Monday, 3 August 2015

Video: Zen Anton - Ain't No Sunshine

Zen Anton Ain't No Sunshine

Zen Anton with Chud Chudnovski & Josh Salant, 'Ain't No Sunshine'

Info: From Queens, New York city, Zen Anton is a jazz, blues and classically trained musician who featured on the blog here last year following the release of his debut self-titled E.P. Anton, who has been writing music since the age of thirteen, has made a lovely video covering Bill Withers' classic 'Ain't No Sunshine' (above) at the Salant Sound studio in Canarsie, Brooklyn. I enjoyed the grooves here with fellow musicians Chud Chudnovksi and Josh Salant so much I wanted to share it, the video was shot by videographer and photographer Gerardo J. Vitale, enjoy!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Album: Oliver Cole - Year of the Bird

Oliver Cole Year Of The Bird

Oliver Cole, 'Ah Ooh Ooh'

Info: Former Turn front-man Oliver Cole just released his second solo album, Year of the Bird, yesterday, originally planning on a self-release in 2013, Cole was subsequently asked by Gary Lightbody to release the album on his Third Bar label. Entirely home-recorded with almost all instrumentation by Cole himself, he was joined in various parts by Glen Hansard, Gemma Hayes and fellow Turn band-mate Gavin Fox who kindly spoke to me here last year. 

Year of the Bird couldn't be further from the indie-rock sounds of the Turn years if Oliver Cole started dropping some dope hip-hop rhymes into the mix, it's very pleasing to be brought inside an entirely different and contrasting arena of his musical talents. From opening track 'Helium Heart' onwards you come into contact with a heartbreakingly happy mix of feelings, the soothing vocals and at times poetic lyrics have all been combined here to create a singular experience by the time you reach the albums conclusion.  

Oliver Ollie Cole

'I'll Be Your Shelter' is haunting and pure, creating a nostalgic and ponderous atmosphere, Cole's vocals and acoustic guitar picking are particularly pleasing and there's a feeling of great intimacy on the ballad. Following track 'Golden Leaf' is the album's only clear nod to one of the song-writers self-admitted influences, Elliott Smith, touching on 'Easy Way Out' from Figure 8. Above track (video) 'Ah Ooh Ooh' is real highlight for me, it's rhythmic emotional sway and ethereal gospel harmonies paint a scene of mystical beauty and the regimental build-up towards the song's energetic finale is very effective, I would hazard that this could be quite hair-raising in a live setting.

My self-induced emotionally distressed state at the time of listening to 'The Happy Prince' heightened the gloriously sad feeling the song presented me with. Oscar Wilde's short story is a brilliantly sombre affair for both children and adults, here Cole has admirably breathed fresh life into the tale of the prince and his swallow companion taking it on to a new and different level. The application of the story through his reworking with lyrics, as well as recreating the dialogue between the two main characters through his duet with Gemma Hayes, is a joy to behold. 

Year of the Bird closes with the Van Morrison-esque 'Magnolia' and another foray into atmospheric landscapes on the 8 minute-plus title track. While there are many current song-writers of a certain mould I admire, such as Justin Vernon, Keaton Henson, John Grant, for example, there really aren't too many that reside in that bracket and style here in Ireland. I don't think I've heard an album from this island since Mic Christopher's posthumous Skylarkin that plucked at the auld heart-strings like this, whilst giving a parallel feeling of happiness as a result of the enjoyment of listening to the music. Feels galore from Mr.Cole here for which I for one am most grateful.

Oliver Cole plays Whelans of Wexford Street this Friday, 7th of August and you can purchase Year of the Bird here

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Album: GODHATESDISCO - Great Radio

Godhatesdisco Great Radio Album

GODHATESDISCO, 'Incredible Technology'

Info: GODHATESDISCO are Dublin duo Neal Keogh and Andy Walsh, they've just released their debut LP Great Radio yesterday, an album that is slightly difficult to pin down in terms of genre, at times ambient, fleetingly electronic disco on one or two tracks. Maybe the closest I could get via making up a new hybrid genre would be doom-punk, that sounds gloomy, but it's certainly not. Slight references would be a half-way house between Primal Scream's XTRMNTR or Mogwai's Come On Die Young, but they are loose comparisons and there's more at play here as they outline below;

'Deliberately performed live on twin bass guitars & a table full of electronics, 
including second hand samplers, synthesizers, vintage drum machines and custom made oscillators, the duo make unknown wave music, composed to defy and satisfy all musical palates. 

Sampling natural sounds from other planets against the bickering voices of Irish television talk show guests, creationist and atheist debates combined with mouthless words recorded at an exorcism, merging the abiding tones of moving statues fanatics speaking in tongues with the choral power of children's choirs, this is a thoughtful record with a lasting message. It was already broken before we got here.'

The opening track on Great Radio rightly takes the prime spot on the album, 'Incredible Technology' (above video) is the perfect introduction to GODHATESDISCO for those who are unfamiliar with them. A foreboding bass-line intro, like a slow march to death, and samples of a Reagan speech at the U.N. General Assembly in 1987. Following track 'Belief System' sees a tempo increase which comes close to some of the anarchy found on XTRMNTR, you're moved from the impending creeping feeling to being surrounded by it. 


'Nimoy' enters a more light-hearted space in terms of the atmosphere it creates, the bass and drumbeats are uniform in conjuring an image of a dance-floor full of robots with an android version of Gary Numan behind the decks in a 1950's B-movie vision of the future. 'Sunday Service' has a nice rapidity to it, GODHATESDISCO almost urging you on to some unknown destination of their choice, there's really nice beats here again and the creepy children singing hymns in the background add to the mild discomfort that rears it's head occasionally on the album. Great Radio is a very decent effort from Keogh and Walsh and it's nice to see an Irish act delving into perhaps neglected spheres of experimentation and sounds, they're certainly on to something in terms of the entire package delivered here and how it makes you feel.

Great Radio is released on Dublin independent record label and shop Little Gem Records /

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Thursday, 23 July 2015

Film Review: X + Y (2014)

X + Y 2014 Asa Butterfield Film

'X + Y' (2014)

Director: Morgan Matthews 
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall, Sally Hawkins
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 1hr 51mins
Rating: 7/10

Synopsis: Nathan Ellis is an incredibly socially awkward and detached youngster whose struggles with an early diagnosis of autism, and an adversity to human relationships, are tempered by a near-genius mathematical ability. Recognition of this gift leads to as close a relationship Nathan is capable of with his personal maths tutor, Mr. Humphreys, culminating in him making the British Mathematics Olympiad team and a life-changing trip to Taiwan. 

X + Y was an engrossing film and story, difficult to watch for the most part, quite sad, painfully distressing with delicately placed humour, combined making what was an emotionally exhausting yet rewarding experience. The film's lead, played by Asa Butterfield (main role in Ender's Game, Hugo & The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas), was incredibly impressive and I was constantly taken by his acting talent throughout the entire story, he was thoroughly convincing to the point where it became hard to imagine him any other way outside of the role itself. The anxiety that he managed to create in the viewer in his many forced yet unwanted moments of human interaction was discomforting to say the least.

Among a strong cast in X + Y, I felt that Belfast actor Martin McCann ('71, Killing Bono) as Ellis' room-mate during the Maths Olympiad, and Rafe Spall (Prometheus, Life of Pi) as his tutor, stood out in particular. The path of the film was unusual as well, it began with despair and struggle, but the expected road to emancipation never really materialises in my opinion, perhaps a reminder of real life. Another thing I took from the film was a subtle emphasis by the director where he seemed to infer that telling children with particular categories of autism that they are gifted constantly doesn't necessarily make them feel special, rather, it serves to alienate them further from their peers and merely highlights to them that they are somehow markedly different from others. 

I enjoy films for a variety of separate reasons which in my own mind I can categorise quite easily and will watch depending on my mood, X + Y certainly falls into my 'mood-altering' box, something very positive for me, the unfolding story uncomfortably pricking at your feelings, it takes a good story and convincing actors to achieve that and that's what I got here.

I suffer from extreme anxiety, should I watch this on a Sunday night? 

I did and I managed to get through the week, but I'd probably avoid doing so if you can.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Track: King Fantastic - Wet Hot American Summer

King Fantastic

King Fantastic, 'Wet Hot American Summer'

Info: "When they used to ask us to describe our sound, I always said, "WestCoastSynthesizerBeachBumGangsterMusic." Our latest and greatest is the personification of that original sound." Hard to disagree with that, at some point between 10 and 11 seconds into L.A. duo King Fantastic's first track since 2014, 'Wet Hot American Summer', the instantly recognisable sounds of 2011's Finger Snaps & Gun Claps are back. That was the KF album I discovered by complete accident online a few years ago and it was the best rap album I'd heard in years, god bless the internet!

What sounds like the description of the perfect summer day (we can only imagine as another shite summer rolls by in Ireland), it gets the all-out Troublemaker and Killer Reese treatment, positively saccharine dollops of rich beats, layered synths and an overall message of chill and enjoy life's naturally made pleasures! 'Wet Hot American Summer' is an interesting and unexpected release in more ways than one, after the markedly different 2014 album The Great Man Theory are King Fantastic working on FS & GC mark II, or is it just a brief interlude before the next departure? We'll see, in the meantime here's one of my favourite tracks from Finger Snaps & Gun Claps...

King Fantastic, 'All Black Ying Yang (The Party Song)

Get 'Wet Hot American Summer' here

Monday, 20 July 2015

Interview & Single: The Wood Burning Savages - Premier League

The Wood Burning Savages Derry

The Wood Burning Savages, 'Premier League'

Info: Today sees the release of new single, 'Premier League' from Derry punk rockers The Wood Burning Savages. The band released their first recordings back in 2012 with a small collection of demos and have had a consistent output since then, including a self-titled EP in 2013, the highly enjoyable Boom E.P. last year with a spattering of singles in between, all geared toward releasing a full album in the near future. Their aim? 'the creation of a relentless yearning to sing about the things everyone else is too afraid to sing about...the band are currently laying the foundations for their first album which is guaranteed to grab listeners by the lapels and shake the build up of mainstream popular culture candyfloss from their heads.' A noble cause.

New single 'Premier League' is a rip-roaring punk rock single that doesn't let up from the off with it's hyper-intensive bass and drumming, rally calling chorus and swaggered guitar-playing. Nods to old school punk, 90's indie such as Supergrass and a more recent drift into Maximo Park territory, all melded together with the bands very own dark hard rock edginess providing the energy and pow. 

Having already cut their chops on the BBC's Introducing Stage at Glastonbury, The Wood Burning Savages are about to set off on a tour of Ireland and the U.K., with local gigs in their hometown at Rock for Pride this Thursday, as well as dates in Draperstown and Lisburn at the start of August, all followed by four dates in Scotland. Before all that though, I caught up with Paul, Dan, Shea and Aaron to shoot the breeze about the music, dopplegangers and Karen Carpenter.

The Wood Burning Savages Premier League

Remy: First up, can we get a whistle-stop tour of The Wood Burning Savages
musical history, previous bands and getting together etc.?

Paul: The Wood Burning Savages have kinda been going with our foot firmly on the pedal since mid 2013. We clock up crazy miles in the van and have played all kinds of crazy gigs all over Ireland and the UK. Before that myself, Aaron (drums) and Shea (guitar) had played around in a garage rock group called The Q. We got together again after The Q when myself and Aaron had seeds of ideas and Dan came on board, then Shea joined us a while after. It’s strange as Dan and I went to university together, in the same building, just one floor apart. Point being, it’s odd how people do the ships-in-the-night thing sometimes only to meet at the right time.

Remy: You've had a very eventful and successful 2015 so far playing at Vantastival and recently being nominated in the Best Irish Act category for Pure M Magazine, any other excitement on the cards for the remainder of 2015?

Paul: Yeah! We’re just happiest when we’re busy, so we’re always looking to play in front of new crowds. We were delighted about the Pure M nomination, it lets us know that people are digging what we do live. 2015 got pretty busy pretty quick! We had a sold out show in LOFT in Belfast just last Friday (17th) promoting our single which was great fun. As far as the remainder of 2015 goes, we’re really looking forward to Knockanstockan next week, we love that festival. We’re hitting Scotland in August for a set at a great festival called Belladrum alongside Manic Street Preachers, Idlewild and loads of other acts we love. We’ll be playing at the Edinburgh Fringe too as well as a few other Scottish dates.

The Wood Burning Savages, 'Colza Hotel', Boom EP (2014)

Remy: Listening to new single 'Premier League' which is out today (20th July) and your previous E.P. Boom, I get the comparisons to punk and indie bands such as The Clash and Manic Street Preachers. With that in mind I notice in the lyrics that there are many brief nods to political and cultural figures and events, would you consider yourselves a socially conscious band, and are there any recent domestic or international events that have particularly pissed you off?!

Paul: Absolutely. Without sounding like an asshole, I think when you write a song it really has to be about something. I’m rubbish at writing love songs so for me the music we write is a perfect framework for getting across important messages and reminding people that there are bands out there who want to sing about more than holding hands and candyfloss. Nationally, we have politicians who are groomed for positions as politicians who have the sole aim of serving their pocket not the people. That pisses me off. The weird glass ceiling in Ireland and the UK of ‘jobs for the boys and to hell with the plebs’ irks me to no end. 

I’m not a tie-die wearing hippy by any means but one of my mantras in life is to be decent to your fellow human. On an international level, I’m concerned with upholding the free movement of people for work or refuge, minority rights, gender equality and fighting prejudice with every fibre of my being. We touch on each of these issues in our songs, if we don’t who else will?

Remy: I've covered some excellent bands from Northern Ireland over the last few years including Go Swim, Abandcalledboy, the mysterious Lilla Vargen, as well as fellow Derry artist, Catmando, can you recommend any other local acts that are worth checking out?

Paul: We’re big fans of a local electronic group called Strength, they make music that just creeps up behind you, puts a sack over your head and makes you dance with them…metaphorically speaking of course. We also love Son of the Hound, Ports, The Bonnevilles and Plain Zebra. 

Remy: As you'd expect during this time of year most of your live performances have and will be at festivals including 'Rock for Pride' in your home city, the Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in the Highlands (which Manics are headlining) and the Edinburgh Fringe. From the selfish perspective of a Dubliner, any gigs planned for here in the near future?!

Paul: We’ll be living in the van and eating cereal bars for dinner at the festivals for a while this summer, which is great. As far as Dublin goes we’re working on a couple of dates for September as we chat. We love playing Dublin, Whelan’s have been very appreciative of what we do and had us on their WhelansLive stage at Sea Sessions Surf Festival this year, so if we’re ever in the big smoke it’s always a treat to be playing in there.

'Man, these kids these days, so much noise'

Remy: Can each of you share a piece of music you like from any genre or artist whatsoever, that is totally at odds with either (a) The Wood Burning Savages 
sound or (b) that people you know personally would be shocked / horrified by?

Aaron: I like Charlie Landsborough, there I said it. 

Shea: I’m a big fan of Mike & The Mechanics, I’m glad to get that out in the open actually haha. 

Paul: I love The Carpenters track ‘Superstar.’ No messing, I actually just do. It’s good music to drink a beer and have a cry to. I have a The Carpenters t-shirt which I wear around and people think it’s some sort of weird joke, I actually just like the band.

Dan: Kate Bush’s track 'The Dreaming'. It’s just class from start to finish. 

Remy: I agonised over my next question because I think it's an awful thing to draw attention to people's personal appearance (particularly those born with say, facial hair - it's not always a lifestyle choice). But Dan, we need to talk about the uncanny resemblance between yourself and another bassist from an English band called Motorhead, surely you've performed 'The Ace of Spades' live, and if you haven't, why not?!

Dan: Many's a time I’ve wanted to, believe me, but there’s a prophecy written under one of the tables in our local pub (Sandinos, they do good stout) that states if two hairy, facially furnished, western European bassists should unwittingly play ‘Ace of Spades’ live at the same time that the Earth’s tectonic plates will reverse and Pangaea will be reconstructed thus resulting in cities colliding and volcanic islands sunk. So it’s best I don’t chance it and let Kilminster do his thing. Plus, the chorus is a bit tricky. 

Remy: Finally, with regards to recording which will probably not be on the cards until after the far end of the summer with touring etc., will 'Premier League' form part of a new E.P. or even album or is it far too soon to be contemplating such matters? 

Paul: We’re building these new singles with a hope to have them on an album at some point in the future. I think we’re an album band, an E.P. is nice but an album is the full cheeseburger that will hopefully have people eager for more.

Download The Wood Burning Savages brand spanking new single, 'Premier League' here

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Sunday, 19 July 2015

Single: LENNOKO - New Beginning

LENNOKO New Beginning

LENNOKO, 'New Beginning'

Info: Singer / songwrite Katie O'Connell formed Lennoko working with Rory Murphy (Rhythm Guitar) and James Ryan (Drums and Percussion) and more recently Chris Collins (Bass) and Chris Roche (Lead Guitar). Lennoko have been busy writing and performing since the start of 2013 and have played successful gigs across some of Cork’s Premier venues in 2013/14 including an appearance at the popular Indiependence Festival 2014. 

The band are currently riding high in the Irish iTunes Rock Charts with above single, 'New Beginning' and it's not hard to see why, it's a punchy, pop-rock number that advances from the standard of what you'd expect, with particular thanks to the breaking guitar work and solo as well as O'Connell's personality shining through via a myriad of late 80's and early 90's rock influences. The band play Cork's Crane Lane Theatre on Phoenix Street this coming Tuesday, 21st of July.