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Liverpool Sound City 2014: Day 1 Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 13th May 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

The first half / part 1 of my Thursday Sound City roundup is here. For all my Sound City 2014 coverage from Liverpool, use this link; for all my photos from Sound City 2014, head this way.

More Than Conquerors @ Kazimier Gardens
After having more than my fill of Hot Soles in Liverpool, for the second half of my Thursday at Liverpool Sound City 2014, I was back out to Kazimier Gardens for More Than Conquerers, which reminded me that John really needs to come out with me next year for Sound City. After a while, harder rock starts to bleed together in my mind and while this band from Belfast were certainly fun to watch, I couldn’t distinguish them from the many others of their sound level and calibre I’d seen at SXSW. They’ve got long hair and beards, which is to their favour to collect hipster fans, so I’ve been told by music fans from Liverpool to London. The word on the street is that this band is destined for big things – and soon – so my advice is to listen to them yourself and draw your own conclusions.

The Amazing Snakeheads @ Screendelica at the Black-E
A huge programming mistake for Sound City this year was not putting the Screendelica stage not at the thick of things on Seel Street like last year. In 2013, the TGTF team enjoyed Arcane Roots and Future of the Left both tear it up in the wee hours of the morning at the venue behind the Arts Academy. (One of the musicians was seen hanging precariously from a light fixture. You had to have been there.) Instead, this year Screendelica was inexplicably moved to practically the arse end of nowhere, all the way out in Chinatown at the Black-E. The venue itself isn’t bad – I enjoyed the Hummingbirds and the Thespians there last year – but the distance no doubt led to less people venturing out to see the bands playing there. The Anglican Cathedral, which is even more east of the city centre than the Black-E, doesn’t suffer similar problems, as it is host to the headline shows of the festival, which this year starred Clean Bandit, Strokes alum Albert Hammond, Jr. and our Irish friends Kodaline, and therefore are enough of a draw to encourage punters to walk that distance.

Glaswegians The Amazing Snakeheads, whose debut album ‘Amphetamine Ballads’ released in mid-April is already causing a huge stir at the moment, should have been able to command their audience and incite a riot. Singer Dale Barclay, dressed in a decidedly not rock ‘n’ roll crushed velvet shirt, growled and gutturally screamed into his mike between banging chords on his guitar, admirably got a small but good group of moshers going. But the too large space that felt like an empty school gymnasium for a school dance and just wasn’t the right kind of venue for them. I feel like if they’d played somewhere smaller and darker like the Zanzibar, the vibes and energy level would have worked in their favour.

Travis is a Tourist @ Korova
I am a woman who keeps the promises she makes to friends, and earlier the eponymous Travis of Travis is a Tourist had asked me if I would come to see him and his band play at Korova. I told him if I could make it back early enough from the Black-E, I would have a look in. Boy, am I glad I did. Carrie and I had seen them play at Latitude 30 at the British Music Embassy on the Tuesday afternoon of SXSW, when the Austin sunshine still shone outside, after which time Carrie nabbed Travis for this interview. Completely different vibe seeing them in the very intimate Korova, where it felt the small stage could barely contain the liveliness of Travis is a Tourist’s live performance. I now wonder if unconsciously or not are more nervous playing at SXSW than at other festivals, because while their Austin gig seemed a wee bit tentative, there was no such anxiety on display in Liverpool. It probably also helped that their best buds More Than Conquerors were there to cheer them on too as they had done earlier at Kazimier Gardens. Yay for best friends! If you can’t count on friends for support, who can you count on?

Traams @ Shipping Forecast
The one good thing about me coming out to blighty for music festivals in England is I can catch up on any bands I might have missed at SXSW. I’d still not seen Chichester’s Traams, have already proved their mettle to regional festival crowds for years, and due to schedule conflicts, I had to give them a pass in Austin. The downstairs stage at the Shipping Forecast on Slater Street, another claustrophobic venue, seemed tailor made for the South East group to feed off of their fans’ excitement. Their bassist, who had been throwing shapes all night even while he was playing his guitar, was so caught up in the moment, he and his bass made their way off the stage to the delight of the punters. I imagine Traams are a better live prospect than on record, as the singer/guitarist’ s gravelly voice is less exciting than the get up and dance atmosphere they create live in concert.

Sivu @ Leaf Café
While I was in Austin this year, I had serious reservations on whether I would make the trip across the pond for any festivals at all. My heart was not in the right place, I’d had numerous problems securing accommodation that wouldn’t bankrupt me and it looked unlikely that I’d have John and Martin with me in Liverpool and festivals are always more fun to work at when you’ve got mates with you. The odds seemed stacked against me.

The clincher ended up being Sivu convincing me on the Friday of SXSW after I’d chatted with him in the atrium of the Omni and seeing him at the Mohawk that I needed to come see him with his full live band in England, as he had only been able to bring out one of his merry touring band, guitarist Lucy Parnell, with him to Texas. I am sure it sounds strange reading that I was going to a tea shop to see a band play. However, remember that I was going to see an English band there and really, I cannot think of a more civilised way to prepare for going to see your friends gig than having a pot of tea. It sure feels better waking up without a hangover the next day. Gigs in tea shops never happen in America, but I can certainly dream.

Last year, I’d gone to Leaf to see the Chapman Family play at what would be one of their last festival appearances before they broke up in June 2013. That time, all the café tables were still in position, which made for a very strange setup I’m sure for Kingsley Chapman to have only mildly interested café customers staring back at him. The earlier Amazing Snakeheads performance at the Black-E proved to be a stark contrast to Sivu’s set time of midnight. On Bold Street and far away from the larger Duke Street Garage and Nation made for a smaller group of punters assembled, but who were there were a captive audience, and as he’d promised, the immense sound of the Sivu full band setup filled the space beautifully.

I struggle to describe the Sivu sound, as James Page’s voice can run into the falsetto range, so I can see sigur ros / Jonsi fans taking to him, but personally, it’s the surprise in the richness of the sum of the parts, some played, some synthesised, that is Sivu’s greatest triumph. The sweetly delivered lines of ‘Can’t Stop Now’ seem in direct odds with the almost dance rhythms of the songs, whereas in earlier Sivu composition ‘Better Man Than He’ is much darker. How to describe ‘Bodies’? “Each song has its place.” And ‘Bodies’, like all of Sivu’s songs, has a wonderful place in this life. The Sivu full band experience capped off a first night of amazing music.

Stay tuned for more Liverpool Sound City 2014 coverage coming soon on TGTF.

 

MP3 of the #826: Sivu

 
By on Tuesday, 6th May 2014 at 10:00 am
 

The amazing Sivu is in the midst of a spring festival series, having just played Liverpool Sound City, Handmade Festival and Live at Leeds just this past weekend and London Calling tomorrow and the Great Escape this coming Saturday. Perfect timing, then, for this free mp3 download. It’s only available for a limited time, so listen and grab it below while you can.

 

SXSW 2014: Friday night free-for-all via London, Tokyo and Glasgow – 14th March 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 26th March 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

After my rather chill Friday daytime experiences at the Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s and interviewing some fab folks, it was time to get back to work. First things first, however. I arrived early to the Mohawk to meet up with Sivu for a cheeky chat at the Omni before his soundcheck at the House of Vans evening showcase there. He turned out to be one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, and to be honest, being able to see him with a full band and full set up at Liverpool Sound City is the one of the main reasons I’ve decided to visit England in May. Not saying that I didn’t like his stripped back performance with guitarist and backing vocalist Lucy Parnell, but I just have this image in my head – and can hear in my ears – that the full experience will be 1,000,000x better.

Sivu is just finding his feet release-wise in America, recently having signed a deal with Canvasback Music, who have released music by alt-J here in the States, and if you listened to my interview with him, this association makes total sense. But as he is relatively unknown in our country, it’s not a huge surprise that a set so early in the evening (8 PM on the nose) didn’t attract a huge group of people. However, I met a girl in the queue outside and convinced her further that she should stay; she did, and she thoroughly enjoyed the set, as did I. While the song collaboration of ‘I Hold’ Sivu did with Marika Hackman sounded bare, Parnell did an amazing job standing in for Hackman and the combined vocals of hers and Sivu’s were amazing. The stripped back version of last year’s single ‘I Lost Myself’ was mesmerising, and it was like the Mohawk indoor stage, with its boudoir lighting and red walls, were custom made to go with it.

Not sure what I would do after Sivu, my new friend said that the Japan Nite at Elysium would be a good shout. I then realised it might be the only time I might run into my good mate Johnny Au, Head Photographer at The AU Review. Was I right, or what? He was down the front, covering the entire showcase. I had no prior knowledge of Jungles of Red Bacteria Vacuum from Tokyo, but whoa mama, they were certainly different than anything else I had been seeing all week in Austin. Originally from Osaka, I’ve read they’ve suffered from various band member changes, but whatever they’ve done to get to this place, the all-girl, all-punk band now based in the capital of Japan rock out with a ferocity that I really needed to see and hear that night. I now own one of their albums called ‘Pleased to Eat You’. Not exactly my usual British pop fare, yeah?

After the face melting experienced at Elysium, I headed back down to British Music Embassy to catch a band whose name is guaranteed to elicit a giggle from anyone aged 8 to 80 for as long as they persist to exist. Casual Sex, the indie rock band based in Glasgow, have been dogged by comparisons to Franz Ferdinand ever since they made their first appearance in the blogosphere. However, I get the feeling from with the ease that singer/guitarist Sam Smith applied lipstick on himself, explaining he wanted to be more like us girls, he’s been doing this far longer than Nick McCarthy in the recent comical video for ‘Erdbeer Mund’.

However, while the moment of lipstick application could be perceived merely as a gimmick, Casual Sex the live experience (that sounds dirty, not my intention, sorry) was actually more interesting than I expected (as the band were in person too, as evidenced by my interview with them post-gig; stay tuned for this tomorrow) and I think we all should give them credit for taking funk, rock and even a bit of pop, mix them all up, and take them to the next level. Yes, I can see the ‘sexy’ comparisons to Franz, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that’s all they are. Jangly guitars, a funky rhythm section and irresistible vocals? Hello. Just say yes to Casual Sex. Just be sure you use the proper name of the band, for if you don’t, I’m not responsible for any activities you get up to.

My evening was supposed to have ended with an interview with Dems after they played at Buffalo Billiards. But when we arrived at the door to the venue, security told us we could not go in because “we’re counting the money inside”. What the heck does that mean? We must have waited a good 20-25 minutes before I said I was going home. With a signed vinyl all the way from Glasgow in hand, I’d already had an excellent night.

 

SXSW 2014 Interview: Sivu

 
By on Wednesday, 26th March 2014 at 11:00 am
 

One of the greatest joys I’ve had as a music editor and writer is meeting my heroes and finding out they’re super nice people in person, nicer than I could have ever imagined. Case in point: Sivu asked me not to use his real name when I interviewed him at the Omni hotel (he also treated me to a drink there, the wonderful man he is), and I had no problem with that at all because he was just so lovely to me.

There is some incidental musical noise, as we were in the atrium of the lobby, not too far off the atrium stage where a country/western band were performing. This is not at all an uncommon occurrence at the Omni during the week of SXSW. If you’ve been following the TGTF SXSW story so far, you might recall I saw 10 for 2012 poll winners, London’s Films of Colour performing there on the Wednesday of SXSW 2012. Sivu also pointed out Steve Lamacq, who was sat near us, trying to look inconspicuous as he answered emails on a laptop, so we tried to be discreet. Still, I thought this was a fascinating interview, as we discussed his great working relationship with Marika Hackman, how the very quirky video for ‘Can’t Stop Now’ came about and how quickly his career has progressed since releasing his first single to the wild last year. Listen below.

Many thanks to Sivu for being the perfect interview subject and so cordial. We’ll see you at Liverpool Sound City!

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Electronic and DJ UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW (R-Y)

 
By on Friday, 28th 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.

Continuing our coverage of the electronic artists and DJs gracing SXSW 2014‘s fine stages next month, we get down and dirty with the second half of the UK showcasing acts of these genres in this fourth installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014. In case you missed the first half of the list, you can read all about those previously featured acts here.

Raffertie
In the mood for music with an r&b flavour with soul and a good beat? Benjamin Stefanski has got you covered. Stripped back, he exhibits James Blake-esque composure, but he’s equally at home dropping the eclectic electronic fuzz.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsQlOE4vl5w[/youtube]

Sivu
I wrote: “Let’s face it: there a lot of men out there trying to negotiate the choppy waters of electronic music as solo artists, with varying levels of success. The trick seems to be finding your own special niche in the already overcrowded electro market, something that this act has done well. And seemingly so quickly too.”

Read more of my Bands to Watch on Sivu here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_964dqQxQwY[/youtube]

Snow Ghosts
London duo Snow Ghosts sound exactly the way their name does: folky vocals overlaid on top of brooding electronica. Intriguing!

Southern Hospitality DJs
DJs Rob Breezy and Superix founded the now infamous Hip Hop Karaoke London, the first of its kind in the UK and an event that has been a road-block every single month at the Social in central London. Recognised for this and many other dance nights their group put on by tonnes of tv and radio stations, newspapers and other media outlets in Britain, they’ve become a DJ force to be reckoned with and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Just shut up and dance!

THUMPERS
Ben writes: “Dreamy and ethereal, alt pop duo THUMPERS are seasoned veterans of the UK sound scene from their time as two-thirds of indie rockers Pull Tiger Tail. Drummer Hamson went on to beat skins for the likes of Friendly Fires and Noah & The Whale before reuniting with Marcus Pepperell and a fresh, sunny and delicately layered approach in 2012. Ever productive, there’re plenty of freebies to brush up on via the band’s Soundcloud account, or you could just hold out until SXSW for the full fat experience.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbAKwTS-1LI[/youtube]

To Be Frank
Martin writes: “To Be Frank is the pseudonym of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Frank Pescod, who, after a period writing contract music for TV and film, and brands as prestigious as Louis Vuitton, found the desire for the limelight was too strong; To Be Frank was created as a platform to spread his music to a wider audience. Things kicked off with single ‘If You Love Her’, a tender piece of whimsical electronica that showcased Pescod’s delicate, soulful voice and neat way with a minimalist arrangement, but didn’t really go much further. Sophomore release ‘Nothing’ introduced glitchy beats and a more insistent groove, playing on urban r‘n’b stylings but still remaining resolutely downtempo… It’s clear that this is a project in its early stages; the benefit of which is that every release tells us something new about the artist concerned. And with such an intriguing combination of chartbait and esoterica at his fingertips, To Be Frank really is one to keep an eye on.”

Read Martin’s full Bands to Watch on To Be Frank here.

Tourist
I wrote: “How to describe the music? While title track ‘Placid Acid’ on his debut EP is exactly as advertised – a gorgeously chill slow build-up of epicness – the otherworldly charms of ‘Jupiter’ and head boppiness of ‘Forgive’ prove he’s not a one-trick pony. The ‘Tonight’ EP sees Will Phillips taking a turn to more upbeat (handclaps!) and sounding more industrial than the debut, though for sure based on these releases alone, the kind of dancing I’m thinking you’re likely to see at Tourist shows is of the languid, fluid, beautiful creature variety. Then again, track ‘Together’ revealed from upcoming EP ‘Patterns’ seems to indicate for his next release, he’s going into higher octane, faster tempo territory. Either way, you’re in for a good show if you see him when he stops in your town. Or, if you’re lucky like us to be going to SXSW, if you have the good fortune to catch him in Texas in March.”

Read the rest of my Bands to Watch on Tourist here.

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

Until the Ribbon Breaks
Cardiff artist Peter Lawrie-Winfield makes music like sombre, claustrophobic Massive Attack: there is something vaguely sinister, vaguely apocalyptic, and yet the beats are stirring and the emphatic lyrics are strangely hypnotic. Already garnering attention from Pitchfork, Lawrie’s sets are likely to be rammed by the young hipster set.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd_-JY3yq9w[/youtube]

Waylayers
Martin writes: “Theirs is the sound of guitar songwriting meeting Balearic beats and synths as on the anthemic ‘S.O.S.’, which is dancefloor-worthy even without needing a remix. Harry Lee has enormous physical presence, dominating both the stage and the little keyboard from which he generates any number of uplifting synth lines. His vocals are often the spit of Diagrams’ Sam Genders, while the music treads a similar path to other practitioners of the dance crossover genre such as Friendly Fires; the fact that ‘Fires’ was produced by Ewan Pearson of TGTF former faves Delphic is surely no coincidence.”

Young Fathers
“Ol’ Dirty chose his moniker because there was no father to his bastard style. Young Fathers earn theirs by making something so fresh it doesn’t yet have a name. These are three fellas from Edinburgh who’ve been working together since they were 14, who have an elastic mind meld that mimics their fused sensibility of sound, who one day locked themselves in a dingy Scottish basement and came out with something that’d never been done — a fearless combination of beat, rap and song that smells not only of its dark and dank birthplace, but of discovery and of communion.”

Time to take a breather – we’ll back back next week with more of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014!

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #69: Sivu

 
By on Thursday, 27th February 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

For the next couple of weeks leading up to SXSW 2014, we’ll be 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’ll tell us what they really think of the event. In the sixth installment in this feature ahead of the Austin shenanigans, James Page, aka the brilliant Sivu, tells us he’s going to be ready if he gets into a mess and the importance of Elton John and Glasvegas in his musical history. Read on…

Catch the Bands to Watch feature I wrote on Sivu here; go here to watch our posting of the brand new Sivu video for ‘Can’t Stop Now’ from yesterday.

SXSW-related questions:

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
I’m really just looking forward to throwing myself into the whole thing and to just experience Texas. I have never been before, so very excited to experience it. Sun, booze and music: it’s the dream combination.

Are there any bands that you have as must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
I haven’t had the chance to see much of the schedule yet but very excited to see Warpaint; also praying the Kills play, I am obsessed with them right now.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
Ok, something unusual, I’m a a little OCD, so will have all my cleaning products with me just in case I get into a mess.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
Currently drinking a lot of dark rum and ginger beer and a squeeze of lime! I would very much love to join you for a drink though. [You’re on! – Ed.]

(For bands who are SXSW newbies) What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited /anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I have heard the festival is glorious chaos, which sounds like a dream, I’m worried if people come to my shows, but at the same time I’m just going to go with it, and just try and embrace the madness.

Let’s go on to our usual TGTF Quickfire Questions:

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Earliest song memory I think was Elton John ‘Your Song’. My dad used to play Elton John for all car journeys.

What was your favourite song as a child?
My favourite song as a child was, I’m embarrassed to say, ‘Red Red Wine’ by UB40 (great tune). [I dunno, I don’t find this embarrassing; I have this on cassette! – Ed.]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXt56MB-3vc[/youtube]

What song makes you laugh?
Really fast, really heavy metal!

What song makes you cry?
‘Samson’ by Regina Spektor always gets me.

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.)
Wow, that’s a hard one. On the first Glasvegas album, the opening track is called ‘Flowers & Football Tops’. My girlfriend bought me that album for Christmas as my first Christmas present; that song always reminds me of that time.

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.)
‘Arcarsenal’ by At the Drive In always gets me pumped!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmTSQZjR3DE[/youtube]

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Oh man, so many. Definitely ‘Moon River’, ‘Strangers in the Night’, or ‘The Universal’ by Blur. Perfect.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
Oh man, too many to choose from. Kate Bush.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I think I’d still be working in an office probably or worked in health and safety, seeing how clean restaurants were, don’t think I’d be bad at that.

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.)
Just one! That’s hard, wow. Do greatest hits count? If so, Frank Sinatra’s ‘Greatest Hits’. If not, ‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush.

Cheers James for answering our questions. We’ll definitely have a drink in Austin!

 
 
 

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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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