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Video of the Moment #1857: Outfit

 
By on Friday, 17th July 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Liverpool band Outfit have a new monochrome promo out for ‘Framed’, which has been a recent mainstay on BBC 6 Music’s playlist. The song features on the band’s second and current album ‘Slowness’. Andrew P. Hunt of the band has this to say about the single:

It’s about a dream where you see the person you love living another life, an alternate reality without you in it. You’re walking down the street and you look through a window and see them surrounded by other things, other people and suddenly they’re different and you’re different. It’s about something uncanny completely flipping your perspective.

The song is less dancey than I remember them being on their debut album from 2013 ‘Performance’, with ‘Framed’ showing a remarkable measure of restraint while still maintaining an air of cool. Watch the video below. Past coverage on Outfit on TGTF is this way. ‘Slowness’ is out now on Memphis Industries.

 

Video of the Moment #1772: Outfit

 
By on Thursday, 26th March 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

‘New Air’ is the new track from Liverpool’s Outfit, and now they’ve released a beautifully oozy visual to go along with the song. The promo was directed by Lucy Hardcastle, who described the process of creating the video and its liquid, metal and glass movements:

I felt it was important to translate the mysteriousness and vulnerability that I connected to when listening to ‘New Air’ for the first time. The rise and fall of momentum in the song almost provides a thick viscosity in terms of materials. I wanted to create something that was peculiar enough to be fixated by and equally remind us of our own mortality.

Watch the video below. Outfit’s second album ‘Slowness’ will be released on the 15th of June on Memphis Industries.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3SXto0TSgQ[/youtube]

 

Top Albums of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 16th December 2013 at 11:00 am
 

It’s amazing how quickly a year can speed by, and 2013 has been not been an exception. While there is no doubt that the biggest, loudest and most annoying press campaign to promote an album this year was the one related to Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’, it won’t appear on my list of top albums. Nope, not a chance. Like all things in life, musical tastes change over time, and judging from the LPs released this year, mine definitely have.

I haven’t decided why the pop and dance worlds not haven’t been able to produce a good amount of excellent albums (notice I said albums, not singles), but I suspect that deep down, it has to do with heart. That said, I wonder if it’s symptomatic of the industry, but I’ve been having a hard time finding albums that I want to listen to in full, over and over again. So here are my top five albums of 2013 that I think everyone should own. Or at least listen to all the way through at least once to make your own judgment about them.

Static Jacks In Blue cover1. The Static Jacks – ‘In Blue’ (Old Friends) – The best albums are those that can span the entire spectrum of emotions for when you need it. The Static Jacks came of age on their second album, writing songs that can act like an old friend who is there to laugh with you or give you a knowing hug when you need a good cry. Not to mention, despite being still pretty young guys (at least they’re legal now, which they weren’t when I first saw them in 2010), they know how to write a memorable pop melody, which, judging from a lot of the rubbish on the charts these days, is a real talent.

It’s all here. You want fun? ‘I’ll Come Back’ and ‘Wallflowers’ are clear standouts, and to be honest, I’ve had such an up and down year, I needed something to cheer me up. ‘People Don’t Forget’ is probably the closest you’re going to get to the best pop song of the year. And lyrically, title track ‘In Blue’ hits in the spot: it’s an emotionally-charged piece of pop, “you try to run from all your problems / it just makes you stumble harder / realise I’m just sorry, and I know you’re still lonely”. Just perfect. Read my review here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Fv0MyGvx8[/youtube]

Dutch Uncles Out of Touch in the Wild cover2. Dutch Uncles – ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ (Memphis Industries) – Oddly, they’re the only ones from their town of Marple from the class of 2010 (the others being Delphic and Egyptian Hip Hop) still standing tall these days. Or maybe this is not odd at all. Breaking boundaries is what Dutch Uncles is all about, having recently put on a series of shows with a string ensemble, in addition to their atypical time signatures that have become their signature, and the uniqueness has paid off.

From the frenetic pace of xylophone in ‘Fester’, the feeling that you’re floating in space when you’ve got ‘Bellio’ in your headphones or my personal favourite, the smooth string –tinged jam of ‘Flexxin’ that caught Pitchfork’s ears, this is an album you’ll want to listen to over and over again, because you’ll discover something new and exciting each time. Oh, and while I’ve got your attention, you might as well get their debut ‘Cadenza’ too: different, but also wonderful. Read my review of ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’ here.

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

Fenech-Soler Rituals cover3. Fenech-Soler – ‘Rituals’ (B-Unique) – I’ve listened to a lot of dance albums this year, trying to find The One (figuring it’d be easier than finding the right man) and mostly, I found disappointment. Fenech-Soler’s follow-up to their 2010 debut as worth the wait, with massive singles ‘All I Want’, ‘Magnetic’ and ‘Last Forever’, as well as the beauteous ‘Maiyu’.

It also contains quite possibly this year’s best floor filler in ‘In Our Blood’, an uplifting song about an ending relationship. It might be winter right now, but this album will keep your blood pumping all through to the next season of summer festivals. Read the album review here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXFK1CQPnto[/youtube]

Fiction The Big Other cover4. Fiction – ‘The Big Other’ – ‘Effortless’ is the best word I can think of to describe London band Fiction’s debut album released in March. This LP feels like classic New Wave, yet does one better by being not at all heavy-handed: it’s got a lightness that will have ‘80s children feel nostalgic, with ‘Parting Gesture’ and ‘See Me Walk’ feeling like they would have been at home in a John Hughes film.

Regardless of how old you are, young and old should be able relate to (and love) this album because as evidenced in ‘Big Things’ and ‘Museum’, it’s just damn good: rhythmic, melodic, interesting. Read my review of ‘The Big Other’ here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySBYXerX8jc[/youtube]

Arctic Monkeys AM cover sm5. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’ (Domino) – Not sure how much they should owe their placement to producer and friend Josh Homme, who basically helped reinvent them into a darker, harder version from the one that I’ll admit used to annoy the hell out of me on ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’.

For me, it’s less about Alex Turner’s vocals, sounding almost rap-like on some of the harder tracks. No, it’s the attitude throughout this album, from the bluesy guitars on ‘Do You Wanna Know?’ and ‘R U Mine’, to the Richard Hawley-esque ‘No. 1 Party Anthem’ and ‘Mad Sounds’. Mark my words, latest single ‘One for the Road’ will be a minimalist rock classic.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN7gSMPQFss[/youtube]

After the cut: discussion on albums that disappointed.

Continue reading Top Albums of 2013: Editor’s Picks

 

Album Review: Outfit – Performance

 
By on Tuesday, 6th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Outfit Performance coverWhen casual popular music listeners think about Liverpool and its surrounding Merseyside, there is only one band and only one group of names – John, Paul, George and Ringo – that matter. It is obvious from the larger than life black and white poster decorating the long, horizontal window out front of the HMV at Liverpool ONE that it’s guitar music is the prevailing legacy of music days gone past. So when a band like Outfit comes along to challenge that notion, music reviewers like us stand to attention and notice. The band have been pottering round under the radar since their formation in 2011, wowing our head photographer Martin at Constellations Festival that year, probably just when they’d just gotten around to making their first public splash. Two years later they are ready to release their long-awaited long player, entitled ‘Performance’, on Double Denim Records.

As we’ve seen far too many times in this post-iTunes world, the two singles that have been revealed from the album are strong contenders singularly, but they don’t give an accurate picture of what ‘Performance’ is all about. ‘I Want What’s Best’ mixes it up between dreamy pop with a disaffected vocal from lead singer Andrew Hunt in the verses and a funky, beat-heavy chorus. This is a song with an identity problem. You can’t call it a dance song, or really a dream pop song either. It lies uncomfortably between the worlds, possibly confusing both the Tom Vek / Friendly Fires fan who adores the chorus and the Beach House devotee fangirling over the stretched guitar notes sounding like a faraway bird calling. Interesting song, no doubt about it, it’s just not one I think I’d like to hear over again over again.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md_Y8RYdu6Q[/youtube]

Newer single ‘House on Fire’ is currently making the rounds on 6music, as it’s firmly entrenched in this week’s B-playlist. It’s Egyptian / Middle Eastern in its note progressions (a theme explored again in the guitar pluckings in ‘Spraypaint’), and the accompanying vocals are suitably echoey for this purpose. The melody is repetitive, which to some might be welcome, but I find it grating. I can see it causing the masses to spin around like whirling dervishes at the remaining summer music festivals of this season, but is this sound still going to be fresh going into autumn? I doubt it. >According to the Guardian, the clicking sound you hear throughout is the sound of a DVD player’s tray opening and closing. I haven’t decided yet if including the sound in here is genius or ridiculous. They self-produced their album in an estate in Liverpool called The Lodge, so maybe that had something to do with it. Maybe it was a The Shining-type situation and they all went a little mad?

Speaking of their digs during the recording of this album, the press release says of it, “The estate owned by their previous landlord had a block of abandoned flats based in the mansion’s grounds. Previously used as a refuge for asylum seekers, they picked an old dining room in the 150 capacity building and created their studio.” This is all very interesting to note, as whether it is the minor keys employed on much of the album or if it’s genuinely the tone they were trying to evoke on this record, I detect a sense of desolation that runs through this entire album.

‘The Great Outdoors’, despite its synthesised beats that evoke the ‘80s more than it does our 21st century, has a measure of loneliness despite the loveliness. Title track ‘Performance’, which lacks enunciation (I accidentally thought the words were ‘For Four Walls’ when I queued this up on my mp3 player on a run and wasn’t looking at the song titles), has, to be sure, sweeping vocals, but it’s got the reverent vibe of a monastery. While there are mini-climaxes spread out in songs like ‘Phone Ghost’ and its industrial clanking and the aforementioned ‘Spraypaint’, there are no distinct “aha!” moments that stand out to stir the soul. After a while, if you’re not paying close attention, a lot of the songs start to sound samey and despite loads of exciting electronic gadgetry going on in the background, emotionally I don’t feel anything.

Thankfully, to break you out of the doldrums come Outfit’s seemingly happiest, poppiest moments. The first comes courtesy of ‘Thank God I’m Dreaming’. While it begins with a beautifully ambient intro, Hunt’s lead vocal sounds as wide-eyed as Alex Trimble’s in Two Door Cinema Club. This, along with album closer ‘Two Islands’, a glorified tropical pop number, save the album from bleakness.

Some have compared Outfit’s style to Hot Chip, but time will tell how far their dance floor fillers will take them. The real question is if people who buy this debut album from them will actually take to the songs that don’t sound like ‘I Want What’s Best’ and ‘House on Fire’, because this album has two faces.

5/10

‘Performance’, the debut album from Liverpool outfit Outfit, will be released on Monday (12 August) on Double Denim Records. Stream the album on Guardian Music here.

 

Constellations Festival Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd November 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Just when you thought the festival season was over, that it was safe to hang up any notion of seeing in one sitting a full working day’s worth of bands until next year, along comes Constellations to sweep away the November blues. (The 12th of November, to be exact.) In the style popularised by ATP’s Butlins jaunts, this is a single-venue indoors one-dayer, using the fantastic facilities at Leeds University as a base for a five-room shindig. At this stage in the year one might be wary of repetition; and whilst there are some acts here that are familiar faces from the summer festival circuit, the promoters have certainly managed to keep Constellations’ lineup fresh and intriguing.

Which is exactly how one could describe Liverpool’s Outfit. A widescreen, spacey, synth-led five-piece, having only formed in January this year, their sound is maturing nicely: surely their anonymity is destined to be short-lived. Recent release ‘Two Islands’ and its impatient vocal intertwining with keening guitar neatly sums up their sound: angstwave if you will. More please.

Féted boy-girl duo Big Deal bring their somnambulant ditties to the alcohol-free Riley Smith room; their octave harmony style being very much the sound of 2011. Hardly likely to make the listener keel over with excitement, or break an ankle pogoing, nevertheless there is a subtle beauty on offer. It’s just that, as we will discover later, boy-girl duos are capable of so much more these days.

Exitmusic are gothy and elegant, lyrical metaphors of steaming marshland echoing their dusky sound. Lead singer Aleksa Palladino, taking time out from being directed by Martin Scorsese, ebbs and moans like she’s emitting some delicate musical secret. Their arch pretension does suffer slightly from the 10 minutes of awkward soundchecking, and indeed by taking place on a mid afternoon in Leeds. In the middle of a rusty, abandoned Russian airfield, or somewhere woody, twilight and damp, this would be perfect.

Dutch Uncles look perfectly at home on this generously-proportioned stage, their mathy style beefed up to generate a rather wonderful combination of conventional rock and jagged, dissonant, jazz-tinged ephemera. A rather unexpected highlight is singer Duncan Wallis’ unconventional dancing style – his weird, wired leg movements bring an unexpected lightness to what could conceivably be a rather cerebral performance.

Onto one of the highlights of the day: Summer Camp. Elizabeth Sankey makes the most of her opportunity to play diva with her mini-dress and shocking red lipstick; there’s an subtle yet disturbing element of menace about her performance – don’t get too close, chaps! Her musical partner, Jeremy Walmsley, in loud Hawaiian shirt and giant myopic specs, decorates the backing tracks with synth and electric guitar, whilst a live drummer adds impact to the rhythm section. They rip through recent release ‘Welcome To Condale’ (review here), gem after gem of ’80s-tinged pop falling out of the speakers, the warm and confident interplay between Sankey and Walmsley a joy to behold. A loop of classic brat-pack films plays behind; Molly Ringwald would surely approve.

Givers, ironically, are given a short half-hour set, and boy, do they make the most of it. A superb combination of traditional Americana, neo-bombast in the style of Arcade Fire, and a sprinkling of African-influenced funkiness, this is a jolly and likeable set from a similarly-blessed band. One gets the impression that they could play for twice as long and keep the listener enthralled. It’s no surprise that a band from Louisiana should have absorbed the broad church of influences which characterises New Orleans, but to package it within short, catchy, warm-hearted pop songs like ‘Up Up Up’ is a superb achievement. Long may they continue to give.

Stephen Malkmus has been around the block a few times, and seems to be mellowing in his old age. Gone are the angular obscurantism of previous project Pavement, in comes a more relaxed approach, characterised by tongue-in-cheek heavy-rotation single Senator. This is still quintessential American garage rock, but the sharp edges have been shaved off; live, the songs are allowed to meander and develop by themselves, rather than being obsessively honed. There’s palpable disappointment when, seemingly too early, Malkmus announces the last song – what soon becomes apparent is that this song is a long, meandering jam, which lasts well over ten minutes. There’s the niggling doubt that Malkmus is slightly treading water with this project that the long, jammy ending to the set does nothing to dispel.

Vessels specialise in that slow, meandering wall-of-droning-guitars sound that has stood Mogwai in such good stead over the years. Doubtless there are plenty of differences between what and why each band does, but the suspicion is that it would take many hours of listening to elicit them. When the sets are this short, and we’re all standing up indoors rather than lounging on a sunny patch of grass, something a little more immediate is called for. Luckily, Yuck are up next, with their noisy indie pop; somewhat heavier than on record, they still maintain their melodic sparkle, and are starting to look like proper contenders.

Wild Beasts, however, live in an entirely different league of expectation. With the stage full of expensive, delectable guitars and a brace of gourmet keyboards, the performance oozes class from the very start. The duality of the vocal styles of Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming astonishes even more than on record; Thorpe’s edgy, vibratoed falsetto a uniquely expressive instrument, unsettlingly incongruous coming out of a bearded man’s throat, Fleming’s velvet baritone adding depth and complimenting the flamboyance of the arrangements. The band have a great depth to their catalogue, and whilst material from Smother dominates, older tracks from Two Dancers sound just as vital. This is a thrilling band, utterly original, and reassuringly complex in all they do. The dials are set to just the correct amount of archness, weight, cerebrality, funk, and indeed camp, an expertly-judged blend of virtue akin to a fine Scotch whisky. It is reassurance to all those that fear the X-Factorisation of music has taken hold, that the denominator is inescapably locked at common: to see a capacity audience in a large room transfixed by such intelligently-written and expertly-executed pop music is a wondrous thing.

And to finally wrap things up, the Big Pink, whose music is about as subtle as their name. Essentially an early-90s tribute act, there’s a bit a shoegaze, a bit of acid house and a bit of baggy in their sound. Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell have all the right credentials, and with single Dominos on Radio 1’s A-list, the future looks bright, except for one thing: their live show tonight is dull. Furze thrashes a Stratocaster and practices his thousand-yard stare, the rest of the music is sample and synth based, too layered to make out any individual contributions or melodies. I spend most of the gig watching the enthralling female drummer, who appears not to be the regular Akiko Matsura, but is great all the same. Something of a disappointment right at the end then, but there’s been so much good stuff through the day that a slightly damp squib of an ending can be wholeheartedly forgiven. A great opportunity to stock up on new bands right at the end of the season… and plenty of inspiration for stocking fillers!

 
 
 

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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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