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Preview: Live at Leeds 2018

 
By on Tuesday, 19th December 2017 at 11:00 am
 

While on my recent birthday trip to blighty, I visited Leeds and remembered with great fondness my first visit to the city. It was for the 2015 edition of Live at Leeds. Now that after 3 years Liverpool Sound City appears to be in perpetuity as a docklands-focussed event no longer centred on its lovely city, it falls to Live at Leeds to provide the sole Northern festival to celebrate its city’s many music venues.

Next year’s event will take place on Saturday, the 5th of May during the first bank holiday of the month. Here we are, having not even reached Christmas yet, and the event organisers have already announced a wonderful slew of tantalising artists scheduled to appear. Birmingham psych rockers Peace occupy real estate at the top of the event bill, alongside Liverpool’s Circa Waves. The Horrors, who returned this year with ‘V’ (reviewed by Steven here), are also scheduled to appear, as are British Sea Power and LAL 2016 alums Anteros, Blaenavon and Spring King.

Festivals are a great time for musicians to road test new material or continue a campaign in support of a new album. Nick J.D. Hodgson will sound familiar: formerly the drummer and primary songwriter of Kaiser Chiefs, he’ll be performing in his hometown prior to the release of his first solo album. FatCat Records signee KNIGHTSTOWN released his self-titled album this autumn and will no doubt be wowing audience with his atmospheric electronic sounds. Aussie surfer poppers Hockey Dad will be returning to blighty for this 1-day festival: they’ll be releasing a new album, ‘Blend Inn’, in February.

This is just a small smattering of artists who will be performing at this exciting event across Leeds city centre next year. Early bird admission tickets to Live at Leeds 2018 are now sold out, but general admission (£39.60) and VIP (£55.00) tickets are still available. For more information about Live at Leeds 2018, visit the event’s official Web site.

 

Video of the Moment #2389: British Sea Power

 
By on Wednesday, 28th June 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

British Sea Power released their newest album in April. ‘Let the Dancers Inherit the Party’, the Brighton-based band’s sixth studio LP, is out now on the band’s own Golden Chariot label as licensed to Caroline International. You can read my review of the album from back then right through here. This week, the band have got a new video from the record, and it’s for the track ‘Don’t Let the Sun Get in the Way’. While the song doesn’t have as much sonic impact as past singles ‘Bad Bohemian’ and ‘Keep on Trying (Sechs Freunde)’, the video for it is far more interesting. A dejected, paper mache David Tennant (?!?) goes for a cab ride, then a canal stroll, and all the while, he can’t help but be positively influenced by, uh, sun worshippers. Yeah, that’s what I’m classing them as. Watch it all unfold below. For all of our past coverage on British Sea Power here on TGTF, you can use this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVbb7mg4DKY[/youtube]

 

Album Review: British Sea Power – Let the Dancers Inherit the Party

 
By on Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

British Sea Power Let the Dancers Inherit the PartyCerebral rock has a limited audience. Yet for over 2 decades, British Sea Power have managed to capture the imagination of a devoted fanbase. So devoted, that the recording for their newest album ‘Let the Dancers Inherit the Party’, incredibly their sixth, was funded entirely through their fans’ benevolence through pledges, preorders of a limited edition box set of the LP and even a £1,500 tattoo ensuring free entry to all future shows by the band. If that’s not devotion, I don’t know what is. What’s an even better surprise is that ‘Let the Dancers…’ sees the indie group from Brighton unveil their most accessible set of songs since ‘Do You Like Rock Music’, nearly a decade old.

Early single and album standout ‘Bad Bohemian’, unveiled at the start of the year, leads this charge. Despite the energetic tempo, the song is grounded in mood by singer Yan Wilkinson’s soothing, avuncular voice. The result is a feel good, anthemic tune as Wilkinson croons, “the future stretches out there between us / and we decide if we want it to be cold”. That is, it’s up to us to decide what will happen going forward, a feeling echoed by guitarist Martin Noble on the direction of the new LP: “…Perhaps a little clarity isn’t a bad thing at this point. There wasn’t a plan to create an album with any particular subject matter but we’ve kind of ended up with a case of ’think global, act local’ – an album where individuals are dealing with their domestic and personal lives against a background of uncontrollable international lunacy.” On the upbeat ‘The Voice of Ivy Lee’, the keyboards shine on another beautifully anthemic moment on the album. It’s a good reminder that this is a band that can run circles around most other bands who have an obligatory keyboard player thrown into the mix because that’s just what bands do these days.

On another single, ‘Keep on Trying (Sechs Freunde)’, the band show their affinity to continental Europe, invoking the German version of six degrees of separation in the song. The “six friends” of British Sea Power shine on this guitar-driven song, full of the shouty declarations of “sechs Freunde!” from Wilkinson, which you know will be echoed back to him at festivals this summer. Their collective might is strongest on ‘International Space Station’, beginning with a fanfare reminiscent of past hit ‘Waving Flags’, and that’s not a bad thing. “Can you feel the distance? Wilkinson asks on the insistent, percussive-heavy track. The beats are also heavy on next track ‘What You’re Doing’, which I’m pretty sure is a love song to the Earth. I base this on having to Google the word “massif”; I told you they were cerebral! The Springsteen-esque guitar hooks keep things from going too tree huggy and nicely so, though.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kKvIoomSY8[/youtube]

From the midpoint of the album on, things slow down and become less pop, more reflective and ultimately and unfortunately, less successful. ‘Want to Be Free’ is a loungey piano number that feels like a letdown after such a strong start. ‘Praise for Whatever’, which includes in its lyrics the title of the album, would be a dirge if it wasn’t for the bright synth notes. Still, it’s so plodding, it’s like that feeling of wanting to give a kid in a sled a push from behind. Up a hill. The second half is their prog moment, as they build up a cacophonous wall of sound. I can’t see them performing this in the middle of Worthy Farm without a few hipsters stroking their goatees, perturbed.

‘Let the Dancers…’ is British Sea Power’s first album since leaving Rough Trade Records, and it’s a positive thing there’s no real sense that they’ve made a mistake or have lost their way. However, the Brighton band seem not to have decided if they want to go whole hog into pop or whether they want to continue their existence in their special niche in the indie ecosystem.

7.5/10

British Sea Power’s sixth album ‘Let the Dancers Inherit the Party’ is out now on the band’s own Golden Chariot label as licensed to Caroline International. The group are currently in the middle of a UK tour that stops at Manchester Ritz tonight; they stop at London Shepherds Bush Empire tomorrow and Birmingham Academy 2 on Thursday.

 

Video of the Moment #2273: British Sea Power

 
By on Saturday, 28th January 2017 at 10:00 am
 

Art rockers British Sea Power will be releasing a new album in about 2 months’ time. The Brighton gourp’s sixth studio album ‘Let the Dancers Inherit Their Party’ is scheduled for release on the 31st of March on Caroline International. Earlier this month, they announced an April UK tour in support of the new record. The previously released LP track ‘Bad Bohemian’ now has its own promo video.

The promo was conceived, directed and edited by band singer/guitarist Yan Wilkinson, and it seems to be a weird and wonderful melange of the digital world we currently find ourselves in. Dadaist text announcing the song’s lyrics, bugs having their final moments of existence, strange dad-dancing by man and teddy bear, and meme cats all play a starring role in this new video. Yes. Really. Watch it below. To catch up on TGTF’s past coverage of British Sea Power, use this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueYkok5Oph0[/youtube]

 

British Sea Power / April 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 9th January 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Header photo by Mayumi Hirata

Brighton art-rock group British Sea Power have just announced the upcoming release of their sixth studio album ‘Let the Dancers Inherit Their Party’. Breaking from their five-album relationship with Rough Trade Records, the band will release the new album on their own Golden Chariot label, via Caroline International, on the 31st of March. Those of you in the UK can listen to album single ‘Bad Bohemian’ just below the tour date listing; unfortunately, the stream hasn’t been made available in America.

Just after the album release, British Sea Power will play a list of live dates in the UK, running through mid-April.  Tickets for the following shows are available now. Catch up on TGTF’s previous coverage of British Sea Power is right back here.

Thursday 6th April 2017 – Bristol Trinity
Friday 7th April 2017 – Leeds Church
Saturday 8th April 2017 – Newcastle Riverside
Sunday 9th April 2017 – Edinburgh Liquid Rooms
Tuesday 11th April 2017 – Manchester Ritz
Wednesday 12th April 2017 – London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Thursday 13th April 2017 – Birmingham Academy 2

[youtube]https://youtu.be/913oIA409XY[/youtube]

 

6 Music Festival 2015 on Tyneside: Sunday Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Monday, 2nd March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Sunday the 22nd of February saw the final event of the weekend-long extravaganza of music that was the 6 Music Festival 2015, held on Tyneside. The venue was the usually prim and proper Sage Gateshead, which had been entirely taken over by the BBC, and, as a consequence, saw rather a transformation… of which more later.

But first, to the music. British Sea Power were the opening act in the enormous Hall One, with what amounted to an amuse bouche of a set, a bare four songs long, showcasing their art-rock sound in a the magnificent space. Coincidentally, the festival had chosen as their aesthetic theme that of foliage and trees – the stage was flanked by two towering baobabs – that perfectly matched BSP’s usual ivy-entwined microphone stands. ‘Waving Flags’ was immense as usual, and the electric-guitar-’n’-violin-combo in instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ was a gently evocative way to ease into the mood of the evening. Whilst it’s difficult to argue that BSP are capable of evincing hot-blooded passion, they are as bleakly majestic as a grey North Sea swell, and a fine live proposition.

Steve Lamacq introduced Gaz Coombes as “one of the finest songwriters of his generation”, and it’s difficult to argue with him. Not that you’d want to argue with the lovely Steve Lamacq anyway, nor leave him next to an open doorway lest his impossibly slight figure should get blown away in the breeze. Anyway, Coombes did his best to demonstrate how accurate Lamacq’s description was. He’s assembled a great band, so Coombes can stick to electric piano and acoustic guitar, which frees him up to throw some shapes and generally concentrate on being a frontman. He chooses the big hitters from his solo catalogue: the syncopated melodrama of ‘Buffalo’s allows it to be an appropriately assertive opener; ‘One of These Days’, a classic mid-tempo Coombes ballad, has lost nothing of its sheen due to familiarity and still has the capacity to move.

With his expanded band comes an ability to experiment with electronic textures and dance-influenced drum patterns, perhaps aiming to take the mantle of band-frontman-to-solo-artist-with-electronica-pretensions from Thom Yorke, of whom we’ve heard little of late. Latest single ‘20/20’ is a perfect demonstration of the Coombes method: some synthy bits, a driving acoustic guitar riff, and a complex yet accessible arrangement blended together to sound classic and novel all at once. It goes without saying that there’s an enormous, funkily noisy crescendo at the end of the song to wrap up the set. A spectacular performance from a man who is just getting better with age.

Neneh Cherry has a tough act to follow and she, astonishingly, nearly steals the show. Assisted by an Animal-inspired drummer, and just one more chap on synths ‘n’ things, her minimalist backing is all the more powerful for its sparseness, leaving plenty of room for her menacingly soulful voice. Everything she plays is taken from last year’s ‘Blank Project’, a challenging yet rewarding work. ‘Spit Three Times’ touches on depression and superstition, ‘Dossier’ is deliberately swathed in pulsating white noise and ‘Weightless’ flirts with techno in its second movement, before dropping some synthesised power chords like an android Diamond Darrell. Soulful, funky, avant-garde, whilst not herself the definition of ‘new’, her music is as cutting-edge as anything the festival would hear over the weekend.

In my preview of the festival I cautioned that, because there had been so many tickets sold, the Sage would be so packed that lots of people would miss the performance they wanted to see. I was partially correct – Hall One did reach capacity at times, with a glum queue of punters waiting patiently for someone to leave the hall so they could take their place – but overall the place was busy but not overcrowded. The main reason for this was the clever ruse of putting a stage in the main concourse between the two halls, so anyone not in an official auditorium could still see a show. Which brings us to Public Service Broadcasting, who drew a huge crowd to the concourse to hear them unveil new material from sophomore album ‘The Race For Space’ (our editor’s review of the LP is here). Last time I saw PSB they were a two-piece – Wrigglesworth on drums and J. Willgoose Esq. on laptop, synth, banjo, and, well, everything else. Tonight they’ve expanded considerably, adding another two members on “everything else”, and even a three-piece horn section on a couple of songs.

PSB are a lot of fun, and considering tonight’s BBC sponsorship, a rather apposite act to have, in their celebration of the very fabric of news coverage, in their worship of the sounds that have conveyed, and in some cases, actually created, the news. And their expanded sound is surely exactly what fans of their debut ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ wanted to hear. The low-key house beats of ‘Gagarin’ tease us into the set; newest single ‘Go!’ is the executive summary of the whole album, complete with “The Eagle has landed” sample. Where the last record dealt largely with the British perspective of World War Two and the decade following, ‘The Race For Space’ is firmly set in 1960s’ USA and USSR. Whilst they’re at it, it might have been interesting to hear PSB take a peek behind the Iron Curtain and explore the motivations for the space race – the Cold War is only obliquely referenced – but perhaps they rightly conclude that nobody ever boogied to a Joseph McCarthy speech, and stick smartly to space noises. Another good piece of work from PSB then, even if the music itself is a mere backdrop to the original fragments of dialogue and film. And, to bring us back to the Sage’s concourse, the sheer spectacle of their live performance filled the hangar-like space defined by the Sage’s exoskeleton like very few others would be capable of.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Martin’s roundup of the Sunday festivities at the Sage Gateshead at the 6 Music Festival on Tyneside, which will post tomorrow.

 
 
 

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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.

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

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