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All photos by Brid O’Donovan

Last weekend, September 15-18, saw the 11th edition of the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival take over the West Cork town. I’ve seen some great shows down the years as part of the festival, Girl Band on Saturday night two years ago was probably the best show I’ve seen from them. Redneck Manifesto were the main headliners, closing De Barra’s on Sunday night with a sellout show. They played a couple new songs, ‘Sip, Don’t Gulp’ and ‘Kobo’ (working title) were two that were named, but it was old favourites like ‘I Am Brazil’, ‘Rubber Up’ and ‘Black Apple’ that showcased everything that’s brilliant about this band. They are old friends and they love making music – if there wasn’t a crowd to play to, the crowd is told, they’d be playing to each other. Richie Egan (Jape) is the nominal frontman, at one point admitting that the mic should probably be taken off him. Matty Bolger is his able sidekick, a guitarist who always looks like he’s in the zone, that the song has taken him over. He trades solos with Niall Byrne while Glenn Keating and Neil O’Connor pull the strings (well, play the keys and various other contraptions), while Mervyn Craig is the drums. It’s a stellar show, the Rednecks’ first in years. They promise a new album next year, but this standalone show, their only one of the year, will sate the appetite for now.

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Dublin’s Lie Ins acted as the house band for Alison Spittle’s chat show at Dublin Fringe Festival last night and to celebrate, they unveiled a new song. ‘Potatoes’ is a frenetic, fuzzy blast of all that you love about Lie Ins – and Popical Island. “I sit and drink and then I sit and drink again,” slackers Mike Stevens before hoping, and this may be the alcohol talking, “that I’ll win and I will be your man”. It’s the first new music we’ve heard from the group since ‘Love In The Attic‘ at the tail end of last year. There’s no album news yet but it’s been three years since their debut, Death to Lie Ins, so here’s hoping there’s something on the horizon.

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Jon Pearson is a busy man. He’s the concerts manager of Crash Ensemble, who release a new album next month, recently acted as tour manager for the Icelandic band Samaris around Europe, and is also involved in two shows at Dublin Fringe Festival – This Is How We Fly (last night, September 18; he also manages that band) and Bleed, which runs September 21-25, two shows a night, at 7.30pm and 9.15pm) at 13 North Great George’s Street. He’s featured recently on the new track from freezerRoom and is playing live with Caoilian Sherlock. I got to chat with Jon last week and tried to cram in everything he’s doing into a 45-minute chat. You can listen to the podcast via Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes. Some highlights of the chat are below.


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“It’s in the post, you can’t undo it now,” sings Diane Anglim on Swords‘ new single, ‘The Letter’. You can imagine her shaking her head in disappointment as she says it. “You can’t undo it now, it’s years ago, you can’t undo them now.” The fact such regret plays out over a delicate lullaby-like soundtrack creates a discomfiting auru. It makes me think of the idea of morning pages (the idea propagated by Julia Cameron in her guide to creativity, The Artist’s Way); imagine writing down the good, bad, and ugly of your stream of consciousness and sending it to someone, admitting some big fault, some great regret. As Anglin states: “You say everything you want to say but you don’t care about me. I have to hear everything that you say.” ‘The Letter’ is takes from Tidal Waves, the Dublin trio’s new album, the followup to 2013’s Lions & Gold. The album, out October 28, will be launched on November 11, with a headline show at the Workman’s Club – event page.

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Brigid Mae Power‘s self-titled album is one of the records of the year, and ‘I Left Myself For A While’ might well be the most atmospheric song of 2016. Over little more than a couple chords and an incessant swirling drone, she takes your emotions around the wringer. “You remind me of who I am,” she impassions. It’s astounding. The video below was made by Declan V Kelly. The single is backed with ‘My Lagan Love’, a cover of an Irish trad song, which doesn’t feature on the album. Power’s voice is just irresistible. Power recently told the Rothschild Photo Collection: “When I’m singing I feel like I connect with something, and when I am drawing I feel like I do too. I go to a similar place. So I guess it just comes out in both ways, through the voice or the pen… I never have any conscious decisions with music or art, it’s a very subconscious thing for me with no plan.”

You can listen to ‘My Lagan Love’ in the Bandcamp embed below. Brigid Mae Power plays Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Co Cork, this Saturday, September 17 – Facebook event page.

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Well this is just the nicest song and a great surprise. It’s so good to hear former Fred frontman Joe O’Leary singing again – it takes me back, man! He’s leant his vocal tones to ‘I’m Not Waiting’, which he also wrote, the new track from Cork-based Freezer Room. A core pairing of Graham White and Rory Dempsey, they’ve got plenty of talent working on this drop-dead gorgeous pop song as well as an album that’s already in the can (I’ve put the credits for the song below it – it’s impressive). From Freezer Room’s Facebook page: “At the start of 2015 Graham and Rory started their most ambitious project yet with Freezer Room. The forthcoming album has been recorded in Cork, London and in Austria in the home studio of wonder drummer Christian Eigner (Depeche Mode). The new material includes guest vocal appearances from a host of incredible singers such as Tracey K, Jack O’Rourke and Clara Hill as well as the welcome return of former Shades singer Ray Scannell. Joe O’ Leary (formerly of Irish favourites Fred) features on two songs including lead single ‘I’m Not Waiting’.” I’m all in on this.

‘I’m Not Waiting’ credits:
Song written by Joe O’Leary –
Backing vocals: Jack O’Rourke, Eoin Walsh & Laura O’Callaghan
Bass: Rory Dempsey
Drums: Christian Eigner
Piano: Jonathan Pearson
Guitar: Tom Cahalane
Trombone: Paul Dunlea
Synth/Keys: Graham White
Violin: Karen O’Doherty
Mixed by Colm K & Graham White, Produced by Graham White and Rory Dempsey, Recorded by Graham White, Rory Dempsey and Niko Stoessl in Cork, London and Austria. Mastered by Andy Vanndette at Engine Room Audio, NYC

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Bobby Aherne returns in his No Monster Club guise with typically idiosyncratic news: A new song called ‘Hippocampus Circus Maximus’ off a new EP – and their first 7″ – called Where Did You Get That Milkshake? It’s pretty much as you’d expect from No Monster Club: a brilliantly catchy, jangly pop song. “No I can never understand why you die,” choruses a perplexed Aherne over a repeating falsetto of “why you die”. It’s ridiculous in the best way possible, the No Monster Club Way. You can buy the 7″ EP here – it’s shipping September 19.


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The only problem with ‘Cannibal Girl’, the first taster from prolific Cork via Wirral throwback Laurie Shaw’s new album Not A Dry Eye In The House. is that it’s only two-and-a-half minutes. You’re only just getting into it, going too high for the “ahhhhh yoooouuu” and shouting “the world is gonna eat me” too loud before it’s all over and you repeat it and repeat it. The good news is that we only have to wait a couple more weeks for the album – it’s out September 26 and you can preorder it now for €6 from Laurie Shaw’s Bandcamp page. Expect Albert to be playing it loud and often in Plugd for the next few weeks until Shaw releases another album (he’s that prolific). Laurie Shaw launches the album on September 27 at Cyprus Avenue, tickets €7 – Facebook event page – where you can pick up a physical copy of Not A Dry Eye In The House and a fanzine (see pic below).

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“Anyone can do what you do,” sings Steve Ryan on ‘You’re Dead’, the second song we’ve heard from Windings‘ fourth album, Be Honest and Fear Not, released September 30 via Out on a Limb. We heard two new tracks from them earlier in the year – and ‘Stray Dogs’ sticks around and features on the Limerick band’s imminent new album, recorded at Attica Studios in Donegal with Tommy McLaughlin (erstwhile Villager, now a touring member of Soak’s band, last time I checked). ‘You’re Dead’ finds Ryan dreaming of graveyards, where all the tombs are open again. It all plays out over mulling guitars that gradually escalate in the best Windings way. The video below was made by Stephen Boland.

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It’s a credit to Aaron Page and Harry Bookless aka Carriages that new song ‘Moving Parts’ is an alt-pop belter rather than coming across as gimmicky. Their press release explains how the 4.25-minute track came about: “‘Moving Parts’ began life as a recording of Harry’s nephew Alex, who was three years old at the time, singing as he played with some percussion instruments. A short loop was cut from the recording and a chord sequence was written around it and this became the basis for the song. Aaron wrote the lyrics and melody around Alex’s singing and the main hook of the song became a duet between the two. The beats for the song were recorded in Delgany, Co Wicklow, using drainage pipes, gravel, puddles and branches continuing on with the band’s preferred use of found sound and self-made sounds to provide beats for their songs.” ‘Moving Parts’ is an easygoing, cute song that takes you on a journey “between the ocean and the river of broken hearts”. It’ll be difficult for you to go back or get out of things – you’ll want to listen again and again. I hope Carriages are forming plans for a debut album – I’d hitch a ride on that (groan).