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Video of the Moment #2890: Jon Hopkins

 
By on Monday, 24th September 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

In case you somehow missed it, electronic musician and producer Jon Hopkins released a new album this past spring. ‘Singularity’, which is now available from Domino Records, was released in May and has received quite a lot of acclaim across the board. Now the title track of the album has its own promo video. While most of us have encountered creepy or downright scary people late at night down a dark alley, I think we’d be pleasantly surprised if we encountered the folks in this one. See what I mean by watching the video below. Past coverage on the uber-talented Jon Hopkins on TGTF is through here.

 

6 Music Festival 2015 on Tyneside: Sunday Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

To catch up on the first half of Martin’s review of Sunday at the 6 Music Festival 2015, click here.

An event should never be defined by its headliners – and for such a prestigious event, it could be argued that 6 Music weren’t too bothered about the halo effect of an international superstar topping the bill. Headlining the dark ‘n’ moody dance room (usually known as the Northern Rock Foundation Hall) was Daniel Avery, whose set provoked some discussion. Specifically, what do dance music producers actually *do* live? He presses the odd button, tweaks the odd knob, but mostly spends his time gyrating with his headphones over one ear. The plinth is arranged so we punters can’t see what equipment he’s got or what he’s doing, so one has to assume he’s booted up a MacBook Air and just pressed play. Musically, it’s inventive stuff, both danceable and listenable, but I’d like a bit more of a live performance.

One thing’s for sure, people really love The Charlatans. When I say people, I mean the middle-class-of-a-certain-age that occupy Hall One tonight. Surely nobody in 1990 would have predicted that they would become one of the country’s most durable and sought-after live acts. Perhaps it’s their dogged tenacity that people like; their sound hasn’t really developed beyond the baggy themes that they’ve purveyed for the past 25 years. Tim Burgess is becoming a bit of an icon, despite only a moderately interesting voice and his unusual hinting-at-transvesticism shock of blonde hair and oversized cardigan. Or maybe it’s the ever-present Hammond organ that’s the secret to their success. It’s difficult to argue that The Charlatans are as important a band and the Blurs, Suedes and Stone Roses of this world, but they could certainly teach their contemporaries a thing or two about persistence, and it’s paid off in their well-received headline show tonight.

A quick glance at The Maccabees is enough to know they’re not going to outdo The Charlatans in the indie-rock stakes, and so it falls to Teleman to be unlikely winner of the ‘Headliner of the Day’ award. Their subtle, Krautrock-influenced songs are tinged with wide-eyed innocence, not to say the ghost of Sparks, and they manage to end up in a brilliant crescendo courtesy of an extended version of ‘I’m Not in Control’. Teleman have a refreshing, shiny newness to them that neither The Charlatans’ greatest hits set nor The Maccabees’ laddish jollity can compete with. It is perhaps surprising that 6 Music went with such safe, established headliners (Teleman excepted, of course), as the absence of Jon Hopkins was sorely felt. (Get well soon!)

I’ve been somewhat critical of the Sage Gateshead in the past: for being too uptight, too high-brow, and too authoritarian to really enjoy a night out there. But tonight, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s ironic that the combination of two deeply establishment entities should actually give rise to an event as comparatively anarchic as tonight, but that is what happened. In the year of her 10th birthday, Sage let her hair down – and it was beautiful. The most obvious example of which is the never-before-seen removal of the seats in Hall One, which your faithful correspondent accurately predicted would happen in a Tweet to the Sage – they were naturally tight-lipped about it in advance, of course, but it shows how much clout the BBC had over how the evening was run, and the Sage management deserve a huge amount of credit for taking the leap of faith and going along with it.

Tonight proved what power for simultaneous multi-disciplinary performance Sage has until now kept hidden beneath her taffeta. I’m prepared to stand corrected, but tonight was the first time that pints were thrown and spliffs were smoked in the Sage. A small victory for people with souls. The door staff even seemed to let their hair down a little and go with the relaxed atmosphere. Not entirely though: I got told off for standing on a step. It’s ironic that it should be the BBC, one of the biggest, most tarnished, most confused bureaucracies that the world has ever seen (let’s not forget that in a uniquely misguided spasm of dithering the powers that be came very close to shutting down 6 Music itself) that should encourage Sage to effectively shed her staid overclothes and teach her how to have a good time. At the age of 10.

Or perhaps that’s the one thing that the BBC’s good at, I forget. At any rate, whether through an honest desire to bring good music and the spotlight of publicity to the regions, or alternatively a desperate attempt to inject some much-needed credibility and goodwill into an ailing institution, this was a brilliantly-conceived and superbly-executed weekend that only a churl would see as anything less than a roaring success. Where next? Nottingham, Glasgow, Bristol? They’re going to have to work hard to top Tyneside.

Performances from across the weekend can be found on the BBC iPlayer or via the red button on any digital TV. Massive thanks to Kate and the festival publicity team for sorting out out accreditation.

 

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2013: Is It Even Relevant Anymore?

 
By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That time of year has crept up on us again. Yesterday evening, the nominees for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2013 Albums of the Year were revealed in London. Maybe this is the direction the Mercury Prize nominations will be going in from here on out, but it’s rather startling how mainstream this year’s shortlist is. In past years, there was always one or two curveballs thrown in the mix of straight-forward, famous artists and well thought of indie. Not so much in 2013…which leaves me wondering if this competition is even worth my time anymore in the years going forward.

Let’s examine the biggest names first. The now Josh Homme-influenced Arctic Monkeys just got in under the wire, with their new album ‘AM’ literally just made it to store shelves this past Monday. They don’t need any help selling records. (Technically, they also fall under the next category I will examine, but for the sake of argument, it’s this album people are focusing on, not one 7 years ago…which won the gong that year.) Neither does legendary artist David Bowie; his March 2013 surprise release ‘The Next Day’ also makes an appearance on the shortlist.

Then there are the repeat ‘offenders’. Dubstep wonder boy James Blake, whose self-titled debut album in 2011 garnered a Mercury nod back then, is yet another safe and predictable choice. Given their headline slot at Latitude Festival this year and continually rising star, Foals‘ nomination for ‘Holy Fire’ (review here) is not such a shock. But they were nominated for and lost in 2010 for ‘Total Life Forever’. I’m a great fan of Conor J. O’Brien’s songwriting, but this year’s ‘{Awayland}’ pales in comparison to its predecessor, Villagers‘ 2010 opus ‘Becoming a Jackal’.

While he was 1/2 of the nominated collaboration with King Creosote in 2011’s ‘Diamond Mine’, Jon Hopkins makes another appearance, this time by himself for ‘Immunity’. There is also no escaping the fact that the selection of Laura Marling‘s ‘Once I Was an Eagle’ (review here) comes across as particularly lazy: the woman’s been nominated two times already prior to this. I’m all for equality when it comes to music awards and it’s great that this year there are two female singer/songwriters on the shortlist, but surely there has got to be another woman – and in the folk genre, certainly – whose album would have been up to snuff to the Mercury voters instead of giving Marling another nomination.

Next, let’s look at the acts that are toeing the line between their indie background and their big chance at the mainstream. Having enjoyed a successful 2012 with sold out shows and his debut album selling very well, Noel Gallagher‘s sneery young protege Jake Bugg makes a not so surprising appearance on the shortlist. Popular Brum soul singer and #4 on the BBC Sound of 2013 list Laura Mvula also receives a Mercury nod this year for ‘Sing to the Moon’. Helps quite a bit that both of them are on majors (Mercury and RCA, respectively) and therefore had major label muscle to help along the promotion of their debut albums.

If there is one saving grace of this year’s shortlist, it was that instead of a truly oddball experimental jazz album getting a nomination, dance is for once decently represented with not one but two good albums: Disclosure‘s delicious brand of house in the form of ‘Settle’ and Rudimental‘s drum and bass-rich ‘Home’. But wait a minute. They’re on majors too, Island and Warner. Hmm… The one oddball nominee, if they can be called that, are post-punk girl group Savages. They might not be a household name – yet – and they’re on an indie label (Beggar Group’s Matador) but they were already firmly in our brains from their BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nomination. Yawn.

This all begs the question, just how relevant is the Mercury Prize in 2013? Also, was it ever relevant? And when did it stop being so? While it has never been a dirty little secret but rather an obvious known fact that major label backing helps with funding, which leads to promotion and visibility opportunities and therefore record sales, this is probably the year more than any other in the past in which the expensive fee to enter the Mercury competition comes through loud and clear as the reason why this year’s list is sadly predictable. In a piece by the Guardian’s Michael Hann, Kerrang! editor James McMahon said the egregious lack of metal on the shortlist year after year is a major oversight: “The thing is, within the rock music industry there’s a bit of debate about how bothered people are with an award like the Mercury. The other year we were pushing the idea of Bring Me the Horizon being nominated as an innovative, exciting British rock band who want to be seen out in the world – but they didn’t enter. If the rock industry doesn’t have any belief in its relevance, what can the Mercuries do? But if it were genuinely the 12 best records of the year, it would be blinkered to ignore metal.”

Hann’s article goes on to point out that Leeds buzz band Hookworms chose not to enter either, their frontman MJ explaining, “The nondescript thousands in marketing fees and physical product is even more shameful [than the entry fee]”. Even ubiquitous rock journalist Pete Paphides took to social media yesterday to bemoan the situation: “It’d be good to have a music prize where part of the sponsorship meant bands not having to pay hundreds of £s to be eligible for contention.” Quite right. There is no one obvious solution to “fixing” the Mercury Prize because let’s face it, like all award shows, it’s a business, and businesses exist to make money. But it’s a shame that what the Mercury Prize used to be known for – bringing attention to lesser known acts that otherwise might not get their time in the limelight – seems to have been all but been entirely forgotten.

 

Review: Mercury Prize 2011

 
By on Thursday, 8th September 2011 at 5:30 pm
 

In case you missed them, we wrote previously on this year’s Mercury Prize shortlist and our writers weighed on who they thought should win and who should have received a nod from this year’s nomination committee.

Just prior to the shortlist being announced, it was strong, talented representatives of “the fairer sex” who topped the bookies’ top bets: Adele and PJ Harvey were neck and neck as the odds on favourite. These two lovely ladies continued to be strong favourites throughout the weeks leading up to the event in London hosted by Jools Holland this past Tuesday night. On the evening, Adele did not join her nominee compadres on the red carpet, nor did she perform on the Grosvenor Hotel stage due to illness. Ms. Adkins did, however, made everyone laugh with her humourous fake acceptance speech. Speaking of the faux acceptance speeches, after a rousing performance of ‘The Bay’, Joseph Mount of Metronomy said with a grin, “this is nice that the first album that you hear from us is about the place where I’m from. And I hope you visit Devon!” Bless. (To be fair, it’s nice that Devon will now be known for something other than their cows and Muse.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn6n7zMcVOY[/youtube]

6music reported that Guy Garvey of Elbow (the 2008 Mercury winner for ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’) was self-deprecating as usual, saying he wished their “little friends” Everything Everything would prove to be the winner. Speaking of the double-named band, they took the bold step of performing a non-single, album track from ‘Man Alive’, ‘Tin (the Manhole)’, when it was their turn to wow the dinner audience at the Grosvenor. But ultimately, it was PJ Harvey who came out on top, with her album ‘Let England Shake’ winning the top honours. With this win, she becomes the first act ever to win the Mercury Prize twice (she won exactly 10 years ago, in 2011 for her ‘Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea’). You can watch her live performance of ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ from Tuesday night below. Congratulations Polly Jean!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77HnyHlfHNQ[/youtube]

 

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2011

 
By on Tuesday, 19th July 2011 at 2:16 pm
 

The shortlist for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2011 Albums of the Year were announced by 6music presenter Lauren Laverne this morning in a special ceremony at London’s Hospital Club. As usual, some of the nominees were expected to receive the prestigious industry nod, while some were definitely less than expected.

Not surprisingly, soul singer Adele‘s critically acclaimed and best-selling album on both sides of the Atlantic, ’21’, received a nom. There are plenty of new artists on this year’s shortlist, in exactly the same shoes Adele was in 3 years ago with ’19’. Sultry-looking and equally sultry-sounding Anna Calvi received a nomination for her eponymous debut; again, this is hardly surprising given she was shortlisted in late 2010 for the BBC Sound of 2011. James Blake, #2 on the Sound of 2011 list, also garnered a nod for his self-titled debut album bringing dubstep more to the mainstream. (Read Natalie’s review of the album here.) Electronic producer Ghostpoet is nominated for his debut album that sounds more like the title of a cookbook, ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’.

After winning the gong in 2008 with ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’, Elbow will try their hand to win again this year with their newest, ‘build a rocket, boys!’ (Read John’s review of the album here.) A win for the Mancunians seems highly appropriate in light of the development of their own limited edition golden ale, named after their new album and true to their roots, to be made locally in Stockport and sold exclusively at Robinsons pubs in the UK.) Speaking of Manchester, the eclectic ‘Man Alive’ (my review here) from Manchester-based Everything Everything is also up for the award.

New urban music makes a good showing on this year’s shortlist. Katy B‘s ‘On a Mission’ received a nomination, as did Tinie Tempah‘s ‘Disc-Overy’. But legends also figure in the nominations. Influential singer/songwriter PJ Harvey has been recognised for ‘Let England Shake’, her first album in 4 years. The Domino-released collaboration between Scottish singer-songwriter King Creosote and electronica artist Jon Hopkins, ‘Diamond Mine’, that was a labour of love for 7 years is also nominated. Brighton dance band Metronomy‘s highly-anticipated third album released in April, ‘The English Riviera’, is also a contender. (Read Luke’s review of the album here.) And if we’ve learned anything from 2 decades of the Mercury Prize, there is always at least one album that comes out of left field. This year, that nomination goes to Welsh jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock and his ‘Good Days at Schloss Elmau’. (I Googled it: Schloss Elmau is a luxury hotel in the foothills of Bavaria. Maybe that’s a good place for the to-be-announced Mercury Prize winner to escape inevitable press and paps in mid-September?)

The winner of the 2011 Mercury Prize will be announced on Tuesday, 6 September.

 

Ivor Novello Awards 2011 – The Nominees

 
By on Friday, 22nd April 2011 at 11:00 am
 

The nominees for the 2011 Ivor Novello Awards for 2011 were announced this week, and we’re pleased to see some of TGTF’s favourite acts being up for the esteemed gongs. The awards are described on the official Web site as “internationally respected for honouring excellence in British music writing” – definitely something we can get behind.

In the Best Song Musically and Lyrically category, the title track of Conor J. O’Brien/Villagers‘ debut album, ‘Becoming a Jackal’, will be battling Manchester-based (and pictured above) Everything Everything‘s ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ and Foals‘ ‘Spanish Sahara’ (the winning track in 6music’s Top 40 Songs of 2010 at the end of last year. The 2010 Mercury Prize-winning xx has been nominated for Best Contemporary Song, as has Katy B‘s ‘Katy on a Mission’ and Tinie Tempah‘s ‘Pass Out’.

For the Album Award, Everything Everything is nominated again for their groundbreaking album ‘Man Alive’, as are Bombay Bicycle Club‘s acoustic album ‘Flaws’ and Plan B‘s ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’. Plan B is also nominated in the PRS for Music Most Performed Work for his song ‘She Said’; Ben Drew is left to fight it out for this gong with Kylie Minogue’s ‘All the Lovers’ and ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’ by Scouting for Girls. A notable nomination in a category that isn’t really our specialty here at TGTF (Best Original Film Score) is Jon Hopkins‘ nod for his work on the sci-fi flick Monsters.

We here at TGTF wish good luck to all the nominees. The winners of this year’s Ivor Novello Awards will be announced on Thursday 19 May at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.

Want to read the full list of nominees? They’re under the cut.
Continue reading Ivor Novello Awards 2011 – The Nominees

 
 
 

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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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