Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Video: Shiftwork - Ode to Tommy

Shiftwork - Ode To Tommy
Photo: Cecilia Lacombe

Info: Shiftwork are a ridiculously charming trio who play quirky, haunting and strangely beautiful songs. Their duelling and harmonising vocals touch on important topics such as three day rollovers, semi-perilous late night cycling and unrequited lust.

Dublin-based alternative-folk trio Shiftwork released the video for their track 'Ode to Tommy' last week, which was originally recorded roughly a year ago. The chap in the song's title is one Tommy Wiseau, writer, director and star of cult drama The Room which was released in 2003. The story behind the film, in a rough nutshell, sees Tommy's character Johnny play the part of a successful banker in San Francisco, who, to him at least, is in an idyllic relationship with beau Lisa. All is not as it seems however, with Lisa, arriving at a point of boredom in their romance, messing around with Johnny's BFF Mark. 

Critically panned beyond any form of redemption, and with rock-bottom scores on online film sites such as IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, the sheer disbelief at how bad the acting is and the amateur nature of both the writing and production have turned The Room into a source of intrigue, and major league fandom. Shiftwork capture the black tragi-comedy with aplomb on their video directed by Andy Flaherty, a song I've had the pleasure of seeing performed live twice in 2017, which immediately leads to intrigue about its subject matter.

Off the back of playing Electric Picnic two years on the bounce, as well as this years' Culture Night, the stir created by Shiftwork's live performances to date means a lot more people will be seeing and hearing their music in 2018, I for one am excited to see them take to the stage again in the New Year.

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Monday, 11 December 2017

Single: Jon Dots - Happy Christmas Baby from Me

Jon Dots - Happy Christmas Baby From Me

Info: Dublin Indie-Pop-Pop solo act Jon Dots has released his twelfth song of 2017, much of which has gone under the radar, all of which is the most blissful hideaway and escape from the din and clamour. As I grow older I've learned to hate Christmas, not to be a spoilsport or negative, it has just gradually sucked baubles, the important thing is that I don't allow this seething dread impact on those I cherish, after all, they've bought me presents.

Dots' 'Happy Christmas Baby From Me' is just the tonic to this miserable disposition, if a 20-odd year old Roy Orbison were plonked into a recording studio in 2017 this would absolutely be the song he would record. What is most impressive (as is the case in general with Dots' output) is his remarkable and innate ability to reproduce and improve upon classic sounds. The vocal is so smooth, and the pop elements are kind of a work of art, if there's anyone better at this type of composition in Ireland at the moment I'm yet to come across them. 

What's left to do but thank Dots for saving me from myself this yuletide, and to share with you another one of his singles. My Christmas present to all of you, is Jon Dots.

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EP: Aural Air - The Torpor of Minds

Aural Air - The Torpor of Minds

Info: When Aural Air shared with me her debut A-side 'Edinburgh' / 'The Heir of Indignation' in August of last year I was instantly beguiled, this was a different vocal, a neat and most worthy guitar-playing style, thoughtful lyrics and sudden mood shifts. Last week Laura Rai (see what she has done there?) from Kildare released her debut EP under her moniker Aural Air, The Torpor of Minds, on Little L Records, and I am so glad she has included both of the aforementioned tracks on this collection of songs as more people need to hear how great they sound.

There's an American grunge-lite softness to opening track 'Serpent Speak', it's such a nice rendering of wonky timing and cast-away vocals, with Aural Air emerging from a slumber at 1:56, "Come on..." she whispers and we kick in, and this is what I thought I might be hearing last year, it's 2007, and it's St. Vincent's debut album Marry Me, but we're a bit more forceful in 2017 with regard to Aural Air's music.

That feeling is compounded on second track 'The Vanishing Dove', the song titles are as poetic as the flow of the music. Rai's voice flits gracefully between soft-rock and soul-jazz, today and yesterday at once, and again that controlled power whittles away in an instant like an extinguished candle at track's end. 'Medeina's Dove' comes next, here the off-kilter rhythm and beat is almost disorientating, almost, but it serves to add a wicked theatrical darkness we haven't come across yet. 

So we reach 'The Heir of Indignation', and well over a year later it is still perfection to my ears, the mystique of the vocal and the casual yet stifflingly cool guitar progression which arrives half-way through such a pleasure, here she's more Anna Calvi than Annie Clarke. It's also a moment to pause and admire the lyrical talent; "In the shadows, in the meadows, in the corners of your mind, when you suddenly felt sullenly and soon remember why, that they're watching and they're waiting in their vain hypocrisy, for the terrors that give birth to my stubborn apathy."

The Torpor of Minds closes with 'Edinburgh' another delightful moment to lose yourself in, alongside 'The Heir of Indignation', this song flitted into my head for months after hearing it for the first time, those breaks between eruptive emotion and fading falling stars hurtling to the ground are at work again. A rawness and vulnerability streak across Aural Air's debut EP, but it's not the rawness of starting out or finding your way, it's a sense of working your way through the sounds of the music with a careful, delicate and loving treading. Her star may or may not rise to where it deserves to be in 2018, but it's going to happen sooner rather than later.

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