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In the Post #163: Ben Howard follows his ‘Noonday Dream’ with three new tracks, including a surprise collaboration with alt-pop duo Sylvan Esso

 
By on Tuesday, 25th September 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Summer may be drawing to a close, but reminiscences of warm and sunny days are still fresh in our collective memory. With this in mind, singer/songwriter Ben Howard has just released a handful of new singles hot on the heels of his summer LP ‘Noonday Dream’, which was released back in June. As often happens, the recording sessions for the album were overly prolific, but in a fortunate sort of way. Howard himself says, “The recording sessions for ‘Noonday Dream’ were so varied and over quite a period of time. There were little gems that we didn’t know what to do with, but it felt right to put these three together, both separate and a part of the album, so to speak.”

One of those so-called gems is a surprise collaboration between Howard and American electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso. Called ‘Hot Heavy Summer’, the track does indeed feel tangentially related to the ephemeral vignettes on ‘Noonday Dream’. The addition of Amelia Meath’s backing vocals keeps the soundscape brighter and more buoyant than the title might imply, while the rounded hollow of the percussion beat lends a very definite substance to Howard’s otherwise evanescent arrangement. Apropos to the song’s title, ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ was featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World last Thursday, 13th September. Speaking on BBC Radio 1, Howard related that Meath’s lilting voice came immediately to mind for this song: “Amelia is just incredible, fortune prevailed, and we managed to get in the studio. I had it in the back of my mind as soon as we initially recorded ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ that the track just felt right for her.” If you’re interested in the full radio clip, you can listen back to it for a limited time on the BBC Radio 1 iPlayer.

‘Hot Heavy Summer’ is accompanied by two other tracks leftover from the ‘Noonday Dream’ sessions, a dark narrative called ‘Another Friday Night’ and the electronically experimental ‘Sister’. While these tracks don’t quite fit into the artistically cinematic nature of ‘Noonday Dream’, Howard is right in saying that they’re too good to go unheard. You can take a listen to all three tracks via Spotify, just below.

8.5/10

Ben Howard has a run of live dates in the UK planned for this winter, including two nights at the Manchester Apollo in December and three nights at London’s Brixton Academy after the start of the new year. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Friday 7th December – Glasgow Hydro Arena
Saturday 8th December – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Monday 10th December – Manchester Apollo
Tuesday 11th December – Manchester Apollo
Wednesday 16th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy
Thursday 17th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy
Friday 18th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy

You can read TGTF’s past coverage of Ben Howard right back here, and our coverage of Sylvan Esso is collected through here.

 

In the Post #162: American singer/songwriter Gill Landry begins work on his follow-up to ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ with a unique PledgeMusic campaign

 
By on Monday, 24th September 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

If you’re a regular TGTF visitor, you might have read last year about alt-country singer/songwriter Gill Landry and his brilliant fourth studio album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’.  Almost a year on from its release, that album is still in regular rotation in my own music library, but not one to rest on his laurels, Landry has already begun work on his next recording project. According to a post on his Instagram, this as-yet-unnamed fifth album will be comprised of songs written over the summer in France, in a period of just 4 weeks’ time. With the film noir vibe of ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’ still firmly in mind, a set of new Gill Landry songs steeped in French je ne sais quoi seems a very promising proposition indeed.

With the songwriting swiftly completed, Landry now sets to work on the recording of the album. To this end, he has started a PledgeMusic campaign, which he says he hopes will allow him “to afford the time to take on this task with the care and attention I feel it deserves.” Pledged funds will be used to independently finance the studio time, guest musicians, and mixing expenses for the album, and Landry has an interesting selection of merchandise on offer in return for fan pledges. Aside from his artful and evocative songwriting, Landry is also a skilled photographer and visual artist, and his PledgeMusic store includes handmade block-printed tarot cards, prints of his own original photography, and a handful of other unique items.

You can explore the complete merchandise listing and make a donation to the project on Landry’s PledgeMusic page by clicking this link. But before you do, take a listen to Landry’s personal message from about the new project in the video just below. ICYMI, our two-part interview with Gill Landry from last autumn can be found by clicking here and here. Our complete previous coverage of Landry is collected back this way.

 

In the Post #161: Lokki shares bare rendition of ‘Breathe a Breath of Me’ from ‘Cirrhi’ EP at The Church Studios

 
By on Wednesday, 9th May 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

If Lokki’s tall, skinny frame looks familiar, your eyes are not deceiving you. Drew Macfarlane has been seen the last few years as the man in a tropical shirt and on guitar and keys in Glass Animals. Now he’s stepped out from behind that synth stand and into a solo career. Like Sivu before him, his chosen stage name is Finnish, an alternate spelling of the word for seagull. Macfarlane’s genre with Lokki is in the decidedly more traditional vein of singer/songwriters, not with a guitar in hand but a piano in front of him.

He released his debut EP ‘Cirrhi’ the week after we returned from SXSW 2018. I clearly must have missed it while having my ‘must get my Austin write-ups done’ blinders on. The first song from the EP revealed was ‘I Catch You’, self-described by Macfarlane as “a late night song. Its sound world is like waking up in the early hours of the morning, with music from a sound track drifting through the walls.” The newest from Lokki is a live video of another EP track, ‘Breathe a Breath of Me’. The starkness of the performance at Paul Epworth’s The Church Studios in London – Macfarlane’s voice accompanied simply by piano and a backing singer – heightens all your senses around this beautifully contemplative track.

Taken literally, the title ‘Breathe a Breath of Me’ describes something we all do nearly every moment of every day and all too easily take for granted. The lyrics to the song have been written and are sung with a devotional, spiritual edge with the repeated words “breath a breath of me, my child”. The steady melody builds a feeling of safety and warmth, and Macfarlane’s lyrical treatment expands on what it means to be loved and feel love. At its conclusion, he sings, “I wish that broken years could fix a heart / and make it whole”, the notes of the harmonising vocals acting like the final climactic notes you’d hear in a symphony. While I enjoyed Macfarlane’s contributions to Glass Animals immensely, Lokki looks to be just the right vehicle for him to fully take advantage of his choral and classical training and present his own gifts to the world.

9/10

The ‘Cirrhi’ EP from Lokki is out now on Wolftone. Macfarlane has one show in London announced for next month, at Rosemary Branch Theatre on the 8th of June. Summer festival appearances are expected to be announced in due time.

 

In the Post #160: Ben Howard announces his new album ‘Noonday Dream’ with first single ‘A Boat to an Island on the Wall’

 
By on Monday, 9th April 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

If you follow Ben Howard‘s social media, you might have noticed a quiet but mysterious breeze blowing around his internet persona recently. That soft breeze became a full blown wind last Wednesday, as Howard announced the impending release of ‘Noonday Dream’, his first solo album in 4 years, which follows his breathtaking 2014 album ‘I Forget Where We Were’. Howard hasn’t been entirely idle in the interim, releasing an EP and a full long player last year with his side project A Blaze of Feather.

Howard has previewed ‘Noonday Dream’ with lead single ‘A Boat to an Island on the Wall’, which received its first radio play last Wednesday on BBC Radio 1 with Annie Mac. In the accompanying interview with the DJ legend, Howard himself described the song as “a bit of a patchwork quilt”. He went on to briefly explain the song’s birth and evolution over time: “It went through a lot of different lives, this one, and I think you can sort of tell.”

Indeed, the song’s soundscape moves through palpable stages over the course of its 7-minute duration, starting with an a harsh, synthetic intro and progressing to a lighter acoustic backdrop under Howard’s softly intoned vocals. The entire recording has a broad, airy quality, in contrast to some of the heavier tones he’s taken in the past, and distant voices in the background suggest a vast sense of open space. About halfway through the track, layers of percussion and keyboards add light and color to the sonic palette, and the texture thickens dramatically with the introduction of a dark guitar melody near the end.

Produced by Howard himself and recorded at various locations in England and France, ‘A Boat to an Island on the Wall’ sounds like not only a continuation of what Howard did on ‘I Forget Where We Were’, but an even further extension of that atmospheric neo-folk sound. Lyrically the new song is as evocative and elusive as Howard has ever been in his writing, but musically he extends well beyond his acoustic folk rock beginnings. Take a listen to ‘A Boat to an Island off the Wall’ via Spotify at the bottom of this post.

8.5/10

‘Noonday Dream’ is due out on the 1st of June on Island Records. Just after the album’s release, Howard will play the below list of live dates in the UK. Listen back to Ben Howard’s interview with Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 and the song’s first play through here; the stream will be available for the next 24 days. find TGTF’s past coverage of Ben Howard back through here.

Wednesday 13th June 2018 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 14th June 2018 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 28th June 2018 – Edinburgh Playhouse
Friday 29th June 2018 – Manchester Albert Hall
Saturday 30th June 2018 – Cornwall Eden Sessions

 

In the Post #159: Everything Everything preview fourth album ‘A Fever Dream’ with teaser ‘Can’t Do’

 
By on Thursday, 15th June 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Everything Everything have been hinting at new material for quite a while now. The anticipation that has been building has clearly worked. A series of four live shows – a paltry number for a band with a profile like theirs – starting next week in England are all sold out. Heck, even Fenech-Soler were asking me 2 months ago if I had access and had heard their new album yet. (For the record, I haven’t.) They finally let the cat out of the bag Tuesday night with Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1, revealing a new single as the Hottest Record in the World. While ‘Can’t Do’ doesn’t wow as much as previous album previews ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Distant Past’, but it fits comfortably as part of the next chapter to the Everything Everything saga. We don’t know a lot about their next album besides its title and that it’s been produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Depeche Mode).

On their last LP released in 2015, frontman and falsetto enthusiast Jonathan Higgs said it was representative of the politics and the times. ‘Get to Heaven’ was indeed jarring and challenging, yet it proved satisfying if given enough attention. Higgs’ comments on their newest material suggest a different, more hedonistic intention, which makes sense, given the frenetic pace of their new single. In the press release for it, Higgs says, ‘’Can’t Do’ is about trying to bend to the world and fit into it. Nobody is normal, nobody knows what normal is. ‘I can’t do the thing you want’ – we don’t care we just want you to dance.”

The music video sees possessed zombies in the underworld doing just that, in an Everything Everything-flavoured Thriller style video. Some of the zombies are wearing masks, matching the band’s own in their new profile photo on Facebook. Is it a commentary on the false faces public figures and indeed, even sometimes we ourselves put on? Is putting on a mask a sign of bravery, of stiff upper lip, of keeping on keeping on because we must? Or is it a disguise to hide cowardice, plain and simple?

Certainly more simplistic and less in your face than their other memorable, now classic singles – ‘Photoshop Handsome’, ‘Kemosabe’, ‘Regret’ – ‘Can’t Do’ still maintains the group’s never-wavering originality. In particular, while listening to it, its unsettling rhythm makes you feel like you’re suffering from a persistent tremor that won’t go away. Will the new album have scathing observations of the world as we know it? Or have Everything Everything given up on their philosophical rants? We’ll have to wait until August to see what the rest of ‘A Fever Dream’ has in store.

7/10

‘Can’t Do’ is out now. ‘A Fever Dream’, the fourth studio album from the Manchester-derived Everything Everything, will be out on the 18th of August on RCA Records. To read our pretty hefty archive of Everything Everything articles here on TGTF, start here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myQVHve73vk[/youtube]

 

In the Post #158: Ghostpoet returns with politically-charged single ‘Immigrant Boogie’

 
By on Monday, 24th April 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

In just 6 weeks, the next UK general election will take place and in the footsteps of Brexit last summer, the outcome of the vote will no doubt have unprecedented consequences on the country and the rest of the world. The return of Obaro Ejimiwe, better known under his stage name Ghostpoet, and his own unique viewpoint is fortuitous, and not a moment too soon. Late last week, he unveiled a stream of ‘Immigrant Boogie’, his first new material since 2015’s Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Shedding Skin’. Here’s Ejimiwe’s own description of the song:

It’s a first person account of a difficult journey across borders, partly intended to ask those who have questioned the arrival of refugees in recent times what they would do in the same situation. The song is written in two halves – the first hopeful for a brighter future, while the second sees hope snatched away by forces beyond the control of the storyteller. There is an important story to be told there, but I wrote the song in a way that aims to capture a broader human truth: that while we are all working for a better life for ourselves, we have to accept that we are not in control of the outcome.

There’s no escaping the haunting notes of the lead guitar line, or the distorted synths lending a feeling a disorientations. The overall musical effect is a sinister one, meant to mirror the desperate mindset of fleeing refugees. Ejimiwe intones, “I was dreaming of a better life / with two kids and my loving wife / I can’t swim, the water’s in my lungs / and there it ends, a life that’s just begun”, in a vocal style more like Gil Scott Heron’s spoken word than that of a traditional singer/songwriter.

As the song progresses, the sense of desperation increases, a repeated note sounding like an oncoming locomotive as the song heads for a cacophonous end. The single is also notable for its vocal guest star Charlie Steen, lead singer of South London punks and SXSW 2017 alums Shame. As the first taster of what we’re told have been Ghostpoet’s recording sessions over the last few months in London Town, the potential for his next album to be politically cutting seem quite bright.

7.5/10

New single from Ghostpoet ‘Immigrant Boogie’ is out now on PIAS. To read all of our past writing on Ghostpoet here on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7OkcTaMBrY[/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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