Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cry Monster Cry - 'Rhythm Of Dawn', Album Review

Cry Monster Cry, 'Postcards'

Info: Last month I featured the above single, 'Postcards', from Dublin brothers Cry Monster Cry, their new album, Rhythm Of Dawn, is now on the verge of being released next week on the 6th of March, and they play in Tower Records the following day at 2pm. 

From the outset I've nothing but positive things to say about Rhythm Of Dawn, musically, thematically and lyrically it's difficult to see this as not being considered one of the strongest Irish albums of 2015. There are a lot of bands and artists out the last while that would be labelled as folk, or folk rock, but only in a very narrow sense. Cry Monster Cry have their foundations firmly built on a traditional sound with regard to the genre and are not detached from 1960's and 1970's folk like many of their peers who adopt the sound only from current bands that lie within that loose term. 

This album has two layers regarding it's message as far as I can see, the first being a self-awareness and consciousness of the human spirit, frustrated by unwelcome limitations placed upon oneself and a frustration at not being able to break away from these restrictions. Secondly, and perhaps more overtly, is an homage to home (be that locally or in a wider sense) and heritage. I thought of this side of the album quite a bit when listening to it, mainly because Richie and Jamie mention summer holidays in Donegal and the long journeys there from childhood in their bio, listening to tape compilations, something I can acutely relate to myself as my own mother is from the wilds of Tír Chonaill, thankfully this journey has been reduced from 6-7 hours to about four and a half from those heady days.

So to the songs themselves, the album starts with a bang, 'Darkest Hour, Longest Day' is rooted in 60's psych-folk, reminiscent of The Zombies, Pentangle or Nick Drake, easy going vocal harmonies melded with beautiful guitar plucking. The contemplative feel of the opening track makes way for 'Atlas', you can hear Simon & Garfunkel echoing from those youthful car journeys and the song has a solid rhythm, sombre lyrics dancing with upbeat instrumentation. The fourth track, 'Old At Heart', is perhaps the first track to broach the hometown theme, observing it's faults but understanding that those same faults are an integral part of the protagonists being now.

The following track, 'Gelert's Grave' is a highlight for me personally, it's melodies and vocals are slightly mesmerising and it feels very like a Tim Buckley ballad, like many of the tracks it's slow build up is eventually overtaken by a more driven middle and finale. Of the remaining songs on Rhythm Of Dawn, 'When The Morning Comes' has an undouted Irish folk sound, not just the banjo, but the vocals also, it's quite country as opposed to other songs and I felt a slight strain of Kings of Convenience in there also. Finally, the closing track synopses the whole album, appropriately titled 'Homebird', it's a rousing end to a very good piece of music that I can easily imagine people of every musical hue and none enjoying.

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New Irish Music - David King, 'Ruirteach Blues'

Photo: Allyn O'Neill

Info: David King is a blues musician from Dublin whose debut solo album, Ruirteach Blues, (another name for the River Liffey, and in the context of this album, the Irish word 'raging') is launching on the 20th of March with a live show at The Grand Social, an appropriate location. The album opens with a modern blues twist in the form of 'Down In Flames' (above), a nice gritty honky-tonk style number that you'd almost expect to hear in a scene from Sons of Anarchy. As a major blues guitar fan I really enjoyed a lot of the tracks on Ruirteach Blues, and there were subtle nods to my idol Rory Gallagher ('House Devil Street Angel'), but strong nods to the great John Mayall, particularly on the latter tracks, the cool as a breeze 'Live In A Daydream' and the following track 'No Accolade', really brought up 1969's The Turning Point, harmonicas and vocals to the button. 

Songs like 'Out On The River' and the beautiful closing title track, 'Ruirteach Blues' add a bit of old English folk music to proceedings. Whilst I liked the more upbeat and contemporary blues tracks, I really thought King excelled with his more stripped down numbers, particularly in the latter half of the album, it seems to be where he's at his strongest and reflects his obvious gifts as a proper blues musician best. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, we're sorely lacking good blues artists in Ireland, historically we've had very few, but David King is a worthy man to be flying the flag and Ruirteach Blues is a must for Irish blues fans.

Other tracks I liked were 'Juke Joint', 'What Are You Waiting For?' & 'House Devil Street Angel' has some solid blues guitar riffs going on. 

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Friday, 27 February 2015

Interview - Moon Over Sun

Info: Brighton in the U.K. seems to be a bit of a hotbed of great new music at the moment, included amongst the many new acts crossing different genres are experimental electro troupe Moon > Sun. They've just re-released their debut E.P., simply titled, Extended Play, on the gift that keeps giving that is label Little League Records. Touching on the likes of Four Tet and Animal Collective, but free-wheeling off into it's own distance, Extended Play is a really nice collection of four tracks. Whilst all four numbers are enjoyable, I'm finding that the second and third tracks, 'Norway' and 'Over' (both below) are particularly floating my boat, both are spacey, carefree and have nice beats sharing space with some lovely digital ditties and vocals thrown in, also, key to the enjoyment of this E.P. is the diversity between tracks. One of the band who operates the flight deck, Isaac, took time to run through a quick Q & A, and I've decided to let this interview be the last time I moan about Ed Sheeran (for a while anyway). 

Moon > Sun, 'Norway'

Remy: I'm going to start by boring you with a stale interview question, and only because there is currently little information about you online, I'm sorry, but, how did you guys get together?

Isaac: Moon > Sun was initially a solo project of mine I started rather interestingly in late 2013 with the release of a really terrible rap song. Weirdly loads of my friends were into it but it was just an experiment. A year later after producing mediocre (slightly more interesting/experimental) demos I got to the point where I disliked everything I created on my own. I used to hang out with George loads in the summer, we both seemed to share a deep hatred for humanity and spent days on end content with making music. I learn a lot 
from working with him so it only made sense to start a band. Following this the lovely Bish, our great great friend, joined in order to provide fresh bass rhythms, vocals and vibes. We jammed a little over christmas – re-worked a few of the songs from the EP, wrote some more etc, but it kinda felt a little lacking. Recently, best mate and well-known sass queen, Sofia joined in and brought a whole new dynamic, of female vox and classical knowledge with her strong flute game. Super excited to get the new stuff out there.

Remy: Across the four tracks on your debut self-titled E.P. the music is chaotic and takes non-standard experimentation to unusual places, in a good way, is it always in your minds to go a little further to the edges when your putting together tracks?

Isaac: I find when we’re working on tracks we never tend to try too hard to think out of the box, reference or draw influence from other artists and rather try to create exactly what we’re hearing in our heads. It seems like a perfectly controlled and accessible track once we’ve spent 1,309,843 years working on it, but in cases when we’ve shown friends its often evoked puzzled emotions which leads us to understand that we are generally a little bit weird.

Remy: I can hear some evidence of influences on certain tracks like Four Tet's 'Rounds' on 'Microwaves' and Animal Collective on 'Norway', are you fans of either?

Isaac: Personally for me they’re the kind of artists I’ve heard a great deal about but have never properly checked out. The few tracks I’ve heard from either artist are great though, so thanks for the massive compliment! Since I started playing in punk bands before producing this stuff I never really gained a great knowledge for electronic/pop. I need to delve a little deeper. 

Moon > Sun, 'Over'

Remy: On second track 'Norway' there's also a few Atari-esque soundbytes scattered in there, are you retro gaming fans or do you just like the sounds?

Isaac: Literally just loved the sound. We love a tasty bitcrush sometimes which can occasionally result in a freaky 8-bit video gaming vibe. But yeah we love the sound and are indifferent to varied thoughts on the vibe and such.

Remy: On your Bandcamp page you've tagged your sound as 'experimental oddball pop', would you consider yourselves to be a cog in an unofficial and disconnected underground grouping of musicians who are happy to fly under the radar of mainstream music, or is that just romantic hipster poppycock?

Isaac: I really dunno man, I don’t feel we’ve been together long enough or gained enough recognition to justify being part of a scene or labelled by people in a particular way. 

Remy: Taking a step away from your own music for a second, I was watching some of the preview show for The Brit Awards at the weekend and it felt like (not just regarding The Brit Awards) in general there are the same bland acts being pushed time and time again. Coldplay, Jessie Ware to name two, and I swear, it really is only a matter of time before I either wake up beside a naked Ed Sheeran or he's making a fry when I walk into my kitchen some morning, he's fucking everywhere. Does popular music in the UK irritate you at times 
or are you quite indifferent to it?

Isaac: Yup, I’ll be honest, the popular music you’re suggesting really pisses me off, but I mean I’ve been hating music like that for so long I guess I’ve become indifferent in a way. It’s fun to laugh at and occasionally enjoy out of irony, or sometimes even just enjoy – that shit can get tasty!

Remy: Care to share some music / acts that you've come across since the start of the year and we can pop a few streams at the bottom of the interview for the readers?

Isaac: Firstly I think we’ll shoot you the most recent EP from our label mates The Pluto Moons from Brooklyn. I can't describe the overwhelming feeling of joy I found the first time I heard ‘$pooky’. ‘Listen to the EP a lot’ is the best advice I can give right now. 

Remy: I couldn't agree more here, I have the E.P. on my phone and '$pooky' is unreal, a crazily good set of songs.

Isaac: Secondly I’d like you to know about Elvin Brandhi who I was told about through a friend. She really pushes certain boundaries and toys with the concept of what a song can be. It’s consistenly filled with tense heavily manipulated sounds and textures which gives off a super fucked up creepy thing that’s kind of quite beautiful. Strict experimental-ness right here.

Remy: Please rank your fellow Brightonians in order, The Kooks, Electric Soft Parade, British Sea Power, Blood Red Shoes.

Isaac: I don’t really know enough of them to say, but I can assure you there’s a ton of Brighton based bands we’re into (too many to name).

Remy: Are you playing many live shows at the moment, and would you like to play in Ireland? Have you been over before?

Isaac: We actually haven't played many live shows at all, since only being a collective unit from the start of the year. I went over to Ireland when I was young, from what I remember I had a pretty super time, but yeah we’d definitely love to come over and play a show, even a fat tour would go down a treat.

Remy: Finally, how would you feel if you were sitting in your local barbershop reading a Magazine interview with David Guetta and he mentioned this 
really cool band called Moon Over Soon (egregious misspelling is addressed by Isaac below!) that he's listening to at the moment. Would you reach for the shaving razor and end it all there and then or would you ring your Nan like a giddy schoolgirl to tell her the great news?

Isaac: Well first I’d be like ‘shit, I’m in a band called Moon Over Sun, is there another band called Moon Over Soon or is it a typo and actually referring to us??’. If it was the latter, which it probably would be knowing Dave’s broad knowledge of experimental pop, we’d give him a ring and ask for some dolla to produce his next tune for him. Then I’d call my nan and ask her to cook me up some angel delight to celebrate our success.

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Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Ricardos - 'Pest' E.P.

The Ricardos, 'Rock N' Roll Animal'

Info: I have to admit that over the last few months if I get sent music from the U.S. I'm a bit quicker to stick it on as soon as I can because with very few exceptions, it's almost always better than good. Thus was the case when I sat down to listen to The Ricardos from Phoenix, Arizona last week. Their first track was instantly appealing to me, as a big fan of The Strokes, and strong memories of how amazing 'This Is It' was when it came out in 2001, opening track 'I Won't Wait' could so easily have been song number 12 on that album. The Ricardos are quite up front about this citing both the New Yorkers and front man Julian Casablancas as influences. So, having enjoyed the first of five tracks I also thought, okay, is this going to be a Strokes tribute release? 

Then there was a bit of a kicker, I can't express how much I love 'Rock N' Roll Animal' which came straight after (above). I've listened to this track on a number of occasions now on my short distance travels this week and I only wish it was 4 times longer. It's like some lost nugget from the 60's, surf rock and garage blending together, a Dick Dale and The Sonics mash-up that is nothing but highly enjoyable. By the time the third track 'Pretty Devils' is underway, you've completely forgotten about what you thought you were going to hear and The Ricardos are lashing out lovely gritty guitars and drums. Over the course of the rest of the E.P. and indeed the aforementioned tracks there's also Lou Reed / Velvet Underground sounds going on, everything combined making Pest one of my favourite non-Irish releases of 2015 so far. There are a few rough edges, particularly on 'Vicki Is A Five Course Meal', but the rawness is part of the charm, and unsurprising, given the fact they are aged between 16 and 18 years of age, god help us all.

The Ricardos, 'I Won't Wait'

Additional Info: 

The Ricardos are from Phoenix Arizona. We are Isaac Soto on lead vocals, Tim Magrady on lead guitar, Matt Magrady on drums, Genesis Jonker on rhythm guitar, and new addition Matthew (#2) Hainlen on bass gutiar.

The Ricardos were started in April 2013 originally by Isaac, Matt and Tim. 
Our primary influences are The Strokes, The Velvet Underground and the solo work of Julian Casablancas. We also all went through a huge (The) Doors phase over the summer.

We're releasing a five song EP called "Pest" through Rubber Brother Records and Citrus City Records on February 20th @ The Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix.

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Fox Jaw - Siren's Call

Fox Jaw, 'Siren's Call'

Info: Continuing a trend of accompanying their singles with great videos, (such as previous release 'Kerosene' which was featured on the blog here when it came out last year), Limerick band Fox Jaw have just released 'Siren's Call', the fourth single from their critically acclaimed second album, Ghost's Parade.  

The short film follows the tale of a gentlemen uncovering a box of memories, and finally working up the courage to reach out to a long lost, forbidden love. This video is the bands way of showing their support of the upcoming Marriage Equality Referendum, on 22nd May 2015.

2015 also sees the band release their fifth vinyl release in 12 months, which includes four 7” vinyl releases, one for each of their singles. Each release is a limited edition, hand numbered, transparent coloured vinyl release. The B-Side of each single, features the same song, redone in a different genre, where Fox Jaw have collaborated with artists, DJs, Producers and MCs to produce a variety of takes of their music, from Lounge Jazz, to Swamp Blues & Dub Hip Hop.

If you want to catch the lads live they have a good few live shows coming up next month;

Wed   11th March            Crane Lane Theatre, Cork
Fri      13th March           Sweeney Mongrel's, Dublin
Sat     14th March           Cobblestone Joe's, Limerick
Thurs 19th march           Roisín Dubh, Galway
Fri      20th March           Kavanagh’s, Portlaoise

Sunday, 22 February 2015

New Entertainment Recommendation App - My Leisure

Info: While I have a few film (well, one, IMDB) and music apps (Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Bandsintown) on my phone, I don't have one that ties everything together, and more. New App, MyLeisure, finally looks like it could provide a one-stop shop for both, but in addition to film and music, the entertainment app will also provide users with recommendations for TV Series', books, Apps, games and more. The App launched last week in Ireland and is still currently in Beta mode, with more features to be added in due course, and I think it's a service that readers here will be interested in. In a nutshell, when the App initialises it will provide the user with a selection from each category and you select a film, album, tv show etc. that you already like to help it understand your own personal tastes. 

Once a profile is built the App will begin recommending new and latest releases for you based on your selections, it will also be linked to sites like iTunes, Amazon and YouTube to view other people's recommendations or simply to find out more about a particular film, album, game etc. As time goes by the MyLeisure App will develop a greater understanding of your own personal tastes which will be associated with your unique Leisure ID, hence providing more accurate recommendations and streamlining suggestions. Below are a few screenshots of how it will look and also further spec info. Once it's fully up and running I'll post the App download links and review how the full suite works. The App is available in Ireland and New Zealand tomorrow and will initially be free, so get in early.




Additional Info: Nowadays we have more leisure time, and with the Internet and smartphones, we have more options and content channels than we can imagine. Sounds like a dream right?

Well, not exactly. We have everything at our fingertips, yet we have less satisfaction in our free time. How can it be?

The answer is simple: too many choices but not enough good recommendations. You have all the options you could dream of, but how can you find exactly what YOU like without a painstaking search that ends up eating away your free time?

That’s where we come in. MyLeisure is the Tinder for your free time.

Looking for a new movie, TV show, album, book, app or game? Drawing a blank on where to start? Fear not. Our app maximizes your free time with personalized recommendations that perfectly match your taste.

What’s the secret ingredient? Your unique Leisure ID, which we create based on your personal preferences and your friends' recommendations (login is via Facebook connect). With your Leisure ID in mind, we send instant, customized recommendations for your free time. As you swipe right on each suggested item (Dig it!) or left (Next) the app gets to know you better and better.

In addition to discovering great new recommendations, you can read more details about each suggestion, add items to your Wish List, immediately check out recommendations on platforms like iTunes, YouTube, Amazon, etc and share the love with your friends.

Get ready for endless hours of relaxation and fun. You CAN always have what you want!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Kristin Hoffmann - Soundtrack for 'Amazing Space'

Photo: Nico Malvaldi

Kristin Hoffman, 'Amazing Space'

Info: It doesn't happen often, but when I get asked to do a piece that combines my two joys, music and film, it's always a different kind of pleasure. Here we have music from Brooklyn composer Kristin Hoffmann providing the soundtrack to upcoming documentary Amazing Space, courtesy of film-maker Ralph Stevens. The film's title track (above) is a neoclassical song from Hoffmann and it certainly accentuates that feeling of gliding past the stars in deep space, it's also released as a single from the soundtrack which Hoffmann composed in it's entirety. Which brings us to the film itself, described by Stevens as a film; 'that combines music and images of space to capture the cosmos at its peak brilliance.' 

The trailer for Amazing Space below gives a glimpse of what to expect, and also features snippets of Hoffman's other songs from her soundtrack, there's plenty of diversity it would seem, from didgeridoos, traditional indigenous singing to more modern classical pieces. As a self-professed obsessive of all things cosmos-related, I'm really looking forward to seeing and hearing Amazing Space which is due out in April. The purpose of the film can also be described as a method of reflection achieved 'By zooming out and feeling the unfathomable vastness and complex perfection of space, that literally surrounds us in every moment, we are able to put our daily lives and personal struggles into greater perspective.'

You can listen to more of Kristin's music here and find out details on the film here