sunday sessions

The Sunday School Sessions is a music collective from Dublin. It grew from an idea by engineer and producer Ian McNulty In Dublin’s Charthouse Recording to record some folk and country tunes in homage to the old records that had inspired him over the years. Gathering together friends and members of the bands Hidden Highways, The Ambience Affair, Master & Dog and The Crayon Set and others, a two-year writing and recording odyssey began. Stealing time in between writing, touring and performing with their own bands, new original songs were mixed with some very old tunes and some contemporary songs got the old-time treatment. The resulting body of work is now a fully fledged album and is touring Ireland this November. The vinyl record will be released on November 7.

Sunday Sessions tour dates:
Friday, November 7: The Green Room, Letterkenny;
Saturday, November 8, The Model Arts Centre, Sligo;
Thursday, November 13, Coughlan’s, Cork;
Friday, November 14, De Barra’s, Clonakilty;
Friday, November 21, Dolan’s (upstairs), Limerick;
Saturday, November 22, Cleere’s, Kilkenny;
Friday, November 28, Whelan’s (upstairs), Dublin

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jack o rourke

“I want to live and die to a beat.” That’s a good way for a debut single to grab the listener’s attention. Cork artist Jack O’Rourke channels his inner David Bowie – you can almost imagine him wearing Bowie’s red shoes from ‘Let’s Dance’ – for ‘Naivety’, a four and a half minute pop song that is sure to stir some part of your soul. Classically trained, there are strands of various genres such as the blues and roots in O’Rourke’s delivery The video was directed by Barra Vernon, shot at Glenville House and Longueville House, and features dancers Aisling Keating and Wesley Van Oeffelen. The track is taken from Jack O’Rourke’s debut album Dreamcatcher, due out in summer 2015. He launches the single in Coughlan’s in Cork city tonight, Wednesday, October 29. Tickets are €6.

kool thing

It’s been a while since we heard from Berlin-based Dublin band Kool Thing. The trio released their self-titled debut album in March 2013 but bar a few random gigs this year, it’s been quiet on the Kool Thing front. But now they’re back with new promo art (above, by Denis Laner) a new song, ‘I See You (I Am You)’, and news of a second album. As the title of the track might suggest, this near-five minute track is a dark listen, so Julie Chance, Jon Dark and Valentin Plessy haven’t changed that much. Atmospheric, confident and having decided they’re “bored of love”, it plays out over a brooding electronica background that concludes: “Turn me out for all to see, watch them disappear.” ‘I See You (I Am You)’ features on Kool Thing’s forthcoming second album, due out early next year.

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There was loads on in pretty much every venue in Cork city over the weekend as the jazz festival took over. The likes of Ginger Baker in the Everyman and Lee Fields and Sharon Jones in the Opera House were always going to wow, while the Sextant is turning into the place to go for dance and DJs. Here’s a selection of what we saw on Saturday and Sunday, from actual jazz (tough to find despite the festival name) to Richie Egan’s new sideproject Dimman and local soul band Shookrah. Dublin Afrobeat Ensemble were the highlight though, coming onstage over an hour late at Deep South and blowing everybody away. Pictures below by Bríd O’Donovan.

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east india youth

East India Youth was one of the opening acts at the 36th annual Cork Jazz Festival, taking to the Cyprus Avenue stage last night, Thursday, October 23. Nominated for the Mercury which is announced next Wednesday, debut album Total Strife Forever would be more than a worthy winner. I’ve seen William Doyle live twice this year, supporting Wild Beasts in the Olympia – a real slow-burner of a support slot, starting out to an empty room and ending to a crowd in thrall to ‘Heaven, How Long’ – and at Body & Soul, and you could see the confidence growing in the interim couple of months. There wasn’t a big crowd at Cyprus Avenue for the show – they must be biding their time and lining their stomachs – for the weekend (here’s my guide to what to see), but Doyle is so captivating that it doesn’t matter. Cyprus Avenue has a good lineup over the next few days, including a sold-out Delorentos show tonight. All pictures below by Bríd O’Donovan.

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mkai cover

Cork-based two-piece MKAI are named after their family’s special word for music, and release their debut EP Waiting early next month. But to tide you over until then they’ve just unveiled the title track. Comprised of Cork brothers Conor and Cian MacSweeny, who are joined on stage by fellow siblings Eoghan and Colm, MKAI channel Bell X1 and go for the emotional jugular, ‘Waiting’ providing a gut-wrenching tug on your heartstrings. “I called out your name just to hear the streetlights’ refrain,” Cian sings, adding that “Suddenly your life comes forth from the darkness.” The video below was shot by Brian Benjamin Dwyer aka Madra Mór and sees a couple falling out of love. MKAI launch their debut EP with a show at Crane Lane at 8pm on Saturday, November 8. They say: “The launch night will be like no other with an immersive dance piece choreographed and performed by Miranda; aided and abetted by two other dancers to the accompaniment of a string quartet version of the single.”

john blek cover

John Blek is leaving the Rats behind to release his debut solo album Cutting Room Floor on November 28. A collection of songs that Blek has been working on over the past 18 months, ‘Portland, Oregon’ is our first taster of the nine-track collection. As the name suggests, it’s a lovely acoustic number that’s bathed in Americana. “We used to drink a lot and stay out til dawn… we fell around the floor in the Oregon bars,” Blek soothingly sings, recalling the good old days before they grew grey and old – and yet they “still dance around the room in our Oregon home”. You can watch the video for the track, made by Barra Vernon and filmed in the Beggarman bar in Cork city, below. From the press release: “Recorded over one 20-hour session in a friend’s home. Cutting Room Floor is an intimate collection of nine alt-folk songs compiled by John since the release of John Blek & the Rats’ last album 18 months ago. This solo endeavour began simply as a longing to document some songs that had fallen by the way side, but turned into a strong collection of live acoustic performances that needed to be shared. The process involved very little overdubs and focuses on the strength of John’s lyrics and vocal performance.” You can preorder Cutting Room Floor here.

The October bank holiday weekend is almost upon us which can mean only one thing – the Cork Jazz Festival. There’s always a great buzz on the streets and plenty of music – and possibly some alcohol – to go around. Below are some of my recommendations for Thursday to Sunday, though they are but a fraction of what’s on offer. From the Sextant to the Everyman to the Triskel, loads of places should be packed with punters and musicians alike. There are loads of ‘Jazz Camp’ classes happening at the CIT School of Music over the weekend, too, usually during the day. Check out all the events here. Keep an eye – and ears – out for three street bands marching around all weekend: the nine-piece Beat n Blow from Berlin; Lamorotte Jazz Band from the Netherlands; and the New York Jazz Band from, er, obviously, Yorkshire. For a comprehensive look at the weekend, go see G-man’s gig guide. For those looking for actual jazz music over the weekend, Gulpd has you covered. And Hobo Convention also has some tips, including the Sextant using the yard of Carey’s Tool Hire to put on a mini festival.

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sisters

It’s been a while since we heard from London-based, Limerick/Clare trio Sisters. They were back in Dublin for a show at Hard Working Class Heroes but there hasn’t been any new music since ‘Hush Hush‘ aaaages ago. At just over three minutes long, ‘February’ thankfully ends the withdrawal symptoms. A free download via Soundcloud, it’s built on a super-solid pop base, with bassist Aoife taking the vocal reins. “You said you know this too will pass, hope this February moves fast,” she sings, providing you with your earworm for the week. The video for ‘February’ is below, directed by Margaux Renaudin. Sisters are currently in New York for CMJ, which is pretty cool.

WCIMG_7776

Dublin trio Women’s Christmas have just released their excellent debut album, Too Rich For Our Blood, and played a free gig in the Crane Lane in Cork to showcase it. Released on Out On A Limb – the second album the label has put out this year, after the Windings/Land Lovers split – the 12 tracks will leave you bouncing off the walls right up until January 6. Featuring members of Jogging, Villagers and No Monster Club, you’d be right in thinking they put on a great show. They play the Kasbah Social Club in Limerick and the Pop Inn in Dublin on November 1. In Cork, support came from the prolific Laurie Shaw. You can listen to Too Rich For Our Blood below. All pictures after the jump are by Brid O’Donovan.

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