Sunday, 22 April 2018

Premiere - Chase Nova Band - Keep Your Head (Below The Waves)

Chase Nova Band - Keep Your Head Under the Water

Chase Nova Band - Keep Your Head (Below The Waves)

Info: REMY is delighted to premiere the new single and video from Dublin act Chase Nova Band, 'Keep Your Head (Below The Waves)'. Nova himself reveals the extremely personal nature of the theme behind the song; "It's written about my experiences in a psychiatric ward for a couple of months back in 2013. I was involuntarily committed and spent two months waiting on a tribunal to prove that I was sane enough to be let out. It's a pretty special one for me and it's kinda the reason I wanted it to be the first single off the new EP."

The balance between the heavy theme and light-hearted demeanour of the music is perfectly executed, even in its happiest moments you can't help but be touched by a strong tinge of sadness. The merriment is an aspiration of the protagonist, but we're told to 'Keep your head below the waves, you're better off not coming up until the ocean behaves', with the ocean clearly marking life itself and our environment, namely the people that surround us. It's the struggle between what we want for ourselves and what others want for us.

Musically it's a joy to behold, from the smiling ukulele, to the soft brush percussion and of course vibrant sax playing. Vocally Chase Nova relays painful and troubling memories with an authentic sense of feeling, but won't allow the nature of the best take all of the fun out of it. 'Keep Your Head (Below The Waves)' is a fine package, musically, in terms of subject matter and visually, it ticks all the right boxes.

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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Single: Happyalone. - bodybags

Happyalone. - bodybags

Info: Cork trio Happyalone. seem to inexorably advance in leaps and bounds with each passing single, where their first track 'colours' was a beyond gorgeous mellow lo-fi affair that is still one of the best debuts I've heard from an electronic act, 'ur eyes' moved toward more atmospheric dub and trance, and signalled a big shift in sound. 'bodybags' though is a fire-starter, this is by far their best single, vocally it hits emotive levels, and this is a track that fans of Massive Attack's uncomfortable to listen to at times, yet a masterpiece, Mezzanine, will adore, namely, and in more ways than one, 'Inertia Creeps'. 'bodybags' is a huge leap in a very short space of time, I've no idea how Happyalone. became so good so soon. Someone, somewhere, book these guys for a gig in Dublin asap.

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Album: Paddy Hanna - Frankly, I Mutate

Paddy Hanna - Frankly, I Mutate

Info: Normally when a mór le rá Irish album is released I'm in a hurry to get a review up and share my initial thoughts as best I can, but last February and March two albums came out in close proximity that dug a little deeper into me than normal. I knew that, as a result, in order to properly review both I really needed to live with them for a while. Paddy Hanna's Frankly, I Mutate is one of those albums, I had reviewed the colourful 'Mario Lanza' and the wonderful 'Toulouse the Kisser' over the past few months, and for me they set the scene in different ways.

In a recent interview with NME Dubliner Hanna spoke freely about personal battles and how they interact with his craft; "I allude to mental illness in my work. It’s considered by many to be a neurosis that spurs on creative work, however it is nothing but a crutch on my own creativity. My time in a depressive haze is spent in complete emptiness, weeks will go by, my beard will have grown out, my pen dried up. So when indeed I allude to mental illness it would usually be during a happy period where I can function. One of the most important days in my life came when I finally opened up about depression and was not met with jeers but rather acceptance and understanding". 

Listening to his sophomore album you would outwardly get the impression of a highly creative musical maverick who injects humour and comedic brevity into his song-writing (which he does). When you listen to the lyrics on tracks such as the brimming orchestral piece that is 'All I Can Say Is I Love You', you start to ponder a bit more and take stock beyond the music itself.

The scene is set with 'I Saw The Man, Pt. 2', this reminds me of an interlude on a Waterboys album, it's a little morose, but it's very calming, and the piano is a little magical. Mood is flipped on its head with one of my favourite tracks on the album 'Bad Boys', musically it's just wonderful, in an almost nailed on Leonard Cohen impersonation, Hanna tells a story that can be interpreted in many ways, a distant summer memory of mischief, a sinister plot by suits, who knows, and my god that brass and percussion are immense. 

'Ida' is an early signal (on top of 'Bad Boys') of an artist whose mind is knee-deep in the best of the best of so-called baroque pop, I hear all sorts of wisps from Roy Orbison to Scott Walker's 'Copenhagen' or 'It's Raining Today' from Scott 3, but with more joy. Another boon of Frankly, I Mutate is that it never sits on its laurels, take 'Mario Lanza' for example, this is a bone fide modern pop song, the type of song your conservative parents in 1965 would just about allow a teenage you listen to, it has just about enough big-band sound to distract from authoritarian analysis!

'Reverends Grave' is a significant pause, as if our protagonist has decided to take a break from the stage and make a rare and brief outreach to a spiritual dimension, additional vocals by Saint Sister are most welcome too. We then arrive at the barn-storming locomotive of 'Toulouse the Kisser', it's brash, a dash of 50's rock rhythm pumps along like day-glo pistons on over-drive, can we love Hanna's defiant vocal any more than at this point on the album?

Paddy Hanna
Photo: Stephen White (The Last Mixed Tape)

'Spanish Smoke' is a lovely surprise on the album, a rare blues-rock and soul moment, I'm a bit at a loss to draw comparisons here, from two genres that I'd like to think I know a thing or two about a thing or two on, and this is a welcome state. There's at least one more kicker to the heart left in the shape of 'Low Voices', after all of the boisterous and uplifting moments, there's an inescapably honest introspective, painfully so, Hanna passes you his diary to read for yourself. In a way the undercurrent of the whole album and its messenger lead directly to this point, outward / inward, joy / turmoil, together / alone. 

I often project myself into the future, with one of my nieces or nephews starting to express an interest in music, and in this scenario they ask me what albums they should listen to in order to develop their song-writing or expand their palate. Frankly, I Mutate is one that would slip off the shelf, and I'd tell them to work their way backwards from there.

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