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Album Review: Ardentjohn – On the Wire

 
By on Thursday, 28th January 2010 at 4:00 pm
 

Edinburgh-based band Ardentjohn, described on their myspace page as folk rock/ambient/pop, are often compared to Mumford and Sons. While their debut album, ‘On the Wire,’ certainly shares the same genre, it is neither as energetic and raw as Mumford, nor as ethereal and haunting as fellow folksters Fleet Foxes. They are certainly talented, so I would love to be able to say that they’ve carved out a niche that’s all their own between the two, but in reality the album is a bit underwhelming.

This isn’t to say that the album isn’t good. At it’s best, it evokes the feeling of laying in the tall grass “all afternoon, with warm sun on my back.” It has a lush, laid back sound and earnest vocals backed by solid instrumentation. The first track, ‘All That We Need’ is one of the best on the album, starting out with gorgeous a Capella harmonies and building up the backing instruments slowly throughout the first verse. Second track ‘Open Road’ is another high point. It has more energy behind it than most of the other tracks, and there is a great bit at the end of the song where it fades completely out before coming back in with harmonized “ahh-ahh-ahhs” over an intricate combination of drums and acoustic and electric guitars. A hidden gem later in the album is ‘One Step Behind,’ a song that strays more towards the traditional pop/rock genre than folk, and makes great use of the electric guitar.

Beyond these, there is nothing much in the other tracks to distinguish them from one another. They’re a bit too ambient to really grab a hold of the listener. Musically, it is competent yet nondescript. There is not enough energy and passion behind the vocals to lift many of the songs above relaxing background music, and lyrics like “I need you, I want you, can’t you see?” don’t add much interest either.

The two original members of Ardentjohn come from the Scottish Isle of Bute, and have since collected members from Crieff, as well as such distant places as New York and Alberta. I can’t help but feel that the six of them haven’t quite figured out the sound that best suits them. It’s a solid effort for a debut album, but I’d really like to see them grow into their talents. As their best songs are the ones with the most energy, they’d do well do play up their rockier side. Have a listen to the tracks on their myspace page and look out for great things from them in the future. They will be playing the following UK dates over the next month:

Friday 29th January 2010 – Manchester, Dry Bar
Saturday 30th January 2010 – London, Bull and Gate (Album Launch Party)
Tuesday 16th February 2010 – Edinburgh, Bongo Club
Thursday 18th February 2010 – London, The Lexington

Ardentjohn’s debut album ‘On The Wire’ was released on 25th January 2010. The first single from this album, ‘Home/Where All Paths Lead’, will be released on Label Fandango on 15th February 2010.

 

The Shockwaves NME Awards 2010 – The Nominations

 
By on Tuesday, 26th January 2010 at 4:00 pm
 

Nominations for the 2010 Shockwaves NME Awards were announced last night at a party at the London Tabernacle which featured a performance by the Maccabees, who are up for Best Video for “Can You Give It”. Muse are up for a staggering 7 awards, including Best Band, Best Album and Best Album artwork. Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian have fared the next best, with 6 nominations each, and are both up for Best Band, Best Album and Best Live Band. Lady Gaga makes quite a showing as well: she’s nominated for Best Solo Artist, Best Dancefloor Filler (‘Pokerface’), Villain of the Year, Best AND Worst Dressed and Worst Album.

While some great bands were left out completely, a lot of the categories are packed, and fans will find it hard to choose who to vote for.  One of the toughest categories is Best British Band, which pits Arctic Monkeys against Biffy Clyro, Kasabian, Muse and Oasis. Another tough one is Best Album, which looks very similar to what my top five albums of 2009 would be, if I were forced to choose. Nominations go to Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Humbug,’ Kasabian’s ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum,’ Muse’s ‘The Resistance,’ The Cribs’ ‘Ignore the Ignorant’  and the Horrors’ ‘Primary Colours.’

One new category was added this year. The “Giving It Back Fan Award” was created “to note acts who go the extra yard for their fans.” Going the extra yard seems to equate to giving away free stuff, as Noel Fielding and Kasabian’s free ‘Vlad the Impaler’ video is up against Vampire Weekend (for giving away ‘Horchata’ for free) and Danger Mouse (for leaking ‘Dark Night of the Soul’). Lily Allen is also nominated for her ticket treasure hunts on twitter, as are Arctic Monkeys for their Oxfam golden tickets. While it’s hardly a relevant category, it can only be a good thing if it encourages bands to do more for their fans.

One of the most fun parts of the NME awards is the categories that have little or nothing to do with the music. Comedians the Mighty Boosh will fight it out against Kings of Leon, Flight of the Conchords, the Killers and Nirvana for Best DVD. There is only one music-based show nominated for Best TV Show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, which sees competition from True Blood, the Inbetweeners, Peep Show and Skins, which has a soundtrack torn from the pages of NME.  And then, of course, there’s the ever popular Hottest Man and Hottest Woman categories, currently causing arguments between friends across the UK. There are far too many to list, but head on over to NME.com to rate the likes of the Followills, the Jarmans, Lily Allen, Alison Mosshart and Alex Turner on a scale from “Cold Shower” to “Sex on Fire.”

Voting is open now, and the winners will be announced in a ceremony at the 02 Academy Brixton on 24th February 2010.

The full list of nominees is available after the jump.

Continue reading The Shockwaves NME Awards 2010 – The Nominations

 

Live Review: the Cribs with Adam Green and the Dead Trees at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 19 January 2010

 
By on Friday, 22nd January 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

A lot has changed for the Cribs since their last visit to Washington, DC, on 19 March 2008. They’ve got a new album and a new band member, and the band are now playing a larger venue. That gig in March 2008 was my first time seeing the Cribs, and I was blown away, so I fully expected Tuesday night’s show to be something spectacular, and I’m happy to say that the boys from Wakefield (and now Manchester, Portland, and London) did not disappoint!

The night started off inauspiciously when the band that was supposed to play first, the Dead Trees, was unable to play in their scheduled 8 PM slot due to having car trouble on the way down from Boston. Rather than delay the entire show by hours, they decided to share the stage with the other support act, Adam Green, essentially acting as his backing band. While the Dead Trees sounded great, it was Adam Green who stole the stage. He was incredibly drunk throughout the performance and climbed off the stage to attempt to crowd surf during nearly every song. While his behavior caused some unpleasant moments like nearly getting kicked in the face and having my head used for support on Adam’s subsequent trips around the crowd, it also created some very funny moments, as when Green declared that he’d never gotten to order a veggie burger like he’d been promised, asking, “can we just place an order at the Food Food?” (The sign over the venue’s snack bar says “food” on it twice.) Adam’s on-stage antics may not have added much to the music, but they made his set seem to fly by rather than seeming to drag on for ages like support acts’ sets often do. Even the Jarmans were amused by his performance: Gary sat on the guest balcony and drummed on his legs while Ryan came out to watch from time to time.

Although you may have been fooled by the surprisingly large number of people, many of them English who were shouting repeatedly for Johnny Marr, the night was all about the Cribs.  Their set was long at 17 songs and spanned all of their albums, but it certainly didn’t feel long. They played with their trademark high level of energy, throwing themselves fully into the performance. I had thought they couldn’t top their last gig in DC, but with the addition of Johnny Marr on guitar, there was an added richness to all the songs that really took them up a level. A personal highlight for me was ‘Hari Kari,’ my favorite song from the new album, ‘Ignore the Ignorant.’ Seeing Johnny, Ryan and Gary lined up at the front of the stage singing “it’s your mind / it’s your voice / it’s your body / it’s your choice” in unison while Ross pounded away behind them on the drums was a truly powerful moment. Ending their set with ‘City of Bugs’ off the new album and not coming back for an encore was unexpected, but seeing as how they’d already played all the crowd favourites, I can’t see a better way for them to have ended the show than with this amazing rendition, culminating in dueling guitars, fog and flashing lights. All in all, a truly fantastic evening.

After the jump: set list and photos.

Continue reading Live Review: the Cribs with Adam Green and the Dead Trees at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 19 January 2010

 

The BRIT Awards 2010 – The Nominations

 
By on Thursday, 21st January 2010 at 4:00 pm
 

Brace yourself, readers, for it’s swiftly approaching that time of year again, when hoards of fans and paparazzi line the red carpet-laden entrance to Earls Court in order to catch the biggest stars in music attending the annual spectacle that is the BRIT Awards. Admittedly, last year’s ceremony was an absolute flop, fronted by the drab ‘comedic’ duo that were Mathew Horne and James Corden. But still, it always proves interesting fun watching a half-cut Alex Turner tumbling round making sarcastic speeches to Kate Nash. So let’s check out the recently announced nominations for 2010, to see what could possibly be in store for ITV’s censor button this year.

Pixie Lott, Lily Allen, Leona Lewis, Florence and the Machine (pictured right) and Bat for Lashes will all be competing for ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ award this year. The contrastingly XY chromosome category that is ‘Best Male Solo Artist’, meanwhile, features the ‘superstars’ that are Calvin Harris, Dizzee Rascal, Paolo Nutini, Mika and Robbie Williams (pictured above), who will also be receiving, rather intriguingly, the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Music’ gong on the night.

Doves, Kasabian, Muse, Friendly Fires (pictured left), and, er, JLS, are all up for ‘Best Group’, while the latter two will also feature in ‘Best Breakthrough Act’ category, alongside Florence and the Machine, Pixie Lott and La Roux. One of the more decent moments of the night, however, will go to TGTF favourite Ellie Goulding, who will be receiving a coveted nod from the half-decent ‘Critics Choice’ award for her soon-to-be-huge electropop.

But that’s not all! Dizzee Rascal, Lily Allen, Paolo Nutini, Florence and the Machine and Kasabian are all going head to head for the ‘Best Album’ gong, while Alexandre Burke, Taio Cruz, Tinchy Stryder, Cheryl Cole and wasn’t-Christmas-number-boy Joe McElderry and his track ‘The Climb’ feature among others in the ‘Best Single’ category.

But it’s not all about the Brits, oh no, with Lady Gaga, Shakira, Ladyhawke, Norah Jones and Rihanna all up for ‘Best International Female Solo Artist’, and Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Jay-Z, Michael Buble and Seasick Steve competing for the male variant. Animal Collective, Daniel Merriweather, Empire of the Sun, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift have all been put forward for ‘Best International Breakthrough Artist’, and some of these names pop up once again in the ‘Best International Album’ category, with Animal Collective, Empire of the Sun, Lady Gaga as well as Jay-Z and Black Eyed Peas competing for said prize.

So, as you can see, a typical lack of music talent across the board as usual, but hey, the BRITs wouldn’t be the BRITs without it. You can catch a repeat of the nomination ceremony on Saturday 23rd January at 3.55 PM on ITV2. The BRIT winners will be announced on Tuesday 16th February, and the show will be broadcast live on ITV. Jay-Z, Cheryl Cole and Lily Allen are among the artists scheduled to perform.

Full list of nominees are available after the jump.
Continue reading The BRIT Awards 2010 – The Nominations

 

Tiffany Page / January-March 2010 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 18th January 2010 at 11:00 am
 

“Girl with guitar” Tiffany Page, who you may have caught in Jess’s Bands to Watch post last week, is hitting the road over the next few months on an extensive UK tour. She will be doing a run of gigs in smaller venues before a stint supporting the Noisettes throughout February and March. Don’t miss your chance to see the songstress with “the sassy swagger of Chrissie Hynde, Shirley Manson’s vampish purr and the hellion roar of Courtney Love” before she makes it big!

Tuesday 19th January 2010 – London, The Garage
Thursday 21st January 2010 – Guildford, Boileroom
Saturday 23rd January 2010 – Bath, Moles
Monday 25th January 2010 – Coventry, Kasbah
Tuesday 26th January 2010 – London, The Garage
Thursday 28th January 2010 – Cambridge, Portland Arms
Friday 29th January 2010 – Hampshire, West End Centre
Sunday 31st January 2010 – Birmingham, Sound Bar
Wednesday 3rd February 2010 – London, Hard Rock Cafe (supporting Pixie Lott)
Wednesday 10th February 2010 – London, The Garage (HMV show with The Cheek)
Tuesday 16th February 2010 – London, The Garage
Thursday 18th February 2010 – Aberdeen, Music Hall (supporting the Noisettes)
Friday 19th February 2010 – Edinburgh, Picture House (supporting the Noisettes)
Saturday 20th February 2010 – Sheffield, Academy (supporting the Noisettes)
Monday 22nd February 2010 – Nottingham, Rock City (supporting the Noisettes)
Tuesday 23rd February 2010 – Cambridge, Corn Exchange (supporting the Noisettes)
Wednesday 24th February 2010 – Bournemouth, Opera House (supporting the Noisettes)
Friday 26th February 2010 – Brighton, Dome (supporting the Noisettes)
Saturday 27th February 2010 – London, Roundhouse (supporting the Noisettes)
Sunday 28th February 2010 – London, Roundhouse (supporting the Noisettes)
Tuesday 2nd March 2010 – Manchester, Academy (supporting the Noisettes)
Wednesday 3rd March 2010 – Newcastle, Academy (supporting the Noisettes)
Thursday 4th March 2010 – Liverpool, Academy (supporting the Noisettes)
Friday 5th March 2010 – Bristol, Academy (supporting the Noisettes)

 

Video of the Moment #200: Fool’s Gold

 
By on Wednesday, 13th January 2010 at 6:00 pm
 

Just when you think you’ve heard everything, some band comes along and makes you reconsider. Fool’s Gold fits this description. Their songs? Think of the worldliness of Vampire Weekend’s sunny melodies but with Hebrew lyrics. The Guardian has already tipped them as a band to watch in 2010. Intrigued? I was. And if you happen to be in London from the 21st to the 26th of January, you might be able to catch these guys live (see dates below).

Thursday 21st January 2010 – London Yoyo’s
Friday 22nd January 2010 – London Fabric
Saturday 23rd January 2010 – London Proud Galleries
Monday 25th January 2010 – London Pure Groove (in-store)
Tuesday 26th January 2010 – London Madam Jo Jo’s (White Heat night)

In the meantime, catch the band and their multitudes of pretty extras (including a greyhound and an iguana) in their video for ‘Surprise Hotel’. Join them in the revelry that is Los Angeles in the summertime – swimming pools, soda pop, bikini-clad models, and palm trees – because let’s face it, the cold weather isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0wPNow3ymc[/youtube]

You can buy Fool’s Gold’s self-titled debut album from In Sound Records.

 
 
 

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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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