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Liverpool Sound City 2014: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 16th May 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

For all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way; for all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link.

Saturday at Liverpool Sound City 2014: on the homestretch now, but it’s also sad to know that something you’ve waited for all year is about to end. But I had something unusual to start my last day in Liverpool with: if it’s not music in Liverpool, it’s got to be football, innit?

The legendary John Peel was famously known as a Reds fan (good man) so it makes sense that the football tournament taking place during Sound City, a major music event for the town, is named after him. As much as I am a footy fan, I’d still not managed to make it to Chavasse Park, the nice stretch of green hovering above the hulking Liverpool One shopping district, over the last 2 years for the John Peel World Cup. That all changed this year when Geordies Boy Jumps Ship, the nice boys I’d met the previous night after I’d rocked out to their music, invited me to come watch them play five-a-side as Boy Jumps Ship F.C. Or as they had said, eke through a couple rounds of five-a-side and wonder why they’d agreed to play in the first place, the morning after they’d gigged at the festival.

I am sure John and Martin will get a kick out of this, but as can probably imagine if you’ve met me before, I’m not an athletic person (I prefer to be a sports bystander) so arriving at Chavasse Park, surrounded by loads of cute boys (albeit exhibiting varying shades of intimidation and being generally loud to match the intimidation) was akin to me being a duck out of water. I was, however, dressed to the nines for this, as I was sporting my new, perfect red Steven Gerrard jersey obtained from Anfield on Wednesday. So nyah!

Soon enough, I found the Boy Jumps Ship fellas in their white kit and even though the matches were only 10 minutes long, everything I watched at the park that afternoon was tense and fast-paced. I have to say, if you’re going as a spectator to this event, it’s sure a lot more fun cheering on your mates. Football expert John has said (threatened?) that he needs to participate in the tournament next year, so keep that in mind as a definite reason why you should attend Sound City 2015.

I didn’t hang around for the finals but from all accounts, Boy Jumps Ship was doing pretty good when I’d left to meet up with my next interviewees, Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward, who were sound checking with their band Glass Animals at the Kazimier. The Kazimier, along with the Zanzibar, would prove to be the most important venues of the night to me, which judging from this post-event report from famed Liverpudlian music man on the street Peter Guy, turned out to be a smart move.

Red Found Glory @ Zanzibar

While I waiting for my next interview subject Tommy Wright, the well-coiffed frontman for Young Kato, who was delayed, I had time to kill. Going off our Irish friends Kodaline‘s earlier Tweets, I skulked around the inside of the Zanzibar to look for them, as they’d said first band up Red Found Glory were a good shout and they were hoping to make it in to see them before they were due on to headline at the Cathedral that night. (I guess they are friends?) I don’t know if it was anxiety waiting for Tommy or if these guys from London were just not very unique, they were a good enough rock band I suppose but nothing special jumped out at me.

Glass Animals @ Kazimier

I thought I’d mosey back to the Kazimier for Glass Animals‘ set. It’s quite ironic that Carrie fell in love with their music (at the Harvest Records showcase Tuesday night at SXSW 2014) before I did, because the dance / urban sound is much more my thing than hers, but I really wasn’t having any of “those peanut butter vibes” initially. Saturday at SXSW during ‘Black Mambo’, Carrie was going mental (then again, it was everyone’s last day in Austin, so everyone present was already sauced by noon) and maybe I was off that afternoon, but I wasn’t completely sold. Until I saw them in Liverpool, that is. Playing to a daytime crowd in Austin at Latitude 30 is entirely different than playing a rammed Kazimier, filled down the front with women with drink in hand, grooving to the music in their summer dresses. Maybe it was the magic of Liverpool that made me finally see what I had been missing for months?

While Martin waxed philosophical about them in October of last year and described their song ‘Exxus’ as having “mellifluous mellotron mixes with otherworldly, disembodied voices, as if Gyorgy Ligeti and Edgar Froese were having a bromance right there in one’s Eustachian tube”, I found something more tangible and oddly down to earth about the band’s sound. Songs like ‘Hazey’ from their forthcoming album ‘Zaba’ and yes, that ‘Black Mambo’ tune show a collected coolness from Bayley and crew that seems to be at odds with most of the music I saw at Sound City. The music slides and glides seemingly effortlessly and judging from the fact at their first American headline show in New York Wednesday night sold out well in advance, America is ready for Britain’s latest hip dance export. It was inevitable that they would end their set with ‘Gooey’, but why not when it’s the most recognisable of their songs to date and the one that brings the house down every time?

I rushed away after them to the Brooklyn Mixer with every intention of catching Pennsylvania’s The Districts. You’re probably wondering why I was bothering to catch a band from the state directly due north of mine, but I had a good reason: I missed them at this year’s SXSW. Just like Thursday night, I knew something was amiss when I arrived. For one, there were all these non-Anglicised shouts of approval and I had to ask someone at the door who was playing, because they didn’t look American. I guess the Districts cancelled, as a Brazilian band the Parrots had stepped in for them. I stayed for a short while since I didn’t like what I heard, I went back to the Kazimier to ready myself to see We Have Band, who I’d been waiting to see for years. Who should I run into on my way back but Glass Animals loading out? A discussion between Dave Bayley and me of various places in America ensued. Oh, English music festivals. You never cease to amaze and amuse me!

We Have Band @ Kazimier

We Have Band‘s ‘Divisive’ from their debut album ‘WHB’, one of my favourite dance anthems of 2010, was the sole song I had on my mind initially. I figured they had to play it and if they didn’t, I’d be quite cross, ha! And it didn’t disappoint at all live. But the band had a more important mission that night with their set: to get out the new songs from their brand new album ‘Movements’. Measured in its chaos yet also glittery synth-wise single ‘Modulate’ saw sole female band member Dede Wegg-Prosser take centre stage, and she commanded attention from the word go, whether it was when she was singing or she was gyrating on stage in minimalist black clothing, which no doubt wasn’t lost on her male admirers. Another album cut, ‘Heart Jump’, was a dance revelation on steroids, with its relentless beats, and even after such a short festival set, the crowd was sweaty but yelling for more. With their flurry of synths, bass grooves and drum pad beats, they were definitely worth the wait!

After the excitement of We Have Band, I wanted somewhere to chill and it occurred to me that maybe the best plan of attack would be to stop in at the Zanzibar, where I had planned to see Young Kato later. It was with major disappointment that I learned of Dublin’s the Minutes cancelling their Sound City appearance in favour of performing in their hometown that day instead, but considering they haven’t gotten a record deal for ‘Live Well, Change Often’ in the UK, I guess it kind of makes sense that they wouldn’t bother with trying to promote an album in a country where people can’t actually buy it.

Serotonin @ Zanzibar

I’m not sure where the band Serotonin is from (there are several on the interwebs), but they haplessly filled in for the absent Irish band. Who wears black turtlenecks in Liverpool, unless you’re a beatnik from the Sixties? Also, me and another female journalist were laughing at what the frontman was ‘packing’ in his trousers… You just couldn’t take them seriously.

Young Kato @ Zanzibar

After a changeover, Young Kato were next, and I was happy to explain to punters not familiar with them about their history. Well, at least the fact that they were on Made in Chelsea, but perhaps in hindsight, that’s not a good factoid to offer up to the more discerning music fan? Either way, it didn’t matter.

Although I was situated on a sofa overlooking the stage for most of their set (hey, it was Saturday, I was tired, don’t judge), I was standing up and cheering like the rest of the audience for them. Tommy Wright did his job in ‘selling’ the free mp3 ‘Ignite’, which we gave away in this previous MP3 of the Day post; as usual, the sparkly ‘Lights’ went down a treat, as did ‘Revolution’, which seems like an unlikely competitor in a town with a band with an untouchable history with a song of the same name. Naturally, the song that concluded the proceedings was ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, which has become the band’s rallying cry: is this the sound of young Britain? I certainly hope so, I’d rather it be Young Kato than Bastille.

Public Access TV @ Zanzibar

I would have been happy with them ending my Sound City experience this year, but I was convinced by some newly made friends that I should wait for the next band, Public Access TV (not to be confused with London historical PSA-repurposers Public Service Broadcasting, who were without a doubt making a big noise on the next street over at Nation at the same exact time). After I left Liverpool, I did some research on Public Access TV to find that NME had tipped the New York band for big things at the start of the year and that Lindsay Lohan was in attendance during one of the group’s earliest performance. (Er, so what?) I’m truly confused. As I watched them, I saw nothing special: guys with guitars…playing pop with a tinge of guitar. Hello, the Strokes? Michael Hann of the Guardian has since jumped onboard this bandwagon, presuming off the back of their appearance at the Great Escape the following weekend and I’ve figured out why everyone’s putting their money on the band (finish Hann’s article and you will see what I mean).

But just because a band has talked to the right people doesn’t mean they’re good. See them live and decide for yourself. That’s the greatest thing about a festival like Sound City: it just goes to show when a great place like Liverpool can put on hundreds of bands over a weekend, you’re bound to find music that will astound, make you think, is just plain fun, or all of the above. Make the most of such an opportunity.

 

MP3 of the Day #823: The Minutes

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd April 2014 at 10:00 am
 

Oh yes. There is a new album Dublin band The Minutes on the way – release date for ‘Live Well, Change Often’ is the 9th of May in Ireland, but we imagine a UK release date shouldn’t be far away. To whet your appetite for the new album – and if you find yourself as lucky as myself to attend Liverpool Sound City 2014, as the band are playing Saturday the 3rd of May at 10:15 PM at the Zanzibar – they’re giving away the track ‘Supernatural’ for free. With a driving rock groove and a completely infectious guitar riff, you’re going to want to listen again and again to this track. So why not have a listen to the song below and get your free download of it?

‘Supernatural’ follows the track ‘Cherry Bomb’, the album’s first single released to the wild in early March. Both Ben and I highly approve of the song; read Ben’s review of the single here.

 

Video of the Moment #1475: The Minutes

 
By on Friday, 21st March 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

On Wednesday, we had for you Ben’s thoughts on Dublin band the Minutes‘ latest single, ‘Cherry Bomb’. Now it’s Friday night and I’m sure you’re getting ready to go out, yeah? So you need some sleaziness, you say to yourself. Enter the official promo video for ‘Cherry Bomb’. If an ageing Elvis impersonator underdog doesn’t psych you up for a night out, you’re hopeless. Watch the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPF5xPp0clU[/youtube]

 

Single Review: The Minutes – Cherry Bomb

 
By on Wednesday, 19th March 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Having cultivated a reputation as the go to support act for bands that have debatably dipped below their highest watermark, you could be forgiven for thinking that The Minutes had missed the boat on the riff-oriented retro rock revival of the mid-to-late Noughties. Fans of the Dublin-based trio will be pleased to hear that the earliest indications from the bands eagerly anticipated follow up to their 2011 debut ‘Marcata’ suggest the upcoming release of ‘Live Well, Change Often’ could provide some of the most refined rock to come out of Ireland since The Giant’s Causeway.

First new single ‘Cherry Bomb’, released late last month on Model Citizen Records, is a swaggering, crotch grabbing number in the mould of glam rock aficionados T. Rex. Building up from the solid foundation of a tested blues base, the band constructs a neon fronted dive bar from which to hawk their seductively seedy wares. The delicately reverberating fuzz that permeates both Mark Austen’s guitar and vocals gives the track a warm, mock vintage quality that has the potential infect the music buying public with the same veracity as Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’.

What ‘Cherry Bomb’ proves is that The Minutes have used their time as understudies to the likes of The Strokes, Supergrass and Flogging Molly wisely. From the uncut diamond of a band that covered Led Zeppelin songs (albeit with an intriguingly abrasive edge) at gigs that were never quite designed for them, this track may signal a shift from support act to niche carvers. Many factors will have influenced this sea change, not least their time spent recording with Garth Richardson at Vancouver’s Fader Master Sound Studios, but the boys from Dublin ultimately deserve the credit for re-packaging their sound into something with a little more mass appeal.

7/10

‘Cherry Bomb’ is out now on Model Citizen Records. ‘Live Well, Change Often’, the Minutes’ second album, will be out on the 9th of May in Ireland (not sure about a UK release date but if we had to fathom a guess, we’d presume it’d be the following Monday, on the 12th of May).

 

SXSW 2012: Day 2 – Burning Ear showcase at Firehouse Lounge and Second Play Stage at the Omni – 14th March 2012

 
By on Friday, 23rd March 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

A little-known fact for first-timers at SXSW: the bands you like are probably playing unofficial showcases and gigs at small, hole in the wall-type places. (This can be a real problem if you have an allergy to renting a car in an unfamiliar town and hate parallel parking, both of which apply to me.) It’s incredibly inefficient, but the only successful way I’ve found to discover these set times and locations is by paying attention to individual band’s Facebooks or Web sites that will say they’re playing this bar out of walking distance from downtown, a burger joint with shows for all ages or a hotel offering free booze, they’re showing up as someone’s special guest, etc. etc. etc.

Being in my position, I had the benefit (I think?) of being inundated by PR emails with lists of shows and more gig possibilities than could be imagined; from the mostly well organised lists, I spent hours before arriving in Austin coming up with alternate plan B and C lists that had cross-referenced the big book of official showcases (only listing nighttime showcases – not especially helpful) with the unofficial ones by day and night I knew of, just in case the shows I wanted to go to were rammed and I needed another place to go. I can say now with experience that you can plan all you want for your ideal day of acts but sometimes, you should just go with whatever feels right. Or is less of a walk. (Not kidding. After the second day I thought my feet might break off at my ankles and my back would break standing so much.)

What felt right to me for Wednesday afternoon was an unofficial showcase being put on by the Burning Ear blog at an unofficial showcase at Firehouse Lounge, a good-sized place that you might miss if you weren’t looking for its small marquee. I certainly did not expect the nice space there was when I entered. Unlike many of the showcases I attended, this one was not region-specific and had a nice mix of international bands. (Unfortunately, with a small place like this, there is no room for lighting rigs, so my photos didn’t turn out all that good.) Hooded Fang, a band whose humourous song ‘Clap’ is getting a lot of love on 6music, stood out to me as a band I should catch in a daytime showcase. Further examination of the line-up revealed hey, this is pretty damn good! Unfortunately, there was a bit of a scheduling conflict with another band I just had to see at a hotel – SXSW hosts what they called “Second Play Stages” where the bands perform stripped down sets in a hotel lounge – but I did manage to get in 4 bands before I had to leave.

Paula and Karol are an indie folk duo from Warsaw, Poland. Paula plays a baby accordion (seriously, it’s adorable and has hearts on it!) and Karol plays acoustic guitar, and both of them sing. They tour with mates on guitar and drums and have great harmonies. Sounds a bit like Slow Club, doesn’t it? Funnily enough, I saw them, their mates and associated people all lined up in the front row at Communion’s showcase at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary 2 nights later, which made me go all warm and fuzzy inside. What punters probably don’t realise is that for the bands, this is often their big chance to see some of their contemporaries and the fact that these nice folks from Eastern Europe were able to experience Ben Howard and Daughter was a pretty amazing example of cross-culturalism.

I thought Paula and Karol were great – truly great pop and I just goes to show that SXSW can be a good place for new band discovery. Listen to their album ‘Overshare’ in full below and if you like it, buy it! I liked them so much – listen to ‘Calling’ and you will fall in love like I did – so it was with much sadness that I missed their set as part of a Polish showcase the next morning…but I overslept. Stuff like that happens at SXSW. And you’ve just got to pick yourself up and move on to the next band. (They confirmed with me that they will be performing at the Great Escape, so you all going to Brighton in May have no excuse to miss this talented twosome.)

The next band up was Dublin’s Minutes. Regular TGTF readers will recall that Luke first came upon the scrappy Irish trio opening for Flogging Molly at London HMV Forum last year; Luke also reviewed their fab debut album on Model Citizen Records, ‘Marcata’ (review here). By this time, the number of people inside Firehouse Lounge had gone up from 6 to about 20, which I took as a good sign that punters had heard of these guys. Oh my god. Despite the shy accents at the start, boy, did the Irish bring it. Lead singer Mark Austin, as he shredded his guitar as hard as he could, was a force like no other. Yowza. At that very moment I thought, I need to give that Luke Morton a hug for finding these fellas; as you should know, TGTF is a family and a team and I rely on all my writers for their expertise on sniffing out the next big thing. So many bands to sift through, so little time.

There was enough room for me to lean comfortably on a railing early on in their set, and this turned out to be a dreadful mistake: basically, Austin used this railing as a “road” down the side of the club, nearly taking me out on the floor with his guitar in the process. But I didn’t mind, and neither did anyone else. The punters ate it up. As they’ve just been announced for Tennents’ Vital festival in Ireland in August alongside headliner Foo Fighters, you can just already see them rubbing elbows in an Irish meadow with Dave Grohl.

Pretty appropriate that in 27 C+ Austin, an Oxford band called Jonquil, named presumably after the lovely yellow flower, should play next in the early days of a Texan spring. After getting over the weirdness that their player looks like a blonde twin of another bass-playing mate of mine, I settled in to listen to what they had to offer. Alert, I’m about to be critical: I can’t get over Hugo Manuel’s voice. Maybe that’s the intention? The vibe is vaguely New Wave-y Aztec Camera, but with a trumpet. Huh? And the songs aren’t that memorable. Dunno, maybe because they came after two very strong acts, I was left disappointed.

After getting my free cupcake (yes, there is free food at SXSW, provided you know where to look and be…early), it was time for Hooded Fang. The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” is such a cliché, but gosh, given the droll lyrical wit of ‘Clap’ (video below), I’ll be honest, I was surprised by the players. Their guitarist had been hanging out all afternoon, looking like a boffin that was nervously keeping to himself on a sofa in the back. I imagine they are one of those bands that works better in the context of a sweaty, packed out venue; while there were definitely more people in Firehouse by this time (I felt like I was knee deep in hipsters after getting unfriendly elbow jabs in my back), the energy level for the Toronto rockers just wasn’t there. I’m wondering if I’d have felt better and in the zone if Steve Lamacq was present.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in1AgZBQKZo[/youtube]

So I decided to cut my losses and leave in the middle of their set for a change of scenery. Completely so. The Second Play stages are a collection of gigs that I believe are organized by SXSW themselves, and they’re a series of gigs that are all acoustic and take place in the lobbies of major hotels in downtown Austin. As my schedule had been filling up, I was getting quite concerned that I couldn’t crow bar a gig from 10 for 2012 poll winners London-based band Films of Colour, until I happily came upon the Second Play schedule. Aha! Omni at 6 PM? I can squeeze that in! I snuck in through the back, slightly out of breath from running up a hill (spare me the Kate Bush jokes, please) to the Omni, where a helpful bellhop pointed me in the right direction.

What an unusual place for a rock show. Granted, it was an acoustic set, but still, where else are you sat down for a gig and a waitress comes over to ask nicely if you want something to drink or eat? To be fair, how often are you sat down for a gig anyhow? So I relaxed in my comfy chair and watch Films of Colour spout off beautiful renditions of their new single ‘Running’ (acoustic video here), their cover of David Bowie’s ‘Slow Burn’, and gorgeous newer song ‘Creature of Habit’. I would also like to point out at this juncture that Films of Colour is the second band we’ve tipped (that I’m aware of anyway) whose music has landed as incidental score on Made in Chelsea (the other being I Dream in Colour). So if you’re out there reading this, fine folk of E4, I must say, you have very good taste…

But in the words of Karen Carpenter, “we’ve only just begun”. Wednesday was about to go into full swing.

More photos (and in higher resolution too!) from these showcases can be viewed on my Flickr.

 

MP3 of the Day #486: The Minutes

 
By on Wednesday, 1st February 2012 at 10:00 am
 

Here’s something very special – and free – straight from Dublin. The Minutes would like to gift you the demo for ‘Heartbreaker’ featured on their debut album ‘Marcata’, released this past Monday (30 January). The ‘Heartbreaker’ single drops on the 13th of February (yes, that’s the day before Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking for something especially rocking for your sweetie).

You can read Luke’s review of ‘Marcata’ at this link. We featured the promo vid for the single on this earlier Video of the Moment.

 
 
 

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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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