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SXSW 2014 Interview: The Melodic

By on Wednesday, 26th March 2014 at 1:00 pm

The weather on the Thursday afternoon of SXSW 2014 couldn’t have been more perfect for the first in a series of Music For Listeners showcases held at El Sapo Cantina, a Tex-Mex burger joint with outdoor seating, just north of downtown Austin. Music For Listeners is a radio show broadcast on San Antonio radio station KRTU and hosted by Michael Thomas and Orlando Torres. Their Thursday lineup included two acts featured here at TGTF, London alt-folk band The Melodic and Scottish singer/songwriter Withered Hand. Due to a prior commitment in the evening, I only had time to catch The Melodic (stay tuned for a detailed report of Thursday evening’s activities!), but their set was entirely worth the special trip.

I think I may have been genetically predestined to fall in love with a band called The Melodic, as I told our wise editor Mary when she suggested that I take a listen to them before SXSW. Good melodies, vocal and/or instrumental, are key to my musical experience, regardless of whether they’re found in a folk, pop, rock, or electronic context. In the case of The Melodic, their catchy and easily singable melodic lines are couched in a traditional folk sound that is liberally flavoured with African and Latin influences as well as dashes of jazz harmony and classical technique that keep things interesting. The band’s energetic set list at El Sapo on the afternoon included their upbeat recent single, ‘On My Way’ and the more introspective ‘Ode to Victor Jara’, both of which appear on their debut album ‘Effra Parade’. But my favorite moment of the afternoon was their performance of a traditional English folk song, ‘Go Your Way’, written by Anne Briggs and sung beautifully here by Lydia Samuels.

The Melodic at El Sapo 13 March 2014

The Melodic, featuring dueling melodicas

After The Melodic’s set, I was able to sit down to an impromptu picnic with Rudi Schmidt, Samuels, and Huw Williams (pictured above), who were kind enough to chat with me while they enjoyed the unique menu offerings from El Sapo. Our delightful discussion touched on the portability of their eclectic instruments, the global influences on their songwriting, and their current American tour.

Special thanks goes out to Orlando, Alex and Sophia for their help with arranging this interview.

SXSW 2014 showcases at El Sapo


TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Singer/songwriter and folk UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 1:00 pm

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2014 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts, and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Just 1 week off now from the official start of SXSW 2014 and we’ve arrived at the sixth part of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: the genre of singer/songwriters and folk artists. Whether they are single person artists with just a microphone and/or a guitar, or they’re a multi-person strong team of musicians, singer/songwriters have the ability to evoke feelings and emotions in us sometimes we didn’t even know we had. Read on…

Juliette Ashby
Carrie writes: “Fans of the late Amy Winehouse will be interested to hear up-and-coming pop diva Juliette Ashby. Though Ashby was reportedly close friends with Winehouse, her music bears only the slightest tinge of Winehouse’s gritty soul flavor, instead leaning more toward the sparkly dance pop of stars like Ellie Goulding or Lily Allen. Ashby’s debut album ‘Bittersweet’ will be available for preorder on the 3rd of March.

Liam Bailey
Self-described as “acoustic soul”, Nottingham-born Bailey brings a soulful, almost jazzy edge and a welcome difference to the singer/songwriter category.


Cocos Lovers
Alt-folk collective Cocos Lovers formed in Kent in 2008 when its members decided to quit their day jobs and travel through Europe, busking and making music however and wherever they possibly could. Predictably, the influences on their style are widely varied, including English folk and choral music, American Southern gospel and Spanish flamenco, as well as the complex rhythms and tonalities of African and Eastern traditional music.

Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Cocos Lovers here; two of their members also answered our SXSW 2014 flavoured Quickfire Questions, which you can read here.

Cousin Marnie
Carrie writes: Hackney native Cousin Marnie has the unique distinctions of claiming an Alfred Hitchcock heroine as the inspiration for her stage name and counting both Loretta Lynn and Kanye West among her main musical influences. Her single ‘Cain’ is an eerie combination of biblical text, stark instrumental texture, and delicate vocal timbres in the verses, juxtaposed with heavy bass and savage rhythm in the chorus. Watch the lyric video for ‘Cain’ below, and try not to think too much about what might have become of the little white bunny.


Carrie writes: “Honeyblood’s twee grunge pop has drawn fully warranted comparisons to California groups Best Coast and Haim, not only for the female lead vocals, but for the laid-back vibe, fuzzy garage band tone and mildly rebellious lyrics.”

Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Honeyblood is here.

Kieran Leonard
Carrie writes: “The hipster literati in Austin next spring will no doubt flock to see British singer-songwriter Kieran Leonard, whose esoteric and often politically-charged folk rock challenges both emotion and intellect. His intensity may be off-putting at first, especially to a casual listener, but his entrancing singing voice and cynically provocative lyrics are worth a bit of extra attention.”

Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch piece on Leonard here.

The Melodic
Carrie writes: “South London band The Melodic have just finished touring America with Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit in support of their debut full length album, ‘Effra Parade’. ‘Effra Parade’ is a light and jaunty mix of carefree melodic lines, casual vocal harmonies and diverse instrumental textures. While musically whimsical, the songs’ thoughtful lyrics often deal with larger intellectual topics, such as the Pinochet-era political turmoil in Chile in ‘Ode to Victor Jara’”.

Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on the band is here; frontman Huw Williams also answered our SXSW 2014 flavoured Quickfire Questions set here.

Nick Mulvey
Carrie writes: “Blurring the lines between jazz, classical, world music, and folk genres, this set of four songs reveals a wide array of musical influences, as well as a broad set of lyrical and compositional ideas. The songs hinge on minimalist grooves and the repetitive plucked rhythms of Mulvey’s acoustic guitar, but the unique harmonies and eclectic instrumentation generate surprising sonic variety.”

This Hitchin guitar-toting singer/songwriter with a penchant for sweeping, ethereal vocals has already been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Antony and the Johnsons. Check out ‘Raise Your Love’, which showcases his expansive voice.


Sweet Baboo
Welsh singer/songwriter Stephen Black might have named himself after Linus Van Pelt’s (Peanuts) too cute nickname, but he does a good job bridging the heartfelt with the occasional squealing guitar jam.


Tom the Lion
Cheryl writes: Tom Visser, performing under the moniker Tom the Lion, is splashing back onto the scene after a 3-year absence. Debut album ‘Sleep’ is poised to give this Londoner a career jolt. Blending low-fi, chamber pop and modified symphonics, ‘Sleep’ is a mysterious, masterful work. Previous release ‘The Adventures of Tom the Lion’ brought him under the radar commercial success even though it was an amalgam of live performance and limited edition vinyl-only EPs. Despite the difficulty in finding his music – currently available only via Rough Trade or his Web site, it is worth the hunt (hint: try Soundcloud). Both works hold gems that identify this singer as an endearing entry into the male singer/songwriter milieu.”

Cheryl’s full Bands to Watch feature on Tom the Lion can be found here.

Alex Vargas
Though he’s based in London, singer/songwriter was born in Denmark and is of English and Uruguayan ancestry. Looking for a bit of 21st century blue-eyed soul in Austin? You’ve found him.

Carrie writes: “Brighton-based four-piece Wildflowers center their folk rock sound around the vocal harmonies of sisters Siddy and Kit Bennett. Siblings almost always have a unique ability to perfectly match their vocal diction for seamless harmonies, but the sisters also share a love of rebellious female songs, citing Alanis Morrisette as an early musical influence. Hints of Morrisette certainly appear in Wildflowers’ lyrics and Siddy Bennett’s vocal delivery, but the overall sound leans more toward the bluesy country of Patsy Cline. The Bennett sisters cite their nomadic, bohemian upbringing as an influence on their music as well, with American bands like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac informing the full-scale vocal harmonies they share with band members James Ashbury and Kendal Sant.”

Want to read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on Wildflowers? Right this way.

Withered Hand
Carrie writes: “Withered Hand is the stage name of Scottish folk singer/songwriter Dan Willson, whose second full length album, ‘New Gods’, is due for release in mid-March (the 10th of March, just in time for SXSW!) by Fortuna Pop! Records. According to the label’s press release for ‘New Gods’, Willson took up songwriting around age 30 when a series of life events sparked “a period of reflection” that led to the creation of his deeply introspective first album ‘Good News’. ‘New Gods’ is a variation on that theme of self-examination, equally perceptive and evocative, but with a mellow touch of wry humor to soften its blunt honesty.”

To read Carrie’s review of Withered Hand’s upcoming album ‘New Gods’, go here.

Gabby Young and Other Animals
Carrie writes: Gabby Young is a classically trained opera singer turned ‘Circus Swing’ songwriter whose globally-influenced brand of folk music has been grouped into an eccentric genre all its own. Her singing voice is indeed glorious, but even more spectacular are the energetically jazzy rhythms provided by her 8-piece backing band, Other Animals. This lively showcase is sure to inspire dancing and debauchery in Austin. For a quick teaser, watch the video for ‘I’ve Improved’, from the group’s Kickstarter-funded third album ‘One Foot in Front of the Other’.

[youtube] [/youtube]

More of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 to come this week. Stay tuned!


(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #70: Huw Williams of The Melodic

By on Friday, 28th February 2014 at 11:00 am

For the next couple of weeks leading up to SXSW 2014, we’ll be running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ heads so they’ll tell us what they really think of the event. In numero seven of this series ahead of the activities in Austin next month, frontman and guitarist Huw Williams of The Melodic tells how he and his band plan to introduce Americans to “the beautiful game”, among other things that are musical in nature, we can assure you!

Read Carrie’s Bands to Watch feature on the Melodic here.

SXSW-related questions:

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
We’re getting put up for the week by a band from Austin called Mother Falcon, who we met on tour last year in LA, they have nearly 20 members so it should be a bit of a party and hoping they will be able to show us a good time in Austin, Southern hospitality and all that. We came through last year as a freak ice storm hit and our outdoor gig had to be moved inside so we had a pretty cold and wet stay, looking forward to seeing it in the warmer times.

Are there any bands that you have as must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Guess we’re most excited about seeing Malian band Tinariwen who we will be playing a showcase with: we’ll be touring with them for the rest of March and April, so I’m excited to see them live as have been a big fan of their music for ages and have heard great things about their live show. I’m also looking forward to seeing some of the British acts that have made it over for the festival will be great to see some friendly faces so far from home, Nick Mulvey and Cocos Lovers especially.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
John (our bass player) always likes to bring a football (soccer ball) on tour with us to kick around at the petrol (gas) stations when filling up to the annoyance of everybody else using the pumps- we’ll be hoping to introduce some American bands to the joys of England’s “beautiful game” at SXSW.

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?
I’ll have a cider please, John and Lydia on the red wine, James strictly tequila and Rudi a herbal tea. [I’m with you, Huw. If you find a decent place that serves cider, give me a shout! – Ed.]

(For bands who are SXSW newbies) What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I’ve heard great things, sounds like an extremely hectic week where people play a crazy amount of shows and run themselves into the ground, so just hoping to enjoy as much music as possible and survive and be in fit shape to complete the rest of our tour afterwards, we’ll be touring solidly ’til May so gonna be hardcore but excited to see so many places in the US we haven’t been before.

And now, on to our usual TGTF Quickfire Questions:

What song is your earliest musical memory?
My Dad used to sing folk songs at bedtime to me and my brothers when I was a little scamp and I would always get him to sing ‘Dirty Old Town’, so I guess that has to be the earliest song I can remember liking.

What was your favourite song as a child?

I just told you, man!

What song makes you laugh?
Anything by Canadian pop plonker Sean Nicholas Savage always gets me smiling, ‘Chin Chin’ my favourite, silly lyrics a plenty “kiss tiny chin chin in the morning….”.


What song makes you cry?
I’m far too emotionally repressed to cry to music, but the songs of Chilean activist-folk singer Victor Jara who was brutally murdered for his music are particularly moving even when you can’t understand the Spanish lyrics.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love?
‘Darlin Companion’ – Johnny Cash and June Carter.

What song makes you think of being upset / angry?
I get angry whenever i hear a song too much on radio; last summer whilst touring the States you couldn’t move for hearing Daft Punk‘s ‘Get Lucky’ and it all got a bit much, i initially thought it was a decent song but i just can’t deal with it anymore.

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
Two folk songs by Dave Goulder impress me a lot, ‘January Man’ and ‘The Easter’ Tree have incredible lyrics and melodies that i doubt i will ever get close to. So much music from the ’60s I wish I could have written or been part of, love so much stuff written by Dylan, Ray Davies, Brian Wilson and Lennon especially.

Who is your favourite writer?
Bert Jansch, a Scottish folk/blues guitarist influential in the ’60s is my favourite musician, although I think he was great at making new arrangements of traditional folk songs and not necessarily writing them, although he wrote plenty of fantastic songs too, so he’s got to be up there.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I’ve always liked the idea of being able to craft things with my hands, working with wood especially, so a carpenter of some sorts or instrument maker would be something I think I’d find great pleasure in.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
Well it would have to be ‘Effra Parade’ by The Melodic, what a great debut album from London’s finest folk steppers 🙂

Many thanks, Huw, for answering our questions!


(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #295: The Melodic

By on Friday, 14th February 2014 at 12:00 pm

South London band The Melodic have just finished touring America with Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit in support of their debut full length album, ‘Effra Parade’. The album’s American release on Anti- Records was on the 5th of November 2013; it will be available in the UK on the 24th of February, according to the band’s Facebook page. For now, The Melodic appear to be focusing on the American side of the pond, ahead of their scheduled appearance at SXSW 2014.

The Melodic’s international-flavoured folk pop was undoubtedly a perfect compliment for Flynn’s darker but equally electic folk style. ‘Effra Parade’ is a light and jaunty mix of carefree melodic lines, casual vocal harmonies and diverse instrumental textures. While musically whimsical, the songs’ thoughtful lyrics often deal with larger intellectual topics, such as the Pinochet-era political turmoil in Chile in ‘Ode to Victor Jara’. (See the wonderfully creative video for that track below.)


First single ‘On My Way’, released on an EP of the same name, is a bit more generally relatable, with its lively percussion and optimistic lyrics about moving forward in life. Already getting airplay on BBC 6music, it’s a catchy kind of tune that sticks in your head after just one listen, but it’s pleasant enough that you’ll probably want to listen twice anyway.

Principal songwriters Huw Williams and Rudi Schmidt cite their Brixton upbringing as a major influence on their music, particularly their early exposure to to a wide range of musical styles, including ’60s and ’70s era folk revival records. ‘Effra Parade’ was recorded in a soundproofed bedroom in Schmidt’s childhood home, with band members John Naldrett, Lydia Samuels, and James McCandless rounding out the ensemble of 18 instruments and various vocal combinations. Their relaxed, straightforward performance style should translate easily to the festival atmosphere in Austin, as well as anticipated UK tour dates later in the year.


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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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