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Album Review: Zulu Winter – Stutter

By on Wednesday, 16th July 2014 at 12:00 pm

I know it’s inevitable in my life as a music editor, but it doesn’t make it any easier to witness the sad break-up of bands I have come to know and love. Last month, London five-piece Zulu Winter announced that they were splitting up. You could practically hear the sound of my heart breaking. I always say things in life happen for a reason, and that includes the people that come into your life too. During my first SXSW in 2012, I met Will, Iain, Dom, Henry and Guy to do an interview with them. After a bewildering week in Austin, meeting such truly nice guys who were jokey and sweet was just what the doctor ordered.

Two months later, I accidentally ran into them on the first day of my first Great Escape while they were unpacking their van in the middle of Brighton. What are the odds of that? Had to be more than a coincidence. Later that night, when I couldn’t get into Brighton Dome, I went to see them play at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar and they were so appreciative that I’d come to see them. Last year, I was minding my own business, having dinner alone in a pub one night in Brighton when I heard someone calling my name. It was their guitarist Henry Walton, remembering me from the first time we met, then asking me how I was and saying how great it was to see me. It’s little things like this that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

So it feels very cutting personally that they’re calling it quits and even though several of them are starting an entirely different project, it’s heart-wrenching to me that I will never see Zulu Winter again how I remember them. Thankfully, instead of leaving us with just one album to their name (2012’s ‘Language’), the band came together to record one final release. ‘Stutter’, which is being called a mini-album in the press sheets I’ve read, is actually not a mini-album at all but instead a 10-pack of songs.

It starts in a very promising way, with band members’ harmonies and then singer Will Daunt’s voice emphatically rising before the funky beats come in on the driving ‘Trigger’. Later in the album at lucky #7, Daunt’s voice is up to its ‘Language’-era acrobatic sweeps heights in ‘The Drift’, holding its own against the dancey bass beats and the sexy guitar line. As Daunt sings “I’m stuck in the drift / there once was a time / when I felt absolutely free / but I stumble and shake / try to screw it all up and twist it into shape” with the swirling instrumentation, you’re reminded how great this band really are. Or I suppose I should now use the word ‘were’, past tense. Both these songs are attention grabbing, as were standout former singles ‘We Should Be Swimming’ and ‘Silver Tongue’ in their own time. It should be noted that the beats, and neither dreaminess nor pop, are placed in the forefront of most of the songs on ‘Stutter’, which is an interesting development in the band’s sound and possibly a harbinger of why they decided to split?

Some of these tracks are more experimental and less pop than we’re used to in the previous incarnation of Zulu Winter. In the cases of ‘Feel Love’ and ‘Need You Onside’, the former is an attempt at electronic soul, while the latter builds up to a Beatles late ’60s psychedelic trip but sports a title that seems more appropriate for World Cup time. ‘Games’ and ‘The Other Man’ sound like Field Music if they’d just swung more pop. And slightly more conventional. Psychedelic, swirling rock instrumentation wraps itself around Daunt’s falsetto soars on ‘Heavy Rain’, an early taster released in June (promo video below), while ‘Silence is Golden’ is anything but silent, with plenty of wigged out synths and guitars.


‘Let Sleep Close Your Eyes’, with its buzzing ’70s era synth, is the best example of how the album’s press sheet describes the album: “a very sad ELO”. Perhaps the slower tempo throughout the album suggests a sadness in one’s ears, but I don’t detect sadness in how this was written or recorded, which I take as a good thing, confirmation that these five young men are still friends, even if they are no longer in a band together.

The only sour note here is how the album ends, strangely with ‘Bodies’, which (I hope entirely unintentionally) sounds more like Ellie Goulding‘s ‘Lights’, the bobbing synth notes seeming far too joyful than makes sense for this LP as a whole. Maybe the point was to leave us with something brighter, to indicate the brighter days ahead? All in all though, ‘Stutter’ is an interesting collection of songs that will leave us wondering “what if?” when it comes to Zulu Winter, but also appreciative that they have granted us this final gift. Good luck fellas, I know our paths will cross again sometime soon.


‘Stutter’, Zulu Winter‘s final album release, is out digitally next Monday (the 21st of July) on Fierce Panda Records.


Video of the Moment (and more!) #925: Zulu Winter

By on Wednesday, 15th August 2012 at 6:00 pm

Here is Zulu Winter‘s new video for current single ‘Key to My Heart’, which just won Steve Lamacq’s 6music Rebel Playlist honour for this week. Watch the video below.

We’ve also got this link to the band’s session with Daytrotter, which is also really lovely.



Live Gig Video: Zulu Winter play ‘Key to My Heart’ for the Blank Sessions

By on Thursday, 9th August 2012 at 4:00 pm

Ah, Zulu Winter. I met those lovely guys at SXSW back in March of this year, and they brought a smile to my face in an early morning in Brighton at the Great Escape. I don’t forget friendliness, and these are five guys that appear to be in the habit of making me happy all the time. So it should come as no surprise that this video of them performing ‘Key to My Heart’, filmed at the Blank Space Studios in Camden Town earlier this summer that surfaced earlier this week on their Facebook, gave me a huge grin. It’s their next single, out on the 10th of September on PIAS. Check out the video below.



MP3 of the Day #552: Zulu Winter

By on Thursday, 31st May 2012 at 10:00 am

Zulu Winter‘s latest single is ‘Silver Tongue’, now to go down in history as famously yelled for by a massive Norwegian at the 2012 Great Escape. The band will be releasing their album in North America on Toronto, Canada label Arts and Crafts, so it makes sense and fellow labelmates the Darcys took a crack at remixing the single. Listen to and download it below.


Great Escape 2012: Day 1 Evening Roundup – 10th May 2012

By on Friday, 25th May 2012 at 2:00 pm

For some reason, my phone refused to let me subscribe to the Great Escape text service, and without adequate O2 coverage, I hadn’t had a chance in hell to load the official festival app. In hindsight, either of these may have informed me that the entire Island Records showcase at the Loft featuring Lower Than Atlantis, King Charles (my main interest in this stage, after Tom’s hilarious phone interview with the man) and Tribes had been cancelled. But as I learned over this weekend, it pays to have a plan B. And a plan C and D if you can manage it.

The next closest venue with a band I wanted to see was the Haunt, with Pixie Geldof’s band Violet. During my entire time in Brighton I had nothing but good encounters with punters, except for at this venue. It was supposed to be Avalanche City onstage when I arrived at the venue but seeing that I couldn’t see nor hear very well what was happening up front, I gingerly made my way forward in an attempt to get closer to take at least one photo.

Having been inconvenienced with light shoving and pats on the back indicating someone wanted to go past me in a club for nearly all of my adult life, I was taken aback by one punter’s admittedly semi-drunk but all the same nasty complaint, “are you going to stand there all night?” If you were wondering, there were large spaces in front and back of him (he was standing by the bar) and I had hoped that standing in front of him would encourage him to move back a bit to allow me to get a decent line of sight. Fat chance. What’s even stupider was he left right after the band finished. As the saying goes, “it takes a lot more effort to be nasty than to be nice”, and after having one preferred showcase cancelled that night, I was feeling a bit grumpy and I didn’t need further aggravation.

As the sea of festival-goers parted, I made my way to the front to situate myself in a good position to photograph. Good thing I did this early: who knows if it’s because she’s Bob Geldof’s daughter or people actually wanted to see if she was any good, but I witnessed the largest assemblage of photographers seeing Violet, so much it felt more like a flurry of paparazzi with the continual bursts of flash than a meet-up of run of the mill gig photographers. Whatever happened to, “first three songs, no flash”? Even I observe those rules. Grumble. Thank goodness most of them left after the first three songs; you can tell who’s there for merely professional and not actual music-loving reasons because they bolt even before the third song in is finished.

I suppose I’ve benefited from not having grown up with gossip about Geldof’s daughters and their lives, so I went into this with no personal opinion of her and the knowledge that Luke had seen her at a Guardian New Band of the Day show in April and said she was pretty good. If you were wondering, the girl’s got chops and has a spectacular voice. She opened her set with the single ‘Y.O.U.’, a slow-burning, sultry number, but it’s songs like ‘What You Gave Me’ (video below) that exhibit the soulfulness of Pixie’s voice. Given time and more experience, I think she could become one of the most compelling voices of her generation.

She exudes the sexiness of Marilyn Monroe, yet dressing demurely in a white top and an iridescent long (and not short – shocking!) skirt, indicating respect to both the festival and her audience. Like many of the random revelers I’d see over my time in Brighton, she could have worn a skimpy clubber’s type outfit – one that would have been spread round the internet like wildfire – and yet she didn’t’. It’s a shame in this case that most people will probably not bother to listen to her, thinking that she must only be getting the limelight because of her family. And if you are one of those types, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. Forget who her father is and follow the talent. Good on her.


One band that was on everyone’s lips all weekend was Niki and the Dove, who were scheduled to play at Horatio’s on Brighton Pier at a NME-sponsored showcase. (Note: they ended up cancelling their appearance at Liverpool Sound City due to illness, so I never got a chance to see them. Which is okay because I’m not really a fan of their sound based on the recordings I’ve heard.) Friends, an equally hot commodity but has always sounded to me too much like a Phenomenal Handclap Band imitator, were slated to perform before them. However, I’d been advised by long-time Great Escape gig-goers that if I planned to making the trip down the pier, I’d never get back up the hill in time for anything else. Seeing that it was still raining, and the wind had now picked up, the idea of standing on Brighton Pier, especially in a long delegates queue, wasn’t at all appealing. From debriefings from fellow bloggers, it sounds like I missed a great show. But you’ve got to make tough choices sometime…

Thanks to not being able to check my email, I completely missed the confirmation on Maximo Park press passes for their performance at the Dome, so I decided to switch gears again and head to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar for New Look, followed by the guys I’d serendipitously seen earlier, Zulu Winter. New Look, not to be confused with the high street womens’ clothing shop, is a Toronto husband and wife team who make an engaging brand of electropop. In the currently crowded electronic market, they came up with their own genre, ‘futurepop’, which incorporates unashamed ‘80s synth stylings (can you say ‘keytar’?) with r&b and dubstep. Interestingly, I saw quite a few couples watching the couple onstage, dressed in matching outfits of white dress shirts and black trousers, grooving with their loved ones to the good beats. Verdict: while they sound pretty good, they risk being forgettable.

Zulu Winter followed shortly thereafter. I should probably mention here that Sticky Mike’s performance space is a basement with badly placed support poles and a low ceiling. Not only is it difficult to see if you’re standing in the wrong place, it’s quite claustrophobic and I can’t even imagine being down there if you’re very tall. The stage is also pretty small; Zulu Winter comprises five band members and keyboardist Dom and his many synths had to be placed off the stage because there wasn’t enough room for all of them. That said, if you’re up front like I was, there is no problem. I’m sure singer Will Daunt will never forget this performance, as a large Norwegian made his presence known by shouting, rather annoyingly I might add, for ‘Silver Tongue’ about 3 times between every song.

Considering they hadn’t even released their debut ‘Language’ yet (it was due to be out on PIAS the following Monday the 14th of May), they played a fun, energetic and well-received set that was not at all hampered by bassist Iain Lock’s foot injury, forcing him to get and off stage on crutches. What a trooper. Below is the opening song of their set, ‘Key to My Heart’. (If you’re wondering, the crazy Norwegian’s hooting can be heard at the end of the video.) Keep an eye on these guys; if the album does well, they could be the next big British indie pop band.


Part of the original plan was to see Mystery Jets at the Corn Exchange, so I trudged back up the hill with renewed purpose. When I inquired about the delegates queue, I was told sternly, “there’s only one line [for everyone, with wristbands or badges]. And it’s one in, one out.” I pressed further on why oh why there wasn’t a delegates queue, I was met with stony silence. I saw the queue going around the building and down the block past the Dome. Not getting in there then. I got into the queue for the Pavilion Theatre in an attempt to get in for Django Django and found myself directly in front of Mike Bradford of the Recommender (it’s amazing how many times you accidentally run into everyone at this festival!), who asked staff what the probability of us getting into the venue that night was. It wasn’t looking good. Instead of getting frustrated, Mike suggested we head down to Sticky Mike’s to round off our evening with some drinks, followed by a performance by White Arrows. If a fellow blogger recommends it, you can’t turn it down.

Oh, White Arrows. The lead guitarist looked stoned as he clicked his pair of claves together. I guess that’s okay, considering “the blackest ‘white’ band”, described by the Owl Mag as making a “psychostropical” sound, were throwing down very tropical yet electronic and funky beats. ‘Coming and Going’ is a good example as any of their jangly guitars paired with a danceable and powerful backbeat. Was it really past 1 AM? Didn’t feel like it.


2 AM is probably a good time for bed but somehow I found myself at the very crowded Queens Hotel lobby, surrounded by loud and pissed delegates from all over. Having not eaten anything solid since the afternoon, I also was the proud holder of a large cone of fish and chips procured from the boardwalk, Despite getting frosty looks from hotel security for having brought outside food in, I shared my fish with a very hungry CMU rep who was grateful for some food. That was my attempt to solidify American and English relations for the evening. I said goodbye to my new friends and tucked myself into bed at about, oh, 4 AM? 4 hours of sleep ahead of me? Eep. Well, it’s like Blaine Harrison says in the Mystery Jets song ‘Dreaming of Another World’: “sleep is for the dead”. Right?


Great Escape 2012: Initial impressions, tips and bands from the first afternoon – 10th May 2012

By on Thursday, 24th May 2012 at 2:00 pm

I arrived to the Great Escape 2012 a day early to sort my delegates badge ahead of time – an indubitably good idea, as I could swan in the next day to the press centre and pass the delegates queue – but my introduction to Brighton on Wednesday the 9th was, unfortunately, a wet one. The National Express coach from Heathrow dropped me off at the very wet seafront, with no shelter whatsoever. Let me tell you, dragging a large suitcase while rain and wind is lashing about in every direction is not a fun time. But I was in town for the Great Escape, and you do what you must. Wednesday night was saved as I ‘accidentally’ ran into Mike Bradford, local blogger and of the Recommender fame, and we had a drink in the Prince Albert by the train station. Later on, I got a text from my friends Johnny and Larry from the AU Review (nice chaps I’d met at SXSW) and we had an exceedingly gorgeous Indian near the seafront. So not all was lost. I was just tired of being…damp. I’d left Washington in the middle of a storm. I was aching for sunshine. (Which I later got…)

Thursday proved to be another difficult day weather-wise, as the rain gods appeared unwilling to cooperate. Still, I was determined to make the best of it, even if I kept getting lost in the rambling streets with dead ends all over Brighton. I missed a morning panel session but I think it was fate that I happened to walk by the front of the Corn Exchange just as Zulu Winter, my new band friends from SXSW, pulled up in their van, and they all took turns giving me a hug and asked how things were going. There’s something to be said for being recognised months after you’ve met a group of guys who no doubt meet hundreds of people at gigs every night, and that something is a very nice feeling of validation.

Still, I had yet to get my feet wet (no pun intended) at the Great Escape, so first on my colour-coded schedule was Francois and the Atlas Mountains at the Prince Albert. Thanks to yesterday’s drink with Mike, I knew where I needed to go. I thought okay, it’s Thursday, and it’s early. If I show up 15 minutes ahead of schedule, I’ll be fine, right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I made my way up the staircase to the main performance area to find people already jam-packed in front of the stage. I doubt the man who was supposed to be keeping tabs on the number of people allowed up was actually counting, as he kept encouraging women such as myself to squeeze in further. As someone who gets extremely claustrophobic (even on airplanes), this made for a very worrisome situation. Worse, their roadie kept coming through the crowd with the final pieces of their gear (of which they had quite a lot), pushing himself and the gear rather (in)conveniently past me, so I had no choice but to practically squish myself into another woman who’d come upstairs around the same time as I did. This happens all the time to me in airports, train stations, really anywhere there is a massive crowd: I think people must decide, “over there, there’s a small, slight Oriental girl, go round her, she’ll be no problem, that’s the plan!” and trust me, it is not a good feeling. Still looking for that tall, strong English bodyguard boyfriend type if anyone’s offering…

With punters sardined into the small place, the band said hello and started in the 6music-playlisted ‘Les Plus Beaux’, which sounded great. The band even had choreographed arm and hand movements when they weren’t playing their instruments. Bless. It was one of the most adorable moments of my Great Escape. I got through one more song with the Frenchies before deciding I had leave to get some air. Also, I figured it was better to let some desperate music lovers hanging out on the stairs a chance to see some of the action before it was all over. But I would like to see them again sometime. Just without less bodies pushed up against me.

It was time to go back down the hill and head for a venue near the seafront. However, on my way down, I stopped for a time to see Slow Down, Molasses, a Canadian band that by all accounts went down very well with the folks assembled at the Hub, the one large outdoor venue at the Great Escape, sitting squarely in the middle of Jubilee Square. This would be the place where the wristbandless and young parents would bring their sprogs all weekend, and to me embodied the true spirit of the Great Escape: even though I had a badge, I found generally speaking the places where wristband punters and badge holders stood together in harmony were a better experience. Because you shouldn’t have to put a price on music.

The rain continued when I headed down to Volks on Madeira Drive, making an egregious mistake. The showcase had been moved not cancelled, but stupidly the staff at Volks weren’t aware of the change so I just assumed I would not be seeing Savoir Adore or be doing the previously arranged interview with them. (It had moved to the Loft, which in hindsight I probably could have made if I’d organised myself better, but I was too wiped, my phone was giving me trouble, and I was just frustrated with myself and the weather.) By then, jetlag and exhaustion was kicking in and thanks to a jammed O2 network and no service near the water, my mobile battery was dying.

Time to get a mango slushie, eat a salad I’d purchased the day before, rest for a moment and recharge myself and my phone. My phone is the wrong word for the time, as our Gateshead writer Martin had loaned me a spare iPhone of his and never working with one before, there was a steep learning curve, including how to turn off an nonexistent cafe wifi connection. At one point the phone wasn’t responding to any network and I was texting both him and fellow Great Escape fest-goer Braden with a nervous tic because I thought I’d broken it! (The phone eventually righted itself and over the weekend, I became a passable iPhone user, thank goodness.) Note: if you’re supposed to meet anyone in Brighton for the Great Escape, get mobile numbers. You might not be able to check your email at all, depending on where you are. I would have Tweeted far more if my phone didn’t keep doing that circle-y thing in the corner as it tried to reach the Twitter Web site.

I got a frantic text from Johnny of the AU Review, reporting that the rain was chucking it down at the Sounds of Australia stage at the Hub, and that I should probably take my time getting there to see Husky. I’d fallen in love with ‘Forever So’, their debut album on Sub Pop, that I’d organised an interview with them post-gig as well. Eventually I had to leave my dry haven at the café and head up the hill.

Yeah, that hill. No-one tells you how bad this hill can be, if you’re trying to run back and forth between venues. In a way, it’s similar to Roskilde in the sense that you should expect to queue for your favourite – and the more hotly-tipped – acts, and you should never assume there will be room for you. In that respect, the Hub and this Australian showcase – the rain notwithstanding – was a great place to see bands all weekend. Halfway into their set, the rain gods relented, leading to the band to end their set with the truly lovely and evocative ‘The Woods’ (video clip below), followed by ‘History’s Door’ (the latter of which you can download from the widget at the end of this post). Their sound is a thoroughly palatable blend of harmonies ala Fleet Foxes and the nonbluegrassy, too happy, peppy, indie folk elements of Mumford and Sons, you know, before they became megastars.


Afterwards, Gideon and Husky himself were kind enough to take time out of their afternoon here in Brighton – which turned out to be the same day they arrived in England! – for a brief chat we had in Jubilee Library about their music and the Melbourne music scene, which you can view here. But by then it was time for a snack, a change of clothes (remember, I’d gotten thoroughly soaked!), and time to refocus for my first night at the Great Escape.


About Us

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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