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Album Review: Hannah Lou Clark – The Heart and All Its Sin EP

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd March 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Though she can’t be considered a relative newcomer (she put out her first EP back in 2014), Hannah Lou Clark is still in the process of building a name for herself. Now on her third EP, ‘The Heart And All Its Sin’, she’s taking things to the next level and presenting herself open and bare, something which can only aide her ascent. Pretty much dissecting various aspects of mostly the darker side of love, Hannah does it spectacularly with her own relation to these feelings rather than a fictional storytelling.

‘Matilda’ describes the support that relationships often require, especially around decision-making. She pleads “give me strength, help me out” during the introductory verse, while the crunching guitar fills the space around it, adding to the vulnerability of the statement. It’s when the chorus strikes that the track gains power and leads into bargaining statements of “I’ll be your lover, I’ll be your friend”, as if to buy a guarantee for the help needed. As mentioned previously, the music reinforces the emotional weight behind what Clark is trying to convey, and it does so brilliantly, the chorus crashing in as if to back up the bargaining.

While the opener may go into the vulnerable side, following track ‘Don’t Sweat It’ takes things to a more desire-filled place. Perhaps backing this up most is the pre-chorus line “champagne takes the edge off me, I cling to you like a baby”, where inhibitions are forgotten thanks to a bubbly pal, like we’ve all needed it. The music has a groove that insinuates the looseness that comes with such activities: drums roll around the musical space while the guitars are still sharp, representing the deep-set desires.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JDU1K_A52U[/youtube]

Going from the carnal to the delicate, ‘We’re Rich’ is billed as a “love song…pure and simple”, and that couldn’t be more of an accurate description. In case the title didn’t give enough away, it centres around the idea that fulfillment in life comes from the relationships and bonds we form, rather than the materialistic possessions that is built into our psyche by society. The track has it all: sparse guitars and a string accompaniment. Pretty deep stuff, and if it doesn’t pull at your heartstrings, then shame on you. ‘Grief Underneath’ takes all the above and turns it all into a secret you know you shouldn’t keep, which the ultimately tugs at your conscience. Portraying it with pounding drums and pretty much the same guitar sound as throughout, the complexities lie in the lyrics instead, where the psychosis that comes from betraying your morals takes precedence over common sense.

So finally, what happens when all of the above sins of love come together? You get ‘Torment Love’, where the sins take the love you’ve formed inside, making the whole a destructive burden. Letting the weight of the words once again do the talking while the guitar accompanies them with a solemn repetitive nature, phrases such as “let it wash me clean, bleach my soul, bleach my heart” bring the true nature of the EP’s theme to a head.

As with most singer/songwriter efforts, the real talent of the release lies in its words. Here, Hannah Lou Clark with much complexity, yet in a strangely relatable way, tells the dark side of love through her own words and experiences. The minimal musical arrangements – your basic guitar, bass and drums – do their duty as a background canvas for the words rather than as a distraction. A strong release from one of the better-sounding up-and-coming singer/songwriters.

8/10

‘The Heart And All Its Sin’, Hannah Lou Clark’s third EP, is out on Friday, the 24th of March, on Quatre Femmes Records/PIAS. To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on Clark, follow this link.

 

LeeFest Presents: The Neverland 2016 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 5th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

When you think of Neverland, you consider the following synonymous: timelessness, youthful vigour and a certain transcendence. In the middle of a forest in Kent, near Edenbridge, Neverland became a reality through the help of Lee and his homegrown festival Leefest 2016. Though the weather was not quite ideal upon first landing, it was far from an issue. The moment you wandered into the main arena, it was clear the only thing that would stop a good time being had would be those adult thoughts that should’ve been, at this point, relegated to the outside world. Neverland’s sole purpose over these 3 days was to be a vehicle for your removal from society and instead to provide you a good time.

Split into three main sections, The Neverwoods (main arena), Mermaids Lagoon (rave central) and Skull Ridge (rock city), you were never far from some form of entertainment. The introductory day, Thursday, saw the smallest of the lineup but definitely the strongest. With only Tootles Circus, your average festival tent, operating as a stage, all four acts were nice and accessible. Peluche and Loyle Carner eased the gaining crowd in, but it was the main attractions of Everything Everything and Ghostpoet (pictured at top) who garnered in the big numbers. With Everything Everything, they perfectly stoked the crowd’s fire and brought their unique blend of rapturous choruses and genre bending music. Conversely, Ghostpoet gave the tent a dark atmosphere with his blend of hip-hop-cum-rock-assault.

Friday brought forth the first full day affair, with Peluche once again kicking proceedings off, but this time on the main stage, aka the ‘Bangerang’ stage. The overall setup of the main arena was easily navigated but with the two stages being centrally located, sound spill was inevitable. Fortunately this didn’t happen frequently, though it’s a dangerous game to play. Highlights from the second day included Corey Fox-Fardell and his brand of songwriter electro melding, which was a particularly pleasant listen whilst grazing in front of the Bangerang stage. Little Simz proved why she is one to watch in the UK hip-hop game, leading the enthusiastic crowd through numerous chants as she dominated the beats surrounding her. In a similar fashion, Roots Manuva brought domineering and commanding beats that just reinforced the entire notion behind LeeFest: you can be who you want, and listen to what you want, as long as you have a good time. Rockers, hip-hoppers and the like were all moving and shaking to the sounds that flowed from the Bangerang stage.

Current London-based pop troubadour Oscar provided his blend of melodic darling instrumentation and baritone vocals. One thing’s for sure, you can’t not have a good time at an Oscar show, no matter the crowd size or venue. Dinosaur Pile-Up sat on top of the kingdom of chaos and noise after a headlining set at the Hook Rock stage in the Skull Ridge. It’s was a venue reminiscent of small clubs, where the noise cascades from all orifices and you’re able to lose yourself in the darkness amongst your other perspiring peers. Barrelling through their grunge/punk hybrid hits, the volume was overbearing at the front. We recommend you watch from a safe distance if you’re stupid enough to forget ear protection (a particular note to self).

The final day started off in stereotypical British style, with grey clouds and intermittent rain, but this didn’t affect the atmosphere. Hannah Lou Clark was a particular highlight: sans band, she used both her pure talents and an iPod to create a wonderfully relaxed and charming environment. Everybody’s favourite indie twosome We Are Scientists provided a particularly raucous set that included singer Keith Murray venturing deep into the crowd during ‘Textbook’, where he proceeded to enlist the help of a particularly fluorescent orange Poseidon who was amongst the crowd. Following these shenanigans was current electro-indie darling Shura, having released her debut album ‘Nothing’s Real’ in July. Delivering a captivating set that never failed to both strike you emotively and melodically, the biggest draw of Shura live is the fact she is clearly there because of the sheer love and devotion for her art. She knows what she likes to dance to and fortunately, we do too.

Originally announced to take place on the Thursday, after a mishap with the programs and the cat being let out of the bag early, the not-so-secret secret set from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Saturday evening was the perfect climax to this weekend of escapism and release. The pure fury that comes with any Frank Carter show is cathartic enough to make sure you leave with a weightlessness, one that can only be achieved by taking part in both a circle pit and storming the stage, two things this fortunate writer was seen doing.

After all is said and done, the aforementioned sole purpose of LeeFest was achieved. With pirates and lost boys running around shooting each other with water pistols and climbing aboard the decorative dens around the stages, it was impossible to not get lost in the affair. A festival that catered to both families and those of all ages looking to simply cut loose, the promise this event holds is even grander than its current fasthon. Considering this was Leefest’s largest year yet, the sky’s the limit. And with the lead lost boy at the helm, LeeFest could very well be a major player for years to come.

 

Norwich Sound and Vision 2015: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 15th October 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

After a fantastic lineup of bands on the first night of Norwich Sound and Vision 2015 Thursday, I was raring to go for another round on Friday. Of all the artists to appear at the event in East Anglia, the one I wanted to see most and had marked with big red asterisks on my schedule for my time there would be appearing at the Norwich Arts Centre that night, so I was very excited.

EKKAH, Hannah Lou Clark and Lonelady @ Norwich Arts Centre

Regular readers of TGTF know that I enjoy a good dance band that I can shake a tail feather to. So I was delighted to see EKKAH – made up of two Brummie girls named Rebecca Wilson and Rebekah Pennington, naturally – up first at the Arts Centre. Loudly self-described on their Facebook page as purveyors of “DOWNTOWN DISCO”, they didn’t disappoint with their colourful live presentation, which included the girls on vocals and their own instruments (Pennington on guitar and Wilson on keyboards), backed by an energetic band to give their sound added oomph that filled the venue well.

Ekkah live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

EKKAH’s songs have a sultriness that Donna Summer would approve of on ‘Figure It Out’. Yet there is plenty of glittery pop and r&b referencing in their music that make them totally relevant here in 2015. Even if they did a cover of ‘Forget Me Nots’ by Patrick Rushen (aka where Will Smith lifted a catchy line for ‘Men in Black’) while I was rushing out of the room to catch a glimpse and earful of my next band. They’re on tour in the UK now through November and have a bunch of festival appearances lined up, so you really have no excuse not to see them live.

A famous friend in London pointed out to me that in another life, Hannah Lou Clark was the mastermind behind FOE, a weird misfit band she fronted several years ago that both John and I adored, so no way was I missing her latest solo venture. I got a chance to see FOE perform to a packed upstairs space at LIFE club at the Great Escape 2012 during my first visit to Brighton and was reasonably impressed, so maybe my expectations were placed unreasonably high?

Hannah Lou Clark live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

Unless I feel moved emotionally by their music, I usually palm off the singer/songwriter artists to Carrie, because unless someone has an amazing voice or has some unique characteristics that set them apart from their contemporaries, they all start to sound the same to me after a while. Unfortunately for her, Clark played after EKKAH, so going from a full band with coloured lights and sparkly presentation to a single woman with a guitar onstage with no other backup couldn’t have provided more contrast. She had local support in the audience, having released her ‘Silent Type’ EP last year on Norwich label Gravy Records, whom she thanked and then got whoops of cheers in response. ‘Kids in Heat’, which appears on the EP, was a good effort live, though I couldn’t help wondering that if the volume was louder and/or she had a full backing band behind her, the effect would have been that more arresting. Guess we’ll see where she goes with it.

In London just days before, I was asked by a radio presenter mate of mine who I was most excited to see at Norwich Sound and Vision. “LoneLady. I was so upset when she pulled out of Live at Leeds.” “Was there an explanation of why? Hmm, well, she’s a fragile flower…” That isn’t how I pictured Julie Ann Campbell from Manchester at all. So I have to admit I was happy to be right, when I finally saw her onstage at the Arts Centre wielding a guitar, wearing in a dark jumper with what appeared to be a Sesame Street-themed alphabet jumper and “BEAT” emblazoned on it in coloured letters. Ha!

Lonelady live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

I had several conversations in Austin this year with male electronic artists and how there are so few female ones that have been able to rise above and become prominent on the scene. Just by name, ‘LoneLady’ seems to evoke this disparate nature, that what she is does is different and unique, separate from everyone and everything else, and this difference is refreshing. The unrelenting beats of current radio single ‘Silvering’, with its staccatoed guitar notes, couldn’t be beat (no pun intended), while the funk of the earworm that is ‘Groove It Out’ never lets up either, which worked well to get punters moving under the cover of darkness. I didn’t leave disappointed.

PINS, Beach Baby and Black Honey @ The Mash Tun

I’ve never been a fan of PINS. When their star first started to rise, I had a listen to their early stuff and was nonplussed by it. Okay, so it’s lo-fi with guitars, and it’s nothing special. What exactly wasn’t I getting? The clue probably was that it was the kids who were responding to their music, as it completely passed me by. Or at least now I can say I think I was searching too hard and looking for the wrong thing in them. When I finally saw a whole set by them in Norwich, it finally clicked for me like it had when I saw the Vaccines play live in DC 2 years ago.

PINS live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

While there’s an attempt at aloofness on the lyrical delivery on one of their earlier hits ‘Girls Like Us’ and more recent song ‘Young Girls’ (gee, notice a trend?), this isn’t the kind of music you should be taking a magnifying glass to, or to have some deep emotional bond to either. It’s the kind of music you jump up and down with your friends when the band invite you onstage to do so, which several very excited fans – both girls and boys – got to do with much glee. If you can leave your pretensions behind at the door, you can have a pretty good time getting drawn into the world these girls have created. (You might not even have a choice: I was invited by their lead singer to stand close to her while they performed, but I got away with not doing so as I was taking notes!)

Continuing the fun at the Mash Tun were London band Beach Baby, who are currently in New York this week. This should tell you something about the hype behind them; until I saw them on the bill for Norwich Sound and Vision, I’d never heard of them but apparently their cool factor must be up to 11 if they’ve already made it out over here for CMJ, including two shows at Baby’s All Right, aka where the most hyped UK bands always seem to land first when they come stateside (Glass Animals would have played their first American gig proper there last May if Dave Bayley hadn’t fallen ill).

Beach Baby live at Norwich Sound and Vision 2015

As you might rightly guess from their band name, their sound is pretty surf-y, with plenty fanciful guitar work and a disaffected vocal suggesting they’re so cool, they’re over themselves already. I suppose this is a good way to think, to be egoless, as they already have two massive (drunk) fans in Norwich: danced like no-one was watching, the pair stood near the singer and kept yelling “mega!” at him all night. To his credit, the band’s singer took this ball and ran with it, humouring them, saying they were going to name their next single ‘Mega’ in their honour. Snort.

My final band of Friday night were initially another mystery to me too, but they turned out to be so much more than I had expected. Although they’ve been trying to maintain an aura of anonymity in a way similar to what Mancunian recluses WU LYF were doing back in the day, after their appearance in Norwich, Black Honey can hide no longer. The Brighton group have that scuzzy, lo-fi sound that is all the rage these days with the indie kids. But the difference with this band over many others of the same genre – even PINS can’t compete on this level, I don’t think – is the charisma of their blonde, bass-playing frontman Izzy B. Phillips.

The way she talked to the crowd, it suggests she doesn’t really give a monkey’s, which is subversive in a Johnny Rotten kind of way, but it’s also oddly endearing. I don’t think it’s an act; when she told the audience they had new t-shirts for their current tour and they were selling them after they got offstage, she reminded everyone that, “you know, we need to eat.” Within the confines of lo-fi, the elements of psych and surf rock are there, and I can even hear a bit of No Doubt and Wolf Alice when Phillips puts her guard down long enough to expose her softer side, if only briefly. Oh boy, did the kids go mental over Black Honey, cheering and screaming for them after every song. If their first reception in Norwich is anything to go by, this band has got it in the bag.

Oh, and they also have a stage prop (unfortunately, I did not get a photo of him). A lawn flamingo, oddly named Jerry. You work that one out. Poor thing almost got his head bashed in by one of their guitarists, overexcited by the gig. Hope they have a spare…

 
 
 

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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.

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