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(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2062: Your Friend

 
By on Thursday, 14th April 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Taryn Miller, who goes by the stage name Your Friend, showcased last month at SXSW 2016. Carrie was there to catch her and her band’s set at the Ground Control Touring showcase Wednesday night at the Sidewinder. The Your Friend debut album was just released in late January on Domino. Now, the title track ‘Gumption’ has a promo video. Starkly beautiful in its presentation in the desolate, snowy wilderness before coming across a scene of true destruction that she finds herself in, it’s definitely got dramatic flair. Watch it below.

‘Gumption’ the album is out now on Domino Records.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJFpFQT9ZcI[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2016 Interview: Lissie

 
By on Thursday, 14th April 2016 at 5:00 pm
 

Saturday was our last full day in Austin for SXSW 2016, and my day started off with a visit to the SPIN Magazine party at Brazos Hall, for an interview with American singer/songwriter Lissie. I recently reviewed Lissie’s third album ‘My Wild West’, and I was eager to ask her about it, especially after hearing her play a few of the songs live on the SPIN showcase. Our conversation centered around the writing and recording process for ‘My Wild West’, which chronicled Lissie’s evolution as a songwriter during her 12 years living in Southern California, but which also inspired her to make some major life changes, both professionally and personally. After leaving her previous major record label, she chose to release this album independently (via Thirty Tigers and Cooking Vinyl), which she feels is, artistically, a better fit for her at this point. On the personal side of things, Lissie has also left the Los Angeles area behind and relocated to Iowa, where she’s purchased a farm not far from her childhood home in Illinois.

Unfortunately, the last couple of minutes of our interview are missing from the audio clip above, due to a technical glitch (read: user error) with my digital recorder. To fill you in on what’s missing from the audio, I rounded off the chat by asking Lissie about her plans for touring after SXSW and what might be next for her following the album cycle for ‘My Wild West’. She said that for now she’s focusing on ‘My Wild West’ and hasn’t made definite plans for anything beyond what’s already scheduled, though she didn’t rule out the possibility of more touring if the opportunity presents itself.

However, she also mentioned wanting to spend some time getting herself properly settled in Iowa, as well as possibly taking on a couple of more ambitious potential projects: creating studio space in a renovated barn on her property and buying more land in an attempt to start a beekeeping operation. When I asked her how interested fans might keep tabs on her wide variety of activities, she mentioned that she’s a regular Instagram user, so if you want more information on how Lissie is staying busy, have a look at her Instagram feed.

"Lissie

Many thanks to Hayley for graciously coordinating this interview.

Stay tuned to TGTF for a full review of my Saturday activities at SXSW 2016, coming soon.

 

SXSW 2016: Friday night at Empire Control Room, Vulcan Gas Company, St. David’s Episcopal Church and Mohawk Outdoor – 18th March 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 12th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

The Friday evening of SXSW 2016 was fraught with challenges, most of which involved the weather forecast. Rain clouds threatened late in the afternoon but didn’t erupt into thunderstorms until early evening, just as the night showcases were beginning in downtown Austin. Mary had initially planned to see shows at Stubb’s and the McDonald’s Loft that evening, but both outdoor venues postponed their start times due to thunder and lightning in the area, not to mention the actual rain. Fortunately, my own plan for the evening started at an indoor venue, the Empire Control Room, with teenage alt-pop up-and-comer Declan McKenna (pictured at top).

Lightning flashed in the skies over Austin as I walked to the Empire Control Room, but luckily I got there before it began to rain in earnest. I found a spot near the stage well before the show was set to begin, but I was surprised at how quickly the room filled with punters. It took me a few minutes to realise that the swelling crowd was due to the closure of Empire’s outdoor venue, the Garage. The Control Room quickly filled to capacity, and Mary was delayed in joining me after her shuffling of plans for the evening.

Declan McKenna's pedals, Friday at SXSW 2016

The stormy weather was quite lucky for McKenna, who played that evening to possibly a larger audience than he expected. There were a few diehard fans at the front of the stage who had heard McKenna play already in the course of the week, but his songs were largely new to me. I was immediately impressed by his stage presence and pleasant singing voice, but as his set progressed, I saw that McKenna was more than just a boy with a guitar and a gift for words. He played the large stage like a seasoned pro, deftly managing his guitar, keyboard and an array of foot pedal effects in a manner that reminded me very much of the first time I saw another teenaged pop sensation, Ed Sheeran, way back in 2012. If you haven’t yet heard Declan McKenna, keep your ears on the radio for his catchy hit single, the FIFA-inspired ‘Brazil’.

AirLands, Friday at SXSW 2016

After McKenna’s set, I headed back out into the rain for a quick walk to Vulcan Gas Company, which was hosting a series of showcases sponsored by music distribution platform TuneCore. I was due to interview Scottish rock band Holy Esque before their set on the TuneCore showcase later that evening, but I turned up early to scope out the venue and caught a couple of interesting acts in the process. Brooklyn-based indie artist AirLands (aka Kevin Calaba) was on stage when I arrived, playing stripped back versions of his atmospheric, orchestrally-arranged songs. I’m not an avid television fan, but I might not have recognized recent single ‘Love and Exhale’ without the elaborate ornamentation of the recording even if I had heard it when it was featured on The Vampire Diaries last year. The song has also garnered attention from Google Play and Spotify, and it’s worth a listen if you haven’t come across it already.

Strange Fiction, Friday at SXSW 2016

Following AirLands were two Austin-based acts, retro synth-pop band Strange Fiction and solo artist The Wealthy West. Strange Fiction’s five-member arrangement created a markedly fuller sound than either of the surrounding solo acts, and their onstage energy was infectious as they centered their set around catchy single ‘Memphis’. The Wealthy West was naturally a bit more subdued, as I might have expected from the solo side project of The Rocketboys‘ frontman Brandon Kinder. The Rocketboys were selected to showcase at SXSW this year as well, but Kinder’s acoustic set featured a handful of introspective, gospel-tinged country rock ballads that seemed to come from a more personal place than what I’ve previously heard from the full band.

Wealthy West, Friday at SXSW 2016

At that point, I had to step away from the stage to meet up with the members of Holy Esque, and after trying in vain to find a quiet spot for our scheduled interview, the five of us ended up stepping outside into the alley for a very quick chat, which you can hear here. The band had gotten stuck in traffic on the way to the venue and were due onstage in short order, but despite this minor stress, Holy Esque cranked up the volume on the Vulcan Gas Company stage with their massive synth-rock sound. As promised in the interview clip, the band filled their short set list with songs from their new album ‘At Hope’s Ravine’, which was released just before SXSW and which had apparently garnered them at least one new fan. (You’ll see her in the second photo below, taken just before she was escorted from the stage.)

Holy Esque, Friday at SXSW 2016

Holy Esque, Friday at SXSW 2016

After Holy Esque’s set, I decided to take my chances on some of the unknown Special Guests listed on the SXSW schedule. Surprise slots were listed at several venues, including St. David’s Episcopal Church, which was hosting the always high quality Communion Music showcase. I arrived at the church too late to see Jake Bugg (sob!), but I got there in time to see another new-to-me artist, Australian singer/songwriter Ry X, who was playing just ahead of the scheduled Special Guest. His smooth neo-folk stylings and predominantly falsetto vocals struck me immediately as appealing to fans of James Vincent McMorrow and Bon Iver. You can listen for yourself in the recent video for ‘Only’, which will feature on Ry X’s upcoming album ‘Dawn’, due out on the 6th of May.

Ry X, Friday at SXSW 2016

In the interim after Ry X’s set, I found out from fellow audience members that the Special Guest on Communion’s showcase would be Liverpool singer/songwriter Låpsley, who I’d seen just the night before at Stubb’s. I recommended her to those who hadn’t already had the pleasure of hearing her sing, but I ultimately decided to test the waters elsewhere. I sent out a last minute tweet asking about the Special Guest on the docket at the Mohawk Outdoor and was pleasantly surprised to hear that it would be electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso, who had won me over at Tucson’s Club Congress back in 2014. In retrospect, Sylvan Esso’s appearance shouldn’t have been a total surprise, as Mary and I had seen a glimpse of Nick Sanborn’s Made of Oak side project set on Monday at Barracuda.

Sylvan Esso, Friday at SXSW 2016

By this time the rain had stopped, and I hastily made my way to the Mohawk in hopes that I could still get in. Once again, luck was on my side, and while I couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, I was excited to find a decent spot in the courtyard amongst a throng of fans who were already buzzing with the anticipation of hearing Sylvan Esso. The wildly popular duo had been conspicuously quiet in recent months, but much to my delight, they burst their bubble of silence at the Mohawk on Friday night with a handful of brand new, never-before-heard songs. While familiar numbers ‘Coffee’ and ‘Hey Mami’ were natural crowd favourites, the new tracks were were received with rapturous cheers and ecstatic dancing, not the least from yours truly, as I ended my rather arduous Friday night on a euphoric high.

Sylvan Esso, Friday at SXSW 2016

 

SXSW 2016: rock and pop to close out editor Mary’s time in Austin (Saturday, part 2) – 19th March 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 12th April 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

After the rain of Friday night, a chilly air had settled onto Austin. It’s not normal to be wearing gloves and a hat in Austin in March, but when needs must… Carrie has hypothesised the precipitous drop in temperature translated to less people willing to stand outside in the cold. This was probably true to some extent, as when it came to the showcase the irrepressible Har Mar Superstar‘s showcase put on at Cheer Up Charlie’s, I was surprised there wasn’t a queue to get into the place. Once inside, the outdoor patio area wasn’t full either. Maybe everyone was waiting for Har Mar Superstar’s own headline set at the end of the night? Not sure.

Though I missed first two acts Cold Fronts and Ghost Babes Compilation alums Slothrust, I made it to red lipsticked smiley face sign on Red River shortly after New York City’s Drowners began. Every year and a half or so, I experience a dramatic change in musical taste, and I’m wondering if it’s time yet again to make a move. The Strokes revolution in the early Noughties passed me by, probably because I was too busy with school, as well as being too busy then with my then Duran Duran obsession. Maybe it’s time for me to get back to back to basics-type rock, as I wanted a second look and listen (after the Paradigm showcase Wednesday night) at Drowners before we left Austin.

Drowners at Har Mar Superstar Best Party Ever at Cheer Up Charlie's, Saturday at SXSW 2016

It’s been long bemoaned that there really hasn’t been a band ready to take the Great British Guitar Band mantle, especially in light of The Vaccines changing their sound last year on ‘English Graffiti’. Is it somewhat appropriate that The Vaccines’ buddies Drowners might be in the lead to vie for the now open honour? While they’re technically not eligible since they only have one British-born member (their singer / guitarist Matthew Hitt is Welsh), with their sound, they might be close. Maybe the world is ready for the “jangling fringe-shaking indie-pop“ Q described their 2014 self-titled debut album as having? We’ll hang tight for the release of their second LP ‘On Desire’ at the end of June and see if the tectonic plates of indie will move.

Drowners at the Har Mar Superstar Best Party Ever at Cheer Up Charlie's, Saturday at SXSW 2016

After saying goodbye to a new and famous friend at Cheer Up Charlie’s, I went across the street to check in with some soon-to-be-famous friends at Stubb’s. There was no question as to who was the biggest act of the night at the well-known barbecue joint’s outdoor stage: upstate New York’s X Ambassadors, a recent American indie rock success story after releasing their debut album in 2015, being helped along with fellow Interscope band Imagine Dragons, and the blowing up of their single ‘Renegades’. However, I was there to see Honne play on the biggest stage of their lives.

Honne at Stubb's, Saturday at SXSW 2016

Judging from the audience reaction further back, including my almost going deaf thanks to a young woman who would not stop screaming and going mental during their entire set, I can tell this slice of American music fans are truly taken by the futuristic soul sound of Andy Clutterbuck, James Hatcher and their touring band. It is a surreal moment when you witness seeing a band at a dark, claustrophobic place like Leeds Hi-Fi Club and then a year later, you see them play some place as massive as Stubb’s, thousands of miles away. It also isn’t hard to imagine them filling out similarly large venues in the future with their smooth grooves and, as previously mentioned in my review of their show Friday at the British Music Embassy, their sensual “baby-making music”.

From one massive venue, I moved on to yet another, in the form of the Pandora Discovery Den at the Gatsby. So much for the terribly incorrect impression I had that this place would be a small, intimate affair – ha! The queues outside the venue was enormous, with badge holders unlikely to get in, let alone the wristband crew. Further, I felt guilty that a lot of youngsters who were fans of the man I was going to see were going to have to watch and listen from very far away outside and away from where the action would be inside, especially since it appeared most of the crowd inside the Den inside that I was trying to get around were more keen on getting wasted and weren’t even facing the stage. I never understand this at shows in DC or anywhere else. If all you want to do at SXSW is to drink, go to a bar with your friends and get out of the way of people who actually want to witness a musical experience.

Troye Sivan at the Pandora Discovery Den, Saturday at SXSW 2016

After waiting for what seemed like forever in the pass queue, I made it inside, only to find out the venue was running badly behind schedule. While the Pandora Discovery Den was certainly high on production values, the overall feel was generic, lacking charm and character that you’d get at a place like Stubb’s. I guess that was the point of such a pop-up venue? It seemed more like Australia’s biggest deal as of late, South African transplant and already massive pop star Troye Sivan, could have been performing anywhere, not in Austin.

Troye Sivan at the Pandora Discovery Den, Saturday at SXSW 2016

The 20-year-old already has everything he needs to be a young pop star: the million-watt smile, the doe eyes, the big lips, all part of the charisma needed to keep young people’s short attention. I find it sad that ‘Youth’, his most recent video, has been getting more attention on YouTube because of his sexual orientation and not for its own musical merit. Are we as a human society ever going to get away from such stupid conversations? I’m clearly not Sivan’s target audience (generally, musicians in track suits aren’t my thing, sorry, ha) and his music isn’t what I’d probably chose to listen to, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I wouldn’t mind dancing to his electronic-tinged urban pop at a club. Go forth and keep inspiring our young people, Troy!

It shouldn’t have been a big deal to get down 6th Street to Tellers, as it was only 3 blocks west from the Gatsby. We’re used to seeing so many rowdy people on 6th Street on a Saturday night, but I was not prepared to be inappropriately touched by a man when I trying to get out of a crowd and worse, I saw his face leering at me as he did it, but it’s not like screaming or yelling would have done anything. I still feel dirty and gross from the incident. I realise I could have taken a different route around the crush of people, but thinking about it some more, why should I have? SXSW has evolved over the years I’ve attended and while I accept this sort of stupid thing happens at random whenever there’s a bad apple in a high-density music event, it doesn’t make it right. I was so shaken up by what happened that by the time I finally arrived at Tellers, I was having trouble locating my ID in my bag. It was some good luck that I ran into (male) friends at the door of the venue so I felt safe. Or at least safer.

Get Inuit at Tellers, Saturday at SXSW 2016

It seemed appropriate that the band that officially kicked off my SXSW, Kent’s Get Inuit, would be seeing me off from Austin as well. After being in Texas for a week, the band truly gave it their all on the upstairs stage, banging away on tunes from their most recent ‘Luge Lessons’ EP and songs that could very well likely show up on their upcoming debut album. The surf-y guitar lick of ‘Mean Heart’ plus singer Jamie Glass’ spirited vocals were a positive, loud and kick-arse way to end the weirdest (and unsettling) SXSW I’ve experienced yet. Until next year, see ya Austin…

 

SXSW 2016 Interview: Holy Esque

 
By on Tuesday, 12th April 2016 at 1:00 pm
 

Scottish hard rock quartet Holy Esque marked their fourth consecutive appearance at SXSW this year, despite the fact that Creative Scotland didn’t sponsor an official showcase at SXSW 2016. I was excited to hear them play on the Friday night TuneCore showcase at Vulcan Gas Company, though as it turned out the stormy early evening weather (which editor Mary has already noted in her Friday night review) created complications for everyone involved. Holy Esque themselves were late arriving to the venue, as rain and slow traffic in downtown Austin had delayed their arrival. I had arrived in plenty of time myself, but I quickly found that Vulcan Gas Company wasn’t going to be an easy place to conduct an interview. There was no quiet corner to duck into, and the large crowd in attendance on the night were noisy with anticipation for acts later on the docket, including the night’s headliner Wyclef Jean.

In the end, when I did manage to meet up with the band and make introductions, we were left with no option but to step outside into the alley behind the club for our interview. Once outside, we had to dodge cars and golf carts driving through the alley, and at one point the ever vigilant security staff nearly locked us out, which would have been a problem as Holy Esque were very close to going on stage. In spite of all the confusion, the four band members were gracious enough to give a very brief interview highlighting their reasons for returning to Austin year after year, as well as making a brief mention of their heavy-hitting debut album ‘At Hope’s Ravine’, which was released at the end of February via Beyond the Frequency and Believe Recordings.

Thanks to Matt for coordinating this interview.

Keep an eye on TGTF for my review of Holy Esque’s performance at Vulcan Gas Company, along with my other Friday night activities, which will post soon. In the meantime, you can see a few sneak preview photos from their set just below.

Holy Esque internal 3

Holy Esque internal 4

Holy Esque internal 5

Holy Esque internal 6

 

SXSW 2016: rock on the last day in Austin (Saturday, part 1) – 19th March 2016

 
By on Monday, 11th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

It’s been a bit of a tradition since Carrie came along with me to Austin to send SXSW off with an amazing (and free) lunch, plus Bloody Marys at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. However, this year, it made more sense for her to cover Lissie at the SPIN party at Brazos Hall, so I was all by my lonesome. I gobbled up back two delicious tofu wraps and two of those divine, tomatoey creations under the watchful eye of the barmaid who made them for me. It was probably for the best, though, because the music slated for the afternoon isn’t exactly Carrie’s speed…

The Northern Powerhouse showcase was a good who’s who of bands who are currently knocking about in the great North of England and showing who’s boss with their own personal brands of rock, generally on the harder side of things. Sheffield duo Nai Harvest started the afternoon on a frenetic, yet still melodic note. I think the great lesson that the success of Royal Blood, Drenge and Slaves has taught us is that despite the conventional wisdom that had been around for several decades post-Beatles and Stones, it is entirely possible to make a go of it – to be loud enough and be successful at making rock music – only having two blokes in a rock band. And going for it seemed to be the theme of the day, as it was the last day in Austin for most bands and the last time to make a lasting impression.

Nai Harvest at Northern Powerhouse at the British Music Embassy, Saturday at SXSW 2016

Based on the music videos I’d seen prior to SXSW, Nai Harvest seemed like funny guys: I mean, guys who named their last EP ‘Hairball’ can’t take themselves too seriously, right? Live, they didn’t disappoint on either the music or the stage patter front. As evidenced by most recent single ‘Just Like You’, Nai Harvest’s style is less about being massively loud than to embrace the lo-fi, slacker vibe that currently sweeping Britain. Guitarist Ben Thompson bemoaned that they’d forgotten to bring along Yorkshire Tea to Austin with them. Umm…didn’t they get the memo that there would be *plenty* of Brits at SXSW, some of whom must have had brought some over to avoid the curse of the American, non-descript dark water, black tea problem? At the very least, I could have helped them with their dilemma from my own stash specifically for travelling purposes. Well, now you all know who’s your dealer…

Following the Sheffielders on the afternoon and moving the action due north, up to Leeds, was Autobahn, who were playing their third and last show at the British Music Embassy. I’d seen them earlier in the week, Tuesday night at the felte / Part Time Punks showcase at Barracuda. As is true for nearly every act I’ve ever seen on the Latitude 30 stage during SXSW week, Autobahn’s sound was great, both in volume and pomp. I mean, really, how can you go wrong with guitars being banged and flailed about while there’s a beacon of light, via a voice in the darkness…er…in a trenchcoat. The raw and unforgiving nature of their music as described previously by Rebecca makes all the more sense to me after having the opportunity to speak with their singer Craig Johnson. He explains that there’s not only a dark melancholy that comes through their music but also the coming to grips of reality of what’s outside one’s bedroom window, of which there’s too little of in the greater landscape of manufactured top 40.

Autobahn at Northern Powerhouse at British Music Embassy, Saturday at SXSW 2016

Continuing later on the bill and whose punishing tones I heard well outside of the venue – because they were really all that loud! – were Sugarmen (Liverpool), Fizzy Blood (Leeds) and Demob Happy (Newcastle and Brighton). Lads, don’t be too discouraged that I did not join you. I’m currently going through a reboot of my hard rock loving phase and I’ll probably catch up to you soon.

In the evening (cue the Led Zeppelin song), Carrie and I got a bit of a taste of Lusts at the British Music Embassy before I left her to cover the rest of the NME / UK Trade and Investment showcase there. I needed to find a venue and I should have thought more about this at the time, as if it was some foreshadowing of what was to come later in the evening, but I didn’t. I got lost on 6th Street and when I asked around for help, a bouncer of another establishment on the block stereotyped me, warning me that “a nice girl like you shouldn’t be going to a place like that.” Uh huh… At that moment, I kind of wished Gwenno had been there to clock the meathead. I didn’t have time to waste, or else I would have started quoting lyrics verbatim off ‘IV’ or doing my now world-famous ‘Whole Lotta Love’ guitar solo humming.

Abjects at Sledge Hammer, Saturday at SXSW 2016

I finally got to where I was going (Sledge Hammer), and no thanks to any help from the chauvinist pig. As part of a coincidental continuing-on of the feminism theme and without any injury to myself, I witnessed Abjects‘ entire set. They’re lo-fi, they’re garage, they’re surf-y…they’re a little bit of everything but to be sure, a whole lot of fun. Yes, the sound can be in your face, but it’s in the name of having a good time, and the ladies were smiling the widest grins I’m pretty sure I saw onstage all week. I think the inevitable comparison will be to Manchester’s PINS, but after having seen both bands in a festival atmosphere and now being able to compare them, I think Abjects take it for their sheer audacity.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my review of Saturday at SXSW, which will post tomorrow. For more of my photos from Saturday in AustinE, visit my Flickr.

 
 
 

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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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