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Bands to Watch #33: Nicole Atkins

 
By on Friday, 3rd October 2008 at 11:45 am
 

New Jersey has a lot to be grateful for. The Four Seasons, Dionne Warwick and Lauryn Hill are just a couple of its greatest exports.

But now we make way for another.

Nicole Atkins is unlike anything you have heard before and I say this because she sounds like Roy Orbison and plays a mean guitar.

Her debut album, Neptune City, is big and dreamy. It will whisk you off your feet and carry you on a cloud to the sound of surf-guitar ballads and hazy piano melodies.

Produced by Tore Johansson (OK Go, Franz Ferdinand, Cardigans, New Order, Saint Etienne) it sounds like it came from anywhere but a small town New Jersey gal.

Having left her native city in the 90’s to seek fame in New York, she pays tribute to the shore town she was raised in. She calls out the bridges, bars and ex-boyfriends that she left behind.

Now older and wiser, Atkins calls her music pop-noir; it’s a little bit country, at times psychedelic with a dash from early musicals.

‘The Way It Is’ is my favourite track of the album. Atkins’ throaty vocals and frank lyrics against the backdrop of the orchestra is a contrast between old and new, not quite motown, not quite rock. And it is completely unique, just like her.

Fans of Rufus Wainwright and KD Lang need to check this one out.

MP3: Nicole Atkins – Maybe Tonight

 

Bands to Watch #32: Viva Stereo

 
By on Tuesday, 30th September 2008 at 8:43 pm
 

Quite honestly, I’m not sure how to categorise Viva Stereo. Their new album, “Roar Lion Roar” manages to mix old and new influences and sounds, and ultimately ends up being one of the best album that the mainstream (probably) won’t hear this year.

The four guys in Viva Stereo have been around for a while – this is the third and final album in the trilogy of self-released albums that started in 2004, and whilst they haven’t received a tonne of press they really should have done going by this collection and the number of stars of the Scottish music scene who have collaborated to create “Roar Lion Roar”.

When the album starts up with “Another Night Out” it sounds like “Play”-era Moby demo, with vocals buried deep down in the mix, thumping drums a gentle groove that just yearns to be played over the “incredibly drunk late night collage” of some (rather good) indie film.

“Knee High Boots” (the free MP3 below) sounds like Glasvegas a year or so down the line… anthemic, accessible, slightly My Bloody Valentine and yet still so gorgeous.

Interestingly, whilst researching this piece I came across a piece from last April on the amazing Song, by Toad about Viva Stereo’s live performance, and was intrigued to see them described as a “deranged party mayhem bunch”, which certainly makes me want to go and see them (if only because of the juxtaposition of this description next to many of the tracks of the album) – if only I wasn’t so far down south and about 200 miles from their nearest show!

Their album is anything but a paint-by-numbers affair, with a myriad of influences, a vibrant range of instruments and sounds and quite honestly, one of the best this year of the “bands to watch series” – download the MP3 (now unavailable), and then go and buy their album if you can. You won’t regret it.

After the jump: we chat to Viva Stereo about their release.

Viva Stereo’s latest release, Roar Lion Roar is out on 10th November from the below record shops:
Aberdeen: One Up Records / Glasgow: Mono Records, Avalanche Records / Edinburgh: Avalanche Records / Leicester: Rockaboom Records / London: Rough Trade Records / Manchester: Piccadilly Records

Continue reading Bands to Watch #32: Viva Stereo

 

Daily Roundup: Thursday 11th September

 
By on Thursday, 11th September 2008 at 8:16 pm
 

So yesterday I went to see Batman: The Dark Knight at London’s IMAX cinema, and we were blown away at the quality and sound of it on such a big screen. I’d already seen it before on a normal cinema screen, but yesterday was definitely worth the three hour journey each way. Of course, with so much time on a bus and tube, I got through some serious listening on my iPod.

Having received Bloc Party‘s Talons on Tuesday night, it’s been pretty much on repeat the whole time. Simply amazing, and is so far right up there with Ion Square as my favourite track of Intimacy. The video fits the song perfectly, and is suitably dark and brooding as Kele’s lyrics.

The press release comments:

Talking about Talons singer Kele said, “we wanted to keep things fresh and we thought the fans would be more excited to get a new song rather than something off the album. Talons is one of the last songs we recorded during the Intimacy sessions and I always had it in mind to be one of the extra tracks we promised for the CD if it turned out well. It turned out great so we decided to make it the next single. I’m enjoying this way of working, not over-thinking things, just make a decision and get on with it! It’s quite liberating in a way, I’m sure it’s going to be the way things happen more and more in the future”

Could this mean that they announce whole tours this way? I’d kinda like it if they just announced “oh, we’re playing London’s Astoria next Wednesday… and then Bristol’s Academy… and maybe some more venues too, we haven’t really decided yet!”. However I doubt they’d do that, for the logistical problems. But it’d be cool.

In my inbox this morning I found a link to a company that film live concerts in Europe, Fabchannel. I haven’t come across them before, but WOW. They have a great range of full gigs filmed on the continent, in amazing quality. I sound like I’ve been paid to gush this much, but I think it’ll be providing me with several evenings of entertainment. They sent me a link to Jack McManus who I haven’t come across before, and sounds pretty good at first listen, but I also came across full sets from Bloc Party, Delays, Los Campesinos (including the “most polite stage invasion ever”), The Courteeners, Pipettes… well, I could go on and on. You get the picture!

Finally, I found in my inbox an MP3 that I’d forgotten about. Sent to me about 4 weeks ago, Melbourne based Ancient Free Gardeners have a great sound – dreamy, a bit Shins-esque, with hints of The National and Radiohead shining through. Download the free MP3, and stop by their myspace to show some love – I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

MP3: Ancient Free Gardeners – Innards Out

 

Morgan’s Shortlist #1

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd September 2008 at 7:34 am
 

Hailing from Folkestone, Nick Harrison combines his image of the missing Kook with catchy ska-inspired, Penate-esque numbers. With radio friendly tracks and the talent to match, Harrison is glory bound.

Fresh after playing the Underage Festival which capped off a series of gigs, and was perhaps the best indication of his potential, he’ll embrace the stage of XFM First Friday on 3rd October.

Though his album isn’t due until April next year, recently released Oi Rude Boy is already doing the rounds and receiving glorious reviews. Once you give it a listen, the quirky lyrics and playful guitar will stick for days on end.

For more:

WMA (unfortunately not MP3): Close To The End

Video: Oi Rude Boy

 

Daily Roundup: Sunday 24th August

 
By on Sunday, 24th August 2008 at 6:16 pm
 

So, I’m trying a new thing this week: A “daily roundup” of everything that doesn’t merit a complete post of its own. It won’t be literally every day (I do go out sometimes you know), but will be a collection of new MP3s, Videos, music etc.

It’s scary how quickly this Reading and Leeds festivals have been and (almost) gone. I’ve not really caught much coverage on the BBC of the festivals, but have checked out some of the ace videos and pictures. Particuarly loving the fact that Red Light Company are getting so much coverage from Zane Lowe, following on from my live review and initial introduction. Bloc Party look to have been amazing too – check out their live set available here for 7 days.

MP3: Red Light Company – Fascination
MP3: Red Light Company – Scheme Eugene
MP3: Red Light Company – With Lights Out

This time next week I’ll be in Scotland at Hydro Connect Festival, getting mouth wettingly-excited for the closing nights combination of Sigur Ros and Franz Ferdinand. I’ve spent much of today sorting out some pretty mundane things about the festival, like driving and what sort of coverage we’ll be having. I’ve had a look at the brilliant Winston’s Zen, who was at last weekend’s V Festival and getting a few ideas about how to live-blog the festival, amount of coverage etc. It’s gonna be hard to judge just what’s best until we get there, so don’t be suprised if you get tonnes, or next to nothing coverage wise.

One thing we’ve been having to look at is how to camp – I originally requested camping tickets, but got non-camping tickets, so have been looking at other options for us, from Tangerine Fields‘ bespoke camping options, to the goregous wendy-house style Podpads via the eco-friendly myhab‘s – I’d honestly never really considered anything other than a tent, or a hotel for the posho’s.

Traditionally, August is quite a quiet time for the music industry – bands are off playing the festivals, people are on holidays, and generally the live music biz is taking a well-earned break ahead of the onslught of year-end tours. However, this week we’ve had no end of new tour announcements, with The Fratellis, Kaiser Chiefs, The Whip, Laura Marling, Joan as a Policewoman, Slipknot and Martha Wainwright all announcing stints around the UK this winter. I’m not expecting this week to have quite as many new tour announcements, but fingers crossed – this winter’s shaping up to be a great live experience.

 

Daily Roundup: Friday 22nd August

 
By on Friday, 22nd August 2008 at 8:56 pm
 

So, I’m trying a new thing this week: A “daily roundup” of everything that doesn’t merit a complete post of its own. It won’t be literally every day (I do go out sometimes you know), but will be a collection of new MP3s, Videos, music etc.

I first got sent Dan Black‘s HYPNTZ back at the end of July, and fell in love with it, however couldn’t help but feel it was a tiny weeny bit too cheesy – sounded like some schoolboy rapper from North London trying to be ghetto. Then I heard it on Zane Lowe the other night and then heard the new one, “These Things Take Time”, which sounds like it has a sample of Nelly Furtado‘s Maneater in it.

Dan says:

“I knew what kind of music I wanted make, but at first I found it hard to get these conflicting desires to blend well outside of my head. I’d been making these weird remix/mashups for my occasional Djing, so I thought, I’ll take the method I’ve been using for that but use it for song writing instead. The very first thing I tried was HYPNTZ.”

Download and enjoy.

MP3: Dan Black – HYPNTZ
MP3: Dan Black – These Things Take Time

We found out earlier this week that we’re off to Hydro Connect festival in Scotland next weekend, so you can expect a lot of coverage next week from the festival. However, this weekend of course is the mighty Reading and Leeds festivals, where many of the bands I’ll be catching next weekend are playing. Friendly Fires went down a storm, and I can’t wait to see their show after only getting into their album the other week. Meanwhile Crystal Castles caused chaos – I’m not a big fan of them musically, but might have to catch them just for the entertainment factor.

The two bands however that I’m looking forward to most at Hydro Connect are Sigur Ros and Bloc Party. Sigur Ros’ new video for ‘Inní mér syngur vitleysingur’ (‘Within me a lunatic sings’)is pretty bland, but my God I love that song! Next Sunday, as the sun sets around Inveraray I can see them completely capping my weekend, and providing an amazing atmposphere. Bloc Party’s album has been on repeat since I downloaded it yesterday morning at 9am – I’m yet to be as hooked as I was by “A Weekend in the City”, but it’s definately a grower (in a good way).

On a slightly different musical side of things, Dido has released a new song ahead of releasing a whole new album in early November. Needless to say, it sounds pretty much the same as her previous two albums of stuff, with a bit more musical accompaniment (is that an orchestra we hear?) Yes, some might say it’s bland and boring, but I love it.

MP3: Dido – Look No Further

 
 
 

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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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