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(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #413: Elder Island

 
By on Tuesday, 12th February 2019 at 12:00 pm
 

When I first started blogging 10 years ago, bands with the word ‘bear’ in their name was a thing. Now it seems that the buzz word is ‘island’. (See my review last week of Low Island’s ‘In Person’.) The word ‘island’ conjures up individuality, but at the expense of isolation. Elder Island, named after a real place in Canada, are an electronic-driven trio who prove that isolation used as a means for indie bands to carefully create their art can be successful. The like-minded friends who were all studying art in Bristol have been steadily moving forward with their experimental music side gig over the last 6 years. 2019 is set to be Elder Island’s year, their time in the limelight, and congratulations are in order, and not just for their all-important shout to SXSW 2019. Last Friday, they self-released their debut album ‘The Omnitone Collection’.

They showed early promise on ‘Golden’, appearing on their 2016 ‘Seeds in Sand’ EP. You can understand the track’s origin, used as a transitional, loose point in our set where we could just let go a little”, as you get caught up in its beguiling vibrations. Katy Sargent’s vocals, stretched and echoey, act more like another electronic part layered on top of synthesisers. From the new LP, the first taster revealed to the wild was the rhythmically-mesmerising ‘Don’t Lose’. On it, their ability to pen a catchy tune is written all over it, and Sargent’s vocals have less effects put on it than on the EP, which make them more human. The accompanying promo video is a playful visual of how deft they are in transforming what could be techie electronic elements into parts totally accessible once incorporated into a pop song. Electronics aren’t just for nerds who that love them. These days, those who can use them in tandem with good songwriting are in good position indeed.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #412: Breathe Panel

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

I’ve admitted publicly more than a few times here on TGTF that shoegazer slacker rock isn’t my cup of tea. I can appreciate that some find it the music and disaffected vocals great to chill out to, while other gear heads actually like the mechanics behind creating that oozy woozy, lazy sound. I don’t know why it’s taken me so many years to come to this conclusion: As an East Coast American with a Type A, neurotic, impatient personality, the sounds of guitar notes that aren’t played quite that precisely are probably what set me off. I think I could be making major strides here, as when I was going through the bands who were given a shout to SXSW 2019, I actually liked a band from this subgenre of rock! Ladies and gents, I bring you Breathe Panel.

The band use Brighton as their home base, so while their signing to local legendary FatCat Records isn’t entirely unexpected, it is worth applauding since there are so many fledgling artists there. Taking their location into account – being never too far from the soothing sounds of the lapping waves and evocative days and nights by the beach – their choice of swirling guitars and vocals oh so diaphanous that you couldn’t stick a pin in them make total sense. So do their noted influences of American bands Real Estate and Deerhunter, as well as their choice of producer for their debut album, MJ of Hookworms. On said album released last summer, they do their genre contemporaries proud, balancing upbeat, more agile numbers (‘On My Way’, ‘Sunrise / Sunshine’) with slower-moving ones (‘Hue’, ‘Red Wine Glass’). In that way, they’ve proven the name of their band is appropriate: panels are known to be solid and reliable, while ‘breathe’ describes the dreamy nature of their music well. Under the mood lighting found in many venues in Austin come nightfall, there’s sure to be those mesmerised by them.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: The Ninth Wave share short film for single ‘Half Pure’

 
By on Tuesday, 5th February 2019 at 4:00 pm
 

Post-punks The Ninth Wave is part of a small but strong contingent of Scottish bands scheduled to showcase next month at SXSW 2019. Last May, I previewed their band ahead of their appearances at the 2019 editions of Live at Leeds and The Great Escape. As they’ve gone on, they have steadily building up a catalogue of short films designed to go beyond the conventional promo video and provide an appropriate visual counterpart to their music. The latest installment in the film series is the video for single ‘Half Pure’, which is now available from Distiller Records. Their synth-driven rock sound, as performed live, is joined here with their interpretation of a runway show, albeit one that’s gory and subversive, described in the press release as “incorporating elements of classic ’90s anti-fur campaigns and Alexander McQueen’s iconic runways. The concept is inspired by deploration of the consumerist, superficial nature of modern society and how overwhelming it can be to live in a “plastic World War III.”” Check it out below. For more on The Ninth Wave here on TGTF, follow this link.

 

(SXSW 2019 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #411: APRE

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

In case you somehow missed the meteoric rise of Brighton’s Royal Blood and Tunbridge Wells’ Slaves, musical duos have proven you can make it in the UK music world without having what we used to consider a necessary full band. Ahead of their scheduled appearance Austin, I’d like you to meet another talented pair, APRE. Legend has it that Charlie Brown (yes, really) and Jules Konieczny first met during a chance meeting at Ealing Chess Club. You’ll have to wait until I meet them one day for us to find out who’s head is better in the game. Maybe they’ll teach me?

My first impression of their sound was how similar it is to another London duo we introduced you all to last year, Kawala. I’m not the only one to have noticed this sameness: late last year, the two acts were tapped for the Hopscotch tour powered by Utilita, an extension of Radio 1’s Jack Saunders’ club night. A feather in APRE’s cap that I don’t think Kawala have managed is to have a #1 single on Hype Machine. This fateful event occurred in spring 2018, and the song that got them there was ‘All Yours’, which also appeared on their later EP ‘The Movement of Time’. A jaunty guitar line plays over a smooth backdrop of keyboards on ‘All Yours’, and the syncopated vocals live in that sweet spot between pop and hip-hop. The vocals are echoey, too, and along with its accompanying video that must have been shot from high up by a drone. The overall effect brings you to the lazy days of summer. And who doesn’t love that in the middle of winter as I write this?

A more pronounced r&b edge has been introduced in their latest single, ‘Backstreet’. With an insistent tropical beat making the song super catchy, this sure ain’t your momma’s Backstreet Boys. This is also where APRE diverge from Kawala. The falsetto vocals and r&b groove are reminiscent of that of Jungle’s, but how the keyboards are employed here will remind you of the feel good moments of Hurts. Ultimately, APRE are the kind of act you’d expect to find in 2019, having taken the best bits from those who came before and having seen what works in today’s pop and what doesn’t. While their red jackets and sunglasses may get them confused for Nancy Pelosi in Austin, I reckon as soon as their music begins, any potential mix-up should soon fade away.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Harry Pane

 
By on Wednesday, 18th July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

My final interview of the SXSW 2018 music festival was with English singer/songwriter Harry Pane, who played a mellow late Saturday afternoon showcase at the Hilton Austin hotel’s Cannon and Bell Lounge as part of SXSW’s Second Play Stage series. Pane played a relaxed set in this acoustic setting and even engaged in some friendly banter with the intimate crowd between songs, which encouraged me to approach him for a quick chat after he finished playing.

Harry Pane internal

This performance at The Hilton marked Pane’s final show of SXSW 2018, and he seemed happy to take time for an interview after a busy week of gigging in Austin. “I did six [shows], overall. But they were kind of stretched out enough that it was enjoyable instead of just, like, an endurance test.” His shows included an official showcase at Stephen F’s Bar, as well as a set at one of my favourite Austin venues, The Tiniest Bar in Texas, and a radio performance for KSGR, where he peformed alongside fellow English songwriter and TGTF alum Frank Turner. “I [had done] a songwriting workshop with him and his band, who are really, really nice people”, Pane said of Turner. “He was on the KGSR show too, and he very kindly mentioned my name and gave me a shout out, which was really good.”

This year was not Pane’s first experience at SXSW. He played the festival once before, back in 2016, and that experience allowed him to come into SXSW 2018 with clearer expectations. “I kind of went in blind to that one, and I had one showcase. Didn’t really know what it was about or what I was doing”, Pane remembers. “This time around, two years later, I’ve done a few more things, worked a little harder. I feel this one’s been way more beneficial, and a lot more fun, actually.”

As a fully independent artist, Pane appeared in Austin without a band or entourage in tow, which made the small Second Stage venues a near-perfect fit for him. “I have a double bass player at home, and I’m trying to sort of slowly build a band, put it together. But at the moment it’s just me, on my own.” When I asked about label support, Pane demurred. “I’m not in a position to even talk about labels. I’m with AWAL, who are an amazing support for independent musicians.” AWAL is billed as “Kobalt‘s unique alternative to the traditional music label”, offering services to independent musicians who want to maintain control and flexibility. Pane continued, again very frankly, “If it came to the crunch, I do think that they would look after you way more and take less money off you.”

We also talked about the unique challenges of recording music as an independent artist, and Pane discussed them candidly in terms of his own current experience. “My last EPs that I did, I recorded with Dani Castelar, who worked with Paolo Nutini and other people that I really like.” He laughed, “I’m name-dropping now . . . But it’s really good, because we’ve got a really good friendship now, and I’ve got this kind of understanding with him where I record with a guy in London, on a cheap rate, and I send my stuff over to him, and he mixes it. He tweaks it and polishes it. This is a way I can afford it at the moment.”

Releasing singles, rather than full albums or even EPs, is Pane’s current way of keeping his name and his music afloat in the vast milieu of singer/songwriters. “At the moment I’m feeling like that’s working more, at my stage, to release song by song. I released the EP last year, [‘The Wild Winds’] and it was beneficial for the single, the leading song of that, but the other songs kind of got wasted within that EP, they got sort of lost.”

At the time of this interview, Pane had freshly released a new single called ‘Beautiful Life’. When I asked about forthcoming releases, Pane confessed, “I’ve got some songs in the pipeline, but nothing quite ready yet.” However, he has been keeping busy in the interim. This Friday, the 20th of July, Pane will release a new single titled ‘MacArthur Park’. While no preview of the track is yet available, you can pre-save ‘MacArthur Park’ on Spotify and iTunes now.

Harry Pane is scheduled to appear onstage at Penn Fest in Buckinghamshire on the 21st of July and at the Towersey Festival in Oxfordshire on the 27th of August. You can find a full listing of Pane’s live appearances on his official Web site. TGTF’s previous coverage of Harry Pane is collected here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Buck Meek

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Buck Meek, far right, with his band at Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018

If you’re a regular TGTF reader, you might already be familiar with the name of singer/songwriter Buck Meek. We’ve covered Meek before in his role as part of alt-rock band Big Thief, both in live review and previous SXSW coverage. Back in March, during SXSW 2018, Meek came to Austin as a solo artist, to preview his now-released debut LP, which is simply titled ‘Buck Meek.’ I caught a very quick moment with Meek after his set at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion to ask him about the new album.

‘Buck Meek’ technically isn’t Meek’s solo debut, following on his previous EP release ‘Heart Was Beat’ from back in 2015. That EP includes the memorable track ‘Sam Bridges’, which he played in a slightly different form in the Revival Tent at Luck than what I remembered from a live performance in Phoenix with Big Thief several years ago. Discussing his set on the day, Meek agreed. “That [song] had a more country feel. I mean, we’re playing it with a slide guitar player today, who kind of mimics the [pedal] steel, and with a country drum beat and everything.”

Having only seen Meek before in the context of Big Thief’s edgy folk rock, I was curious about the more obvious country influence I heard on display in his solo work. “I think there’s influence there”, Meek says. “I grew up in Wimberly, Texas, south of Austin. I grew up listening to, surrounded by country music. So it’s always been, I think, an influence. And to be honest, this set, I catered more towards that feel.”

But many of the songs on ‘Buck Meek’, the album, defy easy classification as straighforward country songs. Musically, the record’s foundational country tone is obfuscated by elements of what Meek describes as “grunge, and punk rock, and more esoteric stuff.” Early single ‘Cannonball!’ has a distinct twang to it, most prominently in Meek’s vocal lines, but its laid-back rhythm section is unmistakabely jazz-tinged, and its electric guitar riff is pure blues rock. ‘Ruby’ is a charmingly elusive, rhythmically complex track which Meek explained to Uproxx as “the suspension in love, when time folds in on itself, when the first instant of meeting cycles through the idiosyncratic friction and ancient affection of years together, which again cycles into infancy and eager fascination — all contained within a sideways glance.”

Thematically, ‘Buck Meek’ touches on a wide array of subject matter, from platonic male friendship (‘Joe By the Book’) to a plane crash in the French Alps (‘Flight 9525’), and an intriguing cast of characters, including a widow named ‘Sue’ and a devoted canine ‘Best Friend.’ In the end, the heart of the album is revealed in final track ‘Fool Me’, a late night country bar classic, with a plaintive piano melody and Meek’s self-deprecating vocal evoking the mild yet persistent yearning of one last slow dance on an otherwise deserted dance floor.

‘Buck Meek’ was released on the 18th of May on Austin record label Keeled Scales. Buck Meek will spend the remainder of the summer on tour supporting the release of the album, including the following run of dates in the UK in August. In addition to the shows listed below, Meek will support fellow country artist Courtney Marie Andrews at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 21st of August and at Southampton’s Talking Heads on the 22nd of August. You can find a full listing of Meek’s upcoming live dates on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Buck Meek is collected through here.

Monday 20th August 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Thursday 23rd August 2018 – London Islington
Friday 24th August 2018 – Manchester Gullivers
Sunday 26th August 2018 – Dublin Grand Social
Monday 27th August 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 28th August 2018 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 
 
 

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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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