Monday, 15 December 2014

Remy's Favourite Irish Tracks of 2014, Part Two

They were either earworms that lasted months on end, or songs that I enjoyed so much that I kept coming back to them after reviewing them, others were special as a result of live shows and others were musically, similar enough to my own wider taste in music that I found them most appealing. In no particular order (well, alphabetical), here's the second half of the best tracks from Irish bands that were reviewed on the blog in 2014. Enjoy.

11) Kevin Nolan - 'Drowning'

From: Dublin
Why? By far one of the most intriguing and creative albums I heard this year, Frederick & The Golden Dawn is dark, mysterious and theatrical, I enjoyed it so much I had to purchase the vinyl edition which I know already will be returned to again and again even in my twilight years. 'Drowning' features all of the descriptive terms above and when I first listened to it I genuinely had hairs stand on the back of my neck, Kevin Nolan's voice can be both menacing and soft and the track is filled with a dark atmosphere and the thundering piano close with strings is intense.

12) Mail Order Messiahs - 'Practical Man'

From: Dublin
Why? 'Practical Man' and indeed the entire Practical album stood out for me as a great example of the mixing of indie and electronica, a blend that is difficult at times to pull off without sounding like everyone else. The vocals are also quite distinctive and appealing and the track has a great punchy bass-line and drums to go with the sharp short bursts of synth, it's an ode to the zombie office worker which celebrates the banality of being a drone, 'please put in a good word for me, down at the IFSC....'.

13) Mark Buckeridge - 'I Can Talk To You'

From: Cork
Why? I found it hard to choose between 'I Can Talk To You' and Buckeridge's other track, 'O That Noise', I was very impressed and taken with his second E.P., Talking Is Good For You, when you listen to his music it's hard not to feel like your hearing a special musical talent. I also love the quirkiness of his singing and the enjoyable chaos of his music, not to mention how great the video is.

14) Monster Monster - 'Christmas In Liverpool' 

From: Dublin
Why? This could have easily been Monster Monster's 'Assassin', but when I heard this song live in The Bello Bar last month I got a bit emotional (mainly wondering how my boyhood football team had become so crap - again - so quickly). Incredibly yet deservedly, the following week the song became noticed in the city it was about and was eventually played at Anfield and the club announced it was going to be played at the ground for all of their matches over the Christmas period, what an achievement for the guitarist who wrote it, Mick Stuart, himself a fellow Pool fan. But forget all of that nostalgic stuff for a second, this song is great for the music, it's beautifully written, lyrics, piano, guitar and percussion all sound great and Ríona Sally Hartman's vocals are tear-inducing in a good way, filled with passion and emotion.

15) The Midnight Union Band - 'I'm Your Leader'

From: Kilkenny:
Why? There's something heart-warming about hearing a young band who are very steeped in the genre they perform, in the case of The Midnight Union band it's soulful Americana with gusto. This particular track, 'I'm Your Leader' reminded me very much of Elton John and Van Morrison mixed together at their 70's peaks. I suppose the theme of the song appealed to me as well, it's always nice to come across bands who let their consciences pour into their lyrics and aren't just trying to write a catchy tune.

16) Riona Sally Hartman - 'Frida Kahlo's Delight'

From: Dublin
Why? Acutely aware of the classical sound of jazz music and singing, Riona Sally Hartman's vocals and composition are like an echo coming back through time. I absolutely love the bass in this song and how you feel like your mind could just float off carefree along with the notes. As I prefer listening to female rather than male vocalists from the 40's / 50's, when it comes to blues, soul and jazz, this style of music is very enjoyable to me and 'Frida Kahlo's Delight' ticks all of the boxes with it's smoothness.

17) Setline - 'Speckled'

From: Dublin
Why? Hot diggity damn was what I first thought when I listened to 'Speckled' for the first time, it was a moment, on the bus, will check this out I thought and it was a real Remy song from the get go. Starting off with a 70's science fiction film, a retro designed spacecraft orbiting the Earth. The track also has a strangely enjoyable Oriental feel to the strings, and the electronics are simple yet massively enjoyable, as is the rest of Setline's These Thieving Streets E.P. debut.

18) Stephen Young & The Union Band - 'Duty Free 200'

Why? A gritty ballad if there's such a thing, a mix of country and classic rock guitar playing, lovely melodic piano playing and a general overall feeling of goodness. Not just because of the video, but it's hard not to imagine yourself in the bar in Road House, sawdust all over the floor and the neon beer signs glaring. 'Duty Free 200' was also part of a great set I had the pleasure of seeing live at the wonderful Abner Brown's a couple of months ago which finished off with a great version of Jimi Hendrix's version of 'All Along The Watchtower'.

19) Tell No Foxx - 'Boulevard'

From: Wicklow
Why? This song also got a lot of listens this year, haunting with really great vocal effects and all of the best elements of the gothic sounds of 80's bands such as The Cure and Sisters of Mercy but with a modern electro sound. 'Boulevard' is also accompanied by an excellent video with a nice twist at the end that your granny will be delighted with! Another band I'm genuinely eager to hear more material from which is hopefully on the way early in the new year. 

20) Tony Fitz - 'The Murder'

From: Kildare
Why? Tony Fitz's Just Another Day E.P. was easily one of the highlights of the year for me as well as being one of the most pleasant surprises. 'The Murder' is so vivid lyrically it's like watching a short film in your head while you're listening, the sinister lyrics, worth re-posting, capture a slow motion scene of young woman unaware of the grave danger in her midst;

'There's a girl lying out on the grass by the creek,
and she dangles her toes in the water beneath,
as the sun dances on the surface of the stream

But she doesn't notice the stranger approach or
The twist of his grin as he takes off his coat or the
The glint of the sun on the gun in his hand

Like Cormac O'Caoimh's 'Maze of Your Heart', the guitar riff in 'The Murder' was a ridiculous earworm that popped frequently into my head at random moments over the last 6 months.

21) Barry Tierney - 'Rosie Ale of England'

From: Cork
Why? Well, I somehow overlooked Barry Tierney between 'A' & 'C' on Saturday so while I don't finish on an even 20, so be it, there was no leaving 'Rosie Ale of England' off this list. A sad song with an impact, although a love song, it painted a picture of Irish emigrants in the cities of England in the early part of the last century in my mind, quite timely in man ways. The song itself is beautiful, delicate clinking piano, harmonies and Tierney's impassioned voice all make this a superb ballad.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Remy's Favourite Irish Tracks of 2014, Part One

They were either earworms that lasted months on end, or songs that I enjoyed so much that I kept coming back to them after reviewing them, others were special as a result of live shows and others were musically, similar enough to my own wider taste in music that I found them most appealing. In no particular order (well, alphabetical), here's the first 10 of the best tracks from Irish bands that were reviewed on the blog in 2014. Enjoy.

1) Abandcalledboy - 'Cliff Richard'

From: Belfast
Why? Aside from the best video of the year, Abandcalledboy's 'Cliff Richard' is an epic rock song, heavy music meets light humour, we need more bands like this urgently. These guys had a great year with the likes of Hot Press fawning over them, and rightly so.

2) Bold Things - 'Swallows End' (404 Version)

From: Dundalk
Why? One of the tracks I've listened to more than any other for almost 12 months now, Gavin Murray's vocals combined with the guitars and bass are haunting, the spoken interlude and the rising tempo are simply majestical and hair-raising. The fact that frontman Jim dedicated it to yours truly in Whelans during the summer has no bearing on it's inclusion, thanks Jim!

3) Cormac O'Caoimh - 'Maze of Your Heart'

From: Cork
Why? One of the biggest earworms, I've regularly been found spontaneously singing 'You've gotta lot of feelings, and meanings for stealing...' around the homestead. 'Maze of Your Heart' is the definition of happiness in a song and Cormac's guitar playing, as on the rest of his album, The Moon Looses It's Memory, is a joy to listen to, and it's coming on another road trip next week. 

4) The Daily Howl - 'Hang It On A Hook'

From: Wicklow
Why? 'Hang It On A Hook' is the type of song you want bands who claim to be folk pop musicians to write, it's like The Everly Brothers meets The Beach Boys with a modern twist, and it's seriously enjoyable. The Daily Howl should be on everyone's radar for 2015.

5) Danny G & The Major 7th's - 'Believin' In Something'

From: Dublin
Why? There are many great songs on Danny G & The Major 7th's debut album, Love Joints, but I just got bowled over by this video and song when I heard it earlier this year, everything, everything, drums, bass, keyboards, backing vocals, funk, soul, harmonies, and that flute solo, dayum.

6) Donal de Blacam - 'Wake Up Julie'

From: Dublin
Why? A late entry onto the pages of the blog, is the recently reviewed album Hypnagogia from Donal de Blacam. I mentioned in the review that parts of the album got me inside and none moreso than 'Wake Up Julie', an absolutely gorgeous ballad that's so easy on the ear with nice guitar plucking and duet.

7) Earthship - 'The Great Wheel'

From: Galway
Why? I mentioned above music that touched on my own tastes and Earthship's 'The Great Wheel' had an early 90's dance, funk, Portishead mashup washing around my ears in no time, it's like, groovy and mellow man! And how about those bass-lines?

8) Femmepop (& Timecop) - 'Our Time'

From: Cork
Why? Lush 80's synths and fantastic vocals, I thought this track in particular, along with much of the rest of Femmepop's album, From A Girl Who Never Sleeps, completely captured an eighties atmosphere that made me feel very, very nostalgic. This version of her track, 'Our Time', featuring Timecop is particularly satisfying.

9) Go Swim - 'Call Sign'

From: Belfast
Why? I said it in the prelude to a recent interview with Go Swim that 'Call Sign' would feature on any end of year list I did and the passage of time has only strengthened that. The most played track on my SoundCloud playlist and one of the best songs I've heard all year from any band, established, signed, unsigned or otherwise, it's exactly how I like modern guitar music to sound, it can't be compared to much else because it's unique, what a bloody tune.

10) The Journals - 'Part II'

From: Dublin
Why? The Journals' entire debut E.P. was a solid listen from start to finish, unlike a lot of other bands in the indie genre from Ireland, the thing that I liked about their music, best exemplified on the opening track, 'Part II', was how natural and unforced it sounded. 'Part II' is a lovely track, musically it's a real treat, the guitars and vocal harmonies stick in the head and frontman Ollie Moyles' singing is earnest and moving, there's also a nice pace to the track. I hope these fellas release something new soon.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Bold Things, Colours To The Wall E.P. & Interview

Bold Things, 'The Eternal Artist'

Info: Many regulars to the blog will know that Dundalk band Bold Things have been a firm favourite of Remy's Music & Film Blog for quite a while now. I was delighted to hear that they finally released their debut E.P., Colours To The Wall, this week which features two previously released tracks and two brand new ones, 'Cadet' and 'The Eternal Artist' (above), both of which are excellent and in keeping with the bands consistently strong output of tracks. The E.P. also includes my own personal favourite song, 'Swallows End', and the very first track / video ever reviewed on the blog, 'Love The Bomb'. The band have always put a phenomenal amount of thought and passion into their music, and I think that's best expressed in the below interview. A big thanks to Ronan, Ian, Gavin and Jim for putting in the effort with the interview as well, it's not often you get such thoughtful responses, and they've introduced some great new music linked below too.

Bold Things @ Toales, Dundalk

Remy: It’s hard to believe it’s nearly a year since I reviewed 'Love The Bomb' and now here it is, laid down on your debut E.P., Colours To The Wall, as well as my favourite Bold Things track, 'Swallows End' and two brand new songs, how are you guys feeling right now, pretty chuffed I’d imagine?

Jim: Very chuffed Remy! The way we work, unwaveringly sticks to a democratic 4 man job. So our approach means taking time to make sure everything works and fits. These 4 songs truly represent the 4 boys involved; and I think that's a trump card in many ways. For us it is worth the wait. We are delighted to have it ready. Like you've said, it's been a year and a little bit less since we presented video versions of 'Love the Bomb' and 'Swallows End'. At the time we thought it would be cool to show live alternates to songs that were destined for the full EP treatment. We love when we see different versions of tracks; and for us it was a good way to document our progress. I'm sure they deliver on Colours to the Wall.

Ronan: Yeah we're very chuffed Remy. It's a relief to have it out. To be honest at times it has been a long arduous process but with our schedules it does feel like a great achievement just to say that it’s finished. For as long as we've been in a band we've never known things to be easy, certainly when releasing anything. This band is a democracy with each of us being strongly opinionated people this leads to a wonderfully interactive and open process. During the course of the recording of the EP we've released some acoustic and room versions of the songs which freshened things up and also gave us new outlooks on the tracks. So these did help with the development of 'Love the Bomb' and 'Swallows End'. These tracks have been knocking around for a while so releasing this to the public is a wonderful feeling for us. We're really delighted with it.

Remy: One of the things that I’ve always found appealing about Bold Things' music is the deliberate difference in timing between drums and vocals, (such as the intro for 'Cadet') and also the solemn mood of vocals vs. increasing tempo in the music on 'Swallows End' & 'The Eternal Artist', was there any other
artist or album that influenced these stylistic approaches or are they purely the natural outcome of the four of you playing together?

Gavin: Hhhmmm, I think it’s probably a combination of both us playing and what we were influenced by at the time. A desire to create gaps, space and
an interesting rhythmic landscape was something that was running through all our heads when making 'Cadet'. We felt it needed that treatment. That seductive quality of having seemingly disparate things working together. The
intro I guess sets this experimental buzz in motion. Personally, at the time I was listening to really interesting rhythmic stuff like 'Bloom' by Radiohead and 'Blush Mosaic' by Patten which definitely played into it for me. I think the combination of solemn vocals and increasing tempos you’ve pointed out again is an extension of this merging of contrasting elements but for more tonal ends. Offsetting weighty or pensive moments with overt physicality or increasing tempos kinda lifts things tonally. It creates greater intensity, greater possibilities. PJ Harvey does this masterfully on Let England Shake. She adds a sense of community and uplifts the heaviest subject matter you could imagine. So yeah I guess these stylistic approaches are a combination of convictions or ideas that we have influences and us playing together. 

Remy: The four of you are all good mates from Dundalk, for people who are unfamiliar with your background, how long have you been playing together and how did it all start?

Jim: Myself and Gav started making music together when we were 12. I had a bass and he had a drumkit. We did the formative stuff together; we reckoned we'd be good footballers when we were 11. But stuff clicked when we started buying those CD things. Years later Gav brought Patsy, and I invited Ro along to a practice, and then it started there. The band was another shade in the formative experience lads have growing up. We did demos and singles and weaved the band into our upbringing. The Spirit Store in Dundalk was our cornerstone. Fast forward and we decided to do the London thing. And here we are.

Remy: You did quite a bit of initial recording when you were all living together in London and in the last couple of months some of you had to leave the city for new adventures, how has that affected the band in terms of writing and recording, and more importantly, do you miss each other!?

Ian 'Patsy': Ah yeah, we definitely do miss each other but Manchester is just up the road so it doesn’t feel very far!! Still, it’s quite a strange thing to think about in some respects having lived out of each other’s pockets for quite some time and then not any more, but we did it before all of us moved to London as well. The great thing about being in a band with your mates is you can just pick up where you left off and know exactly who you are within that space. Distance is part of how these songs were formed and whether that’s reflected by lyrics or sounds, I feel it to be a constant theme. For example, the first demo of 'The Eternal Artist' was given to me a few days before Gav moved to London on his own in 2010 and has been worked on in stages since. For me there has always been a sense of transience in the work especially when we take such a considered approach to our music. There is always something else in the wings.

Bold Things, 'Love The Bomb'

Remy: You had a pretty busy first half of 2014 with the release of a couple of singles, plenty of local gigs in London such as Hackney Irish Social Club and the Yardlife Festival in Islington, and of course your homecoming during the summer, which gig was a stand out for you?

Jim:The gigs of 2014 have been very generous to us. Playing places like The Water Rats with its long history didn't go unnoticed to us. The Paddy’s day gig in Dalston was wonderful because it was built from the ground up, involving the Hackney Irish Social Club and ex-pats alike. People came together; a truly great day, and Ireland won the 6 nations! We were lucky to have great experiences in Whelans, and in Dalston, London. The best gig though was playing Toales in Dundalk. We hadn't played at home since 2010. We could finally showcase Bold Things music at home, and be able to go home afterwards!!! Between Ireland and the UK, 2014 has allowed us to meet our friends. 

Remy: Stepping back from Bold Things for a minute, it’s clear all four of you are very much into current music crossing a variety of genres, care to share some of your favourite albums that you’ve really enjoyed in 2014 (these can also be ones from previous years that were new discoveries)?

Ronan: My favourite album this year is St. Vincent: St. Vincent. What impressed me most with this album was that it bursts with amazing confidence and swagger. I recall first hearing it with my music on shuffle on a bus dosing off at some unearthly hour of the morning and 'Birth in Reverse' wastes absolutely no time in slapping you in the face, demanding your attention. "Take out the garbage, masturbate". Absolutely. I was struck with the brashness of it, especially her angular guitar playing. She has such a variety; her style clearly bears influence from jazz to prog rock to classic rock/heavy metal. This kind of makes it quite spontaneous and in effect liberating, which in previous albums was her heaviest criticism that each move seem to have been too pre-plotted, but I don't think this can be said about this album. The air of unpredictability is evident, she bursts on the scene with confidence but as you discover she counteracts this with extreme honest moments of lyrical self-deprecating vulnerability. Although she remains quite faithful to her earlier albums she brings so many new explosive elements to this. It's simply brilliant, for me this by far and away the best album of the year. A very brief mention for my second favourite release this year is Damon Albarn's Everyday Robots. This was my favourite album after St. Vincent's as he delves into his early life, discovering London in the early years of Blur. He always tells a story, but I haven't seen anything as biographical as this from him. It's Damon at his usual brilliant best. Deadly stuff. Other mentions this year for FKA Twigs, single 'Two Weeks' and Jessie Ware's Devotion.'

Ian 'Patsy': I’ve been listening to a lot of Mount Kimbie, Chelsea Wolfe and Julio Bashmore this year, but in terms of I reckon my favourite album this year is Todd Terje's It's Album Time or FKA Twiggs LP1…or Tim Hecker Virgins. I got lost in a pit of Sabbath, Stones and Zeppelin in May so I may have missed a bit! Haha!

Bold Things, 'Swallows End' *note, not the E.P. version

Remy: Irish people are hoors for slating their own musicians (I’ve been guilty of it myself), but I don’t think Bold Things are haters, are there any Irish acts from the last couple of years that really float your boat? 

Ian 'Patsy': I’m just a music hoor...haha. I’ve not been around much in terms of Irish music for a while now but every now and then I stumble across something I like. I’m a big Rejjie Snow fan, it’s great to see Ireland produce some genuinely good Hip Hop. He’s working with people like King Krule as well and creating some really interesting stuff, His Rejovich EP has been a mainstay on my iPod since last July. Personnel are an Irish electronic act that I like a lot, they’re on SoundCloud, really great tune! I’ve also been listening to Bleeding Heart Pigeons, the do really interesting ambient jazzy dancey loveliness. I believe they are from Limerick. Check out their performance on Other Voices on YouTube its really amazing stuff. Other than that I love And So I Watch You From Afar. They’re quality.

Ronan: Certainly are hoors for slating Remy! To be honest, same as Patsy, I haven't seen too many Irish acts in the last 2 years since making the move over the water, just been keeping track online. But there's one Irish act which stood out to me this year more than any other, I Am the Cosmos with their album Monochrome. Now anything with funk infused baselines and vibrant synth will probably do it for me but there's something wholesome about this album. It's full of sultry beats overlaid with melancholic synth as the vocals lay washed underneath some tracks drenched in reverb. The further you go into the album the more the vocals become prominent and give it another ambient layer. There’s an element of Animal Collective, CHVRCHES and little bit of Future Islands here but the album has a low-fi 80s synth production. As a whole the album kind of flows through rapidly with an exciting drive, it's a pretty comprehensive body of work. Doesn't feel like a collection of songs accumulated uncomfortably together, each one brilliantly compliments the next. I'm excited to see these folks live. Soon I hope.

Remy: Now that you’ve finished recording Colours To The Wall are you already thinking of more material for a second E.P. with a view to eventually making an album, or what’s the next step for the band?

Gavin: To be honest, we’re not thinking about albums or second EP’s at all at the moment. Colours to the Wall was a massive project for us, it demanded so much focus and we are just delighted to have it out 100% the way we wanted it. It feels like we've all done our leaving cert again kinda thing and we need to go sweat it out in Lanzorote, Ha Ha! The band is like a meeting point for our individual creativities. We’ve got a new geographical situation to navigate around now. We’ll see what those creativities amount to and what they point towards when we meet up for some sessions in early 2015 with our band hats on and sun kissed faces. 

Jim presses the 'Delete All Band' button at Whelans, June, 2014

Remy: Jim and Gavin, you both share the vocal responsibilities on a lot of tracks, have the two of you ever fallen out over a head to head on Singstar or in a karaoke club?

Jim: Ha. I don't think we've ever indulged in any Singstar activity. It's funny, we kind of started off singing at the same time and learned as we went. Gav was the first person I let rip vocally in front of. We've heard each other try a lot of different things. We inadvertently emulated the people we were listening to across the years. His deeper range and my higher range have grown together; we always work it out. The best ideas win out. Vocal intent and lyrical content mean a hell of a lot to the 2 of us, and I can safely say that we work.

Gav: Ha Ha, no not yet but there’s always time for that. The only thing we argue about is fluffy nonsense like what particular shade of blue we should paint my bass drum skin before a gig. But sure we’ll have that! We’ve been best friends since we were 8 and been making music together since we were 12. I can safely say that we know each other’s vocal strengths and weaknesses well by this stage. The sharing of vocal duties sorts itself out, it’s always very clear to us what voice suits what line.

Remy: Ronan, you seem to be far more refined than some of the other band members when it comes to social media, which of the others would you send to seek counselling for online addiction?

Ronan: I'm probably the most refined when it comes to Facebook anyway. My feed is usually taken up by suggestions more so than actual updates from my friends. Just things Facebook think I might like or a video that someone I haven't spoken to in about 6 years has liked from the LAD Bible. So I don't pay as much attention to it as I used to. I use the FB messenger mostly to keep in contact with friends. My posts are usually saved for good art, a Bold Things update, Dundalk winning the league or the occasionally hilarious cat video. 
I like Instagram but my photos usually aren't cool enough for it. I'm more a Twitter man, I feel I've marginally more control over my feed on this than others. I actually find it a brilliant source of news too. It's the future this tweeting thing.

Remy: Finally, Ian, as a fellow Liverpool fan that was some roller-coaster last season, what the hell is going on this year? How much longer would you give Big Brendan? 

Ian 'Patsy': Too many new players and not enough planning, Sturridge being out and Gerrard being past it...I think Rogers will survive, missing last season and losing Suarez has messed up their heads. And Mingolet is terrible. All I know is I’m not looking forward to next weekend...I work beside Old Trafford and they all know I’m a Pool fan!! 

Look / Like / Listen & Follow:






Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christine Deady, 'Inspired By You', Debut Album

Info: From West Cork, songwriter Christine Deady joins a growing trend of Irish female singers who take inspiration from the folk songs of the sixties and seventies but add contemporary influences to their work which acts as the backdrop to their personal experiences. Christine though, hasn't just popped out of nowhere with an album in her hand, she has been working towards this recording from as far back as 2010 when she was shortlisted for the Most Promising New Act at the Meteor Awards as well as winning IMRO's National Christie Hennessey song comeptition in 2012. She has also performed regularly over the years with well known names in the Irish music industry such as Paul Brady, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Mick Flannery, Cathy Davey to name but a few, as well as sharing the stage with Marketa Irglova in Dublin at the Unitarian Church recently. 

Inspired By You is perhaps a reference to all of the people the singer has crossed paths with and the varying impacts they have had on her, the album being described as 'a collection of songs about facing adversity and rising up through it.' Thankfully Deady doesn't look for sympathy or produce a record riddled with misery, far from it, the overriding trait of the music and vocals are ones of positivity and of someone who has refused to allow trials and tribulations lead to self pity. The album opens with what could easily be a single and is probably the most upbeat song on the album, 'From the Bottom', it has a very mid-90's sound and is carried along nicely by the chugging guitar and backing vocals. The second track, 'Raise My Soul' comes in the tradition of the protest song, in this case the singer seeks change and new beginnings in a world surrounded by popular banality, and is also very enticing and catchy. 

From this point on Deady focuses temporarily on character driven songs in 'Crazy Lonely' and the album's title track, 'Inspired By You', which don't delve too far into the characters, but more reflect the impact they had on her, and the latter is indeed a highlight on the album. The album finishes strongly with 'To Be Somebody' and final track 'Celebrating You', both of which come across as accomplished traditional folk songs. One thing that did strike me while I was listening to the album is that maybe it's a track or two too long, as the middle part of the album begins to lag compared to the opening and closing thirds. Overall, Christine Deady clearly has talent to spare, a great voice and intelligent lyrics, and Inspired By You should be a reference point for anyone even thinking of following in her footsteps.

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The Sunshine Spectacular, 'Family Fires', Single Release

The Sunshine Spectacular, 'Family Fires'

Info: The Sunshine Spectacular are a Tasmanian electropop group signed to independent Norwegian label, Cafe Superstar, and have just released their first single, 'Family Fires' above, along with a remix of the track with contributions from two members of Musique Le Pop, who are also on the label, backing vocals from Elisabeth and the remix from Jon. The cover artwork, vocals and music immediately reminded me of Norwegian duo Röyksopp and their 2001 album Melody A.M. as well as Swedish group Peter, Bjorn & John. 'Family Fires' is a very appealing feel-good track, with simple lyrics and infectious sounds that can only lead one to a happy place upon listening to it, and while it's short at just over 3 minutes, the remix is there to give you another little fix. The group describe their influences as candy, flowers, birds, trees and chocolates, a good summary! 

Like / Listen:

Website: (Cafe Superstar) 

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Donal de Blacam, Hypnagogia, Album Review

Info: One of the reasons I love music so much, aside from how enjoyable it is on so many levels, are the moments when you listen to an album and it affects you on another level, sometimes you have slow burners that end up becoming a life-long favourite, and other times you instantly understand that a piece of music has become something specifically appealing to you. Donal de Blacam's Hypnagogia had a bit of an emotional effect on me when I was listening to it this afternoon, somehow creating a gnawing internal sadness, not the type that makes you feel down, but the type that's a reaction to what your experiencing while listening to the music. The album starts with two tracks that summarise de Blacam's dual ability to write pensive and heart-rendering songs ('Saw The World') along with very accomplished and seemingly effortless rock song exemplified by 'Sweet Little Lie', which has a nice swagger about it, backing vocals and guitars wouldn't be out of place on a Primal Scream track.

The above title track, feels rooted in late 70's /early 80's rock when the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen were at their absolute peak. Before that comes the incredible track, 'Golden Orioles', de Blacam's vocals are earnest and disarming, and it quite reminds me of Scott Walker and though it doesn't sound like him, in a similar style to one of my favourite song-writers, Richard Hawley. 

'KissProof' is again full of swagger and the electric guitar playing is superb, the grittiness added to immeasurably by an interlude rant by the late great Reverand Ian Paisley! The song has a real blues rock sound to it complimented by the hammond sounding piano playing and reminds me of blue collar band Grand Funk Railroad or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Two other moving tracks come in the form of 'Chasing Aurora' and 'Close Behind', a combination of soulful vocals and music dripping with a magical ambience, at which point you feel totally immersed in the album. One particular highlight for me that establishes de Blacam's exceptional song-writing ability is 'If I Knew Out of the Blue', shades of Mic Christopher, 70's folk, and early Elvis which launches into more contemporary rock at the half-way point and bursts with energy. I haven't even mentioned the absolutely beautiful 'Wake Up Julie', you'll just have to listen to it for yourself. I've no doubt that Donal de Blacam is one of our best current song-writers, with lyrics that cross over into poetry, a wide musical range and what appears to be an innate understanding of how songs work, Hypnagogia should feature in some future miscellany or record of Irish albums, it's simply that good.

Donal de Blacam, 'Wake Up Julie'

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We Were Giants, 'All I Want', New Single

We Were Giants All I Want

We Were Giants, 'All I Want'

Info: Dublin band We Were Giants released their debut E.P., Part One, in 2012 which received much airplay and acclaim from critics, following which they completed a 2013 tour of Germany and were also selected to play at Welsh music festival FOCUS earlier this year. Yesterday saw the release of their new single, 'All I Want' (above) and now Colm (Vocals/Guitar), Ste (Guitar/Vocals), Danny (Bass) and Jay (Drums) are ready to perform on live radio sessions on both Roddie Cleere's Irish Music Show (KCLR 96FM, 7th Dec.), on Irish Beats with Rob O'Connor (Beat 102-103FM, 14th Dec.) as well as a live show on The Chandelier Sessions at the Attic Bar in Swords (11th Dec.).

While I'd certainly heard of We Were Giants a number of times I'd never heard their debut E.P. until today and there are some really great tracks on it, it also struck me that there was quite a contrast between them and 'All I Want', insofar as they are a bit heavier. That said, this is only the first song from their full album which will be released in 2015 and I'm sure there will be tracks in a similar vein to 'Vampires' and 'WarWren'. 'All I Want' definitely indicates an advancement in We Were Giants development and I found it to be a thoroughly pleasing listen from start to finish. I also thought there was peculiar strands of Sigur Rós in the final minute and a half of the track and wasn't surprised to see the Icelandic band mentioned as one of their influences on their website. The melding of intense drums, piano and soaring guitars as well as some ethereal vocal effects work very well together in bringing you to the songs operatic climax. A few more singles like 'All I Want' and it's hard not to see We Were Giants becoming one of the bands at the forefront of Irish music as well as attaining success overseas.

We Were Giants, 'Part One' E.P.

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