Looking for previews and reviews of SXSW 2019? Right this way.

SXSW 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

2016 – Where Are We Now? And Where Are We Going?

 
By on Friday, 23rd December 2016 at 11:00 am
 

I saw an ‘interesting’ Christmas card on a friend’s office door earlier this week. The sentiment inside the card referred to the “tumultuous” year we’ve had, with an additional note about looking forward to better things in 2017. To be honest, given the sheer volume of craziness in the last 12 months, it seemed an irresponsible act of a music editor to post her top albums and shows of the year, as if 2016 was like any other year in the past. This article to close out the year is not meant to be a scathing assessment of what has happened. Instead, the words below are meant to encourage reflection during this holiday season, during that usually otherwise ‘sweet spot’ of festive days before we say goodbye to the current year and usher in a new one.

The passing of David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen and countless other luminaries in the music world
A mathematician would argue that given the law of averages and the passage of time, for every year that passes, we’re going to lose more of our favourite artists. That makes sense, right? But 2016 saw the passing of what seemed to be the most ridiculous number of singers and musicians in popular music ever. Just ask @PigeonJon.

Votes for Brexit (warning, about to get partisan)
Politically, 2016 delivered a one-two punch to the idealistic types in Britain and America. The majority of blighty voted to leave the EU, opening the door to Brexit becoming a reality sooner than later. As most/all of you know, I don’t live in and never have lived in Britain, so it might sound strange for an American to come out so negatively against a political decision made on British shores. If you were like me and studied any sort of isolationism policy in history class in school, you know what happens when a single major country in the world tries to cut itself out of the business matters of the rest of the world.

To paraphrase the many thoughts in my head, just consider this one point with respect to the British music industry: if bands cannot afford the travel and visa costs to leave Britain and enter another European country (seriously, just forget America for the sake of this argument), they’ve lost out on a major revenue stream, not to mention the priceless exposure they would get from the touring opportunity. I’ve considered the fact that for us Americans, it may well become de rigueur to travel to the UK to see our favourite British bands or else never see them live ever again.

That’s the most fatalistic vision of the future, but it could become very real. As we all know, for most bands, touring is their bread and butter and let’s face it, the future looks bleak. As for our president elect (I can’t even bring myself to type out his name), I have contemplated too many times what havoc he could wreak on the entire world, so I’m just going to leave that there.

Skepta winning the 2016 Mercury Prize (finally, some positivity!)
I won’t repeat what I wrote in September following grime’s huge victory at the annual awarding of the Mercury Prize, you can read that here. What I will say is, it feels like we’re all stood on top of a massive tectonic plate and have been doing so all year, and the earth is shifting beneath us. Change has come and will continue coming. There will be major losses, but there will also be major gains. We needed a win for humanity this year, and Skepta’s win – and one of his sources of inspiration, his very excited mum! – was a bright spot amid the repeated, seemingly unrelenting sorrows we were faced with this year.

Things aren’t ever going to be the same, and we can’t expect them to be so. But we won’t be downtrodden forever. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Thebes wasn’t destroyed in a day either. We can use this time during the holidays for quiet reflection and remind ourselves that even in darkness, we can think, plan and act. Please, please remember that.

I will leave you with some lyrics from the ‘on hiatus’ Keane that I’ve turned to many times this year. I needed them to keep me going, to remind myself that not all hope was lost. Hope is always there. Just sometimes you need to dig deeper in yourself to find it.

“I’ve been knocked down but I won’t be broken, I won’t be broken
My spirit’s reeling, but my arms are open, I won’t be broken”

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls-aqMVACxg[/youtube]

 

Gig Observations of 2015: Editor’s Picks and Thoughts on the Live Music Industry

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd December 2015 at 11:00 am
 

Rather than choose my top 5 gigs of 2015 as I have done in previous years, I decided this time around, I needed to take a different tack, and for an important reason. I haven’t gone to that many shows this year. It wasn’t for lack of choice or opportunity, just various mitigating circumstances preventing me from what I wanted to do. Choosing shows, then, would be unfair to every band or act I missed because I couldn’t get their gig, through no fault of their own.

Instead, I’ve decided for 2015 I’d give an overview of how I view gigs now in this ever-changing music industry. In case you have somehow missed this development, please note: a significant portion of an artist’s income is now from touring profits. This makes it all the important to support your favourite bands when they come to your time, buy gig tickets and buy merch too if you can, as generally speaking, more of what they sell at the merch table is going directly into their pockets, and therefore towards their future music-making prospects, than other retailers you might be buying the same stuff from. If that isn’t possible, offer to buy the band drinks. Or bring them food and other tour provisions if the venue will allow it (check first). They’ll appreciate it. I once brought bananas to Peter, Bjorn and John at a 9:30 Club show (now that I think about it, I have no idea how I got them past security) because John asked for them on Twitter.

One of my favourite gigs in 2015 was outside America. While it’s true that you would think I’d automatically have fonder memories of shows away from home while on holiday, it turns out that it’s the people I met at the shows that made the most difference. I would be making a terrible sweeping generalisation if I said all security in America’s clubs are gruff, mean and unreasonable (they’re not), the clubs where I have faced ridiculous behaviour stick out as places I avoid. But when people at a venue go out of their way to be nice to me, I remember.

The Staves at Dublin Olympia, 6 May 2015

Case in point: Robbie, a bouncer at Dublin’s Olympia, really didn’t have to be nice to me when I showed up to cover The Staves there in May. I was press like all the others in the pit. Yet he pointed out where I could leave my things during the show so I would not have to lug them around while taking photos, the dangerous bits of the pit where I might slip and fall, and how I might be able to access the venue wifi. I wasn’t herded like cattle or yelled at, which is an all too regular occurrence. I mean, seriously, which kind of bouncer would you prefer to deal with, when you’re there to do an important job? I had arrived early to scope out the pit and introduce myself so there wouldn’t be any issues, and there were none the entire night. In fact, we got into a very nice conversation about some mutual friends of ours (Kodaline and The Coronas) and he told me a story about the Script‘s early days performing there. Getting to hear such a story, in a location now forever famous thanks to the 2007 R.E.M. live album, was an unforgettable experience during my first visit to Ireland. I will always treasure the memories of that night.

2015 was also the year that Girls Against was founded, in reaction to more outspoken young girls bringing to public attention groping that has been taking place in crowds at shows. Massive props to Drenge, Peace and Slaves in particular for speaking out against and condemning such behaviour at shows. To me, this is the sort of anti-violence action (I’m not going to use “feminist”, I intensely dislike that word because that seems to indicate boys are immune to such vile acts) that is beneficial and is more effective than, say, the words of a popster. Maybe that’s just me.

Ride at 9:30 Club, 17 September 2015

Going back to my own personal live experiences year, another great night was somehow achieved with flying colours by, well, flying down the street. Ride, who had not played in North America for a very long time, had a great show at the 9:30 Club in September. Having heard that their ’90s contemporaries Jesus and the Mary Chain were complete bores, I was steeling myself for a similar experience. Not so. The show was a reminder to me – and all – that despite the inevitable ageing of rock stars, the music is still incredible, and most bands even when they past middle age are still excellent, excellent shouts. Perhaps they might not need as much of your money as the younger, fledgling bands, but they are certainly worth the money to go see and have a night out where you can support your local economy and nightlife.

My friend and I had to split before Ride’s encore, however, to go down the block and see my Welsh friends Until the Ribbon Breaks play at DC9. I’ve had a soft spot for Pete Lawrie and co. after seeing them win over crowds at SXSW 2014 and then smash it while closing the Music Wales night this year in Austin. To go from a 1,200-capacity, state of the art, two-floor club with massive balcony to a 200-capacity upstairs room really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Both shows were packed but both were also full of incredible energy. It reminded me it doesn’t really matter how big (or small) a crowd is, as long as the artist up on stage is giving it his/her/their all. That’s their art, and it’s our responsibility as fans to make sure they can keep doing what they’re doing.

Until the Ribbon Breaks at DC9, 17 September 2015

I would be remiss if I did not mention all the lovely people, bands, and artists I met in East Anglia for Norwich Sound and Vision. (All my coverage of the 3-day festival and accompanying conference can be found here.) It was my first time in that region of England and I was absolutely charmed by the city and by the kindness extended by everyone there. I highly recommend the experience to anyone wanting something to put on their calendar that’s much more relaxed where you actually feel human and you’re not running town to gigs and meetings like a crazy person! (Professionals: we all know what that’s like, right?) A special thank you to Adrian, Jenny and Dex for putting on such a remarkable event, and a very special thank you to Mark for tipping me off about it.

A final word. After the horrific events in Paris on the 13th of November (I wrote about this a bit back here), we have to keep going. I know it’s hard. I’m still shaken up by what’s happened, because some of the music fans we lost were friends and colleagues of friends. In 2016, more so than any other year in the past, I hope for more peace, love and understanding. Let’s commit ourselves to this. Through music we can stand together. And stay strong.

Peace out.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2015.
Continue reading Gig Observations of 2015: Editor’s Picks and Thoughts on the Live Music Industry

 

Top Albums of 2015: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 21st December 2015 at 11:00 am
 

It’s definitely been a roller coaster of a year, full of highs and lows of surprises and emotional moments. So when it came time for me to sit down and consider which would be my top albums of 2015, the qualities I was looking for were a little different as they have been in the last 5 years I’ve offered my end of year choices. (To have a read of my best of lists in 2010-2014 while I’ve presided as Editor at TGTF, go here.)

While the following five albums all met my usual primary of criterion of, “will I listen to this album again and again in years to come?”, it was important to me this year, more than any other time in the past, to choose albums that I felt truly emotionally connected to that I feel that you, the readers, will feel too.

Fictonian Desire Lines cover1. Fictonian‘Desire Lines’ (Distiller Records)
Fictonian coverage on TGTF

When we approach the start of summer or winter, I get a nervous but inescapably excited feeling in the pit of my stomach, probably much like the feeling the members of the Academy Award nominee committee have as they head towards Christmas. To me, it should be a no-brainer that any album released during or right before summer should be written with the intention that one would listen to it blaring from an open-top convertible, just as the best released near the holidays should be the one you’re listening to with your loved ones while trimming the tree.

Glen Powers’ debut as Fictonian, ‘Desire Lines’ released in mid-November, definitely fits the bill for the latter. What makes ‘Desire Lines’ a stroke of brilliance is as its demonstration of Powers’ talent. It has moments of true beauty: you will want to hold close to your heart the smoky emotional haze of ‘I Remember’, gently tempered by the sweeping gorgeousness of more upbeat ‘Make It Be Ours’. This album was crafted lovingly in rural Herefordshire, and it shows.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBdkA6RjCcY[/youtube]

On the other side of the spectrum are the wonky melody of ‘Mrs. Jones’ and the playful rolling beats of ‘Little Black Book’, showing off the whimsical side of Fictonian songwriting. He’s the kind of artist you expect to be knocking back a couple of Oscars for best song or best score from a film chosen by that same committee I mentioned earlier. Suffice to say, I’m truly excited to hear more from him.

East India Youth Culture of Volume cover2. East India Youth‘Culture of Volume’ (XL Recordings)
East India Youth coverage on TGTF

Where do you go from a Mercury Prize nomination? Luckily for William Doyle, aka East India Youth, this wasn’t an issue: his sophomore album ‘Culture of Volume’ and the follow-up to last year’s hugely feted ‘Total Strife Forever’ was already written by the time Young Fathers were announced as the surprise winners of the industry gong in November 2014.

While we’ll never know for sure if the gravity of potentially winning the Mercury Prize looming over him would have made a difference in the finished product, ‘Culture of Volume’ will stand as an interesting milestone in East India Youth’s career because it’s so different – and refreshingly so – from his admittedly somewhat inaccessible Mercury-nominated debut.

Taking advantage of what I feel is one of his unsung strengths (no pun intended), the pop sensibility in Doyle’s voice shines like a beacon of light in the darkness of ‘Carousel’, and it’s impossible not feel the pain of leaving a lover in the words of ‘Turn Away’. He also indulged in his love for industrial techno in instrumental ‘Entirety’ after the pulse-pounding ‘Hearts That Never’, while also channeling the Pet Shop Boys in ‘Beaming White’. I’m alternately intrigued and terrified of what the third East India Youth album will sound like. The rumours indicate we’ll hear nothing until 2017, so we’ve got some time to wait.

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

Public Service Broadcasting Race for Space cover3. Public Service Broadcasting‘The Race for Space’ (Test Card Recordings); Public Service Broadcasting coverage on TGTF

Novelty is still one of the unique characteristics distinguishing indie from mainstream music. Public Service Broadcasting first came to prominence to 6 Music listeners through the single ‘Spitfire’, a driving toe-tapper highlighting the British invention of a single-seat fighter plane developed for use in World War II, using archived footage from public information films from a bygone era. The song went on to appear on the duo’s ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’, released on the act’s own Test Card Recordings. They became, in my mind, the poster boys for music for the thinking man.

In February, their second outing ‘The Race for Space’ cemented in the public consciousness Public Service Broadcasting’s ability to write a cohesive and impressive set of songs highlighting humankind’s innovation while looking towards the heavens. Russian (‘Sputnik’, ‘Gagarin’, ‘Valentina’) and American accomplishments (‘Go!’, ‘Tomorrow’) during the Cold War were equally lauded, and this is important to note, given the political climate we find ourselves in now. How incredible that music written with the help of propanganda clips, clips originally created to provoke nationalist sentiment, could be repurposed to applaud the human spirit? Fantastic.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY-kAnvOY80[/youtube]

Cut Ribbons We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn cover4. Cut Ribbons‘We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn’ (Kissability)
Cut Ribbons coverage on TGTF

It’s a funny thing that in the year New Order decided to return with a new album (I know, I know, without Peter Hook), a far younger band from Wales came out with their own debut in the genre of synthpop that Bernard Sumner and co. were one of the vanguards of in the ‘80s. And totally obliterated any other competition they might have had in the same genre, adding anthemic and dream pop elements to further bolster their sound.

The booming bombast of slower tempoed, well restrained ‘Clouds’ provides a welcome contrast to the cardiovascular workout and title track ‘We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn’. Overall, including ‘Walking on Wires’ below, this is an optimistic set of songs, that I appreciate as a jolt of sunniness during the darker times.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N17o0n0z84U[/youtube]

Broken Hands Turbulence cover5. Broken Hands‘Turbulence’ (SO Recordings)
Broken Hands coverage on TGTF

It might seem strange to go from the lightness of a synthpop album into the deep, dark recesses of a hard rock album, but stay with me here. Being a Led Zeppelin fan from way back, my hard rock litmus test is difficult to pass, because, Led Zep set the bar pretty high. As a result, it’s difficult for me to cosy up to just any hard rock band. They have to prove themselves to me, and Broken Hands has done just that with ‘Turbulence’.

A searing live rendition of ‘Meteor’ at SXSW 2014 melted my face, and its recorded version does not disappoint (have a watch and listen below), and neither does single ‘Who Sent You’. But this band is no one-trick pony, proven by the grandeur of surprising ballad ‘Impact’. Excellent stuff.

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

 

Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

2014, 2014, tsk tsk tsk. When it came to live shows, you put in some tense situations where I couldn’t understand the lead singer in his normal speaking voice (Glasvegas at DC’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in February), feared for my life because the heat was proving a bit too much (Slow Club at Sheffield Great Gatsby in May), got grossed out by other punters’ grinding (Glass Animals at DC’s U Street Music Hall in July), and needed to take a train to another town and back, all in one evening (Fatherson at Edinburgh Potterow in October). But it was in good fun, as you were always entertaining. Here are my top 5 live experiences this year:

5. The Dig at Black Cat Backstage (4th December 2014) – watching a band you’ve come to know and love evolve over time, and who just keep getting better and better, is probably one of the greatest blessings given to a music editor. The Dig, who I saw support Editors 4 years ago, are one of those bands. December gigs are hard to pull off in Washington – people are lazy to come out once the weather turns cold – but they came out in droves for this show Thursday night the first week in December for the New Yorkers. They’re ready for their close-up, folks.

Reminisce through TGTF’s back catalogue on the Dig through this link.

4. Glass Animals at Glasgow CCA (17th October 2014) – after you’ve seen a band many times, the gigs all start to blur together, especially you’re seeing them when they’ve only got their one debut album to promote. Glass Animals shows are always interesting, if only to view the wildlife on display in the audience, but the Oxford band were in fine form even on the last UK date on their tour in October. I was expecting them to be completely beat, after returning the week before from a whirlwind North American campaign and subsisting on far too little sleep. Perhaps it was the party atmosphere in Glasgow on a Friday night, the CCA stuffed to the gills with punters, that turned this gig up to 11? Vibes, man. Vibes.

Glass Animals have been a favourite at TGTF since last year, and you can read all of our coverage on them here.

3. Fenech-Soler at Brooklyn Glasslands (5th April 2014) – good things come to those who wait. Or so the saying goes. Even though I had to trek up to New York for this one, Fenech-Soler was definitely worth it for me to finally hear songs from both their debut album in 2010 and 2013’s ‘Rituals’. I haven’t danced that hard in ages. (Meeting Ben and Ross Duffy and getting to chat with them for this interview was definitely a personal highlight of 2014 as well.) I waited 4 long years to see electro-pop band Fenech-Soler to do a proper show in the States, and since I saw them at this show (at a venue that sadly will no longer exist in 2015, sob), they’ve done a couple tours in our country, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Our pretty comprehensive archive on Fenech-Soler here at TGTF is this way.

2. Maximo Park at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (20th May 2014) – like Fenech-Soler, Maximo Park was a band I had missed seeing, and for even longer (beyond 6 years). It had nothing to do with them never coming to DC; I was either not here when they’d come or the show I’d had tickets to see them at had been cancelled. If you’ve never seen Paul Smith and co. perform, wow, you need to do yourself a favour and rectify that ASAP. I came to appreciate their latest album ‘Too Much Information’ much more after seeing it performed. Also, you always know the band you’ve come to see play is pulling out all the stops when the set list spills out over 2 pages. I’m looking forward to the next time they return to Washington. And to those asking, yes, Paul Smith really does give those reinforced trousers a workout.

Check out our writings on TGTF on the Geordie band here.

1. Royal Blood at DC9 (20th July 2014) – this gig can be best summed up with one word: PHWOAR. Perhaps my only prior experience with Mike Thatcher and Ben Kerr – Thursday at SXSW 2014, playing Lammo’s BBC Introducing night – didn’t sit well in my head because there is always too much background noise from other acts in Austin to really concentrate and appreciate on just one. At their first, and I might add rammed, headline show in DC, eyes and ears all glued on them with good reason. As those who waited for them to play at the John Peel stage at Glasto this year know, this duo from Brighton pack a massive punch in their successful effort to bring hard rock back. Best new British guitar band? Forget it. Best new British guitar duo’s where it’s at.

All of TGTF’s coverage on Royal Blood is right this way.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2014. The runner-up gigs are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 

Top Albums of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 22nd December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

When it comes time for a music editor to review the year’s releases, it’s something that should not be done lightly. With great power comes great responsibility. This will be my fifth top albums of the year at the helm of TGTF, so this year I feel this even more so. Without a doubt, 2014 was politically tumultuous, not only literally with the Scottish referendum and all that’s happening with Obama vs. Congress and Cameron vs. Parliament, but also on the music front, where we saw Apple buy Dr. Dre’s Beats Music and enable U2 to give iTunes users a free album they never asked for, Taylor Swift withdrawing all of her songs from Spotify, and online streaming outpacing and resoundingly beating download purchases.

I’ve got no industry crystal ball in front of me, but it’s clear 2015 will bring additional challenges for the music business. Companies will need to look to and develop new models and new sources of revenue, and at the same time, artists and bands will need to retool and reinvent themselves to not only endure and survive but thrive in these exciting, challenging times. With that, I turn your attention to the albums I deemed the most worthy of your purchase from this year, as I tell you about the artists who made them.

1. Teleman‘Breakfast’ (Moshi Moshi); Teleman on TGTF
It’s the most important meal of the day, isn’t it? So it makes uncannily appropriate sense to start with Teleman’s debut album. A lot has been made about the differences in sound from three out of four of their members’ previous band – the now-defunct Pete and the Pirates – and yes, they do sound different. There are buzzy synth lines by the Pirates’ former drummer Jonny Sanders, and overall, the sound is more pop than the rock of their previous band. The live experience, as I thankfully finally got the chance to witness in New York City in September, is a whole lot of fun too.

But the most important pieces have stayed constant: the band’s excellent songwriting and singer Tommy Sanders’ voice, going from angelic (opening track ‘Cristina’) to borderline vitriolic (‘Mainline’), depressive (’23 Floors Down’) to frantic joy (‘Skeleton Dance’), and everywhere in between. The jewel of the crown of ‘Breakfast’ is, I suppose somewhat ironically, the most difficult day and time of the week, ‘Monday Morning’, where Tommy Sanders shows yearning alternating with ire as he expresses regret about a relationship that could have been so much more…but wasn’t.

The album’s brilliance as a whole is that no two songs sound the same, yet they’re all about transport and the action of moving or leaving, and in a way that I’ve never been touched by before. I’ve laughed to this album, I’ve cried to this album, I’ve contemplated the meaning of life to this album. It hasn’t left my car since I got it for review in May, which says a lot. Magnificent, Teleman. Truly magnificent.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnxzY5p8d4g[/youtube]

2. Sir Sly‘You Haunt Me’ (Interscope); Sir Sly on TGTF
I’m sure you readers have noticed I generally go out of my way to avoid mainstream artists who by some “miracle” just jump to success off the back of a major label. American indie rock / r&b trio Sir Sly have been around for a bit, but I didn’t pay much attention to them until I queued up ‘Where I’m Going’ as part of my research on them a couple of weeks prior for their co-headline slot on a North American tour with Wolf Gang. (Read my review of their show in Washington DC in September here.) I was hooked immediately by the sultriness of singer Landon Jacobs’ vocals, paired with a electronic pop / funk background that’s catchy as all hell yet mysterious.

Their debut album for Interscope finally dropped in mid-September, and it’s a pop masterpiece. Title track ‘You Haunt Me’ shows the band at their poppiest, with a bouncy, infectious rhythm guaranteed to make you pogo, while the synths gleam and glitter with the best of them. Yes, there is a commercial thread running through this album – a remix of ‘Gold’ was used to great effect to sell Cadillacs to young people in an American telly advert this year – but dark, buzzy beats on ‘Ghost’, rattling percussion on ‘Nowhere/Bloodlines pt. 1’ and the oozy smoothness of stretched synths accompanied with the painful vocal delivery in ‘Too Far Gone’ prove Sir Sly are no one-trick pony. In a world where pop, r&b and electronic struggle to coexist peacefully on the charts, this is one band that proves it can be done, and done very well. Expect them to be the next massive pop/r&b act.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0E5aWv0YdA[/youtube]

3. The Crookes‘Soapbox’ (Fierce Panda); The Crookes on TGTF
And now, for something with a bit harder edge. Which sounds a bit strange coming from the happy, peppy, back to basics New Pop of Sheffield’s Crookes, doesn’t it? From the starting discordant guitar note of first single ‘Play Dumb’, they made it evident to the world that they wanted to be and should be taken seriously, which totally makes sense on an album called ‘Soapbox’. Prior to its release, it was a big year for the band, as they explained to me in an interview after SXSW 2014, having signed to American label Modern Outsider in 2013 and headlining their night that week in Austin at Parish Underground.

While the foursome didn’t entirely reinvent themselves, they really ratcheted up the quality of the songwriting on their third album. ‘Echolalia’ and ‘Howl’ exhibit a sadness you feel deeper through their words and music in such a different way than from their previous releases. ‘While You’re Fragile’ and ‘Outsiders’ confirm lyricist Daniel Hopewell hasn’t strayed far from his usual direction; at the same time the band haven’t lost their pop sensibility altogether for which they have become favourites with their fans. Hopewell said in an interview for One Week One Band’s Crookes feature earlier this month, “I think I’m more honest now. And hopefully my writing is improving so I can express simplistic, honest ideas in a more beautiful way”. Taken together with how they’ve changed musically from 2012’s ‘Hold Fast’, ‘Soapbox’ seems to suggest there is plenty more room for the Crookes to grow, both in lyrical and musical artistry.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNgb4QVNvlM[/youtube]

4. The Lost Brothers‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ (Lojinx); The Lost Brothers on TGTF
When two people are destined to be musical partners, you can listen to a single song of theirs and on some subliminal level, you just know. I don’t want to make it sound like the songs contained within ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ are basic; rather, it’s a true testament to the Liverpool-via-Ireland duo’s gifts to us – beautiful singing voices and incredible guitar dexterity – that they can make indie folk sound so effortless, yet so gorgeous.

This is the ultimate autumnal folk record, probably best listening to late at night. You can practically hear the fallen leaves crunch under your feet as you listen further through the effort. From the gentle simplicity of instrumental ‘Nocturnal Tune’, on through the heartbreak experienced by the actions of one ‘Derridae’, then to the anguish of a disillusioned fighter in ‘Soldier’s Song’, there is a lot of poignancy to feel here. But then you get to a track like the seemingly too happy (for them; I talked to Leech about this in a recent q&a) ‘Walking Blues’, and you know the sun will rise again. All in all, remarkably restrained beauty.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4QV5_GRec8[/youtube]

5. Sivu‘Something on High’ (Atlantic); Sivu on TGTF
After several singles and EPs scattered over the last year or so, James Page’s debut album was long awaited by me, especially after chatting with him at SXSW 2014 and seeing him live in Austin. It was a special privilege to be present for his LP’s launch party at Hackney Oslo in mid-October, bearing witness to quite possibly his first overzealous fan and stage crasher. So what is it about ‘Something on High’ that can cause such crazed devotion?

Page has separated himself from the other guitar-toting, may I say boring male singer/songwriters (for one, hello, entitled Ben Howard in Norwich) or ones who are trying for the r&b votes (like Hozier, whose popularity still makes me groan). How? There is beat, experimentation and strings in opening track ‘Feel Something’; earlier single ‘Can’t Stop Now’ is inspiration in the form of sunny pop. Yet the true genius of ‘Something on High’ is just how much this album will lead you to think, to truly contemplate one’s existence, something truly rare when it comes to pop albums. Page examines the keys to human existence (‘Miracle [Human Error]’), the desire to start over (‘Bodies’) and crushing self-defeat in the face of heartbreak (‘Sleep’) and in such a sensitive, yet stunning way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4JuxACUTOY[/youtube]

 

Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 17th December 2013 at 11:00 am
 

2013 did not disappoint to deliver another year of brilliant live performances for me here in America and in Britain. Which shows will I remember the most from 20-13? (I wrote it out that way, because I was told this last time in England that me pronouncing it that way makes it obvious I am an American. Do you reckon that’s true? I’m trying, folks, I’m trying, but as the majority of you know, I am American, born and bred!) Read on about the most exciting shows I’ve been to this year…

5. the 1975 at U Street Music Hall (20th June 2013) – I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the 1975 5 times this year, with 3 of those times in DC, and unusually, the one show that sticks out in my mind among all others is not their largest show in DC, nor their smallest, but the one in between.

The energy at U Street Music Hall, coupled with the screaming fans down the front, made it clear I was witnessing history. So what if “she’s got a boyfriend anyway”? We’ll be singing and bopping to the music like we don’t care, that’s what.

The 1975 Washington June 2013 1

4. Savoir Adore at DC9 (25th September 2013) – DC9 doesn’t have a great reputation for sound quality, but on this Wednesday night, all the stars aligned for a near perfect sounding show, highlighting the shiny, glittery ambiance that Savoir Adore brings to their shows.

Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer now have an impressive back catalogue to draw from, and this was just a wonderful gig to showcase their music, with punters having such a good time dancing to their tunes.

Savoir Adore Washington 2013 live 2

3. the Crookes at Sheffield Shakespeare (19th May 2013) – as the American editor of a UK-centric music site, all too often I’m left banging my head against a table or a wall when I come to the disappointing conclusion that I can’t attend a show I really want to be at. (Maybe one day when I have my own private plane…)

While the travel to Sheff was a pain in the arse – I must have taken the slowest Sunday train known to man from St. Pancras to the North East – and I’d not slept the night before, as John and I had been in Brighton all weekend to cover the Great Escape, it was all worth it for this chance to see one of my favourite bands in a teeny tiny gig in their hometown. As soon as I’d arrived at the place, I knew I’d made the right decision, having been greeted with the singing talents of a good friend wafting ‘Dance in Colour’ out of the top windows of the pub. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Read my review for further musings.

2. OMD at Gateshead Sage (13th May 2013) – where do you go to see a favourite Northern band when possible? The North, of course. Martin had alerted me ahead of time that the Sage was quite a posh place and to expect people to be dressed fancier than I was used to seeing in clubs.

Hate people talking on their phones at gigs? The Sage has high-tech mobile phone blocking technology. The beautifully lit, swiveling panels suspended in the air above us and the band were awe-inspiring, as were Andy McCluskey’s seemingly inexhaustible singing and dad-dancing talents. ‘Electricity’? Why, yes.

OMD Gateshead live 1

1. Little Comets at the Hamilton (13th August 2013) – for the longest time, it seemed all my music friends had seen this Geordie band live and I hadn’t; further, so many of the bands I was personally friends with either had toured with them or had become friends with them after being impressed by their live show at a festival.

Well, it took 4 long years but I finally got to see Little Comets live, and I’m pleased to report they were well worth the wait. The dinner theatre-style setup of the Hamilton means at most shows, punters will remain sat at their tables, chewing on their tapas. Not this night: with fans shrieking and letting out catcalls of delight, stomping to their favourite songs and singing along word for word to tracks like ‘Isles’, it was definitely a moment in time I will never forget. More of this, please!

Little Comets Washington 2

Honourable mentions:

Franz Ferdinand at Strathmore Hall (17th October 2013) – I was under the distinct impression I would never see Franz Ferdinand live, unless maybe I was lucky enough to catch them at a festival. It had been 7 years since they’d played in DC. Great show punctuated with Alex Kapranos’ Olympic-effort leaps and bounds, and I have to say, you haven’t lived until you’ve been sat next to Nick McCarthy’s extended family at a show. Just saying.

Kodaline at Jammin’ Java (13th October 2013) – it must be nice to be on your first headline tour of North America and arrive in a city to find out you’ve sold out your gig there. I’ve seen quite a few post-gig fan queues in my day, but this one for Kodaline stretched to about forever. We hung around for over an hour and a half, watching the band say hello, sign autographs and take photos with each and every fan that wanted to meet them. If only all bands were as considerate.

the Static Jacks at DC9 (2nd October 2013) – this guys just get better and better every time I see them. They managed to turn a humdrum Wednesday night in Washington into a disco, with appreciative fans cutting a rug to their music. Doesn’t really get any better than that.

Villagers at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (13th June 2013) – this was the first time I’d see the Villagers full band setup, having only seen Conor J. O’Brien solo in 2010. If you had reservations that ‘Becoming a Jackal’ was a whimper-y kind of record and you weren’t sold on their new direction in ‘{Awayland}’, go see them live now and watch them rock out.

the Joy Formidable at 9:30 Club (21st April 2013) – I prefer to see this Welsh band in smaller, dingier confines because I think their music suits that kind of environment better, but still, this was an amazing show. Hard to believe the first time I saw them was in November 2010, barely filling half of Black Cat Backstage’s capacity of 200.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2013. The runner-up gigs are also marked.

Continue reading Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 
 
 

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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us

Privacy Policy