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Live Review: Saint Sister with Marian McLaughlin at DC9, Washington, DC – 21st September 2018

 
By on Monday, 24th September 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo of Saint Sister by Rich Gilligan

If you can manage to schedule it, do yourself a favour and go see a favourite band on either the first night or the last night of a tour. On the last night, you can cheer for them for a job well done for finishing what usually is a long, exhausting campaign to support a new album. On the flipside, on the first night of a tour, it’s nice to champion the people you respect as artists as they begin the process. I’m lucky enough to catch the start of two tours within 1 week this month, the first being Saint Sister’s first-ever visit to Washington Friday night. Ahead of the self-release of the Northern Irish girl duo’s debut album on the 5th of October, Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre, joined by a touring bassist/keyboardist and drummer.

The show began with a feeling of déjà vu for me. The previous time I saw singer/songwriter Marian McLaughlin, she was supporting another pair of talented ladies, England’s Smoke Fairies, at the very same venue. The NPR-feted McLaughlin is a stalwart to the Baltimore / DC area scene, having steadily self-released music since 2014. The themes of her upcoming album ‘Lake Accotink’ are how humans interact with the environment and resolving for herself the impact of progress on Earth.

Marian McLaughlin DC9 September 2018

Like the last time I saw her, she performed solo Friday night, though she will be performing with a backing band this week at album release shows this week in Baltimore Wednesday night, the 26th, at Holy Underground and Friday night, the 28th, at DC’s Songbyrd Music House. Swapping between nylon-stringed acoustic guitar, a standing keyboard and one placed at her feet, this was a performance that was anything run-of-the-mill. McLaughlin pays tribute to the beauty of local parks in her new LP: ‘Grayson Highlands’ recalls a hiking trip McLaughlin took there. It’s named after a Virginian state park near the state’s southern border with North Carolina.

From one unique artist to two of them. Saint Sister have showcased twice in the last 3 years of SXSW, which is an impressive feat considering how many hopefuls appear at the Irish version of SXSW, Hard Working Class Heroes, every autumn in Dublin. Incorporating electronic, rock and soul into folk, their self-described “atmosfolk” sets them apart from not just all the singer/songwriters in Ireland but those around the world. For example, how often do you see an accordion and a harp (Gemma Doherty’s primary instrument) at a rock show? Also, I witnessed another specifically Irish phenomenon that Daithi clued me in on 2 years ago: Irish people always show up and support their country(wo)men, wherever they are playing. So the audience was oddly disproportionally full of Irish music fans from university age to way up, and more Guinness was being poured than usual at DC9, though the nectar of the gods were from *gasp, horror* cans.

Saint Sister DC9 September 2018

Saint Sister will be making the grandest of artistic gestures at the end of next week with the release of debut ‘Shape of Silence’, which I have listened to in full and can say is excellent. The album includes songs that have been kicking around in their live sets for a while that proved arresting performed Friday night. On a much simpler, back to basics approach, ‘Corpses’ (previously released through Communion’s Singles Club) featured only Doherty and MacIntyre’s ethereal voices and very gentle instrumentation. ‘Madrid’, on the other hand, is a full band affair, and with its glitchy, syncopated beats, the song feels more modern and miles away from more traditional folk.

‘Causing Trouble’ bridges this seemingly insurmountable divide with soulful, perfectly duetting vocals from the ladies and a sultry beat that’s caused the pair’s music to be compared to that of Massive Attack and Portishead. This ain’t your momma’s folk, that’s for sure. But with Doherty and MacIntyre’s brilliantly complementary vocals underpinning everything, they have the latitude to continue to experiment and create music that is totally their own. With the release of ‘Shape of Silence’, they’re sure to win many new fans.

After the cut: Saint Sister’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Saint Sister with Marian McLaughlin at DC9, Washington, DC – 21st September 2018

 

In the Post #162: American singer/songwriter Gill Landry begins work on his follow-up to ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ with a unique PledgeMusic campaign

 
By on Monday, 24th September 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

If you’re a regular TGTF visitor, you might have read last year about alt-country singer/songwriter Gill Landry and his brilliant fourth studio album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’.  Almost a year on from its release, that album is still in regular rotation in my own music library, but not one to rest on his laurels, Landry has already begun work on his next recording project. According to a post on his Instagram, this as-yet-unnamed fifth album will be comprised of songs written over the summer in France, in a period of just 4 weeks’ time. With the film noir vibe of ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ still firmly in mind, a set of new Gill Landry songs steeped in French je ne sais quoi seems a very promising proposition indeed.

With the songwriting swiftly completed, Landry now sets to work on the recording of the album. To this end, he has started a PledgeMusic campaign, which he says he hopes will allow him “to afford the time to take on this task with the care and attention I feel it deserves.” Pledged funds will be used to independently finance the studio time, guest musicians, and mixing expenses for the album, and Landry has an interesting selection of merchandise on offer in return for fan pledges. Aside from his artful and evocative songwriting, Landry is also a skilled photographer and visual artist, and his PledgeMusic store includes handmade block-printed tarot cards, prints of his own original photography, and a handful of other unique items.

You can explore the complete merchandise listing and make a donation to the project on Landry’s PledgeMusic page by clicking this link. But before you do, take a listen to Landry’s personal message from about the new project in the video just below. ICYMI, our two-part interview with Gill Landry from last autumn can be found by clicking here and here. Our complete previous coverage of Landry is collected back this way.

 

Video of the Moment #2899: The Joy Formidable

 
By on Thursday, 20th September 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Ladies and gents, your attention, please! The Joy Formidable‘s fourth album ‘AAARTH’ will be out on the 28th of September. Yes. Next Friday! As long-time supporters of the band, we’re pretty excited about this at TGTF Towers. What do the Welsh alt-rockers have in store for us this time? They let us in on the fun with early taster ‘The Wrong Side’, featured in this previous Video of the Moment. This week, they’ve got another promo video for us, this time for single ‘The Better Me’.

Filmed pretty much as far away from Wales as you can get – Las Vegas – this video stars the band and features clips of them doing what they do best, rocking out. Of the video, the band say, “We knew we wanted to do something simple & centred around Ritzy’s performance because it’s a very personal song. There’s also this natural defiance in walking forward, pushing forward through these deserted streets in a lonely corner of Las Vegas.” Check it out below, and stay tuned for ‘AAARTH’ coming at you next week on Hassle Records. Itching for more on the Joy Formidable? You can check out our pretty comprehensive archive on the group through here.

 

Video of the Moment #2898: Kate Nash

 
By on Wednesday, 19th September 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Back in the spring, Kate Nash released her fourth album. ‘Yesterday Was Forever’ reflected a version of Kate Nash as we’d never seen or heard from before, now that Nash is an actress starring in Netflix female wrestling comedy GLOW. From the album, she’s released a new video this week for ‘Hate You’, which might not be so good for the squeamish. You’ll see what I mean if you watch the video below. Want to read through all of our past coverage on TGTF on Kate Nash? Follow us this way.

 

Album Review: The Last Bison – SÜDA

 
By on Wednesday, 19th September 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Matthew Simmons

LB_Suda-album-artAmerican folk rock band The Last Bison have undertaken some significant changes since we last heard from them back in 2015. Perhaps most obviously, the band’s lineup has slimmed down from five members to three, with the departures of founding members Dan Hardesty and Annah Housworth following the band’s third album ‘VA’ (pronounced as “Virginia”, the state the band hails from). Now comprised of Ben Hardesty (vocals, guitar, percussion), Amos Housworth (cello, bass), and Andrew Benfante (keys, organ, guitar), The Last Bison have been forced to rethink their musical palette, but rather than streamlining, the resulting transformation feels more like a complete and deliberate redefinition of the band’s signature sound.

From the opening track of new album ‘SÜDA’, it’s clear that The Last Bison is no longer the organic alt-folk collective we once knew. ‘By My Side’ is a slow prelude to the album proper, but its cool synthetic haze, whispered vocals, and distorted guitars are already a major change from the band’s previously warm, folk-flavoured acoustic rock. Synths, bass, and percussion continue to dominate the musical arrangements throughout the album, beginning with ‘Cold Night’, where frontman Hardesty sings, perhaps ironically and perhaps not, of a past warmth (“comfort like a mother’s hold / the words she spoke set all our hearts aglow”) contrasting with a colder, harsher present reality.

Early single ‘Gold’ is immediately rhythmic, with novel percussion and a prominent bass riff among its distinctive characteristics. Its opening lines, “I used to run with the Navajo / now I cut trees with the Inca, though / I traded my horses in for gold / I won’t be forgetting you”, refer to frontman Hardesty’s childhood days in South America, when his parents served as missionaries to Bolivia. The album’s press release describes that time as central to this record: “The songs of ‘SÜDA’ reflect on that period of gained knowledge and experience, with themes of longing, times remembered, times to come, and the desire for spiritual fulfillment.”

However, from this point forward, the thematic references become more obscure and the lyrics more heavily dependent on well-worn metaphors. ‘Blood’ is dark and dramatic, with cello and piano ornamentation adding a touch of light behind the shadowy synth backdrop. In fact, these instrumental moments are more memorable than the song’s awkward refrain: “there you were like a thief in the night / unexpectedly arriving to steal / with my heart on the line / blood was pumping to a wound that had healed / I was yours for a time / for a moment there, you taught me to feel”. The album’s title track, an bright yet introspective ballad, comes midway through the track sequence, but doesn’t do much to clarify the album’s musical intent with its mild ’80s rock sound and its head-scratcher of a refrain: “splitting apart my head / sewing it up with Dixieland”.

In the second half of the tracklisting, a variety of rhythmic devices saves ‘SÜDA’ from capitulating to the increasing banality of its lyrics. ‘Anywhere You Go’ has an almost jazzy, r&b kind of feel to its smooth synth melodies and elastic bassline, while ‘The Glow’ and ‘Echo of Eden’ rely on prominent percussion and tribal rhythms to make their emotional mark. One of the strongest tracks on the album, ‘The Glow’ is slow and seductive, its serpentine motion punctuated by a strongly rhythmic backing chorus. ‘Echo of Eden’ is slightly less effective in its overarching social statement, with lyrics ultimately too vague to be very meaningful.

Though the rhythmic and instrumental variety on ‘SÜDA’ is interesting, the album overall feels a bit indecisive in its lyrics and its stylistic leanings. The Last Bison’s recent lineup changes have had a tangible impact on the band’s musical choices, some of which were undoubtedly made out of necessity. The synth heavy musical arrangements here are experimental and occasionally inspired, but not enough so to cover for the lyrical weaknesses, especially late in the tracklisting. However, ‘SÜDA’ is nonetheless a brave and earnest attempt to forge a new musical style from an admittedly more limited toolbox of sounds. Venturing away from their former folk rock comfort zone, Ben Hardesty and his colleagues may seem a bit aimless at the moment, but ‘SÜDA’ provides them with several promising departure points for a possible next attempt.

6/10

The Last Bison’s fourth studio album ‘SÜDA’ is due for release on this Friday, the 21st of September, on AntiFragile Records. You can read through TGTF’s past coverage of The Last Bison by clicking here.

 

Video of the Moment #2897: Paul Smith

 
By on Tuesday, 18th September 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Paul Smith, of Maximo Park fame, will be releasing his third solo album next month. ‘Diagrams’, which will drop on the 26th of October on Smith’s own Billingham Records, follows 2015’s ‘Contradictions’ with The Intimations and 2010’s ‘Margins’. A preview taste of ‘Diagrams’ is the high-octane, guitar-driven single ‘Silver Rabbit’, now listenable alongside its promo video. In the promo, Smith is wearing his trademark hat and is shown in front of various urban scenes, some with guitar, some without. Watch and listen to ‘Silver Rabbit’ below. For all of our past coverage on Paul Smith here on TGTF, go here.

 
 
 

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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