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(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #418: Sports Team

 
By on Thursday, 7th March 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

Unless there’s an added horn section, and even that doesn’t happen too often, it’s rare for us to write about a six-piece band here on TGTF. The band members of Sports Team met at Cambridge University, where their guitar-driven rock didn’t find too many fans among their fellow students who preferred hip-hop and dance. You snooze, you lose: the now London-based group have plenty of hype going into their debut appearances at SXSW 2019 next week. Decidedly not punk or lo-fi, outlets like the Guardian are calling them part of the ‘indie revival’, recalling (I suppose) the heady days of Weezer, Franz Ferdinand and Maximo Park.

Last year, Sports Team released their debut EP ‘Winter Nets’, produced by Dave McCracken (Ian Brown, Depeche Mode, Oh Land) and out now on Nice Swan Records. EP track ‘Camel Crew’, a wonky guitar-pop tune, was named #10 on Noisey’s Best Songs of 2018, described as “stray[ing] into the tradition of great British groups like The Beautiful South and Pulp”. The song’s lyrics are controversial to some, as they poke fun at a period in the not too distant past where a fellow South London band was getting the lion’s share of hype, much to Sports Team’s cynicism. It probably helps that they’re London transplants and can cut through the pretension of the Capital’s music scene with x-ray vision. I can appreciate the shade. Sometimes you need to be on the outside looking in to be able to suss what’s really going on.

In the video for single ‘Margate’, frontman Alex Rice is throwing his limbs around in the seaside town and dancing like no-one’s watching. You gotta give credit where credit’s due. To be sure, Rice’s vocals will never be confused with the dulcet tones of, say, Tom Chaplin. Like David Byrne in Talking Heads’ heyday, the whole point of the vocals in Sports Team is to be yelping and dissonant, another wild card element to their sound that plays off of the frenetic played guitars and drum beats. While this style isn’t new, plenty of people are taking notice including The Vaccines, who appear to now be playing catch-up. Sports Team will appear at 1 AM on Monday, the 11th of March, at the DIY and UK Department of Trade (DIT) showcase at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. Like The Snuts who I wrote about on Tuesday, Sports Team will be appearing Thursday night, the 14th of March at the Good Karma Club showcase being put on by Abbie McCarthy of BBC Radio 1 and BBC Introducing at SXSW 2019 (set time 10 PM).

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2019: this year’s recommended keynotes and speakers

 
By on Wednesday, 6th March 2019 at 11:00 am
 

Every year without fail, you can count on the SXSW Conference to bring you an illuminating parade of industry visionaries and artists speaking next month in Austin. In a few weeks, there will be an awe-inspiring selection of sessions to sit in on and engage with as part of 2019’s Conference. Below is just a smattering of what music programming is on offer this year.

A$AP Rocky and Gorden Wagener (Monday, 11 March, 12:30 PM) – The announcement of A$AP Rocky as a SXSW 2019 showcasing artist has been huge. Quite possibly as huge is his session on the 11th of March to discuss his success with development and sales of his own athletic wear and accessories. (You can check out a recent interview he did with Los Angeles radio station Power 106 before a live appearance at the Forum.) Joining him in this session is Gorden Wagener of Daimler AG, responsible for directing everything related to the customer experience at Mercedes-Benz. The importance of creativity, branding and fans and followers will no doubt be discussed in this session.

T-Bone Burnett (Wednesday, 13 March, 11 AM) – He may not be a household name you recognise, but you definitely know his work. Musician, producer and songwriter T-Bone Burnett has composed the soundtracks for countless films and produced many albums, including those that launched the careers of Counting Crows and Los Lobos while helping reinvent and relaunch those of Gregg Allman and Roy Orbison. Burnett will be releasing his 13th album ‘The Invisible Light’ in April, so he’ll be chomping at the bit to talk about his newest work.

David Byrne (pictured at top) (Wednesday, 13 March, 12:30 PM) – The former frontman of Talking Heads and multi-award winner will be speaking about Reasons to Be Cheerful, a platform to drive social change he launched last year. The purpose of the Web site is to give people the tools and information to make changes locally to social issues as diverse as climate and energy to transportation. For a taste of what Byrne might talk about, I’ve embedded below a talk Byrne gave in early January 2018 at the New School in New York City.

Lance Bass (Wednesday, 13 March, 12:30 PM) – You remember him, Lance was the blond bass singer in *NSYNC. In case you somehow missed this, since his former ‘90s boyband’s implosion, he has become an actor of stage and screen and a gay activist. He even had a turn on Dancing With the Stars. Perhaps it’s surprising that his appearance at SXSW 2019 will be to talk about his current career as a film and tv producer. Like Madonna, Cher and many other legends in the music business, he’s proven resilient in successfully reinventing himself, his time as *NSYNC fading into the distance.

Shirley Manson and Lauren Mayberry (keynote; Thursday, 14 March, 11 AM) – These two female titans of Scottish music will be appearing at Thursday morning’s Music keynote. It’s being presented in association with PRS Foundation’s Keychange programme and will be centred on discussions about “creativity, the music industry and the female identifying narrative.” Both have been outspoken on feminism and and equality in the business; below, watch an interview with Mayberry at Australian music festival Splendour in the Grass.

Laura Jane Grace (Thursday, 14 March, 2 PM) – Formerly the founder and frontman of punk band Against Me!, Grace is a transgender musician who has become a role model for those struggling with gender identity and dysphoria. With her new band Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, Grace is headed in a decidedly more intimate direction with her first solo album. The changes in her life over the last 6 to 7 years have thrust her more into the public limelight, and I’m sure she’ll be using this platform at SXSW 2019 to revisit key events, as well as discuss the music she’s making while Against Me! is on hiatus.

Björn Ulvaeus and Niclas Molinder (Thursday, 14 March, 3:30 PM) – Ulvaeus is best known as a Swedish songwriter and producer of international giants ABBA and the co-composer of Mamma Mia! and other Broadway musicals. He will be making a stop at SXSW 2019 along with Niclas Molinder; both are cofounders, along with famed pop songwriter and producer Max Martin and manager Ash Pournouri, of Auddly. Auddly is described on the SXSW Web site as “rapidly setting the standard for how music creators, their collaborators and their representatives are identified along with accrediting their contributions in compositions and recordings.” A worthy enterprise, indeed. Ulvaeus seems like such a great interviewee, as evidenced from the BBC One Show clip from last year below.

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond (keynote; Friday, 15 March, 11 AM) – The surviving members of seminal NYC hip-hop trio Beastie Boys will be stopping by SXSW this year for the Friday morning keynote session during the Music part of the SXSW Conference. Late last year, Horovitz and Diamond released Beastie Boys Book, 6 years on from the untimely death of their bandmate Adam “MCA” Yauch.

Ross Golan (Friday, 15 March, 11 AM) – Like T-Bone Burnett described above, Ross Golan isn’t exactly a name that will ring too many bells but I can guarantee you’ve heard and appreciate his work. Golan penned Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ and 5 Seconds of Summer’s ‘Mrs. All American’, among others. However, I don’t think Golan will be in Austin to rest on his songwriting laurels and will be speaking on something else near and dear to many artists and managers’ hearts. He’s a major champion of the Music Modernization Act, which was signed into U.S. law last October and aims to move forward with better best practices in issues of copyright in the digital age. He’ll be discussing this, along with the future of songwriting.

As always, the schedule of events at SXSW 2019 is subject to change. For the most up-to-date information on the SXSW Conference, visit SXSW’s official Web site.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #417: The Snuts

 
By on Tuesday, 5th March 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

The historic Scottish county of West Lothian occupies an enviable, green location between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Like Irish band The Academic in Mullingar, The Snuts are from Whitburn, a small town far enough away to not be influenced directly or too much by the scenes of their countries’ bigger cities. On a previous iteration of their Twitter profile, they proudly proclaimed, “So far removed from big city music. Songs for you, about you.” Sounds about right for a plucky young group whose primary professional goal has been to write good songs, and songs that connect directly to their fans’ hearts.

When (not if) they succeed, they will be following in the footsteps of fellow musician from Whitburn Lewis Capaldi, who they played with quite a bit when they were younger, later supporting the BBC Sound of 2018 nominee at Glasgow’s venerated King Tut’s. ‘Glasgow’ turns out to be the name of their debut single; the song itself isn’t a love letter to Glesga itself but rather appears to be a celebration of the way a girl pronounces the city’s name, meaning universal application and appeal. In a land where the rivalry between Scotland’s biggest cities can affect band loyalty, especially in the early days, the fact that the Snuts can play this song and elicit the kind of response in Edinburgh as you see below is pretty amazing.

At the start of 2018, they released ‘The Matador’ EP. The title track features jangly guitars and Jack Cochrane’s cocksure, swaggery vocals. In sharp contrast, ‘Summertime’ shows off The Snuts’ ability to slow things down and head straight into stadium anthem territory, Cochrane’s voice reaching heights of Bono’s early U2 years. Recent single ‘Manhattan Project’ doesn’t go down as massively as a nuclear bomb, but it takes the imagery of fighter jets and the bombers that chase them as a metaphor for waiting patiently for a girl to return. A clever concept. Do these four friends have what it takes to be Britain’s Next Big Guitar Band? I think so. You can read my previous preview of them ahead of Live at Leeds last year through here. Check them out appearing at 9 PM at the Good Karma Club showcase being put on by Abbie McCarthy of BBC Radio 1 and BBC Introducing, Thursday night, the 14th of March, at SXSW 2019.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #416: Seazoo

 
By on Thursday, 28th February 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

Yes, Wales may be a small country, but it has produced some massive, internationally-known bands: Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Los Campesinos!, The Joy Formidable, Catfish and the Bottlemen. Like Van McCann and co., the band I want to bring to your attention today are also from North Wales. Conveniently, Seazoo hail from Wrexham, which most British UK industry people know as the city that hosts the annual Focus Wales music festival in May. At first glance at their name, they sound like a surf rock band. While I was doing my usual listen-through of the UK bands given a shout to SXSW this year, I was surprised to hear that in fact, Seazoo are much more of a pop band than I ever would have guessed. They are a guitar-driven band, yes, but two major parts of their music make them much more endearing than most.

2018 saw the self-described “psych indie pop” group self-release their debut album ‘Trunks’. Appearing far less threatening than the Rolling Stones’ big red mouth and tongue, mouths flashing blinding-white smiles repeat on the album cover. The smiles are a good harbinger of what’s inside: feel good guitars and instrumentation accompanied by wry lyrics. They’ve named Grandaddy as one of their influences, and I can clearly hear that. The winsome vocal delivery of Ben Trow also has that wonderfully wistful, disarming quality associated with the twinkling tunes of Scottish pop architect Stuart Murdoch and his band Belle and Sebastian. Listen to ‘St Hilary Says’ to see – and hear – what I mean. Seazoo will be the opening band at the Focus Wales showcase Wednesday night at 7:45 PM at Swan Dive (indoor stage) at SXSW 2019. I’ll be there: I don’t know any Welsh (except for ‘diolch’) so I’m hoping I learn some through osmosis.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2928: PAWS

 
By on Tuesday, 26th February 2019 at 6:00 pm
 

Today’s Video of the Moment that stars a Scottish band who have appeared at SXSW in the past and will be making a triumphant return visit before a major release. The hard-working yet fun-loving PAWS‘ fourth studio album ‘Your Church on My Bonfire’ will be released in late April. As a taster of their highly-anticipated long player, they have unveiled the promo video for newest single ‘Not Enough’. Does it answer the age-old question, “when is love enough”? You’ll have to watch and listen below and draw your own conclusions. Hang tight for the release of ‘Your Church on My Bonfire’, debuting on the 26th of April on Ernest Jenning Records. More on PAWS here on TGTF can be found through here.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Cassia share sunny performance video for ‘Small Spaces’, from debut album ‘Replica’

 
By on Tuesday, 26th February 2019 at 4:00 pm
 

It seems all too perfect that following my posting of Vampire Weekend‘s latest promo video last week, now it’s Cassia‘s turn on TGTF. The sunniest export to come out of Macclesfield are finally going to be able to capitalise on the growing hype surrounding them. Next month, they will appear at SXSW 2019, and there is no doubt they’ll be representing the North in fine fashion. Shortly after appearing in Austin, they will also be releasing their debut album, ‘Replica’, on Distiller Records on the 5th of April.

In case somehow you have been living under a rock – and somehow missed both my report on seeing them at The Great Escape 2018 and Lily’s of their single ‘Get Up Tight – the promo video for ‘Small Spaces’, taken from their upcoming debut, is a great introduction. Favouring a bouncy, sun-dappled sound reminiscent of early Vampire Weekend, it’s easy to see how Cassia and their buoyant music will be right at home in Austin in a few short weeks. Watch the video for single ‘Small Spaces’ below. The band’s one official SXSW 2019 performance announced so far is at the Scruff of the Neck / Distiller Records showcase at Malverde on Wednesday evening, the 13th of March; stay tuned for future coverage on Cassia here on TGTF.

 
 
 

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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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