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Video of the Moment #1986: Fictonian

 
By on Thursday, 14th January 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Glen Roberts, better known by his far more regal stage name Fictonian, released his debut album ‘Desire Lines’ last November. (It’s so good, it made the #1 spot on my top albums of 2015.) This week, the haunting last track of the LP, ‘Full Circle Influence’, got its own promo video. It’s animated, swinging back and forth between romantic visions of flowers and guitar players to inanimate geometric shifting shapes. To me, what ends up being more powerful are the specific lyrics that come up on the screen as they are being sung, reminding us all the power of the written (and sung) word. Watch the video below.

For all past coverage of Fictonian on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6GHs3VOK-0[/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: Fictonian – Desire Lines

 
By on Wednesday, 11th November 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Fictonian Desire Lines album coverWe are now deep into autumn, pretty soon enough to enter into the cold days of winter. It’ll all too easy to fall into the trap of lethargy, to hibernate, to hide away from everyone else because we can’t be bothered to get out of bed. While it may seem that Fictonian, known to his mum as Glen Roberts, did exactly this when he escaped the urban sprawl of London in favour of rural Herefordshire and solitude, the creative juices that flowed when he was left to his own devices in the countryside have culminated in a truly beautiful collection of songs, in the form of his debut album ‘Desire Lines’, which will be released this Friday.

In an era where the imagination and genius of solo composer, one-man bands are flourishing and indeed, being applauded – if one needs convincing, have a look at the Mercury Prize recognizing C Duncan‘s ‘Architect’ and Ghostpoet‘s ‘Shedding Skin’ in the nominations for the 2015 gong and East India Youth‘s ‘Total Strife Forever’ in the year previous – Roberts’ talent should be closely examined and enjoyed through ‘Desire Lines’ as a potential contender for next year.

On ‘The Hat’, which features little other than the slow, gentle buzzing of an accordion (synths?) and piano, Roberts’ voice is husky and rough, recalling Bryan Adams in his early career, while also remaining wistful. With the warmth of its chords, ‘Make It Be Ours’ has a shuffling, sweeping chorus fitting for the most beautiful of torch songs: “see that star? / it isn’t too far / if it’s in your heart / let’s make it be ours.”

But the true standout of ‘Desire Lines’ is ‘I Remember’: majestic in its simplicity, the piano chords building up to Roberts’ words – “I believed in love / but it never comes / I wait” – sung with all the melancholy of love lost. Chris Martin wishes he could write something as emotional as this. This, however, is not to say Fictonian is a project stuck on slow, overly sad dirges. On the other side of the tempo spectrum, the jaunty melody and oom-pah rhythm of ‘Moira Junction’ mirrors “my heart is like a pendulum / swinging to and fro / don’t know which way to go” in the song’s story, giving you the feeling of a heart so badly broken, its owner can’t make a move in his confusion.

Then there are the little things that all added up make this an unusual, loveable album. With its unidentifiable plinks and plonks that Stornoway, Patrick Wolf and the recently returned Clock Opera would be proud to call their own, opening track ‘Anticipation’ is satisfyingly whimsical and a great beginning to the record. A similar whimsy appears again on ‘Mrs. Jones’, with an intro and outro having a delightful, wonky carnival-like quality.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7xOE5shPmA[/youtube]

Previously revealed single ‘Little Blue Book’, playful with tambourine jingles and whistled notes, is probably the most poppy and accessible track on the album. Its gentle, lumbering, yet uplifting melody is easy on the ears, while the lyrics tell of accepting that life goes on, but the most important part to making the most of yours is to go after your dreams, so you won’t have to live with regret when you’re old. Words of wisdom.

The folky, disheveled troubadour sensibility and deadpan lyrics of life observed on ‘Full Circle Influence’, plus the background metallic clanking and Eastern melody leading the track out might sound like a strange way to end this album. But it clearly shows that Roberts has a great many ideas and could go in just as many directions on his future releases. Listening to this one song, I am reminded of later Stephen Duffy / Lilac Time, a criminally underrated songwriter and artist. When I mention Duffy’s name, I generally get glazed eyes looking back at me, because no-one’s ever heard of him or his genius. This musn’t happen with Fictonian. I won’t let it.

Have you ever listened to an album and got the distinct feeling that you’ve heard it all before? That you once held it beloved and have listened to it on repeat again and again? ‘Desire Lines’ is that stunning kind of record. And you will want to play it again and again.

9/10

The debut album from Fictonian, ‘Desire Lines’, is out this Friday, the 13th of November, on Distiller Music.

 

Video of the Moment #1899: Fictonian

 
By on Friday, 4th September 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Fictonian is the stage name of Glen Roberts, a mysterious multi-instrumentalist who recently (at least for a brief time anyway) became less mysterious when he went out on the road to support TGTF folk favourite Nick Mulvey. He will be releasing his debut album ‘Desire Lines’ – not to be confused with the Camera Obscura album of the same exact name – on the 13th of November.

Despite this date in the still far off future, Fictonian is already gaining quite a bit of buzz off the LP’s first single, ‘Little Black Book’. The single, whose release proper will be on the 18th of September, now has an accompanying single. Singer/songwriter Roberts manages to achieve such a beautifully full sound, even as a solo artist, with ‘Little Black Book’, and in the video, we get to follow a young girl being a kid, going exploring…in a way that too few kids do in these so-called technologically advanced times. The song is a delight, and so is the promo. Watch it below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-pKhhaeHak[/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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