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SXSW 2015: Dine Alone Records and Music from Ireland showcases – 18th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Wednesday night I made my way down to the Bungalow on Rainey Street for the Dine Alone Records 10th anniversary showcase, which was scheduled to feature two bands I’d previously covered for TGTF, The Dodos and Broncho, as well as Lieutenant, the new side project of Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel. I arrived at the Bungalow early enough to work out the logistics of my interview with The Dodos before heading out to the backyard stage area to catch the night’s opening act, Josh Haden’s jazz-tinged alt-rock band Spain.

I wasn’t familiar with Josh Haden or Spain before I saw them at the Bungalow, but a quick internet search reveals that their smooth, soulful sound is at least partially the result of Haden’s background in jazz; he is the son of well-known jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Josh Haden originally formed Spain in the early 1990s and revitalized it with new members in 2007. The band’s latest LP, ‘Sargent Place’ was released on Dine Alone back in November, and their set at the Dine Alone showcase included a fine performance of its lead single ‘The Fighter’, which you can stream below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/pPwjSmCq608[/youtube]

Vancouver indie pop band Yukon Blonde quickly changed the pace of the evening after Spain’s laid-back set. Their dance-friendly synth and guitar sounds drew a captivated audience under the tents at the Bungalow, almost making us forget that we were still in the middle of the week with their hook-heavy new single ‘Saturday Night’. Just after SXSW, Yukon Blonde hit the road in America and Canada for an opening slot with their Dine Alone labelmates Lieutenant; those shows continue into April.

Yukon Blonde’s energetic set paved the way for San Francisco-based duo The Dodos to take the stage. They clearly had a fair few fans in attendance at SXSW 2015, as the crowd packed in noticeably tighter during their brief soundcheck. After reviewing their latest LP ‘Individ’ and their show at Tucson’s Club Congress in February, I had already come to the conclusion that The Dodos are just one of those bands that you have to see live to get the full effect of their music.

I discussed that opinion briefly with band members Meric Long and Logan Kroeber in my interview with them before their set, but their spectacular performance on the night did more to solidify my estimation than any of their commentary. Knowing that The Dodos create a huge sound between the two of them, I started their set with earplugs firmly in place, but the sound quality and the crisp energy of their performance was so amazing that I ended up removing them just so that I could take it all in. The dance moves featured in The Dodos’ video for ‘Competition’ didn’t make it onto the stage here, but there was plenty of enthusiastic dancing in the crowd when Long and Kroeber played the song.

The Dodos at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015

Unfortunately, the crowd at the Bungalow thinned conspicuously after The Dodos finished, leaving only a sparse few fans to watch Lieutenant. Because the live iteration of Lieutenant features Foo Fighters bass player Nate Mendel and Snow Patrol bass player Paul Wilson (both on guitar, ironically enough), I had expected them to draw a larger audience. Lieutenant’s recent album release ‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going to Eat for a Week’ is probably best described as understated, and as it turns out, Mendel is an understated frontman in live performance as well. Wilson’s more animated guitar solos, while not exactly flashy, were the highlight of the band’s set at the Bungalow. I suspect that the members of Lieutenant will grow progressively more comfortable in their newly adopted roles as they continue their current American tour with Yukon Blonde.

Nate Mendel at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015           Paul Wilson at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015

My energy lagged a bit after Lieutenant’s set, and I decided a walk might be in order to help me get a second wind. I left the Bungalow and headed back to 6th Street to see Dine Alone alumnus James Vincent McMorrow, whose first self-titled EP was released in the US on Dine Alone back in 2010.  McMorrow was appearing on the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, which was already packed to the gills for his set when I arrived. (In fact, it was so crowded that I never met up with Mary, who also made the Music From Ireland show part of her Wednesday night lineup.) Though the Gibson Room audience were clearly enamored with the soulful melancholia of McMorrow’s ‘Post Tropical’ tracks, I found his falsetto to be unintelligible and a bit whiny, much in the vein of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whose sound I have never been particularly fond of. In spite of that, McMorrow’s stage presence was shyly endearing and he did pique my interest by testing a couple of new tracks, which he said weren’t yet fully worked out, but which held their own here in acoustic performance.

Walking On Cars at Music From Ireland SXSW 2015

Once again, the audience almost completely vanished after McMorrow’s set, leaving Irish pop band Walking on Cars to play in a nearly empty room to close out the night. It was a pity too, because Walking on Cars play the kind of energetic pop music that could find itself comfortably situated on top 40 radio, given enough of an audience. Indeed, the band broke up their wee-hours-of-the-morning set with a mashup of pop tunes that included 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Lego House’, and James Bay’s current hit ‘Hold Back the River’, along with a surprisingly effective cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’.

Their own recent single ‘Always Be With You’, featured in our SXSW preview of artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland, closed the night on a strong note, even if only a handful of punters were still around to hear it. Keep an eye on TGTF for coverage of Walking on Cars at the full Irish breakfast appearing on TGTF soon.

 

SXSW 2015 Interview: beGun

 
By on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 5:00 pm
 

This year at SXSW 2015 I decided to spread TGTF’s figurative wings beyond the countries of bands we usually cover (the UK, America, Ireland and Australia), having made the decision to cover the Sounds from Spain afternoon showcase at Brush Square Park’s West Tent (read the review of the showcase here). This turned out to be a wise decision, as I met some really lovely people there. I felt like I was part of their extended musical family and never once was shoved around or made to feel small, which seemed to sum up a lot of my experiences at my first SXSW. So thanks very much to Sounds from Spain, especially Rocio Gutierrez and the bands themselves, for making me feel so welcome!

Another conscious decision I made was to expand our coverage on a genre I love very much but yet always feel alone in my appreciation of: electronica. Barcelona’s beGun, who I profiled in this Bands to Watch in early February, makes what I consider an especially fabulous kind of electronica in that there is a lot of thought that goes into what he does and he clearly has an established method to the madness, if you will, to making his art that you can see in the finished product that is beautiful and evocative. In my interview with him that you can stream below, he tells me that the Spanish ambassador to Ireland visited the city of Dublin and was amazed how well beGun’s own song ‘Dublin’ fit the place perfectly. No higher praise than that, eh? beGun also remains staunchly optimistic in the music he makes, and we all need more positivity in this world, don’t we? He also mentions that he would love to tour as support for current Radio 1 beat resident Jon Hopkins one day, which I hope will actually happen.

I find it extremely frustrating when I encounter closed-minded music fans who automatically chalk up any sort of electronic music that isn’t immediately poppy or has been made by a globally known household name to something that is cold, unfeeling and uninspiring. In my eyes, if it’s done right and in the right person’s hands, electronica, even when entirely instrumental, can be extremely powerful. The constant striving towards electronic music with feeling is a theme that will be explored in my interviews with East India Youth and Rival Consoles that will post in the coming days.

 

SXSW 2015 Interview: Agoraphobia

 
By on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 3:00 pm
 

Agoraphobia are a Spanish five-piece girl group from Santiago De Compostela, the capital city of Galicia in northwestern Spain. While they were not on the bill at the Sounds from Spain showcase that took place at Brush Square Park’s West Tent on Wednesday afternoon at SXSW 2015, as is the case for UK bands who show up at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, the girls appeared at the event to chat with Spanish industry folks and fans of Spanish music, as well as partake on drinks and paella that the Sounds from Spain contingent so kindly provided to us punters stopping by the tent.

The band’s name is the medical term for severe anxiety with panic attacks, which seems like a strange way to name your band. The girls quickly explained to me though in this interview that they chose their name after listening to and falling in love with the hard-hitting sound of the 2005 song with the name by American band Incubus, who also turned out to be in Austin for the week as well. (You never know; as people say, anything can happen at SXSW, and as you probably expected, all of the few appearances Incubus made during SXSW were rammed. A disappointed BBC staffer told me later in the week how gutted she was not being to get into a venue to see them.)

Anyway, back to Agoraphobia the band. Their sound is an upbeat, guitar-driven, garage-y, indie sound seemingly plucked from the ’60s and not wholly unlike Hinds (formerly known as Deers). Which begs the question, why have we not heard of Agoraphobia yet? Admittedly, I didn’t know much about the band when I met the girls, but their enthusiasm for their music – and their region’s food specialty, octopus – yum! – is evident in this interview.

 

SXSW 2015 Interview: Xavi Marín of Oso Leone

 
By on Tuesday, 24th March 2015 at 1:00 pm
 

One of the best experiences I had this year at SXSW 2015 was the Sounds from Spain showcase Wednesday afternoon at Brush Square Park. As you all know, TGTF has primarily focused on UK bands in the past, but this year I decided to branch out and listen to as many bands who received shouts for SXSW this year, rank them by quality and potential to you, our readers, and see what other exciting sounds I could find. Based solely on the strength of music from several bands from Spain, it became clear to me that this was one country – and its musical output – I needed to pay closer attention to.

Oso Leone are a five-piece from the gorgeous island of Majorca, part of Spain’s Balearic island chain in the Mediterranean Sea. Many of their songs are instrumentally focused, some with driving beat rhythms, leading me to connect them with sigur ros in my head. They’re an interesting proposition, with their masterful guitar work seemingly at odds with the electronic beats before they go into a wigged out, psychedelic presentation. Last year they were given a golden opportunity not given to all Spanish bands, or any indie bands for that matter: a tony slot on Pitchfork’s stage at Primavera Sound in May 2014, which was documented by the Chicago-based Web site in this gorgeous video.

Wednesday was their time to shine as the first band on at the Sounds from Spain showcase, and they didn’t disappoint. While it may have been rainy earlier in the morning and the carpet inside the performance tent was wet (I learned this the hard way by putting my bags on the ground and kneeling down on the carpet, coming away with wet kneecaps on my jeans), Oso Leone provided a refreshing start to the event with their unique balance of smooth soundscapes and jutting rhythms that complimented the roaringly hot sun that soon came out. Shortly after their set, I was able to grab frontman Xavi Marín (vocals and guitar), apologising for my nearly nonexistent command of the Spanish language, and have this chat with him.

 

Live Gig Video: Field Music’s full set at Primavera Sound 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 21st August 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Field Music is one of few bands that has not gotten a single negative live review on TGTF. So when we found out that their performance at Primavera Sound 2012 at Barcelona on 31 May was available online, we jumped at the chance to post it. Watch it in all its glory below.


 
 
 

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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.

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