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Bands to Watch #166: Insect Guide

 
By on Monday, 22nd March 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Dark. Indie. Shoegaze. Pop. If any of these words grab at you, then take note of Insect Guide, a three-piece band hailing from Leeds who are set to release their second album, ‘Dark Days & Nights’ this May.

The band received widespread praise and recognition for debut album ‘6ft in Love’ in November 2007, and their momentum in the musical underground clearly hasn’t slowed down since, having released a limited EP of remixes by Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3/Spectrum) in 2008.

Now with their future sophomore release, the band brings their distinctive skills and veteran know-how of flowing into the mainstream. Title track and upcoming single ‘Dark Days & Nights’ is a moody, poignant tune which talks of ‘sticky club floors’ and see-through love, all while being beautifully smashed up against an atmospheric wall of sound.

Meanwhile, ‘This City’ offers a distinctive blend of sounds raining down from the pop clouds. Clocking in just over two minutes, the track carries kind of infectious riff reminiscent of 1980s English post-punk band, Psychedelic Furs.

Finally, for those of you who remember the time when Manchester indie-rock band James hit their ‘commercial’ peak in the mid ‘90s -or if you just simply have great taste and are a fan of the band – listen to Insect Guide’s ‘Down From Here’ and try to convince me that the fantastic drum line doesn’t resemble ‘Sometimes’ from the glorious ‘Laid’ album. As with the band’s previous tracks, ‘Down From Here’ offers a supersonic collision of chaos and beauty, making the overall song poppy and very much accessible.

To think that I’ve been blown away by just sampling of songs from the band’s forthcoming album is quite remarkable. Needless to say, I look forward to enjoying their full LP, as I’m sure many others will too.

 

Bands to Watch #165: Erin K and Tash

 
By on Monday, 15th March 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Many, many years ago I had a young girl’s dream of becoming a singer. Long story short: for a multitude of reasons, it never happened, but as a result, I’m very critical of female singing voices upon hearing them for the first time. Most of the time, I am displeased (that’s putting it mildly) by what frivolous and unimpassioned warblings some girl is passing off as quote music unquote. I’m happy to report that last week I was pleasantly surprised and even a bit stunned upon hearing the band I am about to describe to you.

The anti-folk foursome Erin K and Tash is fronted by, yep, you guessed it, two angelic, incredible-sounding singers named Erin Kleh and Tash ter Braak. The two met in August 2009 after ter Braak, a talented pianist, answered Kleh’s ad for a backing vocalist for her burgeoning amateur band. The two hit it off right away and have been writing and performing together ever since with Paul Durbin (percussion) and Nicolas Cornu (guitar).

Check out the funny and evocative ‘Sorry I’m Not Black’ (mentioning American basketball star Dennis Rodman and English party girl singer Amy Winehouse) for an example of their lyrics: witty, humourous, and a breath of fresh air. The songs are delivered with such sweetness than the first thing that came into mind upon listening to a gorgeously spare version of ‘Oh Well (without noise version)’ on their MySpace, I thought of Emmy the Great.

The sultry ‘Jiggy Miggy’ reminds me of the great Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas. It’s a great example that even though female voices can be angelic, these women are real women; they feel emotions like love and lust like the rest of us and aren’t afraid to sing about them in a thoughtful way that we normal people can relate to, not at all in the distasteful way that seems pretty much par for the course for female, mass-marketed pop singers these days. So I say to Erin K and Tash, hip hip hooray!

This unsigned band is based in London and plays in venues around town. Here are some upcoming dates taken from their MySpace.

Sunday 21st March 2010 – London Islington Old Queens Head
Thursday 15th April 2010 – London Gladstone (free gig)
Thursday 22nd April 2010 – London Earl’s Court Troubadour
Monday 10th May 2010 – London 12 Bar (Blang! night)
Saturday 22nd May 2010 – London Leytonstone Library Hall

 

Bands to Watch #164: The Crookes

 
By on Wednesday, 10th March 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

With a name like ‘The Crookes‘ one might stereotype a band as a scruffy angst-ridden bunch sputtering on about drugs, sex and violence. One should know better. What you get this Sheffield-based band is a good dose of sunshine, love and peace. And what better way to welcome spring in than with “Chorus of Fools”, a poppy, and jingle-jangle tune topped with indie-folk and a strong influence of English kitchen-sink literature.

“Chorus of Fools'” comes off “A Colliers Wife” EP, and echoes slightly of ‘50s doo-wop and girl groups from the ‘60s, and with such comparisons, one might simply pigeonhole the four member band as outdated.

Yet again, one should really do better than to judge. The lyrical creativeness captures something akin to The Smiths, Orange Juice, The Coral and yes, even perhaps early day Libertines.

With the continuous flood of new wave synth acts seemingly coming far and wide, The Crookes offer a refreshing change that is not only catchy and poppy but simple – in a highly likeable way.

 

Bands to Watch #163: LYREBIRDS

 
By on Friday, 19th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

I clapped my hands together rather gleefully when I first stumbled upon LYREBIRDS last week. The Brighton band proved an instant hit with me and I knew straight away that I had no choice but to share them with TGTF readers. So here I tap upon my keyboard enthusiastically, mighty excited to tell you of one of my favourite discoveries of the year so far.

It would appear guitar gloom is the way forward this 2010, with the likes of TAPETHERADIO and Chapel Club (who LYREBIRDS recently supported) all embracing those stormy, brewing sounds. And yes, this Brighton five piece we introduce today are really, no different, taking on those big, bad tunes which provoke the same old ‘Joy Division’ and ‘Echo and the Bunneymen’ comparisons. But hey, when you possess that deep, dark vocal drawl, Curtis and co are truly inescapable in print.

Amid all this name-dropping, I may as well mention White Lies while I am at it, because it’s undeniable, LYREBIRDS’ sound is incredibly similar to that of the Ealing trios’. But this certainly isn’t a bad thing – ‘To Lose My Life’ was one of my highlights of 2009. And anyway, I can pretty much guarantee that future material will distinguish LYREBIRDS from such comparisons.

But going on what we do have – I can already hear this isn’t one big White Lies tribute. You only have to listen to the wonderfully psychedelic ‘Human Symphony’ to realise this. Starting off like a humble acoustic version of ‘Space Oddity’, an onset of crooked guitars and explosive, near operatic harmonies ensue, truly blowing the house down with epicness. Believe me, if you listen to one song today, listen to this track!!

But it’s not just me digging LYREBIRDS. The band recently sent their demos to the demigod that is Stephen Street (yeh, yeh, that one that helped someone called Morrissey once, and that pair, erm, Albarn n Coxon or something?), who, upon listen, agreed to produce the band’s first single ,’Closer’. So, they’ve got a thumbs up from me and they’ve got a thumbs up from Stephen (who, come on, has pretty good judgement when it comes to new music), so seriously, hit LYREBIRDS MySpace page now! You won’t regret it.

 

Bands to Watch #162: Lauren Pritchard

 
By on Friday, 12th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

England has made a habit of adopting talented Americans that have for whatever reason not made it big yet in the States. Bluesy songstress Lauren Pritchard is poised to become the next artist to benefit from this tradition. Originally from Madison County, Tennessee, after “6 years, 5 tattoos, 4 electric tea kettles, 3 cities, 2 tours and 1 Nord keyboard” and stops in Beverly Hills and New York, she has finally settled in London.

Pritchard exhibits subtlety and control in her soulful voice that’s rare these days, especially for such a young artist. Luckily for us, she’s already making connections in the London music scene that will serve her well. Forthcoming single ‘When the Night Kills the Day’ (see the video below) is a “haunting, bluesy shuffle” that was co-written by singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt and features the eerie and elegant playing of Marcus Mumford (of Mumford and Sons) on piano. In fact, Mumford chose this track to be the first he has ever produced, along with band member Ted Dwaine.

I hate comparing up-and-coming artists to music legends, as it gives them something impossible to live up to and doesn’t allow their music to stand on its own merits, which Lauren Pritchard’s certainly can. However, she’s said to sound like “Janis Joplin meets Karen Carpenter meets Carole King with a 2010 edge,” which can only be a good thing. With a gorgeous voice, lyrics like “I don’t see you like they see their men / they only see saints or sinners / and everybody seems to think it’s fun to be free / but you can keep your freedom / ‘cos I’ve got what I need,” and some of the best collaborators that London has to offer, it’s fair to expect that we’ll be seeing big things from Lauren in the future.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/8351602[/vimeo]

Lauren Pritchard releases her debut EP, ‘The Jackson Sessions EP,’ on 05 April in the UK.

 

Bands to Watch #161: TAPETHERADIO

 
By on Tuesday, 9th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

TAPETHERADIO are an infectious indie trio from Deptford. The band have already supported Athlete, and are recently hot off the road having toured with Stereophonics in January. Now, look, I know that ‘indie trio’ and ‘Stereophonics’ doesn’t exactly send excitement rushing through the veins, but honestly, I urge you to read on…

…Because, despite that cliché genre bracket I just hit you with, this band are really, pretty good. Think the dry darkness of Chapel Club (who we introduced a few weeks back), mixed with the electronically epic riffs of The Editors, the nostalgia of The Cure and Joy Division, with one final pinch of fun ala Futureheads, and we’re nearly there with these Deptford darlings. Comparisons (and woah, I just made a lot of them!) aside, TAPETHERADIO genuinely create awesome tunes which, quite frankly, would fill an indie club dancefloor quicker than you can say ‘The Maccabees’.

They have an epical edge to them, too, which we always appreciate here at TGTF. The bass can really pound through a song, the drums are pretty damn slicing, and the soaring vocals really reach some super heights of passion at certain points. The chorus of Save a Life – “If I was with you tonight, I would save a life! Save a life!” – is just waiting for a packed Reading tent to sing along with it, while the White Lies-esque opening riff of The Message needs a huge starry lit stage to be truly appreciated.

So yeah, I really do like these guys, and it won’t surprise me if you will be hearing TAPETHERADIO on a, er, radio near you sometime soon. If I was incredibly rich and owned a record company, I would certainly consider signing these promising lads up, so, EMI, go listen yes?

 
 
 

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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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