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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)


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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)

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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Currently in the middle of an extensive European tour, which included gigs in Galway, Cork and Limerick last weekend, Marc O’Reilly has just unveiled a video for ‘Of Nothing’. Taken from Morality Mortality, his first release for Virgin Records/Universal Ireland (the album is out this Friday), the track showcases an emotionally wrought side of O’Reilly. “How does it feel looking back? Nothing was real, all in black. Slipping away, can you hear me,” he cries. The video for ‘Of Nothing’ was directed by Simon O’Neill. After returning from Germany, Netherlands etc, Marc O’Reilly will be playing another couples dates in Ireland, including:

November 24: Whelan’s, Dublin
November 25: The Crescent, Belfast
November 26: Spirit Store, Dundalk
December 3: St Patrick’s Gateway, Waterford

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The Grey Merchant is a new project from Neon Atlas bassist Enda O’Flaherty and a collection of friends and fellow musicians. He says: “Recorded with friends in kitchens and abandoned buildings, mixing at Cork’s Whitewell Studios, and Studio Silo, Stöðvarfjörð, the result is some noisy mood-rock that combines guitars, bass, and drums with a vein of political irritation; the old-fashioned way.” ‘Spotless (The Protecting Veil)’ is a rousing first look at what to expect from the Grey Merchant. Over a pulsing, Walkmen-like riff, Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator plays. It’ll get the juices flowing and the blood boiling. ‘Spotless (The Protecting Veil)’ is released on Demeanour Records on November 8, and O’Flaherty promises more singles and an EP will follow in 2017.

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Brid O’Donovan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) was back behind the camera for Hard Working Class Heroes last week. Here are her shots from the third and final day, Saturday, featuring Oh Boland, Galants, Rusangano Family, Shaker Hymn, Participant and Nocturnes.

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Brid O’Donovan (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram) was back behind the camera for Hard Working Class Heroes last week. Here are her shots from Friday, featuring Pale Rivers, Soule, Jealous of the Bird, Touts, Tara Lee, Talos and Adultrock.

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