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Bands to Watch #408: Declan Welsh and the Decadent West

 
By on Thursday, 5th July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Confidence and charisma, if you are born with them, are two things that come in handy if you want to be a public figure. How you choose to use them, well, ladies and gents, that’s another story. East Kilbride’s Declan Welsh decided to use his gifts to write political poetry and songs and taking things one step further – and I guess as you do in a satellite town of Glasgow – formed a band with his hometown mates. The alliteratively named Declan Welsh and the Decadent West, one of top tips for this year’s May city festival season, appeared in May at The Great Escape 2018, where I was able to see the Scots in action at the Green Door Store Friday night, whipping the punters into a frenzy. No wonder this band has already become a hot commodity on the Glasgow live circuit.

Early on, it became clear to bloggers’ ears that Welsh would not shy from controversy and that he marched to the beat of a different drummer. A socialist drummer, you might say. Not afraid to get on his proverbial soapbox to deliver the searing ‘Nazi Boys’, he subsequently had to defend the Neelam Khan Vela-directed video with “We created two minutes and 20 second long piece of art, with a director whose main aim was to provoke a response.” Prior to showcasing in Brighton, they self-released their debut EP ‘All My Dreams Are Dull’, which featured several exemplary, jarring tracks demonstrating Welsh’s wit and desire to write about topics not usually talked about in polite company or merely all too often swept under the rug. ‘No Pasaran’, like ‘Nazi Boys’ before it, serves up another reminder to fight oppression at all costs. ‘Do What You Want’ promotes celebrates gender fluidity, which Welsh explained at the set I saw at the Great Escape as a call for more understanding and acceptance with the ultimate goal of love winning out.

I reckon the upbeat-sounding single ‘Lull’ will probably draw in the most new fans this summer festival season. Listen a little closer, and you’ll hear Welsh’s accurate depiction of the anxiety of youth in the lyrics. He explained the single to Louder Than War last month: “‘Lull’ is about self-doubt, it’s about the futility of existence, it’s about making art, trying to leave a mark, being lazy, delusions of grandeur. It’s basically about the fact that all of us are trying hard to find meaning, and about how some of us choose making stuff as that meaning. It’s then about how making stuff is about making an impact, being remembered, but about how that pressure can be destructive and drive people who make stuff to tie how good their stuff is with how worthwhile they are. It’s a bit grim, really, which is why we tried to make the tune a bit more upbeat. I quite like that juxtaposition, somber lyrics and an upbeat melody.”

While exploiting this kind of juxtaposition to get more listeners is nothing new in popular music, it’s great that an up-and-coming band is doing more than simply make a great big noise. Hang on this link for the future, as I suspect we’ll be writing much more about Declan Welsh and the Decadent West in days to come.

 

Video of the Moment #2863: Saint Sister

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

After their appearances in past SXSWs, female Irish duo Saint Sister have announced they are readying to release their debut album. ‘Shape of Silence’ is due for a release later this year, but we don’t have firm details yet. What we do have is the single ‘Twin Peaks’ and an accompanying tour video that shows Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre and their touring bandmates on the road. The song’s ethereal folk nature plays nicely with the varied scenes the band finds themselves in in the video. Watch it below. For more on our coverage of Saint Sister on TGTF, go here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Buck Meek

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Buck Meek, far right, with his band at Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018

If you’re a regular TGTF reader, you might already be familiar with the name of singer/songwriter Buck Meek. We’ve covered Meek before in his role as part of alt-rock band Big Thief, both in live review and previous SXSW coverage. Back in March, during SXSW 2018, Meek came to Austin as a solo artist, to preview his now-released debut LP, which is simply titled ‘Buck Meek.’ I caught a very quick moment with Meek after his set at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion to ask him about the new album.

‘Buck Meek’ technically isn’t Meek’s solo debut, following on his previous EP release ‘Heart Was Beat’ from back in 2015. That EP includes the memorable track ‘Sam Bridges’, which he played in a slightly different form in the Revival Tent at Luck than what I remembered from a live performance in Phoenix with Big Thief several years ago. Discussing his set on the day, Meek agreed. “That [song] had a more country feel. I mean, we’re playing it with a slide guitar player today, who kind of mimics the [pedal] steel, and with a country drum beat and everything.”

Having only seen Meek before in the context of Big Thief’s edgy folk rock, I was curious about the more obvious country influence I heard on display in his solo work. “I think there’s influence there”, Meek says. “I grew up in Wimberly, Texas, south of Austin. I grew up listening to, surrounded by country music. So it’s always been, I think, an influence. And to be honest, this set, I catered more towards that feel.”

But many of the songs on ‘Buck Meek’, the album, defy easy classification as straighforward country songs. Musically, the record’s foundational country tone is obfuscated by elements of what Meek describes as “grunge, and punk rock, and more esoteric stuff.” Early single ‘Cannonball!’ has a distinct twang to it, most prominently in Meek’s vocal lines, but its laid-back rhythm section is unmistakabely jazz-tinged, and its electric guitar riff is pure blues rock. ‘Ruby’ is a charmingly elusive, rhythmically complex track which Meek explained to Uproxx as “the suspension in love, when time folds in on itself, when the first instant of meeting cycles through the idiosyncratic friction and ancient affection of years together, which again cycles into infancy and eager fascination — all contained within a sideways glance.”

Thematically, ‘Buck Meek’ touches on a wide array of subject matter, from platonic male friendship (‘Joe By the Book’) to a plane crash in the French Alps (‘Flight 9525’), and an intriguing cast of characters, including a widow named ‘Sue’ and a devoted canine ‘Best Friend.’ In the end, the heart of the album is revealed in final track ‘Fool Me’, a late night country bar classic, with a plaintive piano melody and Meek’s self-deprecating vocal evoking the mild yet persistent yearning of one last slow dance on an otherwise deserted dance floor.

‘Buck Meek’ was released on the 18th of May on Austin record label Keeled Scales. Buck Meek will spend the remainder of the summer on tour supporting the release of the album, including the following run of dates in the UK in August. In addition to the shows listed below, Meek will support fellow country artist Courtney Marie Andrews at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 21st of August and at Southampton’s Talking Heads on the 22nd of August. You can find a full listing of Meek’s upcoming live dates on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Buck Meek is collected through here.

Monday 20th August 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Thursday 23rd August 2018 – London Islington
Friday 24th August 2018 – Manchester Gullivers
Sunday 26th August 2018 – Dublin Grand Social
Monday 27th August 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 28th August 2018 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 

Video of the Moment #2862: Talos

 
By on Monday, 2nd July 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Eoin French, aka the Cork-based singer/songwriter better known under the stage name Talos, came out of SXSW 2018 as one of the big success stories among the Irish artists who performed there. Revisit some of my coverage of him and his band in Austin through this post. It wasn’t enough for French to release his debut album ‘Wild Alee’ once. A deluxe reissue is now available, and with new material!

Naturally from the name, you know that ‘Odyssey Pt. II’ follows on from the original ‘Odyssey’ single. Director Máni Sigfússon has explained his vision for the video this way: “This quote from The Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky came to mind while I was working on the video, and it became kind of an outline: ‘Weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it’s tender and pliant. But when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.” Check out the video below. The deluxe version of ‘Wild Alee’ is now available from BMG. Catch up on all of our coverage on Talos through this link.

 

Album Review: Joshua Burnside – All Round the Light Said EP

 
By on Monday, 2nd July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Joshua Burnside All Round the Light Said album coverThese days, you have two pretty clear options on the kind of music you can listen to: true escapist fare of little intellectual consequence to take your mind away from what’s going outside your door, or songs with a conscience and enough meat on the bones to make you contemplate where you or the world has gone wrong. One is neither better than the other, but as time passes, I know which kind can console me now. Northern Irish alt-folk singer/songwriter Joshua Burnside’s latest release, the ‘All Round the Light Said’ EP, falls in the second category, and its title alone leads to some heavy questions. What is the light? Is it benevolent? Are we meant to be going towards it? While Burnside’s EP may not hold all the answers, it follows nicely from his Northern Ireland Music Prize-winning debut album ‘Ephrata’ from last year and its political and emotional content framed by South American rhythms.

The EP begins with previously unveiled single ‘A Man of High Renown’, a lumbering waltz of air organ and accordion oozing Irishness. A gay and catchy melody belies the song’s dark lyrical content as the song feels like one of those films where you’re bounced between terrible events of the past and present day. At the song’s core is a struggle between the powerful and the weak. You’re left wondering if wrongs have been righted; perhaps that was the intention, to leave it as a cliffhanger? The accompanying video sees Burnside on accordion, being accompanied by dancers because, well, everyone knows the Irish are famous for their music and their dancing, right? The split screen accomplishes the same thing as the lyrics, juxtaposing locations of old and new Belfast.

‘Rearranged’ can be viewed another exercise in looking back, while also looking forward to see how far one has come or what’s up ahead. Or not. Burnside’s own technophobic tendencies have translated into a meandering guitar melody and a warbly vocal delivery. These feel like are good parallels to the noodley thoughts in your head of anxiety. ‘Northern Winds’ is a song in two acts, the first a more conventional folk song. About halfway through, a gentle drumbeat is accompanied by trumpet and banjo. The tempo speeds up and so does the overall volume as Burnside’s voice turns more insistent, referencing Oscar Wilde’s short story The Happy Prince, itself a study of compassion and sacrifice. Long a staple of Burnside’s live show and recorded in analogue, it’s interesting it immediately precedes ‘Paul’, a much more experimental number with unusual percussion, disorted organ notes and synth effects. While an obvious strength of Burnside’s is his Americana-style songwriting, the way ‘All Round the Light’ concludes suggests a future more experimental direction that would be even more intriguing.

8/10

The newest release from Joshua Burnside, the Editor Mary reviews Northern Irish alt-folk singer/songwriter Joshua Burnside’s latest release, the ‘All Round the Light Said’ EP out now on Quiet Arch. EP, is out now on Quiet Arch Records. His next live appearances include UK headline shows at Glasgow Nice N Sleazy on the 10th of July and London Paper Dress Vintage on the 24th, in addition to loads of Irish appearances through the summer. A full list of his live appearances are available on his official Web site. Read through our past coverage on Burnside through this link.

 

Video of the Moment #2861: Young Fathers

 
By on Friday, 29th June 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Edinburgh’s Mercury Prize-winning Young Fathers released their third album in March. ‘Cocoa Sugar’ has garnered the Scotland-based trio plenty of accolades, so naturally, they’re eager to show off more from the LP. The latest video to be released from it is for ‘Holy Ghost’. It’s a truly inventive promo: although it’s entirely in black and white, stuff is going on like you’re watching different scenes through night vision goggles. And the song is catchy, too. Watch the video below. ‘Cocoa Sugar’ from Young Fathers is out now on Ninja Tune. For more of our coverage here on TGTF on the group, 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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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