Friday, 17 November 2017

Premiere: Bullet Girl - Post Atomic Youth

Bullet Girl Post Atomic Youth Premiere Single

Bullet Girl - Post Atomic Youth

Info: REMY is very proud to premiere the debut single 'Post Atomic Youth' from Dublin post-punk noise rockers Bullet Girl, comprised of Mark Duffy (drums / backing vox), Glenn Moran (bass), Dylan Keenan (guitars / backing vox) and Aaron Doyle (guitar / vocals). Having toured the capital under a different name for over four years before deciding to rebrand as Bullet Girl in early 2017, the North Dublin act presented their new material with two dates in Whelan's, The Mezz and Fibbers over the summer in the run up to their debut single release.

The raucous four-piece deliver exactly what's on the tin, 'Post Atomic Youth' is an ear-bleeding and blistering debut which stays extremely loyal to the central tenets of punk music. It is short, anarchic, and rebellious, with the distortion and roughness of the track already over-flowing from the first 20 seconds. The song could be viewed as a goading two-fingered salute to an establishment which views the current generation as ungrateful and self-indulgent, whilst completely missing the irony. Bullet Girl have come out swinging in such a frenzy with their debut that they must be considered as worthy of notice alongside fellow Dublin peers THUMPER and OTHERKIN straight away.

'Post Atomic Youth' is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Deezer and other streaming platforms from today.

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Single: Blurred Out - Meadows

Blurred Out - Meadows

Info: San Francisco, California indie-rock with a dash of grunge four-piece Blurred Out released their debut single 'Meadows' on the 4th of November and it is a zinger. Reminiscent of so many bands I love, it recalls a mixture of early Smashing Pumpkins circa Siamese Dream, Sugar's Copper Blue and the slightest dash of Weezer's Pinkerton on the distorted guitar in particular. So, maybe a 90's alternative rock sound? I suppose so, but who cares really what it sounds like so long as it sounds immense, and this is one track I have on loop, drawing your attention in particular to the whammy guitar on the 1:21 mark, the vocals giver it a real slacker-rock feel and I'm in love. For a different and no less enjoyable delivery check out additional track 'Betrayed By The Wind' on their Bandcamp.

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Album of the Month: Columbia Mills - A Safe Distance To Watch

Columbia Mills - A Safe Distance To Watch

Info: Following on from a trio of critically acclaimed singles this year, 'Head Start', 'This City Doesn’t Feel Like Home To Me', and the radio hit 'Battles', Bray indietronica quintet Columbia Mills finally released their debut album, 'A Safe Distance To Watch', on Friday November 10th.

The overarching theme of the album is putting space between yourself and someone else or certain situations to avoid being influenced negatively or to avoid influencing someone else with your own negativity. Finding or providing peace by putting a distance between yourself and someone else despite the short term or long term pain it creates.

With a slow-drifting intro, Columbia Mills open their debut LP A Safe Distance To Watch via 'A Break In The Clouds, Head Start', the soft synth sounds winding their way towards the sun peeking through at the 1:30 mark. From here they kick into gear on their previous single 'Head Start', a rousing and rhythmic piece of electronic indie that nods to Interpol or White Lies. 

Another hit single follows quickly in the form of 'Battles', snapping drum pads and quick key progressions set the tone, the tribal and intent-filled beat appropriately matching the song-title. It is easy to see why this was a standout single release, the drops and rise between chorus and verse are quite invigorating and there's an inescapable anthemic quality to the track.

'This City Doesn't Feel Like Home To Me' adopts a more post-punk and new wave sound and it's quite gripping lyrically. From a personal perspective, when the single was released in July and I merely read the title, before even listening to the track, it had already begun to conjure themes in my head. A reflection of how the place you grew up in has become unrecognisable, not physically or aesthetically with the passage of time, but more to do with the ravages inflicted on the weakest, and in some ways all of us on a certain level, over the past decade. This sense is captured in the lines; "And every street 'round here has a story to tell / The poets painted on the wall look down on us in disgust"

Columbia Mills slow the pace and mood on the watery shimmering buzz of 'Alone', singer Fiachra Treacy giving us the old school crooner treatment accompanied by stark and bare guitar progressions. Following the dark electronic harbinger of 'Coldest Shoulder' we come to 'Same Shame'. It's a beautifully delivered ballad to a wrenching break-up that just won't dissipate, it's nice to have a common yet time-honoured theme have an original lyrical accompaniment attached to it, opening with the lines; "Underneath the debris / Of this silent sounding city / There’s a place where I left you / A place I dug a grave for my own heart".

One of the tracks that particularly caught my attention in the albums latter half was the graceful 'Octopus'. Again emotion abounds and the build from sombre to elation is executed very well, the electric guitar effects sound at their best right here, filling every single gap in the sound with the percussion lapping softly in the background.

A Safe Distance To Watch closes with 'We Decide', the fourth single to be taken from the album, retro-80's synths to the forefront, Columbia Mills grab all of the elements of the album thus far and pour them into one last push over the line. Searing and ice-cold guitar riffs vibrate in a frenzied manner and by the time we reach the final third of the track all 5 musicians are melding into one column of sound. 

Some elements of A Safe Distance To Watch will pop out at you straight away, others will require a few more listens, and therein lies the reward and evidence of a well-thought out collection of songs which click neatly together and musically flow from start to finish, something which seems to be a bit of a rarity nowadays on contemporary albums. As far as Columbia Mills are concerned, they can sit back with great satisfaction that patient building has produced such a highly enjoyable album for music lovers.

Columbia Mills play The Button Factory this Friday, 17th of November with support from Pursued By Dogs. Tickets are available via Eventbrite here.

A Safe Distance To Watch is also currently available on physical vinyl and CD formats at Tower Records Dublin and all good record stores.

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Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remy's Top 10 Irish: Anna Mitchell, Not Monsters, St. Bishop, LNT, Able Archer & more

St.Bishop - Porcelain

Info:  In our latest round-up of the best Irish tracks to be released over the last fortnight, we cheat a little once again and (kind of) go to 11 as we include the bi-lingual version of Sligo's ambient dream-pop act Nocturnes' gorgeous new single 'Humans' / 'Duine de Chruach'. As usual we will be throwing in a few great videos which have accompanied some of the singles on the playlist including Anna Mitchell's 'All These Things', Able Archer's 'Driving With The Lights Out' and the mesmeric visualisations of LNT's 'In Circles' directed by the hugely talented Olga Kuzmenko.

'All These Things' is the second single to be taken from Anna Mitchell's forthcoming self titled second album which is set for its Irish release in January 2018. Mitchell's vocal is immediately striking as it towers over the bluesy musical backdrop, delivering the fraught emotion of its theme of paralysing self-doubt with aplomb. It's an exciting glimpse into the depth we can expect from her sophomore LP with accompanying video being directed by the artist herself alongside videographer Robert Guiton.

Anna Mitchell - All These Things

Monaghan and currently Dublin-based alternative Rn'B solo act St.Bishop released his debut single 'Porcelain' just two weeks ago, it is taken from his forthcoming EP which is expected in early 2018. A first appearance at Electric Picnic and two headline Dublin shows have set the scene for his first Irish Tour to accompany the extended play release. As far as debuts go, St.Bishop has nailed it, it's a highly impressive introduction to Irish music fans (and should be for those further afield). Addressing the fragility of feeling following finally coming out to those close to him, the sense of both relief and empowerment are palpable and he injects this directly into his music most naturally.

"Cleo's got her shoulder, nestled in the small of my back, she's giggling and giddy for the snap, graceful in the moment right before the final collapse, her nailprints crescent in my wrist, she swears i'm overreacting", a wonderfully descriptive opening to the latest single 'Cleo' by Dublin's Not Monsters. Capturing the dual bemusement and fear of an over-zealous muse, Not Monsters' penchant for character exploration and turning our every day behaviour into something darkly sinister wins out again. "We pray for The Liffey to swallow the city" is belted out with hard-rocking anguish from those soft opening lines, turning 'Cleo' into our favourite single of theirs to date.

LNT - In Circles

Indie-rock five-piece LNT have just released their first single 'In Circles' which will be taken from their debut album due for release early next year. An almost operatic opening, recalling Amnesiac-era Radiohead the track builds and builds dramatically before reaching a crunching distorted middle and closing finale. The blend of indie and dark nu-metal mood-swings you'd associate with Korn or Linkin Park captured beautifully in the accompanying video to the track.

There are many things we are loving about the new single from Pearse McGloughlin, aka Nocturnes, starting with the gorgeous soundscapes on new single 'Humans', his high vocal pitch conducting lush wisps of electronic synths and beats through the air like a multi-coloured potion of neon cloud that fills up all of the space around our ears. Releasing the track simultaneously as Gaeilge, we have included the Irish version here too, 'Duine de Chruach', which translates directly to human of steel. As a lapsed Irish-speaker myself I can fully appreciate the difficulty in retaining the lyrical flow and rhythm from English to Irish, the result of the sheer difference between both tongues, kudos to Nocturnes to making it sound easy, it's not!

Able Archer - Driving With The Lights Out

After an almost 12 month hiatus, Dublin alternative rock band Able Archer return with what struck me straight away as a most welcome new string to their bow on latest single 'Driving With The Lights Out' (above video). It spreads its musical and vocal spectrum as far back as Suede and Pulp, all the way up to The National, but has a discerning Irish rock characteristic. It's a dynamic and impassioned comeback and were looking forward to hearing what other surprises they've been working on over the past year. They play The Underground on Saturday the 18th of November which will be a good opportunity to get said sneak peek.

Dublin alt-pop singer-songwriter Beany released her debut single 'Weathervane' only yesterday. Real name Caitriona Fingleton, she traverses many genres on the new track, from popular folk, to soul and a jazz-influenced vocal. 'Weathervane' is a dreamy and delightful first glimpse at Beany's music, from smooth vocal tones to an old school jazz-hall affection, you feel like she could go anywhere and everywhere with future releases.

Long-term blog favourites Oh Joy released their latest single, 'So Swell' on the 1st of November with a headline show in Whelan's. After a pensive and atmospherically withdrawn beginning, the three-piece thrash down almost bang on the one-minute mark, melting distortion and high-pitched vox are like an uncontrolled explosion, before reverting back to the initial calm. It's great to have Oh Joy back in the saddle with new material and more to come soon.

Belfast singer-songwriter Owen Denvir's new single 'Jackhammer' was released last weekend alongside bonus track 'Green Light'. There's a discerning honesty to the delivery of his latest track, standing above your standard singer-songwriter ballad by shifting from the stripped-down bare verses to subtle orchestral movements on the chorus. Add to this a mixed feeling of genuine emotion and fetching hooks and it is easy to see why Denvir's music has been quickly gaining popularity.

We finish off with the newest single from Dublin indie-pop troupe Penrose and their track 'Better Man', swooping from late-60's Beatles to Brit-pop era indie sounds, the track is an introspective from lead-singer Darragh McGrane on the new phase that fatherhood brings to the fore. As always, Penrose meld catchy pop choruses with rhythmically pleasing rock verses both of which have seen them garner a loyal fan-base on the Dublin scene over the past two years.

For our previous independent Irish playlist, head along here to listen to Issue #14 here

EP: Young Earth - Frequency Illusion

Young Earth - Frequency Illusion

Info: Last night Dubin-based indie-rock four-piece Young Earth launched their debut EP, Frequency Illusion, with their biggest headline show to date at The Academy 2. 

The band have earned critical acclaim from blogs and music tastemakers both internationally and in Ireland, leading to a busy summer of festivals, a co-headline tour and regular local and national radio play, including being included on RTE 2fm’s Rising Playlist. 

Frequency Illusion fully introduces the band’s broad Indie Rock sound, fluctuating between Summer pop anthems to heavier, fuzzier sounds - all the while maintaining a desire to create short, sharp relentless ear-worms with a harder coating.

The EP's self-titled opener merges the two qualities that have seen previous single 'Got A Secret' amass over 100k plays on Spotify, the soft day-glo indie-pop with an undercurrent of that instinctive rock edge which is imparted from the rolling guitar riffs and thick heavy bass wobble.

Second track 'Worth It' chops up the pop-rock songbook and puts it back together again with a trademark Young Earth stamp, drawing on the innocence of 50's rock chart-toppers and 90's indie รก la Lemonheads, the song is a straight-up care-free pop ballad.

The aforementioned 'Got A Secret' is next up, the groups most popular and well-known track sees them retain those catchy elements but start to fully turn the screw on that contemporary rock twist. As soon as frontman Mark O'Keeffe utters the line; "You are the ghost of everything that I used to know....", you are sucked straight into the song. The shuffling grind of guitars and hard bass-lines coupled with the manic stop-start percussion sweep everything into a frenzy, with the chorus accentuated very nicely in its later parts by a distant backing vocal.

'Undercover' shows a different side to Young Earth's song-writing, gone is the overt joviality of the previous tracks, here they appear to be concentrating on honing into a more modern indie mood. The nonchalance of the music and cast-off vocal delivery are certainly a welcome addition to the YE arsenal. Closing with most recent single 'Let Go', again the band show movement in this new direction, yes there is a retention of the indie-pop DNA of earlier songs, but there's also a sound which will appeal very much to fans of current indie-rock.

With Frequency Illusion Young Earth give fans of indie-pop music the best of both worlds, the unadulterated and hook-sinking joy of 'Got A Secret' and the EP's title-track, and a more mood-driven vibe courtesy of the EP's final two songs. The mix of both styles are what will ensure longevity amongst fans and allow the four-piece to straddle many variants of the genre in which they reside.

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Friday, 10 November 2017

News: A Night of Otis Redding w. Grainne McCarthy

Grainne McCarthy - Otis Redding

Info: Join us for an evening of Otis Redding classics brought to you by a 7 piece band with vocals from soul singer Grainne McCarthy (LaGracia, Emma O'Reilly, Danny G & the Major 7ths). For one night only travel back in time and explore Otis's greatest hits including My Girl, Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay, Respect, Try a Little Tenderness and many more.

McCarthy in her own words describes what the music of one of the greatest blues artists of all time means to her; "Otis has had a huge influence on my singing and songwriting that probably can be heard in the debut single. I have been a fan for years and it's a dream to perform his music with a full band! 
I have performed as a backing singer for many groups in Dublin such as Danny G, Emma O'Reilly, The Waterboys and with Discovery Gospel Choir but have only done one headline gig in Dublin as a lead singer which was my single launch so I feel like this is kind of a launch of me, of the kind of music that moves me most."

Grainne McCarthy (LaGracia) - 'Don't You Ever Leave'

Tickets for A Night of Otis Redding at The Bello Bar, Dublin can be purchased here

The full band line up on the night will be -

Dennis Cassidy on drums (Mixtapes from the Underground, Danny G & the Major 7ths, Selk)
Kevin Healy on bass and bvs (Emma O'Reilly, LaGracia)
Dan Whelan on guitar (Richard Farrell & the Last Tribe)
Oisin Murtagh and Paul Kiernan on brads (Booka Brass Band, Zaska, CC Brez)
Danny G on bvs (Danny G & the Major 7ths)
Luke Dunford (Zaska, Chief Keegan)

Chief Keegan will whet your appetite as support act with smooth jazz and blues.

Photos: Gordi @ The Button Factory, Dublin

Gordi Button Factory Dublin

All photos: Remy Connolly

Info: Sydney indietronica act Gordi returned to Dublin last night at The Button Factory following her very warmly received main stage appearance at Forbidden Fruit Festival earlier in the summer. Real name Sophie Payten, Gordi played the final night of her European tour promoting debut album Reservoir (listen below) which was released in August. The setting was intimate, with local Dublin act EllyD opening for the Australian as the venue began to fill up. As is always the case at the end of any tour (she will now be embarking on the US leg straight away), you could tell Gordi was feeling the fatigue slightly as she humorously interacted with the crowd between songs, however, this had no impact on her energetic live show whatsoever. 

A personal favourite, and possibly best loved single of Irish fans from the album, 'Heaven I Know' got the full Gordi treatment, and you could hear a pin drop during the songs quiet opening. The night seemed to be in fast-forward which took even the artist by surprise as she reached the close of her set, 50 minutes that just completely zipped by, but it was so enjoyable to witness her and her band at closer quarters than the last time she performed in Dublin and we eagerly await her return to these shores again in the future. 

(For Desktop click on first photo to begin slideshow)

Thursday, 9 November 2017

EP: Drivelight - Estates

Drivelight - Estates
Photo: Enda Johnston

Info: Kildare indie-rock four-piece Drivelight released their debut EP Estates at the end of last month, made up of Fionn Phelan (vocals), Rob Fortune (guitar), Adam Dunne (bass) and Ross Daly (drums), the collection of four tracks was recorded at Westland Studios.

In our August review of lead single 'Obvious' we noted that one of the bands influences The Arctic Monkeys had left their mark on that first release which is surrounded by a pop-punk edginess and an exasperating tempo. When you take Estates as a whole though it's good to see that Drivelight haven't merely stuck to a singular formula in terms of the other tracks on the EP.

On 'One Horse Town' they are more sedate at the outset, saving their energy for the chorus, and it's also the first time you note that the band's lyrics reflect their own environmental experiences which again appears in the theme of following track 'Lakeside Park' which is very much in the mould of local peers Otherkin in terms of delivery. There is a nice combination of guitar riffs, hooks and manic drumming, all of which are indicative of how they would come across on stage.

Closing track 'Really Wanna Go' has an endearing pop-punk swagger, with the band keeping it simple but tight, whilst they don't sound like either on it, stylistically it conjures an image of The Ramones' 'Hey! Ho! Let's Go'. Estates is a lot of fun, at times its rawness is overt, with the young Kildare band perhaps still in the process of refining their sound, which of course is allowed. On the other hand they have an addictive and passionate modus operandi, and lead single 'Obvious' is a tasty glimpse of what may lie ahead, ones to keep tabs on for sure.

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Album: James Darkin - Remixes, Vol I

James Darkin - Remixes Vol I

Info: Following on from his well-received debut LP ‘Go No Matter What’, Irish producer James Darkin releases his second album ‘Remixes Vol. I’, on October 31st, via Terminal 2 Records. The remix compilation album is from an unusual collection of artists from all corners of the Irish music spectrum James has worked on over the last few years.

"All except one of these remixes have already been released, but they’re all over the place in various online world’s so I wanted to put them all together as people keep asking about them. I think they work well in a weird wonderland of artists that would not normally reside together. Some I did for fun, some I did for free, some I did for the cash, some as favours for mates, some I really love, some I’ve fallen back in love, some band’s that don’t exist anymore and one I’ll probably get in trouble over, but all were done over many hours with plenty of passion and loud volumes. Enjoy."

One of Ireland's most well-respected and talented producers James Darkin, who operates out of his co-owned Herbert Place Studios, brings out the big guns Remixes, Vol I. Firm favourites of my own, BANTUM, R.S.A.G., Participant and Jerry Fish are among the roster of some of this islands finest artists who Darkin has worked with and here breathes fresh life into their music with his alternative reworking of the tracks which are listed below. 

Bantum 'Feel It Out' feat. Fareh Elle (James Darkin Remix)
Katie Kim 'The Feast' (James Darkin Remix)
Come On Live Long 'Wasteland' (James Darkin Remix)
Jerry Fish 'Barefoot & Free' (James Darkin Remix)
Repeat 'Run' (James Darkin Remix)
Wounds 'Dead Road' (James Darkin Remix)
Dirty Epics 'Surrender' (James Darkin Remix)
R.S.A.G. 'Broken State' (Darkin Remix)
Cowboy X - Gabbi (Darkin Remix)

Participant 'Your Better' (James Darkin Remix)

EP: Autre Monde - Autre Monde

Autre Monde

Info: Dublin four-piece Autre Monde, comprised of Paddy Hanna on vocals, Mark Chester on guitar, Padraig Cooney on bass and Eoghan O'Brien on drums, have just released their debut self-titled EP. Formed by previous and current members of Land Lovers, No Monster Club, Ginnels and others.

'Moonlight' stomps its beastly and heavy footprint on your ears straight away, like a trapped captive, Paddy Hanna's vocal sounds like he's singing for his life, or at the very least, his release. The grinding monstrous churn of guitar and drums circling him in a darkened room with a spotlight blinding his face, if that sounds mad, it's because it is.

Electro Roxy Music sounds and vox appear on second track 'Leuctra', again the energy and emotion are present in the dramatic vocals and Autre Monde showcase their ability to create highly visual and imaginative soundscapes, a dark, digital and minimalist trip. 'Your Name' accentuates the building post-apocalyptic feel of the EP which has been slowly creeping its way into the collection of tracks since the opening, the synths and guitar effects warping the world into a desolate and bleak environment.

Final track 'Interpretive Centre', which is a quite Orwellian title, feels nothing of the sort, this is Autre Monde in light-hearted brevity mode, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics from the get-go; "Tightly packed touring buds / Testing the mass appeal of soup and spuds / They sniff at the flowers by the ancient mounds / And plug their ears for sounds". Musically and vocally it reminds me of Gary Numan and Tubeway Army on the chorus, mashed up with The Cure's jangle-pop moments on 1992's Wish album. 

The simple conclusion by the end of Autre Monde's debut self-titled EP is that they are easily one of the most creative and fascinating forces on the Irish indie scene at the moment. Bemusing lyrics, awash with drama and the theatrical persona of Hanna, alongside songs which each feel like a lost short story by Douglas Adams, they stack their intrigue pile high. It really is more than just a simple musical experience.

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EP: Thunderblender - Last Minute Panic

Thunderblender - Last Minute Panic
Photo: Pepa Niebla

Info: Led by Irish tenor and bass saxophonist Sam Comerford, with Belgians Hendrik Lasure (piano) and Jens Bouttery (drums, bass synth), Thunderblender have been making a name for themselves in Europe in the last two years. This summer the trio blew away the jury at the Concours Tremplin Jazz d’Avignon, awarding Sam the prize for best soloist.

Founded in 2015, Thunderblender brings together three of the most exciting improvisers in Brussels today, all laureates of the Toots Thielemans Award. Drawing inspiration from composers such as Tim Berne and Henry Threadgill. Comerford’s long form compositions move between order and chaos. Heavy grooves and tender lyrical moments. As a bassless trio, the three members are free to improvise the arrangements on the fly, leading each other into unexpected places every time. That’s not to say there’s no low end, Bouttery’s subtle use of bass synth, Lasure’s left hand, and Comerford’s bass saxophone bring the music into uncharted territory.

Recorded in front of a live audience at renowned club Bravo, Last Minute Panic captures the trio at their most raw and adventurous, a snapshot of the vibrant Brussels scene today.

Due to the highly complex manner in which jazz music is constructed, and my own lack of technical knowledge when it comes to the genre, I will keep my review short. I have fallen in love more and more with jazz music over the past ten years, a late bloomer, so I know what I like. 

With Thunderblender's Last Minute Panic I'm fully able to appreciate the vast sprawl of opening track 'Bozza' and also the EP's title-track. 'Bozza' criss-crosses between 50's classic jazz, the mood and sound is very Chet Baker on its lower moments, but also there's a great deal of modernity. Like an instrumentally stripped-down version of the wild runs Toronto's BADBADNOTGOOD go on. Comerford's sax controls the tempo, from the quiet whisper to the exasperated gasp for one last breath. Meanwhile at the five-minute mark the trio really take off, percussion and keys racing against each other before drawing down to a slow stride once again.

Thunderblender - Bozza

'Kwakzalver' hits that chaos the band allude to in their bio, a storm of bossa nova drumming that can only be admired and the thinly sliced off-time interplay between piano and saxophone battling out against each other, it turns into The Dave Brubeck Quartet's 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' put through the meat-grinder with an invisible crazed conductor maniacally overseeing proceedings.

'Last Minute Panic' is the type of homage to old school jazz that would grab the attention of the Masters themselves if they were sitting around a table in a dark club with the three-piece performing in front of them. Despite the heavy tone the track manages to impart a sense of relaxation and smoothness, and there are more delicate moments to be found such as a the half-way point. Finally we come to 'Toetje' (meaning 'a little something after'), and it's a very sweet ending to the EP. Thunderblender opt for continuity and calm here, a reflective pause, the soft timbre of all three instruments resting very nicely on the soul, even managing to leave you with a small feeling of moroseness as the curtain draws down.  

Last Minute Panic is 100% the type of mood-driven jazz that I would reach for when looking to both zone out and find a bit if headspace. It subtly covers many styles at once and it is so easy to see why these three musicians have received both awards and accolades for their craft, I'm not sure they could have improved on any aspect of this collection of songs.  

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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Single: Blushing - Weak

Blushing - Weak

Blushing - 'Weak'

Info: Blushing is an Austin, TX based dream pop / shoegaze quartet comprised of two husband and wife pairs that originated in the summer of 2015 when Michelle shared a few songs with long time friend Christina that she had been writing on guitar. A friendship quickly became a musical partnership as Christina, a classically trained vocalist, picked up a bass and together they evolved those rough songs into fully formed compositions. They then enlisted the talents of their spouses, Jake on drums, Noe on lead guitar and shortly after self-released their debut EP 'Tether' in January of 2017. 

Energized by positive reception, a growing fan base and a grip of new songs they headed back into the studio as soon as possible. They recorded their follow-up EP 'Weak' at Bad Wolf Recordings in Austin, TX. The album encompasses influences from all of the bands they collectively share a deep affection for such as Lush, Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, etc. 

Back in February we featured Texas shoegaze quartet Blushing's gorgeously dreamy single 'Tether' on our International Playlist and we've been in love with their sound since. Now in advance of their next EP release which is due out on the 26th January, they have shared the self-titled single 'Weak' which has us excited all over again. 'Weak' is a delightful blend of alternative 80's jangle-pop and soft-rock, watery guitar effects and slow-building percussion turn to fuzzed-out distortion and a celestial vocal chorus which kind of reminds me of the intro of the second track on Death in Vegas' Scorpio Rising album, 'Girls', so much loveliness in four and a half minutes.

'Weak' will be released digitally, on cassette and 12” vinyl January 26th 2018 on Austin Town Hall Records. Vinyl pre-order available now at

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EP: Sunset Exotic - Odyssey

Sunset Exotic - Odyssey

Info: Sunset Exotic is the solo project of Santa Rosa based producer/composer Charlie Foltz. Drawing inspiration from everything between new wave and French electro, Sunset Exotic aims to paint modern indie rock classics from Foltz's insatiable synth-lust.

Californian solo act Sunset Exotic is another DIY electronic act who belies expectations all across the board. With a grounding in highly influenced mid-60's garage-rock, Charlie Foltz went off on a major tangent roughly 18 months ago and began dabbling in electro-pop, the results were immediate. His double A-Side 'Chrysanthemum / More Human Than Human' and follow-up single 'High Fidelity' which features on this Odyssey EP were spectacular examples of an innate awareness of how pop music should be blended with electronic.

The EP's self-titled track begins proceedings, it opens sounding like The Beatles on Abbey Road getting ten times higher than they were at the time, and then the electro-funk gets poured in like syrup through a funnel, that keyboard progression is simple but resonant, this is high-grade 80's homage with a bold recklessness that pays off in spades. 

'What Is Happening To Me?' is the polygamous lovechild of Talking Heads, INXS, Prince and George Michael, euphoric magic crushed into four minutes, put this song on at any party anywhere and both involuntary movement and curiosity would be instant. Retro, eighties, day-glo is the new visitor on third track 'Ghosts', a suave lengthy intro meets Foltz' lusciously deep and ever so slightly gravelled vocal tone at the minute mark, straight up no frills electro-pop sugar in abundance. 

In our August review of single 'High Fidelity' we wrote; "Anyone who has ever enjoyed 80's pop, synth-pop, contemporary experimental music of any kind in fact, will adore 'High Fidelity'. The track opens with lackadaisical bubblegum calm, then shoots straight to the root of what makes Sunset Exotic so magical, a fizzing chorus of succinctly filtered vocals, guitar riffs and drumbeat pads all churning psychedelica out into the atmosphere in a technicolour bliss." Those feelings still stand and the track still somehow manages to get better and better with every listen.

Following the more introspective voyage of 'State of Emergency', which is once again an entirely loyal homage to dark 80's synthpop, almost Gallic in execution, comes a spell-binding close to a spell-binding EP in the form of sixth track '(30)'. It's hard to imagine how there could still be anything left in the tank, but Sunset Exotic sounds like he could go all day, week, month and year. Despite a little lick of The Cure, the closer is without doubt the most contemporary moment on Odyssey, if this was a Wild Beasts single I would probably be a big fan rather than someone with a passing interest. 

I began writing this review a couple of days ago and in the interim up until day wondered was I being too lavish in my praise, sometimes a pause and a bit of reflection is no harm. However, I wouldn't change anything I've expressed above, this is a gratuitously giving collection of songs from a wonderful musical mind, energy, joy, hints of darkness, euphoria and infinite reward, Odyssey is the best EP I've heard this year.

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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Album: The Midwestern Bass Machine - The Midwestern Bass Machine

The Midwestern Bass Machine - Brock Splawski

Info: We've been covering the music of The Midwestern Bass Machine from Minneapolis since the summer of 2015, and DIY electro-pop solo artist Brock Splawski never ceases to bring joy to our ears. From the serene and operatic opener 'Airwave' to the highly retro early 80's NYC hip-hop of latest single, the excellent 'Downtown Trash' it's the work of an individual whose mind is awash with ideas and wild experimentation. On his new self-titled album, TMWBM launches you from unabandoned joyous pop to instrumental escapist dream sequences and other places you didn't know existed.

In summary this LP is like Bryan Ferry (see / hear 'Someone To Dance With') meets a modern day Simple Minds on 'Little Queen'. But what consistently piques interest with Splawski's music is how he corrals easy dream-pop listening with wild out there tangents, 'Vacation' being a perfect example, if you want to capture everything in one go listen to this track. To blend techno, dream-pop and dare I say it, IDM like this and simultaneously contrast it and match it with what has come before displays a great mind at work.

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The Irish VidList - Elephant, Orchid Collective, NC Grey & REWS

Elephant - Time Will Tell

Elephant - 'Time Will Tell'

Info: Our latest round-up of the best Irish music videos from the last two weeks is here featuring more delightful visuals and inspiring concepts from Dundalk's Elephant, Dublin-based indie-folk quartet Orchid Collective, the amazing NC Grey and always rockin' Belfast / London duo REWS, I hope you enjoy....

We kick off with the new single and video from Shane Clarke, aka Elephant, whose track 'Time Will Tell' continues his new journey into heavier sounding spheres from his gentler folk-pop origins on debut LP HyperGiant back in 2015. Normally when an artist mentions 'low budget' for a music video you expect a VHS imitation or old movie footage, which sometimes really doesn't do the song justice. Instead Clarke embarked on a project that quite frankly, money can't buy, the video not only does the song justice, but will function as a snapshot in time many years from now that reflects the burgeoning creativity of his hometown, and this is how he did it; 

"Certain monetary circumstances forced me have to think outside the box for the music video for this single release. Too broke to hire someone and lacking the skills to make something myself I turned to the thriving art community in my home town of Dundalk. I canvassed for local artists, offering a chance to be involved in an art project to do with the new Elephant video and to my surprise and delight I had 28 artists confirmed within a weekend!

Each designed and filmed their own mini-movie depicting a lyric from the song, chosen by them from a list of 28 words. The medium was totally up to them, along with the interpretation of the word. The constantly changing of tone and colour in the collage of clips ended up portraying the chaotic emotional turmoil the song is trying to convey better than I could ever have done!"

Orchid Collective - L.A.Z.Y.

Whilst Orchid Collective's status has grown at an impressive rate since last year, it has been a cause of bemusement to me that the escalation hasn't happened at a faster pace, but judging by their inclusion on specially curated Spotify playlists with the release of new single 'L.A.Z.Y.' you sense that is about to change. They are the indie-rock band that you are genuinely gunning for, and with their latest single they've opted for a noticeably more pop edge, and a working one at that, this is earworm central, and contrasts slightly to their earlier material in that sense, showing that they can shift between both high quality indie-folk and pop with great ease. Refreshingly they have song-writing talent in abundance, extremely tight harmonies and hooks galore.

NC Grey - Adonis

Our record collection at home is fully stocked with soul, blues and vocal jazz classics from Julie London, Nina, Aretha, Roberta Flack and many more, so when I heard NC Grey's Magic the EP last month I was in heaven. At the end of every year I always make a point of imagining the songs, EP's and albums that have not yet been written or released but I know will rock my world in the following 12 months. NC Grey's EP is one of the ones that was possibly in its infancy at the end of 2016 and here we are now, and single 'Adonis' ticks every box. The reason I mentioned the record collection earlier is because I would love to have a hard choice to make in pulling one of her many records from the shelf and putting it on the turntable, fingers crossed that will be the case at some stage in the future. Listen to and read the full review of Magic the EP here

REWS - 'Your Tears'

Belfast and London pair REWS, Shauna Tohill and Colettee Williams, seem incapable of writing just any old rock song, it always has to have a slam at the end and rip through you at a frenetic pace from the start, I can live with that. With 'Your Tears' it feels like they've accentuated the pop-punk chaos they are so adept at which we heard hints of on previous singles 'Miss You In The Dark' and 'Shine', and the hard-rock drone which kicks in at exactly 1:59 on the new single is the business. Just like Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson back in 2007, a live experience is on my to do list for 2018.

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