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Album Review: Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can

 
By on Thursday, 11th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Laura Marling is a 20-year old folk singer hailing from Hampshire. Admittedly, Marling is yet to have the full on mainstream success of other radio friendly indie-femme stars, but the pixie-like singer has never failed in being praised by underground fans, with her 2008 debut, ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, even gaining a Mercury Prize nomination. This isn’t to say 2010 couldn’t be Marling’s year, especially when the likes of Mumford and Sons and Noah and the Whale are flinging folk back into people’s faces with renewed musical force (wow, alliteration!). So, equipped with a little more years to her name, and a new hair colour to boot, Laura makes her anticipated return this coming March with second album, ‘I Speak Because I Can’.

Laura has certainly grown with the follow up to her kooky but fragile debut. ‘I Speak Because I Can’ is a noticeably maturer, 10-track album full of country folk influenced tales – rich and touching in places, but lacking vitality in other areas.

Laura’s voice in particular showcases a newly rounded, strengthened tone throughout the record, which actually surprised me (in a good way!) upon first listen. The album kicks off with the bluesy ‘Devil’s Spoke’ (view the video below that includes hints of Marcus Mumford’s chin). A psychedelic build-up leads into excitable barn dance-esque instrumentals, stomping drums and Marling’s toasty vox. A perfectly thrilling opener, which walks into the contrastingly sombre ‘Made by Maid’. Here, Laura merely sings above a humble acoustic – yet the contrast with the previous hearty track means this mouse-like number floats along quite pleasantly.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QirL0HXnyS4[/youtube]

Her country delivery continues to sway perfectly amid the banjo wails of the olde-worlde ‘Hope in the Air’, which projects an incredibly authentic, brooding folk sound. ‘Darkness Descends”s layered vocals, meanwhile, add a chirpier scope to the album, with the song ultimately leading into an explosion of banjos and dancing percussion which is certainly appreciated amongst the melancholic speed of the rest of the album.

Two further favourites on the album include ‘Rambling Man’, which showcases Marling’s Dylan stylee wail along with her angelic harmonies with a female backing singer, and the beautiful ‘Alpha Shallows’, which has an intriguingly Egyptian-like recurring hook.

There are a few down-time tracks among the album, however. ‘What He Wrote’, for example, may be a purposefully quaint little number, but, despite its emotional charge, the acoustic plink-plonks and soft vocals risk failing in capturing the listeners’ heart and ears. ‘Blackberry Stone’ similarly may display Marling’s delicate vocals mixed with sublime strings, but the gentle voice and dainty acoustic combo does start to grow a little juiceless compared to the more eclectic, quirky tracks amid the record.

Not to conclude on a bad note, though. Marling has certainly come-of-age with ‘I Speak Because I Can’; you only have to listen to the lyrics to hear the mass of experience she’s had along the road of the past 2 years. The album is clearly influenced a great-deal by traditional country folk, and therefore possesses a particularly nostalgic sound at times that yes, some may put down as lack of innovation, but I put it down to embracing rich, musical brilliance. Of course, like most albums, there are a few number of tracks which may kick up a tiny yawn in the listener, but the majority of Marling’s upcoming record is a dalliance with ardently charming sounds.

‘I Speak Because I Can’, Laura Marling’s sophomore album-length offering, will be released in the UK on 22 March by EMI. Regular CD and special CD+DVD versions of the album can be preordered from Amazon.

 

Bands to Watch #161: TAPETHERADIO

 
By on Tuesday, 9th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

TAPETHERADIO are an infectious indie trio from Deptford. The band have already supported Athlete, and are recently hot off the road having toured with Stereophonics in January. Now, look, I know that ‘indie trio’ and ‘Stereophonics’ doesn’t exactly send excitement rushing through the veins, but honestly, I urge you to read on…

…Because, despite that cliché genre bracket I just hit you with, this band are really, pretty good. Think the dry darkness of Chapel Club (who we introduced a few weeks back), mixed with the electronically epic riffs of The Editors, the nostalgia of The Cure and Joy Division, with one final pinch of fun ala Futureheads, and we’re nearly there with these Deptford darlings. Comparisons (and woah, I just made a lot of them!) aside, TAPETHERADIO genuinely create awesome tunes which, quite frankly, would fill an indie club dancefloor quicker than you can say ‘The Maccabees’.

They have an epical edge to them, too, which we always appreciate here at TGTF. The bass can really pound through a song, the drums are pretty damn slicing, and the soaring vocals really reach some super heights of passion at certain points. The chorus of Save a Life – “If I was with you tonight, I would save a life! Save a life!” – is just waiting for a packed Reading tent to sing along with it, while the White Lies-esque opening riff of The Message needs a huge starry lit stage to be truly appreciated.

So yeah, I really do like these guys, and it won’t surprise me if you will be hearing TAPETHERADIO on a, er, radio near you sometime soon. If I was incredibly rich and owned a record company, I would certainly consider signing these promising lads up, so, EMI, go listen yes?

 

Bands to Watch #160: Sky Ferreira

 
By on Thursday, 4th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s all about the young guns this 2010, with the likes of teenager Daisy Dares You pitching uber high on ‘ones to watch’ lists across the board. Today, we’d like to introduce a similarly small, soon-to-be-huge pop star in the form of 17 year old Sky Ferreira.

Hailing from California, despite her young age, Sky is already making massive waves. She signed to EMI last year, and is swiftly being hailed as a young Katy Perry in waiting. But, to be frank, I truly believe Miss. Ferreira has more depth to her than the I Kissed a Girl singer. With the dreamy electro distance of Ellie Goulding, mixed with the crunchy disco beats of Lady GaGa and the attitude-spilling punk of Daisy Dares You, oh, plus a pair of genuinely decent lungs (which Miss. Perry certainly lacks in my opinion), Sky’s eclectic music is pretty much set on appealing to a huge audience of ears.

Ferreira also seems to be down with a number of celebrities while she’s at it – her MySpace page boasting pictures of Sky alongside the likes of Taylor Swift and Will.I.Am. Oh and guess what, she even grew up with Michael Jackson (at least according to the anecdotes I’ve read in several interviews with Ferreira). On top of all that, there are even whispers of Sky having blagged a collaboration with the pop goddess that is Britney Spears – not bad for a 17 year old kid that hasn’t even released an album yet, huh?

Hey, I guess I’ll let her off for her, interesting, rendition of The Beatles’ ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ (unpleasingly mixed with Dr. Dre), because you know what, Ferreira’s spunky-pop pretty much makes up for it.

 

In the Post #48: Wolfmother – White Feather

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

So it took Wolfmother a whopping four years to release the follow up to their self-titled 2005 debut. Ok, ok, so I guess some kudos has to go towards frontman Andrew Stockdale, as every single band member did leave him pre-recording Cosmic Egg, which must have proven a little difficult to say the least. But hey, the drummer and bassist did decide to jump off the Wolfmother band-wagon due to those dreaded “irreconcilable personal and musical differences”. AKA, one does wonder, Andrew’s completely annoying inability to progress beyond his obsessively 70’s rock turn outs?

As that’s exactly what Cosmic Egg was. That same old wham-bam mixture of Sabbath riffs and Plant wails. Yeh, it’s freekin’ rock and roll – Guitar Hero come to life – but it’s also pretty out-dated, and alas, the new record has split fans and critics alike. Still, erm, putting all that aside, TGTF recently grabbed hold of Wolfmother’s third single from the new album to see how the track stood out on it’s own.

White Feather kicks off with a riff basically copied and pasted from Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’, just hidden by some cheeky distortion. Then we have the return of Stockdale’s trademark squall surprisingly being backed by not so crazy, crunchy chops, but instead squeaky guitar licks, which slide around like flying fireworks in the distance. The typically epic drums are similarly lightened by welcomed use of a cowbell. A super huge solo hits midway, which is cheesy but monstrous, before the chorus arrives back for one last time, by which time it’s hook has surprisingly embedded into the mind. The classic rock pastiche is still turned to full volume, but hey, White Feather has certainly proved to be one of Wolfmother’s more bearable tracks.

Check out the official video to White Feather, which is released February 15th, below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c4_vPkYjYM[/youtube]

 

In the Post #47: Gorillaz – Stylo

 
By on Thursday, 28th January 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

After a 5 year stop gap, Essex quartet Gorillaz are finally back with a brand spanking new album this 2010. Titled ‘Plastic Beach’, the upcoming record is set to feature everyone from Snoop Dog, Lou Reed, Kano to Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of The Clash (no doubt Paul’s involvement with Damon’s side-project, The Good, The Bad and the Queen helped this little collaboration). TGTF recently got their mitts on the latest musical slice from 2D, Noodle, Murdoch and Russel, and have since given it a darn good listen or two…

Titled ‘Stylo’, the first Gorillaz single to be released in four years is certainly an electronica sensation, yielding intrigue and discomfort. The track features input from the legendary Bobby Womak, who’s rich, soulful vocals rub perfectly against Albarn’s (or should I say 2D’s..) glacier voice amid the verses. The chorus proves similarly spellbinding with it’s unrelenting drum machine, galvanising synths and Albarn’s dizzy vocals, subtly brainwashing the mind as they circulate mischievously in the distance.

The robotic ‘Stylo’ certainly emits a twisted, sinister atmosphere, almost making for uneasy listening. But that is exactly why I love this track, and why I love Gorillaz. Judging by this digital firework of a number, the cockney cartoons are still well-up for releasing music that’s fantastically curious and entertaining, and alas makes ‘Plastic Beach’ one of my most anticipated albums of 2010.

‘Stylo’ is available digitally now, and ‘Plastic Beach’ is released on March 8th. Pre-order at Amazon now.

 

In The Post #46: Caitlin Rose – Dead Flowers

 
By on Wednesday, 27th January 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Caitlin Rose is a 22 year old country-folk star hailing all the way from Nashville, who chooses to cite Buddy Holly and Bob Dylan as just two of many influences upon her dreamily nostalgic music. Armed with a beautiful voice and an acoustic to go with it, TGTF were terribly excited to be handed Rose’s brand new EP, ‘Dead Flowers’, earlier on this week.

The EP kicks off with ‘Shotgun Wedding’. Said track proves to be a perfect foot-stomper of an opener, led by excitably picked acoustics and Rose’s falsetto twang which often echoes the wide-eyed vocals of Joanna Newsom. ‘Answer In One of These Bottles’, meanwhile, is a catchy Carter Family-esque ditty – the lyrics taking on a noticeably darker demeanour to the Virginia band, however, as it tells tales of alcohol and it’s ability to temporarily pass the pain.

Rose chooses to showcase her inner Patsy Cline while covering the legend’s ‘Three Cigarettes in an Astray’. Admittedly, Cline’s voice will be forever unbeatable, but you truly hear the power of Rose’s lungs here, as she belts out this woozy track with an equal amount of passion as Patsy did back in the 50s.

‘Docket’ is perhaps one of the more light hearted tracks on the EP, especially with it’s unexpected lyrics ala “The surgeon general can suck on my dick”. Intriguing! ‘Gorilla Man’, meanwhile, is similarly playful, with Caitlin’s hick vox jumping joyfully over a tap-tapping tambourine. Still these two tracks are perhaps the least compelling-bodied among the EP, proving that Rose still has time to grow in strength as an artist.

Caitlin drops a second cover among the EP as she takes on The Rolling Stones’ ‘Dead Flowers’. The rock is stripped from the country, with Rose taking the upbeat pace of the original track down a significant notch. This is not to say she doesn’t do the song justice, far beyond it. Rose in fact recites the poignant lyrics near perfectly, her rounded voice buttering over the acoustic calypso wails with pure ease. It’s a truly stunning homage, one which I’m sure Jagger and Richards would be beyond proud of.

The EP ultimately draws to a close, however, with ‘T-Shirt’, the second track on ‘Dead Flowers’ to feature Rose merely reciting over a clapping tambourine. Spouting lyrics of lost love, it’s a whole lot more emotional than ‘Gorilla Man’, and, as she drops the tambourine to the floor at the last breath of the track, ‘T-Shirt’ closes the EP on a stripped back, restrained note, certainly leaving the listener craving more from the wonderful upcoming star that is Caitlin Rose.

Lucky for us, Caitlin is set to release a full-length album later this 2010, so keep your eyes peeled for more music from Miss. Rose very soon.

MP3: Caitlin Rose – Shotgun Wedding

[audio:http://theregoesthefear.com/media/201001/shotgunwedding.mp3]
 
 
 

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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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