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Bands to Watch #231: The Jess Hall Band

 
By on Tuesday, 15th November 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Word of a promising band spreads through the industry like wildfire. This is a good of an explanation as any for the Jess Hall Band‘s fortuitous decision to send some tracks over to BBC Wiltshire; their song ‘Play Shy’ made its way to getting played on Radio1’s Introducing playlist 2 weeks ago. All good stuff for Hall and her Swindon childhood friends Alex Stone, Andy Vincent and Stef Pysanczyn. Jess and Alex now write together; this is since, as she put it in her own words, “nicked” the other 3 members from another band to join her on what was previously a single odyssey.

Hall says Angus and Julia Stone’s music intrigued her and she would play their music over and over; whatever the influences, it’s clear to see that the ‘Play Shy’ forthcoming EP due out on the 5th of December has. It’s a little bit of rock, a little bit of folk, and interestingly with ‘Play Shy’, even has a bit of soul infused into the chorus for good measure. Singer/songwriter as a vocation seems to suit Hall much better than her “other” job, as an unsuccessful bartendress: “I have no idea what else I’d do, I’m awful at everything! I work in a bar and I’m awful at that- if someone orders a cocktail I hide in the stairwell”. You can listen to this track and also ‘Night Lights’, a free demo you can grab for your very own, below.

The band will be playing the This Must Be Pop Live showcase tonight (the 15th of November) with Rachel Furner and a DJ set from the Pipettes; tickets are £4. Go here for more information and details on how to get half-priced tickets.

 

Bands to Watch #230: Magic Bullets

 
By on Monday, 14th November 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Tom Mughal

It sounds petty, but I’ve never been able to listen to the Smiths purely because of the fact I really dislike Morrissey‘s voice. This may be the reason why I’ve actually enjoyed Magic Bullets, a San Francisco-born indie pop band that has been dancing around commercial success for over 7 years now. The boys manage to emulate the best bits about the iconic Mancunian ‘80s band; their melodies are employed straight out of Johnny Marr’s school of guitar, and I would not be surprised if their melodramatic lyrics had been stolen from Morrissey’s notepad.

Their 2007 debut album, ‘a CHILD but in life yet a DOCTOR in love’, was a bit of a mess. Not to say that there aren’t some tracks on there worth a listen: ‘Yesterday’s Seen Better Days’ and ‘Spent Nights’ stand out as the most listenable on the album. The band were suffering through continuous line-up changes at this time and this reflected in their inconsistent debut.

However late last year, after signing with small independent label Mon Amie Records, they released their eponymous second album. ‘Magic Bullets’ is everything their debut should have been and more. The band have now really found their stride. Lead single ‘Lying Around’ (performed for the Alternate Side at WFUV in New York City is a lyrical treat and accompanied by lead singer Philip Benson’s Robert Smith-like vocals, it is definitely the stand-out track from the album. ‘Sigh the Day Away’ is full of the Smiths’ signature depressing hyperbole, which you can just tell is a massive influence within the band.

If their second album is anything to go by, then Magic Bullets’ next release should definitely be one to look out for.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-9DVdth5qA[/youtube]

 

Bands to Watch #229: Rosie Vanier

 
By on Wednesday, 9th November 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Rosie Vanier‘s recent EP ‘Black Cats and Black Stars’ quite blatantly guns for the gap in the market left by Gwen Stefani‘s recent inactivity. On lead track ‘You Stoled My Guy’ (stream below), Vanier has a virtually identical high-pitched little-riot-grrl-lost vocal, and similar man trouble. ‘Up with the Boys’ is almost a perfect distillation of all the songs Stefani has written; on a blind listening you wouldn’t believe it wasn’t her Gwenness throwing the vocal moves. The music is all sawtooth synth and chart-friendly choruses, the vocal processed to within an inch of its life, with distortion and auto-tune aplenty.

The final track even shamelessly copies Stefani’s surely patented throwaway “oh-a-oh” refrain. This is all a lot of fun, and there must be some fans that simply can’t wait for another Stefani release to which it will be manna from Heaven. Certainly it’s a significant progression from Vanier’s previous indie-pop incarnation as part of Rosie and the Goldbug; there is a talented pop producer behind these tracks who has certainly earned their fee. Whether the world needs a carbon copy of an already hugely successful diva remains to be seen; no doubt if Rosie makes a success of this material she will be fighting off the plagiarism suits for years..but if the attitude on display here is anything to go by, that won’t hold her back.

 

Bands to Watch #228: The Minutes

 
By on Thursday, 27th October 2011 at 11:00 am
 

Bored of the same old indie bands? You’re not the only one. Luckily there are a number of bands flying the flag for damning the indentikit indie scene to the deepest, darkest areas of hell especially reserved to crimes against ears. One of the up-and-coming groups who don’t adhere to the same old sound are Dublin’s the Minutes.

Having supported the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Supergrass, as well as an upcoming string of shows with Irish favourites Flogging Molly, the future is bright for the rock ‘n’ blues trio.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEPmp5Wv9uo[/youtube]

Since forming in the mid-noughties, the band have honed their sound and become a fantastically big sounding blues/rock group. Instrumentally in a similar vein to the Raconteurs, with Queens of the Stone Age-esque guitar sounds, The Minutes are one of the most interesting new bands no doubt coming to a venue near you.

The band’s new single ‘Black Keys’ keeps the same upbeat, catchy rhythm and interesting guitar hooks, mixed with Mark Austin’s powerful vocals. Released on the 7th of November, with their debut album ‘Marcata’ expected early next year, keep an eye on one of Ireland’s hottest exports.

 

Bands to Watch #227: Life in Film

 
By on Wednesday, 19th October 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Life in Film is a band you should keep an eye on. They headlined last Friday’s Club NME night at London Koko. My first impression? “They sound like the Smiths!” Which, in my estimation, is never a bad thing. You can never go wrong with melodic guitars, typically English self-deprecation (their single coming out on the 14th of November is called ‘The Idiot’) and more concentration on the music side of things than trying for something flashing.

The last item on the list is best represented by the promo video they’ve filmed for the single, which is black and white and understated. What you should be focusing on is the lyrics: “love is / wasted / on you / and you don’t have a clue” – simple, yet powerful when used in conjunction with syncopation. Their press sheet they have some Americana influences, and maybe those colours will come out in later releases, but I don’t hear it in this debut single. No, ‘The Idiot’ sounds like the love child of the Smiths and a classic Britpop band like the now defunct Bluetones. Hmm. Guitarist, bassist, drummer and a singer that doesn’t play an instrument… Also included below is a video the band did for Watch, Listen and Tell for the song ‘Carla’. Oh wait. The singer does play guitar. Darn…

If you’d like a free download of their track ‘Suitcase’, all you have to do is enter your email address here. You can catch the band on tour supporting the Rifles in late October through November: check their MySpace or Facebook for exact dates and locations.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3KIqrzuZZY[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXjiHv-Wp3M[/youtube]

 

Bands to Watch #226: Courage Have Courage (at Leeds 2011)

 
By on Friday, 16th September 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

These boys are close to my hearts, not just because they all hail from the tiny little island of Guernsey as I do, but because three of their members were part of the Mid Carson Coalition, the first band I ever moshed too. Yes, I know, what a memory, one I will always have those three boys to thank for.

Courage Have Courage were formed last summer when the group of friends who had known each other, lived with one another and at one point or another played music together decided to record some tracks. The writing and recording took them a few months, and it was in March that Courage Have Courage finally stepped out of the studios and began to play live. Frontman Luke Vidamour said to me, “you only really become a band when you play your first gig.” Indeed.

This is a band who already have shared a stage with acts including Primal Scream, Example, Frank Turner and the Gaslight Anthem. At Leeds, they were on the BBC Introducing stage, where they were hoping to stamp their authority on the UK audience arrayed in front of them.

The boys describe themselves as “a British brand of pop/rock, which is fun, energetic and summery”, and after seeing them, it wasn’t difficult to see where they got that view from. The entire crowd all wore beaming grins towards this group who most of them probably wouldn’t have heard of before then.

But has the success gone to their heads already? No, not these humble Guernsey boys. They travel to gigs in what they call their ‘tour bus’ but they ended up admitting to me that it was a ‘Red Renault Scenic’. They also admitted that the reception has been surprising on their first stint touring: “there’s been someone at every gig we have played and sometimes a few people have gone, so it was just such a good experience to see how people react.” Vidamour continued, “it was nice to see how the songs went down, because until you play them live you just don’t know how people are going to react.”

‘Courage Have Courage’ are obviously then, a group of grounded lads who just enjoy playing their music and hope others will enjoy them too. With magazines like Kerrang! featuring them as well, it’s only a matter of time before acts like Frank Turner will be saying that he shared a stage with Courage Have Courage and what an experience it was.

 
 
 

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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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