Cork band Shookrah have been around for a couple of years now, releasing a fine debut EP in 2014. They also possess, in Senita Appiakorang, one of the finest vocalists in the country (check out her other group Lakerama). The six piece are gearing up to release the Cliches EP shortly and ‘Gerascophobia’ – an abnormal or persistence fear of growing old or ageing – is our first taster. It sounds huge, a smorgasbord of funk that, according to the PR, “rails against society’s never-ending quest for eternal youth”. Dubbed alternative soul, there’s absolutely loads going on, Senita’s declaration that “did you know it’s a blessing to age” sticking with you along with some ridiculous guitar solos. ‘Gerascophobia’ is officially released March 3.
Powered by McMuffins, Dublin duo Bad Sea return with second single ‘Tell Me (What I Mean)’. I loved their debut single, released last September – while that reminded me of indie-pop duo Tennis, the 3.31-minute ‘Tell Me (What I Mean)’ is powered by Angel Olsen. It’s a confident slice of pop music that contrasts with Ciara Thompson’s soaring vocals but despondent lyrics. The birthday girl – she turned 21 today – sings: “It’s not the breaking up that’s hard, we’ve got that bit down to an art. I would like to stay away, I would but I’m just not that brave.” Ciara met bandmate Alan Farrell through Tinder, becoming acquainted through a mutual appreciation of Angel Olsen and Carly Rae Jepsen. They remained just friends, says the press release, and decided that love’s loss should become music’s gain. You’ll want to swipe right on Bad Sea and ‘Tell Me (What I Mean)’.
Dublin’s Anthony Donnelly aka Floor Staff released a fine debut EP three years ago and got the Bob Gallagher video treatment. But it’s been pretty quiet for a while – that’s all going to change now though. ‘Saviour’ continues in a similar chilled out, synthy way to his previous tracks – and is also pretty irresistible, adding some violin (courtesy of Katie Lynn) and slick percussion. “My saviour has a plan,” Donnelly soars, making his own plans. New EP Convictions is out next month. Donnelly told Wonderland, which debuted ‘Saviour’: ““I wanted a particular type of groove for this EP. The drums needed to be just off the grid in the style of Questlove? and his playing with D’Angelo, who is a big musical influence. Investigating new ideas and influences like this developed the production style and helped to free me up in a lot of ways.”
Milky Teeth sees Robbie Barron, guitarist in the Cork-based bands Shaker Hymn and John Blek and the Rats, take centre stage for the first time. ‘Sleepiness and Weary Wit’, his debut single, sees him channel the Beatles for an upbeat soundtrack to the end of a relationship. The chorus: “I don’t get it at all, here it comes and it’s gonna hit you, I don’t feel very well. Never knowing when it’s gonna end.” The track features Fionn Hennessy Hayes (drums), Dylan Howe (trumpet) and Paul Dunlea (trombone), and is a catchy start to life for Milky Teeth. You can download ‘Sleepiness and Weary Wit’ on Bandcamp.
Myles Manley, that most idiosyncratic of musicians, from Sligo, is back with ‘Relax; Enjoy Your Night Upon The Town’. With a rarely spotted semi-colon in the title, the song proceeds at an increasingly paranoid pace. “They’re coming after me and then they’re coming after you,” he warns. The ‘relax’ of the song title sounds almost like a warning than a comfort. Manley told the Fader, which premiered the video (directed and edited by Seamus Hanly): “It’s a song that remembers feeling like an outsider in a small town. The town that you’re now running around, with your only doomed friend, on a Tuesday night in July. You’ve loved the insular world you share in opposition to a bunch of troglodytes, but now you get to mix with them and a new fascination is getting the better of you. Maybe it’s you that’s the scum and you could solve it all this evening if you could only relax. Is it the love of a new world or the end of the old?” The song is released on 7″, via Dublin’s Little L Records, on February 17. You can preorder it on Myles Manley’s Bandcamp page. He plays Quarter Block Party in Cork this weekend.
A four piece – Anthony Breslin (drums), Cian Finlay (guitar/electonics), Cathal Mckenna (bass) and Alan Dooley (guitar) – from Dublin, Yonen‘s debut single ‘Tokyo’ sounds like Adebisi Shank at 4am in a jazz club. Just shy of seven minutes, it’s all instrumental and feels like it’s got ideas to spare. It goes through a couple of cycles and breakdowns before going for broke for the last couple minutes. Yonen have an English tour lined up at the start of February – it seems like they’ve gotten off to a flyer in 2017. Of ‘Tokyo’, guitarist Cian told the Minor Fall the Major Lift: “Our songs take place in hyperbolic and fantastical settings. Though Tokyo is a non fictional city, the song is merely capturing the inscape of the word ‘Tokyo’ as an abstract – ie what images your mind conjures when you hear the word ‘Tokyo’.” You can buy ‘Tokyo’ on Yonen’s Bandcamp page.
Dublin artist Feather Beds aka Michael Orange is planning to release his second album, Blooming, in the summer and has just unveiled the new single to be taken from it. ‘Headache Dreams’ is a real headphones song – there are vocals in there but they’re so dreamy, so airy, that they’re just floating away in the middle distance, “slipped away discreetly”. He cites Caribou, Steve Reich and Cornelius as influences – add in Animal Collective vibes and you have a good idea of where you stand and how you’ll sway. Co-produced with Stephen Shannon, it sounds impeccable. The first single off the seven-track Blooming, ‘Play Dead‘, was released a few months ago – it seems like the album is going to be an eclectic affair, and one you won’t want to miss out on.
No Monster Club aka Babby Aherne are taking the Ash route to single releases this year. On the first of every month in 2017 the prolific Dubliner is going to release a new AA-side single as part of the Encyclopedia Project. They’re all going to be free/pay what you want. “As I’ll be utilising an alphabetical, encyclopedia-based naming scheme, issue #1 is entitled ‘Aardvark – Blessing’. The first two tracks set a high bar for what to expect from No Monster Club. ‘French Revolution’ is a playful seven minutes that showcases Aherne’s writing chops, turning wistful amid long interludes. “What are you waiting for, do you have a severed head? I thought that laugh would never end, now I’m way too old to play pretend,” he says, laying down the imaginative sword of his youth and plans to take Versailles. ‘Life is Flashing Before Your Eyes’ is a cover of the Vince Collins song from 1984 that is in keeping with the theme of ‘French Revolution’: “Well just to philosophise between two eternities I realise my life is flashing before my eyes, it’s just a dream and my advice is don’t neglect to have a nice life flash before your eyes.” Go get the tracks over at No Monster Club’s Bandcamp page – and remember to head back on February 1 for more new music.
In no particular order, here are some of the acts I’m looking forward to hearing a lot more from in the next 12 months. Some are already established artists while some are just starting out and haven’t even released a single yet. So hopefully you’ll find something new with which to fall in love. I think 2016 was a very strong one for an increasingly varied Irish scene, so let’s hope for more of the same this year. I was on The Irish Jam (Facebook | Twitter), along with Chris Jones, talking to Kealan and Niall about some of our tips for the year. You can listen to that show here, and remember to tune in 2pm-4pm for new music Friday every week.
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Louise Bruton, in the Irish Times, wrote of Bantum‘s second album Move: “With familiar names such as Rusangano Family, Loah and newcomer Farah Elle featuring, it’s an exact guide of who we should be listening to right now.” At Bello Bar last Friday night, which me and two fellow Cork people stumbled across after consulting street names, Google Maps, nearby pubs and general running around, Ruairi Lynch aka Bantum presented the case all over again. He had his keys set up to the left of the stage in a room which feels more like a hotel lobby from the 1970s than the place to showcase some of the hottest new music, with collaborator Le Tissier on visuals. And then there was a rotation of guests who took centre stage, from Farah Elle, stellar on support duties (if you read a ones to watch 2017 list and she’s not featured, then stop reading immediately), to Sally Garnett (Loah) and CC Brez and Louize Carroll. Each time they provided a breathe of fresh air to proceedings, though the latter pairing didn’t seem 100 per cent sure of what exactly they should be doing. It was a fun show that, probably because of the venue, was lacking a little energy, but one feels that during festival season 2017, if Bantum and all his friends are on the lineup, then they should be easily among the highlights if they all get together. Pictures by Brid O’Donovan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram)