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Top Albums of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 18th December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Wowsers, has this year flown by or what? I can scarcely believe we’re ready to celebrate Christmas in a week’s time, but you know what that means, boys and girls. It’s time for the editor’s top picks of 2012. Unlike most lists that have already published either in print or online, there will be no mentions of Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar or DIIV. Sorry. No, and this year, I tried to get away from dance as I could, which seems really odd considering where I found myself 2 years ago; this is probably good commentary on the music scene at large, where beats – either urban or poppy – have invaded nearly every facet of radio and except for the odd album or two, I found these to be completely devoid of heart. Or character. (But there were 3 in my top 10 that were arguably dance albums, so maybe there’s still hope…) Without further delay, here are my picks for 2012.

The-Crookes-Hold-Fast-cover1. The Crookes – ‘Hold Fast’ (Fierce Panda) – In the shadow of love – in its electric (2010’s #1, Delphic’s ‘Acolyte’) and nostalgic, life affirming (2011’s #1, Noah and the Whale’s ‘Last Night on Earth’) forms – my #1 this year goes as far back to basics with the good ol’ pop-tinged rock ‘n’ roll of Sheffield’s Crookes. I’ve always thought that the smartest songwriters are those that can write catchy tunes while also offering up thought-provoking, intelligent lyric; guitarist Daniel Hopewell fits this description to a T.

This album would feel equally at home in the 1960s as it does in 2012. There is no studio trickery or fancy production here, just heartfelt (and heartbroken in ‘Maybe in the Dark’) feelings being sung to memorable melodies that can help to remind you of simpler times. Or simply remind you of the important people who have coloured your life. Do yourself a favour and get this album. If you’re not sold yet, read my review of ‘Hold Fast’ here.

Keston-Cobblers-Club-cover2. Keston Cobblers’ Club – ‘One, for Words’ (Beatnik Geek) – It has been shown to us time and time again that family members who sing together make some incredible music. (For one, the Beach Boys.) In Julia and Matthew Lowe, we have familial alchemy at work again, this time on some incredible folk pop. When one album can make you laugh, make you cry, make you wistful for a former lover, make you remember through happy tears your life experiences, that is truly special indeed, and that’s what I’ve gotten out of ‘One, for Words’. I expect to be playing this album again and again until my final days. You can read my review of their debut album here.

Grimes-Visions-cover3. Grimes – ‘Visions’ (4AD) – Claire Boucher is now one of the hottest commodities in the music business these days, and surely the biggest game changer from Canada since Arcade Fire. Every time I tried to catch the baby-voiced master of synths and sequencers in 2012, I never actually managed to get in. Thankfully though, I have this album to keep me company whenever things have gone boring in my life. Variety is the key word of this album, with ambient, industrial, pop and minimalist genres all touched on for one eclectic group of songs. Every time you pick up this album, you’ll hear something exciting you missed the last time around, and I don’t think it’s possible for ‘Visions’ to get old. Read my review here.

Casiokids-Aabenbaringen-over-aaskammen-cover4. Casiokids – ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ (Moshi Moshi) – There’s no way I could have forgotten the craziness of Casiokids’ third album. Even in the middle of winter, thoughts of a pineapple-shaped maraca, the sheer wonkiness of ‘Det Haster!’ and ‘Dresinen’, and disco and jungle beats working in harmony on the same album easily warmed my heart. This is controlled chaos, in a way that only Nordics manage to do it. And even if you go into this album thinking, “no way is this album going to lift my mood”, trust me, it will. You’ll even leave it with a knowing yet silly grin on your face.Read more here.

Husky cover5. Husky – ‘Forever So’ (Sub Pop) – The Husky debut album was an example of when you keep hearing the name of a band so many times, you’re wondering what the fuss is all about. Well, wonder no more. If you’re the first-ever signing to a indie label as storied as Sub Pop, then you better bring the goods, and Husky Gawenda and co. do just that in a Fleet Foxes meets the sadness of Nick Drake vehicle. If you’ve ever been slayed by gorgeous harmonies, this album’s for you. Read my review of it here.

After the cut: some albums that just missed the top 5 cut, and others that disappointed.

Continue reading Top Albums of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 

MP3 of the Day #712: Casiokids

 
By on Monday, 10th December 2012 at 10:00 am
 

So what you’re really thinking you want for the holidays is Casiokids covering Mariah Carey. Yes? If so, you are in luck, my friends. They’ve covered the Glitter one’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’ and we’ve got it here free for you to listen to and download for your very own. And it really wouldn’t be Casiokids with loads of fuzzy synths, right? Listen to and grab it from the widget below.

 

Standon Calling 2012 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 16th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

A 7-year quest to experience Fat Freddy’s Drop live for a second time is almost at an end. In just a few minutes, they will take the stage in the closing performance of an intriguing and enthralling Standon Calling 2012. Even though it was the New Zealand dubsters that had initially piqued my interest in making the 400-mile round trip to Standon, with the benefit of hindsight there is far more to this festival than the headline bands, strong though those may be.

In the preceding 3 days, I have shared the festival with Frankenstein’s monster, numerous wild animals, several air stewardesses (including one with a suspicious 5 o’clock shadow), and the old guy from Up. I have had a contact print family portrait made on a large-format camera, learned the finer points of craft brewing and autopsy (not at the same time, thankfully), shared in the jingoistic delight of watching the GB team win six Olympic gold medals in one glorious day, and delved into the intense backstory of a rehabilitated fraudster. Not to mention one or two memorable musical performances.

First impressions are mixed: the car park is a stubbly field of fibrous stalks which make a horrendous racket underneath the car (as does the eventual exit, the descent of which features a particularly acute angle; the exhaust pipe only just survived). One only wonders what the driver of the ground-hugging 1970s Porsche 911 Cabriolet parked a few cars away made of it all. It’s but a short trek to the entrance, the elevation of which gives pause to survey what’s laid before us.

Nestled into a natural sun-gathering bowl of sweeping farmland, which, if found in the Loire Valley, would be priceless vineyard real estate: the entire site can be seen from end-to-end, making it seem impossibly compact considering the promised delights. Once down in the bowl, there is a lot more space than met the eye just minutes before, and plenty of room in Quiet Camping – although the postage stamp-sized sign gives little confidence that it will be truly quiet. An incorrect assumption, as it turned out.

There’s no finer feeling than one’s first performance of a freshly-opened festival, and Mary Epworth is more than up to the task, her local brew of surprisingly-noisy-at-times folk-prog, combined with her striking looks (tall, flowing blonde locks, giant caftan, autoharp) are a potent combination in the breezy sunshine. A post-set wander confirms the site to be modestly-sized but packed with interest. In addition to the main stage, there’s the smaller Cow Shed stage (yes, in a cow shed), and a funky disco next to the pool, with cocktails and sausages (but not cocktail sausages) for sale.

Yes, there is a swimming pool here, because this is basically a Lord’s back garden that they’ve let the party animals of Hertfordshire loose in. There’s a beer tent dressed up as an old-school pub, adjacent to the little folk tent which will feature heavily over the weekend. The only misstep is the dance stage, which is slap bang in the middle of everything, rather than tucked away in its own space; whilst this does lend a focal point to after-hours activities, the deep bass and foundation-shaking beats have a tendency to overpower the smaller areas; the Folk Stage was particularly badly overrun by the sort of speed garage that was fashionable for 3 days in 1998.

Hours can pass in dream-like reverie simply observing: fake monks vie for dance floor space with beglittered bodies in swimming trunks; a man has combined a tricycle with a piano and pedals around the site playing honky-tonk for tips; people pile into hammocks strung between fake trees. When it’s time to return to reality, Casiokids are playing a party-electro set on the main stage. Coming across as the genuine bunch of geeks that they undoubtedly are (not a single one can dance convincingly), their tunes are just the thing to turn up the wick as twilight approaches. The standout track is ‘Olympiske leker’, a musical tribute to the Olympics, with all 26 events given their own little musical riff; the sports are announced in Norwegian, but enough words are recognisable (diskos, maraton) to make the whole thing jolly and relevant. [Download this song from this previous MP3 of the Day post. – Ed.]

Thence to Beardyman, the clean-shaven Londoner whose set is essentially a history of dance music as reproduced by one man’s voice and loads of computers. A deep vein of sardonicism runs through the performance; each song is dwelt on for the least time possible, various wry comments indicate that Mr. Beardy is only just on the right side of boredom, and there’s some downright rum moments such as the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune for one of his mates, and the subsequent invasion of the stage by a number of randoms in character suits, a la Flaming Lips. Good to see Muppet Beaker making an appearance, though. Eminently danceable and technically impressive though his set is, there’s always the suspicion that the performer is having the last laugh over the audience.

From there on in, things go the way of all good first nights at festivals: blurred and random. After studiously checking for consistency numerous samples of the excellent Meantime Brewery Pale Ale, your correspondent bumps into several members of the local band Maddox, hailing from the rock ‘n’ roll metropolis that is Stevenage. Set the task of staying up until Shy FX’s set commences at 2 AM, what better to do than debate the state of modern music, attempt to tell an original joke (failure), and perform some amateur mind-reading (success). By the time the D ‘n’ B started, the quality of banter was so high (in all senses of the word) that nobody was paying much attention. Cheers, lads.

Stay tuned for the second half of Martin’s review of Standon Calling 2012 appearing on TGTF tomorrow.

 

(Olympics 2012 flavoured!) MP3(s) of the Day (and more!) #590: Casiokids

 
By on Friday, 27th July 2012 at 10:00 am
 

I kind of had a feeling that Casiokids would be reappearing at some point later in 2012 after their album ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ had been released in January. I mean, come now. They had a song called ‘Olympiske leker’, which translates literally to “Olympic Games” in Norwegian.

Today, in honour of the Olympic ceremonies to take place tonight, we’re offering up their two free downloads of ‘Olympiske leker’, the original and a special v.2 version just in time for the special event. And it wouldn’t be an mp3 of the day and more post without that something more. That something more today is a specially commissioned hand-drawn video for the song, done by Chad Blevins. It’s all below for you to look, listen to and enjoy. Happy Friday!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtBv-Q0LbkU[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #851: Casiokids

 
By on Thursday, 21st June 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Trust Casiokids to come up with a quirky animated video sure to bring a smile to your face for their new single ‘Dresinen’, which is out digitally on the 25th of June. The video is like the film Up and Scooby Doo combined into one.

The song is from their fab new album released in January, ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ (you can read my review of it here).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqDnHMa33ZE[/youtube]

 

Interview: Ketil Kinden Endresen of Casiokids

 
By on Thursday, 29th March 2012 at 11:00 am
 

In the wake of the magnificence that is their new album ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ that I reviewed in January, we sent some questions over to singer / synthesiser man Ketil Kinden Endresen of Casiokids to answer. Read on to find out about how the album was recorded and their theme of a magical rainforest explorer, how the real London Zoo disappointed him, and his personal apology to the people of Cambridge…

I read on the press release for ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ that you recorded the new album in an abattoir converted into a studio. Sounds a bit gruesome. Was it? Was there ever a feeling of unsettledness? How do you feel your surroundings affected, either positively or negatively, the recording?
Howls, grunts, squeals and barks from animal ghosts are indeed very scary. It keeps us on a healthy edge during the recording process.

When you guys were advertising for your Manchester Deaf Institute on Twitter, you mentioned Manchester had something to do with the writing of the chorus of “Aldri ska me ha det gøy’ and you Tweeted me a photo of a van being towed away. What’s the story behind this?
“Aldri ska me ha det gøy”= “We’re never ever going to have any fun”. It was a song we wrote there in 2009 after our van broke down on the way. Never fun.

The timing for ‘Olympiske leker’ and ‘London Zoo’ couldn’t have been better with the London Olympics this summer. Was this just a coincindence / happy accident? Any word if Norway will have you playing and representing them at the opening ceremony?

The idea for the Olympic theme came from the synth line, which I thought sounded so triumphant. It felt like the obvious way to go, and I’ve always wanted to have an Olympic-themed song. I discovered something the opposite of wonderful on my visit to London Zoo though, where a bunch of up-to-no-good geezers were making fun and throwing things at the gorillas, calling them names.

At least in English language terms, ‘Dr. Tarzan Monsoon’ has the most overtly jungle / tropical theme to date. What was the inspiration(s) behind this track, complete with animals squawking?
The backdrop for the themes and moods of the album is the story of explorer Dr. Tarzan Monsoon discovering a magical rainforest. We had to have a theme tune for him, so during this song I imagine him taking the first steps off his plane and walking into the unknown.

Continuing with the tropical line of questioning, Norway (and the whole of Scandinavia) isn’t particularly famous for tropical temperatures. In the beginning of Casiokids and through to today, your music always seems to have a dancey, carnival type quality. Are you channeling favourite artists, places you’ve visited, etc.?
I like that you say “carnival”, as that is on my short-list of songs to make. A carnival song. Yes, I like it. Do we channel things we hear/see/eat? Sure, I guess we all do to some extent, channel everything we like and produce a combination of that. Did you know the top searched for word on Wikipedia is “Wikipedia”? And that the most popular password to use is “password”? I guess what I’m trying to say is, we channel things, but we also try to make them our own, not only spit out what comes up in front of us, if we would have done so all our songs would have been about rain, and that’s not what we like, though it is in front of people who live in Bergen over 200 days a year.

On this album, there is a song I’d class as a “ballad” – ‘Elefantenes hemmelige gravplass’. Does it really translate to “elephant secret cemetery”? It also feels very ’80s to me. How would you describe it? How did it come about?
Yes, the Elephants’ Secret Graveyard, inspired by that legend of the mystical place elephants go to alone when they know they’re getting close to the end. Dr Tarzan Monsoon stumbles upon this place, which again triggers thoughts about his own mortality.

Who is in control of the van stereo when you are on tour? And what kind of music gets played? What bands/songs are getting Casiokids’ blood pumping these days?
Ive made some mixes that are up on our Soundcloud. Here’s the latest, check it out.

Which was the most surprising date on this past UK tour and why?
That would have to be Cambridge. Can’t believe we haven’t played there before. A quick look at our touring history at Casiokids.com and I can see we’ve played 103 concerts in the UK since our first show there, in Brighton 2008. Cambridge has the 57th largest UK settlement by population, so statistically we should have played there already (1.5 times). I can only apologize that we have not gotten our figures right here.

Where next and which festivals this summer are you guys taking ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ to this year?
Here are the ones that have been announced so far:

04.05.12 Denmark, Aarhus, Spot festival
15.06.12 France, Toulon, Rockorama
30.06.12 UK, Gloucestershire, Winterwell festival
21.07.12 Norway, Nordfjoreid, Malakoff Festival
03.08.12 UK, Standon, Standon Calling

What would you/Casiokids like to do in 2012 that you’ve never done before?
We would very much like to tour in a boat.

Many thanks to Ketil for answering our questions and Kate for sorting this interview out for us. Watch the new video for ‘Kaskaden’, their new single out next week. It’s another track from the amazing ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen'(review here).

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/38796252[/vimeo]

 
 
 

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 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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