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It’s a jammers week of new releases – just as well cos I’m off to Barcelona and Primavera next week. I’m spending an inordinate amount of time trying to decide between Solange and Broken Social Scene, embroiled in a direct clash on Thursday. It’s a very tough decision to make. There’s a new TPOE podcast up this week – Eoin French aka Talos talked to me about the making of one of the strongest debut albums of the year, Wild Alee, what to expect during festival season and how Anohni’s album inspired him. Coming Sunday/Monday, there’s a special festival previews podcast with Thin Air/State critic Darren Keane so subscribe on Soundcloud/iTunes/whatever podcast app you use to get the in-depth chat. On this week’s roundup, Belfast’s Beauty Sleep channel Passion Pit, Kildare’s Native Ensemble channel Jungle, Kildare/Dublin band Silverbacks go slacker on their new EP, Elaine Mai returns with The Colour of the Night EP, Cork funk/RnB band Shookrah showcase their talents on the Cliches EP, Come on Live Long release their second album, James Vincent McMorrow surprise-released his most personal album to date, Cork avant-garders Fixity release their third album, Belfast’s Sea Pinks unveil their sixth album in seven years – perfect for summer – Saint Sister release their first single of the year and show why they’re the next big thing, London-based Dublin singer Swimmers Jackson pines for cans by the canel, and Ailbhe Reddy showcases her new EP Attach to Memory.

Beauty Sleep – ‘All In’
Beauty Sleep, a Belfast three piece, in their couple of singles to date, were deep in dream pop – how apt. But new single ‘All In’, the first taken from debut EP Nature Will Eat Me, due for release in the summer, finds Ryan McGroarty doing a pitch-perfect impression of Michael Angelakos and Beauty Sleep sounding A LOT like his band, Passion Pit. It shares a sentiment with the Massachusetts band, too, about not giving in no matter how much you want to.


Silverbacks – Sink the Fat Moon
Dublin/Kildare band Silverbacks have released a couple of albums since 2013 and return with new members and re-energised on Sink the Fat Moon. From Daniel and Killian O’Kelly, they’re now a five piece, completed by Emma Hanlon, Gary Wickham and Peadar Kearney. There’s lashings of Pavement strewn across these five tracks, Daniel O’Kelly slackering that it’s “not easy being below me” on ‘The Great Father’ and that the “Mexicans all got chased out of town”. ‘What’s in Your Bag’ swirls like the Strokes while ‘Not One to Watch’ places tongue in cheek, O’Kelly shrugging: “All I know is that I’m waiting for something.” Silverbacks launch Sink the Fat Moon with a midnight show in Whelan’s on Saturday, May 27.

Elaine Mai – The Colour of the Night EP
Mayo singer/producer Elaine Mai has been relatively quiet over the past couple years, lending her vocals to a few acts and doing a couple of remixes, but five-track EP The Colour of the Night is a solid return – and a showcase of her many talents. The title track is tightly controlled before revealing itself, Mai singing: “You live on in the colour of the night, you left me, left me lost, I am left lost in your light.” ‘Praise in the Cliche’ features Dublin rapper Temper-Mental MissElanyous and is the standout of the collection, demanding your attention. Mai says of the EP: “This EP is a snapshot of the last few years for me and each song reflects a different aspect of how I was feeling during this time. Enniscrone is dedicated to my cousin, who passed away in 2014 and it’s a celebration of all the amazing times we had as kids in the Sligo seaside town it’s named after. ‘The Colour of the Night’ is about grief in it’s many forms and the melody and movement in the strings are a musical representation of the journey from sorrow and despair to acceptance and hope. ‘When I Go’ was written after the first two tracks and it’s about recognising when you’re not OK and having the strength to admit that to yourself. Working with Temper-Mental MissElayneous on ‘Praise in the Cliche’ was perfectly timed and it was so refreshing to focus on it. Her energy, flow and lyricism are incredible and I think this track fits really well on the EP. The final track, ‘Separation’, rounds the release off – it was a lot of fun to write and I really enjoy playing it live. Writing and working on this EP was such an outlet for me during this time in my life and the whole process ended with me writing this song. It concludes the journey of writing this EP for me and I think it’s the perfect closing track.”

Native Ensemble – ‘Phases’
A five piece from Kildare, Native Ensemble offer a sumptuous slice of summer on ‘Phases’, the title track of their forthcoming third EP. They channel Jungle here, on this fun, synth-heavy five minutes. Adam Garrett Byrne falsettoing his way through as Lauren Shannon O’Brien croons and pleads: “Please turn our life around.”

Shookrah – Cliches EP
The Cork funk/RnB band Shookrah return with their second EP, Cliches, a powerful collection. ‘Our Own Way’ is a song in acknowledgement of the growths that take place in most families, they say, while ‘Gerascophobia’ examines society’s search for eternal youth. A hopeless romantic on ‘Cliche Pt 1’ who goes out every day, Senita says “I’m a slave to the cliche”, adding on part 2: “I don’t know what the worst could be.” These introspective and societal examinations play out over grooves that’ll make you swoon. I talked to Senita for TPOE 56 about her lyrics and developing as a songwriter.

Come on Live Long – In The Still
In the PR for their second album, In The Still, independently released, Dublin band Come on Live Long say: ““For us this album represents a lot more than just four years of hard graft. It is significant because it documents a time where we collectively learned how to accept life in all of its highs and lows, that when things become dormant there is always something waiting to happen, an imminent stir in the still, in whatever form that may be. We feel we have pressed a lot of ourselves into this one. Some of these songs coming straight from our most personal spaces, late at night, in our respective bedrooms, and some coming from energetic bursts of all day and all night writing sessions together. We know this one has taken its time but we have pored over every tiny facet of it to make sure it is exactly as we want you to hear it.” It’s been four years since Everything Fall, and it’s nice to have COLL back. The first two tracks exemplify the vocal talents of Louise Gaffney in particular. “There’s something about it,” she tells us knowingly on the 5.20-minute opening, implording to “escape on the heavy air”. ‘Peak’ and ‘Trough’ offer atmospherics and ‘Why Don’t You’ and ‘For The Birds’ offer a burst of life after the halfway marks. I haven’t spent enough nights with In The Still but as the PR says, I think it’s gonna be one of those records that makes a lot of sense in the wee hours (see New Jackson’s debut album), letting you in slowly, truly revealing its charms once you’re on familiar terms. Come on Live Long launch In The Still in Whelan’s on June 17 – Facebook event page.

James Vincent McMorrow – ‘True Care’
James Vincent McMorrow releases his new album, True Care, today. He uploaded all the lyrics to Genius last week, annotating them along the way, and then revealed its title track. I love reading what the artists say about their lyrics – so I’ve kind of been poring over these lyrics, which is interesting when you have no idea how they should sound. It reads like this is the Dublin singer’s most personal album to date – more than once, McMorrow says a certain lyric is pretty much autobiographical: On ‘National’, he sings: “We’d spend our nights listening to The National/That was special”, explaining: “I’m a pretty private person so it felt strange putting this lyric in here. but it marks the beginning of the most important part of my life, so it felt right to do it… I apologise to The National for inferring that all their songs are about death! this is empirically untrue. They are one of my favourite bands, it felt funny but also really nostalgic and right in the most beautiful sense to include this line in this album.” On the title track, singing about spilling drink on a carpet “that belonged to someone I didn’t even know or care about”, he says: “No description or narration needed. all 100% real.” It still sounds like McMorrow – that wail, that voice – but perhaps a more introspective McMorrow.

McMorrow played a surprise show in Dublin’s D-Light photography studio on Thursday night, performing True Care in full. Directed by Bob Gallagher, it was streamed live on Facebook (it’s nuts how in your own hands stuff like this has become – I remember being very excited that MTV2 were showing Metallica’s set at a European festival live in full back in, like 2005. Now the artist could stream every show live directly to the fans (as long as they’re on social media, I suppose). It’s such an interesting time, with endless possibilities) and you can watch it below.

Fixity – Fixity 3
The quietly prolific Fixity – three albums plus live recordings since July 2016 – surprise-released Fixity 3 on Monday. The Things in the Room was one of the most exciting albums of last year, four instrumental, Krautrock-leaning experimentals spread over 50-plus minutes. It was recorded in Sweden in a day, by Cork drummer Dan Walsh and Swedish improvisers Emil Nerstrand, Nils Andersson and Fredrik Persson. Fixity 3 features seven songs spread over about 30 minutes, performed and produced by Dan Walsh. ‘What Wrong’ is a stirring opener, from there descending into free jazz terrain, with titles like ‘Theme From A Shitstorm’, ‘No Blues’ and ‘What is this thing called Then’. Fixity, one of the most compelling avant garde acts in the country, demand your attention. Live, they are intense – make sure to catch them over the next month. I interviewed Dan Walsh about Fixity and his various other projects last year on TPOE 37.

Fixity tour dates:
June 1: Gulpd, Cork, 9pm €10
June 2: Open Ear Festival, Sherkin Island
June 9: Connolly’s of Leap, €10
June 16: Arthur’s, Dublin, €5
June 17: Pharmacia, Limerick, €5
June 24: Bulmers Lounge, Body & Soul

Sea Pinks – ‘Watercourse’
The second track that we’ve heard from the Belfast band’s sixth album in seven years, ‘Watercourse’ sees Belfast band Sea Pinks jangle into summer. It sounds like Vampire Weekend without the preppiness. “Yes I’ve been gone way too long, wondering where I went wrong,” sings Neil Brogan, amid skittering drums and a sun-infused bass riff (I expect nothing less from Sea Pinks at this stage – their bass is boss). Watercourse is taken from the album of the same name, out on CF Records today. Buy it on Bandcamp or listen on Spotify. Brogan says of the album: “We’re a singles band hell-bent on making albums. We went in for a couple of days. Then it was a couple more and a couple more, and by autumn we had about 16 songs recorded, which we eventually pared down to ten.”

Saint Sister – ‘Causing Trouble’
Ahead of a UK and European tour, and a date at Dublin’s NCH, supported by I Have a Tribe, on June 7, Saint Sister return with ‘Causing Trouble’, the first we’ve heard from them since Tin Man, an EP released in December via the Communion Singles Club. The harmonies will still make you weak at the knees, Morgan Macintyre and Gemma Doherty sounding more confident than ever. Morgan says of the song: “There are a lot of references to Belfast – where I grew up – that I wasn’t quite aware of at the time. The references to Van Morrison’s ‘And it Stoned Me’ came about after hearing a cover version of the song. We were playing a gig in the Ulster Hall, Belfast and Conor O’Brien (Villagers) sang the song. His performance opened up the lyrics for me and strangely helped me access Van Morrison in a way I’d been softly rebelling against for a while (having been spoon fed Van Morrison from a young age). I suddenly wanted to gobble up Van again and embrace the music and stories and poetry from Belfast that I used to spend a lot of time with. I think I had shrugged a lot of that off over the last few years as I tried to make my home in Dublin. In doing so maybe I ignored – or forgot – a lot of the raw elements and influences that I used to draw from. The Basin referenced in the song is the Blessington Basin, in Dublin. It’s a little park, known as the Secret Garden, which used to be a drinking reservoir. I live right beside it now. It kind of comes out of nowhere. All this water just appears out of a quiet, grotty, forgotten Dublin street, like a mirage. The song is about transitioning, from Belfast to Dublin, from an old love to a new, and the gaps that can be found between you and another person or place when people transition at different paces and in different directions.” Gemma says: “Morgan first brought some lyrics and melodic ideas and I started working on the arrangement, that’s generally how we work together. From the start it felt quite laid back and spacious. I’d been listening to loads of 90s tunes, Moby and Massive Attack, and wanted to keep the verses sparse and give the chorus plenty of space to soar. The first attempt had no harp on it, but it worked its way in when we began playing it live, as it’s such a big part of our live show. We had loads of craic in the studio with this one with Alex who co-produced it with us. At the last minute, we found a beautiful old Wurlitzer in the attic which had some electrical problems; one of us would have to sit on it while the other played to stop it from humming, so it just about made it in!” I think there’s not really much more I can add about ‘Causing Trouble’

Swimmers Jackson – ‘Summer’s Here’
Erstwhile Bouts bassist Niall Jackson revives his Swimmers project having enjoyed a creative spurt in 2016 since moving to London. He’s got an EP on the way, produced by Darragh Nolan at Asta Kalapa Studios, Co Wexford, Now known as Swimmers Jackson, ‘Summer’s Here’, the first track to be taken from the EP, finds Jackson and his acoustic pining, oohing and ahhing for cans by the canal in Dublin. It’s simple but effective.


Ailbhe Reddy – Attach to Memory EP
One of the hottest acts in the country right now, Ailbhe Reddy releases her new EP today. ‘Fingertips’ is the obvious highlight, ‘Never Loved’ a stirring mourn, while ‘Disconnect’ finds Reddy and band going full tilt. Ailbhe Reddy plays Coughlan’s in Cork tonight, May 26.