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Video of the Moment #2813: Jamie Isaac

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

The soulful Jamie Isaac released a new video yesterday. It’s for ‘Wings’, and its release coincides with the announcement of Isaac’s next album, ‘IDLER’, to be out on the 1st of June. The song itself has a slightly claustrophobic quality, which is mirrored in the promo with the usage of an inset of a video of Isaac singing on top of a larger one. Around the 3-minute mark, Isaac’s band joins the proceedings. Part jazzy, part hip hop, part soul, 100% smooth. Watch the video for ‘Wings’ below. For more on Jamie Isaac here on TGTF, go here.

 

SXSW 2018: catching Brits and Europeans Wednesday night – 14th March 2018 (Part 3)

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

After getting our drink on at the Focus Wales drink reception, I left Carrie to catch two Welsh acts before running down nearly to the other end of the busy part of East 6th Street, ending up at the very colourful Esther’s Follies for my first visit in 7 years. In its normal, non-SXSW form, the place puts on comedy and vaudeville shows. As you should expect, there’s theatre-type seating in this venue, which offers the unique opportunity for a photographer to get real close to the artists while the rest of the audience, well, is comfortably seated and a good distance away from the stage.

The 8 PM slot isn’t always a great one at SXSW 2018, but it worked out wonderfully for Austrian duo Leyya and their live band. I featured them in one of four preview write-ups I did for the Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW 2018. Even though they were classed in the avant / experimental genre in this year’s SXSW schedule, in reality what Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer are doing is putting together the best bits of pop, soul, electronic and percussive music. This is music designed to get your body moving and grooving but without the pretension of intellectual electronic but with more bite and presence than the average pop band. They’re exactly the kind of act who make me excited about the future of music: artists who are willing to take chances, stepping out of the mainstream box and trying something different, with amazing results. My only wish for their performance was to have more people swinging their partners to and fro to their music!

Leyya Wednesday at SXSW 2018 2

I got hung up at Esther’s Follies for longer than I expected – I indulged a Leyya superfan and took a photo of her and Sophie after their set – so I decided a nice saunter over to the Waller Ballroom was better than trying to rush off somewhere else. The Waller Ballroom was Dutch New Wave’s venue for the week, having an indoor space plus a nice biergarden outside. I’m sure it was something else previously, but the door staff couldn’t tell me what it used to be. Once inside, I was surprised by the weird, rectangular shape of the room, the stage more than twice as long as the room’s depth. It made for strange options for photography, that’s for sure.

A parade of white and black Dutch people came through the doors after I arrived, talking up a storm, slapping each other on the back. While I couldn’t understand what they were saying, it was clear they showed up to provide support to their friends The Homesick from Dokkum. Living in a country so divided by race like ours, such a simple thing between friends was heartwarming to me. Then it was time for the band to take the stage. While going through all the bands scheduled to appear in Austin from the Continent, The Homesick were in my top five bands I definitely wanted to see. They’re a young band, but they’ve already figured out how to write a compelling song, compelling in the sense that their songwriting captures your imagination and keeps you wanting more. The driving guitars and drumbeats in their rock songs are simultaneously weird and wonderful. Watching Elias Elgersma wail on his guitar with awe-inspiring dexterity, I realised I was experiencing something special indeed. Read my preview of their appearance in Austin through here.

The Homesick Wednesday at SXSW 2018 3

Having gotten an appropriate Homesick fix, I intended to catch American duo Bat Fangs at Barracuda’s indoor stage as part of the Ground Control Touring showcase there. Oddly, my press pass didn’t let me in. Rebuffed, instead of waiting, I thought I’d just go around the corner to the 720 Club and wait for The RPMs to start their set. Brighton’s newest hope for the next big British guitar band were setting up in the hole in the wall club.

Which I mean quite literally. The band are a five-piece and only the keyboardist and drummer could fit on the stage. This was definitely an opportunity to get up close and personal with your musical idols! Although the rough and tumble nature of the venue seemed more appropriate for a punk band, the RPMs filled the room with their brand of glittery synthpop and rock and this show, along with their appearance at the British Music Embassy Friday afternoon, showed they have loads of potential to be as big as their own influences. Read my SXSW 2018 preview piece on The RPMs through here.

The RPMs Wednesday at SXSW 2018
As you can see, the stage was brightly lit at the 720 Club, but the floor wasn’t.

Then it was time to pop back to the British Music Embassy. I didn’t need to see Frank Turner there, as I knew uber fan Carrie would catch him during the week some point. However, I did want to get into Latitude 30 early enough for Sam Fender and not have to jockey for a good position to see him and his band playing. As you might imagine, Frank Turner was a huge draw for Brits and Americans alike, so the place was one in, one out when I arrived. I’m not sure why this hadn’t occurred to Latitude 30 staff until that moment – maybe it was because it had been unseasonably cold in Austin since we arrived? – but they decided that night to open up the windows so those in the queues could hear Turner play. He ended his set with a rousing version of ‘Polaroid Picture’ that had nearly everyone inside and outside singing along. I recognised the song but not knowing the words, I just bobbed my head to the beat. Good enough, right? For more photos from my Wednesday at SXSW 2018, visit my Flickr.

 

SXSW 2018: Tuesday morning brunch with Output Belfast and my first taste of this year’s music conference – 13th March 2018

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: emcee and organiser Mark Gordon with Touts

Following my frenzied Monday night at SXSW 2018, I started off Tuesday at a slightly more relaxed pace, with my third visit to the Output Belfast Boat Party. The party consists of brunch on a boat, floating down the Colorado River, with entertainment provided by the some of the finest musicians Northern Ireland has to offer. While the brunch and the scenery are always pleasant for this affair, it’s really the high quality of the music that draws me in every year, and Output Belfast didn’t disappoint in 2018.

Lost Brothers internal 2

Following brief speeches by organiser and emcee Mark Gordon of Score Draw Music and Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala MacAllister, the music began with folk duo The Lost Brothers, who had a hand in organising the inaugural Northern Irish boat party back in 2015. They were back in Austin this year with an excellent new record in tow, titled ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’. You can read editor Mary’s review of the album through here.The album was recorded in my adopted hometown of Tucson, and the distinct southwestern desert flavour of the new songs, along with The Lost Brothers’ yearning vocal harmonies, actually made me feel a bit homesick. Midway through their set, the Lost Brothers were joined by Austin musician Ragtime Willie, who had also appeared here back in 2015 and who added the bright tone color of resonator guitar to the muted sonic mix.

Joshua Burnside internal

After a brief stage break, 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize winner Joshua Burnside began his set. As our Adam McCourt reported in his review of the prize-winning album ‘Ephrata’, “the album seems to serve a pivotal point in Burnside’s career, transitioning him from indie folk to a strand of alt-folk that incorporates world music, found sounds, synths and subtle experimentations with techno.” Burnside’s eclectic sound was more rock oriented than I expected in this live performance, where he was accompanied by a brilliant band comprised of drums, bass, and trumpet alongside his own electric guitar.

Touts internal

Lest we in the audience be lulled to sleep as our boat ride drifted from morning into afternoon, the final act on the docket seemed deliberately designed to recharge and revitalise our senses. Derry punk-rock outfit Touts gave off a sullen demeanor that disguised their raw, frenetic energy, and they made more much more exuberant noise than might be expected on a polite brunch cruise. These lads are young and still relatively new on the scene, but in terms of unfiltered potential, I’d put them high on the list of acts to watch from SXSW 2018. Touts also appeared on the BBC Introducing showcase at Latitude 30 on Tuesday night; you can watch part of that performance just below.

After disembarking from the boat, Mary and I parted ways (you can read her Tuesday afternoon recap here), and I headed to the convention center to catch my first conference session of the week. In The Horseshoe: The Roots of Canadian Rock n’ Roll, author David McPherson shared his thoughts on celebrated Toronto music venue The Horseshoe, drawing from his recent book on the topic, titled ‘The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern: A Complete History’.

David McPherson

McPherson was joined by Horseshoe owner and concert promoter Jeff Cohen, who talked about the challenges of maintaining a high quality music venue in an age when so many mid-size venues, notably New York’s CBGB and The Bottom Line, have been forced to shut down. Cohen emphasised his focus on two main factors: his customers and the artists they come to see. Patrons are consistently drawn in by food, drink and the opportunity to interact with other music-loving patrons, while the artists are rewarded with a quality performance opportunity, including full crowds to play for each night. From the sounds of things, the Horseshoe is likely to be a mainstay in the Toronto live music scene for many years to come. If you find yourself in southeastern Canada for whatever reason, it might be worth your time to check the Horseshoe’s schedule of events–chances are one of your new favourite bands will be gracing its stage.

 

Video of the Moment #2812: Kodaline

 
By on Tuesday, 27th March 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Look all around. It seems like everyone is eager to get cosy with the very popular genre for synthpop. The latest band to ‘turn’ is Dublin group Kodaline, who started their career hawking folk-infused pop, fully embracing beautiful four-part harmonies and going acoustic. Their sound has become more mainstream pop as time as gone on, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just taken some getting used to.

Kodaline fans, steel yourselves. Their latest single is described on the press release as “a slice of powerhouse pop”. ‘Follow Your Fire’ was also produced by hitmakers Steve Mac and long-time collaborator Johnny McDaid, the pair responsible for Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’. I’d be curious if this song ever got an acoustic treatment, because I don’t think the way it’s presented here does the band’s combined talents justice. Have a watch and listen to the upcoming single from the Irishmen below. ‘Follow Your Fire’ is expected to drop on the 4th of May. For more on the band on TGTF, go here.

 

Album Review: Lissie – Castles

 
By on Tuesday, 27th March 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Lissie Castles coverWhen we at TGTF last spoke to American singer/songwriter Lissie in a post-show interview at SXSW 2016, she had just moved from California back to her midwestern home of Iowa to find her roots after years living on the West Coast. She was also touring her album ‘My Wild West’, which was written and recorded as a kind of farewell to California. Now firmly established in the Midwest, Lissie has released a new record titled ‘Castles’, which is as much an exploration in musical sounds as it is an examination of the life she’s created for herself.

Ironically, despite Lissie’s decampment to farm country, the songs on ‘Castles’ are less organic sounding than you might expect, especially from a woman whose last album was firmly grounded in folk rock. Working with a host of collaborators including electronic artist Nick Tesoriero, Lissie has fashioned a dreamy, ethereal soundscape of synths, drum machines, and distant backing vocals. “When I wrote on a guitar I felt limited”, she says. “It was so much more spontaneous and natural to sit down with someone who would give me a beat and a chord progression on a synthesizer. I started having all these new ideas.” Lissie’s sonic experimentation places ‘Castles’ into a pop/r&b scenario, and while she doesn’t venture into uncharted pop territory, it’s a new sound for her, and the result is, predictably, a bit patchy.

Opening track ‘World Away’ sets the sonic tone with a hazy dream pop sound apropos to an album called ‘Castles.’ But Lissie’s raw singing voice, which was powerful enough to cut through hefty guitars and drums on ‘My Wild West’, doesn’t sit as comfortably in the new synthesised backdrop. Her natural raspiness occasionally comes across as abrasive, and the thinner underlying arrangements expose the squareness in her lyrics and vocal delivery.

The album gains momentum early with a strong trilogy of songs. Lissie’s voice is strong in title track ‘Castles’, whose fairy tale analogy and catchy refrain are immediately engaging. Piano ballad ‘Blood & Muscle’ (https://www.theregoesthefear.com/2017/12/video-of-the-moment-2750-lissie.php) has a smoky quality that suits the natural timbre of her singing, especially as the chorus builds to its dynamic climax. ‘Best Days’ has a  country rock feel which might have worked even better had Lissie more fully committed to it, under lyrics about wanting both “a pickup truck” and “a diamond ring”.

From there, the album begins to lose traction. ‘Feel Good’ and ‘Boyfriend’ carry on the country rock flavour, but the lyrics in both are trite and slightly preachy, as Lissie sings in the latter, “I don’t want a lover, I want a man / coming from the heart now, living in my heartland”. In an attempt to branch out from country rock, Lissie makes two overtures to r&b on ‘Castles’, neither of which is particularly successful. The vocal delivery in ‘Crazy Girl’ feels contrived when she sings “I’ve been talkin’ shit all of the time, other girls foolin’ around”, and the effect is amplified later in the tracklisting in ‘Love Blows’, where the understated synth backing exaggerates the stilted, uncomfortable lyrical rhythm.

Near the end of the album in ‘Peace’, Lissie softens her tone and weaves her voice delicately between the bass groove and the exotic plucked string instrumentation. Here she finds a sweet spot, and though the moment doesn’t last long, it’s an interesting suggestion of where she could potentially take this new soundscape. Final track ‘Meet Me in the Mystery’ is another strong piano ballad whose minor key harmonies reflect the elusiveness in its title, while electric guitar, synths, and percussion create a dramatic tonal tapestry behind Lissie’s naturally bewitching vocals.

‘Castles’ is without a doubt a brave departure from Lissie’s former folk rock sound. She gathered a host of contributors, including collaborators from ‘My Wild West’ and producers AG and Liam Howe to help her navigate the new soundscape but in the end, the album may have suffered from “too many chefs in the kitchen” without enough definitive direction or intent.

6.5/10

Lissie’s new album ‘Castles’ is out now on Cooking Vinyl. She will play a run of four live dates in the UK in April; you can find all the details here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Lissie is collected back here.

 

Video of the Moment #2811: Rae Morris

 
By on Monday, 26th March 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

Singer/songwriter Rae Morris released a new album last month, when we had our blinders on preparing for SXSW 2018. Which is a shame, because from what I’ve read, and from some famous friends (!), the pop artist’s ‘Someone Out There’ is quite the collection of ‘choones. She has now unveiled the video for the album’s title track single. In an amazing show of what is possible when you ring up all your relatives, the promo for ‘Someone Out There’ stars three generations of Morris’ family, a bevy of adorable dogs that you wish you could reach into the screen and squeeze their little cheeks and even members of Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service. Why fire personnel? Morris’ own father was a firefighter, so the video stars people Morris has known since she was a child. Filmed in Blackpool where Morris spent her much of her child, the promo for ‘Someone Out There’ is like a love letter to the place where she once dreamt of being a star. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Watch the video below. ‘Someone Out There’ the LP is out now on Atlantic Records. For more of our past coverage on Rae Morris, come through.

 
 
 

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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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