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The Hosts / May 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 28th April 2016 at 8:00 am
 

The Yorkshire heirs apparent to the Roy Orbison legacy The Hosts are releasing a new album tomorrow, the 29th of April. ‘Moon’ will be the Sheffield band’s second album after their Fierce Panda Records debut in 2014, ‘Softly, Softly’. (Read my review of that long player here.) They’ll be touring the UK in the second half of May in support of their new release, with new drummer Tom Reay-Bennett in tow. Tickets to the below dates around the country are on sale now. Want a listen to a new tune of theirs? You can stream the opening track of ‘Moon’, ‘Baby Move On’, on Fierce Panda’s official Web site.

Wednesday 18th May 2016 – Hull Adelphi
Thursday 19th May 2016 – London Highbury Garage
Friday 20th May 2016 – Birmingham Flapper
Sunday 22nd May 2016 – Leeds Oporto
Monday 23rd May 2016 – Manchester Gullivers
Tuesday 24th May 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank
Wednesday 25th May 2016 – Glasgow Broadcast
Thursday 26th May 2016 – Sheffield Leadmill
Friday 27th May 2016 – Leicester Soundhouse

 

Album Review: Various artists – Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014

 
By on Monday, 14th April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Fierce Panda Records may be famously noted by pedants of the British music business as being the label that launched the careers of Coldplay and Keane, but if that was all to the label, it wouldn’t be still standing. It’s hard for me to fathom that here we are in the year 2014, and Fierce Panda has been in business for 2 decades. The London indie label has championed the little guy and released so much great music in the last 20 years, it would take me far too long to go through their storied history than there is space on our humble Web site. Instead, I’m going to focus on a new 18-track compilation the label is offering up for free with any record purchase from their online shop.

The LP’s title ‘Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014’ is innocuous enough, not at all telling of its contents when, in fact, it is a careful selection of, oddly, the saddest songs from their back catalogue of the last 10 years. I say oddly, because celebrating and (surviving) 20 years in anything these days is cause for celebration, surely? However, despite being advertised by the label themselves as “some of the weepiest tunes it has had the tragic pleasure to put out over the past ten years”, you should be more impressed by the quality of the music not to slit your wrists. Hopefully, anyway. Maybe the whole ‘sad song’ is meant to be cheeky, now that I think about it.

‘Endangered’ does not rely solely on sob story, folky singer/songwriter types and in so doing, shows the breadth of Fierce Panda’s roster. But let’s first examine the more obvious sad songs. Danish girl/boy duo The Raveonettes‘ ‘Last Dance’ is innocent and twee, and Canadians Woodpigeon‘s ‘The Saddest Music in the World’ that opens the album is similar, but with added Simon and Garfunkel influence. Los Angeles quintet Milo Greene‘s harmonies shine on the Biblical leaning ‘Son My Son’, while the voice and songwriting of Tom Hickox, already being compared to Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave’s, haunts with desolation on ‘Let Me Be Your Lover’, with sombre piano and then added strings and horns.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLGd50B16Ck[/youtube]

The more bombastic numbers in this collection include the now-on-hiatus Walkmen and their optimistic (or delusional?) ‘In the New Year’, the slow burning Acres of Lions‘ ‘Collections’, Hatcham Social‘s rich guitars in ‘Sidewalk’ and Dingus Khan‘s whistle-filled ‘Made a List’; the latter’s inclusion in particular surprised me, but it just goes to show that even if you’re looking rough and tumble on the outside, you can still feel sadness inside. The sonic beauty of Ultrasound‘s ‘Sovereign’ is marred, presumably on purpose, by the repetition of the lyric “we are unclean” and the business of sex and sin, all wailed by singer Andrew “Tiny” Wood. The same can be said for tracks that include synths or twinkly keys: ‘They All Laughed’ by the Spinto Band sounds cheerful in a music box sort of way but it veils, not very well, the disgust he has for a former love, while the psychedelic feelings that Hey Sholay‘s ‘The Bears The Clocks The Bees’ engenders are appropriate for a song about confusion in a relationship.

It should also noted that sadness can also come out of mind games, craving someone else or the deepest regret. The industrial Nine Inch Nail-sey sound of Department M‘s ‘J-Hop’ (stream above) comes with the element of desire with its sensual lyrics, “we ply / by the logic of the reasoned minds / and one last time I’ll come to your body / what do you need?” The genius behind Art Brut‘s ‘Rusted Guns of Milan’ is Eddie Argos’ admittance, in his usual funny way, that he’s messed up in a relationship and he wants a second chance. Meanwhile, a similar request for a second chance is captured in a brilliant snapshot in ‘Last Decade’ by Goldheart Assembly (video below), showing a man’s final moments, first desperate to reconcile with a lover but then resigning to his fate: “but you know I’d go back, but there is no way…” I Like Trains‘ ‘A Rook House for Bobby’ I’m guessing is named for chess champion and famed recluse Bobby Fischer, using his hermit existence as a metaphor for how love can cause depression. The self-deprecation and admittance of weakness in the little girl voice of Melanie Pain in ‘How Bad Can It Be’ is, no pun intended, painful: “everyone knows I won’t change / everyone knows love is not my game / everyone know who I am / everyone but you.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE667lCVBDA[/youtube]

Additional Panda melancholy comes courtesy of Sheffield in the form of two exemplary tracks. A man’s exasperation over his lover’s worry about losing him is made all too real in Tom Hogg’s expressive vocals with his bandmates’ gorgeously crooning backing in ‘Would You Be Blue’ by the Hosts (stream below) from this year’s debut album from them, ‘Softly, Softly’. Meanwhile, the loneliness of the protagonist of The Crookes ‘Howl’ from ‘Soapbox’ released today is haunted by the memory of another’s love, as George Waite’s voice is alternately dreamy and contemplative in the romance of song-induced candlelight: “and there’s no time, only light / no clocks, but shadows that hide the point when day becomes night / it’s hard to tell with these skies… I heard the howl, I love you but you keep me down.”

I think those two songs tell the ‘sad song story’ of Fierce Panda’s last 10 years the best, and why? Sad songs, like love songs, are often misunderstood. Emotions like sadness, loneliness and indeed, even love are like jewels. Whether they mean to or not, the people who gloss over emotion don’t seem to understand that they aren’t one-dimensional but instead multi-faceted, with dull and lifeless versus bright and sharp faces and something new to discover upon each listen. As a collection of the ‘sad song’ genre, ‘Endangered’ is a great introduction to the many wonderful artists on the Fierce Panda roster, and I can’t imagine you won’t find at least one song that will make you feel something deep in your heart.

7.5/10

You can get ‘Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014’ now for free if you order any album from the Fierce Panda online shop here. For more information on the bands signed to Fierce Panda, those included in this collection and those not, visit the label’s official Web site. For a limited time, you can get another eight-track song sampler (not all sad songs!); more details in this previous MP3(s) of the Day post.

 

MP3(s) of the Day #818: Fierce Panda ‘Survival’ eight-track sampler

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd April 2014 at 10:00 am
 

Fierce Panda Records have put out some great music over its storied 20 years in business. We should know; we’ve reviewed albums by and become enamoured with many of their artists. In case you needed further convincing (but you really shouldn’t), the influential London indie label is giving away a pack of eight mp3s for free through Amazon UK. What’s included in the bundle?

1. ‘Robin Song’ – Woodpigeon
2. ‘Cutty Love’ – Milo Greene
3. ‘Under the Waterway’ – Goldheart Assembly (pictured at top)
4. ‘Where the Wind Blows’ – The Hosts (read my review of their 2014 album ‘Softly, Softly’ here)
5. ‘Sofie’ – The Crookes (read my review of their 2014 album ‘Soapbox’ here)
6. ‘Breaking Into Cars’ – The Raveonettes
7. ‘Good Enough’ – Mélanie Pain
8. ‘The Angel of the North’ – Tom Hickox

Get your pack of free eight mp3s from Amazon here.

 

Album Review: The Hosts – Softly, Softly

 
By on Monday, 10th February 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

The Hosts Softly Softly coverThese days, we know that production and in-studio wizardry can hide a multitude of musical sins, from people who cannot sing (hello, Britney Spears, Kanye West and autotune) to people who cannot play instruments or bands who simply do not have enough people to play them (hello, drum machines and synthesisers). I was reminded of this when ‘Please Please Me’ appeared on Radcliffe and Maconie’s Tea Time Theme Time segment last month: before they became heavy drug using, psychedelic pioneers, people seem to forget that the Beatles didn’t need any help in the studio. In their earliest days working with George Martin, they relied good songwriting, their voices in perfect harmony and the tightness of their combined instrumentation to come up with excellent records. There was nowhere to hide, but nothing needed to be hidden. They were just that damn good.

Despite the manufactured pop star ‘development’ paths currently favoured by the major labels, there is a growing number of English bands that are working hard to go back to those golden years when singing and playing proficiently with limited use of technological assistance were the norm and bands took great pride in this. And I can’t really explain it why in the last couple of years, the phenomenon seems to have been most noticeable in the North, particularly in Sheffield. ‘Softly, Softly’ by Sheffield band The Hosts is the latest in a string of releases from this part of England that brings forth the innocence of the Fab Four’s earliest successes, taking that feeling and spilling it all over the unsuspecting current record-buying public, who include in their ranks the supposed indie kids who are in love with Bastille and The 1975. As I listened to ‘Softly, Softly’, it was the reaction of these people I wondered about the most. Would Tom Hogg’s voice slay them?

Because slaying is a good word to this case. When on tour with Roy Orbison (who, incidentally, inspired ‘Please Please Me’), the young Fabs were famously known to have hung out backstage watching the master at work, slaying the audience night after night. Having been described as “the missing link between Roy Orbison and Richard Hawley“, it should come as no surprise that frontman Tom Hogg’s voice has this slaying ability as well. Hogg’s voice has a distinctive timbre that can best be described as honey for the ears, and the main vocals are further supported in this aural beautification by the band’s ever harmonious backing vocals. I give to you exhibit A, my personal favourite ‘Would You Be Blue’, the opening track of the album, with verses such as, “set adrift on the star-filled skies / broken and bruised, with no reasons why / just the the waves that crash in the sea / are the waves that you should carry me free”. Accompanied with a building wall of sound that includes schmaltzy / waltzy instrumentation, it is perfection in less than 4 minutes.

In the chorus of ‘Would You Be Blue’, we are asked, “When I said I’ll be true / when I said ‘only you’ / why on earth would you be blue?” I really don’t know, Tom. I can’t answer that. I think I just expired on the floor from the loveliness of feeling like I was the apple – the sole apple – of someone’s eye. (If there was any doubt, yes, I am a hopeless romantic.) And the rest of the album serves as the blankets to envelope my emotion-aching soul. A gentle, rocking chair-type beat is underneath most of the songs on this album, serving to soothe any savage beast from within, even if said savage beast’s heart is breaking while this is happening (‘Where the Cold Wind Blows’) and we’re being told to sleep and dream of someone we once loved (‘In Dreams’, a cover of an original by, who else, Roy Orbison).

Regular 6music listeners will recognise ‘September Song’ and ‘Give Your Love to Her’ from the station’s playlist, both having been released as singles and gotten much support from the Laminator himself, Steve Lamacq. (‘September Song’ will, in fact, be re-released as part of a double A-sided single with the aforementioned ‘Would You Be Blue’ on the 17th of February.) ‘September Song’, with its flourishes of bright percussion taps, is a song about saying farewell to a lover in contrast to ‘Would You Be Blue’. I suppose it might be jarring to go from togetherness in track #1 to a tearful goodbyes in track #2, but I take it as interesting that both songs use the imagery of waves and them “crashing through” in the latter to describe being in love. In their Bands to Watch feature last summer, I alluded to the Hosts’ songwriting skill and how they don’t resort to anything uncouth in their lyrics. They don’t need those kind of words. No, they can woo any (well, intelligent, self-respecting) woman with any one of these songs.

Earlier single ‘Give Your Love to Her’ (stream above) is quicker in tempo than most of ‘Softly, Softly’ and, as a result, is more sprightly. I can see this song having a more visible response live in concert. But if this was the only Hosts song you knew and you bought this album, I think you would be disappointed. And there it is, the one complaint about this album: it’s a little slow. I suppose it should be expected, as it’s a collection of sentimental love songs, whether the ending of the story is happy or sad. The intention is to have the songs savoured, not having kids with their arms and legs flailing about at the local disco. Even though the chorus of ‘Wake Up’ has brightness and both ‘The One’ and cheeky closing track ‘Go Away’ benefit from maracas, these tracks don’t veer too far from the general formula (though these three songs would probably not be the ones I’d recommend to those not familiar with the band). And I am fine with this. These are the kind of songs I’d imagine I’d be spending my allowance on at the local dance hall’s jukebox if I’d been a teenager in the early Sixties.

I also know it is the kind of album my mother would buy. (As the mother of a music editor, it’s her cross to bear, having to hear promo CDs over and over again. As a result, she’s already a Hosts convert.) Had this album been out when my parents were dating, they’d be dancing to songs like this. The bigger question is, will the record-buying public bite? I do hope so. If you have a single romantic bone in your body, this should be a required purchase for your sweetie this week. (Guys, in case you’ve forgotten…Friday is Valentine’s Day!!!)

8/10

‘Softly, Softly’, the debut album from Sheffield band The Hosts, is out today, the 10th of February, on Fierce Panda. Double A-sided single ‘September Song’ / ‘Would You Be Blue’ will be released next week, on the 17th.

 

Quickfire Questions #51: Tom Hogg of the Hosts

 
By on Friday, 27th September 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Recent Band to Watch and nattily dressed band of musical men The Hosts announced a couple of days ago that they would opening for fellow Sheffielders the Crookes, where they will be returning to Sheffield University’s Student Union on the 3rd of October, the site where it all began for the New Pop quartet. Ahead of their support slot, we asked Hosts’ frontman and ringleader Tom Hogg to humour us and answer the TGTF Quickfire Questions. His choice of alternative career isn’t much of a surprise. You’ll see, as away we go…

What song is your earliest musical memory?
‘Please Mr. Postman’ – The Beatles.

What was your favourite song as a child?
‘Peaches’ – The Stranglers.

What song makes you laugh?
‘The Lodger’ – Jake Thackray.

What song makes you cry?
‘Afraid to Sleep’ – Roy Orbison.

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.)
‘Queen of the Highway’ – The Doors.

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.)
‘Some Velvet Morning’ – Lee Hazlewood &and Nancy Sinatra.

Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘God Only Knows’ – Beach Boys.

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

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Haberdasher (dependent on the hours).

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.)
‘At Folsom Prison’ – Johnny Cash.

Many thanks to Tom for answering our q&a. The Hosts’ latest single ‘Give Your Love to Her’ is out now on Fierce Panda. Catch the band open for the Crookes at Sheffield University Student Union’s Foundry next Thursday the 3rd of October.

 

Bands to Watch #271: The Hosts

 
By on Friday, 30th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

I’ve had a Sheffield hangover for months now. No, I wasn’t at Tramlines. It was a product of an incredibly short, 24-hour flying visit to the City of Steel to see some guys I’ve come to know. I always say that fate must exist and it works in mysterious ways, because the afternoon I spent in Sheff, I was skulking around the town centre trying to find a copy of the local and beloved Sheffield Exposed free entertainment magazine. It took looking into and inquiring at some 15 different establishments until I finally chanced upon what I was looking for at Bungalows and Bears bar on Division Street.

Maybe such a magazine exists in Washington but since I don’t live in the city proper, I’ve never seen anything like Exposed. I imagine if you’re young and you happen to live in a hip, happening place like Sheffield, this is the kind of thing that becomes your regular bible, especially if you are into music, as there are always features on local bands, giving them their due. This kind of grass roots, region-specific focus strikes me as something very English (or is it something very British?), an appreciation of what is local, great and under your noses, and it was through this copy of Exposed that I learned of The Hosts. You couldn’t miss them. There was a huge, full page photo spread on the band, opposite to a very funny Q&A.

Though I’ve been advised that at least one of the Hosts’ members has alighted for Coventry, the Hosts appear to have been cut from a similar cloth to city brethren High Hazels (who I profiled in July in this Bands to Watch) and the Crookes. Something very peculiar to the city is that for much better than worse, Sheffield’s music scene has pockets that feel like they’ve been stuck in a time warp. I say this lovingly, because the bands I’ve mentioned have taken all that was good from what I have always considered the golden age of pop music songwriting – the ’50s and ’60s – and renewed my faith in music today by turning into something of their very own. The 8-year old version of myself, the one that was in love with the Beatles and ‘Please Please Me’-era Paul McCartney, would never have believed that years later I would have the chance to witness such an embracing of what went before, but with a fresh twist.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7CyKq1sSw8[/youtube]

One listen to the Hosts’ ‘Give Your Love to Her’ (a live performance – in suits! – courtesy of Exposed is above), their current single on indie band champions Fierce Panda and related Label Fandango, and you will agree with their press release that this five-piece is “the missing link between Roy Orbison and Richard Hawley“. The latter is a quite apt comparison, with the Hosts sounding not unlike solo Hawley’s pre-‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ output: brilliant grandeur in orchestration, with a sweeping lead vocal ready made to overwhelm you in a warm cuddle. Quite literally, with the words, “take her in your arms, don’t let go…take your love to her…”

Further, the godfather of Sheffield cool himself must be an unwavering supporter to the band, having produced earlier song ‘September Song’ (promo video below), which is quite appropriate since we usher in the new month on Sunday. “So I was waiting for you to close your eyes / so I could say goodbye”: you hear that noise? That is the sound of me sobbing. Two simple lines placed in a chorus, and yet so powerful in emotion. These days, you can guarantee whatever you find is on Radio1 and MTV being sold as a “love song” (note I used quotation marks) is oversexed and cringe-inducing. It’s like the men doing the songwriting have forgotten that the way to a woman’s heart is not by being vulgar but by appealing instead to appeal to the fairer sex’s love of beauty, and that includes in song. But not everyone has fallen prey to this disease. The Hosts, along with evidence from other Sheffield bands of late, show everyone else how it’s done. There is an art to this. And when it’s done well, it’s gorgeous.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/40995778[/vimeo]

The Hosts’ debut album with a title yet to be revealed is due to be out on Fierce Panda later this year, so we’re told, so there’s nothing left to do but wait. This is one music fan and editor who can’t wait for that release. The fact that all three bands – the Hosts, High Hazels and the Crookes – appear already to be mates makes it all less pie in the sky that maybe there will be some amazing Sheffield band tour in the future as well.

 
 
 

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.

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