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Live Gig Video: Fenech-Soler perform ‘Magnetic’ live at London Electric Ballroom

By on Thursday, 4th July 2013 at 4:00 pm

This autumn will be huge. Why? Electrodance band Fenech-Soler will be releasing their second album ‘Rituals’ on the 2nd of September, probably my most anticipated release of the entire year, and the release will include their current single, ‘Magnetic’. Their biggest return to live performance gig this year was at London’s Electric Ballroom on the 22nd of May, and they helpfully committed their energetic performance of the song to video for those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there. (Trust me, I was beyond devastated when I found out they were playing a show in London the day I was leaving the country.) I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing the band once, opening for Example 2 years ago, and I’ve got my fingers crossed they will be coming over to my side of the pond very soon. Watch it below.


TGTF Exclusive Interview: The Crookes at Fierce Panda’s 19th Birthday Slamdown at London Scala – 21st May 2013

By on Tuesday, 2nd July 2013 at 1:00 pm

Photos by Braden Fletcher of Sound Influx; interview filmed by Samuel Hopper of Woodpile Sessions and Toby McCarron of Sound Influx

The first time I met Sheffield band The Crookes was at my first Great Escape, in May 2012. I was so excited to finally see them live; as an American, I didn’t think I’d have too many chances and this chance fell into my lap just at the right moment when I happened to be at the festival. Armed with nothing but a Sony point and shoot, I wanted to videotape the interview I was doing with them while we were sat in the beloved coffee bar of the Komedia that has sadly now turned into a noisome, candy-coloured cinema. The actual interview came out all right, but that was mostly due to the Crookes’ friendly nature in dealing with this American music editor who was quaking in her boots with the prospect of interviewing some of her musical idols.

Flash forward about a year later, to when the Crookes were due to headline their record label Fierce Panda’s 19th birthday party ‘slamdown’ party at London’s Scala on the 21st of May 2013. It’d been advertised as their biggest headline show to date in London. Having followed their pursuit of musical success from the early days of a CDR of ‘Backstreet Lovers’ played on Steve Lamacq’s then Radio 1 programme in 2009 all the way to today, I decided that since I was lucky enough to be in London for the actual event, I wanted to document this important moment in their career. Regular readers of TGTF will recall that I previously posted exclusive live gig videos of new single ‘Dance in Colour, second album title track ‘Hold Fast’ as part of my live gig review of the show and the encore that included George Waite’s stunning solo of ‘The I Love You Bridge’ and ‘Afterglow’ B-side ‘Honey’ from the evening.

What you didn’t know was hours before the actual show, myself, along with some friends from Sound Influx and the Woodpile Sessions, were running around the Scala, working on some other exclusive bits. This is one of those bits: a completely candid interview with the band on their story so far since I last chatted with them in Brighton last year. They’d had an amazing 12 months, which included the release of second album ‘Hold Fast’ (review here); a support slot with hometown legend Richard Hawley; a repeat shout at this year’s SXSW, their second time at the famous music festival in Austin; and their newest release of the double-A-sided single ‘Bear’s Blood’ / ‘Dance in Colour’.

None of us knew it at the time – or if the band did, they certainly did not let on – that a few weeks later, they would be celebrating an American recording contract. No, this interview was a pretty relaxed affair of me chatting with friends on the eve of the most important night in their career up to that point, and I couldn’t have been happier for them. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did doing the interview with them. (If you’re wondering why drummer Russell Bates is not in these photos, it’s because he left after the interview and we didn’t get to shoot any photos until after we were done with a session. And that session is still forthcoming, so hang tight for that.)


Thanks very much to Braden, Sam and Toby for their kind assistance in this TGTF / Sound Influx / Woodpile Sessions collaboration, without whom none of these videos would have been possible. Big, big thanks to the Crookes for indulging me yet again with an interview; they are honestly the sweetest guys in the business. I also want to thank their manager Penny for being a sweetheart and bearing with me with my many requests I sent through to her during my travels across Britain, as well as the head of Fierce Panda Records Simon Williams for allowing me to interview both the Crookes and the Heartbreaks during such an important event on the Panda calendar.

The Crookes Scala Interview 2


TGTF Exclusive Interview: The Heartbreaks at Fierce Panda’s 19th Birthday Slamdown at London Scala – 21st May 2013

By on Tuesday, 2nd July 2013 at 11:00 am

Photos by Braden Fletcher of Sound Influx; interview filmed by Samuel Hopper of Woodpile Sessions and Toby McCarron of Sound Influx

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the lovely boys of The Heartbreaks before they appeared live as part of the absolutely fantastic bill for their label Fierce Panda Records’ 19th birthday party. (They were accompanied that night by the equally fabulous Hey Sholay and headliners The Crookes.) I just to ask about two of their members’ previous work experiences as ice cream men in their seaside hometown of Morecambe (really, how could I not?) and how it felt to be singled out for their amazing music by the man himself Morrissey and going on tour with him. And of course I couldn’t not ask them about forthcoming new material that fans are anxiously awaiting for after the 2012 release of their aptly titled album ‘Funtimes’.


I could not have done this without the assistance of Braden, Sam and Toby, so thanks very much, guys, for this TGTF / Sound Influx / Woodpile Sessions collaboration. And of course we’d never have an interview without The Heartbreaks, who were true Northern gentlemen in every respect and made me long for the North West! Thanks very much too to Nian for helping set up this interview and a big thank you to the head of Fierce Panda Records Simon Williams for allowing me to interview both the Crookes and the Heartbreaks during such an important event on the Panda calendar.

The Heartbreaks Scala Interview 2


Live Gig Video: Boats perform at Canada House showcase at the Great Escape 2013

By on Tuesday, 18th June 2013 at 4:00 pm

Saturday afternoon at the Great Escape 2013 I was at a loss of who to see next and I basically just scoured the programme for a band I’d never heard of and took a chance with it.

The band I ended up seeing at the Canada House showcase (yes, I saw bands other than British ones!) at the Blind Tiger was Winnipeg, Canada’s Boats, who turned out to be the quirkiest band at the Great Escape this year I would have never had the chance of knowing about if I hadn’t taken that risk. I suppose all bands from Canada who aren’t from the major cities of Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal have the cross to bear that they’ll always be deemed outsiders, but in this song called ‘Advice on Bears’, Boats seems to take this all in stride. You can read the full report of my day 3 afternoon here.



Villagers with Alessi’s Ark and San Fermin – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13th June 2013

By on Monday, 17th June 2013 at 2:00 pm

It was 3 years ago this month when I met Conor J. O’Brien, the songwriting mastermind behind Villagers. He was a short East Coast tour to promote ‘Becoming a Jackal’, his Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, so he had become reasonably well known in Britain but his talent was much less known in America, even with NPR singing his praises. (I still laugh thinking about the moment at DC9 when he asked the 40 or so audience members how they’d heard of him. Most everyone answered, “NPR!” When I answered, “Steve Lamacq!” he wanted to know if I was a spy. Haha. Hardly, unless you count Americans tuning into BBC Radio a punishable offence…

Fast forward to 2013. O’Brien and crew released last year their sophomore effort on Domino Records, ‘{Awayland}’, this past January, and everyone wanted a piece of them. (We tried to get Martin into their Newcastle show in February but were turned away.) The first clue to me that something might not be right was ‘The Waves’, an electrobeat-driven track. What happened? I loved ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and had wanted it to win the Mercury. But it seemed from this taster in summer 2012, their sound had changed forever. Thankfully, once we got the album, there was relief in the form of ‘Nothing Arrived’, which sounded like something from the ‘…Jackal’ era. It should have been obvious just from the band’s support slot with Grizzly Bear that autumn that things had changed for the Dublin folk band, and in a direction that I myself wasn’t pleased with. But when Cheryl alerted me in April before I left for Britain that Villagers – as a full band – would be playing in Washington in June, at first I thought to myself, oh god. This is going to be terrible. How am I ever going to get through this? I loved ‘Becoming a Jackal’, but ‘{Awayland]’ left me cold. And confused. What happened to Conor? He’s probably not going to play anything from the debut album because he wants to ‘distance’ himself from that material. But I’m so glad I went, and I’ll tell you why. First, let me tell you about the support acts.

Alessis Ark Washington 2013

An extremely last minute addition to the show last Thursday was Alessi Laurent-Marke, who performs under the stage name Alessi’s Ark. I say extremely last minute, as I was reading my Facebook newsfeed on Wednesday afternoon and her page’s status update said, “Washington! Alessi’s Ark was JUST added to tomorrow night’s show at the Rock and Roll Hotel with Villagers + San Fermin. We play at 7:15 — hope to see you there!” Unfortunately, I think the late notice affected the turnout for her set, even though the actual start of the show didn’t get pushed back until 8 PM, which even then is very early for Washington gig standards. The only other time she’s played in our town was with Laura Marling 2 years ago, her set framed by then forthcoming release on Bella Union of her second album, the beautiful ‘Time Travel’. That show was at Sixth and I Synagogue, a much larger venue, and I was running round the place taking photos, so I couldn’t really see her perform up close and in a relaxed way.

Admittedly, before I went on my 3-week holiday, I didn’t have time to listen to Laurent-Marke’s new LP ‘The Still Life’ released in April, but it’s more than coincidental that she got to go on tour with O’Brien, as she’s also decided to try something new sound-wise on record. It’s with some relief that songs like ‘Veins Are Blue’ on the new album are more classic Alessi’s Ark, but it’s a bit of a travesty that she had to perform solo, stood alone on the stage with her guitar – like the time before with Marling and just like O’Brien’s first visit to our city- because with a backing band, the set would have been far more compelling with its complex and beguiling arrangements, such as new album opening track ‘Tin Smithing’. Still, songs from ‘Time Travel’ like my personal favourite ‘Wire’ (whose words fall from my lips like second nature)and set closer ‘The Robot’ continue to work well even performed solo. The most haunting song award goes to ‘Woman’, from her 2009 debut ‘Notes from the Treehouse’. As Cheryl knows all too well, I tend to palm off the singer/songwriters off on her, since it’s not my favourite genre but every once in a while, someone like Laurent-Marke, entirely mesmerising to watch, captures my attention.

I’m going to cut and paste the first line of San Fermin‘s bio directly from their Web site, because it has to be read to be believed: ” A pastiche of post-rock, chamber-pop and contemporary classical composition, San Fermin is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone.” Hmm. I think the first thing that kind of blew us away was how many people were crammed onstage for their set. Eight. Not kidding: three singers, one male, two female (one blonde, one brunette), with the brunette playing an instrument (violin); a trumpeter; a saxophonist (how often do we use that word here at TGTF? not very often); a guitarist; a drummer; and then Ludwig-Leone himself on keyboard. (No bassist. How is that possible?) If you’ve ever been to the RNR, you know getting that many people and their gear on that stage is a bit of a challenge. That bit from the biography makes me think that Ludwig-Leone is the only ‘member’ of this act who will stay constant, with the other players to be mixed and matched along the way . It’s definitely a unique take on the traditional way bands get together, I mean, mostly we cover bands that have met in university or were mates back from childhood, right?

Either way, Ludwig-Leone’s tunes, described by the blonde singer as “beautiful work”, has obviously attracted the right kind of attention, as he explained the video for single ‘Sonsick’ would be released the following week and that their (his?) eponymous album would be released in September on Downtown Records, an indie with ties to Universal and who have released albums by White Denim and Lissy Trullie. Several in our friends’ group there to watch Villagers agreed that the male singer sounded like Matt Berninger of the National, so I will go with that (I couldn’t tell you for sure, as I’m not a National fan, nor do I enjoy the male baritone singing style). The most confusing part of San Fermin’s set wasn’t the cacophony on stage: to be honest, the eight-strong band sounded tight, which is much to their credit. No, it was the style of songs being played, which made the set schizophrenic. You have songs where the blonde woman is singing like an opera singer and the arrangement is grand, but then you have songs like ‘Sonsick’ where you’re thinking as a reviewer, err, there’s so much going on here, how the heck am I going to explain this? Either way, you should probably keep the act name San Fermin in mind, as I expect they (he?) will be going places.

Villagers Washington live 2013

So, yes. Villagers. It is always a wonderful thing to be surrounded by delightful foreign to DC accents and the Irish one is no exception. O’Brien began their set with him performing ‘Memoir’, a track on the ‘Nothing Arrived’ single from last year. It was beautifully gentle, with his O’Brien’s gorgeous voice in this sad love song, playing his smaller-scale guitar. From there, it was straight into funky and slightly atonal ‘Passing a Message’, which was a better indication on how this set was going to go. Whoa whoa whoa. While the only time prior to this I’d seen him perform was solo, the transformation from the man who sang ‘Memoir’ to the one wailing on psychedelic ‘The Bell’ wasn’t what I expected at all. I kind of felt like I’d been slapped in the face by Cher like Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck.

And that was when it all clicked. It all made sense now. Loads of artists have said when working on their second albums, “I want to do something different”, “the new album will sound different”, they don’t want to stay in one place. But most of the time, I find the impetus to do something different isn’t authentic, it’s because they’re feeling the peer pressure to do so. I think everyone expected with the critical success of ‘…Jackal’ that the second Villagers album would just be a ‘…Jackal’ part 2. I can tell you for sure that in watching Villagers gig, O’Brien has truly written songs on ‘{Awayland}’ that he believes in and are a direct reflection of who he is a person and a songwriter. There’s nothing false here. Seeing him rip on a song like ‘Judgment Call’ and the aforementioned ‘The Bell’, but then throw himself emotionally and dazzlingly into ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and ‘Ship of Promises’ without missing a beat? It was all a wonderful thing to see.

O’Brien and band playing my favourite track of theirs, ever, the love song all about complete devotion, ‘The Pact’, had me absolutely verklempt. (How very appropriate that when I heard this song for the first time in 2010, even though I was entirely into dance music, I loved it. And now it fits perfectly in the guitar pop genre that I am in love with right now.) Conor J. O’Brien, the man and his songwriting, is all grown up. And that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s brilliant. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next.

After the cut: the set list.
Continue reading Villagers with Alessi’s Ark and San Fermin – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 13th June 2013


Live Gig Videos: Young Kato and the 1975 perform at CMJ showcase at the Great Escape 2013

By on Thursday, 13th June 2013 at 4:00 pm

CMJ (yes, those crazy people that put on the New York City-based music festival of the same name every October) sponsored a really fab showcase the Saturday night of this year’s Great Escape 2013 starring some great bands, including Young Kato and the 1975. Enjoy videos on us from both of these bands – Young Kato’s ‘Something Real’ and the 1975’s ‘Milk’ – below.

My full coverage of the night can be read here.




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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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