Sunday, 22 April 2018

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

Chase Nova Band - Keep Your Head Under the Water

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Single: Happyalone. - bodybags

Happyalone. - bodybags

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

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Album: Paddy Hanna - Frankly, I Mutate

Paddy Hanna - Frankly, I Mutate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Single: LIERS - Universal Female

LIERS - Universal Woman

Info: Pronounced 'liars', North County Dublin four-piece LIERS have just released their debut single, 'Universal Female'. Fronted by lead singer and song-writer Liz Seaver, the band provide their own original take on much-loved early 90's grunge-rock. They play their first Whelan's show this coming Thursday, 26th of April, alongside Sub Motion in support of Fangclub. 

On a personal level I can relate very closely to the sound LIERS proffer on their debut release, and in a sense this was what hooked my interest pretty much straight away. The verses ping out to Foo Fighters' debut 1995 self-titled album, one of the very first CD's I bought when it came out, tracks such as 'This Is A Call' and 'Alone + Easy Target' spring to mind. The guitar riff at the song's opening also inhabits a space which crosses over Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, all three bands cited by LIERS as influences.

What's refreshing about LIERS is how they drag these sounds through a black hole into 2018 and make it their own, this might sound like a re-invention, but it's certainly not. First off the band hammer home their imprint in the second-half, particularly from the 2:18 mark onwards, and match up very well to the sound of peers such as Belfast / London duo REWS. 'Universal Female' is more what you'd expect from a third or fourth single after 12 months of releases, something that bodes very well for the foreseeable future.

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The VidList #011: Lemoncello, Brass Phantoms, Laura Ryder, Train Room

Brass Phantoms - Disciples
Brass Phantoms - Photo: Ciaran O'Donnell

Lemoncello - Stuck Upon the Staircase

Info: Lemoncello duo Laura Quirke (guitar, vocals) and Claire Kinsella (cello, vocals) have shared the video for their title-track single, 'Stuck Upon the Staircase', from their forthcoming debut EP which will be released on 26th of April next week in The Cobblestone in Smithfield. Shot by the inimitable Myles O'Reilly of Arbutus Yarns at The Elbowroom in Stoneybatter, the acoustics carry the soft yet powerful beauty of their harmonies and respective strings, acoustic and cello. It's a sweeping and moving meld of traditional and contemporary classical folk with an inescapable Irish story-telling hue. If you enjoyed this single you I recommend you catch them live with the pair playing festival slots for Vantastival, Body & Soul and Arcadian Fields this summer.

Brass Phantoms - Disciples

Dublin indie-rock and post-punk five-piece Brass Phantoms continue to refine and develop their sound on latest single 'Disciples', featured on one of our March Irish Playlists, the accompanying video was shot by Ciaran O'Donnell. Of the track itself we wrote; "A new band member in Colleen Heavey, and a new level of impact, Brass Phantoms have stepped up to the top of the ladder with new single 'Disciples', all of the elements which made previous singles such as 'City of Wolves' and 'Indigo' so appealing, the punch and kick of the drum, anthemic punch the air vocal and sizzling guitars are woven into something that sounds slightly different from the Dublin post-punk quintet."

Laura Ryder & Ampersand - Soda Pressing

We've long been fans of both Laura Ryder's live performances and recorded material such as debut 2016 EP haiku and last year's Vestigial album. With her band Laura Ryder & Ampersand create a jovial and theatrical delivery which is ably reflected in the music video. When we reviewed her debut album last year, regarding 'Soda Pressing' we noted; "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." 

Train Room - The Lives of Others

Mayo's Joe Monaghan, aka Train Room, has shared his new video for latest single 'The Lives of Others', which was shot in his home county along White Strand in Louisburgh. Also featuring on one of last month's playlists we wrote at the time that he is; "An act that always manages to walk the tightrope of yearning and placid song-writing... his latest single 'The Lives of Others' throws a belly full of blues guitar at earnest song-writing. It's simple compared to his other singles, but that tinny vocal effect, excuse the pun, resonates, as always, on this sweet number."

Friday, 20 April 2018

News: Record Store Day 2018 - 21st of April

Record Store Day 2018 - Ireland - RSD2018 Vinyl

Info: Record Store Day was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees as a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. The first Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008. Today there are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica.  

This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store - the staff, the customers, and the artists - to come together and celebrate the unique culture of a record store and the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities. Special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products are made exclusively for the day. For several years, 60% or more of the Record Store Day Official Release List came from independent labels and distributors. The list continues to include a wide range of artists, covering the diverse taste of record stores and their customers. 

On the first Record Store Day, Metallica spent hours at Rasputin Music in San Francisco meeting their fans and now each year hundreds of artists, internationally famous and from the block, flock to record stores around the world for performances, signings, meet and greets and to fill their own shopping bags with music

Record Store Day 2014 - Pixies - John Grant - Sam Cooke - Richard Hawley - The Yardbirds
Some of REMY's 2014 Record Store Day scoops

So what's happening in Ireland tomorrow? Well-known vinyl stockists and establishments such as The R.A.G.E. on Fade Street, Tower Records on Dawson Street, Spindizzy Records (George's Arcade), The Sound Cellar and Freebird Records on Wicklow St. will all be participating in Dublin. Tower Records will have DJ sets from The Hot Sprockets, Fontaines DC, David Kitt and Claire Beck between 1pm-5pm. Golden Discs in Dundrum SC will have a live performance from one of our favs Molly Sterling. Elsewhere around the country our old pals Classified Records in Dundalk will be opening at 9am to welcome punters, whilst at their Wexford store Frankenstein Bolts and Rachel Grace will be performing. The chain will also have live music and DJ sets at their Newbridge, Athlone, Patrick St. (Cork), Limerick and Waterford stores. Some shops will also have considerable sales on existing stock so additional bargains are to be had. This is by no means an exhaustive list of participating stores so check with your local store to see what's happening there.

HMV Grafton Street - Record Store Day 2014
Crate-digging frenzy at the old HMV store on Grafton Street in 2014

To ensure you get as much of what you want, you need to (a) get in early! (Tower Records will be open from 8am) and (b) hit up more than one shop, as not all stores will be stocking every release. So what are the exclusive releases we can expect to see on the shelves tomorrow? The full list is at the below link, but some that I personally will be interested in are as follows;

Air - 'Sexy Boy' 12" picture disc
Arthur Lee & Love - 'Coming Through to You' - The Live Recordings (1970-
Bert Jansch (3 LP's) - 'L.A. Turnaround', 'Santa Barbara Honeymoon', 'A Rare Conundrum'
Bob Dylan - 'Masters of War' 7"
Car Seat Headrest - 'Twin Fantasy' (Mirror to Mirror)
David Bowie (3 LP's & single) - 'David Bowie', 'Now', 'Welcome to the Blackout (Live)', 'Let's Dance' 12"
Jeff Buckley - Live @ Sin-É - 4 x LP set in deluxe packaging for the first time on vinyl
Mac DeMarco - Old Dog Demos
Mansun - 'Wide Open Space' 12"
Marc Bolan & T-Rex - 'The Final Cuts' (limited to 2,000 copies worldwide)
Mogwai - 'Ten Rapid' - collection of singles, B-side and rarities
Prince - '1999' (unavailable on LP since 1983)
Sigrid - 'Don't Kill My Vibe' EP 12" - first time available on vinyl
Sigur Rós - 'Route One' (Limited 500 copy run)
Sufjan Stevens - 'Mystery of Love' EP
Wilco - 'Live at The Troubadour' 11/12/1996

There's also another big release tomorrow that I am particularly interested in but I'm keeping to myself for now...! Happy hunting, digging and spending!

Full list of releases is here

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Premiere: The Elephant Room - Connexion

The Elephant Room - Connexion - Premiere

The Elephant Room - Connexion

Info: REMY is thrilled to premiere the brand new single and video 'Connexion' from Dublin-based lo-fi pop band The Elephant Room. The single is taken from their forthcoming EP Music On The Bones which is due for release on the 3rd of May. 

The Elephant Room are the band that the earnest lo-fi music fan can fall in love with straight away, so much haze and mind-drifting is to be found in their music which now spans almost 7 years. You make your own sense of their lyrics, or none at all, either works, as the main objective is to not really think at all, and just submit, switch off your thoughts and let it lap at the edges of your ears and brain; "Blind eyes often find, inside an absent mind, that abstract thought soon gets old. Blood is streaked across the white teeth of an old piano. Your senses are uplifted like a bubble in the breeze."

For those who are new to the band's sound, 'Connexion' perfectly summarises a large part of where they're coming from, there's that off-beat and slightly wonky timing that recalls American acts such as The Lemonheads, Death Cab for Cutie and Pavement. I would highly recommend perusing their discography over at their Bandcamp page (linked below), in particular last single 'Naive Green', as well as 2014 album Body and their delicious debut album Dining With the Dead. Take some time to yourself and disappear into The Elephant Room.

Connexion The Elephant Room

Upcoming gigs:

April 21st - The Bello Bar w/ Stitch Jones, Boom Child and The Motives.

May 11th - The Taproom/Drop Dead Twice E.P. Launch w/ Oh Boland.

June 30th - Fibbers w/ Huntings 

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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

New Album Releases: April - Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Eels, Chrome Sparks, Janelle Monáe & more

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Photo: Tom Spray

Info: REMY's monthly new album releases round-up returns (rather belatedly) for April, featuring singles already released from albums coming out over the next two weeks (and previous two) in the above playlist. There's a horrifically boisterous opening courtesy of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and their single 'American Guilt' from latest LP Sex & Food. Mr. E is back with Eels' new album Deconstruction and the new if familiar sound of single 'Bone Dry'. Repping the Irish album releases are Dublin indietronica outfit Pursued By Dogs and their 2017 single 'Iceland', their self-titled album will be out next week on the 27th of April. 

There's some very gratifying electronic music from both Chrome Sparks' self-titled release and Daniel Avery's album Song for Alpha. I'm loving the subtle old school soul backdrop to Janelle Monáe's rn'b delivery on her third album Dirty Computer, some of her best moments are in here since the ground-breaking ArchAndroid in 2010. Two acts I'm really interested in, and looking forward to, digging deeper into are Paris outfit En Attendant Ana via their Lost and Found album and I kinda fell in love with the off-kilter and escapist mystery of Oregan-based chamber folk solo act Laura Veirs' The Lookout, I'm (very) late to the game, this is her twelfth album since 1999, I have a lot of back-listening to do. Finally I'm quite excited about Twin Shadow's first album in 3 years, Caer and unbridled indie-pop go-getters Say Sue Me's Where Were We Together.

Eels - Bone Dry

Release Dates:

Out Now:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food

Daniel Avery - Song for Alpha

Eels - The Deconstruction

En Attendant Ana - Lost and Found

Laura Veirs - The Lookout

Say Sue Me - Where We Were Together

Chrome Sparks - Chrome Sparks

27th April:

Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer

Pursued By Dogs - Pursued By Dogs

Twin Shadow - Caer

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Irish Playlist #026: Arvo Party, Heroes in Hiding, Rosborough, Father! & more

Arvo Party - Liberté

Info: It's only a week since the last independent Irish Playlist here on REMY, but the singles continue to come thick and fast, and more importantly, are qualiteeee. There's a nice mixture of genres too from experimental electronic, indie pop, contemporary folk and some sweet old school blues rock.

So much great music, but sometimes, and in a way thankfully it's not too frequent cos that would kind of ruin it a little, something stunning comes along that pushes your insides beyond simply enjoying what you are hearing. Belfast's Arvo Party has that affect, last year's self-titled debut album was a masterpiece, and now new single 'Liberté', if you'll excuse my parlance, is an absolute fucking banger. There's a very tidy balance between chill and beat-tastic euphoria on his new single, this is all my guilty dance pleasures and proud electronic pleasures rolled into one, there's nothing better than when the first single after one of your favourite albums reaches far beyond your expectations.

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away Dubliner Conor Thornton was the frontman of a sultry rock band named Voxx who I was a big fan of. After a brief hiatus Thornton returned as a solo act whose style is difficult to pinpoint with each passing single, the sands shift quickly here. New single 'Heat' sounds like it's sampling The Specials and vocally comes across like a whispering Michael Hutchence. A slow burning reggae groove slithers like a snake throughout, with the listener strapped to a chair in a dark room waiting for the ankle bite.

Father! - Thank You

A pretty big gulf has been crossed from my first listen of Father! not too long ago and his debut self-titled EP, I love raw fuzzed-out music but it took me a while to become accustomed to his faded vocals and the din, I still enjoyed it, in particular track 'Antigone' which we featured last month, but I'm more gratified sooner by new single 'Thank You'. I can really appreciate what Meath musician Sean Brunswick is creating here under his moniker, there is far more longevity in abandoning or caring about preconceptions of how to deliver your music. 'Thank You' is a lovely, lovely piece of lo-fi guitar-jangle that breezes effortlessly through the ears, I'm excited now, but probably should have been sooner.

I was starting to get a bit worried about these boys, it has been a while since Heroes in Hiding released their 2016 EP Curtains. The indie-rock band hold a special place in my heart because, aside from their great song-writing, they've been at the forefront of the Irish music scene pretty much since this current golden era commenced. After a bit of a gap between releases you'd expect something fresh, and I had to double-check I was playing the right track when 'I Live for You's intro kicked in, yep, it's HIH alright. Sticking to their bedrock formula, the Dubliners also cast the net wide here to expand and heighten the broad strokes of their sound. There's the dabbling in subtle electro-beats, bitta brass, and sampled interludes, and it's tub-thumping, good to have them back, and there's a debut album right around the corner now too.

Donegal alternative folk-rock act Alan Finan already has pedigree behind him, with a 2016 Other Voices performances, and new single 'Slumber' featuring as Hot Press' Track of the Day upon release. For me from both an observational and personal taste perspective he nails everything on 'Slumber', skilled acoustic playing, added instrumentation to lift the track beyond the pale, and an impressive vocal. I love the flitting atmosphere he creates, from that hollow palm-beat on the guitars body at the opening, he builds up to a delightfully addictive and rhythmic motion that gets lodged in your head. This a really great single from a thinking song-writer. 

Staying in the northern hemisphere of the island we have the latest single from Derry's Rosborough, 'Another Lesson'. Rosborough is currently one of the most exciting acts within is genre right now, gaining plaudits all across the board, he has taken the traditional alternative-pop mantle back to its audience and gained a strong following from those more disposed to the alternative rather than the pop. It's a blistering pop-rock single which exemplifies why his live shows have been held in such high regard over the last 12 months. 

An American-tinged early noughties alternative-rock and power pop number bursts out courtesy of Dublin trio Sandy Kim and their latest single 'Sympathy'. Things I'm really digging here are (a) the drums - it's frenetic and impressively paced, I could probably listen to them in isolation and be very happy (b) the jangle-pop and lo-fi guitar soundz and the Lemondheads / Evan Dando-esque vocals, everything works so well combined and it's most invigorating.

With brush on snare and soft acoustic strumming, a deep cut 'bow' of an opening bass-line introduces the Americana-rock twang of Mayo band The Kerbs' new single 'Creep'. There's a soft swagger about this song, meandering, standing back, and letting it all soak in. This is a traditional alt-rock and blues fan's type of song, a foot-tapper that is impossible to resist from The Kerbs.

'The Apple Truck' by Dublin band Gorilla Troubadour is the kind of song I imagine playing in the background if I found myself standing in the middle of a busy road in my dressing-gown wearing shades and having an auld fag as the traffic swerved around me. Wah-wah, blues-rock, funk, and soul vocals that recall not only early, but opening salvo Republic of Loose, have me fully on board. With any luck these guys will get famous too soon and end up throwing TV's (remember them!?) out of hotel windows, seriously though, stick to this template, expand on it, and this time 12 months (or less) they could have jaws dropping. 

Photos: COLUMBIA MILLS with Orchid Collective @ The Button Factory, Dublin

Columbia Mills - The Button Factory Dublin

All photos: Remy Connolly

Info: Dublin / Wicklow indietronica five-piece COLUMBIA MILLS played their second packed-out headliner in the last couple of months in The Button Factory last night with support from Orchid Collective and Outsider. I was delighted to be in attendance after being unable to make their November show and so happy to hear personal favourites 'Battles' and 'This City Doesn't Feel Like Home To Me' live for the first time. It was the band's final Irish show before heading off on their UK Tour which will see them play in London, Birmingham, Manchester and a wonderful venue I've had the pleasure of attending a long time ago, King Tuts in Glasgow. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Single: August Wells - Nothing Like Love

August Wells -Nothing Like Love
Photo: Sarah Iannone

August Wells - Nothing Like Love

Info: August Wells make a warped soulful return to Irish airwaves this April, with the release of 'Nothing Like Love' the first single to be taken from their forthcoming third album.

Ken Griffin and John Rauchenberger’s songs have struck a chord with music listeners here and further afield. With their two critically acclaimed albums to date 'A Living and a Dying Game' and the excellent 'Madness Is the Mercy' which along with a string of fine singles has seen them received warmly by music shows across the dial. Their music speaks of the fragility of the human condition while all the while providing twists of humour and hope.

'Nothing Like Love' is a 3 minute drama about being pushed aside by love. Like Bill Withers singing a Lou Reed song August Wells dance along the edge.

The new single from August Wells, 'Nothing Like Love', which is released tomorrow, came right at a time when I'd been spending a lot of time listening to Madness Is The Mercy, their last album, again recently, and probably listening to it in a more fulsome way than I had before. I love how the lyrics of their songs make me think about things I probably haven't thought about in a long time, that's not to say I don't think about love often, but I probably don't pause to think about what it means to me right now. 

There's such a nice and heart-warming swell to the sound on their new single, breezy might be a bit of an understatement, but when you let Rauchenberger's calming piano plod seep in, and when Ken Griffin goes through verse and chorus you feel like you're on a mini-biographical journey. It starts from the first overwhelming time you thought you were in love but really weren't (it was chemistry and hormones), to the time you knew you actually were in love, and where you are now, or, where are you now? I'm kind of at a Roy Orbison moment with August Wells, where I could just be so happy listening to anything they write, the music gets you first, and then later on you listen, and it's all good.

August Wells play The Workman's Club this Sunday, 15th of April, event info is here

Additional upcoming tour dates;

Tues 17th Apr - Ballinard Gigs - Baltimore
Thurs 19th Apr – Coughlan’s – Cork
Sat 21st Apr – Levis – Ballydehob
Sat 5 th May – Vinyl Dublin Festival

More to be announced………

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Monday, 9 April 2018

Interview: Elephant

Elephant - Interview - Shane Clarke

Elephant - Waiting Game

Info: Dundalk multi-instrumentalist alternative act Elephant is set to release his sophomore album this summer following the critically acclaimed wonder that was debut LP HyperGiant in 2015. The new album is a concept record spanning over an hour of music across 12 tracks, and as a result, in order to secure a vinyl release it will need to be a double-LP. To get the project over the line, Shane Clarke (Elephant) is hoping fans of his music will pre-order either digital, CD or a lush 180g heavy-weight vinyl pressing (or all three!) via the records Fund:it page which can be found here

With the countdown on and the clock ticking on the next 20 days and 17 hours as of right now to reach this goal, REMY caught up with the man himself to reflect, project and ponder on his latest creation.

REMY: First of all, to put us into some context! What are your reflections looking back at HyperGiant, your debut album in 2015, how do you feel about it now in terms of where you were as a song-writer and the great reception it received? 

Elephant: I went through a phase about a year ago of not liking my first album. I’d been recording it over such a long period of time that, yes, when I was writing the songs 6 years ago I was listening to loads of folksy rock stuff, Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley etc... but by the time we were nearly finished the album I was getting way deeper into synthy and gothic 80's romantic stuff like Cocteau Twins and The Cure. So when we were done with the album I already wanted to be working on my own 80s inspired dark, romantic synth heavy album... which made Hypergiant a frustrating listen. 

However, recently I stuck it on for the first time in about a year and I really enjoyed it. The songs are solid, Darren Clarke did a great job making it and I can hear 80s moments now and again scattered throughout so maybe I got a few in there after all! As for its reception, that came as a huge surprise and a very welcome one. 

REMY: It was this time last year in The Spirit Store in your hometown of Dundalk that we last spoke, and at the time you were just putting the wheels in motion on the second album. You mentioned you struggled with song-writing post-HyperGiant and found the way around that was to give the acoustic guitar a bit of a back-seat and focus on keyboard and electric guitars, did that switch help a lot with putting together the new collection of songs on the forthcoming LP? 

Elephant: Massively. Once I got out of my own way and just started writing songs  because I love writing songs again, they started coming thick and fast.  I couldn't wait to get home from work and get straight on the computer and start demoing ideas. I didn’t jettison the acoustic entirely from the process, but I didn’t rely on it either. I wrote in different ways. Threw out any form of rule book I’d created while writing the first album. I think the songs I am writing now are more complete and honest. Simplified on the surface with the more complex ideas layered into the songs...deeper than before, but they are there if you listen. 

REMY: I have to say personally I absolutely adored your recent singles 'Wating Game' Parts I & II, for me they came along at the perfect time, I got into Prince properly about 8 years ago with albums like Dirty Mind and Controversy, but also in more recent times have become quite obsessed with Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. That 80’s sound is in full flow on these recent singles, how did it become the focus for Album No. 2?

Elephant: First of all, thanks very much, that’s awful kind of you to say.  I’ve always really enjoyed that kind of music but it was only in the last few years where it went from something I would consider almost a guilty pleasure to the music I wanted to be making. I’m not saying I came anything close to Bryan Ferry let alone Prince on anything on the album...nor was I aiming to. I just knew I wanted to try and write something that feels like when I listen to that kind of music...when it was hip to be over the top and talk about schmoozy love stuff....everyone is so cool now. I'm not a cool guy. I live alone with my basset hound, play DnD with three other 30 year old men and I cry when I listen to 'Take My Breath Away' by Berlin. So I am not going to try to be anything else, I am just  going to make what I want because I want to make it. Otherwise what’s the point of any of it. Also, a huge Elephant shout out to the Heroes of Wayrest!

REMY: I always get very excited when Irish artists release albums on vinyl, we also have fellow Dundalk act Just Mustard releasing their debut album on the medium shortly, how important was it to you to have your music on wax, also, it must be a kind of dream moment for an artist? 

Elephant: It’s certainly a dream to have an album on vinyl. I love to buy records myself so to have one with Elephant music would be so exciting. I didn’t get to put the first album on vinyl as I couldn't afford it. I have always financed everything myself and vinyl is such an expensive medium but this time I’m hoping I can! With the help of Dundalks new music label Pizza Pizza Records along with my Fund:It campaign which is underway, I’m aiming to put the new album onto a 2-disc 180g heavy-weight gate-fold. The artwork is already designed by the super talented Taine King of Farney House and it is so nice. All the pieces are there, we just have to hit the target goal and it’ll happen, so cross your fingers for me!

REMY: Tell us a bit more about the Fund:It campaign which you've just touched on above, which is ultimately necessary in most cases for independent artists wanting to release a vinyl record, tell us about the campaign itself and any particular offers early-bird purchaser of the record can expect? 

Elephant: The reason it’s necessary for me is that the album has finished out around an hour long… you can only fit 40 odd minutes of music on a disc so I need to make it a double album which costs twice as much, I have to admit...we weren’t quite on the ball watching the clock on that one! 

The campaigns goal is to hit €3000. It will be split between paying for mastering of the album and a portion of the pressing to vinyl. It will also cover Fund:It's cut. There are loads of options for pledges and rewards. The record itself of course. Launch tour tickets, official T-shirts, lyric zines, private gigs (solo and full band). Lots of options. However, if I don't hit €3000, we get nothing so...I really am relying on people to help.

Elephant - 'Mirrors'

REMY: I’m also quite curious to find out what new music albums you’ve been listening to and enjoyed most over the past 12 months, be they Irish or international, as I think we have fairly similar taste! Any tips? 

Elephant: Haha, aren’t I supposed to ask you for tips? You’re the music journalist! (REMY: zoiks!)

But okay, seeings how you asked…I’ve actually been listening to Kamasi Washington's 2017 album Harmony Of Difference non-stop lately. It’s something really special. It’s also my first real connection to a modern jazz artist. Andy Shauf is someone I found while recording the new album and have really gotten into, along with Lower Dens. One of the most amazing bands I’ve gotten into in the last year that I’d never listened to is The Walker Brothers...their song 'The Electrician' is amazing. Also, Jackie Trent’s song 'Where Are You Now My Love' makes me want to write a 60's big band jazzy that could be next.

REMY: Throwback quickly again to around the time HyperGiant was released in 2015, the Irish music scene was starting to heave at that stage, 3 years on it’s still growing, do you think it’s even more challenging for artists to get heard now than it was back in 2015? 

Elephant: The amount of talent is ridonkulous. It’s just pouring out of everywhere and it’s so inspiring. I don't know if it’s harder… I mean, yes there is a lot more great music out there but there is a lot of outlets for it too? I think it comes down to quality. If you are making good music then someone is going to notice? It depends on your end goals too I suppose. Maybe I’m wrong..I don't keep my ear to the ground in that end of things. I'm mostly concerned with making music that connects with people, the rest of it is just icing.  

REMY: If album no. 1 was influenced by contemporary music to a degree and album No. 2 looks towards earlier decades, have you thought yet about where the music will take you in the next phase of Elephant?

Elephant: Every time I hear a song that really touches me I immediately want to go and try to write something that feels the same way. So the next one could be anything. Like I mentioned earlier, I have an inkling to do something 60's jazzy/big band...but then I have had this dream of making an orchestral instrumental album blending very traditional classical with modern soundscape ideas and so on. Though, I don't know if I’m there yet, ready to take on something like that. So as of yes, I guess I’m not sure…what I can say for sure is that there will be another Elephant album...and it probably won’t sound anything like this one! 

REMY: Finally, I’m sure the FundIt campaign will be a big success, what’s your plan for touring etc. with Elephant once the album is released? 

Elephant: Well I’ve had a major line-up change so I have a new band now.  New friend, Conal Duffy on bass, a life long friend Stephen Ludlow on drums and of course you know Shane O’Hanrahan on keys. It’s a leaner group but I’m confident we can make it happen. The albums release and tour is being handled by the label, Pizza Pizza Records. It’s a new indie label in Dundalk. They are involved in the new Just Mustard release as well as an up-coming We, the Oceanographers album so it’s very exciting. We are all helping each other which is the way it should be! We’re planning the album release and tour to happen in July/August. This will actually be Elephants first time gigging in a few places so I’m excited. I’m excited for people to hear the new album. I’m generally just excited in what I’m doing lately and that’s a great be excited about what you are’s kind of the whole thing, right?