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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: UK singer/songwriters showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 9th March 2018 at 11:00 am
 

The list of solo singer/songwriters showcasing at SXSW 2018 is predictably lengthy. Festivals lend themselves easily to the traveling troubadour types: setting up shop with a single person and instrument is easier than carting a full band’s worth of gear around town to play show after show. However, the singer/songwriter genre is becoming increasingly diffuse, as its definition expands to include a wide array of different instrumental and vocal sounds.

The singer/songwriter acts representing the UK at SXSW this year are broad in their stylistic scope, from unassuming acoustic balladeers to rising mainstream pop stars to eclectic avant garde musicians. Many of the acts on this year’s list are artists we at TGTF have covered extensively in the past, including Frank Turner (pictured at top) and Lucy Rose, but there are a number of new-to-us acts on the bill as well. We’ve covered a fair few of those in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch features, including Jade Bird, ONR, Rhys Lewis, Chloe Foy, Allman Brown, C. Macleod, and Sam Fender. Read below for a brief rundown of the remaining UK singer/songwriters heading across the pond to SXSW 2018.

Christopher Rees – We featured Welsh singer Christopher Rees in the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, but haven’t heard much from him since that time. He heads to Austin this year with a new Americana album called ‘The Nashville Songs’ in tow. Take a listen to the chilling single ‘I Shiver’, just below.

Dan Bettridge – As we previously mentioned, Bettridge missed out on SXSW 2017, due to visa issues which his management has discussed in detail here. Bettridge will release his debut solo LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ later this year. Along with Rees, Bettridge will be proudly waving the Welsh flag in Austin.

Dan Lyons – Margate alt-pop singer Dan Lyons has spent the past four years primarily as a drummer, but he’s now stepping into the spotlight as a solo songwriter. His single ‘Big Moon’ was released at the end of February on Shaker Records.

The Dunwells – While obviously not a solo act, Leeds rock duo The Dunwells have nevertheless been classified as singer/songwriters at this year’s SXSW. They released a new EP called ‘Colour My Mind’ back in December, which included the track ‘Diamonds’, playing just below.

Elle Exxe – This Scottish pop singer is no stranger to SXSW or to the pages of TGTF. She recently teamed with MAC Cosmetics to promote her latest single ‘Catapult’; watch her exotic visuals in the promo video just below.

Emme Woods – Another Scottish songwriter, Woods’ singing voice belies her youthful 22 years of age. The level of musical sophistication in her single ‘I’ve Been Running’ is also well-beyond what you might expect of a musician so young. Check out the PledgeMusic campaign for her debut EP just through here.

Frank Turner – We’ve covered the indefatigable Mr. Turner and his merry band of Sleeping Souls extensively here at TGTF, including a lovely interview at SXSW 2015. This year, Turner is showcasing his forthcoming seventh studio LP ‘Be More Kind’, due out on the 4th of May via Polydor/ Xtra Mile. We’ll be looking forward to hearing the new songs at SXSW; in the meantime, you can take a listen to the album’s title track just below.

Gaz Coombes – Another artist we’ve featured in live coverage on TGTF, alt-rock songwriter and former Supergrass member Gaz Coombes will travel to Austin with a set of new songs from his forthcoming LP ‘World’s Strongest Man’, due out on the 4th of May.

Harry Pane – This Northamptonshire indie folk singer broke onto the music scene in 2015 and released two EPs, ‘Changing’ and ‘The Wild Winds’, in the following 2 years. He comes to SXSW 2018 with a pair of new singles, ‘Here We Stay’ and ‘Beautiful Life’. Listen to the latter just below.

Hilang Child – Hilang Child is the stage name of half-Welsh, half-Indonesian dream pop songwriter Ed Riman. Currently based in London, Hilang Child has recently signed on with Bella Union for the release of his debut LP, which will include the calmly introspective new single ‘Growing Things’.

Jerry Williams –  This 22-year-old Portsmouth alt-pop songstress has already captured the attention of BBC Radio 1 in the UK and KCRW in America. She has recently collaborated with fashion brand Topshop to market her new single ‘Grab Life’, ahead of her scheduled appearance on the BBC Introducing showcase on the Tuesday night of SXSW.

Jonny 8 Track – Brighton’s Jonny Aitken, aka Jonny 8 Track, is the first UK signing to Austin record label Chicken Ranch Records. His back catalogue includes ‘All America Taught Me’ from back in 2013.

Joshua Burnside – We covered this Northern Irish avant/experimental songwriter last year around the release of his debut album ‘Ephrata’, which won the 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize. Just below, check out the Ryan Vail remix of album track ‘Blood Drive’.

Lion – London alt-rock singer/songwriter Beth Lowen became known as Lion due to the rough and raspy tone of her singing voice. She’s so fresh on the scene that she has yet to officially release any music, and her SXSW 2018 bio links to an amateur video of a live performance at Shepherd’s Bush Empire from back in 2016.

Lucy Rose – We recently featured Rose’s new single ‘All That Fear’ as our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2801. Rose will be showcasing that single along with her recent album ‘Something’s Changing’ at SXSW. She is also scheduled to speak in a panel session titled ‘It’s a Fan’s World: The Life of Superfans’ on Friday the 16th of March.

Lucy Spraggan – You might remember Manchester songwriter Lucy Spraggan as a former X Factor contestant from back in 2012. Just last year, she released her fourth studio album ‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’, on her own label CTRL Records. The LP features the track ‘Fight For It’, streaming just below.

Nilüfer Yanya – This youthful West London songwriter brings a unique sense of irony and bemused detachment to what might otherwise be dismissed as standard indie pop. Her breakthrough single ‘Baby Luv’ is out now on Blue Flowers/ATO Records.

Nina Nesbitt – It’s been a day or two since we heard from Scottish pop songstress Nina Nesbitt, but she is heading to Austin with a potential new album in the works. No details have been shared as of yet, but Nesbitt did recently release a new single written in Nashville, ‘Somebody Special’.

Non Canon – Bristol alt-folk songwriter Non Canon takes his stage name from the idea that “anything described as ‘Non Canon’ exists apart from the story we know and love. A concurrent storyline, a different perspective, the world we experience through someone else’s eyes; familiar but insightful for its new dimension.” He comes to Austin as part of the Xtra Mile Recordings troupe; the label released his debut LP back in 2016.

Only Girl – South East London pop-soul artist Ellen Murphy, known on stage as Only Girl, has recently released a personally poignant new single titled ‘Mountain’, which deals with her husband Jamie McKechnie’s assault and traumatic brain injury, suffered back in 2011. Murphy says of the track, “I wanted the video for ‘Mountain’ to really convey Jamie’s journey through recovery since he suffered the brain injury. I think his story is so inspiring and shows how he really fought for his life against all the odds.” She speaks of her husband as the inspiration for the song: “If I could focus myself on climbing this mountain alongside Jamie, I could force myself to stay strong for him.”

Pete Molinari – Veteran folk and blues songwriter Pete Molinari is one of the few artists appearing at SXSW with nothing new on offer in terms of recorded music. He is set to play the We Are Hear Records showcase on the Tuesday night, alongside the aforementioned Lion.

Will Varley – This Kent singer/songwriter and Xtra Mile Recordings artist will bring his brilliant new album ‘Spirit of Minnie’ to Austin this year, on the heels of an American tour with label mates and fellow SXSW 2018 artists Skinny Lister. We featured the video for album track ‘Seven Days’ back in January; you can listen below to the gentle but poignant ‘Let it Slide’.

Please note that all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

 

MP3 of the Day #903: The Dunwells

 
By on Monday, 11th December 2017 at 10:00 am
 

Back when I first started here at TGTF in 2009, we gave out quite a bit of free music. Then RCRD LBL went away, and fewer people wanted to give away their tracks for free (I get it). But I do love it when we can give away free tracks now. Here’s a freebie to brighten your Monday morning. Leeds rockers The Dunwells just released a new EP on the 1st of December, ‘Colour My Mind’. Continuing with the momentum off the EP being available, they want to give away their song ‘I Need Your Love’ to you. How, you ask, can you grab this for your very own? Join their mailing list through here, follow all the directions and you’ll be directed to your free download of the track. Easy peasy, eh? To read more of our past coverage of The Dunwells here on TGTF, use this link.

 

Video of the Moment #2447: The Dunwells

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd October 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

It’s been a spell since we’ve heard from The Dunwells from Leeds. And they’ve returned with a new direction, dare I say it, sounding more American than ever. The vocals are decidedly tinged with gospel on ‘Colour My Mind’, to be released on the 13th of October and the title track of an EP scheduled for release on the 1st of December. The heartfelt song and video are dedicated to their late “fifth member of the band”, Sean Murphy, who passed away this summer from an aggressive form of cancer. This terrible blow dealt to the group will have no doubt coloured (no pun intended) their upcoming record. Out of tragedy comes great beauty, and we look forward to hearing more from The Dunwells. To read through all our past coverage of the Leeds group, follow this link.

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Album Review: The Dunwells – Light Up the Sky

 
By on Friday, 26th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

The-Dunwells-Light-Up-The-SkyTo say that The Dunwells’ sophomore studio album ‘Light Up the Sky’ has been “a long time coming” might be a bit of an understatement. That particular lyric turns up repeatedly in the songs on the album, and the songs themselves have indeed taken their time coming together. Many of these tracks are pulled from the Dunwells’ recent back catalogue, having been released as singles or EP tracks in the interim since the band’s 2012 debut ‘Blind Sighted Faith’.

The Dunwells worked with a string of different producers on ‘Light Up the Sky’, including Kodaline helmsman Steve Harris, Dan McDougall (Aurora) and Manny Marroquin (Haim, Sia and Taylor Swift). Of those, it’s Harris’ influence that rings through most glaringly in the slick pop overlay of many of the songs. ‘Communicate’, which appeared on The Dunwells’ ‘Show Me Emotion’ EP back in 2014, overcomes a thickly layered vocal production to showcase the wide expressive range of frontman Joe Dunwell’s singing voice and Rob Clayton’s solid bass groove. The extended anticipation of ‘Strange Feeling’ starts with an acoustic intro before sweeping into the breathless lyrics “it’s a strange feeling, but it’s sensational.” Gentle keyboard-centered ballad ‘Animal’ feels like it could as easily have been written for Kodaline as the Dunwells, while later track ‘Ghosts’ features a beautifully executed, though conspicuously Steve Garrigan-esque, vocal manoeuvre in the final repeat of the chorus.

The less pop and more rock-oriented moments are the ones that ultimately work best on ‘Light Up the Sky’. Opening track ‘Lucky Ones’, which we featured as a Video of the Moment last spring around its eponymous EP release, is more the kind of propulsively anthemic track I might have expected from the Leeds quartet. Similarly, the driving rhythm and gospel backing vocals of ‘Hey Now’ make a strong and lasting impression, especially in the infectiously singable chorus “I’m not ready to go home yet, but leave me a light, leave me a light on.”

Standout track ‘Hurts’, released as a single just last month, is probably the most lyrically developed and fully conceptualised song on the album, from its opening line “here you are on your knees, trying to offload your grief” to the sympathetic lines of its chorus “when you fade right there in front of me, it hurts sometimes . . . when you fall apart it’s killing me, it hurts sometimes”. The lyrics to subsequent title track ‘Light Up the Sky’ are romantic and deliriously nonsensical, but they make an equally forceful impact, due in no small part to Dunwell’s aching vocal delivery.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/PexcIdRRIAI[/youtube]

The Dunwells have, in the past, gotten away with some cliché lyrics, because they were always delivered with guileless musical arrangements and undeniable emotional sincerity. On ‘Light Up the Sky’, the production sometimes feels heavy-handed, as if trying to conceal the occasional moments where the lyrics are a bit trite or the emotional content is one-dimensional. Such is the case with older live favourite track ‘She Whispers’, whose arrangement here contains some odd instrumental choices that don’t seem to relate to the song itself. For my money, the stripped back version featured in this Live Gig Video was more effective in creating the sense of intimacy implied in the lyrics.

The touch of Steve Harris’ production is felt again in penultimate track ‘The Best is Yet To Come’, which soars seamlessly if rather unexpectedly into the sweet, subdued gospel of ‘Will You Wait for Me’. Though the latter is a song about loss and mourning, the Dunwells have here refined their propensity for building a chorus, turning it into a gently soulful, genuinely uplifting reaffirmation of life.

In the end, I found ‘Light Up the Sky’ to be mildly underwhelming, not because it’s a bad album, but because it leaves the impression of having transformed the Dunwells, who are a fine alt-rock band in their own right, into a pale imitation of a mainstream pop band. And though I like Kodaline enough, I much prefer the Dunwells, especially when they sound like, well, the Dunwells.

7/10

The Dunwells’ second album ‘Light Up the Sky’ is out today, the 26th of February, on Decca Records (UK) / Modal Music Limited (US) / Concord. The Dunwells are scheduled to appear next month at SXSW 2016 and will embark on a tour of the UK in April.

 

The Dunwells / April 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Friday, 26th February 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Leeds alt-rockers the Dunwells will play a run of live dates in the UK this spring, following the release of their new album ‘Light Up the Sky’ and their trip to America for SXSW 2016.  The album is out today on Decca/Concord (Carrie’s review posts today at noon), but we at TGTF have already featured several tracks from it in our collected coverage of the Dunwells.

Support for the ‘Light Up the Sky’ tour will be played by American indie rock band Bronze Radio Return. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Friday 1st April 2016 – Bristol Louisiana
Saturday 2nd April 2016 – Stoke Sugarmill
Sunday 3rd April 2016 – Norwich Waterfront
Tuesday 5th April 2016 – London Lexington
Wednesday 6th April 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank
Thursday 7th April 2016 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Friday 8th April 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Saturday 9th April 2016 – Sheffield Picture House
Monday 11th April 2016 – Manchester Sound Control

 

In the Post #150: The Dunwells drop teaser ‘Hey Now’ from their upcoming album due in 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd September 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

For any Crowded House fan, or really for anyone who lived through the late ’80s, the title of the Dunwells’ new track ‘Hey Now’ is sure to conjure up echoes of the Neil Finn-led band’s breakout hit ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’. But once you’re past the opening line, the Dunwells’ track strikes a very different tone from the Antipodean band’s 1986 release.

The main similarity between the two songs is in their lyrics, which are in both cases non-specific but heavily laced with possible hidden meaning, allowing the emotional tone of the musical arrangement to lead the listener’s imagination. Building on their previous ‘Lucky Ones’ EP, the Dunwells have clearly continued to focus on the details of their instrumental arrangements with ‘Hey Now’, leaning less on traditional guitar riffs and more on their collective vocal abilities.

The first sonic impression of ‘Hey Now’ is percussive, its forceful drum beat underscoring frontman Joe Dunwell’s emotive lead vocal as he intones the title lyric ‘hey now, it’s been a long time coming / but I’ve been ready for a while”. The guitar melody is surprisingly understated, as thick layers of gospel-style backing vocals highlight the song’s anthemic lyrics, particularly the repeated plea “leave a light, leave a light on”. The dizzying swirl of backing vocals and the persistent keyboard ostinato take center stage in the final repeat of the chorus, as the arrangement builds in intensity, then draws back in anticipation of its closing strains.

7/10

‘Hey Now’ is the first teaser from the Dunwells’ upcoming new LP, which is currently slated for release sometime in 2016. If you’re keen in hearing more from the Dunwells in the meantime, you can check out our archive of past coverage on the band, which includes the title video from the band’s previous EP ‘Lucky Ones’ and a stream of the title track from their standout 2014 EP ‘Show Me Emotion’. The group recently announced a headline tour of the UK for this November. You can find a listing of those live dates 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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