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SXSW 2018: Wrapping up with a final conference session and Saturday evening showcases – 17th March 2018

 
By on Thursday, 3rd May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor Mary and I started our final day at SXSW 2018 with a leisurely brunch, but we both had a full schedule of options for Saturday afternoon and evening. (You can read Mary’s Saturday recaps here and here.) I decided in the moment to play the day by ear, and my rather uncharacteristic spontaneity paid off in the form of several new-to-me acts, which I very much enjoyed.

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Before I set out to hear any live music, I did attend one last conference session at the Austin Convention Center. As a connoisseur of the singer/songwriter genre, I couldn’t pass up University of British Columbia musicologist David Metzer‘s discussion titled ‘Ballads: A History of Emotions in Popular Culture’. Here, Metzer explored the ballad’s changing role in popular music from the 1950s to the present, highlighting listeners’ growing desire “to experience feelings in bigger and bolder ways” and performers’ stylistic tendency to emote in increasingly virtuosic fashion. The presentation was necessarily brief, and Metzer used a simple but effective comparison between Whitney Houston’s iconic performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and Dolly Parton’s original version to make his point. True music nerds like myself can find a more expanded discussion in Metzer’s book, ‘The Ballad in American Popular Music: From Elvis to Beyoncé’, which I promptly ordered when I returned home from Austin the next day.

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After a quick walk around the Trade Expo and a celebratory green cocktail for St. Patrick’s Day, Mary and I both had time to check out SXSW’s Second Play Stages, which feature official Showcasing Artists playing acoustic “happy hour” shows in the lounges of downtown Austin hotels. These shows are casual and quite intimate, with small crowds gathered in close and passersby stopping to listen at the fringes. I chose the Hilton’s Cannon & Bell lounge, where English singer/songwriter Harry Pane was playing his final set of the week. Pane was both relaxed and engaging on the small stage, and his songs were candidly emotional in this stripped back setting. His performance of ‘Fletcher Bay’, written after a trip to New Zealand with his late father, was particularly moving. You can have a listen to a similar live performance courtesy of London Live Sessions just below.

After a quick post-show interview with Pane (which will publish on TGTF in the coming days), I headed to Barracuda, whose two stages were hosting the combined Artist Group International and Xtra Mile Recordings showcase. While there would undoubtedly be a larger crowd later in the evening, when British folk-punk artists Skinny Lister and Frank Turner were slated to play the outdoor stage, the mood was mellow in both venues when I arrived for the beginning of the night’s set list.

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First on the outdoor stage was Houston singer/songwriter Brianna Hunt, performing under the moniker Many Rooms. The audience was thin at this point in the evening, and Hunt’s muted demeanor on stage didn’t attract the punters’ attention straightaway, but as her set continued, the fragile beauty of her songs gradually drew focus to the stage. Many Rooms’ debut album ‘There is a Presence Here’ is available now on Other People Records; you can listen to album track ‘which is to say, everything’ just through here.

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Between sets on the outdoor stage, I peeked inside to catch a couple of songs from Allman Brown, who had caught my attention earlier in the week, while I waited to hear English folk singer Non Canon. Non Canon is the mildly pretentious stage name of singer/songwriter Barry Dolan, who describes the term as “anything [that] exists apart from the story we know and love”. His music is true to that description, pairing obscure literary allusions with pop culture references in an odd, but ultimately thought-provoking way. Though his set here was stripped back to voice and guitar, his recordings feature a fuller array of instrumental sounds and unusual harmonic variations, as evidenced in ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’.

The remainder of the Barracuda lineup included The RPMs (who Mary saw the previous afternoon) and Will Varley, as well as the aforementioned Skinny Lister and Frank Turner. As I had seen the latter three recently (Varley and Skinny Lister in February at Phoenix’s Valley Bar, and Turner on Thursday evening), I decided to head to the Parish, which was hosting British indie label Bella Union.

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As we’ve mentioned in the past, Bella Union is a sure bet for high quality songwriting and musicianship, but also for music that is a bit off-the-beaten-path. Their Saturday night showcase at the Parish was no different. I missed indie pop songwriter Ari Roar, but arrived in time to catch American folk duo Field Division. On the surface, this pair, comprised of Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton, is yet another in a long string of Laurel Canyon-influenced artists, but on closer listening, their powerful lyrics and sharp instrumental arrangements create a deeper and more tangible sonic presence. Keep an eye out for their debut LP ‘Dark Matter Dreams’, which is due for release on the 22nd of June and features the propulsive motion of ‘River in Reverse’.

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More subdued but nonetheless hypnotic, electronic dream pop artist Hilang Child (aka Ed Riman) took the stage next and dazzled the growing audience with his effortless vocals and deftly textured instrumental layers. His carefully crafted soundscapes are replete with splendid dynamic and harmonic colour, which fill in and expand beautifully upon his delicately poetic lyrics. Hilang Child’s standout track ‘Growing Things’ will feature on his upcoming debut LP, which is due out later this year.

Tiny Ruins

New Zealand folk band Tiny Ruins has evolved from the solo work of frontwoman Hollie Fullbrook into a full four-piece ensemble, though they were represented in Austin by only two of their number, Fullbrook and bassist Cass Basil. Their thoughtful folk songs were mesmerising with just the pair of them, but they added another dimension of rhythmic interest when drummer Jim White joined them on stage midway through their set. Tiny Ruins’ third album is due out on Bella Union later this year; in the meantime, take a listen to the subtle yet exquisite ‘Me at the Museum, You in the Wintergardens’, courtesy of Flying Nun Records.

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Jim White took only a brief hiatus from the stage after Tiny Ruins’ set before returning for his main show as part of avante garde folk-rock duo Xylouris White. Xylouris White finds the virtuosic Australian drummer joining forces with equally skilled Cretan lute player and singer George Xylouris to create a musical experience that is best described as “intense”. Any words I write here will undoubtedly fail to convey the awesome power of their live performance. The unlikely but fluidly-synchronised pair released their third LP ‘Mother’ back in January, and it’s not to be missed for anyone excited by the idea of dynamic jazz-rock-folk fusion.

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The final act on the Bella Union bill, and the final act for me at SXSW 2018 was Ezra Furman, whom I’d seen on Thursday at the Luck Reunion. The late night atmosphere of the Parish on Saturday night was an entirely different context for Furman and his band The Visions, and the dark drama of songs like ‘Suck the Blood from My Wound’ took on a new level of depth and potency in this set. Here, Furman combined his intellectual, heavily metaphorical lyricism with a visceral musicality to create a full gestalt that was somehow greater than the simple sum of its parts. In this regard, he fits in nicely with his Bella Union colleagues, who all made a positive impression on this showcase, and who made my last night in Austin a uniquely memorable one.

 

Video of the Moment #2836: Parquet Courts

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Not long now until we get the new Parquet Courts record. The delightfully anarchic group from Brooklyn are doing something different this time around: Danger Mouse produced ‘Wide Awake!’ but at the same time, judging from ‘Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience’, they’re still keen on making a big noise. Or so I thought.

In the latest revealed track from the group, the title ‘Mardi Gras Beads’ suggests a level of debauchery, but the song is actually a lot quieter than I ever expected. The probable reason? A different primary songwriter on it, Austin Brown. Watch its accompanying video filmed in New Orleans below. ‘Wide Awake!’ will be available on Friday, the 18th of May, on Rough Trade Records. For more on Parquet Courts on TGTF, go here.

 

Single Review: Matt Maltese – Nightclub Love

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Political, global uncertainty, unrest and suspicion: it’s everywhere. So is it any wonder there’s so much doom and gloom-type songwriting out there right now? Let’s have a listen to an artist specialising in doom and gloom but his method is much more cunning. I’m speaking of Matt Maltese, the South London songwriter whose wry sense of humour previously extended to his penning a tune romantically linking Theresa May with Donald Trump. As mentioned in my Live at Leeds 2017 preview of best bets where I tipped him, he sounds like a wonderful chip off the ol’ block of Stephen Patrick Morrissey.

Two Fridays ago, Maltese released new single ‘Nightclub Love’ taken from his upcoming debut album ‘Bad Contestant’. For those of you who need a break from the political overload, this one is, thankfully, about being in love. But not at all like most envision it. A twinkly piano melody plays under Maltese’s deadpan voice admitting, “I don’t care for nightclubs / but I’ll make an exception for you, dear”. The music is too loud, there’s too many people in the room and “while the creeps circle around you”, he’s hanging in there – dancing for 6 hours (!) – because he has one singular goal and he will not be dissuaded. He watches as the apple of his eye almost overdoses at the bar, and as he’s about to call 999, the person sobers up and they share a joke about how cranberry vodka is good for your bladder. Really. Later, he turns on the self-deprecating humour, wondering aloud if he gets kissed on his little shaved head tonight whether the kisser will regret it tomorrow. Yes. Let’s all say aww.

If anyone else was singing these words, you’d groan. But there is something oddly disarming about Maltese’s voice, the matter-of-fact manner he shares a snapshot of an evening where all he can see and hear is wonderment because he’s in the company of the person he fancies. The steady, gentle rhythm throughout the song feels comforting, as if Maltese himself is his best when he’s around thid person. Most of the time, we’re hearing singers gasping for air or shouting about being in love. In sharp contrast, ‘Nightclub Love’ oozes along for an enjoyable 4 minutes and is a perfect slice of escapism.

8.5/10

‘Nightclub Love’, the current single from Matt Maltese, is out now on Atlantic Records. Stay tuned for Maltese’s debut album ‘Bad Contestant’, which is scheduled to drop on the 8th of June.

 

Gill Landry / May and June 2018 English Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 9:00 am
 

American singer/songwriter Gill Landry will cross the pond for a handful of live dates in England at the start of summer, following on his recent spring tour of the U.S. west coast. Landry is touring his excellent 2017 album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, but as I heard when I attended his show at San Francisco’s Hotel Utah on the 31st of March, he’s including a strong mix of older songs in his live set as well. You can check out a couple of photos from that show just below, and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a live video performance of one of my favourite older Gill Landry tunes, ‘Dixie’, courtesy of Ditty TV.

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In addition to the following headline shows, Landry will also appear at the Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk on Friday the first of June. Tickets for the following shows are available now. You can read TGTF’s previous coverage of Gill Landry back through here.

Thursday 31st May 2018 – York Crescent Community Venue
Sunday 3rd June 2018 – Middlesborough Westgarth Social Club
Monday 4th June 2018 – London Old Queens Head
Tuesday 5th June 2018 – Brighton Brunswick Pub

 

Video of the Moment #2835: Young Fathers

 
By on Tuesday, 1st May 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Edinburgh’s finest Young Fathers have a video that, er, salutes these cartoon times. In my view, anyway! The group released their latest album ‘Cocoa Sugar’ on Ninja Tune in March, and this latest video is brilliant. For album tune ‘Toy’, director Salomon Ligthelm decided to take the vitriolic nature of the lyrics of the song and pair that with child actors playing the roles of, yup, you guessed it, world leaders. Watch it below. For more on Young Fathers here on TGTF, use this link.

 

Live at Leeds 2018 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets (part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 1st May 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Part 1 of my best bets of Live at Leeds 2018 is through here. Want to read the more general preview of this annual Yorkshire event, which lays out all the big names appearing in Leeds on Saturday? Follow this link.

The Ninth Wave (post-punk; Glasgow; 5:00 PM, Oporto [BBC Introducing West Yorkshire stage])
There is a gothic darkness to the music of The Ninth Wave, not surprising for a band from Glasgow, I suppose. Synths and guitars come together with competing male and female lead vocals for a beguiling combination of power and emotion. While they are compared to bands like Pixies and The Cure and I personally hear White Lies in their music, too, this is a band who are insistent on carving their very own niche in the UK music landscape. NB: The Ninth Wave will appear Sunday at District at Liverpool Sound City and also have appearances each of the 3 days of The Great Escape, including Thursday afternoon at the Showcasing Scotland showcase at Horatio’s.

Cassia (indie rock; Macclesfield; 6:15 PM, Wardrobe [Dr. Martens stage])
Miss the sunny, chirpy sound of Vampire Weekend? Seems odd that the British saviours of this kind of calypso rock would come from the North. Or is it? As a sonic salve to bring themselves and their countrymen out of the grey doldrums that all too often hangs on the northern part of England, Cassia’s music might sound just perfect by the seaside in Brighton. NB: This group will appear at Liverpool Sound City at Hanger 34 on Sunday and at the Hope and Ruin early Saturday morning the 19th of May at The Great Escape.

Vistas (indie rock; Edinburgh; 7:00 PM, Trinity Stage)
Edinburgh’s Vistas name The Strokes and Two Door Cinema Club as major influences, so if you’re into that kind of infectious, melodic indie rock guaranteed to keep your toes tapping, this is the band for you. Tipped by BBC Scotland’s Vic Galloway as a band to watch in 2018, this band from the capital up north are big on hook-filled choruses to fill this year’s summer festivals with joy.
NB: Vistas are scheduled to perform at Constellations at Liverpool Sound City on Sunday the day after Live at Leeds, and they will also perform at The Great Escape on Saturday the 19th of May at the Hope and Ruin.

The Beach (singer/songwriter; London; 7:00 PM, Leeds International Spiegeltent)
The Beach is not a band from London but solo artist George Morgan. Why the stage name? He once dreamed of being a marine biologist, but that was long before he soldiered through London open mike nights with nothing more than a dream. A chance YouTube upload garnered wider attention on the young artist and signing with RCA. Keep an eye on this up-and-coming talent whose vocals range from gentle and emotional to heart-wrenching and epic.

Boy Azooga (indie rock; Cardiff; 8:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY stage])
Davey Newington was formerly the drummer for Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, getting to play Glastonbury and other festivals with the young pop prodigy. Now as Boy Azooga, he’s getting the opportunity to put out his own music on Heavenly Recordings and play gigs with a live band of his very own. With seemingly a little bit of everything in rock, plus maracas (!), Boy Azooga will put on an interesting show in Leeds, for sure. NB: The band will also appear Thursday the 17th of May at The Great Escape, playing three shows.

Bad Sounds (hip-pop / soul; Bath; 8:30 PM, Leeds Church [Dork stage])
Most of the Live at Leeds schedule this year is singer/songwriters and the more conventional rock bands, so I’m glad to come across a group like Bad Sounds. Brothers Ewan and Callum Merrett’s contrasting musical preferences have led to their mixture of hip-hop, soul and pop anchored by a beguiling beat. A party-like atmosphere pervades their music, leading to the conclusion that their performances must be a great deal of fun. NB: Bad Sounds appear at the Great Escape on Friday night the 18th of May at Horatio’s.

Indigo Lo (hard rock; Southampton; 9:00 PM, Lending Room)
A few years ago, we covered Southampton heavy hitters Dolomite Minor as they lumbered around the UK with their hard rock. In 2018, they’ve returned, renaming themselves as Indigo Lo. On their debut single under their new name, ‘A World That Turns’, it sounds like they haven’t lost any of their edge. Most excellent news.

JW Ridley (electronic / lo-fi; London; 9:15 PM, Wardrobe Bar)
Like the name of his single, JW Ridley is ‘Somewhere Else’. Dreamy electronics and dissonant guitar notes frame the singer’s echoey vocals for a kind of sound not easily pigeonholed by genre. While I realise this sort of thing isn’t for everyone, I’m all for pushing artists who aren’t afraid to sound different and do their own thing. Do you, JW Ridley.

Zapatilla (electronic; ?; 10:00 PM, Headrow House [NME stage])
A cloaked, barefoot figure stood in the shadows on a stage and a SoundCloud owned by an electronic producer. That’s all I’ve been able to find on Zapatilla. Of course, mystery begets intrigue, and I’ll be interested to see what exactly is behind this man’s mystique. NB: Zapatilla appears Thursday night the 17th of May at the Walrus during The Great Escape.

Rascalton (garage rock / punk; Glasgow; 11:00 PM, Hyde Park Book Club)
Another entry from Glasgow, another tip of Vic Galloway’s, but this time on the punkier side of things. Rascalton sounds like the name of an anarchic village, where disorder is the rule of the day. While there is a fair level of craziness here, it’s organised, enjoyable chaos, with ample opportunity to headbang or cut shapes, should you choose to do either. NB: Rascalton appear Thursday afternoon the 17th of May at the Showcasing Scotland showcase and also on Friday night the 18th of May at The Great Escape.

And there you have it, ladies and gents. Twenty new acts for you to sink your teeth into as you go forth safely on your musical discovery Saturday night at Live at Leeds. Have a great time!

 
 
 

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.

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