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Secret Sofar Sounds Philadelphia show – 8th June 2014

By on Tuesday, 10th June 2014 at 2:00 pm

Third time’s a charm, eh? A June day anywhere in the mid-Atlantic of America is usually a hot one, and Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia was no exception. Cheryl and I traveled about 3 hours north from DC to catch last weekend’s Sofar Sounds installment there. As always, punters who had RSVPed had no idea who would be gracing the stage. Er, the front room of a West Philly row house owned by our kind hosts, Tom and Rob. Despite the slightly stifling conditions on a very sunny day in the City of Brotherly Love, all were in good spirits when it came time for the first act to take the stage.

Justin Pellechia is the frontman for local to Philly band Satellite Hearts. But for this show, all eyes were on him and his acoustic guitar, occasionally augmented by friends on electric guitar and bass. He will be releasing a new album in November, and we were treated to songs that will be appearing on that LP.

His songs have unusual song titles – see ‘Meet the Greens’ and ‘Juxtaposition’ – and equally unique lyrics of “candy apple light”, as found in track ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. I’ll admit that when he took to the floor Sunday afternoon, I kind of expected from his shaggy hair to be hearing a lite and acoustic version of the Beatles. But I think Pellechia managed to astonish everyone when he belted out notes in one song like no-one’s business.

From my research on the interwebs, the best I can tell is that The Gallerist is a Philadelphia-based trio led by Bostonian Mike Collins, who sings and plays guitar and banjo. But on Sunday, The Gallerist were just two: Collins and bassist Kai Carter. I suppose depending on your musical tastes, two beardy guys who are sat in front of you can either delight or frighten. Maybe it is different in the UK, where I’ve always felt folk has a better chance at mainstream than here in America, but generally when I’m at home, I equate beard with hipster. Thankfully, Collins and Carter’s well-written songs were anything but and their beautiful harmonies together made for a lovely and far too short acoustic set.

On songs such as ‘Helium’, Collins’ voice in particular has a distinctively wonderful timbre that made me wonder even with support from local radio station WXPN’s The Key, who described the band with the glowing words, “The Gallerist may just be one of the Philadelphia folk scene’s best kept secrets”, why they are still unsigned. Somehow, one imagines they’d be snapped up in a second by an indie like Bella Union if they were British.

The last act of the afternoon were Newcastle’s Little Comets, who were spending their second to last day before heading home to England here in Philadelphia. Despite being known as a plugged in indie rock / pop band, you could argue that the Geordies already had good practise under their belts for the Sofar Sounds setup. Less than 2 weeks prior, at a sold out Academy at home, they played an acoustic set that, judging from everyone I know who was there, was a show for the ages. I was intrigued how these songs I’d come to know and love over years of us supporting the band on TGTF and their many layers – broadcast outward by amplifiers, I might add – would work in the acoustic setting, and which songs from their two albums and multiple EPs they might give the acoustic treatment to.

I needn’t have worried. While the majority of the crowd appeared to be unfamiliar with the band, the music showed Little Comets’ talents well. Quite possibly if you’re listening on record and have the volume turned way up, you might miss out on some really important details about the group that become glaringly obvious when they’re playing acoustic. You really have not lived if you haven’t heard Rob Coles (lead vocals / guitar), his brother Mickey (guitar) and Matt Hall (bass) sing in perfect three-part harmony. For an idea of how this sounds, stream the acoustic version of ‘Salt’, one of their newest songs the band themselves have shared, below. God himself would cry. (The subject matter is pretty heavy and heart-wrenching too; you can read Rob’s words about the song and its sad inspiration on the band’s blog.)

The pièce de résistance, however, was this afternoon’s interpretation of ‘Little Italy’, which I previewed ahead of the release of ‘The Gentle EP’ in late February. There is so much going on in the EP version, surely it would be next impossible to keep the vibe of the original? All of us Little Comets fans have heard the recorded version. But upon listening to the acoustic version live, you realise you’re getting a special gift. It’s like really looking at something for the first time.


Video of the Moment #1525: Little Comets

By on Wednesday, 21st May 2014 at 6:00 pm

Little Comets have released the self-filmed video for their self-released single (are you noticing a trend here?) ‘Salt’. The single doesn’t come out until the 16th of June on the band’s own Smallest Label, but until then, you can enjoy the handiwork of Mickey ‘Scorsese’ Coles’ filmmaking, some beautiful fields of England and someone’s adorable child in the promo video below.

The Comets’ last release, ‘The Gentle EP’, was also self-released and is available now.


Live Gig Video: Little Comets share February 2014 tour video set to ‘Coalition of One’

By on Thursday, 13th March 2014 at 5:05 pm

While on tour in the UK, Little Comets filmed this video while traveling in February to see all of your lovely faces. It’s set to the addictive ‘Coalition of One’, off their current release ‘The Gentle EP’, out now.


Video of the Moment #1448: Little Comets

By on Tuesday, 11th February 2014 at 6:00 pm

Yesterday, Little Comets released their latest video, for ‘Little Italy’, the lead track of their ‘The Gentle EP’ they’re self-releasing on the 23rd of February. (I reviewed the single last week and you can read that review here.) If you read the band’s Facebook, there’s a lot of bro-ing going on: “mickey is our prince. he once wrote a song called 1998 and can mix sound and design costumes. here is a still from a video that will be coming soon… guess who made it…” Mickey Coles clearly is a jack of all trades, and we are the ones who benefit from his talents, including those shown off in this inventive video. Watch it below.

Catch Little Comets on tour all over the place this month, including the last gig of the tour on the 21st of February at Newcastle Academy.


In the Post #119: Little Comets preview ‘Little Italy’ from forthcoming ‘The Gentle EP’

By on Tuesday, 4th February 2014 at 12:00 pm

Following on from their American label signing to Dualtone Records last summer, Little Comets have released new songs ahead of their February UK tour. The songs, which include this one, ‘Little Italy’, and ‘The Blur, the Line and the Thickest of Onions’, feature on their next release ‘The Gentle EP’, out the 24th of February that the band are self-releasing. Little Comets have never been ones to follow the pack, so it should come as no surprise whatsoever that ‘Little Italy’, the first of the songs to get a public airing, sounds off-kilter and terribly original as their previous offerings.

The meaning behind the song is described eloquently by Rob Coles himself here, so I’m not going to go into that. Instead, I’m going to focus on the sound of the song. What Rob does very well when he sings is use his voice as another instrument, which is as it should be. In ‘Little Italy’, his vocals are like an additional set of percussion, its staccato quality akin to a ballet dancer’s feet bouncing and pirouetting across the score. It’s nothing short of impressive. His brother Mickey’s guitar lines are in tandem with the vocals, sounding in my mind, mathematical in their precision. There are these weird buzzing, industrial notes that I’m guessing are either a guitar or bass with an effect placed on them, but I can’t be sure. I did say ‘original’, didn’t I?

After the first chorus and the song approaches the second verse, the guitar lines descend and what sound like bells going through another effect pass as the song turns poppier at Matt Hall’s bass comes in. The lyrics are a bit dense in content (the chorus goes, “Life don’t animate / just creeps up on you slowly / Surely holy water / flows as normal water does? / In Little Italy I re-adhere”) but somehow the musical treatment seems to suit them, even as those buzzing notes in the bridge sound somewhat ominous. Overall though, what’s most important is that the sound of ‘Little Italy’ is compelling, and that’s all that matters. Is it a song that can be replayed without one getting bored? And is it a song with a sound you will be remember? A resounding yes on both counts.


Little Comets’ ‘The Gentle EP’ will be released by the band themselves on the 24th of February.


Live Gig Videos: Little Comets perform ‘Violence Out Tonight’ and ‘Joanna’ at the Hamilton in Washington, DC

By on Monday, 6th January 2014 at 4:00 pm

In case you missed it last summer, after 4 long years of waiting, I finally got to see Newcastle band Little Comets in my hometown of Washington, DC. They impressed me so much, landing at the very top of the heap of my Top Gigs of 2013 list. I also got to chat with Rob Coles and Matt Hall from the band backstage after their great show at the exceedingly lovely Hamilton, just a short walk from the White House.

As many of you know, I am a sharer, especially when it comes to spreading the word on bands on love. It sucks when you live far away and/or in another country where your favourite bands are playing. With that, I bring you live videos from the DC show: the socially conscious ‘Violence Out Tonight’ from second album ‘Life is Elsewhere’ and debut LP crowd pleaser ‘Joanna’. Enjoy them both below. Ah, memories!


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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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