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SXSW 2018 Interview: Buck Meek

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Buck Meek, far right, with his band at Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018

If you’re a regular TGTF reader, you might already be familiar with the name of singer/songwriter Buck Meek. We’ve covered Meek before in his role as part of alt-rock band Big Thief, both in live review and previous SXSW coverage. Back in March, during SXSW 2018, Meek came to Austin as a solo artist, to preview his now-released debut LP, which is simply titled ‘Buck Meek.’ I caught a very quick moment with Meek after his set at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion to ask him about the new album.

‘Buck Meek’ technically isn’t Meek’s solo debut, following on his previous EP release ‘Heart Was Beat’ from back in 2015. That EP includes the memorable track ‘Sam Bridges’, which he played in a slightly different form in the Revival Tent at Luck than what I remembered from a live performance in Phoenix with Big Thief several years ago. Discussing his set on the day, Meek agreed. “That [song] had a more country feel. I mean, we’re playing it with a slide guitar player today, who kind of mimics the [pedal] steel, and with a country drum beat and everything.”

Having only seen Meek before in the context of Big Thief’s edgy folk rock, I was curious about the more obvious country influence I heard on display in his solo work. “I think there’s influence there”, Meek says. “I grew up in Wimberly, Texas, south of Austin. I grew up listening to, surrounded by country music. So it’s always been, I think, an influence. And to be honest, this set, I catered more towards that feel.”

But many of the songs on ‘Buck Meek’, the album, defy easy classification as straighforward country songs. Musically, the record’s foundational country tone is obfuscated by elements of what Meek describes as “grunge, and punk rock, and more esoteric stuff.” Early single ‘Cannonball!’ has a distinct twang to it, most prominently in Meek’s vocal lines, but its laid-back rhythm section is unmistakabely jazz-tinged, and its electric guitar riff is pure blues rock. ‘Ruby’ is a charmingly elusive, rhythmically complex track which Meek explained to Uproxx as “the suspension in love, when time folds in on itself, when the first instant of meeting cycles through the idiosyncratic friction and ancient affection of years together, which again cycles into infancy and eager fascination — all contained within a sideways glance.”

Thematically, ‘Buck Meek’ touches on a wide array of subject matter, from platonic male friendship (‘Joe By the Book’) to a plane crash in the French Alps (‘Flight 9525’), and an intriguing cast of characters, including a widow named ‘Sue’ and a devoted canine ‘Best Friend.’ In the end, the heart of the album is revealed in final track ‘Fool Me’, a late night country bar classic, with a plaintive piano melody and Meek’s self-deprecating vocal evoking the mild yet persistent yearning of one last slow dance on an otherwise deserted dance floor.

‘Buck Meek’ was released on the 18th of May on Austin record label Keeled Scales. Buck Meek will spend the remainder of the summer on tour supporting the release of the album, including the following run of dates in the UK in August. In addition to the shows listed below, Meek will support fellow country artist Courtney Marie Andrews at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 21st of August and at Southampton’s Talking Heads on the 22nd of August. You can find a full listing of Meek’s upcoming live dates on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Buck Meek is collected through here.

Monday 20th August 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Thursday 23rd August 2018 – London Islington
Friday 24th August 2018 – Manchester Gullivers
Sunday 26th August 2018 – Dublin Grand Social
Monday 27th August 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 28th August 2018 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 

Villagers / October 2018 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 19th June 2018 at 9:00 am
 

Irishman Conor J. O’Brien, better known under his recording name Villagers, will be going on tour in the UK in the autumn. In the midst of the UK dates, he will also perform at Dublin’s Metropolis Festival on the 27th of October. A massive tour filling up most of his November will follow it. The UK tour will commence just a few weeks after the release of his fourth studio album ‘The Art of Pretending to Swim’, which is scheduled for release on the 21st of September on Domino Records. Enjoy album track ‘A Trick of the Light’ in its promo video form at the end of this post.

Presale tickets and album go on sale tomorrow, Wednesday, the 20th of June, at 9 AM. The general sale begins on Friday, the 22nd, at 9 AM. Given the immense destruction from the fire that took place at the Glasgow School of Art last Friday, it’s unlikely the originally scheduled gig on the 18th of October will take place there. Stay tuned to Villagers’ official channels for more information.

Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 18th October – Glasgow Art School
Friday 19th October – Manchester Gorilla
Sunday 21st October – Leeds Wardrobe
Monday 22nd October – Oxford Academy 2
Tuesday 23rd October – London Hackney Arts Centre
Thursday 25th October – Liverpool Arts Club
Saturday 27th October – Dublin Metropolis Festival
Tuesday 30th October – Bristol Trinity
Wednesday 31st October 2018 – Brighton Old Market

 

Gill Landry / May and June 2018 English Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 9:00 am
 

American singer/songwriter Gill Landry will cross the pond for a handful of live dates in England at the start of summer, following on his recent spring tour of the U.S. west coast. Landry is touring his excellent 2017 album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, but as I heard when I attended his show at San Francisco’s Hotel Utah on the 31st of March, he’s including a strong mix of older songs in his live set as well. You can check out a couple of photos from that show just below, and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find a live video performance of one of my favourite older Gill Landry tunes, ‘Dixie’, courtesy of Ditty TV.

Gill Landry internal 1

Gill Landry internal 2

In addition to the following headline shows, Landry will also appear at the Red Rooster Festival in Suffolk on Friday the first of June. Tickets for the following shows are available now. You can read TGTF’s previous coverage of Gill Landry back through here.

Thursday 31st May 2018 – York Crescent Community Venue
Sunday 3rd June 2018 – Middlesborough Westgarth Social Club
Monday 4th June 2018 – London Old Queens Head
Tuesday 5th June 2018 – Brighton Brunswick Pub

 

Florence and the Machine / May 2018 English Tour

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 9:00 am
 

Florence Welch, more famous under her stage name Florence and the Machine, has announced a short series of shows in the UK and America for next month. Of them, there are only three shows in England, in Halifax, Scunthorpe and London as listed below. The shows go on sale today at 10 AM. Earlier this month, she revealed new tune ‘Sky Full of Song’, which was released for Record Store Day last Saturday. Presumably, a new album is on the horizon…sometime in the future. The only other peep we’ve heard is that Welch will be releasing a book, Useless Magic, featuring her lyrics, artwork and poetry – how indulgent! – that is sure to be lapped up by her fans in quick order. The book will be available from Fig Tree / Penguin on the 5th of July.

Saturday 5th May 2018 – Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sunday 6th May 2018 – Scunthorpe Baths Hall
Tuesday 8th May 2018 – London Royal Festival Hall

 

Will Varley / October and November 2018 UK Tour

 
By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 8:00 am
 

Kent singer/songwriter Will Varley has announced a lengthy UK tour for this autumn, on the strength of his recent LP release ‘Spirit of Minnie’, which is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings. Varley only just wrapped up his last UK tour in February, ahead of North American dates with Skinny Lister and his stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW 2018. Just below, check out a pair of photos from Varley’s opening set at Phoenix’s Valley Bar on the 23rd of February.

Will Varley internal 1

Will Varley internal 2

Tickets for the following shows go on sale today, Friday, the 27th of April at 10 AM. Below the tour date listing, you can take a listen to ‘Spirit of Minnie’ album track ‘All Those Stars’. TGTF’s collected past coverage of Will Varley is right back here.

Wednesday 10th October 2018 – Norwich Epic Studios
Thursday 11th October 2018 – Cambridge Junction 2
Friday 12th October 2018 – Derby Venue
Saturday 13th October 2018 – Plymouth Red House Theatre
Tuesday 16th October 2018 – York NCEM
Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Newcastle Cluny
Thursday 18th October 2018 – Manchester Ritz
Friday 19th October 2018 – Glasgow Stereo
Saturday 20th October 2018 – Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday 21st October 2018 – Deal Astor Theatre
Tuesday 23rd October 2018 – Bath Komedia
Wednesday 24th October 2018 – Brighton Haunt
Thursday 25th October 2018 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Friday 26th October 2018 – Stroud Brunel Goods Shed
Saturday 27th October 2018 – Llandrindod Wells Pavilion Mid Wales
Saturday 3rd November 2018 – London Round Chapel

 

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

 
 
 

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.

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