Monday, 16 October 2017

Video: LemonCello - Morning

LemonCello - Morning

LemonCello - 'Morning'

Info: Laura Quirke (guitar, vocals) and Claire Kinsella (cello, vocals) started performing together while studying music and languages in Maynooth University, Ireland. Harmonious vocal melodies simply accompanied by cello and guitar, lend a sincere and honest rootsy sound, borrowing from wide range of influences, traditional and alternative.

In their relatively short life-span, LemonCello have played a sold out show in France at the beautiful Musée de La Piscine in Roubaix, supported Irish folk hero Damien Dempsey, played several music festivals across Ireland, and helped start 'Common Grounds Collective', a group dedicated to building a network of musicians of all genres, and give them a platform to write and perform original works within a nurturing community environment.

LemonCello spent much of 2016 writing material in France and Ireland and are now preparing to record their debut EP. Their new video for their original song 'Morning' was shot by Myles O'Reilly (Arbutus Yarns) towards the end of the summer. The video chronicles a trip down to the small village Killoughternane, Co. Carlow, where LemonCello member Laura Quirke’s family have run a farm for generations, and since its release on the the 7th of October has clocked up in excess of 50,000 views.

From a personal perspective I find LemonCello to be a rare wonder on the Irish music scene right now. We are thankfully awash with massive talent currently, and there have been countless times I've arrived to, and left live shows excited, for that I count myself very lucky. However, on occasion something extra hits you, as someone who holds constant and childishly impossible regrets about not seeing my favourite musicians from before I was born, and wishing I had been a teenager in 1960 to remedy it, every now and again a band comes along and chips away at that unrealistic sense of loss.

And yes, LemonCello are one of those acts, they are musicians who would be just as at home during the golden era of traditional folk as they are in 2017. Those reading these pages over the years will know that I'm a sucker for well delivered strings of any kind, and Kinsella's cello draws out a special kind of hope-tinged sadness on this rendition of 'Morning', subtle movements whose impact is anything but. Meanwhile Quirke's gentle plucking drifts between emotive and soothing vocals, the overall package makes me think Pentangle, Fairport Convention or Joan Baez, but the duo don't really sit easily within any of them. Essentially they are pulled across decades, their sound stretched like elastic, ready to bounce back to either end of the spectrum, not with a snap, but gently. 

The track is certainly beautiful, and the video is more than relevant, a reflection of the need to slow our own time down, personal and real interaction with those who we've spent most of our lives with, but have perhaps drifted from as we entered adulthood. It has become normal to be selfish with our time and to be aggravated by anyone who encroaches on that singular space, 'Morning' reminds us that true comfort and living comes from the opposite, and we should all saunter on the wind more often.

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Playlist: International #015 - Kainalu, Kadija Kamara, Westerman, Skye Wallace & more

Kadija Kamara Eyes on You

Info: It's been way too long since our last Best of Independent International Music Playlist here at REMY, but with every cloud etc.! Here we have a collection of 10 tracks from the U.K., U.S. & Canada, including new tracks from old friends of the blog which we are delighted to share The Midwestern Bass Machine and The Saxophones. There's also a few accompanying videos for some of the singles which you can enjoy below. Where singles are attached to an EP or album release, we've hyper-linked for you to hear more if you're digging the tunes.

1. Kainalu - 'Love Nebula' from the EP Bloom Lagoon (Hawaii)

Meet Trent Kainalu. An old Hawaiian soul whose most recent release, 'Bloom Lagoon' is all about connecting back to his culture. The fond memories of playing in the ocean and feeling the sand beneath his toes inspired his part lo-fi electronic, part psychedelic rock genre that he calls "Hawaii-Fi."

By utilizing vintage analog synths and a 70s tape machine, the track was born. The strong bass line was Kainalu’s initial idea, and from there sparked the other various layers of melodies and beats. The playfulness of the instruments mirrors the lyrics, as they’re about being childish in a way, "sort of the feeling of wanting to be wanted by someone" says Kainalu. 

2. Kadija Kamara - 'Eyes on You' - (London)

'Eyes On You' is Kadija Kamara’s exhilarating new single. Elephantine guitar riffs and seductive dance beats underpin her stunning neo-soul voice. With her retro approach to singing, Kadija’s full-bodied vocals soar atop an instrumental that sonically evokes the Black Keys or White Stripes school of contemporary rock and roll. As the song opens up, so too does the style, with gloriously off kilter synth arrangements and an invigorating sugar rush chorus. It’s a technicolor romp through styles and tones that are both thrillingly futuristic and classic in their sentiments.

3. Brenda - 'Children' from the forthcoming EP Creeper (Toronto)

On the surface level this could be a song about a friendship, or even a relationship, but go a little deeper and the song is about childhood and what happens when people lose their childlike innocence. Everyone, at some point, wants to escape the trappings of adulthood and run away to a place where it seems as if time doesn't exist and age doesn't matter. This song vacillates between these two states of being.

4. Westerman - 'Keep Track' - from the EP Call and Response (London)

Through the subtle interplay of acoustic and machine sound, Westerman’s voice is realised in the half-light between reality andimagination. 'Keep Track' is a meditation on the human urge for self-documentation. Amidst the idiosyncratic guitar playing, Westerman asks "is it right to lay it all out like that?" It’s a message that chimes with our generation's anxieties.

5. The Midwestern Bass Machine - 'Downtown Trash' - (Minnesota)

We've been covering the music from Minneapolis electronic and dream-pop solo act The Midwestern Bass Machine almost since the blog began reviewing music and the magic just keeps on flowing, 'Downtown Trash' is a joy on so many levels, from its birthplace of 80's East Coast hip-hop intro to its wandering journey towards twinkling indietronica, young artist Brock Splawski wows us once again. There's also another album on the way. I highly recommend you check out his back catalogue here on Bandcamp.

6. The Saxophones - 'Aloha' (Oakland, California)

Another act we've had the pleasure of covering in the past are Oakland duo The Saxophones, whose 2016 EP If You're On The Water completely melted our hearts with its tender take on ambient folk and dream-pop, a must listen. We were delighted when they sent on new single 'Aloha' which was released last month, imagine a younger Leonard Cohen with The Walkmen as his backing band penning a track especially for the Twin Peaks soundtrack and you have an idea of how gorgeous this new track is.

Skye Wallace - Scarlet Fever

7. Skye Wallace - 'Scarlet Fever' (Toronto)

Back to Toronto, Canada for the new single 'Scarlet Fever' from Skye Wallace who released her last album Something Wicked last year. It's a rollicking pop-punk track with a Ramones swagger bristling throughout, the manic drumming and a captivating vocal lead to a moment of gentle pause before thrashing out it's final 30 seconds, delightful.

8. Puppet Rebellion - 'Slave' from forthcoming album Chemical Friends (Manchester)

After releasing two EPs and several singles since their debut in 2013, the band have been working with acclaimed producer Gavin Monaghan (Editors, Ocean Colour Scene, The Twang) and touring extensively (including support slots for Catfish & The Bottlemen) as well as playing festivals across the UK and also featuring on BBC Radio 2 (Dermot O’Leary) and both BBC Introducing Manchester and Stoke. 

9. Malena Zavala - 'If It Goes' (London)

Argentinian born Malena Zavala honours her South American roots on new single 'If It Goes'. The song is an ode to her mothers' character and acts as a reminder that it’s an intrinsic part of her own.

"The song connects me to my South American roots through my mothers' Latino feminine character which she passed down to me. That fire is one of my only perceptions of my roots and I had a definite fear of losing that growing up in a different country/ in a different culture. It wouldn't be me if I lost it."

Malena Zavala
Photo: Victoria Cranstoun

10. SC Mira - 'Breaking My Skin' from the EP Keep Crawling (Winnipeg)

Two years after Sc Mira discovered their darkness, the band is back with a new collection of songs, beginning with the aptly titled Keep Crawling EP, consisting of singles "Mexico", "Free", and "Breaking My Skin" – three songs that are bright on the outside and cold on the inside. The self-produced EP was guided by an unlikely partner in mix-engineer Ferro Montanino, a pop producer and composer with a knack for film work and an inspired collaboration with electronic superstar Skrillex under his belt. Ferro's knowledge of the electronic and pop world complimented Sc Mira’s synth-driven dance-rock in an unusual way, and thus the term “death pop” was born.

Listen to Issue #014 of our best of independent International Playlist right here

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Single: Niall Cash - Fire

Niall Cash - Fire

Niall Cash - Fire

Info: Niall Cash is a Singer-songwriter from Wexford Ireland, currently studying songwriting in BIMM Dublin. Niall has supported fellow luminaries Walking On Cars and The Original Rudeboys over the last few months and has been playing in venues such as The Button Factory, Whelans, The Workmans Club, The Ruby Sessions and The Bello Bar, honing in his live act. He was nominated as 'Best Solo Male Act' for Pure M Awards also. 

Gathering a band behind him for his debut EP he developed his music into an indie/folk/pop sound gathering influences from the likes of James Bay, Ben Howard and The Coronas. In May 2016 he then released an EP called 'Frames Have Cracked' which peaked at number 1 in the Irish singer-songwriter charts on iTunes. Niall's EP 'Frames Have Cracked' is available on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud. 

Niall Cash's latest single 'Fire' hones directly in on all of the attributes you would expect from a strong pop single, the singer-songwriter uses a well-paced and restrained build-up to allow the emotive side of the ballad set hold in the listener. The bursts of pained vocals in the pre-chorus are tempered by the foreboding piano and drumbeat in the chorus itself, once again allowing the mood to settle down before soaring off once again. There's no doubt that the good production and polish on the track will ensure radio play, but 'Fire' has many more likeable elements than just being a straight-up pop single, and this is backed up by his previous releases which are well worth a visit if you enjoyed this track.

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The Irish VidList - Rosborough, Bad Bones, Ivy Bloom, EDEN & VJ Jackson

Derry artist Rosborough

Rosborough - Burn Blue

Info: In our latest round-up of the best Irish music video releases this week we bring you visuals from Derry's Rosborough, from Dublin we have electronic act Bad Bones, brand new band Ivy Bloom, producer EDEN and also from the capital, pop and rn'b solo act VJ Jackson.

We open with a great indie-pop single from Derry native Rosborough (above) in 'Burn Blue', it has that classic late 90's indie sound, recalling the likes of Suede, it's dramatic rise towards the tracks finale is pitch perfect and packs a really solid punch from a musician who can surely be about to turn many many heads on the music scene.

Bad Bones - You

In our last Irish playlist we wrote about Bad Bones' latest single 'You'; Having easily moved into the top tier of Irish electronic acts over the last 12 months, Dublin producer Bad Bones excites us once again on her new single 'You'. Recalling the likes of Gold Panda's jerking glitch-hop, but with a more uptempo pace, Bad Bones' sound drills through you, as though your torso were pushed right up against a massive sub-woofer speaker, this is an artist who is possibly on the cusp of over-taking the pack within her genre domestically. 

And now the accompanying video is here and boy oh boy is it stunning, candy for the eyes, directed and edited by Bad Bones herself, the visual artist perfectly captures the claustrophobia and suffocation of the track's sonic wormhole vacuum, and really should be considered one of the best Irish music videos of 2017, someone needs to add that as an award category somewhere.

Ivy Bloom - Dark Clouds

Another visually pleasing video comes from the dramatic and cinematic debut single 'Dark Clouds' by Dublin / Wexford band Ivy Bloom, opening with some breath-taking drone footage of woodlands and coast. The track itself is carved from the operatic stylings of Kate Bush or even a dash of Bonnie Tyler, singer Anna Devine strolling to heady heights with her powerful vocal performance, whilst the music flushes a Celtic-rock mist through proceedings from start to finish, quite the introduction to this new and exciting band.

EDEN - 'start // end'

Dublin-based producer EDEN, aka Jonothon Ng, shared his newest video for single 'start // end' at the end of last month. Given his phenomenal following it's not really that surprising that the video has clocked up almost 700k views since it was posted. It's a sharp and snappy piece of downtempo electronic music which has a solid pop vocal drifting emotionally across its almost 6 minutes.

Directed by Ng himself he describes the process; "I had this idea of a really densely packed visual for this song almost instantly, says Ng. "I really love cinema and visual art so I wanted to try my hand at creating something that was expressive but also had a similar latent energy to the music. After collating a ton of footage that I’ve accumulated over the past months, with the help of some friends, I set out to shoot the remaining set-pieces I had in mind."

VJ Jackson - 'FAMOUS'

We close off with the feel-good pop and rn'b grooves of Dublin solo act VJ Jackson and his latest single 'FAMOUS', the video for which was released towards the end of last week. Jackson keeps the sound tight and simple, and the production is as lush as his soulful vocal, recorded in Diffusion Labs with Marcin Ciszczon (Jafaris, Soulé, Hare Squaed), the video itself was produced by students from Pulse College. 'FAMOUS’ follows on from VJ’s previous releases 'Slow Down', 'I’ll Come Down', and his feature on Reuben James’ song 'Everything You Need'.

To view our last selection of Irish music videos on The VidList, head over here

Single: Proper Micro NV - Oblivious

Proper Micro NV - Oblivious

Proper Micro NV - Oblivious

Info: Proper Micro NV is the alias of Limerick singer/songwriter/producer Rory Hall. The 22 year old has embraced electronic music of all kinds since 2012. 

Hall revels in experimental electronic music, a move that has seen him being compared to James Blake and Mount Kimbie.

Hall has received recognition from Irish electronic songstress and former Moloko front-woman Roisin Murphy; who called his voice "Gorgeous" via social media. His debut EP titled 'EP1' was released in June 2016 to positive reviews. The Irish Times said that Proper Micro NV's vocal was "One of the most interesting new voices on the Irish scene in some time". They complimented the EP by saying that "it was a great showcase for Proper Micro NV's distinctive, soulful, bittersweet vocals and off-kilter electronica. On the 1st of July 2016, Hall was announced by RTÉ 2fm as one of 30 acts shortlisted by an expert judging panel to perform at Electric Picnic. 

On the 7th of December, Hall released his second EP 'It's always raining' via Plasmapool records. The first single 'Flaws' was released on the 3rd of November. In early 2017, music platform Spotify selected Flaws for their official Fresh Finds playlist, causing a large increase in listenership and popularity. Nialler9 called Flaws "a minimal hushed highlight.

This week Proper Micro NV released single 'Oblivious' from his well-received EP Colours which we previously reviewed here and felt that it was definitely one of the best Irish EP's to be released in 2017, we stand by that. 'Oblivious' summarises Hall's current sound perfectly, from the ambient low-lit effects which shadow his much-loved vocal style to the mellow hum of the beat, it has a very Air feeling about it, like something you might find on the quieter moments of Pocket Symphony. There's also a nice 90's house club vibe to the track, with the downtempo feel inducing you into a deep and pleasant trance by song's end. Hall is also currently working on his final single release from Colours which will be accompanied by a video so watch this space.

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Single: WOLFF - Freak Like Me

WOLFF · Freak Like Me

WOLFF - Freak Like Me

Info: At an unprecedented time where Irish musicians are sprawling across every genre and sub-genre imaginable with absolute ease, WOLFF (aka Johnny Stewart) has consistently led the way in the blues-rock field over the past two years. The sabre-rattling sound which first reached prominence with single 'Flesh Blood Skin and Bone' has seen his music featured on HBO, Fox Sports and Showtime in the US and earned festival slots at Vantastival, Electric Picnic, Sea Sessions, Castlepalooza and others this year.

It helps that I'm primarily, first and foremost a blues-rock fan above all other genres, ranging from delta á la Son House to our very own Rory Gallagher, when it comes to appreciating WOLFF's music, but it absolutely requires no such preconditions to enjoy. New single 'Freak Like Me's opening guitar riff is straight out of the Jailbreak-era Thin Lizzy playbook. The craving for filthy distorted guitar riffs and hard-rock percussion is delivered on a plate by the band, with Stewart respectfully incorporating all of the elements of old school blues guitar-playing and throwing it into a gratifying rock mixer. This is one to listen to on repeat, repeat, repeat.

WOLFF plays the Wexford Spiegeltent Festival on Tuesday 17th of October and IMRO First Cuts in Dublin on the 19th of October. 

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Album: The Crayon Set - Lost Languages

The Crayon Set - Lost Languages

Info: Dublin six-piece The Crayon Set released their sophomore album, Lost Languages earlier in the week, covering a range of real life experiences which the band describe as follows; "Looking back now the songs deal seem to deal with a number of interlocking themes: growing up in Ireland, trying to make sense of modern life and relationships, dealing with changes and failures, love and loss, identity, communication and expression.

The album was also partly our attempt – an Irish Indie Pop band - at making an 'Americana' album. To this end we asked our producer Gavin Glass to help make us sound like "Tom Petty on LSD". We embraced the sound of lots of the 'Americana' artists we’ve loved – The Band, Tom Petty, The Jayhawks, Springsteen, Drive-By Truckers, Wilco, Arcade Fire, Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, R.E.M. – to see where this might lead. We were always open to taking some detours and to having some fun along the way."

The first thing that struck me listening to Lost Languages in terms of sound was that it reminded me of a mixture of mid-80's and 90's pop rock such as Dire Straits and early Eels, but with an all encompassing and noticeable Irish accent, captured straight from the get go on the lively melodies and vocals of 'Are You Ready'. 'Down About It' circles that Americana and country feel the band were aiming at, but also pushes further toward the present today with a Belle & Sebastian pop joviality, the harmonies giving it a lovingly familiar yet longed after warmth. 

The Crayon Set - O'Connell Street

With 'Yesterday Man' The Crayon Set swing back to their folk bedrock, an ode and a ballad in equal measure to a lost soul riddled with self-doubt and many regrets, this could quite easily have been a Pogues track from days gone by to my ears. On 'Attack' the band sweep us up with a rousing high-tempo slice of indie-rock, barnstorming through its 3 minutes plus with their multi-instrumentation all fusing together to launch us towards a scintillating finale. 

After the gentle panacea of the other-worldly and dream-like 'Closed Lines', 'Aeroplane' gives us another insight into the indie-pop mould that TCS are looking to create, it's dreamy like its predecessor, but in an altogether different manner, here you are right in the present, and this is something that I will touch on again, this is a song clearly written by the hands of Dubliners. 

One of the album's previous singles, August release 'Can't Say No' is, you feel, exactly the point where the collective are striving towards in terms of developing their sound. The call and answer verses giving colour to a track which is filled to the brim with a convivial cheer that spills over into following song 'Hand-Surfing'. 

But The Crayon Set can also reach inside and pluck your heart-strings too, as is the case on 'O'Connell Street', combined with its video, the 2016 single release was described as having all of the hallmarks of a classic Irish single, and that still stands. It is an archetypal Dublin song, and not just because of its title and theme, even moreso because of the musical and vocal delivery, and you get strains of that DNA running through the whole of Lost Languages

Whilst one or two tracks out of the eleven didn't impact on me as much as the rest, overall The Crayon Set's second album achieves two things, it sees them strive (and succeed) toward new pastures musically, and secondly it eschews a wonderful sense of nostalgia nodding to an era when Irish music was truly starting to blossom into what it is today, with the entire band painting the album colourfully from their collective influences.

The Crayon Set will be holding the official launch for Lost Languages on Saturday, 21st of October at The Bello Bar in Dublin 8. Event details are here

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Guide to Metropolis 2017 - Part One

Metropolis 2017

Info: The award-winning Metropolis Festival returns for the third year this coming October bank holiday weekend, kicking off on Saturday, 28th of October at the RDS in Dublin 4. Ireland's largest indoor festival will be spread across six stages and feature a mix of international household names such as Leftfield, Laurent Garnier and Richie Hawtin, as well as rising local heavy hitters. The two-day music extravaganza has been a massive success since its inaugural outing in 2015 which was a sell-out, previously hosting the likes of DJ Shadow, Grace Jones, The Sugarhill Gang and Hot Chip, it gives music fans in the capital one last hurrah to see out 2017 in style. 

The opening night will see London alternative house legends Leftfield headlining with a full rendition of their iconic 1995 classic LP Leftism. French techno act Laurent Garnier will be taking to the main stage before that, and we'll also be treated to the wonderful Death in Vegas who have been regular visitors to Irish shores ever since their breakout 1999 sophomore album The Contino Sessions. The first act to take to The Warehouse Stage on the night will be Berlin IDM trio FJAAK who released their critically-acclaimed debut self-titled album at the beginning of this year (watch their amazing studio performance of original 'Against The Clock' below).

FJAAK - Against The Clock

Of the Irish acts to feature on the Saturday night the Metropolis organisers have unsurprisingly plumped for some of the hottest tickets in town to emerge over the last few years in Mix & Fairbanks, Lakerama and collaborative duo Mango & Mathman. In continuance of their support of Irish talent this year, the organisers will also feature a slew of native acts on the Sunday night which we will feature in Part Two of our guide next week. 

Limited tickets are still available for Metropolis Festival 2017 and can be purchased here

Mango & Mathman
Photo with kind permission by District Magazine

Metropolis Festival Site Map
Metropolis Festival Site Map @ The R.D.S.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Single: Orchid Collective - L.A.Z.Y

Orchid Collective L.A.Z.Y.

Info: It's almost a year since Dublin-based indie-folk four-piece Orchid Collective sent a very noticeable ripple across the Irish music lake with their debut EP Courage, which featured in REMY's Best EP's of 2016. Having returned last month with single 'Lay As Stone', David O'Shea (lead vocals, guitar), Shea Tohill (lead guitar, vocals), Hugh O’Neill (bass, vocals) and Darra Doyle (drums, vocals) waste no time knocking out another superb single in the form of 'L.A.Z.Y'.

It's always a good hall-mark of a band when their guitar sound begins to become instantly recognisable as something they've crafted themselves and sets them apart from peers, so it is with the opening of 'L.A.Z.Y' and its glittering solo. A warm deep vocal and uptempo rhythm then carve out a path towards the middle of the track before the spark-plug kicks a rushing burst of energy into the track and all of the elements which make Orchid Collective such an enticing live prospect fuse themselves together, harmonies, swift rolling guitar progressions and a rock-steady percussion. 

Five years ago Irish fans of the genre would look outward to U.K. and U.S. acts to satisfy their desire for quality song-writing and a sound whose energy would lift them up from the core, with Orchid Collective we have a band who have contributed greatly to bringing those wandering ears back home.

Orchid Collective play The Workman's Club on Wellington Quay, Dublin 2 on the 25th of November with support from Silences. Tickets are available via here.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

EP: o.ccult - Same

O.ccult - Same EP
Photo: Rotem Bahar Rozen

Info: o.ccult is a collaboration between electronic design and lo-fi songwriting.
Chen Firsel & AMO collaborated first as part of experimental-psych outfit Memory in Plant back in 2014. At the beginning of 2016 the two started this new and minimalistic project. This is their child.

I've had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing the music of Amo and Chen Firsel over the last few years, between Memory in Plant, what seems like an age ago, both of their solo work, and featuring three of the singles from Same since the beginning of the year when o.ccult kicked off for the first time. The Israeli pair have come out on top though with this six-track extended play, it's modern, adventurous and exactly what a fan of downtempo electronic music yearns for.

From opening track 'I was of' with it's organ-like drone, the scene is set, electronic beats and clicks rattle feverishly, almost attacking the despondent vocals like anti-bodies swarming bacteria, a tunnel of calm weaves its way cautiously through the sonic snaps, and it's quite beautiful. 

'Free' is a mesmeric and wonderful highlight on the EP, in my previous review back in January I wrote; "The synth progressions are dark and wholesome, adding to an already enjoyably mellow and haunting track...The lyrics are also both poetic and very visual; 'Up, in the air, pulled apart by ghosts, pulled apart by ghosts, There in heaven, or hell, or whatever, or whatever, who wants to plant, a little red flower?'"

The nonchalance of that final line encapsulating much of the mood across the six tracks, a disconnected ambivalence. After the spritely moods of 'Elephant', o.ccult swoop into a hardcore industrial 80's electronic mode on 'Robots', it's like Moog central sucked through a cosmic vacuum and as the track reaches the two minute mark all heaven and hell break loose in an exhilirating cacophany of chaos and carnage.

Their psychedelic roots sparkle through on the strange curio that is 'hell.mary', which features additional vocals from Sarai Darmon, a throwback to late 60's psych-garage with a modern twist. We close with a track simply named after the duo's musical project itself, it's quite Aphex Twin in delivery, and this is something that briefly reared it's head earlier in the EP. It has all the hallmarks of a dystopian sci-fi soundtrack, a lone figure in the distance on a desolate and barren planet far from home. This is something that's key across Same, it is at times challenging, but incredibly visual and most importantly, extremely rewarding. 

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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Single: Kevin Nolan - We are not the voices, they are but shadows now

Kevin Nolan - We are not the voices, they are but shadows now
Artwork by Susanne Wawra

Info: Dublin solo artist and poet Kevin Nolan released his first new track in quite some time just under two weeks ago. 'We are not the voices, they are but shadows now' spreads its eerie wings over almost 12 minutes, interlaced with sporadic pieces of piano playing and a cavernous wailing from some alien life-form, all to the backdrop of an old dot matrix printer shuffling through its tedium. It's a far cry from what he shared on his debut LP Fredrick & The Golden Dawn, a haunting yet almost therapeutic journey through the dark hallways of his sounds. Nolan explains the background in good detail below.

The piece is called "We are not the voices, they are but shadows now" written for printer, saw (there are six saw parts), natural piano and prepared piano, dead leaves, field music, chair, the original 1704 technique for thunder sound, piano foot pedals, concrete music. There are more but these are the predominant ones.  

The title "we are not the voices, they are but shadows now" was from two books. "We are not the voices" came when I walked into my library and as i flicked through the pages of Edgar Allan Poe's complete works I found the line, "We're not the voices", I like the line as I am a long time lover of Poe's work. 

The second part of my title came much the same way I then picked up another favourite of mine and I again I flicked through the pages of a book by Nikos Kazantzakis Christ Recrucified. There I found the line "they are but shadows now"

So inspired by both authors I put the two lines together with a small amendment to Poe's line and so titled my work "We are not the voices, they are but shadows now". 

Kevin Nolan - We are not the voices, they are but shadows now

The piece was actually recorded and finished in 2007 but just hasn't seen the light of day till today. At the time it was for me a kind of break from working on my debut album Fredric & The Golden Dawn. I took a small break from Fredrick & The Golden Dawn every now and them and found myself composing a series of what you might call contemporary compositions. 

The printer which is constantly printing as the song progresses is not just an effect, it is actually printing out a novel I had written, page by page. 

This particular piece was exhibited in the Bauhaus University Weimar as part of a sound exhibition in 2015 it was played in the streets of Wiemar on repeat for a period of a week. And also has been played a number of times on Scottish experimental radio, but I never released it formally till now. 

Personally when I listen to it I find it a very sad piece the printer printing so boldly at the start but as the story unfolds it go on until with the last of its strength each page of my novel slowly comes to a crawl to the finish line, this is a journey song as it goes outdoors employing field music at one point. In a way it is a success story in that the printer makes it to the finished line page by page but bitter sweetly also as when it reaches the finish of the piece it disappears and proceeds to no longer exist. The sparing dramatic piano stabs and piano pedal stomps, marking the final checkpoints of its completion and thus its extinction. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Album: Laura Ryder - Vestigial

Laura Ryder - Vestigial
Photo: Hannah Bloom

Info: Dublin alternative folk artist Laura Ryder released her debut album Vestigial yesterday with a launch night in The Bello Bar. The LP follows on from her very well received debut EP haiku which was released at the beginning of last year.

The first thing that you notice on Vestigial (which, quite sadly!, is the forming of a small remnant of something that was once more noticeable) is that Ryder transfers her engaging and highly entertaining live persona to record with ease, whilst also ensuring the more serious themes which she traverses are given appropriate respect. First track 'Changed' starts with a vocal solo, and the words connect with the album's title; "Now that I'm changed, and I'm nothing, I'm nothing but bringing you down, I'm nothing but causing an unyielding frown in this freedom, so bitter too taste, burnt on like a molten crown...", a cutting set of lines which will soften the hardest heart.

On 'Kerbs' that solemn mood continues, if a little less exposed by her full band entering the fray. Her piano playing is delightful as it twinkles sharply between sudden percussion drops and jazz-fuelled harmonies. Suddenly 'Moon' bursts everything open, releasing a scatter-gun of unbridled happiness, the instrumental arrangements all across the board here are wondrous and reach a peak with the playful high-key piano progression solo which fully crashes home at the track's finale.

What's not to love about 'No Romantics', I was unable to shake how much this felt like a lost Mic Christopher song from Skylarkin', it's a highly impressive moment on the album and finds Ryder's bubbling piano-playing at its most care-free and uplifting. Even before you've reached the album's title-track, you are struck by the fine line of what I've borrowed from the title of an old Gemma Hayes song from time to time, that trapeze like balance between delivering a happy-sad feeling to the listener. Ryder traverses that line with great care but so well, and it really comes home to roost on 'Vestigial', should I feel this sad listening to her music? I'm not sure, but I'm glad that I do.

'Chalk', like the opening track, again opens in a stripped-down manner before being embellished with a Bond-theme dripping of sharp keys and soulful harmonies. Unexpectedly 'Soda Pressing' immediately reminds me of something you might find on The Frames' Setlist, I'm just waiting for Glen to come in with a whisper over the strings and piano. The song then gallops off into a carnival atmosphere at its half-way point before coming back down, toying with our musical feelings, and with one last throw of the dice it catapults off into the ether, like a rocket headed to a cartoon Moon. 

'Siren Song' is a risky addition that I feel pays off, a live recording with Ryder accompanied by her guitar as the city passes by in the background, there is something quintessentially Irish about this song, as though she is taking a moment to salute a traditional form of musical performance from the past. The album closes with 'Sea Legs', wrought with vulnerability initially, Ryder once again explodes out from the blocks from nowhere and see-saws rapidly between high and low moments, it's a fitting end which leaves an overriding feeling of positivity in the face of adversity.

Vestigial reminded me of why I loved haiku so much, and listening back to that EP from last year for this review, it really was an intro to this album in every sense. The rollercoaster of emotions, the shifts between sombre and joy, the innate ability of Ryder to deliver songs that resonate with a sharp impact, and ultimately, an artist who you sense has her mind constantly occupied by the birth of new songs and sounds, the results of which we benefit from greatly.

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EP: NC Grey - Magic the EP

NC Grey - Magic The EP

Info: Drawing influences from Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone and Sade Adu, and with a unique blend of Soul, Jazz and R&B music, NC Grey is revered across Ireland’s live music and festival circuits, with critically acclaimed performances at Cork Jazz Festival, Body & Soul Festival and the Africa Day Festival among others, already under her belt, and strong support from Ireland’s biggest radio tastemakers including RTE2FM, RTE Pulse, Dublin City Radio and Dublin’s 98FM.

Speaking about the inspiration behind Magic The EP, NC Grey says, "My goal with 'Magic The EP’'was to be vulnerable. To let myself show the different stages I’ve been at personally: the love, excitement, pain and uncertainty, and to create something that lyrically, everyone can relate to. A mentor once said to me, 'I want to feel what your feeling through your music', and I’ve taken that on board for this project. I want my listeners to get lost in the sound and FEEL the feeling".

Oh damn there are so many levels I love NC Grey's Magic the EP on. From the opening bongo beat to the majesty of the upright bass straight away at the 10-second mark I'm in soul-jazz heaven with 'Holiday', and on my first listen, was desperate to peruse the remaining tracks without delay. The curl of Grey's vocal at the end of each chorus line, the shaker percussion, the free-style keyboards and the delightful swing of everything as one is joyous.

On the EP's lead single 'Adonis' (which is set to be joined by a music video over the coming weeks) you cannot help but step back in time to an era when you have wished on so many occasions that you could visit. It is hard to contemplate how pristine and clear Grey's vocal is, not just here but across the entirety of the four tracks. The be-bop jazz stylings are everywhere and the EP's title may have been referencing so other aspect of her song-writing, but for us it means only one thing.

By no means residing in a space influenced purely by the past, Grey's 'Toxic Love' takes on a sturdy contemporary alternative soul sound, I'm not sure why exactly, but I'm getting a mash-up of Florence and Bat for Lashes on this one both musically and vocally, with that Spanish guitar adding something surprising and well-placed into proceedings. We close with 'Magic', which perfectly straddles the past and the present, like a classic late 60's folk song that arches into modern vocal-pop, an instrumental redux in comparison to its predecessors, Grey's vocal showcased beautifully with the backdrop of a fading thunderstorm. 

On Magic the EP NC Grey presents a collection of sounds which you once wondered would ever resurface with such quality. It's a very exciting release for fans of bone fide jazz and soul whilst at the same time holds massive appeal for those with an inclination towards contemporaneous music, in a nutshell, for music fans, everyone wins with her debut EP.

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Remy's Top 10 Irish: ASIWYFA, Marc O'Reilly, Beauty Sleep, Super Silly, All Tvvins & more

And So I Watch You From Afar - Dying Giants ASIWYFA
And So I Watch You From Afar

Info: In our latest Irish independent playlist here on REMY we scoop up some of the best Irish single releases from the last few weeks across a wide array of genres.

We kick off with the latest single from And So I Watch You From Afar, 'Dying Giants', a math-rock infused instrumental opus which shows the Belfast four-piece in the finest of experimental form. The track's relentless hard-rock edge concludes it's final moments with an orchestral Morricone-esque minute of calm which is the perfect landing to finish on.

Another track that tickled us pink instantly on first listen was Marc O'Reilly's 'Enemy Of', slick rock riffs which at times doff their cap to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and at others early Foo Fighters, Waterford's O'Reilly gives is a swinging slice of blues-rock with all of the swagger and grooves you can fit into 2 minutes and 45 seconds.

Back to Belfast we come to Beauty Sleep's, well, sleepy dream-pop single 'Until We See The Sun'. Fans of M83 and Tame Impala will enjoy the retro-synth and thud-thumping yet subtle bass-lines running through the track. As is their wont, the vocal interplay is spot on in creating that drifting feeling on a single that is primed for a flipped on it's head remix down the road.

Beauty Sleep - Until We See The Sun
Beauty Sleep - Photo: Megan Doherty

One of the acts we got to catch and found highly enjoyable at this years Hard Working Class Heroes was Dublin's Super Silly, who released their new single 'Mile High Club' this week. From a swarming muted intro, the rn'b soul-funk quartet drop a track with dizzying beats and synths and the right amount of pop-layering covering it all to leave you smiling inside.

Having easily moved into the top tier of Irish electronic acts over the last 12 months, Dublin producer Bad Bones excites us once again on her new single 'You'. Recalling the likes of Gold Panda's jerking glitch-hop, but with a more uptempo pace, Bad Bones' sound drills through you, as though your torso were pushed right up against a massive sub-woofer speaker, this is an artist who is possibly on the cusp of over-taking the pack within her genre domestically.

Bad Bones - You - Photo by Sarah Ryan (The Sound Feed)
Bad Bones @ HWCH 2017 - Photo: Sarah Ryan (TSF)

Northern Irish alternative-folk act Lilla Vargen returns with her first release since 2015 in the form of single 'Hold On', after receiving high-praise for her debut demos almost 2 years ago. Vargen's strength lies in conveying raw emotion in her lyrics whilst ensuring that her voice is in no way subsumed by the music, it is in every sense a platform and accompaniment for the delivery of her stunning vocal range, and it hits home without any fuss.

When Dublin experimental-folk duo Carriages released their single 'Like A Child' last year it blew us away and was by far one of our favourite singles of 2016. The pair now return with their sophomore EP, Movement, which was released on the 29th of September, and here we feature the beautiful new single 'Hardest Mile'. Carriages deliver a delicate and ambient filled track which glows with warmth whilst at the same time feeling poignant and sombre.

Ailbhe Reddy - The Tube

With the world currently at her feet after signing a major label deal with London-based publishing house BDi Music, Dublin's Ailbhe Reddy released her latest single 'The Tube' with accompanying video just yesterday. Like all good singles, 'The Tube' hits the right notes straight away but repeated listens make it grow on you very quickly. The energetic and angsty power of the folk-pop track are expressed with aplomb, with Reddy describing the theme of the song as follows; "The Tube is a song about having no explanation good enough for someone, so the only thing I had left to offer was the small gesture of walking them to the nearest tube station...It's a song about struggling to express yourself properly to someone, which I think is probably pretty universal."

Electro-pop groove-masters All Tvvins dropped their second single since the release of last year's critically acclaimed debut LP IIVV, 'Anything', at the end of last month. It heralds a distinct sea-change in their sound as they shift from the more guitar-based sounds of the album to a more electronic dance-floor vibe. Following their appearance at Electric Picnic last month, Dublin guitar-pop quartet Ivy Nations release their latest single 'Sentimental Hearts', a lush pop-driven indie number that is awash with fast-paced guitar progressions, soaring vocals and a smashing pre-chorus.

For our previous independent Irish playlist, head along here to listen to Issue #12 here