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Video of the Moment #2352: Longfellow

 
By on Monday, 1st May 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s been a bit since we’ve heard from London group Longfellow. They’re back now with a single. ‘Brooklyn’ represents their most synth-laden entry yet (to my memory, at least), and it’s out now on AWAL/Kobalt. While they’re down to four members (bassist Lewis Fowler seems to have left them), what remains unchanged are the arresting vocals of Owen Lloyd and their anthemic songwriting, now bolstered by soaring synth. It’s a wonderful return to the fold for the band based in the capital, and you can check out the promo video for the single below. To read much more on Longfellow here on TGTF, follow this link.

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

 

Live Gig Video: Longfellow perform ‘Plasticine’ at Sofar Sounds London session

 
By on Friday, 10th June 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

Back in April, Longfellow appeared at a packed out edition of Sofar Sounds London. Now there’s a video from the proceedings, and it’s fantastic. (I may be a little biased…) While there’s something wonderfully satisfying to see this London band with their full band setup in a venue, there’s also something incredibly great about being able to see a stripped back version of a song – in this case, ‘Plasticine’, warts and all, with nothing to detract from frontman Owen Lloyd’s strong, dusky vocals. Watch the live performance below.

For more coverage on Sofar Sounds shows we ourselves have covered or additional videos from past sessions we’ve shared, use this link. For more on Longfellow themselves as covered on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od1RyDzVvas[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Longfellow perform ‘Choose’ at BBC Radio 2 Live at Hyde Park festival

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd September 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

If you’ve been following TGTF for the last few years, you know that one of my favourite bands is London’s Longfellow. Frankly, I’m still really annoyed that they’ve still not been signed to a major yet. The details surrounding a recent live performance of theirs in the Capital reinforces this annoyance.

BBC Radio 2 has been a longtime supporter of the band, playing their singles during the day, which should tell you a lot about the band’s sound having mainstream appeal. One further, Radio 2 invited the band to headline the BBC Introducing tent at their annual autumn ‘Festival in a Day’ BBC Radio 2 Live at Hyde Park 2 Sundays ago, and they drew a massive crowd. Major labels, are you listening? Here is the band performing their most recent single ‘Choose’, their indie label Fierce Panda’s 300th single, and we have the video thanks to the kind folks at BBC Introducing. Watch it below.

You can read my review of ‘Choose’ here. For more Longfellow goodness, sashay this way.

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

 

Single Review: Longfellow – Choose

 
By on Friday, 11th September 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Tom Leishman

Venerated London indie label Fierce Panda Records is releasing its momentous 300th single today, and I’m pleased to announce that it comes from none other than one of my favourite bands on their roster, Longfellow. Following on from the excellent ‘Remedy’ EP that dropped back in April, ‘Choose’ is another pop gem that continues the South London band’s trend towards the anthemic.

The words that begin ‘Choose’ – “choose: be my saviour, be my downfall / choose: be my shelter, be my rain” – should tell you a lot about the foundation of this song. Any sort of love, especially when it becomes obsessive for either or both people involved in the relationship, runs the risk of going to either of two extremes. Either the other person is the most amazing person for you and makes *you* a better person too, or that person draws you in, quite possibly under false pretences that he/she loves you in the same way (“empty promises, vacant souls”). Interestingly, the song’s protagonist admits to his own foibles and shares the blame for the relationship going south: “I’m selfish, it’s true, I’ve often neglected you / Don’t seek intervention or force retribution”.

But when, then is it so hard to let go, if “you tell me that I’m useless and you used me to prop you up”? Because as you are loving that person, you can’t quite extricate yourself from him/her because you care so deeply for and want this person so much for your own. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all done this: when you’re in love with someone, you put your lover on a pedestal where he/she can do no wrong and you’re blind to all their faults. At some point, though, especially with all the turmoil going on inside your head, something’s gotta give.

These words of contrast reprise as the chorus throughout, but it becomes apparent pretty quickly that the situation frontman Owen Lloyd is singing about is a quite toxic one. Around Lloyd’s voice, the piano chords that have become Longfellow’s trademark come down, and chimes clang to indicate a crisis point has been reached. Both of these musical parts make the track heavy, but it’s a heft that makes perfect sense for such heartwrenching emotion that Longfellow are so good at in conveying, both lyrically and instrumentally. ‘Better Love’, the single’s b-side, is more in the folk pop vein, its lighter percussion and admirably twinkly keys not packing anywhere near the poignant punch of ‘Choose’. For some reason, ‘Better Love’ reminds me of early Fierce Panda signees Keane’s ‘Higher Than the Sun’, but it lacks a satisfying buildup or soaring vocals.

The big question I have is who here is being given the choice to choose. Even though it sounds like Lloyd’s putting the test to the other person to finally decide whether to soldier on or pack it in, the question can be directed inward too. Psychologically, all we are doing when we try and hold to someone who is clearly toxic and bad for our emotional well-being is enabling that person to continue to treat us badly. In some ways, ‘Choose’ is the negative counterpoint to their previous single ‘Hug-Kiss-Make Up’: perhaps ‘Choose’ shows a maturity, a taking off of the rose-coloured glasses?

8/10

‘Choose’ from Longfellow, the 300th single to be released by Fierce Panda Records, is available today in both digital and CD formats. Watch the video for the single, filmed in Berlin, below. For past coverage of Longfellow on TGTF, including their arresting appearance at the Wardrobe during Live at Leeds 2015 back in the spring, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJrikt4_k-U[/youtube]

 

Great Escape 2015: Day 2 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 21st May 2015 at 11:00 am
 

While Friday at the Great Escape 2015 wasn’t a blazing scorcher by any means, we were able to put the brollies away and the hardier types were already tucking into their pints and all before the noon hour. As described in the second half of my Thursday roundup, one of the things that stuck in my craw all festival was the fact that there seemed to be queues everywhere. Coming off a less well attended than usual SXSW 2015 where I could get in most everywhere I needed to with my badge, the queue situation in Brighton was getting old and fast. After being turned away at the Komedia Studio Bar for the Dutch Impact showcase where I had hoped to see electronic duo Tears and Marble, I had to be content to go back to the Prince Albert and the Music from Ireland showcase.

In my failed attempt to get in for the Dutch show, I had sadly already missed one of my faves from SXSW 2015, Orla Gartland, and instead joined the throngs waiting for the Riptide Movement, noted by my holiday host in Dublin the week before as his favourite live act in Ireland at the moment. You couldn’t get a better vote of faith, could you? As also alluded to in my review of Tropics‘ late night appearance in the same venue Thursday, the Prince Albert is not for the faint-hearted when rammed. Still, I figured it was early enough in the afternoon and people wouldn’t be (that) pissed. That said, being Irish, they’re probably used to playing to raucous, inebriated crowds.

The Riptide Movement at Great Escape 2015

Frontman Mal Tuohy does an excellent job of rallying his troops for what ends up becoming a stomping singalong on songs like ‘You and I’. Do you remember what Mumford and Sons sounded like when they first brought out ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ in their early shows live and everyone was behind them? There is that same ‘I feel good, I feel alive’ element in the Riptide Movement that is very appealing and easily so to everyone, where everyone feels included, and you can also tell they’re having loads of fun like early Vaccines too, which is immediately felt by their audience. It seems to pretty much be a no-brainer that they’ll be the next big rock band out of Ireland on the basis of the strength of their energetic and unapologetically so live show.

Boxed In at Great Escape 2015

Back outside, it was time to head over to the PRS Foundation’s showcase at the Dome Studio Bar, where Boxed In were playing third on an amazing afternoon bill starring SXSW 2015 alums Jay Prince, Spring King and PINS. I guess people were itching to see earlier shows on Friday because again, I was faced with a queue and the sinking feeling I would never get in to see any of the show, trying to hold my fist back from waving because I could hear the distant patters of ‘Mystery’ and felt annoyed I was not inside. I finally made it in halfway through their set, the place packed and I felt very lucky to have seen them perform at the much smaller Nation of Shopkeepers at Live at Leeds 2 weeks previous. I was confused though, as Boxed In mastermind Oli Bayston said this afternoon show would be an acoustic performance, and this most definitely was not one.

boxed In at Great Escape 2015

No matter though. The crowd whooped it up, dancing to and clearly enjoying the unique blend of keys, pop and dance Bayston had concocted for his self-titled debut album released last year on Moshi Moshi, the grooveathon known as ‘Foot of the Hill’ providing a set highlight. Due to a miscommunication, a previously arranged interview with mastermind Oli Bayston fell through; I hope to pick that back up sometime while they’re on tour, so you’ll have to wait a bit longer for it. Amusedly, while I was waiting around for this interview that didn’t happen, I nearly got stepped on by one of the girls from PINS who was trying to set up onstage; she apologised profusely and I told her not to worry about it at all.

The Dunwells at Great Escape 2015

Walking back onto New Road, a band was setting up under the Metro Free Gigs Airstream awning for what would be the Bullet Stage. They hadn’t started playing but I recognised that quiff…wait a minute. That’s the Dunwells from Leeds, isn’t it? Indeed it was. I had no idea I’d run into the band just walking around Brighton like this but I hung around as a large group of people amassed to watch this open air concert. A homeless man and his dog camped out in front of the group, keen on hearing this band play, the man enthusiastically clapping for them. For a show taking place in the middle of the madness, I think it went well, with EP title tracks ‘Show Me Emotion’ and ‘Lucky Ones’ sounding grand and much more fuller and richer live than on record.

A bit later on, it was time to do some Alternative Escape gigging. First up on my agenda was Get Inuit, who were performing as part of Alcopop Records’ showcase at the Pav Tav. Like an idiot, I was looking for an actual venue with a marquee reading “Pav Tav” and it wasn’t until I put two and two together that all I was looking for was the actual Pavilion Tavern. (Yes, it was my first time trying to find the place. ::insert canned laughter here::) I’ve been quite interested to hear the Kent four-piece play their self-described “dirty-pop” to a Brighton crowd. Bless frontman Jamie Glass, he’s got this nerdy yet very adorable way of addressing the crowd in between songs, coming up with connections no-one else would ever think of, such as trying to come up with an alternative nickname for the people of Brighton without insulting them. Anyone else would get bottled but with his self-deprecation, he gets away with it.

Get Inuit at Great Escape 2015

In another pleasant surprise of the afternoon, I was pleased to witness that Get Inuit are actually a harder-rocking band that the previous self description might lead you to believe. I suppose the pop label is more a nod to the catchy melodies of their songs, but phwoar, when they play, it’s loud, guitars and hair are flying, and everyone’s having a good time. ‘Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated’ is a prime example of this, where you can help yelling along with them, “I wanna be your stick in the mud!” while not really understanding exactly (or caring) what that means. Footstomper ‘Mean Heart’, which we gave away as a free MP3 of the Day last month, didn’t disappoint either, with James Simpson’s guitar bangings much appreciated. Huw Stephens is already a fan, so why aren’t you one yet?

Bar Rogue is on the seafront-facing side of the Royal Albion Hotel, and it’s where Earworm Events put on a 3-day onslaught of bands while the Great Escape 2015 rumbled on in other locales in Brighton. I arrived while London’s Longfellow were still soundchecking, so I guessed there were technical issues, later coming to a head when Ali Hetherington’s keyboard stopped working for a moment.

Save for the nonexistent lighting that made my photography near impossible, the setup was fantastic: just as frontman Owen Lloyd quipped, the intimacy felt like you were playing in someone’s living room. Compared to their Live at Leeds 2015 set, I had arrived early and was present for the whole thing, able to fully enjoy the grandeur of early single gem ‘Siamese Lover’ alongside newer EP tracks ‘Where I Belong’ and ‘Chokehold’.

Part 2 of my Friday coverage of the Great Escape 2015 follows this afternoon.

 

Live at Leeds 2015: Editor Mary’s Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 6th May 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

For more of my photos from Live at Leeds 2015, visit my Flickr.

It’s always a bit daunting to come to a brand new city and hit the ground running at a music festival you’ve heard about for years and have only heard the highest praise for it. Such was my personal trepidation ahead of Live at Leeds 2015, the 9th annual installment of an event where artists descend on the West Yorkshire town, drawn in like moths to a flame.

I’ve no idea how anyone ever did this festival prior to the advent of the smartphone. It seemed by the time I finally sussed the lay of the land and knew where all the venues were, it was all over. In between 11 AM of picking up our press credentials at the First Direct Arena until midnight, the 13 hours were packed with bands; running around to see said bands; catching up with friends, many of whom were in some of those said bands, but others who were new mates; and familiarising myself and falling in love with nearly every venue I had the pleasure of stepping into. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kindness, hospitality, good food, and of course the amazing music that makes an event like this so worthwhile, ensuring my first Live at Leeds experience was a good one.

Despite the intention I set for myself at every festival – “Don’t get lost!” – construction and obstructed signage at the Leeds Coach Station turned me around and made me late for Longfellow performing at the Wardrobe on the east side of the city centre. The group from London recently released the new EP ‘Remedy’ on Fierce Panda Records (read my review of it here) and were eager to perform in front of their first-ever audience in Leeds. Ever the testament to the city as supportive to the British music scene, the 1 PM gig was well attended. Good on you, Leeds!

I arrived just in time for EP standout ‘Where I Belong’, showing their knack for anthemic songwriting. Their set also included BBC 6 Music stalwart ‘Kiss – Hug – Makeup’, another EP number ‘Chokehold’ and what frontman Owen Lloyd calls “their birthday song” they bring out for celebrations, ‘May the Light’, which appears on their 2014 mini-album ‘Prelude’. Longfellow’s set ended on a high note with live fan favourite ‘Medic’.

Staying put at the Wardrobe, I got a full dose of Racing Glaciers. I have to admit in recent years, I’ve had a jaded eye for any band that has a synthesiser set up centre stage; I’m half expecting a couple of plinky-plonky notes being dropped not for any good reason but just because it’s required these days. Seeing that they appeared directly after Longfellow and also have a keyboard player, logic would dictate that the sound system would make Racing Glaciers’ anthemic style I sussed from them on record translate to something similar sounding to the Londoners who played before them. Instead, the massive loudness and brashness from the band from Macclesfield, including, dare I say it some funky bass notes live, suggest to me that they’re a band who should not be so easily pigeon-holed. Their self-titled and ‘Don’t Wait for Me’ EPs certainly deserve further attention.

After a brief catch-up on the way with TGTF friends The Orielles who had just finished their own gig at Leeds Beckett Stage 2, I was on to my third band of the day. I had a general idea that I would be trekking north and upwards towards the Mine in the Leeds Uni Student Union, but I had no idea the labyrinthine path Google Maps had laid out for me would take me up steps of Rocky-isian proportions. But if there’s anything that will inspire me to get somewhere and quickly, it’s a band.

Half out of breath by the time I reached Leeds Uni, I arrived just in time for the final soundchecking by Oxford indie pop band Pixel Fix, whose ‘Running Thin’ EP of summer 2014 was one of my favourites from last year. They have that poppy, bouncy synth thing going that’s not quite as dancey as Friendly Fires but nearly there (see ‘Lungs’) and that’s where they shine; I’m not as convinced by the oozy, woozy, r&b jam attempts but hey, that’s what sells on Radio 1. What is entirely evident is the undeniable energy that can only radiate from youth, with frontman Marcus Yates definitely looking the part with his spiky blonde hair. With the right kind of promotion, Pixel Fix are the kind of band you expect playing to a crowd of screaming teenagers in a venue near you. Soon.

Despite my prior impression that the place would only be filled with hipster uni kids bopping their heads side to side to the beat, there were plenty of adults too, many of them chatting with each other and saying how good this band was and how quickly they expected them to “make it”. This isn’t a common occurrence from where I come from, so I base on these overheard conversations that the older generation of Leeds music fans has excellent taste and hopefully good prescience!

What goes up must come down, yes? Or so the saying goes. Once I figured out how to get to and up to Leeds Uni, it was reasonably quick work to get back into the city centre. In my rush to not be late to my next band appointment, rushing through the corridors of Leeds Student Union, I nearly collided headfirst into Tom Ogden (you can’t miss him with that gorgeous, flowing Pantene hair of his) and the rest of Stockport psych band Blossoms, who were checking out bands before their set at the Stylus later that day.

Following a quick hello and a run back into town, I was at the Academy, whose front door oddly shares frontage space with pretty amazing Gothic architecture (the whole thing is a Grade II listed building). As much as I adore Oxford’s Stornoway, Leeds Academy has a capacity of 2,300 in the main space, and I had a hard time believing their folk pop sound would translate well into such a cavernous location.

Boy, was I wrong. As I am sat here typing this up while on holiday in Ireland, it occurred to me yesterday while seeing a larger than life mural of U2 on the side of a building in Temple Bar that Bono has nothing on Brian Briggs at this point. I enjoyed a good portion of their third and latest album ‘Bonxie’ that was released a short time ago on Cooking Vinyl, but I found the collection uneven and hoped against hope that the new tracks would sound amazing live.

At least I was right on the mark with that prediction! My feeling is they had such a good time working with an outside producer for the first time, it freed them as both musicians and people, and it gave them just the right encouragement to step outside their comfort zone that perhaps they might not have felt without working with Gil Norton. Straight out of the gate, frontman Briggs seemed much more at ease speaking to a throng of people than I have seen him ever, which was incredibly good timing, seeing that a massive crowd had assembled at the Academy to see his band play.

Their opening salvo ‘Between the Saltmarsh and the Sea’, smartly continuing the Stornoway tradition of artfully arranged harmonies, was simply and devastatingly beautiful, its expansiveness reaching into every nook and cranny of the Academy and certainly into each and every heart present in the venue, and album single ‘The Road You Didn’t Take’ followed suit. The uplifting nature of both ‘Get Low’ and ‘Lost Youth’ can’t be beat, and in a surprising turn of events, a rousing, folk-ified cover version of Yazz’s ‘The Only Way is Up’ had fangirls and fanboys of all ages singing along – loudly, I might add – to the Oxfordians. Nods to their early years with 2010’s ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’ were also included, including an unexpected but completely appreciated dedication to your humble editor on ‘I Saw You Blink’. All in all, it was a performance that you couldn’t ask for anything more from. Except more songs: calls for an encore went sadly unheeded.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Live at Leeds 2015 review, which will post tomorrow here on TGTF.

 
 
 

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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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