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In the Post #163: Ben Howard follows his ‘Noonday Dream’ with three new tracks, including a surprise collaboration with alt-pop duo Sylvan Esso

By on Tuesday, 25th September 2018 at 12:00 pm

Summer may be drawing to a close, but reminiscences of warm and sunny days are still fresh in our collective memory. With this in mind, singer/songwriter Ben Howard has just released a handful of new singles hot on the heels of his summer LP ‘Noonday Dream’, which was released back in June. As often happens, the recording sessions for the album were overly prolific, but in a fortunate sort of way. Howard himself says, “The recording sessions for ‘Noonday Dream’ were so varied and over quite a period of time. There were little gems that we didn’t know what to do with, but it felt right to put these three together, both separate and a part of the album, so to speak.”

One of those so-called gems is a surprise collaboration between Howard and American electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso. Called ‘Hot Heavy Summer’, the track does indeed feel tangentially related to the ephemeral vignettes on ‘Noonday Dream’. The addition of Amelia Meath’s backing vocals keeps the soundscape brighter and more buoyant than the title might imply, while the rounded hollow of the percussion beat lends a very definite substance to Howard’s otherwise evanescent arrangement. Apropos to the song’s title, ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ was featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World last Thursday, 13th September. Speaking on BBC Radio 1, Howard related that Meath’s lilting voice came immediately to mind for this song: “Amelia is just incredible, fortune prevailed, and we managed to get in the studio. I had it in the back of my mind as soon as we initially recorded ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ that the track just felt right for her.” If you’re interested in the full radio clip, you can listen back to it for a limited time on the BBC Radio 1 iPlayer.

‘Hot Heavy Summer’ is accompanied by two other tracks leftover from the ‘Noonday Dream’ sessions, a dark narrative called ‘Another Friday Night’ and the electronically experimental ‘Sister’. While these tracks don’t quite fit into the artistically cinematic nature of ‘Noonday Dream’, Howard is right in saying that they’re too good to go unheard. You can take a listen to all three tracks via Spotify, just below.


Ben Howard has a run of live dates in the UK planned for this winter, including two nights at the Manchester Apollo in December and three nights at London’s Brixton Academy after the start of the new year. Tickets for the following shows are available now.

Friday 7th December – Glasgow Hydro Arena
Saturday 8th December – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Monday 10th December – Manchester Apollo
Tuesday 11th December – Manchester Apollo
Wednesday 16th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy
Thursday 17th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy
Friday 18th January 2019 – London Brixton Academy

You can read TGTF’s past coverage of Ben Howard right back here, and our coverage of Sylvan Esso is collected through here.


TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: best bets among American artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 at 12:00 pm

Header photo: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats by Brantley Gutierrez

As you might expect with an American music festival, SXSW is typically heavy on American showcasing artists, and SXSW 2018 won’t be any different. This year’s music festival lineup features a load of big names that you’ve probably heard before, along with a few new ones that, if they’re not familiar already, likely will become so very soon.

Our ongoing preview coverage of SXSW 2018 has already highlighted a few up-and-coming artists on the showcase schedule, including grunge rock band Bully and alt-country singer Courtney Marie Andrews. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is elusive Los Angeles alt-rock trio Lo Moon, who made mild waves with their SXSW appearance last year. I expect them to make a bigger splash this time around, on the strength of their just released self-titled LP, which includes new track ‘Wonderful Life’.

Among the major players heading to SXSW 2018 are a handful of TGTF alums who have broken through to mainstream success. We first covered songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff way back in 2011, but the course of his career dramatically changed in 2015, when he convened a new band called the Night Sweats and released their hit self-titled album. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats have recently announced a brand new LP called ‘Tearing at the Seams’, which is due for release just before SXSW on the 9th of March and features lead track ‘You Worry Me’.

North Carolina alt-pop duo Sylvan Esso previewed songs from their 2017 album ‘What Now’ at a surprise SXSW 2016 show; their appearance this year could once again herald new music on the horizon. Austin native David Ramirez wasn’t in top form when I saw him at SXSW 2017, but he may be in better shape this year, playing songs from his beautiful recent album ‘We’re Not Going Anywhere’, which he has toured extensively since its release. SXSW 2015 showcasing artist Natalie Prass has just announced a brand new album ‘The Future and The Past’ due out on the 1st of June; she will presumably highlight its soul-tinged single ‘Short Court Style’ on her showcases in Austin next month.

Among other past TGTF mentions on the SXSW 2018 list are Nashville singer/songwriter Liza Anne, who will release her new album ‘Fine But Dying’ on the 9th of March and Milwaukee quartet Field Report, whose new album ‘Summertime Songs’ is previewed in the stream of ‘Never Look Back’ just below. Fellow Nashville singer Tristen and Philadelphia duo Vita and the Woolf, both acts we’ve coincidentally covered in conjunction with Irish alt-rockers Bell X1, also made the showcase list for this year’s festival in Austin, along with New York’s Sunflower Bean, who showcased at SXSW 2016, and L.A. rock band Warbly Jets, who made an appearance at SXSW last year.

American artists new to TGTF include Albert Hammond, Jr. of The Strokes fame, and Buck Meek of alt-rock band Big Thief, neither of whom we’ve seen in a solo capacity before. Satellite radio listeners here in the U.S. might already be familiar with Mt. Joy and NoMBe, who have both been featured on SiriusXM Alt-Nation, while public radio devotees will no doubt have heard Portland singer/songwriter Haley Heynderickx and New Orleans funk/soul group Tank and the Bangas on NPR.

For dedicated indie fans, a pair of duo acts, Denver’s Tennis and Baltimore’s Wye Oak have made the SXSW shout list, along with the always eccentric Okkervil River. In the heavily represented Americana category, sure winners include a trio of Nashville acts: singer/songwriter Nikki Lane, country rock trio Liz Cooper and the Stampede and veteran country/bluegrass collective Old Crow Medicine Show.

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.


Live Gig Video: Sylvan Esso premiere live performance of ‘Die Young’ from Shakori Hills Festival

By on Wednesday, 15th November 2017 at 4:00 pm

Back at the end of September, electro-folk duo Sylvan Esso played a special warm-up show ahead of the Shakori Hills Grassroots Music and Dance Festival in their home state of North Carolina. The bill for that evening’s show also included fellow indie rock duo Wye Oak and eclectic art-rock solo act tUnE-yArDs, but Sylvan Esso were clearly the hometown crowd favourites, taking top billing with tracks from their latest LP ‘What Now’.

The following video performance features the duo’s latest hit single ‘Die Young’, which has found a comfortable home on SiriusXM Alt-Nation since its release earlier this year. This live version finds singer Amelia Meath in a giddy mood, giggling as she thanks the large crowd and getting a little more down and dirty than usual with her vocals, while producer Nick Sanborn grooves along to his own electronic beats. The pair are currently on tour in the UK; you’ll find details of those live dates here and a full listing of Sylvan Esso’s upcoming worldwide shows on their official Facebook.
You can read more about Sylvan Esso on TGTF through this link.


Video of the Moment #2387: Sylvan Esso

By on Friday, 23rd June 2017 at 6:00 pm

We’re now officially in the throes of summer, and Sylvan Esso have pulled it out with a wistful, summery promo that we’ll end the week at TGTF with. Carrie described ‘The Glow’ in her review of the duo’s 2017 album ‘What Now’ as it “catches Sylvan Esso in a rare and charming moment of pure happiness, as [Amelia] Meath fondly remembers a beloved record from her teenage days.” The promo reflects these carefree times in young people’s lives and captures it on film well. Watch the video below. ‘What Now’ is available now from Loma Vista Recordings. To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on the electronic pop duo, go here.



Album Review: Sylvan Esso – What Now

By on Friday, 19th May 2017 at 12:00 pm

Sylvan Esso What Now coverBuilding on the momentum from their second consecutive appearance at SXSW back in March, American electropop darlings Sylvan Esso have just released their second LP ‘What Now’. Their self-titled debut album, which grew from a collaboration on a single track, came out in the spring of 2014 to great, and seemingly unexpected, fanfare around the indie music world. Singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn were apparently taken aback by their initial success, but they have handled it masterfully on ‘What Now’, facing head-on the challenge of the sophomore slump.

The first single from ‘What Now’ was the rather oxymoronic ‘Radio’, which somehow managed to be both deeply meta-analytical and incorrigibly danceable. Given its ubiquity on SiriusXM Radio here in the States, I’d say ‘Radio’ accomplished exactly what Meath and Sanborn intended it to do, proving that Sylvan Esso are capable of writing radio-friendly hits without giving up the sharply ironic perspective that marked early tracks like ‘Hey Mami’. ‘Kick Jump Twist’, previously released along with ‘Radio’, offers a peek at the album’s lighter side. (You can read our previous review of both tracks through here.) Meath’s vocals are coyly understated and Sanborn’s soundscape is restrained, only leaping into decisive action briefly under the chorus.

Recent single ‘Die Young’ is perhaps the strongest track on the album, which is saying something, considering that it appears just before ‘Radio’ in the tracklisting. But it’s in the chorus of ‘Die Young’ where Sylvan Esso strike an acutely personal note, where they have previously remained aloof and lightly mocking, with the lyrics “I was going to die young / but now I’ve got to wait for you, honey.” It’s an emotional epiphany, to be sure, but a musical one as well, with Sanborn’s dark bass underscoring Meath’s layered vocals and creating a depth of sound that never quite materialised on the first album.


Early on the album,’The Glow’ catches Sylvan Esso in a rare and charming moment of pure happiness, as Meath fondly remembers a beloved record from her teenage days. Sylvan Esso’s exploration of new romance continues in the seductive ‘Song’, where Meath sweetly croons, “I’m the song that you can’t get out of your head”. They revert to their darker tendencies and revisit their metaphysical ponderings later in the track listing with ‘Signal’, which Meath described to NPR as “searching for truth and honesty in a sea of noise”. In that vein, final tracks ‘Slack Jaw’ and ‘Rewind’ are markedly quieter and slower, closing the album on a fitting note of quiet introspection.

Following the success of their quirky debut album, Sylvan Esso clearly spent some time considering the relevant question—what now?—and its implications for their sound. They’ve taken a more conscious and deliberate approach on ‘What Now’, and while these songs don’t have the breezy spontaneity of the ones on ‘Sylvan Esso’, they also aren’t overly weighed down by the pressure of previous success. Both seasoned musicians in their own right, Meath and Sanborn are clearly aware of the ephemeral nature of the business they’re in, but they’ve proved here that they’re no flash-in-the-pan.


Sylvan Esso’s sophomore LP ‘What Now’ is out now on Loma Vista Recordings. They’ll be touring the UK and Ireland in November; all the dates are listed back here. You can look back on our full archive of coverage on Sylvan Esso through this link.


Sylvan Esso / November 2017 UK/Irish Tour

By on Wednesday, 17th May 2017 at 9:00 am

North Carolina electropop duo Sylvan Esso will play a list of live dates in the UK and Ireland this autumn, following a lengthy spring and summer tour of North America. ICYMI, we first caught Sylvan Esso live way back in 2014. Their highly-anticipated second album ‘What Now’ is out now on Loma Vista Recordings, and a review of the long player will post here later in the week on TGTF.

Tickets for the following UK and Irish shows are available now. Sylvan Esso are also scheduled to appear at Latitude Festival on the 15th of July and Citadel Festival on the 16th of July. You can find a complete list of the pair’s upcoming live dates, including their current North American tour, on their official Facebook. TGTF’s past coverage of Sylvan Esso is right back here.

Monday 6th November 2017 – Birmingham Institute 2
Tuesday 7th November 2017 – Bristol Trinity
Wednesday 8th November 2017 – London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Saturday 11th November 2017 – Manchester Gorilla
Sunday 12th November 2017 – Glasgow Art School
Monday 13th November 2017 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 14th November 2017 – Dublin Button Factory


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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.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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