Anybody who’s seen Cork DJ Stevie G in recent weeks might be familiar with this infectious pop track. ‘Deep Down South’ is the first single that’s going to be released on Stevie’s new label, Soul Jamz Records. Co-produced by Ian ‘Young Wonder’ Ring and with ‘Not About That’ as the AA-side, the single is out in a couple weeks, with a vinyl release due in September. ‘Deep Down South’ features the smooth vocal talents of Christiana Underwood, an irresistible keyboard line and is the very definition of chilled. Altogether now: “Deep down south we love to party, we’re in the mood to have some fun.” Simple but effective. You can catch Stevie G at Indiependence on Saturday night and expect another couple of festival slots before the summer is over.
On the closest thing we get to a chorus on Girl Band‘s new single ‘De Bom Bom’, premiered on Thursday morning by Noisey Music (how apt), ‘singer’ Dara Kiely says that he “tried to get it up – can’t get it up!” It’s screamed over what sounds more like a chainsaw trying to ride a motorbike than three lads playing guitar, bass and drums. “Pathetic silence,” Dara declares, taking aim, it seems, at any band who are even considering something conventional like an interlude. “I swear to not De Bom Bom Bom,” he says earlier, giving no indication of what exactly the phrase means. It’s 3.39 minutes of noisey industrial music that will leave you wondering what the hell just happened – and might leave you singing “I can’t get it up” to yourself as you walk down the street later. ‘De Bom Bom’ is released on Any Other City Records on September 1. You can preorder it on their Bandcamp page. They’re playing a few dates in Ireland in September, which you can see after the jump. (They were supposed to be playing the Pavilion in Cork on October 18 but the venue closed down this week. It’s in the process of being rehoused though so fingers crossed.)
Irish-born, London-based sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow aka 2:54 return with the first track from their second album, due out later this year. ‘Orion’ continues in a similar vein to what we heard on their self-titled debut album, which came out in 2012 and you can listen to via Spotify. It’s got moody guitars, wall-of-sound drums an apathetic chorus: “I don’t feel like fighting for place, come my way, come my way.” 2:54 have signed to the wonderful Bella Union label for their second album, which doesn’t have a release date yet, so expect big things.
We got our first taster of Reid‘s forthcoming EP Fractures earlier this month, and now we have another track. Over a lilting piano line, the Cork producer provides a late-night tale on ‘Singapore’, with gentle bass hovering underneath the breakout percussion. Xlr8r premiered the track, comparing it to Gold Panda’s “knack for melody-striped electronics”. Reid releases the six-song Fractures EP on August 11 via M:UK – as well as Slow Skies, it also features contributions from Woman’s Hour and Sam Mason. You can download ‘Singapore’ below.
Dublin singer-songwriter Rhob Cunningham has produced an epic, an 11-minute story that, over more than 1000 words, takes in magic, madness, loss, death and life. ‘The Head Collector’ is a revelation, Cunningham channelling his inner Conor Oberst and roping in Conor ‘Villagers’ O’Brien to produce (and do pretty much everything else, he says) and Cathy Davey to play the part of the goddess of the lake. The background to the song is important as it saw Cunningham rise to a challenge: “When I played a new song for my friend Bryan Quinn, he inadvertently challenged me to make it better. It was nice, he confided. it set a scene, we decided. But I was left with a feeling – if it had a point, it wasn’t getting across. A walk with old friends soon followed up and down in Glendalough, whereupon I found a skeleton. Lifting it by the horns, I made its toothy jaw cackle, repulsing a few of my comrades in the process. There was a stillness to the lake, a reflection so placid that to wade in would be to fall skyward. When I got home, I knew what needed to be emphasised before I could play the song for Bryan again. When writing, lines become equations, the trick being to build a balance… ‘both sides of the equal sign’. The song became a monster. It took weeks to discover what made it tick. Halfway through, the clock got left behind.
“I visited Conor O’Brien out in Malahide, played him the song and even sang it into his microphone. What happened next was humbling. Conor is demoing and recording new songs and ideas, some might use the term ‘in the zone’. Essentially, I’d gotten a pre-tournament Pele to play in my 5-a-side. If you could have heard Cathy Davey, whirling her vocals through the stable we recorded in, I swear to you… it was frightening hearing how much power came out of her. We finished recording the night before I flew to Berlin. I’m singing songs here for the next while. Flying to fair Ireland in September for a wedding, a birthday and a walk in Glendalough.”
There’s nothing resembling a chorus over the 11 minutes of ‘The Head Collector’, the titular character introducing itself the closest we get. “I’ve been traipsing about 10 days now and for nine I haven’t seen a soul so I haven’t had to try to take control,” Cunningham says by way of easing us into our journey. He “stole away with a couple of things that I wanted to bury and a couple of answers I wanted to find. I didn’t care at the start of my journey how much I was leaving behind.” Really I could quote the whole song (I transcribed it because I was mesmerised – it took about 45 minutes) and still feel that I haven’t done it justice. It features a “brittle monster” who was “baying for my blood”, leading to our hero swimming away, eventually being given a task and a shell by the goddess of the lake. “I couldn’t forget who I promised to save,” he says, encountering “running horses stood like statues, mid-flight birds in a V-shaped pose, rooms of gold and untold riches”, but he doesn’t stop for any of these. He brings the story full circle when he tells of coming across dogs who don’t blink, cutting their chains because the “necks looked tortured”. He says he felt better and things sound like they’ll all work out. And then the twist…
As Rhob Cunningham says in the Bandcamp description of ‘The Head Collector’: “Do be careful. Here is the song.”
A five piece from Dublin, Slackers Symphony, despite the name, provide the perfect antidote to the mid-afternoon slump. Their two-track debut EP is a shot to the system, with the romp-a-stomp ‘Episode In Denial’ and its obnoxiously upbeat chorus impossible to resist. Ed Grannell’s echoey vocals steal a note or two from James Mercer of the Shins, which is a very welcome influence, and their pop ideals seem to have come just in time to soundtrack the summer. Completed by James Grannell, Nathan Maher, Donal Pywell and Brian Mannion, Slackers Symphony have been together about a year. Brothers Ed and James have been playing together a while, a spell which has included them brandishing acoustic guitars. They’re from Cork, but moved to Dublin where they met the other lads and decided they were all slackers. “Wake me up when I’m a go-getter,” Ed declares on ‘Episode In Denial’, a line which somehow acts as both a call to action and a plea to be left alone. On their Facebook page, they list Cork band the Great Balloon Race as an influence, and there are parts of the song which don’t sound too far removed from one of their new tracks. Ultimately what we’re left with is a stellar introduction to Slackers Symphony, who go even more direct on ‘Technology’. You can download their EP below for €2.
A few things to note about Guy Montag before we start: Their debut EP, which you can stream below, is probably the best title you’ll come across this year – We Lost Our Singer In Oman. Secondly, a three-piece from Clare who play instrumental rock music? Why, that sounds an awful lot like C!ties, who played their last gig in January. Yup. Guy Montag, from Ennis, feature Ian Malone, formerly of C!ties, on drums. Completed by Alan Rooney on guitar and Colin Clancy on bass, Guy Montag have been going about a year and have just released their debut EP, six tracks that don’t mess about unless it’s with their titles; for example, ‘Tetris Champion’ and ‘I Have A Cigar, I Know What I’m Talking About’. There’s a trail of funk running through proceedings, but don’t let that put you off. Things are generally intense, fast and loud, as you might expect with a band following in C!ties’ footsteps. I look forward to hearing where they go next – and seeing them live. Recorded and mixed by Roger Kelly of the Galway Music Academy, you can download We Lost Our Singer In Oman below, via Bandcamp, on a name-your-price basis.
Having released a split album with Squarehead last year – a disappointing affair, far from either band’s best work – Galway trio So Cow release their first full album since 2010′s Meaningless Family was released on Tic Tac Totally. The Long Con, produced by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, is out in September via the Memphis label Goner Records and ‘Barry Richardson’ is our first taster. Premiered by Pitchfork, it captures the existential crisis facing Brian Kelly as he looks back on his 20s and looks forward, with fear, at what’s to come in his 30s. Mixing extra noodling into Weezer’s pop nous, we’re told that “We kept our lid on opinions, maintained a fear of the cross” . Meanwhile, Kelly’s friends have since gone their separate paths: Jer’s a junior detective who’s up on assault, James is a driver for Tesco who never answers Kelly’s calls, Padraic got married by his wife won’t let him out, and Colm’s off with his trad band and “it’s rare I hear any word”. The isolation and fear of growing up is enough to drive anyone to drink – and that’s exactly what Kelly decides: “So I’d rather go drinking, like Barry Barry Barry Barry Barry Barry Richardson,” a local legend/drunk, depending on who you believe, who picks up seven pensions. What could possibly go wrong? “There’s nothing on my to-do list, there’s no particular plan,” says Kelly towards the end of an infectious 3.46 minutes. Intake of alcohol, narcotics, chicken and black-pepper sauce was all limited in his 20s, but look what he’s left with: no friends, no interest in the movies, and no room in the van. It’s enough to drive anyone to the stool beside Barry Richardson for the rest of the day. And the next day. The Long Con, out September 16, is the first time that So Cow have recorded in a studio and as a full band, with Kelly being joined by Jonny White on bass and Peter O’Shea on drums. Unsurprisingly ‘Barry Richardson’ is the best thing they’ve done so far.
The Sunday School Sessions is a recording process that has taken place since 2011 and features some of my favourite Irish acts, such as Hidden Highways (pictured above at the sessions), the Crayon Set and Ambience Affair. Now they want to get the music out there and have launched a Fund It campaign to help them out. They’re looking for €2000 to press and package the record and get them “started on a little tour of the country”. Rewards include tickets to a Sunday School Sessions show, a record of the album, prints and a personal thank you. You can contribute to the album and tour here.
Cork producer Reid has been quiet over the past year or so, but returned with new track ‘Fractures’ last week – and a moody new promo picture (above). Featuring Slow Skies singer Karen Sheridan on vocals, the song is jarring – it wants to own the dancefloor but instead moves around its fringes, getting elbowed out of the way by more obvious hits. Eoghan Reid told Clash: “I really wanted to make something intense when I started this EP. I wanted to make something that people could dance to, but also something that you could listen to while staring out the window on a train journey. I am very influenced by movie soundtracks and how they draw on people’s emotions using just sound.” Karen’s voice certainly lends itself to taking you somewhere while you stare out the train window, but its mournful tone and lyrics like “you’re broken now” are at odds with what Reid is doing underneath. It all creates a bit of a muddle rather than a rave. Reid releases the Fractures EP on August 11 via M:UK.