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Album Review: Hooton Tennis Club – Big Box of Chocolates

 
By on Tuesday, 8th November 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Hooton Tennis Club Big Box of Chocolates album cover2016 has seen a revival in many genres. One in particular which has been prominent is the ‘60s sound of psychedelic lo-fi pop. The latest band to boost this movement is Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club, with what could potentially be one of the most British band names ever, and their second album ‘Big Box of Chocolates’. Not really straying too far from their debut, 2015’s ‘Highest Point In Cliff Town’, it’s a guitar-driven affair with no real motive to push beyond what they already know.

Now, this isn’t to say it’s not a fun listen. It’s got Scouse swagger, pleasing chord sequences and witty lyricisms aplenty. The proceedings begin with the rumbles of ‘Growing Concerns’, which builds in slowly, led by the same stomping drums that start the affair. As the guitars swirl in and out, it carries along until seemingly falling away. It’s when ‘Bootcut Jimmy the G’ kicks in that the party begins. More up tempo, it playfully describes a character who’s a loser, a genius and a ‘g’. It goes from its strutting chorus to a stomping verse, doing so with complete style and conviction.

We see them delve into the classic songwriting realm of heartbreak with ‘Bad Dream (Breakdown on St. George’s Mount)’. Still utilising that aforementioned strutting sound, it goes through the nightmare of losing a girl becoming a reality. During the breakdown, spoken word is used, though it’s level in the overall mix is too low to truly understand what’s being said. This is a shame because this technique can usually bring more understanding and meaning to a track with a more focused and centralised view. This is something which is a recurring structure throughout the album and suits the style of both the band and album well.

Northern soul makes an appearance on ‘Sit Like Ravi’, a track that talks about making someone you love “happy, make that someone smile, you have the time and the right things to say”. The track is accentuated by the licks and riffs that follow it that give it an extra edge, taking the slow and soulful and partnering it with sharp, focused rips through the tranquillity. It truly doesn’t take off more the further the album goes. ‘Katy-Anne Bellis’ is essentially an agglomeration of all the above tracks, just with a more pleasing melodic sound. ‘O Man, Won’t You Melt Me?’ follows this pattern but somehow manages to stand out above the rest. It feels honest and has a certain charm the latter tracks just don’t. An easy, radio-friendly song, it’s Hooton Tennis Club doing their thing but with a more natural approach.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w95AhKZOQxA[/youtube]

‘Statue of the Greatest Woman I Know’ is a thunderous next step on from the prior track, though its leading riff sounds like a discarded Parquet Courts track, which is not necessarily a negative thing. They both have the calculated attack that sits above the rest of the instrumentation and leads proceedings. ‘Meet Me at the Molly Bench’ is a revert back to the above standard, basic Hooton Tennis Club protocol, just with added bicycle bell rings at sporadic points throughout, which in all honesty gets to be rather grating.

At this point, the final quarter of the album, you kind of see that nothing’s going to come out of left field and surprise you. This is an album that is meant to be enjoyed. And it has that ability. Just wait for ‘Lazers Linda’, which has an inordinate amount of, you guessed it, laser sounds. You can’t go into this album in the hope of finding some deeper meaning or notions written between the lines. It’s the kind of album that can be put on and left to its own devices, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed out on much.

6/10

‘Big Box of Chocolates’, the second LP from Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club, is out now on Heavenly Recordings. Watch the trailer for the album below. They’re currently in the midst of a UK tour, dates of which are listed on their Facebook. For more of TGTF’s coverage of the band, use this link.

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

 

Video of the Moment #2196: Hooton Tennis Club

 
By on Friday, 30th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Liverpool slackers Hooton Tennis Club are gearing up to release their sophomore album next month. The follow-up to 2015’s ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’, ‘Big Box of Chocolates’ will see the light of day on the 21st of October on Heavenly Recordings. ‘Kate-Anne Bellis’, a track taken from the upcoming album, is an ode to real-life ex-flatmate of frontman / guitarist Ryan Murphy. Of the track, he says, “She’d lived in the house for 1 year and 3 months. It’s just a mushy song about moving house and staying in touch”. The actual video that accompanies the track is a throwback to the Flower Power days, with loads of flowers, bright colours and a relaxed guitar vibe. To read more of our coverage on Hooton Tennis Club, including my review of their 2015 debut album that is available now, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w95AhKZOQxA[/youtube]

 

Kendal Calling 2016 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 10th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

In the process of researching for this review (by which I mean spending lots of time in various sunny fields listening to a lot of excellent music and chatting to a lot of talented people), I found myself face-to-face with Andy Smith, a founder of and head honcho at Kendal Calling. Considering the number of priceless moments his event has provided me with over the years – countless superb bands seen; friends, belongings, and marbles found, lost, and then found again; memorable impromptu jams and karaoke sessions – one would hope to do better in summing the whole deal up with a blokey “Cool festival, man.”

So, here is my homage to Kendal Calling, and considering I have more time to prepare it, I shall attempt to be more fulsome than the above. 2016 was the safest, most grown up version of Kendal Calling yet, and though there is plenty I miss about what was subtly different to previous years, all things considered this was the best installment yet. Apart from a shower early on the Thursday, the sun shone consistently throughout the weekend, which makes an enormous difference to one’s perception and enjoyment of a festival. Speaking of Thursday, I can remember when the evening’s entertainment for those hardy souls who volunteered for a pre-festival night’s camping was a bonfire and vintage clothing stall. Not so of late, and it fell to The Charlatans to close the main stage on Thursday. Surely one of the most well-known bands in Britain, the survivors of the baggy scene do make a delightful, funky racket, and if familiarity has dampened their ability to seem truly special, their sheer exuberance, not to mention liberal applications of Hammond organ, always makes them a compelling watch.

There’s more to Thursday night than the main stage anyway. After hours, the Chai Wallahs tent takes the strain of thousands of people looking to start their weekend with a bang. I’d managed to misplace the new campsite friends I’d only known a few hours, leaving them to buy beer only to realise that it’s impossible to find anyone again at Kendal if you’re actually looking for them. Best to go with the flow, meet people who fate wants you to meet, and take it from there. I remember speaking to a couple of guys who’d come up from Brighton, pretty much the farthest distance it’s possible to travel from on the mainland, and proof of Kendal’s nationwide reach. In true get-it-out-of-your-system style, late Thursday evening was spent mooching around various camps, joining in impromptu singalongs, mostly of songs written by a certain Mr Gallagher

Kendal Calling 2016 - Too Many Ts-7915

None of which shenanigans prevents a large crowd gathering first thing in the afternoon for the lively flow of Too Many T’s. I’m personally not sure where these guys have sprung from all of a sudden, but they seem to be all over the place, with a brand of witty hip-pop that’s perfect for an afternoon at a festival. They’ve got a lot of decent tunes that don’t seem to have appeared on record yet. Come on lads, you could have some hits on your hands!

Kendal Calling 2016 - The Big Moon-7964

One of the enormous pleasures of Kendal Calling is the undercard in the Calling Out tent, or what should actually be called the New Favourite Bands tent. The Big Moon are four girls from London who make a brilliant racket, perfectly poised between sweetly innocent melodies and flip-the-bird punkiness. There’s such hooks here that even on the first listen to something like ‘Cupid’, it’s impossible not to sing along in raucous joy. Brilliant stuff. And so to our first band of the day that have actually released an album. Hooton Tennis Club betray their Merseyside origins with lazy yet rock-steady beats, some lovely discordant guitar work and jaunty lyrics. Like early Blur crossed with the Lemonheads. And they’ve got an amazingly enthusiastic bass player. Who doesn’t want that?

Kendal Calling 2016 - Hooton Tennis Club-8024

Manchester’s Gideon Conn was a highlight of my festival last year, and he’s back this with a longer set, except he doesn’t seem to know he’s actually got a full hour to showcase his delicately funky looped observational pieces, so his set climaxes about 15 minutes too early. No matter, because all the ingredients are still present and correct. His wordplay is second to none, and despite the sparse arrangements (keyboard, guitar, occasionally at the same time) he really can get a crowd going. Particularly when he ventures over the barrier and sings amongst the crowd. This year he ended up on someone’s shoulders in a particularly wobbly-looking shoulder lift. At least some random out of the crowd didn’t get hold of the microphone again. Despite the confusion there’s still nothing quite like a Gideon Conn set. Or Gideon Conn, for that matter – one is quite enough for this world.

Kendal Calling 2016 - Gideon Conn-8031

Catfish and the Bottlemen are astonishingly popular. I was told countless times by people that they’d bought tickets simply on the strength of their appearance. Van McCann’s words from my chat with him at Kendal a couple of years ago were still ringing in my ears: “I want to be bigger than Oasis.” Well, second on the bill here when Noel himself is headlining (a different day, but still) means that he’s still on the perfect trajectory to achieve his dream. It is difficult to objectively understand exactly what it is that Catfish do that countless bands that have gone before haven’t managed. Perhaps it simply comes down to the charisma of the frontman, because despite how well the songs work on a stage and with a crowd as big as they were blessed with here, what they’re peddling really isn’t anything new. But fair play to them – what next? Breaking America? [Something Oasis never did, did they? – Ed.]

Kendal Calling 2016 - Catfish 2-7290050

Rudimental put on a good show. They’re a big dance band, totally professional, and remind me of Basement Jaxx‘s set on the Friday a couple of years ago. It’s really what the first night of a festival needs: big beats, big tunes, more of which you recognise than you might think, and a really good show. So you wouldn’t think it’s possible for an act to follow that? Step forward the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, led by violinist Joe Broughton. Who, if they haven’t got the prize for the most number of folk musicians on a single stage, really do deserve an honourable mention. A performance of the most remarkable power, primarily down to the sober dedication of the players – faced with a midnight crowd of hyped-up revellers, no mean feat. Their repertoire is varied, but it’s when they really let rip that their true power is unveiled. Bows fly unhinged across strings, a cajon is thwacked within an inch of its life, even the harp player throws a few shapes. There are even a couple of electric guitarists hidden in the middle somewhere, completely disguised by the swarm of instruments around them. This is traditional folk given an enormous shot in the arm. Exactly what it needs. A truly remarkable experience.

Kendal Calling 2016 - Conservertoire Folk Ensemble-7290060

 

Album Review: Hooton Tennis Club – Highest Point in Cliff Town

 
By on Tuesday, 25th August 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Hooton Tennis Club Highest Point in Cliff Town album coverThe North West has always had an understandably strong sense of pride when it comes to churning out quality rock bands. Hooton Tennis Club, while still relative newcomers in the early days of their career in the industry, are of particular pride: they were one of the first signings to local Edge Hill University’s not-for-profit record label The Label Recordings, which I expect to have an important nurturing hand in the cultivation of young new groups from the region for years to come.

The band from Chester then went on in autumn 2015 to get signed to Heavenly Recordings, currently the label home of such artists we’ve featured here on TGTF such as Doves’ frontman Jimi Goodwin, Stealing Sheep, Temples and The Wytches. Not bad for a group who in a previous incarnation were merely a Supergrass covers band. This Friday, the lo-fi band – their members known by the extremely short and snappy names Khal, Haz, J. Dean and Uncle Ry – will be releasing their debut album ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’, recorded at Liverpool’s famed Parr Street Studios under the tutelage of childhood friend Bill Ryder-Jones.

Most folks’ first exposure to Hooton Tennis Club was their early single ‘Jasper’. Probably the best adjective to describe this song – and indeed, this album as a whole – is ‘easy’. Is their sound indicative of slacker laziness, or just a full-scale embracing of a slower way of life that we should contemplate further on? There were times when I was listening to this LP that I thought of The Beach Boys’ earlier, sunnier, more innocent pop leanings, especially recent 6 Music fixture ‘Kathleen Sat on the Arm of Her Favourite Chair’: “out on Market Hill, I get by with a couple of friends / and even if you’re lonely, maybe we could go for a walk in the park / or maybe go swimming? / I hope we don’t drown.” It was written in Ryder-Jones’ mum’s house, keeping on with that theme of innocence.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrY0A_69yu0[/youtube]

On the other side of the spectrum is upcoming single ‘P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L. P.I.E.R.R.E.’, also to be released on Friday. With its discordant, squealing guitars, it isn’t too hard to imagine the band with Ryder-Jones having a whale of a time recording it in the studio. (The animated promo video above also gives you the sense that this tune probably sounds better to stoners.) You get the same kind of feeling from LP opener ‘Up in the Air’, a lazy float down a garage pop song, punctuated with a “whoo!” at the end. Melodic guitars strum languidly by in ‘Something Much Quicker Than Anything Jennifer Could Imagine’ and ‘…And Then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots on Her Knee’. Like text speak? Have a gander at the titles for ‘Always Coming Back 2 You’ and ‘Fall in Luv’ (groan).

This isn’t earth-shattering, genre-bending, experimental music. But if the popularity of Courtney Barnett, Mac DeMarco and Happyness is anything to go by, Hooton Tennis Club will do just fine.

6/10

‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’, Hooton Tennis Club’s debut album effort, will be released this Friday, the 28th of August, on Heavenly Recordings. You can listen to the band in session and chatting with Lauren Laverne last week on BBC 6 Music here; they’ll be on tour in the UK in October and November. For all things Hooton Tennis Club on TGTF, head this way.

 

Hooton Tennis Club / October and November 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 7th July 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Liverpool indie rockers Hooton Tennis Club will embark on a lengthy UK headline tour this autumn, following a busy summer of scheduled festival appearances including Tramlines, Green Man Festival and Festival No. 6.  The band’s debut LP ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’ is due out on the 28th of August via Heavenly Recordings.  Their current BBC 6 Music A-listed single, ‘Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair’ is streaming just below the tour date listing.

Tickets for the following headline dates are on sale now.  Previous TGTF coverage of Hooton Tennis Club is right back here.

Monday 19th October 2015 – Bristol Louisiana
Tuesday 20th October 2015 – Guildford Boiler Room
Wednesday 21st October 2015 – Bedford Esquires
Thursday 22nd October 2015 – Stoke Sugarmill
Friday 23rd October 2015 – Newcastle Think Tank
Saturday 24th October 2015 – Nottingham Chameleon
Sunday 25th October 2015 – Tunbridge Wells Forum
Monday 26th October 2015 – Southampton Joiners
Tuesday 27th October 2015 – Brighton Green Door
Wednesday 28th October 2015 – Birmingham Hare and Hounds
Thursday 29th October 2015 – London Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
Friday 30th October 2015 – Manchester Soup Kitchen
Saturday 31st October 2015 – Glasgow Glad Café
Sunday 1st November 2015 – Leeds Brudenell Games Room
Monday 2nd November 2015 – York Duchess
Tuesday 3rd November 2015 – Hull Adelphi
Wednesday 4th November 2015 – Sheffield Harley

 

Video of the Moment #1815: Hooton Tennis Club

 
By on Monday, 1st June 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Continuing on from the excellent feedback of their debut single ‘Jasper’ earlier this year, Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club have released detailed on their upcoming debut album. ‘Highest Point in Cliff Town’ will drop the 28th on August 2015 on Heavenly Recordings.

And they’ve offered up a taster ahead of the LP. The promo of ‘Kathleen Sat on the Arm of Her Favourite Chair’ is a mishmash of clips of the band playing live and clowning around on their touring travels. Watch it below. Past coverage of Hooton Tennis Club on TGTF is this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqZ8i53CmEI[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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