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Single Review: James Vincent McMorrow – How to Waste a Moment

 
By on Friday, 14th August 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Dublin singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow has recently unveiled two new tracks in the aftermath of his recent album ‘Post Tropical’, which came out early in 2014. ‘Post Tropical’ was a departure from McMorrow’s early acoustic folk style, delving into synthesised sounds and deconstruction of form to create a more ambient, reflective sort of mood. His two newly shared songs represent the threshold of another change, drawing a line between the ‘Post Tropical’ period and the next phase of McMorrow’s songwriting journey.

The first of the new songs is a stripped back version of a track from ‘Post Tropical’ called ‘Gold’. The original version was more rhythmic and energetic, with a dramatic brass interlude building intensity behind McMorrow’s strained falsetto vocals. The new solo version is slow and comparatively anti-climactic, evolving gradually rather than deliberately developing toward a final conclusion.

McMorrow’s lyrics are abstract and full of vague imagery, which works better with the contrast of the more intentional original arrangement. The solo version is aimless and uncertain but still somehow apropros as McMorrow slurs into its final statement, “time isn’t the only power now”. The song is currently available as an .aif file for free by clicking the download (down arrow) button on the upper right hand corner of the SoundCloud widget below.

McMorrow’s new single release ‘How To Waste A Moment’ has more momentum and is more immediately tangible, beginning straight away with a hypnotic rhythmic figure and a purposeful vocal delivery. McMorrow’s breathy falsetto still obscures his words somewhat, but he has helpfully posted the lyrics on his Soundcloud, along with the track itself and a description of how the song came about. The key statement, in my mind, comes at the end of his description: “I recorded it with tempo because life to me is tempo, it’s rarely slow. This song is the connect from where I was, to where I’m going to be very soon.”

Fans of the hazy, deliberately indistinct musical style of Bon Iver will find much to like in these two tracks, as they most likely did on hearing ‘Post Tropical’. I myself am more interested in McMorrow’s new tempo-driven direction, and I look forward to hearing where this might lead him in the near future.

7/10

James Vincent McMorrow’s new single ‘How to Waste a Moment’ is out now on Believe Recordings. Previous TGTF coverage of James Vincent McMorrow is right back this way.

 

MP3 of the Day #887: Blitzen Trapper

 
By on Wednesday, 12th August 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Portland, Oregon’s Blitzen Trapper will be releasing their eighth – their eighth! – studio album on the 2nd of October on Lojinx Records (the UK) and Vagrant Records (North America). To celebrate the upcoming release, the group are giving away the track ‘Lonesome Angel’ from the new LP, called ‘All Across This Land’. It has a decidedly country rock, Eagles-esque flavour, and I hope it’s indicative of the new release.

And for those of you who need any more convincing – and even those of you who don’t need it and who already love all things American! – the trailer for the album is also embedded below the stream of the free mp3 stream. And who said we didn’t take good care of you in the middle of a lazy summer week?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdB5Rq6U1hk[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Multiplier – Multiplier EP

 
By on Monday, 20th July 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Multiplier are a band from Manchester who take influences from high places: two are early days Radiohead and ‘80s post-punkers The Chameleons. But from listening to the first track ‘Choice’ and throughout their self-titled debut EP, what rings clearest are the echoes of a rock behemoth from their own hometown, Doves. BBC Introducing in Manchester’s support, then, doesn’t seem so surprising. The unique drumming sequence from the beginning is then joined by equally mesmerising shoegazey guitars, and Andy Gardner’s dreamy lead vocals aren’t that far off from those of Jimi Goodwin’s, or even Guy Garvey’s whose timbre is closer. “How the tables have turned”, repeats Gardner as the music swells, and you can’t help but be drawn into and get lost in the world they’ve created.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsKexKPJ74g[/youtube]

Comparatively, ‘Heart of Gold’ is a massive contrast, with a happy, poppy, peppy beat. It also is a footstomper in some places, which is another surprise coming off the moody, swirly ‘Choice’. Things go back to a far dreamier place in the nearly 7-minute opus ‘Acres’, where the guitar flickers from note to note like starlight. In dramatic juxtaposition, Gardner’s lyrics of “there’s nothing left here / I’ve been digging a grave / for passions expired” spark something deeply emotional.

Having already shown great promise in their songwriting and musicianship chops and supported bands as varied as I Like Trains, The Woodentops and fellow BBC Introducing buzz band Blossoms, I’m eager to hear what Multiplier get up to next. And you should be too.

7.5/10

Multiplier’s debut EP is out now on the band’s own Bandcamp, where it can be purchased at name your own price. You can listen to all three songs below.

 

MP3 of the Day #886: Gengahr

 
By on Friday, 10th July 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, you should know Gengahr released their debut album last month on Transgressive Records. (You can read my review of ‘A Dream Outside’ here.) As a thank you to their fans, Gengahr are giving away the demo version of ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’, a favourite off the debut album. If you’d like to have it, get it here.

Gengahr are on a massive tour of the UK in October; for all the dates, visit this post. For other articles on Gengahr on TGTF including Carrie’s interview with the band at SXSW 2015, head this way.

 

MP3(s) of the Day #885: Dine Alone Records’ mini summer sampler

 
By on Thursday, 9th July 2015 at 10:00 am
 

One of our favourite North American indie labels, Toronto’s Dine Alone Records, is offering up a free mini summer sampler of eight songs by bands from their roster for music fans to have a taste and enjoy a selection of tracks with no commitment needed. Tracks from Miami Horror, Yukon Blonde, k-os, Dave Monks, Lieutenant, Fine Points, Brendan Philip and Vanessa Carlton are all yours and free for the taking from the Noisetrade widget below in exchange for your email address and postal code. To have a listen to the tracks first, you can stream them from the YouTube embed at the bottom of this post.

You can read Carrie’s review of the Dine Alone Records showcase Wednesday night at SXSW 2015 at this link.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAJfTxf1580[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Travis is a Tourist – Weakdays EP

 
By on Monday, 6th July 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Weakdays EP coverEditor Mary and I first encountered Belfast singer/songwriter Travis is a Tourist in a rather fortunate coincidence at SXSW 2014, where he performed both on his own and with fellow Northern Irish artist RAMS’ Pocket Radio. Travis is a Tourist, who is known offstage as Travis Gilbert, has been steadily on the TGTF radar since then, with an appearance at Liverpool Sound City 2014 and now, after more than a year’s wait, a new EP release titled ‘Weakdays’.

The EP’s title is thought-provoking, even before you hear a single note of the music. The tweaked spelling of ‘weekdays’ implies an unsettled feeling, a sense of restlessness and anticipation. Musically, the songs on the EP reflect that sentiment by way of wistful guitar melodies, lingering vocal lines, and perpetual rhythmic motion, while thematically the effect is achieved through the direct, concise emotional impact of Gilbert’s introspective lyrics. Gilbert’s restrained vocal delivery is key to the reflective nature of the songs, and the slight roughness in his singing voice is perfectly modulated to the mood of the music.

‘Weakdays’ opens with a frank and self-revelatory track called ‘Tourist’, whose initial line is a strong statement of intent: “For those who don’t know, I’ve always had a fascination with leaving home”. Melancholy and resigned, the song still retains a confident sense of determination and pace that sets the tone for the rest of the EP. (Gilbert also wins points here with a reference to one of my personal favourite Counting Crows songs in the opening verse.)

The EP’s first single ‘Loosen Up’, which you can download for free for a limited time from Gilbert’s SoundCloud, is a slow burner with a languorous opening verse and a quick, shuffling chorus that will make your heart skip a beat. The simple refrain is warmly memorable, more of a reassuringly whispered mantra than a boldly declared motto, with a repeated bridge section echoing beneath the final repeat. The song was premiered on The Thin Air last week and has already received radio play on BBC Radio Ulster’s Across the Line as that program’s Track for the Day #175.

‘Getting Close’ opens with a chugging muted guitar under the evocative lyrical hook, “evening crept in, just as afternoon had wore thin” before growing into an expansively melodic chorus. Despite its fretful title, ‘Worry’ is uptempo and energetic throughout, with blissed out vocal layers in its chorus, “don’t worry about the morning sun / don’t worry, it’ll still be there when you get up”.

The EP closes, appropriately, with the austere arrangement of ‘Loud’, which exemplifies Travis is a Tourist’s fundamental sound, distilled down to the raw emotional power of a single guitar and Gilbert’s intensely understated vocals before layering strings and backing vocals in the repeated chorus. Gilbert has wisely resisted the temptation to overproduce the songs on this EP, choosing instead to highlight his best assets, namely the fine grit of his singing voice and his honest, uncomplicated approach to songwriting.

8/10

Travis is a Tourist’s self-released EP ‘Weakdays’ is available now on his Bandcamp page.  Previous TGTF coverage of Travis is a Tourist can be found right back here.

 
 
 

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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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