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Single Review: The Big Moon – Formidable

 
By on Tuesday, 6th December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Indie rockers The Big Moon have had a pretty busy 2016. Aside from hitting a bunch of festivals including The Great Escape and releasing a bunch of singles, they also found time to record their debut album, ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’. Ahead of its release on the 7th of April 2017, the female foursome have shared single ‘Formidable’. The song received air time on Radio 1 as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record in the World: a statement that I’m not really going to try and disagree with. ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ was recorded in London, and in addition to ‘Formidable’, it will feature a re-recorded version of previously revealed track ‘Sucker’, as well as singles Cupid’ and ‘Silent Movie Susie’ released earlier this year.

I’ve been a fan of The Big Moon for some time now, ever since I got to write a little about them ahead of their appearance at SXSW 2016, and their latest release doesn’t change that. ‘Formidable’ burns softly, with the simple yet heartfelt chorus “I am not invisible / I’m on your side / I’ll be formidable” packing a punch like a confident mantra. Other lyrics,like “did she make you swallow all your pride?/ Does the love still shiver down your spine?” are a testament to the seriously good songwriting.

In fitting with the band’s indie grunge sound, ‘Formidable’ is slow in tempo and layered with cagey drums, distorted guitars and lead singer Juliette Jackson’s full-on vocals. It starts out pretty mellow, before picking up the pace just a little as the chorus kicks in, and again when Jackson yells out ,“you let me see your battle scars!” It’s altogether a great track and well worth a listen if you’re a fan of edgy indie rock.

9/10

The Big Moon have been announced as one of the first acts to appear at next year’s Live at Leeds 2017. They have a few dates between now and next April in America and the UK, if you want to check them out live. Their debut album ‘Love in the 4th Dimension’ will be released on StarTime International / Columbia Records. To read my introduction to the band in the context of SXSW 2016, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmHbCgDBzcM[/youtube]

 

Kendal Calling 2016 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 10th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

In the process of researching for this review (by which I mean spending lots of time in various sunny fields listening to a lot of excellent music and chatting to a lot of talented people), I found myself face-to-face with Andy Smith, a founder of and head honcho at Kendal Calling. Considering the number of priceless moments his event has provided me with over the years – countless superb bands seen; friends, belongings, and marbles found, lost, and then found again; memorable impromptu jams and karaoke sessions – one would hope to do better in summing the whole deal up with a blokey “Cool festival, man.”

So, here is my homage to Kendal Calling, and considering I have more time to prepare it, I shall attempt to be more fulsome than the above. 2016 was the safest, most grown up version of Kendal Calling yet, and though there is plenty I miss about what was subtly different to previous years, all things considered this was the best installment yet. Apart from a shower early on the Thursday, the sun shone consistently throughout the weekend, which makes an enormous difference to one’s perception and enjoyment of a festival. Speaking of Thursday, I can remember when the evening’s entertainment for those hardy souls who volunteered for a pre-festival night’s camping was a bonfire and vintage clothing stall. Not so of late, and it fell to The Charlatans to close the main stage on Thursday. Surely one of the most well-known bands in Britain, the survivors of the baggy scene do make a delightful, funky racket, and if familiarity has dampened their ability to seem truly special, their sheer exuberance, not to mention liberal applications of Hammond organ, always makes them a compelling watch.

There’s more to Thursday night than the main stage anyway. After hours, the Chai Wallahs tent takes the strain of thousands of people looking to start their weekend with a bang. I’d managed to misplace the new campsite friends I’d only known a few hours, leaving them to buy beer only to realise that it’s impossible to find anyone again at Kendal if you’re actually looking for them. Best to go with the flow, meet people who fate wants you to meet, and take it from there. I remember speaking to a couple of guys who’d come up from Brighton, pretty much the farthest distance it’s possible to travel from on the mainland, and proof of Kendal’s nationwide reach. In true get-it-out-of-your-system style, late Thursday evening was spent mooching around various camps, joining in impromptu singalongs, mostly of songs written by a certain Mr Gallagher

Kendal Calling 2016 - Too Many Ts-7915

None of which shenanigans prevents a large crowd gathering first thing in the afternoon for the lively flow of Too Many T’s. I’m personally not sure where these guys have sprung from all of a sudden, but they seem to be all over the place, with a brand of witty hip-pop that’s perfect for an afternoon at a festival. They’ve got a lot of decent tunes that don’t seem to have appeared on record yet. Come on lads, you could have some hits on your hands!

Kendal Calling 2016 - The Big Moon-7964

One of the enormous pleasures of Kendal Calling is the undercard in the Calling Out tent, or what should actually be called the New Favourite Bands tent. The Big Moon are four girls from London who make a brilliant racket, perfectly poised between sweetly innocent melodies and flip-the-bird punkiness. There’s such hooks here that even on the first listen to something like ‘Cupid’, it’s impossible not to sing along in raucous joy. Brilliant stuff. And so to our first band of the day that have actually released an album. Hooton Tennis Club betray their Merseyside origins with lazy yet rock-steady beats, some lovely discordant guitar work and jaunty lyrics. Like early Blur crossed with the Lemonheads. And they’ve got an amazingly enthusiastic bass player. Who doesn’t want that?

Kendal Calling 2016 - Hooton Tennis Club-8024

Manchester’s Gideon Conn was a highlight of my festival last year, and he’s back this with a longer set, except he doesn’t seem to know he’s actually got a full hour to showcase his delicately funky looped observational pieces, so his set climaxes about 15 minutes too early. No matter, because all the ingredients are still present and correct. His wordplay is second to none, and despite the sparse arrangements (keyboard, guitar, occasionally at the same time) he really can get a crowd going. Particularly when he ventures over the barrier and sings amongst the crowd. This year he ended up on someone’s shoulders in a particularly wobbly-looking shoulder lift. At least some random out of the crowd didn’t get hold of the microphone again. Despite the confusion there’s still nothing quite like a Gideon Conn set. Or Gideon Conn, for that matter – one is quite enough for this world.

Kendal Calling 2016 - Gideon Conn-8031

Catfish and the Bottlemen are astonishingly popular. I was told countless times by people that they’d bought tickets simply on the strength of their appearance. Van McCann’s words from my chat with him at Kendal a couple of years ago were still ringing in my ears: “I want to be bigger than Oasis.” Well, second on the bill here when Noel himself is headlining (a different day, but still) means that he’s still on the perfect trajectory to achieve his dream. It is difficult to objectively understand exactly what it is that Catfish do that countless bands that have gone before haven’t managed. Perhaps it simply comes down to the charisma of the frontman, because despite how well the songs work on a stage and with a crowd as big as they were blessed with here, what they’re peddling really isn’t anything new. But fair play to them – what next? Breaking America? [Something Oasis never did, did they? – Ed.]

Kendal Calling 2016 - Catfish 2-7290050

Rudimental put on a good show. They’re a big dance band, totally professional, and remind me of Basement Jaxx‘s set on the Friday a couple of years ago. It’s really what the first night of a festival needs: big beats, big tunes, more of which you recognise than you might think, and a really good show. So you wouldn’t think it’s possible for an act to follow that? Step forward the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, led by violinist Joe Broughton. Who, if they haven’t got the prize for the most number of folk musicians on a single stage, really do deserve an honourable mention. A performance of the most remarkable power, primarily down to the sober dedication of the players – faced with a midnight crowd of hyped-up revellers, no mean feat. Their repertoire is varied, but it’s when they really let rip that their true power is unveiled. Bows fly unhinged across strings, a cajon is thwacked within an inch of its life, even the harp player throws a few shapes. There are even a couple of electric guitarists hidden in the middle somewhere, completely disguised by the swarm of instruments around them. This is traditional folk given an enormous shot in the arm. Exactly what it needs. A truly remarkable experience.

Kendal Calling 2016 - Conservertoire Folk Ensemble-7290060

 

Preview: LeeFest Presents: The Neverland 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 17th May 2016 at 9:00 am
 

This year’s LeeFest marks the 10th anniversary of the independent arts festival, which started in 2006 in founder Lee Denny’s own back garden. Dubbed LeeFest Presents: The Neverland, the festival’s motto this year is “Never grow old”, and it promises a “stunning musical lineup” along with a host of other wide-ranging entertainment opportunities. The exact location of The Neverland’s new secret venue and campsite near Tunbridge Wells, about an hour southeast of London, will only be revealed to ticket holders near the time of the event, which is scheduled to take place on the 28th-30th of July.

What we already know about LeeFest 2016 is that its strong live music lineup presents an enticing mix of established artists and up-and-coming acts. Headliner Lianne La Havas could possibly fall into either category, after her breakthrough 2012 album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?” She is currently supporting Coldplay on their ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ world tour and is scheduled to open for fellow soul singer Leon Bridges on his September and October dates in America. La Havas released a new EP ‘Blood Solo’ back in February, providing solo interpretations of tracks from her second full album ‘Blood’, as well as the delicately haunting new track called ‘Fairytale’, which you can hear just below.

In contrast to La Havas’ soulful folk stylings, Liverpool rockers Circa Waves join the LeeFest headline bill in the midst of their own summer festival circuit. They recently appeared at Live at Leeds 2016 and will grace their hometown stage at Sound City 2016 at the end of this month. Circa Waves have been quiet so far in 2016, but their emergence back onto the live scene, including a handful of upcoming headline dates around the UK, might be a hint that something new from the band is forthcoming. In the meantime, you can get in the festival spirit with their video for ’T-Shirt Weather’, which featured on their 2015 debut album ‘Young Chasers’.

The LeeFest 2016 docket features a wide array of other artists previously covered here at TGTF, most notably 2015 Mercury Prize nominee Ghostpoet.  The LeeFest lineup also includes a lengthy list of our SXSW 2016 alums: Manchester art-rockers Everything Everything, dance pop duo Formation, Liverpool’s own Clean Cut Kid, indie pop wunderkind Oscar, Kent ‘dirty-pop’ bangers Get Inuit, Sheffield rock duo Nai Harvest and Tunbridge Wells native Will Joseph Cook.

exmagician internal

Newer acts like London all-female quartet The Big Moon and Belfast alt-rock duo exmagician (pictured above) hope to build their reputations on LeeFest’s stages as part of their summer festival tours as well. Given that LeeFest’s past lineups have hosted such heavy hitters as London Grammar, Jack GarrattYears & Years, and Clean Bandit, it seems like a safe bet that if you’re not already familiar with the names on this year’s list, you will become so in very short order. (On that note, stay tuned to TGTF for our pre-LeeFest interview with exmagician, which will post in the coming days.)

SubmotionOrchestra internal

The live music portion of the festival will also include DJ sets from Submotion Orchestra (pictured above), The 2 Bears, Midland and Horse Meat Disco. Aside from the musical festivities, LeeFest also offers a variety of other entertainment categories comprising Comedy, Spoken Word, a generic Performance classification, and the very curiously-titled Sillyness. Divided among three so-called “realms”, The Neverland aims to provide “immersive adventures at every turn”, even including a Family category for arts enthusiasts with young children.

As a preview of the main event, LeeFest: The Neverland is partnering with the Tunbridge Wells Forum for a free festival launch party featuring a surprise headliner starting at 6 PM on the 3rd of June. Keep your eyes on LeeFest’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed, which are being updated with further details as the 2016 festival approaches.

LeeFest 2nd Poster

 

The Big Moon / March and April 2016 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Header photo by Laura Allard-Fleischl

Fresh off a run of January support dates for The Maccabees, London indie rockers The Big Moon have announced a spring headline tour of the UK and Ireland.  The new list of dates will follow the band’s mid-March trip to America for SXSW 2016.  Fellow TGTF writer Rebecca introduced the all-female quartet in a Bands to Watch feature right back here.

Support for The Big Moon’s following live dates will be played by Virgin Kids. Tickets are available now.

Wednesday 30th March 2016 – Nottingham Bodega Social Club
Thursday 31st March 2016 – Hull Adelphi
Friday 1st April 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank
Saturday 2nd April 2016 – Glasgow Stereo
Monday 4th April 2016 – Belfast Mandela Hall
Tuesday 5th April 2016 – Dublin Workman’s Club
Thursday 7th April 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friay 8th April 2016 – Leicester Cookie
Saturday 9th April 2016 – Cardiff Moon Club (Dim Swn Festival)
Monday 11th April 2016 – Bristol Start the Bus
Tuesday 12th April 2016 – Southampton Joiners Arms
Wednesday 13th April 2016 – London 100 Club

 

(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #366 and #367: The Big Moon and Abjects

 
By on Thursday, 14th January 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Original of cropped header photo of The Big Moon by Laura Allard-Fleischl

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

I always love an all-girl group. While there have been more of them in recent years, fully female groups are still relatively uncommon and inevitably, you end up comparing them all to each other. You run the risk of potentially diminish these bands in their own right by such comparisons but overall, it’s reassuring to see women making a respectable dent in the world of music, particularly in the vein of hard-hitting rock, and comparing them to one another is simply to rejoice in their numbers.

London group The Big Moon are a dynamic mash up of indie rock/pop with a similar sound to Manchester’s PINS, yet they appear to be set to hold its own. Juliette, Soph, Celia and Fern haven’t been together that long, yet they create a timeless sound. Their two recent singles, ‘The Road’ and ‘Nothing Without You’ are well worth a listen.

‘Nothing Without You’ is an upbeat tune that you can imagine dancing around to in your living room or playing full blast in your car on a road trip. ‘The Road’, in contrast, is softer and drawling, the jangly guitar hook running throughout the song quirky and playful. Juliette’s vocals are crisp and smooth, with just a touch of grit. Maybe how Haim would sound if they had a tad more Hole about them? The Big Moon have a bunch of upcoming dates in the UK as well, as the Dutch event Eurosonic Noorderslag Festival in Groningen this week.

Like The Big Moon, Abjects are an all female ensemble also from London. Whilst the two bands are equal in gender, Abjects are not entirely similar in sound. This trio favour punkier, garage rock numbers, coiffed with hairstyles to rival the Ramones. Their sound is bold, guitar-heavy and so edgy, you’d be afraid to reach out and touch it for fear of getting cut. [How ironic, then, that the below shot is their current Facebook profile pic? – Ed.]

photo of Abjects in a beauty shop, from the band's Facebook

Their debut EP ‘Gone’ features four catchy, confident tracks with no shortage of energy. The opening hook of ‘Gone’ reminds me of White Stripes, particularly ‘Fell in Love with the Girl’, with the raucous guitar being joined by the brash drums just moments into the song. At times, I can hear Ramones’ own ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, or Sex Pistols caught up in the thrumming guitars and unflinching drumbeats. This mix of garage and punk echoes throughout the EP, and really makes me excited to see what they do next.

Abjects’ aesthetic, whilst involving punchy riffs and a fearless tempo, feels refined and stylised. Even the EP artwork and 12” vinyl is impressive and evocative of a different era: the pastel background colours layered with the black and white image of the band are a joy to look at and make me wish I owned a record player.

For years, critics and various and artists have been claiming that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. Back in 2014, Gene Simmons of KISS was advising young musicians to forget about learning how to play guitar and focus on X Factor auditions instead. Abjects are the kind of band that can restore faith in the future of exciting, authentic-feeling music.

The Big Moon and Abjects are scheduled to appear at SXSW 2016 in Austin in March.

 
 
 

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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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