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(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #294: Let’s Buy Happiness

 
By on Thursday, 13th February 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Despite their swift and tightly-scripted rise to attention in 2010, Newcastle alt-rock quintet Let’s Buy Happiness have yet to release their much anticipated debut album, ‘Chants for Friends’, which was expected to be out at the end of 2013. The band did a headline tour through the UK in October of last year, and the album’s first single ‘Run’ was released on the 4th of November last year, but after a smattering of shows to end the year, Let’s Buy Happiness seem to have gone quiet, at least for the moment.

This isn’t the first silent spell in the history of Let’s Buy Happiness. After self-releasing its first EP ‘No Hot Ashes’ in 2009, the band have been only intermittently active, releasing a smattering of singles beginning with ‘Six Wolves’ in October 2010, followed by ‘Fast Fast’ in February 2011 and ‘Dirty Lakes’ in September of that year, both on their own Ghost Arc Records label. They returned to the studio in 2012 to work on their full-length album, but have since released only two singles, ‘Works Better on Paper’ in June 2012 and the aforementioned ‘Run’.

It appears that taking some time to mull things over might have been a good move for Let’s Buy Happiness. ‘Run’ is a departure from the band’s earlier introverted sound, still haunting and melancholic, but more dynamic, more expansive and certainly more immediate. Sarah Hall’s light, ghostly voice floats over wailing guitars and synth strings, and her delivery withers away at the end of a line in a way that reminds me a little bit of Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/1Ser-yLFVdk[/youtube]

The band’s Soundcloud page reveals several remixes of ‘Run’, including a remarkable psych-electro version by fellow Northerners Hey Sholay that turns the distant melancholy of Hall’s ethereal vocals to a visceral, piercing chill.

Let’s Buy Happiness is scheduled to showcase at SXSW 2014 next month in Austin. The festival appearance might give the band a chance to reignite its longtime fan base and to gain new American fans as well. In the meantime, we can hope that ‘Chants for Friends’ is still on the books for release later this year.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: Singer/songwriter and folk UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 29th January 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2013 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.

So here we are, the last week of January. Each Tuesday we’ve been bringing you genre ‘chapters’ of the UK bands that have been given the all important shout for this year’s SXSW 2013 taking place in venues across Austin the 12th to the 17th of March 2013. On the 8th of January, we brought you the pop and pop hybrid acts list, with a follow-up addendum on the 14th of January after the SXSW people updated their books on the 10th. The 15th of January saw the posting of the sound heavyweights, on the list of rock, metal and punk acts. Last week, on the 22nd, we wanted to showcase the wizards of the music world with the list of electronic and electronic-based bands and DJs.

This week? Possibly the genre that is most prolific – and the most crowded: the singer/songwriters and folk artists. Last week it was interesting to read that in an interview with SPIN, singer Scott Hutchinson of Scottish band Frightened Rabbit complained of being compared to current folk rock behemoths Mumford and Sons. Love ’em or hate ’em, they brought folk rock to the forefront of popular music and proved that that brand of ‘popularised’ bluegrass could be popular around the world. There is no doubt a whole new generation of folk rock artists that are being given a second glance, instead of being ignored, thanks to the hard work of Mumford and other acts soldiering on in this genre. And then there are the singer/songwriters: we may romanticise the image of a solitary, guitar-wielding man in front of a crowd, the reality is that there are both men and women who are pouring their hearts out into song, sitting in their bedrooms wondering what might be. In that respect, SXSW does its best in giving these folks the proper credit – and surely the proper platform – that might propel them into the big time.

What I had envisioned this weekly guide to be was simply a handy resource if you were wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But even if you’re not attending the big event, I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music. And that isn’t limited to one place or one event. You can find new music anywhere. And without further adieu…

‘Allo Darlin – Australia collides with Britain in this folk pop band fronted by Elizabeth Morris. Their songs are so cute, you wish you could just pinch their cheeks! Martin caught them at the End of the Road Festival in 2011.

Sounds like: the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, with a female lead

Read our previous coverage of the band here.

Lauren Aquilina – This 17-year old is from Windsor, but knock off the Royal Family jokes, please. She independently released her debut EP ‘Fools’ in October, so what a coup to get the SXSW nod when you’re still unsigned!

Sounds like: Lucy Rose, Ellie Goulding (but minus the synths)

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

Jake Bugg (added 10/01/13) –Noel Gallagher’s young protégé who has already found fame in the last year at the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, the Nottingham native has made folk and country guitar rock popular again with his debut album

Read our previous coverage of Bugg here.

Bo Saris – blue-eyed soul delivered in a falsetto. It’s difficult for me to listen to, but if a Dutchman described as ” the new, male equivalent of the late Amy Winehouse” doesn’t make you shrink in horror…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-cUVZThQVs[/youtube]

Bwani Junction – Edinburgh band invoking the Afrobeat spirit of Vampire Weekend with their jaunty guitars. They even describe themselves as “Big Country were from the Soweto”. They made their Great Escape debut in 2012 with the Scottish contingent, so it seems only fitting that they make their SXSW debut this year.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbYjSamxS30[/youtube]

Matt Cardle (added 10/01/13) – the winner of the 7th season of the UK’s X Factor, it’ll be interesting if his popularity in Britain will translate into fame in America.

Jamie N Commons – Has singing the blues, just like plaid shirts, become trendy again? If yes, then Jamie N Commons is its poster boy. And if for some reason you miss him and you live in America, don’t fret: he’ll be supporting Lianne La Havas (his fellow BBC Sound of 2012 longlist alum also at SXSW) on her North American tour directly following the festival.

The Dunwells – it is unfortunate that in the post-Mumford and Sons world, other folk bands that came out in 2009 were left behind. Hopefully, Leeds’ Dunwells will use this opportunity in Austin (and New York in January and Colorado in March post-SXSW) to show everyone just how talented they are and they’re not Mumford wannabes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDuv-cG5rtM[/youtube]

Paloma Faith – imagine my surprise to hear that Paloma Faith is now on my mum’s approved list, after watching her perform on Graham Norton. I’m kind of interested to see what kind of people would show up to see her in Austin: Amy Winehouse fans?

Read our previous coverage on Paloma here.

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

Fossil Collective – If you transported the Byrds to Leeds, what would they sound like? Probably something similar to Fossil Collective. I might have compared them to Fleet Foxes, except that in the press shots I’ve seen of Dave Fendick and Jonny Hooker, only one of them has a beard so…

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

For some mp3s and John’s review of their EP ‘On and On’, head here.

Goldheart Assembly – Having loved their 2010 debut album ‘Wolves and Thieves’, I felt like it’d been nearly forever since I last heard anything about Goldheart Assembly. When I checked on TGTF, the last thing I’d written on them, a post about their single ‘Harvest in the Snow’, was posted in March 2011. It’ll be 2 years, then, when they make their way to Austin, and not a moment too soon. Were they waiting for the Fleet Foxes love – and expected backlash – to die down? We’ll never know for sure, but I for one will be eager to see them live for the first time.

Catch all our previous Goldheart coverage here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeRse7-lXM4[/youtube]

Ed Harcourt – Compared to the other singer/songwriters on the SXSW list, Ed Harcourt is a relative granddaddy – at 35, he’s released five studio albums to date, with an sixth, ‘Back into the Woods’, to follow in late February 2013. ‘The Man That Time Forgot’, the first song to be offered up from the new album, can be downloaded for free here.

Robyn Hitchcock – When your own Web site is called ‘a museum’, you know you’ve paid your dues to the music industry. This is where cult singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock finds himself, revered in the UK for his English eccentricity, though I am very curious at the kind of turnout for his shows at SXSW and indeed, where they will have him play.

Jesca Hoop (added 10/01/13) – to some of us, she’s better known associated with Elbow. Not actually British (she’s a Californian transplant to Manchester after Guy Garvey discovered), she started with a very eclectic sound which turned decidedly poppier with ‘Hospital (Win Your Love)’, the last time we checked in with her.

Read our previous coverage of Hoop here.

James Hunter – from the same town as Lammo (Colchester) comes this r&b and soul singer, previously nominated for a Grammy for his 2006 album ‘People Gonna Talk’. This is exactly the kind of music I don’t usually seek out, so I’m rather keen to see him play. I’m imagining the scene to be as hopping as JD MacPherson’s at last year’s Great Escape.

Josephine – if Morrissey was a young black woman, he might just sound like Josephine. (And yes. I didn’t believe Paul Lester either until I heard ‘What a Day’.) I haven’t heard her debut album but I’ve been told the rest of it doesn’t sound Smiths-esque, so you can’t blame Manchester for it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hngRpjPafI[/youtube]

Kodaline – Gary Barlow’s favourite new band from Dublin doesn’t show any signs of slowing down after getting a BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nod, We’ve written quite a bit about this band, so you can read all of that here. They have new EP out in March, and the promo video for its title track ‘High Hopes’ is below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4povfmX144[/youtube]

Cate Le Bon – Cate Le Bon is a breath of fresh air compared to most of the other Welsh acts tipped for 2013’s SXSW, which appear to all be thrashy, hard rock bands made up of men.

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

Sounds like: Beth Jeans Houghton with a fixation on death

Let’s Buy Happiness – happy guitar rock/pop band from Newcastle.

Sounds like: ‘Allo Darlin, without the harmonies.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-1nLr6Gl4I[/youtube]

Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun – Jim Lockey sans band was the first band of the Xtra Mile Recordings showcase on my first night at SXSW 2012, so let’s see if he can manage to bring his entire band out for 2013. I think of his as ‘Frank Turner lite’, if that helps you imagine what he sounds like.

Read our previous live coverage of Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun here.

My Darling Clementine – ‘country/soul’ duo from Birmingham by husband/wife coupling Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish. Long Facebook profiles seem overdone to me, so…

Willy Moon (added 10/01/13) – placing #6 in the TGTF 10 for 2012 readers’ poll, signing to Jack White’s Third Man Records, having one of his songs play on a new iPod advert in America? Willy Moon’s life just gets better and better. A little bit pop, a little bit soul, a little bit ‘50s styling for one hip sound.

Read our previous coverage on Willy here.

Tom Odell (added 10/01/13) – Having already won the BRITs 2013 Critics’ Choice award, the sky’s the limit for this Chichester-born singer/songwriter.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwpMEbgC7DA[/youtube]

Christopher Rees – Cardiff singer/songwriter that NME describes like this: “It’s not easy to achieve noise metal god status accompanied by a cello but Christopher Rees makes an awesome, bloody fist of it. Pumped up and snarling but managing to wrench beautiful tunes out of the wreckage… This is seriously amazing stuff”. This description has us intrigued!

Roo Panes – ‘classical folk pop’ is not a genre normally explored here, but I’m always up for a challenge. This is Andrew ‘Roo’ Panes’ project with a strong backing and voal harmonising band. He has already been singled out for his handsomeness, as Burberry chose him to model their autumn/winter 2012 collection. Given Mumford and Laura Marling‘s recent meteoric rise to fame in America, Roo Panes is the odds-on favourite to follow in their footsteps.

Sounds like: he should be signed to Communion, if Ben Lovett hasn’t come sniffing round yet

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGP-TnIoejk[/youtube]

Lucy Rose – We, of course, already knew how talented she was. But 2013 could just be the year that Lucy Rose breaks out of Bombay Bicycle’s shadow and becomes a huge worldwide success in her own right. Though I worry what would happen to Lucy if she suddenly became massive; would she stop doing the things like Tweet at her mother on Steve Lamacq’s Roundtable that make me go, “oh, bless!”? A scary prospect…

Read our previous coverage on Lucy Rose here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adBPg8Zdp2g[/youtube]

Paul Thomas Saunders – it must be hard to be Paul Thomas Saunders, a Leeds singer/songwriter in his late twenties and allergic to alcohol. But I guess he must use all that extra free time not boozing at the pub to write. Evidently I missed a “triumphant” appearance at last year’s Great Escape. Need to rectify that.

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

Jack Savoretti – part Italian, but that’s where any comparison to Paolo Nutini ends. Savoretti has already been on the road with Corinne Bailey Rae and shored up Radio2 support, but why isn’t he massive? Just wait until one of his songs gets synced on a major film soundtrack.

Sounds like: a harder, more pop Bob Dylan, a gentler Bruce Springsteen

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umBAmzf0SXs[/youtube]

Skinny Lister – this London folk band have already made quite an impact on America, through a previous appearance at SXSW and then an even more surprising appearance last year on the Vans Warped tour of North America. Could they be riding the Mumford wave? Possibly. Their debut album ‘Forge and Flagon’ gets an American release this month, so we’ll see if the momentum lasts.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsqaLfWMcp8[/youtube]

The Staves – three harmonising sisters with guitars from Watford who are no stranger to America, having toured here a couple times now with the (now defunct?) Civil Wars, I was surprised to see them get another turn at SXSW. If they do get an opportunity to sing in St. David’s again like in 2012, go, go, GO. You won’t be disappointed.

Story Books – Kent band sounding at times haunting and at times bombastic. Not really sure why they’re not more popular or, frankly, why we haven’t heard of them yet.

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

Richard Thompson – like Robyn Hitchcock, I’m not entirely sure what Richard Thompson is doing on a list of acts scheduled to perform at SXSW. Having already made a name for himself as a member of Fairport Convention and then with his wife Linda and now as a solo artist, I suspect he’ll be using the guest spot to advertise his latest album ‘Electric’, out in February.

Washington Irving – jaunty folk rock wrapped around a Scottish accent.

File next to: Arcade Fire

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

That’s it for the genre chapters in the TGTF Guide to SXSW in January. To not miss any of our SXSW 2013 coverage, bookmark this tag and of course, keep it here on TGTF for even more great content in the weeks leading up to the big event in March!

 

Tramlines 2012: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 21st August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the exhaustion of last night’s Crookes set at Tramlines, Sunday had come right on cue. With an eclectic mix of acts on both of the specially erected city stages, it’s finally time to visit the main stage for local legends The Everly Pregnant Brothers. After seeing them on the busking bus last year, their step up to opening the main stage was one to celebrate as their set of ukulele based Yorkshire-ised popular hits including ‘Chav World (Mad World)’ and ode to Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ with more Yorkshire than you can shake a pasty at lightens up Devonshire Green with a brilliant atmosphere.

Leaving the main stage for now to return to the Nando’s New Music Stage, Holland (above) play a set of as or yet unknown tracks, one to keep an eye on perhaps? Either way they’re followed by the guitar-pop sounds of Let’s Buy Happiness. The sound is uplifting even if the lyrics are rooted in dark undertones of sarcasm for loves-passed-by. Neither band are in line to set fire to venues and charts, but they’re enjoyable enough for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Going off route a bit, its time to venture to new venue The Hop for a band who’re following in the steps of Sheffield duo Wet Nuns with their blend of hearty rock with a twist of blues and energy for good measure. The Blackbirds (below) are loud and riff heavy with some thumping drums and whilst the band have a lot to do before they achieve such levels as their local peers, the promise is undeniable even if the crowd is limited to around twenty people.

Everything in the day has been leading up to one thing though. Whilst across Sheffield, everyone’s winding up to their final headliners including a hugely notable homecoming show for 65daysofstatic on the New Music Stage; indie underdogs and all round nice guys We Are Scientists are due to close the festival on the main stage. The buzz for their support Field Music (below) is sadly nonexistent; you feel the group would have been better off surrounded by their more devoted fans inside somewhere like the Harley, but the band stick to a tight set that sounds a bit amiss in such a setting.

We Are Scientists come on stage though and Devonshire Green starts to dance. Playing a singles collection of their by now well known indie rock tracks with a few new ones added in to test the water on their upcoming fourth record the band haven’t put many notes out in years and that’s appreciated by the gathered Sheffield masses.  Sadly though, once again the stage is running late so in order to catch a few minutes of another local band on the rise, TGTF heads off up to Soyo.

Screaming Maldini are by now underground favourites. The enthusiasm with which they play their fresh breed of music that treads between the singalongs of pop and the eccentricity of math-rock on a delicate line (landing a bit more on the pop sound) makes for a highly enjoyable finish to the weekend. Of course acts continue late into the night, but it’s once again last-train home time and even with the occasional disappointment; Tramlines has once again proved that you can achieve a hugely enjoyable and bustling festival of solid acts without charging a penny to the fans. This time next year, Sheffield?

 
 
 

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