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Single Review: Foals – My Number

 
By on Friday, 14th December 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Champions of the post-Libertines indie scene, Oxford act Foals haven’t been sitting on their uber-cool laurels. Having toyed with people with the frankly huge sounding Inhaler, they’ve now put out new track ‘My Number’ from their forthcoming third record ‘Holy Fire’, out in February.

With jingling math guitars overlapping scattered brushes with powerful guitar that made ‘Antidotes’ the most accessible album of its kind in a long time, and descending into the full light crashing sound that saw ‘Total Life Forever’ soar into their fans’ most cherished records, it’s not difficult to see Yannis and company in full command of the masses in the future once more. Finishing off a tour of tiny venues across the country may have whet the appetites of those lucky enough to be inside the sweaty rooms, but its created a sense of yearning for many more.

Sadly, ‘My Number’ features all the promise of Foals gone by, whilst not bringing it anywhere near to the reserved explosions of ‘Inhaler’. If they’d put this on ‘Total Life Forever’, it would have simply have been another album track and as such you have to question what ‘Holy Fire’ holds in store.

“You don’t have my number; we don’t need each other now. We don’t need the city, the creed of the culture now”, sings Yannis. It’s hardly the coded glory of ‘This Orient’ or ‘Spanish Sahara’ but even I’ll admit that it seems unfair to judge them against their lyrical best when ‘Cassius’ exists.

For now then, ‘My Number’ sits simply on the varied Foals shelf as a track they’ll no doubt be bringing forward with them; but don’t expect it to light up your festival season come the sunny months.

7/10

Foals’ new album ‘Holy Fire’ will be released on the 11th of February 2013. Watch them perform ‘My Number’ on Jools Holland last month below; the track premiered on British radio last night on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 programme.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSyz3X0pifM[/youtube]

 

Interview: Frank Turner

 
By on Wednesday, 12th December 2012 at 3:00 pm
 

Feature by guest interviewer Alexandra Foxley-Johnson

Frank Turner walks into the room with a friendly smile and shakes my hand. It’s one of the qualities he’s known best for, ever kind when he meets someone. It’s probably also one of the reasons that his fans are so dedicated to him as a person, and not just his talent.

So you’ve done over a thousand gigs, which is an incredibly impressive amount; but how’s this tour comparing to the others?

“This tour’s really great actually, I’m really enjoying it. It’s the longest UK tour I’ve done in years, and in terms of sheer numbers, it’s probably the biggest UK tour I’ve ever done.

Frank says that this tour is about revisiting a lot of the places he hasn’t played for a couple of years. “For my own benefit, I wanted to get out and see my own country again, and also just let people know that I’m not going to be one of those bands that retreats into doing only massive shows.”

“One of the other things as well is that I keep hanging out with people who I haven’t seen since I was doing kind of tours on the train, with a rucksack and guitar.”

“We get together and we have dinner and we laugh at how ridiculous it is that the plan worked.”

What’s been one of your favourite gigs to play this tour?

“Oh, to pick one. What a loaded question. I don’t know, I mean it’s funny; in terms of my playing and me and the band’s performance, I think Norwich was the best show. In terms of the audience, I think Wolverhampton was the best show so far. The two are not by any means always synced.”

You’ve been all over the place, you even toured China a few years ago. Do you have any intention of touring in Asia again?

“Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got some stuff coming up next year, hopefully with the band this time round. That Chinese tour was really cool, it was technically illegal…I was playing like punk shows, you know? And it was a really, really fantastic and interesting experience. One of the best things about what I do is that I’ve had the chance to do stuff like that.”

Is there anything that you particularly like about touring abroad?

“It’s nice to see the world, you know? And to sort of meet people. I mean, it’s a cliche about touring that you tour around the world and all you see are dressing rooms and car parks, and it’s true to a degree. But the flipside is that you meet people.”

“You can make friends and learn something about the world through talking to people. It’s a great pleasure to me that if I wanted to just go and kind of sofa surf around the world with friends that I’ve met, not playing shows or whatever, I could do that.”

Still on the subject of touring; do you have a comfort food on tour?

“Yeah, I mean, this tour we’re lucky enough to have some guys out with us cooking for us, which is amazing. They’re brilliant, and Dylan’s a lovely man who cooks me what I like.”

“I love Italian food, so he’ll cook me Italian food a lot which makes me happy. I mean, nothing more specific than that. Toast and marmite, for breakfast, makes me feel good.”

Finally, as it’s something I’ve always wondered about, can I ask you what the tattoos on your hands mean?

“These two (Frank motions to the Greek letters of his little fingers) are alpha and omega which are the first and last letters of the greek alphabet. The phrase ‘alpha and omega’ was a kind of cipher to mean, a shorthand to mean, the entirety of creation.”

“It just means the entirety of creation, and I use my hands to make a living so it seemed appropriate. I can go on for hours about my tattoos; (pointing to the number thirteen tattooed on one of his middle fingers) it’s a lucky 13. It’s circus culture, which is where most tattoo culture comes from in the West, 13 was considered a lucky number because in circus’ [people] were very much social outcasts, and the reasoning was that if it was an unlucky number for normal people, then it will be our lucky number.”

“And there’s still a tradition today, if a tattooist is a particularly traditional guy, then on any Friday 13th he’ll give out free 13 tattoos to anyone who asks.”

 

Live Review: Other Lives with Indians at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 30th November 2012

 
By on Monday, 10th December 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Friends of mine from Germany had been talking about the band Other Lives over the summer, and I was just curious enough to check them out. Turns out they sounded pretty good, like minimalism meets orchestral, something that I could get into. So when they popped up as a gig to cover, I hopped on it.

The evening opened up with Indians: plural word, singular man signed to 4AD this year. Copenhagen’s Søren Løkke Juul is an example of something I am seeing more of, a band that is just one person playing a synthesizer. I will say that he completely saved himself in that he could actually play piano. He was *not* just ‘playing a box’. To increase my admiration, he also pulled out an acoustic guitar and played that as well. With his debut not being released until next month, this 10-month old ‘band’ showed promise and versatility.

It turns out I was so lucky I listened to my friend’s advice. It may not be my favorite concert of the year, as my pal exclaimed, but it was a great gig and a surprise from such an under the radar band. First off, it was a small club with sometimes dodgy sound and this band of five actively uses more instruments than I have even seen on stage, so both space and sound quality were of utmost importance. So this is what was on stage and used: two violins, cello, trumpet, a large and small xylophone, guitar, bass, two sets of double keyboards, harmonica, acoustic guitar, castanets, harmonium, synthesizer, timpani, lap steel, and a set of ANTLERS WITH BELLS!

It also may have been the most beautiful I have seen this dark boxy venue ever look. Not only was the stage filled with instruments, but oversized, clear, incandescent light bulbs were stationed throughout. It gave a beautiful light to the stage and when coupled with the fog, made the stage absolutely glow. In a funny aside, about a third of the way through the gig, lead singer Jesse Tabish asked to have the fog turned off because he couldn’t see anything, and I concurred – I literally could not see Colby Owens, the drummer or Jenny Hsu, the cellist. Jon Mooney and Josh Onstott round out the band playing many of the remaining instruments.

Often I am distracted by the drumming, which I love. The appealing thing about this band is that there was always so much going on, so much layering that I never had time to get wrapped up in the drummer. This said to me that each of the musicians on stage could hold their own and made for a very balanced band. Both ambient and punchy in its own turn, their tunes swelled and roared through the crowd.

As the band built to a full-on intense noise climax in ‘Weather’ there were people rocking out all around me. The encore returned Tabish to the stage alone where he highlighted the fact that this band started out as an instrumental endeavor, playing solo on a piano piece that confirmed that he was indeed a piano player and not just someone who plays keyboards. They closed out the night with ‘Black Tables’ and melted into that good night. The sold out crowd then shook themselves from their reverie and headed out heady from the experience.

 

Live Review: Band of Skulls with Folks at Newcastle Other Rooms – 28th November 2012

 
By on Friday, 7th December 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Band of Skulls were one of the highlights of this year’s lacklustre Evolution Festival, so an opportunity to catch the band on their final promotional tour for latest album ‘Sweet Sour’ is one not to be missed. Does their raucous blend of blues-rock and contemporary songwriting work just as well in an intimate, sweaty venue as it did on an outdoor stage? Oh yes indeed.

But first up we have Manchester six-piece Folks, whose mission is to recreate the sliver of time when 1960s flower-power psychedelia and 1970s hard rock existed simultaneously. Musically, Beach Boys three-part harmonies, synth recreations of Beatles-era mellotron, and Stones-esque riffing recreate a bygone era, whilst paisley shirts, winkle-pickers, Weller haircuts and the non-ironic appearance of a faded Mick Ronson t-shirt mean sartorially the band flirt dangerously close to self-parody: a tribute to tribute acts, if you will.

Singer Scott Anderson flourishes his tambourine like it’s coming back into fashion; his vocal style is similarly reminiscent of the younger Gallagher brother. The material shares complementary retro affectations: ‘My Mother’, lead-off track from debut ‘I See Cathedrals’, sets the tone: upbeat, crashing drums, efflusions of vocal harmonies, crunchy guitar work, and string quartet embellishment; as a contrast, ‘Skull & Bones’ is shameless in its pilfering of the thudding rhythm of ELO’s ‘Mr. Blue Sky’. If ‘Will It Blend?’ took the couple of years either side of 1970, gave them a good whizz, and poured the resulting morass onto a stage, Folks are what would happen. It’s all pretty good fun, and if you regret never being at the Marquee Club in 1969, or if you were there and want to relive those glory days, these are your Folks. Thomas Fripp’s spidery, eloquent guitar work is a particular highlight, however if you want something truly original, look elsewhere.

Look, perhaps, to Band of Skulls, who despite taking hard rock as their framework, manage to meld it into something contemporary, original, and exciting. ‘Sweet Sour’ is dispensed early, its dirty, sexy, sparsely bluesy guitar work setting the tone for what is to develop over the next hour. A true power trio in the vein of Cream or The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Band of Skulls’ talent is to craft proper songs, relevant with emotion and meaning (check out ‘Hometowns’ for a prime example), whilst still delivering the goods with massive ROCK! riffs and finger-shredding solos from Russell Marsden. ‘The Devil Takes Care of His Own’ features both elements turned up to the requisite 11, enhanced by the boy-girl vocal throughout – the interplay between Marsden and bassist (and renowned artist) Emma Richardson the key to broadening and sexing up the sound.

BoS have a talent for attracting a crowd diverse in age and style (if not ethnicity): there’s the requisite teenage lads at the front, moshing and taking camera-phone pictures of the set list; but there’s also more mature chin-stroking musos thoughtfully observing, dolled-up girls who could just as easily fit in at one of the city’s more salubrious cocktail bars, and in some cases entire families, with pension-age mothers rocking out with their slightly embarrassed sons. As heard after the gig:

Mum: (slightly slurred) “It’s not as cold out now as it was when we went in, son.”
Son: “That’s because you’re pissed now, mother. You’re fucking 60, I thought you’d have worked that out by now. Give us a tab.”

In short, Band of Skulls give a wide demographic the opportunity to rock out in convincing style, without being remotely threatening as hard rock acts can often be – indeed the polite demeanour and posh Southampton accent from Marsden between songs is somewhat at odds with his intensity when at full tilt. The onstage presence of a rock chick widens the appeal to the aforementioned glam crowd, and the whole room is enthusiastically united in the climactic stomp of ‘Death By Diamonds and Pearls’.

That Band of Skulls are at home in a small club as on an outdoor stage is testament to the versatility of their material, and the sincerity of their delivery. They are on course for wider recognition, and rightly so – there’s not many rock bands your mother could like.

 

TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: MGM and SPA Australia Showcase at Upstairs Beresford featuring Lime Cordiale, Battleships, The Trouble with Templeton, The Falls and Oceanics – 28th November 2012

 
By on Thursday, 6th December 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the two previous nights seeing acts associated with industry heavyweight Universal Music Australia and digital radio station triple j unearthed, it was time to catch some bands with more independent connections. Wednesday night I headed over to the upstairs floor of the Beresford Hotel (formerly a hotel that was built in 1870 but converted into a swanky nightclub) to catch the showcase being put on MGM (that’s Metropolitan Groove Merchants, the largest independent distributor of Australian music, not an American film company) and SPA Australia. There were supposed to be four bands, but a fifth appeared at the end as a last minute addition.

Usually, the first band at a show has the most unenviable task of warming up a crowd that is only slowly starting to gain in size. Thanks to a hour of free drinks prior to the start of the evening’s sets, the reverse was true for this night at Upstairs Beresford. Oceanics from the Gold Coast, a coastal city 1 hour by plane north of Sydney that is probably every bit as idyllic as the name sounds, no doubt benefitting to the crowd already buzzing from the free booze.

With only one small, local Pipsqueak cider within me, I wasn’t buzzing just from the alcohol; I was definitely feeling their music, which sounded much like the Strokes, if they weren’t from New York but a sunny seaside town. Their lead singer Elliot Weston cuts a compelling frontman figure like Noel Gallagher (will you take a look at that hair???), but thankfully sounds nothing like him. He even had an almost Pete Townshend moment, banging his guitar around in front of his amp to create squealing feedback. Have a listen to their song ‘Jukebox’, and tell me what you think.

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

Along with a four-piece string quartet and backing band, The Falls came on next. It was explained to me by a new Aussie friend that singers/songwriters Simon Rudston-Brown and Melinda Kirwin were formerly boyfriend/girlfriend but they’ve seen broken up but evidently (and to our great benefit) kept their musical connection. My new friend also said that for her, this duo far surpasses Julia and Angus Stone as the best male/female folk duo in Australia. (I’d have to do some compare and contrasting on that to be sure, but Cheryl can probably do a better job at this than I ever could.)

They’re originally from Darwin, Northern Territories, in the topmost, central part of Australia. They’ve just released their debut EP, ‘Hollywood’, and the first single from the EP, ‘Home’, is as beautiful of a song introduction that you could hope from anyone. Watch the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0VqzQU6wGc[/youtube]

Who I thought would be the second to last act of the night was Brisbane’s The Trouble with Templeton. Despite my initial thought that the act’s name was a nod to the children’s book Charlotte’s Web, our friends at the AU Review quickly set me right, clarifying that the name came instead from a title of a Twilight Zone episode.

The first song of their set was a solo version of ‘I Wrote a Novel’ by Thomas Calder (whose project this is), dedicated to MGM’s founder Sebastian Chase, who emceed the night. There is a simple, Teitur-like innocence to Calder’s voice, and he’s already made waves at Filter’s Culture Collide festival in October, so my guess is you’ll be hearing more of him very soon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQXkyj20ZcE[/youtube]

Sydney-based Battleships have already gained high-profile fans in Lauren Laverne, Radcliffe and Maconie and the fine folks at Communion, so they’re another band we can expect to hear more of terrestrially. Singer/ guitarist Jordan Sturdee favours a bowtie, which set him apart from everyone else I saw this week. (Well, nearly everyone. Buddy Goode, the winner of the Best Comedy Album ARIA for ‘Unappropriate’, showed up with one and a ruffly ‘70s era shirt the following night.) The word “haunting” would probably be the best way to describe ‘In Retrospect’ (video below) , one of their early songs that might best be compared to Elbow’s sweepy, grand style, but with Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto-type vocals.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3qU1aJwe58[/youtube]

And then came the surprise for the night. Not to be confused with a cocktail mixer, the final band was Lime Cordiale. With an E on the end. The kind of band that names their EP ‘Faceless Cat’ has to be some real mental cases, right? Brothers Oliver and Louis Leimbach play guitar and bass, respectively. Earlier in the night, we got a supporting string quartet. But imagine my astonishment to see these two brothers putting aside their guitars in the middle of a song…to play horn instruments! (Turns out they’re both classically trained.)

The result of ‘regular’ rock instruments combined with horns made for what came out as what they call ‘slam pop’: incredibly fun, catchy and eclectic. Oliver has a sultry drawl that you might think would be at odds with this seemingly oddball combination of musical devices, but it works, and it ended my ‘regular’ gig week in Sydney on a fine note. Curious? Watch their video for ‘Pretty Girl’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKQPGPR-Sho[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Lucy Rose with Pete Roe at London Electric Brixton – 22nd November 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 5th December 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s been a roller coaster year for Lucy Rose. Stepping out of the shadows of Bombay Bicycle Club has proven to be a transition well worth making and as the year winds up, she’s proven to be one of the standout artists of it. Fitting then, that tonight, back in the city she calls home; Lucy and her full accompanying band are playing their biggest headline show to date and yet she still appears to be the same friendly, shy artist that she was when ‘Middle of the Bed’ first appeared almost 18 months ago.

Support at tonight’s show at Brixton’s Electric comes from Pete Roe. All round nice guy and Lucy’s guitar tech for the night, Roe’s music is inoffensive and enjoyable, yet is in little danger of being as popular as contemporaries Benjamin Francis Leftwich or Jamie N Commons. Still, he does well to set the scene for Rose.

As Lucy Rose takes to the stage, she’s as unassuming as ever; even as cheered on by fifteen hundred fans she sits on her stool and begins. With just one record, you’d think it would be difficult to fill such a high profile headline set, but with seeming effortlessness Lucy Rose moves between literally every track on it. From most, this would seem both pedantic and boring, but with ‘Like I Used To’, you really do have a record that, for the most part is enjoyable from start to finish. Even weaker tracks like ‘Shiver’ and ‘Night Bus’, which make an appearance towards the front of the set are given a new lease on life in Rose’s live setting as you rekindle the endearing nature that the tracks exuded on their first listen.

Rose keeps crowd interaction to a minimum aside from explaining how much the night means to her (a lot) and that she’s going to try play 30 seconds of a track that’s not yet really been written. The latter results in an equally big cheer as the former, even though the following minute is by far the strangest of the evening, but she follows this confusing moment with ‘Middle of the Bed’, putting to rest any doubts you may have been building about how good she really is as a performer.

In ‘Bikes’, a track that had seen her presented with a pint of milk at the show in Liverpool, the lines “listen up, listen here, everybody scream out loud” are met with abundant cheers that border on deafening as everyone present appears to be willing Rose on to succeed and with that, the main set is over. TGTF’s highlight of the night however, is the closing track. Just when you think she might be leaving it out for personal reasons (‘Like I Used To’ is of course, a very personal record), ‘Be Alright’ is played. “In my heart you would stay a while with me, and we danced until the morning light / You said to me we’ll be alright”, she sings in her quaint manner. It’s fitting in so many ways and with that, you feel that this roller coaster has finished on a high, musically and emotionally.

 
 
 

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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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