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(Great Escape 2012 flavoured!) Album Review: Savoir Adore – Dreamers EP

 
By on Friday, 4th May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

There seems to be every permutation of the genre ‘pop’ in the music business today. But this is a new one, even for me: fantasy pop. It’s the genre that Brooklyn duo Savoir Adore use to describe themselves, and I find it a great compromise. There’s an ethereal dreaminess to their vocals, yet I think putting them alongside dream pop bands like Beach House would be lazy journalism. Fantasy, whether Harry Potter, Japanese manga or Xena: Warrior Princess is your chosen poison, is a broad enough category that the uniquely crafted sounds by this pair of best friends can use this sobriquet and not feel stifled by the restrictions of the box. Tagging on the word ‘pop’ works in this instance because when you listen to this music, it’s not a question, it’s a given: these songs will get inside your head and you will remember them. For the best of reasons.

Savoir Adore will be releasing their next EP, ‘Dreamers’, on the 21st of May on Neon Gold Records, who acted as Wolf Gang’s stepping stone into a major label deal. The title track ‘Dreamers’ is actually a track that will feature on their second album, ‘Our Nature’, which has an expected autumn release date in the UK.

This release is structured rather unusually; you might think ‘single’ is a better description of it, since of the seven tracks, there is ‘Dreamers’ itself and then five very different remixes of it. The only other song on this EP that’s not a variant of ‘Dreamers’ is ‘Sea of Gold’. But let’s focus on the original songs.

‘Dreamers’ has a childlike playfulness to it; while synths buzz along with the dream beat, you can practically feel like the purest sunlight is shining down on you while you’re sunbathing at the beach. When I first heard this EP, I assumed they were from Australia or somewhere else far flung and potentially idyllic. It doesn’t sound like it’s come out of Brooklyn. There’s a sweet refrain by Deidre Muro of “you can stay where you are / I will wake you / I will wake you in the morning / you can stay where you are, so don’t you worry / don’t you worry, keep on sleeping.” Really? This sounds like a commercial for a Hawaiian resort hideaway. It’s the kind of “enjoy the life you’re living” song that I suppose the more jaded people will detest, but sometimes you need music that can put you in that zen mode when you’re stressed out, and this fits the bill nicely.

Now let’ shave a listen to ‘Sea of Gold’. It’s funny, for some reason I was hearing a Cut Copy vibe at first hearing this, but it’s actually a deceptively simple track, with a mesmerising drum loop with expansive vocals that build as the song continues. Lyrically, it’s not as evocative as ‘Dreamers’, which is too bad, because sonically it has the potential. It’s a little too sleepy.

The remixes on the EP come from some famous folks: Chiddy Bang’s Xaphoon Jones, Brazil’s Database, plus fellow new Yorkers the Golden Pony, Body Language, and French Horn Rebellion, all of whom their very distinctive spin on the original. I’m torn between naming either the Golden Pony and French Horn Rebellion’s versions the best, as I think both embody the bouncy, fancy free feeling in the original. I like remixes, so I found this EP to be fun and refreshing; however, if remixes leave you cold, you might want to have a listen to this on Spotify before forking over your change.

7.5/10

The ‘Dreamers’ EP by Savoir Adore is out on the 21st of May on Neon Gold. The band will start a short tour of the UK on Sunday at London Notting Hill Arts Centre.

Sunday 6th May 2012 – London Notting Hill Arts Club (Communion show)
Monday 7th May 2012 – London Queen of Hoxton (Simply Rad show)
Tuesday 8th May 2012 – Cardiff Undertone
Thursday 10th May 2012 – Brighton Great Escape Festival (Record of the Day show)
Friday 11th May 2012 – Brighton Great Escape Festival (Neon Gold show)
Thursday 17th May 2012 – London Camp (Pop Shop / Neon Gold show)

 

(Great Escape 2012 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #241: Money

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

There’s been an explosion of bands with deliberately un-Googleable names – The Internet, College, and now we have Money. Although after getting to know the band’s music and modus operandi a bit better, I wouldn’t be surprised if being difficult to find on the internet suited them just fine. They have selected their few recent gigs carefully: a well-reviewed set at Salford’s Sacred Trinity church, and more importantly, a star-studded appearance at David Lynch’s exclusive Paris club Silencio appear to have cemented Money’s reputation as the act that hip trendy people want to be seen to like. But what of the substance – whither the music itself?

They specialise in atmospheric, emotive songs of almost indeterminate length, full of portent and innuendo. ‘SOLONG(GODISDEAD)’ (video below), their latest 7” single released on French imprint Almost Musique, weaves gossamer vocals with a droning two-chord rhythm section performance that sounds like it was recorded at the very far end of an enormous cathedral, all the time Jamie Lee emoting like an Alpine cowherd’s morning yawn. Initially completely impenetrable, and even after several listens more of a mood piece than a song, it could be immense, or it could be really dull and not go anywhere at all, depending on one’s mood at the time.

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

That Money are making waves after several name changes and not much more than a year together, indicates that they are doing something right. Whether it’s the vagueness of their promotional material, or some primal human urge to protect such a fragile sound that might collapse at any moment like an under-done soufflé, they are attracting the right attention right now. Whether they can maintain the halos after a gruelling tour of tiny provincial venues, as mere mortal bands are required to do in order to become well-known, remains to be seen.

Despite having been compared to a mellow Manic Street Preachers (surely not their latter incarnation as pious tune-free middle-aged pop-socialists), what Money are most reminiscent of is a young Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Their meandering songs, impenetrable yet vulnerable vocals, and fondness for psychedelic visuals are all shared, as is the vague sense of genuine unease and slight danger. Money add a darker edge, presumably born of one too many rainy Mancunian afternoons, and seem so cavalier with their entire ethos that they might change direction tomorrow. But for now, the dark, experimental sound remains, and for those who want to buy the hippest of hip 7-inchers, spend some money on Money.

Money are scheduled to perform at 20.30 (8:30 PM) on Friday 11th May at Horatios (NME Radar showcase) as part of this year’s Great Escape programming.

 

(Great Escape 2012 flavoured!) Album Review: Grimes – Visions

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Due to unfortunate scheduling conflicts, I never managed to see Grimes perform at SXSW 2012. I do, however, consider myself lucky that I’d seen her perform months before she was signed to 4AD at the start of 2012, albeit it was for an opening set before Lykke Li’s show in May 2011. Claire Boucher and all her previous work had then been completely unknown to me. As this goth pixie with a little girl’s voice and fierce eyebrows readied her electronics, I wondered if she was going to pull a James Blake: I still don’t get the appeal really of Blake, and I get bored dead easy watching most electronic artists because I don’t find their “live” sets interesting enough. There was something oddly charismatic about the slight girl from Montreal; she admitted how nervous she was, yet she definitely knew her way around the synth garden before her. I gave her big props then. And now I want to give her big props now for ‘Visions’, a fully-formed, confident first effort for 4AD straight out of the gate for the Canadian artist.

Music by dance artists should be reviewed in order of the tracks as they’re originally meant to be consumed. ‘Infinite Love Without Fulfillment’ is a minute and a half of driving yet sultry electro, disarmed by Boucher’s electronicised voice; it’s a nice lead in to ‘Genesis’ (free mp3 and performance video here), probably everyone’s first real taste of Grimes. It’s ambient, yet it’s got handclaps. I think Boucher herself realised this conflict, as in the promo video for the single, she has her headphones on, seemingly oblivious to the high school antics going on in the background. For me, that’s what good electronic music does: it transports you somewhere, somewhere otherworldly and unachievable when you listen to even the best singer/songwriter, pop or rock acts. The first real good listen I had of ‘Visions’ as a whole was on a plane ride to California for work last month and I felt like I was cruising comfortably in outer space, thinking that aliens would think we’re pretty cool if they had a listen to this.

‘Oblivion’ is more traditional poppy than the rest of the album. With the words, “And now another clue, I would ask / if you could help me out / it’s hard to understand / ‘cause when you’re really by yourself / it’s hard to find someone to hold your hand”, is she showing how she’s afraid of the dark? Or is this a general commentary on life, on how we don’t know what’s up ahead? Not sure but it’s terribly catchy, with its “la la las” and boppy beat. An industrial effect is used against a high-pitched version of Boucher’s voice (there’s the internal battle of styles again) the brief ‘Eight’. I would have liked to see this teased out to a longer version and preferably with a vocal that could be intelligible throughout, but I’m guessing it was purposely short so to act as a short interlude, like ‘Infinite Love Without Fulfillment’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtH68PJIQLE[/youtube]

Having said that, I don’t think the words throughout ‘Visions’ are intended to give you an earth-shattering reaction and it’s acceptable not to go searching for the lyrics or what they’re ‘supposed’ to mean: it’s the beats and how Boucher has strung them together in many disparate ways. While ‘Circumambient’ is more experimentally wonky and doesn’t hit its stride until the final 1/3 of the song, ‘Vowels = Space and Time’ is as fun as anything by La Roux and manages to be crisp electronically in a way La Roux has never been (and never planned to be, really), and you will moonwalk to its beats. Another low key, almost Oriental interlude in ‘Visiting Statue’, and then the breakdancey ‘Be a Body’ with dreamy vocals and a synth effect that sounds like punctuated accordion chords (watch her performing below on a live video from KEXP).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqR6EolWARE[/youtube]

Then I get to ‘Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus)’ featuring Doldrums and I’m spellbound. The crunching of beats sound like muffled gunshots, and the layered versions of Boucher’s voice fill the track with light, as do the other various percussive effects employed here. Brilliant. You can take or leave ‘Symphonia IX (My Wait is U)’; except for the beats, it’s too Enya for my liking. The album is quickly brought back to life with ‘Nightmusic’ featuring Majical Clouds, which will suck you in, the various Claire Boucher alter egos singing in your ears like cute little birds. This is followed by ‘Skin’, the longest track on ‘Visions’, clocking in at over 6 minutes. The first 3 minutes of this song is as minimal as Grimes ever gets on this album, but Boucher is not content to rest on her laurels; instead, she pulls the vocals around sonically, so much that you can imagine the waves of words swirling around you. It’s not as catchy, but it works. ‘Know the Way’ ends the album with on a surprising note, first beginning with the sound of running water before singular notes sound and dreamy vocals end your sojourn with Grimes languorously. This album feels good pretty much all the way around, and if you’re looking for a good starter album to get into electronic music, this has enough pop crossover appeal not to disappoint. If you’re already an electronic fiend like me, you’ll find a lot to love in ‘Visions’. Well done, Claire. Can’t wait for your next release.

8.5/10

‘Visions’, the first release on 4AD by Grimes, is available now. She will be performing at the M is for Montreal/Brooklyn Vegan showcase at the Great Escape on Friday the 9th of May at Brighton Digital, with a set time of 20.45.

 

Update: The Great Escape 2012

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2012 at 9:00 am
 

Don’t really fancy the unbearable heat of Austin, Texas? Perhaps a great British summer holiday at some kind of seaside resort for your musical holiday needs? Don’t you be looking at Blackpool, don’t peek at Clethorpes and for your own sake, avoid Skeggy at all costs and head on down to Brighton sharpish. Oh and lucky you, you’ve arrived on the week of possibly the UK’s reply to America’s South By Southwest, the Great Escape.

Now while SXSW may be the hippenin’, happenin’ place for new music in America, the Great Escape gives you just as good a line-up, for a far better price, right on your doorstep. (Well, sort of, if you don’t live in Brighton.) With artists like Florence and the Machine and Friendly Fires starting their careers off right on Brighton’s shores, it’s not difficult to see why the Great Escape has such a fantastic reputation in the musical community. Ed Sheeran, Katy B and the Vaccines were all some of the *little* artists to play the festival last year and now, well haven’t you heard, they’ve done quite well for themselves.

This year, the headliners are Maximo Park (Thursday 10 May; pictured above), the Temper Trap (Friday 11 May) and Africa Express Sound System (Saturday 12 May). Lower down the bill up and coming talent from the likes of faux nerd rockers Spector, Camden-based rockers Tribes, as well as established bands like Sheffield’s Crookes and Scots We Were Promised Jetpacks. Newly added artists to the line-up include Scroobius Pip’s buddy Dan le Sac, French Films and We Have Band, who released their new album ‘Ternion’ earlier this year.

So if you fancy some exciting new music on the seaside, then pick up a weekend ticket for the bumper price of just £49.50 or a day pass for substantially less. Visit the Great Escape official Web site for details on tickets.

 

(Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City 2012 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #240: The Big Sleep

 
By on Thursday, 26th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Not to be confused with the chain of hotels, the 1946 Howard Hawks film staring Humphrey Bogart, nor any other act of the same name past or present (yeah, there’s plenty of confusion to be had), the Big Sleep are one of New York’s latest exports and they’re of the dark indie rock variety. Their third album launched in America at the end of January and will be out in Europe at the end of the month, but with a huge UK and European tour coming up to promote it, it seems that the Big Sleep are finally going to be making some waves on the venues and festivals of Britain.

It’s atmospheric, it’s powerful, it’s grungy without being grunge.  They’re more Metric than Sonic Youth, more 2:54 than the xx, but they could fit alongside any of the aforementioned, as long as you’re into dark guitar lines. Their sound to date has been a bit on the rough side, but with years under the belt, it seems the act have steadily tuned into exactly the sound they want to create. The promise that came with the last two LPs has a few months to materialize and with ‘Nature Experiments’, it may well do.

The band are hitting up the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City this year, as well as a host of other UK dates below and there’s no doubt they’ll be bringing a tension-destroying atmosphere with them. In case this still hasn’t sold you, the video for new single ‘Ace’ is also below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yza-e4rjMpQ[/youtube]

Wednesday 2nd May 2012 – Brighton Hope (Great Escape Festival)
Monday 14th May 2012 – Manchester Castle
Tuesday 15th May 2012 – Glasgow Nice ‘n Sleazys
Wednesday 16th May 2012 – London Camden Barfly
Thursday 17th May 2012 – Liverpool Arts Academy (Liverpool Sound City)

 

(Liverpool Sound City 2012!) Album Review: Clock Opera – Ways to Forget

 
By on Tuesday, 24th April 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Clock Opera have appeared from relative obscurity, to produce their debut album ‘Ways To Forget,’ a beautifully crafted record. I think – no, I know – that people are going to enjoy it.

From first listen, Clock Opera most definitely occupy that most odious of genres for me, synthy, indie-poppy, squealy, joyous rubbish. Luckily for them and me, they occupy it, and then completely make it their own. They go from piano solos in songs like ‘Belongings’, sounding like they could have been lifted straight from Elbow’s ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, to jittery soundscapes like in ‘A Piece of String’, where lead singer Guy Connelly does his Guy Garvey impression once again.

First single ‘Belongings’ is a beautifully constructed piece of music: it builds itself to a frenetic conclusion with some truly beautiful piano work then explodes into something brilliant beyond belief. Now, while the record does rely on synths and some electronic composition, it isn’t overwhelmed by such elements. In song ‘Lost Buoys’, the band find a perfect harmony between seamless production and delicate intricacy.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnDqI_F6pnQ[/youtube]

This band have mashed together a lot of sounds and influences on this record. Some bands who try this, for example Animal Collective, are experts at this. Mashups almost always leaves me scratching my head and with an overwhelming sense of confusion, but Clock Opera on this album have got it just right. I feel a bit like Goldilocks tasting the last bowl of porridge after extended listening.

I’ve found an album which goes for it as far as being experimental and creative, doesn’t have a fist-pumping chorus and is quintessentially cool, and at last, I like it. It reminds me of that day I woke up and went ‘Total Life Forever’ by Foals is actually a fantastic album, what kind of crack have I been smoking? I recommend you give this album your time of day, because if you don‘t, well you are doing your ears a disservice. Plus the lead singer sounds like Guy Garvey. How cool is that?

8/10

‘Ways to Forget’, the debut album from Clock Opera, is out now on Island. The band have been confirmed to appear on the TGTF stage at Liverpool Sound City on Friday the 18th of May. More details about the TGTF stage will be released soon.

 
 
 

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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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