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Video of the Moment #1619: The Young Folk

 
By on Thursday, 4th September 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Header photo by Kathrin Baumbach

In anxious anticipation of their upcoming album release, Irish five-piece band The Young Folk have just published the video for their latest single, the quaintly beautiful ‘Way Down South’. Filmed in Sweden, the video’s picturesque scenery visually realizes the song’s contemplative mood with a simple rustic splendor that is at once intimate and somehow detached, perfectly highlighting the heartbreaking uncertainty in the lyrics.

This radio edit of ‘Way Down South’ differs quite significantly from the album version that will appear on ‘The Little Battle’, which is due out next Monday, the 8th of September, via ARC Music/Pixie Pace Records. (You can read my prematurely excited review of the album, which was originally slated for release in May, right here.) Where the full version of the song featured a graceful string arrangement behind the reserved elegance of the vocal melody, the new version takes a slightly more relaxed tempo, using a rougher vocal take to emphasise its charming folk quality. This version also substitutes lush brass instrumentation for the soaring string arrangement of the original recording, which is lighter and cleaner but also emotionally more distant than this adaptation.

The new arrangement of ‘Way Down South’ reflects a change in The Young Folk’s lineup, specifically the addition of Alex Borwick on brass, but it also displays the band’s versatility and dedication to their authentic folk sound. This new recording may not be as technically precise as the album version, but it captures the candid sincerity of the band’s live sound, which I fell in love with earlier this year at SXSW 2014. (We featured the album version of ‘Way Down South’ track in our SXSW 2014 preview of bands from Ireland and Northern Ireland.)

The Young Folk will play an extensive tour of Ireland in the coming weeks and are scheduled to appear at the Whiskey Sessions in Manchester on the 22nd of November. A full listing of live dates can be found on the band’s Facebook page.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/14LcTpPn3QI[/youtube]

 

Album Review: The Young Folk – The Little Battle

 
By on Thursday, 29th May 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Update 4 June 2014: The UK release date for ‘The Little Battle’ has been pushed back to the 8th of September. The album’s first single ‘Way Home’ is available now on iTunes.

The Little Battle album coverThe Young Folk are one of the most memorable bands I heard in Austin this year at SXSW 2014. Their unassuming style came as a breath of fresh air amidst the barrage of ‘folk-pop’ acts gracing the SXSW stages, and though they claim a variety of influences on their songwriting (listen to my interview with them here), their sound is frank and straightforward folk as it could possibly be. And, as delighted as I was by their vocal harmonies and high degree of technical prowess at the Full Irish Breakfast, it wasn’t until I listened to their debut album ‘The Little Battle’ that I fully realized the depth and subtlety in their songs.

I had my first real listen to ‘The Little Battle’ on my 12-hour drive home from Austin after a long week of festival coverage. Maybe it was due to the sheer exhaustion of several long days and short nights in a row, or maybe it was the inevitable post-gig depression (magnified ten-fold after a week at SXSW), but the understated lyrics and tender musical flourishes touched a chord in me that has continued to echo in the intervening weeks.

Opening track ‘My Friends’ took my mind immediately back to the new acquaintances I had made in Austin over the week of the festival, as well as the friends I was heading home to, who no doubt thought I was insane to take on SXSW in the first place. Frontman Anthony Furey’s distinctive halting lilt feels somehow familiar, even on this first track, and the vocal harmonies fall easily into place, allowing focus on the lyrics: “My friends, if they only understood what I’ve been at / My friends, they should know by now”.

The album’s first single ‘Way Home’ made for perfect road trip music. Percussionist Karl Hand’s driving drum beat supplies spirited motion under the lively guitar and violin melodies. The very first vocal line “Taking all of my time, and you gotta do right / Taking some of my lines and you made them into your own” brought an immediate smile to my face, and of course I found myself harmonising along with the irresistible chorus. (Watch the video and take a listen to the song here, if you haven’t already.)

The first little catch in my throat came during ‘I’ve Been Here Before’. The stripped back instrumentation of this song once again keeps the vocal lines clearly in focus. Furey’s Irish accent is quite conspicuous (note the rhyming pronunciation of “leather” and “better”) and the cadence of his vocal delivery a bit uneven, but the prevailing quality in his voice is its utter sincerity in conveying the emotion behind the reticent lyrics.

‘Way Down South’ is another emotionally pregnant narrative, its lyrics laced with touches of heartbreaking authenticity such as “I got dressed up in this suit which was novelty / And I’ll stay waiting”. The vocal harmonies in the coda are spot on, especially in the nostalgically repeated line “You’re gonna hurt yourself, come down from there, love”. (We featured the video for ‘Way Down South’ in the Irish installment of TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 back in March.)

While all the songs on the album have a hint of melancholy about them, the heartrending track ‘Letters’ is the most effective in that regard; I had to pull over the car and compose myself as I drove through rain and tears in Houston. Paul Butler’s poignant lyrics and wistfully sweet singing voice is especially effective on the lines, “So I take on this road I love / Will you still be here when I get home?”, and the instrumental arrangement is flawless, particularly the use of xylophone over the piano melody to illustrate the childlike innocence suggested in the verses.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThfRaZ5GO3c[/youtube]

The album takes an upturn with the short and sweet ‘Sad Day’ which, despite its title, is ironically one of its most energetic and upbeat tracks. ‘Remember When’ is darker, almost ominous in its haunting keyboard riff, and the vocal countermelodies at the end are exquisite. Closing track ‘Drunken Head / The Little Battle’ is bitterly raw, hitting its emotional target squarely with the lines, “Maybe things will get better and sweeter with age / But maybe not, in our case”.

‘The Little Battle’ is an album of intricacies, performed with appealing energy and confident style. The Young Folk haven’t gone out of their way to make their music more mainstream, depending instead on their keen musicianship and candid lyricism to carve a niche for their delicately crafted songs.

9/10

‘The Little Battle’, the Young Folk’s debut album, is now available in Ireland on Pixie Pace Records. It is due for release in the UK on the 8th of September.

 

SXSW 2014: Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s – 14th March 2014

 
By on Monday, 31st March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

One of the events I was most looking forward to at SXSW 2014 was the Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s hosted by Music From Ireland. I must admit upfront that the actual meal is not my particular cup of tea (and in the interest of full confession, I drank coffee) but it was a nice part of the general atmosphere of the event. Our editor Mary joined me for part of the day’s festivities and has already touched on the Irish Breakfast in her Friday coverage.


When we walked in to B.D. Riley’s, we were warmly greeted by Mary’s friend and event organizer, Music from Ireland’s Angela Dorgan, as well as a host of other now familiar faces including several acquaintances made at the British Music Embassy over the course of the week. We were sat at a table in the front of the room near the sound desk, which gave us easy access to photos and quick chats with the artists on the schedule, and I quickly made the decision to set up camp there for the entire day. I was over the moon, as the lineup for the day included several acts I’d been dying to see.

Music From Ireland playbill SXSW 2014

We had missed UNKNWN earlier in the week at the Creative Belfast showcase, but we didn’t have to wait long to have our curiosity satisfied at B.D. Riley’s. The Northern Irish electro duo of music producer Chris Hanna (identified singularly as Unknown) and vocalist Gemma Dunleavy provided us with our morning slow jam, even as the clock crept into afternoon territory. Hanna’s deep and dreamy bass groove combined with Dunleavy’s smooth, clear vocals created a very chill, relaxed sonic atmosphere to start off the day.

UNKNWN at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

The next band, Dublin sister act Heathers, couldn’t have been more of a stylistic contrast to UNKNWN. I had gotten a sneak peek at them at the Music From Ireland showcase on the Wednesday night, so I knew to expect a change of pace. Of course, it helped that before they went on stage, Ellie Macnamara was kind enough to grant me a cheeky photo of her set list.

Heathers set list BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Heathers’ edgy, energetic rock, interlaced with tightly woven vocal harmonies and countermelodies, was the perfect antidote to the hearty Irish breakfast we’d just consumed. After their set, I was able to set up a quick interview with the sisters Macnamara for a bit later in the day.

Heathers at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

I was especially excited to see Rams’ Pocket Radio again, after having heard his set at Creative Belfast on the Monday night. As he mentioned in my interview with him from that night, he came to SXSW with a full band of musicians, who were tightly packed onto the small stage at B.D. Riley’s. Once again, they played a set featuring several tracks from Rams’ Pocket Radio’s album, ‘Béton’, including ‘Dogs Run in Packs’, ‘1+2’, ‘Dieter Rams Has Got the Pocket Radios’, and current single ‘Love is a Bitter Thing’. (My recent review of ‘Love is a Bitter Thing’ can be found here.)

Rams' Pocket Radio at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

As I’ve previously mentioned, I found Rams’ Pocket Radio a bit difficult to photograph due to his emphatic performance style. I was able to catch a few decent photos at the Irish Breakfast, but unfortunately it distracted me a bit from listening to the music. I made a mental note to try to return for his late show that night, also at B.D. Riley’s, so I could listen unfettered by the camera.

Rams' Pocket Radio at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

After Rams’ Pocket Radio, I stepped outside and around the corner for the aforementioned interview with Heathers, which you can read here. On my way back in, I noticed that there was a passing crowd gathered outside B.D. Riley’s, listening to the music from the open air stage. The space outside the venue proved to be a popular gathering place and was almost as full as the inside bar area for most of the day.

Mary and I were both excited to hear the Wonder Villains play again after speaking with them at the British Music Embassy on the Monday night. We were once again somewhat amazed by the colorful attire of the Wonder Villains’ leading ladies, Eimear Coyle and Cheylene Murphy. But more importantly, we were also amazed by the band’s high-spirited performance. Their latest single, ‘Marshall’, had been playing on the PA system between sets, and by the time the band played it live, everyone in the bar was singing and dancing along, including our indefatigable editor.

Wonder Villains at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Mary ducked out after the Wonder Villains played, leaving me to the saccharine-sounding garage pop charms of Dott. Their single ‘Small Pony’ is every bit as bouncy and danceable as ‘Marshall’, but Dott were, inevitably, more reserved on stage than the bright and brash Wonder Villains. Little wonder, as I discovered later that they were nearing the end of a full American tour. Their tour diary for the trip, including their time at SXSW, can be viewed here.

Dott at BD RIley's 14 March 2014

I was practically dancing with excitement myself to hear the next band on the playbill, The Young Folk. I’d met them briefly on the Wednesday night at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room and gotten a sneak preview of their forthcoming album, ‘The Little Battle’, and frankly, I was already hooked. Their live performance didn’t disappoint, despite the number of instruments they had to squeeze onto the tiny stage.

Young Folk at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Young Folk at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Songs from ‘The Little Battle’ predominated the set, but The Young Folk also included non-album tracks ‘A Song About Wolves’ and ‘Hold On To Your Hat’. I was impressed most by their ability to convey the tender lyrical moments in their songs without dampening the lively mood of the crowd. Their relaxed but animated performance style was definitely a hit among those in attendance at B.D. Riley’s

Young Folk at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Note ‘The Little Battle’ CD taped to Anthony’s guitar.

After The Young Folk played their set, I ducked outside again for an interview with them, which you can read here if you haven’t already. They proved to be quite easy to talk to, and before I knew it, I had missed most of the next set inside the venue. When I came back in, September Girls were rocking the stage with their reverb, rhythm and vocal harmonies. I did manage to peek between the enthusiastic patrons at the front to snap a few quick photos before the band wrapped up.

September Girls at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Mary returned from her own afternoon interview adventures with DJ Colette and Until the Ribbon Breaks and checking out some of the day’s activities at British Music Embassy in time to catch the last two bands on the schedule, WOUNDS and Kid Karate. I would never have guessed that she would be a fan of either band, but the bass player in her showed through as she headbanged along with WOUNDS.

Mary at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Editor Mary got her groove on.

Both WOUNDS and Kid Karate required the use of earplugs, especially at the close range where we were seated. Of the two, WOUNDS were definitely the harder, heavier thrashing rock, but they managed to keep their performance confined to the stage.

WOUNDS at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Kid Karate, on the other hand, were not inclined to that much restraint. By the end of their brazenly bluesy set, guitarist and front man Kevin Breen had completely abandoned drummer Steven Gannon to join the audience for an impromptu moshing session. It was the perfect surprise ending to what had been a showcase full of variety and high quality music.

Kid Karate at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Kid Karate at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, I hated to leave after the end of the showcase. Part of my mind lingered at B.D. Riley’s when I dashed off to my next appointment, even as I eagerly anticipated the Communion Records showcase that was still to come at St. David’s Episcopal Church.

Thanks to Brian, Ciaran and Jim for their assistance with interviews and photos at this event. (And special thanks to Angela and the staff at B.D. Riley’s for their help in rescuing my lost voice recorder!)

 

The Young Folk / May 2014 English Tour

 
By on Monday, 31st March 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Irish alt-folk quartet The Young Folk will be touring in England this May, following on their recent trip to North America, which included a stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW 2014. Their debut full length album, ‘The Little Battle’, is due for release later this spring on UK folk and world music label ARC Music. Check out their SXSW 2014 Showcasing Artist video for the current single ‘Way Home’ below the tour date listing.

Thursday 15th May 2014 – London Surya
Friday 16th May 2014 – Dorcester Arts Centre
Saturday 17th May 2014 – Eastney Cellars
Sunday 18th May 2014 – Bath Chapel Arts Centre
Monday 19th May 2014 – Birmingham Hare & Hounds
Tuesday 20th May 2014 – Manchester Gullivers

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MzF3Ql3EdA[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2014 Interview: The Young Folk

 
By on Friday, 28th March 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Irish alt-folk quartet The Young Folk are one of the most captivating acts I heard at SXSW 2014, and I had to wait almost to the end of the week to finally see them play at the Full Irish Breakfast hosted by Music from Ireland. I wasn’t familiar with them before we did our preview of Irish and Northern Irish acts showcasing at SXSW, but I fell in love with two of their songs, ‘Way Down South’ and new single ‘Way Home’ as I was doing my research for that piece. Their subtle yet tender lyrics match perfectly with their fresh musical spin on the folk rock trend (think Mumford and Sons but more nimble, less ponderous). Watch the video for ‘Way Home’ below, and if you’re as enchanted as I was, pre-order it on the band’s Web site.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKNfJPY3kfU[/youtube]

As you’ll hear in the interview below, The Young Folk are as genuinely friendly as they are talented. (I was even persuaded to have the above photo taken with them, despite my general aversion to posing for pictures.) They spoke readily and easily about some of their musical influences, their spring tour dates, and how they spent their time in Austin. More importantly, we discussed their exquisite new album, ‘The Little Battle’, which is due for release later this year on UK folk and world music specialty record label ARC Music..

Special thanks to Jim for his assistance with arranging this interview and for taking the photo at the top of the page.

 

SXSW 2014: Wednesday evening at Maggie Mae’s, Esther’s Follies and Parish Underground – 12th March 2014

 
By on Monday, 24th March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

My Wednesday evening at SXSW 2014 started at Maggie Mae’s, where the Force Field PR showcase was being held. The lineup for the showcase included Withered Hand, Yellow Ostrich, Tony Molina, Painted Palms, CYMBALS, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I regretted not being able to stay to hear all of them play, but for the moment, I was focused on my pre-show interview with Scottish singer/songwriter Withered Hand.

Withered Hand at Maggie Mae's 12 March 2014

I arrived at the venue rather early and was graciously invited to listen in on Withered Hand’s soundcheck before we sat down to chat. Sitting in on soundcheck is always a nice preview to a gig, and this particular soundcheck was incredibly laid-back, almost serene in its calm. Despite the relaxed atmosphere of the soundcheck and interview, Withered Hand delivered a set that was both energetic and introspective, consistent with the mood of his latest album of songs, ‘New Gods’. The room filled slowly during the performance, and the gathering crowd seemed delightfully appreciative of Dan Willson’s acerbic and darkly humourous lyrics.

After Withered Hand’s set, I stepped outside to check my phone messages and my watch. I had an hour before I was due for my next interview appointment, which was just enough time to peek in at the Gibson Room, the upstairs part of Maggie Mae’s, where the Music From Ireland showcase was being held. I should have known better than to even walk in to the Irish showcase on such a tight schedule, because once I was there, I wouldn’t want to leave. In the end, I couldn’t resist a quick peek, especially after I was invited inside by a lovely Irishman who turned out to be the manager of one of the bands featured on the showcase, The Young Folk. (I couldn’t stay to hear The Young Folk play on this particular evening, but watch this space for more on them from later in the week.)

The atmosphere in the Gibson Room was amazing, with guitars and music memorabilia in evidence everywhere (natch!). I had heard that the venue was plagued with technical and sound issues in past years, but none of that was in evidence during my brief stop. I only had time to listen to one Irish band, but fortunately for me, it turned out to be Dublin twin sister duo Heathers. I was hooked almost immediately on their edgy rock melodies, especially ‘Forget Me Knots’, to the point that I completely forgot to take any photos (is anyone sensing a theme here?).

The lineup for the evening at the Gibson Room included an amazing list of Irish bands: Dott, Heathers, Hozier, The Young Folk, Wounds and Kid Karate (all of whom we featured here before SXSW 2014 began). It absolutely broke my heart to have to leave after Heathers’ set, especially as I’d been dying to see Hozier and I was now intrigued by The Young Folk, but I consoled myself with the fact that I’d be seeing all of these acts on the upcoming Friday.

I dashed out of the Gibson Room with only a few minutes to spare before I was due at Esther’s Follies to interview Kentish alt-folk collective Cocos Lovers. As it turned out, Cocos Lovers were running a bit late themselves, but I did manage a nice sit down chat with band members Will Greenham and Phil Self, who were gracious enough to talk with me while they grabbed a bite to eat before their set. (Keep an eye out for the audio of that interview, coming soon.)

Gabby Young at Esther's Follies 12 March 2014

The stage at Esther’s Follies on that night hosted two acts featured here at TGTF, the aforementioned Cocos Lovers and “circus swing” practitioners Gabby Young and Other Animals. Young’s band for the night was partially composed of a mix of local musicians, some of whom she’d just met the day before, but their lively enthusiasm completely overcame any difficulties they might have had. Young and her troupe were in fine form, and the audience at Esther’s Follies absolutely adored her unique and vivacious combination of jazz, flamenco, Vaudeville, and classical bel canto singing. Her glorious high notes drew special applause, and by the end of her set, everyone in the seated venue was dancing in the narrow aisles.

Cocos Lovers at Esther's Follies 12 March 2014

Cocos Lovers played a slightly more mellow but equally charming set, which was unfortunately not as well received by the crowd at Esther’s Follies, who by now were in the mood for a party. Particular highlights of the set for me included the bluesy harmonies of ‘Emily’ and the lightly tripping ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’, which I listened to with delighted new ears after our interview.

After Cocos Lovers, I made yet another mad dash, this time to meet up with editor Mary for the end of Modern Outsider showcase at the Parish Underground. By this point in the evening, I was ready to put my notebook away and get my groove on, and the last act on that bill, The Crookes, were the perfect fix. Read Mary’s coverage of the showcase here.

Special thanks to Daniel, Jim and Jay for their assistance on this night.

 
 
 

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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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