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)
It was a solid lineup of new music at Dublin’s Academy last night as Rocstrong headlined a ‘five band bash’. Harbouring Oceans got things started before AE Mak, Barq and Zaska (featuring Jess from Barq, who is, instantly, one of the most arresting live performers in Irish music) showed why they’re likely to be on a lot of acts to watch in 2017 lists. You can check out photos of the latter four groups below, courtesy of Brid O’Donovan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram)
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Well that was pretty good, wasn’t it!? Altered Hours launched their debut album In Heat Not Sorry at the Kino in January, promoted by Southern Hospitality Board, and returned to the venue at the end of the year, Saturday, December 10, as part of the promoters’ Sudden Club Weekender. Supported by the Bonk, a self-described wanderly wagon consisting of some faces familiar to O Emperor fans, the Altered Hours took a little while to get going, starting with slow newbie ‘Colour Scheme’. Album opener ‘Who’s Saving Who’ is the third track here and hints at the power and energy soon to come, enlivened further by ‘Grey On Blue’, one of my tracks of the year. It sounds massive. Amid another new song, ‘Worry’, Altered Hours completely change gear and for the last 20 or so minutes prove why they’re such a stellar live rock band. They play the Grand Social in Dublin on Thursday, December 15 – just go, don’t question it. Pictures below by Brid O’Donovan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram)
Rusangano Family ripped it up at the Kino on Friday night, opening Southern Hospitality Board‘s Sudden Club Weekender. Anybody in doubt that they’re the most exciting live band in the country is surely convinced now. The three piece, comprising the non-stop energy of rappers God Knows and Murli and beatmaster mynameisj0hn, were supported by Bantum, who recently released his second album Move, is the latest guest on my podcast, and plays Dublin’s Bello Bar on Friday night. Pictures below by Brid O’Donovan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram)
Dublin four-piece Let’s Set Sail – Warren McCarthy, Ian Dunphy, Robert Molumby and Marian Hughes – have just unveiled ‘Canaries’, the first track taken from an EP they plan on releasing in 2017. They’ve been around a little while, releasing a couple tracks in summer 2015, and return with a madcap video that will leave you both scratching your head and laughing your ass off. Directed by the band and David DeBarra and Naomi Keenan O’Shea, it’s a “bizarre tale of one man’s dream to capture his artistic vision on camera”. The song itself is quite plaintive and soul-searching, with dreams about being an old man, “the intensive struggles with myself… but I enjoy what I can”. Just shy of five minutes, ‘Canaries’ goes through a couple of cycles and is quietly ambitious. It was recorded by Stephen Dunne in Lamplight Studios, Dublin.
“The sky falls to the sea,” repeats Stevie Lennox on ‘Do You Ever Think About Existence, Adrian?’, the second track on Belfast band Junk Drawer‘s debut EP, For The Cult Fat Guy. “You’re going nowhere fast,” he proclaims on ‘Black Cat’. So it’s safe to say that Junk Drawer aren’t the most optimistic of bands. But For The Cult Fat Guy is one of the best EPs to come out of the island of Ireland this year. A four piece completed by Stevie’s brother Jake Lennox, Brian Coney (the Thin Air, doncha know) and Rory Dee, “each member sharing vocal, instrumental and songwriting duties, driven by the near-telepathic sense of chemistry and harmony that comes only from a sibling rivalry at the helm”, Junk Drawer have been going just over a year. They’re not the most original of bands – influences they list on Facebook include Built To Spill, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, Weezer, and Grandaddy – but they just do the guitar-rock thing so well. It’s a little slacker, with a few ‘ripping guitar solos’ sprinkled throughout, it’s a bit shoegaze. You’ll be able to spot the influences a mile off, but it all just sounds so damn great! ‘Black Cat’, which sounds like the Horrors at their best (which is Suede at their best?), is probably the highlight of the four tracks, featuring a ‘solo into breakdown into solo into declaration of love’. Junk Drawer, endorsed by Bitch Falcon, recorded the EP live at Smalltown America Studios, Derry, by Caolan Austin and Chris Cassidy. They play the Belfast Empire on November 9 and support Galants at their debut EP launch in Whelan’s on December 3.
What with James Blake coming to Dublin this week, it seems apt that Proper Micro NV has unveiled a new single. Blake’s influence looms large over Limerick producer Rory Hall. ‘Flaws’ is the first single from the 21-year-old’s second EP It’s Always Raining, released on December 7. It follows EP1, which came out in June (I wrote about ‘Revive’ here). “Oh we got flaws, but we can make an exception,” he sings on ‘Flaws’ over a nonchalant background drone. “And if there’s hope in the world, then this will go on longer. And if not, well I’ll find something stronger.”