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Bands to Watch #218: Midnight High

 
By on Wednesday, 15th June 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Hailing from the relatively unknown music scene of Lincoln, Midnight High are beginning to make a name for themselves across the UK. Formed from the ashes of various teenage bands, this indie-folk quartet have matured in recent years and are now focused solely on making catchy, emotive music.

Currently at the end of a mini-tour of Britain, Midnight High are determined to spread their own brand of indie-folk to the masses. Influenced by the likes of Paolo Nutini and The Strokes, the Lincoln four-piece have created an original sound in a scene populated by beige guitar bands.

Track ‘Dead Rabbits’ (which is available on their current self-titled EP) begins with a Johnny Cash-esque guitar, which continues throughout. Jace Weaver’s gravelly vocals really compliment the music, instead of the increasingly common whiny vocals found on a lot of indie releases – Midnight High are hopefully the breath of fresh are the indie scene needs. ‘Somewhere Along the Riverbed’ is much more akin to conventional modern guitar bands, but the vocals and lyrics are what differentiate Midnight High from the rest. Weaver’s voice stands out as the driving force behind the originality the band possess, although, without the rest of the group’s input the Lincoln lads could just become another ‘The’ band.

Despite still being unsigned, these guys are working hard to rectify it. Currently in the semi-finals of the Manchester leg of Surface Festival and playing many gigs across Britain, it hopefully won’t be long until you see the indie-folk foursome down at your local Barfly.

 

Bands to Watch #217: Cashier No. 9

 
By on Wednesday, 8th June 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Simon Raymonde of Bella Union has had a pretty good track record over the years. He’s managed to sign some pretty amazing names in the last couple of years…Alessi’s Ark, Fleet Foxes, the Walkmen and Robin Hitchcock.

So what act is Raymonde’s latest acquisition? Cashier No. 9, a young-ish band from Belfast. The strange name? Comes from the name of a coffee bar that lead vocalist/guitarist Daniel Todd used to work at, before he gave it up for the musician life. And evidently (and to my great surprise), they’ve been around for a while: Paul Lester wrote about them on the Guardian New Band of the Day 3 years ago. Interestingly, back then Lester grouped them with Madchester bands the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Perhaps…

This band calls their sound “pop / psychedelic” on their MySpace. I usually go running away from bands that call themselves “psychedelic” – which conjures up images of trippy dippy, stoned musicians wearing tie dye shirts. Regardless of how you feel about that label, listen to and watch the video for the Cashier No. 9 track ‘Goldmine’ below. It’s like they took the introverted dreaminess out of Coldplay (note: no piano in here at all), dipped it in honey and put it to a jaunty tempo. With the echo effects, okay, I can see in this track a possible comparison between them and shoegaze.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MguSkd-6U9k[/youtube]

I don’t know enough about Belfast bands to say if they’re in front of the next big wave to come out of the Emerald Isle, but they don’t sound anything like Two Door Cinema Club (so don’t even go there). So hopefully they will come into their own and not be compared to that other indie band from Northern Ireland. Good luck to them, I say. But if you stop to consider that one of their tracks just missed getting playlisted on 6music recently, I don’t think they really need my help.

Cashier No. 9’s debut album, ‘To the Death of Fun’, will be released on 20 June on Bella Union.

 

Bands to Watch #216: Real Fur

 
By on Tuesday, 7th June 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Have you ever heard of gigs in laundrettes? Neither did I before having come across this London trio, Real Fur. This band has played in many launderettes before (there was even a Laundrette Tour in May!), as the band wanted to play in places that weren’t traditional. Real Fur have a very likable sound, and I think they play funky / tropical pop. With only one guitar, one bass and one set of drums – played by Leo, Matt and George respectively – they have managed to create sounds that you think you would hear in a tropical rainforest.

Their debut single out this week, ‘Animal’, sounds jungle-like from the very first second of listening, as the rotating tom-toms create not only dynamic but also tropical feeling. Another song by Real Fur, named ‘Birds’ (listen to it below), has a lot of cowbell and amazing guitar riffs. The haunting riffs just catch your attention and make you want to come back for more, the cowbell extremely bouncy and playful, not to mention that the rich bass that adds a lot of depth to the song.

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

The launderette shows were named ‘Safari Funk Parties’, I suppose I do understand the rationale behind after having heard songs by Real Fur.

Real Fur’s debut single ‘Animal’ is out now via Safari Funk Records. The band play London’s Bull and Gate tonight, Meltdown Festival at South Bank Centre on 10 June and New Empowering Church on 11 June.

 

Bands to Watch #215: Juan Zelada

 
By on Friday, 20th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

After leaving Spain with his guitar in tow, Juan Zelada arrived in London looking for stardom. With little more than a tune and a message, he managed to work his way up the ranks in search of fame and fortune. Now he’s finally being given some recognition. Since touring with Amy Winehouse and making some famous friends such as Paloma Faith, Zelada is gearing up to release his debut single ‘Breakfast in Spitalfields’ (video below) on the 4th July.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIlM3R0ByrQ[/youtube]

The song is definitely based around the one man and his guitar ethos, with a minimal structure and soft sombre vocals. Drawing influence from Jack Johnson and John Mayer, the song is mellow and perfect for this summer weather. It’s not too complicated or intricate but it’s catchy, and Zelada’s voice keeps the chilled feel of the song going throughout.

Also in Zelada’s repertoire is the ever so swing ‘The Blues Remain’. Packed full of pianos and a brass section, the Paolo Nutini-esque track is every bit as catchy as ‘Breakfast in Spitalfields’ but has a much bigger sound. Breaking the mould of his one-man show style, Zelada encompasses many elements into this song to keep the momentum going with a noise big enough to fill a stadium. Which one day he just might do.

 

Bands to Watch #214: Brooke Fraser

 
By on Friday, 13th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the band/PR collective Sounds Like Brisbane. That covers one major city in Australia. But what about other acts down under? Take New Zealand songbird and songwriter Brooke Fraser, for example. Signed to Sony back home at the tender age of 18, Fraser released her first album in 2002. ‘What to Do with Daylight’ debuted at #1 and managed to reach gold status in its first week of release. The folk pop singer’s debut album went on to being eight times platinum – holy cow, how do we not know about her?

Nearly a decade later and at age 27, she’s finally released an album in the UK, ‘Flags’ (her third overall in New Zealand). The album was written in America – specifically in Los Angeles, Bodega Bay in Northern California and the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. The latter two locations may explain the freewheeling, expansive sound of this effort. Check out ‘Betty’, a jaunty, folky number featuring Fraser’s warm, honeyed voice. And the American countryside where she wrote these songs provided inspiration for the title track, she explains: “I was traversing these incredible landscapes and wondering about all the people who had come to arrive in and then leave these places. One day this image of a flag popped into my mind. It seemed that our lives were like flags: a stake in the ground, marking our territory, but eventually our flag will wear out and return to the ground and someone else’s flag will replace our own.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNVJ0mcyeHY[/youtube]

Not only is she contemplative in her professional (songwriting) life, she also gives her time and energy to Charity Water, a New York-based, non-profit organisation working to get clean water to everyone on the globe within 40 years. She has already helped raise US$50,000 by setting up a charity scheme through which her fans can contribute to the cause. A singer/songwriter with a conscience and really willing to help her fellow man: this world definitely needs more people like her.

‘Flags’ by Brooke Fraser is available now.

 

Bands to Watch #213: The Cast of Cheers

 
By on Friday, 6th May 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Ever wondered what would Foals would sound like if they were Irish? the Cast of Cheers are a maths rock four-piece from Dublin, the land of Eire. The band all started when singer/guitarist Conor started writing some songs in his home’s attic. Later on, joined by Kev, John and Neil (Conor’s brother), the band started recording their debut album ‘Chariot’.

‘Derp’ is my favourite song by them from ‘Chariot’, with an exceptionally long intro filled with catchy guitar riffs, soon joined with some thumping drum beats. The vocals fades in and out the song, thus creating a very dynamic feeling. ‘Derp’ is extremely intense and it feels like it’s the fastest 3 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life.

‘I Am Lion’, another track off ‘Chariot’, seems to follow what I think of as “the Cast Of Cheers songwriting formula”. Again with some heavy bass and intense drums, ‘I Am Lion’ also features some distorted vocals provided by Conor. It is definitely a song which will grow on you the more you listen to it.

Though unsigned, the band are currently working on a follow-up to ‘Chariot’, entitled ‘Rockets’, which is due to be released soon. But in the meantime, you can listen to ‘Chariot’ and download it for free below. And just if you’re asking yourself, who are some of the Cast of Cheers’ famous fans? None other than Two Door Cinema Club.

 
 
 

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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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