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SXSW 2013: Day 1 – Huw Stephens / UK Trade and Investment showcase at Latitude 30 – 12th March 2013

 
By on Friday, 22nd March 2013 at 4:35 pm
 

Last year, I spent the majority of my time at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. It was so long ago now, I don’t really remember if it was more because it was a safe place for me because I knew exactly where it was on San Jacinto Boulevard, or if it was the line-ups that drew me there. In any event, at SXSW 2013 I was mildly disappointed by the programme being presented over the week, with a lot of bands that I just didn’t care for. Traditionally, Tuesday is the ‘easiest’ day of the festival, as there aren’t as many showcases put on because that’s the day the festival begins and a lot of the professional folks don’t make it into town until that afternoon. That said, that means every decent showcase will be rammed, which was the case with the Huw Stephens-curated UK Trade and Investment showcase that very night. I got in there early, figuring I wanted to hit the ground running, covering a whole slew of notable UK acts hand-selected by Huw himself.

Y Niwl SXSW 2013 live

The first band up was Y Niwl, an alternative surf pop band from Wales. First impression: their bass player was wearing a red knit hat that made me laugh, because the week prior our John Fernandez was trying to win a similarly epic winter hat in a Facebook contest. They don’t talk between songs and Huw even said in his introduction of them, “they told me to tell you ‘thank you’ now”, because they wouldn’t be stopping to chat. So between this statement and the hat, I went into this set chuckling.

I don’t speak Welsh so I can’t read you the titles of their songs or tell you what they mean, but all you need to know is that they’ve got a blend of the Shadows, the Ventures, the Surfaris and the Beach Boys (sans lyrics), with a penchant for both slower burning numbers and widely contrasting speedy ones that will remind you of the themes to Peter Gunn and the James Bond franchise. Y Niwl could definitely could be considered quirky on the basis of their handwritten set list that consisted solely of numbers (a special band code?) and not any recognisable words. Not even ones that looked like Welsh. Mysterious…

Lucy Rose SXSW 2013 live

Folk pop singer/songwriter Lucy Rose was up next, wearing an Adidas t-shirt, black jeans and some kick-arse–looking trainers. I kept in mind from John’s interview with her at Reading last year that deep down he’s a metal / rock loving girl and that this outfit made more sense in that context. Being so slight, she had brought with her a special stool and all her pedals were placed on top of an equipment case so her feet could reach them. (Bless.)

What became immediately apparent from the first song out of the gate was this was not the same anxious, timid as a mouse girl I saw open for Bombay Bicycle Club in DC just a year ago. If there was a time for her to bring the goods, this was it, her first big American music industry appearance in Austin for her SXSW 2013 close-up. ‘Middle of the Bed’ wowed the folks I was with who had never seen her before. She offered up a brand new song, and in her usual self-deprecating self, she organised her band to play another song that they never play live, saying “this is going to be bad!” But there was no indication of anyone, much less Rose herself, of dropping the ball. Maybe the first time she came to America, she wasn’t confident in her performing abilities, but this night, no one could touch her.

Tall Ships SXSW 2013 live

Tall Ships from Falmouth were a jarring yet welcome band to follow the folk of Lucy Rose. John had nothing but compliments for their debut album ‘Everything Touching’ from last year, and generally speaking, our rock tastes differ quite a bit, so I was expecting something loud and frenetic. In that respect, they did our John proud, guitars and hair flying all the place. A little loud for me but the crowd were loving it. I almost didn’t want to leave, but I had a date with another band elsewhere.

This is where things went pear-shaped. I was supposed to be on the guest list for the big Media Temple-sponsored SXSW Interactive closing party at Stubb’s. For a month prior, the internet had been abuzz about the headline set by deadmau5 vs. Richie Hawtin. As you can imagine, it was one of the biggest draws of the entire week and while I do like deadmau5, I was more interested in seeing the band directly before me, our friends the Joy Formidable. With a press wristband, I knew I hadn’t a hope in the world of getting in, and they had arranged for me to get in through the guest list. I arrived a half-hour early, figuring that would be plenty of time to get into the venue and get a good vantage point. Something went wrong though, as when I went up to the guestlist line and the man with the list – all 12 pages of it – flipped through the list with lightning speed, said I wasn’t on it and could I call the people who put me on the list to get in touch with them?

Uhhh, that would be a little difficult to achieve because it was 30 minutes from the Joy Formidable’s set list and us bloggers are all too aware that bands get psyched up for their performances right before and we cannot expect them to be near their phones. A kind request for the man to look over the list one more time, more slowly, was met with a curt shout of “you’re not getting in!” Okay, then. I was also bristling as some women behind me, barking at security that they should be let in immediately because they were from the BBC. Sorry, but no-one was getting in unless you were on the guest list, whether you’re from the Beeb or not. The experience soured me on Stubb’s for the rest of the week and I refused to return. This was really disappointing to me as last year I had a very good night there seeing Kaiser Chiefs and the Temper Trap. While I realise that especially on that night when they were being shouted at by drunk festival-goers desperate to get in to deadmau5 that tempers all around were frayed, but being professional is part of running a venue, SXSW or no SXSW, and I don’t think any punter acting reasonably and civilly to staff deserves to be screamed at. Respect people, whoever they are. I walked back down Red River Street, defeated, hearing the faraway strains of ‘Cholla’ and wishing I was inside Stubb’s instead of kicking dirt down the sidewalk.

Well, what to do now but to return to Latitude 30? Remember that I said earlier in this piece that Tuesday night was light with showcases. I’ve never seen so many people outside Latitude 30, trying to get in. Then again, nearly every band I wanted to see there at SXSW 2012, I had arrived well ahead and managed to get inside with no problem. It became eminently clear that with my press wristband, I wasn’t getting back in for the 1975. Considering how much we’ve written about them on TGTF and the fact that I was probably one of few people who knew several of their songs, let alone heard of them, I was fuming. Those of you who have met me know exactly how short I am. Despite standing on my tippy toes, I couldn’t see a thing. They sounded amazing though, and judging from the screaming after each song, they got in and did what they needed to do: wow the Austin crowd.

Willy Moon SXSW 2013 live

The crowd significantly thinned out after the 1975’s set, allowing me to squeeze in to the side for Willy Moon. One of his songs was recently featured on an Apple advert here in America, so I imagined there would be a decent buzz around him. However, it appeared everyone I was in close proximity to was there to wait for Bastille, who I’d read in a press release the day before had hit #1 in the UK albums chart with their debut. In that respect, I thought Moon had an uphill battle ahead of him.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like him live, as I had always thought on record he was a bit gimmicky and too reliant on ‘50s style. But surprisingly I liked him a lot. As I had imagined in my head, he has a Little Richard / Jerry Lee Lewis frenzied throwback vocal style about him. But what I was not expecting was how animated he’d be on stage, hips swinging like a 21st century Elvis, crooning and preening. With a huge quiff and dressed to the nines in a smart suit, he just oozed cool. He had played a show in DC when I was poorly in February and boy, was I glad to have finally seen live.

Bastille SXSW 2013 live

I still don’t get the appeal of Bastille. Being Tuesday night, it was the last hurrah for the SXSW Interactive conventioneers, and I met several of them who were ending their last night in Austin with this rousing night with Huw Stephens. A new friend from London said that the Bastille sound is the sound of London right now, and maybe that is why I’m not getting it. Having heard the new Dan Croll single ‘Compliment Your Soul’ on BBC 6music earlier today, I am not so sure it is limited to London.

Since it had been such an arduous task to get back into Latitude 30 after the 1975’s set and after a ridiculously early night the night before not getting into Peace at Viceland, I couldn’t be bothered to leave the venue where I’d managed a cosy spot down the front for the evening’s headliner. Initially when I saw Dan Smith, he reminded me of one of my friends Matt, and I immediately starting missing him. There are synths and lots of percussion that make up the Bastille set-up, and make no mistake, Smith’s music is a lot of fun and it incites wild dancing wherever he goes. Surrounded by folks who were obviously into this kind of music, their arms in the air to the beats, I felt like a wet blanket. I just don’t fully understand why their debut album hit #1 on the UK albums chart. While I am not saying it is entirely soulless, there seems to be something missing there, at least for me, and it’s that block that keeps me from enjoying the music fully.

Overall impression of the evening: most bands very good, but Stubb’s security loses them at least a thousand points.

 

Video of the Moment (and more!) #1156: To Kill a King

 
By on Thursday, 21st March 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Two exciting new bits from To Kill a King. First, here is the new video for ‘Funeral’, featuring on the band’s current album ‘Cannibals with Cutlery’ out now. Second, they’ve done a cover of UK chart-topping and current To Kill a King tourmates Bastille‘s ‘Oblivion’, which you can listen to below too.

Be sure to catch the band you named at #8 on the 10 for 2013 TGTF readers’ poll on tour in April; we’ve listed the dates below all the embeds, so scroll down for the details.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKWoWbbcdz0[/youtube]

Tuesday 9th April 2013 – Birmingham Institute @ Temple (with Spring Offensive)
Wednesday 10th April 2013 – London Scala (with Shields)
Thursday 11th April 2013 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friday 12th April 2013 – Manchester Ruby Lounge
Saturday 13th April 2013 – Glasgow Nice ‘n’ Sleazy

 

Update: The Great Escape 2013

 
By on Tuesday, 12th February 2013 at 9:00 am
 

We’ve been saying it for the good part of 2 years now, but for all you hipster types who hold a hankering for being at the forefront of what’s got a ‘buzz’ around it, here’s another reminder.

The Great Escape 2013 is COMING, on the 16th May to the 18th May in Brighton, and yes, it’s the exact place you need to be if you want to be at the vanguard of the musical trends of the tail end of 2013. Established as Europe’s answer to America’s South By Southwest (SXSW), you can catch a multitude of bands across 30 diverse venues, from seaside bars, to underground cellars that see the very foundations of their buildings reverberate.

Rocking these diverse venues will be lo-fi pop trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra (no, I don’t like the name either), alongside one of the top tips for 2013 singer songwriter Tom Odell. Manchester’s The 1975, who have been tipped for greatness by Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, not to mention us, will also appear ahead of next EP ‘Music For Cars’ on the 4th of March.

New Kerrang! favorite Marmozets will be bringing their raw as hell rock ‘n’ roll to the sunny Brighton shores as well. And they’ve announced the first headline act, Bastille, who have been enjoying an incredibly successful start to 2013 and will most likely be one of the most popular bands of the weekend. They were voted #2 on the TGTF 10 for 2013 poll.

Bastille’s show is one of a small number that will take place at The Dome. To gain access to a Brighton Dome show, attendees can top up their festival wristband for only £7 per show, or purchase a separate gig ticket for £14.50. While super early bird wristbands have tone, a 3-day early bird festival wristband can be yours for £45 plus booking fees. Early bird delegate badges are available for £145. View the initial line-up here.

It’s a hell of a festival cliché, but there truly is something here for everyone. Whether you like your synths dirty, your metal heavy, or your lyrics whiney, you won’t be stuck for choice at TGE.

 

(SXSW 2013 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1107: Bastille

 
By on Tuesday, 29th January 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

London’s’ Bastille will be crossing the pond in 2 months’ time for their first SXSW. No doubt they will be playing new single ‘Pompeii’, appearing on their debut album ‘Bad Blood’ out on the 4th of March, but ahead of that, they’ve got a promo video for it. Watch it below.

Catch Bastille on tour this month and next as support for Two Door Cinema Club; all the details are here.


 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: Pop and pop hybrid UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 8th January 2013 at 11:00 am
 

It may be hard to believe, but the start of South by Southwest 2013 is a mere 9 weeks away! We’ll be bringing you special features here on TGTF all the way until and through the week of the music portion of SXSW on the 12th to the 17th of March 2013, so keep it here for some great stuff your way. Please note: all information we bring you is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.

For example, starting this month, on each Tuesday in January, we’ll be bringing you the genre section of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, profiling all the UK artists that have already been announced to perform at this year’s event as of 5 December 2012. It’s a handy resource if you’re wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music.

Today’s genre? Pop and pop hybrid acts. How are we defining pop? That’s often a tough question, since pop can pull elements from other genres of music including urban, dance, rock, folk and country. And it made my work harder, as sometimes I had to question, “is this band pop? Or rock? Or should I put him/her with the singer/songwriters?” I detected a prevailing pop sensibility in all the acts you will read about below.

(alt-J) – do they really a write-up? Probably not. It’s bothering me more than necessary that they’re playing 9:30 Club in the spring, but if nasal vocals are what DC wants, they will get them…

Read our previous coverage including the 2012 Mercury Prize nomination and win of alt-J, here.

Syd Arthur – not a single singer/songwriter but rather a psychedelic pop band calling Canterbury home. As you might expect, they all have long, unkempt hair but have incredible attention to detail. “Greatly inspired by the sonic pioneers of the late 60s and early 70s, they have patiently learned how to engineer, produce and mix themselves, using an innovative hybrid of analogue and digital techniques.” I’m sold.

Sounds like: exactly how I’d think the Alan Parsons Project would sound in the 21st Century.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/51432880[/vimeo]

Bastille – I’m not going to write a blurb here since Cheryl had done a very nice one here for Dan Smith and co.’s profile as #2 on our 10 for 2013 poll.

Catch all our previous coverage of Bastille here.

Cave Painting – expansive dream pop from Brighton with touches of Friendly Fires-like escapism and occasional xx-like minimalism.

Catch our previous coverage on the band here.

Charli XCX – Hertfordshire-born, cookie cutter electropop princess. Not really what I think of going down well in Austin. Next…

Charlotte Church – To be honest, I was a little confused to see her name on the first SXSW list. But she’s been trying to shed her good girl, classical music-singing, teenage girl image with a proper pop one, though she runs no risk of sounding like any other UK pop starlet. No, her sound is an unusual blend of the operatic with the whimsy of Patrick Wolf? Not sure about this. Very interesting though to see her singing the praises of Lianne La Havas on Twitter. Future mates?

Now trying to sound like: an operatic Kate Bush (see ‘How Not To Be Surprised When You’re a Ghost’ below)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4IT3aJ90aA[/youtube]

Everything Everything – the Manchester band that defies any description, really, is ready to storm 2013 with a new album ‘Arc’ to be released in a short while, and it’s my hope that their SXSW turn will finally land them an American record deal. Mixing their disparate loves of pop, rock and hip hop to create a sound that can only be described as catchy and earworm-y, missing them at SXSW is not an option.

We’ve been following EE since Gwilym Gold (ex-Golden Silvers) first tipped them in 2009 on Twitter, so for everything (no pun intended) we’ve written on them, go here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKKMfJ8cZoQ[/youtube]

Fear of Men – What a strange name for a band, especially since this group consists of two girls and two boys. (I would have thought it either would have been a girl group, or a bunch of gay men.) Brooklyn record label Kanine Records – aka the American home of Surfer Blood – will be putting out a compilation of the band’s early singles, which means a whole new generation of hipsters will be putting them on their iPods. Really. Hear their latest 7”, called ‘Mosaic’, here; Amazing Radio’s Shell Zenner interviewed the band in 2012 and I’ve embedded a stream of the interview below.

File next to: the Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Gross Magic – Brighton’s Sam McGarrigle makes kinda psychedelic rock, kinda pop. Kinda. Not my thing so I’ll leave it there.

Sounds like: a drugged out Marc Bolan if he discovered a synth (but we didn’t, and that’s why we have T. Rex)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay-rsScKOmQ[/youtube]

The Heavy – they are a neo-soul band from Bath whose 2009 song ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ has been popping up in all sorts of popular culture places, on tv shows and video games to…Barack Obama’s election night location in Chicago. (What?) And you know how the line goes, if Barry’s a fan, then…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVzvRsl4rEM[/youtube]

Islet – noise pop quartet from Cardiff who have been blowing minds in the UK for a while now with their challenging blend of percussion driven, yet undanceable experimental rock.

Read our previous coverage of the band, including a review of their 2012 album ‘Illuminated People’, here.

Jetta – Liverpool singer Jetta croons soulfully to a minimalist backdrop the xx would be proud to call their own. Band-wise, we’ll have to see if this turns out to be more Florence and the Machine or No Doubt.

Sounds like: Diana Ross joined the xx and unilaterally blocked Romy and Oliver from singing

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt1keKvhycY[/youtube]

Lianne La Havas – La Havas has already made a huge impression on an L.A. crowd in November at the Roxy; if the L.A. Times are to be believed, her voice can be favourably compared to those of Joni Mitchell, Sade, Alicia Keys, Meshell Ndgeocello, Jill Scott and, based on a cover on her 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’, even Leonard Cohen. Picked up by NPR, she will have no problem gathering fans to watch her sets at SXSW, even if they never heard that she won iTunes’ Best of 2012 Album honours or is a BBC Sound of 2012 longlist alum.

Read our previous coverage on La Havas here.

The Real Tuesday Weld – pop meets jazz cabaret style meets electronic. Founded by Stephen Coates, this band has been around since 1999 and have been involved in a number of high profile collaborations, including providing music for art museum installations, film soundtracks and television adverts.

Polly Scattergood – my first exposure to Polly was the quirky ‘Please Don’t Touch’, which exemplified her folk / pop /electronic style. I’m hoping she’ll fill in the void that’s been left since Little Boots and Ladyhawke have vacated in heading in their respective new directions. New material has a

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNUt3q8joAg[/youtube]

This Many Boyfriends – this Leeds band have already gotten the attention of a local celebrity: Ryan Jarman, who produced one of their recent singles. Pleasant and poppy but not exactly meaty.

Sounds like: they’ve been listening to too many Belle and Sebastian records

Wall. – not to be confused with the articled Wall, a punk band from Tyne, this Wall has an unGoogleable name that isn’t helping, so I’ll stop here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2xO4hC3dGk[/youtube]

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013!

 

10 for 2013: #2 – Bastille

 
By on Thursday, 13th December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

The band you voted #2 on the TGTF readers’ 10 for 2013 poll has been a stalwart of emerging music festivals in the UK in the last 2 years. Is 2013 their time? Read Cheryl’s profile on a project that started out with one man in London…

London-based Bastille is a former solo project started by singer/songwriter Dan Smith that has grown into a full band endeavor with Chris ‘Woody’ Wood, Will Farquarson and Kyle Simmons joining. Bathed in an ‘80s-like synth glow, Smith delivers a haunting sound within that beat. Signed to EMI/Virgin, the debut album ‘Bad Blood’ is set to be released in March of next year. The pre-release single ‘Flaws’ raised a kerfuffle when Smith used images from the 1973 film ‘Badlands’ for the video. The owner of the film, Universal, has effectively blocked out the video so we can no longer see the storyline Smith originally envisioned accompanying the song. Then the next single release ‘Overjoyed’ came from the ‘Laura Palmer’ EP and again had a video influenced by film buff Smith’s interest in cult films. With both the EP’s title and the video heavily referencing cult tv show Twin Peaks, Bastille took on the mantle of dark and quirky.

Best described as synthy pop with a bit of an edge, their music either walks a tightrope between musical worlds or can’t decide where to focus. Certainly Smith is following his own muse, as he should. I suppose he is hoping to nab a smattering of fans from many genres. It’s all a bit dark and brooding, a touch poppy and a tad indie, all wrapped up in a decent dance beat. “Vive le Eurodance … Bastille”, quoth Paul Lester of The Guardian this past summer, and we agree.

I particularly liked the cover of City High’s ‘What Would You Do?’ It shows a little more ownership of a style. That tune and ‘Sleepsong’ I feel are their strongest entries. Having played The Great Escape (a fave festival here at TGTF) both this year and last, Bastille is a band that is worth following to see where they go.

Interestingly, Bastille collaborated with another of our Ten to Watch in 2013 nominees, Gabrielle Aplin (who came in at #9), for a Fleetwood Mac cover that is downright brilliant (see video below). ‘Dreams’ holds all the original eeriness and adds an earthy base that makes it all that much more compelling. This you should check out.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2Zu7qJqDXQ[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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