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Video(s) of the Moment #1905: The Crookes

 
By on Monday, 7th September 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s been a transitional year for the Crookes. Drummer Russell Bates left the band in February and was replaced in August by Adam “Croftsy” Crofts. Also this summer, the band announced they were starting their own record label, Anywhere Records described by lead guitarist Tom Dakin: “We’ve always believed in taking a DIY approach to the music industry and the creation of Anywhere Records gives us a chance to put our stamp on something completely new; something we’ll have total control of.” Sounds interesting, lads. Oh! And there’s news they’ve been working on new material for album #4 since as early as April, so we’ll stay tuned for that.

But this is a video(s) of the moment post, and you shall have them. The group joined forces with Around the World in 80 Videos, a YouTube channel run by a filmmaking couple who post a new video from a new location in the world every Monday. Last week was the Crookes’ turn with a cut from their third album ‘Soapbox’, which ranked #3 in my top 5 albums of 2014. Abbeydale Picture House is a grade II-listed former cinema in the band’s adopted hometown of Sheffield, and set the stage for the pizza-fueled shenanigans chronicled in the promo for ‘Before the Night Falls’. The frenetic pre-show running around and up and down stairs in a venue reminded me of the craziness of arranging the interviews I did with the Crookes and the Heartbreaks at London Scala in 2013. Seems a lifetime ago. Also embedded below is a behind the scenes video to fill you on what went on in the making of it.

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

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSjyJG86rX0[/youtube]

 

Top Albums of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Monday, 22nd December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

When it comes time for a music editor to review the year’s releases, it’s something that should not be done lightly. With great power comes great responsibility. This will be my fifth top albums of the year at the helm of TGTF, so this year I feel this even more so. Without a doubt, 2014 was politically tumultuous, not only literally with the Scottish referendum and all that’s happening with Obama vs. Congress and Cameron vs. Parliament, but also on the music front, where we saw Apple buy Dr. Dre’s Beats Music and enable U2 to give iTunes users a free album they never asked for, Taylor Swift withdrawing all of her songs from Spotify, and online streaming outpacing and resoundingly beating download purchases.

I’ve got no industry crystal ball in front of me, but it’s clear 2015 will bring additional challenges for the music business. Companies will need to look to and develop new models and new sources of revenue, and at the same time, artists and bands will need to retool and reinvent themselves to not only endure and survive but thrive in these exciting, challenging times. With that, I turn your attention to the albums I deemed the most worthy of your purchase from this year, as I tell you about the artists who made them.

1. Teleman‘Breakfast’ (Moshi Moshi); Teleman on TGTF
It’s the most important meal of the day, isn’t it? So it makes uncannily appropriate sense to start with Teleman’s debut album. A lot has been made about the differences in sound from three out of four of their members’ previous band – the now-defunct Pete and the Pirates – and yes, they do sound different. There are buzzy synth lines by the Pirates’ former drummer Jonny Sanders, and overall, the sound is more pop than the rock of their previous band. The live experience, as I thankfully finally got the chance to witness in New York City in September, is a whole lot of fun too.

But the most important pieces have stayed constant: the band’s excellent songwriting and singer Tommy Sanders’ voice, going from angelic (opening track ‘Cristina’) to borderline vitriolic (‘Mainline’), depressive (’23 Floors Down’) to frantic joy (‘Skeleton Dance’), and everywhere in between. The jewel of the crown of ‘Breakfast’ is, I suppose somewhat ironically, the most difficult day and time of the week, ‘Monday Morning’, where Tommy Sanders shows yearning alternating with ire as he expresses regret about a relationship that could have been so much more…but wasn’t.

The album’s brilliance as a whole is that no two songs sound the same, yet they’re all about transport and the action of moving or leaving, and in a way that I’ve never been touched by before. I’ve laughed to this album, I’ve cried to this album, I’ve contemplated the meaning of life to this album. It hasn’t left my car since I got it for review in May, which says a lot. Magnificent, Teleman. Truly magnificent.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnxzY5p8d4g[/youtube]

2. Sir Sly‘You Haunt Me’ (Interscope); Sir Sly on TGTF
I’m sure you readers have noticed I generally go out of my way to avoid mainstream artists who by some “miracle” just jump to success off the back of a major label. American indie rock / r&b trio Sir Sly have been around for a bit, but I didn’t pay much attention to them until I queued up ‘Where I’m Going’ as part of my research on them a couple of weeks prior for their co-headline slot on a North American tour with Wolf Gang. (Read my review of their show in Washington DC in September here.) I was hooked immediately by the sultriness of singer Landon Jacobs’ vocals, paired with a electronic pop / funk background that’s catchy as all hell yet mysterious.

Their debut album for Interscope finally dropped in mid-September, and it’s a pop masterpiece. Title track ‘You Haunt Me’ shows the band at their poppiest, with a bouncy, infectious rhythm guaranteed to make you pogo, while the synths gleam and glitter with the best of them. Yes, there is a commercial thread running through this album – a remix of ‘Gold’ was used to great effect to sell Cadillacs to young people in an American telly advert this year – but dark, buzzy beats on ‘Ghost’, rattling percussion on ‘Nowhere/Bloodlines pt. 1’ and the oozy smoothness of stretched synths accompanied with the painful vocal delivery in ‘Too Far Gone’ prove Sir Sly are no one-trick pony. In a world where pop, r&b and electronic struggle to coexist peacefully on the charts, this is one band that proves it can be done, and done very well. Expect them to be the next massive pop/r&b act.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0E5aWv0YdA[/youtube]

3. The Crookes‘Soapbox’ (Fierce Panda); The Crookes on TGTF
And now, for something with a bit harder edge. Which sounds a bit strange coming from the happy, peppy, back to basics New Pop of Sheffield’s Crookes, doesn’t it? From the starting discordant guitar note of first single ‘Play Dumb’, they made it evident to the world that they wanted to be and should be taken seriously, which totally makes sense on an album called ‘Soapbox’. Prior to its release, it was a big year for the band, as they explained to me in an interview after SXSW 2014, having signed to American label Modern Outsider in 2013 and headlining their night that week in Austin at Parish Underground.

While the foursome didn’t entirely reinvent themselves, they really ratcheted up the quality of the songwriting on their third album. ‘Echolalia’ and ‘Howl’ exhibit a sadness you feel deeper through their words and music in such a different way than from their previous releases. ‘While You’re Fragile’ and ‘Outsiders’ confirm lyricist Daniel Hopewell hasn’t strayed far from his usual direction; at the same time the band haven’t lost their pop sensibility altogether for which they have become favourites with their fans. Hopewell said in an interview for One Week One Band’s Crookes feature earlier this month, “I think I’m more honest now. And hopefully my writing is improving so I can express simplistic, honest ideas in a more beautiful way”. Taken together with how they’ve changed musically from 2012’s ‘Hold Fast’, ‘Soapbox’ seems to suggest there is plenty more room for the Crookes to grow, both in lyrical and musical artistry.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNgb4QVNvlM[/youtube]

4. The Lost Brothers‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ (Lojinx); The Lost Brothers on TGTF
When two people are destined to be musical partners, you can listen to a single song of theirs and on some subliminal level, you just know. I don’t want to make it sound like the songs contained within ‘New Songs of Dawn and Dust’ are basic; rather, it’s a true testament to the Liverpool-via-Ireland duo’s gifts to us – beautiful singing voices and incredible guitar dexterity – that they can make indie folk sound so effortless, yet so gorgeous.

This is the ultimate autumnal folk record, probably best listening to late at night. You can practically hear the fallen leaves crunch under your feet as you listen further through the effort. From the gentle simplicity of instrumental ‘Nocturnal Tune’, on through the heartbreak experienced by the actions of one ‘Derridae’, then to the anguish of a disillusioned fighter in ‘Soldier’s Song’, there is a lot of poignancy to feel here. But then you get to a track like the seemingly too happy (for them; I talked to Leech about this in a recent q&a) ‘Walking Blues’, and you know the sun will rise again. All in all, remarkably restrained beauty.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4QV5_GRec8[/youtube]

5. Sivu‘Something on High’ (Atlantic); Sivu on TGTF
After several singles and EPs scattered over the last year or so, James Page’s debut album was long awaited by me, especially after chatting with him at SXSW 2014 and seeing him live in Austin. It was a special privilege to be present for his LP’s launch party at Hackney Oslo in mid-October, bearing witness to quite possibly his first overzealous fan and stage crasher. So what is it about ‘Something on High’ that can cause such crazed devotion?

Page has separated himself from the other guitar-toting, may I say boring male singer/songwriters (for one, hello, entitled Ben Howard in Norwich) or ones who are trying for the r&b votes (like Hozier, whose popularity still makes me groan). How? There is beat, experimentation and strings in opening track ‘Feel Something’; earlier single ‘Can’t Stop Now’ is inspiration in the form of sunny pop. Yet the true genius of ‘Something on High’ is just how much this album will lead you to think, to truly contemplate one’s existence, something truly rare when it comes to pop albums. Page examines the keys to human existence (‘Miracle [Human Error]’), the desire to start over (‘Bodies’) and crushing self-defeat in the face of heartbreak (‘Sleep’) and in such a sensitive, yet stunning way.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4JuxACUTOY[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1692: The Crookes

 
By on Saturday, 29th November 2014 at 10:00 am
 

The Crookes released a new single earlier this week, ‘Howl’. While its flipside ‘When You’re Fragile’ is making the rounds on 6music, ‘Howl’ has a new promo. As one of the two slower songs on current third album ‘Soapbox’ (the other being ‘Holy Innocents’), the mini-film has an appropriately melancholic quality, including a car (Russell’s?) whose parking lights appear to be blinking in time to the beat. There are also some sneaky appearances of the single itself in here as well. Watch it below.

The band play in Middlesbrough tonight and Derby tomorrow; details are this way. For past Crookes coverage on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6FygspRd04[/youtube]

 

The Crookes / November 2014 English Tour

 
By on Friday, 10th October 2014 at 9:00 am
 

According to their record label Fierce Panda, Sheffield indie rockers The Crookes are “never knowingly underemployed”, and in keeping with that mantra, they have announced a list of live shows in England to follow their current American tour.

To accompany their American tour dates, the band have released ‘When You’re Fragile’, from their recent LP ‘Soapbox’, to American radio. The track will also feature as a b-side to upcoming single ‘Howl’, due for release on the 24th of November to coincide with their live shows on this side of the pond. You can have a listen to ‘Howl’ below the tour date listing. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Sunday 23rd November 2014 – Oxford Jericho
Monday 24th November 2014 – Preston Ferret
Tuesday 25th November 2014 – Liverpool Arts Club
Wednesday 26th November 2014 – Norwich Waterfront Studio
Thursday 27th November 2014 – Manchester Sound Control
Friday 28th November 2014 – Leeds Wardrobe
Saturday 29th November 2014 – Middlesborough Westgarth 2
Sunday 30th November 2014 – Derby Victoria Inn

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5aQICiH5wY[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1503: The Crookes

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Sheffield rockers The Crookes have just released a video for ‘Don’t Put Your Faith in Me’, which according to guitarist Tom Dakin’s comments in this interview with Mary, is set to be the next single from their new third album ‘Soapbox’ (reviewed by Mary back in February here).

The artsy black and white video is a montage of clips the band filmed during their recent trip to America and features their time in Austin for SXSW 2014. I must admit to smiling particularly at the faces and places I recognized from being at SXSW myself, including the chairs outside Latitude 30 where Mary and I did several artist interviews during the week. But the entire video shows the playful and mischievous side of the band, including the requisite sightseeing tours and “drinks in the hot tub” scenes. ‘Don’t Put Your Faith In Me’ isn’t exactly a good-humoured song, but with its upbeat music and catchy chorus, it does have a rakish quality that fits quite nicely with the mood of the video. Watch out for the release of this track and count it among potential pop anthems of summer 2014.

‘Soapbox’ is now available from Fierce Panda.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzQm3iAvJck[/youtube]

 

Live Review: The Crookes at Newcastle Cluny 2 – 17th April 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 at 2:10 pm
 

If there ever was a band defined by their frontman, The Crookes is it. George Waite, for it is he to whom one’s eyes cannot help but constantly be drawn, wields a hoiked-up bass, throwing it into all sorts of shapes whilst emoting into the microphone for all he’s worth. In the face of such competition, the rest of the band make up no more or less a competent background noise while Waite embarks on his various whimsical tales of romance with song titles lifted from Allan Ginsberg. It’s all unashamedly straightforward – there’s little in the way of artifice, in the music at least. The Libertines are a clear reference point, in the jangly arpeggios, keen-as-mustard drumming, and sweetly melodic vocal lines. That’s where the comparisons end, however, as there’s the sense that The Crookes would never think of veering anywhere near Pete Doherty levels of debauchery. They’re too nice and polite for that. At least in public anyway.

The new material does add some welcome maturity to their sound. Respite from jolly guitar japes is provided by ‘Howl’: a downtempo affair, admirably considered and reflective, with a nice big chorus that relies on emotional depth for its impact, rather than just up tempo guitar strumming. Also off the new album is ‘Outsiders’. We’re back to the romance theme again – they appear to sing of little else – but they are still displaying a maturity as befits a band promoting their third album. The lyrical content is artfully bookish, peppered with literary references and generally treading the well-worn path of contemporary realism, romantic yearning and the odd bit of existential despair.

Oops – my eyes have wandered from Waite for a second. A brief loss of attention. I’ve missed a moment, never to be brought back. Must keep watching, listening.

Could the band really be just a vehicle for his charisma? What if there was only him? As if sensing the same question, Waite dismisses the band – they’re “tired” – and addresses the crowd with just his voice and a battered Telecaster for company. ‘The I Love You Bridge’ is the highlight of the set – an unadorned paean to the power of a vocal melody and a handful of roughly-strummed electric guitar chords. Waite has the crowd in his hands, everyone knows it, and all are perfectly comfortable with the situation.

Which somewhat calls into question the need for three supporting players. Yes, drums are essential, as is a bit of electric guitar to fill in the treble range that the bass can’t reach. But are two guitarists really necessary? Apparently, Daniel Hopewell is responsible for a great deal of the lyrical content, for which he should be commended; but onstage, newly paunchy, sullen, mute, with his rhythm guitar turned down to the point of near audibility, one wonders how the sound would open out with just the one midrange instrument. Certainly Waite’s personality is the central celestial body, generating the charismatic field by which the others orbit – where’s the difference between two moons or three?

Harsh words, perhaps, and as a founder member and lyricist, clearly Hopewell’s position is secure. But the feeling remains that perhaps the band isn’t quite delivering the musical potential to do true justice to the intricate, erudite lyrics, that both guitarists are reading from the same crib sheet rather than playing disparate yet complementary parts. A subtle point, perhaps, that should take nothing away from the great ride that The Crookes have taken us on tonight. They’ve got some great tunes, of which the new ones are the best, a world-class frontman, and give enjoyable show. And one final word – the dedication of some of their fans is quite remarkable. One enthusiastic chap had already seen them in Leeds the day before this gig, and was planning to see tomorrow’s too. He could barely contain his delight in wangling the signed set list. Any band capable of such loyalty must be doing quite a lot of things very right indeed.

View Martin’s entire set of high-res photos from the Crookes’ set in Newcastle 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.

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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