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Video of the Moment #1782: We Are Scientists

 
By on Thursday, 9th April 2015 at 6:00 pm
 

Yes, it’s that time of year when Record Store Day creeps up on you and thwaps you on the back of the head and you go, “it’s that time already? Again?” Luckily, this year we’re getting thwapped by those American jokesters We Are Scientists, in the form of a video for ‘Overreacting Under the Sea’, a redo of the track ‘Overreacting’ off their latest studio album released in 2014, ‘TV en Français’.

For Record Store Day, WAS are offering the exclusive ‘TV en Français Sous la Mer’, an eight-track collection of reworkings from the studio album. It will only be available in the UK and Europe (wah-WAH) and on 12″ vinyl (with a download code included, natch). Regardless of where you’ll be on Saturday, you can watch the video below for ‘Overreacting Under the Sea’, including dancing and prancing around by Keith, his clone and Chris, while karaoke words run across the screen. (Not kidding).

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJtGgZz4src[/youtube]

 

Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd December 2014 at 11:00 am
 

2014, 2014, tsk tsk tsk. When it came to live shows, you put in some tense situations where I couldn’t understand the lead singer in his normal speaking voice (Glasvegas at DC’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel in February), feared for my life because the heat was proving a bit too much (Slow Club at Sheffield Great Gatsby in May), got grossed out by other punters’ grinding (Glass Animals at DC’s U Street Music Hall in July), and needed to take a train to another town and back, all in one evening (Fatherson at Edinburgh Potterow in October). But it was in good fun, as you were always entertaining. Here are my top 5 live experiences this year:

5. The Dig at Black Cat Backstage (4th December 2014) – watching a band you’ve come to know and love evolve over time, and who just keep getting better and better, is probably one of the greatest blessings given to a music editor. The Dig, who I saw support Editors 4 years ago, are one of those bands. December gigs are hard to pull off in Washington – people are lazy to come out once the weather turns cold – but they came out in droves for this show Thursday night the first week in December for the New Yorkers. They’re ready for their close-up, folks.

Reminisce through TGTF’s back catalogue on the Dig through this link.

4. Glass Animals at Glasgow CCA (17th October 2014) – after you’ve seen a band many times, the gigs all start to blur together, especially you’re seeing them when they’ve only got their one debut album to promote. Glass Animals shows are always interesting, if only to view the wildlife on display in the audience, but the Oxford band were in fine form even on the last UK date on their tour in October. I was expecting them to be completely beat, after returning the week before from a whirlwind North American campaign and subsisting on far too little sleep. Perhaps it was the party atmosphere in Glasgow on a Friday night, the CCA stuffed to the gills with punters, that turned this gig up to 11? Vibes, man. Vibes.

Glass Animals have been a favourite at TGTF since last year, and you can read all of our coverage on them here.

Glass Animals at Glasgow CCA

3. Fenech-Soler at Brooklyn Glasslands (5th April 2014) – good things come to those who wait. Or so the saying goes. Even though I had to trek up to New York for this one, Fenech-Soler was definitely worth it for me to finally hear songs from both their debut album in 2010 and 2013’s ‘Rituals’. I haven’t danced that hard in ages. (Meeting Ben and Ross Duffy and getting to chat with them for this interview was definitely a personal highlight of 2014 as well.) I waited 4 long years to see electro-pop band Fenech-Soler to do a proper show in the States, and since I saw them at this show (at a venue that sadly will no longer exist in 2015, sob), they’ve done a couple tours in our country, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Our pretty comprehensive archive on Fenech-Soler here at TGTF is this way.

2. Maximo Park at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (20th May 2014) – like Fenech-Soler, Maximo Park was a band I had missed seeing, and for even longer (beyond 6 years). It had nothing to do with them never coming to DC; I was either not here when they’d come or the show I’d had tickets to see them at had been cancelled. If you’ve never seen Paul Smith and co. perform, wow, you need to do yourself a favour and rectify that ASAP. I came to appreciate their latest album ‘Too Much Information’ much more after seeing it performed. Also, you always know the band you’ve come to see play is pulling out all the stops when the set list spills out over 2 pages. I’m looking forward to the next time they return to Washington. And to those asking, yes, Paul Smith really does give those reinforced trousers a workout.

Check out our writings on TGTF on the Geordie band here.

1. Royal Blood at DC9 (20th July 2014) – this gig can be best summed up with one word: PHWOAR. Perhaps my only prior experience with Mike Thatcher and Ben Kerr – Thursday at SXSW 2014, playing Lammo’s BBC Introducing night – didn’t sit well in my head because there is always too much background noise from other acts in Austin to really concentrate and appreciate on just one. At their first, and I might add rammed, headline show in DC, eyes and ears all glued on them with good reason. As those who waited for them to play at the John Peel stage at Glasto this year know, this duo from Brighton pack a massive punch in their successful effort to bring hard rock back. Best new British guitar band? Forget it. Best new British guitar duo’s where it’s at.

All of TGTF’s coverage on Royal Blood is right this way.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2014. The runner-up gigs are also marked.
Continue reading Top Gigs of 2014: Editor’s Picks

 

Live Review: We Are Scientists and Surfer Blood with Eternal Summers at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 3rd October 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 7th October 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

American bands We Are Scientists and Surfer Blood are currently in the midst of their current Spatter Analysis tour and last Friday night, they stopped into Washington, only the second date of 10 on their East Coast and Midwest journey. It was truly a Yank fest, as the opening band were Roanoke’s Eternal Summers, who I’d caught as support for Maximo Park back in May (review here). The Virginia-based band shares labels with Surfer Blood (their third album ‘The Drop Beneath’ was released on Brooklyn indie Kanine back in March), so there’s yet another connection linking the bands on this bill.

I hesitate to say that Eternal Summers have a completely laid back vibe, as drummer Daniel Cundiff was really beating the hell out of his skins for several of their songs. But like Surfer Blood’s music, there seems to be this underlying slacker feeling like you should be laying out on a beach somewhere listening to their songs but counterintuitively, both bands are technically proficient. At times, guitarist Nicole Yun’s voice seemed to be fighting with the loudness of her bandmates’ instruments, but that could be more to blame with the venue than the band themselves. From their current album, check out energetic numbers ‘Never Enough’ and ‘A Burial’.

It’s been some time since I’d last seen Surfer Blood live, having last laid ears on them when they coheadlined a show at the 9:30 Club with then indie behemoths The Drums. Times have changed for J.P. Pitts and co. – for one, Warner Brothers dropped them earlier this year, but they’re probably best back with Kanine – but their style that have made them firm favourites with their fans is still intact. I admit that theirs, along with Best Coast and other bands of their ilk, is really not my kind of music; as there is no immediacy, no urgency, it’s in direct odds with my personality.

Nevertheless, I can understand their mainstream (for indie) popularity, with the well-picked guitars and feel good ambience of ‘Floating Vibes’ and ‘Swim’ (aka the “swim to reach the end!” song) from 2010’s ‘Astro Coast’ showing they’ve aged well and can still bring the house down. Frontman J.P., who has no rock star air about him at all, still has a sweet voice and looks like a frat boy in a buttoned-up shirt and boat shoes, but I think those things are all part of the appeal. He announced they were about to play “my favourite Surfer Blood song, ever”, and then leaped into the crowd to sing ‘Drinking Problem’. Forget that we could have jumped rope with his mike lead. Several excited fans had their year made with the chance to sing with one of their idols.

I’ve been a fan of and been going to see We Are Scientists long before I even started blogging. As the band is based in New York, I’ve been lucky to see them live so many times, and by this time I’ve stopped counting. As I was walking to the venue, that admittedly annoying Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen song “it’s always a ‘Good Time’ was stuck in my head. Lately, I’ve had my suspicions that U Hall packs more people than should be allowed at their indie shows, but maybe it’s just because I’ve always been either down the front or somewhere near the front, where there is always a crush of bodies. Even though the critical mass seemed to part slightly after Surfer Blood finished, the WAS fans were quick to fill in the gaps.

‘Dumb Luck’, from their current ‘TV en Français’, started their set confidently, with its near ‘Maneater’ ’80s groove. It was the perfect opener, proving right out of the gate why they’re rated so highly as a live act. As did J.P. Pitts before him, Keith Murray jumped down into the crowd to serenade us with ‘Textbook’, from the band’s first album ‘With Love and Squalor’. I was gobsmacked, I assumed I was never going to hear that song live ever again. Same goes for the brilliantly bass-heavy ‘Chick Lit’, from their 2008 album ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’.

Of course, being the irrepressible jokers they are, Keith Murray and Chris Cain were only too happy to banter away between the songs, amusing and charming the heck out of the punters as they always do. Slow groove ‘Can’t Lose’ was prefaced by the guys asking who in the audience liked to grind, saying any song with a 0% grind factor was considered a failure, and this one from them was between 0% and 2%. (Cue audience laughter.) To introduce ‘Impatience’, Keith explained he had once been a candy striper in hospital (probably false) and stopped volunteering because aged people had the unfortunate habit of telling stories and then slowly expiring, mid-anecdote:

If there was anything to criticise about the gig, it was the nature of this tour and having two headliners. I am sure Surfer Blood’s set was shorter than it is usually runs, and I know We Are Scientists’ set was shorter too, as in April their show at the Black Cat was much longer. Still, it was a great Friday night out and definitely showed tickets to all three bands are worth your hard-earned money next time they’re in your town.

After the cut: We Are Scientists’ set list.
Continue reading Live Review: We Are Scientists and Surfer Blood with Eternal Summers at U Street Music Hall, Washington DC – 3rd October 2014

 

Interview: Chris Cain of We Are Scientists

 
By on Tuesday, 30th September 2014 at 11:00 am
 

We Are Scientists will be starting a coheadline American tour with fellow Yanks Surfer Blood tomorrow in Boston. Ahead of the 10-date outing entitled The Spatter Analysis tour, I wanted to get some questions answered by bassist Chris Cain, who just happens to be one of the earliest supporters of my amateur bass playing. (I’ve stuck with it after 4 years, I’ll have you know.) We chat about their current album and its pesky ‘special’ character, their videos and how they know the Surfer Blood boys. Read on…

Hello Chris. Where are you today? Did we interrupt you doing something?
In New York City! I’m actually sitting in bed, sick. Not terribly happy about it, but the timing could’ve been a lot worse. The tour doesn’t start till middle of next week, so there’s plenty of time to mend. I’m supposed to record some backing vocals Tuesday for an acoustic EP we’re working on, I’m pretty confident I’ll make that deadline.

Your latest album, released in March, is entitled ‘TV en Français’. Let’s talk about the name first. How did you decide on the title? Was it because you wanted to use a nonstandard character of the alphabet with a squiggly thing?
Ah, yes, the highly undervalued cedilla. That squiggly line does add a touch of class to the album, you must admit. Funnily, it ended up being a real pest. The words “TV EN FRANCAIS” that appear on the front of the album don’t have a cedilla, because that’s an actual photo of a motel wall, and we didn’t want to alter it. But on the spine we wrote the title in a similar font, with the cedilla on the ‘c’. And get this: as a result of an error in the artwork, that spine-cedilla ended up splatted like a swatted mosquito on the motel wall on the cover of the album on the entire initial UK run of CDs (10,000 of them, I think). Very mischievous, that little squiggle! Of course, the happy ending is that a copy of the album from that “faulty” print run is now considered rare, and worth around $800 on the open market.

How much French do you and Keith (Murray, lead vocals and guitar) actually know? Has the album proved especially popular in the Gallic region of the Continent?
Well, we’ve only played in France once since releasing “TVeF”: it was a show in Paris, and it went very well indeed. We’ve got three more French shows coming up end of October, though, and I think those will be the true test of the album’s success. Historically, we love France a lot more than France loves us; maybe the scales will tip a little closer to even this year.

‘TV en Français’ is We Are Scientists’ fourth album, following on from ‘With Love and Squalor’, ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ and ‘Barbara’. What do you think sets this new effort apart from all its predecessors?
Well, we continue to evolve as songwriters and musicians (improve, I hope), so the material we generate continues to change. That’s the boring answer. The exciting part was working with Chris Coady as producer for the first time. Dude is a one-man “delicious sounds” generator. He’s also an extremely interesting and pleasant conversationalist. The full package, in other words.

I read that you parted ways with your management after the release of ‘Barbara’. That sounds pretty heavy. Was that time apprehensive, nerve-wracking, freeing, etc.? You guys have been around quite some time now, so I would think that having been around the proverbial block, you know how you work and who will be good for you.
We’re getting better and better at understanding our own needs and picking out people who can fulfill them, but we’re still pretty dumb about it. Work in progress.

The last promo video you released was for ‘Make It Easy’. Looks like you’re in favour of unconventional relationships?
Absolutely. It’s time to retire the shopworn model of “Right Man + Right Woman = Eternal Love”. Not only does it miss a huge spectrum of possibilities, but the one possibility it does describe, it describes unrealistically. This essay by Alain de Botton on what a practical marriage would look like isn’t exactly what we’re talking about here, but it’s awesome, so let’s segue into it.

What ground is there left in the universe for WAS to cover if you’ve already filmed a promo in outer space?
We still need to shoot a video that takes place inside the cab of a car that has just smashed through the guard rails of a bridge. It’s in slow motion, and the entire song plays while the car’s plummeting. When we shoot THAT video, we’re done.

In May, you made your third appearance at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, performing on The Late Show with David Letterman. Give us the lowdown, be honest: what was Dave really like? Who’s funnier, you or him?
Dave is funnier than us, I would say, after carefully weighing the evidence.

This week you’ll be starting a new tour coheadlining with Surfer Blood on the East Coast. Are you guys friends? How did this joining of forces come about?
We met the SB fellas when they were touring their first album and we were touring our second. Bumped into them on the festival circuit a lot. And as of a couple of years ago, we have the same booking agent in the U.S., one Mr. Mike Mori. It was Mike who had the lightbulb moment, I believe, when he realised that WAS and SB were both looking at doing a run in the fall. A big part of it was probably Mike realising that he could put together two tours while only really doing the work of organizing one. But we were big fans of the idea as soon as he presented it, even if it does make his life easier than we’d ideally like.

What great things are you expecting to happen on this tour with them? What are you dreading?
I’m dreading the complaints of injustice that will come from the giant swaths of North America that the tour isn’t visiting (they’ve been rolling in steadily since announcement). We admit it: the tour is simply too short. Only 10 cities will get to experience it. It is, indeed, not fair.

I’m most looking forward to becoming local heroes in those 10 cities.

Any last words / quips for your fans?
For the shows, please wear shoes with good support and plenty of cushioning. Elbow and knee pads are recommended but not required. A helmet would look dumb.

We wholeheartedly thank Chris from crawling out from under the covers to answer these questions for us, and thanks to Stephanie too for her assistance.

 

Quickfire Questions #77: Chris Cain of We Are Scientists

 
By on Monday, 29th September 2014 at 11:00 am
 

I honestly never thought it would happen but Chris Cain, bass player for American duo We Are Scientists, has answered our Quickfire Questions. I just figured he’d always be too busy to answer them. But he has! And you can read his answers below.

Stay tuned, as we’re running a q&a with the man tomorrow morning. What a great closer to the month that will be. (I know, hold yourself back. You can’t wait, can you?)

What song is your earliest musical memory?
Def Leppard’s ‘Love Bites’.

What was your favourite song as a child?
My dad was really into Foreigner. I remember loving ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’ long before I was a member of the target demographic.

What song makes you laugh?
‘Manhole Inspector’, from the “Tex Hooper” sketch on Norm MacDonald’s magnificent sketch comedy album ‘Ridiculous’.

What song makes you cry?
‘Beautiful Child’, Fleetwood Mac.

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘Self Esteem’, The Offspring. It was that kinda first love.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abrn8aVQ76Q[/youtube]

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
I’ve never been one of these dudes (or dudettes) who, when mad, jump around red-faced in their bedrooms listening to heavy metal. I am, though, the type who likes a good wallow. When I’m feeling low, I like to get even lower. ‘The Blue Moods of Spain’ by Spain, or ‘Devotion & Doubt’ by Richard Buckner, always do the trick.

Which song (any song written in the last century) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Ann Don’t Cry’, Pavement.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEaSTBg3g0[/youtube]

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
All time, James Salter. Recently, Ben Lerner.

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
Advertising, probably. Maybe a forest ranger, if I’d had any kind of balls.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why?
This becomes a question of which album you think will be least diminished by awful repetition. Maybe Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations, the 1955 recording.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGY9tHHM63Q[/youtube]

Thanks to Chris for answering these and thank you to Stephanie for sorting this for us.

 

Live Gig Video: We Are Scientists play ‘Make It Easy’ at Original Penguin Plugged In session in London

 
By on Tuesday, 23rd September 2014 at 4:00 pm
 

Back in July, the Hospital Club in London played host to a brilliant Original Penguin Plugged In night starring American duo We Are Scientists and Scots Twin Atlantic. (Two lucky TGTF readers attended the show via us.) This afternoon we’ve got a live video from the night of We Are Scientists performing ‘Make It Easy’ from the night for you.

The song appears on We Are Scientists‘ fifth album ‘TV En Français’, released back in March. Watch the performance below. To watch Twin Atlantic performing ‘Brothers and Sisters’ on the same night, head this way.

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