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Single Review: Public Service Broadcasting – White Star Liner

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd October 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Oh, yeah! Our favourite bespectacled history boffins Public Service Broadcasting are back with a new release this week. The ‘White Star Liner’ EP premieres this Friday and this time, as its name suggests, the eclectic rockers in tweed have turned their focus on the shipping company founded in Liverpool responsible for building history’s most famous doomed vessel, the Titanic. The EP is a sonic chronicle of its construction and feteing to the demise of the ship and its many passengers.

As in past efforts, the band’s songwriting to retell a story is a respectful treatment of a tale that has been dramatised and along the way lost important details beyond that fateful day in 1912 that deserve to be told. On the title track single in particular, we’re reminded of the grandeur of the ship that was built and what an accomplishment this massive boat was for the times. We take it for granted here in the 21st century what humans were capable of now, but as on 2015 album ‘The Race for Space’, we are gently nudged towards the wonderment and magnitude of the achievement.

In typical Public Service Broadcasting style, the video for ‘White Star Liner’ includes historical footage, in this case playing on a screen behind the band. The location of the filmed performance is particularly poignant: the band appear here at BBC’s Biggest Weekend in Belfast, the Irish port where the Titanic was built. One of the text slides in the video reads, “Happiness is the keynote of travel and its sweetest expression is a smile.” It’s immediately preceded by an image of a grinning woman with a veil, presumably waving to her loved ones back on shore.

The optimistic guitar lines of ‘White Star Liner’ further remind us that the launching of the Titanic was a time of celebration and a look forward towards a new age in maritime travel. Many of those onboard the ship were taking the transatlantic trip to a new land and a new life. While it will be impossible to separate the ship from its eventual disastrous end, I can appreciate the band’s effort to bring a sense of optimism about this story back into the public consciousness and indeed, during a period of human history during which we could all use the feeling of unity. That’s worth supporting 100%.

8/10

New EP ‘White Star Liner’ from Public Service Broadcasting is out this Friday, the 26th of October, on PIAS. For all of our past coverage on the band here on TGTF, come through.

 

Album Review: Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley

 
By on Wednesday, 5th July 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Public Service Broadcasting Every Valley album coverOn all of their releases thus far, Public Service Broadcasting have taken a different approach to telling the overarching story they’ve chosen for the record. Their third album ‘Every Valley’ is no different. Second album ‘The Race for Space’ took key experiences of the American and Russian spaceflight programs and set them to music. One of its primary intentions was to show how far-reaching and awe-inspiring the effects of this race towards reaching for the stars actually were to so many people.

On ‘Every Valley’, they’ve invited a few more friends to join them in the studio, which in this case was in Ebbw Vale, Wales. They chose to specifically magnify life in the working-class South Wales valley and how coal mining and the miners themselves (“the kings of the underworld” as described by Welsh-born acting legend Richard Burton) shaped the region in the 20th century. Percussion drives ‘The Pit’, which also features the menacing drone of guitars, a weighty reminder of the tough working conditions inside the mines. That’s your signal to put your hard hat on, and we’ll begin.

Memorable melodies are one of Public Service Broadcasting’ strong suits, and there are many moments here that will stay with you. Remarkably upbeat and futuristic backing ‘People Will Always Need Coal’ is just behind the misplaced optimism of coal mining as a viable occupation for years to come. ‘Progress’, with guest vocals from Camera Obscura’s Traceyanne Campbell, keeps up this optimism. Skillful guitar melodies and the gay synths of ‘Go to the Road’ seem out of place, as it highlights the miners’ strikes and eventual capitulation to the powers that be, that “you’re selling your son’s job, not your job”. Later on in the tracklisting, the bluesy ‘Mother of the Village’ is sympathetic in the miners’ acceptance that life will never be the same again.

Things take a chaotic turn on ‘All Out’: it’s PSB’s surprise moment, all hard-rocking squealing guitars. As it’s becoming clear that their days as miners are numbered, it’s entirely appropriate to sonically represent the growing discontent. So is the aggro feel of toe-tapper ‘Turn No More’, starring on James Dean Bradfield on vocals. Through his passionate cries, the singer has no trouble in expressing his anger over what happened to his “bruised and plundered” land. On 2013’s ‘Anthem for a Lost Cause’, Manic Street Preachers have trod similar ground before, which PSB approaches on ‘They Gave Me a Lamp’, a collaboration with instrumental Derbyshire group Haiku Salut, ringing out with bright brass notes. It’s a figurative soapbox to women’s support groups of the time, wives who supported the striking miners by joining the picket lines raising money and running soup kitchens for the miners.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWvK7Uffmts[/youtube]

Initially, it may seem hard to relate to a way of life that has now gone, so specific to a time and place. We may not be miners, we may not be from Wales, but their struggles and sacrifices back then are not unlike those many face today. The coal miners of South Wales wanted the dignity of an honest day’s work, and as the mines closed and their livelihoods were snuffed out, it was as if Westminster forgot the area ever existed. The way backs were turned on them is not all unlike how some sectors of society today feel disenfranchised and forgotten. It is impossible to listen to closer ‘Take Me Home’, a classic miners song sung a cappella by the local Beaufort Male Choir, and not have tears in your eyes.

As with past Public Service Broadcasting albums, this is a record meant to be listened to, then savoured again and again, each time serving to further your contemplation on the subject. In a different way to the previous ‘The Race for Space’ LP, ‘Every Valley’ is inspiring because I think we all think of ourselves as trying to do our best with the life we’ve been given. In their own special way, Public Service Broadcasting have managed to successfully convey the emotions of this once important, yet still very proud Welsh community through their music. We should never forget.

8/10

‘Every Valley’, Public Service Broadcasting’s third album, will be out on the 7th of July through PIAS. The band will be on tour in October in the UK to support the new release. All of our past coverage here on TGTF on the group’s doings are through here.

 

Public Service Broadcasting / October 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 8:00 am
 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a few weeks ago Public Service Broadcasting announced details on their third album, ‘Every Valley’, which will chronicle the coal mining industry in South Wales. The first taster from the album, ‘Progress’, is a definite nod to Kraftwerk instrumentally, and it features the vocals of Camera Obscura‘s Traceyanne Campbell, only the second PSB track to feature a guest vocalist. (Watch the video for the song featured as a past Video of the Moment here.) The new album will also feature James Dean Bradfield, of course famous from being a member of the iconic Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers.

Naturally, to promote the new record and to ease J. Willgoose Esq. and co.’s itchy feet, our favourite history nerds have announced a massive UK tour for October 2017. Fittingly, their journey begins on the 13th of October in Cardiff. Tickets go on general sale this Friday, the 21st of April, at 9 AM; fans on their mailing list will have early access to tickets starting today at 9 AM.To read more on TGTF on Public Service Broadcasting, go here.

Friday 13th October 2017 – Cardiff Great Hall
Saturday 14th October 2017 – Norwich UEA
Monday 16th October 2017 – Manchester Academy
Tuesday 17th October 2017 – Newcastle Boiler Shop
Wednesday 18th October 2017 – Glasgow Barrowland
Thursday 19th October 2017 – Leeds Academy
Friday 20th October 2017 – Coventry Warwick Arts Centre
Saturday 21st October 2017 – Nottingham Rock City
Monday 23rd October 2017 – Bristol Colston Hall
Tuesday 24th October 2017 – Portsmouth Pyramids Centre
Wednesday 25th October 2017 – Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion
Thursday 26th October 2017 – London Hammersmith Apollo

 

Video of the Moment #2339: Public Service Broadcasting

 
By on Wednesday, 12th April 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

History buffs Public Service Broadcasting announced a short time ago the details of their upcoming third album. Like ‘Inform-Educate-Entertain’ and ‘The Race for Space’ that precede it, ‘Every Valley’ brings to life past history. In the case of this new LP, the main subject is coal mining in South Wales and its eventual economic collapse, though ringleader J. Willgoose Esq. assures in a letter to NPR that it’s not simply stuck in the past: “What’s certain in my mind is that this album isn’t just about mining and isn’t just about Wales. It’s a story reflected in abandoned and neglected communities across the western world, and one which has led to the resurgence of a particularly malignant, cynical and calculating brand of politics.”

The Kraftwerk-esque ‘Progress’ is the first track to be unveiled from ‘Every Valley’, and it’s special in that except for previous ‘The Race for Space’ track ‘Valentina’, it stars female vocals in addition to PSB’s usual use of archival news clips. Traceyanne Campbell of Scottish twee band Camera Obscura lends her sweet voice to this upbeat number. Watch the promo video for ‘Progress’ below; ‘Every Valley’ is scheduled for release on the 7th of July on PIAS.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1ZbdGBAqZQ[/youtube]

 

Top Albums of 2015: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 21st December 2015 at 11:00 am
 

It’s definitely been a roller coaster of a year, full of highs and lows of surprises and emotional moments. So when it came time for me to sit down and consider which would be my top albums of 2015, the qualities I was looking for were a little different as they have been in the last 5 years I’ve offered my end of year choices. (To have a read of my best of lists in 2010-2014 while I’ve presided as Editor at TGTF, go here.)

While the following five albums all met my usual primary of criterion of, “will I listen to this album again and again in years to come?”, it was important to me this year, more than any other time in the past, to choose albums that I felt truly emotionally connected to that I feel that you, the readers, will feel too.

Fictonian Desire Lines cover1. Fictonian‘Desire Lines’ (Distiller Records)
Fictonian coverage on TGTF

When we approach the start of summer or winter, I get a nervous but inescapably excited feeling in the pit of my stomach, probably much like the feeling the members of the Academy Award nominee committee have as they head towards Christmas. To me, it should be a no-brainer that any album released during or right before summer should be written with the intention that one would listen to it blaring from an open-top convertible, just as the best released near the holidays should be the one you’re listening to with your loved ones while trimming the tree.

Glen Powers’ debut as Fictonian, ‘Desire Lines’ released in mid-November, definitely fits the bill for the latter. What makes ‘Desire Lines’ a stroke of brilliance is as its demonstration of Powers’ talent. It has moments of true beauty: you will want to hold close to your heart the smoky emotional haze of ‘I Remember’, gently tempered by the sweeping gorgeousness of more upbeat ‘Make It Be Ours’. This album was crafted lovingly in rural Herefordshire, and it shows.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBdkA6RjCcY[/youtube]

On the other side of the spectrum are the wonky melody of ‘Mrs. Jones’ and the playful rolling beats of ‘Little Black Book’, showing off the whimsical side of Fictonian songwriting. He’s the kind of artist you expect to be knocking back a couple of Oscars for best song or best score from a film chosen by that same committee I mentioned earlier. Suffice to say, I’m truly excited to hear more from him.

East India Youth Culture of Volume cover2. East India Youth‘Culture of Volume’ (XL Recordings)
East India Youth coverage on TGTF

Where do you go from a Mercury Prize nomination? Luckily for William Doyle, aka East India Youth, this wasn’t an issue: his sophomore album ‘Culture of Volume’ and the follow-up to last year’s hugely feted ‘Total Strife Forever’ was already written by the time Young Fathers were announced as the surprise winners of the industry gong in November 2014.

While we’ll never know for sure if the gravity of potentially winning the Mercury Prize looming over him would have made a difference in the finished product, ‘Culture of Volume’ will stand as an interesting milestone in East India Youth’s career because it’s so different – and refreshingly so – from his admittedly somewhat inaccessible Mercury-nominated debut.

Taking advantage of what I feel is one of his unsung strengths (no pun intended), the pop sensibility in Doyle’s voice shines like a beacon of light in the darkness of ‘Carousel’, and it’s impossible not feel the pain of leaving a lover in the words of ‘Turn Away’. He also indulged in his love for industrial techno in instrumental ‘Entirety’ after the pulse-pounding ‘Hearts That Never’, while also channeling the Pet Shop Boys in ‘Beaming White’. I’m alternately intrigued and terrified of what the third East India Youth album will sound like. The rumours indicate we’ll hear nothing until 2017, so we’ve got some time to wait.

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

Public Service Broadcasting Race for Space cover3. Public Service Broadcasting‘The Race for Space’ (Test Card Recordings); Public Service Broadcasting coverage on TGTF

Novelty is still one of the unique characteristics distinguishing indie from mainstream music. Public Service Broadcasting first came to prominence to 6 Music listeners through the single ‘Spitfire’, a driving toe-tapper highlighting the British invention of a single-seat fighter plane developed for use in World War II, using archived footage from public information films from a bygone era. The song went on to appear on the duo’s ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’, released on the act’s own Test Card Recordings. They became, in my mind, the poster boys for music for the thinking man.

In February, their second outing ‘The Race for Space’ cemented in the public consciousness Public Service Broadcasting’s ability to write a cohesive and impressive set of songs highlighting humankind’s innovation while looking towards the heavens. Russian (‘Sputnik’, ‘Gagarin’, ‘Valentina’) and American accomplishments (‘Go!’, ‘Tomorrow’) during the Cold War were equally lauded, and this is important to note, given the political climate we find ourselves in now. How incredible that music written with the help of propanganda clips, clips originally created to provoke nationalist sentiment, could be repurposed to applaud the human spirit? Fantastic.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY-kAnvOY80[/youtube]

Cut Ribbons We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn cover4. Cut Ribbons‘We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn’ (Kissability)
Cut Ribbons coverage on TGTF

It’s a funny thing that in the year New Order decided to return with a new album (I know, I know, without Peter Hook), a far younger band from Wales came out with their own debut in the genre of synthpop that Bernard Sumner and co. were one of the vanguards of in the ‘80s. And totally obliterated any other competition they might have had in the same genre, adding anthemic and dream pop elements to further bolster their sound.

The booming bombast of slower tempoed, well restrained ‘Clouds’ provides a welcome contrast to the cardiovascular workout and title track ‘We Want to Watch Something We Loved Burn’. Overall, including ‘Walking on Wires’ below, this is an optimistic set of songs, that I appreciate as a jolt of sunniness during the darker times.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N17o0n0z84U[/youtube]

Broken Hands Turbulence cover5. Broken Hands‘Turbulence’ (SO Recordings)
Broken Hands coverage on TGTF

It might seem strange to go from the lightness of a synthpop album into the deep, dark recesses of a hard rock album, but stay with me here. Being a Led Zeppelin fan from way back, my hard rock litmus test is difficult to pass, because, Led Zep set the bar pretty high. As a result, it’s difficult for me to cosy up to just any hard rock band. They have to prove themselves to me, and Broken Hands has done just that with ‘Turbulence’.

A searing live rendition of ‘Meteor’ at SXSW 2014 melted my face, and its recorded version does not disappoint (have a watch and listen below), and neither does single ‘Who Sent You’. But this band is no one-trick pony, proven by the grandeur of surprising ballad ‘Impact’. Excellent stuff.

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

 

Video of the Moment #1954: Public Service Broadcasting

 
By on Wednesday, 11th November 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Tweedy history buffs Public Service Broadcasting have a unique video out this week for ‘Sputnik’, known to folks like me who saw them on their spring tour / festival campaign as their tour ‘pet’.

In the new promo, the band were given the incredible opportunity to perform and film at the famed Jodrell Bank Observatory, and 58 years to the day when the Lovell telescope there picked up the Russians’ Sputnik satellite on the 4th of October 1957. The new visuals celebrate the accomplishments of the then-new space age and also bring to mind the question, just *when* will Public Service Broadcasting headline a show at Jodrell Bank? (They supported Manchester synth legends New Order there in 2013.) To tide us over until then, on the 20th of November, the band will be releasing a new ‘EP’ with this title track ‘Sputnik’ and the previously revealed ‘Korolev’. The EP will also include brand new remixes of ‘Sputnik’ by Blond:ish, Petar Dundov, Eagles & Butterflies and Plugger.

The band have three live shows this month in Cardiff, Southampton and London as previously scheduled. Other dates previously announced for this month have been moved to February 2016 due to medical issues in the PSB family (for more on this, read the band’s official statement on their Web site). For all the gig details this year and next, go here. For all of TGTF’s coverage on the always nattily dressed Public Service Broadcasting, including my review of their ace second long-player ‘The Race for Space’, head this way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It42TsD7_sI[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

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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