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Preview: Underage Festival 2011

By on Thursday, 23rd June 2011 at 11:00 am

A festival tailor made for teenagers (more specifically, adolescents aged between 13-17), Underage Festival *is* the event of the year. With amazing line-ups year after year, 2011’s is of course once again filled with acts that I love. Firstly, there are some big names like Bombay Bicycle Club (pictured above), Brother, Crystal Fighters, Johnny Flynn, Wolf Gang and many more. Bombay Bicycle Club have announced a new album coming soon, ‘A Different Kind of Fix’; hopefully some songs off the album will be played during their set.

That’s not all: some of TGTF’s favourites are also part of the line-up, including Dutch Uncles, Frankie & The Heartstrings and Is Tropical. All the three bands have released albums this year (‘Cadenza’ [review here], ‘Hunger’ and ‘Native To’ [review here], respectively). It definitely will be an exciting experience to finally listen to the album tracks played live, if you haven’t already. There are also some relatively young acts in the line-up, ranging from girly pop (Spark) to hip-hop mixed in with electro (Ghost Eyes).. With such a diverse line-up and a vibrant audience, you can bet that this year’s Underage Festival is going to be a blast.

Note: the festival only admits festival goers that are between 13-17 years of age. Anyone outside of that age range will NOT be admitted. Tickets are £31.50 and can be purchased online from SeeTickets, Gigantic, HMV Tickets and Rough Trade Old Truman Brewery (in person). For more information visit the the official Web site.

Full line-up for Underage 2011 as of 23 June 2011 is after the cut.
Continue reading Preview: Underage Festival 2011


Album Review: Is Tropical – Native To

By on Friday, 10th June 2011 at 12:00 pm

Before I start the actual review, I must say that I’ve been a huge fan of London-based trio Is Tropical since I first listened to them. Funnily enough, the first song of theirs I heard was not a proper single, but a rather epic instrumental B-side ‘Tan Man’. I was so captivated by the synth work and the relentless drum beats. Ever since, I had to have my regular dose of Is Tropical.

The track which opens the album is, coincidentally, the A-side to ‘Tan Man’ – ‘South Pacific’. I always considered it very calming, with its graceful video featuring shots after shots of the blue ocean (watch the video below). The next track, ‘Land Of The Nod’, alongside with ‘Berlin’, caught my attention upon the first listen of the album. The lyrics from the chorus “drift me onto the Land of the Nod” seem to work very well as I always doze off to it under too many inappropriate circumstances. Anyway, the track is fun and bridges the listeners from the rather calm ‘South Pacific’ to the crowd mover ‘Lies’.


The rich beats heard throughout ‘Lies’ keep the whole song subtly-paced. Not too fast, not too slow, but at a moderate speed that people can still dance to. Next comes ‘The Greeks’ (snag the free mp3 here), with a video that has gone viral within days of its upload. The secrets of having over a million views on YouTube after 5 days of its upload? Not only the video content is ridiculous (ridiculously good!), but also because its refrain constantly loops in the song. Needless to say, the refrain is utterly catchy. I guess these are probably the reasons why ‘The Greeks’ is now a big hit online.

Moving on to the latter part of the album, ‘Oranges’ sounds fresh and juicy, just like the fruit. The thrashing guitar opening definitely makes a statement. The song itself serves the same function like orange juice, as suggested by Is Tropical, “to keep one awake”. If you’re feeling a little bit sleepy, I’m sure the energetic intro can wake you up in no time. The next track, ‘Berlin’, is definitely a highlight of the album. It never ceases to put a smile on my face, even on the darkest days: a very happy song with an encouraging-sounding chorus: “I let myself go/ Just let yourself go”. The last two tracks on the album share a lot of similarities and go very well together. Both of them have a perfect match of sick bass line and also intriguingly intense drums. In ‘Zombie’, the guitar riff heard right before entering the next verse is just pure awesomeness. Finally, here comes the last track, ‘Seasick Mutiny’. It can almost be treated as an instrumental as it only has a tad of highly distorted vocals.

On a whole, the album is an enjoyable journey. I had a lot of fun listening to it, as well as reviewing it. Want to give it a listen before purchasing it (on limited edition vinyls maybe)? You can now do so now on Is Tropical’s Facebook page.


‘Native To’ will be released next Monday (the 13th of June) on Kitsuné.


Album Review: Foster the People – Torches

By on Wednesday, 8th June 2011 at 2:00 pm

Can you already feel the heat approaching? (Sorry to those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s, er, cold.) It’s about the middle of 2011 now and I think it’s safe to conclude that summer this year will be filled with a load of energetic electronic music. Leading the trend is trio Foster the People from Los Angeles, with their debut album ‘Torches’ dropping later this month.

Before giving the album a listen, I must say that I’ve already fallen deeply in love with their EP, featuring the three hits ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, ‘Helena Beats’ and ‘Houdini’. The other 7 songs on the album differ so much from their EP tracks, but still are very up to their high standard.

‘Call It What You Want’ is an uberfun track. It feels like walking into a tropical party held in the middle of a rainforest, and everyone’s dancing to this song. The piano on this song is also very bouncy and dynamic, which adds to its quirkiness. I have heard rather polarising opinions on the next song that follows, ‘Don’t Stop’. Some hate it and some love it (kind of like marmite, I suppose?) I’m on the love side. It acts as a ‘neutraliser’ on the album in my opinion, for it is less synth-based as compared to the other tracks on ‘Torches’. It’s a very bubbly song – perfect to kickstart a mesmerising Monday.

Moving on to the later part of the album, ‘Miss You’ is rather a letdown. The transition from the verses to the chorus is a little bit awkward. In contrary, the last track ‘Warrant’ is really the icing on the cake. Thought you’ve had a really enjoyable 33 minutes of synth-filled music? ‘Warrant’ is there to surprise. Foster the People really know how to leave the best till the end. Being the longest track on the album, it has a relatively long intro which slowly progresses into a jam of drums, bass and piano. ‘Warrant’ gives the album a very neat ending and a sweet aftertaste.

In a whole, ‘Torches’ is an album of fun. Despite ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ being about a homicidal teenager, it doesn’t diminish the fun that lies in the music. It’s a smart call that the album is released in June, so there’s enough time for people to know the songs well enough for some constant blasting to take place in summer.


‘Torches’ by Foster the People drops in the UK on 27 June, but it’s already out in America.


Bands to Watch #216: Real Fur

By on Tuesday, 7th June 2011 at 12:00 pm

Have you ever heard of gigs in laundrettes? Neither did I before having come across this London trio, Real Fur. This band has played in many launderettes before (there was even a Laundrette Tour in May!), as the band wanted to play in places that weren’t traditional. Real Fur have a very likable sound, and I think they play funky / tropical pop. With only one guitar, one bass and one set of drums – played by Leo, Matt and George respectively – they have managed to create sounds that you think you would hear in a tropical rainforest.

Their debut single out this week, ‘Animal’, sounds jungle-like from the very first second of listening, as the rotating tom-toms create not only dynamic but also tropical feeling. Another song by Real Fur, named ‘Birds’ (listen to it below), has a lot of cowbell and amazing guitar riffs. The haunting riffs just catch your attention and make you want to come back for more, the cowbell extremely bouncy and playful, not to mention that the rich bass that adds a lot of depth to the song.


The launderette shows were named ‘Safari Funk Parties’, I suppose I do understand the rationale behind after having heard songs by Real Fur.

Real Fur’s debut single ‘Animal’ is out now via Safari Funk Records. The band play London’s Bull and Gate tonight, Meltdown Festival at South Bank Centre on 10 June and New Empowering Church on 11 June.


Interview: Adam Anderson of Hurts

By on Monday, 16th May 2011 at 12:00 pm

All in-text photos by Victoria Stanley

During Hurts’ first Hong Kong visit, I was lucky enough to caught up with Adam from Hurts and asked him a few questions. Conducted on the hottest day so far this year in Hong Kong, Hurts didn’t seem to fear the heat. They were both in all black outfits and as well-groomed as usual.

So first of all, welcome to Hong Kong. How’s the ‘Hurts invi-Asian’ (Hurts invasion of Asia) going so far?
We’ve loved it, we loved every minute, it feels like a holiday for Theo and I.
What do you think of Hong Kong?
Ehh, it was the best drive from an airport to a hotel I’ve ever had in my life. It’s unbelievable. Imagine living in one of those blocks (apartment buildings), and look out the windows and there are mountains, whereas in England, you look out the windows and there are just houses.
Well, we (locals) always find it very convenient if you want to commit suicide, you can just jump out of any one of those buildings and you’re done.
That’s an image for you.

As you guys are from Manchester, such a musically blessed place, do you seek any of the local bands or artists as inspiration?
I guess there are two sides of Manchester, there’s musical heritage, ones like Oasis, New Order and Joy Division. There are also some new bands like the one band called the Heartbreaks, have you ever heard of them?
Yeah, you’ve recently remixed one of their tracks.
Yes. And they are a lot of new exciting bands which got a lot of potential I think. So we think there are two sides of Manchester. There’s the past, and there’s the future. Hopefully the people will embrace the future a bit more than the past.
Like Dutch Uncles, Everything Everything and Airship…
Yea yea! How did you know about all these bands?
I enjoy the music from the North a lot! Do you like any of the newer bands from Manchester?
I like Delphic, they are my friends. It’s hard because even though we’re from Manchester, we spent the last year and a half in different countries, so we lost touch a little bit with them. But all I care about is new music from Manchester pushing forward, not relying on Peter Hook from New Order. Great, I want fresh things to be happening, so then it’s inspiring for young people.

Right. Well, since most of your songs are very emotional, do you find that they lose their initial meanings when you have to perform them almost everyday?
It’s amazing how many songs in history are misinterpreted, but in an amazing way. It means something to someone, I think it’s the beauty of music really. It’s what you make of it and I think our songs are the same really, and hopefully people can pick out lines and mean something to their lives and that’s what we want to do.
Do you think the Mancunian rain has contributed a lot to the Hurts sound? If you were based in a more sunny place, say Brighton, do you think the Hurts sound would change entirely?
Em, I think it would be very different, because Manchester is where we met each other and it’s where we had a lot of bad times, good times as well. It’s where we learnt to make music together, and I can’t imagine being in any of the cities really. Every song on the album is who we are as people.

Can you give us a hint on what the second album would sound like?
I’ve started to think about it, definitely, I think, em, one thing I know is that it is not going to be sad. I don’t think we’ll be capable of that because you’ve gotta write about how your life is really, if you want to be honest and make honest music. With the first album, there were problems in our lives. It’s a year in our lives and it was very honest, very open. And I think it would be insulting to do the same one again when really, our lives aren’t like that anymore. So, I think there are other emotions to explore: maybe aggression, anger, these kinds of emotions, instead of just sadness.
Does it insinuate that you guys will smile a lot more in public maybe?
Ahhhhh no. It doesn’t mean that. [all laugh]

Looking into the future, how likely do you think you’ll give your current style a twist?
Maybe, yeah! It’s good to move forward, I think whatever we do, the music, the way we look, the videos, it’ll always be Hurts. But I think it’s good to involve a bit change. To push things forward a bit.
What kind of twist do you think it’ll be? Maybe go back to…
Don’t say it. No. I don’t know, I think we’ll see. Maybe in summer, we’ll do some new things.

A fan would like to know if you’ll be working with Jonas Quant again in the next album? Or maybe even with Performance?
Performance are my friends really. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know, I think we can do more ourselves now. I think I’m a better producer than I used to be and I think I’d like to try it myself.

Ah I see. Have you been recording any new material? Can you give us an insight to the new stuff from Hurts?
No, we haven’t been. It’s really difficult for us to write when we’re touring.
So you guys don’t write when you’re on the road?
A: It’s impossible for us ’cause for the first time, we had a dark room and we stared at each other everyday and hoped, prayed to god that one of us would do something good and it never happened. And so I can’t imagine writing on tour, how that would work for us, which is a shame because it’d be nice to be writing now and capture this moment of our lives. Hopefully I’ll remember it by Christmas.

Regarding your fans, which place do you think has the most passionate fans?
I think Russia was the biggest reaction.
I heard you got chased after by some fans before?
We got chased after a few times. There are passionate fans in Russia. I think it’s because bands don’t really go there, we went to some places where most bands don’t go. I think that makes them really appreciate us going and really don’t want us to leave.

About a year ago, you played your first gig in Salford, at a church. How do you feel about playing in Hong Kong just a year after that?
It’s a miracle, it is incredible. Often we try to understand why certain countries like our music, but we can never find out the answers. It’s just one of these things where we’re really glad to be here and are terrified to back to a bad life. I guess we’ll just carry on with it.

I’m so tired of my own voice, so tired of it…
Maybe let’s talk about music videos? You made the first two, ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Blood, Tears and Gold’ yourselves, do you plan to make your own videos again?
I think it’d be good to go back and do some of the things on our own really. The idea is just doesn’t matter what budget it is, if you’re idea is good enough, it’ll work. Our first video costs us 20 quid and look at all those views! I think it’s good in involve less people.
Definitely. Thanks for your time and enjoy your show in Hong Kong.

The show was sensational, and lead singer Theo was constantly throwing white roses from the stage to the crowd throughout the show. It all ended with an encore, featuring ‘Better Than Love’. As a huge fan of theirs, I am already anticipating their next show in Hong Kong.

More photos from the day behind the cut.
Continue reading Interview: Adam Anderson of Hurts


Bands to Watch #213: The Cast of Cheers

By on Friday, 6th May 2011 at 12:00 pm

Ever wondered what would Foals would sound like if they were Irish? the Cast of Cheers are a maths rock four-piece from Dublin, the land of Eire. The band all started when singer/guitarist Conor started writing some songs in his home’s attic. Later on, joined by Kev, John and Neil (Conor’s brother), the band started recording their debut album ‘Chariot’.

‘Derp’ is my favourite song by them from ‘Chariot’, with an exceptionally long intro filled with catchy guitar riffs, soon joined with some thumping drum beats. The vocals fades in and out the song, thus creating a very dynamic feeling. ‘Derp’ is extremely intense and it feels like it’s the fastest 3 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life.

‘I Am Lion’, another track off ‘Chariot’, seems to follow what I think of as “the Cast Of Cheers songwriting formula”. Again with some heavy bass and intense drums, ‘I Am Lion’ also features some distorted vocals provided by Conor. It is definitely a song which will grow on you the more you listen to it.

Though unsigned, the band are currently working on a follow-up to ‘Chariot’, entitled ‘Rockets’, which is due to be released soon. But in the meantime, you can listen to ‘Chariot’ and download it for free below. And just if you’re asking yourself, who are some of the Cast of Cheers’ famous fans? None other than Two Door Cinema Club.


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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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