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Video of the Moment #2853: Pale Waves

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Last Friday night, I conducted a small, highly unscientific poll to see what the people of Washington thought of Pale Waves. People seem to either love them or loathe them. I was reminded of several conversations I had while in blighty last month regarding acts who have populist appeal, like Catfish and the Bottlemen: for the kind of music they do, they do it well for an enjoyable night out, but their music won’t change your world. I reckon the same applies to Pale Waves: to me, their sound is just too alike to early stuff from their buddies The 1975 (yes, I know why), their music doesn’t do a thing for me. However, as noted in at SXSW 2018, I’m outnumbered. That’s all right. If this kind of pop delivered in a goth wrapper like ‘Kiss’ below appeals to you, go for it. It’s out now on Dirty Hit Records. For all of our past coverage on the Manchester band, go here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Dan Bettridge

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 11:00 am
 

If you’re a long time TGTF reader, you might remember that Welsh singer/songwriter Dan Bettridge was originally tapped to make the trip to America for SXSW 2017. (If not, you can read our SXSW 2017 preview coverage here and here.) Sadly, unexpected visa issues prevented Bettridge and several other international artists, from making the trip last year.

I met with Bettridge on the Wednesday night of SXSW 2018, at the Focus Wales showcase hosted by downtown Austin club the Townsend. He was kind enough to give me a few minutes before he played his set on the showcase, and we naturally started with a chat about the aforementioned visa challenges. Specifically, Bettridge had a problem with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which determines eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows citizens of 38 approved countries, including the UK, to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa.

If that sounds complicated to you, you’re not alone. “To be honest, I think it was a clerical error,” Bettridge said. But the ordeal inspired his management team to write a guide for international musicians planning to travel to America ahead of his rescheduled trip to Austin this year. “I think that was helpful to some people, because people are still confused, you know, artists and management, about how to get their band over here. So the more we share about it the better, I guess.”

I mentioned the current American political climate as a potential obstacle for visiting musicians, and Bettridge quickly agreed. “Yeah, it’s a nightmare! I mean you’re supposed to be able to do it with an ESTA, but people are saying, just for security reasons, go and get a visa which is a bit of a pain, really. But I got [a visa] this year.”

“You don’t strike me as a security risk,” I joked. Bettridge laughed, “No, that’s just what people said! I don’t consider myself a security risk.”

At that point, we turned our attention to Bettridge’s impending set, and I asked him what I might expect to hear when he took the stage. “It will be all new stuff,” he said, “it’s kind of, how do I explain it?” He paused for a moment, and I empathised with the ever present challenge of trying to describe music in words. “I guess it’s soul rock, with a little bit of country thrown in sometimes. I guess that’s the best way to explain it.”

That intriguing description led to discussion of Bettridge’s forthcoming LP, ‘Asking for Trouble’, whose release format is equally intriguing. In the midst of the digital age, when so many musicians are releasing singles and EPs rather than waiting to put out a full album, Bettridge has struck a very deliberate compromise with the new project. “It is going to culminate in an album,” he explained, “but I’m releasing it in ‘Waves’ of four songs at a time.” The idea behind the staggered release, he said, is “to take advantage, really, of everything turning to streaming. It’s just more digestible. It’s a 16 track album, so I think it just wouldn’t work, putting it out in one piece.”

Bettridge also wanted to encourage his listeners to take some time with the new songs. “Sometimes huge artists will bring out albums, and the following week they’re just forgotten about, you know, they’re just dead. So [this] was another way of prolonging the release and trying to get every song to be [heard] without interruption. I think four songs is a good number of songs to be released at a time.”

The individual ‘Waves’ are each carefully constructed and deliberately different from the final album tracklisting. “It’s a little bit eclectic,” Bettridge said of the full LP. “There’s some really driving rock songs on there, and then there’s also some more sort of pop sensibility songs on it. The ‘Waves’ are gathered together where the songs make sense together, so there won’t be so much of a shock when the full album does come out. There’ll be three ‘Waves’ in total, and then the final ‘Wave’ will be kind of like a completion of the album. So when people buy the album, they’ll still be getting songs they haven’t yet heard.”

Despite the temptation of that payoff at the end, I suggested that the ‘Wave’ approach might be asking a lot from Bettridge’s listeners in terms of thoughtful comprehension of the music. “I kind of thought I was making it easier for them!” Bettridge exclaimed. Still, this is clearly an album for dedicated listeners, even with accessible singles like ‘Heavenly Father’ in the mix.

Dan Bettridge’s LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ is due for full release on the 6th of July. In the meantime, you can listen to Waves One, Two, and Three on Spotify or on his official Soundcloud. Bettridge will be on tour in the UK this summer, playing headline shows and festival slots.  TGTF’s collected coverage of Dan Bettridge is right through here.

 

Villagers / October 2018 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 9:00 am
 

Irishman Conor J. O’Brien, better known under his recording name Villagers, will be going on tour in the UK in the autumn. In the midst of the UK dates, he will also perform at Dublin’s Metropolis Festival on the 27th of October. A massive tour filling up most of his November will follow it. The UK tour will commence just a few weeks after the release of his fourth studio album ‘The Art of Pretending to Swim’, which is scheduled for release on the 21st of September on Domino Records. Enjoy album track ‘A Trick of the Light’ in its promo video form at the end of this post.

Presale tickets and album go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, the 20th of June, at 9 AM. The general sale begins on Friday, the 22nd, at 9 AM. Given the immense destruction from the fire that took place at the Glasgow School of Art last Friday, it’s unlikely the originally scheduled gig on the 18th of October will take place there. Stay tuned to Villagers’ official channels for more information.

Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 18th October – Glasgow Art School
Friday 19th October – Manchester Gorilla
Sunday 21st October – Leeds Wardrobe
Monday 22nd October – Oxford Academy 2
Tuesday 23rd October – London Hackney Arts Centre
Thursday 25th October – Liverpool Arts Club
Saturday 27th October – Dublin Metropolis Festival
Tuesday 30th October – Bristol Trinity
Wednesday 31st October 2018 – Brighton Old Market

 

Video of the Moment #2852: Dirty Projectors

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Dirty Projectors‘ new single is a significant departure from their eponymous album from 2017. One would surmise that band mastermind Dave Longstreth has gotten to a better place following his breakup with former bandmate Amber Coffman. ‘That’s a Lifestyle’, the latest new material to be revealed from their upcoming summertime LP ‘Lamp Lit Prose’, has a cheerful, upbeat feel. You could say its accompanying promo video, entirely animated and starring Grecian statues acting human, is similarly playful, so it’s all intentional. Watch it below. ‘Lamp Lit Prose’ from Longstreth and co. will drop on the 13th of July on Domino Records. For past coverage on Dirty Projectors here on TGTF, come through.

 

Live Review: ONR. with CrushnPain at DC9, Washington, DC – 15th June 2018

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: now more than ever, if you haven’t got a song that pulls the listener in and keeps their attention for more than 30 seconds, you’re sunk as an artist. On the more positive flipside of that, if you are a good songwriter and can write the kind of compelling song that stays with the listener, this talent will pay off massively in terms of getting your music paid attention to. Singer/songwriter Robert Shields, who now performs under the moniker ONR. (pronounced “honour”), is definitely one of the latter. In various projects and under various guises, he’s been quietly honing his craft, which has led to a major label signing last year, after Capitol Records industry bods heard his particularly strong demos.

It’s still early days for the Dumfries-via-Glasgow Scot and his live band: there are only a handful of ONR. singles out to date. An American tour this month, comprised of support dates with SXSW 2017 breakout American star Mondo Cozmo and their own headline dates, is, then, this continent’s first live taste of what amazing things Shields and co. can do. The support dates were announced first and I assumed I was out of luck, as the closest show to me was New York’s Mercury Lounge and on a Wednesday night. To my great excitement, headline dates were soon added, including a stop at my favourite intimate venue in the city of all, DC9, and late on a Friday night to boot.

CrushnPain Washington 2018 2

Two local acts preceded the Scottish band’s performance. My friend and I were too late to see electronic band Honest Haloway, but we arrived in time to witness one-man band CrushnPain. Looking remarkably like a bespectacled close Irish friend of mine, producer Austin Gallas looks unassuming behind two synths and a remarkably small set of controllers. Don’t judge a book by its cover: I was surprised and happy to enjoy his catchy jungle beats as he threw himself into his music. I bopped my head and moved my body to music that was better than some electronic acts I’ve seen at SXSW and The Great Escape. He rarely sang, but when he did, the vocals were dream pop variety and repetitive. To be fair, dream pop lyrics run a spectrum from ephemeral and intentionally lacking substance to floaty, yet thought-provoking. If he was shooting for the former, mission accomplished.

Recall that the first time I saw ONR. was last month at the massive Paganini Ballroom upstairs at the Old Ship Hotel. It was Friday night at The Great Escape 2018, and a massively promoted BBC Introducing showcase at that. Contrast this reception to ONR.’s shows in America, where Shields is largely unknown and without national backing. I have no doubt the Mondo Cozmo support appearances allowed him and his band the opportunity to win over audiences who might never have found his music in the first place, and these kinds of opportunities are priceless to artists debuting in new territories. The majority of acts from Britain have taken those tentative first steps in the Home of the Brave early on in their careers. Those coming to the headline shows are likely to be the true music discoverers, the open-minded people who click on the Related Artists tab in streaming services and are voracious to check out new artists who aren’t on everyone’s lips yet. These music fans are smaller in number but I’d argue they’re far more important in helping to break new artists than they are ever given credit for.

ONR. Washington June 2018 4

These were the fans who were treated to a full-scale, major club-like show in the 200-capacity DC9 Friday night. As mentioned earlier in this review, there are a precious few ONR. songs released, so I think everyone knew the set would be short. Shields and his band delivered an energetic performance, Shields as animated and bounding across the stage with gusto as he did in Brighton. Quick tempo tunes, including driving single ‘Love in Suburbia’ released on the day of the show (watch the promo video at the bottom of this post) and ‘American Gods’ released in February, gave the band quite a workout. A comparison of these to the slow burner 2017 single ‘Jericho’ highlighted the versatility and power of Shields’ voice.

They closed with ‘5 Years Time’, the combination of the vulnerability of the lyrics with the commanding instrumentation providing the ultimate showcase for the stadium-worthy bombast Shields has built into ONR.’s songs. I’m taking the strength of these early singles and this charismatic performance in DC as reliable indicators that ONR. will become a household name soon enough. Just you wait. Check out my interview with Robert Shields at The Great Escape 2018 through here. More photos from this gig are on my Flickr.

ONR Washington June 2018 1

 

Single Review: The 1975 – Give Yourself a Try

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Lily Cresswell

After a long wait for patient fans, spurred on only by the occasional cryptic Tweets and Instagram posts, The 1975’s single ‘Give Yourself a Try’ is finally here. The single is the first teaser for their third album ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’, which is due to be released in October. But was it worth the wait?

At first, the tune has the promise to be the song of the summer. The upbeat distorted guitar, driven by a straightforward beat, is bright and simple, so it’s easy to imagine dancing to this at a festival in the height of summer. The vocals enter and suddenly, a different tone is set. Matt Healy has changed up his usual vocal tone with a harsher edge; and combined with the American twang he has adopted, he’s created a Noughties’ pop-punk vibe. This differs from the softer, over reverbed vocals heard on tracks like ‘Paris’. Little vocal development occurs across the track, with Healy sounding unenthused for the entire 3 minutes and 17 seconds. The instrumental accompaniment is also lacklustre and basic, and it must be relatively boring for the rest of the band play. However, on a more positive note, you can’t help but be drawn in by the catchy guitar hook, which stands out due to the lack of any other interesting accompaniment.

Lyrically, ‘Give Yourself a Try’ seems to throw itself at every issue you could find on a millennial’s twitter feed. From depression to drug addiction and the lack of ‘context in a modern debate’, Healy slips through them all, line after line. This is reiterated in the video where we see Healy lying on a therapist’s chaise longue, speaking vaguely on personal identity issues. On one hand, it is progressive to be tackling such issues in a pop song. But on the other, this seems rather forced. Are the 1975 really bothered about these issues, or are they simply trying desperately to appeal to the millennial audience?

Overall, The 1975 are clearly aiming for a new sound and in this area, they are successful, as ‘Give Yourself a Try’ is undeniably different from previous releases. Despite this, the new single is disappointing, and although driven by its hook that gives the track the promise of excitement, the vocals and surrounding accompaniment falls flat, leaving the track miles away from matching the brightness of Healy’s new hair.

6/10

‘Give Yourself a Try’ is out now on Polydor and Dirty Hit Records. The single is taken from The 1975’s third album, ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’, which is set to be released in October 2018.

 
 
 

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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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