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Album Review: The Blue Aeroplanes – Welcome, Stranger!

 
By on Thursday, 12th January 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Blue Aeroplanes Welcome Stranger album coverI confess that until recently, I’d never heard of The Blue Aeroplanes. However, after reading up on the Bristolian band’s history and influence, as well as the work of its various members, it’s pretty clear they’re connected in some way to a wide range of artists that I’ve been listening to for a long time. From ex-members working with the likes of Placebo and Massive Attack, to reportedly being the best band that Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield has seen live, it feels like The Blue Aeroplanes have, whilst remaining relatively underground, permeated the layers of music history.

The Blue Aeroplanes haven’t released an album in 6 years, since ‘Anti-Gravity’ in 2011. Bearing in mind their first studio album came out in 1984, it’s quite an impressive feat in itself that they’re putting out new material after all this time. That’s even before you consider the band’s incredible history. The Blue Aeroplanes have released almost 12 studio albums across 4 decades and have had a dizzying history of band members over the years. The band’s current lineup also consists of long-serving drummer John Langley, Gerard Starkie, Sharp (bass), Bec Jevons (guitar/vocals) and Mike Youe (guitar).

Their latest, ‘Welcome, Stranger!’, was just released last Friday through Art Star and a PledgeMusic campaign. The album has an old school feel to it, particularly in the edgy drawl of guitars and lead singer Gerard Langley’s distinctive smoky vocals evocative of ‘90s shoegaze. This is a rather wonderful and eclectic mix of subdued indie upbeat rock with Sprechgesang. I can’t tell if I think it’s brilliant or just a bit mad, although I guess there’s not reason why it can’t be both.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6COjr6D_AU[/youtube]

Tracks such as ‘Here is the Heart of All Wild Things’, Poetland’, ‘Retro Moon’ and ‘Nothing Will Ever Happen in the Future’ feature Gerard Langley speak-singing over the track, pulling it off with a biting poetic flair. In the latter, he speaks over a gently twanging guitar during the verses, before singing “we want to be wanted / we need to be needed / we love to be loved” during the chorus. I’d argue this is more a pithy comment on celebrity culture than a personal confession. On ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree!’, which opens up to a steadily beating drum before a shoegaze-esque guitar breaks in, Langley and co. repeatedly sing out the title of the track. It even features Langley imitating a crow in a strained squawk. This one is a must listen.

A bit like ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree!’, ‘Elvis Festival’ is brilliantly strange: “You sing badly / but no one cares / you are Elvis”. Other lyrics from it made me laugh out loud at first (“his wife sewed on the sequins / but he made the cape himself”), but then I couldn’t stop playing it for the simple guitar riff and drum beat and brilliantly utilised cowbell that had me dancing along, wishing I was at a festival. ‘Skin’ is a little more upbeat, a diversion from other tracks on the album. Not only does it feature vocals from Bec Jevons (also of IDestroy), but it’s also a straight-to-the-point, fast-paced track. It’s an interesting contrast to the other obscure tracks on the album. Jevons sings, “this is my skin and I welcome you in”, with skin being the central focus of connecting to someone else, not only in tactile terms, but the idea of letting someone into your skin and seeing the world the way that you might see it.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A-AnduoiMQ[/youtube]

Overall, it’s an interesting and exciting listen and deserves to be properly heard to appreciate the songs’ witty wordplay. Its timeless quality makes the LP sound like it could have been produced any time over the past couple of decades. Despite the fact that I found it an enjoyable listen, it’s unlikely to remove the band from their underground cult status and into the mainstream. Having said that, from what I’ve read of the band so far, it doesn’t seem like that’s likely to be their goal. ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ feels more like the work of a band that is making music for the joy of it rather than for fame or notoriety. And it’s sure to be an album that will please the existing fans that have been waiting patiently for new material.

7.5/10

The Blue Aeroplanes’ latest album ‘Welcome, Stranger!’, out now on Art Star, definitely deserves a listen, if you’re not already a fan. The band are in the midst of a UK tour this month; check out the UK dates listed on their official Web site. The bits we have here on TGTF on the band are back here in our archive.

 

Update: 6 Music Festival 2016

 
By on Thursday, 21st January 2016 at 11:00 am
 

Following on from the previous announcement back in December that the event would be moving south in the new year, the full line-up for the 6 Music Festival 2016 (12-14 February) was announced on air Tuesday. Tickets are on sale this coming Monday, the 25th of January, at 10 AM, and below are the ‘greatest hits’ of sorts on all the details on the 3 nights of music in Bristol happening in just over 3 weeks’ time.

Previously revealed headliner Primal Scream will be playing Friday the 12th of February at Motion. Bobby Gillespie and co. will be joined by Yeasayer (check out their latest video for ‘I Am Chemistry’ below), Roots Manuva, Savages (who are releasing their newest album ‘Adore Life’ on Matador Records this Friday), !!!, BBC Introducing darlings from Stockport Blossoms and Sherwood & Pinch. Tickets to Motion for this evening will be £35 each (plus booking fee and postage). However, Friday’s festivities are just a mere aperitif to the rest of the exciting weekend in the trip-hop capital of the world.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XzqCUbiPc4[/youtube]

For indie kids of all ages, Motion’s Saturday headliner Suede (pictured at top, with one of their newer singles ‘Outsiders’ below) are sure not to disappoint. With their newest album ‘Night Thoughts’ – the follow-up to their triumphant 2013 comeback ‘Bloodsports’ – out this Friday, they’re sure to wow with their legendary classics and soon to be classic tunes. Frankly, I’m just a little jealous I won’t be in Brizzle to see Brett Anderson holding court at “the UK’s most unique music venue” (their words, not mine). In this interview and live session Tuesday morning with 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne, Anderson himself said he was super excited that Elena Tonra and Daughter, who have just released their own new album ‘Not to Disappear’ earlier this month, will be playing the same stage. Other artists on the Motion stage on Saturday night include 2015 Mercury Prize-nominated artist Roisin Murphy and C Duncan, the previously announced Tricky presenting material from his own new album ‘Skilled Mechanics’, Beta Band alum Steve Mason and Sunderland brother duo Field Music, also due to release a new album of their own, ‘Commontime’, at the start of February with Memphis Industries. Tickets to Motion on Saturday will be £35 each (plus booking fee and postage).

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL15Nvlf7ZU[/youtube]

Saturday evening activity also kicks off at two more venues. The electronic grooves of Underworld and Roni Size & DJ Krust are the biggest names at the venerated Colston Hall, but they are supported by popular American rockers White Denim, the weird and wonderful Ezra Furman, youth favourite from Essex RAT BOY and Welsh songstress and ex-Pipettes Gwenno (introduced here), among others. The cavernous Academy will see American rock pioneer and Hüsker Dü founder Bob Mould supported by Mystery Jets (fresh off the release of their 5th album ‘Curve of the Earth’ last week) and Spanish girl group and flavour of the moment Hinds. A ticket to gain access to both Colston Hall and Academy on Saturday will £40 (plus booking fee and postage).

On Sunday at Motion, things turn back towards relatively newer indie (well, at least newer than Suede, ha), with Foals, Manchester’s Everything Everything, Beirut, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Polica, Kurt Vile and Mercury Prize-nominated experimental rock band The Invisible. Sunday night tickets to Motion will cost £35 (plus booking fee and postage).

Arguably the stronger night at Colston Hall, when Laura Marling, John Grant, 6 Music presenter and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey and Julia Holter will take the stage, along with many other acts. However, if you’re looking for more mainstream entertainment (to me, anyway) to round out your weekend in Bristol, the Academy will play host to the legendary Buzzcocks, the return and retooling of Bloc Party (seriously, have you heard ‘The Good News’ from their upcoming album ‘Hymns’? If not, hear it below) and the latest of young Liverpudian hopefuls ahead of their maiden voyage to SXSW in March, Hooton Tennis Club. A ticket to access both venues Sunday night will set you back £40 (plus booking fee and postage).

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox68svCfm8k[/youtube]

And in case this post hasn’t been enough information overload for you, there’s still the line-up of the 6 Music Festival by Day – artists of spoken word, poetry and performance having their turn in the limelight – yet to be announced next Tuesday, the 26th of January. And for the first time, even sister station BBC Radio 4 is getting into the spirit this time round, with the Miles Jupp-hosted panel show The News Quiz landing in and being recorded in Bristol during the festival. So there’s really no excuse not to be excited by the goings-on down south. Don’t fret if you can’t travel to Bristol or don’t manage to score tickets after they’ve gone on sale. (In case you hadn’t heard what happened in the past 2 years in Manchester and Gateshead, the tickets will fly out the door as soon as they go on sale, so you’ll have to be quick.) The BBC will be bringing you coverage on 6 Music, BBC Red Button, and iPlayer, so they’ll have you covered.

Right. So I’m going to go back to my corner again and sob that I’m missing Suede live again…

 

Preview: 6 Music Festival 2016

 
By on Tuesday, 15th December 2015 at 5:00 pm
 

BBC Radio presenters Steve Lamacq and Mary Anne Hobbs announced this afternoon during Lammo’s drivetime programme the first details of 6 Music Festival 2016. Next year’s event, taking place over Valentine’s Day weekend in February (12-14 February 2016), will be heading south, setting up camp in the trip-hop capital of the world, Bristol. (The last two festivals in 2014 and 2015 took place in Manchester and Tyneside, respectively.) Venues scheduled to take part in the festival include Bristol Academy, Basement 45, Colston Hall, Motion and Trinity.

If the first wave of artists announced is any indication, 2016 will see another strong year for 6 Music Festival. Primal Scream, who will be releasing their new album ‘Chaosmosis’ on the 18th of March 2016, will be performing new material from the effort for the first time in Bristol. Seeing that all of their currently announced shows in March and April except for a few tickets to London Palladium on the 1st of April are sold out, you can expect tickets to the evening Primal Scream play in Bristol will be snapped up quickly. Local DJ hero Roni Size, along with DJ Krust and Dynamite MC, will be offering the first official showcase and live broadcast from the city. For the art-rock fans out there, the festival has you covered: The Blue Aeroplanes, who appeared on Lammo’s show this afternoon to play a few tunes, are also scheduled to perform at the event in their hometown.

It will be a gig homecoming for Tricky: having not played in Bristol since 2012 at the Academy, his reappearance will no doubt be welcomed as he shows off new material from his upcoming album ‘Skilled Mechanics’, which drops in January. BEAK>, starring Geoff Barrow of Portishead, will also be making an appearance, playing brand new material alongside tracks from their ‘BEAK> <KAEB’ split EP. Dubstep purveyor DJ Pinch will also be giving Bristol one of his legendary live sets at the festival; this afternoon’s announcement dovetails nicely with the fact that Mary Anne Hobbs was one of his early champions.

The final line-up for 6 Music Festival 2016 will be announced on Tuesday, 19 January 2016, the same day tickets will go on sale. The line-up for 6 Music Festival by Day – the station’s presentation of spoken word, poetry and performance events on the Saturday and Sunday of the event – will follow on Tuesday 26 January.

 
 
 

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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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