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Live Review: The Crookes at Bowery Electric, New York City – 17th September 2013

 
By on Monday, 23rd September 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Photos in this TGTF article are by editor-in-chief Mary Chang. Our friend and Prefix Magazine contributing photojournalist Ken Grand-Pierre hung out with the Crookes on the day and took photos of them before and during the show; you can see his amazing photos here.

Sheffield New Pop quartet The Crookes made their American debut at The Bowery Electric in New York City last Tuesday night, and let me just say that I would have hated to be either of the acts (Love Jupiter and Andrew James, for the record) who had to follow their early show. The Crookes’ energetic set lasted just under an hour, and the following acts simply couldn’t meet the exuberant energy they displayed. Even as I write this review, several days after the fact, The Crookes’ infectious songs are still enthusiastically twirling through my head.

The Crookes NYC 2013 1

If lead singer/bassist George Waite seemed slightly nervous on the night, he found a way to engage both the audience and his bandmates via his onstage interactions. The crowd response started out tentative and subdued as well (with the possible exception of yours truly: I dance at gigs, especially to songs as danceable as these), but a small group of hardcore fans helped to warm up the rest. The band wisely stayed close to the studio recordings of their songs, which helped the audience get comfortable with the more familiar tunes. By the time ‘American Girls’ appeared in the set list, the American girls (and boys) on the dance floor were clapping along with the beat, and more than a few fans sang along with the “oh-oh-oh-oh” chorus of ‘Afterglow’. The final song of the set ‘The Cooler King’ was played as a sort of encore, with the band in front of the stage among the audience, who sang, clapped, and harmonised right along with them.

The Crookes NYC 2013 2

I was amazed by how much guitarist/lyricist Daniel Hopewell looks like a very young Neil Finn (Crowded House), and his lyrics are similarly esoteric, by turns broodingly literary and demonstratively emotional. Indeed, if Crowded House were supposed to be the next Beatles, The Crookes could give them an anachronistic run for their money. Waite’s passionate, sensitive voice is the perfect instrument to interpret Hopewell’s lyrics. Guitarist Tom Dakin’s backing harmonies were a lovely surprise (not to mention his playing on those hooky guitar riffs), and Russell Bates’ unrestrained drumming kept my toes tapping and hips shaking throughout the show.

The Crookes NYC 2013 3

After the show, the band hung out in the bar, chatting with fans and selling a small collection of merchandise. Unfortunately, their merch didn’t include CDs, which would undoubtedly have sold, because their most recent album, ‘Hold Fast’ (reviewed by Mary here), hasn’t yet been released in America. American fans, stay tuned for that release on the 1st of October.

While not sounding exactly mainstream, The Crookes’ brand of bright, melodic guitar rock seems tailor-made for American radio. Their live performance on Tuesday night certainly added to the allure. By the end of the show, the frenetic energy of the performance had put The Crookes’ squeaky clean New Pop appearance, along with their audience, into a state of breathless disarray. These guys have some serious talent and some serious heartthrob potential. Lock up your daughters, America…

The Crookes NYC 2013 4

After the cut: the Crookes’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: The Crookes at Bowery Electric, New York City – 17th September 2013

 

Live Gig Video: Fort Hope perform fan-requested acoustic version of ‘Earthquake’

 
By on Friday, 13th September 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

See, sometimes it does pay to suggest something to your heroes. And if you don’t ask, you don’t get. A fan asked Fort Hope if they’d be willing to do an acoustic live version of their song ‘Earthquake’, and being such nice guys, the band did exactly that, filming this video. Very nice! Watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93NvDW8mEgw[/youtube]

 

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2013: Is It Even Relevant Anymore?

 
By on Thursday, 12th September 2013 at 11:00 am
 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That time of year has crept up on us again. Yesterday evening, the nominees for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize 2013 Albums of the Year were revealed in London. Maybe this is the direction the Mercury Prize nominations will be going in from here on out, but it’s rather startling how mainstream this year’s shortlist is. In past years, there was always one or two curveballs thrown in the mix of straight-forward, famous artists and well thought of indie. Not so much in 2013…which leaves me wondering if this competition is even worth my time anymore in the years going forward.

Let’s examine the biggest names first. The now Josh Homme-influenced Arctic Monkeys just got in under the wire, with their new album ‘AM’ literally just made it to store shelves this past Monday. They don’t need any help selling records. (Technically, they also fall under the next category I will examine, but for the sake of argument, it’s this album people are focusing on, not one 7 years ago…which won the gong that year.) Neither does legendary artist David Bowie; his March 2013 surprise release ‘The Next Day’ also makes an appearance on the shortlist.

Then there are the repeat ‘offenders’. Dubstep wonder boy James Blake, whose self-titled debut album in 2011 garnered a Mercury nod back then, is yet another safe and predictable choice. Given their headline slot at Latitude Festival this year and continually rising star, Foals‘ nomination for ‘Holy Fire’ (review here) is not such a shock. But they were nominated for and lost in 2010 for ‘Total Life Forever’. I’m a great fan of Conor J. O’Brien’s songwriting, but this year’s ‘{Awayland}’ pales in comparison to its predecessor, Villagers‘ 2010 opus ‘Becoming a Jackal’.

While he was 1/2 of the nominated collaboration with King Creosote in 2011’s ‘Diamond Mine’, Jon Hopkins makes another appearance, this time by himself for ‘Immunity’. There is also no escaping the fact that the selection of Laura Marling‘s ‘Once I Was an Eagle’ (review here) comes across as particularly lazy: the woman’s been nominated two times already prior to this. I’m all for equality when it comes to music awards and it’s great that this year there are two female singer/songwriters on the shortlist, but surely there has got to be another woman – and in the folk genre, certainly – whose album would have been up to snuff to the Mercury voters instead of giving Marling another nomination.

Next, let’s look at the acts that are toeing the line between their indie background and their big chance at the mainstream. Having enjoyed a successful 2012 with sold out shows and his debut album selling very well, Noel Gallagher‘s sneery young protege Jake Bugg makes a not so surprising appearance on the shortlist. Popular Brum soul singer and #4 on the BBC Sound of 2013 list Laura Mvula also receives a Mercury nod this year for ‘Sing to the Moon’. Helps quite a bit that both of them are on majors (Mercury and RCA, respectively) and therefore had major label muscle to help along the promotion of their debut albums.

If there is one saving grace of this year’s shortlist, it was that instead of a truly oddball experimental jazz album getting a nomination, dance is for once decently represented with not one but two good albums: Disclosure‘s delicious brand of house in the form of ‘Settle’ and Rudimental‘s drum and bass-rich ‘Home’. But wait a minute. They’re on majors too, Island and Warner. Hmm… The one oddball nominee, if they can be called that, are post-punk girl group Savages. They might not be a household name – yet – and they’re on an indie label (Beggar Group’s Matador) but they were already firmly in our brains from their BBC Sound of 2013 longlist nomination. Yawn.

This all begs the question, just how relevant is the Mercury Prize in 2013? Also, was it ever relevant? And when did it stop being so? While it has never been a dirty little secret but rather an obvious known fact that major label backing helps with funding, which leads to promotion and visibility opportunities and therefore record sales, this is probably the year more than any other in the past in which the expensive fee to enter the Mercury competition comes through loud and clear as the reason why this year’s list is sadly predictable. In a piece by the Guardian’s Michael Hann, Kerrang! editor James McMahon said the egregious lack of metal on the shortlist year after year is a major oversight: “The thing is, within the rock music industry there’s a bit of debate about how bothered people are with an award like the Mercury. The other year we were pushing the idea of Bring Me the Horizon being nominated as an innovative, exciting British rock band who want to be seen out in the world – but they didn’t enter. If the rock industry doesn’t have any belief in its relevance, what can the Mercuries do? But if it were genuinely the 12 best records of the year, it would be blinkered to ignore metal.”

Hann’s article goes on to point out that Leeds buzz band Hookworms chose not to enter either, their frontman MJ explaining, “The nondescript thousands in marketing fees and physical product is even more shameful [than the entry fee]”. Even ubiquitous rock journalist Pete Paphides took to social media yesterday to bemoan the situation: “It’d be good to have a music prize where part of the sponsorship meant bands not having to pay hundreds of £s to be eligible for contention.” Quite right. There is no one obvious solution to “fixing” the Mercury Prize because let’s face it, like all award shows, it’s a business, and businesses exist to make money. But it’s a shame that what the Mercury Prize used to be known for – bringing attention to lesser known acts that otherwise might not get their time in the limelight – seems to have been all but been entirely forgotten.

 

Live Review: Eels at Newcastle Academy – 4th September 2013

 
By on Monday, 9th September 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Eels, as everyone knows, is the musical project of singer and bandleader Mark “E” Everett; not far off its 20th birthday, the project has shifted through many forms, from near-solo performances, through big band arrangements, to today’s incarnation, a five-piece guitar combo with a penchant for existential swamp-rock.

The entire performance is couched in slightly unsettling terms: the five-piece band is clad identically in Adidas tracksuit, beard and sunglasses; when they are introduced halfway through, it becomes apparent for reasons of convention they have all been given human nicknames, but don’t be fooled – the truth is that E has perfected the theory and practice of human genetic cloning, and has pressed it into service for the benefit of musical performance. The clue is in the leader’s name: he’s standing far stage right, and if you tag each musician from left to right, starting at the beginning of the alphabet, you finally get to E, the E-vil genius behind the whole affair.

On record, Eels have an eclectic way with an arrangement: latest LP ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ features bits of synth, electronic beats, and as many downtempo low-fi moments as electric guitar excursions. Not so live, however – tonight it was guitar central. Now, anyone who claims the guitar band is dead just has to look at what Eels can do with an electric guitar ensemble to refute their own claim. They start as they mean to go on – with noise and aggression. An extended play of ‘Dog Faced Boy’ rocks thumpingly hard. A surprise version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ is quite a treat so early in the set, the band revelling in the stop-start call-and-response section. Older heads in the audience nod along sagely. After such a noisy start, the tempo inevitably needs to slow down for a while. “Here’s one for the ladies”, E declares, before shifting into the gentle beauty of ‘The Turnaround’. See, girls, he’s not all beard and shouting, there’s a delicate side to him as well. Not that it lasts all that long, the band clearly ache to wind up the overdrive and rock out again for the drawn-out end coda.

But there’s more to Eels than just fret wizardry. There’s a strong theatrical streak throughout, at times almost disturbingly surreal. There’s a false alarm of some structural deficiency in the auditorium (ironic considering the venue’s collapsing floor incident of some years ago), complete with sirens and the band ducking for cover. There’s banter between the band and their tour crew, including the fantastically stereotypical tour manager who repeatedly attempts to limit them to just one more song. It’s obviously just for show, but there’s enough doubt in one’s mind to make it fun. They run back on stage to play a final song even as the stage is being dismantled; again, perfectly staged, but quite striking anyway, as the crew wander around coiling leads and packing kit, the band are belting out one final song. Were they allowed? Was it all for show, or a genuinely subversive act? Either way, it shows a sense for the dramatic, an awareness of the fourth-wall abstract that raises a simple rock ‘n’ roll performance to more profound heights. A memorable performance that barely scratched the surface of Eels’ back catalogue.

 

Live Gig Video: The 1975 cover One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ in Radio1 Live Lounge

 
By on Thursday, 5th September 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

Just when you though the Radio1 Live Lounge couldn’t get any weirder than Biffy Clyro going in there and covering Vampire Weekend’s ‘Diane Young’, The 1975 come round with this surprising gem that is slower and slowful. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Your ears are not deceiving you. The Mancunian band is actually covering One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’. Even more hilarious, frontman Matty Healy introduces the clip, looking a little confused and saying, “I don’t know where the rest of them are…” and pointing to a virtual sign. I’mn also wondering where those glasses went that are in the still on the YouTube video…

Read my review of the band’s self-titled debut album on Dirty Hit here; it was just released on Monday.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEVXmzHY1lU[/youtube]

 

Kids in Glass Houses / September and October 2013 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Friday, 30th August 2013 at 8:30 am
 

Kids in Glass Houses release their next album ‘Peace’ on Transmission Recordings on the 30th of September. And they will be touring the UK and Ireland right before and directly after the release. Tickets are on sale now.

Wednesday 25th September 2013 – Liverpool Academy
Thursday 26th September 2013 – Norwich Waterfront
Friday 27th September 2013 – Lincoln Engine Shed
Saturday 28 September 2013 – Birmingham Asylum
Tuesday 1st October 2013 – Brighton Concorde 2
Wednesday 2nd October 2013 – London Electric Ballroom
Thursday 3rd October 2013 – Cardiff Great Hall
Friday 4th October 2013 – Manchester Academy 2
Saturday 5th October 2013 – Glasgow Garage
Sunday 6th October 2013 – Newcastle Warehouse
Tuesday 8th October 2013 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Wednesday 9th October 2013 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 10th October 2013 – Oxford Academy 2
Saturday 12th October 2013 – Dublin Academy 2
Sunday 13th October 2013 – Cork Cypress Avenue

 
 
 

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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