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Will Varley / October and November 2018 UK Tour

By on Friday, 27th April 2018 at 8:00 am

Kent singer/songwriter Will Varley has announced a lengthy UK tour for this autumn, on the strength of his recent LP release ‘Spirit of Minnie’, which is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings. Varley only just wrapped up his last UK tour in February, ahead of North American dates with Skinny Lister and his stop in Austin, Texas for SXSW 2018. Just below, check out a pair of photos from Varley’s opening set at Phoenix’s Valley Bar on the 23rd of February.

Will Varley internal 1

Will Varley internal 2

Tickets for the following shows go on sale today, Friday, the 27th of April at 10 AM. Below the tour date listing, you can take a listen to ‘Spirit of Minnie’ album track ‘All Those Stars’. TGTF’s collected past coverage of Will Varley is right back here.

Wednesday 10th October 2018 – Norwich Epic Studios
Thursday 11th October 2018 – Cambridge Junction 2
Friday 12th October 2018 – Derby Venue
Saturday 13th October 2018 – Plymouth Red House Theatre
Tuesday 16th October 2018 – York NCEM
Wednesday 17th October 2018 – Newcastle Cluny
Thursday 18th October 2018 – Manchester Ritz
Friday 19th October 2018 – Glasgow Stereo
Saturday 20th October 2018 – Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday 21st October 2018 – Deal Astor Theatre
Tuesday 23rd October 2018 – Bath Komedia
Wednesday 24th October 2018 – Brighton Haunt
Thursday 25th October 2018 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Friday 26th October 2018 – Stroud Brunel Goods Shed
Saturday 27th October 2018 – Llandrindod Wells Pavilion Mid Wales
Saturday 3rd November 2018 – London Round Chapel


TGTF Guide to SXSW 2018: UK singer/songwriters showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Friday, 9th March 2018 at 11:00 am

The list of solo singer/songwriters showcasing at SXSW 2018 is predictably lengthy. Festivals lend themselves easily to the traveling troubadour types: setting up shop with a single person and instrument is easier than carting a full band’s worth of gear around town to play show after show. However, the singer/songwriter genre is becoming increasingly diffuse, as its definition expands to include a wide array of different instrumental and vocal sounds.

The singer/songwriter acts representing the UK at SXSW this year are broad in their stylistic scope, from unassuming acoustic balladeers to rising mainstream pop stars to eclectic avant garde musicians. Many of the acts on this year’s list are artists we at TGTF have covered extensively in the past, including Frank Turner (pictured at top) and Lucy Rose, but there are a number of new-to-us acts on the bill as well. We’ve covered a fair few of those in our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch features, including Jade Bird, ONR, Rhys Lewis, Chloe Foy, Allman Brown, C. Macleod, and Sam Fender. Read below for a brief rundown of the remaining UK singer/songwriters heading across the pond to SXSW 2018.

Christopher Rees – We featured Welsh singer Christopher Rees in the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, but haven’t heard much from him since that time. He heads to Austin this year with a new Americana album called ‘The Nashville Songs’ in tow. Take a listen to the chilling single ‘I Shiver’, just below.

Dan Bettridge – As we previously mentioned, Bettridge missed out on SXSW 2017, due to visa issues which his management has discussed in detail here. Bettridge will release his debut solo LP ‘Asking for Trouble’ later this year. Along with Rees, Bettridge will be proudly waving the Welsh flag in Austin.

Dan Lyons – Margate alt-pop singer Dan Lyons has spent the past four years primarily as a drummer, but he’s now stepping into the spotlight as a solo songwriter. His single ‘Big Moon’ was released at the end of February on Shaker Records.

The Dunwells – While obviously not a solo act, Leeds rock duo The Dunwells have nevertheless been classified as singer/songwriters at this year’s SXSW. They released a new EP called ‘Colour My Mind’ back in December, which included the track ‘Diamonds’, playing just below.

Elle Exxe – This Scottish pop singer is no stranger to SXSW or to the pages of TGTF. She recently teamed with MAC Cosmetics to promote her latest single ‘Catapult’; watch her exotic visuals in the promo video just below.

Emme Woods – Another Scottish songwriter, Woods’ singing voice belies her youthful 22 years of age. The level of musical sophistication in her single ‘I’ve Been Running’ is also well-beyond what you might expect of a musician so young. Check out the PledgeMusic campaign for her debut EP just through here.

Frank Turner – We’ve covered the indefatigable Mr. Turner and his merry band of Sleeping Souls extensively here at TGTF, including a lovely interview at SXSW 2015. This year, Turner is showcasing his forthcoming seventh studio LP ‘Be More Kind’, due out on the 4th of May via Polydor/ Xtra Mile. We’ll be looking forward to hearing the new songs at SXSW; in the meantime, you can take a listen to the album’s title track just below.

Gaz Coombes – Another artist we’ve featured in live coverage on TGTF, alt-rock songwriter and former Supergrass member Gaz Coombes will travel to Austin with a set of new songs from his forthcoming LP ‘World’s Strongest Man’, due out on the 4th of May.

Harry Pane – This Northamptonshire indie folk singer broke onto the music scene in 2015 and released two EPs, ‘Changing’ and ‘The Wild Winds’, in the following 2 years. He comes to SXSW 2018 with a pair of new singles, ‘Here We Stay’ and ‘Beautiful Life’. Listen to the latter just below.

Hilang Child – Hilang Child is the stage name of half-Welsh, half-Indonesian dream pop songwriter Ed Riman. Currently based in London, Hilang Child has recently signed on with Bella Union for the release of his debut LP, which will include the calmly introspective new single ‘Growing Things’.

Jerry Williams –  This 22-year-old Portsmouth alt-pop songstress has already captured the attention of BBC Radio 1 in the UK and KCRW in America. She has recently collaborated with fashion brand Topshop to market her new single ‘Grab Life’, ahead of her scheduled appearance on the BBC Introducing showcase on the Tuesday night of SXSW.

Jonny 8 Track – Brighton’s Jonny Aitken, aka Jonny 8 Track, is the first UK signing to Austin record label Chicken Ranch Records. His back catalogue includes ‘All America Taught Me’ from back in 2013.

Joshua Burnside – We covered this Northern Irish avant/experimental songwriter last year around the release of his debut album ‘Ephrata’, which won the 2017 Northern Irish Music Prize. Just below, check out the Ryan Vail remix of album track ‘Blood Drive’.

Lion – London alt-rock singer/songwriter Beth Lowen became known as Lion due to the rough and raspy tone of her singing voice. She’s so fresh on the scene that she has yet to officially release any music, and her SXSW 2018 bio links to an amateur video of a live performance at Shepherd’s Bush Empire from back in 2016.

Lucy Rose – We recently featured Rose’s new single ‘All That Fear’ as our (SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2801. Rose will be showcasing that single along with her recent album ‘Something’s Changing’ at SXSW. She is also scheduled to speak in a panel session titled ‘It’s a Fan’s World: The Life of Superfans’ on Friday the 16th of March.

Lucy Spraggan – You might remember Manchester songwriter Lucy Spraggan as a former X Factor contestant from back in 2012. Just last year, she released her fourth studio album ‘I Hope You Don’t Mind Me Writing’, on her own label CTRL Records. The LP features the track ‘Fight For It’, streaming just below.

Nilüfer Yanya – This youthful West London songwriter brings a unique sense of irony and bemused detachment to what might otherwise be dismissed as standard indie pop. Her breakthrough single ‘Baby Luv’ is out now on Blue Flowers/ATO Records.

Nina Nesbitt – It’s been a day or two since we heard from Scottish pop songstress Nina Nesbitt, but she is heading to Austin with a potential new album in the works. No details have been shared as of yet, but Nesbitt did recently release a new single written in Nashville, ‘Somebody Special’.

Non Canon – Bristol alt-folk songwriter Non Canon takes his stage name from the idea that “anything described as ‘Non Canon’ exists apart from the story we know and love. A concurrent storyline, a different perspective, the world we experience through someone else’s eyes; familiar but insightful for its new dimension.” He comes to Austin as part of the Xtra Mile Recordings troupe; the label released his debut LP back in 2016.

Only Girl – South East London pop-soul artist Ellen Murphy, known on stage as Only Girl, has recently released a personally poignant new single titled ‘Mountain’, which deals with her husband Jamie McKechnie’s assault and traumatic brain injury, suffered back in 2011. Murphy says of the track, “I wanted the video for ‘Mountain’ to really convey Jamie’s journey through recovery since he suffered the brain injury. I think his story is so inspiring and shows how he really fought for his life against all the odds.” She speaks of her husband as the inspiration for the song: “If I could focus myself on climbing this mountain alongside Jamie, I could force myself to stay strong for him.”

Pete Molinari – Veteran folk and blues songwriter Pete Molinari is one of the few artists appearing at SXSW with nothing new on offer in terms of recorded music. He is set to play the We Are Hear Records showcase on the Tuesday night, alongside the aforementioned Lion.

Will Varley – This Kent singer/songwriter and Xtra Mile Recordings artist will bring his brilliant new album ‘Spirit of Minnie’ to Austin this year, on the heels of an American tour with label mates and fellow SXSW 2018 artists Skinny Lister. We featured the video for album track ‘Seven Days’ back in January; you can listen below to the gentle but poignant ‘Let it Slide’.

Please note that all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW 2018 schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.


(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #2770: Will Varley

By on Thursday, 18th January 2018 at 6:00 pm

As a preview for his forthcoming LP, Kent singer/songwriter Will Varley has released a self-designed promo video for his new single ‘Seven Days’. The track will appear on Varley’s album ‘Spirit of Minnie’, which is due for release on the 9th of February via Xtra Mile Recordings.

In addition to the new video, Varley has also shared a list of UK headline dates for the end of January and the first part of February. The nine-date tour will culminate with a show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London to celebrate the official release of ‘Spirit of Minnie’. Tickets for the following shows are available now. Varley has also recently been announced as a showcasing artist for SXSW 2018 in Austin this March. You can read TGTF’s collected past coverage of Will Varley back through here.

Tuesday 30th January 2018 – Birmingham Institute 3
Wednesday 31st January 2018 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 1st February 2018 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Friday 2nd February 2018 – Edinburgh La Belle Angele
Saturday 3rd February 2018 – Manchester Club Academy
Tuesday 6th February 2018 – Southampton 1865
Wednesday 7th February 2018 – Cardiff Globe
Thursday 8th February 2018 – Bristol Trinity Centre
Friday 9th February 2018 – London Shepherd’s Bush Empire


Live Review: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls with Will Varley and The Arkells at Livewire, Scottsdale, AZ – 27th January 2017

By on Wednesday, 8th February 2017 at 2:00 pm

Show #2015, in which yours truly makes intentional physical contact with a complete stranger

. . . but that happens later in the story. What happened first was a trip north from Tucson to Scottsdale, accompanied by my brother. Entirely certain that Casey would love Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls as much as I do, I had bought tickets for the two of us months ago. The host venue for the evening was Livewire, where I recently saw Kaleo with The Wind and the Wave and Bishop Briggs. I mentioned my opinion of the venue in that earlier review, but I’ll add here that its mild level of pretention was perhaps at odds with an artist like Turner, whose shows have never pretended to anything more or anything less than folk-punk-rock at its finest. The main criteria for the venue choice might have been capacity. Turner and his colleagues had played a slightly smaller Phoenix venue, the Press Room, on their last visit, and they apparently made a good impression. On this night they sold out Livewire, to their own credit and much to the benefit of their special guests, Will Varley and The Arkells.

Will Varley photo

The amber glow of Livewire’s initial stage lighting was a perfect match for the warm, organic timbre of singer/songwriter Will Varley’s acoustic guitar and singing voice. The effect was marred slightly by the fact that Varley took the stage with the zipper of his trousers clearly open, sending a small ripple of giggles through the crowd gathered near the stage. Though Varley acknowledged the zipper midway through his set, he never bothered explaining it, instead effectively focusing his audience’s attention squarely on his music. Varley’s songs fluctuated between facetious absurdity (‘Talking Cat Blues’) and sincere sentimentality (‘From Halcyon’), and while he never took himself too seriously, it quickly became clear to the rest of us that his was not a talent to be overlooked. His latest album ‘Kingsdown Sundown’ is available now from Xtra Mile Recordings.

Canadian rock band The Arkells took the stage next, with a brash swagger and confidence more suited to a proper headline act. Lead singer Mike DeAngelis commanded his audience’s attention from beginning to end, punctuating the band’s energetic anthems with a combination of spontaneous banter, well-rehearsed yarn-spinning, and musical improvisation.

The Arkells photo

The Arkells started with three strong, high energy tracks from their 2016 album ‘Morning Report’ before dipping back into previous LPs ‘High Noon’ and ‘Jackson Square’. Keyboard player Anthony Carone’s impromptu mini-set of crowd-sourced Elton John covers, including ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Tiny Dancer’, and ‘Bennie and the Jets’ was among the most memorable moments of the evening, but it didn’t overshadow the end of The Arkells’ set, which they ended with latest single ‘My Heart’s Always Yours’ and the older favourite ‘Leather Jacket’.

Frank turner band photo

Frank Turner opened the headline set of his Show #2015 with a politically-tinged song written specifically for the current tour cycle, titled ‘The Sand in the Gears’. Starting with the lyric “Can’t I just spend the next four years at a punk show?” and ending with the line “let’s be the sand in the gears for the next four years”, the new track is best described as a call to action. Building on the crowd’s ever-growing energy, Turner and The Sleeping Souls swept through a vigorous set of crowd-favourite tunes from across his prolific back catalogue. Songs from Turner’s most recent album ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’ included ‘The Next Storm’ and an impressive full band version of ‘Glorious You’. After American radio hit ‘The Way I Tend to Be’, Turner paused for breath, taking a solo-acoustic moment for a fan request with ‘Least of All, Young Caroline’ and ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’.

Frank Turner solo

Between songs, Turner spent a lot of time proselytising about music as an area of common ground among fans in the current societal swirl of divisive social and political issues. It was a notable, if mildly condescending, departure from the typical artist-vs-politician banter, but it also turned out to be carefully scripted, leading his audience to a specific and pointed conclusion.

At the end of the set proper, during crowd-favourite track ‘Photosynthesis’, Turner split the general admission audience down the middle and prepared us to enact a “wall of death”. I was unfamiliar with the term, and my brother explained, to my horror, that a wall of death is a mosh pit ritual typically reserved for metal shows, in which the two sides of a divided crowd rush at each other during the heaviest part of a song and collide with extreme force. At the last suspenseful second, Turner recanted his wall-of-death wish, instructing his crowd to instead institute something possibly more scary: a “wall of hugs”. (The video below is from Turner’s San Francisco show a couple of nights later, posted by YouTube user Brian Greenaway.)


Which brings me back to the opening lines of this review. Frank Turner was asking each of us to hug another punter. Not a friend or companion; no, we were to hug someone we didn’t know. My ever-stoic brother flatly refused. But I was so swept away in relief at not having to participate in a wall of death the spirit of the moment that I turned and exchanged a warm embrace with the person standing on the other side of me. I’m not 100% sure if the person was male or female (or neither or both), but I’m 100% sure it didn’t matter. Gender, race, age, political persuasion—none of it made any difference. We were both fans, experiencing a moment of FTHC rapture, and we shared a glorious moment of fellowship. Hmm . . . maybe this is what Turner was getting at all along.

TGTF’s previous coverage of Will Varley is back here and our archived coverage on Frank Turner is right through here. For a full list of Frank Turner’s upcoming live shows, including his Lost Evenings at the London Roundhouse this May, consult his official Web site by clicking here.

After the cut: Will Varley, The Arkells, and Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls’ set lists.
Continue reading Live Review: Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls with Will Varley and The Arkells at Livewire, Scottsdale, AZ – 27th January 2017


Album Review: Will Varley – Kingsdown Sundown

By on Wednesday, 30th November 2016 at 12:00 pm

Will Varley Kingsdown SundownDelicate but firm, Will Varley manages to create a world to lose yourself in with just his voice and some taut strings. This isn’t an especially new method of working, in fact it’s almost as old as music itself. But the artists who manage to stand out from this crowd are the souls with stories to tell, stories that survive the tests of time. Varley has said himself of this album and its content which “may not be radio friendly, or even ‘friendly’ at all”, but in all honesty it’s nice to have something that steers clear of the infinite happiness that consumes pop music. Darkened acoustic tracks offer a different side to life, the one that is all too real for all of us and gives an unrelenting relatable factor.

With Varley, his strength lies in the darker side of songcraft. It’s not an entirely happy listen – minor chords are in abundance – but there’s something utterly entrancing about his compositions. The first track, ‘To Build A Wall’, kicks things off with its ballad styling and talk of building walls that act as a defence for family, life and love. It’s a delicate first bite but it shows Varley opening himself up to prepare you for exactly where the album is heading: deep into his mind, and it’s not going to be an easy ride.


Following this, ’Something Is Breaking’ takes the atmosphere straight into the realistic and sombre. What is presumably a look at the modern world and its haphazard way of “survival”, a constant divide that fixes nothing but “turns your past into our future”, Varley takes aim at politicians and their broken way of working. More lost lives appear in ‘When She Wakes Up’, which features entwining stories that all lead to the unconscious protective dormant mind that needs to learn of all this new information. Is it a metaphor for the naivete of the majority of the world? Probably not, but the beauty of music such as this is you can read whatever story and meaning it brings out to you and associate it to your own personal needs.

Another delicate track, ‘February Snow’, approaches more death with the title offering the instant scene setter. Varley’s guitar plucking takes on the symbolic form of a heavy snow, while his lyrics offer the ground for these flakes to fall upon and the soft string accompaniment brings it all together with such a light touch that you’d be forgiven for actually missing it. To follow such an irenic track is no easy feat, even for the creator, but on ‘Let Your Guard Down’, he does just that. Opening with the words “In a KFC, in the early hours, someone giving out threats, someone giving out flowers”, Varley somehow manages to completely juxtapose all that came before it. It takes a special kind of talent to write a track such as ‘February Snow’ and then commit “KFC” as lyrics within the track that follows. Yet Varley manages to pull both off without a single hitch and without a need to compromise in his dusk-filled world.


Perhaps more obvious in topic, ‘We Want Our Planet Back’ sees Varley going full-on political. The simplicity of the words, not aiming for hidden meaning but going full heart-on-sleeve, offers the track as something of an anthem for the liberals and hippies. Given the current political climate of the world, that’s certainly not a bad thing. The minimal use of additional instruments throughout, from the aforementioned strings, to the spattering of jolting electric guitar here, the basis of Varley’s voice and guitar to serve as the canvas doesn’t falter or give up any of its built-up success.

At this point, over halfway, you gather that there aren’t going to be any left-field surprises and this is an album that is served as sold. ‘Too Late, Too Soon’ and ‘Wild Bird’ are both eloquent and full of picturesque lyricism and full of more of Varley’s delicate guitar work, but the album takes a turn into ‘Back Down to Hell’. Taking on a dark-folk angle, it paints a picture of a temptress in only a way that Varley can describe. One standout line in particular, “she melts the sunset with the candle in her eye”, gives both a message of futility and despair. But just in case you weren’t at that feeling yet, Varley follows it with “woke up this morning, thought I was gonna die, it’s a long way down”.

The final two tracks ‘One Last Look at the View’ and ‘We’ll Keep Making Plans’ just completely go full throttle into the quaint and heartbreaking folk tale side of Varley. What he’s managed to create with ‘Kingsdown Sundown’ is a record to swallow you whole and leave you feeling fragile, a point that is backed up by the latter track. At 1:59, ‘We’ll Keep Making Plans’ is the shortest cut, but at the same time the most open. It fades in with airy finger picking, soon to be joined by Varley’s voice, ghostly and ravaged with emotion. It carries on through until it simply fades away, leaving you distraught and lost. Listen to ‘Kingsdown Sundown’ in the dark of night whilst it’s raining, with no distractions. You might feel sad, but Varley is there with you to keep you company.


Will Varley’s ‘Kingsdown Sundown’ album is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings.


Frank Turner / November 2015 UK Tour – added dates

By on Monday, 21st September 2015 at 8:30 am

Frank Turner has recently announced second dates in five venues on his upcoming UK tour.  You can find the original listing of November tour dates by clicking here.  Support for the entire UK tour will be played by Turner’s Xtra Mile Recordings label mates Skinny Lister and Will Varley.

Tickets for the following shows are available now, except for the already sold out second date in Southampton.  TGTF’s full archive of coverage on Frank Turner, including a review of his latest album ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’, can be found right back here.

Saturday 7th November 2015 – Southampton Guildhall (sold out)
Tuesday 10th November 2015 – Falmouth Princess Pavilion
Monday 16th November 2015 – Nottingham Rock City
Sunday 22nd November 2015 – Bristol Colston Hall
Tuesday 24th November 2015 – Manchester Academy


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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.

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