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(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #399: Holy Motors

 
By on Monday, 12th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

There was a bit in the news last week that the Berlin Wall has now been down longer than it was physically up in Germany. I was thinking about this in the context of today’s featured band headed to Austin next month. Holy Motors are from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, a country that until 1991 was part of the Soviet Bloc. Although Estonia is one of the fastest financially growing countries in the EU, I imagine its relatively isolated location makes it difficult to put together a band, let alone a band who works well together and plays well together.

And yet, according to Holy Motors, that’s exactly what happened, and to our good fortune. The bedrock of the five-piece’s rock sound is the combined contribution of their three guitarists, lending a psychedelic, shoegaze-y air to their music. Most times droney, but at other moments more animated with the addition of synthesiser, Holy Motors’ sound is always atmospheric, ghostly. Adding to that overall feeling are the vocals of Eliann Tulve, her style of delivery more of an intonation than what can be called truly melodic.

This past Friday, the group released their debut album ‘Slow Sundown’, its title seeming all too eerily appropriate. The proceedings begin with ‘Honeymooning’, their first single. The song is ushered in by a gentle, languid guitar melody that’s like placing you in the loneliest of prairies seen in American cowboy Western cinema. On the more upbeat single ‘Sleeprydr’, the repetitive vibrations of synthesiser give the song a hypnotic quality, lulling the listener into a feeling of zen. It’s also interesting to note that the album was produced by Tampa rockers Merchandise’s frontman Carson Cox, who they serendipitously met at music festival years ago and later reached out to offer to produce their first single. The rest, as they say, is history.

Like a quieter young brother to The Twilight Sad, Holy Motors’ music is the melancholic contemplative soundtrack to your savouring of a dram of whisky in the dark, in your bedroom, all alone. Before the inevitable mad rush that comes with massive hype off the back of SXSW, I recommend you snag ‘Slow Sundown’ for yourself from Greenpoint, Brooklyn indie label Wharf Cat Records now.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Holy Motors’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #398: Chloe Foy

 
By on Wednesday, 7th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Dan Wiebe

As stated in her SXSW 2018 bio, Gloucestershire singer/songwriter Chloe Foy takes a page from the books of such peers as Laura Marling and Sharon van Etten in creating folk-pop songs with a distinct classical sensibility. Foy’s music is deftly melodic, with subtle textural undertones and complex harmonic variations under brittle yet agile vocals and elusively evocative lyrics. Her style is so completely unassuming that it might not attract attention on the first pass, but there is an earnest quality to her singing and a refined touch to her musicianship that come as a pleasant surprise to a patient listener.

‘Are We There Yet’, which is featured on Foy’s official Web site, was released last spring on her EP of the same title. Its graceful piano melody provides a lilting rhythmic motion under Foy’s floating vocal lines, “if you could stop loving this, I’ll forgive you all of this risk”. The electric guitar motif adds sonic texture to an otherwise straightforward arrangement, while layered vocal lines create both harmonic interest and dramatic tension.

Recent single release ‘Flaws’, from the same EP, is similarly delicate and gauzy, yet somehow earthy at the same time. Opening with muted bells and a gently plucked acoustic guitar, the song swells into a fuller instrumental sound as it progresses, with drums, brass and strings underscoring Foy’s gentle vocal refrain, “I know something you don’t know . . .”

Foy’s 2013 single ‘In the Middle of the Night’ hints even more strongly at an organic folk style, with guitar, plucked violin, and mixed percussion prominent in the instrumental milieu. The tempo throughout is upbeat and almost dance-like, and the addition of typical pop instrumentation (drums, guitar, and keyboard) adds a bright tone color to the end of the song. The song’s precipitously changing character is perhaps a metaphor for Foy’s own artistic evolution, as she observes in its lyrics: “I am a law unto myself, too many faces to dispel.”

Chloe Foy is still in the process of raising funds to finance her trip to America for SXSW. If you’re interested in helping her out, you can find her PledgeMusic campaign here. We hope to catch her live in Austin in March, but as with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, her appearance is subject to change. We suggest that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #397: Allman Brown

 
By on Monday, 5th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Jodie Canwell

London singer/songwriter Allman Brown excels at at the age-old craft of writing and performing unabashedly romantic love songs. Categorised by SXSW as folk/indie pop, his songs range from acoustic ballads to atmospheric neo-folk, but the thematic material remains constant. ‘Sweetest Thing’, the track highlighted in Brown’s SXSW 2018 bio, falls into the former category and has already garnered over 17 million plays on Spotify.

‘Sweetest Thing’ features prominently on Brown’s debut album ‘1000 Years’, which was released last year. Several collaborative tracks appear on that LP, not the least of which is the striking duet ‘Sons and Daughters’. Here, Brown is joined by Liz Lawrence, who aside from her own solo work has also worked with Ed Nash of Bombay Bicycle Club. ‘Sons and Daughters’ was originally the title track to Brown’s debut 2013 EP, but it’s certainly strong enough to warrant inclusion on the long player, even 4 years after its original release.

Brown also experiments with rock and electro-flavoured instrumentation, leaning more toward the pop end of the folk/indie pop continuum. ‘Last Dance’ takes a decidedly rock-oriented turn, with heavy drums and electric guitars behind hazy vocals in its verses and a visceral chorus that opens with the evocative lyric “when we dance, dance, dance / with your arms around my shoulders / it’s all I ever wanted, now I know.” His latest stand-alone single ‘Bury My Heart’ layers his light, evenly modulated vocals over a subtly electronic backing. The song is set to appear on a new EP due out on the 16th of March, conveniently coinciding with his appearance at SXSW.

Brown reminds me a bit of a very young Ed Sheeran before Sheeran abandoned this kind of authentic, soulful pop-tinged balladry for the bland production-by-committee approach he now favours. Coincidentally, one of the songs on Brown’s ‘1000 Years’ is called ‘Shape of You’, though it’s a very different creature to Sheeran’s radio hit of the same name. That being said, Brown could easily become a star of Ed Sheeran proportions, depending on the path he chooses to take. Allman Brown is one to watch in Austin certainly, and for the remainder of 2018.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, this act’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #401: Febueder

 
By on Monday, 29th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Name any major population centre in Great Britain, and names of famous artists from the place roll of your tongue. Manchester. London. Bristol. Sheffield. Glasgow. There are so many more. The heritage of successful artists leads to the support system and the infrastructure that will foster the acts of tomorrow. Fans’ memory of artists past from a city can hurt up-and-coming acts, too. Febueder won’t have to worry about either. The duo are from Ascot, most famous for its racecourse and that famous week in June where the well-to-do turn up in their finery and watch their favourite ponies run.

Nothing could be further from watching racehorses than the music Kieran Godfrey and Samuel Keysell make. Well, unless equine champions happen to like r&b. Febueder are yet another entry into the most recent crop of English, blue-eyed soul acts. However, unlike similar-sounding artists like Tender, Honne and others who we’ve featured here on TGTF, electronics are not a cornerstone of their sound. They’ve been knocking around for the last few years, flying so far under the radar I’d never heard of them until I came across their name on the third SXSW 2018 shout list released earlier this month. Earliest EP ‘Soap Carve’, a product of Febeuder when they were still a trio in 2013, featured the experimental, alt-J-sounding single ‘Alligator’, on which the percussion and vocals fought for supremacy.

Fast forward to 2017, when as a duo they released ‘Morning Yawn’, a single from their most recent EP ‘From an Album’. Whatever they have done in the last 4 years, it’s translated to a more focused vision for their music. There’s a catchy groove underlying these tracks. Does ‘Stilts’ and its driving dance beat the best representation of Febueder? Or is it ‘Hence Worth’, where Godfrey’s voice exudes both yearning and confidence and you’re driven to move to the music with a slow, smooth undulation? I’m honestly curious how well this comes together live, and we’ll get that chance at SXSW 2018 in March.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, this act’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #396: Pale Waves

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Manchester indie pop band Pale Waves are set to make their break in America at SXSW 2018 this March in Austin, Texas. The edgy yet soft-centered four-piece, comprising singer Heather Baron-Gracie, drummer Ciara Doran, guitarist Hugo Silvani and bassist Charlie Wood, are already hotly-tipped in the UK. They’re signed to Dirty Hit Records and have been featured in both the BBC Sound of 2018 and the DIY Class of 2018, on the strength of their impossibly catchy early singles ‘There’s a Honey’ and ‘Television Romance’.

But Pale Waves won’t be completely new to American listeners, particularly fans of art-pop group The 1975. The latter band’s frontman, Matty Healy, took an immediate liking to Pale Waves’s guitar-centric, unapologetically pop sound upon hearing them play live, describing them to NME as “a band that was positioned in the left, an alternative band, that was so in tune with pop sensibilities.” Healy invited Pale Waves to join The 1975 on the latter band’s U.S. tour last spring, as well as co-producing their aforementioned first two singles and directing the promo video for ‘Television Romance’.

Pale Waves’ goth-pop recent single ‘My Obsession’ is slated to appear on their forthcoming debut EP ‘All the Things I Never Said’. The EP release is due on the 16th of March, which was presumably timed to coincide with the group’s scheduled appearance at SXSW. Ahead of their trip to Austin, Pale Waves will headline the DIY Class of 2018 Tour in February and early March, and they have already announced a list of North American dates for later this spring. If you can’t make it to see them in Austin, you’ll find a complete rundown of Pale Waves’ upcoming live shows on their official Facebook.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, Pale Waves’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 

(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #395: C. Macleod

 
By on Wednesday, 17th January 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Mike Guest

Scottish folk singer/songwriter C. Macleod is, by all appearances, a musician in the middle of a makeover. The Facebook and Twitter links on his SXSW 2018 bio page are both inactive, but his official Web site links to different, fully operational social media profiles that appear to have been fairly recently created. Notably, these active profiles refer to the artist by his full name, Colin Macleod, rather than simply using his first initial.

If Macleod is indeed transitioning between names, it wouldn’t be the first time. According to his SXSW bio, “Colin started his career as alt-folk artist The Boy Who Trapped the Sun, working the same vibrant Glasgow scene as Frightened Rabbit and Snow Patrol.” In fact, TGTF’s own coverage of Macleod as The Boy Who Trapped the Sun dates back to 2009; you can read it all by clicking here.

Whichever stage name he ultimately chooses, Macleod seems to be making a concentrated attempt to redefine and solidify his sound. In the past several years, he has sought a balance between family and work, returning home to the Isle of Lewis and allowing its physical space and close-knit community to influence his songwriting. His current single ‘Kicks In’ is an intense blend of folk and rock, with warm guitars and shuffling percussion underscoring anthemic lyrics and Macleod’s sweetly stirring vocal delivery. Ironically, the song’s yearning refrain expresses a latent desire to run away: “so let it be known / one day I will leave this place / with a hope for something wide and new / though hell is just a step away / wait until it kicks in”.

Macleod has gathered a strong group of collaborators for this new chapter in his career. Well-known producer Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Laura Marling) took the helm on the recording of Macleod’s debut full-length album ‘Bloodlines’, which is due for release this March on BMG. For assistance in live shows, Macleod has recruited within close proximity, calling on his brother Callum and fellow Lewis natives Scott Macleod and Murdo Mackenzie to join his band. The only relative outsider in the entourage is, coincidentally or not, former Frightened Rabbit member Gordon Skene, who can be seen playing the prominent keyboard riff in ‘Shake the Walls’, just below.

Macleod finished 2017 playing support for veteran singer/songwriter Chris Rea, whose tour ended rather abruptly on the 9th of December in Oxford. Ahead of his trip to America in March for SXSW 2018, Macleod is slated to play at Americana Fest UK in London on the 31st of January and at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow on the 1st of February.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, C. Macleod’s appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

 
 
 

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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