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In the Post #140: Laura Marling returns with title track ‘Short Movie’ to upcoming March 2015 album

 
By on Thursday, 18th December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

After a relatively lengthy quiet period since the 2013 release of her fourth album ‘Once I Was An Eagle’, here’s some good news for you folkies. Laura Marling has revealed plans to release her fifth album in the new year. Take a step back for a moment to consider that Marling isn’t even 25 yet, and she’s about to release a fifth collection of tunes. Kind of puts life and achievements in said life in perspective, doesn’t it?

‘Short Movie’, which will drop in March on Virgin Records, will be her second under the influence of her now no longer newly adopted hometown of Los Angeles. In terms of the aforementioned perspective, the title track, the first taster from the album, seems to be Marling’s personal advice in dealing with life head on. The song begins with “I’m paying for my mistakes”, followed by the spoken “that’s okay”. Hmm, okay… It’s unclear at this point if she’s indifferent or come to peace with her life choices. Later on the song, before the song gets louder and more frenetic at the 1/3 point, the words “I think I could get away with / half the things that I say, but no / I can’t give you up, oh no / I’m not gonna stop” indicates a sticking by to these choices, specifically in the act of loving someone despite everyone else in her life not understanding why.

However, what really is jarring in ‘Short Movie’ is the line “it’s a short fucking movie, mate”, which comes along relatively early and is a refrain used throughout the song. Not knowing Marling personally, I don’t know if she swears like a sailor in daily life, or if packing up from and leaving London for the sunnier climes – and plastic people – of SoCal has changed her. (Her conversion to American is complete: “movie”, not “film”?) But seeing that the 2013 Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ doesn’t bear an explicit content sticker, the inclusion of this refrain seems like a more obvious, concerted effort by Marling to be more blunt in her language, even if the serene melody that initially accompanies it doesn’t match the sentiment. It’s uncomfortable but appears purposeful.

As the song increases tempo and loudness at the midpoint and beyond, the instrumentation complements the lyrical content with a meaning that life is too short to not be true to yourself, and you should live your life the way you want, with no regrets. With ‘Short Movie’ marking Marling’s first self-production credit, one wonders if this will be the moment where she truly bares all about her past and lost love, as the first taster looks to be a bold statement of who she is as an artist in this moment in time, as ‘Sophia’ was 3 years ago.

7/10

The ‘Short Movie’ album, Laura Marling’s fifth, will be out on the 23rd of March 2015 on Virgin Records. TGTF’s extensive archive on Marling can be found here.

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

 

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.

 

Album Review: Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle

 
By on Friday, 14th June 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Once I Was an Eagle Laura Marling coverLaura Marling’s new album ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is a bit of an odd duck. Before I even listened to it, I was taken aback by its length, 16 tracks and just over an hour in duration. As it turns out ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is essentially two shorter albums compressed into one. It feels almost as if Marling had a change of heart in the middle of her writing process, perhaps the same change of heart that led her to relocate to America around the time of its release.

‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is divided into two discrete sections, conveniently separated by an instrumental ‘Interlude’. The first part of the album is difficult, even unnerving, as Marling strays from her typical folk style to experiment with amorphous song structures, alternative tonalities, and shifting rhythms. She also seems to have dabbled a bit in larger musical forms, if the album’s first four tracks are taken as one larger body of work, almost like a classical song cycle. The songs are thematically similar and so seamlessly blended that I almost had trouble telling when one track ended and the next began. Fifth track and first single ‘Master Hunter’ (video below) is a raucous closure to those first four tracks, indicating a change in mood to the dark, powerful tracks ‘Little Love Caster’ and ‘Devil’s Resting Place’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO2gm29rI7E[/youtube]

Then comes the ‘Interlude’, which segues from darkness and dissonance to the sweeter, lighter side of the album. (I haven’t seen a vinyl version, but this would be a perfect place to manually turn the record over.) The second half feels more comfortable somehow, maybe because it is, to some degree, more predictable. The songs become less painfully personal and slightly more external in perspective. Two second-person characters are introduced, the eponymous ‘Undine’, and Rosie in the soaring ‘Little Bird’. Marling warms her sound with hints of blues and gospel, notably in the organ’s harmonic progression in ‘Once’. Final track ‘Saved These Words’ builds from a slow, sparse introduction to a full and resonant chorus: “You weren’t my curse / but thank you, naivete, for failing me again / he was my next verse.”

‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is less immediately accessible than 2011’s ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’. Marling’s voice has matured, both in terms of her lyrics and her vocal timbre. She alternates easily between the declamatory, if slightly abrasive, lower register and the sweet, soulful higher range, using her voice to its fullest effect. Likewise, the instrumentation throughout the album is ingenious and inventive, trading raw, ragged folk for a broader, bolder sound. Rather than making a strong emotional connection, the album instead makes a dynamic and deliberate statement of intent about Marling’s future artistic direction.

8/10

‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is available now via Ribbon Music. Laura Marling is currently playing a series of sold out Secret Cinema dates in London.

 

Live Gig Video: Laura Marling performs new song ‘Once’ at BBC 6music 10th birthday celebrations

 
By on Wednesday, 11th April 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Folky songbird Laura Marling, dressed in overalls, previewed new song ‘Once’ live, playing at BBC 6music’s 10th birthday celebrations last month. Watch the video of her appearance at the Southbank Centre below.

Marling’s latest single, ‘All My Rage’, was released earlier this month (on the 2nd of April) and its promo video can be watched here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vu68C4sjsfk[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #713: Laura Marling

 
By on Thursday, 16th February 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Here’s the new promo vid from Laura Marling, for ‘All My Rage’ (the new single out on the 2nd of April). It’s taken from ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’, the album she released last year that has already been certified gold. This performance video is really unique in setting that you have to really have to to just see it, I want you to be surprised.

Marling heads off an a UK tour starting the 1st of March in Cambridge; all the details can be found here.


 

Video of the Moment #691: Laura Marling

 
By on Wednesday, 25th January 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

The promo video for ‘I Was Just a Card’, from Laura Marling‘s third album ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ released in 2011, features an ensemble young dancers interpreting the song in movement. I get confused with these kinds of treatments but whatever floats your boat…watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sfqx6jMTyGw[/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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