sails winning wars

Wicklow four-piece Sails are preparing to release debut single ‘Lakes’ in October, but to tide us over until then, they’ve unveiled a beautiful track that could melt your heart. ‘Winning Wars’ is all about the atmosphere, a gently strummed guitar soundtracking Darragh Cahill’s tale of escaping a mess. “You’re building walls to shelve all your plans and you’re wearing your grandfather’s boots,” he says, while “your mother’s rosary beads burn a cross in the pit of your chest”. It doesn’t sound like an ideal situation so it’s no surprise that they “flee in the warmest of nights”. There are warm hints of Beirut throughout ‘Winning Wars’, courtesy of Kevin Maguire and Danny McCormack’s trumpet and saxophone. You can download the track for free below. Sails play the Button Factory on Wednesday, October 15, with support coming from All The Luck In The World and Elephant.

girl band

The last time we heard Dublin four-piece Girl Band committing a cover to record was their revelatory reworking of Blawan’s Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage’. Today they’ve unveiled the B-side to new single ‘De Bom Bom‘, and it’s a cover of Washington punk-rockers Beat Happening’s ‘I Love You’. The original, which you can hear below, is pretty restrained indie-rock fare that keeps its emotions just about in check. Girl Band haven’t made such a straight-up rock song since their debut EP a few years ago, and you can practically hear Dara Kiely and bassist Daniel Fox willing things to get a little bit crazy. Kiely’s cries to “give it to me, give it to me” fade out and we don’t know if indeed he got what he wanted. Girl Band play the Body & Soul stage at Electric Picnic this Friday. They’re onstage at 9pm, but if you miss them they have a few Irish dates lined up to coincide with the release of ‘De Bom Bom’, out September 1 on Any City Records.


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clu gems

The Dublin-based audio/visual duo Clu comprises Sean Cooley and Kevin Freeney, and they’ve just released a new EP they’re calling Gems. Four tracks long, it’s out on Brooklyn’s Moodgadget Records. On making music, Cooley recently told ISO50: “Everything has a point, some of it instinct with no emotions attached other then the ones I was feeling at the time of making, and there is also things going on and memories in my life that directly make me chase a certain sound/mood to try and portray what I was feeling and thinking about.” There’s something very instinctual about the Gems EP, from the visual treat offered up by ‘Mirrors’ (see below) to the sensual, immersive ‘Aquatic Ambience’. The restrained intensity of ‘Noir’ is the only disappointing track of the collection, never really going anywhere. But touching on eight minutes, final track ‘Zenith’ more than makes up for things, living up to its name emphatically so and encapsulating the best thing that Clu have done to date. Throughout its 26 minutes, there are cut up vocals provided by an unnamed female vocalist – Clu have collaborated with Unknwn singer Gemma Dunleavy, but I don’t think they’re her vocals. Maybe we’ll find out who it is at the weekend: Clu play the RBMA stage at Electric Picnic at 1am on Sunday. Should be fun. You can buy the Gems EP here.

rhob cunninham cover window and day

I still don’t think I’ve fully come to terms with Rhob Cunningham‘s 11-minute epic that he released earlier this summer, but today, he’s revealed a gorgeous new track. ‘Quiet Song’ is the opener to The Window And Day, the Dublin singer’s second album, due for release on September 18. We find Cunningham in a contemplative mood, “yearning for some inspiration, waiting for your time to come”. It plays out over a gently plucked acoustic guitar and the softest of strings. Of the album itself, Cunningham’s friend Myles O’Reilly says: “”One night not so long ago Rhob Cunningham was wondering how and where to record a new album, I joked about going to Iceland to record with someone legendary like Valgeir Sigurðsson… we laughed, opened another beer.. and later went to Iceland so Rhob could record with Valgeir Sigurðsson. AMAZING.” Rhob Cunningham, who is currently based in Berlin, returns to play the Button Factory in Dublin on September 18, to coincide with the release of The Window And Day.

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After a sold-out event in 2013, Samahain Festival moves to Loughcrew Gardens, Co Meath, with a doozy of a lineup, which is to be expected when the promoters are Archetype, Hidden Agenda, Bodytonic and Bedlam. The big names so far are Jon Hopkins (his final Irish show promoting his album Immunity), John Talabot (warning: most likely a DJ set), Maya Jane Coles and Booka Shade. They’re joined by Jimmy Edgar, Rodhad, Leon Vynehall and Scntst, with more to be announced. Early bird tickets are just €35 (plus booking fee) and can be purchased here. A note for anybody who was there last year: The new venue for Samhain Festival is fully licensed so this year’s festival will not be a BYO event. More about Samhain Festival 2014 after the jump.

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disconcerting p cover

Disconcerting P is the work of Naas artist Padraig McAuley, who you might recognise from a similarly named band, the P Affection. On Masks, which he says is an album about love, we find McAuley channelling one of my favourite bands, the soothingly reassured Real Estate. It’s evident from the first track of the collection, ‘Driving’, built over a simple repeating guitar line that finds McAuley “driving, driving, driving all night long… to the dawn”. ‘Until The Drugs Wear Off’ sounds like it was created in a dune at dusk over the course of several summer evenings. ‘Sneaking Off’ is probably the highlight of the 10 tracks, which clock in at an in-a-rush 31 minutes. There’s a hint of Conor Oberst in his questioning growls: “Should I be worried about it? Should I worry at all? Taking off, you’re taking off.” ‘Lost Something’ is about trying to put a brave face on, even when “all your dreams seem to stop when you fall down, you fall so low”. There are a few missteps on the collection: ‘A Happy Tune’ is a little too simplistic, while the following track, ‘Disco Fever’ repeats the “do do do dos” but with slightly higher “oohs”. But overall, Masks will have you pining for the beach once more, mainly to find ‘A Woman That’s Gonna Love Me’. You can download Masks from Disconcerting P’s Bandcamp page.

diamond dagger cover

Dublin artist Diamond Dagger has been pretty busy lately, what with being one half of Chrystyne with Goodtime, and this week he’s unveiled a new album that he’s made available for free download. Formerly known as Sarsparilla, Estate Crudele is Damien Lynch’s first full length under the Diamond Dagger name – and it’s been worth the wait. ‘Breakfield’ is the first of the nine tracks, coming across like a tune that was made in the 80s, gathered dust in an attic for 20 years and now Lynch is shining it up real nice again. ‘Apollo’s Creed’, as the name suggests, sounds like a theme tune for a hipster superhero. The title tracks features a throbbing bassline while ‘Red Leather Bop’ and ‘Lucky 6′ continue the killer dance element that is slathered all over Estate Crudele . ‘Deep Breath’ and ‘End Titles’ add a little Solar Bears subtlety to proceedings. The cover art was designed by Ian Pearce and you can download the album on a name-your-price basis via Diamond Dagger’s Bandcamp page.

wyvern lingo the Widow Knows EP cover

I first came across the reassuring sounds of Wicklow three-piece Wyvern Lingo when Jim Carroll and Banter came to the Kinsale Arts Festival last summer. Under glorious sun, Karen Cowley, Saoirse Duane and Caoimhe Barry played a short set heavy on harmonies that just sounded… right. The Widow Knows is their second EP and comes ahead of an appearance at Electric Picnic next weekend. It would be easy, judging by the opening minute of the five-track EP, to compare Wyvern Lingo to Watford trio the Staves, but there’s more of a classical lilt here rather than just a single acoustic guitar. It’s a big sounding collection. The six-minute epic ‘Fairytale’ is the undoubted standout track, Karen’s vocals soaring among the clouds painted on the EP’s cover while the drums, piano and violin crash against each other in a fight to the death. The following track features the beautiful, crushing line: “I’ve tried to stop myself from crying, and I know my love grows like the silence of snow.” Wyvern Lingo’s tagline on their Facebook page reads: “If Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young grew up listening to Destiny’s Child.” You’d think either of those acts would be impressed with such a heartbreaking couplet. You can see a live version of closing track ‘Used’ below, which the trio filmed for the brilliant Press Record. It’s probably the best example of harmonies on the collection. The EP was engineered and mixed by Stephen Dunne and Gary White in Asylum studios@Bow Lane, Karma Corner, and Lamplight Studios. You can buy The Widow Knows EP from Wyvern Lingo’s Bandcamp page on a name-your-price basis – it’d be silly not to.

mail order messiahs cover

Mail Order Messiahs is the one-man project of Dublin-based Mike Liffey. He used to be one half of the band along with Dar Fahy, and they released an album in 2009. ‘Practical Man’ is the first track taken from second album Practical and finds Liffey in cosmic airs. “Please put in a good word for me,” he implores at one point. It all plays out over a snappy bassline and racing drums. ‘Practical Man’ bodes well for the rest of Mail Order Messiahs’ first album in five years. It’s out on September 15, and you can order it on his Bandcamp page. It will include remixes by Eomac and Sunken Foal, which I’m very excited to hear.

sea pinks cover

We pick up where we left off with Sea Pinks on new track ‘Dream Happening’. It’s taken from Neil Brogan’s third album, entitled Dreaming Tracks and due out on CF Records on September 29. It’s as jaunty as ever, with bassist Steven Henry in particular sounding like he’s having immense fun. I don’t know if Brogan is though – it sounds like he’s having an existential crisis: “The world will suck everybody in, and I’ll keep singing.” As Nialler9 says, it’s the first Sea Pinks album to be recorded in a studio (Start Together in Belfast).