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Album Review: Julia Jacklin – Don’t Let the Kids Win

 
By on Monday, 5th December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Julia Jacklin Don't Let the Kids Win album coverAussie singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin, according to her Web site, found inspiration at an early age in the shape of Britney Spears, something I’m sure plenty of fellow ‘90s-born folk can relate to. This interest led to Jacklin taking singing lessons in her hometown of Blue Mountains – if you Google the place, it appears to be set in a landscape just as brilliant as the name suggests – before her interests moved on to Avril Lavigne and the edgier Evanescence. She went on to form a band with an old friend and initially as the singer, but then went on to write and play guitar too.

It’s always incredible to hear of people that work seemingly normal day jobs, and manage to create stirring and out of the ordinary music and art in their spare time. ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ is the debut album from Jacklin, which she wrote whilst she was working in a factory. Recorded at Sitting Room Studios in New Zealand, the ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ is a foray into the folksy and fanciful and is jam-packed with evocative and imaginative lyrics. It doesn’t actually sit comfortably into any one genre: it’s more of a melting pot of charming country rhythms, folksy storytelling and moments of bluesy indie rock.

Single ‘Pool Party’ opens with “I was shorter than my dad’s dining table / you were taller than my bedroom doorframe”. It’s just one of the tracks on the album that uses words to create quirky and playful imagery, yet is laced with a bittersweet kind of nostalgia. The rhythm of the track is slow and soulful, with old-sounding rumbles of bass and sharp drumbeats, tied together with a guitar that rolls along like it’s being played in a small town full of chequered shirt-wearing locals.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-qvTPxUlxg[/youtube]

‘Coming of Age’ is one of the heavier tracks on the album, although describing any of the LP as heavy is probably taking things a bit too far. It’s upbeat musically, with a country guitar jangling throughout. The chorus, which repeats “didn’t see it myself / my coming of age”, further adds to the wistful nature of the album. On her Web site, Jacklin tackles this topic: “When I was growing up I was so ambitious: I’m going to be this amazing social worker, save the world, a great musician, fit, an amazing writer. Then you get to mid-20s and you realise you have to focus on one thing”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fua9nrkUYew[/youtube]

A standout track is ‘Leadlight’, where Jacklin really shows off her melodic voice, gentle at times, then soulful and uplifting at others. It’s a stripped-back track, with just a steady drum and guitar at times, then swelling to include a choral accompaniment towards the end. Much like this is ‘Hay Plain’, which also builds up throughout the track after a soft start, but finishes just as gentle as it begins. The song has me missing a life that I haven’t even lived, as Jacklin transports you into the story she’s telling.

Similarly low-key is title track ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’, which features just Jacklin’s voice and a guitar as she sings nostalgically about valuing time with family and friends. It’s a sweet and sentimental track.

The whole album is easy listening but will also get you thinking about the carefree days of your youth if you feel like you’re already past them. Or hopefully make you appreciate them even more if you’re still living them. It can be comforting at times to realise that other people have the same doubts about getting older or, as Jacklin puts it, “yeah, we’re getting older, but it’s not so special. It’s not unique”.

8.5/10

‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’, Julia Jacklin’s debut album, is out now on Transgressive Records. Jacklin has a bunch of upcoming dates in her native Australia and New Zealand, until February where she’ll hit Europe, including dates in Germany and the UK. All dates can be found listed on her Web site, and her UK ones are listed in this previous post. For more coverage of Jacklin here on TGTF, go here.

 

Julia Jacklin / February and March 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Monday, 7th November 2016 at 9:00 am
 

Header photo by Shervin Lainez

Australian singer/songwriter and recent Transgressive Records signee Julia Jacklin has announced a list of UK headline dates for early next year in support of her debut album ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’. The LP was released back in October, and its title track is due to be released as a single on the 12th of December. Jacklin’s last-minute performance of ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ at the British Music Embassy on the Saturday night of SXSW 2016 tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Have a handkerchief ready when you watch her new video for the track, which is featured below the tour date listing.

Jacklin is currently on tour in the UK opening for Chicago-based duo Whitney, who we also caught at SXSW 2016. A full listing of Jacklin’s upcoming shows, which include dates in Europe and Australia, can be found on her official Facebook.  TGTF’s previous coverage of Julia Jacklin is collected here.

Wednesday 22nd February 2017 – Brighton Green Door Store
Thursday 23rd February 2017 – Manchester Soup Kitchen
Friday 24th February 2017 – Nottingham Bodega
Monday 27th February 2017 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Tuesday 28th February 2017 – Leeds Headrow House
Wednesday 1st March 2017 – Bristol Louisiana
Thursday 2nd March 2017 – London Scala

[youtube]https://youtu.be/H8-sRdRHU3o[/youtube]

 

 

This Must Be the Place 2016 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 7th June 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Words by Adam McCourt

As I returned to Headrow House, I instantly acknowledged the At The Drive-In-esque guitar tone produced by Harkin. As a massive ATD-I fan, she automatically perked up in my ears. The unfortunate thing about Harkin’s set was the inconsistencies in her guitar playing, especially when she set such a high standard with her voice. If she had an accompanying band, the songs and delivery would have translated a lot better. Despite a few minor discrepancies, she performed a set filled with chirpy vocals reminiscent of Bjork, soaked in delay, giving that added layer somehow creating an element of mystery within the delivery.

Aside from music, the Belgrave are also known for their exquisite food. Purchase some pizza provided by Dough Boys, situated directly to the right upon entering the bar on the ground floor, or if you desire some sloppy burgers, Patty Smith’s burgers is placed at the back, between the edge of the bar and the stairs to the venue. I opted for a meal deal from Boots. Still living on a student loan means cutting down on luxuries like Belgrave’s pizza and burgers. However, it gave me the opportunity to take a little breather between Harkin and Julia Jacklin (pictured at top) to head into town and enjoy a sandwich in the bank holiday sun. The beauty about it was that I was still only a few minutes away from both venues, so the break didn’t eat too much of my time diving in and out of town.

Then it was back to Headrow House for the dreamy sounds of Australian native Jacklin, who was perfectly framed by her guitarist on the right and bassist on the left. Both facing inwards, the result was the complete focus was put on Julia. Her sentimental songs went above and beyond the default structure of telling a story over four chords. The added intricacies brought forward in each song’s arrangement continued to compel the audience after being captured by the inviting tonalities of Jacklin’s voice and subtle guitar-playing. She closed her show with her most recent single ‘Pool Party’, and I witnessed something unlike anything I had seen that day. It was almost as if the audience, me included, lost our sense of reality as we proceeded to sway along with her, as she does in the video.

Weirds were one band on the bill that astonished and frightened me at the same time. Listed on their Facebook page as an alternative rock band, they had more of a nu-metal, post-hardcore vigour about them. Their frontman Aidan Razzall was unpredictable in the most beguiling way. When stationary (which was very seldom), he would gaze at the front row of gig-goers, wide eyed, with a maniacal look on his face. Until he screeched down the mic with a heavily distorted vocal feed that echoed through the hall via the use of a long-tailed delay. Although during songs these guys were a poster for mental illness, their between-song banter allowed them to interact with the crowd. They cracked jokes as they responded to the odd heckle and thanked everyone for coming out, including festival organiser Ben Lewis for putting them on.

As they rustled through their last few songs, they showed an excellent level of musicianship, with well-crafted songs that showcased an equal blend of in-your-face riffs with undertones of unpleasant noisy synths with laid-back grooves that allowed audience members the opportunity to dance and jump along. Their second to last song was quite a spectacle, as Razzall took to the floor. With his finger pointing to the ceiling and his mic in hand, he marched in one straight line that split the crowd in half, and roared his lyrics in what could only be described as a speech a dictator or army leader would give.

As I made my way back to Headrow House to catch Trust Fund at 6:30 PM, we were met by security at the door of the performance area to say it was full up and now one in, one out. Despite this, it didn’t take long to get in, and just in time to catch the last 15 minutes of Trust Fund’s set. Usually a 4-piece pop/garage band from Bristol, this time they were stripped down to just their singer Dan accompanying himself on guitar for the intimate, 30-minute set. Call this extravagant but it was almost like the Beach Boys do pop punk. His incredible vocal register produced meandering melodies that were a little hard to follow, but he was a definite favourite of the day with quite a cult following. A quarter of the room were plonked on the floor as they watched on, wide-eyed lost in his songs. Before leaving us, he thanked everyone for coming down, thanked Ben for the gig and lastly thanked the sound man, which I thought was rather courteous of him as he was the first and only act of the day I saw to do so.

 

Video of the Moment #2100: Julia Jacklin

 
By on Thursday, 26th May 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Transgressive Records have just announced their recent signing of Australian alt-folkie Julia Jacklin who inspired label co-founder Toby L to remark, “Every now and then you hear a new voice and little else seems to matter. Julia Jacklin’s is one such voice”. Jacklin has a delicate, country-style croon that lilts gracefully over her witty and perceptive lyrics, as I heard for myself earlier this year at the NME / UK Trade and Investment showcase at SXSW 2016.

Transgressive marked the new signing by sharing Jacklin’s video for early single ‘Pool Party’, which despite its jovial title is a forlorn tale of substance abuse within a relationship. The accompanying video starkly illustrates the emotional distance between the involved parties, and Jacklin’s vocals wring the heartbreaking emotion out of every line, particularly the chorus lyric “my heart is heavy when you’re high / so, for me, why won’t you try?”.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Z-qvTPxUlxg[/youtube]

Julia Jacklin is currently on tour in the UK, following a successful appearance at The Great Escape 2016. She is scheduled to play at the End of the Road Festival in Dorset on the 3rd of September and at Ireland’s Electric Picnic on the 4th of September. You can find Jacklin’s full list of live dates on her official Facebook.

 

SXSW 2016: final Saturday night festivities with NME and UK Trade and Investment at the British Music Embassy – 19th March 2016

 
By on Monday, 18th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

I’ve always had a fondness for stories with tidy endings, so it seems quite natural that I finished SXSW 2016 on Saturday night at the British Music Embassy, even if Mary and I were a bit delayed in getting there. After our dinner hour activities at the Hilton Austin’s Liberty Tavern (which you can read about right back here), we stopped for a quick drink across the street from Latitude 30 before heading over for the NME / UK Trade and Investment showcase. As often happens with when I’m with Mary, we ended up engaged in a rather interesting conversation with some industry acquaintances of hers, and we had trouble tearing ourselves away for the final evening of live shows.

"Lusts

As much as we might have liked to stay and chat, Mary and I both had other activities planned for the evening, and we made our way to Latitude 30 just in time to catch the first act on the showcase, groove rock brother act Lusts. In the brief snippet of what I saw and heard, their music was an interesting combination of heavy rhythms and hazy vocals, but it was really their insistent and compelling energy that left the strongest opening impression.

Julia Jacklin internal

The next act originally scheduled on the showcase was rap collective Section Boyz, but a last minute substitution gave us instead Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin. She facetiously introduced herself and her band as Section Boyz just to see if her audience were paying attention, but in truth, Jacklin’s warm folk rock couldn’t have been stylistically farther from the act she stepped in to replace. Jacklin’s music had more sonic impact than her diminutive appearance might suggest, and the lyrical substance of her track ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ particularly tugged at my heartstrings after she shared that she had written it for her little brother because she wanted him to think she was cool. Those small personal details can make a song seem much more special to a listener, and Jacklin certainly won herself a new fan in me that night.

Pumarosa internal 2

Following Julia Jacklin was self-described “industrial spiritual” band Pumarosa, who I’d seen previously on the Tuesday night showcase at Hype Hotel. They had the same lengthy setup issues here at the British Music Embassy, but once they got started, they fairly shook the stage with a much more confident sounding set than what I’d heard from them earlier in the week. The lighting at Latitude 30 allowed me to get a better photo of frontwoman Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s unusual guitar technique (which you can see below), and I was thrilled to have another go at dancing to Pumarosa’s exotic hit song ‘Priestess’.

Pumarosa internal

Next on the bill was an artist I’d been looking forward to seeing since our initial preview of this showcase, rock singer/songwriter Barns Courtney (pictured at top). After seeing him blaze through a spectacular set including his currently released tracks ‘Fire’ and ‘Glitter and Gold’, as well as the curiously-titled ‘Hobo Rocket’, I’m more convinced than ever that he has the potential to be a breakout superstar on the order of James Bay or Hozier if he plays his cards right. In the intermission between sets, I snagged Courtney for a quick back alley interview, which turned out to be quite possibly the most unforgettable conversation I had all week long.

Barns Courtney internal

I came back inside just in time to catch dance pop duo Formation, whose number had apparently multiplied ahead of their appearance at SXSW. Comprising brothers Will and Matt Ritson along with Jonny Tams, Sasha Lewis and Kai Akinde-Hummel, the band and their equipment fit on the small British Music Embassy stage with very little room to spare. But despite the close quarters on stage, the band played a beat-driven, movement-inspiring set list much to the liking of the late night dancers in the crowd.

Formation internal

Formation were followed on the docket by another Special Guest, who hadn’t been officially announced before the show but was rumoured to be American veterans-turned-newcomers on the music scene, PARTYBABY. I’d seen PARTYBABY along with Pumarosa on the Tuesday night Hype Hotel showcase, and I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the choice. PARTYBABY would certainly make an energetic closing act, I hadn’t found them engaging enough to stick around for twice. Fortunately, Mary arrived back at Latitude 30 just as they came on stage to set up, and we took the opportunity to make a final round of fond farewells to our friends at the British Music Embassy before officially bidding adieu to SXSW 2016.

Au revoir, Austin…until we meet again.

 
 
 

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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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