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Single Review: Low Island – In Person

 
By on Wednesday, 6th February 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo of Low Island by Dan Kendall

In the South of England, the lofty spires of University of Oxford loom above a city that consistently punches above its weight in the production of quality bands. You know them: Radiohead, Swervedriver, Foals, Stornoway, Glass Animals. Are Low Island next? They have named themselves after the geological term for a land mass surrounded by water but of the most unusual origin. You see, a low island is formed not from the activity of volcanoes (think Hawaii, Indonesia, etc.) but instead from the dirt and rocks that build up on top of a coral reef.

The band’s moniker is quite on the humble foundations on which they began: Jamie Jay and Carlos Posada used to DJ in Leeds back in the day and they’ve taken their first-hand knowledge of how to get people on the dance floor to influence their electronic-driven dance pop. The childhood friends’ music follows in the great tradition of Friendly Fires and Holy Ghost! and has been already been compared to the xx and Caribou. Last week, Low Island released their latest single, ‘In Person’, and it’s super.

The tune begins with 3 seconds of a sci-fi arc of sound, followed by a sexy, swaggery drum beat. Posada’s voice, as well as a bouncy synth line, come in to provide additional catchiness. It’s the kind of song with so many things going on at the same time, you know it would be amazing to watch live. That is, if you can stand still long enough not to groove along with them; I don’t think I could hold myself back. Lyrically, ‘In Person’ takes on the paradox of social media:. Despite our theoretical ability to keep in touch with each and every one of our friends on a multitude of platforms, and from a piece of metal in the palm of your hand to boot, keeping in touch as we get older doesn’t seem to get any easier. Technology has wreaked havoc on our ability to communicate and interact with each other. What’s the take home message? I think Low Island just want us to dance. I won’t argue with them. Check them out on their UK tour in March and April.

 

Single Review: Drenge – Bonfire of the City Boys

 
By on Tuesday, 11th December 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Gareth O’Malley

It’s been a while since Derbyshire-based trio Drenge have graced our ears with new material, but they have plenty to come. The band broke their silence at the start of the year with a tour announcement, their first since wrapping up their commitments for sophomore album ‘Undertow’. Their comeback ‘Autonomy’ EP was released in October, with the title track set to appear on their forthcoming third album ‘Strange Creatures’ due next February, along with their latest LP offering ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’.

On the violent, snarling beast of a track, Drenge sound considerably heavier than most will remember them. Rob Graham’s stuttering bassline guides the track through its first verse as lead singer Eoin Loveless’s rapid-fire, spoken word delivery takes centre stage. A palpable sense of tension hanging in the air as he speeds through two chaotic verses: “There are millions of people out there: fucking, fighting, eating and sleeping / And we are not one of them, oh no / We are the fly in the ointment / The hair in the food / The snag, the catch, the conundrum.”

The first verse gives way to a juddering guitar riff that helps to alleviate the tension for a brief moment, before returning in full force after the song builds to a shout-along chorus defined by its searing intensity. Its 4 minutes seem to pass in a flash, the trio indulging themselves in noise rock and offering us a red-hot taster of the new record. ‘Bonfire of the City Boys’ should do a lot to alter people’s perceptions of the band; far from the middle-of-the-road indie rock of their contemporaries, the trio have set their sights on making a real statement and aren’t pulling their punches. Hopefully the new album will be a similarly ferocious affair.

8/10

‘Strange Creatures’ will be released on the 22nd of February 2019 on Infectious Music. A UK tour in March and April will follow the album release. More on Drenge here on TGTF is available through here.

 

Single Review: Paul Noonan – Moth to Your Flame

 
By on Tuesday, 6th November 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Irish singer/songwriter Paul Noonan best known to TGTF readers as frontman to alt-rock band Bell X1, has recently been immersing himself in an array of side projects, including a collaboration with fellow Irish artist Daithí called ‘Take the Wheel’ and work with the Side 4 Collective on a track called ‘The Flood’. Following on those forays, Noonan released a new solo song at the beginning of October, titled ‘Moth to Your Flame’.

‘Moth to Your Flame’ has a distinctly and deliberately synthetic feel to its production from the very beginning, with electronic instrumentation and layered vocal overdubs throughout the mix. This is not entirely unfamiliar territory for Noonan, as anyone who’s listened to Bell X1’s back catalogue will realise. Most recently, the band’s 2016 LP ‘Arms’ featured moments of this kind of experimental production, which came as a bit of a jolt after the more organic nature of previous release ‘Chop Chop’.

The choice to take a more electronically-orientated tack seems more of an aesthetic choice for Noonan than one made by necessity due to the complex arrangement and the solo nature of the project. He has once again enlisted the production talents of Thomas Bartlett (The Gloaming), though this time, Noonan says, the pair worked remotely to put the track together. “’Moth to Your Flame’ was made by myself and Thomas Bartlett of New York City, like Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins in 84 Charing Cross Road, trading musical parts over the Atlantic on t’internet. It was the first tune finished of an ongoing collaboration, and I’m delighted to finally show it off.”

The quirky musical arrangement of ‘Moth to Your Flame’ consists of equal parts angular keyboard riff and jagged vocal melody, and Noonan’s lilting vocal tone blends as well with this synthetic backdrop as it has in more acoustic-based settings. His lyrics are, as ever, idiosyncratic and a bit self-conscious, vaguely recalling a number of songs he’s written in the past. But the context is different enough here to be compelling, and to make me wonder exactly which direction Noonan is headed. The About section of his Facebook page references a forthcoming solo EP titled ‘Push Puppets’, so perhaps we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

8/10

‘Moth to Your Flame’, the new single from Irish singer/songwriter Paul Noonan, is out now on Bone China Records.

 

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.

 

Single Review: White Lies – Time to Give

 
By on Tuesday, 9th October 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

I’m a few weeks late in reviewing the latest new material from West London’s gloom and doom guys White Lies. In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing, given that the single is over 7 and a half minutes long and acts like a play with three parts. Really. The release of this single coincided with the announcement of their next album, their fifth, unimaginatively titled ‘Five’, out in early 2019. The press release for ‘Time to Give’ includes the following quote from the band: “This is a milestone record for White Lies. It marks our decade as a band, which has pushed us to expand our sound and reach new territory artistically – it marks the start of a new and exciting chapter for us.” Colour me intrigued. With such a long track as their first statement made on the upcoming record, maybe it’s a sign they’re heading into prog territory? But let’s get down to the review first, shall we?

Listeners will focus on an insistent, almost ghostly, repetitive synth note progression early on in ‘Time to Give’. The lyrics in the chorus are heartfelt, from a man trying to convince his partner who wants to leave to change her mind and stay: “If you’ve got the mind to leave / Then pick a topic to talk about / God knows I’ve time to give / You’ve got the backbone to stick around”. After an icy instrumental break, these are some of Harry McVeigh’s most vulnerable, honest vocals to date: “I know the theme / Luck has never been into me / I’m a catch to pain / And you dress the scars to proof”.

A much longer instrumental break follows, the volume and complexity of the instrumentation both increasing towards a crescendo. If the song ended when reaching this peak, it would have totally made sense, given the height of emotion conveyed through McVeigh’s vocals. Instead of closing out the song, McVeigh’s voice comes back into the mix, a man shouting against a wall of sound and stabs of synths, an insurmountable goal as stopping a lover from leaving him for good. The song ends with a continuation of the cacophony, McVeigh’s cynicism a resignation to the fact that no matter the ‘Time to Give’ and all that you offer, sometimes it’s just not enough. Emotionally, Charles Cave has written a grand opus, but does this mean we’ll be receiving a whole album of tracks like this in the new year? Could be a bit much, am I right?

7.5/10

‘Time to Give’, the newest single from White Lies, is out now on PIAS. ‘Five’ will be released on the 1st of February 2019. The group will be embarking on a UK tour to support the LP on the 31st of January in Brighton. To catch up on all of TGTF’s past coverage on White Lies, use this link.

 

In the Post #163: Ben Howard follows his ‘Noonday Dream’ with three new tracks, including a surprise collaboration with alt-pop duo Sylvan Esso

 
By on Tuesday, 25th September 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Summer may be drawing to a close, but reminiscences of warm and sunny days are still fresh in our collective memory. With this in mind, singer/songwriter Ben Howard has just released a handful of new singles hot on the heels of his summer LP ‘Noonday Dream’, which was released back in June. As often happens, the recording sessions for the album were overly prolific, but in a fortunate sort of way. Howard himself says, “The recording sessions for ‘Noonday Dream’ were so varied and over quite a period of time. There were little gems that we didn’t know what to do with, but it felt right to put these three together, both separate and a part of the album, so to speak.”

One of those so-called gems is a surprise collaboration between Howard and American electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso. Called ‘Hot Heavy Summer’, the track does indeed feel tangentially related to the ephemeral vignettes on ‘Noonday Dream’. The addition of Amelia Meath’s backing vocals keeps the soundscape brighter and more buoyant than the title might imply, while the rounded hollow of the percussion beat lends a very definite substance to Howard’s otherwise evanescent arrangement. Apropos to the song’s title, ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ was featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World last Thursday, 13th September. Speaking on BBC Radio 1, Howard related that Meath’s lilting voice came immediately to mind for this song: “Amelia is just incredible, fortune prevailed, and we managed to get in the studio. I had it in the back of my mind as soon as we initially recorded ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ that the track just felt right for her.” If you’re interested in the full radio clip, you can listen back to it for a limited time on the BBC Radio 1 iPlayer.

‘Hot Heavy Summer’ is accompanied by two other tracks leftover from the ‘Noonday Dream’ sessions, a dark narrative called ‘Another Friday Night’ and the electronically experimental ‘Sister’. While these tracks don’t quite fit into the artistically cinematic nature of ‘Noonday Dream’, Howard is right in saying that they’re too good to go unheard. You can take a listen to all three tracks via Spotify, just below.

8.5/10

Ben Howard has a run of live dates in the UK planned for this winter, including two nights at the Manchester Apollo in December and three nights at London’s Brixton Academy after the start of the new year. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Friday 7th December – Glasgow Hydro Arena
Saturday 8th December – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Monday 10th December – Manchester Apollo
Tuesday 11th December – Manchester Apollo
Wednesday 16th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy
Thursday 17th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy
Friday 18th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy

You can read TGTF’s past coverage of Ben Howard right back here, and our coverage of Sylvan Esso is collected through here.

 
 
 

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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