Saturday, 17 February 2018

Interview / Photos: Hatchlings

Hatchlings Interview
All Photos: Remy Connolly

Info: On a chilly Valentine's evening I met up with Maynooth multi-faceted band Hatchlings ahead of their headline show in Whelan's with support from hip-hop duo NEOMADiC. After a quick line-check we took ourselves downstairs to the cosy environs of Bourke's pub which, for the purposes of the interview, we thankfully had to ourselves.

After wishing each other a happy day of romance and love we got down to the business of chatting about the greatest love of all, music. The five-piece comprise of two Donegal natives, Conor Cunningham & Eamon Travers, Niall Quinn from Tyrone, Jamie Bishop (Monaghan) and Peter Kelly (Roscommon). After regularly bumping into each other at the open mic Live Sessions held at The Loft in Maynooth, the quintet eventually got together to form Hatchlings in 2015.

Remy: On your new EP Montessori the three tracks cover a lot of the genres you dabble in, with latest single 'Sexy B' having a lo-fi slacker feel, 'Divinity' is a bit more alt-folk and finally 'Workin'' has a jazzy turned country rock style. Are there common influences between you all or is just something that comes out on it's own when writing.

Hatchlings: Good song-writers are the common denominators, that covers everything from Stevie Wonder to Bob Dylan, we like groove as well but mainly song-writers. With Conor and Eamon it's more instrumental than what Jamie and Eamon are into, we listen to a lot of jazz, people like Chet Baker, but then we also all centre around people like Jeff Buckley and D'Angelo.

In the internet age a lot of just have so many influences constantly, too much music that we love to really talk about between us. There are a hell of a lot of good Irish bands as well, so, so many, we'd be mainly influenced by those as well.

Remy: That brings me to my next question, it's well established over the last few years how high the standard of the Irish music scene is and I did get an impression of that from Montessori, it definitely felt like an 'Irish' EP, a tiny bit of Glen Hansard's style of song-writing particularly on 'Divinity', rather than his sound itself, does local music permeate your writing?

Hatchlings: I think Villagers would be a big influence on me (Jamie), Conor O'Brien is amazing, we love Girl Band as well, and there's recent bands we've come on to like THUMPER who are class and Joey Gavin who is deadly who we played with recently, and also Planet Parade who are brilliant. The list is endless, I suppose the bottom line for influence is going to gigs, seeing how great acts are on stage and being inspired by how good everyone is.

Remy: When it comes to going to local gigs do you prefer to go in dark and not really knowing the line-up apart from say the headliner?

Hatchlings: We go to quite a few gigs, we all do, usually Conor will go, discover something great and then tell us we have to go see certain acts afterwards and we'll all head together. The jazz in Sin É is class, we go there a lot, as well as the CrowClub, or the Window Seat Sessions as it's called now is also great.

Hatchlings Whelan's

Remy: So obviously you guys are playing here in Whelan's tonight and I'm interested to hear more about your support act, NEOMADiC, they have a very solid hip-hop sound and are a tight outfit from what I've been listening to over the last few days, how did you link up with them?

Hatchlings: (Jamie) I used to work with Diarmuid's brother in Maynooth, he showed me their tunes and I thought they were great, we've wanted to gig with them for over a year now so we're quite excited about tonight. (Conor) We were thinking about a lot of support acts, and I'm really glad we went them, as much we were talking about the great Irish music earlier, the support is always relatively similar to the main act, but this is so starkly different it's going to give the audience something different we hope. It's as much about the audience experience on the night as it is the acts, and opening up people to different avenues. 

NEOMADiC Whelan's
NEOMADiC on stage on Wednesday night

Remy: You guys played Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, and Vantastival last year, as well shows in Manchester and France. Are there any other Irish festivals you really want to play, because in a way Electric Picnic can kind of be the peak and where do you go from there?

Hatchlings: (Peter) For us Body & Soul last year was probably the most amount of fun we had, and we're going to do that again this year on the Arbutus Yarns stage where we'll be the house band. We were lucky enough to curate the open mic stage last year for the whole weekend playing non-stop for the three days which is definitely are favourite thing to be doing. We got to play with so many musicians of a really high standard and it opened up a lot of doors for us, including meeting our drummer Niall which was great! (Conor) Arcadian Field in Dundalk is also a really cool festival where we've played the last two years, it's only about 5-600 people, the grounds and the old stately house which is the focal point make it quite special and unique. SwellFest in Donegal and Knockanstockan are another two we haven't played previously and we'd love to do both.

Hatchlings Whelan's 2018

Remy: To wrap up, I know the EP isn't long out, but what's the plan for the next while, and to tack on to that question, do you guys ever discuss the long-term future of Hatchlings when you're in between shows and practice etc.?

Hatchlings: (Conor) Yes, we talk about the future quite a lot, for the meantime we're recording our next EP, and we'll also be heading over to The States, spending our first month around California, based on a ranch in a town called Parkfield, and from there we travel to New Orleans and New York for the month of April. (Jamie) We have a lot of material that's lying around, there are four of us that write, so it's had to narrow it down to just one EP, we're mulling over how to release the music, either a number of EP's or an album, we'll take that decision over the next few months. We all want to do this long-term, we have the songs to do that and the drive too. 

(Conor) It's so hard to know these days, how to go about releasing music in the internet age, do you take the Mac DeMarco route and throw everything out at once, or do you really try and craft something that you're very passionate about, and just release something once a year? But then people mightn't listen to it as much if you don't have loads of songs on Spotify for example.

Remy: It's very tricky, and I'm guilty of it as well with the album thing, I could spend two months only listening to the first 4 or 5 songs on an album that I really love, an example for was Tame Impala's Currents, it took a long while for me to get fully get to the second half. Some people recommend lots of singles and a paired video a month later to keep it fresh, it's hard to know what really works.

Hatchlings: (Jamie) Quantity is great once the quality is there, I often think of King Gizzard, who put out albums all the time and the quality just seems to get better and better. Quantity is kind of the way to go in this day and age, but you're conscience of people not getting bored also.

Remy: Finally, finally, any other news from the world of Hatchlings?

Hatchlings: That's it we think, apart from Happy Valentines Day again Remy, and we forgot to mention that we are at the early stages of planning to be the first band to play on the Moon.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Irish Playlist #020: Æ MAK, Third Smoke, Beauty Sleep, Dreaming of Jupiter & more

Æ MAK - Glow
Æ MAK - Photo: Bríd O'Donovan Photography

Info: The feckin' Town are on the slay early in 2018, we've already fallen madly in love with Elephant's latest single 'Waiting Game Part II' which was reviewed last month, and now two more of Dundalk's finest, Æ MAK and Third Smoke, have shared new zingers, not even mid-February.

Aoife McCann, Daniel McIntyre, Dylan Povey & Peter Kelly, aka Æ MAK released new single 'Glow' on Friday. A disorientating blend of genres is the main course, by the time you've reached the end of 'Glow' you wonder how would anyone even begin to compose such a treat in its entirety. Slow, sparks, slow, sparks and then at 2:37 everything is dropped from a height into the blender, sliced to pieces that are so sharp they pierce your eardrums, magical.

The new Third Smoke is a fine piece, they were always booting energetically around the place sound-wise, but 'Maya' feels like an ode to a new-found subconscious freedom for the band. Like a thirst that has finally been quenched they have discovered full abandon, along with my own live favourite (and I'm sure most people's) 'Ms. Summer Breeze', I feel like 'Maya' will be a long-term favourite for me. Essentially they deliver an all fronts, energy, superb harmonies and lead vocal, rhythm and fervour, and that brass, great idea.

Third Smoke - Maya
Third Smoke - Photo: Bríd O'Donovan Photography

While I've really loved the recorded music of Belfast's Beauty Sleep to date, finally seeing them live at the weekend will put a different tint on their music for me for good. Their set struck a chord (wahoo!) with me, it reminded me of some of the pop music my older sister used to listen to when we were kids in the 80's (I basically listened to whatever she did back then). 'The Feeling Back' grabs all of that nostalgia, summer sunshine through the curtains of the family home despite a February release. But it's not just pop, it's a soulful rock, it sounds simple but it's really quite intricate, oriental-sounding keys, that guitar riff, the full frontal vocal and percussion all start from their own place before converging with the right timing in the middle.

With their new album just 10 days away I wanted to include Wyvern Lingo's 'Snow II' which is from said LP, but the remix version which was released recently, made by Belfast's Arvo Party, who released one of our top 10 Irish albums last year. Magee unsurprisingly drenched the single in dark electronic oil, industrial and indiscernible from the original until you get to the heavily filtered vocals, it's a deeply atmospheric reworking that was left in the right hands.

Dreaming of Jupiter shared latest single 'Let Me Down' last week, the trio have developed their sound considerably since forming over two years ago. It was always alluring, but they've shifted a number gears since then, the latest offering a mature trip-hop and soul track which evidences a sharp focus on constantly moving in different directions, and not for the sake of it, but because of a genuine desire to try everything they can. Their growing popularity and noticeable development as artists is not a bit surprising.

Five Grand Stereo

Dublin / London pop-rock troupe Five Grand Stereo released their latest album Sex & Money a fortnight ago, with 'Iceberg' being the latest single from the LP. It's a dirty affair, a heavy dose of 90's brit-pop mixed with some mighty fine honky-tonk rock. It ticks boxes from Give Out But Don't Give Up era Primal Scream, The Divine Comedy, Lightning Seeds and who know who else, and when the piano kicks in fully at the three-minute mark there's a curious sliver of Marc Bolan glam-rock meets George Harrison, it's hard to describe but it's wonderful!

I really, really love the latest single from Kildare solo act Sara Ryan, 'Euphoric Recall', the perfect come-down from a chaotic day. Wilting blues guitar simmers around a dark soulful vocal. It's so refreshing to hear an Irish act delve into these sounds, and based on this one track I would love to see Ryan live with full band. Sneaker Pimps' Kelli Ali comes to mind, from their 1996 masterpiece Becoming X

We close with the harmonious country-folk sounds of Mayo roots group Vickers Vimy featuring Cat Dea and their track 'Keep Your Eye On The Road'. From a stripped down acoustic and very nice vocal it slowly but purposely grows, Buddy Holly on a porch to a slightly morose yet ultimately optimistic Dusty in the space of a minute. The track unfolds into something deliciously heart-warming, it's impossible to stop it turning into whatever mental vision fits your own mind by tracks end.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Premiere: Boom Child - I Want To Shift Your Sister

Boom Child - I Want To Shift Your Sister

Boom Child - I Want To Shift Your Sister

Info: Boom Child are a chaotic rock trio from Dublin. Their music is an irreverent mix of punk, funk, and power pop. They released their debut "The Super Edible EP" in 2016 on the first 100% edible music format.

REMY is delighted to premiere the brand spanking new single and video from Dublin fun-core triplets Boom Child, 'I Want To Shift Your Sister'. With catchy punk riffage and funk-laden bass runs, Boom Child bash their way through verse and chorus. The deliberate inclusion of clichéd pop-punk moments such as their sustained guitar break right before the tracks final third add to the self-deprecation and entertainment. A word of warning to listeners however, due to the highly infectious nature of this single, it may not always be advisable to sing the chorus line to yourself in close proximity to a member of the public, lest it be interpreted as an overly casual and informal declaration of intent.

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

International Playlist #018: Kidsmoke, Nilüfer Yanya, Mamas Gun, DYLYN & more

NILUFER YANYA - Thanks For Nothing
Nilüfer Yanya - Photo: Molly Daniel

Info: We're back with our latest round up of independent single releases from around the globe over the past few weeks. Above you'll find great tracks from the U.K., France, Canada, the U.S. Denmark and for the first time ever, Japan! As always I've gone through a large chunk of tracks to pick what are my 10 favourites which I hope you enjoy too. It's important for me personally to retain an active interest in the new independent releases from outside of Ireland for fresh perspectives, and when I get to the end of each year and collate a best of list from the previous 12 months I end up hooked on the songs for a long time afterwards, I'm still listening to the 2017 list almost every day.

1. 22 year old London-based solo act Nilüfer Yanya releases her new single 'Thanks 4 Nothing', riding on the success of having two of her 2017 singles landing in Pitchfork's Top 100 for 2017. The track is an emotionally bare and powerful piece of shimmering soul-pop and indie, bustling from grandiose drums to soft bossa nova moments which is also accompanied by the below video.

2. It's always a good day when Welsh lo-fi indie-pop merchants Kidsmoke release new material, we've loved all of the releases that have been covered here over the years and new track 'Sister Sadness' is no different. It has a noughties indie day-glo vibe, everything is soft and gentle, vocals, percussion, dainty guitar riffs and ultimately, a slow-burning feel-good overtone which delivers with ease.

3. Another firm favourite which we were so happy to discover a while back comes via Oakland, CA duo The Saxophones, the guys with the keys to the time machine. They serve up a gorgeous cover of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti's 'Just You', and it's blissful. I'm in a darkened dingy old jazz joint on my own in the dark and the crooning and brass is everywhere around my head.

4. London funk and soul quintet Mamas Gun release a boogie-tastic zinger straight from the Curtis Mayfield songbook in their new single 'London Girls' which will be featured on their forthcoming album 'Golden Days' due out in May. This is such a delightful and accurate tribute to the zenith of funk and soul music, step on their care-free soul train and enjoy the ride.

5. French house producer Tell has swapped the clubs for the studio with the first single from his Petit Garçon EP (out next month) in the form of 'Pourquoi Pas' (Why Not?) under the performance banner of Miel de Montagne. Il est parfait! The French have always known how to do their electronica well, retro synths and 80's vox abound, we like.

6. Montreal's Alex Rand shares 'My Mettle Changes' which grabbed me instantly when I first heard it, a diverse concoction of contemporary experimental-pop and moments of 70's psych. Rand ratchets up the tension and underworld atmospherics before sweeping briefly off to a moment of stillness at the 3:00 mark, reminiscent of Anthony & The Johnsons or Arcade Fire, but it's that intensity throughout which makes the single so gripping.

The fin. - Snow
The fin. - Snow

7. Gah, I just love this track from Japanese synth-pop trio The fin., 'Snow (Again)'. The Kobe act nail the surreal escapism and ultra-sonic landscapes are painted with a neon brush, fizzing static electronic effects buzz and echo, and the downtempo beat feels like a happy death knell if that makes any sense, an acceptance of the final moments of life. Only complaint here is that I wish it was five times longer but I'll just have to wait until their album There comes out later this spring.

8. Danish trio Marshall Cecil's latest single 'Beautiful World' is another hypnotic affair, a glistening piece of indie post-punk which pulls the rug from under you as they briefly delve into hip-hop mode, big soaring distant guitar progressions and a whimsical drum beat create a dual sense of calm and spaced-out unconsciousness.

9. L.A.'s DYLYN serves up the ultimate pop banger in 'Wolf' which premiered on CLASH upon release. Pounding synths and exploding drum-pads battle with her polished and angst-ridden vocal to deliver a track that is easily engaged with.

10. I'm really enjoying this indie stomper from Essex three-piece Bilk, 'Give Up', a neo-punk rocker full of bravado and high-tempo swagger, from the metronome beat intro to the thick bass. These likely lads deal with the themes of boredom and distraction with a light-hearted lyrical stab at idleness, definitely want to here more from where this came from these 18-year-old chaps.


To listen to our last Spotify Independent International Playlist head over here

Single: Dana & The Wolf - Got Me Poly

Got Me Poly - Dana and the Wolf

Dana & The Wolf - Got Me Poly

Info: I've been covering Dana & The Wolf in both their current and previous guises for almost 3 years now on the blog, and they have consistently managed to keep their pop sound fresh, I never know what they're going to throw up next. The Californian duo have released some wonderful singles over the last 12 months or so including previous single 'Him' in December.

Latest single 'Got Me Poly' appeared to court a small bubble of controversy due to its subject matter and lyrics, which I found amusing personally. Of the track itself members Daniel Wolf and Dana Lynn Hobson noted; (Dana) "As open minded as people seem these days, there's still so much prejudice towards people with multiple lovers. I don't want it to sound like I'll fuck anyone. I have a big heart. I don't see the benefit in closing it off to certain people I meet in my life."

(Daniel): "Got Me Poly" is about confronting the fearful majority. At the end of the day being "poly" is just as ridiculous and insatiable as "mono;" the latter is just more boring. 

'Got Me Poly' is big on sound and booms out at you without delay, vocally Hobson goes for a reggae pop style and the duo offer up a breakneck track with plenty of Rn'B elements as well as, what really pleased me on this single, an early 90's dub electronic sound around the 2:00 mark. Littered with hooks and boom-bap beats it's another really fun and different single from Dana & The Wolf who manage to change things up significantly with each release.

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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Review: Gigonometry - Emma Langford, The Elephant Room, Boom Child & The Felonies

The Felonies

Short clip of The Felonies

All photos: Remy Connolly

(Note: on desktop / laptop click on first photo to start slideshow)

Info: There's a few things you can't not do during the live music year and one of them is not going to at least one of the monthly Gigonometry showcases run by Dave Conway and his amazing team at The Workman's Club. I've discovered so many great acts courtesy of the consistent quality and well researched line-ups the gig night throws up.

On Thursday night I witnessed one of my best nights there, I had been looking forward to it for a number of reasons. Firstly to see Emma Langford live for the first time, whose debut album Quiet Giant was both my Album of the Month for October last year and in my Top 10 Irish Albums of 2017. It's an obvious thing to say, but it's always so reaffirming and a source of great joy when an artist is just as good if not better live than they are recorded. Langford played a beauty of a set, just her and her guitar, she has such a wonderful vocal range, and her songs have meaning. For her second last song of the night she did an improvised effect with her mouth that was fascinating, somehow imitating a jazz brass sound, initially I thought she must have been using a kazoo or something similar, until she just reverted straight back into singing. "Did she just do that with her mouth?" someone at the table next to me asked their friend, "Did she just do that with her mouth?" I thought at exactly the same time.

Emma Langford

The Elephant Room were up next, a band I was thankfully introduced to last year by someone on Twitter, I can't remember who, but the main thing is it happened. I love their sound an awful lot, it slips somewhere in between the cracks of lo-fi indie á la Pavement, Weezer stripped of their quirks and who knows what else. They've been releasing music since 2012 but thankfully it seems like they're finally getting the notice they well deserve, and I hope more people take heed as this year progresses. They can be nonchalant and then get their grunge on, lots of pedal experimenting and generally a blissful hazy sound that triggers a style of indie-rock that has grown in my DNA. I'll just stick a little taster below, their latest single 'Naive Green'.

The Elephant Room

I've heard so much about Boom Child over the last year and a bit that they were always in my subconscious to see live, here we are. The Dublin trio describe themselves as chaotic rock, tick. The performance is littered with humour, and quick-witted exchanges between band members between songs. It's always a risky game, something that could turn the Boom to Bomb, but they have it down, as an aficionado of comedy through all mediums, from Dad jokes to Rob Schneider's filmography, I can be hard to please. All joking aside (self-cringe), the spread of guitar-based genres Boom Child can run through is impressive. You will rock out, experience an abrupt jazz breakdown without warning, and get whipped by some disco-funk just as you think you are getting grips with their set, and you can't do all of that unless you are musicians of a certain standard.

Boom Child

On the Saturday night of Whelan's Ones To Watch last month I'd made a list of 14 acts I wanted to see, I ended up seeing 6, unfortunately The Felonies fell into the 8 bands I'd missed, my loss. Again a band I had been aware of for some time, despite them being relatively new. Hailing from the magical music factory that is BIMM, I was very happy to make up for it within the space of a few short weeks.

I'll get straight to the point here and say that it was right up there with one of the best live performances I've seen over the last 4 years by an Irish rock band, and probably the best one since the start of last year. There are more established bands that reside in the same genre as The Felonies who I love and have seen numerous times but on Thursday night, and on reflection yesterday and today I don't think I ever felt the same way after one of their shows. As a pessimist, purely to avoid continuous disappointment, I sometimes get minor anxiety that the whole great independent Irish music bulldozer of the last few years could burst and end any time soon, it can't last forever, and as every new year begins I hope it isn't the start of the end.

The Felonies dissipated that internal dread for the next 10 months at least. The entire set, every song, was entertaining. I hazard a guess that the four-piece are in their early twenties, some possibly slightly younger, and what struck me, and is so rare, is that it seemed like they had collectively consumed decades of rock music from the 1950's up to the modern day, which is obviously impossible unless you started listening to Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry et al from the age of four. The only explanation can be that the talent, song-writing, music and scarily tight delivery is innate. This is what is exciting, and this is what blew my mind a little on the night, if I get that same buzz again from a rock band this year I'll feel like I've won the lottery. 

The Felonies

EP: Blushing - Weak

Blushing - Weak
Photo: Jake Soto

Info: Blushing is 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 EP encompasses influences from all of the bands they collectively share a deep affection for such as Lush, Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, etc. 

Back in November we reviewed opening single, 'Tether' from Blushing's sophomore EP Weak, describing it as; "... 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."

Second track 'Hidden Places' rattles through a tumbling riff and drone-like percussion, a sparse post-punk opening which captures the bands reverence for 80's guitar-driven gothic-pop, like a morose Jane Wiedlin, it's quite enchanting to say the least. 'Bliss' opts for a tropical underwater guitar gleam, the title delivers, and a dream-pop coma ensues, the body is dead but the mind is wandering.

'Bound' is a bit of curveball, beginning with a 90's grunge intro like the start of an Alice in Chains song, Blushing then smooth the sound out with interwoven rhythmic vocals and guitar achieving a hypnotic mood. Closing with the EP's longest track 'Love You Twice', it has a very raw late 80's U.K. jangle-pop and shoegaze feel, and that rawness is an unusual feature across the entirety of Weak, with the band managing to create a collection of songs that feel like an ode to their teenage selves. Unlike their debut Tether, Weak never really bursts into flames once, the band maintain a disciplined lo-fi approach across its 22-odd minutes. By the end the soul is restored, calm abounds and all is well with the world once again, with fans of multiple genres finding something to enjoy on Blushing's latest release.

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EP: A Great Quiet - Soft Breath and Echoes

A Great Quiet - Soft Breath and Echoes

Info: The 2017 winners of 2FM’s Play The Picnic Competition and recently selected as Whelan's Ones To Watch for 2018, A Great Quiet released their
Debut EP 'Soft Breath and Echoes' on February 2nd. The EP was produced and mixed by established producer James Darkin at Herbert Place Studios in Dublin and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, New York.

Over the past 12 months Irish acts have clearly caught up with their U.K. counterparts within the indie-pop genre, acts such as Columbia Mills and The Academic spring to mind. On their debut EP Soft Breath and Echoes, Athy duo A Great Quiet certainly fit comfortably into this movement. A bristling rippled opening courtesy of 'Echoes' sets the tone, this is open-top electro-pop in a nutshell, no punches pulled with its assertive driven tempo and polished layered vocals. 

'Stay Close' sees the pair throw some bombastic funky bass-lines into the mix, a dance-floor groover and shaker. 'Breath' adds pause, a drop off the cliff from the opening two tracks, it's well placed on the EP avoiding running through an entire 4 tracks of incessant high-octane pop mania. That step back is compounded on closer 'A Shared Place' with A Great Quiet displaying that there are additional strings to their musical bow. Whilst it has that uplifting and hopeful disposition of the earlier tracks, it's also sufficiently mellowed out to show that there won't only be one direction the act can go from here on future releases, which needless to say is critical for longevity. Soft Breath and Echoes is a solid start from Will O'Donnell and Aran Cardiff, and you sense they haven't even got out of first gear yet. 

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Video: Ape Rising - The Model Prime

Ape Rising - The Model Prime

Ape Rising - The Model Prime

Info: Cavan alternative rock five-piece Ape Rising have just released the video for their latest single 'The Model Prime' which is taken from last year's debut self-title album. As with previous music videos the band pay homage to the nostalgia of video games from days of yore on the visuals. Large dashes of brevity and a sweeping grandiose chorus create an energised and feel-good vibe. At times exuberant and manic, 'The Model Prime' is a contemporary take on the heady days of 70's psychedelic prog-rock mixed with more modern hard-rock flavours.

The band have also just announced their first show of 2018 which will be in support of Bitch Falcon at The Bowery on the 15th of March.

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Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Single: Kingdom of Crows - We Alone Take The Night

Kingdom of Crows - We Alone Take The Night
Photo: Siska Russell

Info: Dublin duo Kingdom of Crows, whose last album Despondency was released last November, have shared a one-off single via YouTube, 'We Alone Take The Night', which in the words of guitarist Stephen Kelly; "...started out as a riff and it was with us for about a year and we didn't know what to do with it. We reckoned it could be fairly cinematic, especially where Lucy sings "We alone take the night, we alone feel it right between the eyes, we alone cast the die", and the opening piece, our kind of dark alternative rock." 

So we got some help from David McGillicuddy Doyle of VINCI for the grand piano parts and Brian Brennan in the drums and effects areas for the soundscapes. And we love the cinematic vibe they brought to it. Joshua Guest recorded it in Westland Studios. It's a slow burner, like a lot of our stuff. 

Sure Kingdom of Crows could have slipped 'We Alone Take The Night' onto the end (or beginning) of their last album, but I think it kind of deserves its own isolated space. One thing Kelly and Earley have always excelled at is moments of ponderous beauty, but here they serve up an entire track of it. If there was an afterlife, and it was an unending plain of darkness which we drifted in, this song is probably the echo in the distance your soul would be subconsciously drawn to, to try and make sense of it all.

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Video: SYML - 'The War' (Announces Whelan's Date)

SYML - The War

SYML - The War

Info: From his basement-recording studio in the small town of Issaquah, WA outside Seattle, Brian Fennell began to write and record songs under the name SYML, which means 'simple' in Welsh. Adopted and not knowing his history or connection to his Welsh roots, many of these songs are influenced by the complex feelings that come from unknown lineage.

SYML shared the video for his track 'The War', the closing song from his newest EP 'In My Body', which was released a couple of weeks ago.

'The War' follows two doomed lovers during pre-revolution era America, whose relationship faces a looming unknown threat. SYML says of the video, "This story is beautiful but has an undertone of sadness and unrest. I have loved working with Gavin [director/producer] because I think our minds and hearts both see the world through a dark but beautiful lens."

SYML's sound is one that will resonate with Irish music fans who enjoy the likes of St. Bishop, EDEN or Tim Chadwick. His latest EP In My Body weaves a soft beauty with deft electro-pop and alt-folk tones. Whilst tenderness abounds, there is also punctuated energy, such as you'll find on 'Harvest Moon'. Just last week he shared the video for the final of the EP's 6 tracks 'The War', it's atmosphere eschews an emotive darkness and both his robust vocal and the appropriately foreboding music capture the track's theme perfectly. 

On Monday, 12th of February, SYML will play Dublin's iconic Whelan's venue with support from Joshua Hyslop, this show follows sold-out U.K., French, German, Belgian and Dutch dates. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Album of the Month: Gareth Quinn Redmond - Laistigh den Ghleo

Gareth Quinn Redmond - Laistigh den Ghleo

Info: Conceptually derived from the work of Japanese minimalist composer Satoshi Ashikawa, I have attempted to compose an album which engages, enriches and reflects one’s surroundings – an environmental music. In the liner notes of his 1982 album Still Way, Ashikawa explains the concept of his work, and discusses how he sought to write music, which acted as an "object or sound scenery to be listened to casually… it should drift like smoke and become part of the environment surrounding the listener's activity. In other words, it is music which creates an intimate relationship with people in everyday life.” 

My personal hope is that my album helps the listener engage and discover their surrounding environment in a manner they haven’t experienced before, and that it subsequently draws further attention to the life and work of Satoshi Ashikawa. To him, 'Laistigh den Ghleo' is dedicated. 

Around this time last year Dublin musician / composer Gareth Quinn Redmond sent me an EP of his titled Home Recordings Vol. II: Just Home Now. I really liked it, it has since been erased from the webosphere. While I recall it's sparseness and mixture of folk with classical music, I like the idea that he has chosen to wipe the slate clean (hopefully however, he has retained it on a hard drive somewhere for historical purposes!).

I can safely say though that his newest output, Laistigh den Ghleo, is very separate from that previous release both thematically and musically. Redmond seems to have leapt very far in terms of both concept and how the music he is creating affects him. In the context of this album, the English translation would roughly read 'within the struggle', with the struggle itself being co-existence with ones present environment. It's a contradictory word in the Irish language which can express aggression and calm depending on how it's used, here we definitely have the latter. 

From Foclóir Uí Dónaill - 1977 (added by Remy)

Across its 40-plus minutes the album creates an off-beat mildly electronic feel of what you might expect from a live recording of a Keith Jarrett concert, a composer who incidentally recorded his greatest live solo piano masterpiece, The Sun Bear Concerts in Kyoto, Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo and Nagoya in 1978. From the album's beginnings Redmond puts emphasis on disconnecting ourselves from everyday (non) challenges and self-conceived problems. 

The album's title-track is a sprawling 11-minute drip-feed of calm, and you wouldn't expect any less on such a composition, it would be wrong if it were omitted. The slow build-up is pain-stakingly gradient, tiny sliver by sliver, delicately placed upon each other, reaching an epoch at the 5:30 mark, before descending back downwards.

'Titim na hOíche', or 'Night Fall' is 100% in the Jarrett zone, in his live concerts he would sit down at a piano and play something for the first time ever, which made his concerts must have albums, there were no studio versions, Jarrett, while performing, and his audience, were hearing the same thing for the first time ever. Here it feels the same, Redmond submissive to his piano, the keys leading and him following, but with an over-arching idea circling. 

Following the transient 'Athrú', we arrive at another piece of beauty, 'An Gairdín Uirbeach' ('The Urban Garden), the song's title lends itself to a bustling and noisy environment, and the music is anything but, perhaps a deliberate contrast of being placed somewhere that should be a haven of peace but is infiltrated by its outside surroundings. There's a very strong chance that the full introduction of strings at 2:55 might snap your heart in two, it's overwhelming and will gut the hardest of souls.

Redmond brings the heavy red velvet curtain of Laistigh den Ghleo slowly down with one final opus, 'Luaineach', which has many meanings when translated but here probably reflects the English words of 'restless' and 'unsteady' best. It will take a big broadside to surpass Garreth Quinn Redmond's album in terms of movement, concept and unearthing an emotive response, from another Irish artist this year.

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