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2018 – Still Want to Be Here

 
By on Monday, 24th December 2018 at 11:00 am
 

How have you been getting on? From our stats, most of our readers are either from America, somewhere in the UK or the Continent. That means you’ve probably been paying close attention to the shenanigans of our President and the wrangling between Parliament and the EU. This time of year 2 years ago, I wrote about the Brexit vote; so I won’t write further on the subject now. It seems since I switched over from the ‘best of’ year-end post, there’s only been more and more uncertainty. As I discussed with a friend a few days ago, as the earth enters its time to regenerate, it’s a time for reflection and introspection. 2019 will also be a year of change here at TGTF. More on that in the coming weeks.

2018 was another year of difficult losses in the music world. Troubled Swedish musician and DJ Avicii lost his battle with substance abuse. Irish vocal heroine Dolores O’Riordan, famed as the lead singer of the Cranberries, passed away after a long battle with mental illness. Another strong woman with superhuman singing talent, the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, passed away in the summer. The loss of Roy Clark, an American icon of country music, was mourned across America. Like bookends, two influential Lancastrian legends of rock, Mark E. Smith and Pete Shelley, left us in January and December, respectively.

As I understand from more friends than I can count, the most difficult passing of this year was Frightened Rabbit leader Scott Hutchison. Having gone missing one evening in May, we all hoped he would be found safe and sound. Some friends have told me that we should have done more, that we should have known that Scott would have tried to take his life, that ‘Floating in the Forth’ was a hint, a blueprint we should have heeded. As I’ve written before in this piece about the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and in other posts, mental illness is insidious and the pain from it that drives people to end their lives can’t be for nothing.

Since Scott’s passing, I had the opportunity to visit Glasgow twice. Just days after his death, I paid my respects to Michael Corr’s stirring mural made in his honour. In all the conversations I’ve had with friends about Scott’s legacy, the one thing we all soundly agreed on was that it’s becoming easier for musicians to talk about their mental health struggles. That can only be a good thing.

I want to leave you with a holiday video from Gurr and Eddie Argos (Art Brut) I wish you regular readers, musicians, bands, management and PR a happy Christmas, wonderful holidays, and a successful and prosperous new year. See you in 2019!

 

(Holiday!) Video of the Moment #2762: Paul Thomas Saunders

 
By on Friday, 22nd December 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

I thought we could all use a bit of levity this holiday season, especially for us Americans who have had to gape in horror at what our government is doing. Singer/songwriter Paul Thomas Saunders now has a new single out that’s perfect for this time of year, ‘Christmas, the Sequel’. I like a musician who has goals, and Saunders’ goal with this latest tune is to lay the ground work for what he’d like to do, if someone just gives him enough money: to make a true Christmas apocalypse film. (For some reason, I thought Shaun of the Dead was a Christmas film, but I had to check in Wikipedia to confirm that wasn’t the case. Too bad.) Here’s the man in his own words:

I’m a big Christmas movie fan, but every time the festive season comes around I feel that there’s a giant black-hole of a gap in the market. The Christmas apocalypse movie. No-one would give me the desired budget to make said Christmas apocalypse movie, so this year, the world will have to make do with just the theme tune. I was going for one-part ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, one-part ‘The Road’ – however, it may just be somewhere in the middle of ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ and ‘Armageddon’. Oh Well.

While the song might not be as light as we could use, the video directed by Elliot Tatler is amusing, and the lyrics “help the new year to its feet” couldn’t be better timed. If you’ve had a bad 2018 – or indeed, your country has as a whole – remember, we can come back from the sleepy holidays with intention and purpose on the 1st of January. I know I will.

 

(Charity / Holiday!) Single Review: Tristen – Crying on Christmas Day

 
By on Thursday, 21st December 2017 at 10:00 am
 

Nashville singer/songwriter Tristen has followed the July release of her third studio album ‘Sneaker Waves’ with a new Christmas single, to benefit charity organisation Doctors Without Borders. In sharp contrast to the contrived warmth and commercialised cheer of many Christmas singles, ‘Crying on Christmas Day’ is a rather disconsolate affair, delicately introspective and forlornly disillusioned by the disconnect between human actions and our professed desire for peace on earth.

The wistfully repeating verse/chorus refrains of ‘Crying on Christmas Day’ are framed by a pair of austere and distant poetic couplets. Tristen’s vocal delivery is softspoken and sweetly sad as she delivers her ethereal opening lines “from the dawn the angels cried a sacred song / passing on the sounds of love through ancient tears”. From there, the narrative tumbles forth over a gently insistent acoustic guitar figure, even as its central lyrical question, “does it feel all right crying on Christmas day?”, is obscured in a mysteriously evasive harmonic progression. The singer makes no attempt to provide musical resolution to her sobering existential observation, but she does provide her listeners with a practical way to resolve their own holiday angst.

Visit Tristen’s Bandcamp page to download ‘Crying on Christmas Day’, either for yourself or as a gift to someone else. All proceeds from sales of the single will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. Her latest LP ‘Sneaker Waves’ is out now on American indie label Modern Outsider. We at TGTF have covered Tristen in live performance, supporting Irish band Bell X1.

 

(Holiday!) Video of the Moment #2758: Elbow

 
By on Friday, 15th December 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Mancunian alt-rock stalwarts Elbow have just unveiled a new video for their cover of The Beatles tune ‘Golden Slumbers’, which, if you’re on the UK side of the pond, you might already have heard in the recent John Lewis Christmas advert. Despite its obvious commercial angle, the video treatment in this promo gives a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the advert, while somehow managing not to dispel any of its cleverly-crafted holiday magic.

‘Golden Slumbers’ features on the Northern group’s new double-LP compilation ‘The Best Of’, which also contains a collection of the Manchester band’s favourite tracks from across their 20-year history. Outfitted as a bonus track on the record, ‘Golden Slumbers’ fits beautifully into Guy Garvey’s warm tenor voice, and Elbow’s rendition is a warm and comforting addition to the holiday canon.

Elbow are currently taking a holiday break from their extensive tour in support of 2017 LP ‘Little Fictions’, which was released back in February. A full listing of Elbow’s 2018 live dates can be found on their official Web site. Editor Mary’s review of their recent Washington, D.C. show is right back here, and our full previous coverage of Elbow is collected through here.

 

(Holiday!) Video of the Moment #2256: PINS

 
By on Friday, 23rd December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Manchester’s PINS aren’t known for their softer side. No, the Northern girl group is more likely to give you a swift kick in the behind through their loud, unapologetic punk style. So it’s with some surprise – to me, anyway – that they have offered up their own Christmas single, available now exclusively through Amazon Music as an original entry to the online retailer’s ‘Indie for the Holidays’ collection. The promo video for ‘Come on Home (It’s Christmas)’ is a self-made, lo-fi affair, featuring backstage clips and a walk through a Christmas market (I’m assuming Manchester’s own). The song itself is a engaging blend of the girls’ harmonies and festive chimes. Check it out below. For more on PINS on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzwuBr-Uw1E[/youtube]

 

2016 – Where Are We Now? And Where Are We Going?

 
By on Friday, 23rd December 2016 at 11:00 am
 

I saw an ‘interesting’ Christmas card on a friend’s office door earlier this week. The sentiment inside the card referred to the “tumultuous” year we’ve had, with an additional note about looking forward to better things in 2017. To be honest, given the sheer volume of craziness in the last 12 months, it seemed an irresponsible act of a music editor to post her top albums and shows of the year, as if 2016 was like any other year in the past. This article to close out the year is not meant to be a scathing assessment of what has happened. Instead, the words below are meant to encourage reflection during this holiday season, during that usually otherwise ‘sweet spot’ of festive days before we say goodbye to the current year and usher in a new one.

The passing of David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen and countless other luminaries in the music world
A mathematician would argue that given the law of averages and the passage of time, for every year that passes, we’re going to lose more of our favourite artists. That makes sense, right? But 2016 saw the passing of what seemed to be the most ridiculous number of singers and musicians in popular music ever. Just ask @PigeonJon.

Votes for Brexit (warning, about to get partisan)
Politically, 2016 delivered a one-two punch to the idealistic types in Britain and America. The majority of blighty voted to leave the EU, opening the door to Brexit becoming a reality sooner than later. As most/all of you know, I don’t live in and never have lived in Britain, so it might sound strange for an American to come out so negatively against a political decision made on British shores. If you were like me and studied any sort of isolationism policy in history class in school, you know what happens when a single major country in the world tries to cut itself out of the business matters of the rest of the world.

To paraphrase the many thoughts in my head, just consider this one point with respect to the British music industry: if bands cannot afford the travel and visa costs to leave Britain and enter another European country (seriously, just forget America for the sake of this argument), they’ve lost out on a major revenue stream, not to mention the priceless exposure they would get from the touring opportunity. I’ve considered the fact that for us Americans, it may well become de rigueur to travel to the UK to see our favourite British bands or else never see them live ever again.

That’s the most fatalistic vision of the future, but it could become very real. As we all know, for most bands, touring is their bread and butter and let’s face it, the future looks bleak. As for our president elect (I can’t even bring myself to type out his name), I have contemplated too many times what havoc he could wreak on the entire world, so I’m just going to leave that there.

Skepta winning the 2016 Mercury Prize (finally, some positivity!)
I won’t repeat what I wrote in September following grime’s huge victory at the annual awarding of the Mercury Prize, you can read that here. What I will say is, it feels like we’re all stood on top of a massive tectonic plate and have been doing so all year, and the earth is shifting beneath us. Change has come and will continue coming. There will be major losses, but there will also be major gains. We needed a win for humanity this year, and Skepta’s win – and one of his sources of inspiration, his very excited mum! – was a bright spot amid the repeated, seemingly unrelenting sorrows we were faced with this year.

Things aren’t ever going to be the same, and we can’t expect them to be so. But we won’t be downtrodden forever. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Thebes wasn’t destroyed in a day either. We can use this time during the holidays for quiet reflection and remind ourselves that even in darkness, we can think, plan and act. Please, please remember that.

I will leave you with some lyrics from the ‘on hiatus’ Keane that I’ve turned to many times this year. I needed them to keep me going, to remind myself that not all hope was lost. Hope is always there. Just sometimes you need to dig deeper in yourself to find it.

“I’ve been knocked down but I won’t be broken, I won’t be broken
My spirit’s reeling, but my arms are open, I won’t be broken”

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ls-aqMVACxg[/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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