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Wonderground – Become Water

By on Friday, 11th August 2006 at 12:03 pm

Wonderground’s latest EP, “Become Water” is a short 5 track EP that displays the Los Angeles based quartet’s possibility. After getting their way through their first debut album, lawsuit and band members leaving, it looks like they’re finally on their way to success.

First track “Marionettes” displays a lush and vivid soundscape, with the vulnerable vocals of Paul Schoemehl fitting in perfectly, though at times sounding a tiny bit monotonous.

“Bells” sounds a bit like a Christmas anthem at first, with the light keys and guitar sounding right at home in a modern Christmas anthem. With the upbeat electric guitars and drums, it is quite reminiscent of early REM, however never seems to quite make its destination, with a big sing-along chorus being required really.

“Ground Floor” is the shortest track of the EP, only one and a half minutes, and is a quick acoustic jaunt, a perfect interim track that isn’t filler, but isn’t any the worse for being so short – in fact it probably makes it much stronger.

An atmospheric 2 minute beginning to “Tongues and codes” is brilliantly placed, a gem of an introduction: laid back and yet not too slow. The vocals blend in more with the music on this track, however towards the end the music reaches a crescendo with a lively ending.

Closer of this EP, “Paint my Day” sees gentle guitars and keys mixed with laid back vocals, and whilst the music livens up, the vocals remain very monotonous: almost like Paul really couldn’t be bothered to put any gusto into the track.

So, overall a strong EP, musically vivid but vocally lacking. Sounds quite like Mercury Nominated “The Guillemots”.


Silversun Pickups – Carnavas

By on Wednesday, 19th July 2006 at 10:49 am

The Silversun Pickups debut album, Carnavas, is quite similar to the 1990’s grunge movement of Seattle, however now this time round they’re well dressed and have come from Los Angeles, and is some of the best new music around. Inevitably they’re going to draw comparisons with the Smashing Pumpkins, however if this album is anything to go by, they’re going to have to work very hard to get the recognition the Pumpkins did so easily.

Opener “Melatonin” starts with a pleasantly loud guitar and drum combination, very hummable and whilst the lyrics are quite indecipherable, they add to the dark atmosphere of the track. A great opening track that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Next up is their first single off the album, “Well Thought Out Twinkles” almost veers into noise territory a number of times, however it always manages to keep the rhythm and remain together, bringing back the chorus again.

Lead Singer Brian Aubert’s voice is a unique gem, sounding vulnerable and (at times) girly, very similar to Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Mark Greaney of JJ72, or Brian Molko of Placebo. This comes to the fore in “Checkered Floor” which utilises the quiet/loud pattern so frequently used by some more generic pop/rock bands at the moment.

“Little Lovers” has to be single material: radio friendly, a song perfect for road trips, turned up loud. Bassist Nikki Monninger gets a minute long jam at the end which sounds perfect: something out of the norm, but fits in the track.

At this point the album’s tracks descend into samey-ness, apart from one notable exception, track 10’s slow “Three Seed” which is very atmospheric, with the gentle electric guitar plucking and gentle drums making a welcome change in the track.

Overall, a strong debut, however nothing totally original that others haven’t done before. They’re not going to be anything massive any time soon, however they could be ones to watch after their next album comes out.


Live: Death Cab For Cutie – Brixton Academy

By on Thursday, 29th June 2006 at 2:24 pm

Wednesday evening saw the return to the UK of Death Cab For Cutie, the American Indie superstar rockers who have struck a chord with millions of teenagers worldwide. They played at Brixton Academy in London to 5,000 adoring fans who queued from early in the day in blazing heat to catch their show.

Support came in the capable hands of Viva Voce, the Portland based husband and wife duo who managed to warm the crowd up suitably, though their screeching guitars did grate a bit after a while. Kevin on the drums was simply sublime: managing to hold the whole thing together whilst wife Anita Robinson’s vocals left a lot to be desired.

9pm rapidly rolled round, and Death Cab came on, playing “Passenger Seat” first up, the perfect beginning, chilled and enthralling the whole audience from the start. The heat of the Academy was forgotten, everyone straining to get a view. “Passenger Seat” soon merged into “The New Year”, which sounded perfect. As the set progressed so did the temperatures, but it was certainly worth it. “What Sarah Says” was a definite highlight, though the security guys at the front seemed thoroughly bemused when 5,000 people sang “So who’s going to watch you die?” – I never thought I’d find humour in that song, but it did provide a bit of a highlight.

They then surprised everyone by playing some oldies that some of the younger OC fans hadn’t heard before – namely “President of What?”, “Company Calls” and “Epilogue”, which brought huge smiles to the faces of the older fans, and were some of the highlights of the set.

Throughout the band were quite quiet, preferring to let the music do the talking, though Ben did joke at one point that Wednesday was the last time they’d be playing as Death Cab. This worried everyone, until he joked that they’d be joining Babyshambles “…because you don’t have to turn up all the time”.

Then, to mix things up a bit Death Cab played their usual encore songs “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” and “Transatlanticism” towards the end of the main set, getting many members of the audience worried that they weren’t going to do an encore. “Follow you into the Dark” was a brilliant sing-along, with everyone knowing the words and providing a moment of pure beauty with everyone joining in.

Shortly after the end of “Transatlanticism” the crowd went mad for more, and whilst Death Cab went to change T-Shirts everyone was chanting for more, whilst wondering what the hell they could play if they’d already played their traditional encores. Thus they came back, and burst into an enthusiastic trio of “Marching Bands of Manhattan”, “Expo ‘86” and a raucous “Sound of Settling”.

Set list: Brixton Academy, 28th June 2006.
Note: Not 100% sure about the order in the middle of the set

The new year
Soul Meets Body
Different Names for the same thing
Title and Registration
What Sarah Said
Your Heart is an Empty Room
President of What?
Company Calls
Crooked Teeth
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
We Looked Like Giants
Marching bands of Manhattan
Expo 86
Sound of settling


Persophone’s Bees – Notes from the Underworld

By on Monday, 26th June 2006 at 11:27 am

To be honest with you, when I read that Persophone’s Bees were a gypsy-rock outfit, I was dreading having to review the album. Still scarred by listening to Gogol Bordello’s “Start Wearing Purple”, I was scared to say the least at the prospect of sitting through 45 minutes of Gypsy rock – some shrink somewhere would be making great business out of me! However, I pressed play, ready for the assault my eardrums were going to get – and it never came. Track one came and went, and my ears were still awaiting the aural assault that they were expecting: however, it never came, not once through the 11 tracks.

Front woman Angelina Moysov says that she was influenced by her mother who loved Russian Folk and Gypsy music, her brother’s collection of British and American music and the underground Russian punk and New Wave. All of these genres rear their heads up throughout “Notes from the Underworld” in varying amounts, but it seems to be the melting pot of all genres of music – an amazing effect.

White Stripes style drumming opens up the album on “Way to Your Heart”, before things descend into a polka-style almost humorous refrain asking “Show me the way to your heart”, with the piano providing a moment of lightness over heavy guitars.

“City of Love” utilises lively guitars and drums to give a very upbeat feel to the track, and Moysov’s Eastern European tones can’t help but flow over you and command you to go to “The City of Love with me”. Light, airy and approachable, the track comprises all the feelings of a day out at a British beach: cheesy, yet somehow enjoyable and priceless at any age.

“Nice Day” again is an upbeat song declaring that “I don’t care what they say/on a nice day” combining pop sounds of 1990’s girl bands with Eastern European sounds. Next track, “Muzika Dyla Fil’ma” appears to be Russian, and sounds one of the most traditional tracks on the album, but still adds a contemporary feel with the electric guitars and drums.

“Walk To The Moon” is a nice dreamy number, relaxing, with back-up sounding like a choir of angels perched on their own clouds, mellow and perfect for those days in the sun, or for drifting off to sleep.

Closer “Home” features a gentle harp-like sound with the gentle, vulnerable sounds of Moysov building an intricate, dream-like sound that builds up into a full electric epic, reminiscent of the some angsty Nirvana.

Overall, a strong debut: innovative, different and original. Angelina Moysov appears to have created a completely original band that will appeal to a wide variety of people.


Zero 7 – The Garden

By on Tuesday, 6th June 2006 at 12:19 pm

Zero 7’s third studio album has just been released, and marks a change in direction for the band, introducing more lyrics and a slightly livelier sound. They welcome back South Australian chanteuse Sia Furler, the duo’s long-standing vocalist who sings on five tracks, along with Swedish indie-folkie Jose Gonzalez who sings on four tracks.

First track and debut single “Futures” sees a return to their debut album, “Simple Things”, with Jose’s voice making the song perfect for the summery days. His voice is just perfect for the tracks – laidback and carefree, not rushing or any sense of urgency – just gentle, and relaxed. “Futures” soon makes way for “Throw it All Away” which has a relatively upbeat sound, and along with Sia’s lyrics makes a more upbeat festival track for lazy afternoons lounging around on a field at a festival.

Third track is an instrumental, and throws everything away that they’ve just built up in the first tracks. Energetic, with traditional drumming and modern electronics, “Seeing Things” shows that Zero 7 just can’t be pigeon-holed into any one musical genre. The track then descends into gentle guitars sounding like water in a stream, becoming extremely relaxing. However the opposite can be said of “The Pageant of the Bizarre” which left me feeling frankly nauseous – the track sounds like a merry-go-round which just won’t stop going round, the whole world becoming a blur.

“Left behind” is typical Jose Gonzalez material – a basic acoustic guitar and Jose’s simple lyrics and raw style oozing over us. There are a few electronics to add atmosphere, but in the time it takes you to get into the track its over at only 1 minute 17 seconds. “This Fine social scene” sounds like Air mixed with brilliant afro-carribean singers that give the song a bit of extra oomph.

However, for me the highlight comes just before the end with a new take on Jose Gonzalez’s “Crosses” – the original was already a gem, but this even more so. The addition of funky electronics add an extra layer of simple elegance, and make it all the better for it. An absolute gem, and shows what Zero 7 is truly capable of.

Album closer “Waiting to die” echoes earlier Zero7 with a bit of Morcheeba and Air thrown in for good measure and a bit of atmosphere. Lots of brass instruments gives it some character and makes it a great upbeat album closer.

Overall it’s a strong third album from the chillout kings, and marks a bit of a departure from their previous works. Some people will prefer it to their previous two albums, but personally I prefer their more instrumental albums rather than this one – some tracks are absolute gems (Seeing Things, Left Behind and Crosses) whilst some just haven’t got any magic in them (The Pageant of the Bizarre). All in all a good album with a good progression on from previous albums, however not a classic or a mercury prize nominee.c or a mercury prize nominee.


Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV

By on Tuesday, 9th May 2006 at 4:19 pm

Following in the footsteps of other (British) critics’ darlings “The Streets”, Hard-Fi have produced a debut album which recounts British street life with perfect and sometimes brutal honesty. It’s infused from beginning to end with the bravado of British chav attitude (for more information see this Wikipedia entry) – ‘nobody likes us and we don’t care’ – but whilst they swagger, their music is high quality stuff. Apparently it was mixed in a variety of unusual acoustic environments – in bedrooms, in pubs, and in their producer’s BMW – thus some interesting sounds on the album.

Over the past year they’ve been riding the success in Britain since the debut of their album, having been nominated for last year’s Mercury Prize (up against Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Coldplay and the Go Team amongst others) and about to play to 25,000 people over five nights at Brixton Academy next week. Quite amazing for the foursome from the cultural wasteland that is Staines, south west London.

Opener “Cash Machine” is a typical upbeat tale of how hard it is to make ends meet – “I scratch a living, it ain’t easy” and how realities collide: “What am I gonna do / My girlfriend’s test turned blue / We tried to play it safe / That night we could not wait” the lively guitars and drums create, helping them to create some notable anthems.

Along with the usual themes of music today of love, lust, breaking up and being broke, Hard-Fi tackle some more interesting and different themes: track two, “Middle Eastern Holiday” is written from the perspective of a 21 year old serving in the Gulf. “He’s got a gun, but it’s meant for me” Rich Archer proclaims, unsure of its significance it seems, but not taking himself too seriously, like the rest of the album.

“Tied up too tight” sounds like it has been recorded in a big empty warehouse with its acoustics, and has a great thumping, car-chase chorus that would be great in a British gangster film, a la “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”

“Move on Now” is the necessary slow track of the album, combining emotion and vibrant imagery (Looking out my bedroom window / See the planes take off from Heathrow) with great instrumentation of the trumpet and piano, combining to make a great, stirring mid-album slow down track.

Stand out of the album “Living for the Weekend” comes as the pen-ultimate track of the album, a rousing, sing-along anthem for people to enjoy on summer evenings. A massive radio hit in the UK, it was the song that first got my attention of the band, and one that launched them from also-rans to proper contenders in this new wave of Brit-pop that has emerged with The Libertines, Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand, and now being followed up with Kaiser Chiefs and Hard-Fi.

Album closer “Stars of CCTV” sees a very different sound, with an exotic sounding acoustic guitar being used along with a piano to make a minor anthem about how “I’m gonna get my face on the 6 ‘o’ clock news / We’re the stars of CCTV / Making movies out on the street”. Surprisingly endearing, considering the realities of what they actually mean by it.

Overall though, a brilliant debut effort from Hard-Fi: some critics are already touting them as one of the key bands of this Brit-pop revival, and their follow up could cement this role.


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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