónsi with Mountain Man at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 9th November 2010

 
By on Monday, 15th November 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

In all my years of going to gigs, I don’t think a live show has ever been more heavily recommended to me than Jónsi‘s. As his tour hit cities across America, my friends would come back and tell me how unbelievable it was, and  many of them described it as life-changing. I’m delighted to say that the Sigur Rós frontman’s show, the second of two he played in the Nation’s Capital,  more than lived up to my expectations. The music was both hauntingly beautiful and inspiringly imaginative. Combining his extraordinary music with gorgeous back-projections (courtesy of 59 Productions) and carefully choreographed lights, it truly was an all-enveloping feast for the senses.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First up, with a stage show that couldn’t be more different, was the trio Mountain Man. Where Jónsi’s set was sensory overload (in the best possible way), Mountain Man was just three women — Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath — stood on stage singing gorgeous, a capella 3-part harmony. If they were feeling fancy, they might even bring out an acoustic guitar. While incredibly simple, their sound is very unique. It is very folksy, but has touches of 1940s-style close vocal harmony. Think of Fleet Foxes mixed with the Puppini Sisters and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. They were well-suited for Jónsi’s audience, who stayed more silent during their songs than I think I’ve ever heard for an opener.

With so little to clear off the stage, the night moved swiftly along to Jónsi’s mind-blowing set. One of the best things about music, and indeed about art in general, is its ability to stir up emotions. In complete awe of the spectacle in front of me, I was at once moved close to tears and made so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, days after the gig, I still can’t help getting a stupid grin on my face when I think about it. There is nothing more beautiful in the world than somebody using all of their creativity and talents to express their inner self, reveling in every quirk. And this is exactly what Jónsi does. You get the feeling he turns himself completely inside-out and bares his soul to the audience. Because of this, the gig felt very intimate, even though he rarely spoke to or interacted with the audience. He was mysterious, but not aloof.

Throughout, as on the album ‘Go,’ Jónsi’s characteristic falsetto soars over pounding drums, tinkling bells and strange sounds, expressing a sort of child-like wonder. This makes the costumes even more fitting, as they remind me of children playing dress up. He wore pinstriped pants with a patched, fringed shirt adorned with sequins and feathers. He even put on a feather headdress for the encore. When you combine all of this with the fog and lighting, you get the feeling you’ve walked into a forest glade and stumbled upon a group of woodland fairies — there is truly something magical about it all. If I had to say only one thing about Jónsi’s show, it would be that it’s beautiful — so much so that it makes me feel better about the world just knowing that there is something this beautiful in it. So I urge you to go out and experience the wonder of a Jónsi show for yourself — it’s not something to be missed.

Continue reading Live Review: Jónsi with Mountain Man at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 9th November 2010

 

Album Review: Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd November 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

It will come as no surprise to anyone who read my reviews of their live show or most recent single, ‘Radioactive,’ that I’m a huge fan of Nashville rockers Kings of Leon. So with their latest offering, ‘Come Around Sundown’ – their fifth studio album in seven years – I expected great things. And though some will surely still complain that they don’t sound like they did on their first few albums, I think they’ve succeeded in creating a sound that is truly spectacular.

Lesser bands, having seen the success garnered with stadium-rock mega-hits like ‘Use Somebody’ or ‘Sex on Fire,’ would’ve attempted to re-create the sound exactly. The Followill boys, however, have yet again taken the risk of evolving their sound. As frontman Caleb explains, “On this album, we were experimenting a little more, and wanted to show our countrier side at times, and our throwback side, and wanted to give people like a brief history of what Kings of Leon have been tryin’ to achieve all the while.” Adding instruments like piano, horns and fiddles, and even employing choirs, they’ve definitely made some changes to their sound,  but especially with Caleb’s soulful, distinctive voice, they still sound unmistakably like Kings of Leon.

One track that really exemplifies this is ‘Back Down South.’ Originally called ‘Southbound,’ it is one of the most special moments on the record. It’s got a very organic feel to it, and a sound that’s so home-y it almost makes you nostalgic. In the recording process, they even got the crew involved in the backing vocals, and you can really feel the comradery. Listening to the song, you can easily imagine yourself in a bar down south, just knocking back a few beers with the band, and this vibe spills out into the “hootin’ and hollerin'” at the end of the song.  Drummer Nathan Followill said “I was glad for a song like [‘Back Down South’] to make this record because we coulda so easily gone in there and give them 6 Sex on Fires and 6 Uses Somebodys, and it was good to see [it] on there because that was us kinda going back to not only our roots, as where we’re from, but the kind of band we’ve been since day one!”

And no song really captures their Southern roots like “Pickup Truck” – a song about a man fighting another man who’s  trying to get the same woman. It features amazing vocals from Caleb which really stand out in the verses, but blend in during the chorus when the music really picks up. As he sings, “Hate to be so emotional / I didn’t mean to get physical / But when he pulled in and revved it up / I said you call that a pickup truck? / And in the moonlight I fought him down / All kickin screamin & rolling around / A little piece of a bloody tooth /Just so you know I was thinkin of you / Just so you know,” Caleb’s voice perfectly captures the yearning he has to impress her.

Many of the songs on ‘Come Around Sundown’ seem more laid-back than much of their past material, perhaps explaining why Nathan originally described the album as ‘beachy.’  But while in places the sound is less “raw” and edgy, the emotion is just as raw as ever. And this emotion really comes through on the album because they’re more concerned with emotion than with perfection, so they play as much as they can live, and allow the imperfections that give a song character. Their commitment to this authenticity is even more impressive when you consider songs like ‘Pony Up,’ where the dizzying amount of percussion — drums, shakers, cowbell and tambourine — is all played simultaneously by Nathan.

Their skill as musicians is clear, but when they combine it with personal and emotional lyrics, the effect is really sensational. Two stand-out tracks are ‘Mary,’ which Caleb wrote about his feelings when his brother, Nathan, moved out and got married, and ‘Immortals.’ The lyrics of this song are profound, and are something which Caleb said he wanted to be able to tell his kids. After the verses, the bottom drops out of the song for an absolutely massive chorus: “Spill out on the streets of stars, and ride away / Find out what you are, face to face / Once you’ve had enough, carry on / Don’t forget to love, before you’re gone.”

As always with Kings of Leon, some of the best moments on the album are also the most playful. The most unhinged of all the tracks is probably ‘No Money,’ where Jared uses the fuzz pedal to really dirty the bass up, Caleb growls and pleads with the vocals, and the drums and guitar race each other through the song. The spectacular ‘Mi Amigo,’ a song about drugs, rather fittingly has a very lilting rhythm and arresting lyrics sung almost drunkenly: “I’ve got a friend /helps me to get up again / showers me in bruises / Tells me I got a big ‘ol dick / and she wants my ass home,’ It’s the perfect example of form and content fitting together.

With ‘Come Around Sundown,’ Kings of Leon have succeeded where many other bands fail. They’ve remained true to themselves while still evolving their sound, and didn’t fall into the trap of trying to recreate their biggest hits. And as always, they make it look easy, as if they’ve just rolled out of the bar and into the studio to lay down the track on the fly, when in reality they’ve been working on some of the tracks for years. Truly the best album of the year so far.

9.5/10

‘Come Around Sundown’ is available now. Kings of Leon will be hitting the UK for an arena tour in May and June of next year, as well as 6 dates this December.

Watch the ‘making of’ video for their single ‘Radioactive’ below:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH5WvYZO8GI[/youtube]

 

Album Review: The Gorgeous Colours – The Creatures Down Below EP

 
By on Wednesday, 20th October 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Of all the countless bands I’ve listen to over the years, Dublin five-piece The Gorgeous Colours are one of my most beloved, and bizarrely, one of the least well-known. In fact, they amazingly have yet to be signed. But even without a label’s support, their newest EP, ‘The Creatures Down Below,’ released just last week and funded by pledges from fans, is a perfect example of why they SHOULD be signed.

The four-song EP starts off with the title track ‘The Creatures Down Below’ (watch the video below). It begins with the sound of typewriter key-strokes and dings, which slowly form themselves into the beat that runs through the song. Its upbeat, catchy sound, complete with tinkling keys and falsetto “ba-da-das,” belies the decidedly un-upbeat subject matter, including the lyrics: “‘cos I’d rather cross my heart and stick a needle in my eye / than to let you down again and be the one to make you cry.” Second track ‘Animal’ is more subdued, and around the refrain “I see an animal in you,” features harmonies that would make Fleet Foxes proud. The sleigh bells at the end of the song should seem completely random and out of place, but they work surprisingly well, all the while bringing a smile to my face as they make me think of Christmas.

With ‘No Man’s Land’ and its driving beat, they pick the pace back up again. It’s a curious mix of the exaggerated and the subdued, of both “hard” and “soft” sounds, flowing seamlessly between powerful vocals and guitars over almost military-sounding drums, heavily-orchestrated choruses and more ethereal sections. And somehow, together, it all works! Closing out the album is the mysterious ‘Cloakroom,’ with its echoing vocals and its guitar riff that is incredibly simple, but makes the song sound pretty badass. In just over 16 minutes, the Gorgeous Colours have created music just as gorgeous as their name would suggest. We can only hope that soon they’ll be able to share their music with a larger audience!

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/15629154[/vimeo]

Visit the band’s official Web site to order ‘The Creatures Down Below’ and their previously-released debut album.

 
 
 

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

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