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Single Review: Longfellow – Kiss-Hug-Makeup

 
By on Wednesday, 23rd April 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

A couple of weeks ago, Chris Martin and his missus may have coined the term ‘conscious uncoupling’, and Coldplay may have a new album out on the 19th of May. But on the same day comes the release of something far more interesting, and ironically enough, its contents might throw you into thinking about a kind of conscious recoupling. London band Longfellow, who many in Britain have tipped to challenge Martin’s band’s global stranglehold on the mainstream alt rock scene, will be dropping their next single ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’ on that very day.

Seeing that Longfellow have signed to the exact same label to begin their career as Coldplay did in their early days – London’s Fierce Panda, whose ‘Endangered: Fierce Panda 2004-2014’ I reviewed a short while ago – it all seems very cosy. A little too cosy… However, it seems that Coldplay’s latest reveal, single ‘Magic’, has taken more reliance on beat than their past efforts, and they have cleared the way for a group like Longfellow to make it. That is, if they can write a pop anthem. Have they, in ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’? Let’s examine further, shall we?

When I first read the title, I thought the word ‘Makeup’ had to be a mistake. Surely it should have been referring to the act of making up after a break-up and not literally cosmetics? It bothered me a lot: hey, remember, I’m an editor! After further reflection, it made me think of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ ‘The Tracks of My Tears’, in which there’s the immortal line, “my smile is my make-up I wear since my break-up with you”. So that made me grin. Like Smokey’s song, ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’ is about the dreadful wanting of someone after realising you’ve lost the world you shared with that person.

The lyrics of this Longfellow song may make you wince from the desperation contained within; “I was there by your side as you reached for another / and a part of me, it died”; “don’t make these blue skies turn to red / I’m yours but I won’t regret it”), especially with the way lead vocalist Owen Lloyd emotes this desperation, but any such wincing is brief. With words like “so let’s grow old together, sweetness you’re my heart and soul / a thousand nights that I lay restless, praying you’d come home”, the song makes you want to believe, to keep the hope alive that fences can be mended.

There are two major elements to Longfellow that make the Coldplay comparison seem apt: the bombastic piano played by Ali Hetherington and the anthemic quality of their songwriting. One major difference – and what I think could push Longfellow to the top – is Lloyd’s voice, which is far richer and emotional than Martin’s. I had the good fortune having heard the band perform this song in their BBC Introducing set at SXSW 2014 last month, all under the kind auspices of one Steve Lamacq. All three of these pieces make the single one compelling piece of pop indeed.

Let us watch and wait. The gauntlet has been thrown.

9.5/10

‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’, Longfellow’s hotly anticipated followup single to ‘Siamese Lover’, will be out on the 19th of May on Fierce Panda. The band plays London’s Camden Barfly the next evening, on the 20th of May. They are purported to be filming a promo video for this new single in the West Country, and we’ll share that with you when we have it. But in the meantime, you can watch them performing the song live at Steve Lamacq’s BBC Introducing showcase on the Thursday night at SXSW 2014 in Austin back in March below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3uZMNGw18M[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2014: the second half of Steve Lamacq’s BBC Introducing showcase at Latitude 30 – 13th March 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 25th March 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

A universal problem faced by all punters attending any festival are the dreaded schedule clashes that tear your insides apart. When I met Steve Lamacq Wednesday night at Parish Underground, he asked if I was going to be at his BBC Introducing night at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30 on Thursday night. It was surely going to be a huge night for Lammo,as he had not put on a showcase at SXSW since 2008, when he brought a then unknown Florence and the Machine to Austin. I knew where my night was going to begin – we’d RSVPed to a Sofar Sounds: Austin secret show nearly 10 miles north out of town but knew nothing else – and I felt terrible telling him I could not be there for the start when THUMPERS were due on at 8. But I promised him I’d do my best to get there as quickly as I could once we were done with our previous engagement. And anyone who knows me well knows I will do everything in my power to keep a promise.

After the Sofar show, we drove back into town and I prayed to the parking karma gods that we would find a decent space not too far from all the downtown action. I guess they listened. As soon as we were parked, I left Carrie, who had a leisurely walk to Cheer Up Charlie’s, and practically sprinted all the way down to Latitude 30, going the long way round via Trinity and 5th Street to avoid the busiest section of 6th Street. (Yes, folks, after having done it 3 years running, SXSW does run like a military manoeuvre in my head.) I just missed the eccentric Cousin Marnie, who finished shortly before I arrived. But I was okay with that, because I was looking for someone else. Well, five other someone elses.

I don’t normally go up to people I don’t know and ask for help looking for someone else. But SXSW is a unique animal, am I right? And if you don’t ask, you don’t get. There were a couple of guys sat on the benches outside Latitude 30, and I went straight up to one of them and said, “excuse me, sorry to bother you, but I’m looking for the guys in Longfellow. Do you know where they are?”

He laughed. “I’m in Longfellow!”

Oops! Maybe it was divine intervention, but I found who I was looking for. One of Fierce Panda Records’ most recent acquisitions, Longfellow are a London band who everyone, including compere for the night Steve Lamacq, is expecting huge things from. As a fan of many of the bands on the Fierce Panda roster, when I received their first single ‘Siamese Lover’ in my email, I had to have a listen. I was instantly smitten. As the band were only playing this one BBC Introducing showcase and it was going to be their American premiere appearance, I knew I had to be there. I wished them good luck and we were going to catch up afterward, which we did for this post-gig interview in which they were humble, yet wide-eyed lads eager to start the next phase of their career.

I viewed their actual performance as a bit of a fairy tale, so I can only imagine how they must have felt. They don’t even have a debut album out yet, but Steve Lamacq took a chance on them and the other UK acts playing in the showcase that night. Because the BBC were both recording audio and video of the night, you can imagine the lighting was even more impeccable than on any of the other British Music Embassy nights. Nerves must have run rampant as this was the London band’s first experience with an American audience, but they played as if seasoned veterans as Austin – and later through BBC iPlayer – listened and watched on. In a particularly heartfelt moment, frontman Owen Lloyd – whose speaking voice some compare to Prince William’s – thanked the BBC and everyone who’d been supporting them up to this point, even going so far as to dedicate their next single ‘Hug – Kiss – Makeup’ . Bless. I’ve included the BBC’s professional video of the song below, because you’ll spy the camera of someone else who was videotaping the song as well. (Guess who.)

There’s an anthemic quality to many of their songs, which explains why many people are already making their predictions that Longfellow is on track to become the next Coldplay. As the lights alternated from red to blue to purple from song to song, I couldn’t help thinking about that crazy wristband thing Chris Martin and co. did at stadium shows a couple years ago and wondered if this was a sign of things to come. However, the deepness and heightened emotions of Lloyd’s voice beats out Martin’s easily. ‘Waiting for Elvis’ was a highlight, as was an earlier song of theirs, ‘Gabrielle’, which will remind you of Chapel Club‘s debut album, except brighter when the song breaks open at the chorus. However, it was ‘Siamese Dream’ that swept me into a dancing mood, and I’m sure I amused more than a couple staring Americans.

That night, I also caught BBC Sound of 2014 nominees Royal Blood. But maybe ‘caught’ is the wrong word, as I could only stand four songs (I hung tight for behemoth ‘Little Monster’; see video below) before I had to give my ears a rest. I probably should have stood in the back instead of trying to be down the front in a desperate attempt to photograph Mike Kerr (vocals / bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums) but it was kind of pointless, because unlike Longfellow’s gorgeous multi-coloured light display, Royal Blood basically played in near darkness. Sorry John, I am sure you are disappointed, but I figured if I had stood there any longer, my ears would start bleeding.

I met with Carrie later on, who was waiting for CYMBALS to bring the dance funk to the indoor stage at Cheer Up Charlie’s. But in a hilarious twist of fate, I accidentally got swept up in the wrong crowd, having been directed into the wrong queue and ended up knee deep with the photographers on a raised platform waiting for Future Islands on the outdoor stage instead. Seeing that the buzz surrounding Future Islands at this year’s SXSW was so massive, yet I didn’t bother to wait for them to start as I was concerned I’d be swallowed up by the crowd once they began playing, I beat a hasty retreat to be reunited with Carrie inside.

And if you were wondering about my keeping my promise to Lammo, I found him inside Latitude 30 before Longfellow took to the stage. I proudly showed him the photos I’d taken on my camera to show him why I wasn’t able to arrive to his showcase any earlier and who I’d gone to see. Upon seeing a band important to both of us, he smiled. When I told him that I was interviewing Longfellow after they played, he replied, “that’s great. They’ll be dead chuffed!” “Dead chuffed” is actually how I would describe myself upon meeting this band who I think has what it takes to be massive stars.

 

SXSW 2014 Interview: Owen Lloyd, James Thomas and Tom Warhurst of Longfellow

 
By on Friday, 21st March 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

London band Longfellow were a long way from home Thursday night when they played the BBC Introducing night curated by indie music champion Steve Lamacq. However, when Lammo comes calling, you answer. Playing their first-ever show in the States in front of a rammed Latitude 30 at the British Music Embassy must have been nerve-wracking, but I was so pleased that three of their band – singer Owen Lloyd, guitarist James Thomas and drummer Tom Warhurst – were on hand and willing to sit down with me to chat about coming over for SXSW 2014 and what it meant to them to be playing such a momentous night, how they got signed to indie label Fierce Panda and the stories behind some of their most anthemic songs to date. Listen below.

Many thanks to the guys for chatting with me after their set!

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #73: Owen Lloyd of Longfellow

 
By on Monday, 10th March 2014 at 11:00 am
 

TGTF are now in Austin! The music portion of SXSW 2014 goes into full swing tomorrow. We’ve been running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ heads so they would tell us what they really think of the event. Here we are, in the tenth of these, and I’m really pleased to be bringing you the Quickfire answers from singer and frontman Owen Lloyd of up and coming band Longfellow.

The Londoners will be releasing their second single ‘Kiss-Hug-Makeup’ with one of our favourite indie labels, Fierce Panda, on the 19th of May. This are exciting times for the group, who will be appearing at a very special BBC Introducing night compered by who else by the legend that is Steve Lamacq on Thursday evening (the 13th of March) here in Austin. Catch the broadcast live on 6music; more details will be here. But until then, whet your appetite with words from the ‘Siamese Lover’ singer…

SXSW-related questions:
What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
I just can’t wait to play the BBC Introducing show at Latitude 30 on the 13th; we’ve had an unbelievable show of support from the BBC the last few months and it feels like the perfect opportunity to do them proud. Also, it’s a terrible cliché but I’ve promised my sister some cowboy boots… I think Texan shopping is going to be one hell of an adventure. [Head south of the river to Allen Boots on South Congress – Ed.]

Are there any bands that you have as must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
The Crookes, I’m yet to have seen them but I’ve fallen in love with their new album after being introduced to it by our manager Simon (label boss at Fierce Panda Records). I think we’re lucky enough to be playing with Katie Herzig at some point too; she’s a songwriter who I’ve been dying to see for a while now.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
I’m trying to to finish off a degree at the University of Westminster whilst all this SXSW madness is going on so I’ll be taking a hoard of books on Autism and Music Therapy. There’s a real disparity between the thoroughly studious Owen and the one who’s fronting the band at the moment, I’m kind of enjoying it.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Now that depends on whether it’s before or after we’ve played a show… Before I’d probably be unenticingly boring and go for a lime and soda. Afterwards, the sky’s the limit, you choose…

(For bands who are SXSW newbies) What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. It’s our first proper festival, so we’re a bit oblivious and as a result quite levelheaded, but we’ve heard so many fabulous and exciting things about it it’s hard not to feel a little anxious. Plus, the BBC lineup is insane, so we’ve got to really pull our socks up to feel at home with the impressive company we’re keeping.

Let’s move on to the usual TGTF Quickfire Questions:

What song is your earliest musical memory?
My dad was a keen musician, and he immersed me in music from quite an early age. He used to sit in our living room and cover classics on his acoustic guitar like Toto – ‘Africa’, The Beatles – ‘You’ve Got to Hide Your love Away’ and Todd Rundgren – ‘I Saw the :ight’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
The Pointer Sisters – ‘Slow Hand’. Whenever we were going on a family holiday this always found its way into the travel playlist, I know it’s shamelessly ’80s, but I have so much nostalgia for it.

What song makes you laugh?
One Direction – ‘The Story of my Life’. I heard the shred version on YouTube and I can’t get it out of my head each time I hear the original.

What song makes you cry?
Nick Drake – ‘Northern Sky’. Nick had such an incredible talent and to die so tragically young was a terrible waste. This song is beautiful.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Rich’. My first love was a bit of vixen and she drove me to the point of insanity with this song as the soundtrack to it.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Patrick Watson – ‘Man Like You’. This song was the outro to a fairly destructive friendship I had a few years ago now, I can still listen to it but with an air of negative reminiscence and reflection.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Joni Mitchell – ‘A Case of You’. Joni’s lyrics are a huge inspiration.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Sylvia Plath. [I think we might have been separated at birth… – Ed.]

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I trained to be a dietician for two years before throwing myself into music so I’d probably still be deluding myself with something scientific and sensible. [Yup, definitely separated at birth. – Ed.]

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
This is a tricky one and changes day to day but currently, Manchester Orchestra – ‘Mean Everything to Nothing’.

We wish Owen and the whole Longfellow crew best wishes as they make their maiden voyage to SXSW and we are prepared they will knock everyone’s socks off on Thursday night! Thank you Owen for answering our questions.

 

Video of the Moment #1437: Longfellow

 
By on Monday, 27th January 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Newish London band Longfellow release their latest single, for their song ‘Siamese Lover’, today digitally on Label Fandango / Fierce Panda. What will strike you immediately are singer Owen Lloyd’s vocals, rich in both sound and melancholy, while the single as a whole package has a broader, mainstream appeal, owing a lot to its huge-sounding chorus: standing on the edge of the world, we’re standing on the edge of the world / I know it’s hard to fall; baby believe me / standing on the edge of the world, we’re standing on the edge of the world / Siamese love of mine, Siamese love of mine”. (To be clear, I’m talking about the TGTF pleasing Keane / Kodaline-type mainstream appeal, not forced down your throat major label mainstream.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF6SOF7GTkU[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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