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Album Review: Glass Animals – Gooey EP

 
By on Thursday, 10th April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

I’ve been, shall we say, mildly obsessed with Glass Animals since seeing them at SXSW 2014 last month. They were on my peripheral radar, one of those bands I’d heard of but never really listened to, until their oozing electro sensuality captured my attention first at Harvest Records showcase and again at the the British Music Embassy. It seems appropriate that their latest EP centers around a track titled ‘Gooey’ (promo video here) as their overall vibe does have a sort of thickness to it, a stickiness that grabs me and holds me in, though not entirely against my will.

I’ve discussed my feeling of disorientation regarding electronic music on several occasions, (read here and here for example), but I think I’ve connected to the Glass Animals’ take on it because they come from a more visceral and organic direction; the melding of the reverberant live instruments, the synthetic electro effects and the soulful R&B vocals is as palpable as it is audible. Bayley’s soft falsetto slithers smoothly around often nonsensical lyrics that are almost tangible themselves, including “I’d say I told you so, but you just gonna cry / You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes”.

The ‘Gooey’ EP contains the dizzyingly sensual original version of its eponymous track, as well as a reworked version with a rap overlay by Chester Watson and remixes by Chicago producer Gilligan Moss and Los Angeles DJ / producer Kingdom. The Gilligan Moss remix is a bit more crisply upbeat, the percussion a bit sharper, the electro sounds a bit edgier than the original. The purely instrumental Kingdom remix is ethereal and dark, even a bit harsh without the fluidity of Bayley’s vocals.

‘Holiest’ features responsively slinky female vocals by urban r&b singer Tei-Shi mingling with Bayley’s. Speaking of the collaborations on the EP, Bayley says, “I love collaborating. I love it when someone outside the group can bring something to a track that we can’t ourselves. Be it a crazy idea, a skill or something stylistic…we’re only four boys from Oxford and there’s only so much we can do musically.” However, this EP proves, if nothing else, that Glass Animals are more than willing to stretch their limits. [Then again, we already knew this from their covering of a Kanye West track down under last week. – Ed.]

7.5/10

Stream the entire ‘Gooey’ EP below. The EP is out now on Wolf Tone/Caroline International.

 

Live Gig Video: Glass Animals cover Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ for triple j

 
By on Friday, 4th April 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

Even if you hate Kanye West, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by this. Glass Animals are down under at the moment, and they decided to rearrange and redo Kanye’s ‘Love Lockdown’ when asked by national Aussie radio station triple j to play a cover for their Like a Version ongoing cover series.

White boy got groove. Watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq94NXeBOu4[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2014: last dance at British Music Embassy – 15th March 2014

 
By on Thursday, 3rd April 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

By the final Saturday of SXSW 2014, my addled brain was full to capacity with new music, new faces, and new experiences. Mary and I got off to a bit of a late start after our busy Friday (read all the recaps including my thoughts on the Communion showcase at St. David’s and more, my review of the full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s, Mary’s Friday night free-for-all featuring London, Tokyo and Glasgow bands, and Mary’s busy interview schedule), in no small part due to the rainy weather we woke up to. Mary had scheduled a quick stop at Holy Mountain (read the start of her Saturday review here), but I wasn’t officially covering any of Saturday’s events, so I was able to sneak in a leisurely cup of coffee before I headed to the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30. (Where else would we have ended up?)

Frankly, after Friday’s whirlwind of music and interviews, I was ready to let loose and dance. Happily, the lineup at Latitude 30 seemed tailor-made to accommodate me. The afternoon started off slowly with Welsh singer/songwriter Sweet Baboo, but the energy level was quickly ratcheted up by Scottish rockers Meursault, Oxford groove factory Glass Animals, Sheffield’s latest and greatest, The Crookes, Brighton-based Kins, and London jazz/funk/pop band Melt Yourself Down. Mary has already covered the acts we saw in detail here, so I will just add that I did indeed fall in love with the edgy rock of Meursault and that my second time seeing Glass Animals was every bit as steamy as the first.

By the time the fourth act, The Crookes, came on stage, I was on my fourth gin and tonic. At some point in the set, I believe I may have had a mildly embarrassing exchange with lead singer George Waite about the errant button on his shirt. I can only hope that everyone else’s memories of that are as cloudy as my own. Luckily for me, I was able to disguise my blushing with one last feverish dance to ‘Afterglow’.

Drinks at British Music Embassy, SXSW 2014

We did actually end up stretching our SXSW Saturday for just a few hours more with sushi and acts at the Hype Hotel (read Mary’s thoughts on the night here), but in my heart, that last dance at Latitude 30 was the perfect wrap up to a perfect week. I had a fabulous time, and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about it, though I did learn a few lessons that might prove useful for next time.  And yes, Mary and I are already scheming and planning for next year!

On that note, and in closing, I have to thank Mary for bringing me along with her on this year’s SXSW adventure. I had a 12-hour road trip home from Austin, and I spent all of it listening to music I’d picked up along the way, mentally revisiting the faces and places I’d seen. Despite the lengthy trip, it was an incredible week in so many ways, and I look forward to giving it another go in 2015.

Mary and Carrie, 15 March, SXSW 2014

Au revoir, Austin!

 

SXSW 2014: a flying visit to a New Zealand festival and doing a re-make/re-model at the British Music Embassy – 15th March 2014

 
By on Thursday, 27th March 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

When we woke up on Saturday, we were greeted by rain. Not just rain. Very heavy rain. So heavy initially that I considered going back to bed. But it was our last day in Austin and I intended to make the most of it. While it was a wee dreary walking around with an umbrella after so many days of carefree strolls in the Texan sunshine, when life hands you lemons, you have to make lemonade, am I right?

Carrie went to find coffee (if you’re reading all our posts, are you sensing a theme here?) and was to meet me later, having a leisurely early afternoon, while I went off in search of the London act I didn’t think I’d be able to see all week but somehow the organisational gods smiled down on me and suddenly I found I could. St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is an annual music event in Auckland, New Zealand, and at this year’s SXSW, they hosted an afternoon showcase covering both stages of Holy Mountain out on 7th Street.

I arrived too early for who I was there for, so I walked between the stages to see if my ears perked up to anything I heard. In the backyard stage when I arrived were Brisbane rockers The Creases, who have that Beach Boys-ey, Best Coast-esque sunny surf pop sound nailed down all right. Not my thing at all but certainly enjoyable enough under a tent that was keeping us dry from the elements. Far more impressive to me was the guitar singer Jarrod Mahon was playing, in a shape that defies description. Maybe ‘The Preposterous Pentagon’?

After the Creases finished, I almost got impaled by one of Bo Ningen‘s guitars (that would have been awful) and quickly went back to the indoor stage to find a very tattooed, not at all huggable one man band Kirin J. Callinan, who according to this FasterLouder article was one of the big Aussie success stories of SXSW 2014. There was nothing about his performance that screamed ‘trailblazer’ to me, but I suppose for you ladies (and certain men) who enjoy a shirtless man with tattoos performing on a guitar and screaming into a microphone, you should probably get on this bandwagon ASAP.

By this time, you’re probably wondering what the heck I was doing at Holy Mountain in the first place. I’m glad you asked! Tourist, aka London musician and producer Will Phillips, was due on shortly after 1 PM. I actually saw him skulking around outside the venue beforehand. It must be really hard to psych yourself for an afternoon of DJaying when you really want to be playing your music in a dark club late at night, but Phelps took it in stride, even taking a joyful stab at the weather:

I’m not sure how best to describe the Tourist set to you. It was way too short – it seemed like less than 20 minutes – and Phillips doesn’t sing, so when you’re watching him perform, it’s him attacking a wide array of synthesisers, sequencers and other electronic gizmos, while he’s bopping his body around, clearly caught up in the music. Dance without words is hard to explain to other people, because you have to *be* there experiencing to really ‘get’ it, to have the music pulsing through your veins.

“I tried but I could not find a way
Looking back all I did was look away
Next time is the best time we all know
But if there is no next time where to go”
-‘Re-make / Re-model’, Roxy Music

Carrie and I had decided the night before that we were going finish up at the afternoon session of the British Music Embassy, where I had made plans to meet Steve Lamacq and have a meeting of the minds there (about bands of course). The very funny thing about Latitude 30 is that no matter who you know or have met during the week and is/are British, inevitably you will run into him/her/them at the venue at some point, because it’s like Latitude 30 has a beacon only Brits can hear and they are drawn in, usually multiple times during the week, to the place.

For me, going back to the British Music Embassy would bookend a mental week of seeing bands old and new as well as seeing old friends while making new ones. I didn’t want to miss the chance of saying goodbye and best wishes to any of my friends before I left Austin. We arrived in time to order a round of drinks (it was our last day, after all) and get positioned for Meursault, a trio from Edinburgh.

I had heard of Meursault and maybe two songs of theirs, so going into their performance pretty much uneducated about them, I was surprised when I was faced by their fabulous aural assault on our ears, led by singer/songwriter Neil Pennycook. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a Scotsman be witty with his banter between songs in which where he’s practically ripping your ears off with a scream of emotion. This kind of harder rock is more John’s domain, but Meursault’s two performances on Saturday came to be defining moments of my SXSW 2014: Carrie and I were so impressed with their set, we changed our plans entirely to have an early night and swung by the Hype Hotel that night to see them again for the second time in 7 hours. I still don’t understand how another blogger could have confused their sound and called it alt-folk. That one definitely needs his (her?) ears checked. Emotionally raw vocals, raucous guitar, accompanying bass to feed the raucous sound, and driving rhythm on drums? Meursault ticks off all the boxes.

Carrie had seen Glass Animals on Tuesday at the Haven for the Harvest Records showcase Tuesday night, but I hadn’t up to that point. On paper, Glass Animals’ formula of pop and r&b with synths seemed to be right up my alley, while entirely not Carrie’s bag at all. Sadly though, I wasn’t impressed with them live. As Carrie was busy getting pregnant to ‘Black Mambo’ and ‘Gooey’, I had to wonder if my countless hours of listening to exemplary electronic music had jaded me, because their set was very much to me a “I’ve already heard that before, nothing new to see here” kind of disappointment.

Thankfully, I had the next band to look forward to, and look forward I did, as singer George Waite tuned up his bass. The Crookes, whose shows either in the UK or here in America I’ve covered on TGTF, were about to restore my sanity. It’s quite funny being in Austin with other American Crookes fans, of which there weren’t that many for SXSW 2013. However, word had clearly spread about the Sheffield band, as Latitude 30 was rammed for their 3:50 PM set.

As they played, the front section of friends new and old turned into one of the most fun dance parties I’d had in a long time, as we kicked up our heels to the infinitely rough on the edges single ‘Play Dumb’ and the driving ‘Before the Night Falls’, both of which figure on the band’s third album ‘Soapbox’ out in April on Fierce Panda. (My review of the album can be read here; it’s fantastic.) This display of unfettered dancing did not go unnoticed by Steve Lamacq, who commented on one of his first 6music programmes after returning from Austin that he felt it quite heartwarming that there were so many of us who were singing along to the Crookes because we knew all the words to ‘Afterglow’. We don’t dance alone, indeed.

“The night is still young, but the story’s so old.” The first part was most definitely true at 5 in the afternoon, but as you will read soon, my SXSW story wasn’t over just yet…

 

SXSW 2014: Harvest Records showcase at the Haven – 11th March 2014

 
By on Thursday, 20th March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Photos of Syd Arthur and Glass Animals courtesy of sourced.fm

After a brief stop at the British Music Embassy with Mary early on Tuesday evening, I made my first solo foray into SXSW 2014, heading off to the Harvest Records showcase at the Haven to see a set list that included several bands featured here at TGTF: Syd Arthur, Glass Animals and Arthur Beatrice. The venue was already packed when I arrived just ahead of the first act on the list, US-based music producer Young & Sick. Already a successful graphic artist and album artwork designer, his self-titled first album is due out on Harvest on the 8th of April. Judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd at the Haven, his reputation has preceded the release.

Young & Sick at Harvest Showcase

It was only after Young & Sick finished playing that I was able to take a good look around me and truly realize the atmosphere of the event. I edged a bit closer to the stage between sets only to see that the stage and wings were roped off from the general audience area, and that the seating in the wings was occupied by members of the bands on the docket and (presumably) their label and PR people. My hopes for grabbing any interviews with the bands were dashed, but I have to admit to watching the behind-the-scenes action with interest while I waited for Syd Arthur to begin.

Syd Arthur at Harvest Showcase

Syd Arthur’s brand of old school psychedelic rock was kind of a strange contrast to the slick, ultra modern feel of the Haven. Their violinist had a hairstyle mildly reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, and his technical prowess on the violin only served to strengthen that mental analogy in my mind. Despite the sound problems that were beginning to surface on the stage during their set, Syd Arthur melted the faces off of those of us standing near the front.

Glass Animals at Harvest Showcase

Next due on the bill was Oxford-quartet Glass Animals. My only previous experience with them was our own Martin’s Bands to Watch feature written back in October 2013. Little did I know that I was about to be blown away in my second amazing new band discovery of the day. Glass Animals’ languid bass grooves and smooth vocal melodies quickly heated up the otherwise chilly room. Before I even realized it, my body was grooving right along with the dizzying ‘Psylla’, and when they played their hot new single ‘Black Mambo’, I was irretrievably hooked. (Luckily, I had the opportunity to see Glass Animals again on the Saturday; keep an eye out for our coverage of that day’s events.)

Arthur Beatrice at Harvest Showcase

Of all the bands on the Harvest showcase, I was most anxious to hear Arthur Beatrice. I wasn’t madly in love with their album ‘Working Out’ when I reviewed it, but I was interested to see if the songs would have more personality in the context of a live performance. To that end, I wasn’t disappointed. The group’s slick, groovy sound, and particularly their vocal harmonies, took on a more lively energy than what was captured on their recording. Lead singer Ella Girardot was in good voice on the night, hitting high notes that left us literally gasping (even the unfortunate one when her vocal mic cut out). Sound issues plagued the performance in a few spots, but the overall impression was that Arthur Beatrice had made their mark on the American audience, particularly with their catchy single ‘Midland’. Keep your eyes open for this band in the near future.

I left the Haven after Arthur Beatrice to catch a couple of local Austin bands at another nearby venue. The conclusion of the Harvest Records showcase was slated to include Australian band The Preatures, solo artist BANKS and Los Angeles-based togetherPANGEA.

Thanks goes out to my gig partner for the evening, Jordy Fujiwara.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin’s Bands to Watch on Jungle is here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 
 

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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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