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(TGTF Exclusive!) Album Stream: Quatre Épines EP

 
By on Monday, 30th November 2015 at 11:00 am
 

I was introduced to Winchester / Paris singer/songwriter Josh Savage at a Sofar Sounds Manchester show in April 2014. I was totally wowed by his performance and I still stand by my then pronouncement that he’ll be the next Ben Howard. I’m really pleased that this Monday after Thanksgiving, we are able to give you a TGTF exclusive first album stream of his upcoming new EP ‘Quatre Épines’, which will be self-released next Monday, the 7th of December. This will be Josh Savage’s third self-released extended player, and to celebrate the release, he’ll be having his biggest hometown show at Winchester Guildhall on the 11th of December.

But you might be wondering what effect his Paris upbringing might have on the new EP, yes? For those of you who are new to Josh’s music, some really interesting – and important – facts about him are that he is bilingual and sometimes writes and sings in French, and ‘Le Petit Prince’ was his favorite book when growing up in France, and the book served as the main inspiration for this new release. This new collection of four songs brilliantly emphasises his unique talent in writing beautiful songs in French, taking full advantage of what is arguably the most romantic language in the world and creating some truly rich-sounding, gorgeous tracks perfect to have in your ears this holiday season. Have a listen to the full EP below exclusively here on TGTF below, and if you like what you hear, you can preorder the EP from his Bandcamp.

 

Album Review: exmagician – Kiss That Wealth Goodbye EP

 
By on Wednesday, 25th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

exmagician Kiss That Wealth Goodbye EP coverI always feel a sense of loss when the months and years pass and I’ve heard nothing about a beloved band. Northern Irish psych band Cashier No. 9, who I met in London in 2011 the week of my birthday, fell into in this category. The last peep out of Danny Todd and his band was this free download and cover of Harry Nilsson’s ‘Moonbeam Song’, which, to be honest, left me disappointed, as it wasn’t an original song. The question in my mind was, were Cashier No. 9 finished?

While the group from Belfast appear to have disbanded permanently, the band members still standing – Todd and James Smith – have returned in a new guise, exmagician, and a debut EP. There is still that sense of whimsy that was evident in Cashier No. 9’s sound, as well as sufficiently reined in reverb and catchy melodies. Second track ‘Place Your Bets’ shows the most similarity to my favourites of 2011’s ‘To the Death of Fun’. On it, effects have been placed on Todd’s vocals, making him sound like he’s underwater, while the melody and guitars swirl and plenty of trippy oohs have been placed strategically throughout. The instrumental outro shines bright, as a trumpeter’s talents rises above the psychedelic organ.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SedWyC-9T8[/youtube]

The trumpet makes another welcome appearance on the end of EP title track ‘Kiss That Wealth Goodbye’, giving it an almost big band quality. It’s an interesting turn of events, as the tune begins and continues on a minor key progression delivered by a purposely indistinguishable marriage of scuzzy guitar and synth, one that would suggest darkness is up ahead. “Light up my face, straighten my tie / jump off the page, see your hope whizzing by / but they all like feeling alive / they all just let go of high hopes and kiss it goodbye”: Hello, is that a dig at fellow (but Southern and hugely popular) Irish band Kodaline? This also isn’t the first time Todd has pointed out musicians don’t make much money: see ‘Goldstar’. Of this new EP and direction, Todd says, “it’s the dirt under the fingernails.”

After the first two tracks showing off in your face swagger, the second half of the EP feels sleepy. ‘Smile to the Gallery’, while it shows similar psychedelic leanings, has a dreamy edge and minimal lyrics. The guitar work at the start before the words kick in are beautiful, evocative. The EP closes with ‘Tear On Let Off Some Steam’; it confused me, as it seems to have moved the duo backward in time back to the ’60s, being nowhere as inventive as the first two tracks. Make no mistake, the results sound good, but after such a promising first half, listening the second half is like listening to a completely different band. Which fork in the road will they take for the inevitable (hopefully, anyway) debut album? Let’s hope the former.

7/10

‘Kiss That Wealth Goodbye’, the debut EP from ex-Cashier No. 9 band members Danny Todd and James Smith as new artist exmagician, is out now on Bella Union.

 

Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Hell EP

 
By on Wednesday, 18th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Pains Hell EPI’ve never imagined hell as being a warm and sunny place, but in the hands of Kip Berman and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it becomes pleasantly balmy and inviting, if only for a very brief time. The band’s concise new EP ‘Hell’ takes its title from its only original tune, which Berman says is “about how insufferable performances of sensitivity are when there’s a good song playing and someone you want to dance with.” The song ‘Hell’ is pure ephemeral pop, with a peppy beat and a jaunty guitar riff under Berman’s nonchalant vocals. His breezy, disaffected delivery of the chorus line “now we’re going to hell, oh well’ effectively sums up his stated meaning without too much further elaboration.

‘Ballad of the Band’ is equally sunny and upbeat, bathing itself in the ’80s-style irony of setting wryly self-conscious lyrics to cleanly melodic and engagingly jaunty music. The Pains’ cover isn’t vastly different to the original by Birmingham alt-pop band Felt, the main change being a subtle shift in the instrumentation, minimizing the carnival style keyboards and instead putting emphasis on the guitar melody.

The final track on the EP is another cover, again not particularly experimental, but this one more overtly bitter and mildly punk rock in its styling. Vocals for ‘Laid’ (originally by Manchester rock band James) are here provided by Jen Goma, lead singer for A Sunny Day in Glasgow, who also sang some of the most memorable moments on the Pains’ last full length album ‘Days of Abandon’.  Her delivery here is grittier and more forceful than what I’ve heard from her in the past, omitting the James version’s falsetto vocal melisma on the repeated word “pretty” and opting instead for a low growl that seems somehow appropriate for a cover that takes quite literally the song’s lyric about “messing around with gender roles.” Before you dive into the new version, you can have a listen to the original just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/g_qZ5B-yioU[/youtube]

The ‘Hell’ EP was released in conjunction with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s November live dates, which included a show in London earlier this month before the band headed around the globe to Asia. They’ve just wrapped up a pair of shows in Japan and will play the Clockenflap Festival in Hong Kong and the Neon Lights Festival in Singapore at the end of the month. The digital-only ‘Hell’ EP is available now via the band’s one-off label Painbow.

If the brevity of the new EP leaves you wanting more from the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, you can check out our archive of coverage on the band right back here.

 

Album Review: Passport to Stockholm – All at Once EP

 
By on Tuesday, 1st September 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Passport to Stockholm All at Once EP coverTeenage friends and songwriters Chris “Barny” Barnard (vocals) and Tom Piggott (guitar) are at the heart of London-based act Passport to Stockholm, who I introduced you all to last summer in this previous Bands to Watch. Just last Friday, the group – which includes percussionist Henri Grimes and cellist Mariona De Lamo – released their latest EP, ‘All at Once’. It seems quite a prophetic title, given that Passport to Stockholm are set to perform this year’s CMJ in October in New York City, having already caught the eye of our friends Baeblemusic in the Big Apple who said their EP track ‘Chemistry propels the band “…into the pantheon of passionate and sincere British pop / folk / rock which has dominated the charts for the last 5 years.” But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

The title track begins the EP in earnest, Barnard’s full voice rising, sweeping note to note and above satisfying above the anthemic but otherwise brilliantly understated guitar strums, cello notes and percussion. The overall effect is lush, with his bandmates’ backing vocals joining to add further richness. The pizzicato strings add interest in the verses of ‘Let Me Know’, which are then followed by Barnard’s alternating staccatoing and smooth vocal delivery; the textural differences show a maturity that puts Passport to Stockholm far ahead of any of their indie pop contemporaries.

The earlier mentioned ‘Chemistry’ is the EP standout track, beginning and continuing on with pounding beats, accompanied by the yearning cello. But it’s Barnard’s vocals and the lyrics that are the real stars here. The chemistry addressed here is the tricky, ridiculous kind that stems from the weird gut feeling we get when we meet someone else and know we should be with him/her and going further from that, the terrible feeling that keeps us up at night when she/he is already with someone else (in this case, the woman is married to another man). The painful conflict of reconnecting with and romancing someone you loved and still love is evident in the words “already in love, you got back in touch, I just couldn’t turn you down.” You feel the ache, the void as the song ends with ” I won’t love like this again / I’ll never love like this again.”

The EP closes with the catchy, xylophone-laden ‘Wanted It More’, and if you’ve been listening to the EP from start to finish you come to the conclusion that this song, or any on this EP really, would feel right at home on a rom-com soundtrack or, dare I say it, Radio 2. The sweeping instrumentation with Barnard’s vocals make for a poppy, accessible sound that I’m betting will make waves far beyond their native England in short order.

8/10

‘All at Once’, the new EP from Passport to Stockholm, is out now.

 

Album Stream: Luke Sital-Singh – The Breakneck Speed of Tomorrow EP

 
By on Friday, 28th August 2015 at 11:00 am
 

I’m a little behind in posting this album stream, but better late than never, right?

Earlier this month, singer/songwriter Luke Sital-Singh revealed a brand new EP, ‘The Breakneck Speed of Tomorrow’. It follows nearly 1 year on from the release of his debut album on Parlophone, ‘The Fire Inside’. (You can read Carrie’s review of his debut here.) Designed to go with the EP, Sital-Singh wrote a hand-printed letterpress ‘manifesto’, and it’s pretty stunning, given that it was written in poem form. Click on the image under the EP stream if you’d like to zoom in and read it in full.

‘The Breakneck Speed of Tomorrow’ EP is available digitally now. The physical release on Raygun Records, in 10″ and 10″ limited edition with hand-printed letterpress sleeve formats, will take place the 25th of September. For more on Luke Sital-Singh on TGTF, go here.

Luke Sital-Singh Manifesto scan small version

 

Album Review: Elbow – Lost Worker Bee EP

 
By on Wednesday, 12th August 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Last month, Manchester favourites Elbow pleased their fans with the release of a new EP called ‘Lost Worker Bee’. The release came as somewhat of a surprise, as the band members have been busy of late with a handful of festival appearances (including Kendal Calling 2015) as well as their own “various solo projects and collaborative endeavours”, which include frontman Guy Garvey’s record label venture Snug Platters and his new BBC 6 Music series ‘Music Box with Guy Garvey’.  Of the ‘Lost Worker Bee’ EP, Garvey says “we just felt we really wanted to get something away to tide fans over until the next album. We’ve always loved the EP as a format and we’ve enjoyed making this one so much I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another before long.”

The four brand new songs on the EP are all set in Elbow’s hometown of Manchester. Garvey elaborates, “Manchester’s symbol has been the worker bee for hundreds of years and the lead track is about finding love far away from home.” Our own editor Mary featured the video for the eponymous and altogether charming ‘Lost Worker Bee’ just after the EP’s release.

The rhythmic complexity of ‘And It Snowed’ is a trademark of Elbow’s compositional style, expressed here in an asymmetrical meter that highlights the crystalline keyboard melody. The lyrics are a bit abstract, but the lines “you’ve done your leaving / livid in your splendour and alone / I kiss the stillness” seem to harken back to the lost romance theme of Elbow’s 2014 album ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, which dealt with Garvey’s split from his longtime partner.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/EbACcdrUjb8[/youtube]

In the captivating ‘Roll Call’, Garvey recycles a lyric, “streets alive with one man shows”, from ‘My Sad Captains’, a popular tune from ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’. He prefaces it with a bit of a wink and nod, warning that “I’m not digging deep tonight”, but in truth, his lyrics are as rife with evocative imagery as ever, and the vocal harmonies supplied by his bandmates in this chorus are just as rich and pleasantly unexpected.

Similarly, the EP’s final track ‘Usually Bright’ feels like an extension of Elbow’s previous album, with simple poetic lines alluding to separation as “the saddest journey ever made”. The spare musical accompaniment, which perhaps coincidentally sounds a bit like an old-fashioned music box, allows Garvey’s poignantly simple lyrics to make their full nostalgic impact, marking a clear delineation between the past and the potential of the future.

8.5/10

Elbow’s ‘Lost Worker Bee’ EP is out now on Polydor. Elbow are scheduled to play the On Blackheath Festival in London on the 12th of September. Our full catalogue of previous Elbow coverage is right back this way.

 
 
 

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.

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