Things changed here in April 2019. TGTF will be further evolving in 2020. Stay tuned!

SXSW 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Video of the Moment #2229: Cloud Boat

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd November 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

London electronic duo Cloud Boat released a new EP in mid-October. ‘Man of War’ represents a significant shift in sound for the production pair from ‘Model of You’, their second album that was released in the summer of 2014. On their newest effort, the title track single sees lead singer Tom Clarke’s vocals put through a far more echoey filter than on their last album, giving the track an almost psychedelic feel. Also, instead of the dreaminess of past successes like ‘Hideaway’, ‘Man of War’ the song has a far more confrontational approach, offset in part by the eeriness of faraway-sounding synth notes. One guess: reflective of what’s going on in our society at the moment? Watch the promo video for ‘Man of War’ below, a collection of moving images related to the excitement surrounding and the subsequent disorientation of spaceflight. To read through TGTF’s archive of posts on Cloud Boat, use this link.

 

Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

2014, 2014, tsk tsk tsk. When it came to live shows, you put in some tense situations where I couldn’t understand the lead singer in his normal speaking voice (Glasvegas at DC’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in February), feared for my life because the heat was proving a bit too much (Slow Club at Sheffield Great Gatsby in May), got grossed out by other punters’ grinding (Glass Animals at DC’s U Street Music Hall in July), and needed to take a train to another town and back, all in one evening (Fatherson at Edinburgh Potterow in October). But it was in good fun, as you were always entertaining. Here are my top 5 live experiences this year:

5. The Dig at Black Cat Backstage (4th December 2014) – watching a band you’ve come to know and love evolve over time, and who just keep getting better and better, is probably one of the greatest blessings given to a music editor. The Dig, who I saw support Editors 4 years ago, are one of those bands. December gigs are hard to pull off in Washington – people are lazy to come out once the weather turns cold – but they came out in droves for this show Thursday night the first week in December for the New Yorkers. They’re ready for their close-up, folks.

Reminisce through TGTF’s back catalogue on the Dig through this link.

4. Glass Animals at Glasgow CCA (17th October 2014) – after you’ve seen a band many times, the gigs all start to blur together, especially you’re seeing them when they’ve only got their one debut album to promote. Glass Animals shows are always interesting, if only to view the wildlife on display in the audience, but the Oxford band were in fine form even on the last UK date on their tour in October. I was expecting them to be completely beat, after returning the week before from a whirlwind North American campaign and subsisting on far too little sleep. Perhaps it was the party atmosphere in Glasgow on a Friday night, the CCA stuffed to the gills with punters, that turned this gig up to 11? Vibes, man. Vibes.

Glass Animals have been a favourite at TGTF since last year, and you can read all of our coverage on them here.

Glass Animals at Glasgow CCA

3. Fenech-Soler at Brooklyn Glasslands (5th April 2014) – good things come to those who wait. Or so the saying goes. Even though I had to trek up to New York for this one, Fenech-Soler was definitely worth it for me to finally hear songs from both their debut album in 2010 and 2013’s ‘Rituals’. I haven’t danced that hard in ages. (Meeting Ben and Ross Duffy and getting to chat with them for this interview was definitely a personal highlight of 2014 as well.) I waited 4 long years to see electro-pop band Fenech-Soler to do a proper show in the States, and since I saw them at this show (at a venue that sadly will no longer exist in 2015, sob), they’ve done a couple tours in our country, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Our pretty comprehensive archive on Fenech-Soler here at TGTF is this way.

2. Maximo Park at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (20th May 2014) – like Fenech-Soler, Maximo Park was a band I had missed seeing, and for even longer (beyond 6 years). It had nothing to do with them never coming to DC; I was either not here when they’d come or the show I’d had tickets to see them at had been cancelled. If you’ve never seen Paul Smith and co. perform, wow, you need to do yourself a favour and rectify that ASAP. I came to appreciate their latest album ‘Too Much Information’ much more after seeing it performed. Also, you always know the band you’ve come to see play is pulling out all the stops when the set list spills out over 2 pages. I’m looking forward to the next time they return to Washington. And to those asking, yes, Paul Smith really does give those reinforced trousers a workout.

Check out our writings on TGTF on the Geordie band here.

1. Royal Blood at DC9 (20th July 2014) – this gig can be best summed up with one word: PHWOAR. Perhaps my only prior experience with Mike Thatcher and Ben Kerr – Thursday at SXSW 2014, playing Lammo’s BBC Introducing night – didn’t sit well in my head because there is always too much background noise from other acts in Austin to really concentrate and appreciate on just one. At their first, and I might add rammed, headline show in DC, eyes and ears all glued on them with good reason. As those who waited for them to play at the John Peel stage at Glasto this year know, this duo from Brighton pack a massive punch in their successful effort to bring hard rock back. Best new British guitar band? Forget it. Best new British guitar duo’s where it’s at.

All of TGTF’s coverage on Royal Blood is right this way.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2014. The runner-up gigs are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 

Interview: Cloud Boat (Part 2)

 
By on Thursday, 30th October 2014 at 11:00 am
 

This is part 2 of a massive interview with Cloud Boat. Go here to read part 1.

Cloud Boat and I switched gears to discuss their latest release, this year’s ‘Model of You’, released in July. At first Tom seemed anxious about divulging his thoughts to me. “Nonspecifically, it became more expensive as we tried to have a bigger palette of sounds and expressions. We tried to explore a wider space, really. I think the first album was quite narrow in its production and its kind of sound choices. That’s not a negative thing at all…but we had more means on our second album, so we used it the best we could.” Sam explains further about their humble recording beginnings: “If we’d been able to record with a live drum kit, grand piano, a harp on the first album, we would have done it. But we had one microphone, one amp in the bedroom and that was it.”

I then asked if they were like most electronic-type musicians I’d come across, being very OCD about the way things sound and the way things come across because they’re in charge of everything behind the scenes, including all of the production. Tom disagrees: “we’re probably the opposite. We like to do things differently every time to see (what happens). We don’t need to record the vocal through the same mike, through the same pre-amps, through the same compressors every single time because it might sound better (recorded differently). I wouldn’t like to do everything the same every time in case it could have been done better another way.”

Sam chimes in: “…because we’re not producers first. When you say a lot of electronic artists, they probably started making music in their bedrooms making beats and things and have become almost scientific in their production. We could never sit at home and make a track with a mix that would sound good on the dance floor. I’m essentially someone who has grown up playing guitar and Tom has grown up singing. We have always thought of ourselves as a band, and that’s why working with a producer on the second album (Andy Savours, who has worked with My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros) meant that the science of everything was taken out of our hands, and we were just free to be creative. So in response to us having any sort of OCD, there isn’t any of that. The more happy accidents, the better.”

Tom adds, “there has to be a level of spontaneity in live music and recorded music in order for it to stay exciting, I think. If you know that everything is going to stay the same every single time, it becomes monotonous and you won’t be able to be excited about it.” Sam describes an unusual part on one of the standout tracks on the new album: “There’s a part of ‘Hideaway’ on the record, we recorded it at The Crypt in North London, which is fairly sort of renowned, they’ve got a baby grand piano in there. It was Friday night, I was just doing all the piano takes for everything, I hadn’t written any of the parts. We did four songs for which I’d worked out the parts and recorded them between 6 at night and midnight. Me and Andy went and had a massive slap up dinner at this really nice restaurant opposite. We came back and the room was freezing and I was really tired. There is a chord on the end of ‘Hideaway’ in which I kind of creak on the seat, and there’s this noise or something. Andy wanted to cut it out from the recording and I was like, ‘you’re leaving that in’. It’s really, really quiet, but knowing that, there are bits and bobs on the record (like that) when there’s a sound when there’s not supposed to be (one) there, you use that sound as a focal point instead of getting rid of it.”

Speaking of strange noises, I just had to ask them about the goat noise on ‘Portraits of Eyes’, which I’d Tweeted them about the morning of the Soup Kitchen show. “It’s actually a guitar”, Sam admits. “I’m pretty sure it’s a guitar with loads of tremolo on it? And I suppose it’s really high.” I express my mock disappointment that there was no goat onstage in Manchester. “But how would you make it go on cue? You’d have to get a goat that could mime. But I’m pretty proud now that I could make a guitar sound like a convincing goat though. We’ll try and get another animal on the next album.”

I next put the question to Tom about the origin of ‘Aurelia’, one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs on the new album, and if suicide was the theme he was going for in the lyrics. “I studied French existentialism in university and did my thesis on Camus”, he replies. “There’s a lot of that running through (the album), not suicide in the particular act, just the idea of it, not like explicitly. I like to use those themes and try and create something that sounds like a specific moment in time, a specific situation that reflects those themes. Not a situation I myself have personally experienced, but something I’ve created in my mind with those themes.”

I asked him how he felt about the majority of dance / electronic music’s lyrics being throwaway, with the primary intention for the beats to get punters out on the dance floor. For Tom, it has become a more personal thing and that has bettered him as a person too. “For me, it’s important to feel like singing the song is worthwhile, to be able to give something of myself to it. I’m not a confident person, and I’m not an outspoken person, I don’t like people to know too much about me. There is something, it probably sounds quite cliche, but there’s something very therapeutic about, whether directly or not, telling a load of strangers something about yourself.

“Whether they know it or not, telling them something about yourself you’re not necessarily comfortable with is, like, massively therapeutic and good for you. I think it’s good for you, and it’s been the best thing for me over the last however many years. It’s good for your mind, I think. People say that if you struggle with depression and whatever else, and talking about things like that directly is almost the best medicine for that. In those kind of frustrations and thoughts and existential ideas, talking to people directly about them has been really good for me…But I think the lyrics are almost cryptic enough in telling them. I know what I’m telling them, and I know what I’m thinking, but they don’t necessarily. It’s kind of selfish in that sense.”

I next ask about ‘Thoughts in Mine’, what I consider the other massive song on ‘Model of You’. Sadly, the song was not included in the set in Manchester due to time constraints. Sam considers the tune “the most biggest departure for us. We were in the first studio, writing it in Dalston. Tom had this big vibe he called ‘Little Orange Buckle’, and it had a pretty weird beat in it, and we set up all these synths and started pissing about. We thought it might be kind of fun trying to write a song that didn’t have any guitar in it, and that was sort of the challenge in that. As a result, it’s a departure from anything from the album, and certainly from the first album, and that’s why it’s later on the record.”

I query Tom about the lyrical content, citing that the first time I’m heard his words, it immediately made me think of Morrissey‘s ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’ (“I am now a central part / of your mind’s landscape / whether you care or do not”). “Yeah. There’s a Deftones song as well that has this idea, I’ve been listening to it, it’s on my phone but I forget what the title is. It has this idea like the thought of occupying someone’s mind but it sounds stalkerish, that kind of like describing being close in proximity to someone and being inside. I really loved that, because it’s obviously not actually true, but the thought of using music words to make it sound like a specific situation. It’s not so much about a specific person, it’s more about me, (in) quite a lot of the lyrics I describe myself as another person and write about myself. So that’s kind of in that song a bit. I like writing about a person that’s me and writing it from another person’s perspective.”

We then turn our attention to ‘Carmine’, which was picked up by NPR, who then went on to write several nice features on Cloud Boat’s music. “The NPR thing was great”, extols Sam. “The press team for the record were looking for the outlet with the best reputation and reach for the music, and NPR was what they decided to go with. The press side of things is something we’re not particularly comfortable with, and we are guilty with sort of letting our team get on with things, which may not be the best thing to do.”

The video for ‘Carmine’, however, is something they are more than eager to talk about. “That was done by a good friend of ours”, says Tom. “Neither of us are visually inclined”, laments Sam. “Whether it was the fonts, the artwork, the merch, the videos…we’re quite useless. So basically, our friend Chris (Toumazou) who did the video, we trusted him with it. Music videos are something we struggle with a little bit, because something you’ve spent so much time making orally, to then have someone put a visual to it and it doesn’t come anywhere near what you feel for the track, it’s quite rare, I think. We enjoy hanging out with Chris; for a serious artist, he is a fucking hilarious guy. He’s like this little clown! He had this sort of idea, and we gave ourselves to him pretty much…I didn’t really have anything in my head of what I expected the video for that song to be like before we did it. But if I had, it definitely wouldn’t have been that.”

‘That’ was the promo filmed in a working laundrette in Barbican, London, filled with actual customers. Sam continues: “It was a really surreal day. We were all really busy, and it just happened that there was just one day where we could be in the video. The laundrette was still open while we were filming, so they blacked out the curtains. There were lots and lots of old people who obviously went there every Friday to do their laundry, they would come in and find their way through this curtain…So we sort of shot the shots round so people could then use the free machines. It was really fun, it was brilliant, it was a great day. I dunno, I remember the first take, when the main lady mouthed the lyrics, we watched on in the monitor. They shot it sped up to then slow it down to get the sort of crazy movements. I remember it being really sort of powerful. I remember thinking, ‘wow, this is really good’. It wasn’t the setting I would have imagined for the song, but in trusting the director, we got a result we didn’t really expect but we were really happy with.”

As a final question, I asked the three of them if there were any band secrets no-one else but them would know. Tom says he shaves his legs, to which Sam quickly quips, “but we all knew that!” I am not sure whether or not this is true, since naturally they’re all in jeans. So I ask if they have any musical vices, to which Sam is quick to answer. “I think people would probably be surprised with the amount of heavy music we listen to, including really old shit heavy music that we liked when we were 15. I think people would think if we were to get into a van with that band for a week, they probably would not expect full-on metal…When we first started releasing music, we kind of got lumped in with serious, weed-smoking bedroom producer kind of vibe, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

This leads into a discussion over what bands Cloud Boat do get compared to. “Almost always the comparisons are flattering”, says Sam. “We get compared to some really weird, obscure bands, like Cocteau Twins”, replies Tom. “This Mortal Coil”, Sam contributes, “but I’d barely even heard of them. I listened to Cocteau Twins and thought, ‘that’s brilliant!’…Luke, the bassist of face + heel, said some of my guitar playing reminded him of Low, who I’ve never really listened to.” Tom adds, “I’ve heard Moby, This Will Destroy You, bands that don’t sound anything like each other! Which is always good…I suppose it would be really bad if you’re in a rock band, and every night 10 people came up to you and said ‘you sound like Weezer.’…I’ve settled for electronic post-rock, and I don’t even think it’s very accurate, but for when people ask, that’s a broad enough spectrum of sounds.”

Andres, who has been pretty quiet up to this point, interrupts with, “a guy I know said we sound like Moby and Mogwai.” Then they get into an argument over what a project between them would be called. Mobwai? Mogwy? They are, however, in agreement that a collaboration between those two artists would be amazing. “I’d listen to that”, says Tom.

Many, many thanks to Tom, Sam and Andres for this wonderful interviews. Best wishes, fellas.

 

Interview: Cloud Boat (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 29th October 2014 at 11:00 am
 

This is part 1 of a massive interview with Cloud Boat. Part 2 posts on TGTF tomorrow.

I’ve done interviews on tour buses. I’ve done interviews on outdoor festival grounds as well in indoor venues during city festivals. But I can say for sure I’ve never been invited back to the hired flat of a band to do an interview. (Don’t worry, they were on their absolute best behaviour!) Timing didn’t work out for me to have a chinwag with the chaps of Cloud Boat after their rousing set at Manchester Soup Kitchen on the 11th of October, but like them, I was in Liverpool the next night (though I had committed to see Tom Vek at the Kazimier), so we made a date to meet up after the more difficult bits of the evening were out of the way. Cloud Boat comprises Tom Clarke (vocals, lyrics, electronics) and Sam Ricketts (guitar, electronics) plus live touring member Andres Perrera, officially part of prog rock band Arkestry, and all three of them were happy to chat with me in the wee hours of Sunday night into Monday morning about their latest album, the sophomore ‘Model of You’, their UK tour and their feelings on the music industry today.

The first topic I bring up is the historical rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester that existed long before their footy teams started warring, as it just so happened that Cloud Boat played Manchester followed by Liverpool this weekend. I was curious if they could detect different vibes from the two cities, especially given their background as Southerners. “On a boring level, Saturday night in Manchester gave it sort of an edge to Sunday night in Liverpool”, said Sam. “I also thought both support bands in Manchester (face + heel and Hartheim) were really, really good. In terms of atmosphere, there’s a certain level of excitement to both cities, I think. It was only our third time in Liverpool and we’ve been to Manchester a few more times than that…There are so many great bands from both cities. We listened to the Smiths on the way to Manchester; I’m sure we would have listened to the Beatles on the way here if we’d had them on CD! But yeah, any of the big cities, there’s always a feeling of a wealth of history.”

Tom holds a different view: “I always feel like Liverpool is way more vibrant than I expect. It has quite a strong reputation for being quite a down to earth, working class city because it always has been. But it’s way more, I dunno, more exciting. It’s probably wrong for me to expect that it wouldn’t be, but when you come here, there are loads of cool different restaurants and bars and venues. And down by the waterfront, it’s all been redeveloped and it’s really cool. Every time I’ve been here I’ve been more surprised by how vibrant it is. And with Manchester, you know it’s got a solid, good vibe. Everyone’s friendly, there’s a nice community spirit there, it’s just a nice place to be.”

“We were discussing how all the venues in Manchester are great,” says Sam. “It’s sort of like as big and exciting as London but without the masses of competition.” Tom interjects, “and the drama. There’s no drama to Manchester like you would get in London. In London, there’s so much theatre involved with everything, with everyday life, but with Manchester, it’s a bit more simple, which is nice.” The singer is quick to give kudos to the promoters of the Soup Kitchen show the night previous: “And with Now Wave, the people we played for, they’re some of the best promoters going as well, it doesn’t get much better.”

Liverpool was the sixth show of their October UK tour. “We have a couple more shows, we’re home for a week, then we’re out for 3 weeks to the mainland. It’s been really good,” Sam says. “We’re doing a festival in Holland (Let’s Get Lost in Zwolle), and then there are a few shows in Germany, then Copenhagen, then back through Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, back to Germany, then to Paris.” I ask if they feel that they get a different kind of reception on the Continent compared to when they’re back home in England. “It’s a hard question to answer without seeming like you taking a slight with our audiences, but I think what we’ve found with mainland audiences are slightly more open-minded and more open to enjoying whatever is presented to them. I feel like in the UK – and I’m probably as guilty of this as anyone is – you want to know who you’re going to see and what they’re going to do. Whereas I feel like when we’ve played for audiences who haven’t known us previously, we’ve felt a sort of warmer reception in Europe. And that goes to say when you’ve got people who are more open-minded, they’re more likely to come see you again, so we’ve always looked forward to playing in Europe more than the UK. Also, the adventure of not being at home and going over there, you sort of lose yourself a little bit more and maybe play better as a result.”

Tom goes further: “The whole system allows people to be less inhibited as well. Venues are subsidised by the government and bands enjoy playing there because they get paid and they’ll get fed. And people there can afford to buy tickets. In London, or in the UK, venues are struggling to stay open, bands are struggling to play, people are struggling to afford to buy tickets to go, that’s not an environment anyone really wants to be involved in. I think it’s a big shame, and I think it’s become more like this in the last 10 years. It’s hard in the UK. Until you’re playing 1000-cap venues, where you’re given dinner if you’re lucky, the people who come in and watch you, you’ve got to be in at 7:30, out by 10:30, you’re getting frisked by security wherever you are, the toilets stink and aren’t well kept. There’s a lot wrong with the UK system.”

Sam describes an experience they had as support on tour in the Fatherland. “You can go to Germany and play in what is essentially sort of some left-wing stronghold squat with the best PA, the best staff, the best beer, the best catering, and everyone’s nice to you. They’ll have an apartment, maybe above the venue. Like we did this lovely old theatre in Leipzig when we toured with Forest Swords. We arrived late, we’d driven 11 hours, we had 20 minutes to sound check, but they were all really nice. We got paid well, we got fed well, and they were all like, ‘we’d love to have you back’. Whereas in the UK, it doesn’t feel as much like that. That’s not to say we don’t like playing in the UK. I’d hate to come across as sort of ungrateful to anyone who’s put us on in the UK, because it’s hard for them, and it’s extremely hard for promoters. I know I couldn’t be one.”

“That’s the thing. There are so many great bands and great promoters, and loads of people who care, and there are loads of great venues. It’s just the way the system works,” declares Tom. “It’s almost wholly down to the government and the arts funding. They’re just completely fucking it and they know they are, but they don’t mind because there’s a massive detachment between culture and arts and the current government, and it’s only getting worse. But that’s not to say I know the recipe to fix it.”

I ask Tom what he thinks about music piracy, as part of the music industry that has changed so much in just the last 2 decades. “I think it’s difficult, because in one sense, you want your music to be as readily available to the widest audience possible. That’s the optimal goal. In one respect, piracy and streaming and all the rest of it does that, it makes you readily available to everyone all around the world, for a very small amount of money or no money at all. So in that sense, you can become accessible to a lot of people, but in the other sense, you get paid fuck all. And if you’re getting paid no money, it’s not sustainable.”

Sam chimes in: “On top of not getting any money, I think people care less about the music. I will raise my hand and say I’ve downloaded music for free, but I would like to think (other people would do) like how I’ve gone to see a band, or bought a vinyl or a shirt at a show. But not everyone’s doing that. We all come from a background where we’ve grown up listening to hardcore and metal and screamo, the sort of bands where they just want to be able to go on tour and just make enough money to get to the next gig…Majors are worried about people downloading the Lady Gaga album for free, I’ve never done that. I can’t relate to that, really. Whenever I’ve downloaded a record, I’ve then gone out of my way to go and support that band. I wouldn’t mind if someone downloaded our discography if they came to see us every time we played in their city.”

But Tom brings up a good point about the disconnect even streaming and the advent of mp3s has caused in the business: “That’s the thing, like you said, if you’ve downloaded something, you felt like you needed to justify that by going to a show. Because of Spotify now and people buying everything on iTunes, people don’t have the sense they need to justify that kind of cheapness with buying a ticket or buying a hard copy of a record. People don’t have that sense anymore. You can just literally listen to it on Spotify and then cut it off, and you don’t need to have that attachment to a band. I think (what) a lot of people, I suppose, are missing now is having some sort of a relationship with a band.”

Sam agrees, pointing out a good alternative for smaller bands: “I think things like Bandcamp, it’s a nice way of, on a smaller level, of being direct with your fanbase…Radiohead obviously are a good example of putting ‘In Rainbows’ being pay as you want and the new Thom Yorke’s torrent-based thing. But they’re also famously anti against that platform (Spotify)…There are examples of people doing cool things, but until you break that level where you can fill rooms and sell enough (albums) so that your record label aren’t constantly pulling their hair out, which for most bands, what labels make money anymore?”

Speaking of labels, I asked how they caught the attention of the bods at R&S Records, who reactivated their Apollo imprint and released Cloud Boat’s debut album ‘Book of Hours’ on it in 2013. Sam explains: “This story goes back quite a long way. We originally knew an A&R at R&S through James Blake. He picked up a couple of tracks, which ended up on the first album, for a 10″ on R&S. We sort of became a band and never really knew how to release music or make music or anything. From having nothing, we suddenly had this release on R&S. And we had nothing else recorded. So it took us a while to take a step back and make the first album. And then Renaat (Vandepapeliere), he’s the ‘R’, he said, ‘I’d love to put this out on Apollo’. I don’t think he would have let us say no if we wanted to!…There was a wave of artists R&S wanted to put out, I think it was in 2010? James Blake, Pariah, Space Dimension Controller, Vondelpark as well.

“Compared to them, we were one of the smaller acts, but it was really exciting to be part of that. And Renaat brought Apollo back for the more traditionally ambient things, and alongside Nadine Shah and the live side of Apollo, it made sense to stay there for the second album. He’s a really passionate, supportive guy. Plus I don’t think he’d let us go anywhere else!…He’s terrifying and intense, but the guy lives and breathes music. Sits at his laptop all day…The first time we met him, I don’t think he even knew what we did or who we were, he said, ‘Any of you can call me, any time of the day. If I don’t answer, I’m making love. But call me, any time of the day.’ That completely stuck with me.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of this interview, which posts on TGTF tomorrow.

 

Live Review: Cloud Boat at Manchester Soup Kitchen – 11th October 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd October 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo by Mary Chang; other photos by Martin Sharman

Many moons ago, I had seriously entertained moving to Manchester. The common question from local friends: “why would you ever leave America for some place that rains all the time?” Over the years I’ve become friends with quite a few musicians from the place and even if it weren’t for all the people I know there, there is no denying that the city is the North’s main hub for music and bands. While I’ve visited several times now over the last 8 years, I’ve only ever seen shows at the Apollo (Morrissey; Fenech-Soler supporting), the Opera House (Morrissey), Bridgewater Hall (Morrissey), Gulliver’s (City Reign) and the Deaf Institute (Dutch Uncles with Fiction supporting; the Orielles; School of Language), and I still haven’t made much of a dent on the enormous list of venues whose doors I’m still yet to pass through. Really though, there have only been two venues left I’ve been really keen in visiting for gigs: Peter Hook’s FAC251 and the Soup Kitchen. I had the opportunity 2 Saturdays ago to finally see a show there and by one of my favourite electronic artists as of late.

Located on Spear Street in the ridiculously vibrant Northern Quarter, The Soup Kitchen is smack dab in the middle of all the action. Although it’s only been open for 2 short years, it has already become a meeting place for locals not only for their amazing food. As the name suggests, they do amazing soup (among others, Johnny Marr is a fan), as well as maintain a brilliant seasonal, entirely from scratch in-house menu. But as you can imagine from me spending the time writing up this feature, they play host to some pretty fab gigs too, most often put on by local promoter legends Now Wave.

Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control, Martin and I missed the two opening bands on this particular night, but thankfully we arrived just in time to catch Cloud Boat’s full set. As often happens at the madness that is SXSW, I missed both showcases by the London trio, but as it turns out when I had a word with them after this show at Soup Kitchen, coming out to Manchester to see them was probably for the best anyhow. (I also had a lovely chat in the wee hours of the morning with Tom, Sam and Andres in Liverpool the following night, and you can expect that interview feature with them in the coming days when I’ve finally come to from this jetlag.) I’ve blathered on long enough about the venue, let’s talk about the band and the show!

Cloud Boat released their second album for R&S imprint Apollo Records in July, so it made sense that ‘Model of You’ would be well-represented on this evening. ‘Carmine’, their opening track for the evening, was the perfect start of what was mostly incredibly atmospheric, gorgeously made music. The gentle sweetness of ‘Hideaway’ also made an early appearance in their set; from that point on, I was at a loss for words. These days I feel like I don’t come across enough vocalists that make me weak in the knees. Tom Clarke possesses a gift, an often ethereal voice that seems couldn’t have come from anywhere but the heavens, and I just don’t understand how the full package of Cloud Boat isn’t more famous and popular yet.

While I was disappointed that one of my favourites from ‘Model of You’, ‘Thoughts in Mine’, didn’t make the cut in Manchester, the performance of ‘Aurelia’ more than made up for the omission, with its upbeat tempo and Clarke’s repeated refrain of “wondering if I should dive in” making for sure one of the standout moments for the night. ‘Portrait of Eyes’, with its glitchy beats and haunting vocals, proved also imposing, with the lyrics, “the first page of my map is in colour / a scrapbook for all that I love / the second page of my map is all selfish desires / and looks like the work of a child”.

I may say it too often, but I don’t really care: I think some people get the massively incorrect impression when confronted with a band that has loads upon loads of electronic equipment and gadgetry onstage that it indicates a lack of heart and a lack of talent. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Us fans of any genre touched by electronics know that if anything, the true artists of this kind of music work that many times harder to prove that they’re the real deal and not reliant and are entirely unlike the manufactured pop stars of our generation. Many times, and also true of Cloud Boat as you will read in my interview with them, their musical backgrounds didn’t even start with electronics. So before you judge a band by their gear, I urge you to listen to their music with an open mind and an open heart.

Tunes from their debut ‘Book of Hours’ also made a welcome appearance. ‘Bastion’ was pure beauty in its sparseness, and being able to hear songs from both albums at the same gig shows you immediately how the band has progressed and evolved. The biggest shame of the evening was that they couldn’t have played longer; as it was a Saturday in Manchester, there was a dance night to follow after Cloud Boat’s set, which meant an early curfew. But I’m not going to complain too much. I’m really happy to have finally have seem Tom, Sam and Andres live and this show in this Northern town has whet my appetite for many future shows and hopefully many more releases from the London act. Wishing you every success, guys.

 

Album Review: Cloud Boat – Model of You

 
By on Monday, 7th July 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

London’s Cloud Boat released their debut album ‘Book of Hours’ last year with fanfare on Apollo Records, part of the reactivated R&S empire. In some ways, their 2014 follow-up released today, ‘Model of You’, stays on the same course as its predecessor: there is a method to the duo’s madness, in the wonderfully measured way they’re able to create soundscapes seemingly effortlessly. This is all well and fine if you’re looking for the same kind of sound. Without a doubt, Tom Clarke and Sam Ricketts have buckets of talent between them and depending on the day, I’m sure many people would be quite happy with the majority of this album in their headphones, lying on an idyllic beach somewhere. I know I could.

However, two standout tracks on the album at positions 8 and 9 of this 12-track album – and even the opening track that builds into something aggressive, ‘Prelude’ – hint that this LP could have gone somewhere else entirely, somewhere more obviously dance floor-friendly. ‘Aurelia’, a female name derived from the ‘aureus’, Latin for ‘golden’, follows directly after less than the 2-minute beauteous instrumental ‘Golden Lights’. Singer Tom Clarke emotes, “I’m thinking about stopping it all” and “wondering if I should dive in”; the words weave an interesting story that leaves you wondering if he sings “you’ll see here and watch me get clean” because he’s trying to become absolved of his sins or he’s about to end his life. Unlike the instrumental that proceeds, it’s a monster of a track, with huge beats and guitar flourishes on show and a super infectious chorus.

‘Thoughts in Mine’ begins a slow burner of a track, with dangerous echoes and Clarke’s voice almost a whisper. It’s not until the second verse when the synths are introduced, the beats come to the forefront and Clarke’s intention comes across fully: this is a song about second guessing, the questioning of how and where a relationship went wrong (“I won’t stop until the love lost all makes sense”). It’s the electronic sister of Morrissey‘s ‘The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get’, with similar borderline stalker tendencies (Cloud Boat’s “I’d never tell you but I live in your head, floating around like the thoughts in mine” vs. Moz’s “I am now a central part of your mind’s landscape, whether you care or do not”). Except this entry from Cloud Boat is far more catchy, with the synths creating glittery, shimmery shapes throughout, adding to the aural experience.

As rich-sounding as these two songs are, they stick out like sore thumbs from the rest of the album, which tends to run in a gentle and dreamy, xx / Beach House direction. ‘Hideaway’ is a uplifting, more positive tune than those of the 2010 Mercury Prize winners, and ‘All of My Years’ is slower and more contemplative than the Baltimore duo. Previously revealed tune ‘Carmine’, a remembrance of a childhood friend, is perfection in its minimalist, sweeping sumptuousness. With its brighter, less shadowy production, ‘Model of You’ is also more pop than ‘Book of Hours’, meaning that it will likely gain the act a wider following: for direct evidence of this, look to this NPR First Listen feature that ran last week, indicating the duo is well on their way to achieving a higher profile in America.

But this also means the duo had to sacrifice some of the quirkiness, some of the lovable rough edges of the previous one. Final track ‘Hallow’ (stream it at the bottom of this post) best bridges the best of old and new: it’s accessible, with Clarke’s soulful vocals, yet there are synth and percussive elements to keep things exciting. It’s a beautiful ending to the album, but it just seems a pity it took us 39 minutes to get there.

‘Model of You’ is definitely an interesting album: there are goats bleating on the James Blake-y ‘Portraits of Eyes’, for goodness sake. I just wonder how much greater the impression would have been on the listener if the song order had been rearranged to lead to a more compelling climax.

7/10

‘Model of You’, Cloud Boat’s second album, is out today on Apollo Records. For all Cloud Boat coverage on TGTF, including details of their October 2014 UK tour, go here.

 
 
 

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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us

Privacy Policy

Keep TGTF online! Donate here.