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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Rock UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW (N-W)

By on Wednesday, 26th February 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.

British rock and its many facets will be on display at SXSW 2014, judging by the variety of acts been given a shout by the festival this year. In the second installment of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014, we turn to the UK bands that play rock, punk, metal and everything in between, alphabetically N through W. (In case you were wondering, there weren’t any Y or Z bands announced, we weren’t leaving anyone out on purpose!) The first half of the rock list, in case you missed it, is here.

How many UK bands do you know of have already gone on tour in Asia even before their debut album has been released? Not many. Even less when you’ve never heard of said band. So there must be something more about Natives from the New Forest that deserves your attention. They sound entirely unpretentious and (gasp!) just like they’re having a lot of fun too. We don’t know much about them, but we’re guessing there’ll be plenty to say post-SXSW.

New Desert Blues
John writes: “With no sense of pretence, no dramatic unveiling, New Desert Blues have snuck up on my psyche, with the immense track that is ‘Adam’. The five impeccably dressed lads who sounded raw, and ebbed with potential at The Great Escape at The Fishbowl have created something really special with their debut effort.

Refined, and delightfully genuine, New Desert Blues aren’t bursting with youthful exuberance as you’d expect from a group of five less-than-likely lads. They instead emanate a dastardly sense of cool: whether that is in lead singer James Cullen’s ability to pull of the most pretentious of turtlenecks in Brighton sunshine at this year’s Great Escape, is yet to be uncovered.”

All girl group PINS sound more Brooklyn than Manchester in their raucous, fuzzy rock delivery. Admittedly, their complete lack of Y chromosomes sets them apart from all the other UK rock acts at SXSW 2014, but will this – along with their Christmas song getting an exclusive on Urban Outfitters’ Web site – work in their favour, or will they merely be a curiosity?

Public Service Broadcasting
Martin writes: “They take as their inspiration and sampling material that rich vein of mid-century film footage which gloried in the wonder of British achievements, celebrating the majesty of heavy engineering, the valour of daring explorers, and the gritty triumph of war. The band themselves mirror the tone of their subject matter by dressing in tweeds and having names like Wriglesworth; one half-expects the other band members to be called Ginger and Algy, and for them to fly off in Sopwith Camels after the show is over.

Each piece brings to life a particular microcosm of history via clips from vintage newsreels, spanning about 20 years from the early 1940s to the advent of practical colour television in the 1960s. Wartime propaganda is invoked in ‘Dig for Victory’, the distinctive iconography exhorting the populace to self-reliance via growing their own food is writ large across several vintage television sets adapted for digital projection. ‘Spitfire’ uses copious footage from the 1942 film The First Of The Few to honour the achievements of RJ Mitchell, the designer of arguably the most famous aircraft ever built.”

Royal Blood
The lone true rock band on the BBC Sound of 2014 longlist, the Brighton duo’s is the UK’s answer to, well, both the Black Keys and Queens of the Stone Age. And they’re ready to unleash their punishing bluesy rock on Austin come March.

Saor Patrol
Cheryl writes: “Playing what they have dubbed ‘medieval Scottish rock’, Saor Patrol – which translates as ‘freedom guard’ in Scottish Gaelic – kicks up the amperage on other traditional folk music. Not content to stick with the 100% traditional sound, these guys add a grinding guitar to pull it just this side of modern. Completely instrumental, the combination of this driving guitar overlaid with a bagpipe melody is just different enough from traditional bagpipe bands to turn heads.”

Read the rest of Cheryl’s Band to Watch on Saor Patrol here.

Save Your Breath
Cheryl writes: “There probably wasn’t a lot to do on a Saturday night in the port city of Newport in the south of Wales. Friends Ben Griffiths and Tom Owens solved the boredom by forming a band that eventually was fleshed out to become Save Your Breath. Taking their pop punk sensibilities from the likes of Green Day and their ilk, they forged their sound from the grit of the life around them. What must have started out as a lark between school chums, titles like ‘Not in the Mood for Kiwi’ and ‘Holy Shit, Fortune Teller Miracle Fish!’ show up on their first album, they have matured enough to temper their weird song titles but still have energetic, aggressive tunes worthy of a listen.”

For more on Save Your Breath, read the rest of Cheryl’s Band to Watch on them here.

Garage punky duo from Kent have already made a big noise in London and on tour with fellow SXSW 2014-ers Drenge for their punishing live set. Not much else to say except if you like punk, you better start planning your SXSW schedule around these guys, because I think it’s pretty assured their sets will be rammed.

Kind of poppy, kind of rocky, kind of surf-y. Not terribly cerebral, but hey, this is the kind of music I expect Best Coast fans to enjoy (and there are a lot of those).

Syd Arthur
Syd Arthur – there is no man named “Syd Arthur”. No, they’re a psych rock band with a wink wink, nudge nudge hippie name, and the players all with long, unkempt hair. “Greatly inspired by the sonic pioneers of the late 60s and early 70s, they have patiently learned how to engineer, produce and mix themselves, using an innovative hybrid of analogue and digital techniques.”

Teeth of the Sea
Instrumental proggy guitars plus synths band with their latest album, ‘Master’ (2013), receiving rave reviews across the board for its inventiveness. Their live shows have received similar plaudits, so if you’re into this kind of music, they’re unmissable in Austin.

Like your punk as well as your melodies? Described often as “noisy”, “happy” and “joyous”, Chichester’s Traams, then, are for you.

We Were Promised Jetpacks
The Scottish band’s cult popularity in the States was on a high in 2012 when the band appeared at SXSW last, but after being off the radar for quite a while, they’ve just released a live album ‘E Rey Live In Philadelphia’ and will be looking to solidify their standing stateside.

Wolf Alice
Carrie writes: London alt-rockers Wolf Alice are likely to bring in new fans from all corners at their SXSW shows. Their sound is a hybrid of styles, a slightly unsettling middle ground among cerebral indie folk, bright garage pop, and murky grunge rock…The band’s own lyric, from the title track ‘Blush’ might actually be the best description of their overall sound: “Punch drunk, dumbstruck, potluck, happy, happy.”

The Wytches
Ben writes: “These Brighton based psych surfers take a battered base of shoegazing garage rock, douses it with B-movie psychedelia, throws on a lighter and watches it blacken into a ghastly yet basely expressive lump of carbon. The far out three piece had a degree of success with two singles on Hate Hate Hate Records, before announcing their switch to Heavenly Recordings with the release of Afree digital download ‘Gravedweller'”.

Keep it here on TGTF for more in the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014, coming soon!


Album Review: New Desert Blues – Devil’s Rope EP

By on Tuesday, 21st January 2014 at 12:00 pm

The difficulty with New Desert Blues I’m facing is how five boys, with such youth about them, are able to weave such mesmerising tapestries through their songs. At their age, I was firmly focussed on exploits of chasing girls and seeing how many alcopops I could pilfer before my parents found out. However, at such young ages they’re already showing a maturity far beyond their years.

On their debut EP ‘Devil’s Rope’, we’re introduced to’ Zachary’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Christoph’ and ‘Eli’, four men I’m delighted to welcome into my life, along with their finely-woven stories of affliction and woe. If you’re lost, allow me to clarify: New Desert Blues name all of their songs with boys’ names. Why though? Well, after facing a bombardment of questions on the issue, the boys admitted the songs are named after characters in a story, in a world within which these stories intertwine. On their site they describe it as “creating the soundtrack to films yet to be written, each song a different tale named after the main characters and protagonists”.

This goes some way to showing the immense emphasis put by the band, on the process of creating a deep, spectacularly visual story. It’s a process in which the Hampshire-based five-piece succeed in wholeheartedly throughout the debut EP. The poppiest, most easily accesisble offering on the four-song EP is served up through opener ‘Zachary’, the second part of what began in ‘Adam’, which I reviewed last summer. In its video, stunningly shot and edited by the band themselves, we follow our wounded centrepoint stagger through the desert. Effectively, that’s what the song is about too: a struggle to move on, brought by the band by vessel their trademark five-piece harmonies, led by the soaring tones of James Cullen and underpinned by a powerful Coldplay-esque guitar twang.

‘Devil’s Rope’ transports you from the dry, dank setting in which the record was recorded in Britain, all the way to the loneliest stretch of American desert you can picture, while holding your hand as you stagger through a ghost town in New Mexico where these four characters are mourning their shattered, broken lives. ‘Matthew’ is an adventure through the Wild West, with Cullen almost screaming, “this is hallowed ground, my friend”, while ‘Christoph’ (video at the bottom of this post) conjures up images of a bank in the Old West with its mournful tale of a rogue being robbed by a reluctant scoundrel taking to crime as almost a form of escapism.

All these stories, these tales of woe and almost faux-misery are all played out in ‘Devil’s Rope’, brilliantly captured through Cullen’s warm, gripping lyrics. It’s no wonder ‘Zachary’ has seen big hitters Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens come sniffing around the deserted saloons of the old West for New Desert Blues. Through four songs, they’ve encapsulated images of majesty, of trauma on a scale that somehow feels exorbitant epic, without sounding pompous or over-egged.

In about 13 minutes, ‘Devils Rope’ does what many indie albums will fail to do in an hour. It transports you to an different time, a new setting, and leaves you thoroughly stricken with awe at the end.


‘Devil’s Rope’, the debut EP from New Desert Blues, will be released next Monday (the 20th of January) on their own label Whiteley Records.



Single Review: New Desert Blues – Adam

By on Thursday, 13th June 2013 at 12:00 pm

With no sense of pretence, no dramatic unveiling, New Desert Blues have snuck up on my psyche, with the immense track that is ‘Adam’. The five impeccably dressed lads who sounded raw, and ebbed with potential at The Great Escape at The Fishbowl have created something really special with their debut effort.

Refined, and delightfully genuine, New Desert Blues aren’t bursting with youthful exuberance as you’d expect from a group of five less-than-likely lads. They instead emanate a dastardly sense of cool: whether that is in lead singer James Cullen’s ability to pull of the most pretentious of turtlenecks in Brighton sunshine at this year’s Great Escape, is yet to be uncovered.

Parker’s vocals are delightful on ‘Adam’, with the five-part harmony that the band strike only accentuating the vocal prowess of the young man. The soaring vocals that build to a precipice on each chorus as Cullen laments the bittersweets vocals. Combined with the gently building guitars, ‘Adam’ is a single that has it all and deserves to be a soundtrack to summer 2013, especially with Mumford and Sons threatening to be that soundtrack. AGAIN.

It’s fresh, it’s new and I love it. Check it out in the video below.


‘Adam’, the forthcoming single from New Desert Blues, will be out on the 8th of July.



Great Escape 2013: John’s Day 2 Afternoon Roundup

By on Thursday, 30th May 2013 at 3:00 pm

Header photo of Mikill Pane at the Fishbowl by Hannah Saul

To shake off the cobwebs / hangover / grossness of Thursday at the Great Escape 2013, an early start and breakfast at somewhere fancy seemed appropriate. My foolish decision to choose a croissant over a delicious panini, which my colleagues indulged in, was to be the first of my folly for the day.

Feeling unfulfilled and underwhelmed by my breakfast, I headed alongside Ollie from Top Button and Hannah Saul, TGTF’s resident videographer, towards the Fishbowl for my first Alternative Escape event of The Great Escape. In front of me were five fresh-faced lads from New Desert Blues. Their set proceeded to be a short showcase of what this band are all about, with a youthful exuberance in their music, their five-piece harmonies gracefully travelling around The Fishbowl.

The intricate guitars from their lead player proved the perfect augur for frontman Josh Parker’s brilliant voice. The tunes sounded big live, of that there was no denying, but when I returned home and had a listen to them on record it became clear that these guys were immensely talented. At the Fishbowl, there was an intense nervousness it seemed, but the impeccably dressed five-some with pristine instruments in hand managed to overcome these nerves to produce a thoroughly competent set. (7/10)

Following up from that were Night Engine, a band who our Head Photographer Martin Sharman raved about after their performances at Liverpool Sound City. Not only that, but I doff my cap to any band who play four gigs in the same city in 3days. It’s not record breaking stuff, but impressive nonetheless, especially with the level of energy and dynamism the band puts into its set.

At Above Audio, Night Engine did not disappoint. Frontman Phil McDonnell is a bastion of brash confidence, and their immensely funky bass riffs provided by Dan Deacon. It’s all quite faux-romantic material, with shades of one of their heroes Bowie prevalently appearing throughout. The entire gig in fact stunk of a late ’70s, early ’80s vibe which translated to the huge crowd brilliantly as heads bobbed in sequence. The tunes weren’t entirely memorable, but as a set, they gelled well and they stuck out as a shining spark amongst the indie scene at the moment. (8/10)

After a brief detour to buy the most sour sweet I’ve ever tasted (more on them later) we ducked into the Fishbowl again for some more Alternative Escape goodness, in the form of London rapper Mikill Pane, or as I see him, the black Example. Just listen to his new single ‘Good Feeling’ and tell me you don’t think of the silver-tongued rapper.

Onto Mikill though: an imposing fella at over 6 feet tall and not really what you expect at a venue like the Fishbowl, more akin to hosting guitar bands and such. But Mr. Pane makes the most of the packed crowd, shoehorned into the constraints of the venue. His call and return style of performance works brilliantly to a novice audience, and has the punters eating from the palm of his hand from square one.

Having cycled down from London (again, more on that later) his exuberance and high-energy in performance alongside DJ Odin was admirable and saw him earn a lot of fans amongst the naysayers. In fact, by the end the choruses were being belted out by the most timid fan, to the seasoned revellers. Harley Alexander-Sule of Rizzle Kicks was one of the amassed crowd, and just showed how Mikill Pane’s pop credentials are all there:

Friends with Rizzle Kicks – CHECK
Collaboration with Ed Sheeran – CHECK
Ridiculously catchy tune about cycling – CHECK
Endless call and repeat choruses – CHECK
The backing of Example and other pop juggernauts – CHECK

Smiles were worn by all around the Fishbowl at the end of Mr. Pane’s set but none wider than Pane himself. (9/10)


Great Escape 2013: Mary’s Day 2 Afternoon Roundup

By on Thursday, 30th May 2013 at 1:00 pm

I had arrived in Brighton the Tuesday prior to the Great Escape 2013 and was suffering from some kind of stomach bug that was not making me very happy. (It’s just not normal for me to be in Britain for so long and not have Indian at least once.) Add to that borderline exhaustion and admittedly too many things on my mind on what was coming up in a couple days, and nerves were fraying. So comparatively, my schedule for Friday was relatively tame, which I suppose shouldn’t be such a surprise, as I spent the previous night up too late at the Waggon and Horses pub across the street from the Dome with several of Everything Everything, Kodaline and PR mates and happily being on the receiving end of comments like, “the Irish will never leave you!” (Guess you had to have been there…)

New Desert Blues Great Escape live

I was really touched by the thank yous from Kodaline for coming out to their Dome show that I felt compelled to see them again the following afternoon at Audio. This was their second scheduled appearance in Brighton, with only one other at what I’d been told was a very small space at the Warren Friday night, so it was either see them at Audio or probably not see them again until they returned to Washington. After the previous rough night, I woke up later than I should have, and then decided I couldn’t leave the flat until Liverpool Sound City reports were all sorted for that week (you lucky people). John swanned off to meet our friends for breakfast while I was feverishly typing into my laptop and then I got a text to meet him at the Fish Bowl for a band called New Desert Blues. So I arrived just in time for the band’s last song, so I’ll let John fill you on their set.

From there, it was on to Above Audio to catch a taster of one of Martin’s faves from Sound City, Night Engine. Again, John stayed for the whole thing so I’ll let him talk about their set, but from the little I heard, I wasn’t really wowed or anything. However, I will say that Above Audio is a decently large space and it was packed, so obviously their reputation preceded them. I saw the band later that day, with their gear in the middle of a street, talking to each other, but was too shy to say hello.

Gavin James Great Escape live

Then it was downstairs to catch two of the three acts of the Music from Ireland showcase. I missed Kid Karate but had seen them at SXSW, but I was keen on catching singer/songwriter Gavin James. It may be a bit of a cliche to talk about cute Irishmen like they’re leprechauns, but James actually alluded to the fact that he probably looked like one that afternoon. He explained he’d purchased a green coat earlier that week but it wasn’t until he arrived at Audio that he realised out loud that it was very green and half-jokingly explained with his ginger hair and beard and this jacket, he probably looked like the largest leprechaun there ever was. Ha! This made everyone in the place laugh so hard.

I can take or leave the singer/songwriter genre, but in this particular case, there was something just so disarming about him that made to stop and take notice. James seems like the affable chap at the end of a bar, downing pints while making you laugh with his stories. I don’t know as many Irishmen personally as I’d like but even I’ve heard how legendary the gift of gab and craic is supposed to be among the Irish, and this is the kind of guy I think everyone wants on their side. With songs like ‘Carolina’ and ‘For You’ under his belt, he definitely has the chops to make it in this business.

Kodaline Brighton Audio Great Esccape live

There was a decent-sized crowd for Gavin James, but geez, when it came time for Kodaline‘s crew to set up their gear, I started to get the sardine-in-a-can vibes. I was reminded how in Brighton, in stark contrast to Liverpool, you’ll be jostled, bumped and shoved out of the way if someone else wants your spot. I’d earned my place fair and square, yet two women unrelated to each other thought it was perfectly okay to push me from either side so that there would be room for them down the front. I was none too happy, but I stood my ground. No-one was going to ruin this experience for me.

Despite the pushing and shoving and the obligatory Facebook snaps with the band playing in the background taken by some of these punters with low attention spans, this Kodaline experience was near perfect for me. I always say to people that the absolute best thing to happen to you as a music fan is to watch an up and coming band gig in a teeny, tiny place and completely nail it, and of course, this doesn’t always happen, as you can’t always predict which band is going to be the Next Big Thing or indeed present when they play that hole in the wall place in your town. Kodaline have already gotten a taste for DC’s 9:30 Club and its cupcakes earlier this month, and I missed it. But I can say I saw them in places like Brighton Audio, where in a small room they left new fans spellbound. ‘All I Want’ is getting the lion’s share of attention here in America, and I don’t understand why ‘High Hopes’ doesn’t get more credit. It’s a huge, huge song that proves this band from Dublin can write anthems with the best of them. When I say to people, “they’re going to be the Irish Coldplay‘, I mean it.

Perfect World
High Hopes
Love Like This
All Comes Down to You
All I Want


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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.

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