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Single Review: Daughter – Smother

 
By on Thursday, 23rd August 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

London melancholic folkies Daughter is having an exemplary year. We will look back at 2012 as the year where the trio not only impressed the suits at 4AD to secure a UK record contract but did the same with New York City’s Glassnote Records, who have managed to catapult both Two Door Cinema Club and Mumford and Sons into the heights of super stardom. This year will surely be remembered by me, if only for the amazing performance at SXSW at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary that I was privileged to experience. On the 1st of October, the band will be releasing a new single, ‘Smother’ (whose title I dearly hope won’t be too confused with the Wild Beasts‘ album of the same name).

Early on in the song are the lines “I want all that is not mine / I want him but we’re not right”, sung by Elena Tonra with a gentle lilt at the end of each line. The words, as they go on, prove that Tonra is not through talking about the pain of lost love. As in previous radio hit ‘Landfill’, ‘Smother’ sounds about as bleak as a suicide note; beginning first with soft guitar, the song swells to the chorus, in which Tonra asserts about her death “what a mess I will leave / to follow…” and a repeat of the lines “In the darkness I will meet my creators / they will agree / that I’m a suffocator”, when all of a sudden, the title suddenly becomes clearer. So it is about suicide, isn’t it? It’s easy to think this way until you reach the end, when you get to the most telling moment of all: “sorry if I smothered you / sorry if I smothered you / sometimes wish I’d stayed inside my mother / never to come out”. Talk about getting socked in the gut.

Have you ever experienced so much pain, so much sorrow in a relationship that broke down, so much that you wish you’d never been born? ‘Smother’ distills all this pain, neatly and so gorgeously in 4 minutes and 3 seconds. It’s the kind of pain you’d never wish on anyone, but with Elena Tonra’s songwriting genius, it’s okay, because you’re left feeling, yes, I have felt such pain. And like her, I’ve come out of it. And survived to live another day. Sometimes we should stop to applaud such a victory.

8.5/10

‘Smother’, Daughter’s next single, will be released on 7″ vinyl on the 1st of October on 4AD; it’s their first single with the label. It will be backed by a re-recorded version of ‘Run’, which was previously available on the band’s free ‘Demos’ EP.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnkzvAXWV-0[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Elena Tonra of Daughter performs ‘Tomorrow’ at Bushstock 2012

 
By on Friday, 27th July 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Last month during Jubilee weekend, Communion Records put on Bushstock 2012, the folk label’s very own 1-day festival. This year we sent Braden to cover the event, and you can read his review of the day’s performances here. But for you on this Friday afternoon, we have a unique performance by Elena Tonra Daughter at TOMS Secret Garden Stage, performing ‘Tomorrow’. Watch it in all its sun-dappled beauty below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D70Ql3IpdrQ[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Daughter perform a live version of ‘Youth’ and are interviewed in a Brooklyn motorcycle shop

 
By on Friday, 6th July 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

I was so pleased to learn that Daughter were signed – rather quickly in indie band terms, actually – to NYC’s Glassnote Records here in America. On their first trip over to America, they were filmed performing their song ‘Youth’ acoustically and interviewed by the Bowery Presents, aka for those of you who don’t know, the people that own and run most of the important indie music venues in New York City that you’ve probably seen bandied about on your favourite UK bands’ American tour date posters (Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, etc.)

I am, however, confused by the description of Daughter on these YouTube videos as “experimental folk” – how experimental can folk get? Elena Tonra sings fragile love songs. How exactly does that become experimental?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q09_o7KsBj4[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hegTB8EpyS4[/youtube]

 

Bushstock Festival 2012 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 14th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

If you’re a music fan, there was a good chance you hit a festival on this past Jubilee weekend. There’s options ranging from Dot to Dot to Field Day and in one corner of west London, there’s Communion’s very own Bushstock. Shepherds Bush lays host to a diverse selection of acts in an even more varied selection of venues. Running is borderline mandatory.

Rae Morris opens the day’s music in an incredibly crowded Defector’s Weld pub. Coming out of an increasingly vibrant singer-songwriter scene in Blackpool (of all places!) her endearing and soulful piano music has seen her tour with Bombay Bicycle Club and even be featured on the most recent series of Skins and this afternoon she wins over any doubters. Her powerful voice over slow piano lines on tracks such as ‘Day One’ prove to be a stunning way to start the day.

Not too long after it’s over to the Shepherds Bar, where the lovely folk at Communion are handing out cupcakes to go with the day’s festivities. All this and Juan Zelada is about to take to the stage. A recent favourite of TGTF, Zelada’s friendly, sun-drenched sounds all the way from Spain make those present forget about the ominous looking clouds approaching London. Complete with live band, Juan brightens up everyone’s spirits with his energetic Nutini-esque tunes.

Following him on stage with a similar band set up, but a different way of using it is Ellen and the Escapades. It’s 21st century folk in its most summery form. Happier and fuller sounding than Marling but (thankfully) more reserved than Mumford, it dances delicately on the line of purist and folk-pop to the point that you’d enjoy it at Wimbledon. It’s not hugely exciting or day changing, but for early evening, it’s enough to keep everyone satisfied.

After a quick dash about Shepherds Bush, it’s underground into the converted public toilets of Ginglik. The room smells of incense and is lit by fairy lights. The stage is relatively bright though, as many would if they were covered in this amount of smoke and as Gabriel and the Hounds take to it, the mood changes greatly. The New Yorker’s sound is dark yet uplifting. Think the xx meeting We Are Augustines and you’ve probably not got anything like this band, but the similarities are there for the taking. Nevertheless, its’ dark down here so it’s off to church!

Tonight’s closing trio all come back to back at St. Stephen’s Church. Starting off are Newcastle’s finest in the form of Lanterns on the Lake. The setting is perfect and they do not disappoint. Playing from last year’s debut record ‘Gracious Tide, Take me Home’, they fill the room with a huge sound creating a thick atmosphere of beautiful music. It’s a standout performance of tracks with slow builds and epic climaxes that left many in the crowded church in a borderline state of comatose for the duration of the half hour set.

To follow this was difficult but the Irish spirit of Fionn Regan surely won him admiration from those present as the church descended further into a state of lucid dreams. Whilst Regan never lived up to Lanterns’ incredible sound, his three record back catalogue is enough to keep his strong and yet somehow intricate sounding tracks in check. It’s another performance that lacks the sucker punch, but given the setting, it more than fits the tone.

Closing the night are Communion and Bushstock favourites Daughter. Elena Tonra’s group is one of calm music performed in both a shy and masterful way as from the off there’s attention to detail in every chord. Whilst the equipment may decide to break at will, Daughter pull through with stories of rum nights and friendly conversation. Crowd favourites ‘Run’ and ‘Landfill’ feature early on and suit their placing as they draw a crowd who’ve opted against other choices around the festival in from the rain. The songs of heartbreak and lost days fill the old building as both crowd and band get into the flow of things and the hour long set seems to go far too quickly. As the last few powerful chords of ‘Home’ break through it’s all over and it’s been beautiful. Managing to catch a few minutes of Bastille en route to the train home; TGTF awakens from sleep and dances to ‘Flaws’ before reflecting on a day that seemed a bit like a strange dream. It wasn’t perfect, but it’ll more than do. Take that, Field Day.

 

SXSW 2012: Day 4 – Communion showcase at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary – 16th March 2012

 
By on Thursday, 5th April 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

While the catchphrase of most returning SXSWers to newbies is “pace yourself”, mine would be “be sure to factor in some downtime”. And “don’t apologise to yourself if your body says to go home”. Before I went to see the Burning Ear showcase on Wednesday afternoon, I stopped into B.D. Riley’s (not knowing I’d return for an interview on Friday, then later for the Music for Ireland showcase) for a lazy pint of Harp and a plate of fish and chips. Sometimes I regret not rushing over to see Lionel Richie at the Moody Theatre on Wednesday, or not extending my gig-going over to Creekside at the Hilton Garden Inn to catch a 1 AM show in the wee hours of Friday morning to see Ed Sheeran. I was just too wiped. So I looked forward to Friday night immensely: hours of Communion Records artists all under one roof, the main room at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary. I even stopped long enough to have a meal at the Roaring Fork on North Congress – some of the best corn bread I’ve ever had, to boot – before sauntering over to the church.

That was when I realized I probably should have arrived early so I could get the correct instructions on how and where to queue. After being directly incorrectly and having stood in the wrong queue for at least a half hour, someone kind finally sorted me out and sent me to the right door…and straight into the main room.

Matt Corby from Sydney, Australia had already begun his set, so I shuffled quietly into an empty spot next to a guy who was studying his iPhone. And then started taking photos with it. With flash. The nerve. I don’t have an DSLR, and unless I’m given specific approval to use flash, I avoid using my flash as much as possible. And here was this guy just snapping away! I guess our pew was too far back for security to notice. I knew nothing about him before seeing him and even know as I’ve been writing this, I had to look up for more information on this bloke: he was a runner-up in an Australian Idol competition, so I guess he’s reasonably well known back home. But boy, when he announced he was going to play ‘Brother’, the crowd let out a big whoop. Guess they know him here too! Below is a free mp3 of his song ‘Winter’ that you can listen to.

The Staves, three sisters from Watford, were second on the bill. They were really disarming, joking about things that had happened to them the last time they had played in Austin, opening for the Civil Wars the previous autumn. Judging from the cheers, many of those people were present, but we could all join in with a giggle as a sister explained that a burly looking man stood up after one song and said (done in an exaggerated Texan accent), “did anyone else cry?” Haha (evidence near the end of the video below). But early in their set, one of them claimed Matt Corby was the devil and warned us, “don’t look into his eyes”. The audience laughed, but I had a “err…” moment, figuring that had to be some inside joke between the sisters and him. ‘Mexico’ had many fans already; new song ‘Tongue Between My Teeth’ was so beautiful in its harmonies, it gave me chills. They ended with the sad yet so beautiful song ‘Winter Trees’. Good work, girls.

Next up is a man who longer needs an introduction in the UK: singer/songwriter Ben Howard. He came with his own cheering section. Seriously. Somehow I ended up in a pew with two Englishwomen and their guys, and the two women made it very clear they were there for Ben Howard, screaming every time he talked in between songs and squealing every time he played the first note of a song on his guitar. Watch ‘Black Flies’ below.

Before Ben Howard took the stage, there was a low yet noticeable murmur going through the crowd. I didn’t know what was going on until a teenage girl across the aisle pointed towards the far wall and shouted at her brother, “it’s Mumford and Sons!” And it was – Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Country Winston and Ted Dwane were just chilling out on the side, as if you cheer on their folky friends’ performances. I was so sure that there was going to be a Mumford collaboration at some point during the night but sadly, there was not. The closest we got was an impromptu John Martyn cover performed at the end of Howard’s set, when he invited the Staves and later performer Michael Kiwanuka. I apologise for the quality of the visuals on the video below; the couple in front of me could not decide if they were going to snog (argh), talk (argh) or break away from each other.

Willy Mason had the unique (dubious?) characteristic that of all the Communion artists performing I this showcase, he was the only American. I’d not heard of him until he had been associated with Communion, so I had mistaken him for an Englishman. He has a Johnny Cash aura about him (“man in black”) but a bit of rough and tumble like the Jim Jones Revue too. The coolest thing about his performance? His drummer’s kit was connected to a strange looking contraption that stood in the middle of the stage, so that whenever the drummer hit something on the kit, something else was set off on the contraption. Sorry to say, I wasn’t moved by his performance at all.

But I was adamant about staying put for the next act. The band I was most excited to see in this showcase was Daughter. As soon as I saw their name on the SXSW bands list, I was ecstatic. And I was not disappointed one bit. Unlike the teasing nature of the Staves earlier, Elena Tonra was so shy and soft-spoken but was adorable in her shyness. “Our name is Daughter. Nice to meet you. This one’s about death.” Laughter from the peanut gallery before they started into ‘Landfill’.

That’s when I just about lost it. I think had I not been in such close proximity to strangers, I would have been a bawling mess on the floor. Through her words, it’s obvious she’s been dumped, she’s been hurt, she’s gotten her heart broken. In the song ‘Love’, she asks the lover that jilted her for some easy skirt, “did she make your heart beat faster than I could? / did she give you what you hoped for? / oh, loveless nights / I hope it made you feel good”. It’s like what they say, a woman scorned… All I can say is…wow. In my top 3 performances at SXSW, for sure.

After that emotional reaction to Daughter, BBC Sound of 2012 winner Michael Kiwanuka was a safe, if not super remarkable choice to watch after. Before he came out onstage, Ben Lovett, dressed to the nines in a debonair suit, gave a short and stirring speech on how appreciative he was of everyone coming to this showcase and their warm responses to all the performers. Kiwanuka was confident, broadly smiling through his short set. (Six songs. SIX SONGS? That’s it???) From the opener of ‘I’m Waiting’ to the song everyone knows him for, ‘I’m Getting Ready’; from ‘Tell Me a Tale’ to set closer ‘Home Again’.

I had a wonderful buzz from the magnificence I heard in that acoustically sound room, but my mind was in a state of relaxation that could not be matched anytime else during all of my time at SXSW. Thank you, Ben Lovett, for putting this showcase together and thank you, bands, for bringing me to an incredible moment of zen in Austin.

More high-res photos can be viewed on my Flickr.

 

(SXSW flavoured!) Live Gig Video: Daughter perform ‘Medicine’ acoustically for Watch, Listen, Tell

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd April 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Communion signing Daughter recently performed their song ‘Medicine’ acoustically for the first time, and Watch, Listen, Tell were there to commit it to video. Watch the beautiful performance below.

Oh my god. Can Elena Tonra be any more adorable? Stay tuned for my review of Communion’s showcase on 16 March at SXSW coming up on the site this week.

 
 
 

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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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