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MP3 of the Day (and more!) #837: Wonder Villains

 
By on Thursday, 26th June 2014 at 10:00 am
 

You couldn’t time the release of this free single any better if you tried. I’m betting you’re in full World Cup fever mode, so why not up your experience with a song about a beloved footy star? Famed former Italian footballer and footy manager Gianfranco Zola, who played for Chelsea from 1996 to 2003, makes an appearance in Wonder Villains‘ latest promo video, and given the title – ‘Zola’ – it’s kind of obvious. Which is fine by us! Further, the band from Derry are also giving away the single, backed by the ‘Running in Circles’ demo’, for free (hence the MP3 of the Day title on this post). We witnessed it live this year at SXSW 2014: what fun!

‘Zola’ appears on the band’s debut album ‘Rocky’, which is out this week on No Dancing Records. Us here at TGTF have been keeping an eye on the group, and all of our past coverage on them is here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV6rYWWPTQ0[/youtube]

 

MP3 of the Day #828: Wonder Villains

 
By on Thursday, 8th May 2014 at 10:00 am
 

Spunky Northern Irish quartet the the Wonder Villains are offering a free download of ‘Space Jam’ on their Bandcamp page, in return for adding your e-mail address to their mailing list. ‘Space Jam’ is an old favorite tune for the band, but this download is a new version, recorded during the tracking of their new LP ‘Rocky’, which is due out in June. (In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s about the 1996 movie of the same name.)

 

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!)

 

SXSW 2014: Friday night free-for-all via London, Tokyo and Glasgow – 14th March 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 26th March 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

After my rather chill Friday daytime experiences at the Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s and interviewing some fab folks, it was time to get back to work. First things first, however. I arrived early to the Mohawk to meet up with Sivu for a cheeky chat at the Omni before his soundcheck at the House of Vans evening showcase there. He turned out to be one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, and to be honest, being able to see him with a full band and full set up at Liverpool Sound City is the one of the main reasons I’ve decided to visit England in May. Not saying that I didn’t like his stripped back performance with guitarist and backing vocalist Lucy Parnell, but I just have this image in my head – and can hear in my ears – that the full experience will be 1,000,000x better.

Sivu is just finding his feet release-wise in America, recently having signed a deal with Canvasback Music, who have released music by alt-J here in the States, and if you listened to my interview with him, this association makes total sense. But as he is relatively unknown in our country, it’s not a huge surprise that a set so early in the evening (8 PM on the nose) didn’t attract a huge group of people. However, I met a girl in the queue outside and convinced her further that she should stay; she did, and she thoroughly enjoyed the set, as did I. While the song collboration of ‘I Hold’ Sivu did with Marika Hackman sounded bare, Parnell did an amazing job standing in for Hackman and the combined vocals of hers and Sivu’s were amazing. The stripped back version of last year’s single ‘I Lost Myself’ was mesmerising, and it was like the Mohawk indoor stage, with its boudoir lighting and red walls, were custom made to go with it.

Not sure what I would do after Sivu, my new friend said that the Japan Nite at Elysium would be a good shout. I then realised it might be the only time I might run into my good mate Johnny Au, Head Photographer at The AU Review. Was I right, or what? He was down the front, covering the entire showcase. I had no prior knowledge of Jungles of Red Bacteria Vacuum from Tokyo, but whoa mama, they were certainly different than anything else I had been seeing all week in Austin. Originally from Osaka, I’ve read they’ve suffered from various band member changes, but whatever they’ve done to get to this place, the all-girl, all-punk band now based in the capital of Japan rock out with a ferocity that I really needed to see and hear that night. I now own one of their albums called ‘Pleased to Eat You’. Not exactly my usual British pop fare, yeah?

After the face melting experienced at Elysium, I headed back down to British Music Embassy to catch a band whose name is guaranteed to elicit a giggle from anyone aged 8 to 80 for as long as they persist to exist. Casual Sex, the indie rock band based in Glasgow, have been dogged by comparisons to Franz Ferdinand ever since they made their first appearance in the blogosphere. However, I get the feeling from with the ease that singer/guitarist Sam Smith applied lipstick on himself, explaining he wanted to be more like us girls, he’s been doing this far longer than Nick McCarthy in the recent comical video for ‘Erdbeer Mund’.

However, while the moment of lipstick application could be perceived merely as a gimmick, Casual Sex the live experience (that sounds dirty, not my intention, sorry) was actually more interesting than I expected (as the band were in person too, as evidenced by my interview with them post-gig; stay tuned for this tomorrow) and I think we all should give them credit for taking funk, rock and even a bit of pop, mix them all up, and take them to the next level. Yes, I can see the ‘sexy’ comparisons to Franz, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all they are. Jangly guitars, a funky rhythm section and irresistible vocals? Hello. Just say yes to Casual Sex. Just be sure you use the proper name of the band, for if you don’t, I’m not responsible for any activities you get up to.

My evening was supposed to have ended with an interview with Dems after they played at Buffalo Billiards. But when we arrived at the door to the venue, security told us we could not go in because “we’re counting the money inside”. What the heck does that mean? We must have waited a good 20-25 minutes before I said I was going home. With a signed vinyl all the way from Glasgow in hand, I’d already had an excellent night.

 

SXSW 2014: eating Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s and chatting with new friends on Friday afternoon – 14th March 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 26th March 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

At some point in your SXSW experience, it is inevitable, do not fight it: you will hit a wall. Your body and brain will be close to shutting down from all the running around and shenanigans you have been up to all week. By Friday morning, I’d hit my own personal wall. The mere thought of going through the exercise of figuring out various walking and bus routes for a trip out of town for a show just didn’t seem enticing at all. What was far more appealing was the traditional free Irish breakfast served every Friday morning at SXSW at where else but B.D. Riley’s?

It was also a chance to spend some quality time with the lovely Angela Dorgan, who tirelessly runs the Music from Ireland programming at the festival every year and who happens to be a dear friend. While I was disappointed in the complete lack of black pudding, rashers and mushrooms in my fry up, the eggs scrambled and not sunny side up, and the tomatoes raw and sliced as if they were ready to go into a BLT, it was the strange appearance of two slices of entirely uncooked rye bread that had my friends back in blighty confused. However, it was good, hearty sustenance that both Carrie and I needed to start our day off right, though the food was more important to me than it was to Carrie, who needed her coffee.

SXSW 2014 was the first time in 3 years straight of covering SXSW that I decided to take a load off and relax a little and have a cardiovascular workout to the Wonder Villains. Carrie covered the Irish breakfast and afternoon line-up at B.D. Riley’s, staying in her place all afternoon, while I could chill before my next social engagement. Scanning my Twitter feed, I noticed DJ Colette was in town to do a late night DJ set with friends at Lanai Lounge, an ubercool dance space and bar on Congress where Carrie and I had met up with our Canadian friend Jordy on Monday afternoon. I took a chance at Tweeting at her to see if she’d be willing to do an entirely impromptu interview. That’s how this interview with her at the Hilton happened. And that’s how we roll at SXSW.

My next interview to take place at Latitude 30 had been arranged the afternoon before at the Universal Music Group takeover on Thursday and would be with Pete Lawrie-Winfield, better known as the man behind Until the Ribbon Breaks. (Listen to the interview here.) I watched him perform again and this time, he had a much larger and captive audience at the British Music Embassy, which I was very pleased about. I think of what I hear on top 40 radio here in the States and the Radio 1 playlist, and the direction mainstream pop music has gone doesn’t excite me. What does excite me about what Lawrie is doing is how he incorporates the best of his own personal influences as if putting everything he loves in a electronic blender of sorts, and what comes out is this multi-pronged animal of sound.

When Delphic first really hit UK radio in 2009 with ‘Counterpoint’, a lot was made about their rock and dance hybrid sound being novel. If that’s true, Until the Ribbon Breaks’ mixing of rock, dance, r&b, experimental and of course electronic is truly trailblazing. It’s a bit of a problem that I’m the only one at TGTF who loves electronic and dance music, so I’m hoping my fellow writers – and some of you too! – will listen to this track ‘Perspective’ and maybe have a change of heart. The best electronic music will make you want to dance and will make you feel sexy, and as far as I’m concerned, Lawrie’s doing an excellent job on both fronts.

I hung around for THUMPERS, who were next and had been highly recommended by friends, but I was sorely disappointed. Maybe I was stood in the wrong place, but the thumping (no pun intended) of the bass was drowning out anything and everything else, including the vocals, so I didn’t stay too long. Too bad. Well, you can’t win them all and you are going to encounter some bands that just don’t live up to their promise live in Austin. But I had an interview lined up in early evening that I was positively going out of my mind thinking about, so all was not lost. Not at all.

 

SXSW 2014: Creative Belfast night at Latitude 30 – 10th March 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 18th March 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

Photos by editor Mary Chang

When I arrived in Austin on the Sunday prior to the start of the SXSW 2014, I was already gleefully anticipating the Creative Belfast showcase at the British Music Embassy on the Monday night. Though the Music portion of SXSW didn’t officially begin until Tuesday, the Northern Irish event was a sort of transition show that included music as well as Film and Interactive components from the week before.  The names and faces of the non-musicians were mostly unfamiliar to me, but the lovely sound of Northern Irish accents filling the room kept a smile on my face throughout the evening.

If you’ve read my past writing, you’ll know that some of my favorite musicians are from Northern Ireland, and a few of them were on hand for the event at Latitude 30, the downtown Austin club that was overtaken by the British Music Embassy for the week.  The master of ceremonies for the evening was none other than BBC Radio 1 presenter Phil Taggart, and on the docket were Belfast-based acts UNKNWN, Wonder Villains, and Rams’ Pocket Radio. Unfortunately, Mary and I missed UNKNWN’s set, but don’t fret, because he became known to us later in the week.  We were lucky enough to see and interview both of the other acts; click here for Wonder Villains and here for Rams’ Pocket Radio.

The exuberant Wonder Villains played a bright and lively set to match their attire for the evening, despite the rain coming down outside. Their newest single, ‘Marshall’, was an instant hit; in fact it was featured on the PA system at the British Music Embassy throughout the week.  But it was an older tune, ‘Zola,’ that really got the crowd moving, especially after lead singer Eimear Coyle’s explanation that it was inspired by Italian footballer Gianfranco Zola.  The band’s upbeat tunes can probably be best described as pure fun, and their colorful outfits were equally fun to photograph.

Decidedly more difficult to photograph was Rams’ Pocket Radio, whose emphatic stage movements were tricky to catch on camera.  His darker and more dramatic sound was enhanced by the full complement of talented Northern Irish musicians he brought with him to Austin:  Sabrina Rodgers on violin, Thomas Camblin on drums, Adam Booth on bass, and Travis Gilbert on guitar. (Stay tuned for a feature on Gilbert’s band, Travis is a Tourist, in the Tuesday recap.)  Rams’ Pocket Radio’s set list was comprised of several tracks from his album, ‘Béton’, most notably the eponymous and inevitable ‘Dieter Rams Has Got The Pocket Radios’ and new single ‘Love Is A Bitter Thing’.

After some quick chat in the rain outside Latitude 30, Mary and I headed off to the Clive Bar to see Welsh rockers The Joy Formidable.  You can read Mary’s recap of Monday’s events, including that gig, by clicking 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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