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Video of the Moment #2200: Broken Hands

 
By on Thursday, 13th October 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Time sure flies, doesn’t it? This time last year, I was watching Kent band Broken Hands at an in-store performance at Rough Trade East. The band were gearing up for the release of their debut album ‘Turbulence’, out now on SO Recordings. You can read my review of the long player through this link; it was #5 on my top 5 albums of 2015, so you know it has to be good. Last week while I was in the Emerald Isles, they released a new version of the promo video for ‘Meteor’, a longtime live fan favourite and an excellent example of the organised chaos combined with sheer power that this hard rock band creates.

Originally filmed live at a show at London Electrowerkz as part of their ‘Silver Landing Program’, the entire venue was swathed in silver foil, not unlike what they tried to do in Austin at SXSW 2014, except the wind wasn’t cooperating. Indoor venues at ground level are a little more accommodating, ha. Watch the retooled version of ‘Meteor’ below. The last time I saw the band was when they performed at the Smiling Buddha at Canadian Music Week 2016. But for even more of TGTF’s coverage on Broken Hands, head here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5S6KYZkrSY[/youtube]

 

CMW 2016: a little bit of everything Friday in Toronto – 6th May 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 25th May 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

For at least 1 day during a multi-day festival, you owe it to yourself the benefit of a doubt to have a relaxed day. Or you do what I did on Friday at Canadian Music Week 2016, taking it easy and succumbing to the throes of a bad cold Friday night.

It started promisingly enough. Demi Louise, the lovely yet inexplicably unsigned Australian singer/songwriter who I befriended at SXSW 2016, played a blistering series of shows out in Toronto. One of the more relaxed shows she did was at Drake One Fifty Friday afternoon. Despite a chilly wind that pervaded the city all week, the young Demi brought the sunniness from her hometown of Melbourne to the afternoon’s festivities. Her beautiful voice shone on her current single ‘Taxi Driver’, while she sparkled in her stage patter, so honoured in winning a songwriting award now displayed proudly in her family’s home.

Demi Louise CMW 2016 Drake One Fifty

I had every intention to make it in time for Vancouver duo Fine Times at the Cave, the dance venue above the famous Lee’s Palace. Unfortunately, I made it just as they were packing up. No matter. I hung out for who I was really waiting for, electropop artist NINA. The German-born, London-based musician was dressed to the nines in a white suit jacket with black accents. And as might be expected for someone from her genre, the beats of her music were massive, and the feeling of girl power – or maybe better phrased as independent woman power! – came through in her uplifting, empowering tunes. She has an EP out this Friday, which should be a great introduction of her music to new fans and a cementing of her talent to her already devoted fan base.

NINA CMW 2016 Cave Friday

Due to a terrible miscalculation in distance and location, I missed both Northern Ireland’s PORTS and The Magnettes from Sweden playing at the Nightowl. I’ll have to visit the venue next year. When I realised the error of my ways, I decided to cut my losses and head on to the Smiling Buddha, where I had planned to finish out my evening. The College Street venue’s line-up for the night was not one of enlightenment, unless you’re the kind of person who finds hard rock a pathway to such a higher plane.

Double Date with Death CMW 2016 Smiling Buddha Friday

Double Date with Death are a Montreal lo-fi trio who play loud, hard and fast. If I were to say I could distinguish between their songs, I’d be lying, as I didn’t have time to investigate their music properly prior to the festival. In a way, I’m sure the band themselves had no idea how well the venue’s lack of variation in stage lighting reflect the name of their band perfectly. That said, I did enjoy their slapdash, unforgiving delivery and there were plenty of headbanging punters who clearly agreed.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ze88p2T4L_k[/youtube]

Broken Hands were up next. Compared to the bare stage setup of Double Date with Death, the Kent band used up nearly every single centimeter of space at the Smiling Buddha. I’d had a taste of their debut album ‘Turbulence’, having the opportunity to watch them do an in-store at Rough Trade East last October shortly after the LP’s release. However, I was sure after touring around the album in the UK, their confidence would be sky high out here in Toronto.

Broken Hands CMW 2016 Smiling Buddha Friday

Happily, they exceeded my expectations, the conjunction of sound ringing in my ears. Although frontman Dale Norton was dressed in a white lab coat and looked more appropriate for a biology lab, once the music started, he was more like an angry beast having finally been let out of his cage. More in your face than I had ever experienced before, Norton’s stage presence has definitely increased multifold, spitting out the lyrics to ‘Who Sent You?’ and ‘Meteor’ with strength and a sneer. The only fault to their set, which is a minor quibble, is that the moments of mellowness and balladry on ‘Turbulence’ didn’t get an airing. However, given the tone for the evening and it being their last show in Toronto for the week, I don’t blame them for leaving it all onstage in a blistering show of power.

Right, so on to the last act of the night, Overhead, the Albatross. Being courted on social media by family members of a band performing isn’t something I am used to, but it did increase my curiosity about them. They had even more band members and stuff than Broken Hands did, so they didn’t bother staying all onstage, with two of their group joining us on the floor.

A friend described them as “a cross between Arcade Fire and Godspeed You! Black Emperor”, which doesn’t help me much as I’m not a follower of either band. There’s definitely a rebellious prog edge to Overhead, the Albatross, which makes total sense, given that they’ve christened themselves with a name that while not indicating dangerous subversiveness, it’s sufficient to note the brazen headstrongness of doing their own thing and exactly what they want. Curious? Have a watch and listen to their song ‘Big River Man’ below.

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

 

(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #112: Callum Norton of Broken Hands

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Canadian Music Week (CMW) 2016 is here! I am now in Toronto, soaking up the sights but avoiding the CN Tower (I’m mostly afraid of heights) and waiting for some of my UK brethren to get here so we can share a plate of poutine. We’re wrapping up our CMW 2016 preview posts and before we get stuck in on the event proper, I’ve got another set of answers to our TGTF Quickfire Questions for you. This time, our kind interviewee is Callum Norton, drummer for Canterbury rockers Broken Hands, who released their debut last autumn. Last week, ahead of their appearances this week in Canada, I posted this live video from their recent BBC Introducing session at Maida Vale for Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music. Callum’s brother Dale answered the SXSW 2014 version of the Quickfire Questions 2 years ago, so it’s nice to keep in all the family for this set that are of course CMW 2016 flavoured.

Describe your music / sound in three words. (We know, tricky…)
Energetic space rock.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘Canada’?
RUSH!!!

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Toronto? Have you been before?
Never been before, CN Tower…a revolving restaurant in the sky! And obviously playing to people we’ve never met!!

Of the bands who have already been announced (https://cmw.net/music/artists/), do you have any that are must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Eagles of Death Metal, for sure.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase for your time at CMW that we might find weird or unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
SGGE Manual. [I’ve asked around and am still not sure what this is. I’m going to guess it’s something percussion related? – Ed.]

After CMW, what’s up next for you? Writing and recording? TGE / summer festivals / etc.? Do tell!
We’ve got a couple of festivals coming up in the UK, Isle of Wight and Lodestar Festival. Then lots of writing and some European support dates with Deaf Havana.

We’re now moving on over to our usual list of Quickfire Questions…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘The Okey Cokey’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Happy Birthday’ (‘cos I knew what it meant!)

What song makes you laugh?
Tommy Cooper – ‘Don’t Jump Off the Roof Dad’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGdI7CXZUXc[/youtube]

What song makes you cry?
Simon and Garfunkel – ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Lou Reed – ‘Vicious’.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Anything by Ellie Goulding.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Elton John and George Michael – ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsKqMNDoR4o[/youtube]

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Jim James.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Carpet laying.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
‘ABBA Gold’.

Cheers Callum, we appreciate you answering these! Thanks too to Matt for chasing these up for us.

 

(CMW 2016 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Broken Hands play ‘Four’ for BBC Introducing at Maida Vale

 
By on Wednesday, 27th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

Tomorrow night, Broken Hands will be playing their biggest London show today, at Camden’s Dingwalls. The exciting times don’t stop there for the hard-rocking Canterbury band, who like TGTF will be heading out to Toronto next week for Canadian Music Week. They’ll be playing the following shows: Wednesday the 4th of May at the Garrison at 12 AM, Thursday the 5th of May at Drake Underground at 11 PM and later at 2 AM at Sneaky Dees; and Friday the 6th of May at Velvet Underground at 9 PM and later at Smiling Buddha at 1 AM. I’ve broken into a nervous sweat just thinking about all the shows! ::cough, wheeze::

For a taste of the band live, well, you’re in luck. Last week, the South East group were in session live for the BBC at Maida Vale for BBC Introducing, broadcast on Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music drivetime programme. A whole slew of videos were filmed, and this is just one of them, for ‘Four’. The track is one of many highlights from their debut album ‘Turbulence’, which was released back in October on SO Recordings. (Read my review of the LP here.) For the whole suite of videos from Maida Vale, go here, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. For more on Broken Hands on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHp1aIkjR1E[/youtube]

 

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]

 

Album Review: Broken Hands – Turbulence

 
By on Thursday, 1st October 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Broken Hands Turbulence coverI can’t say I’ve ever seen a band quite like Canterbury, Kent band Broken Hands live. On a Wednesday afternoon at SXSW 2014, I went upstairs to the Rooftop on Sixth to see the then-Radio 1 BBC Introducing-anointed group play and was surprised to see large swathes of silver foil, similar in kind and volume to the stuff you find on satellites and spaceships (I should know, my dad worked for NASA), billowing in a wind I’d yet to have experienced in Austin. The overall effect was one I haven’t forgotten.

Space rock has been a genre since ’70s Pink Floyd, but you’ve never seen Dave Gilmour playing in front of a stage setup like this. I had to wonder if this was just gimmickry for the sake of the live show, especially playing in front of their first American audiences, and perhaps for a single or two. However, just looking at the title of the group’s debut album for SO Recordings, ‘Turbulence’, shows without a doubt that not only space but travel and the motion of flight have influenced their songwriting. For good measure, there are mechanical whirrs and sci-fi sound effects peppered throughout this rock record to add to the out of this world ambience.

My guess is if you’re reading this and you know anything about Broken Hands, it’s probably their uncompromising wall of sound that drew you to them, a sound akin to early Muse, long before they lost the plot. Actually, while we’re on the subject of Matt Bellamy’s band, I can draw comparisons to the Teignmouth tenor to the strong pipes of lead vocalist Dale Norton, whose presence is really important to stand up against the heavy instrumentation. LP and live highlight ‘Meteor’ is a hard-rocking, hard-driving number with killer guitar riffs. Risking your life by hanging off a piece of metal hurtling through space has never sounded so good.

‘747’ has whiffs of Muse as well, the number ominously and slowly burning towards its booming conclusion starting at 3 and a half minutes in. Title track ‘Turbulence’ has incredible build-ups, Norton asking aloud in an emphatic shout, “can you feel me?” Yes, actually, we can. And you feel good. Another album highlight, ‘Four’, is a tight little number not even clocking in at 2 and a half minutes, Thomas David Ford’s bass riff dirty like the darkest hell and deeply satisfying to a hard rock fan. Only slightly slower, ‘Should I’ and its droning guitars lull you into a false sense of calm until the bass – and Ford – shows everyone who’s boss. Like Ben Thatcher’s playing in Royal Blood? I don’t just think, I know you will think this is some good stuff. (It also helps that the album was produced by Tom Dalgety, who was also at the helm of Royal Blood’s blistering debut LP of last year.) Single ‘Who Sent You’, unveiled recently ahead of its release on the 2nd of October, 1 week prior to the album, is mesmerising lyrically while laying into you musically.

Rather than fill the album with one punishing track after another (which I suppose wouldn’t have been bad, it just may have come out sounding too samey), Broken Hands have done well to mix things up, if only to show off their versatility and their potential future musical direction. Title-wise, you’d think ‘Impact’ would be the logical musical brother to ‘Meteor’, but you couldn’t be more wrong. In its magnificence, ‘Impact’ surprises, particularly Norton’s sweeping voice in the role of balladeer. Less effective is ‘Collide’, a mellow prog tune that stays pretty much in one place.

All taken together, ‘Turbulence’ is an assertive debut album from a rock band worth keeping your eye on. Watch this space.

8.5/10

The debut album from Canterbury’s Broken Hands, ‘Turbulence’, will be released on Friday the 9th of October on SO Recordings. The band will be on tour in late October into early November. All past coverage of Broken Hands on TGTF can be found this way.

 
 
 

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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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