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Single Review: Kieran Leonard and the Horses – Underwood Milk

 
By on Monday, 29th June 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Kieran Leonard and the Horses - Underwood Milk single coverIt’s very important not to confuse Kieran Leonard, our subject here, with Kiran Leonard, his Mancunian almost-namesake. Five-letter Kiran is a precocious peddler of psych-beat in the grand Liverpool tradition yet to hit his twenties. Six-letter Kieran débuted in 2010 with ‘Jerusalem’, a spectacular 6-minute takedown of contemporary British foreign policy, sounding as if Damien Rice was born in Hampshire and a regular viewer of Question Time. He’s not been slack in the meantime, releasing 2012’s collection ‘Out Of Work Astronaut’, and he’s back right now with new single ‘Underwood Milk’ under the artist name Kieran Leonard and the Horses.

This time he’s left the acoustic guitar at home: in its acoustic-electric wall of guitars, parping Farfisa and slap-backed vocals, the vibe is early-’90s revivalist (join the queue) college rock, which matches his bleached Cobain hair and heart-shaped shades, but admirably Leonard manages to throw in some surrealist lyrics (“I dreamt I was being harassed by a very large cat in a surgical mask”), and of course the whole thing is a play on Dylan Thomas’ gently surreal 1954 drama Under Milk Wood. Quite a novel combination.

In a bid to acquire household-name status, Leonard supported The Strokes and Beck at last week’s Hyde Park gigs, and apparently has a roll call of famous friends for every occasion: choose between fragrant (Lana Del Rey), broken (Dave Grohl), grumpy (Ryan Adams) and pious (Father John Misty). The sweary B-side to ‘Underwood Milk’, ‘Holy Shit’, was recorded at the latter’s wedding, which shows just how well they get on. Given his literary pretensions, ability to vary his style, and biz connections, talents, the overused epithet ‘one to watch’ could easily be applied to Leonard. Catch him at the excellent Standon Calling Festival 2015 at the end of July.

8/10

‘Underwood Milk’, the new single from Kieran Leonard and his new act Kieran Leonard and the Horses, is out today on Fierce Panda Records. Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch on Leonard solo here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxATS_6juv4[/youtube]

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Singer/songwriter and folk UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 4th 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.

Just 1 week off now from the official start of SXSW 2014 and we’ve arrived at the sixth part of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: the genre of singer/songwriters and folk artists. Whether they are single person artists with just a microphone and/or a guitar, or they’re a multi-person strong team of musicians, singer/songwriters have the ability to evoke feelings and emotions in us sometimes we didn’t even know we had. Read on…

Juliette Ashby
Carrie writes: “Fans of the late Amy Winehouse will be interested to hear up-and-coming pop diva Juliette Ashby. Though Ashby was reportedly close friends with Winehouse, her music bears only the slightest tinge of Winehouse’s gritty soul flavor, instead leaning more toward the sparkly dance pop of stars like Ellie Goulding or Lily Allen. Ashby’s debut album ‘Bittersweet’ will be available for preorder on the 3rd of March.

Liam Bailey
Self-described as “acoustic soul”, Nottingham-born Bailey brings a soulful, almost jazzy edge and a welcome difference to the singer/songwriter category.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCB6tg_6ntY[/youtube]

Cocos Lovers
Alt-folk collective Cocos Lovers formed in Kent in 2008 when its members decided to quit their day jobs and travel through Europe, busking and making music however and wherever they possibly could. Predictably, the influences on their style are widely varied, including English folk and choral music, American Southern gospel and Spanish flamenco, as well as the complex rhythms and tonalities of African and Eastern traditional music.

Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Cocos Lovers here; two of their members also answered our SXSW 2014 flavoured Quickfire Questions, which you can read here.

Cousin Marnie
Carrie writes: Hackney native Cousin Marnie has the unique distinctions of claiming an Alfred Hitchcock heroine as the inspiration for her stage name and counting both Loretta Lynn and Kanye West among her main musical influences. Her single ‘Cain’ is an eerie combination of biblical text, stark instrumental texture, and delicate vocal timbres in the verses, juxtaposed with heavy bass and savage rhythm in the chorus. Watch the lyric video for ‘Cain’ below, and try not to think too much about what might have become of the little white bunny.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/KDIShBsd7HI[/youtube]

Honeyblood
Carrie writes: “Honeyblood’s twee grunge pop has drawn fully warranted comparisons to California groups Best Coast and Haim, not only for the female lead vocals, but for the laid-back vibe, fuzzy garage band tone and mildly rebellious lyrics.”

Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Honeyblood is here.

Kieran Leonard
Carrie writes: “The hipster literati in Austin next spring will no doubt flock to see British singer-songwriter Kieran Leonard, whose esoteric and often politically-charged folk rock challenges both emotion and intellect. His intensity may be off-putting at first, especially to a casual listener, but his entrancing singing voice and cynically provocative lyrics are worth a bit of extra attention.”

Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch piece on Leonard here.

The Melodic
Carrie writes: “South London band The Melodic have just finished touring America with Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit in support of their debut full length album, ‘Effra Parade’. ‘Effra Parade’ is a light and jaunty mix of carefree melodic lines, casual vocal harmonies and diverse instrumental textures. While musically whimsical, the songs’ thoughtful lyrics often deal with larger intellectual topics, such as the Pinochet-era political turmoil in Chile in ‘Ode to Victor Jara’”.

Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on the band is here; frontman Huw Williams also answered our SXSW 2014 flavoured Quickfire Questions set here.

Nick Mulvey
Carrie writes: “Blurring the lines between jazz, classical, world music, and folk genres, this set of four songs reveals a wide array of musical influences, as well as a broad set of lyrical and compositional ideas. The songs hinge on minimalist grooves and the repetitive plucked rhythms of Mulvey’s acoustic guitar, but the unique harmonies and eclectic instrumentation generate surprising sonic variety.”

Rhodes
This Hitchin guitar-toting singer/songwriter with a penchant for sweeping, ethereal vocals has already been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Antony and the Johnsons. Check out ‘Raise Your Love’, which showcases his expansive voice.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzcx0Oa7s2s[/youtube]

Sweet Baboo
Welsh singer/songwriter Stephen Black might have named himself after Linus Van Pelt’s (Peanuts) too cute nickname, but he does a good job bridging the heartfelt with the occasional squealing guitar jam.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMQ8h42HOJU[/youtube]

Tom the Lion
Cheryl writes: Tom Visser, performing under the moniker Tom the Lion, is splashing back onto the scene after a 3-year absence. Debut album ‘Sleep’ is poised to give this Londoner a career jolt. Blending low-fi, chamber pop and modified symphonics, ‘Sleep’ is a mysterious, masterful work. Previous release ‘The Adventures of Tom the Lion’ brought him under the radar commercial success even though it was an amalgam of live performance and limited edition vinyl-only EPs. Despite the difficulty in finding his music – currently available only via Rough Trade or his Web site, it is worth the hunt (hint: try Soundcloud). Both works hold gems that identify this singer as an endearing entry into the male singer/songwriter milieu.”

Cheryl’s full Bands to Watch feature on Tom the Lion can be found here.

Alex Vargas
Though he’s based in London, singer/songwriter was born in Denmark and is of English and Uruguayan ancestry. Looking for a bit of 21st century blue-eyed soul in Austin? You’ve found him.

Wildflowers
Carrie writes: “Brighton-based four-piece Wildflowers center their folk rock sound around the vocal harmonies of sisters Siddy and Kit Bennett. Siblings almost always have a unique ability to perfectly match their vocal diction for seamless harmonies, but the sisters also share a love of rebellious female songs, citing Alanis Morrisette as an early musical influence. Hints of Morrisette certainly appear in Wildflowers’ lyrics and Siddy Bennett’s vocal delivery, but the overall sound leans more toward the bluesy country of Patsy Cline. The Bennett sisters cite their nomadic, bohemian upbringing as an influence on their music as well, with American bands like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac informing the full-scale vocal harmonies they share with band members James Ashbury and Kendal Sant.”

Want to read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Wildflowers? Right this way.

Withered Hand
Carrie writes: “Withered Hand is the stage name of Scottish folk singer/songwriter Dan Willson, whose second full length album, ‘New Gods’, is due for release in mid-March (the 10th of March, just in time for SXSW!) by Fortuna Pop! Records. According to the label’s press release for ‘New Gods’, Willson took up songwriting around age 30 when a series of life events sparked “a period of reflection” that led to the creation of his deeply introspective first album ‘Good News’. ‘New Gods’ is a variation on that theme of self-examination, equally perceptive and evocative, but with a mellow touch of wry humor to soften its blunt honesty.”

To read Carrie’s review of Withered Hand’s upcoming album ‘New Gods’, go here.

Gabby Young and Other Animals
Carrie writes: Gabby Young is a classically trained opera singer turned ‘Circus Swing’ songwriter whose globally-influenced brand of folk music has been grouped into an eccentric genre all its own. Her singing voice is indeed glorious, but even more spectacular are the energetically jazzy rhythms provided by her 8-piece backing band, Other Animals. This lively showcase is sure to inspire dancing and debauchery in Austin. For a quick teaser, watch the video for ‘I’ve Improved’, from the group’s Kickstarter-funded third album ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/3TEon8cQI_g [/youtube]

More of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 to come this week. Stay tuned!

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #274: Kieran Leonard

 
By on Thursday, 5th December 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

The hipster literati in Austin next spring will no doubt flock to see British singer-songwriter Kieran Leonard, whose esoteric and often politically-charged folk rock challenges both emotion and intellect. His intensity may be off-putting at first, especially to a casual listener, but his entrancing singing voice and cynically provocative lyrics are worth a bit of extra attention.

The subject matter and presentation of Leonard’s work have been startlingly unique from the beginning of his career. His first EP ‘Scapegoat’ contained four songs, which were released individually on the first day of the full moon in four consecutive cycles, beginning in October 2009. In December 2010, Leonard released his debut single ‘Jerusalem’ to positive reviews, despite its stinging criticism of the Western cultural establishment. The song garnered Leonard a wider audience when film director Ridley Scott used it in his 2011 documentary ‘Life In A Day’.

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

At just over 4 years into his career, Leonard might be considered a journeyman by today’s manufactured pop music standards, especially after supporting larger acts like Bob Dylan at London’s Feis Festival in 2011 and Keane at Nottingham in November 2012. Leonard’s full-length debut album ‘Out of Work Astronaut’ was released in August 2012 and included the musically ironic, lyrically sardonic single ‘Harold Pinter is Dead’. But earlier this year, in what might be seen as an abrupt shift in the evolution of his musical style, Leonard released the hypnotically groovy, decidedly not folky ‘Hipster Jesus’. Whether this sudden change of pace is a temporary deviation or a permanent stylistic transformation for Leonard remains to be seen. Perhaps his performance at SXSW 2014 will provide more insight leading into the release of his second album.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/FNzJtEwxUrY[/youtube]

 
 
 

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