Thursday, 21 May 2015

Double Single: Hot Cops - Decay / Six

Hot Cops Decay Six

Hot Cops, 'Decay'

Info: Well I've been looking forward to sharing these two quite distinct tracks since I first heard them at the start of May, instantly loved both of them and was taken in at first listen. Belfast three-piece Hot Cops have just released their double A-side 'Decay / Six' yesterday, following on from their previous E.P.'s, 2014's Another Teen Age and January's #1 Babes. 

In a funny way I'm kind of annoyed with myself that I didn't make the Weezer connection until I read the band cited their Blue album as one of their influences, indeed I used to cover the lovely 'Say It Ain't So' in a band a long time ago in a galaxy far far away and it still remains one of the most refreshing albums to come back to. The hushed intro and false sense of calm before a thunderous cacophony of noise and lightly distorted guitar are a trademark that Hot Cops have made their own on 'Decay' in particular. 'Decay' gets the adrenalin pumping and the band have nailed the art of see-sawing between pushing forward sonically while alternately easing off on the guitars and giving prominence to drumming, pin-pointed with precision between the one and two-minute marks. 

Hot Cops, 'Six'

'Six' is markedly different in many ways, it's really nice to see a band put emphasis on bass playing here, often seen as a complimentary rather than a prominent part of proceedings nowadays. The song shows some of it's companion track's traits but is also stand alone in itself, (the intro nods slightly to 'The Sweater Song') and expected anarchy is kept at bay. There's something quite unique about the vocals on this track as well, with the higher notes being particularly rewarding, the song marches into Mac DeMarco territory briefly at the half-way point before pulling all of it's elements tightly together and unceremoniously releasing them into a wall of noise. Hot Cops have definitely hit on a mix of unadulterated raucous enjoyment and moments of discreet vocal beauty here balanced perfectly between and within the two tracks. Live dates are below.

Hot Cops Belfast Decay Six

Hot Cops are: Carl Eccles - Vocals / guitar, Nathan Rodgers - bass, Conor Ellison - drums.

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Live Shows:

30/04 - Black Box, Belfast, UK

24/05 - BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Festival, Norwich, UK

24/07 - Knockanstockan Festival, Wicklow, IE

01/08 - Sunflower Festival, Hillsborough, UK

27/08 - Whelans, Dublin, IE

28/08- The Spirit Store, Dundalk, IE 

Debut Single: Shane Joyce - Those Who Pay Rent

Shayne Joyce Those Who Pay Rent Single

Shane Joyce, 'Those Who Pay Rent'

Info: Shane Joyce is the front-man of Kilkenny Americana / roots band The Midnight Union and debut single 'Those Who Pay Rent' is his first venture into the solo world. This first outing impresses on multiple levels, the initial evident strength comes from the poetic nature of the lyrics which swim with meaning from the very opening of the song. It's rare that the first line of a song immediately engages you to concentrate and listen to the words the whole way through, usually that's a point you reach after a few listens. Joyce sings 'You show me the wound and I'll show you the knife, the hand and the blood and the reason, I'll take your advice, and step away from this life, and leave you to bleed in your pool of treason.' Pretty powerful and evocative stuff.

Musically the undercurrent is that of a late 60's troubadour venturing optimistically into the future while bidding farewell to the scars of the past, although vocally very different I think of slightly sombre take on Don McClean's Tapestry album, and self-professed influences of Dylan and Cohen are also evident, particularly the latters 'Famous Blue Raincoat'. The backing vocals are also very pleasant, half soul sista, half Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips from The Mamas & The Papas they add perfectly to Joyce's gentle and calming guitar playing. 'Those Who Pay Rent' is enchanting and feels very genuine, it's as fine a debut single, or any single within the genre for that matter, that you'll hear from an Irish singer-songwriter this year, future releases will reveal further interesting strands to this new solo adventure no doubt.

Monday, 18 May 2015

E.P.: Heroes In Hiding - Decorated Absence

Photo: Courtesy of Tara Thomas Photography

Heroes In Hiding, 'Today, I Mean It'

Info: It's hard to believe it's been over a year since I reviewed Heroes In Hiding's gorgeous E.P. Hush, which contained a barnstorming title track and the still chillingly beautiful 'Star-Crossed'. The Dublin / Cavan four-piece consisting of Joe Carroll, Cian Donohoe, Oisín Jacob and Liam McCabe, thankfully have a new set of songs coming our way on the 5th of June in the form of their new E.P. Decorated Absence, and I'm glad to report things are only getting better.

The new recording kicks off with lead track 'Today, I Mean It' (above), a gentle opening with hushed vocals and nice intertwining of electric and acoustic guitar leads to heartfelt lyrics such as 'Even if I promise that I would never leave, my word is haunted by ghosts that you don't see' before pushing on to some thoroughly enjoyable harmonies concluding with an energetic and uplifting finale. 

The hazy yet fist-pumping 'Casanova' has distinct reference points to The Frames' For The Birds with lead singer Joe Carroll unwittingly sounding very close to our Outspan on the chorus of the song, it takes no more than two listens to fully appreciate and absorb the strength of the track as an immediate crowd favourite that fans of the band from the very beginning will be calling out for at future live shows. 

'Lay Down In The Fire' closes the E.P. and brims with confidence and the modest self-assuredness of a band who are starting to sound like they've already mastered most of the elements of their craft. Like 'Casanova' it's bursting with energy and a very well constructed rock song, the brief heavy bass could maybe hint at an untapped heavier sound down the line to compliment the bands softer leanings. 

Overall Decorated Absence is what you might hope for after previous E.P. Hush, as I alluded to earlier you get the feeling Heroes In Hiding's music has skipped a number of progressive steps and reached a degree of maturity very quickly. It's with no doubt and comfortable ease that I say that they are among the cream of Irish bands currently making music at this very point in time, and this will be reflected in other reviews of the E.P. over the coming weeks.

Heroes In Hiding Decorated Absence

Note: Thanks to photographer Tara Thomas for kindly giving the green light to reproduce the main photo above at short notice, you can view more of her great talents here

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Single: For Esmé - You

For Esme You Single

For Esmé, 'You'

Info: Toronto trio For Esmé have just released the new video for single, 'You', which will be on their forthcoming album which lands later on this year. 'You' is an electro-pop dance song that pumps out high energy beats from the very beginning, vocals from singer Martha Meredith are polished and appearance and performance in the video itself are reminiscent of early Madonna when the Queen of Pop was at her zenith. There are some really nice bass-line breakdowns and short guitar solos from Dave Thiel and Nathan Crook repsectively, as well as subtle vocalizing scattered throughout the track. It's hard not to get swept up in the anthemic nature of 'You' and it's euphoric high points, while some elements focus on sticking to simplistic but tried and tested methods, ultimately it's a solid track that will make you want to move your ass from seat to dancefloor, job done. 

For Esmé You

'Poised between nouveaux and nostalgia, reality and the sublime, our new work is about being present in the moment, and ultimately, immeasurably open to joy. The video amplifies the feeling of losing yourself to the beat, and letting go of your inhibitions. A dreamlike adventure through an old school at night, the excitement, secrecy and spontaneity.' 

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Video: Adrian Fitz-Simon - 'YES!'

Adrian Fitz-Simon Vote Yes for Equality

Info: Um, Vote Yes for Equality!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

New Track: LUCKY - You Are The One

LUCKY You Are The One

LUCKY, 'You Are The One'

Info: I've been eager to share this track since I first heard it just under two weeks ago from London-based trio LUCKY, it brought me back a little in some ways which was nice but more importantly I really loved the music itself and particularly the vocals from singer Rhia, which are powerful and gospel like, bluesy and soulful, and so easy on the ear. Whilst the vocals are definitively different from Beth Gibbons I was almost immediately drawing comparisons musically to the introduction of Portishead's 'Give Me A Reason', which then veers on to it's dirty guitars and there the similarities end. In many ways 'You Are The One' should be the type of song that straddles very varied tastes in music from fans of trip-hop, pop and modern soul, a radio DJ who doesn't feel the urge to share it with listeners probably shouldn't be a radio DJ. This first release is only in the public domain proper 48 hours, and it's going to be very interesting to see where it leads.

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Single: Astronauts, etc. - No Justice

Astronauts, etc., 'No Justice'

Info: Californian band Astronauts, etc., under the guiding hand of Toro Y Moi's keyboardist Anthony Ferraro, have released a new single, 'No Justice' as a follow up to last months 'I Know'. Starting off with ponderous keys and hypnotic guitar loops, the song digs deeper into the previous single's soulful and mellow vibes. Vocally it sounds like a slightly lower key Smokey Robinson (or Brian Wilson even) performance with subtle modern blends and the grooves kind of wash over you gently like a lapping wave. The ballad itself is described by the band as; 'Sparsely arranged, the song explores what results when nascent love is forced to reckon with tragic circumstances.' That pain is reflected nicely in the chorus line 'There's no justice for the ones who are in love' and the melancholic but lush guitar progression adds to the message. I'd recommend checking out 'I Know' again (below) as well and enjoying the contrast between the two great tracks. Ferraro's on a streak it would seem.

Astronauts, etc., 'I Know'

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