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TGTF Spotify Playlist: December 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 9th January 2018 at 11:00 am
 

Happy New Year! Before we forge ahead into 2018, we’d like to share our final Spotify playlist of last year, which contains all the music featured here at TGTF in December 2017. Like November’s list, our December playlist is a bit shorter than usual, this time due to us closing up TGTF early at the end of the year. As you might expect, we reviewed a handful holiday singles last month, offered up by Paul Thomas Saunders, Tristen and Elbow.

Aside from the Christmas-themed fare, we also featured a new track from Manchester singer/songwriter Little Sparrow and a rather surprising live acoustic cover of an American punk classic performed by Northern Irish troubadour Ciaran Lavery. Among our album reviews, we highlighted new releases from veteran acts Morrissey and Belle and Sebastian, as well as the recent collaboration between The Staves and yMusic. In early December, editor Mary was in England and caught the Field Music-curated Us vs. Them festival at Leeds Brudenell Social Club and she also wrote an early preview of Live at Leeds 2018. We’ll certainly be previewing more events coming up in 2018, including our annual, multi-post previewing of SXSW 2018.

If you’re looking for an easy way to discover great new music in 2018, do yourself a favour and follow our monthly Spotify playlists. All you have to do is open Spotify, type “spotify:user:tgtftunes” (no quotes) into the search bar, and click the Follow button. To keep up with all our latest features, connect with TGTF on social media via Facebook and Twitter. (And don’t forget, our featured artists love social media follows too!)

 

Live Gig Video: Ciaran Lavery shares acoustic cover of Green Day’s ‘When I Come Around’

 
By on Tuesday, 19th December 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ciaran Lavery has no problem eliciting strong and deep emotions from his listeners. I should know: he slayed the audience at Bethell Hall Friday night at SXSW 2017. As if giving us an early Christmas present, a few days ago he shared an acoustic version of a song from my formative years, Green Day‘s ‘When I Come Around’. For those of you familiar with Billie Joe Armstrong-sung original know that it’s a pretty upbeat, driven number, so how does it come across in Lavery’s slower version, his voice only accompanied by piano? You’ll have to watch it below to find out. The song is available for purchase now. To read through all of our past coverage on Ciaran Lavery here on TGTF, go here.

 

Live Review: Valerie June with Gill Landry at Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR – 9th December 2017

 
By on Thursday, 14th December 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Tennessee alt-country singer Valerie June recently finished a tour of the American West Coast, rounding things off with a two-night stand at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. Forgetting briefly that Portland has real winter, I travelled north from Tucson to take in her final show. Portland natives found some humour in my situation as I shivered in the queue outside the Aladdin. “At least it’s not raining”, they helpfully pointed out. Still, I was glad to get inside and find a nice spot at the front of the stage in plenty of time for the evening’s opening act, singer/songwriter Gill Landry.

Gill Landry internal

Landry has spent the end of 2017 touring his exquisite fourth album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, which came out in October. Having chatted with him shortly after the release, I was mildly surprised that his set list in Portland only included two of those new songs, ‘Denver Girls’ and ‘The Woman I Love’. Among his older tunes, Landry chose to play the title track from each of his first two records. The bright tone and witty lyrics to ‘Between Piety and Desire’ kept the mood in the room light, while ‘The Ballad of Lawless Soirez’ seemed to make a particularly solid impression on the audience. The limitations of playing an abbreviated support slot were apparent in Landry’s set, but his deep baritone and dry humour were more than enough to overcome them on the night.

Valerie June internal

Headliner Valerie June made a sensational entrance to the stage, attired in sparkling sequins and aqua-colored cowgirl boots, leaving no room for doubt about where her audience’s rapt attention would be focused. But her beguiling stage presence went well beyond the initial visual impression, becoming even more captivating as she switched between playing guitar and deftly plucking away at her ‘baby’ banjo. Her singing voice, while not traditionally ‘pretty’, was by turns strident and sweet, dictated by the character of her songs. June’s expressive range proved itself incredibly broad, working as easily in the slow bluesy drawl of ‘Love You Once Made’ as in the sassy, uptempo rock of ‘Shakedown’. Between songs, she waxed both poetic and philosophical, and her speaking voice was equally hypnotic as she weaved a continuous, free-flowing narrative through her set list.

For her part, June was more forthcoming with songs from her own most recent LP, ‘The Order of Time’, which was released in March. Amazingly, she touched on 9 of its 12 tracks from it in her generous set list. The only notable absence was album opener ‘Long Lonely Road’, and I’ll admit here that I was so dazzled by June’s performance that I didn’t actually miss it until I reviewed the set list after the show. About halfway through the set proper, June treated her audience to a couple of novelties. First was a song called ‘Train Fare’, which she penned for the Blind Boys of Alabama and which features on their recent LP ‘Almost Home’. Then she invited Landry back onstage to join her for a deep dive into her back catalogue, in the form of ‘Rain Dance’, pulled from 2010 EP ‘Valerie June and the Tennessee Express’.

Valerie June internal 3

From there, June lingered on tracks from her 2013 debut long player ‘Pushin’ Against a Stone’, with ‘Tennessee Time’ garnering an especially warm reception from longtime fans in the crowd. Perhaps less well-known was her cover of Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin’, which nonetheless won a few hearts after June related her discovery that their songwriter Lou Reed had become a fan of her music in his final days.

Valerie June internal 2

June’s band, including ‘The Order of Time’ producer Matt Marinelli on bass, was in top-notch form through the entire performance, but she gave them particular time to demonstrate their chops during the encore. After slow-burning versions of ‘If And’ and ‘Astral Plane’, they dug into a cheeky soul cover, ‘I’ve Been Lonely for So Long’, before ending with June’s own gospel-style celebration, ‘Got Soul’.

IMG_1598 2

I began 2017 in Portland, hearing Gill Landry open for Bear’s Den shortly after the New Year. I ended the year in the same city, seeing Landry for a second time and discovering a new favourite artist, Valerie June, along the way. The symmetry might be superficial, but it illustrates a general process that has led me to some great music, by artists I might never otherwise have heard. I hope to share many more such happy coincidences in 2018. Stay tuned to TGTF in the New Year!

 

Live Review: Us Vs. Them curated by Field Music at Leeds Brudenell Social Club – 2nd December 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 6th December 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds is one of those mythical places that you have likely heard of due to its connection to Wakefield’s finest the Cribs. But unless you live in Yorkshire and/or have attended Live at Leeds over the years, you’ve probably never visited the place. That’s the boat I was in until last Saturday, when for a second year running the venue, in coordination with Futuresound Events, put on a Us Vs. Them festival showcase curated by the most prolific musicians of the North East, Field Music. (Last year’s was curated by Welsh band Los Campesinos!) TGTF have been long-time supporters of the Brewises and since it so happened I was in the vicinity of Leeds (er, sort of…it’s a long story, ha) and the lineup was indeed pretty amazing, I thought it was my editor duty to stop in.

The Cornshed Sisters (Tyne and Wear)
They’re folky, they’re poppy and they have connections to Field Music, which make them a convenient addition to this evening’s bill. The ukulele-playing Jennie Brewis is Peter Brewis’ wife, and Liz Corney plays keyboards and sings backup in Field Music. As you might expect for women from the North East, they are women with minds of their own and they have wit, judging from jokes about their live drummer Ian Black, who fronts his own band SLUG (keep on reading this review), and a dinosaur. I won’t spoil the latter for you, you can ask them yourselves when you see them live; it’s toilet humour, but remarkably high-brow toilet humour.

The Cornshed Sisters Us vs Them 2

Anyway, right, back to the music. I arrived at the Community Room after they’d already begun, a crowd listening to them in rapt attention. Their second album ‘Honey and Tar’, was released in early November, and is filled with catchy tunes and important meaning. ‘Jobs for the Boys’ was introduced as “one of the misogynists”; its peerless four-part harmonies superbly infectious for reasonably weight subject matter. The mostly a cappella ‘Sunday Best / Small Spaces’ is a welcome treat, its second half led by Jennie Brewis conveying something so simple – being in close confines with a loved one – beautifully. It always feels odd to me to hear Americana folk somewhere outside of my country, but the Cornshed Sisters do it so well.

SLUG (Sunderland)
Inside one Mr. Ian Black of Sunderland lives a truly depraved mind. Who else would come up with a song entitled ‘Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic’? But let’s leave that gem for a moment. The far more important thing to note about Black and his band is their commitment to rock, rocking out and doing so in a way that is off the wall mad. And it’s absolutely brilliant. Whether it had to do with him throwing off his glasses and running to the Main Stage like the crazy ginger he is, or if he was just having a bad night, guitar problems delayed SLUG’s set.

SLUG Us vs Them 1

In exchange for the delay, his drummer played a pretty rad solo with funny interjections about the location of the cowbell in his kit while Black was stuck trying to tune several different guitars. When the boho-looking band finally got started, a good chunk of their playing time had already evaporated, leaving the group to play out their set with‘Cockeyed Rabbit…’ and the sleazy, percussion-driven ‘Greasy Mind’ and ‘Running to Get Past Your Heart’. (Seriously, how has a SLUG song *not* managed to appear on a Wes Anderson film yet?) The best I can do is to describe them as a certain sweet convergence of pomposity, squealing guitars and buzzy percussion. If you know anything about Field Music and their North East friends, they are unpredictable and don’t do anything linearly. And just as I saw at The Great Escape 2015, SLUG’s music is always fantastic.

Emma Pollock (Glasgow)

Emma Pollock Us vs Them 2

Ex-Delgados Emma Pollock has a funny story about being invited to perform at this festival. She explained she herself had curated an event to celebrate Kate Bush and that the Brewis brothers attended the event when it was being put on in Glasgow this past spring. Great minds and all that, eh? Performing only with her voice and guitar and accompanied by a keyboardist, her performance was a stark contrast to the boisterousness of the Cornshed Sisters earlier. Lights of red and blue swathed Pollock in an eerie glow, her voice strong, yet haunting, providing the most wintry-feeling set I saw all night.

C Duncan (Glasgow)
A month prior to this, I saw C Duncan open as a one-man act for Elbow at the 9:30 Club and was already wowed with what he could do solo. Here, finally, was my big chance to see Chris Duncan with a full band. As you might expect, the bigger setup leads to a far more robust and exciting sound than is achievable with a one-man band, even with a laptop and synths available at a touch of a button.

C Duncan Us vs Them 1

This is probably most obvious with the joining of three male voices in perfect harmonies on ‘Say’ and ‘Like You Do’. While an appreciation of choral music is of course not a prerequisite to liking C Duncan’s music, having witnessed evensong the evening before at York Minster was a good reminder of Duncan’s achievements recording and tweaking versions of his own voice for an ethereal choir sound on record, as well as organizing the live performance of his music. The innocent, dreamlike qualities of ‘Do I Hear’ from his second album ‘The Midnight Sun’ come through on the oozy, woozy lyrics, as Duncan waxes philosophical on the early halcyon days of a relationship. Ever fallen in love? This song, like many of C Duncan’s orchestrations, makes your heart swell. It’s wonderful to be invited into this special world, with a sweeping grandeur you can be a part of. It makes me want to stretch my arms out and throw them around, er…Paris?

Warm Digits (Newcastle)
Time for something heart pumping and in a different way. North East duo Warm Digits, fine purveyors of wonky dance beats, with the guest vocals of such luminaries at Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell on ‘Growth of Raindrops’ and Field Music themselves. They were exactly what the doctor ordered on a chilly night in Leeds, turning the Community Room at the Brudenell into a Berlin discotheque. By the time I arrived, the room was packed and I wasn’t going to push my way to the front. People weren’t exactly bumping and grinding to their music at the back; more heads appeared to be craning to see the projections of cartoony images and splashy big words in bold colours behind the pair. Hopefully there was more actual action down the front?

Dutch Uncles (Manchester via Marple)

Dutch Uncles Us vs Them 1

Now on to the prolific group from the other side of the Pennines, Dutch Uncles. Songwriter Robin Richards just keeps going like the Energizer Bunny, having scored a documentary on the Chernobyl disaster-ravaged city of Pripyat last year and spent time in Caernarfon, Wales in an artist residency there. The band themselves released their fifth album early this year, ‘Big Balloon’, so they’ve got plenty to pick and choose from in their back catalogue. The bubblegummy ‘Oh Yeah’ might suggest this LP is their most accessible yet.

But not to worry, there are still plenty of weird time signatures and bops in all directions on ‘Hiccup’, impressively aggressive live. They pulled out the frenetic ‘Flexxin’ from 2011’s ‘Out of Touch in the Wild’, and it sounded as good as it did way back then. The Main Stage floor was packed out again, no doubt by people who had seen Dutch Uncles loads of times before and were eating up Duncan Wallis’ amusing stage patter and what appeared to be drummer Andy Proudfoot’s smashing impromptu rendition of Semisonic’s ‘Secret Smile’. Something tells me a good number of these folks saw them at Leeds Town Hall at Live at Leeds 2015 (I didn’t; you can thank the Cribs for that).

To conclude…
Annoyingly, in order to catch a train and to rest a wonky, swollen foot that I must have twisted the day before in York, I entirely missed Field Music’s own set. The one comfort I have, and you should have too, if you were not present Saturday night, is that the band from Sunderland have UK tour dates in March and May 2018, so you’ve got your chance in the new year. In case you have been living under a rock, they recently revealed ‘Count It Up’, the first taster to seventh album ‘Open Here’ due out the 9th of February 2018 on Memphis Industries, and you can bop your head to the highly political, supposedly ‘Material Girl’-inspired track below.

All in all, who I did manage to see at the Field Music-curated Us vs. Them in Leeds were great, excellently showcasing some of the best acts, new and old, from the North of England and Scotland. I hope the Brudenell and Futuresound Events continue this annual tradition. Really, who better is there to put together a festival but musicians who actively listen to other musicians and can choose prudently a lineup that their own fans would love to see? For more photos from the festival, visit my Flicker.

 

Ryan McMullan / December 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 31st October 2017 at 8:00 am
 

Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ryan McMullan has announced an end-of-year tour of the UK, including dates in England, Scotland and Wales. We at TGTF have previously seen McMullan supporting fellow Northern Irish crooner Foy Vance, but the December UK tour will see McMullan in the headlining role, and with a full band in tow.

Just below the tour date listing, you can watch the video for McMullan’s soulful recent single ‘O Susannah’. Tickets for the following live shows are available now.

Wednesday 6th December 2017 – Leeds Brudenell Community Room
Thursday 7th December 2017 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Friday 8th December 2017 – Newcastle Northumbria Institute 2
Saturday 9th December 2017 – Edinburgh Mash House
Monday 11th December 2017 – Birmingham Hare and Hounds
Tuesday 12th December 2017 – London Oslo
Thursday 14th December 2017 – Southampton Joiners
Saturday 16th December 2017 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach

 

Tom Chaplin / December 2017 English Christmas Tour

 
By on Monday, 16th October 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Last Thursday on Jo Whiley’s evening Radio 2 programme, Tom Chaplin premiered ‘Under a Million Lights’. As he explained, the song will appear on a new Christmas album he has in the works. ‘Twelve Tales of Christmas’ drops over a month ahead of the big day, so from the 17th of November on, you’ll be able to get this in plenty of time as a stocking stuffer for your Keane and Tom Chaplin-loving loved ones from Island Records. This yuletide-themed collection follows ‘The Wave’, Chaplin’s debut solo record that was released in October 2016, reviewed by me here. If you somehow missed it, I posted a two-part interview feature with the man back then, too. To promote the Christmas album, Chaplin has announced a trio of English gigs in December. Tickets are on sale this Friday, the 20th of October, at 10 AM. For more on what Tom Chaplin has been up to as a solo artist since the hiatus of Keane, check out our coverage of him here on TGTF through here.

Sunday 10th December 2017 – Manchester Palace Theatre
Monday 11th December 2017 – Bath Forum
Tuesday 12th December 2017 – London Royal Festival Hall

 
 
 

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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