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Live Gig Video: Falls perform ‘Home’ at the Cathedral of Junk during SXSW 2014

 
By on Thursday, 14th August 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

August seems like a long time from March, but this new video of Aussie duo Falls performing live at SXSW 2014 reminds us that it’s not that long now until SXSW madness begins again. Watch as Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown, augmented by a lovely string section (probably different than the one I saw with them in Sydney 2 years ago, surely?), perform their track ‘Home’ in Austin at the (in)famous Cathedral of Junk in Austin, Texas.

TGTF coverage of Falls is all here.

 

SXSW 2014: Amy Cook, Falls and The Carper Family: folkies at Stephen F’s Bar – 11th March 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 19th March 2014 at 3:00 pm
 

The great thing that you don’t realise about SXSW unless you actually witness it firsthand is the wide variety of venues there are in Austin during the festival. So from a rammed, stifling, claustrophobic Latitude 30 for the first half of my Tuesday night, I headed over to far more relaxed digs. It’s amazing to me that after 3 years in a row of covering this festival, I’m still finding new and exciting places to see bands play.

Stephen F’s Bar is on the topmost floor of the very swish InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel on Congress Avenue. It’s not a far walk at all from bustling and mental 6th Street, yet it feels like a world away on any night the festival is running. Having been there now, I would highly recommend it if you need a quiet oasis from all the late night craziness, for getting a drink at their well-appointed bar will surely make you feel human again. (For you historical buffs out there, Austin is known as the ‘father of Texas’ and that is why the capital city of the state is named after him.)

After my interview with Prides at Latitude 30, I arrived in the midst of Amy Cook’s set. As a local Austinite, I guess you can forgive her for all the audience heckling she was doing. To her credit though, she thanked punters throughout the set and asked us to give ourselves a round of applause for hanging in there to watch her. You see, Stephen F’s Bar is a ‘seated’ venue, with benches and various types of poufy, leather cushioned loungers, so you could be easily forgiven if you had one too many G&Ts that night if you fell asleep to the strumming of a guitar. The three acts I caught there were all folk acts, including Cook. An established singer/songwriter in her own right, she and her throaty voice, accompanied by her backing guitarist, felt right in the confines of the hotel bar.

Cook was followed by Australian folk duo Falls, who have now begun their conquest of America, having recently signed a record deal with Verve Music Group of Universal Records and uprooted from their home in Sydney and decamped to Los Angeles to make it here in America. I don’t think I will ever tire of hearing the harmonies of Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown; some things are just meant to be, and I think the two of them were meant to be musical partners for life. ‘Home’ seemed to be the most heartfelt track of the evening, as even though Austin is not Falls’ home, the locals and SXSW punters made them feel like they were there. Also tearjerking was Kirwin’s dedication of their cover of Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ to a friend who had been following them around for moral support all over the East Coast of America who they’d learned had had a particularly trying day trying to get home to Australia.

This was Falls’ triumphant return to SXSW after appearing last year, and the many fans they picked up at last year’s festival also returned in droves to see one of their festival favourites perform. It’s really heart-warming when you see a band interacting with their fans, knowing each and every one of them by name. It may seem impossible to achieve, given the fast pace of life these days, but Falls proved that it is possible to do and they will never forget the people who welcomed them into their hearts when they were unknown Aussies in Austin.

The Carper Family rounded out the evening at Stephen F’s. I was a little disappointed to learn the three women on stage weren’t actually related. The Austin band is named for Melissa Carper, who plays upright bass alongside Beth Chrisman (fiddle) and Jenn Miori (guitar), and despite not sharing the same bloodline, they sound like they could have been separated at birth. With tinges of bluegrass and country in their songs while also maintaining their own originality, they bridge the distance between the traditional and modern. This isn’t my kind of music at all – we joked all week while we were in Austin that I usually palm off the singer/songwriters on Carrie! – but as we don’t have 100 versions of ourselves, the other benefit of SXSW is that we could each go see bands that we could recommend (or not recommend) to the other and our friends.

My night ended surrounded by friends old and new, with the clarity and support they afforded me to hit the rest of SXSW hard.

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Album Review: Falls – Into the Fire EP

 
By on Friday, 21st February 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Sydney folk duo Falls – who have evidently dropped the “The” from their name in the last couple of weeks, much to my disappointment! – have just released their debut EP in America, called ‘Into the Fire’. The title track was the song they ended their set with at the Hamilton last month supporting Bronze Radio Return. The singer/songwriter genre isn’t my usual area of expertise, but you’d have to be made of stone to not melt from Falls’ melodies. This new EP for the American market features six songs, and the quality on the songs on here is astonishing and will no doubt serve as a great first introduction to new stateside fans.

Much has been made of the fact that Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown were once a couple. But when you listen to their voices harmonising perfectly together on recording, all you will want to do is say a silent thank you that they stuck it out and together for the sake of music: sometimes destiny works in mysterious ways and dictates that holding on to a relationship, even if it’s turned into a platonic and professional one, still can lead somewhere beautiful. The EP begins ever so pleasantly with ‘Please’, the duo’s shining harmonies paired wonderfully with guitar, repeated piano notes and strings.

‘Girl That I Love’ is not actually what you might expect: Rudston-Brown takes the lead from the start and explains in the first verse that the girl on his mind “makes me mad as hell” and “makes me want to run away from it all”, and as the song continues, it tells the painful story of how it’s necessary to leave someone even if you love that person so much, because you know that person can never bring you happiness. Interestingly, the song goes from major to minor halfway through the song, as if to reflect this change from lightness to sad realisation. Following on a similar theme, EP title track ‘Into the Fire’ has the immortal lines, “I’m waiting for an answer that’s not coming / I’m running in a race that’s not worth running”: when you’re in a relationship and you aren’t getting the answers you need, it’s probably time to cut your losses and make a break. Even if it hurts like all hell as Kirwin sings about the finality, “I’m going to burn in the fires for what I’ve done, oh oh oh, can’t be undone”. Somehow though, when Falls sing this to you, it’s doesn’t hurt. As much, anyway. Below is a live performance in Sydney of the duo performing it.

But not everyone wants to be sad, yeah? For its hand-clapping sing-along likeability and therefore having the best chance for mainstream success, ‘Hey’ and ‘Home’ can’t be beat. The former is upbeat and infectiously so, which goes with its message of telling a friend that everything’s going to be okay in the end. The video for ‘Home’ that was unveiled when the song was released as a single in their native Australia 2 years ago shows the duo hanging out with the undead ‘at home’ and I think it was a brave choice to do this with the promo, something a little different to shake things up. The take home message I get from the song is the lyric, “it all comes back the moment I get home”: when you come back ‘home’, whether it is a physical place or to the people you love, all the memories you have of that time and place come flooding back. And that’s a very good thing.

As are Falls. They are ready for their spotlight on the world stage.

8.5/10

Falls’ debut EP in America, ‘Into the Fire’, is out on digital format now on Verve / Universal. The EP in physical format will be available on the 11th of March stateside. This timing is perfect, as the duo will be showcasing at SXSW 2014.

 

Live Review: Bronze Radio Return with The Falls at the Hamilton, Washington DC – 31st January 2014

 
By on Monday, 3rd February 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

For a city that’s not New York, DC has a pretty good range of different venues, of which the Hamilton sticks out as a rather unusual one. In a good way. The upstairs restaurant comes across as very Washingtonian; it’s the well-appointed, immaculately tiled, sophisticated kind of place you expect senators to dine at during power lunches. But once you head down the stairs that are gorgeously lit from below, the feeling is very different. In a quasi-dinner theatre sort of way, the Hamilton the venue makes you feel very welcome with its inviting atmosphere, and it sure beats the usual cramped and dingy places us Washington writers are used to. Last summer when they came and did a show for us there, Little Comets commented to me that the place reminded them of Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, but much more posh and pretty, which us Washingtonians can only take as a compliment.

The other two times I’ve been to the Hamilton, the advertised show was not sold out, so there wasn’t an issue with crowdedness. Not so much on the last Friday night of January for Connecticut roots rock band Bronze Radio Return. More on them in a moment. I was more interested in going to see The Falls, the Sydney-based singer/songwriter duo made up of Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown, who I’d seen over a year ago during the MGM/SPA Australia showcase in Sydney when I’d visited Australia to cover the inaugural ARIA Week and the 2012 ARIAs. At that show, I met a lovely woman who has since become a very good friend and actually, it was her who told me just how great the Falls were. I was not disappointed. That night in Sydney, they played with a string quartet, but in Washington and on their dates with Bronze Radio Return on the East Coast of America, it was just the two of them, which I think actually worked in their favour.

Kirwin and Rudston-Brown’s story is not one that is repeated too often. They used to be a couple some years ago, but the thing that kept them together as best friends and business partners is true testament to the power of music. Also, their genre is the folk / pop, singer/songwriter variety, which tends to be the most emotional and honest of all. All that taken together, there is no wonder why The Falls are able to craft such beautiful songs. Their voices harmonise not only well but one does not overpower the other and if I didn’t know they weren’t a couple romantically, that would be the immediate conclusion I’d draw from their sound.

While the audience did not seem familiar at all with the duo’s work, they seemed quickly enamoured by the pair’s songs, which included ‘Hollywood’, a kind of love letter to the Hollywood Hotel, where they played many of their early shows before they tasted success in Australia; the lilting voices and upbeat tempo of ‘Home’; and ‘When We Were Young’, inspired by their first visit to New York City in the winter of 2013. Kirwin’s wonderment about their recent experiences in America was delightful, as she explained that during the time before this tour, they had been doing some writing and recording in Los Angeles, living in Laurel Canyon and feeling very inspired by the great music made there, encouraging the two to cover Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ for us. They ended with ‘Into the Fire’, the title track of their debut American EP out on the 17th of February. I look forward to hearing what they have for us next and their conquering of America’s hearts.

Prior to this show, I thought it would be a good idea for me to investigate who Bronze Radio Return were. Evidently, the folk / roots rock band are a pretty big deal in this country, having three full-length albums to their name and their video for ‘Further On’ having surpassed 250,000 views on YouTube. This left me wondering, how the heck have I never heard of them? Maybe I have missed them on local radio (?) but from my internet wanderings and looking around during the show, they seem to have a cult college (university) following here. My guess from what I heard prior to the show and actually at the show is that their music is for the Mumford followers, though you might have guessed this from the prominent banjo lined up on stage even before it was their turn to play.

From the first few measures of introductory song ‘Wonder No More’, it was clear that Bronze Radio Return had plans on turning DC into a hoedown than it’s usually used to, and the crowd ate it up, along with louder numbers like ‘Everything Moves’ and buoyant ones of the ‘Rather Not Know’ ilk. Also, judging from the excited shouts of approval sent towards lead singer Chris Henderson’s way, most of the people present had seen the band multiple times, including at this very venue. Their sound is certainly fun and upbeat, but in these post-Mumford success days, you have to wonder if they’d gotten to the American people first, they’d be the ones with the Grammys in their hands instead.

 

SXSW 2013 Australian band tips from The AU Review

 
By on Thursday, 28th February 2013 at 11:00 am
 

We made friends with the lovely folks of the AU Review at SXSW 2012, so it seems only appropriate to ask their Head Photographer Johnny Au for his best tips for Australian acts not to miss at this year’s event. Check ’em out from the links below and where possible, we’ve linked to their SXSW 2013 features on the AU Review’s Web site and my live reviews from ARIA Week 2012 in Sydney. Thanks Johnny for your great tips!

Alpine – read part 1 of the AU Review’s From 360 to WIM: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Ball Park Music

Emma Louise – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Flume – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Georgia Fair – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Glass Towers – read part 4 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Henry Wagons

Jack Carty – read part 5 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Jackson Firebird – read part 5 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

Jonathan Boulet – read part 5 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Yolanda Cool: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

People of Letters

San Cisco – read my review of their support slot with the Vaccines in early February in Washington here

Seth Sentry

The Audreys – read part 1 of the AU Review’s From 360 to WIM: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

The Beards – read part 1 of the AU Review’s From 360 to WIM: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here

The Falls – read part 3 of the AU Review’s From 360 to Vaudeville Smash: The Aussies at SXSW 2013 for more here; read my review of their performance at the MGM and SPA showcase during ARIA Week 2012 through here

The Rubens – read my review of their performance at the triplej unearthed showcase during ARIA Week 2012 in Sydney through here

The Trouble With Templeton – read my review of their performance at the MGM and SPA showcase during ARIA Week 2012 in Sydney through here

Vaudeville Smash

 

TGTF Does ARIA Week 2012: MGM and SPA Australia Showcase at Upstairs Beresford featuring Lime Cordiale, Battleships, The Trouble with Templeton, The Falls and Oceanics – 28th November 2012

 
By on Thursday, 6th December 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

After the two previous nights seeing acts associated with industry heavyweight Universal Music Australia and digital radio station triple j unearthed, it was time to catch some bands with more independent connections. Wednesday night I headed over to the upstairs floor of the Beresford Hotel (formerly a hotel that was built in 1870 but converted into a swanky nightclub) to catch the showcase being put on MGM (that’s Metropolitan Groove Merchants, the largest independent distributor of Australian music, not an American film company) and SPA Australia. There were supposed to be four bands, but a fifth appeared at the end as a last minute addition.

Usually, the first band at a show has the most unenviable task of warming up a crowd that is only slowly starting to gain in size. Thanks to a hour of free drinks prior to the start of the evening’s sets, the reverse was true for this night at Upstairs Beresford. Oceanics from the Gold Coast, a coastal city 1 hour by plane north of Sydney that is probably every bit as idyllic as the name sounds, no doubt benefitting to the crowd already buzzing from the free booze.

With only one small, local Pipsqueak cider within me, I wasn’t buzzing just from the alcohol; I was definitely feeling their music, which sounded much like the Strokes, if they weren’t from New York but a sunny seaside town. Their lead singer Elliot Weston cuts a compelling frontman figure like Noel Gallagher (will you take a look at that hair???), but thankfully sounds nothing like him. He even had an almost Pete Townshend moment, banging his guitar around in front of his amp to create squealing feedback. Have a listen to their song ‘Jukebox’, and tell me what you think.

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

Along with a four-piece string quartet and backing band, The Falls came on next. It was explained to me by a new Aussie friend that singers/songwriters Simon Rudston-Brown and Melinda Kirwin were formerly boyfriend/girlfriend but they’ve seen broken up but evidently (and to our great benefit) kept their musical connection. My new friend also said that for her, this duo far surpasses Julia and Angus Stone as the best male/female folk duo in Australia. (I’d have to do some compare and contrasting on that to be sure, but Cheryl can probably do a better job at this than I ever could.)

They’re originally from Darwin, Northern Territories, in the topmost, central part of Australia. They’ve just released their debut EP, ‘Hollywood’, and the first single from the EP, ‘Home’, is as beautiful of a song introduction that you could hope from anyone. Watch the video below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0VqzQU6wGc[/youtube]

Who I thought would be the second to last act of the night was Brisbane’s The Trouble with Templeton. Despite my initial thought that the act’s name was a nod to the children’s book Charlotte’s Web, our friends at the AU Review quickly set me right, clarifying that the name came instead from a title of a Twilight Zone episode.

The first song of their set was a solo version of ‘I Wrote a Novel’ by Thomas Calder (whose project this is), dedicated to MGM’s founder Sebastian Chase, who emceed the night. There is a simple, Teitur-like innocence to Calder’s voice, and he’s already made waves at Filter’s Culture Collide festival in October, so my guess is you’ll be hearing more of him very soon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQXkyj20ZcE[/youtube]

Sydney-based Battleships have already gained high-profile fans in Lauren Laverne, Radcliffe and Maconie and the fine folks at Communion, so they’re another band we can expect to hear more of terrestrially. Singer/ guitarist Jordan Sturdee favours a bowtie, which set him apart from everyone else I saw this week. (Well, nearly everyone. Buddy Goode, the winner of the Best Comedy Album ARIA for ‘Unappropriate’, showed up with one and a ruffly ‘70s era shirt the following night.) The word “haunting” would probably be the best way to describe ‘In Retrospect’ (video below) , one of their early songs that might best be compared to Elbow’s sweepy, grand style, but with Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto-type vocals.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3qU1aJwe58[/youtube]

And then came the surprise for the night. Not to be confused with a cocktail mixer, the final band was Lime Cordiale. With an E on the end. The kind of band that names their EP ‘Faceless Cat’ has to be some real mental cases, right? Brothers Oliver and Louis Leimbach play guitar and bass, respectively. Earlier in the night, we got a supporting string quartet. But imagine my astonishment to see these two brothers putting aside their guitars in the middle of a song…to play horn instruments! (Turns out they’re both classically trained.)

The result of ‘regular’ rock instruments combined with horns made for what came out as what they call ‘slam pop’: incredibly fun, catchy and eclectic. Oliver has a sultry drawl that you might think would be at odds with this seemingly oddball combination of musical devices, but it works, and it ended my ‘regular’ gig week in Sydney on a fine note. Curious? Watch their video for ‘Pretty Girl’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKQPGPR-Sho[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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