This week we got the return of Two Door Cinema Club and I am the Cosmos, a new track from Bitch Falcon (finally!) and a trio of albums from young Cork artists on one label. And that’s far from all. So if, like me, you find yourself crying salty tears onto your keyboard/phone rather than lying in a state next to the portaloos at Body & Soul, maybe you’ll find some new Irish music hear to take the sting off missing what will most likely be one of the best weekends/lineups of the year. *sob*. It is funny that, despite having attended myriad festivals down the years, at home and abroad, and the fact I’ve already seen a lot of the acts comprising the B&S2016 lineup, that I still get festival FOMO. It’s particularly acute this year because I’m working practically every weekend there’s a good three-day session (I mean music and arts event. Ahem). I’m off for Dublin City Block Party and the Beatyard at either end of July so I’m hoping that will sate my ears. Anyway, here’s this week’s roundup of new Irish music: Eight tracks, four albums. Enjoy.
After a couple weeks off (computer problems – damn you automatic Windows 10 update – and Primavera holiday) the weekly roundup of new Irish music is back. Below are nine new tracks from Irish artists released in the past week as well as the new album from Brigid Mae Power, which is reportedly one of the most beautiful albums you’ll hear this year. I can’t wait to wrap my ears around it. Tweet me @tpoeblog or email me if you’re hawking new tracks/albums and think I’ve missed something.
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Fiction Peaks – ‘In For A Penny’
There’s a nice ambiance flowing through the new single from Dublin five-piece Fiction Peaks that reminds me of Guillemots’ ‘Trains to Brazil’. Fiction Peaks launch the single upstairs in Whelan’s on Thursday, May 26. It’s taken from their debut album, which will be released in September.
Hope is Noise – ‘Bitter End’
Cork four-piece Hope is Noise are gearing up to release their fourth album, Demons, in the summer, and ‘Bitter End’ is our third taster of the LP, following ‘From There With Love‘ and ‘Bad Code‘. It’s a thumping track, and you can just imagine how big the chorus is going to sound live – check out the video for a taster of the energy they bring to the stage. Hope is Noise play Cork Community Printshop on May 27, with support from Wasted Space.
Róisín Murphy – ‘Ten Miles High’
Ahead of the release of fourth album Take Her Up To Monto, out July 8 via PIAS, it seems like Roisin Murphy has really gotten into DIY – she’s directing, styling and starring in the video for ‘Ten Miles High’. It sounds like a deconstructed attempt at a Kylie Minogue pop banger. Which is still a banger, just one that takes you a while to figure out. She also rocks the building site foreman’s look; can you imagine turning up at 8am and seeing Murphy waiting for you? I imagine it would be fun, but would you get any work done with all the dancing that’d be going on? “Never again will I ever be grounded on Earth or be bound by the hurt in you,” she sings. Murphy’s new material is going to have her flying high. She plays Longitude in July.
Planet Parade – ‘Face To Face’
There’s absolutely loads going on in ‘Face To Face’, the opening track of Dublin duo Planet Parade‘s debut album, Mercury, due for release at the end of September. The intro sounds like ‘The Boy Is Mine’, by Brandy and Monica, there’s brass ready to burst out from under the wobbly bass, and a smooth and sexy chorus. There’s about a million other things that you could spend the whole summer trying to hear when you should probably just be dancing down the street on a blazingly hot day with ‘Face To Face’ on repeat in your ears. And when you hear the “woo” you know it’s time to move your feet. It’s uber catchy and does everything that you could want from a summer anthem. I’m instantly excited for Mercury.
Niamh Crowther – ‘Niamh Crowther EP’
The press release accompanying the new EP from 18-year-old Niamh Crowther tells us she has supported the likes of PictureHouse, Blink, and Mundy. Which should be enough to decide whether this self-titled EP is for you or not. She has a great voice, but we’ve heard this type of thing so often before. Not for me – but probably for a lot of other people.
Clare Sands – ‘Satisfy Me’
As above. You’ll know within 30 seconds of starting ‘Satisfy Me’ whether it’s for you. You can see what Cork nger-songwriter Clare Sands is trying to do – meshing blues, acoustic and RnB together. It kinda sounds like KT Tuntstall doing Imelda May. If that sounds like your thing then please, go right ahead.
Oh Boland – ‘Where’s The Beach?’
This is so lofi that you might think there’s something wrong with your speakers when you press play. But there is a bit of a choon lying underneath it all, punctuated by do-do-do-do-dos and sludgy guitar solos. Oh Boland, from Tuam, sound like they’re having the time of their lives. They’ve released a split EP with Delphi and Popical Island in the past. With ‘Where’s The Beach’, they sound like they fit right in with the Popical Island crowd.
The Blizzards – ‘Drop Down The Anchor’
From the most lofi guitar sound you can imagine to the most radio-friendly, butter-wouldn’t-melt-on-these-licks riffs: It’s the return of the Blizzards. Or as you might know them, Bressie and pals. Fact: I thought they were one of the best bands around back in 2006. Yup, ten years ago, when ‘Superdrug’ was the anthem du college jour. Needless to say it hasn’t aged well. I still have a soft spot for the Blizzards though. But ‘Drop Down The Anchor’ isn’t exactly the most swashbuckling return. “I could sleep tonight in the middle of the mosh pit,” anthems Bressie. Today FM will lap it up.
Zombie Picnic – A Suburb of Earth
I’m quite taken with this debut album, four tracks clocking in at a total 38 or so minutes, from Limerick four-piece Zombie Picnic. It’s not quite as polished, refined and euphoric as Overhead, The Ablatross’s debut, which we experienced/devoured last week; this is a little dirtier, more raw, but it still takes you on a journey. “A set of four sprawling and expansive instrumental compositions are set against a backdrop of soundscapes that take you from the beat poets of 1950’s America to the sci-fi futurescapes of Arthur C. Clarke.”
Chris Isaak – ‘Wicked Game’ (Elaine Mai remix)
An EDM remix of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’? OK, Elaine Mai… She says: “This track came out in 1990, when I was even smaller than I am now (believe it or not) and I’ve been listening to and loving this track since then. Chris’ vocals are unbelievable, so beautiful and soaring. As I got older, I thought about how much I’d love to remix this track, but at the time, I didn’t have the skill to. Now, after years of watching tutorials, sticking with it and with a little help from my friends, I’ve managed to make that remix of this track that I’ve adored for so long. I’m really proud of this one, so do please do give it a spin.”
Tuath – ‘Existence is Futile’
Donegal four-piece Tuath are gearing up for the release of their second EP on June 15, and ‘Existence is Futile’ is the first taster of it. It’s moody and atmospheric – an ambiance reflected in the video. It’s one of those songs that can take you away – it might not be to somewhere pleasant though…
Here are another couple of things that might be of interest. First up is TXFM DJ Cathal Funge‘s documentary “on the golden era of late night radio in Ireland from the 1970s to the 1990s”. Then it’s the Soul Power documentary that Cork DJ Stevie Grainger made for last year’s Indie Cork film festival. He writes: “This is a documentary which aims to celebrate soul music and turn on new listeners to these amazing sounds. Each clip is only the tip of the iceberg really, so I encourage you to delve deeper into the music of all of these artists and many more. It’s a historical document too and in particular, it shines a light on the revolutionary music that accompanied the civil rights and women’s liberation movements of the 60’s. It traces soul music from it’s jazz, blues and gospel roots right up to disco and it’s present day. I’ve previously done radio documentaries on Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, James brown, A Tribe Called Quest, and many more, so as you can imagine, with a subject as broad as soul music, i’ve kept it pretty simple and only touched on many artists and themes very slightly. You could do a full doc on northern soul alone, or Stax, or disco or whatever else. But this is almost like an introduction or an overview of soul music.”
An incomplete roundup of the new Irish music released this week. What did I miss? What should I listen to? Tweet or email me your abuse and/or recommendations. This week we have eight new songs, including the first Euro 2016 anthem I’ve come across, two EPs, and two albums.
Feather Beds – ‘Play Dead’
Following the release of his debut album, The Skeletal System, last year, Dublin artist Michael Orange aka Feather Beds is already planning its follow-up, due for release next year. It’s currently untitled – fair enough, we’re only in May 2016 – but ‘Play Dead’ is the lead single from it. And it’s sumptuous, like Sufjan Stevens falling around the countryside on a summer’s evening.
Heroes In Hiding – ‘No, You’re a Rabbit’
Dublin four-piece Heroes in Hiding give anthemic pop a go on their new single, ‘No, You’re A Rabbit’, taken from their third EP, due for release in the autumn. “Everything is moving and I’m feeling left behind,” singe Joe Carroll over a repeating (and repeating and repeating) guitar riff. It goes on a bit – five minutes – but it does its job, burrowing into your skull and bringing you down the rabbit hole.
The Pale – ‘Such Dumb Luck’
Dublin six-piece the Pale have been going since 1990. I first listened to them when I pressed play on the earnest ‘Such Dumb Luck’ on Thursday, May 12, 2016. I now hope it’s another 26 years before I listen to them again.
Ailbhe Reddy – ‘Distrust’
Things are falling down in Ailbhe Reddy‘s life – no really, look at the video for ‘Distrust’: The place is falling down as she stares at the camera and tells us, “I’m not a mistake.” The first minute of the song is played over a twee, cliched guitar lick, one you’ve heard at every singer-songwriter night; if you’ve ever been to a gig in a wine bar then you’ll also be annoyingly familiar with. “I miss you, but I’m not in love,” Reddy confesses as the track then turns into a good impression of an Adele track – pity it’s one of the staid Adele tracks everyone skips in search of ‘Rumour Has It’. Ailbhe Reddy plays Odessa in Dublin on May 28, Ruby Sessions on June 7, and is at Body & Soul a couple weeks later.
Flecks – Girl EP
Nialler9 told us all about Flecks‘ debut EP Girl on Monday: A five piece, their members have played with such luminaries as Gavin Glass, The Young Folk, Jape, Zaska, Loah, Cocophone and James Vincent McMorrow. So that should explain why the four songs that comprise this EP sound so fully realised. It’s just a pity they decide to wallow “at the back of the youth hall”. It’s so melodramatic, with diminishing returns once you get past the title track and opener. “When I look back into my past I do not recognise myself. I want to change but I’m afraid, afraid to lose what once was mine,” Freya Monks Scott mourns on ‘Distance=Distance’. I just want someone to grab her by the hand and take her out to the dancefloor so she can have some fun. ‘Objects of Desire’ and ‘Fear’ are soppy, slow and saccharine, like the xx if they dwelt on depressing books.
Eomac – ‘Amgel in the Marble’
One half of the enraptured Lakker, Ian McDonnell aka Eomac has honed his craft over the years. This new one, ‘Angel in the Marble’ features on a new compilation from Berlin label Killekill. Xlr8r reported: “The release also marks the end of an era at the label, as they are now set to split into multiple sub-labels, to allow for focus on more specific sub-genres (though the Killekill brand will continue as an organization, and throwing parties).” At six minutes, Eomac doesn’t waste a second, creating a claustrophobic and scratching (that sounds like heavy rain) sound that the percussion pounds against. It sounds like someone running through the back streets of a city, trying to evade an enemy. In other words it’s stunning. You can download it from We Transfer. Stream the Killekill comp below.
Evvol – ‘Physical LUV’
It sounds like Flecks should take a leaf out of Evvol‘s book, making their feelings known while they’re moving their feet. “I heard you say something, it sounded like nothing.” I’m sorry, I can’t hear you, I’m having too good a time in this club. “When I said I loved you from the start, it was only your body that had my heart.” That one would hurt if I wasn’t having the time of my life tonight. From the press release: Formed in 2014 from the ashes of previous musical projects and having rekindled their fractured relationship, Evvol – AKA Irish singer Julie Chance and Australian multi-instrumentalist Jane Arnison – embarked on a new and revitalised direction. They released their debut album Eternalism last year, but ‘Physical LUV’ instantly sounds like the best thing they’ve done. It’s the central track on their new EP of the same name, out today.
Marlene Enright – ‘Underbelly’
With the Hard Ground going light on matters this year, co-vocalist Marlene Enright has embarked on a solo path, releasing the first taster of a solo LP, ‘When The Water Is Hot‘, a couple months ago. Though ‘Underbelly’ again veers towards the MOR side (sic, ahem) of things, there’s something beguiling there that will leave you coming back for me. It shuffles along and then it’s gone after two and a half minutes, leaving you pining for a little more of its jazzhouse pop.
Jack O’Rourke – ‘Dreamcatcher’
Cork singer-songwriter Jack O’Rourke has enjoyed quite a bit of (mainstream) attention since he released his debut EP, The Other Side Of Now, last year. New single ‘Dreamcatcher’, the title track of his forthcoming debut album, is pretty soppy but you can see it producing some tears in the front row. The accompanying press release makes some big claims: “Jack returns to the Bowiesque rock of debut single, ‘Naivety’ for a song that successfully mixes elements of Detroit Motown era soul with his unmistakable vocal. ‘Dreamcatcher’ is a hopeful love letter to misspent youth – to dreaming big regardless of old ghosts. A soul searching track filled with R&B grooves and melodic hooks, Jack’s baritone is reminiscent of vintage Al Green, purring and growling seductively to producer Christian Best’s unmistakable funky drum pattern. Jack sings of “rattle snakes eyes” and “soulless grey filling stations” over Hugh Dillon’s ambient guitars and driving beats, but this brooding darkness illuminates into the magnificent chorus, where he hopefully advises, “to make my dreams your own, little one.” ‘Dreamcatcher’ leaves us with another side to Jack O Rourke’s growing artistry as a singer with something unique to say.” No pressure, Jack…
Andy Wilson and the Longshots – ‘Summer of 16’
This is the first song for the Boys in Green that I’ve come across. It’s by Cork singer-songwriters Andy Wilson and features references to Joxer, Jack Grealish, and Stephen Ireland’s granny “rising from the dead in Cobh”. What’s not to like?
***New albums out this week***
Overhead, The Albatross – Learning To Growl
A going concern since 2009, to say Overhead, The Albatross‘s debut album is long-awaited is an understatement. People have been champing at the bit for it, salivating at the prospect, willing to do whatever it takes to hear it. And now, seven years after the formed, the Dublin six piece have unveiled Learning To Growl. And it’s worth the wait. Nine tracks long, three surpass eight minutes, and two more are over seven minutes. What with And So I Watch You From Afar a shadow of their fierce first entity, OTA are more than capable of taking up the mantle of best instrumental rock band in the country. ‘HBG’ might be the most exiting suite of music you’ll hear all year – it’s certainly been the standout on my first few cursory listens. OTA also indulge in some Sigur Ros type sounds, evidenced on the luscious ‘Paroxysm’ and album opener ‘Indie Rose’. Overhead, The Albatross don’t need any words to convey the message. But you’ll be struggling for superlatives to describe Learning To Growl.
Land Lovers – The Rooks Have Returned
I really love this album. The first two tracks we’ve already heard, and they’re a good indicator of the rest of Land Lovers‘ second album proper, The Rooks Have Returned, out on Popical Island. Though the tongue-twisting ‘Springtime for the Mystics’ goes heavy on the Future Islands feel, with a hint of ‘Born to Run’ thrown in for good measure, the Dublin four piece mostly come across like a more verbose and in-a-rush Wedding Present. The cries of “I wish it was yesterday” near the end of ‘Crowd of Lungs’ are indie pop perfection, while the following track, ‘I’d Do Anything’ tells the story of down-on-his-luck Justin Connolly, who is “making payments twice a week, once more among the meek”. Padraig Cooney’s lyrics are the undoubted star of the show; on ‘Life of Crime’, he muses: “What are we good at, we’re good at everything, medicine, war and astronomy.” (I couldn’t quite make out what we’re bad at, but maybe that’s a psychological thing on my part – maybe I don’t want to know). Things jingle, jangle, skitter and pop over the 37 or so minutes of The Rooks Have Returned. There’s plenty to digest and you’ll find something new, and discover another part to love, on repeated listens. It’s my favourite album to come out of Ireland so far this year.
Land Lovers tour dates:
May 13 – Connolly’s of Leap, Cork
May 14 – Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, Cork
May 20 – Central Arts, Waterford
May 21 – Workman’s Club, Dublin
August 17 – Roisin Dubh, Galway
An incomplete roundup of the new Irish music released this week. What did I miss? What should I listen to? Tweet or email me your abuse and/or recommendations.
My Lovely EP – Feat. Duke Special, Neil Hannon, We Cut Corners and more
Things you don’t realise you need in your life until they ride in on the back of a horse: No Monster Club covering ‘Remember You’re A Womble’. It’s as much fun as rolling about on Wimbledon Common. It’s one of the highlights among the seven tracks that comprise the My Lovely EP. All the songs were recorded at Temple Lane Recording Studios by final-year students at the Sound Training College. “The musicians were motivated to contribute by a desire to help the many horses which are abandoned, neglected and abused in Ireland each year. My Lovely Horse Rescue is a non-for-profit organisation that rescues, rehabilitates and re-homes Ireland’s horses, ponies, donkeys and other equines. The money raised by the EP and launch night [last Wednesday night, May 4] at the Button Factory will be used to support the wonderful work done by the charity.” The main draw is Neil Hannon’s collaboration with Duke Special to record an unreleased Divine Comedy song, ‘It’s Never Too Late’. “It is a characteristically witty and well-observed tale of sexual discovery in later life, which is particularly apt in post-marriage equality referendum Ireland,” says the press release. It’s irresistible. There’s a pitch-perfect cover of Patti Smith’s ‘Horses’ by up-and-comers Sissy, while Paddy Hanna is nearly unrecognisable in covering ‘Flowers Grave’ by Tom Waits, with the help of Ena and Dave from Tandem Felix. We Cut Corners, have contributed an original song, ‘And The Horse You Rode In On’, which trots along rather than races at their usual bombastic pace. Dublin singer-songwriter Gar Cox ends proceedings with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’. It’s an eclectic compilation, completed by the Late David Turpin – certainly the most atmospheric of the seven tracks – and all for a worthy cause. What’s not to like! Now, Great Uncle Bulgaria is calling so better go… Details on how to buy the My Lovely EP are here.
Roisin O – ‘Give It Up’
‘Give It Up’ was written by Róisín O, bandmate John Broe (Miracle Bell) and her brother Danny O’Reilly (The Coronas). It’s a simple pop song that you could imagine Kelly Clarkson maybe passing up, but still. It does feel a little dated: “You’ve got to give this talk up, all this shit you put on me” – not exactly the most original line you’ll hear this year/week/today. But plenty of fans will sing it passionately back at her. The video was directed by Broe and was filmed in one take in a warehouse. Roisin O plays Whelan’s on May 14.
Kobina – Sentinel Island
Dublin-based producer Sean Arthur aka Kobina told Nialler9, who premiered the EP, that each song here represents “a significant relationship in my life and touches upon the solitude or isolation that you can find in another person or people”. There aren’t many lyrics for us to parse, and most of them across the five tracks are so effected and cut up that you could hurt your ears straining to hear what’s being said. “Your words tie my thoughts far too tight, they have bound me,” Blooms aka Louise Cunnane sings clearly on fourth track ‘Golden’, helping to break up the sound of the EP. Arthur says they were all recorded at night, and perhaps unsurprisingly, that’s the best time to listen to them as well. I was initially unimpressed with the EP while listening at midday on Thursday, but come midnight and on until 1am, the tracks just make more sense. Opener ‘Big Heart’ ticks along nicely, juxtaposing the closer’s smooth sounds that are increasingly punctuated by a snappy snare. Mmoths released his debut album Luneworks at the start of March, and also said that most of the recording was done at night. I wonder how much of an effect the time of day actually has on these producers’ work. Sentinel Island, the artwork for which is at the top of this post, most definitely works better soundtracking the bleary late-night hours than it does over brunch. The EP is the first release on Fido Sounds.
MKAI – ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’
I couldn’t really get over the fact that the guy in MKAI‘s video for ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ – their drummer, Conor MacSweeny – is wearing an MKAI t-shirt. YOU NEVER WEAR YOUR OWN BAND’S T-SHIRT. If that’s not a #bandtip then it’s because it’s so obvious that it should go unsaid! Unless you’re in Metallica in the 80s then you just don’t wear your own merch. Four Cork brothers, Colm, Eoghan (great name), Conor and Cian MacSweeny, they’ve come up with a song that you can imagine hearing on Irish radio – however, you could also imagine switching off said radio after 30 seconds. It’s as throwaway as anything the Coronas have done. The video for ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ was directed, shot and edited by Brian Benjamin Dwyer of Madra Mór.
Exit: Pursued by a Bear – ‘Rabbit with Hat’
It’s been ages since we’ve heard from Cork four-piece Exit: Pursued by a Bear – 2011 perhaps? They raised €5,000 in a Fund It campaign in 2013 for their second album, and ‘Rabbit With Hat’ is our first taster of the new LP. The video, directed by the band’s guitarist Eoin O’Sullivan, also features a rabbit in a hat. It’s atmospheric, synthy, and stylised, with a less colourful Chromatics its touchpoint.
Otherkin – ‘Yeah, I Know’
I have a soft spot for Dublin four-piece Otherkin. I know I shouldn’t – there’s very little originality going on here – but when you grow up listening to indie landfill like the View, the Cribs (still class tbf), Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight and Hard-Fi, and you throw in the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, the Enemy, Pigeon Detectives and all the rest (too many to mention), it can be hard to just shake it all off. Otherkin make snotty 2007-era NME indie – and I kind of like it. They’re doing well out of it too, playing across the UK and crowdsurfing over beer-soaked punters. The song sounds exactly how you might imagine but also has that unmistakable confidence of youth exuding out it. ‘Yeah I Know,’ the track is called. Otherkin probably could have added ‘… And We Don’t Care’.
My Tribe Your Tribe – Loyalties
Kildare three piece My Tribe Your Tribe released ‘Ghost With You’ more than six months ago, in the latter half of 2015, but have only now gotten around to adding another couple of songs to it for their debut EP release. “I want to believe in bigger things,” hopes George Mercer at the outset. He doesn’t let up throughout ‘Ghost With You’, either, his vocals dominating while guitars and synth sink and swim underneath. It’s probably the least interesting track of the three comprising the Loyalties though. ‘Soaks Right Through’ isn’t trying as hard for your attention and is all the better for it, while, if the title doesn’t grab you, then pretty much everything else about ‘God Bless My Counsellor’ will. “Just four more turns for many (any?) answers, god bless my counsellor,” Mercer says, before continuing to build a picture of this counsellor who “reads the Sunday papers”. It’s an intriguing song and while I’m probably not ready to join this tribe quite yet, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing which direction they choose to go in next.
Tara Masterson Hally – ‘When There Is Comfort’
“There is comfort in everything,” sings Tara Masterson Hally over theis 3.30-minute emotional ringer. I’d like to believe it, but it sounds pained, like she’s trying to convince herself, with birds circling overhead. “Do you always feel so sorry, so sad yet so glad about it?” she says opening up the song and her heart. Hally has been sporadic with releases, with her last track ‘The Catcher‘ appearing in November after a couple years of not a lot. Hopefully this marks a new phase of lots more new music to come.
Katie O’Neill – Within
A really beguiling lo-fi album from Dublin artist Katie O’Neill. It’s not a million miles away from the sparse sounds of Brigid Mae Power, or indeed Tara Masterson Hally, as it channels the likes of Katie Kim. There’s little more than a strummed electric guitar running through its 30 minutes, with O’Neill crooning over proceedings. “These are songs I wrote during the summer of 2015 and the winter of 2016,” she says. “Most of these songs were recorded at home, in JaJa studios by myself and with the help of Darragh McCabe (Subphylum). I would like to thank Ulrich Rois for his kind offer to master the song ‘Within’ and everyone who encouraged me and supported me during the writing and recording of this album.”
Shit Robot – What Follows
Here’s the new album from Marcus Lambkin, his third full-length with DFA. He told Jim Carroll at the Irish Times: “I started out with nothing and gave myself a certain amount of time to hammer it out, and that’s the record. If it ended up a bit rough around the edges, that was fine. I didn’t mind if it was a little rough and ready because that’s what I wanted. I wanted it to feel like it all came from the one session. I was in a much different frame of mind.” The album features Alexis Taylor (‘In Love’), Museum of Love (‘What Follows’), Nancy Whang (‘Lose Control’), David ‘New Jackson’ Kitt (‘Phase Out’), and Jay Green (‘Is There No End’) so get stuck in.
Harbouring Oceans – ‘Enso’
Dan Pearson does his best Hozier impression on Kilkenny band Harbouring Oceans‘ debut single ‘Enso’, the video of which was made at Windmill Studios in Dublin. They’re a five piece, all lads, with additional triple-woman soul section. It’s pretty anodyne pop/soul stuff whose influences are too obviously worn on its sleeve – but they’ve only been together since December, so lets give them a chance to find themselves. Though maybe they don’t even need to – I can imagine Harbouring Oceans carving out a decent fanbase for themselves. It’s just not for me.
An incomplete roundup of the new Irish music released this week. What did I miss? What should I listen to? Tweet me your abuse and recommendations.
Land Lovers – ‘Springtime for the Mystics’
Clocking in at just under five minutes, ‘Springtime for the Mystics’ is the opening track of Dublin five-piece Land Lovers‘ new album, The Rooks Have Returned, released on Popical Island on May 13. I was late to the first taster of the album, ‘Angeline‘, but both tracks point to this being one of the albums of the year. ‘Springtime for the Mystics’ was premiered on Northern Transmissions, which gives us some insight into the heavy lyrics: “The lyrical milieu is an imagined future for one of the children in revolutionary Dublin between Volunteer positions at Easter 1916. Relocated to Liverpool, he succeeds in mainstream politics and attains some power but his background is a constant source of worry, and there is a scandal (personal? political?) waiting to break. Weaved into this are occult visions, false dawns, untrustworthy harbingers of spring and the paranoia of the self-made man.” A quick glance at the lyrics of the song – “Ten years ago I spoke at Llandudno, an entryist questioned my name and I grew indignant, making it clear where my loyalties lay” – suggest that this should really be filed in the trying-too-hard category. And yet it all sounds pretty effortless. It’s an indie-pop band with aspirations, who don’t want to be confined. I can’t wait to see what else they’ve come up with for The Rooks Have Returned.
Land Lovers tour dates:
May 13 – Connolly’s of Leap, Cork
May 14 – Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, Cork
May 20 – Central Arts, Waterford
May 21 – Workman’s Club, Dublin
August 17 – Roisin Dubh, Galway
John of Silence – ‘No Lie’
The guys from O Emperor are embarking on various sideprojects in between making albums. Philip Christie and Brendan Fennessy are dabbling in 60s psych-pop with the Bonk while Richie Walsh’s John of Silence is going all in on lush funk a la Jungle. ‘No Lie’ is the sound of the cool biker strutting to the bar of a saloon, its patrons, full of life beforehand, having fallen silent as they eye up this tattooed and dirty deity. You know how the rest of the scene goes: there’s a bar fight, the biker wins, never losing his cool, gets the girl and gets a bottle of tequila for his troubles. The visuals for ‘No Lie’ don’t quite pan out like this, featuring some NSFW things befalling a pineapple. This is the first single from John of Silence and oh boy does it whet the appetite – and kinda makes me want to buy some fruit too.
Skinny Downers – Kill Figures (EP)
It seems like Waterford band Skinny Downers have been around for a while, though, just like their sound, crafted “in a repourposed office block on the outskirts of Berlin”, according to the press release, they kind of exist on the outskirts of things. They’re the kind of band that makes you say, ‘Oh… yeah, I think I’ve heard of them before.” This EP, Kill Figures, is their first release as a duo – it’s Dean O’Sullivan, one part of the band Percolator and from Waterford, and Stella Sesto, from Sardinia – and they instantly sound more likely to stick in your mind. “Now we’ve got this alpha shit, I’ll have to lower my eyes,” O’Sullivan snarls on the angry ‘New Conservative’. It’s noisy, powerful and with shades of Suede and Altered Hours. There’s a groove there as well, but it’s one that’s played out in a pitch-black room. Closing track ‘Go Bigger’ has an irresistible bass groove and sounds like a distant cousin of Joy Division. It’s going to be much harder to let Skinny Downers slip from your memory now. They play Cork Community Printshop on July 2.
Shit Robot – ‘Lose Control’
There’s not really much to say about a new track from Shit Robot is there? You know Marcus Lambkin is going to bring the vibes, the perfect soundtrack to bring the night to its peak. ‘Lose Control’ is exactly that (says the person typing in his pyjamas at 11am on a Thursday, bleary eyed from tiredness rather than an immense night out). It features LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang and that most essential of call to arms/dancefloors: “Get up, get up, get up”. “I can’t fight this feeling,” Whang says. Few Shit Robot listeners can. New album What Follows, featuring New Jackson (David Kitt), Alexis Taylor and more friends, is out on DFA, his third release there, on May 6.
Brigid Mae Power – ‘It’s Clearing Now’
A slight name change from Brigid Power Ryce, ‘It’s Clearing Now’ from Galway singer Brigid Mae Power was premiered on Pitchfork on Tuesday. Laura Snapes, one of the best writers around, said: “Strings spill over from mirage-like shimmer into an overpowering heatwave, and rugged winds and cavernous depths emerge.” It’s the kind of song, minimal but expanding over more than seven minutes, that really takes you away. There’s an assurance there – confidence is a must if you’re making a near-eight-minute track. Best listened to as you ponder the big things in life while lying in the middle of a field starting at the clouds. As Snapes points out, there’s quite the hint of Angel Olsen about, which is no bad thing. ‘It’s Clearing Now’ is taken from Brigid Mae Power’s forthcoming self-titled album recorded with Peter Broderick in Oregon. We interviewed Brigid back on episode 3 of the TPOE podcast.
Spook of the Thirteenth Lock – The Bullet In The Head
“Let it rise,” Spook of the Thirteenth Lock pronounce about a minute into this new piece, ‘The Bullet In The Brick’. Press release: “Featuring the same electric guitar orchestra used in ‘Lockout’, the band’s multi-movement work set for release later in 2016, ‘The Bullet in the Brick’ explores various aspects of the Easter Rising such as the bombing of Dublin by the British gunship The Helga, the murder and attempted cover-up of activist Francis Sheehy Skeffington, and finally the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The piece consists of three parts: A Destroyer on the Liffey; The Bullet in the Brick; A Proclamation. It’s performed by The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock and Electric Guitar Orchestra: Albert Baker, Mark Balbirnie, Eamon Brady, Susan Callaghan, Mary Carton, Bill Coleman, Mark Jordan, Hugh McCabe, David McDonald, Colin J Morris, and Patrick Wall.” It was released on the calendar centenary of the Easter Rising. If you’ve seen Spook play the aforementioned ‘Lockout’, you’ll know what to expect. And even if you didn’t see that, ‘guitar orchestra’ should give away a lot of what this is about. There’s a romanticism here, but it’s mixed with anger, of course, and there’s something about the final piece, the self-explanatory A Proclamation, that will rouse something in every Irish citizen no matter how cursory your attention to the centenary celebrations were. The tracks below are, alas, just snippets of the full suite. You can hear it in full over at State and buy it here.
I Hava A Tribe – ‘Buddy Holly’
I go weak at the knees when I hear Patrick O’Laoghaire’s voice. Under the moniker I Have A Tribe, the Dubliner releases his debut album, Beneath A Yellow Moon, on May 27 via Groenland Records. The video for ‘Buddy Holly’, taken from the album, is wonderful: Directed by Myles O’Reilly, it features Donal Dineen, Mick Minogue and Steve O’Connor building a cardboard car for Patrick, who is watching grainy old footage of Dublin. I guess you could call ‘Buddy Holly’ a truthful love song. While he says that “any day you show up is a better day”, the chorus is mournfully honest: “You’re never off my mind, that’s not true, there is not always time to think of you, so I guess you cross my mind and when you do, I think it’s always kind, a kind of true.” Patrick told the Independent: “I think I wrote most of it in spring in 2008, and finished it then in 2015. I have this notion that sometimes, because humans have been writing songs and melodies for so many hundreds and thousands of years; when a song presents itself to you as an idea to write down – maybe you’re just making your own version of something that was already kind of done. And I don’t see it as a bad thing – more-so I take from this that the same sentiments and emotions have moved humans in the same manner always, and the attempt to write comes from the same source. With songs, then, maybe some musical templates become timeless, because a certain structure of chords or a certain movement of a melody will reveal itself again and again. When I played this song for a piano teacher of mine 7 or 8 years ago, I remember she started to sing Buddy Holly, It’s Raining In My Heart. So I went and I listened to that song, and it was a nice comfort to hear the same pattern at the start. So that’s where the name comes from. I left it alone for a few years then. and dug it back out when I thought I had something more to add to it. Lastly I brought it to my friend Paul, and he added a drumbeat to it that gave the song a sense of humour, and then it was done. For the video, I wrote to Myles O’Reilly. We had some tea in his kitchen one afternoon and I played him the song, and he marched around his kitchen shouting ideas at the walls. A few weeks later he brought us to a yoga studio and projected old footage of Dublin on the walls, and dreamed up a wooden box car for me to sit in. It was a joy to work with him, and Donal, Mick, and Steve.”
I am niamh – ‘Wait Until The Morning Comes’
This is one of those songs which, because it sounds so close to distinctive voices as Kate Bush and Fiona Apple that you want to resist it. But Niamh Parkinson aka i am niamh, early on in its 3.44-minute running time, manages to fit in the turn of phrase “What’s the rush? I’ll get some Factor 55 cause you burn like a black piece of toast”, and you realise actually this is too nice to resist. It’s a little (a lot) twee, but it’s got a lovely early morning (just as well, considering the name of the track), orchestral chorus that will get you chirping along with the birds outside. ‘Wait Until The Morning Comes’ is taken from i am niamh’s debut album, Wonderland.
RSAG – ‘Leave A Light On’
Jeremy Hickey is one of the most impressive musicians in the country, managing to put on the most idiosyncratic of live shows. The drummer/multi-instrumentalist/singer/accountant (probably, along with 17 other jobs) is Rarely Seen Above Ground, and returns with ‘Leave A Light On’, a taster of his third album. It seems like RSAG has been around forever – indeed, Organic Sampler came out in 2008 – and yet I find myself struggling to think of his songs. He’s probably one to file in the underappreciated category, and it’s more than likely my own ignorance. Despite those stellar live shows, I rarely reach for an RSAG album the following day, seemingly forgetting how much I enjoy it all until the next time he rolls into town. But ‘Leave A Light On’ instantly demands your attention. We open with a funky drum fill, lasting seven seconds, and it sets the tone for the following 3.39 minutes. The bassing synthy brass is damn sexy as Hickey proclaims that he’ll shield his love even on swelling tides. Just leave a light on or… “I disappear.” I can’t wait to hear this track live.
Windings – ‘Stray Dogs’/’Helicopters’
It’s been four years since Windings released I Am Not The Crow, which was nominated for the Choice Prize (Delorentos won that year), and two years since their split album with Land Lovers. And yet it feels reassuring to have Windings back with new music and details of their fourth album. It’s called Be Honest and Fear Not, and is out in the autumn via Out On A Limb. Recorded with Tommy McLaughlin, I would say you know what to expect: Mainly guitars and big riffs that would make J Mascis proud. But you kinda forget the Limerick five piece, headed by Steve Ryan who cut his teeth (Tooth? Ahem) with Givemanakick, are capable of more insular and sombre moments. See ‘Old Like J’, ‘Apologise’ and ‘Cleaner’, to name three. So ‘Stray Dogs’ really isn’t much of a surprise – maybe it’s just when a band returns with a new album in tow you expect them to waste no time in showing off their shiniest, loudest, brashest track. This isn’t that. Nialler9 called it dark, dank and foreboding. It’s wistful: “Every note is an apology but every word is a regret.” And Ryan clarifies that “the stray dogs are my mortality, tear at my ankles once again”. ‘Helicopters’, meanwhile, is not going to feature on Be Honest and Fear Not. They say it “is the result of a collaboration between windings and producer Naive Ted. It’s a one-off release without any ties to any album or such, and we very much hope you enjoy it.” It’s even slower than ‘Stray Dogs’ with Naive Ted (who supported GAMAK on their farewell tour last year so it’s no great surprise to see them collaborate) adding creaks, rushes and a general feeling of unease to what is already an anxious song, dealing with searches of the Shannon.
windings Live dates:
May 21: Kasbah Social Club, Limerick
May 26: Roisin Dubh, Galway
May 27: De Barras, Clonakilty
May 28: Crane Lane Theatre, Cork
June 10: Doolin Folk Festival, Clare
AboveDat – ‘Addicted’ (Feat. Christiana Underwood)
AboveDat are Cork DJ Stevie Grainger and Ian Ring, one third of Young Wonder, and ‘Addicted’, featuring Cork singer Christiana Underwood, is their first song. Christiana was a regular onstage as Stevie played the festival rounds, mixing a DJ set with some original tracks. This is the natural progression, it sets quite the benchmark. Summer is coming and ‘Addicted’ sounds like it’s going to be the perfect soundtrack to it.
This week’s TPOE podcast: Carried By Waves
After the release of second album Resolute, Carried By Waves aka Ronan McCann sits down to chat about creating that ‘difficult’ second album, how ideas can develop, playing live, and, since this is the first TPOE podcast since Prince has died, we talk about the influence that the Purple One has had on Ronan.
Le Galaxie are on the 10-act shortlist for the Choice Prize for Irish album of the year 2015. The winner will be announced at a live show in Vicar Street next Thursday, March 3. They’re up for Le Club, one of the most ridiculously fun albums to come out of Ireland in a long while. Listen to it on Spotify or buy it in your favourite music shop. I got to chat with Le Galaxie frontman Michael Pope over the weekend for the latest The Point Of Everything podcast. Wrecked from moving studios over the previous few days, Michael was still up for a wide-ranging chat, touching on the ‘economic recovery’ and its impact on artists and spaces in Dublin, such as Block T. We were both at Foals’ show in 3arena a couple of weeks ago, which Michael was quite taken by, so he tells us his thoughts on what he takes away from shows, how he’s always learning and looking at new ideas. We also talk about the early days of Le Galaxie, when they were far from the cocksure strutters that they are now. After some discussions on the Choice Prize, Michael reviews The People v OJ Simpson and predicts who will win the Oscars at the weekend.
You can listen to the podcast below via Soundcloud or subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. I’ve transcribed a few highlights from the podcast below, to give you a taster of what to expect.
Altered Hours‘ debut album, In Heat Not Sorry, is out now on Penske/Art for Blind. Ahead of its release I got to chat to three-fifths of the Cork-based band, co-vocalists Cathal and Elaine, and guitarist Kevin, for the TPOE podcast. You can listen on Soundcloud or iTunes (you can also subscribe to both so you never miss an episode). I’ve transcribed a little bit of the interview after the jump.
In the latest episode of the Point of Everything Podcast – guest-hosted by Bríd O’Donovan (who also took the two photos in the post) as I was feeling sick – Ros Steer, formerly of Saint Yorda, talks about her current band Morning Veils. Completed by Aisling O’Riordan and Elaine Howley, the Cork-based three piece have just released their debut album, Her Kind, on Ros’s own label, Kantcope, which she runs with Mary Kelliher. In the interview, Ros chats about how she developed as a musician and as a music lover, chats about the confidence that being in Saint Yorda gave her, her creative process, why the Kantcope released have been done on cassette, and more. I’ve transcribed some of the highlights from the interview below, but if you want to listen to the interview, click the Soundcloud player below or listen (and subscribe) on iTunes here.
Kicking off the first TPOE podcast of 2016 is the renowned Irish writer Kevin Barry. Last year I made a concerted effort, probably as part of my resolutions, to read more books. I think the goal was 100 books (I failed). Along the way I came across Kevin Barry and his two collections of short stories, There Are Little Kingdoms and Dark Lies The Island. I loved them. His style is so distinctive, every sentence getting a kicking and a licking and leaving you exhilarated by the time you reach the full stop. He’s one of the most influential writers around – try to find an Irish fiction writer in their 20s or 30s who doesn’t reference him. His first novel is City of Bohane, and his second, Beatlebone, came out in the second half of last year. It’s based around the story of John Lennon, who did genuinely own the island of Dorinish in Clew Bay, Co Mayo. From there, Barry tells a fictional account of Lennon trying to reach the island in 1978, just to get away from it all, to scream, to find calm and to be at peace with himself. It’s a stunning piece of work, which has already won Barry the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for innovative fiction. It also found its way onto many writers’ end-of-year lists. Towards the end of 2015. So I was delighted to get a chance to sit down with Kevin Barry for my podcast. We talked about his living in Cork, Limerick growing into itself culturally, acid house, Beatlebone, Lennon, writing City of Bohane to dub reggae, Winter Pages, and a lot more. You can listen to the podcast below, via Soundcloud, or subscribe on iTunes by clicking here. (It’s also available on the likes of Podcast Republic and Podcast Addict.) I’ve also transcribed the whole piece, which you can read below, though why would you pass up the chance to hear Barry spinning yarns in his distinctive drawl?)