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Video of the Moment #1819: astronomyy

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

London via Worcestershire electronic artist and producer astronomyy released a new EP ‘When I’m With U’ in May, and the super chill title track now has its own promo video. A lot of the photos astronomyy posts are atmospheric landscapes or cityscapes, so I particularly like how the video begins in the woodlands as you’re watching a man make his way through shadowy, red-lighted terrain that turns into a club, where he is mesmerised by a woman. Or maybe we are where our dreams take us when we close our eyes? Watch and be spellbound by the video below.

For more on astronomyy, including my review of his performance Thursday at the Great Escape 2015, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mASRmuZfQH4[/youtube]

 

Great Escape 2015: Day 1 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 20th May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my Thursday (day 1) roundup of is this way.

Up front the seafront I went and back to Patterns to check in on some relatively new American friends. Philadelphia band Cold Fronts, who I met last year supporting Chicago’s Empires on their North American tour. At the time, they weren’t known outside of Philly and I had made the suggestion to frontman Craig Almquist that they had a vibe and sounded a lot like the Cribs (one of Almquist’s favourite bands) and to see if they could get in touch with the band to maybe support them one day. So Cold Fronts’ people called the Cribs’ people…and the next thing I hear, Cold Fronts are supporting the Cribs’ New York residency in March 2015 just prior to SXSW. Is that mad or what? See, kids? Dreams do come true. (A sidenote: when Mary Chang suggests you to do something to further along your career, it’s probably a good idea to do It. Because, you know, you might end up supporting the Cribs one day.)

Cold Fronts at Great Escape 2015
Probably one of the biggest regrets I have from the Great Escape 2015 is leaving their set early to run up Brighton’s hill to see another band I’d heard good things about. As I was stood waiting for the Cribs the next night at Wagner Hall, a local musician and his girlfriend who were behind me were telling their other friends, “we saw these guys from America last night, they’re called Cold Fronts, they were amazing. The best part was when the singer got up top of the bar and started dancing!” And I missed that! ::grumble:: This was a sentiment that was repeated in multiple venues I stopped in for the rest of the festival, and I couldn’t help but feel proud to be an American once, knowing a band I like and support won over the Brits at a music festival across the pond.

Cold Fronts at Great Escape 2015
There were two persistent themes throughout my time in Brighton during the Great Escape 2015: queues everywhere and equipment problems at venues. The latter proved problematic twice for my plans for the evening. I left Patterns early to go back up to the Brighthelm Centre in anticipation of catching CLAY, a band from Leeds that sound like a more poppier Jungle on their early track ‘Oxygen’. Unfortunately, like Patterns that afternoon, the venue were facing a major delay in getting things sorted for the evening. I waited for a while, chatting to a fellow American who happened to be visiting London from her graduate school program in music in Valencia, Spain, but then realised my time would be better spent down at the Old Ship Paganini Ballroom, where I assumed I’d be seeing up and comer North West singer/songwriter Adam French. His father befriended one of my American friends in an Irish pub the night before (I wasn’t there because I’d left her to go home and plan out my 3-day schedule – seriously, you can’t make this stuff up).

I arrived to the Paganini Ballroom to much confusion. After making my way to the front of the crowd, the music the band onstage was making didn’t match up to my idea of French, who sounded to my unsympathetic ear like another Ben Howard. No…these guys sound more like Friendly Fires, the first band I’d fallen in love with as a music blogger 6 years ago, crossed with the melodic guitars of Two Door Cinema Club and pop whiffs of The 1975. Interesting…

Lake Malawi at Great Escape 2015
Lake Malawi, fronted by Albert Cerny and his Czech buddies who split their time between Prague and London, I steeled myself based on Cerny’s bouncing around on stage that the music would quickly turn bog standard boring to me the way Bastille’s does, but phew, they didn’t. Incredible vibrancy in the music from Cerny and his mates, and their punters shouted their appreciation for the band, which Cerny himself said he was surprised about – I guess he thought they wouldn’t be well received, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Their debut EP ‘We Are Making Love Again’ is out on Monday, and expect that – and them – to go stratospheric.

I couldn’t wait around for Adam French after all, because I had a hot date with a man who had so far proved very elusive. astronomyy had been given a shout to SXSW 2015 but turned it down, so I assumed I’d be able to see him live finally at Live at Leeds 2015. Thanks to the HiFi Club being plagued with equipment issues, it was not meant to be, though he amused himself after the incident by checking out the bands at Nation of Shopkeepers, stood behind me while I was photographing Boxed In but was too bashful to say hi (I really don’t bite!) while I had no idea whatsoever.

Whatever happened before meant nothing now though, stood under the overly bright lights of Shooshh’s stage and prepared to be amazed. Shall we say I was not disappointed in the slightest? astronomyy seems to me a master of production and the studio, but from what I have read, he is new to the live scene, so these series of shows and festival appearances this spring are like a baptism by fire. Songs like the upbeat ‘When I’m With U’ feel like the next logical, soulful, more chill progression from my previous love Friendly Fires, maybe if the xx had convinced their former touring buddies that less is actually more. If not readily apparent from listening to his music online, he also plays a mean guitar, which is a surprising fact that makes the live experience the more awesome. It’s kind of like finding out the guy you fancy also knows how to bake cupcakes – ooh.

astronomyy at Great Escape 2015
There is a fragile beauty to the minimalist nature of astronomyy’s music that I find intoxicating. This is not hit you over the head with production kind of r&b (you know who I am talking about), nor is it the kind that turns me off in a second with all of its swearing and awful language (though, okay, there is some occasionally), but to me the vibe is so strong and more important. If you read the lyrics, ‘Nothin On My Mind’ is about finding that perfect love that transports you to another place and time, where nothing else matters. That is a good way of explaining what good music does to a music fan: it takes you away from anything that is hurting you and puts you on a higher, better plane. I don’t know, maybe I have just bored you with my waxing philosophical on astronomyy, but yes, the man’s music does something to me very special and I am looking forward to hearing much more from him.

astronomyy at Great Escape 2015
Maybe I should have called it quits after having a near religious experience with astronomyy at Shooshh, but I thought I should try and shoehorn artists #10 (NYC singer/songwriter duo Jack and Eliza, who I caught just minutes of at Patterns upstairs after leaving Shooshh) and #11 into my Thursday after deciding a very late night set by Belgian electronic artist Mugwump (who would have been #12) at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar was not in the cards. Tropics, aka Chris Ward, was scheduled to perform at the Prince Albert, whose upstairs performance space I generally avoid because it’s always hot and sweaty and therefore deathly claustrophobic. I don’t have fond memories of seeing my first Great Escape band ever, Francois and the Atlas Mountains, in that room. But a music editor’s work is never done, so in I charged.

Tropics at Great Escape 2015
How Ward was wearing long sleeves and looking so relaxed, I have no idea. I guess he and his band were in the zone. Two women next to me were throwing shapes and not to the rhythm of the songs, so I think it’s safe to say they were very, very drunk. The atmospheric ambient music of Ward, from the sexiness of ‘House of Leaves’ to the soulful ‘Rapture’, demands a captive audience (I think anyway) and while there were plenty of appreciative punters at the Prince Albert, the overall amount of squeezing, pushing and shoving around in that relatively small space distracted me from enjoying Ward’s craft. Suffice to say, I hope I get an opportunity to listen to his music in a much more relaxed way one day when sweat is not pouring down my face and I haven’t been running around for the last 12 hours. One day. Soon. I hope.

 

Live at Leeds 2015: Editor Mary’s Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 7th May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of my Live at Leeds coverage is this way. For more of my photos from the event, check out my Flickr.

After the highs achieved and all before the 5 o’clock hour at Live at Leeds 2015, I suppose it was inevitable that there would be some kind of letdown ahead. Any music writer will try and map out a reasonable festival schedule that doesn’t have you running yourself ragged, but that too is an inevitable part of the festival experience for us, whether we’re in Austin, New York, Sydney, Liverpool or Brighton. However, the one thing you can never really plan for technical difficulties or cancellations.

There was no mention at all on her Facebook page – and the complete lack of a Twitter account didn’t help either; take note, bands: your fans really do want to know if you’ve decided to pull out of a major event – so it was with much disappointment to learn at the press area Saturday morning that Lonelady, the only show I had pencilled in at the Belgrave Music Hall and the main electronic draw for me all day, had been replaced by someone else. I will say that the sting was slightly taken off by the Patty Smith’s Dirty Burgers Chris and I had eaten there for lunch, as they were without a doubt some of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever had.

In my mind, it was to be left to Worcestershire’s astronomyy to pick up Lonelady’s slack and bring out the beats. I will say first that I have no idea about all the specs and details it takes to run a music venue, but the HiFi on Central Road certainly upset a whole lot of people Saturday in Leeds. What should have been a huge celebration of all things electro and soul in their basement venue turned into a massive problem, which I should have guessed when I ran from the Academy down to the club and astronomy hadn’t even started performing yet. After waiting probably an additional half hour after his appointed starting time, venue staff announced astronomyy would not be going on at all. Boos and jeering began and sadly, it would not be the last of such at the HiFi.

I used the downtime to visit with my Wakefield friend Matt Abbott, a friend of mine who formerly made a name for himself in music as the wordsmith behind Skint and Demoralised, is now a spoken word artist, performing as part of A Firm of Poets, who were at the featured lineup at the Black Swan, part of the Fringe portion of Live at Leeds. I mention the Fringe, as even if you’re skint (no pun intended) or don’t fancy paying for a wristband to Live at Leeds proper, there is still plenty on in town during the weekend that’s free and open to the public if you fancy it.

After we said our goodbyes, I thought it would be a good idea for me to head up to A Nation of Shopkeepers to see what the fuss was about BAD//DREEMS. I have pretty bad claustrophobia – I famously requested my biology midterm exam seat assignment in a university lecture hall be changed one semester, as I had been given a desk directly next to a wall – so this turned out to not be ideal for me at all; the place was packed, which was great, but after I had successfully passed the event bouncer who let me into the place, I found myself pinned in from all sides from people either trying to get drinks from the bar or those who refused to be kind and to make way for anyone else.

I suppose it’s your right to be territorial if you’ve gotten to a venue early and wish to stay, but some people were getting very tetchy and unhappy and it got to the point where I felt like I was going to faint and I had to leave. I did hear BAD//DREEMS’ music through a window outside and I very much enjoyed the guitar rock I did hear. If anything, the crammed in like sardines atmosphere suggests that the people of Leeds were very keen on seeing and hearing the Aussie band play, which is really fantastic for a band so far away from home. They’ll be in Sheffield tonight (the 7th of May) at the Rocking Chair, and I hope I get out of the airport quick enough to see them.

A return to the HiFi to see electro soul duo Honne and their full band setup including a bass player, drummer and a backing singer was worth the wait. However, because of the delays introduced by the astronomyy set that never materialised, the entire day’s lineup was delayed, causing some already drunk by then Yorkshire youths to start acting up, shouting insults in Honne’s direction. I feared a riot , which wouldn’t have been great since the HiFi space is in a basement, so you’ve really got nowhere to run.

Thankfully, they were able to get their act together (literally) and played a truncated yet satisfying set, including the Hype Machine favourite ‘Warm on a Cold Night’, which I imagine will be the song all of their fans will request for years to come. The equally soulful ‘All in the Value’ was another set highlight. Seek out their just released this week EP ‘Coastal Love’ on their own Tatemae Recordings.

As I was stood down the front for Honne, I couldn’t help but fret that I really should have left in the middle of their set to get to Leeds Town Hall for Dutch Uncles, who released their third album ‘O Shudder’ in February. If I’m entirely honest, I was hoping for an appearance of Muncan alongside frontman Duncan Wallis for the track ‘Decided Knowledge’. While I was fretting, I was scanning Twitter to see if there was any point to head there, figuring that the Cribs’ appearance later in the evening likely meant there’d be a massive queue for the hometown boys. Someone had posted a photo of the queue already forming hours ahead of the Cribs’ set, so I skipped them in favour of food, which is a necessary part of festival life, even if you have to force yourself to eat!

Trudging back up to A Nation of Shopkeepers, I arrived at the venue in the middle of a set by all-girl group Jagaara from North London. Punters were gushing over their music, which doesn’t sound all that unique to me: guitars, electronics, female voices, this is well-trod upon ground, folks. I guess I’ll have to investigate them more to form an educated opinion.

I was really at Shopkeepers for Boxed In, whose appearance at Blackjack London and AIM’s Friday night showcase at SXSW 2015 was super fun. I, along with Boxed In mastermind Oli Bayston, were about to be bowled over by the reception in Leeds. I spoke to several people in the audience prior to their set and they all said they had Boxed In’s debut album released last year and couldn’t wait to see the band perform. (Bayston and co. weren’t supposed to be my last band of Live at Leeds; I had intended to stay for the last band Real Lies. But due to technical difficulties at the venue and nearly an hour of waiting after Boxed In, getting my ears pummeled by squeals from the speakers that weren’t supposed to happen and no actual music, I called it a night.)

Running just a mere 5 minutes behind schedule, as soon as Bayston played his first keyboard note, the crowd turned the place into a vibrant dance party. The irrepressible rhythm of ‘Foot of the Hill’ encouraged the ladies to my right to do the dance equivalent of Peter Crouch’s robot moves, arms and legs flailing; ‘Mystery’, the Boxed In radio hit everyone was waiting for caused everyone to shake their tail feather.

As someone who spends a good part of her time trying to promote dance music as a fellow fan, to be able to witness such a spectacle and with so many people enjoying themselves watching a electropop act was equal parts validating and exciting. Fantastic. What a wonderful way to end my first Live at Leeds experience. Fingers crossed I will return next year!

 

Live at Leeds 2015 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as with all of festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Live at Leeds is current at the time of posting, but we encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2015 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the festivities in Leeds on Saturday the 2nd of May are still available at the bargain price of £27.50. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

Under top secret cover earlier this week, TGTF were given the Live at Leeds 2015 band schedule before its official release this morning. We’ve had a read through of the massive schedule, and in this post, editor Mary Chang offers her best bets for the festival in this Live at Leeds 2015 preview post.

Get Inuit
Eskimoes aren’t known to be all that musical or quirky, so imagine my surprise when Kent’s Get Inuit was both. They have a single called ‘Dress of Bubble Wrap’, for god’s sakes. And it’s amazing in its pop brilliance. Like your indie pop / rock a little off-kilter with loads of great guitars and titles like ‘Cutie Pie I’m Bloated’? (I’m not kidding.) This is the band for you.

Get Inuit perform at the Key Club at 3 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__wF1ciSmxs[/youtube]

Pixel Fix
2014 was a good year for Oxford’s Pixel Fix. The indie pop trio from Oxford released their ‘Running Thin’ EP in the summer, featuring the ultra catchy ‘Lungs’ and the smooth jam ‘Change This’. In terms of touring, they got to gain many more fans supporting Cheltenham TGTF Bands to Watch success story Young Kato on their spring UK tour, and then later on in November, they were chosen for Communion Music’s New Faces tour. They might be playing an absurdly early time in the afternoon, but I view this positively: you have a better shot of figuring them into your schedule.

Pixel Fix perform at Leeds Uni Mine at 3:30 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbChXEZkqHg[/youtube]

Stornoway
No strangers to major tours and festivals, arguably Oxford’s biggest band of the moment Stornoway come to Leeds to promote their new and third album ‘Bonxie’ (out on the 13th of April on Cooking Vinyl), their first with an outside producer (Gil Norton, who has worked with the likes of Pixies and Foo Fighters). And the results are spectacultar: early taster tracks like the reflective single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ and the upbeat ‘Get Low’ prove while beefing up their pop sound, they’ve been able to keep the harmonies and wittiness they’ve always been known for.

Stornoway perform at the Academy at 4 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the band is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTN1L-eyUAk[/youtube]

Astronomyy
As an editor by trade, I’ll usually scoff at song titles and band names that are purposely misspelled. However, in my research ahead of SXSW 2015, the Worcestershire musician’s music truly impressed me and enough for me to put him on my must-see list for SXSW 2015. All was well until he broke the news to me that he wasn’t coming to Austin. (Cue sadface.) To my delight though, he’ll be in Leeds to drop his chill, surf guitar-laced, r&b infused tunes. A recent collaboration with London singer Denai Moore on the track suggests he’s poised to be the next big, in-demand, young producer in the UK.

Astronomyy performs at the Hifi at 4:45 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQs9hco8HVw[/youtube]

BAD//DREEMS
Certainly winning the award for having travelled the furthest for Live at Leeds, Adelaide, Australia band BAD//DREEMS come highly recommended from many Aussies I met in Austin last month. They’re a guitar band with ‘Dumb Ideas’, out to have a good time and they want to bring you along for this loud, raucous ride. Bring marmite, I’m sure they will be wanting some. They also mentioned to me on Twitter about wanting crumbed sausages…I don’t know if Leeds has those but I guess if all else fails, bring some Greggs.

BAD//DREEMS perform at Nation of Shopkeepers at 6 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeFzlUygDJE[/youtube]

Honne
London soul / electro duo Honne will have a reason to celebrate at the festival – just 2 days after, they’ll be releasing a new EP on their own new record label Tatemae Recordings. EP track ‘Coastal Love’ has already passed 4,500 likes on Hype Machine, and the song follows the already great success of their first track released to the wild, the super sexy ‘Warm on a Cold Night’. Get on this train before it leaves the station without you.

Honne perform at the Hifi at 6:45 PM. Past TGTF coverage on the duo is this way.

LoneLady
In Manchester, the shadows of electronic heroes New Order still haunt music makers, but it’s about bloody time for someone else to bring the city fully into the 21st century. Enter musician/producer Julie Ann Campbell, who records under the name LoneLady presumably to emphasise this is her project and hers alone, because we all know there are some very backward thinking men in this business who think it’s impossible for a woman to do all of this. (Sad, really…) ‘Groove It Out’ is getting a lot of radio airplay at the moment, and deservedly so for its ineffable catchiness and yes, sick groove.

Lonelady performs at Belgrave Music Hall at 7 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlFe8yfYSHw[/youtube]

Tom Williams
Though he’s more famous for his band of brothers, their “Boat” and the three albums to their name, Tom Williams decided last year during the down time of recording of their third band LP to start writing a new set of songs fit for an acoustic setting and strike out on his own in a new stripped back endeavour. Just released last week, his debut release as a solo artist, the ‘New Guitar’ EP, places the focus back on Williams’ songwriting talent, guitar chords and the rich timbre of his voice.

Tom Williams performs at Leeds College of Music Recital Hall at 10:30 PM. For past coverage on Tom Williams and the Boat, head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-9Q_HP9ZWc[/youtube]

New contributor Chris Donnelly’s Live at Leeds 2015 preview with his best band bets will be posting shortly here on TGTF.

 
 
 

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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 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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