Monday, 20 October 2014

Goldfish - 'Sugar Man' Remix

Goldfish, 'Sugar Man' (Remix)

Info: If you weren't touched or blown away by 2012's epic Searching for Sugar Man your internal circuit board may need some rewiring. My instant reaction when I saw the title of the remix was 'uh-oh, this might not work', but it does, and it's pretty great! Here's the low-down on South African duo, Goldfish;

'Themselves one of the most successful recording artists in South African history, live electronic band and MTV winners Goldfish have chosen to celebrate Rodriguez’ work ahead of their US tour by remixing ‘Sugar Man’ from ‘Cold Fact’. 

The pair’s reworking is as sensitive to the original subject as it is beautiful. For those fearing an EDM revamping, nothing could be further from the truth. The deep, dreamy remix is testament not only to Goldfish’s high-end production and composition skills, but also their close affinity to and understanding of the track. The hazy, heady, almost hallucinogenic spirit of Rodriguez’ ‘Sugar Man’ is still very much intact, in parts stripped down to a few lush piano chords, other times sweeping the listener up in a warm envelope of sound and emotion, Rodriguez’ haunting vocals guiding the single the entire time.

Dave Poole and Dominic Peters, who fly out to Rodriguez’ home country after their sold out ADE Special with Bakermat this Friday, (available to view live on spoke about why they decided to pay tribute to one of South Africa’s highest grossing artists.

"Going over to America as South Africans, it made sense to highlight the biggest connection for us between the two countries." Poole said. "For any South African, Rodriguez is as legendary as they come and we all grew up knowing his music. He’s an icon."

For decades, South African fans thought the folk singer had committed suicide. Wild rumours circulated varying from him shooting his brains out on stage, to setting himself on fire in front of a horrified audience. The truth, it turned out, was that the man Cold Fact co-producer Mike Theodore deemed "better than Dylan" was working as a construction worker in Detroit. A curious and enigmatic figure, he had absolutely no idea of the impact or commercial success he’d enjoyed thousands of miles away on another continent. 

"It’s kind of crazy thinking about just how influential Rodriguez has been on generations of South Africans – including us," Peters said, "and he never knew a thing about it. For us there was no better way to show our love and appreciation for a man that really was only about the music, than to put our twist on one of his greatest tracks. We hope people enjoy it and we hope that it introduces his music to a whole new audience in the process."

(click to enlarge tour dates)

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Album Review - The Northern Lights, 'Dreamers'

The Northern Lights, '1984'

Info: It's early days but it looks like we may have the North American pretenders to France's M83 on our hands in California chillwave group The Northern Lights. Dreamers was released earlier this year in May and from the opener 'Night Drive', which evokes scenes from a John Hughes film, all the way to the final track, 'Dreamer', you're brought on a flamboyant journey through 80's heaven. The second track, 'You're A Dreamer', is one of the few to feature vocals, something that the band are promising a lot more of on their upcoming album which will be released in the winter, and has a lovely little guitar effect echoing throughout. Next up is '1984' (above) which is one of the best tracks I've heard this year, I've had it on loop for over a week now on their BandCamp page and it feels like it will be impossible to get sick of it, getting pulled across a sonic soundscape with those drums beating you around the head never felt better! Another zinger on the album for me is 'Elevation', guitars, synths and drums, everything is working here, check it out below. The album ends on a high note with 'Dreamer', benefiting from some nice strings toward the end of the track. I think it's a good thing that there will be more vocals on the new album, while it works a treat on Dreamers, a second release on the bounce with the same format might feel a bit samey. Overall, while short and sweet, this album is definitely marked for repeated listens and fills a precise desire one may have to just listen to some good contemporary synth-based music.

The Northern Lights, 'Elevation'

The lovely chaps in The Northern Lights are going to be giving me a heads up when the new album is finished and there'll be a review of it here on the blog, in the meantime, you can check out more music including a full stream of Dreamers here;

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Friday, 17 October 2014

New Irish Music - Monster Monster

Monster Monster, 'Assassin'

Info: Dublin duo Monster Monster are Mick Stuart on guitar, Ríona Sally Hartman on vocals, and both of them on everything else in between, i.e., the music. The pair have recorded two tracks, 'Assassins' (above video) and 'I Am Yours', and they're two peaches. 'Assassins' is a dark number with Hartman's alluring vocals blending old and new styles, that of a 1930's club singer with a more contemporary pop sound, whilst the track's intro draws on Massive Attack's Mezzanine before nodding to Portishead's Dummy. I'm generalising with albums rather than songs because they are merely hints, nothing more specific than that. 'I Am Yours' is a both uplifting and hopeful song about love, the piano and drumming really reminded me of some of the great early 90's dance ballads and later indie music from the same decade, but not as deliberately poppy. Different aspects of the track combine to make a weirdly wonderful meld of lots of different genres from the 80's through to the present day. In short, these two tracks go down so nice and easy and I could definitely see myself enjoying a longer release from Monster Monster in the future. Not to mention one of the best Twitter bio's I've seen in a while!

Additional Info: Monster Monster are an alternative-pop duo from Dublin with song-writing at the heart of the project. Songs by Mick Stuart are developed and made her own by Ríona Sally Hartman. Exploring the range between love and hate, they create one voice from contrasting perspectives. Mick writes with one thing in mind, Ríona sings with another. Mick suggests left, Ríona swings right. Mick listens to Massive Attack, Emilie Sandé and The Beatles, Ríona listens to Janelle Monae, The Eurythmics and Laura Marling. Then they get together, compare notes and argue over lyrics.

They’ve been working behind the scenes, recording music and honing their sound in Grouse Lodge and Beechpark studios with the up and coming UK producer James Lewis (works with Rudimental, Sunset Sons, Morris Rae).  
They both live for storytelling, big cinematic sounds and, like Bono, both want world peace!

Monster Monster are truly grateful for the contribution on the tracks of;

Tommy Gray - drums
Johnny Taylor - keyboards
Niel Dorrington - bass
Jess Kavanagh - backing vocals

Monster Monster, 'I Am Yours'

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Danny G & The Major 7ths - Love Joints, Album Review

Danny G & The Major 7ths, 'Sweet Lies'

About: An 8-piece Neo-Soul band hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Danny G & The Major 7ths is the musical alias of a certain Daniel Groenland, a singer, flautist, guitarist and composer who has regularly performed with the likes of funk band Mob Fandango, African-trad fusion outfit Tig Linn, the Discovery Gospel Choir and The Gospel Project.

His band the Major 7ths represents a move towards a more personal, soulful sound inspired by Neo-Soul artists like D’Angelo and Dilla, as well as the old classics like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. With an emphasis on harmonies and grooves, they feature not one but four vocalists and an all-star lineup ranging from 7 to 10 musicians.

Info: Way back in January at the start of this year I was made aware of Danny G & The Major 7ths through a mutual friend, and watching the development of Love Joints from inception to completion has been a very interesting journey. Danny is unique among his peers insofar as it's pretty unheard of for Irish artists to embrace soul with a dash of funk so wholeheartedly. As a huge fan of Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, James Carr and Al Green to name but a few, I instantly found the music appealing, and when I first saw the live video for 'Believin' In Something' (below) it really made me sit up, and led to an immediate enhanced interest in what the future held for Danny G & The Major 7ths. 

Danny G & The Major 7th's, 'Be With You'

So here's my thoughts on some of the tracks on Love Joints, starting with 'Be With You'. The opening track on the album seems to be one of the ones I've listened to most, which is quite normal I suppose, but it's been seriously stuck in my head for over a week now, the keyboard and wah-wah loop like a worm boring into your head, with really nice harmonies between the front man and the backing vocalists, at one point Danny reminding me of one of my heroes, Michael McDonald, on the higher notes. Another favourite is the fourth track 'In Love', the first full-on taste of 70's soul on the album with delightfully funky guitar riffs and rhythms. The following track GTFO is full of swagger and attitude as the title suggests, with a punchy interlude featuring Ophelia MC that works a treat. Speaking of interludes, the instrumental 'Being With You' slows things down temporarily and it's a great showcase for the talented musicians that make up The Major 7ths, my only complaint is, that as you reach the beautiful piano piece at the end, you want it to go on for longer. 'Just Go Away' is stripped down to the bare bones, a simple and enjoyable ballad that harks back to early 60's folk before Danny G & The Major 7ths raise the curtain on Love Joints returning to what they do best, soulful funk and then some on 'Square One' which is perfectly placed at the end of the album. This is the first album I've reviewed that I feel I've had a (social media) ringside seat to over the course of almost a year, and from the sidelines I've witnessed a lot of hard work and huge dedication go into making it, and it really has paid off, Danny G & The Major 7ths are a tight outfit, and lord knows we need some of their sugar in our bowls.

Additional Info: 

Danny G & The Major 7ths are;

Daniel Groenland - Vocals, multi-instrument
Dennis Cassidy - Drums
Graham Heaney - Bass
Johnny Taylor - Piano
Keith Fennell - Vocals
Rebecca Sinnamon - Vocals
Aisling McCormick
Grainne McCarthy - Vocals
Paddy Groenland - Guitar
Cote Calmet - Percussion

The Love Joints album launch is this coming Saturday, the 18th of October in The Grand Social, and I'll be heading along myself, if it's anywhere near as good as this, we're in for a treat.

Danny G & The Major 7ths, 'Believin' In Something'

You can purchase Love Joints at the following link on CD, mp3 or FLAC and there's also a limited edition of 100 7" vinyl copies of 'Sweet Lies' with B-side 'Never Trust Your Heart', I already have mine, get them while they're available!

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Join Me In The Pines, 'Inherit', Album Release

Join Me In The Pines, 'Golden Guilt'

Info: Inherit is the first album released by Join Me In The Pines, and the man behind the music, Dave Geraghty's first solo release since 2009's The Victory Dance. The fruits of almost two years work from writing to release (the album was launched on Friday, 10th of October), you get a sense that this album has been waiting for Geraghty in the background, until sufficient life experiences and memories had been stored up, ready to be poured into one piece of work. 

Join Me In The Pines have released a number of videos in the run up to the release of Inherit for tracks such as 'Joy Is Lion', 'At First Light', 'Should Not Roam' and 'Golden Guilt' (above), some of which have been featured here over the last 8 months. As such, I thought I'd focus on the tracks that haven't been covered previously and no better place to start than at the very beginning of the album and the track 'Mezzanine'. The track is a beautiful soft opener that almost beckons you towards the music that is to come on the rest of the album, an homage to an adopted hometown and reflections of happy and sad memories of the time spent there. 

One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'In The Ground', a dark gothic song with a sense of impending doom and wonderfully heavy acoustic riff the whole way through. By the half-way point of the track you feel almost suffocated, as if an arresting paralysis has taken hold and is pulling you under the water. The following track, 'Man With A Mission' has a very western feel about it musically, from the gospel-esque piano intro to the gritty vocals, you feel like you're in a desolate honky-tonk bar off a highway in the mid-west (of America, just to be clear). I also have to highlight how great the backing vocals of Clare Finglass and Dave's mother are, particularly where they feature at the start of the album. Overall, Inherit flows easily through different styles from beginning to end and is a very pleasurable listen with plenty of highlights, affirming Geraghty's song-writing credentials once again.

This Thursday, 16th of October, Join Me In The Pines will play Whelans of Wexford Street, doors at 8pm with support from the hotly tipped Wild Promises, and you can get tickets here. It really is a case of two great acts for the price of one at only €14.00.

Join Me In The Pines, 'Joy Is A Lion'

The Song Lives On, Part 5 - Turn, 'Beretta'

Turn, 'Beretta'

Info: One of Ireland's better known bands at the turn (yes) of the century, posters for Turn gigs seemed to be plastered everywhere, all of the time, and if you were in college at the time, and were interested in music, chances were you'd seen them live at least once. The band was made up of front man Ollie Cole and Ian Melady (drums), both from Co. Meath, who teamed up in Dublin with bass-player Gavin Fox (who would go on to join the excellent Edinburgh outfit, Idlewild in 2003). Their debut album, Antisocial (2001), was littered with crowd favourites, especially the first two songs, 'Too Much Make Up' (below) and the brilliant 'Beretta' (above). For some reason their record label, Infectious, didn't feel there was any value in releasing singles from the album and so the band moved on, self-releasing their 2003 follow-up, Forward, which appeared to signal the rise of the band beyond their loyal fanbase, reaching no.8 in the Irish charts. A few small line-up changes followed and Turn released their third and final self-titled album in 2005. 

My own abiding, and possibly least muddied memory of the gigs I've mentioned so far, was in the dark bowels of what was then called Danger Doyle's in Temple Bar, just off Dame Street in 2000/1, for some reason it was a particularly messy night and the band were in fine form. The rules surrounding drinking pints front of stage were non-existent back then and the floor was awash with spilt beer after only two songs in what was probably one of the less glamorous venues Turn performed at. I got in touch with bass-player Gavin Fox and he very kindly took time out to put together his thoughts on those halcyon days, massive thanks to Gavin for the following piece;

'My memories of the band starting are very dear. I was 17 and even though the boys were a bit older, they weren't in Dublin long so it felt like we were learning the ropes together. Our first rehearsal took place at The Factory in Ringsend. It was a special day and we instantly knew we were on to something. From then on everything happened very quickly. We were signed and published within the year and we became a very tight live band. I honestly can't remember one single bad thing about that first year. We were all very happy.

Nearly all of the shows we played were stand out for me. I was and still am a massive fan of Irish bands like Revelino, Sack, Whipping Boy, Future Kings of Spain, JJ72 etc., and we played and became friends with them all. I learned so much from watching these bands and felt blessed to be a part of that scene. If I had to pick one show I guess it would be the first time we sold out the Temple Bar Music Centre. We came back from dinner before the show and saw the queue outside. I think most bands have that same fond memory.

I remember being on tour supporting Idlewild in the U.K. and we did an afternoon show in the uni bar. Some guy at a table kept talking so Ollie got off stage and asked him outside for a fight. The guy wheeled his wheelchair from under the table and Ollie came back on stage. I still have a wee chuckle about that!

Turn, 'Too Much Make Up'

I loved being in Turn and I'm very proud of everything we did. Every gig we played, we played as if it were our last. Every rehearsal was creative and those lads were like brothers to me and still are. Of course we all felt something big should have happened but it just didn't. That's what happens with bands. Everybody else kept telling us we'd be huge but the chances of that happening are always slim. I can name a list of big bands that shouldn't be as big and a list of small bands that should. If a band can make even a slight impact on just a few people then it was worth while!

I think we did that.

- Gavin Fox, Turn (bassist)

Gavin currently plays for Little Matador, who released their first, self-titled album earlier this year, find out more and have a listen here

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Rory Gallagher, Top 10

Info: Undoubtedly, as far as I'm concerned, Ireland's most gifted guitarist, (and my own, hands down, favourite musician of all time, from anywhere!) born in Ballyshannon in 1948, Co.Donegal, the family moved to Derry where his younger brother, Dónal was born, before settling in Cork city. Both counties claim him as their own with annual festivals growing year on year in both locations. In perhaps an attempt to claim some supremacy over their rivals, Ballyshannon have even placed a statue of Rory in the centre of the town. He was also unique, insofar that he played in both sides of Belfast during the Troubles, with a complete disregard for the tensions of the 1970's in the North. Ask any Irish person from any demographic to name a Thin Lizzy, U2, Enya, Chris de Burgh song, and they should be able to give you an answer, the same can't be said about Gallagher, and that's fine of course, so here's 8 songs of his, plus 2 interviews. But before I post these tracks, I have to reiterate two tired stories about Rory, the first is when Rolling Stone magazine asked Jimi Hendrix how it felt to be the greatest guitarist in the world, to which Hendrix replied 'I don't know, you'll have to ask Rory Gallagher', and Brian May of Queen recalling a time he sat in silence and watched Gallagher play in front of him and later stated that he owed everything he knew about guitar playing to Rory. Enjoy.

Rory Gallagher statue, Ballyshannon, with Stratocaster
(Photo: Remy Connolly)

1) 'Walking On Hot Coals' - Irish Tour, 1974

2) 'Going To My Hometown' - German TV studio, 1972

3) 'Crest of a Wave' - German Beat Club, 1974 (2 mins on....)

4) Slash from Guns N' Roses talks about Rory Gallagher

5) 'As The Crow Flies' - Irish Tour, 1974

6) 'Cradle Rock' - Montreux, 1975

7) 'Wheels Within Wheels' - posthumous track

8) Interview - Rory Gallagher in Cologne, Germany, 1976

9) 'I Could've Had Religion' - The song Bob Dylan told Rory he wished he'd written, Dylan also visited Rory Gallagher on his deathbed in hospital, and was refused back stage at one of Rory's gigs in Germany, because his brother Dónal didn't recognise him...

10) 'Out On The Western Plain' - Live in Cork. Shortly before Rory died in 1994. 

At this stage he'd succumbed to an addiction to pain-killers which led to liver failure. Allegedly, he suffered from anxiety and took prescription drugs to stave off tiredness, depression, and any discomfort that afflicted him, which led to considerable weight gain. In the only (excellent) Rory Gallagher biography I've read by the Belgian Jean Noel-Coghe, who spent considerable time on tour with Rory, he wrote that Rory struggled to cope with incessant touring, which eventually got the better of him . Either way, here's my last Gallagher track