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Single Review: San Fermin – Asleep on the Train

By on Tuesday, 19th September 2017 at 12:00 pm

Brooklyn art-pop collective San Fermin released their third studio album ‘Belong’ back in April, just after their appearance in Austin for SXSW 2017. A mere 6 months later, the group are in the middle of a North American tour supporting the album, and they’ve marked the occasion by releasing a new stand-alone single called ‘Asleep on the Train’. Bandleader and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone describes the song as “a b-side that I’ve always liked, but [that] didn’t fit on the record”. He elaborates, “The lyrics [to ‘Asleep on the Train’] are inspired by late nights on the subway, all flickering fluorescent lights and post-party depression.”

In terms of the sonic realisation of that experience, San Fermin have hit the figurative nail squarely on the head, starting with the harsh industrial opening sounds of the track, then easing into a smoother, almost hypnotically jazz-tinged and quintessentially New York kind of sound. Soothing strings and muted brass underscore precisely tuned vocal harmonies between singers Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye, but Ludwig-Leone’s murky verse lyrics are punctuated by brief interludes of sharp instrumental tones and disjointed vocal effects. The song’s chorus melody “lost and blue, you fell asleep on the train again / and you woke up by the bay / oh, I know it’s hard to get around sometimes / I apologize” is lyrically evocative, but musically even moreso, set to a slightly uneven rhythm that is strangely and singularly reminiscent of a bleary-eyed ride in a mostly empty subway car at the tail end of the train’s service.


ICYMI, we caught San Fermin live at SXSW 2017; you can read about that vivid, broad daylight performance right here. San Fermin’s new single ‘Asleep on the Train’ and their full LP ‘Belong’ are both out now on Downtown / Interscope Records. Details on the band’s upcoming live performances can be found on their official Facebook. TGTF’s full past coverage of San Fermin is collected back here.


SXSW 2017: Wednesday afternoon at the Convention Center and Lustre Pearl’s Feed the Beat day party – 15th March 2017

By on Friday, 7th April 2017 at 3:00 pm

The Wednesday afternoon at SXSW 2017 was rather a mixed bag of events. If you’ve been following our coverage, you might be sensing a theme in that regard. But variety is the spice of life, as they say, and one can never go too far wrong with all the great acts at SXSW.

My day started with an early interview at downtown Austin’s W Hotel with Los Angeles indie folk rockers Magic Giant. This year marked their third consecutive SXSW, and Wednesday was their last day in town, so I was fortunate to catch them for the interview. After our chat, I was more intrigued than ever by the sound of their forthcoming debut album ‘In the Wind’ and excited to see them play live later in the evening at the Clive Bar. (Coverage of that show, and the rest of my Wednesday night, will post soon.)


Following my appointment with Magic Giant, Mary and I headed to the Convention Center to see singer/songwriter Aldous Harding on the International Day Stage. Harding seemed a bit more comfortable with the Convention Center atmosphere than A.S. Fanning had the day before, and her all-white attire created a rather dramatic effect on the large stage, even so early in the day. Even more striking were the repeated lyrics of her recent single, ‘Horizon’. The track is set to feature on her forthcoming LP release ‘Party’, due out on the 19th of May via 4AD / Flying Nun, but you can preview it just below.

From the Convention Center, Mary and I both headed down to Rainey Street, but we parted ways shortly thereafter. I decamped to the Lustre Pearl for the Feed the Beat day party while she went next door to Bar 96 (you can read Mary’s recap of Wednesday afternoon back here) The bill at Lustre Pearl for the afternoon included several bands on my “must see” list, and the sunny weather made for a very pleasant couple of hours’ worth of music listening.

Maybird internal

The first act on the bill, New York four-piece psych-rock band Maybird, was completely unfamiliar to me, but they set the tone nicely for a casual outdoor party atmosphere. Their latest track ‘Keep in Line’ was recorded in Nashville with The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney at the production helm, which is as good an indication as any that Maybird is a band on the rise.

The Big Moon internal

English band The Big Moon (pictured in the header photo at the top of the page) were next on the afternoon docket, and they took the stage with a decided air of confidence, despite the sun shining directly into their faces while on stage. The devil-may-care grunge rock of songs like ‘Sucker’ was perfect for the beer-and-tacos atmosphere at the Lustre Pearl, and lead singer Juliette Jackson’s heart-shaped sunnies made a strong impression on the daytime crowd. Don’t miss The Big Moon’s debut LP ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’, due out on the 7th of April.

Mondo Cozmo internal

Los Angeles alt-rocker Mondo Cozmo (known offstage as Joshua Ostrander) had already made a big stir ahead of SXSW with recent single ‘Shine’, and his set at Feed the Beat didn’t disappoint those of us who already had high expectations. ‘Shine’ was naturally the best known of his tracks, but for my money, songs like ‘Higher’ and ‘Chemical Dream’ were equally effective. Mondo Cozmo will be on tour with Bastille through mid-May, ahead of a slew of summer festival dates here in America.

San Fermin internal

I’d been excited to see Brooklyn-based rock collective San Fermin since I reviewed their recent single ‘Open’ back in January. In live performance, the vocal interplay between co-lead singers Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye was even more dramatic, and the vibrant full band brought life to tracks both old (‘Emily’) and new (‘Better Company’, ‘Bride’). San Fermin’s new album ‘Belong’ is out on the 7th of April via Downtown Records.

After San Fermin’s rousing set, I stopped off at the Chi’lantro food truck for some beef bulgogi tacos (hey, a girl’s gotta eat!) on my way back to the Convention Center. I ended the afternoon listening in on a featured conference session with Mick Fleetwood and David Fricke; you can read my previous summary of that conversation right back here.  Stay tuned to TGTF for my review of Wednesday evening’s music events as our coverage of SXSW 2017 continues.


(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Single Review: San Fermin – Open

By on Friday, 13th January 2017 at 12:00 pm

Brooklyn-based chamber-pop collective San Fermin didn’t give themselves a lot of room for growth when they began their career with eight members back in 2012. Personal and professional space comes at a premium in a rock band so large and so diverse, and lineup changes are almost inevitable. San Fermin have seen their share of those, especially among their roster of female vocalists. However, the band’s latest single ‘Open’ shows both a slight change in musical direction and a renewed emphasis on the female voices in the group.

‘Open’ presents itself as atmospheric and ethereal, almost intangible, in contrast with the heavy clamour of earlier tracks like ‘Sonsick’. Here, a tapestry of soaring strings and high, lilting vocal melodies is gradually woven with threads of bass, percussion and guitar, creating a steady dynamic ascent. But lead singer Charlene Kaye, backed by a descant vocal from bandmate Rebekah Durham, sets a thematic tone of emotional descent into illicit longing with the song’s suggestive opening lines, “Finally, are you ready for me? Is she gone?”

The jarring sonic dissonance in the instrumental bridges between verses is perhaps a less-than-sublte reflection of the lyrical protagonist’s inner turmoil, but the overwhelming impression of the song is one of exquisite sensuality. Kaye’s delivery of the chorus line “give me your mouth, give me your skin” is both possessed and possessive; haunting in its desperation, but also alluringly seductive.

San Fermin’s longtime bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone describes the track as follows: “‘Open’ was the keystone of this new record – the song I kept coming back to that shaped the direction of everything else. It’s a call from that little nagging voice telling you that you might be a bad person, or at least want bad things.” If nothing else, the song will leave you wanting to hear more of San Fermin’s sharper, smoother new sound.



San Fermin’s new single ‘Open’ is taken from their forthcoming album ‘Belong’, which is due out later this year on Downtown Records / Interscope. The band is currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017; keep an eye on TGTF for our coverage from Austin later this year.  Our extensive previous coverage of San Fermin, dating back to their self-titled 2013 debut LP, is right back here.


Video of the Moment #1794: San Fermin

By on Monday, 27th April 2015 at 6:00 pm

The NYC collective led by songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin, released their second album ‘Jackrabbit’ today on Downtown Records / Sony RED, and here’s the promo video for the title track. Being chased by wolves can’t be a fun thing, yet San Fermin’s singer Charlene Kaye somehow makes it look elegant. Watch it below.



Preview: Live at Leeds Festival 2014

By on Friday, 2nd May 2014 at 1:00 pm

Live at Leeds is one of the most intense examples of one of the most intense of gig-going events: the one-dayer. Leeds boasts more than its fair share of fine venues, and Live at Leeds brings them together under one banner for 12 hours of fine new music. Your brave correspondent has attempted to listen to every one of the over 200 artists on offer – and failed. Therefore here’s a list of what stands out as a possible way to negotiate the myriad of combinations.

The Brudenell Social Club has a strong offer all day. We Were Evergreen (3 pm) trade in Parisian twee-pop blended with indie tunes: a fine, summery start. And after that, because the Brudenell has two stages, it’s one band after the other, every half hour. No time to even visit the bar. Dive In are from Glastonbury and offer chiming melodies and a voice uncannily similar to Brian Molko, if he was full of happy pills. Coasts have the nerve to call their latest single ‘A Rush Of Blood’ – and although there is a touch of Coldplay in some of their soaring choruses, they’re unlikely to be confused with the London behemoth: there’s a nice discordant solo in ‘Stay’, and ‘Wallow’ is almost like Bastille with big guitars. A mixed bag then, but certainly one worth assessing live.

Jarbird bring some admirably minimalist electronica overlaid with a lot of twisted, vocodered singing. And with a song called ‘More Bad Celebrity Poetry’ betraying a humourous cynicism, what’s not to like? Happyness, despite being from London, bring sunshine-on-a-string Americana – ‘It’s on You’ properly chugs like the Lemonheads, chock full of classic melodies and a college-rock slacker sensibility; ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’ is a slow-burner, with a lazy bassline sketching out a groove and slurred vocals about drawing letters on one’s person. As you do. Woman’s Hour are a bit like a cross between Wild Beasts and The xx – which gives them a lot to live up to. They sound capable of it. With their debut album coming in July, now is a great time to check them out.

From smooth electropop to guitars – both Creases and Primitive Parts supply lo-fi riffing and retro rock ‘n’ roll beats. Primitive Parts clearly have one or two Graham Coxon records in their collection. Onwards: I can’t stop playing ‘Hiroshima’, a fine example of orchestral pop from Norway’s Highasakite. Ingrid Helene Håvik’s vocals are stunning, framed beautifully by the delicate instrumentation.

The 8 pm hour provides a dilemma – whether to make the 10-minute walk to The Packhorse to catch TGTF favourites The Orielles; perhaps a taxi ride to the Belgrave Music Hall to see the suave chamber delights of New York’s San Fermin, coming over all Tindersticks and Hem; or to stay at the Brudenell for an increasingly noisy night, kicking off with Montreal’s hard-riffing duo Solids. Indeed, the picture of where to be and what to hear becomes increasingly distant and hazy as the night draws in. Several hotly-tipped acts will have already been missed: Courtney Barnett, Flyte, Arthur Beatrice, and the headliners are either heavy-ish (Pulled Apart By Horses, Catfish And The Bottlemen (pictured at top), The Hold Steady), or poppy-ish (Clean Bandit, King Charles). Leeds’ very own I Like Trains set up a homecoming gig at Leeds Town Hall, celebrating 10 years in the biz.

In short, there’s something for everyone, and nobody can see everything, so it’s probably best to go with the flow and not worry too much about it. Or just spend all day at the Brudenell. See you there…


San Fermin / May 2014 English Tour

By on Friday, 7th February 2014 at 8:00 am

NYC musical collective San Fermin are headed to England for a string of dates in May. They will also appear at Live at Leeds on the Saturday for the first May bank holiday. Tickets for the individual gigs are on sale at 9 AM today (Friday the 7th of February).

Saturday 3rd May 2014 – Live at Leeds
Sunday 4th May 2014 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Tuesday 6th May 2014 – Newcastle Think Tank
Wednesday 7th May 2014 – London Village Underground
Thursday 8th May 2014 – Cambridge Portland Arms


About Us

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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