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Video of the Moment #2885: The People the Poet

 
By on Monday, 27th August 2018 at 6:00 pm
 

We at TGTF hadn’t heard from Welsh rock band The People the Poet in quite a long time, until earlier this month, when editor Mary spied their new video for ‘Beddau Boys (We Were Born Running)’ on the band’s Facebook. This curiously titled new track references the Welsh mining town of Beddau, whose name translates into English as “graves”. While that might sound rather dismal on the surface, The People the Poet have used the idea to craft a high-energy rock anthem and a comical new video, albeit one with perhaps more serious undertones.

Musically ‘Beddau Boys’ kicks off straight away with driving guitars and pounding drum beats leading into the anthemic refrain “I was never a troubled child, I just like trouble.” Over the course of the song, the music strains to unleash a sense of pent-up energy and frustration, and that refrain eventually evolves into something more introspective and markedly more grim: “we’re too old to live, too young to die.”

The video treatment for ‘Beddau Boys’ features a cheeky tween-age child taunting a very obviously “dad-aged” guy, who undoubtedly sees something of his former self in the kid’s insolence and attitude. By the end of the video, the mild-mannered father figure has amassed a group of his similarly “dad-like” friends, who literally and metaphorically find themselves chasing their youth.

‘Beddau Boys (We Were Born Running)’ features on The People the Poet’s latest LP ‘A Short Obsession With Time’, which was released in April via AntiFragile Music. The People the Poet are currently set to play a full slate of festival and acoustic dates in the UK from the end of August to mid-October; you can find a complete listing on their Facebook. TGTF’s past coverage of The People the Poet is collected through here.

 

Album Review: Hilang Child – Years

 
By on Friday, 10th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Thomas Harrison

Hilang Child Years coverLondon-based singer/songwriter Ed Riman, known professionally as Hilang Child, captured my attention earlier this year at SXSW 2018, with his memorable performance at the official showcase of his record label, Bella Union. While the lighting and atmosphere at the Parish that night contributed to the brilliance of his show, it was the vivid soundscapes he created on stage that echoed in my mind long after the evening was over. Riman’s solo performance at SXSW was a natural precursor to the release of his upcoming debut album, titled ‘Years’.

Thematically, this LP is a prolonged introspection on reaching adulthood and the ephemerality of youth. As with many such intropective albums, ‘Years’ is sonically atmopheric and suggestive of moods rather than specific storylines. To label its music as “impressionistic” would be accurate but might call to mind the wrong ideas: Riman paints here with broad, sweeping brushstrokes and vivid colors rather than the soft, misty haze that term generally implies. The most immediate example of that bold sonic quality is in the album’s opening track ‘I Wrote a Letter Home’.

The main focus throughout ‘Years’ is on Hilang Child’s overarching sonic textures. In this regard, Riman says that he has learned through experience to trust his instincts in writing and self-producing these unique soundscapes. Speaking of his early recordings, he remembers, “I was always more excited about my home demos, recorded on a laptop, than the final recordings. I learnt that the only way I could convey the sound I wanted was by producing it myself, despite having little knowledge or ability in production.”

This is not to say that Riman completely ignores lyrics or melody; it’s simply that he uses them in service to the overall sound. His song forms don’t always follow the predictable verse/chorus/verse pattern, though his lyrics and do contain fragments of refrain, and his light, flexible vocal tone blends seamlessly into the instrumental backdrop. His piano melodies are bright and well-defined, standing out against the instrumentation in a way that his singing voice doesn’t, but they are not designed as catchy hooks or motifs. He enriches his textures with interesting percussion throughout the album, adding a distinctive rhythmic quality and sense of motion to the pensive, slow-moving harmonic progressions.

Riman allows his vocals to come to the forefront on ‘Sleepwalk’, arguably the album’s centerpiece, where Riman wonders, rhetorically, “what’s it all for, what can I show? / for 25 years alive, don’t know if I’ve ever tried, I’m sleepwalking tonight”. His hazy instrumental backdrop is propelled toward self-absolution by a shuffling rhythm, and his lilting vocals are powerfully emotive as he sings the final lyric, “this darkening down inside ends tonight’.

Following a brief instrumental interlude titled ‘Boy’, Riman makes another bold statement in ‘Starlight, Tender Blue’, which features layered synths and vocal lines over brooding guitar lines and heart-pounding drums. ‘Rot’ returns to the more pensive side of things, with the permeating warmth of its musical arrangement illustrating the sentiment behind its opening lyric, “even after everything I know, I’m not the bitter one”. ‘Endless String’ is similarly muted and self-reflective, its whispered vocals anchored into a rhythmic and tonal context by strong underlying piano chords.

Riman rounds out ‘Years’ with a flourish, or rather two of them. The anthemic recent single ‘Crow’, which is perhaps the most easily accessible individual track on the album, outside its full context. The song’s emphatic rhythm and and melodic piano lines are among the album’s most memorable moments, and Riman’s vocals reach their peak intensity in its swelling chorus. The album’s elusively-titled final track ‘Lissohr’ is deliberately more evasive, with an amorphous instrumental underlying vocal layers that echo as if from a great distance.

In the press release for ‘Years’, Riman mentions that his stage name, Hilang Child, translates from Malay as “missing child”. Certainly the thematic material on this album reflects a young adult’s struggle to find identity, but in terms of Riman’s musicality, the name Hilang Child might be something of a misnomer. Ambitious in its scope and brave in its sonic exploration, ‘Years’ presents Hilang Child as a composer who is clearly finding his place, with confidence in his own skill and a keen sense of clarity about his sonic vision.

8/10

Hilang Child’s debut LP ‘Years’ is out today, the 10th of August, on Bella Union. TGTF’s coverage of this intriguing artist at SXSW 2018 can be found through here.

 

Album Review: Little Sparrow – Just 3 EP

 
By on Tuesday, 7th August 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Manchester singer/songwriter Katie Ware, perhaps better known by the name Little Sparrow, has recently released a new and distinctively charming EP to whet her audience’s appetite for a forthcoming full album. The EP release, simply titled ‘Just 3’, is brief but emotionally evocative, showcasing the beautiful singing voice that gave Little Sparrow her name, as well as the classically-influenced instrumental arrangements borne of her continued collaboration with producer Jonny Lexus, pianist/composer Robin Dewhurst and cellist Sarah Dale.

Ware is currently in the process of writing and recording a new album, which she hopes to release in 2019. But an opportunity presented to her back in 2016 set her path on a slight detour, which has turned out to be more of a happy accident than a deterrent to her progress. The ‘Just 3’ EP began to take shape when organisers at the 2016 Kendal Calling festival suggested that Ware, who was performing at the festival, might team up with Dewhurst and Dale to work on a classic rock cover. That collaboration grew from working on the cover to writing and arranging two additional Little Sparrow songs as well, and judging from the result, the three musicians have found a successful synchronicity.

In the EP’s opening track, Little Sparrow presents the fruit of the original collaboration, a drastic reinterpretation of Madness’ 1980 hit ‘Baggy Trousers’. In the hands of Ware and company, ‘Baggy Trousers’ is transformed from a zany punk anthem to a musical theatre-style vignette of melancholy introspection. Ware’s vocals find the sweet spot between sultry pop expressivity and beautiful classical technique, while Dewhurst’s delicate piano and Dale’s yearning cello provide an evocative backdrop to Little Sparrow’s remarkable reimagining of this song.

The middle track on the ‘Just 3’ EP is one we’ve heard before at TGTF, early single ‘Tender’, which was released on its own back in December of last year. As we mentioned in our review of the single, ‘Tender’ is a heartfelt and very personal song for Ware, and her video treatment, which includes fan-submitted photographs of loved ones alongside Ware’s own shared images, is equally emotional. The sentimental quality of the song makes it a nice pairing with the Little Sparrow version of ‘Baggy Trousers’, continuing both its nostalgic mood and its graceful musicality.

As if on cue, ‘Just 3’ closes with an unapologetic tearjerker, the aptly positioned ‘Dry Your Eyes’. In the EP’s press release, Ware relates that she wrote this song several years ago, when she was in the midst of suffering from a bout of depression. However, she emphasises that “the song is intended to be positive and to encourage the listener to ‘dry your eyes’ and to know that ‘you are not alone’.” Her uplifting message is inspiring both to the heart and to the minds of her hopeful listeners, who upon hearing these three tracks will no doubt be more eager than ever to hear Little Sparrow’s next collection of elegant and carefully-crafted songs.

8/10

Little Sparrow’s self-released ‘Just 3’ EP is available now. You can find TGTF’s past coverage of Little Sparrow, including a review of her debut LP ‘Wishing Tree’, through this link.

 

Album Review: Jealous of the Birds – The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep EP

 
By on Tuesday, 31st July 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Daniel Alexander Harris

JOTB Moths EP coverNorthern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds (aka Naomi Hamilton) has recently released a new EP with an elusive but thought-provoking title, ‘The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep.’ While the title might seem a little unwieldy, especially for a 5-track EP, the songs contained on the new recording are a bit less intimidating, in and of themselves.

Of the five songs presented here, only EP opener ‘Plastic Skeletons’ is brand new, as you might have seen back in May when editor Mary featured it as our Video of the Moment #2843. It’s a strong opening to the EP, immediately upbeat and groovy, with shuffling percussion and an elastic guitar riff under Hamilton’s distorted vocals. She sings the verses in a slow, sensual drawl, lilting suggestively over the lines “hope you have it in you to undress again” and “I’ve become addicted to the smell of your cologne”. While the song’s chorus isn’t exactly catchy, its crunchy guitars give the song an extra edge as Hamilton poses the question, “do you wanna wrap me up in suede / smudge off my black eyeliner?”

The other four songs on ‘The Moths of What I Want’ appeared on Jealous of the Birds’ debut full-length album ‘Parma Violets’, which was released in back in 2016 just after Hamilton’s first appearance at SXSW. The middle sequence of three songs, ‘Miss Misanthrope’, ‘Trouble in Bohemia’, and ‘Tonight I Feel Like Kafka’, is lifted directly from LP, with some notable production edits from the album versions.

The gentle folk arrangement of ‘Miss Misanthrope’ stands in marked contrast to ‘Plastic Skeletons’ with gentle woodwind adornment and intricate vocal layering underscoring its introspective musings. Subtle yet pleasantly surprising in places, the poetry and the musical effects both leave a warm sense of empathy in their wake. The trippy folk-rock of ‘Trouble in Bohemia’ is muted and a bit grungier in its reworking for the EP, but still retains its upbeat rhythm and lo-fi production quality. ‘Tonight I Feel Like Kafka’, which we at TGTF heard in live performance at SXSW 2017, is similarly dialed back in its production, with its serpentine synth melody and Hamilton’s vocal line blended more smoothly into an overall instrumental arrangement that better suits the song’s self-consciously literary quality.

EP closer ‘Russian Doll’ already had a grungy, garage rock feel in its ‘Parma Violets’ recording, which fitted the defensive mood of its lyrics. Talking about the song’s underlying meaning, Hamilton says, “It’s about when you’re in a relationship and you’re having someone else projecting certain things on you . . . and you don’t have any control over that. It’s matching up the person you want to become and what someone else sees you as.” The new EP recording, re-mixed by Ben Baptie (Young Fathers, Daughter, Lianne LaHavas, London Grammar), dials back the crunch of the guitars, emphasising instead the percussive rhythm and disjointed quality of vocal lines, giving the song a sharper edge and stronger overall profile.

Though we here at TGTF have covered Jealous of the Birds quite extensively over the past few years, we missed the opportunity to review ‘Parma Violets’ on its initial release. ‘The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep’ serves as a good reminder of what attracted us to Jealous of the Birds in the first place, but also gives a glimpse into where Hamilton might take her music in the future. Her alt-folk and acoustic talents having been fully displayed, she’s now taking a bolder, more rock-oriented tack, without losing the unapologetically poetic lyrical qualities that make her songs unique. If you liked ‘Parma Violets’, this new EP is simply a fresh take on some of those songs, with the added bonus of ‘Plastic Skeletons’ to whet your appetite for more new music from Jealous of the Birds. If you didn’t catch ‘Parma Violets’ the first time around, ‘The Moths of What I Want…’ is your second chance to get acquainted.

8.5/10

‘The Moths of What I Want Will Eat My in My Sleep’ is out now via Hand in Hive (UK) and Canvasback (U.S.). You can find TGTF’s collected coverage of Jealous of the Birds through here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Harry Pane

 
By on Wednesday, 18th July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

My final interview of the SXSW 2018 music festival was with English singer/songwriter Harry Pane, who played a mellow late Saturday afternoon showcase at the Hilton Austin hotel’s Cannon and Bell Lounge as part of SXSW’s Second Play Stage series. Pane played a relaxed set in this acoustic setting and even engaged in some friendly banter with the intimate crowd between songs, which encouraged me to approach him for a quick chat after he finished playing.

Harry Pane internal

This performance at The Hilton marked Pane’s final show of SXSW 2018, and he seemed happy to take time for an interview after a busy week of gigging in Austin. “I did six [shows], overall. But they were kind of stretched out enough that it was enjoyable instead of just, like, an endurance test.” His shows included an official showcase at Stephen F’s Bar, as well as a set at one of my favourite Austin venues, The Tiniest Bar in Texas, and a radio performance for KSGR, where he peformed alongside fellow English songwriter and TGTF alum Frank Turner. “I [had done] a songwriting workshop with him and his band, who are really, really nice people”, Pane said of Turner. “He was on the KGSR show too, and he very kindly mentioned my name and gave me a shout out, which was really good.”

This year was not Pane’s first experience at SXSW. He played the festival once before, back in 2016, and that experience allowed him to come into SXSW 2018 with clearer expectations. “I kind of went in blind to that one, and I had one showcase. Didn’t really know what it was about or what I was doing”, Pane remembers. “This time around, two years later, I’ve done a few more things, worked a little harder. I feel this one’s been way more beneficial, and a lot more fun, actually.”

As a fully independent artist, Pane appeared in Austin without a band or entourage in tow, which made the small Second Stage venues a near-perfect fit for him. “I have a double bass player at home, and I’m trying to sort of slowly build a band, put it together. But at the moment it’s just me, on my own.” When I asked about label support, Pane demurred. “I’m not in a position to even talk about labels. I’m with AWAL, who are an amazing support for independent musicians.” AWAL is billed as “Kobalt‘s unique alternative to the traditional music label”, offering services to independent musicians who want to maintain control and flexibility. Pane continued, again very frankly, “If it came to the crunch, I do think that they would look after you way more and take less money off you.”

We also talked about the unique challenges of recording music as an independent artist, and Pane discussed them candidly in terms of his own current experience. “My last EPs that I did, I recorded with Dani Castelar, who worked with Paolo Nutini and other people that I really like.” He laughed, “I’m name-dropping now . . . But it’s really good, because we’ve got a really good friendship now, and I’ve got this kind of understanding with him where I record with a guy in London, on a cheap rate, and I send my stuff over to him, and he mixes it. He tweaks it and polishes it. This is a way I can afford it at the moment.”

Releasing singles, rather than full albums or even EPs, is Pane’s current way of keeping his name and his music afloat in the vast milieu of singer/songwriters. “At the moment I’m feeling like that’s working more, at my stage, to release song by song. I released the EP last year, [‘The Wild Winds’] and it was beneficial for the single, the leading song of that, but the other songs kind of got wasted within that EP, they got sort of lost.”

At the time of this interview, Pane had freshly released a new single called ‘Beautiful Life’. When I asked about forthcoming releases, Pane confessed, “I’ve got some songs in the pipeline, but nothing quite ready yet.” However, he has been keeping busy in the interim. This Friday, the 20th of July, Pane will release a new single titled ‘MacArthur Park’. While no preview of the track is yet available, you can pre-save ‘MacArthur Park’ on Spotify and iTunes now.

Harry Pane is scheduled to appear onstage at Penn Fest in Buckinghamshire on the 21st of July and at the Towersey Festival in Oxfordshire on the 27th of August. You can find a full listing of Pane’s live appearances on his official Web site. TGTF’s previous coverage of Harry Pane is collected here.

 

SXSW 2018 Interview: Buck Meek

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd July 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Header photo: Buck Meek, far right, with his band at Luck Reunion during SXSW 2018

If you’re a regular TGTF reader, you might already be familiar with the name of singer/songwriter Buck Meek. We’ve covered Meek before in his role as part of alt-rock band Big Thief, both in live review and previous SXSW coverage. Back in March, during SXSW 2018, Meek came to Austin as a solo artist, to preview his now-released debut LP, which is simply titled ‘Buck Meek.’ I caught a very quick moment with Meek after his set at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion to ask him about the new album.

‘Buck Meek’ technically isn’t Meek’s solo debut, following on his previous EP release ‘Heart Was Beat’ from back in 2015. That EP includes the memorable track ‘Sam Bridges’, which he played in a slightly different form in the Revival Tent at Luck than what I remembered from a live performance in Phoenix with Big Thief several years ago. Discussing his set on the day, Meek agreed. “That [song] had a more country feel. I mean, we’re playing it with a slide guitar player today, who kind of mimics the [pedal] steel, and with a country drum beat and everything.”

Having only seen Meek before in the context of Big Thief’s edgy folk rock, I was curious about the more obvious country influence I heard on display in his solo work. “I think there’s influence there”, Meek says. “I grew up in Wimberly, Texas, south of Austin. I grew up listening to, surrounded by country music. So it’s always been, I think, an influence. And to be honest, this set, I catered more towards that feel.”

But many of the songs on ‘Buck Meek’, the album, defy easy classification as straighforward country songs. Musically, the record’s foundational country tone is obfuscated by elements of what Meek describes as “grunge, and punk rock, and more esoteric stuff.” Early single ‘Cannonball!’ has a distinct twang to it, most prominently in Meek’s vocal lines, but its laid-back rhythm section is unmistakabely jazz-tinged, and its electric guitar riff is pure blues rock. ‘Ruby’ is a charmingly elusive, rhythmically complex track which Meek explained to Uproxx as “the suspension in love, when time folds in on itself, when the first instant of meeting cycles through the idiosyncratic friction and ancient affection of years together, which again cycles into infancy and eager fascination — all contained within a sideways glance.”

Thematically, ‘Buck Meek’ touches on a wide array of subject matter, from platonic male friendship (‘Joe By the Book’) to a plane crash in the French Alps (‘Flight 9525’), and an intriguing cast of characters, including a widow named ‘Sue’ and a devoted canine ‘Best Friend.’ In the end, the heart of the album is revealed in final track ‘Fool Me’, a late night country bar classic, with a plaintive piano melody and Meek’s self-deprecating vocal evoking the mild yet persistent yearning of one last slow dance on an otherwise deserted dance floor.

‘Buck Meek’ was released on the 18th of May on Austin record label Keeled Scales. Buck Meek will spend the remainder of the summer on tour supporting the release of the album, including the following run of dates in the UK in August. In addition to the shows listed below, Meek will support fellow country artist Courtney Marie Andrews at the Norwich Arts Centre on the 21st of August and at Southampton’s Talking Heads on the 22nd of August. You can find a full listing of Meek’s upcoming live dates on his official Facebook. TGTF’s previous coverage of Buck Meek is collected through here.

Monday 20th August 2018 – Brighton Komedia
Thursday 23rd August 2018 – London Islington
Friday 24th August 2018 – Manchester Gullivers
Sunday 26th August 2018 – Dublin Grand Social
Monday 27th August 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 28th August 2018 – Glasgow Hug and Pint

 
 
 

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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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