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Video of the Moment #1504: The Horrors

 
By on Thursday, 24th April 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

The Horrors‘ current single ‘So Now You Know’ now had a promo video. (Ben reviewed it here.) Filmed on the outskirts of LA in a lonely desert town, frontman Faris Badwan looks particularly strange in such sunny environs. Watch it below. The Horrors’ fourth album ‘Luminous’ will be released on the 5th of May.

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Live Gig Video: Flyte play lo-fi version of ‘We Are the Rain’ ahead of Liverpool Sound City 2014 appearance

 
By on Thursday, 24th April 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

TGTF 10 for 2014 alums Flyte have released this extremely lo-fi (in terms of surroundings anyway) live video of themselves performing ‘Where Nobody Knows Your Name’. The song is the b-side to single ‘We Are the Rain’, scheduled to be released on Monday (the 28th of April) on paradYse records.

In a week’s time, the band will be appearing at Liverpool Sound City 2014 at the Kazimier on Thursday 1 May, set time 9:30 to 10 PM.

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Video of the Moment #1503: The Crookes

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Sheffield rockers The Crookes have just released a video for ‘Don’t Put Your Faith in Me’, which according to guitarist Tom Dakin’s comments in this interview with Mary, is set to be the next single from their new third album ‘Soapbox’ (reviewed by Mary back in February here).

The artsy black and white video is a montage of clips the band filmed during their recent trip to America and features their time in Austin for SXSW 2014. I must admit to smiling particularly at the faces and places I recognized from being at SXSW myself, including the chairs outside Latitude 30 where Mary and I did several artist interviews during the week. But the entire video shows the playful and mischievous side of the band, including the requisite sightseeing tours and “drinks in the hot tub” scenes. ‘Don’t Put Your Faith In Me’ isn’t exactly a good-humoured song, but with its upbeat music and catchy chorus, it does have a rakish quality that fits quite nicely with the mood of the video. Watch out for the release of this track and count it among potential pop anthems of summer 2014.

‘Soapbox’ is now available from Fierce Panda.

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Single Review: Longfellow – Kiss-Hug-Makeup

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

A couple of weeks ago, Chris Martin and his missus may have coined the term ‘conscious uncoupling’, and Coldplay may have a new album out on the 19th of May. But on the same day comes the release of something far more interesting, and ironically enough, its contents might throw you into thinking about a kind of conscious recoupling. London band Longfellow, who many in Britain have tipped to challenge Martin’s band’s global stranglehold on the mainstream alt rock scene, will be dropping their next single ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’ on that very day.

Seeing that Longfellow have signed to the exact same label to begin their career as Coldplay did in their early days – London’s Fierce Panda, whose ‘Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014’ I reviewed a short while ago – it all seems very cosy. A little too cosy… However, it seems that Coldplay’s latest reveal, single ‘Magic’, has taken more reliance on beat than their past efforts, and they have cleared the way for a group like Longfellow to make it. That is, if they can write a pop anthem. Have they, in ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’? Let’s examine further, shall we?

When I first read the title, I thought the word ‘Makeup’ had to be a mistake. Surely it should have been referring to the act of making up after a break-up and not literally cosmetics? It bothered me a lot: hey, remember, I’m an editor! After further reflection, it made me think of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ ‘The Tracks of My Tears’, in which there’s the immortal line, “my smile is my make-up I wear since my break-up with you”. So that made me grin. Like Smokey’s song, ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’ is about the dreadful wanting of someone after realising you’ve lost the world you shared with that person.

The lyrics of this Longfellow song may make you wince from the desperation contained within; “I was there by your side as you reached for another / and a part of me, it died”; “don’t make these blue skies turn to red / I’m yours but I won’t regret it”), especially with the way lead vocalist Owen Lloyd emotes this desperation, but any such wincing is brief. With words like “so let’s grow old together, sweetness you’re my heart and soul / a thousand nights that I lay restless, praying you’d come home”, the song makes you want to believe, to keep the hope alive that fences can be mended.

There are two major elements to Longfellow that make the Coldplay comparison seem apt: the bombastic piano played by Ali Hetherington and the anthemic quality of their songwriting. One major difference – and what I think could push Longfellow to the top – is Lloyd’s voice, which is far richer and emotional than Martin’s. I had the good fortune having heard the band perform this song in their BBC Introducing set at SXSW 2014 last month, all under the kind auspices of one Steve Lamacq. All three of these pieces make the single one compelling piece of pop indeed.

Let us watch and wait. The gauntlet has been thrown.

9.5/10

‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’, Longfellow’s hotly anticipated followup single to ‘Siamese Lover’, will be out on the 19th of May on Fierce Panda. The band plays London’s Camden Barfly the next evening, on the 20th of May. They are purported to be filming a promo video for this new single in the West Country, and we’ll share that with you when we have it. But in the meantime, you can watch them performing the song live at Steve Lamacq’s BBC Introducing showcase on the Thursday night at SXSW 2014 in Austin back in March below.

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Video of the Moment #1502: Courtney Barnett

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd April 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Courtney Barnett’s debut ‘A Sea of Split Peas’ has been available from House Anxiety records since last November, but it’s this summer that sees her properly making a mark on the opposite side of the world from her native Melbourne. TGTF tipped Barnett as one of the artists playing all three urban festivals around the May Day bank holiday and picked out the 5-minute epic of ‘Anonymous Club’ as “showcasing Barnett’s ability to turn down the tempo and bring out a more circumspect, even sombre, mood, all led by her gently vulnerable voice.”

Said track has recently been treated to an accompanying video by Melburnian illustrator Celeste Potter. A monochrome, lo-fi, and subtly disturbing animation which evokes the restless dream of a child who’s read The Gruffalo too close to bedtime, both visuals and song inhabit a dreamworld of resigned despair – tears feature heavily. This is Barnett’s most downtempo, introspective work – elsewhere on ‘A Sea of Split Peas’, the tempo rises and humour is used to great effect, so this piece shouldn’t be taken as representative of her output as a whole. Nevertheless, a beautiful piece of art of which both Barnett and Potter should be duly proud.

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Album Review: The Afghan Whigs – Do to the Beast

 
By on Tuesday, 22nd April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s summer 2011 – the Summertyne Americana Festival at the Sage, Gateshead. David Macias, the then president of the Americana Music Association, is due to make a presentation that addresses the thorny issue of: what is Americana? Those of us keener on actually watching some music in the beery sunshine rather than talking about it indoors, missed the official conclusion. But surely the answer then, and ever since, is: rather a broad church of American rock, blues, and gospel-based music, overlaid with a tang of country. Banjos feature prominently. But why stop there? Why can’t an album of grunge-tinged rock, featuring tracks which could fit straight into the great contemporary American rock songbook, qualify? Because if it could, what Afghan Whigs have delivered with ‘Do to the Beast’ would fit right in.

In their first career, Cincinnati’s Afghan Whigs were active for 15 years from 1986, releasing six albums on a number of independent and major labels, notably Sub Pop, home to grunge contemporaries Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. But despite fraternal connections, The Afghan Whigs have always shown influences more left-field than most of their contemporaries, with an evident enthusiasm for classic soul (cf 1992’s album of soul and R ‘n’ B covers ‘Uptown Avondale’), utilising avant-garde mutations of classic songwriting technique.

In contrast to the 16 years we’ve waited for a new release from The Afghan Whigs, now the record has arrived, it wastes no time in getting down to business. ‘Do to the Beast’ opens with ‘Parked Outside’, a swaggering, uncompromising, riff-laden dirge heavy with fuzzed guitars and Greg Dulli’s guttural roar. It’s the sound of grunge, made contemporary for 2014, by men who survived it the first time around. ‘Matamoros’ mixes an electronica-inspired insistent groove, a darkly intense chorus and some strings more Moroccan than Mexican. ‘It Kills’ reveals a delicate underbelly to the band’s sound – “It kills to watch you love another” a self-explanatory confessional matched in tenderness by the understated arrangement and Dulli’s cracked baritone. ‘Algiers’ (video below) is a great American road song, all passionately-strummed acoustic guitar and mid-tempo angst. The sort of thing that Cherry Ghost can knock off in their sleep, but no less evocative for that. ‘Lost in the Woods’ converts a maudlin intro into a unashamedly chart-bothering melodic chorus, one which could easily have come from the pen of soul-era Detroit song-factory luminaries, if they arranged for electric guitar. A curiously schizophrenic arrangement, and one which mirrors the personality of the record as a whole.

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The second half kicks off with ‘The Lottery’, a riffy, noisy thing, similar to their very earliest work. More interesting is what follows. ‘Can Rova’ is a great example of where Afghan Whigs differ from their contemporaries – the ability to execute a delicate ballad of tender beauty. This is rock in name only, the Americana label writ large – there’s even some banjo. And then there’s the final duplet. ‘I Am Fire’ is a world-weary dirge arranged for handclaps and despairing vocal. And as triumphant endings go, ‘These Sticks’ is itself a triumph. Attempting the seemingly impossible task of weaving all the disparate threads of the album into one coherent whole, it succeeds. The electric guitars are back, the drums are real, there’s a horn section for good measure.

Don’t ask about the lyrical content. Dulli is famed for his hard-hitting autobiographical style, and there’s no reason to think that ‘Do to the Beast’ disappoints in that regard. There’s simply not enough time or room in a review to properly plumb the depths of his psyche, to do justice to the self-loathing and corruption bubbling within. Suffice to say, the title itself is enough of an indication of what to expect – presumably a corrupted reference to the ancient ethic of reciprocity: “Do unto the Beast as you would have the Beast do unto you.” It could take several years of therapy to unravel what he’s on about here, and that’s just the album title. Approach with caution.

So there we have it. This is the sound of band that have no time for creative boundaries – if it sounds good, it’s in, genre be damned. So there’s the heavy guitar riffs as expected, mixed in with widescreen road songs, acoustic interludes, all given coherence by Dulli’s distinctive voice, at times reminiscent of Billy Corgan and even Rod Stewart. It’s a remarkable achievement for a band that have been away for a decade and a half – to seamlessly carry on where they left off. And ‘Do to the Beast’, in both its sound and its content, is as good as anything Afghan Whigs have ever recorded. Old fans will be delighted, and there’s doubtless a whole new generation just waiting to be inculcated as to the ways of Dulli. Poor dears.

8/10

The Afghan Whigs’ newest album ‘Do to the Beast’, the American band’s first in 16 years, is out now on Sub Pop.

 
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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest tours, gigs, and music 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 idiots.

The blog is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington DC. She is joined by writers in the UK and America. It was started up by Phil Singer in Bristol, UK.

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