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Glass Animals / October 2014 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 4th June 2014 at 8:00 am
 

Update: shows in Manchester (11 October), Bristol (15 October) and Sheffield (16 October) have been added today (30/06/2014). Tickets for those three dates go on sale Wednesday the 2nd of July at 9 AM.

As if they weren’t making enough waves even before their debut album is officially released by making the premiere stream of their debut album an interactive experience on their official Web site this week, Oxford’s movers and shakers Glass Animals have announced four live dates in the UK in October, with the promise of additional dates to be added. The tickets for the below dates are set to go on sale today (Wednesday the 4th of June) on a part of the band’s Web site, though I’m not sure when (which is why I’m posting this very early Wednesday).

My review of ‘Zaba’, which will be released on Monday (the 9th of June) on Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label, can be found here. The band are also touring the UK this month; all the details are this way.

Friday 10th October 2014 – Liverpool Magnet
Saturday 11th October 2014 – Manchester Sound Control (added 30/06/2014)
Monday 13th October 2014 – Brighton Haunt
Tuesday 14th October 2014 – London Oval Space
Wednesday 15th October 2014 – Bristol Thekla (added 30/06/2014)
Thursday 16th October 2014 – Sheffield Plug (added 30/06/2014)
Friday 17th October 2014 – Glasgow CCA

 

Album Review: Glass Animals – Zaba

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd June 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Glass Animals are releasing their debut album next week on Wolf Tone, legendary producer Paul Epworth’s new label. As one of the label’s first signings, there’s palpable pressure in the air for the Oxford band live up to their label boss’s past massive successes (hello, Adele‘s ‘Skyfall’ and its many awards). But a better touchstone to use for the purpose of this review is a band Epworth produced several hit singles for some years ago, Friendly Fires.

Upon seeing them live for the first time in Washington, I thought the St. Albans trio were the most exciting, inventive electro dance band to come along in a long while. While ‘Zaba’ is definitely unique, it shares several key traits with ‘Friendly Fires’ that made it a great album to me back in 2008: interminable soul, an essence of funk and a knowing slickness one would not expect from such a young band. Even better, this entry from Glass Animals has beguiling lyrics too. That’s not something you can say about most dance albums. Score! Drummer Joe Seaward described the album to me last month as “…braver, bolder, and more confident” than the previous releases described by our Martin in his Bands to Watch feature on them last year, which is a good description of the results.

A glance through of features on the band around the blogosphere, you will notice that frontman Dave Bayley is reticent on the subject of his lyrics, even going so far as telling The Line of Best Fit’s Huw Oliver, “…I don’t want to ruin it like that for other people, just in case there’s some weirdo out there who’s come up with some kind of personal meaning to it”. Okay, so this ‘weirdo’ is going to bite. While ‘Zaba’ is full of esoteric and sometimes silly lyrics, I think I’ve managed to glean several song themes that will hopefully make it easier for those of you who might otherwise find the album hard to digest. And if you can wrap your head around the sometimes intellectual, sometimes sleazy but always entertaining lyrics, you will be rewarded.

First though, let’s talk about the instrumentation, shall we? Rhythmically, ‘Zaba’ is a wonder, with conventional drums and bass augmented brilliantly with a slew of electronic beats played live by multi-instrumentalists Drew MacFarlane (MacFarlane? hmm, that’s interesting…) and Ed Irwin-Singer and drummer Seaward. This means the band is already making a compelling sound even before Bayley has uttered a single note, described well in a quote from Bayley in the album’s press release: “The sound of the record is like a backdrop of man-made wilderness…”

Incredible attention to detail by way of jungle sounds – birds chirping and their ensuing echoes, the scratchings of other animals, water dripping, the crunch of leaves as they rustle, the not quite stillness of an idyllic hideaway – have all been added, lovingly, to the atmosphere. If you’re listening to the album on headphones with the lights off in your bedroom, you could successfully trick yourself into thinking you’re actually in the rainforest. (I did.) In that respect, the band have done well by the album title’s inspiration, children’s book The Zabajaba Jungle by William Steig that Bayley points out as one of the album’s influences. At the midpoint of the album is ‘Intruxx’, the closest Glass Animals gets to an instrumental on here; the tune is shrouded in the musical layers they’ve woven together here and sounds, amazingly, like something from another world.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQYC2EfzZZw[/youtube]

In current single and standout track ‘Pools’, the intoxicating dance beats serve to mirror the theme of the song: the intoxicating feeling of falling in love. It’s easy to get swept up in the percussive nature of Bayley’s mostly one, some two syllable lyrics (“I smile because I want to / I am your boy”) and the equally addictive tropical rhythms led by joyful marimba. It’s also smart: who wouldn’t want to sing along and dance to a song this fun? ‘Walla Walla’ and ‘Wyrd’ gives one the feeling of being inside a carnival machine: wicked beats and loads of things to appeal to the senses.

True to its name, 2013 single ‘Black Mambo’ slithers around every turn, its sinister guitar strums and too sweet to be true notes as hypnotising as a snake charmer. As I saw the manic crowd become mesmerised to the song and Bayley’s sultry vocal delivery of it at Liverpool Sound City this year, I fell under the song’s spell and sensed that yes, Glass Animals are going to do extremely well in America. Their sound is urban and soulful enough to get mainstream airplay here, and when they do get on our airwaves, agree with me, it’ll be a coup to get a song about a sloth talking to a mole on commercial radio, won’t it?

Admittedly, I thought from the words of previous single ‘Gooey’ (read Carrie’s review of its EP here) – “you just wanna know those peanut butter vibes” – that this all was a joke when I heard it months ago. I just couldn’t take it seriously and would laugh every time it came on 6music. (When I met and interviewed Bayley and Seaward in Liverpool last month, I just had to ask about the line, to which Bayley quipped in response, “it made sense! It makes sense in my head. But some weird things make sense in my head!”) But apparently I was right in some regard: when pressed by Australia’s Vulture Magazine earlier this year, Bayley explained it as “about youth and naïvety and childishness”. Phew. (Though to be fair, I assumed the lyrics “I can’t take this place / no I can’t take this place / I just wanna go where I can get some space” spoke less of naïvety and more of escapism.)

XFM recently asked children aged 10 or younger to provide their own reviews of ‘Pools’. When was the last time you heard a song ever possibly being described as “…sounds like an ice cream, melting on the seaside” or “it sounds like a rabbit dancing in my garden”? When was the last time you heard a pop song being described like this and you weren’t embarrassed? But lest you think the band is less than serious about what they’re doing, just watching the band perform the song for Australian radio station triple j and lay down the ethereal beats live is quite instructive, giving you a better appreciation of what electronic artists do in the live setting, especially if you’re not an electronic fan. (Want more? We went positively gaga over their cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’, also recorded in Oz.)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbuBIPYKSu0[/youtube]

The colourful nature of the music and accompanying fanciful album art by American illustrator Micah Lidberg may peg them as lovable psychedelic electro nerds, but there is no escaping that the band members’ love for hip hop since childhood has informed the overall vibe of ‘Zaba’. Having grown up with yet not relating at all to gangsta rap and its recurrent themes of misogyny and violence, it’s refreshing for me to listen to an album that is every bit as sonically arresting as some of the groovier, more melodic moments in rap, hip hop and r&b (Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, Tupac’s ‘California Love’) and also enjoy the lyrics without wincing.

Album opener ‘Flip’ confronts fear and the feeling of being trapped via anticipatory slow build-up, while an impressive coolness comes off the finger snaps and the chill of Bayley’s falsetto flow in the exemplary earworm ‘Hazey’; if the latter isn’t chosen for a single release, I’ll be very disappointed. The only shortcomings to ‘Zaba’ are the last two tracks: ‘Cocoa Hooves’ was released previously as part of another EP and its immaturity comes through when compared to the more forward-thinking tracks included on the album, and the jungle vibe appears to have been lost on ‘JDNT’, feeling out of place. But seriously though, after getting all thoroughly vibed up and in the mood in the first nine tracks, who’s counting?

There is a sleekness and smoothness to ‘Zaba’, which is all the more awe-inspiring once you learn Paul Epworth provided executive, not heavy-duty lifting on the production of Glass Animals’ debut album, allowing the band pretty much free reign in the studio to do as they pleased. If this polished sound is what the band sounds like now, then we can only expect greater things from their future releases. ‘Zaba’ is a beautiful escape from our urban wasteland: a worthy respite where you can expand your mind through sound and soulful vocals and feel that much freer.

8/10

‘Zaba’, the debut album from Oxford’s Glass Animals, is out next Monday (9 June) on Paul Epworth’s new label Wolf Tone. Before embarking on their first headline tour of America in July, the band have a short UK tour beginning on the 14th of June in Cardiff, and just last Friday, they announced an intimate show at home at Oxford Jericho Tavern for the 26th. They will also be playing a free lunchtime in-store at London’s Rough Trade East on 13 June right before the UK tour begins.

 

Video of the Moment #1524: Glass Animals

 
By on Tuesday, 20th May 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

It’d be far too easy to call the video for Glass Animals‘ ‘Pools’ trippy. A boy made out of clay visits a forest and gets attacked by but escapes an evil wizard, and this all happens before a visit is made underwater. After that…the video gets beyond me. Frankly, you could turn the sound down and just watch the gorgeous stop-motion animation with clay figures and animals, but then you’d miss the dance-inducing rhythms and soulful vocals. Watch the video in all its glory below.

TGTF’s most recent run-in with the Oxford band was when I chatted with Dave and Joe of the band before their appearance at this year’s Liverpool Sound City. You can hear that interview here.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 16th May 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

For all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way; for all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link.

Saturday at Liverpool Sound City 2014: on the homestretch now, but it’s also sad to know that something you’ve waited for all year is about to end. But I had something unusual to start my last day in Liverpool with: if it’s not music in Liverpool, it’s got to be football, innit?

The legendary John Peel was famously known as a Reds fan (good man) so it makes sense that the football tournament taking place during Sound City, a major music event for the town, is named after him. As much as I am a footy fan, I’d still not managed to make it to Chavasse Park, the nice stretch of green hovering above the hulking Liverpool One shopping district, over the last 2 years for the John Peel World Cup. That all changed this year when Geordies Boy Jumps Ship, the nice boys I’d met the previous night after I’d rocked out to their music, invited me to come watch them play five-a-side as Boy Jumps Ship F.C. Or as they had said, eke through a couple rounds of five-a-side and wonder why they’d agreed to play in the first place, the morning after they’d gigged at the festival.

I am sure John and Martin will get a kick out of this, but as can probably imagine if you’ve met me before, I’m not an athletic person (I prefer to be a sports bystander) so arriving at Chavasse Park, surrounded by loads of cute boys (albeit exhibiting varying shades of intimidation and being generally loud to match the intimidation) was akin to me being a duck out of water. I was, however, dressed to the nines for this, as I was sporting my new, perfect red Steven Gerrard jersey obtained from Anfield on Wednesday. So nyah!

Soon enough, I found the Boy Jumps Ship fellas in their white kit and even though the matches were only 10 minutes long, everything I watched at the park that afternoon was tense and fast-paced. I have to say, if you’re going as a spectator to this event, it’s sure a lot more fun cheering on your mates. Football expert John has said (threatened?) that he needs to participate in the tournament next year, so keep that in mind as a definite reason why you should attend Sound City 2015.

I didn’t hang around for the finals but from all accounts, Boy Jumps Ship was doing pretty good when I’d left to meet up with my next interviewees, Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward, who were sound checking with their band Glass Animals at the Kazimier. The Kazimier, along with the Zanzibar, would prove to be the most important venues of the night to me, which judging from this post-event report from famed Liverpudlian music man on the street Peter Guy, turned out to be a smart move.

Red Found Glory @ Zanzibar

While I waiting for my next interview subject Tommy Wright, the well-coiffed frontman for Young Kato, who was delayed, I had time to kill. Going off our Irish friends Kodaline‘s earlier Tweets, I skulked around the inside of the Zanzibar to look for them, as they’d said first band up Red Found Glory were a good shout and they were hoping to make it in to see them before they were due on to headline at the Cathedral that night. (I guess they are friends?) I don’t know if it was anxiety waiting for Tommy or if these guys from London were just not very unique, they were a good enough rock band I suppose but nothing special jumped out at me.

Glass Animals @ Kazimier

I thought I’d mosey back to the Kazimier for Glass Animals‘ set. It’s quite ironic that Carrie fell in love with their music (at the Harvest Records showcase Tuesday night at SXSW 2014) before I did, because the dance / urban sound is much more my thing than hers, but I really wasn’t having any of “those peanut butter vibes” initially. Saturday at SXSW during ‘Black Mambo’, Carrie was going mental (then again, it was everyone’s last day in Austin, so everyone present was already sauced by noon) and maybe I was off that afternoon, but I wasn’t completely sold. Until I saw them in Liverpool, that is. Playing to a daytime crowd in Austin at Latitude 30 is entirely different than playing a rammed Kazimier, filled down the front with women with drink in hand, grooving to the music in their summer dresses. Maybe it was the magic of Liverpool that made me finally see what I had been missing for months?

While Martin waxed philosophical about them in October of last year and described their song ‘Exxus’ as having “mellifluous mellotron mixes with otherworldly, disembodied voices, as if Gyorgy Ligeti and Edgar Froese were having a bromance right there in one’s Eustachian tube”, I found something more tangible and oddly down to earth about the band’s sound. Songs like ‘Hazey’ from their forthcoming album ‘Zaba’ and yes, that ‘Black Mambo’ tune show a collected coolness from Bayley and crew that seems to be at odds with most of the music I saw at Sound City. The music slides and glides seemingly effortlessly and judging from the fact at their first American headline show in New York Wednesday night sold out well in advance, America is ready for Britain’s latest hip dance export. It was inevitable that they would end their set with ‘Gooey’, but why not when it’s the most recognisable of their songs to date and the one that brings the house down every time?

I rushed away after them to the Brooklyn Mixer with every intention of catching Pennsylvania’s The Districts. You’re probably wondering why I was bothering to catch a band from the state directly due north of mine, but I had a good reason: I missed them at this year’s SXSW. Just like Thursday night, I knew something was amiss when I arrived. For one, there were all these non-Anglicised shouts of approval and I had to ask someone at the door who was playing, because they didn’t look American. I guess the Districts cancelled, as a Brazilian band the Parrots had stepped in for them. I stayed for a short while since I didn’t like what I heard, I went back to the Kazimier to ready myself to see We Have Band, who I’d been waiting to see for years. Who should I run into on my way back but Glass Animals loading out? A discussion between Dave Bayley and me of various places in America ensued. Oh, English music festivals. You never cease to amaze and amuse me!

We Have Band @ Kazimier

We Have Band‘s ‘Divisive’ from their debut album ‘WHB’, one of my favourite dance anthems of 2010, was the sole song I had on my mind initially. I figured they had to play it and if they didn’t, I’d be quite cross, ha! And it didn’t disappoint at all live. But the band had a more important mission that night with their set: to get out the new songs from their brand new album ‘Movements’. Measured in its chaos yet also glittery synth-wise single ‘Modulate’ saw sole female band member Dede Wegg-Prosser take centre stage, and she commanded attention from the word go, whether it was when she was singing or she was gyrating on stage in minimalist black clothing, which no doubt wasn’t lost on her male admirers. Another album cut, ‘Heart Jump’, was a dance revelation on steroids, with its relentless beats, and even after such a short festival set, the crowd was sweaty but yelling for more. With their flurry of synths, bass grooves and drum pad beats, they were definitely worth the wait!

After the excitement of We Have Band, I wanted somewhere to chill and it occurred to me that maybe the best plan of attack would be to stop in at the Zanzibar, where I had planned to see Young Kato later. It was with major disappointment that I learned of Dublin’s the Minutes cancelling their Sound City appearance in favour of performing in their hometown that day instead, but considering they haven’t gotten a record deal for ‘Live Well, Change Often’ in the UK, I guess it kind of makes sense that they wouldn’t bother with trying to promote an album in a country where people can’t actually buy it.

Serotonin @ Zanzibar

I’m not sure where the band Serotonin is from (there are several on the interwebs), but they haplessly filled in for the absent Irish band. Who wears black turtlenecks in Liverpool, unless you’re a beatnik from the Sixties? Also, me and another female journalist were laughing at what the frontman was ‘packing’ in his trousers… You just couldn’t take them seriously.

Young Kato @ Zanzibar

After a changeover, Young Kato were next, and I was happy to explain to punters not familiar with them about their history. Well, at least the fact that they were on Made in Chelsea, but perhaps in hindsight, that’s not a good factoid to offer up to the more discerning music fan? Either way, it didn’t matter.

Although I was situated on a sofa overlooking the stage for most of their set (hey, it was Saturday, I was tired, don’t judge), I was standing up and cheering like the rest of the audience for them. Tommy Wright did his job in ‘selling’ the free mp3 ‘Ignite’, which we gave away in this previous MP3 of the Day post; as usual, the sparkly ‘Lights’ went down a treat, as did ‘Revolution’, which seems like an unlikely competitor in a town with a band with an untouchable history with a song of the same name. Naturally, the song that concluded the proceedings was ‘Drink, Dance, Play’, which has become the band’s rallying cry: is this the sound of young Britain? I certainly hope so, I’d rather it be Young Kato than Bastille.

Public Access TV @ Zanzibar

I would have been happy with them ending my Sound City experience this year, but I was convinced by some newly made friends that I should wait for the next band, Public Access TV (not to be confused with London historical PSA-repurposers Public Service Broadcasting, who were without a doubt making a big noise on the next street over at Nation at the same exact time). After I left Liverpool, I did some research on Public Access TV to find that NME had tipped the New York band for big things at the start of the year and that Lindsay Lohan was in attendance during one of the group’s earliest performance. (Er, so what?) I’m truly confused. As I watched them, I saw nothing special: guys with guitars…playing pop with a tinge of guitar. Hello, the Strokes? Michael Hann of the Guardian has since jumped onboard this bandwagon, presuming off the back of their appearance at the Great Escape the following weekend and I’ve figured out why everyone’s putting their money on the band (finish Hann’s article and you will see what I mean).

But just because a band has talked to the right people doesn’t mean they’re good. See them live and decide for yourself. That’s the greatest thing about a festival like Sound City: it just goes to show when a great place like Liverpool can put on hundreds of bands over a weekend, you’re bound to find music that will astound, make you think, is just plain fun, or all of the above. Make the most of such an opportunity.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2014 Interview: Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward of Glass Animals

 
By on Friday, 9th May 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Oxford’s Glass Animals are riding high these days. In late April, the band appeared on Steve Lamacq’s 6music drive time programme as one of Lammo’s New Favourite Bands, and their first-ever headline show in New York City in mid-May was already completely sold out by the time I’d gotten a chance to sit down with longtime friends and band members Dave Bayley and Joe Seaward on the Saturday afternoon of Liverpool Sound City 2014.

The band had just soundchecked at the Kazimier ahead of what would be a rammed venue for their appearance. Naturally, a question about “those peanut butter vibes” came up, as did Carrie’s superlative about the band’s music having a delightfully amorous effect, whether real, imagined and/or intentional; their experience at this year’s SXSW; and their amazing cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ that was recorded while the band was in Australia.

Listen to the interview below. Under the interview, you can also stream ‘Pools’, Glass Animals’ next single. Their album ‘Zaba’ drops on 9th of June on Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label.

Many thanks to Dave and Joe for being so lovely and Becky and Matt for helping sort this chat out for me.

 

Glass Animals / June 2014 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 6th May 2014 at 9:30 am
 

Oxford dance doctors Glass Animals have just announced a tour of the UK in support of their debut album, ‘Zaba’, which is scheduled for release on the 9th of June via Wolf Tone Records. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Saturday 14th June 2014 – Cardiff Buffalo Bar
Monday 16th June 2014 – Bristol Lantern
Wednesday 18th June 2014 – London Meltdown Festival
Friday 20th June 2014 – Leeds Belgrave Music Hall
Saturday 21st June 2014 – Manchester Ruby Lounge
Monday 23rd June 2014 – Newcastle Think Tank
Wednesday 25th June 2014 – Sheffield Bungalows and Bears
Thursday 26th June 2014 – Oxford Jericho Tavern *added 30/05/2014

 
 
 

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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.

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