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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Pop and pop hybrid UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Monday, 3rd March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2014 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts, and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Starting off the week in our continuing preview coverage SXSW 2014, in this fifth installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 are what we call the pop and pop hybrid artists. Pop has become increasingly difficult to put in a box, with many artists incorporating urban, soul, r&b, dance, rock, folk and country into their own brand of pop. So in today’s post, we bring your attention to the bands whose music has a decided pop sensibility in their sound.

In case you missed any of our TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 so far, including the two-part guide to UK rock acts and the two-part guide to UK electronic acts and DJs appearing at this year’s SXSW, get it all here.

Arthur Beatrice
Carrie writes: “The moniker of elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice was “formed from the notion of opposites coming together to complete perfect wholes,” according to the press release for their new album, ‘Working Out’, due for release next Monday. The bisexual band name seems singularly appropriate given the band’s juxtaposition of male and female lead vocals, alternated seamlessly between the velvety singing voices of Ella Girardot and Orlando Leopard. The instrumental sound is a cross between smooth jazz and electro dance with moments of uptempo rhythmic pacing provided by brothers Elliott and Hamish Barnes on drums and bass, respectively. Hamish Barnes’ pulsing bass is a major element of Arthur Beatrice’s sound, maintaining a constant groove throughout ‘Working Out’.

Read Carrie’s full review of the band’s debut album ‘Working Out’, released just last month, here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpCVIg6h_Zo[/youtube]

Cairn String Quartet
Carrie writes: “The Cairn String Quartet specialises in creating instrumental arrangements of rock and pop songs, spanning across subgenres to cover songs by Aerosmith, Beyoncé, Daft Punk and Mumford and Sons, to name just a few. Their most recent EP release, titled ‘#Quartetquickies’ includes a version of ‘The Mother We Share’ by CHVRCHES, and their last full-length album, ‘One’, features arrangements of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’ and ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Read the rest of Carrie’s Bands to Watch on the group here.

Charli XCX
Most of Charlotte Aitchison’s music is what pop on Radio 1 sounds like these days, but it’s the more interesting tracks of hers like ‘Allergic to Love’ that don’t fit into any other box that deserve more attention. A little punk, a little swagger, and less of that purely manufactured pop, please.

Daley
In the post-Justin Timberlake ‘Sexy Back’ world, it’s not a huge surprise to see an artist like blue eyed soul and r&b singer Daley doing well on the back of a couple of EPs, even without a debut album to his name. The young Mancunian has already collaborated with rapper and BBC Sound of and MTV Brand New for 2011 alum Wretch 32, been picked up for play by BBC presenters like MistaJam and Jo Whiley and sports a strong look: ha massive beehive-like hairdo that probably needs its own postal code and faux Buddy Holly spectacles (I say faux, because they’re almost comically 3-D square glasses). What’s not to love…well, if you’re a devoted, young Radio 1 listener?

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/51674258[/vimeo]

Dems
Cheryl writes: “Evocative of the trance-like melodies of The xx, London-based three-piece Dems tantalize us with their new single ‘Canvas World’. Dan Moss, David Gardener and Duncan Mann typically lay Moss’ vocals over complex pieces of artistry, but the latest single adds a guest lead vocal from guest singer Claudie. Strong and clear, she adds a depth to the melancholy Dems sound anchoring it.”

Cheryl’s Bands to Watch feature on Dems is here. You can also read the band’s answers to our Quickfire Questions – including some SXSW flavoured ones too! – here.

Glass Animals
Martin writes: “Glass Animals are experts at downtempo, atmospheric, bass-heavy songs – think Portishead having coffee with Morcheeba – while the coffee’s a tangy roast by James Blake.

Read the rest of Martin’s Bands to Watch feature on Glass Animals here.

Glitches
Sweeping soulful vocals on top of an underlying pop sensibility. It’s unusual to see a trio of guys who have the DIY aesthetic but who aren’t in the indie rock genre (Hot Club de Paris, Little Comets, the Crookes), but this will make them stand out from the pack.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP8Y_Z-wysA[/youtube]

Gulp
Gulp is a kinda sorta supergroup starring Guto Pryce (Super Furry Animals) and Lindsey Leven, with Gid Goundrey providing guitar and Gwion Llewelyn (Race Horses) on drums. Their sound? Dream pop vocals on top of whimsical, layered instrumentation. Interesting.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jBMAPx_Pdo[/youtube]

Holy Esque (confirmed on SXSW schedule 23 Feb)
Cheryl writes: “Pat Hynes’ heavy vibrato wrangles above the rapid fire drumming and ringing guitars giving it an otherworldly feel. It tints the tone of all they produce, driving the lyrics to a strange and mysterious place, irrespective of the actual sentiment in the song. This continual quavering is the natural way he sings and not an affectation to add interest, so it permeates every song. That’s fine, but it still sounds quite unusual.”

Cheryl wrote a Bands to Watch on them, and you can read the feature here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrB4Sfra8NE[/youtube]

Chloe Howl
In her synth poppier moments such as on ‘No Strings’, Howl seems to be assuming the mantle of La Roux‘s Elly Jackson. Says it all, really. She even has really awesome hair too.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7zg-M0rZM[/youtube]

Jetta
Liverpool singer Jetta croons soulfully to a minimalist backdrop the xx would be proud to call their own. Band-wise, we’ll have to see if this turns out to be more Florence and the Machine or No Doubt.

Jungle
Martin writes: “Jungle are purveyors of sun-drenched downtempo electro-soul, a facsimile of which can often be heard playing on the radio of, say, a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS whilst cruising the vice-ridden streets of a simulated Los Angeles.”

Martin’s Bands to Watch on Jungle is here.

London Grammar
We refrained from doing a bands to watch feature on London Grammar because…well, everyone else had already covered them, and judging from their early popularity on the back of their debut album ‘If You Wait’ released in September 2013, it seems like their history has already been written. They sound eerily like the xx, though Hannah Reid’s angelic voice makes their tunes feel like they should be on The Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6drfp_3823I[/youtube]

The Magic Numbers
Two pairs of brothers and sisters who have somehow soldiered on for over a decade making near twee pop and have sold millions of records. Come now, you’ve heard ‘Forever Lost’, haven’t you?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8P40WfRELU[/youtube]

Only Real
Martin writes: At first listen of something like ‘Punks And Potions’, the lead-off track of 2013’s ‘Days In The City’ EP now out on LuvLuvLuv Records, the almost out-of-tune electric guitars overlaid with a heavy dose of lo-fi chorusing are the kind of thing any number of bedroom crooners (and surely this *was* recorded in a bedroom) would put out. The arrangement is in no particular hurry, or of any particular convention for that matter, the second verse lazily arriving at the two-minute mark. But Only Real’s talent is to hide within these inauspicious strictures some impressively ambitious and thoughtful work.… Overall, the combination of a naïf approach to arrangement and production, combined with a decent ear for a melody and lyrics, make Only Real a great prospect. One wonders what he’ll be capable of when he finally emerges from that bedroom…”

Read the rest of Martin’s Bands to Watch on Only Real here.

Prides
Sounding like the love child of early ‘Oracular Spectacular’-era MGMT and bombastic ‘80s power pop, this Glasgow trio will make you yearn for the days when every band didn’t have to have a synthesiser player, just the ones who did pop right.

You can read frontman Stuart Brock’s answers to our Quickfire Questions (the SXSW flavoured ones too!) over here.

Woman’s Hour
In the post-xx world, a woman singing over dreamy, sometimes minimal instrumentation isn’t actually that groundbreaking. Or is it? Fiona Burgess’ vocals sound distant, and maybe that’s the point of this London via Kendal band: don’t think, just get lost in the music.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x1OzVibsOo[/youtube]

Keep it here, as we roll on with more of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 tomorrow!

 

Album Stream: Arthur Beatrice – Working Out

 
By on Friday, 21st February 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

One of the most anticipated debut albums of this year has to be Arthur Beatrice‘s ‘Working Out’, out next week. Ahead of the LP release, we’ve got a stream of the entire thing so you can have a listen now. If you like/love it, be sure to grab it when it is released on Polydor on Monday. And if you happen to live in London, this is a treat: the band will be performing at Rough Trade East on Monday as well.

If you’re in the mood for a more critical appraisal of their latest effort, you can read Carrie’s review of ‘Working Out’ here.

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Album Review: Arthur Beatrice – Working Out

 
By on Tuesday, 18th February 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

The moniker of elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice was “formed from the notion of opposites coming together to complete perfect wholes,” according to the press release for their new album, ‘Working Out’, due for release next Monday. The bisexual band name seems singularly appropriate given the band’s juxtaposition of male and female lead vocals, alternated seamlessly between the velvety singing voices of Ella Girardot and Orlando Leopard. The instrumental sound is a cross between smooth jazz and electro dance with moments of uptempo rhythmic pacing provided by brothers Elliott and Hamish Barnes on drums and bass, respectively. Hamish Barnes’ pulsing bass is a major element of Arthur Beatrice’s sound, maintaining a constant groove throughout ‘Working Out’.

First single ‘Midland’, released back in mid-January, emphasizes the theme of opposition that runs through the album. It opens with the silky-soft murmur of Girardot’s low register, singing, “all I want is to be warm and home, and where I’m known”. She maintains her smooth vocal tone as the lyrics turn slightly more cynical in the second verse, “purge me now, cleanse my skull from all the things I’ve been told”. The faster dance pace of the music in the refrain is ironically set to the words, “I’ll never move, I’ll never move, I’ll always be so still”, and Girardot shows off some lovely high notes in the repeated section as the keyboards and guitars are layered over the bass groove. The sensual and increasingly physical video for ‘Midland’ is as dichotomous as the song itself.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/cpCVIg6h_Zo[/youtube]

‘Carter Uncut’ is the extended edition of the aptly named ‘Carter (Cut)’ from the ‘Carter’ EP, released in July 2013. The long version begins with a slow, almost clumsily discordant keyboard intro which transitions into a smoothly melodic ostinato as the pulsing, almost tribal percussion kicks in. Girardot’s voice oozes over the opening line, “I see the way we coincide and it’s nothing more than chance”. The lyrics become a little bit nonsensical, but they seem to hint at the end of a toxic relationship. Even as the music shifts to a quicker, more rhythmic dance beat and a deeper bass pulse, Girardot sings, “I’ll never roll away the weight of you, seems too much / I’ll never hate the way I wanted to, not enough”.

‘Grand Union’ was also released ahead of the album as a single in September 2013. Here, Orlando Leopard’s smooth voice starts off soft and sensual but becomes almost villainous over the lyrics of the chorus, “Dead lungs, you’re becoming someone else’s tongue, coughing up blood, skin coming off.” The ominous instrumental bridge contains some interesting, almost disorienting sound effects that remain grounded by the foundational bass line. For another interesting juxtaposition, listen to both the original version and the Open Assembly edit from the band’s Soundcloud page.

Self-produced by the band, ‘Working Out’ is surprisingly confident and purposeful despite its occasionally abstruse lyrics and overall lack of sonic variety. The fundamental bass lines bring a sense of structure to songs that are otherwise a bit amorphous, often lacking strong hooks or catchy refrains. The effect is viscerally and sonically appealing, but few moments on the album stands out as striking or particularly memorable. A vague sense of monotony, especially in the second half of the album, is exacerbated by song titles that don’t seem to connect to the lyrics in any discernable way. However, the strong dance beats and dramatically layered instrumental effects are likely to strike a chord with live audiences at the band’s upcoming performances. Arthur Beatrice will tour America in March, prior to their appearance at SXSW 2014. They are also scheduled to play The Great Escape in Brighton in May.

6.5/10

‘Working Out’, the debut album from Arthur Beatrice, is due for release on the 24th of February on OAR/Polydor Records.

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1440: Arthur Beatrice

 
By on Thursday, 30th January 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding London band Arthur Beatrice ahead of SXSW 2014, and with good reason. Their debut album ‘Working Out’ will be released just prior to them heading out to Austin (on the 24th of February on OAR / Polydor), and this follows on from early plaudits from the Guardian’s Paul Lester, who compared them to the Sundays and the Smiths, to more recent accolades for their well-received ‘Carter EP’ and their most recent single ‘Grand Union’.

The indie pop group have now offered up this video for ‘Midland’, the first taster from ‘Working Out’. Ella Girardot’s voice has a warm quality that will remind you of early Bat for Lashes, and the music is at times atmospheric, at times dance disco. Watch the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpCVIg6h_Zo[/youtube]

 
 
 

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