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(SXSW flavoured!) MP3 of the Day (and more!) #515: Slow Club

 
By on Monday, 2nd April 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Fresh off appearances at this year’s SXSW, Slow Club released their new single ‘The Dog’ (from last year’s album ‘Paradise’) last week. The b-side to the single is ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now’, which you can listen to below, along with ‘The Dog’ on stream and video. But imagine you probably want a freebie, don’t you? We’ve got you covered. Also below is the band’s Kick Kick Snare Acoustic version, that you can listen to and download.

The Sheffield duo starts a UK tour tomorrow night at York Duchess; all the tour date details are here.

‘The Dog’:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ0viVj5rN8[/youtube]

‘Nothing Will Stop Us Now’:

 

SXSW 2012: Day 4 – PRS Foundation brunch at Latitude 30 (Spectrals, Dutch Uncles, D/R/U/G/S) – 16th March 2012

 
By on Friday, 30th March 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Long before I arrived in Austin, I had worked out a schedule for each day that I expected to pretty much adhere to. Scheduling ahead, I’d already earmarked most of Friday and Saturday so I could be stationed at Latitude 30, starting with the Performing Right Society of the UK (PRS) Foundation brunch early Friday. (Early by this point of SXSW is getting out of bed and on your feet before 11 AM, which I somehow managed to do for all 5 days…) After the Polarsets interview at B.D. Riley’s Irish pub on Sixth Street, I went round the corner to Latitude 30. I was expecting to be packed in like sardines and my ID to be scrutinised, just like most of the other showcases I’d been to.

But no. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone seemed to be very chill – maybe they were all nursing hangovers from boozing the night before with large Bloody Marys? – and since I’d been given a complimentary Irish brekky at B.D. Riley’s by the lovely Angela Dorgan, CEO of Music from Ireland, I saw no reason to queue up for the free buffet. I’d been personally advised by Manchester radio personality Shell Zenner that what was on offer, such as a lentil salad, was not as “traditional British” as advertised anyway. Too bad.

By this time I’d seen enough bands to suit my fancy and felt less snubbed about not getting an invite to the official British Music Embassy party on Wednesday; besides, I’d already seen the headliner of that show, Frank Turner, on Tuesday night, and Ben Howard and the Staves were on my schedule as part of the Communion showcase Friday evening. Now, I was too excited to eat or even drink before Dutch Uncles were set to play. Having seen them playing a triumphant show in front of an appreciative hometown crowd last December, I hoped that this would be one of several gigs that would turn American music industry heads. Oddly though, I think nearly all the voices I heard at the brunch were distinctly British and further, the other British Music Embassy events I attended over the next 36 hours seemed to be full up with Brits, so I’m not really sure how effective these were in spreading the word about exciting British acts to Americans or anyone else outside Britain.

The first band on was Spectrals from Leeds. I recognised their name as being on the Field Day bill last year but knew little about them. I think whoever curated the brunch had the right idea about the order; Spectrals have a dreamy, old-time charm that worked well as the starting band to ease people from those aforementioned hangovers into a showcase. On the other hand, for someone who did not have their morning cuppa like me, I could only think that they sounded like something that might help your cat to fall asleep. Not my thing, I guess. I tried. Maybe I would have a different opinion if I wasn’t sleep deprived? I do wish to point out that Martin called their set at End of the Road last year as having a langourous tone….

Then we went from sleepytime to a manic and frantic, arms and legs flailing performance from Dutch Uncles. They hit the ground running with a blazing rendition of ‘Cadenza’, which singer Duncan Wallis later admitted to me as taking a hell lot of energy out of him to perform. This was quickly followed by ‘Dressage’, ‘X-O’, and new song ‘Nometo’ (video below). Their parting blow was emotional for me. I’d had a series of “golly gee whiz” moments in Austin, and they included this one. I can scarcely believe I had first written about Dutch Uncles in the summer of 2010, and it was a live performance of this song, ‘The Ink’, on a Huw Stephens Radio1 BBC Introducing show that pushed me to write my first piece on them. Some 18 months on, they’ve released a great album ‘Cadenza’ in 2011 and look to be releasing the next one later this year. I’m chuffed for all their successes and the fans they’ve gained in such a short time. Great set, even though their set (and all the acts performing at this brunch, actually) was way too short.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgaOZdu69h8[/youtube]

The brunch performances were rounded out by a beats heavy and delish set by D/R/U/G/S. Like Dutch Uncles, D/R/U/G/S is (are?) from Manchester. What I was confused about: I thought there were two of them, but there was clearly one man on stage. I generally don’t go for guys who are stood onstage, twiddling dials and flicking switches and THAT’S ALL they do. However, I found myself warming to this fellow, feeling my body involuntarily swaying to the marvel of beats he was producing from the various boxes and synths positioned in front of him. While it’s obviously not the traditional way to make music, I think it’s certainly a viable touring option these days. I mean, think about it. If you don’t need to carry guitars, why carry anything else if you’ve got a box that plays those guitar lines?

 

SXSW 2012 Video Interview: James Rudd and Mike Smith of Polarsets

 
By on Friday, 30th March 2012 at 1:00 pm
 

Polarsets are another great band from the North East that’s making waves in the indie blogosphere. They were one of my 10 new bands to watch at SXSW and I did catch them play the British Music Embassy’s Northern Day at Latitude 30 on Saturday 17 March. But the day before, I was able to corner drummer James Rudd and keyboardist / synthesist Mike Smith for a chat in Irish pub B.D. Riley’s on Sixth Street. (Singer Rob Howe was unable to participate, as he had misplaced his ID and well, we met in a pub!)

I wanted to ask them some questions, like how they manage to sound tropical even though they’re from the ‘cold’ North, about their relationship with Neon Gold Records, and how they were enjoying themselves in Austin. Watch it below. [Editor’s note: our original shooting location of Buffalo Billiards across the street was thwarted because the place doesn’t open until 12 noon. I thought with the Irish breakfast promotion, people would be eating and chatting and that would be it, but suddenly a band started up at half past 11. The best laid plans…]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0DXP2fDH_c[/youtube]

 

(SXSW 2012 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #28: Gemma Ray

 
By on Friday, 30th March 2012 at 11:00 am
 

I unfortunately missed singer/songwriter Gemma Ray at SXSW. But the Sparks-loving songstress kindly answered our Quickfire Questions, revealing how a Santana song makes her turn on the waterworks and how a Van Morrison song was a revelation. Keep reading…

1. What song is your earliest musical memory?
The theme tune to Button Moon. [This song was written and performed by former Fifth Doctor Peter Davison and his then wife Sandra Dickinson. – Ed.]

2. What was your favourite song as a child?
Bangles – ‘Walking Like An Egyptian’

3. What song makes you laugh?
Sounds of Wonder – ‘Tafo’

4. What song makes you cry?
Santana – ‘Samba Pa Ti’. The key change in the bridge seems to directly stimulate my tear ducts without fail.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BP8tGyUL6zU[/youtube]

5. What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
Van Morrison – ‘Sweet Thing’. I simultaneously fell for both a man and the musicians playing on this recording when I first heard this album. It captured a magical, hopelessly romantic and fantastical moment of time for me when my surroundings weren’t.

6. What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Any song by one of those generic indie/rock boybands with guitar hoisted up to their chins, digital synths, silly haircuts – churning out songs with no melody, chorus or class before they inevitably resign themselves to being estate agents or bankers once their gap year is up and trust funds run out.

7. Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
I don’t wish to have written anyone else’s song, though many leave me inspired to try and write one half as good. Leonard Cohen has certainly knocked many of those out in his time.

8. Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)

I don’t have one particular favourite but I am currently enjoying Kurt Vonnegut and I love the melodic and lyrically timeless brilliance of the Gershwin brothers.

9. If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I would like to have been a nurse or an archaeologist.

10. If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count!)
(Who? Where????!) – Maybe some Sister Rosetta Tharpe. It may be considered just about Godly enough to sneak me through the gates, and may also get me into Rosetta’s good books so I can have occasional blast on her SG. [I’ve been told this is in reference to Tharpe’s guitar – Ed.]

Special thanks to Ellie for sorting this QQ out for us.

 

SXSW 2012: Day 3 – Thursday night free for all, various venues – 15th March 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 28th March 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Remember when I concluded at the end of Wednesday at SXSW that distance was a real killer for trying to stay on schedule with your favourite bands? It’s a good thing that there are so many things going on at this festival, in all parts of town, so if you want to ad lib and (gasp!) go off your previously dog-eared, highlighted and red pen marked schedule, that is totally okay. I had avoided putting any bands performing at Stubb’s BBQ place, in the northeast part of town, on my schedule, guessing that any show at that comparatively massive venue would be rammed, uncomfortable and full up of drunk and disorderly folks I’d witnessed down the front for We Were Promised Jetpacks the night before. After getting a taste of what Kaiser Chiefs had to offer at the Showdown at Cedar Street just hours earlier, a new friend from Australia convinced me to see them followed by the Temper Trap at Stubb’s that night. But what to do before? It would take me a while to get up there on Red River Street anyhow.

I mapped out a completely improvised new schedule for the night, which included starting with Films of Colour at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) showcase at Easy Tiger Patio at 8:30 PM. Wednesday afternoon their drummer had been restricted to an iPod with beats and tapping on a ukulele; this time I’d see their full live setup. Maybe I was tired, or maybe it was because it was too early in the evening, but I didn’t get the same kind of chills from this band like I did in the Omni hotel lobby, where their harmonies bounced melodiously off glass surfaces. But I did tape their closing number, ‘Persinette’, which you can watch below; it’s my understanding that this is the song of theirs that appeared on Made in Chelsea. If you’re interested, have a look at the rest of the evening’s line-up, including headliner of the night, Ida Maria. But after saying my goodbyes to the 10 for 2012 poll winners and wishing them a safe trip home to London, I was off again.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLqyMsVgk7U[/youtube]

Due to an unfortunate schedule clash, Fanfarlo played a show at U Street Music Hall in DC the same night Bombay Bicycle Club played a sold-out gig at 9:30 Club. Sometimes as a blog editor, tough choices have to be made, and in that case, I had to see Bombay, as I’d never seen them, despite being invited out to Philadelphia to see them support Two Door Cinema Club the year before and being unable to take them up on the offer. Luckily though, Fanfarlo had several gigs lined up at SXSW, and it wasn’t until I realised that Club de Ville, where they were playing a showcase sponsored by Paradigm, was literally steps from Stubb’s that I could squeeze them in after leaving Easy Tiger Patio. Fog obscured my walk along Red River Street, and it wasn’t clear if the effect was from a fog machine or some place being on fire, hopefully it was the former and not the latter. There was already a healthy, receptive audience who looked like they were enjoying the three-piece that was performing.

That’s when I had a sense of déjà vu. Wait a minute…the guitarist. He looks familiar… I started to wrack my brain, I’d seen this bloke before. And the guy next to him with a black baseball cap. Finally, I worked it out and nearly shouted “aha!” in the middle of the crowd. (I didn’t. Phew. I would have probably drawn some severe ire if I did.) They were Hundred Visions, an Austin band that had opened for Casiokids on the East Coast last autumn. Maybe it was a hometown, captive crowd, but you could just tell from the smiles on people’s faces and the shouts of approval after the songs, even though I’d arrived late, that they were beloved by this group of punters. Comparing it to their reception in DC, I’m really glad they had such a nice crowd response.

Then came Fanfarlo. Going from a trio with relatively little equipment to a five-piece with tonnes of stuff from England was a bit comical to watch. It was a small wonder than leader Simon Balthazar never tripped on any of the wires that lay dangerously all over the floor. I haven’t warmed to ‘Rooms Filled with Light’ the way I did with their debut ‘Reservoir’, but there is no denying that newer songs like ‘Deconstruction’ have a more commercial edge, and judging from the ‘pack ‘em in like sardines’ situation I encountered at Club DeVille, I think their popularity in North America is assured. (Er…thanks, NPR for making Fanfarlo a household name in America. Thanks, I think…)

From Club de Ville it was a short skip, hop and jump to Stubb’s. I was expecting some incredibly long queue like the ones I’d seen outside Hype Hotel on Trinity all week. No, I was shooed in quickly and efficiently by Stubb’s staff. Okay, so maybe all the other punters were taking it easy, getting drinks and buying up Stubb’s world famous grilled meats at the many concession stands set up on the perimeter of the grounds. Seriously, it was like you were at a fun fair or something; I was expecting the candy floss man and his cart to come by. No, instead, I was nervously trying to decide which side to stand on. Once I’d chosen stage left, I thought it would be tiresome to stand next to these uber Kaiser Chiefs fans from England and Australia, but in actuality, it was kind of fun. While we waited for the Kaisers and later in the intervening time while the Temper Trap roadies were setting up the stage, these girls sang differing versions of ‘Ruby’ and they were quite entertaining: up to this point, I hadn’t encountered any super fans of any of the acts I’d seen, so I considered if there were people like them who were excited about music as much as I was, then the music industry must be doing something right.

Compared to their earlier daytime show, this Kaisers set was a spectacle. Flashing coloured lights and even more bombast from Ricky Wilson is just what the doctor ordered and predictably, the blighty and Oz girls swooned and screamed like they were going to just die. To be fair, I was dying to an extent too: years ago when I became borderline obsessed with a certain Scottish actor in a sci-fi tv programme (along with millions of other girls in the UK; take a wild guess who…) and found out that one of his favourite bands was the Kaiser Chiefs, I investigated the band and I fell in love with ‘Ruby’. So that song is indelibly related to that time in my life when I had some grandiose dreams for the future, and watching them perform it in front of my very eyes melted my heart. (Actually, Ricky Wilson said at one point with some disbelief, “wow, you industry people…you do have a heart!” If you’re going to Reading/Leeds this summer, definitely catch them. You’re in for a good time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TjOQ9SOk9E[/youtube]

The Temper Trap stormed most of the globe 2 years ago on the strength of their single ‘Sweet Disposition’ and debut album ‘Conditions’. Once word broke they had completed their album. I have to say, again, maybe it was just fatigue of being at SXSW 3 days in a row already but I just wasn’t feeling the new songs. ‘Dreams’ (video below) was just too much of a sleeper and I wished it was more animated to really get the crowd moving. However, Cheryl and I will be seeing them on Saturday in DC and we’ll have two minds them to confer and deliberate on the new material compared to the old faves like ‘Science of Fear’ and ‘Fader’.

What did they end with? No contest: ‘Sweet Disposition’, with pogo-ing and breathless screams of delight as I witnessed with them on their 2010 tour in Philadelphia and Boston. How will the new album fare? Only time – and the reaction of fans – will tell.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z9A94BCF64[/youtube]

 

(SXSW 2012 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Films of Colour play ‘Creature of Habit’ in a stranger’s living room for Knock and Rock

 
By on Tuesday, 27th March 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

You know we’ve got Bands in Transit and Black Cab Sessions in the UK? This looks to be the American version of those: Knock and Rock based in Los Angeles endeavours to foist acoustic, stripped down sessions of your favourite indie bands on unsuspecting American homeowners. Today’s band? Films of Colour, winners of our 10 for 2012 readers’ poll. They perform a really nice rendition of ‘Creature of Habit’ for some very accommodating Yanks. Watch the performance below. My review of their acoustic Second Play Stage at SXSW is here.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/39089686[/vimeo]

 
 
 

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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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