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Great Escape 2018: Day 1 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 31st May 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

It can’t be emphasised enough that the festival gods really smiled down on The Great Escape 2018 earlier this month. While in Washington, DC, my friends back home were suffering under torrential rains, I was by the sea in picture-perfect Brighton and never once did I have to break out the brolly. (Wasn’t so lucky the following Friday in Newcastle.) For anyone who has been soaked to the bone during The Great Escape in past years, you understand how this year’s impossibly good weather was incredible luck.

While the sunny skies did wonders for everyone’s mood and probably helped the sales of off-licence, takeaway liquor, friend and former writer Braden and I mused if the good weather could have adversely affected foot traffic and turnout to the both the official Great Escape and its sister event The Alternative Escape. As the weekend wore on, it seemed that with the long queues and huge crowds everywhere I went, there were plenty of music lovers in town to make this concern feel nonexistent. You’d have thought performances priot to the noon hour would be sparsely attended, but you would be wrong. Must be that early May sunrise in England!

Model Society Thursday The Great Escape The Alternative Escape 2018

London’s Model Society were already in full swing by the time I arrived at East Street Tap, host of the End of the Trail Records / Amazing Radio showcase. John and I knew this place in its previous incarnation as The Fishbowl. Their energy so early in the day was admirable, but I didn’t hear anything particularly exciting that would set their music apart from their indie peers. I was waiting for the act who would follow, Dan Lyons, who performed with a full band Saturday night at SXSW 2018.

Dan Lyons Thursday The Great Escape The Alternative Escape 2018

Lyons advertised it as a stripped back set, to be accompanied only by his guitar and his backing singer, bandmate and partner Freya. While his set in Austin came across as full-bodied blues, this barer version of Dan Lyons live was an entirely different experience. ‘Special People’ delivered in a deadpan makes you wonder how serious Lyons is being about people watching, or if he’s simply being cheeky. We were also treated to his upcoming single ‘Gargoyle’, which is currently only listenable if you happen to tune into a radio programme playing it. Everyone else, you’ll have to wait until it drops on the 22nd of June.

I thought I had gotten a good jumpstart on the acts following my in-person coverage of BIGSOUND 2017 in Australia last September and SXSW 2018 in March. But I can say now that I feel like there’s so much that I missed on at The Great Escape this year. There was the ever-present issue of clashes, of course, but the lack of separate lines for wristband and badge holders at many venues meant press could show up at a venue, only to be disappointed. Like at BIGSOUND 2017, I was thwarted again from seeing Hatchie properly on Thursday afternoon, but my personal setback could be viewed in a positive way: Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery, taking up both the main Komedia venue space and its Studio Bar, were rammed all afternoon.

Hollow Coves Thursday The Great Escape 2018

When I made it back up to the Laines from East Street, I was only able to get into the Studio Bar. But with some luck, I managed to get reasonably close up to Hollow Coves. They’re a folk duo whose members are from Brisbane and The Gold Coast. This is a case where looks can be deceiving: they kind of look like smiley, yet unassuming builders. One of them is actually a carpenter, so I wasn’t that far off. At their simplest, I’d describe them as ethereal folk but interestingly, they also use synths on some tracks, taking folk songcraft and pairing it with electronic beats for a more 21st century flavour. I can get behind that! Their gorgeous music, including songs ‘Coastline’ and ‘Home’, took me back to my visit to Brisbane last year, when I took in the city’s very California-like climate and beauty.

On the other side of the Old Steine Gardens and back down closer to the sea is the Latest Music Bar, which hosted the Horizons / Gorwelion showcases Thursday and Friday afternoon. Even with rushing after an interview with Hollow Coves, I couldn’t make it in time before hyped Welsh act Boy Azooga finished. Drat. Cutting any further losses, I headed down to Patterns, Fender UK’s venue for the entire Great Escape, for a unique afternoon.

Declan McKenna Thursday The Great Escape 2018

Young but politically astute singer/songwriter Declan McKenna had been announced as the stage’s opening special guest shortly before the start of the festival, and his fans filling the Marine Parade venue were super excited as he and a female guitarist live bandmate began with single ‘Humongous’. Despite McKenna’s relative live inexperience, he seemed entirely at ease, his stage patter between songs hilarious. “I can’t play ‘Brazil’ now!” he hissed to the punters shouting for his World Cup-themed hit. “Everyone would leave!” Collective laughter. He ran through several other songs from his debut ‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, including ‘Paracetamol’, ‘The Kids Don’t Want to Come Home’ and ‘Make Me Your Queen’, before launching into the inevitable set closer.

Some of the crowd dispersed after McKenna finished, their spots to replaced to, shall we say, a much older crowd for BBC 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveny’s interview with legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. I knew this would be an opportunity for Marr to peddle the Fender Jaguar he helped design with the guitar company: at one point, Marr insisted to the crowd that you don’t need so many guitars, his guitar is so great, you only need the one. Hmm, right…I’ll get back to you on that.

Johnny Marr and Shaun Keaveny Thursday The Great Escape 2018

I was happily surprised that the conversation didn’t de-evolve into a boring, gear head kind of talk only accessible to real guitarists. Instead, Keaveny’s humour coupled with Marr’s down to earth nature made for a comfortable interview for both, Marr entertaining us with unexpected guitar interludes that any Smiths fan worth his salt would recognise, including the intro to ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ and the dreamy, yet mournful passes in ‘Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me’, the latter that he revealed was his favourite Smiths riff of all, written alone on a tour bus, missing his girlfriend.

He described writing melodies on a guitar as “It’s like chasing an angel”. What a beautiful, beautiful image to give us. I’d describe Johnny Marr as having a quiet peace around him: he’s obviously one of the 20th century’s greatest musical heroes, but he’s not throwing his weight around or feels the need to be showy. He’s content with where he is in life and he’s happy making music with “the best electronic machine” to write pop music on. Being that contented and happy: something we can all aspire to.

 

Album Review: Declan McKenna – What Do You Think About the Car?

 
By on Tuesday, 18th July 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Declan McKenna What Do You Think About the Car album coverSome people are just destined for greatness. Far less common in life are those who can predict such greatness in themselves. There might be some disagreement with this, but a recording of Declan McKenna when small seems to have been remarkably prescient. In response to his oldest sister Rosanna’s question, “Dec, what do you think about the car? Do you like it?” The 4-year old Declan responded, “I like it, it’s really good and now I’m going to sing my new album now.” Now the formerly nonsensical name of his debut album for Columbia makes sense!

In case you’re late to the Declan McKenna party, you can start by reading this Bands to Watch I wrote ahead of his appearances at SXSW 2016. Out of the gate in 2015 with ‘Brazil’, which handily skewered the hypocrisy of world football-governing body FIFA, McKenna showed himself to be more than just a wild card. He had the ambition of becoming a pop star with – gasp! horror! – a social conscience. This new record from the Hertfortshire teen is a convenient collection of his live favourites and past singles, including ‘Brazil’, ‘Bethlehem’ and ‘Paracetatmol’, all of which appeared on ‘Liar’ EP back in the spring. Unlike his mostly one-dimensional contemporaries, McKenna isn’t easily pigeonholed with one style or sound. While ‘What Do You Think…’ is certainly a 21st century album, produced by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford (The Last Shadow Puppets, Depeche Mode) and taking advantage of current technology, listening to it is like no other album out there today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f6KQbuNdW8

The LP begins with single ‘Humongous’: its instrumental solo and McKenna’s double-tracked vocals in the chorus give the feeling not of 2017 of a song of a past generation. Or at least the last one. The leisurely tempo of ‘Humongous’ eventually gives way to a frenetic ending, but not before McKenna thumbs his nose towards duplicitous politicians: “Do you care? / I’m big, humongous, enormous and small / and it’s not fair that I am nothing and nobody’s there”. The wonky waltzy rhythm of ‘Mind’ and its theme of teenage angst of young love not going quite right will remind you of early Mystery Jets. Maybe this shouldn’t come as such a surprise, since Ford also produced 2006’s ‘Making Dens’? McKenna’s voice on ‘I Am Everyone Else’ also has a Blaine Harrison quality, while the melody chirps along with both guitars and synths. There’s more synth action on the feel good ‘Why Do You Feel So Down’, on which one-man band McKenna sounds like a more electric Vampire Weekend.

However, what will more likely be more important to this 18-year old’s legacy is his willingness to go beyond the usual and often too simplistic teenage song topics. It’s been during the Millennial generation that the concerns of the LGBT community have been more widely aired. However, young McKenna took on the tragic suicide of Ohioan transgender teen Leelah Alcorn in ‘Paracetamol’ because “People need to start getting it.” Guitar-driven foot stomper ‘Bethlehem’ tackles the holier-than-thou stance of those willing to kill and die in the name of religion (“but you sin as you wish”). The not quite ballad, not quite pop song ‘Listen to Your Friends’ closing the album alludes to the importance of speaking up and out against injustices, instead of following everyone else’s apathy. This statement seems even more important following the young people’s vote in the June 2016 General Election; check out McKenna’s wail during the song in live performance below.

‘What Do You Think About the Car?’ is a debut that never has a dull moment, and it’s got as much variety as an assorted pack of jelly beans. A pleasant listen throughout, along with plenty of great lyrics to sink your teeth into and make you think, Declan McKenna should be proud of writing a debut record that has a good shot of standing the test of time.

8.5/10

‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, the long-anticipated debut album from pop wunderkind Declan McKenna, will be released this Friday, the 21st of July, on Columbia Records. Have a stroll through our archive of posts on the young McKenna here on TGTF through this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SjtY2apibA[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #2380: Declan McKenna

 
By on Wednesday, 14th June 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Good news: indie wunderkind Declan McKenna has announced his debut album will drop next month. The socially-conscious teen from Hertfordshire who has already wowed with singles ‘Brazil’ and ‘Paracetamol’ will be unleashing ‘What Do You Think of the Car?’ will be available starting in the 21st of July on Columbia Records. And seemingly as he needed to provide proof of how massive the news of his upcoming debut is, he’s revealed a new promo video for album track ‘Humongous’. The accompanying video lives up to his name, as McKenna shows up in this promo as a King Kong-like presence presiding over urban blocks and windswept mountains and, of course, rocks out with his band while a lizard inexplicably gets involved in a fight with a politician with lobster claws. Um, okay. To read all of us our past coverage here on TGTF on the young Declan McKenna, including an appearance at Huw Stephens and PRS for Music’s showcase Tuesday night at SXSW 2016, use this link.

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

 

Blossoms / September and October 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 28th July 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Stockport indie rock band Blossoms have announced the release of their self-titled debut album on the 5th of August, along with a lengthy list of tour dates to follow the release. Leading into the September tour, Blossoms will play a special show at the Stockport Plaza at midnight on the 5th of August for fans who preorder the album via their online store, as well as an official album launch show at Kingston’s New Slang on the 11th of August. They will be supported on this tour by Declan McKenna and fellow North Westerners Cabbage.

Tickets for the following shows will go on sale tomorrow, Friday the 29th of July, at 10 AM. In the meantime, you can find TGTF’s previous coverage of Blossoms right back here.

Friday 23rd September 2016 – Birmingham Institute
Saturday 24th September 2016 – Bristol Bierkeller
Monday 26th September 2016 – Cambridge Junction
Tuesday 27th September 2016 – Norwich Waterfront
Thursday 29th September 2016 – London Forum Kentish Town
Friday 30th September 2016 – Manchester Academy
Saturday 1st October 2016 – Glasgow ABC
Monday 3rd October 2016 – Newcastle Riverside
Tuesday 4th October 2016 – Sheffield Leadmill
Wednesday 5th October 2016 – Leeds Beckett Student Union
Friday 7th October 2016 – Nottingham Rock City

 

Video(s) of the Moment #2112: Declan McKenna

 
By on Thursday, 9th June 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

::plays Twilight zone music:: We’re at a palindromic number for today’s Video of the Moment, so I thought I’d gift you with something special. Well, two videos for the price of one. How’s that? Declan McKenna, who wowed both Carrie and me at SXSW 2016 back in March, has a new music video out this week for his single ‘Bethlehem’. Continuing in the same fine fashion as in previous singles ‘Paracetamol’ and ‘Brazil’, the Hertfordshire teen tackles another decidedly un-pop topic in his lyrics.

As the first video below portrays – or at least what we’re led to believe – is that as might be expected for a song named after a famous religious site, ‘Bethlehem’ is about escaping the shackles of restrictive religion. Also included below is a live version of the single, with McKenna and his band rocking out in the studio last month. It’s cool to listen to and watch, as when Carrie and I saw him in Austin, he was performing alone and with the crutch of a tabletop of equipment and plenty of effects pedals. In this live video, you get a better sense of what it would be to see Declan McKenna play live. Watch both videos featuring ‘Bethlehem’ below. For more on Declan McKenna on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ce_ICrHVfU[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npyWV6RXdEY[/youtube]

 

Live at Leeds 2016 Preview: editor Mary’s best band bets

 
By on Monday, 18th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: as we recommend with all of our festival previews, the information we post here on TGTF on Live at Leeds is current at the time of posting, but we encourage you to check in at the Live at Leeds 2016 official Web site closer to the start of the event to confirm venues and set times. Wristbands for the event in Leeds on Saturday the 30th of April are still available at the bargain price of £32.50. This year for the price of £45.00, a VIP option is also available; it will allow you to jump queues at venues (subject to capacity), entry to the VIP bar at the First Direct Arena and free entry to the afterparty at the Wardrobe. More information on where you can purchase your tickets in person or online is available here.

SXSW 2016 alums: I’d be remiss not to give a shoutout to the artists we saw in Austin that we enjoyed and we think you will too (in order of appearance):
Barns Courtney (5:30 PM, Leeds College of Music)
The Sherlocks (5:30 PM, Leeds Uni Union Refectory)
Declan McKenna (6 PM, Brudenell Social Club main stage)
Clean Cut Kid (6:15 PM, Leeds Uni Union Stylus)
Autobahn (6:30 PM, Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 1)
DMA’s (6:45 PM, Leeds Uni Union Refectory)
Blaenavon (7:00 PM, Oporto)
Isaac Gracie (7:15 PM, Holy Trinity Church)
Pumarosa (8:00 PM, Wardrobe)
Haelos (10:00 PM, Belgrave Music Hall)

In addition to those acts, here are 10 more acts recommended from the amazing Live at Leeds 2016 schedule:

Atlantic Shore

In the mood for sparkling, upbeat synth rock? This quartet with ties to nearly all of the great Northern towns (Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester) will start your day at Live at Leeds on an energetic note. Check out Atlantic Shore’s latest single, ‘The Comedown’, which was released last month.

Atlantic Shore are set to perform at the Faversham at 12:30 PM.

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

The Jackobins

Staying in th’ North (this festival is in Yorkshire, am I right?), turn your attention to music of a harder edge. Forget Manchester for a moment: The Jackobins’ ‘Waiting on the Sun’ will remind you of Oasis in the brashness of their anthemic rock.

The Jackobins perform at Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2 at 1 PM. (Incidentally, Plaitum – who Rebecca introduced you all to when they received a shout for SXSW 2016 – will be playing at the same time of day at Headrow House.)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb1STNc3D6o[/youtube]

The Velveteens

Let’s not kid ourselves, surf rock came back, so what’s to stop the other trends of past decades returning? Co-ed group from Leeds The Velveteens will be leading the charge when the revolution comes. ‘Simply Plain Mary Jane’? Hardly!

The Velveteens play at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room at 2:30 PM.

Demob Happy

From Leeds, you can either go north to Newcastle or south all the way to the coast to Brighton for Demob Happy. As a science boffin by (day) trade, I am more than a little amused they’ve got a song called ‘Junk DNA’. “Gene Manipulator” should have been my nickname in uni. Make of that what you will… And we could all use a little bliss, eh?

Demob Happy are scheduled to play at the Brudenell Social Club’s main stage at 3:00 PM, which make them a nice follow-up after The Velveteens.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f6QEpLGoEc[/youtube]

Xylaroo

Cover me, folks, I’m going into Carrie’s usual bailiwick and into the singer/songwriter den. A girl duo signed to Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best label, Xylaroo have done a fantastic acoustic treatment to cover of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’, turning a song I don’t even like to a palatable one (!), so suffice to say, I’m looking forward to their debut album ‘Sweetooth’ (not a typo) out the 3rd of June, which includes ‘Sunshine’.

So if singer/songwriter-y, harmonising type music is more your thing, you can catch Xylaroo at Leeds College of Music Recital Room at 3 PM.

Girl Friend

Okay, I’m outta there and back to my specialty and having gone on to another duo. Girl Friend, a girl/boy pair from Manchester (seriously, where else would they have been from? ha), do clean, crisp electropop that’s music to my ears and heart, not to mention my feet. Check out the fab ‘Nocturnal’.

Girl Friend will play the Belgrave Music Hall at 4 PM.

Jones

Jones has the kind of voice music producers clamour over: soulful, rich, strong. Her voice lend well to both electronic/urban pop and acoustic treatments. Judging from her collaboration with TGTF friends Honne on their track ‘No Place Like Home’, she’ll be a sought-after vocal talent for years to come.

Jones is set to perform at the Wardrobe at 7:00 PM.

Catholic Action

Ready to do some hand clapping in my favourite venue in all of Leeds? Then you’re definitely ready to have some fun with Catholic Action and fall in ‘L.U.V.’ with this band from Glasgow. We have!

Catholic Action will appear at Nation of Shopkeepers at 8:00 PM.

Anteros

Staying in the pop realm, we arrive at London’s Anteros. Their sci-fi name makes them sound like they’re from another planet. However, to our benefit, they’re just writing really great pop songs. Have some ‘Breakfast’ with them below.

Anteros perform at the Brudenell Social Club’s Games Room at 9:30 PM.

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

Fatherson

I’ve been a fan of these Scots and their uplifting, swooning anthems since I saw them in Edinburgh 2 years ago. And it’s a great time for them to appear at Live at Leeds, as they’ve just released their newest single, ‘Just the Point of Breaking’.

Fatherson appear at Leeds Beckett Uni Union Stage 2 at 9:30 PM.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT1NE2hPdLg[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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