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Album Review: Various artists – Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014

 
By on Monday, 14th April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Fierce Panda Records may be famously noted by pedants of the British music business as being the label that launched the careers of Coldplay and Keane, but if that was all to the label, it wouldn’t be still standing. It’s hard for me to fathom that here we are in the year 2014, and Fierce Panda has been in business for 2 decades. The London indie label has championed the little guy and released so much great music in the last 20 years, it would take me far too long to go through their storied history than there is space on our humble Web site. Instead, I’m going to focus on a new 18-track compilation the label is offering up for free with any record purchase from their online shop.

The LP’s title ‘Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014’ is innocuous enough, not at all telling of its contents when, in fact, it is a careful selection of, oddly, the saddest songs from their back catalogue of the last 10 years. I say oddly, because celebrating and (surviving) 20 years in anything these days is cause for celebration, surely? However, despite being advertised by the label themselves as “some of the weepiest tunes it has had the tragic pleasure to put out over the past ten years”, you should be more impressed by the quality of the music not to slit your wrists. Hopefully, anyway. Maybe the whole ‘sad song’ is meant to be cheeky, now that I think about it.

‘Endangered’ does not rely solely on sob story, folky singer/songwriter types and in so doing, shows the breadth of Fierce Panda’s roster. But let’s first examine the more obvious sad songs. Danish girl/boy duo The Raveonettes‘ ‘Last Dance’ is innocent and twee, and Canadians Woodpigeon‘s ‘The Saddest Music in the World’ that opens the album is similar, but with added Simon and Garfunkel influence. Los Angeles quintet Milo Greene‘s harmonies shine on the Biblical leaning ‘Son My Son’, while the voice and songwriting of Tom Hickox, already being compared to Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave’s, haunts with desolation on ‘Let Me Be Your Lover’, with sombre piano and then added strings and horns.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLGd50B16Ck[/youtube]

The more bombastic numbers in this collection include the now-on-hiatus Walkmen and their optimistic (or delusional?) ‘In the New Year’, the slow burning Acres of Lions‘ ‘Collections’, Hatcham Social‘s rich guitars in ‘Sidewalk’ and Dingus Khan‘s whistle-filled ‘Made a List’; the latter’s inclusion in particular surprised me, but it just goes to show that even if you’re looking rough and tumble on the outside, you can still feel sadness inside. The sonic beauty of Ultrasound‘s ‘Sovereign’ is marred, presumably on purpose, by the repetition of the lyric “we are unclean” and the business of sex and sin, all wailed by singer Andrew “Tiny” Wood. The same can be said for tracks that include synths or twinkly keys: ‘They All Laughed’ by the Spinto Band sounds cheerful in a music box sort of way but it veils, not very well, the disgust he has for a former love, while the psychedelic feelings that Hey Sholay‘s ‘The Bears The Clocks The Bees’ engenders are appropriate for a song about confusion in a relationship.

It should also noted that sadness can also come out of mind games, craving someone else or the deepest regret. The industrial Nine Inch Nail-sey sound of Department M‘s ‘J-Hop’ (stream above) comes with the element of desire with its sensual lyrics, “we ply / by the logic of the reasoned minds / and one last time I’ll come to your body / what do you need?” The genius behind Art Brut‘s ‘Rusted Guns of Milan’ is Eddie Argos’ admittance, in his usual funny way, that he’s messed up in a relationship and he wants a second chance. Meanwhile, a similar request for a second chance is captured in a brilliant snapshot in ‘Last Decade’ by Goldheart Assembly (video below), showing a man’s final moments, first desperate to reconcile with a lover but then resigning to his fate: “but you know I’d go back, but there is no way…” I Like Trains‘ ‘A Rook House for Bobby’ I’m guessing is named for chess champion and famed recluse Bobby Fischer, using his hermit existence as a metaphor for how love can cause depression. The self-deprecation and admittance of weakness in the little girl voice of Melanie Pain in ‘How Bad Can It Be’ is, no pun intended, painful: “everyone knows I won’t change / everyone knows love is not my game / everyone know who I am / everyone but you.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE667lCVBDA[/youtube]

Additional Panda melancholy comes courtesy of Sheffield in the form of two exemplary tracks. A man’s exasperation over his lover’s worry about losing him is made all too real in Tom Hogg’s expressive vocals with his bandmates’ gorgeously crooning backing in ‘Would You Be Blue’ by the Hosts (stream below) from this year’s debut album from them, ‘Softly, Softly’. Meanwhile, the loneliness of the protagonist of The Crookes ‘Howl’ from ‘Soapbox’ released today is haunted by the memory of another’s love, as George Waite’s voice is alternately dreamy and contemplative in the romance of song-induced candlelight: “and there’s no time, only light / no clocks, but shadows that hide the point when day becomes night / it’s hard to tell with these skies… I heard the howl, I love you but you keep me down.”

I think those two songs tell the ‘sad song story’ of Fierce Panda’s last 10 years the best, and why? Sad songs, like love songs, are often misunderstood. Emotions like sadness, loneliness and indeed, even love are like jewels. Whether they mean to or not, the people who gloss over emotion don’t seem to understand that they aren’t one-dimensional but instead multi-faceted, with dull and lifeless versus bright and sharp faces and something new to discover upon each listen. As a collection of the ‘sad song’ genre, ‘Endangered’ is a great introduction to the many wonderful artists on the Fierce Panda roster, and I can’t imagine you won’t find at least one song that will make you feel something deep in your heart.

7.5/10

You can get ‘Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014’ now for free if you order any album from the Fierce Panda online shop here. For more information on the bands signed to Fierce Panda, those included in this collection and those not, visit the label’s official Web site. For a limited time, you can get another eight-track song sampler (not all sad songs!); more details in this previous MP3(s) of the Day post.

 

Live at Leeds 2012: Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 24th May 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

With the festival season beckoning, the seasonal weather up north has brightened up as some of the brightest upcoming stars look to start their summer crawl on Saturday the 5th of May at Live at Leeds, the same weekend as Camden Crawl and ahead of other upcoming major city festivals. With this 1-day line-up arguably looking stronger than the London weekend this year, it’s difficult to see why you wouldn’t drop up for the day, especially with so many bustling venues in the Leeds city centre within a short walking distance.

Beginning TGTF’s day in the city are Manchester dance band Swiss Lips. Whilst the venue may be difficult to navigate, that may be because it’s rammed in the early afternoon. With indie hit ‘U Got the Power’ having given them some heat, the crowd stay for their infectious breed of ‘sexy pop’ and the band are sure to make some friends with their upcoming debut record.

After this, it’s the atmospheric, but not hugely entertaining iLikeTrains at the O2 Academy. Later, Niki and the Dove also suffer the same fate with a great sound that’s not really matched up front in entertainment. Luckily, there’s so much to see at Live at Leeds that you can never be bored for long. Opening up the Met Uni are Bastille. Their recent mixtape has proved popular with the hundreds that have quickly assembled, and away from their own electropop, the tender vocals of Bastille are the highlight, especially in the cover of City High’s ‘What Would You Do’.

Back at the O2 Academy, Spector flounce about the stage with overly polished indie rock. There’s potential here but the act never really materialises to greater things in the songs, being much more annoying than hoped in the process. This leads to TGTF seeing the end of a powerful Dan Mangan set in Holy Trinity Church followed by a packed show from Lucy Rose. The young singer/songwriter’s music fits perfectly in these surroundings and even the more energetic songs such as ‘Red Face’ sound fitting to her increasingly confident set. With a band behind her, Rose has depth to match her stunning voice and the crowd agree, shh-ing anyone that talks, even in between songs. There’s a muted singalong early on to ‘Middle of the Bed’ and throughout the set there’s a real quality to Lucy Rose’s set that shines in this church. As soon as it starts though, it seems to be over and it’s quickly down to the Cockpit for part one of tonight’s two headliners.

With Ladyhawke making her return to the UK with album two, Lianne La Havas stepping up to the headline mark left by Marina and the Diamonds, there’s a lot of talent on display across the headliners of the festival. TGTF’s route is one of a blend of safety and guaranteed fun in the form of the Subways, followed by Scroobius Pip. First up, the Subways rock out a venue half the size of their most recent tour, making the room sweatier than a sauna and more energetic up-front than most football teams. Blending tracks from all three of their diverse records, noughties classics ‘Rock and Roll Queen’ and “Oh Yeah” fit in with the likes of ‘Shake Shake’ and new single ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ as ‘It’s A Party’ turns lead singer Billy Lunn’s trademark stage dive into a venue-long crowdsurf to the back, up onto the sound-desk and then a dive from 10 feet back down and towards the stage (did you follow that, we nearly didn’t). The man’s got balls, and the Subways still rock.

Closing the night with a set starting long past 11, Scroobius Pip executes a well thought out and powerful set of his solo material to the underground venue. Even without B Dolan by his side on tour, Pip’s tracks have venom and everyone present joins in with every lyric from last year’s record. There’s crowd surfing, huge men bashing each other about and one man with an MCA-stolen VW badge on his necklace up front leading the events. It’s a fitting way to end the night, and TGTF can’t help but feel that the right decisions were made. It’s going to be a bright summer for so many of the artists on the bill at Live at Leeds, there’s no doubt about that, but definitely watch out for the likes of Lucy Rose and Swiss Lips, and by no means underestimate those who’ve been around the block.

 

Video of the Moment #496: I Like Trains

 
By on Wednesday, 8th June 2011 at 6:00 pm
 

I Like Trains will be releasing a new 10″ on the 11th of July called ‘Sirens’, from their 2010 album ‘He Who Saw the Deep’; the promo video for the song is below. Your eyes are assaulted by dozens of images, but what is this video really about? Tell us what you think in the comments.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nmku5dbaHNI[/youtube]

 

(Holiday) MP3 of the Day #275: I Like Trains

 
By on Tuesday, 21st December 2010 at 10:00 am
 

The other night my mates and I walked through the door of the pub and what was playing on the PA? Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ of course. (I groaned inwardly as I made my way swiftly to the bar for a pint of Harp.) If you’re like me and looking for something a bit different this holiday season, have a listen and download I Like Trains‘ cover of the song below. After too much holiday brew, it’s a very chill and welcome number to listen to.

MP3: I Like Trains – Last Christmas (Wham! cover)

[audio:https://www.theregoesthefear.com/uploads/2010/12/ILT_Last_Christmas.mp3]
 

I Like Trains / February and March 2011 English Tour

 
By on Monday, 20th December 2010 at 9:00 am
 

Leeds-based alt-rock band I Like Trains will be touring England in February 2011 and will also play a one-off XFM show in March at London’s Camden Barfly. Support for all dates in February will be from Napoleon IIIrd.

Wednesday 2nd Feb 2011 – Brighton Hope
Thursday 3rd Feb 2011 – Bath Moles
Saturday 5th Feb 2011 – Norwich Arts Centre
Sunday 6th Feb 2011 – Oxford Jericho
Monday 7th Feb 2011 – Nottingham Bodega
Wednesday 9th Feb 2011 – Sheffield Fusion
Thursday 10th Feb 2011 – Liverpool Shipping Forecast
Friday 11th Feb 2011 – York Duchess
Thursday 10th March 2011 – London Camden Barfly (XFM show)

 

I Like Trains / October 2009 UK Tour

 
By on Friday, 9th October 2009 at 12:00 pm
 

I Like Trains have confirmed a string of UK shows around the UK starting next month.

Catch the Leeds based band at the below dates:

Wednesday 14th October 2009 – Liverpool, Barfly
Thursday 15th October 2009 – Manchester, Deaf Institute
Friday 16th October 2009 – Leeds, Cockpit
Saturday 17th October 2009 – Glasgow, King Tuts
Monday 19th October 2009 – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
Tuesday 20th October 2009 – Bristol, Cooler
Wednesday 21st October 2009 – Oxford, Bullingdon Arms
Thursday 22nd October 2009 – London, The Garage
Friday 23rd October 2009 – Birmingham, Hare and Hounds
Saturday 24th October 2009 – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms

 
 
 

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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