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Bands to Watch #254: Dog is Dead

 
By on Thursday, 6th September 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

They’re hardly new on our radar, but with their debut album coming out on October 8th, it seems high time to do a round-up of Dog is Dead‘s story so far.

The Nottingham five-piece have been winding up to this debut album release for over 2 years now. Having been a fully functioning touring  band for far more than that so for them it surely comes as no surprise that their immense touring schedule of late is finally reaping its rewards. Having enjoyed them at Festifeel, Evolution, Camden Crawl and interviewed them all the way back in October 2010, Dog is Dead have become a TGTF favourite. Their mix of Vampire Weekend-style afrobeat influence, up to five part harmonies and the kind of rich summer sound that can even challenge our friends in Two Door Cinema Club, ‘All Our Favourite Stories’ could see them reach those dizzying heights by the end of the year.

What’s just as exciting about them though is their darker side. Listening to tracks like ‘Teenage Daughter’ really shows how their imaginations can take them down some incredible narratives: “I knew this one young girl who’d tell the trees and the grass / To read us all their favourite stories till we’d kiss and we’d laugh. / And we’d write to the Devil, tell him he’s a bad influence / ‘Cos it’s not worth playing God when you’re the story in the making.” ‘Two Devils’ expands Dog is Dead’s uplifting sound and has, at times, sinister mystery in wording.

Then you add the likes of Skins and Bombay Bicycle Club approved “we are a mess, we are failures and we love it” of recently re-recorded ‘Glockenspiel Song’. The title ‘All Our Favourite Stories’ seems to feel more and more appropriate the more we listen.

Catch them on tour in October and November and you can pre-order their debut album now.

 

Live Review: White Rabbits with Lovepark at London Hoxton Bar and Kitchen – 13th August 2012

 
By on Friday, 31st August 2012 at 3:00 pm
 

It’s a warm night inside the trendy Hoxton Square and Lovepark are finishing their set. My friend turns to me: “where did all the bands that sound happy like this go?” he enquires. I have no answer. The only acts of a similar standard of quality indie pop that remain today are breakthrough acts Dog is Dead (who’s lyrics do dip into the dark side once in a while) and Phoenix, who’ve dropped off the radar of late. Bands of a similar cut to the Holloways all but died back at the turn of the decade, and it’s been rather sombre ever since. By that means, Lovepark are enjoyable to the point that they stand out from a crowd of miserabilia; and they’re just the support!

The headline act tonight are White Rabbits. Whilst it may have seemed a bit quiet on their front since 2010 record ‘It’s Frightening’, they’ve been busy and now they’re ready to promote their third album ‘Milk Famous’ to the 200 assembled.

They open with a few new ones. Lead single ‘Heavy Metal’ doesn’t lend itself live much but it builds up the set for the likes of ‘I’m Not Me’ which pulses throughout as the band’s two drummers (all bands are better with two drummers) really start to get people going and front-man Stephen Patterson gets into the flow of things with his powerful voice.

The band leave interaction to a rough minimal, allowing the music to take centre stage (difficult when there’s six of them) The record shines more in a live setting as the gradual crescendos, little guitar riffs and more percussive sounds get everyone in the room to a steady bob.  Of course, the set is back-weighted though as the likes of ‘It’s Frightening’ singles ‘Rudie Falls’ and the ever exciting ‘Percussion Gun’ are left towards the end. Unlike many sets of this style, you don’t feel as if the evening’s been waiting for them as each track, even the weaker songs on the New Yorker’s third stand on their own.

Whilst it may not be the best album they’ll record, nor in contention for album of the year, ‘Milk Famous’ performs itself live in a way that not many thought possible and fits alongside older material in a way that will surely make White Rabbits live darlings of the underground once more in no time. It’s been special.

 

Tramlines 2012: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 21st August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the exhaustion of last night’s Crookes set at Tramlines, Sunday had come right on cue. With an eclectic mix of acts on both of the specially erected city stages, it’s finally time to visit the main stage for local legends The Everly Pregnant Brothers. After seeing them on the busking bus last year, their step up to opening the main stage was one to celebrate as their set of ukulele based Yorkshire-ised popular hits including ‘Chav World (Mad World)’ and ode to Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ with more Yorkshire than you can shake a pasty at lightens up Devonshire Green with a brilliant atmosphere.

Leaving the main stage for now to return to the Nando’s New Music Stage, Holland (above) play a set of as or yet unknown tracks, one to keep an eye on perhaps? Either way they’re followed by the guitar-pop sounds of Let’s Buy Happiness. The sound is uplifting even if the lyrics are rooted in dark undertones of sarcasm for loves-passed-by. Neither band are in line to set fire to venues and charts, but they’re enjoyable enough for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Going off route a bit, its time to venture to new venue The Hop for a band who’re following in the steps of Sheffield duo Wet Nuns with their blend of hearty rock with a twist of blues and energy for good measure. The Blackbirds (below) are loud and riff heavy with some thumping drums and whilst the band have a lot to do before they achieve such levels as their local peers, the promise is undeniable even if the crowd is limited to around twenty people.

Everything in the day has been leading up to one thing though. Whilst across Sheffield, everyone’s winding up to their final headliners including a hugely notable homecoming show for 65daysofstatic on the New Music Stage; indie underdogs and all round nice guys We Are Scientists are due to close the festival on the main stage. The buzz for their support Field Music (below) is sadly nonexistent; you feel the group would have been better off surrounded by their more devoted fans inside somewhere like the Harley, but the band stick to a tight set that sounds a bit amiss in such a setting.

We Are Scientists come on stage though and Devonshire Green starts to dance. Playing a singles collection of their by now well known indie rock tracks with a few new ones added in to test the water on their upcoming fourth record the band haven’t put many notes out in years and that’s appreciated by the gathered Sheffield masses.  Sadly though, once again the stage is running late so in order to catch a few minutes of another local band on the rise, TGTF heads off up to Soyo.

Screaming Maldini are by now underground favourites. The enthusiasm with which they play their fresh breed of music that treads between the singalongs of pop and the eccentricity of math-rock on a delicate line (landing a bit more on the pop sound) makes for a highly enjoyable finish to the weekend. Of course acts continue late into the night, but it’s once again last-train home time and even with the occasional disappointment; Tramlines has once again proved that you can achieve a hugely enjoyable and bustling festival of solid acts without charging a penny to the fans. This time next year, Sheffield?

 

Tramlines 2012: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 20th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

As Saturday rises over Sheffield, the city is bustling as Tramlines becomes hotter than an extra hot peri-peri chicken; conveniently, placed within the heart of the city is the Nando’s New Music Stage and when TGTF arrives its none other than Mazes cooking up a storm. Well, I say storm, it’s a hot day and everyone’s sitting down in the square, but Mazes are enjoyable enough to set up the afternoon.

After this comes the pop vibes of Frankie Rose.  She’s got an almost Rose Elinor Dougall quality about her in that it’s bordering the indie line but her sound is still very much endearingly pop. Again, her unfamiliarity with many here washes over the crowd but she’ll have made some new friends this afternoon.

Alarm Bells come on next.  A band lost somewhere between their ex-Dananananaykroyd members and a sound similar to that of the likes of Young Legionnaire, they start well but are struck by an odd power cut mid-set. They try to play it off as drama but the communication of “we are Alarm Bells and this is called a public nightmare” says it all for the band. They need work, but once they’ve pinned the sound down, there’s definitely a future for the new band.

Before this has finished. TGTF pops up to the university arms to catch a few minutes of exciting new act Tip Yr Bartender but clashing set times means only a song or two are enjoyed before dashing back down the Sheffield grid once more to the Bowery. This Many Boyfriends are playing and they’re playing to a relatively crowded room, but when isn’t the Bowery crowded? It’s fuzzy, its fun and it’s fast, and the Leeds band have certainly done the right thing continuing after the tragic loss of their guitarist Peter Sykes last September. Of course due to running around only the latter part of their set is seen but you take what you can at a city festival; especially when it’s free.

Blessa follow but don’t quite have the same energy as just seen. I start to wonder if my plan of winging it this festival is proving to be the right choice and wander the city for a while before returning to the crowded room for Best Friends (above) and Peace (pictured at top). Best Friends continue to make me doubt even if they are a bit energetic with a moderate dollop of shoegaze whilst Peace rightfully fill the room with tracks from their as of yet limited catalogue and forthcoming EP.

And so, to end the night it’s across the streets of Sheffield to see local boys done good The Crookes. Fresh from the release of their second record, the band fill the upstairs room of the Shakespeare to an almost dangerous level. It’s hotter and sweatier than the most crowded of saunas and there appears to be no way of opening windows but as the band come on, for a while it stops mattering. They’ve got the same kind of buzz around them as Razorlight did around the ‘Up All Night’ era and quite frankly, with a performance like this, they deserve it.   It’s enjoyable to the point that even though it’s far too hot to move, many in the 100-sized room are doing so; someone’s even got a blow-up toy!

So it had been yet another mixed day of strange set times in a diverse set of rooms but on the most tiring set of the weekend so far it’s a positive home time tonight. The party continues through the night across the city but after that Crookes set, it seems fitting to stop there. Let’s see what Sunday brings.

 

Tramlines 2012: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Wednesday, 15th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Here at TGTF we’re big fans of Sheffield’s Tramlines and yet again, for one weekend in July, the best free festival in the country returned for one mass musical event that set the city alight. With every venue in the city opening its doors to up to 10 bands a day and with local, national and even a few international bands in the postcode for the weekend, it was sure to be a good one. Picture the Great Escape, in the north and for free and you’ve basically got Tramlines down to a tee. This year, I decided to stop playing it safe with lots of main stage bands and even a few band’s we’ve barely heard before in there with our favourites so with these 3-day reviews, there’s going to be plenty of new music to check out.

Friday came with a surprising amount of sunshine and as such, the first thing to do was to find a dark venue to go watch a band in. The o2 Academy opened up with local rock band Bluehearts (above) and whilst their description left a lot to desire, to kick off the weekend with such energy and stage prowess as Bluehearts did was something to behold. Whilst the music still needs some work before the band hit the whole country there’s enough potential in their breed of rock that falls somewhere between classic blues-rock with the flair of Manchester Orchestra or even Kasabian.

After this, it’s aboard a tram to catch the ever present Johnny Foreigner play a set on a tram. After their busker-bus show last year, the tram set seems quite similar, but at least its yet another novel way of splitting up the weekend and playing music to your fans and commuters alike. The sing-along’s are enjoyable even if the ride isn’t that comfortable. See the full show below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbWi0i-SToQ[/youtube]

After this it’s a bit more new-band guessing mixed with convenience as, heading up to the small yet immensely popular Bowery; alt-J are headlining. Before them come G R E A T W A V E S. The band’s breed of atmospheric music fills the Bowery and whilst many at the back are unimpressed, from the front its almost hypnotic. With a few more releases and a bit more familiarity under their belts, this unimposing duo could see support slots for Sunless ’97 turn into slots with the xx.

And tonight’s headliners, the one’s that the queue’s been round the block for are alt-J. Unfortunately, everything’s running very late in the Bowery tonight and it’s last-train-home time but for those who stayed; the Cambridge via Leeds band of the moment played a huge sounding set of tracks from their acclaimed debut record and TGTF has it on good authority that they’re worth catching on tour.

What will the rest of the weekend bring? More stages running to time we hope.

 

Album Review: The 1975 – Facedown EP

 
By on Monday, 13th August 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Featured in our Bands to Watch section by Mary not long ago, the 1975 are a band that have been quite a while in the making. Having undergone a number of different monikers over the last few years, they’ve finally settled on their rather unGoogleable name and committed to Dirty Hit Records. Can I get a “hallelujah”?

The ‘Facedown’ EP is the first of two to be released this year before we finally receive an album from the Manchester act and from the off, like so much of this band’s history, it’s completely misleading.  As if the name changes and constant playing around with fans and releases wasn’t already bad enough, any prior knowledge of this group will shout “deception!” at you.

The title and opening track ‘Facedown’ (video at the end of this post) is the kind of track that would be a stunning intro to any band’s arsenal; it sounds barely like the 1975 that created the second track ‘The City’. Bouncing straight out of the blocks with its huge drum line and almost romantic call to arms in “if you wanna find love / then you know where the city is”, ‘The City’ oozes the kind of “put us in a big field” vibe that you know the 1975 have. Any visit to a live show of theirs tells you that there’s so much more where this track comes from and that they’re not destined for the landfill.

Sounds great, right? Half of the EP in and no complaints? Sadly, that’s where the aforementioned deception comes in. The rest is borderline mush from a band that are by no means mushy. By all means write slow songs, take for example some of the highlights of Bloc Party’s career so far in ‘So Here We Are’ and ‘I Still Remember’, but filling three-fourths of your debut EP with it when that’s not the band that your fans know you are is nothing short of baffling.  That’s not to say there’s not good parts to ‘Antichrist’ and ‘Woman’, but there’s a large part of me that wishes for their debut EP, they simply hadn’t bothered with them.

An unsettling start, but there’s plenty of promise here.

6/10

The 1975’s EP ‘Facedown’ is out now on Dirty Hit.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7JE5LsDcCY[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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