Sunday, 29 November 2015

Single: Niamh Regan - The Sweetest Drop

Niamh Regan The Sweetest Drop

Niamh Regan - The Sweetest Drop

Info: Galway folk singer-songwriter Niamh Regan, who is currently studying Music at University of Limerick, has just released her debut single, 'The Sweetest Drop' and is already receiving well-deserved plaudits from high places with The Irish Times' On The Record stating; 'Niamh Regan catches our ear with a sweet, pure folk voice bursting with potential'.

Without sounding clichéd or patronising (regarding her young age) which is far from what I mean, Regan's voice and music already sounds like the finished article in so many ways. Musically I'm hearing Nick Drake and Bert Jansch in her guitar playing whilst her voice is unique enough not to be obviously attached to any predecessor amongst female folk artists of the same generation as those two. 'The Sweetest Drop' is strikingly beautiful with it's title metaphorically capturing the feeling you get while you listen to it, it's mature, sweet and crystal clear. The songs protagonist, a mocking bird, and trouble-bearing muse, is embedded in Regan's dirge with heartfelt poetic lyrics which cements the sense that she has delivered this track from another time. Although this is only a brief introduction to Niamh Regan and her music, without getting carried away based on one song, it augurs very well for her future and I agree with previous reviews which were of the view that we will be left eager for more. 

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Album: Gráinne Hunt - Firing Pin

Gráinne Hunt Firing Pin

Gráinne Hunt - Lilacs

Info: A couple of weeks ago Monaghan singer-songwriter Gráinne Hunt released her debut album, Firing Pin, at The Chocolate Factory on Kings Inn Street in Dublin. She will play one more public live performance at Ernesto's Cafe in Rathmines today with Mark Geary before setting off for a five date tour in Switzerland. 

Shortly after returning from opening for Glen Hansard with Mark Geary in Europe, Gráinne Hunt released her new mini album Firing Pin on October 23rd. The title track is the second single released off the album, the first single 'Lilacs' was released in August, reaching no.4 on the iTunes chart and gaining significant airplay on national radio. Gráinne has been regularly compared to Natalie Merchant, Dolores O'Riordan and Alison Moyet amongst others.

Gráinne Hunt Music

There's a strong and fulsome tone to Hunt's vocals which have a distinctive traditional and country sound, immediately noticeable from the albums title and opening track 'Firing Pin', a melodic and strident start to proceedings. It's not long into the album before we come across our first standout track, the wisely chose second single, 'Lilacs' (above), the mood is more solemn and musically it's filled with emotion, with gentle piano and haunting strings arching over Hunt's old world vocals, bordering on a traditional Irish sound. 

Third track 'Chances' mixes pop leanings with the aforementioned country vibe, but quite contemporary and somewhat reminding me of English folk songstress KT Tunstall. On 'Low Tides' we're whisked off to the American mid-west, a wistful ballad and piece of song-writing from Hunt displaying the level of genuine personal investment she pours into her music, another strong point on Firing Pin without doubt. A short burst of energy then arrives on 'No Way I''d Go Down' cranking things up with lively electric guitar, a proper fun hoedown n' hootenanny to tap your foot to! 

The mini-album closes with three live versions of 'Lilacs', 'Low Tides' and 'The Words of it All', the album version of which is reminiscent of late 60's British folk from the likes of Fairport Convention, bringing another layer of depth to the album overall. The live tracks are very well recorded and prove that Hunt does not just sound good courtesy of the recording studio whilst also providing an insight of what to expect at a live performance for those of us who have not had the pleasure just yet.

You can purchase both physical and digital copies of Firing Pin at the below links

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Single: LaGracia - Don't You Ever Leave

LaGracia Don't You Ever Leave

LaGracia - 'Don't You Ever Leave'

Info: Dublin-based soul and R&B band LaGracia released their debut single, 'Don't You Ever Leave Me', last night at The Bello Bar in Dublin 8, which was also a fundraiser night, details of which you can find here. The band are made up Sligo vocalist Gráinne McCarthy, guitarist/bassist Kevin Healy from Roscommon, and Dublin drummer Adam Kelly.

Gráinne has been singing for a long time in several acts, performing with Discovery Gospel Choir since 2012 and is also a backing vocalist for Danny G & The Major7ths and Emma O'Reilly. Kevin has been gigging for years with rock band The Antics and has been playing bass with Emma O' Reilly for the last year, whilst Adam studied music in Newpark Jazz School, subsequently gigging for a number of years, with a variety of bands including The Actual Mafia.

LaGracia's debut single is a fine piece of not only soul and R&B, but southern gospel music, vocally McCarthy is in the (happy!) half-way house between Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Own Me' and Aretha Franklin's '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman', with more than easy on the ear velvet vocals. It's clearly evident on the track also that LaGracia have assembled additional musicians for the track on saxophone and piano who are very accomplished at their trade with the whole song feeling exceptionally tight and flowing with ease from start to finish. I'm already looking forward to hearing more from this band in a set of genres that, alongside rock and blues, are very dear to my tastes.

You can purchase 'Don't You Ever Leave' here

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Interview: CC Brez @ The Sound Feed

CC Brez Her Alibi EP Launch Whelans
CC Brez, Whelans, 'Her Alibi' EP Launch. Photo: Remy Connolly

CC Brez - When It Feels Good

Info: Ahead of his single launch for 'When It Feels Good' (above) at Whelans last month, CC Brez (Cormac Breslin) dropped by The Sound Feed studio to perform the new track with singer Louize Carroll and keyboardist Theodora Byrne and have a chat with me about the blues, soul and plans for the near future. CC Brez also released his debut EP, Her Alibi, during the summer which was one of my personal favourite Irish releases this year, as well as playing the Oxjam stage at Electric Picnic.

CC Brez chats with Remy @ The Sound Feed studio

Monday, 23 November 2015

Live: LaGracia - The Bello Bar, Portobello, 28th November

La Gracia Dublin

LaGracia - No One

Info: Soul/ R&B act LaGracia are releasing their single, 'Don’t You Ever Leave', to raise funds to financially support Cheryl Mulvey as she is treated for bowel cancer. 

The single will be released at a special event in Dublin’s Bello Bar on Saturday, 28th of November, featuring performances by LaGracia and a variety of special guests.

Joining LaGracia on the night are singers from Discovery Gospel Choir – Emma O' Reilly on keys and BVS, Esosa Ighodaro (Republic of Loose) and Kate Madoo on BVs, as well as Richard NG (Popgun Warfare) and James Steele on saxophone, and Graham Heaney (Túcan) on bass.

Mother of three, Cheryl was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March of this year, and in her words, "I never expected to hear the words, tumour and cancerous.
But there I was, head spinning, with all the emotions and feelings you might imagine; shock, fear, dread, guilt."

"When you're told you have cancer, you immediately think of your family, how you fear not being with them any more, getting to enjoy watching your kids grow and be there for them."

Cheryl’s cousin and LaGracia guitarist, Kevin decided that the best way he could support the family was to use his talents and work with the band to raise both vital funds and awareness of the financial impact a cancer diagnosis can have on a family. All sales of the single, and proceeds from the Bello Bar event, will go directly to supporting Cheryl and helping with the day-to-day costs of her treatment and recovery.

Tickets can be purchased at €8 on the door but are also available at a discounted price through LaGracia’s eventbrite page,

Discovery Gospel Choir - Don't Take My Brother

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Live: King Kong Company - The Academy, 27th of November

King Kong Company The Academy

King Kong Company - Spacehopper

Info: Waterford electronic act King Kong Company are currently half way through their Irish Tour having played Fusion in Drogheda, the legendary Róisin Dubh in Galway and Tricky McGarrigles in Sligo over the last week. Next on the list is a headline gig in Dublin's Academy on Friday, 27th of November followed by The Pav in Cork on the 5th of December and a New Years Eve bash at The Set Theatre in Kilkenny. This tour comes as the band prepare for the release of their forthcoming album, produced by Mercury Music Prize nominee Tim Holmes, which comes out in December 2015.

Tim Holmes was Death in Vegas' Richard Fearless' partner on their ground-breaking 1999 trip-hop album The Contino Sessions, with Holmes co-writing all but one of that albums 9 tracks, timeless Eb / Ab5 opener 'Dirge', (which I incidentally performed a long time ago, vox n' all, in a galaxy far far away in DLIADT!). 

To some people the band came from no-where, to others, the debut album has been almost 20 years in the making. King Kong Company formed in 1996 when a bunch of college mates got together and started ripping up the clubs of Ireland. Life happened, things changed and the band decided to split. Over the course of the next decade, things changed again and, after a Wikipedia entry suggested the band were getting back together in 2010, the seeds of a comeback gig were sown. In preparation for the one gig, they released one new music video on YouTube every month in 2011.  That one gig happened in February 2012. 

King Kong Company - GAME OVER

Probably the best thing to come out of Waterford since 17th century physicist and chemist Robert Boyle (with Jim Beglin a close third), King Kong Company are flush with banging electro tunes and it's hard to see why anyone who is a fan of DiV, Primal Scream or Chemical Brothers would not want to be at the above upcoming dates. Whet your appetite more here

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Album: Stephen Young & The Union - Eagle Fort Rumble

Stephen Young and The Union Eagle Fort Rumble

Stephen Young & The Union - Shuffle In The Quicksand

Info: Ireland's original country rock and Americana band Stephen Young & The Union release their long-awaited second album, Eagle Fort Rumble, this coming Friday, 27th of November, with a headline show at The Grand Social on the banks of the River Liffey. The new album sees the five piece take control of the reigns and shift their much loved sound in a more refined, grounded and personal direction than their much lauded debut LP Wilderness Machine back in 2011, and the time taken in between has proven to be fruitful. Below is a whistle-stop tour of the bands formation and Stephen's recent U.S. tour in an interview we did at The Sound Feed studio last week and a review of the album itself. 

The opening bars of 'Shiver', the albums first track, encapsulate the new (yet loyal to the old) sound of Stephen Young & The Union, you're immediately transported to saw-dust floored bars in the American West, there's intent and energy with some fine soaring guitar solos, with the vocals accompanied by piano balancing a softer side in the background. 'Duty Free 200', which featured here last year, is the first single from Eagle Fort Rumble, it's a sweet and easy ballad, there's really nice intricate interplay between acoustic guitars and again I'm digging the piano on this one a lot.

Stephen Young & The Union Irish Americana

'Lately I've Loved A Rose' sees SY&TU step back slightly from the Americana sound and launch into full on rock mode, drawing on their influences such as The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, both of which unsurprisingly dabbled in both genres in equal measure, the fiddle really raises the track up to another level as well as it heads into borderline anthemic territory. Having previously heard the three singles to date and their last album 'The Blind Leading The Blind' took me by surprise, the firmest example of them building on what they've done before and taking it forward, vocally it's very 1960's trippy psych and musically the guitars wander delightfully off into Thin Lizzy, both resting comfortably side by side. 

Approaching the albums half-way point the penny has dropped that my preconceptions of Eagle Fort Rumble being solely an upgrade on 2011's Wilderness Machine have evaporated. Pure 60's folk steps in on the completely gorgeous 'Land Leg Blues', this track is on another level, like a song from the heyday that was never written and has now been found, it's the one that so far I've listened to most times on the album. On 'Monsoon Season' the energy returns, a sense of abandon ensues with the five-piece letting fly, you can hear each musician individually, almost as if they have been separated but it all comes together in an uplifting burst of a session. 

Remy interviews Stephen and Johnny @ The Sound Feed studio

The albums second single 'Shadowman' has its lyrics masked by the foot-stomping music; 'Every night there's a little less light in everyones eyes', subtly addressing one or more rarely spoken about human conditions. Stephen Young & The Union rock it back up again with 'Teardrops (On the Sidewalk)', another very strong example of talented song-writing on the album, there's a bit of old U2 and 1980's Dublin here for me personally, around October and War era, if I was completely unaware of the band or their music and was played the track with no information whatsoever I'd know this was penned by an Irish artist. The album is sealed for me with the finale of 'Someone You Dream Of', it's the most beautiful song I've heard this year by any artist, and if I'm to be perfectly honest it was a bit overwhelming, maybe I wasn't expecting it, songs like this are why I listen to and love music and I know I'll be revisiting Eagle Fort Rumble as a whole for a long time to come.

You can pre-order Eagle Fort Rumble on the following platforms;

Stephen Young & The Union - Shadowman

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