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SXSW 2017: A relaxing Saturday afternoon at El Sapo with Music for Listeners – 18th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

The Saturday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was brimming with sunshine and cool breeze, a perfect cocktail for outdoor activity. I took the opportunity to break away from the buzz of downtown Austin and head to local favourite burger joint El Sapo for the final day of the Music for Listeners showcases, hosted by our friends Michael Thomas and Orlando Torres. As usual, they had a great list of artists scheduled to play, including bands from the UK and around the world.

"SWIM

The first act on Saturday’s lineup was also the first ever Greek band to play on the Music for Listeners showcase, electronic trio Someone Who Isn’t Me. This all-female trio caught my attention instantly with their sleek combination of vocals, synths, and guitar sounds, melded into a fascinating art-pop aesthetic. I caught the three band members, Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou, after their set for a quick interview, where I learned more about the band’s unique origins and their post-SXSW plans. Take a listen to their dramatic instrumental track ‘Never Find It’ just below.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds played a spirited full band set at El Sapo on the Saturday, including popular songs from her debut album ‘Palma Violets’ as well as a nifty cover of Foster the People’s 2011 megahit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’. TGTF covered Jealous of the Birds briefly at SXSW 2016 and more extensively at SXSW 2017; you can read all our past writing on her right back here.

"Be

I didn’t know what to expect from Scottish alt-pop trio Be Charlotte, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard on Saturday afternoon. Their teenaged frontwoman Charlotte Brimner might look cutesy on first glance, but her soft vocals are cut with hard-edged synth arrangements and precise dance rhythms. Amazingly, despite her relative youth, this wasn’t Brimner’s first time at SXSW; she took part in an Interactive panel session called ‘Making Music Physical Again’ back in 2015. Be Charlotte’s intensely groovy human analogy ’Machines that Breathe’ was a highlight of the afternoon.

"COF

Welsh band Chain of Flowers took a bit of a moody turn as we moved into late afternoon, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a band who shares its name with a song by The Cure. The similarity doesn’t end with the moniker, though Chain of Flowers have a murkier, thicker-textured darkness to their sonic quality, and frontman Josh Smith’s vocals convey more raw torture than sullen detachment. The band played a mix of new songs and tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut album, and it seems apropros, given their massive and heavy sound, that one of their newer tracks is titled ‘The Wall’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SJL4sORTW9E[/youtube]

Mary had seen Chain of Flowers Thursday afternoon at the British Music Embassy as part of a rock showcase there, but they were new to me, so I stopped their guitarist, Ross Jones, for a quick chat after the set. He told me that the band are currently promoting the re-pressed version of their debut album, after a less-than-satisfactory record label experience with its original release. However, he emphasised that they do have new material ready and waiting, with a potential single release this spring and a full LP to follow. In the meantime, Chain of Flowers are scheduled to play a run of live dates in England starting next week. (You can find the details here.)

"Catholic

While I was talking with Jones, the growing crowd at El Sapo congregated in front of the stage area for Scottish rock band Catholic Action. Formed as a spin-off of sorts from SXSW 2014 showcasing band Casual Sex, Catholic Action have quickly come into their own with singles ‘L.U.V.’ and ‘Rita Ora’. Their pop-tinged brand of rock was much more immediately accessible than Chain of Flowers’ wall of sound, and they quickly had punters’ feet tapping and heads bopping along to songs like their latest single ‘Doing Well’. Mary caught the group twice Friday night, first at the Glasgow Buckaroo at the Mohawk, then at the British Music Embassy at the BBC Introducing showcase.

 

"Juanita

The afternoon was slowly fading into evening by this point, and I decided to stay at El Sapo to see one final artist, Australian singer/songwriter Juanita Stein. Stein is already well known as the lead singer for London-based indie rock band Howling Bells, and she did play one song from that part of her repertoire, along with covers from Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison that give some indication of her solo style. Indeed, her recent single ‘Shimmering’ has more than a hint of Orbison’s dark bluesy-rock vibe, though she didn’t play enough of her solo tracks for me to get a good idea. Stein’s solo album ‘America’ is due out later this year, so if you’re curious, be on the lookout. Juanita Stein also performed as part of Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I Tuesday afternoon at B.D. Riley’s; read Mary’s review of her performance through here.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/iEYzyyjhMlw[/youtube]

The stellar lineup of acts at the Music for Listeners day parties are always a treat, especially for those of us who love UK artists, and this year was no exception. Special thanks to Michael, Orlando and everyone at El Sapo. We hope to see you again next year!

 

Live at Leeds 2017 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we always recommend in all of TGTF’s festival previews, the information we post here on Live at Leeds 2017 is current at the time of posting. We strongly encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2017 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds on Saturday the 29th of April are still available at the bargain price of £32.50 plus handling if purchased online; VIP tickets are sold out. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2017 alums: Here’s a list of artists we either saw last month in Austin who we enjoyed AND/OR we previewed ahead of the festival -AND- will also be appearing at Live at Leeds in 2 Saturdays’ time. For your convenience, I’ve listed them in order of appearance on the day so you can slot them into your growing schedule. The best of the best are marked with an asterisk. (*)

LIFE (2:00 PM, Leeds Beckett Union Stage 2 [Dr. Martens Presents]) *
Ten Tonnes (2:00 PM, Chapel) *
Airways (3:00 PM, Leeds Beckett Union Stage 2 [Dr. Martens Presents])
Jade Bird (4:30 PM, Faversham Patio)
Annabel Allum (5:00 PM, Social)
Be Charlotte (5:00 PM, Faversham)
IDLES (7:15 PM, Key Club [DORK Stage])
She Drew the Gun (8:00 PM, Wardrobe)
Temples (8:00 PM, Church)
Lewis Watson (8:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church [Clash Stage])
The Academic (9:00 PM, Lending Room [WTGR Stage]) *
Dream Wife (9:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY Stage])
Slaves (9:00 PM, Academy)
Flamingods (9:45 PM, Leeds Beckett Union Stage 2 [Dr. Martens Presents])
Rag‘n’Bone Man (9:45 PM, Leeds University Union Refectory)
The Big Moon (10:00 PM, Brudenell Social Club [DIY Stage])
GURR (10:45 PM, Brudenell Social Club Games Room [DIY Neu Stage])
AJ Tracey (11:00 PM, Faversham)
Let’s Eat Grandma (11:00 PM, Chapel)

To add to the best 3 from above and round things out to a even 10 acts, here are an additional 7 I recommend from the fantastic Live at Leeds 2017 schedule:

The Gallery (Wakefield; 12:00 PM, Lending Room [WTGR Stage])
Wakefield is, of course, famous for being the birthplace The Cribs. But the Jarmans should probably get used to sharing the city with another band. The jangly guitars of The Gallery, reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys before they turned into Queens of the Stone Age, will take you back to the simpler times of British indie.

Wyvern Lingo (Wicklow, Ireland; 1:00 PM, Nation of Shopkeepers)
While already deemed national treasures in their country, most people outside Ireland have only heard of Wyvern Lingo from their association with Irish megastar Hozier, their members Karen and Caoimhe providing him backing vocals at live shows and the group supporting him on UK and Irish tours. Imagine the Staves if they’d gone pop and r&b.

Matt Maltese (London; 2:00 PM, Wardrobe)
It took Morrissey a while to be anointed the title ‘The Pope of Mope’. That said, given the current state of world affairs, it stands to reason that there should rightly be more artists coming out and telling it like it is without sugarcoating it. Piano playing Matt Maltese is one of them, coming out with the sweepingly beautiful ‘As the World Caves In’ to convey his despair. Seriously, close your eyes, and you could swear you’re hearing The Moz.

The Wandering Hearts (London; 3:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church [Clash Stage])
A stark contrast to all the indie and pop acts at this year’s Live at Leeds are The Wandering Hearts, an Americana / alt-country group from the big smoke. Recent signees to Decca Records, the band will provide a welcome midday set different from nearly everyone else invited to this event, with their lush harmonies smartly picked guitar.

Paris Youth Foundation (Liverpool; 5:00 PM, Oporto)
The return of Ride to the record shops this year proves the washy guitar wall of sound era isn’t over. Liverpudlians Paris Youth Foundation takes this and does one better by adding synthpop to the mix, lending an anthemic feel to their tracks. Having released their debut album late last year, this is still early days for them, but I reckon now is time to get on the bandwagon.

Tender Central (Devon; 5:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church [Clash Stage])
India Bourne is a Devon-born, classically trained cellist who now goes by the stage name Tender Central. It’s a good description of her sound, which takes full advantage of her ethereal vocals and her careful crafting of an equally evocative, all-enveloping soundscape. Take a moment and consider the thought of seeing such music being performed in a church. Got it?

The Pale White (Newcastle; 5:30 PM, Church)
While Patrick Carney is busy remoulding his girlfriend Michelle Branch, now is an excellent time to discover the band who will dethrone the Black Keys when they aren’t paying attention. While we can’t be sure their successors will be Newcastle’s The Pale White, their brand of down and dirty blues rock is a suitable North East alternative to that of Southampton’s Band of Skulls.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Scottish artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 9th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

In past years, we have gone through peaks and troughs with respect to the number of Scottish acts who come out to showcase at SXSW. I’m pleased to announce that as of the time of this posting, 13 acts are scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017, the largest number in recent memory. The summaries of acts below were written by Steven Loftin, except where noted. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Be Charlotte – pop / Dundee
What pop music sounds like when it comes from Dundee: that’s Be Charlotte. You find yourself drawn in by the obviously melodic, yet also cacophonous music, and you stay for the vocals that cut through and have an incredibly strong Scottish accent that for reason enthralls you. Or maybe that’s just me.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoCMTVDW04k[/youtube]

Catholic Action – pop / Glasgow
Catchy indie pop that has an alluring rawness, as if you’re listening to a band in a bedroom rather than a reasonably established DIY band. Their track ‘Rita Ora’ – yep, an ode to Rita Ora – is catchy, swift and poppy. What more could you want?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86kSAB23nDY[/youtube]

C. Macleod – singer/songwriter / Stornoway
If I had to fathom a guess, someone with name C. Macleod isn’t looking to make a big splash. Instead, this Stornoway native is all about careful, thoughtful songcraft. A driving, Springsteen-esque feel pervades his debut single ‘Dream’, feeling less loner and more expansive than you’d expect from a native of the Isle of Lewis. FFO: Bruce Springsteen, The National, The War on Drugs (Mary Chang)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2c7UiN8-5E[/youtube]

Elle Exxe – pop / London via Edinburgh
Listed as ‘dirty pop’, that’s definitely the best way to describe Elle Exxe (pictured at top). There’s a distinct edge to her music that doesn’t fall in line with your ‘paint-by-numbers’ pop formula. An attitude that is where Charli XCX should’ve been heading toward, she’ll be a household name by 2018. We called it first. Check out Rebecca’s review of Elle’s debut album ‘Love Fuelled Hate’ from last autumn through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd9si_HbBtI[/youtube]

Happy Meals – synthpop / Glasgow
Lewis Cook and Suzanne Rodden comprise Happy Meals, a disco-leaning synthpop band based in Glasgow. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t disco in the style of Donna Summer or other tunes spun at Studio 54. Their minimalist yet space age-y style of dance, accompanied by Rodden’s vocals sometimes in English, sometimes French, adds to the eclectism. I will bet you that you will hear no-one else like Happy Meals in Austin in March. (Mary Chang)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7tHtbaQN7s[/youtube]

PAWS – punk / Glasgow
Some more of that home bred punk rock. PAWS are another band who are going from strength to strength with a raw, melodic sound. SXSW should see them take Texas by storm, especially after the release of their third full length last year.

Pinact – punk / Glasgow
Back with even more punk for SXSW, Pinact are on the louder and harsher side of the spectrum. Pleasing but still with an edge that means your parents won’t like it, they’re another Scottish band who take the angst that is apparently rife there and execute it like all your favourites do.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSfC_9HrhxQ[/youtube]

The Pooches – pop / Glasgow
Glasgow’s Pooches create some beautiful guitar pop that never fails to leave you satisfied. Releasing their self-titled debut late last year, the band aren’t afraid of sticking out of the crowd with their wry yet upbeat pop sound.

Sam Gellaitry – electronic / Stirling
Already signed to XL Records, a powerhouse of a label in the indie world, Sam Gellaitry knows his way around a beat or two. He takes that urban London feeling, which you may or may not be familiar with, and crafts it into easy listening electronic tracks.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7W4t0ClwDg[/youtube]

Spinning Coin – psych rock / Glasgow
You guessed it, another Glaswegian band. They do it well up in Scotland, birthing bands that craft sounds that somehow give none of the fucks while simultaneously giving them all. Keeping it DIY, they released their debut 7″ last year and have no intentions of stopping there. Not to mention their apparently visceral live show, what’s not to love?

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

The Spook School – pop / Edinburgh
The kind of band to not take themselves too seriously while ensuring they keep a solid message in their tunes (see: ‘Burn Masculinity’). With a sound that’s a mixture between indie and DIY punk, there’s no bells and whistles, which completely suits their styling down to the ground. [Having appeared at SXSW last year, we sincerely hope this time they bring suncream. -Ed.]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGGj5_7dx0o[/youtube]

The Van T’s – surf rock / Glasgow
Cleverly made up of two twins, Charlotte and Hannah Van Thompson, along with Joanne Forbes and Shaun Hood, The Van T’s are a part of Glasgow’s burgeoning and bustling rock scene. Surf pop/rock ‘n’ roll might not be game changing but it sure is fun. [Sadly, we’ve received word that The Van T’s will not be showcasing in Austin this year. – Ed.]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAe7wJK_SXQ[/youtube]

 

T in the Park 2016: Saturday Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 27th July 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Following the festival’s disastrous relocation to Strathallan Castle last year, the organisers of T in the Park were keen to reassure fans that this year’s event on the castle grounds would be different. However, by Friday morning, news had surfaced of two deaths and the theft of a cash machine from the main arena, so I was feeling apprehensive before I even arrived. While I was not present in 2015 to comment on how much the layout or travel to and from the festival has been improved, I felt there was still issues. The unnecessary walk from where we arrived to the actual entrance was lengthy and needless, as I was not searched once on the way. However, I was excited to have finally arrived to see what Tin the Park was really all about.

I headed straight towards the BBC Introducing stage. I have always found that despite their boasting of a huge array of global stars, it is often the smaller tents that contain the hidden gems of festivals. I spent quite a lot of my day going in and out of this tent, discovering a few acts that I can imagine will be huge in the coming months.

Scottish native singer/songwriter and lead singer Charlotte Brimner of Be Charlotte, exhibited a captivating combination of raw hip-hop talent, combined with a beautiful and enthralling singing voice. Probably the heaviest band of the festival, Northern Ireland-based four-piece Making Monsters gave an exhilarating performance. Lead singer Emma Gallagher’s explosive vocal and presence onstage is something to be marvelled at, as she moves with ease from deep guttural growls to soaring melodies.

Winner of the illustrious Brits Critics’ Choice and BBC Sound of 2016 polls Jack Garratt has had an impressive year. Taking to the main stage at T in the Park, his mash-up version of Justin Timberlake and Craig David’s ‘Senorita / 7 Days’ was a highlight of his set, making both songs his own while also showing his endless flair for crafting songs. His performance was impeccable, a faultless act by a raw troubadour talent and an electronic magician. Moving around the stage with vigour, he moves with ease from each instrument including drums and guitar as he has evidently mastered more than one craft.

Rapper Tinie Tempah pulled what seemed to be the largest crowd daytime on Saturday, playing smash hits such as ‘Pass Out’ to a very excitable crowd. Having previously seen Tinie perform with a full band, I found it disappointing that the rapper was only backed by a DJ for his performance at T in the Park. While it was an extremely enjoyable performance, I felt something was lacking in the form of a band accompaniment which could have added to his performance. Despite this, the audience hung on the rapper’s every word, proving he’s the perfect midday act to set the tone for Day 2 at the festival.

It was about half way through the day that Biblical-style rain descended upon the festival, making this year’s T in the Park one of the muddiest festivals I have ever attended. The grounds became so bad that it was difficult to make my way across to other stages and at one point, I even wrapped my feet in plastic bags. After hiding from the rain for what seemed forever, underneath anything that would cover me, I made my way towards the other side of festival. Playing the Radio 1 stage ahead of the release of their sixth album were the Kaiser Chiefs, who proved that they are still able to pull a huge crowd. After the last few weeks of political unrest and in the wake of Brexit, the band’s song ‘Angry Mob’ gave fresh resonance to the lyrics, the crowd singing along ecstatically.

I decided to stay around the Radio 1 stage for the rest of the night, as the thought of wading through the now knee-deep mud to see someone press play on the decks was unappealing. The mesmerising set of Manchester alt-rockers The 1975 (pictured at top) made for a superior alternative headline set. Lead singer Matt Healy tells the crowd that this is the first time the group have ever been asked to headline a stage at a festival, so this is a special event.

Their hit ‘Love Me’, the song that launched their new record, erupts with its smooth and Prince-esque funk. You get a real sense of a band who have fully bloomed from pop obscurity into arguably the biggest band of the year, something which is magnified by the audience’s reaction of seeing it live. The hypnotic staging with its colourful light show, alongside Healy’s undeniable presence, makes for the perfect combination. Drawing their set to a close with an encore of ‘Chocolate’, ‘The Sound’ and ‘Girls’, the band finished their set – and Saturday at T in the Park – on a high.

 
 
 

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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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