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(SXSW 2013 flavoured!) Album Review: Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

By on Friday, 25th January 2013 at 12:00 pm

Foxygen coverThere’s an unwritten rule in music writing. Unless you write for The Sun, thou shalt not refer to anyone as either Lennon, McCartney or Jim Morrison. So when you first slip on Foxygen’s tasty little record ‘We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic’, which sounds like Sergeant Pepper himself got in a fight with The Doors’ 1967 debut; you panic.

This, then, is Foxygen’s second full length record, one as influenced by the late 1960s than even the most Andrew VanWyngardens and Christoper Owenses of the world. As the first track, ‘In the Darkness’ starts to play you may as well be in Peter Blake’s iconic Beatles image, but as the record moves on, you realise that indie geniuses label Jagjaguwar haven’t just signed some wannabe hippies and thrown some money at them; they’ve found a revival. ‘On Blue Mountain’ for example, starts slow and builds into something that’s more than a product of The Doors’ crooning and Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds’, it’s the proverbial 2.0 of each. Is it better than either? No. Is it enjoyable, even with knowledge of all that’s come before? Heck yes.

As the record moves on, influences fly about the place, contained in Foxygen’s own little enclosure. They’re a time capsule to a time that many romanticise about, forgetting many of the underlying social and political issues of the time. The post-Cuban missile crisis, post-JFK, Vietnam-era America that was just coming to grips with the idea of racism was one that we’re all mostly behind; and whilst the global economy is in a crippling depression, society’s come a long way in 45 years. ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic’, then, is all the ideology it claims to be on the packaging and as the likes of lead single ‘Shuggie’ (video below) leads to the dramatic sonar ending of ‘Oh No 2’, you’re left wondering if Foxygen could isolate themselves with the likes of Tame Impala and try for a Summer of Love this year. Overall, a solid record, if only it had come out when the sky was so bleak.

Foxygen’s second album ‘We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic’ is now out on Jagjaguwar. The band will be showcasing at this year’s SXSW in Austin in March.



10 for 2013 Interview: Ralph Pelleymounter of To Kill a King

By on Thursday, 20th December 2012 at 3:30 pm

London-based To Kill a King placed eighth on our 10 for 2013 countdown as voted by you TGTF readers. Leader Ralph Pelleymounter kindly answered some questions our London writer Braden came up for him.

Earlier in the year, you released the ‘Word of Mouth’ EP. How did it come about and how does it reflect in comparison to music you’ve got in the works?

Well, ‘Word of Mouth’ is essentially a live EP, so the album that’s coming out in February has all the extra we can’t do live – strings/brass/extra vocals – but it is all in the same vein.

The series of videos filmed on Ralph’s Balcony (being sold now as a charity compilation – details here) proved to be quite popular. Why did you decide to do them and how was it working with your friends in the making of them?
It was an idea I had in January, it was so much fun, we really just organised things as we went along. Concluding in that grand finale which I still can’t believe we pulled off.

There’s been a lot of comparisons to a lot of modern acts thrown around. What contemporary acts would you say most influence you?
Oh lots and lots, Anthony and the Johnsons, Mystery Jets, Dirty Projectors, Villagers, Elbow, Eels, John Grant.

Do you feel that being a London band affects the way you sound or the way you are perceived at all, and would you say that if you’d formed elsewhere it may have affected these things?
Hmm, well three of us met at Leeds, which is my home town. Lyrically, I still think we are very much stationed there. Living in London, however, I think does mean that you get to see a lot of quality acts and musicians, which is always a good thing.

If To Kill a King were to write a book based around the narrative of any of your tracks, which song would it be and what would the book be like?
‘Wrecking crew’. It’d be a grim look at the cycle of alcoholism: think Shane Meadows in book form.

What does the forthcoming album hold for TKAK in terms of ambition and direction?
Well, we are very much in control, but we’ve got a lot of tours, headline show at scala, two singles to be released. We are very excited about next year.

In 10 words or less, if you could make 2013 anything, what would it be?
The year guitar music came back to the radio!

Many thanks to Ralph for answering our questions and Nick for sorting this out for us.


Single Review: Foals – My Number

By on Friday, 14th December 2012 at 12:00 pm

Champions of the post-Libertines indie scene, Oxford act Foals haven’t been sitting on their uber-cool laurels. Having toyed with people with the frankly huge sounding Inhaler, they’ve now put out new track ‘My Number’ from their forthcoming third record ‘Holy Fire’, out in February.

With jingling math guitars overlapping scattered brushes with powerful guitar that made ‘Antidotes’ the most accessible album of its kind in a long time, and descending into the full light crashing sound that saw ‘Total Life Forever’ soar into their fans’ most cherished records, it’s not difficult to see Yannis and company in full command of the masses in the future once more. Finishing off a tour of tiny venues across the country may have whet the appetites of those lucky enough to be inside the sweaty rooms, but its created a sense of yearning for many more.

Sadly, ‘My Number’ features all the promise of Foals gone by, whilst not bringing it anywhere near to the reserved explosions of ‘Inhaler’. If they’d put this on ‘Total Life Forever’, it would have simply have been another album track and as such you have to question what ‘Holy Fire’ holds in store.

“You don’t have my number; we don’t need each other now. We don’t need the city, the creed of the culture now”, sings Yannis. It’s hardly the coded glory of ‘This Orient’ or ‘Spanish Sahara’ but even I’ll admit that it seems unfair to judge them against their lyrical best when ‘Cassius’ exists.

For now then, ‘My Number’ sits simply on the varied Foals shelf as a track they’ll no doubt be bringing forward with them; but don’t expect it to light up your festival season come the sunny months.


Foals’ new album ‘Holy Fire’ will be released on the 11th of February 2013. Watch them perform ‘My Number’ on Jools Holland last month below; the track premiered on British radio last night on Zane Lowe’s Radio1 programme.



10 for 2013: #5 – Peace

By on Monday, 10th December 2012 at 11:00 am

With their EP ‘EP Delcious’ out earlier this year, Peace look to expand their watermelon-loving sounds in 2013 as they wind up to their debut album. If the Gallaghers had let loose once in a while instead of drifting into generic-ism, they might have produced something like Peace’s music over a decade ago. But they didn’t, and so the gauntlet has been taken up by a duo of brothers from Birmingham, Harrison and Sam Koisser.

Thrown through the arena-rock tunnel at a pace that’s already seen the smaller venues across the country filled to capacity with sweaty folk front to back, the sound of Peace crosses through almost all of the British icons of the last few decades and spins them through a delicate web of their own deciding. ‘Bloodshake’ wouldn’t feel out of place on a Foals record, while much of the rest of their music crosses between the grungier sides of shoegaze with the soaring vocals of Harrison Koisser over the top.

Debut single ‘Follow Baby’ pushed the band to the forefront of the summer. Their new track ‘Wraith’ (audio below) begs it to not be winter anymore, as its breakdown could easily be drenched in infinite amounts of sunshine. It’s not hard to picture Peace commanding any sized stage over the next year as it seems, with the hype that surrounds them and the song writing talents to create a sound that blends intricacy with accessibility; the only thing that holds the Columbia signings back is their own ambition.



10 for 2013: #8 – To Kill a King

By on Friday, 7th December 2012 at 11:00 am

Us here at TGTF recently asked you to participate in a poll to help us determine the top 10 artists you thought would be huge in 2013. We’ve written a bit about the act at #8, but Braden takes a closer look in this 10 for 2013 profile…

London band To Kill a King are winding up to their debut record in fine fashion. Having just returned from their first trip across the channel to Europe in support of Californian act Two Gallants, they’re gearing up to making 2013 a big one.

Coming in somewhere between the National and Bombay Bicycle Club, the four-piece saw the release of their latest EP, ‘Word of Mouth’ in October, which led them make a big step forward in terms of power. They’ve got the kind of sound that made Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ both easy listening and powerful, whilst channelling the same dark sound that fuels ‘Neon Bible’. In no way would I suggest that they’re the next Arcade Fire, but with the aesthetic of Mumford and Sons, they may well find a route to success anyway.

Acts like Spring Offensive, Dog is Dead and even to an extent Bastille are all coming through with a sound rooted in happy sounds portraying an often darker subject matter. It’s the sound of a world refusing to admit its decline and with more acts pushing through, it can be hard to sift the bad from the good. But the catalogue To Kill a King are slowly building nails the sound to the wall as the benchmark for any artists looking to break through this year.

Sound good? Check out the short series of videos they made on YouTube doing recorded sessions with friends on lead-singer Ralph’s balcony. They’re aptly named the Ralph’s Balcony Episodes, or check out the video for ‘Funeral’ below, taken from the ‘Word of Mouth’ EP. Either way, you’ll be seeing their sideways chess piece scattered about for the next year anyway.



Live Review: Lucy Rose with Pete Roe at London Electric Brixton – 22nd November 2012

By on Wednesday, 5th December 2012 at 2:00 pm

It’s been a roller coaster year for Lucy Rose. Stepping out of the shadows of Bombay Bicycle Club has proven to be a transition well worth making and as the year winds up, she’s proven to be one of the standout artists of it. Fitting then, that tonight, back in the city she calls home; Lucy and her full accompanying band are playing their biggest headline show to date and yet she still appears to be the same friendly, shy artist that she was when ‘Middle of the Bed’ first appeared almost 18 months ago.

Support at tonight’s show at Brixton’s Electric comes from Pete Roe. All round nice guy and Lucy’s guitar tech for the night, Roe’s music is inoffensive and enjoyable, yet is in little danger of being as popular as contemporaries Benjamin Francis Leftwich or Jamie N Commons. Still, he does well to set the scene for Rose.

As Lucy Rose takes to the stage, she’s as unassuming as ever; even as cheered on by fifteen hundred fans she sits on her stool and begins. With just one record, you’d think it would be difficult to fill such a high profile headline set, but with seeming effortlessness Lucy Rose moves between literally every track on it. From most, this would seem both pedantic and boring, but with ‘Like I Used To’, you really do have a record that, for the most part is enjoyable from start to finish. Even weaker tracks like ‘Shiver’ and ‘Night Bus’, which make an appearance towards the front of the set are given a new lease on life in Rose’s live setting as you rekindle the endearing nature that the tracks exuded on their first listen.

Rose keeps crowd interaction to a minimum aside from explaining how much the night means to her (a lot) and that she’s going to try play 30 seconds of a track that’s not yet really been written. The latter results in an equally big cheer as the former, even though the following minute is by far the strangest of the evening, but she follows this confusing moment with ‘Middle of the Bed’, putting to rest any doubts you may have been building about how good she really is as a performer.

In ‘Bikes’, a track that had seen her presented with a pint of milk at the show in Liverpool, the lines “listen up, listen here, everybody scream out loud” are met with abundant cheers that border on deafening as everyone present appears to be willing Rose on to succeed and with that, the main set is over. TGTF’s highlight of the night however, is the closing track. Just when you think she might be leaving it out for personal reasons (‘Like I Used To’ is of course, a very personal record), ‘Be Alright’ is played. “In my heart you would stay a while with me, and we danced until the morning light / You said to me we’ll be alright”, she sings in her quaint manner. It’s fitting in so many ways and with that, you feel that this roller coaster has finished on a high, musically and emotionally.


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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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