Saturday, 24 June 2017

Playlist: The Big Welsh Playlist

Guide Dog I Am The Daddy
Cardiff's Guide Dog


Info: When it comes to indigenous music from fair Cymru, I've always been intrigued by the duality of the Welsh and English languages in their independent music, something we don't see much of here in Ireland. For a country that has two-thirds of the population of our own, a quarter of Welsh people are fully fluent in their written and spoken language versus only 1% in Ireland. 

HMS Morris - Morbid Mind

This is only relevant to this playlist and post because there is a significant number of tracks present on it in the Welsh (and English) language, and my earliest introduction to Welsh music was via bands who were also bi-lingual such as Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. It's an interesting difference in circumstances between Irish and Welsh music, particularly for me as a non-practicising fluent Irish-speaker, but that curio will require an academic investigation by some poor student down the road, and is not for here!

Before the Internets and at the early dawn of mobile phones, I had seen Super Furry Animals every time they came to Dublin, hell, when Guerilla came out in 1999, they even had a mental crowd favourite of a track, 'Wherever I Lay My Phone (That's My Home)', whose lyrics didn't need to over-arch in any way; "I've got a mobile phone, I've got a mobile phone. Wherever I lay my phone that's my home, I've got a mobile phone. OK. (Tumor on the brain, tumor on the brain, status symbol disease says, "I've got a mobile phone". Tumor on the brain, tumor on the brain)".



Twelve months later The Furries would release their entirely Welsh album MWNG, after the relative commercial success of Fuzzy Logic, Radiator and Guerilla it was a gamble, but it paid off. One of my all time favourite SFA songs is 'Ysbeidiau Heulog', which translates to 'Mostly Sunny', of course we always sang it as "Speedy-eyed Halo". 

Now that my nostalgia indulgence is over, what about the Playlist of current independent Welsh music? Well, I'm going to let the tunes speak for themselves. I've been very lucky to have had some incredible singles, EP's and albums sent to me over the last few years from independent Welsh record labels and artists off their own back, they've been amazing. I would love to see some kind of tour exchange where Irish bands hooked up with their Welsh brethern and did a circuit of the best music venues in both countries together at some point.

Massive shout outs to fellow Irish blogger (with the suspiciously Welsh-sounding name!) Barry Gruff who has had his finger on the pulse of all things independent Welsh music long before I ever did and put me in touch with Dan Amor from the bottomless pit of psychedelic indie that is Recordiau Cae Gwyn. Classy and generous gentleman Aled Thomas of Beast PR who has been promoting independent Irish music on his own music blog and has had a bit of a thing for our very own Thumper! Recordiau I KA Ching for sending us some big hitters, and finally, Wrexham's Kidsmoke who have brought constant joy to us with every single they've released. 

Diolch ffrindiau!

We will be featuring more music from Cae Gwyn Records and Beast PR very soon....

Friday, 23 June 2017

Single: Kid Trench - The Big Hop

Kid Trench The Big Hop


Kid Trench - The Big Hop

Info: Newry experimental pop act Kid Trench has beguiled and regaled us in the past with his mysterious and adventurous releases going all the way back to 2014. The understated solo act is back and appears to have cut loose from his more electronic and ambient leanings to fully embrace the world of nu-pop. Released last month, new single 'The Big Hop' is still based on thick electronic beats and atmospherics, yet finds him in a more carefree and open mode. Anthemic choruses and verses weave in between brief low moments which merely serve to release bursts of thumping dancefloor energy. Another release, another big surprise, and a most welcome one.

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Single: OTHERKIN - React

Photo: Jake Haseldine



OTHERKIN - React

Info: Garage-rockers Otherkin keep the hammer down with the release of their brand new single, entitled 'REACT', and confirmation that their much-anticipated debut album, called 'OK', will be released at the end of the summer.

2017 has already been a whirlwind for the band, having completed two UK tours, one headline and one with The Amazons, in support of the blazing 'Bad Advice' single and video. Furthermore, the band have opened for Guns ‘N’ Roses at the legendary Slane Castle, made their Download debut at Castle Donington and kept the Otherkin flame burning in Holland and France. Just recently, they were championed by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich on his Beats1 radio show. The band are just back out on tour in the UK with punk-rock legends The Dead Kennedy’s.

Since their inception in 2015, Dublin garage-rock four-piece OTHERKIN have propelled themselves to the forefront of the Irish rock music scene, in an almost neck and neck parallel pursuit for the top spot within the genre between themselves and fellow Dubs Fangclub, the rise of both has been swift and intriguing. 

They have maintained a steady pace throughout, with 2 EP releases, The 201 and The New Vice, as well as previous standalone single 'Bad Advice', the band have provided a nicely spaced out sample menu ahead of the release of their full-length debut LP, OK. The final hors d'oeuvre dropped just last week in the shape of single 'React', with the album due to hit the shelves on the 29th of September. 

'React' kicks off with a full on rock riff opener, straight out of the blocks OTHERKIN go for the nuclear option, with an early-White Denim sounding percussion hanging around a pop-rock chorus and squealing lead-guitar. The pace and incessant energy is so frantic that the track feels half of the length of its three minutes. 

Interestingly, when held up side by side with previous single 'Bad Advice' it seems like the band have drawn ever so slightly back from the modern indie touchpoints of 'Reacts' predecessor and edged further back into the past down the garage timeline. A bit of filthy 70's stadium rock here, a dash of mid-60's classic garage there, and a subtle nod to 1950's pure rock n' roll vibes towards the end. Coupled with all of their previous singles, a selection of which will make the track-listing on OK, the debut album promises to be a rock fans' delight.

For another wee taster of what to expect, check out OTHERKIN's live performance video for their track 'Enabler' below.


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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Single: The False and The Fair - Gone Tomorrow

The False and the Fair Gone Tomorrow


Info: The False and the Fair present their new single, ‘Gone Tomorrow’.  The band formed in 2013 while Tommy Cullen, Cormac Feeley, Jacob Fry and Adam Nugent were studying together at BIMM Dublin. Since then TFATF have brought their psychedelic blend of progressive and alternative rock to numerous venues throughout Dublin, and released debut single ‘Bald Apes’ last year to an enthusiastic Workman’s audience.

‘Gone Tomorrow’ reveals a more introspective and melodic side to TFATF’s music, contrasting but complementing the wild energy and unpredictability of ‘Bald Apes’.  This typefies the group’s live set, which encompasses a range of moods and textures and keeps audiences on their toes.

'Gone Tomorrow' by Dublin's The False and The Fair is a sound I can really get behind. There's a lovely cross-over between late 60's folk, psychedelia and alternative rock, the former courtesy of Love, the middle from Jefferson Airplane and the latter genre from The Doors. Of course all three of those bands dabbled in more than a little bit of each of those three styles. 

It's in sharp contrast to previous (and equally as enjoyable) single from 2016, 'Bald Apes', which was a full on prog-rock blowout, more Black Sabbath than kaleidoscopes and light refractors. One thing for sure is that there is plenty to dig on both styles they have proffered to date and there is certainly a gap in the Irish music for The False and The Fair's modus operandi.

The band are also making the track available for free download by joining their mailing list on Bandcamp (link below).


Like / Listen & Follow:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFalseAndTheFair

Bandcamp: https://thefalseandthefair.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TFATF_BAND

Video: Ailbhe Reddy - Fingertips

Ailbhe Reddy Fingertips

Ailbhe Reddy - Fingertips

Info: Having now accumulated over 2 million Spotify streams for her debut self released EP 'Hollowed Out Sea', Ailbhe is poised for an international breakthrough in 2017.

Ailbhe recently appeared on the TV show Other Voices and had her music synced in the RTE TV drama Striking Out before performing sold out shows in Dublin, London and Toronto.  She now has a full touring schedule lined up to promote her new release across Ireland, UK, France and Germany including festival appearances at Latitude, Cambridge Folk Festival, London Folk & Roots Festival, Body & Soul, Electric Picnic, Another Love Story etc 

'Fingertips' is taken from her sublime new EP 'Attach to Memory' which is now released worldwide via Kobalt/AWAL. The track itself was recorded and mixed by Darragh Nolan at Asta Kalapa Studios, Gorey, Ireland, and mastered by Andy Davenport in Altitude Studios, New Zealand.

In true to form style, Ailbhe Reddy swings from the soft to the magnificently powerful on most recent single 'Fingertips.' Her voice is like a sea swell, and on the highly charged track it is cogently arresting, bursting with an almost violent emotional lunge which leaves the listener in no doubt that she fully means every word sung on the track. 'Fingertips' will delight current fans as one of her highlight singles to date, and will also grab the attention of new members to club Reddy, both in drama and the highly creative visual impact of the accompanying video.


Ailbhe Reddy Tour Dates 2017


Look / Like / Listen & Follow:

Website: http://www.ailbhereddy.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ailbhereddy

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1YQiMR5M12HJ28hkJz7qnn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ailbhereddy

Watch: Thanks Light - V.I.P.

Thanks Light VIP Video

Thanks Light - V.I.P.

Info: Our favourite Texan band Thanks Light have recently released a video for their massively successful 2016 single 'V.I.P.' from album Psychonauts, starring Phoenix Van Cartier. 

'V.I.P' featured on our 4th Independent International Playlist last year and still stands out as one of my favourite tracks of 2016 by far. At the time describing it as a; "...smouldering track and single, a rapid high tempo song that trundles energetically from its opening guitar riff and locomotive percussion..."

You can read the full Psychonauts review here.


Look / Like / Listen & Follow:

Website: https://thankslight.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThanksLight/

Spotify: https://play.spotify.com/artist/5btl8yKG2USC1y2kGiU4Re

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thankslight

EP: No Monster Club - Hiccup / Kalimanko

No Monster Club Bobby Aherne


Info: Bobby Aherne - AKA No Monster Club - has just released 'Hiccup - Kalimanko', the sixth installment of his encyclopedia-themed singles collection - following on from 'Aardvark - Blessing', 'Blimp - Casino', 'Casket - Drum', 'Drunk - Fantasy' and 'Faqir - Hex' earlier in the year. 

"Obviously I love making albums, but I felt like liberating myself from that structure for a spell, and reverting back to what I used to do: recording songs willy-nilly and setting them free whilst they're still fresh. It's a songwriting exercise, but it's also a chance for me to write and release some nuggets that mightn't necessarily make sense on an aurally/thematically consistent LP."

The a-side of 'Hiccup - Kalimanko' features the playful bubblegum pop of 'Birthday Cake' - an equally baffling successor to Richard Harris' 1968 hit 'MacArthur Park'.

The flip side to the single is 'A Long Day at the Seaside' - a sun-drenched patchwork quilt of interlocking melodies. At nine and a half minutes long, it's Aherne's lengthiest song to date - a hypnotising ode to a beach trip that raises more questions than it answers (key lyric: "I don't think that I can sunbathe here again/I thought the tuk-tuk guys were my friends").

What is this voodoo? To my own utter disgust, despite being told on numerous occasions over the years to check out the music of No Monster Club, the sixth EP in Bobby Aherne's series of 12 for 2017 has been my first introduction to his music, but what an intro for me personally, the within the opening 10 seconds of first track 'Birthday Cake' I felt an even greater personal loss that I'd missed out on so up until this point. But thankfully, due to the power of the Internet and the average life expectancy of an Irish male being 78 according to the last figures released in 2014, I will have time to treat my deprived wee ears to the NMC back catalogue.

The Hiccup / Kalimanko EP is a two-track delight, with No Monster Club posing serious questions about frivilous matters with the opening line on 'Birthday Cake'; "I don't know why you left the cake out in the rain? I was hoping that one day you might explain. I don't know why you left those sweets out in the sun, you ruined the birthday for everyone. But I'll admit, it's a lot to talk about...". The sense is that a travesty has occurred, but can possibly be overcome and redeemed through concocting a well-thought out joint plan. Musically the lo-fi indie-pop vibes are in contrast with catastrophe and it's a perfect piece to bring the largest smile to ones face.

'A Long Day At The Seaside' invokes Caribbean calypso melodies, it has that joyous escapist sound that recalls one of my favourite albums from 15 years ago, The Beginning Stages of... by Dallas' Polyphonic Spree who No Monster Club have fittingly shared the stage with before, with it's initial choral bent, it's a fantastically chilled out opus which does not over extend its 9 minute length. I feel like I should write a lot more here, but would be better suited to doing so for the July EP release, when I've had a proper go at digesting everything that's going on here. Based on what others have said and this first foray into Bobby Aherne's wizardry, it's going to be a magnificently enjoyable journey.


Look / Like / Listen & Follow:

Website: http://www.nomonsterclub.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nomonsterclub

Bandcamp: https://nomonsterclub.bandcamp.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nomonsterclub

Single: Milky Teeth - Guess Again

Milky Teeth Guess Again



Info: While currently on some downtime with Cork band’s The Shaker Hymn and John Blek & The Rats, lead guitarist and vocalist Robbie Barron has been busy writing and recording his own material, under the moniker Milky Teeth.

Barron releases the 2nd single under his solo moniker, 'Guess Again', the follow up to January's 'Sleepiness And Weary Wit', giving us another taste of what to expect from a full length release from Milky Teeth, which may see the light of day before 2017 is out. 

Cork's solo act Milky Teeth released his first single, 'Sleepiness And Weary Wit' back in January whilst on brief hiatus from main band The Shaker Hymn. Where that track found Barron embracing solid 60's psych-pop á la The Zombies, on new single 'Guess Again' he opts for a less frantic moment of calm, whilst retaining the epoch's psychedelic leanings. Here he is sounding more Let It Be era Beatles, think 'All Across The Universe' minus Lennon's slightly morose vocal tone, with Milky Teeth adding a notable modern early 00's indie-rock layer across it's three and a half minutes plus. Again we are treated to truly uplifting brass arrangements and summery lo-fi moods from the Cork man making his sound appealing to both fans of contemporary and classic musical time zones.


Look / Like / Listen & Follow:

Website: www.milkyteethmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/milkyteethmusic/

Bandcamp: https://milkyteeth.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MilkyTeethMusic

Single: Young Earth - Worth It

Young Earth Worth It


Young Earth - Worth It

Info: Young Earth are an Indie-Pop/Rock band from Dublin. Formed in BIMM, the band is bringing a fresh and energetic take on Indie pop, fusing heavier elements into hook filled pop songs to create an eclectic mixture of both new and old.

'Got A Secret', the band's first single of 2017 released in March has amassed over 90,000 Spotify streams, debuted on radio as BBC Ulsters ATL track for the day. Earning critical acclaim from blogs and music tastemakers both internationally and at home, it has drawn a considerable amount of attention to the band, including a sell out single launch, and with a busy summer ahead there's no signs of slowing down.

The band are extremely excited to release 'Worth It' on June 16th, 2017 along with a short accompanying Irish tour to promote it.


The only thing you are guaranteed with a new Young Earth single is that it is going to be upbeat and a carefree experience, but that's where it ends. Since the release of debut single 'Maggie' in 2016, each subsequent single has seen the four-piece take another step up the ladder in developing their sound. Whilst there have been line-up changes, the improvements are all down to the band determinedly making things happen for themselves rather than waiting for it to happen.

This dedication to refining their sound has led to new single 'Worth It', a noticeably more wholesome and polished listen with better production. In terms of sound it has all of the hall-marks of a late 90's early 00's indie-pop rattler, like The Lemonheads, The Zutons and Modest Mouse all put in the blender, but with that defining Young Earth vibrancy standing out on top of it all. Another thing to love about their sound is it has that youthful wide-eyed feel of 1950's pop-rock lyrically and musically. I've no doubt that within time they will start skipping rungs and tear on up that ladder to bigger things.

Young Earth are currently on an Irish Tour to promote 'Worth It', see remaining dates below;

Young Earth Tour Dates


Single: Variant Sea - Hiraeth

Variant Sea Hiraeth


Info: Variant Sea are a Dublin/Reykjavik based ambient-post rock duo comprising pianist Luke Duffy and guitarist Shell Dooley. Working together to create visually inspired instrumental music, the pair have merged subtle piano melodies and turbulent multi-layered guitars to deliver a sound that is their own.

The duo have released two acclaimed E.P. records 'Season of Mists' and 'Fable', receiving praise from The Last Mixed Tape, Nialler9, The Irish Times, The Thin Air, Lyric FM and State Magazine.

Variant Sea are an act we have long held in the highest regard around these parts, with both their debut and sophomore EP's making our independent Irish EP of the Year lists for Season of Mists (2015) and Fable (2016). With pianist Luke Duffy making his way to Iceland last year and continuing to compose, and guitarist Shell Dooley working full-time with her band Montauk Hotel, it was a most pleasant surprise to find they had released a new single in the, unsurprisingly, beauty-filled 'Hiraeth'.

Hiraeth is an old Welsh word that is not directly translatable into English. In general it describes a longing or a melancholic nostalgia, a homesickness for a home which you can never return to, or a longing for an absent loved one which carries a repressed knowledge that the object of affection will never return. Now if that doesn't move you enough, the music itself will complete the job.

That's not to say that Variant Sea are intent on bringing us down, far from it, on their new single the beauty is a source of both reinvigoration of the soul and tangible hope. The sensual calm of the opening bars and gentle strings are like looking out on a motionless lake on a winters day. The breadth that the duo have allowed themselves over the track's 7 minute plus length is perfect in terms of leaving the desired impact on the listener. The build is careful and slow, but when it happens it doesn't creep up on you, in an unusual way it reveals itself with aplomb.

From the 4:35 mark VS have fully gone from serenity to that aforementioned invigorating feeling, it's like a minute but precise shot of joyfulness injected into your soul. This dream-like state ends in the final minute of 'Hiraeth' and Duffy and Dooley take us back to the edge of the lake at winter where we can reflect on their latest offering and wait impatiently for the next one simultaneously. As always, nothing but beautiful in the strictest definition of the word.


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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Video: Perhapsy - Morning Star

Perhapsy Morning Star

Perhapsy - Morning Star

Info: Early last year Oakland experimental pop act Perhapsy released the gorgeous and delicate single 'Morning Star' from his debut album, Me Tie Dough-ty Walker. Earlier this week he released the video for the single which we are delighted to share. 

The video was shot by Madeline Kenny and directed by Barber himself. The video features multiple layered images, shots of Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland, and solo dance/choreography by  Anna Greenberg (of the renowned Kristin Damrow Dance Company in San Francisco).

Clock-ticks and muted, percussive guitars begin a steady stream of major-7th arpeggiations before Barber's spiderweb-like vocals enter the song. An atypical kick drum/snare pattern propels the tune which develops layer by increasingly complex layer. Slightly post-rock elements meet a Flaming Lips-esque bassline groove, all accentuated by the lyric, "Next, is all there is..."

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Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1jrtWZSXPBdKx5EW4WVyIp

EP: Rosa Nutty - Pips

Rosa Nutty Pips
Photo: Amber Baruch


Info: Dublin songwriter Rosa Nutty released her debut EP 'Bunny', in 2015 signaling her emergence on the Irish music scene. The focus of her music is thought-provoking lyrics delivered with dynamic vocal harmonies. Nutty's songs seek to engage the listener by evoking a sense of shared human experience against the backdrop of a lulling electric guitar. The result is warm, simple, yet sophisticated. Since the release of 'Bunny', Nutty has supported artists such as Rozi Plain and Elephant, appeared on Newstalk’s The Green Room, RTE Radio 1’s Arena, played at festivals such as Castlepalooza, KnockanStockan, Canalaphonic and the Other Voices Music Trail. Her sophomore EP, 'Pips', was released on the 31st of May, with an official launch night held in The Workman's Club, Dublin, the following Friday on the 2nd of June.

Pips opens with a light military tom percussion which leads straight into Rosa Nutty's trademark, immediately moving vocal, solid yet soft. 'Hive' is a beautiful and emotional metaphor in which the protagonist holds out a strong and no strings attached hand of unconditional and permanent comfort. The light then shines through from the 3:30 mark, rolling wistfully around our heads.

'Alternator' is tender yet morose, mellow yet direct and assertive, like it's predecessor, the backing vocals add nicely to the track, and it's an early signal of the overall mood of Pips which we discover toward the EP's conclusion.

Always simmering in Nutty's music is a restraint, to resist going full rock, one thing I love about her sound is the avoidance of acoustic guitar and almost permanency of the electric, which is nicely captured on 'I'm Your Baby'. The track warmly springs to life on 1:30, wrapping you in a comfort blanket. A certain Belle and Sebastian summer day-glo feel abounds.

'Fizzy', the first track Nutty shared from Pips again displays that mastery of delivering the ultimate sadness in the opening musical notation, in a paranormal way you are affected by Nutty's voice even before she's begun singing, when you hear the first few bars you are bracing, like Hitchcock ratcheting up the tension, it's a powerful ability to possess in music.

There's a small shift in sound on closing track 'Drive', keys and harmonies pushing towards very contemporary and current alternative sounds. It's ambient, ethereal and dream-pop in tone, it could easily be on the soundtrack to an independent film. It's a soft landing to an EP that never really shoots off to the stars, and in many ways that is something to be cherished, there doesn't need to be a brash hoe-down just for the sake of it. There's no need to 'break up the tracks' or present an artificial contrast, Pips will simply mesmerise you of it's own volition, and it's very much a being in the moment collection of songs, absorb, disconnect and be rewarded.

Rosa Nutty is showcasing two things here as well, a vocal ability most people would dream about sounding like, and a highly tangible and ever-improving knack for thought-provoking lyrics, all that is required for her to succeed in an artistic sense is to fully embrace her musical impulses, because everything is aligning so well so far for her and us.


Look / Like / Listen & Follow:

Website: http://www.rosanutty.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosa.nutty/

Bandcamp: https://rosanutty.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RosaNutty


Video: The Blizzards - Show Me The Science

SHOW ME THE SCIENCE The Blizzards Music Video

The Blizzards - Show Me The Science

Info: The Blizzards have partnered up again with producer Philip Magee (The Script, Kodaline) to create a synth-heavy, 80's anthem. "Show Me The Science" is the fourth single from the band's forthcoming album, due later this year. 

The video, directed by Irish company Crooked Gentlemen, follows a dance crew of misfits as they challenge their rivals to a dance battle. "The upbeat, positive, high-energy song made our concept effortless: every aspect of the video reflects its energy, from the vibrant costumes to the ridiculous storyline, to our lead good guy character’s hair," say Crooked Gentlemen. "You just can’t hear the song without dancing, so the focus of our story is exactly that: two gangs, passionate about dance aerobics." Featuring a familiar face in Steve Gunn (Fair City), the video is the first to be released since the Blizzards return last year.

'Show Me The Science' will be available everywhere on July 7, 2017 and the band support the 1975 in Malahide Castle this Saturday, June 17.

'Show Me The Science' is a pretty delightful powerhouse of indie-pop joyfulness, The Blizzards mash-up fizzed-out 80's pop rock with a late 90's indie-pop hue in what many music fans might find to be a surprising release stylistically from the Mullingar act. It's always a good day when a Crooked Gentlemen video drops too, Tarantino dialogue meets Step Brothers style humour, perfectly accompanying the upbeat merriment of the song and its well-placed blasting sax solos, a radio summer hit for sure.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Interview: Gavin FitzGerald - The Truth About Irish Hip Hop

The Truth About Irish Hip Hop Gavin FitzGerald

The Truth About Irish Hip Hop (Trailer)

Info: 'The Truth About Irish Hip Hop' is an upcoming documentary about the rise of hip hop in this country and the changing attitudes towards the once foreign art form. Ireland is renowned for it's writers and poets so why hasn't hip hop entered the cultural mainstream here? Well this documentary shows it happening before our eyes and the movement will only increase with the dedicated new wave of rappers breaking through the scene. 

Featuring Rusangano Family, This Side Up, Mango & MathMan, Fifth Element & Doublescreen, Jafaris, Ophelia MC, Nialler 9 and many more.

On a personal level I had a great interest in this documentary and really can't wait to see the finished product. Up until the beginning of last year next to no hip-hop or rap had featured on the blog with the exception of Los Angeles duo King Fantastic who I had the pleasure of interviewing a good few years ago. It wasn't until Ballymun pair 5th Element & DoubleScreen sent me on their new track and video at the time, '2.0', that I had to actually sit down to reviewing the genre, it was a little bit daunting. Of course I was a fan, listening to the Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, NWA and Public Enemy to name a few since my early teens, but I was by no means an expert at describing the genre, and I'm still not.

That said, it opened up a new door on the Irish music scene and I've had the absolute pleasure of seeing numerous live shows since including Jafaris, This Side Up, 5th Element, Rusangano Family and Mango off the top of my head, all of which feature in The Truth About Irish Hip Hop produced and directed by Gavin Fitzgerald and Mark Hayes. I had the chance to pick Gavin's brain regarding their new documentary, what it meant to him, how the idea came about, and what his view of the current state of the Irish hip-hop scene is.


5th Element & DoubleScreen - The Illest (feat. Mango)

Remy: You’ve recently released the trailer for upcoming short documentary The Truth About Irish Hip Hop, how did the idea first come into your head to explore this topic? What was the process like?

Gavin: I was a big fan of Messiah J & the Expert growing up. I used to go to his sold out live shows in Crawdaddy and I was always surprised that he never made it on an international scale. In my head, he was as good as any American or UK rapper so it got me thinking about the Irish perception of rap which is, or rather was, quite negative. I think the Irish have a tendency to cringe at the sound of our own voice, whether that be on television or in the music industry. 

So what started as an exploration of Ireland’s dismissive attitudes towards rap turned into something much more positive. I learned that there was a huge amount of new music since those early days of Irish hip hop and the standard was really high. The stereotypes had been broken down over the last few years and anybody who goes on Youtube for a half a day can see a new wave of Irish hip hop emerging. I wanted to explore the reasons for this change in attitude towards the once American art-form. 

Remy: You cover many acts in the film, such as Jafaris, Rusangano Family (recent Choice Music Awards winners), This Side Up and 5th Element to name but a few. What did you yourself learn throughout the process of working with them that you didn’t know before? Or to put it another way, what surprised you most from going through the project itself.

Gavin: I think the most surprising thing is the sheer amount of talent out there. I met Mark Hayes of ClearHaze along the way and he was making the same documentary as me so we decided to team up in order to cover more ground. Every rapper or DJ you speak to is eager for you to talk the next guy… we literally didn’t have the time to speak to them all but everyone we did interview shared an unwavering passion for hip hop music and a belief that Ireland will have as well an established hip hop scene as the UK.

This Side Up
This Side Up - Photo: Remy Connolly

Remy: Would it be your opinion that Irish hip-hop is on the verge of entering a broader public consciousness now, or do you still feel it will retain its underground presence for the forseeable future? Or a mixture of both?

Gavin: It may take a long time but I think Ireland will have it’s own space and we will start seeing more hip-hop festivals happening across the country. They already are, but as Ireland continues to become more multicultural, that influence will only create more diversity and vibrancy to the scene. You only have to look at our neighbours in the UK to see what effect hip-hop has had musically and culturally. London is packed with hip-hop clubs and that’s what Ireland is missing right now. We need a space where you can go in any night of the week and hear new Irish hip hop. They’re great fun nights and we need to see more of them. 

Remy: Were there any particular frustrations about exposure expressed by the subjects of the documentary with regards to the Irish music press / websites etc.?

Gavin: To be honest, it’s all very positive these days. Perhaps there would have been in the past. Very talented rappers such as Scary Eire and Messiah J & the Expert perhaps didn’t reach the heights they deserved, but the documentary doesn’t dwell on that. It’s about looking forward, a new Ireland who has broken down the barriers of stereotypes and is producing quality hip hop music. 


 
Rusangano Family - Soul Food

Remy: Finally, has the whole experience provided you with an ongoing interest in Irish hip-hop in general?

Gavin: Absolutely. It would be great to do a feature-length documentary sometime down the road but for now we’re just going to put this film out with a big night of Irish hip-hop and keep an eye on the talent we met along the way. I feel like there’s a bunch of Conor McGregors lurking in the shadows and one day that talent will explode and everyone will be saying; "Nah, I was always into Irish hip hop". Whenever that happens, I’ll be waiting with my camera.

To keep an eye on updates regarding the release date and other news, head over to The Truth About Irish Hip Hop's Facebook page and give it a Like here https://www.facebook.com/hiphopdocu/

Jafaris
Jafaris - Photo: Remy Connolly

EP: Sarah O'Gorman - Concrete Rain

Sarah O'Gorman Concrete Rain

Sarah O'Gorman - Been Here a Little Long

Info: Hailing from Co. Carlow, and currently living in Berlin, Irish folk artist Sarah O'Gorman today releases her debut EP, Concrete Rain."You have to follow where you soul leads,” Sarah says of the 4-song EP, which was produced by Red Snapper founding member, David Ayers, at his studio in Sarah's hometown, Carlow, Ireland."And sometimes it leads you home…"

Certainly the Berlin-based singer-songwriter, with the soulful voice and expressive lyrics, is finding increasing joy in the adventure not only of song writing but also of performing and recording.

"Making 'Concrete Rain' happened almost by accident. I'd written some new songs, and on a visit home, by chance arranged to go in the studio with David, initially for one day—which quickly turned into a week. I thought, wow, this is really beautiful. The tracks felt like they wanted to come to life."

Opening with 'Been Here A Little Long' (above video) you are immediately enthralled with O'Gorman's lush velveteen vocals and swept under her spell. The mix of acoustic and electric blues guitar create a mellow yet powerfully soulful mood right across the track, which reaches a hair-raising climax with its gospel finale. 

A joyful contrast comes along on second track 'What Is The Use of This Love If Not Healing', with an intro that recalls Steely Dan's 'Do It Again', we are treated to a late 60's retro-blast of psychedelic soul with O'Gorman infusing her love of poetry and spoken-word into the track. Her vocals once again are sublime, perfect in fact, if this song doesn't fill you with all of the happiness in the world you may be dead inside.

Wisps of Americana and old world folk come on third track 'There's More To The Eye', one of the EP's more sombre and reflective moments, but nonetheless a highly enjoyable and invigorating experience for the listener. 

And oh what an absolute delight we have as we reach the end of Concrete Rain with its title track, as if it weren't enough to have been brought on a journey through folk, soul, blues and gospel, Sarah O'Gorman throws some lovely jazz intros into the mix. It's a dead-ringer for early 70's funk and soul, with the music nodding its head to Curtis Mayfield and the vocals painting a scarily clear picture of said decade. 

Concrete Rain is a breath of fresh air, it fills so much of a void in not only Irish music, but even internationally. There is a distinct paucity of bone fide soul music which grabs you and makes you feel moved inside, on her debut EP Sarah O'Gorman achieves this and so much more across its four tracks, which for me combine to make one of the stellar music releases of 2017.

Concrete Rain will be launched tonight at the Carlow Arts Festival, event page here https://www.facebook.com/events/1852203121698623/

Look / Like / Listen & Follow:

Website: https://sarahogorman.co/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahogormanmusic/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/sarahogorman ***

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahSOGorman

***Updated tracks to follow

Playlist: Remy's Best of International Playlist - Issue #8

Tycho See feat. Beacon
Photo: Derek Halsey


Info: The latest International Playlist kicks off with the latest single from one of our long-time firm favourites Tycho who played Forbidden Fruit only last weekend. The new single, 'See' was released the other day with an accompanying video and features New York's Beacon, the first time a vocalist has ever featured on a Tycho recording, with the track originally appearing on 2014's Awake album, it now gets a new lease of life. Also from the USA comes the wonderful new single 'Dipped' from Black Fly who we are becoming big fans of.

We also have killer tracks from all across Europe, the super catchy 'Retro Fizzy Drink' from Brighton / London band Silver Tongue Bandoliers, 'Cascades' from previously featured Italian ambient electronic artist Indian Wells, 'Awake' from brand new Dutch act CIEL, Helsinki's Lake Jons and their latest single 'Even If', and also from London 'Griptide' by Barbarossa and Moderate Rebels new number 'Knight Time'. Finally we have French indie rock band Fools Ferguson with 'Crystal Casltes' and Leeds group The Boxing with 'Heart of Me'. Enjoy.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Playlist: Remy's Irish Independent Top 10, Issue #6 (2017)

Bad Bones - Beg
Bad Bones


Info: As always we bring you the best recent independent Irish releases, as well as tracks by acts we have belatedly come across lately. In our 6th Issue for 2017 we have probably the most varied Playlist of the year to date in terms of genres, from ska to funk-pop, ambient, electronic and the plain wonderfully weird.

We start off with a lovely new-wave stomper courtesy of Autre Monde, 'I Want My Enemies To Prosper', made up of current and former members of Land Lovers, No Monster Club and solo act Paddy Hanna, their new single creates an alternate version of a less miserable Combat Rock-era Clash, it's a doozy of a song to say the least. Our second track has been out and about for a while now since last year, 'Beg' from Bad Bones. Sadly I only became acquainted with the Dublin electronic producer / visual artist at last weekend's Forbidden Fruit festival. Over the three days and all stages, Bad Bones were a clear highlight for me and really deserves a far wider audience. 

Dublin band Stoat are up next with latest single 'Try Not To Think About It'; "I never get to see my wife naked any more, we're just partners in chores", their upbeat vox and music betraying a satirical and cynical recounting of the hum-drum inevitability of daily life. Again from Dublin, entertainer and musician supreme TADGH puts the two sets of brothers Doobies and Isley into the blender with Prince to create a funkalicious zinger with new single 'Danger', if only all pop music sounded and felt this good.

AikJ

AikJ also from Dublin, just released his latest Rn'B single 'Heights', a mellow and most soulful affair, that dips it's toes between contemporary and old school vibes with ease. An effervescent summer anthem arrives next via drum and bass duo WOB!, rampant beats and flows give the single an energetic rush perfectly accompanied by the bang on vocals.

A very interesting, exciting and heart-warming act comes next in the form of Irish London-based artist Linda Em and her single 'Stories' which is part of a double A-Side release with track 'Buccaneer'. 'Stories' takes the slightest hint of Celtic mysticism popularised by the the likes of Clannad, and turns it into something modern yet equally haunting. It also embraces classic American 60's folk, there are particles of Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez to be found in her vocals and sound.

Next up comes a track from a while ago, but which only came to my attention this week, 'Mouthful of Bread' from Galway act Agu who is of Czech-Polish origin from her album Ke Světlu which is Czech for 'To The Light'. It's a very enjoyable piece of ambient folk, with guitar and strings swaying between lulls and peaks, it's absorbing and soaks itself into the listener with great ease. Dublin band KARMS who formerly operated under the name We Were Giants, recently shared single 'We Always Lose', which swerves between Jimmy Eat World and Band of Horses, a crunching and energetic single that lifts itself up and up as it progresses. 

Look to the Lady - My Name

We close our latest Playlist with the shoe-gaze nuances of Look to the Lady from Wicklow and their latest single 'My Name' (above video). There's so much to enjoy on this track, it's like an homage to 90's alternative indie rock, but without a band from the era to compare it to. And whilst we are big into our visuals and music videos around these quarters, without them influencing our judgement on songs, the vid for the single is very impressive. It feels like real music from a real band.