THE STONEY BROKES THE NANKEENS CIARA DONNELLY CORNER BOY
The French Connection
THE RUBY SESSIONS – SAUCY SUNDAYS – DIMESTORE RECORDINGS
THE STONEY BROKES
9 THE MANC TANK
Scene & Heard 12-14 15-18 19-20 21
Dimestore Recordings Saucy Sundays The Ruby Sessions Wicked Chicken
23-33 34-44 45-46 47
Irish Album/EP Reviews International Album/EP Reviews Single Reviews 4x4
EDITORIAL And so spring comes to pass and with it the first three issues of U&I. We have undergone a little bit of a name change/rebranding of things here at U&I, with everything falling under the moniker of Unsigned & Independent from here on in. This is only a name change because we will continue or commitment to promoting the best in new music from our international co-op networks. This issue marks the beginning of a series of interviews that will run across the next couple of issues called “The French Connection”. Starting with PAMELA HUTE this month, the idea is very simple and effective. We will interview artists and bands from our French based music network to introduce our readers to what that network has to offer. Even though they are currently taking part in a 32 county tour of Ireland we managed to get an interview with the excellent CORNER BOY. Also in this issue there is also an interview with one of the most underrated bands on the Irish circuit, THE STONEY BROKES, who talk about their new album and a lot of other things music. Coming off the back of The Voice of Ireland is an interview with CIARA DONNELLY, and finally, we also sat down with one of the most hyped about bands in Manchester at the moment, NANKEENS, for THE MANC TANK with Dave Beech. In addition to this we also have the second of our industry articles from Johnny Dwinell, where he discusses the rise of the independent music labels and what this means for new artists. We also have some incredible music reviews with albums from RAGLANS, FRIENDS OF EMMET, EDIONS and a lot of other fine artists. EP reviews include OTHERKIN, GOING 90 and more. We have also acquired a Magster account for the magazine. This will now mean it can be downloaded as an app for only 99 cents. This was the lowest price that we could set it for and we also negotiated bundle packages for people who may wish to take out annual subscriptions. But what it all means is that it is all onwards and upwards for us in 2014…which is most definitely good news for artists at a grass roots level because we will continue to give them a voice.
Phillip Ó’ Baoighealláin Editor-In-Chief
ow old were you when you first began to get into music as an artist? I have always been writing songs, since I was 11 or 12 years old. I had a band in college. We played my tunes and recorded demos on my 4 tracks recorder. But I really started doing this seriously in 2005 when I met Igor (keys) and Ernest (drums). We recorded 2 EPs and after three years of intense learning of how to play together, and a lot of touring, we did a record at home in 2008. One year later I signed with a big indie record label (tôt ou tard) and it pushed the whole project a step forward with the release of my debut album in 2009. To tell you the truth, I am still learning how to be an artist.
What artists influenced you at that time? It’s difficult to say because I have so many different influences and I can’t really point out anything specific. The first record I ever listened to in my Walkman was “Revolver” by the Beatles. It’s still my favorite record ever. In my teenage years I listened to Nirvana a lot, and a bunch of Britpop like Blur or Elastica. I have always been obsessed with melodies. Nirvana was a magical band to me because although it sounded raw and heavy, all their tracks were classic pop songs with amazing melodies. I’ll die for a good melody. How relevant are they to you today? And what other artists have you discovered since who have left a lasting impression on you creatively? I still love those bands although I don’t listen to them as often as I used to. I listen to a lot of music, of course, but I don’t really follow the news. I usually discover albums months after their release. I guess I have to do it my way, and according to my own timing. Everything… people I meet, every movie I watch, every painting I stare at, every record I listen to has an influence on me. I’m like a sponge. So there is no particular band. Foxygen did an inspiring record last year. I also listened to a lot of Josh Rouse lately, especially the album “Nashville”, and I’m still moved by every Arcade Fire record. There is much more, but if I tell you all about it we’ll be there for days. If you were to call it, how would you define your sound? I think it’s pop with a rock feel and some electronic elements (mostly 80’s sounding analog keyboards). Although I love distorted electric guitars, in the end it’s always about the melodies. The album “Bandit” was released a year ago. With that album do you see any of your influences retrospectively when you listen back to it now? Or were there any tracks that you felt you were channeling them through as you were going through the recording process? If so, which tracks? Again, it’s hard to tell. I don’t remember anything specific. I listened to a lot of soul music when I was writing “Bandit” (mostly Stax records) and a bunch of early Blondie stuff. But also modern groups like Phoenix, The Dead Weather and Arcade Fire…a lot of Arcade Fire indeed. When we were recording we all had various ideas, and we talked about it, listened to music and songs between the takes. But the real challenge is to make your own record, right? Have your own sound and not to copy anyone. When I finally decided the album will be mixed by John Agnello (Dino Jr, Cyndi Lauper, The Kills, The Breeders, Kurt Vile) it was after a lot of hesitations (I basically wanted to do it all by myself, and control everything). I understand now how important is to let go. I sent him a list of references for each song of the album, but I think it was totally unnecessary. It reassured me, but he obviously knew what he was doing: the whole point was to get his artistic touch on my music, and end up with something sounding personal and genuine. I think it worked out well. How do you see the process involved with that album compared with your experience recording “Turtle Tales From Overseas”? “Bandit” was a painful record to make. It was a long process and I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself. Some people say that a second album is a difficult step. Well obviously I can tell you all about it! We recorded it twice, mixed it at home, mastered the whole thing two or three times, and as I was still unhappy with the result, we decided we would send it to John in NYC. He basically saved the record. In the end I’m very happy with “Bandit”, but I must confess “Turtle Tales” was much easier to make. We worked on the tracks live, and at some point decided it was time to record them. We bought some gear, locked ourselves in my country house in the south of France, and we tracked everything in 10 days. We mixed it at home with a sound engineer friend, and that’s how it went -smoothly. It looked so easy at the time! You have recently gone back into the studio, and you announced that you had five new tracks recorded. Of the five which one stands out for you the most? And why? I’m not the right person to tell you which track stands out, I don’t know. I like them all, for various reasons. I’m really pushing myself into a new direction, with new musicians, more work on backing vocals and harmonies, wacky structures and melodies. Those 5 tracks are the result of some sort of in-between pre-production process where I am starting to reveal new things. But I haven’t made the big jump yet. However, two tracks are really different from what I did before. I am trying to free myself from the 90s… if that makes any sense to you. Will they be going on a new album or an EP?
Those tracks won’t be released as an EP. It is a work in progress as I am currently writing for LP 3. I will do more of those pre-production demos until I have 11 or 12 really good tracks and something that looks like an album. I really don’t want to rush. You have been involved in that recording process with Pierre Veyesset. What does he bring to the mix that you really admire? How much input does he have in the recording/artistic process with you?
Pierre is a young sound engineer. He is very talented and we share a lot of common musical influences. I want to keep up with the process initiated when handing over my album to veteran engineer John Agnello for the mixing. That’s why I thought it could be good to have someone in the producer’s role. As I am arranging demos and working with new musicians, I am always looking for a new energy and I really wanted to get new people involved in the artistic part. Pierre did the takes and helped making artistic choices when we were tracking. It was a true relief for me. I used to do that on my own and confront everyone’s ego on each of my songs. It has been exhausting and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I trusted Pierre. I knew we would go in the same direction. He hasn’t done a lot of albums yet, but I knew he was up for the challenge and the right man for the job. He did great, and I truly believe he has this special producer's vibe, he knows how to talk to musicians and artists, he knows how to get to the point and make a song better. I’m really happy with our collaboration, and I definitely would like to repeat the experience.
They say travel broadens the mind. Last year you played a mini tour of France, but you also played in Bilbao. What do you take away from being on the road as a performer that you immediately recognise as being down to the process of touring and new surroundings? We didn’t do much touring for “Bandit” because the musical landscape is so dull. It’s hard to book a lot of gigs. But I love playing live, and our Spanish experience was awesome. What I enjoy about concerts is how lively it is in general, sharing your music with a new public every time you move to a different city. I love traveling, I love moving around the world, wander in foreign cities, and I find it very inspiring. But I haven’t had enough of it. Are there any other places you have played in the past that have left a lasting impression on you artistically? Not really. We mostly played in France. But I remember a show we did in 2009 in Basel, Switzerland. A small club (Hircheneck), a lot of cheese and wine, a super sweet audience …we really had a great time. We didn’t travel much as a band (except in France), but the German part of Switzerland was definitely one of my best and most inspiring memories. “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway ere thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side” –
(HUNTER S. THOMPSON) That is a great quote first off, but we came across it when we were doing our research for the interview. Why does that quote speak so much to you? Well it’s hard, it’s no secret. With the internet there are so many great bands everywhere, it’s really difficult -not to say impossible- to step out of the herd. It is a violent world. It’s mostly about luck and faith, and being surrounded by the right people. It’s a lot of break-ups, of heartbreaking choices, and the business is full of jerks. You can’t let your guard down. I am lucky I signed with the one and only record label I ever was in touch with. They help me become a better artist, write better songs and deal with all the interrogations I have as a newbie. And although I am not a big seller, they believe in me. Everything in the music business is a struggle, you have to be patient beyond reason, and music is so incredibly demanding. But I couldn’t live without it. What is the grass roots music scene currently like in France?
The musical landscape in France is not very exciting, honestly. It’s actually rather depressing. We have this tradition of songwriters, most of them were successful in the 70s our 80s and they are now really old, but for some reason they keep occupying the mediatic space and radiophonic spots. It’s all about French language, and indie pop or rock music, especially when sung in English is a niche market. Of course, some people do great stuff, but it’s not popular. Bands like Phoenix were very indie in France before they met the American market. We don’t have this culture of rock music. We are pretty old fashioned. How is the scene overall? There is an indie scene, but it’s pretty confidential. Most French bands that end up being successful move to other countries, England, Germany or USA. I can’t really tell, I never felt I belonged to a specific scene, I don’t think we really have that in France. We have been looking at some fantastic French acts through our music network there. In particular APRIL WAS A PASSENGER being one
that have really stood out and have a lot of potential. Are there any other acts that stand out for you that you would recommend people start checking out? I didn’t know this band, so thanks for the discovery! Pretty awesome! I don’t listen to a lot of French bands but let me try…Herman Dune is a great folk-pop duet, they write amazing tunes, Duellum is an electro-pop band that I really love, great guys and great musicians. I like the 1969 Club too, we share the same booker, and although I don’t know them personally, I really enjoy their straightforward power rock…that just to name a few. What will be next from you this year? I’ll be pre-producing my third album. I have to write more songs, record more demos and that’s pretty much all I will be doing in the next months. I also want to spend some time abroad, travel more, and end up making a beautiful new record. It sounds like the perfect life, and it is somehow, but it’s also a lot of work, believe me.
.P E t u b e d r u o f o t s o M ‘Morning, Morning’ is t u b , d a o r e h t n o e f about li f o it ir p s e h t y ll a ic if c spe o t d ie t g in e b t o N travel. a g in v a h d n a e r e h w y an e m d e w o ll a t a h t m o freed e r o m e b o t r e it r w g as a son n w o d k a e r b o T . e iv t crea e m o s h t r a e n u d n a s r barrie I lt u s e r a s A . s n o dem h it w ll a it m o r f y a walked aw t a h t s e n u t f o k o o a song b d e r u t p a c ly e t le p for me com . e im t t a h t f o y g r the ene
verything seems to be falling into place for you guys this year. Since January it would seem that everything is following a co-ordinated plan. Be that the video for “Morning Morning” in January through to the current 32 county tour that are currently on. It seems to be coming across that you have decided to take it upon yourself to start making things happen for the band. Has it been a case of you all sitting down and deciding that was the way you wanted to hit the ground running this year? I think it’s just a case of learning from the mistakes of the past. As some point in time we’ve all become complacent or lazy as musicians. Since Corner Boy started we’ve set huge and almost unachievable goals for ourselves as we are ambitious people. We realised along time ago that people are not going to make things happen for us. We have to get out there and do things for ourselves and work autonomously. Our work rate is intense but it’s okay as we get huge enjoyment in achieving our goals and progressing as a band and as friends.
The two things that are current and topical for you right now are the new EP “True North” and your current tour of Ireland. So we will discuss the EP first. The last year or so has seen two releases from the band. The first was “Morning Morning”. That was released in February 2013. You recorded it in Lennoxville, Quebec after a year of touring and being on the road travelling through North America.
Last Feb we released Morning Morning and received an incredible response. I was living from place to place playing shows with friends all around North America. From the minus sub zero temperatures of Quebec, Canada down to the most southerly point of North America, Key west. I visited everywhere. The EP is reflective of a life living on the road and everything that comes with it. I used the song writing process as my diary to some degree. How much of that EP came about from being on the road and how much of it before the trip? Or did all of the tracks come about while you were on tour? Most of our debut E.P ‘Morning, Morning’ is about life on the road, but specifically the spirit of travel. Not being
tied to anywhere and having a freedom that allowed me as a songwriter to be more creative. To break down barriers and unearth some demons. As a result I walked away from it all with a song book of tunes that for me completely captured the energy of that time. The first E.P was recorded in the bedrooms and kitchens of friends. But it didn’t matter. It was raw and I think overall that added to the feel of the record. We released our second E.P ‘True North’ this year in March and it has also been received quite well on radio and in the press. We broke into the top 30 in the charts and have been selling our shows since it’s release. As an independent and unsigned act it is nice that in this day and age the music can still speak for itself. Who was involved in the recording process with the band or was it solely just the band only? Were there any tracks that you felt could have made it on to that EP but just didn’t? Will they be included on future releases then? We worked with Irish producer Joe Chester and recorded the entirety of the second E.P (True North) in one week in Grouse Lodge in Westmeath. We came into the studio with about 12-15 songs and to make the E.P cohesive we narrowed it down to just 5 tracks. 5 tracks that represented us best in that moment and the progress we
had made as musicians and how our sound had changed and evolved. Releasing EP’s gives us the freedom to experiment and grow while developing what we would hope to be a more defined sound for our debut album which we hope to release in 2015. How different has that recording process been in comparison to the “True North” EP?Our first E.P ‘Morning, Morning’ was recorded in old building and bedrooms in Canada which friends and producers I had met in Montreal. It was raw. There were no rules as we were starting from scratch. Corner Boy up until that point did not exist so there was a huge amount of freedom. Compared to our latest E.P ‘True North’ (Which we released this year in March) our sound is much more developed. We now have a vision of where we would like to take our music. We’ve shaken off the clichés of a lot of folk bands and started to explore where exactly we wanted to go as musicians, and more importantly as a band. On the one hand it is a case of playing the venues you have played before, but it is also something that is quite manageable to do. But you are calling the shots on this tour as well. Are there any gigs on it that you are particularly looking forward to and why?
We decided that we would do a 32 county tour of Ireland to back up the release of our debut studio E.P ‘True North’ which we recorded with Legendary Irish producer Joe Chester in Grouse Lodge Studios Westmeath last November. A lot of bands love locking themselves in studios but we find playing live to be the best part of the experience. As a result we decided to hit the road this year and visit every corner of Ireland. We’ve seen some incredible places already and we’re not even half way into the tour. It’s a refreshing approach for us as we don’t want to be considered one of those bands who just lives online tweeting all day. Being in a new town every night means nothing ever gets boring. We love it. Every venue is unique and every crowd is unique. This is great as we are always tested. We could easily play in Wexford for most of the year and have great shows but we like to take our music into places where people have never heard us. This keeps us on our toes and prevents complacency. We get huge satisfaction out of being able to entertain large rooms of people who are essentially strangers to us because by the end of the night everyone is connected by the music and having a good time. When you think about it, it’s a nice thing to be able to do.
We have a number of artists playing which us in numerous venues around the county. It’s important to meet with different musicians from different parts of the country as it gives you a reel feel for how eclectic Ireland is as a musical nation. We also have our resident support act who travels with us, the incredibly talented Johnny Stewart who released his album ‘Daydreamer’ earlier in the year. He’s a great friend of ours from back home in Wexford.
Will there be the same acts playing support for the tour or are you planning to mix it up?
All details can be found at: www.cornerboy.org/tour We’re coming to an area near you. See you soon!
What has been the best thing about the tour so far? The best thing about the tour so far has been the challenge of it. Like I said, every night is different. It’s great to finally be a touring band on the road as well. As a band we are only together one year but to be in the position we are right now we are very happy. We are looking forward to more tours, more releases and hopefully reaching new audiences. We love being in this band. We love our music so for other people to love it too is a very special thing for us. Where is left to play for anyone who might want to see you perform live?
THE STONEY BROKES
our video for “The Fear” went live recently. It is a very interesting video as well. It has been well received in all quarters and it seems to have had a lot of dedication put into it pre-production. The effort put in is clearly evident. Can you explain the concept for what the video is all about? The concept for the video comes directily from the title; "The Fear". The video tries to portray exactly that, the feeling of, I suppose, an extreme hangover with paranoia and surrealism in day to day activities. How did the idea originally come to be? The concept was thought up by the director David Keeling an up and coming director from Bray who has worked on a few other brilliant projects to date after hearing the track. He liked it and wanted to display the concept of the song in a fun way…an interesting way. This is set to be the first in a series of videos that you are planning to release during the year. What are the other tracks that you will be releasing a video for? We have a few rough ideas of what we would like to release. We think "Robinhood" will be the next video to be released in late May followed by "Make Me New" later in the summer Will they be released to coincide with future single releases or will they be standalone videos? We plan on releasing a good few videos in the next year, so some will be stand alone video releases and others, like "Make Me New" might concide with future single releases.
Will you be working with the same director for them all?
How many songs will make up the album? There will be ten tracks on the album.
We all loved working with David and we plan to do more with him, but I think we will also venture outside that to get a diverse libary of music videos. The other big news that you have is that you have finally completed the new album “Something Irrelevant” and that is due for release on April 12th. How big a deal is it for the band to actually have it out there now? It’s a very big deal. We have been working on this album for a few years now and we have had to keep it hidden away. I think we are all excited for people to hear it finally. When and where is the launch night going to be held and who will be playing support to you on the night? The launch night will be held in the Village, Wexford Street on Saturday the 12th of April. We have organised an after-party that will take place upstairs in Whelan’s and it will feature our good friends; The Boo Box and special guests. Tickets are aviailable from www.thestoneybrokes.com and www.wav.ie. A brilliant band from Killkenny called The Cold Draw will be supporting us on the night and then we will be heading down to Killkenny on the 19th of April to support them at their debut album launch. We are really looking forward to that gig. I suppose it goes without saying that you are looking forward to playing the gig, but has it set in that this is a gig that kind of sets itself apart from every other gig because it is the launch night for your album? Yes absolutely...other gigs are not this much work.
Of the running order how many of them will be songs that your fans are already familiar with and how many will be brand new tunes? We think most of the tracks on the album will be familiar to fans. Some are newer than others though, so it’s hard to tell. Have there been any songs that haven’t made the cut this time around that will feature on future releases? There are definatly some tracks that didn’t make the grade, but they will not be going on other albums. Our next album will be a concept album that we have started pre-production for already. You are already confirmed to play at Light, Colour, Sound Festival in July. Will there be any plans for other festival appearances over the summer and where will they be? We most centainly plan on a good few festival apperances over the summer. But you will have to keep up to date with the website and facebook to get the locations and dates. David Kenny has recently left the band, which is the nature of being in a band for everyone. Are you guys still looking to add another member to join The Stoney Brokes or have you found somebody? We have found somebody, a great young bassist from Deansgrange called Ben Thonett. He studies in what seems to be the Dublin Rock Mecca, BIMM and he has fit perfectly into the band’s sound.
CIARA DONNELLY C
an you remember the very first song you ever wrote? Do you still play it in your set? Letâ€™s talk about your album first. Where did the title come from? The first song I wrote was a track called 'Circles' when I was 14/15. One of my good friends still to this day sings that song to me, but no I don't play it in my set. I suppose I feel the lyrics were a little too 'standard' in a way and for me having gone on to study literature, it just didn't seem mature enough. But it was still a catchy tune. How old were you when you first became attracted to music as an artist? Very young, I remember thinking 'hmm this whole song writing thing is very easy, like poetry in school but you put a tune to it, anyone can do that'. I soon realised that was not the case. I didn't understand the notion of genre...but then again I was about 12. Who thought you to play piano? A wonderful woman named Louise. She used to give me a bulls eye sweet every time I got a scale correct. Is that the only instrument you know how to play? I can make my way around a guitar but I would never call myself a guitarist. You also released your self-titled EP as well. Being in the studio seems to be an environment that you are comfortable with. Have you recorded any new material lately? I have been tipping away at some more experimental songs lately. I have recently changed the line-up of my band which in itself brings a different kind of collaborative process. I was a lone writer for a long time, but having other musicians and most importantly a good engineer/producer is prevalent. Are there any plans for a release this year? Yes certainly. I enjoyed writing and recording the last EP, the studio is a second home, but I have also learnt a lot of lessons from that time. No matter how great a song is, if you do not have top quality gear, mastering, packaging etc. your vision will never be materialised in the way you want, and in turn it will not get played. So yes I will be releasing but in a different way.
THE VOICE is what is really putting you on the radar of everyone in the country. Why go on the show in the first place?
Yes in terms of YouTube hits I suppose. But also since leaving the focus has shifted towards my own music and I have had some amazing messages of support from Ireland and across the pond from fellow musicians which means a lot to me.
A lot of musos have asked me this. The answer is somewhat within the above answer. I released an EP quietly, not out of choice but because I didn't know how to get it to the right people and to a mass market. The Voice offers you a stage no amount of showcases in a year could have done for me. I got tired of playing to half filled (sometimes less!) venues. I became disheartened with the whole scene really. It is a flooded one with so much talent and not a lot of people listening.
We have caught you playing live on a number of occasions on the circuit in Dublin. Be it at The Workmanâ€™s Club, The Ruby Sessions, Saucy Sundays et al. We have always actually enjoyed watching you perform live too it must be said. Does performing in front of the camera present a challenge to you as a performer that is not necessarily there when you are performing at a live gig elsewhere?
What has been the most important thing that you have learned from the experience that you will take away from it?
Yes it does, I always have my face buried in a piano on stage and go a bit mental, but you have to be so aware that the camera is your audience so you need to engage with that. I also had to hone in on the 'ugly face singing' I am prone to.
How to perform and conduct yourself on live television for one and also gaining a thicker skin-Twitter can be deadly. It is such a different playing field and you put yourself out there to be judged. I have learnt a lot about music being subjective- something I have always reminded myself of, but unaligned with it on a weekly basis to that amount of people brought it well and truly home. There is a stigma attached to shows like this that people say they are about ratings over the music. You have now been on the other side of the mirror and are now on the inside looking out. What is like behind the scenes on a show like that as an artist? I think I made a really good choice choosing Bressie as a coach. He has been on the underground scene, curated a lot of musical projects and was also involved in the commercial side of things with The Voice. He has a great approach to it all and has a massive amount of respect for his team and gave me a lot of artistic freedom. I think every contestant can make a choice going on the show, I choose to work with the band, producers and coach as I would with any musician or producer and was allowed and encouraged to do that. How impressed have you been with the other artists that you have been competing against? Very impressed. I of course became closest to those on team Bressie, and they are all musicians, can all play instruments and have their own opinions. You were on an episode that was viewed by 1.3 million viewers in Ireland. Are you beginning to see the gains and positives of that exposure yet?
How have you seen yourself grow as an artist and performer from this experience? Yes definitely. It was hard leaving the show with a performance I wasn't best pleased with, not actually leaving the show. Perfection is key on TV and the voice (ironically) gave out! It is a natural thing if you're sick but it was so hard to stand there afterwards. But I have walked away grateful for the experience, exposure and fun. It was so wonderful to hear your ideas being played by a 12 piece band with the best backing vocalists in the country and doing that in front of the nation. What has working alongside Youth Of A Nation Promotions and Big House Management been able to offer you in terms of achieving other goals that you have as an artist? Fin, my manager, pushed me to do The Voice and I thank him for that and he has a lot of experience as a music promoter. He is a great support system and also as I work as a writer too. From a practical point of view it is amazing. He calls 'do you want to do this show?' 'You need to have your gear and be here at X time'. He kicks my ass with deadlines which is brilliant. What does working alongside the rest of Yellowbridge offer you as an artist that you can only accomplish through a process of collaboration? DRUMS and HARMONIESâ€Śmy favourite things. Having extra band members allows you to write better songs, it is just a fact. Two heads are better than one- in our case that is three.
THE MANC TANK Column by David Beech
aised in Salford but with a swagger to rival any band on the other side of the River Irwell, The Nankeens are one of the more diverse bands gracing the stages across Greater Manchester. Similar to Puppet Rebellion in that they aren't afraid to crank their amps up or dial down and showing their softer side, The Nankeens have been gathering both fans and momentum over the course of the last eighteen months or so, with their most recent shows “leaving the crowd screaming for more”. Furthermore, local label Scruff of the Neck has also caught wind of the buzz surrounding the band, suggesting that 2014 might very well be the year everything comes up Nankeen. With label interest behind them, the band shows no signs of slowing down. Having just come out of the studio after recording their second EP, The Nankeens look set to build on an already solid catalogue of tracks. The most recent of which, “Scenester” featuring an Arctic Monkey's-inspired drawl draped lazily across a chunky bass line and frenetic guitars. A far cry from softer, more candid tracks such as “I'm Not Playing”, a track from their first EP, “Autonomy”. It is a fitting name for a record which set them apart from many of their contemporaries, and featured the stripped down and simply titled 'Ukulele Song'. Whilst it could easily have given itself over in to become somewhat of a parody, it maintains a complete degree of sincerity and as such is a stand out track in the band's catalogue, despite it's potential flippancy. Another track worth mentioning is 'Reaper' a track which brings to mind Aha Shake Heartbreak-era Kings of Leon before veering into some almost-shoegaze style guitars.
While the overall sound of The Nankeens isn't groundbreaking, both the energy and conviction, and at times the emotional candour, that the band possess makes them stand head and shoulders above some of the very bands they share stages with. It is music for the every man. There are no added pretensions, no unwarranted ego. Their Soundcloud page might well purport that they already deserve the attention they get, but to put it bluntly, they're right. And whilst Manchester already has it's fair share of indie bands, very few stand out the way The Nankeens do, and though they might already have predicted it themselves, they certainly have a bright future ahead them.
- 10 -
First of all, what's the story behind your name? A quick Google search tells me nankeens are in fact a type of trousers, care to elaborate?
moreâ€?. How was the gig in question? What do you think about the recent noise complaint the venue was faced with?
Well nankeen is a type of Cotton, we did a little research on the mill that we have our rehearsal room in and that is one of the things it used to make back in the day.
Yeah we had a really good night. We were out all day with a gang of mates and just carried it on straight to the gig. The crowd were ace and it was good to feed off their energy. The gig was being filmed/documented too, so hopefully that will come across on the video.
Being from Salford, do you find that people expect your sound to be more in fitting with a certain other band, and are they surprised when they find out how different you are from said band? I wouldn't say people expect it but I do think they're surprised when they hear us. We don't tow the typical Salford/Manchester line when it comes to our music but I think there is just enough in there. You've been in the studio recently recording a new EP, what can we expect from those sessions? Yeah we've just finished recording a six track EP in The Motor Museum studio. It went really well and is by far our best work to date. It's got two tracks that we don't play live so it's something new for the regulars that come to our gigs too. I've seen talk online surrounding you and local label Scruff of the Neck, include the hashtag #newproject. What's happening there then? Well at present we haven't got any plans in place with Scruff of the Neck. We've just finished recording the EP and once it's been mastered we're going to be looking to see if we can get someone to release it for us. So if there's anyone out there interested reading this, give us a shout! A recent gig for SOTN at Manchester's Night & Day Cafe â€œleft the crowd screaming for
As for the noise complaint, I think everyone in Manchester thinks the same - why move into somewhere above a music venue and then complain about the noise? It's ridiculous and hopefully will get laughed out of court. If it even gets that far. Local band The Ninth Watch were also on the bill that night, and have previously been featured in this very column, but what other local bands are on the up at the moment? Anyone you feel our listeners should be hearing and that you want to big up? Well I think everyone should check out our mates Skinny Roller who are just starting to make a name for themself. We have got a headline show at Gorilla in Manchester on the 17th May and we have got them in supporting us along with The High Nines. We also recently got The Fallows on with us at our first gig of the year. They are also really good. Weâ€™re hoping to do some more gigs with them this year so keep your eyes out for that. Also we have done a few gigs with Jordan Allen recently who is definitely on the up at the moment. You will be hearing more and more of him soon. Obviously you've played your fair share of gigs over the last couple of years, but what's your favourite venue to play at? Is it different than your preferred venue to watch a gig at?
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Well we don't have a particular favourite, as they have their own individual feel. A few of our faves recently have been The Castle Hotel and The Eagle Inn for smaller venues; and The Deaf Institute and Night and Day have the best vibe for the middle size venues. Your gigs have been fantastically well received of late (and even before that). What have you got lined up over the next couple of months in terms of live stuff? Any festivals planned? We are hoping to get on to some of the smaller festivals and we're playing a few events at media city again this year once summer arrives. Like I mentioned before, we have our biggest headline show to date on the 17th at Gorilla which will be one you don't want to miss. (Whilst you're from Salford and I'm bending the rules a little bit this month, I still think this question is pertinent) Manchester is obviously a city full of up-coming talent across a multitude of genres, but what do you think it is about the city that makes it such a fertile place for a young band to find their roots in? I think it's just down to the sheer amount of live music venues, there is such a massive unsigned scene in Manchester I mean you could gig 7 nights a week if you really wanted to and the talent is better than most of the signed bands out there. Also the endless list of massive bands that have come out of Manchester and Salford play a big part in inspiring and influencing people to have a go them self, that's how i got started anyway. Finally any news or exclusives we haven't covered that you'd like to leave our readers with? Well our newly recorded EP is going to be called Blisters, and we're hoping to have a limited release on vinyl so keep your ears and eyes open.
SCENE & HEARD
DIMESTORE RECORDINGS Sweeney’s 3-4-14
SARAH RED was the solo artist who started tonight’s proceedings and she beckoned things forth on “Telegram” in a way of note. She is a very accomplished performer with potential, and here the good reasoning adds a barren feel. Threading through the raw side in the thorough way it is done traps a more withdrawn texture on all fronts. Minus the banjo from her regular partner in crime Christine Quill was “The Darkest Season”. It is a heartfelt song with a tidy semblance in the composure that sees her comfortably settle into the performance. It brings composure and contends well with it from the sentiment conveyed. The expressive showing of “Dead Man” alternates strongly and this is reflected in the definition. The guitar fastens to the fine feel that comes to pass in her vocals. The natural flow refines the unbridled side notably. A capello offering “Seven Brother” shows how fine a voice she has. The graceful and soulful calling is excellent. There is a sincerity and heart shown that clings to the performance. “Quantum” reasons things well as it takes flight. The neatness is coaxed in an appealing way and graces things accordingly. The mindful showing to it as it falls into place is a strength that is well worked. The freedom of expression to “Open” puts an eccentricity into her performance that carries through in a substantial way. The weight carried across in the alternative manner manages this in a concise way. The intent shown on “Humans” has a reserved and introverted feel. This remedies everything strongly with the leathered vocal approach. The to and fro between urgent and casual playing arcs is mastered well. She feels her final track “Misdirected Eye” in a timely way. The select feel manages to get beneath the tracking in a telling way which gives it direction. Morose in the calling, the high pitch of her vocals reins it in neatly.
............................................................................................................................ There is a nostalgic romanticism that gives bands an affinity for playing at Dimestore Recordings, and CORROBOREE are another band that have passed through and played it over the years. They were back tonight due to play for old time’s sake but there was no complacency on show. There is a fine blues side factored into thing s with “Witch Doctor”. This knowingly directs everything through with this at the fore. The subtle and fertile feel from the lyrics commands much presence as the hard side of the tempo hits. A sense of symmetry travels across on the rhythm of “Put On A Show”. It is eased into with a repetitive and detailed manner getting behind the play in a generous way that the overall delivery benefits from in a big way. An abject feel is noted on “Cobblestones”. There is a raised feel in the control here that grows in stature. The maturity whips it into shape and they realise a lot more from it in the process.
A high country comes off on “Moving”. There is a hint of Americana about it that sits well with the overall terms of the delivery. It has an urgent style to it that is bountiful and crisp. The movements in the guitar catch this right and consume the overall delivery. A trashy version of Richie Haven’s “Freedom” was then followed by “Long Time Coming”. Described as a mover before it began, they delivered on that assessment. The pull to this one is excitable and the pace rains down on the - 54 It - holds in a consistent way and it saw execution formidably. them bow out in style.
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THE GROUND WILL SHAKE Opening with a fine cover of the Link Wray classic “Ain’t That Loving You”, things were set on their way and a fine marker was laid down. The right points of play come into the reckoning and with “Flood” they keep that momentum. This is a tune that is steady on its feet and shoots straight from the hip. It shapes up and sees them step up. The even calling they can produce is called out again on “Reno”. Permeations in the tempo give it a strong pull that deadens in the rhythm, yet is also angled and traced with a rich feel of the real about it. What is produced is highly admirable. A pristine tune then follows called “Mrs Serene” that hits the ground running. Hard and fast, the sweet running clocks in sharply and equates well with the vocals. The coming together of everything is of a high standard. The interestingly titled “Melmoth The Wanderer” rallies the smooth calling and stirs it contently. What is caught features prominently and the casual turn refines this in the sensible and good tidings that front it sensibly. Fashionable and select, the splendour sees it through with finesse. Refrained effort “Devil’s Tower” patiently hangs back. This absolves the finer points in the delivery in a graceful way that lingers tellingly. Resilient with a clever tumble locked down in the running is their closing track “City Burns”. There is a hard framing to the delivery that urgently resides and garners appeal. The bass is keenly felt from the taut showing and it is a fine effort to sign off with indeed.
............................................................................................................................ There has been a lot of hype about TRAVIS OAKS which whetted our appetite when we saw their name on the bill here tonight. They rip into things with an unashamed raw showing on “Love You More” which breaks down and adds focus to it all in an unapologetic way. This carries across in a brash turn of events that cements the harder side down with no fuss. “Soul Son” has a tempered flow that is matched by an equally brazen showing. Giving it all a New York vibe in the process, that quality is embraced in an exact way. This is a sincere attribute that sees them pull through from all corners as a band. The unleashed sense is continued with “Cigarettes And Make Up”. Snapping into place with a real weight behind it shows. The vocals lean in effectively and help underline this from the vibrant way it all lights up. The rhythm of “Save our Skin” is a mosher’s dream. The conclusive hold denotes a true sense of showmanship that matches how it is called out. It is a tune that guarantees the big drawer qualities it has in the overall transition. “Brittle Bones” takes things slow. There is an indication of a harder side that comes to pass after the intricate looming stance. Scope and expanse are resident in the delivery as much as the controlled reserve on show. They showed enough with “Black Wolf”. The resonance glides across on the delivery in a noted way. A true heft is felt that deliberates in the tight showing as it unfurls. This wolf shows its teeth and provides the necessary bite to show they are a band who justifies the hype. Their single “Last Love Song” grabs you from the off. The slick side forms up in a steadfast way which places the readied feel of the hard and edgy side at the forefront. It evolves in a natural way that finds its stride commendably. They again leverage a finer feel in the tempo to good effect on “Come Alive”. From the first chord it stands up to be counted. There is a strong pull that meets with a lightness of touch in a determined way on the running. The risible slide shows on “Open Season”. This catches everything in a notable way that carries the assured footing in a well meant way. Taken along for the ride there is nothing to find fault with here. They then got straight into the progression on their swansong for the night, “Birdhouse Blues”. They turn on this in an encouraging way that bring s the necessary ambition that all great bands have. The skittish turn ignites things with a prominent countenance that is felt in a big way from the surges in the playing.
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This Cork band impressed us for all the right reasons. They got things started with “TP” and the bravado of the intro leads things towards something with a more deliberate style to it. This comes to replace the passive offering in a sweet way and produces a zip in the delivery that proves highly productive as it energises the performance. The kitsch in the rhythm of “If And When” notably comes to pass. It is steadied with the correct amount of precision. What is laboured here moves it along in a smart way that never outstays its welcome. The graduated poise to “Sick Sight” grounds out something impressive and proactive in the delivery. This is optimised to full effect. The maximum impact of the impact is felt in that regard, while the slick and candid side shows in the vocals. “Lackage” has a more opulent showing. Quite left field terms bring out the best in this. It moves in a catchy and spirited way with the nouveau side committing the band to an explicit expressionist side that is rather stylish. Unleashed is the best way to describe “Blues Song” because it is truly let of the leash. It has an off centre appeal with a lot going for it in the process here. The eccentricities are quite pertinent and show it to be a top drawer effort from start to finish. Two short songs come next
The first is “Arran’s Song” which shows a calibration in the running that picks up in a colourful way. The next is “Organ Jam” which injects a trendy feel and intent from the rhythm in the keyboards. They are too brief to give anything more detailed an assessment than that, but it is a fair assessment none the less. They then followed that with a cover of “Feels Just Like It Should” by Jamiroquai. They show enough on it to make you want to catch them live a second time round because they are an interesting prospect. Adding some jazz allows the tempo to take flight in a savoury way on “Brain Seed”. It is highly impressive actually. Stylish tints allay in the running to produce a steady hold over it all. That hardens the showing in a noted way that doesn’t miss a trick. The again show top draw showmanship and follow it up with a tune that matches with “All The Way Home”. It is suitably titled as it is the last song for them tonight. All the right moves are felt, while the bright showing from the delivery has a rotund retro backing to it that zips along with aplomb.
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The Grand Social (30-03-2014)
SARAH SOMETHING There is no better way than spending a Sunday afternoon at The Grand Social at that wonderful institution of the Irish music scene known as Saucy Sundays. We entered and things had, to paraphrase KAREN CARPENTER, only just begun and SARAH SOMETHING was already on stage. Her first offering was called “Take Care” and there is a consistency about it that builds into the lyrics in a dependent way. That carries across reliably and brings a resolute appeal to everything. There is then a good deal factored into the equation of “So Dumb”. From the rhythm and how it runs there is a fine predilection stirred. It comes to pass in a succinct way alongside the sense of teenage angst that meets a coming of age within the lyrical content.
A carefree strum sees in the playing on “White Gold”. It comes to pass in an abject way that gives it charm. This evens out on the delivery and pulls it through with a highly skilful turn. A softer tune called “Pull Through”, and has a safer feel transitioned from the emotional stirrings. This sits on it selectively, while her voice provides it with a softened projection that resides comfortably in the delivery. To close out things was “I’ve Been Trying”. There is a neat pick up on show that suits the sturdy tempo and the sincerity conveyed. The rhythm sits comfortably alongside the mild manner in the overall breakdown.
THE DAILY HOWL The 2013 King Kong Club winners were next to play and the solid feel of the tempo busies itself on “To Be A Man”. It rolls out in an affirmed way that is stark and deep with a feel of the South Biloxi about it. Some more freshness comes to pass on “Maggie”. The carefree side of it is taken stock of in a way that maintains a high approach. The brisk feel to the rhythm is standard, but it is elevated by the consistency to eliminate any false notions of complacency. Their next song, “Hang It On A Hook”, is well worked and brings clarity to it. The STEVE HARLEY undertone stands out and the very easy going style reflects the noted composure that holds it together in the live showing. Some blues come into the equation on “Out In The Wild”. The harder angle imbues it all with a sense of purpose that becomes all the more effective from the spry touches on show. There is a lot of play put into the bridge which also warrants a mention. The harmonised opening of “Say You’ll Stay” guides it in and holds firm. It opens into a complete song with the handling commanding the order of things. It is a tethered tune that is played accordingly with an urgent build suiting the country styling. Denoted by a skip in the step and tumble in the drumming, “Haulin’” goes through the motions with three playing arcs on show. The bridge is a funky affair with a vibrancy and shanty lyrics commandeering things in a way that draws a lot of interest from the contrasts. The exclusivity brought to proceedings catches the cooler side well. They get straight into it with “I Will Let You Down”. The parlance falls hard but also in the right places. The compact showing in the rhythm calls out the right things here, while the vocals also have a high degree of authority to match the excellent residual showing. They brought the curtain down with “South”. The menace from the bass finely brings the presence through. This deep reverence shapes the tone figuratively, giving it a “real - 54 deal” fell that is musically solid. The ability of the band is apparent in the overall end product which shows a capable song in the hands of a capable band.
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A brief cameo of sorts from LISA MCLAUGHLIN in the shape of a brief three song set came next. The opening line of “Strong” grabs you in an impressive way. There is an inviting quality in the song that has a strong showing. The strong way it is beckoned forward in the vocal delivery adds a level of sincerity to her performance. A pressing loom adds a classy touch on “Seven Colours”. Lent a deserved saunter from this, there is an affirmed sense of damnation to be found in the lyrics. They prove their worth and give it all noteworthy appeal. Her third and final song was “Slow Song”. Here the feeling pours out and the high notes catch an ease in the delivery that meets well with the pace when it picks up. It stands out for the right reasons and has a haughty styling that is finely carried off.
LISA MCLAUGHLIN ............................................................................................................................
B AND THE HONEYBOY
The rhythm prevails on the first song “True Believer”. It provides this all with a galvanised reserve that pushes it through smartly and intelligently. The elated feel of the vocals puts it all into perspective. There is a slight “Runaway” by DEL SHANNON hint about it. This is a languid tune that comprehensively builds and brings grandeur through. The sorrow is kept in check and posits the life of the song in a descript way that has a fine departure to be found in the natural progression.
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Their latest single, “I Got You”, is a sensible number. It is easy going and doesn’t bring anything more to the mix than that. Nor does it try to. And for that approach the medial feel sees it right in a way that is not too overbearing. “As The Crow Flies” has covered by everyone and here it was given the treatment by them. It wasn’t a bad effort either as they got it all spot on. Their final tune was “Image On My Retina”. The video is on YouTube. From the very beginning there is a marked determination that comes off. The vocals and opening line have a conviction that the intent. It is something that is 54matches pressed ahead in a very figurative way and gives a fine display from the off.
instrumental level. There is a high attention to detail that aligns on everything in an excellent way. The video for “Santa Cruz” is on YouTube. As for the song itself it is brought through calmly, bringing a BAND OF HORSES comparison from the even way it takes hold in the delivery. Balanced out in a thorough way, it is an enticing tune that keeps mind of this as the performance sees them play to their strengths.
The scene in the north of the country is alive and well, and in particular there is a lot to be said about what is currently going on in Belfast. SILENCES did their part as ambassadors when they took to the stage and began with “Emma”. There is a concerted run honed in that allows the scenic feel come to pass in the rhythm with an acknowledged purity. This forlorn fragile quality hangs over the delivery in a lingering way that shows. Things then become more determined with “Closer”. There is purpose to the delivery that sets up the running neatly. The curtailed feel in the tone steadily builds and brings a sense of ambition with it.
An upcoming appearance on “Other Voices” on April 27th will see “All These Crimes” played on the show. Here the content way that is motioned in the tidy running lands tidily. This is contained well as it picks up, with an apparent goodness capitalised on giving the scope a well versed feel.
A more deliberate feel shows from how “Chase Me Home” looms. The delivery then converses in a stylish way here that is quite formidable and provided the audience with a superb offering that had the showing to match.
The keyboard on the intro of “There’s A Wolf” is duly noted. The indulgent showing her is brought to bear. What comes to pass develops the presence pleasingly and keeps it all onside, in particular the big helpings of play on the bridge.
“Emily’s Corridors” takes flight with a more realised intent showing in the tidy run. Impressive in the deployment, this comes to be personified on an
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WHITE TRASH AND THE SPEAR HEADED SPARROW HAWKS Don’t be put off by the long name because this is a band who takes things seriously when they take to the stage which is evident on their opening track “Carved Out Of Horse”. It cruises along steadily on the opening and progresses neatly. There is a convincing hold that locks down everything. The urgent touches come to have their place finely. With “Run Down The Mountain” there is nothing missed even though the terms on show are softer. An efficiency procured allows for the gravelly vocals and their tone defines things in a deserved way that garners a deserved appreciation in the process. Coming with its own dance “The Stomp”, “Release Me” is a fluid tune that is kept in check. The rock felt alongside the pace keys in something of consequence that shows comfortably. The sole guitar on the intro to “The Devil’s Charm” allows the rest of the song to follow suit. It leads it all in superbly and they produce a song that is extremely well framed. There is a lot of playing on show, but it is all imbued with a richness of texture to it. More of a road house feel comes to pass on “Tramp”. Rather fluid from the off, it brings through a degree of grandeur as they up their game. The flair from the playing rains down in a superb way which is deliberated with the right amount of justification. Remaining true to their roots is their final offering, “One Whiskey Morning”. There is a blues sentiment to it on all fronts, while the spirited opening line puts a twist upon it that proceeds well. A wild streak in turn then lights it up and lights it big.
Being our first time to see this band play, but they seemed to display enough to leave a lasting impression. The wily feel of “Metamorphosis” has a wily feel to it that seems to recall the spirit of the 1990’s from its despondent drag. This is pleasing to hear and it calls out a depth in the lyrical metaphors that places a distinguished emphasis upon the building of the song as a whole and not just in the rhythm. They then lose themselves on “The Gift”. A listless causality is brought through that collects well in the lucid togetherness. Here they capture the more staunch attributes as it provides them with an outlet.
“Impulsion” is a spry tune with an impressive zip. That provides it with a fine zest as it cuts across. This is easily recognised in the delivery. The PATTI SMITH qualities that have been simmering throughout the set make themselves felt here. Becoming harder on the bridge, the fabric of the vocals is intended to reside where they do. A more catchy and inspired showing is noted in “Clear The Lines”. Within the margins of the play lies the definition. This allows the deeper feel of the bass and drums to be felt, while the steely resolve drives it on spiritedly. They closed out with a cover of “Spirit Bird” by XAVIER RUDD. The minimalist touches draw you in effectively and bring an absolved feel that kindly falls upon the running. It is expressed and framed in a way that contends with this as it neatly builds.
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THE RUBY SESSIONS Doyle’s Pub (1-4-2014)
The last time we saw LENI MORRISON she was LA bound and from all accounts it would appear that it was a very productive period for her as an artist. Tonight her set was a more stripped back affair which is in keeping with the vibe that The Ruby Sessions is all about. The acoustic guitar feeds in on “Caleco” and the anguished flow from her voice guides through the running. In the overall arrangement and delivery a catharsis forms in the structure. This neatly follows from the despondent beginning of the track and brings an accomplished feel when it comes to pass. “Spindle” was released as a single last year and here it loses none of its classy feel. This is somewhat reminiscent of the bygone coffee shop scene of 1950’S New York. In turn, it seems to bring a foreboding feel that collects selectively, but also smartly. As David Bowie once said, “A song is never truly completed until someone outside the creative process hears it”. Next effort “Give Me Religion” was given its first live showing and it spilled through inn a determined way. The piano arrangement imparts a suitable feel in the tempo that matches the lingering tone of the lyrics. The twist in the metaphors denotes a fine writing ability at work that shows her as a performer in the right light. The morose and depth of tone is sensibly worked here. With “Magic In Our Air” a graceful hue carries things off in a fanciful way. Held steadily it allows the majesty in the performance to be traced, making it easy to warm to in the process, which falls fortunately indeed. She closed out with the reverent “Apples”. The tumble in the guitar neatly applies itself alongside the free flow of her vocals. The tempered feel relays neatly and holds the notes in a sweet way that procures a fine and string showing.
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MARIE THERÉSE Not a lot of people get to say that they have played The Ruby Sessions, but that exclusive club gets a little more exclusive for those who get the honour of saying they played there on their birthday. “Will You Love Me When I'm Dead?” has an immediate Jeff Buckley/Leonard Cohen vibe to it that brings something patient to the mix that resides on it rather well. The sheltered feel and despondent nature catch the intent finely. It is all etched out in a telling way with a neat little touch of “Unchained Melody” played in for effect. The sombre sentiment continues on “God's Ways” with a fine appraisal to be found from the lyrics. They yield a great amount from the content that figures smartly in to the style of the song. The dark observations present give little nods to a theological reasoning with the scant and morose notions conjured. A dedication to Shane McThomas of Glasnevin Cemetery followed called “Melancholy Baby”. It starts off with a feel that it will be about teenage infatuation and coming of age before the melancholic side feeds in. This is placed upon the patient styling in a forthright way about not spotting the signs of suicide and the guilt people can come to feel. This in turn brings a broadened showing to the rhythm. In the wake of her final song “Each Way Bet” is a love affair with Dublin that makes its way through on the geographical name checking in the lyrics. This calls things out finely. The spoken word part of the delivery and romance in the everyday observations collect well alongside the violin. They all add up contently to give a 60’s French feel.
Our last act on the night was STEPHEN JAMES, whom we have seen play here before. He warmed the crowd up with a joke and from there things took off in a way of note. The lull in his voice merits an afforded appreciation on “It’s In Your Nature”. Languishing tidily along with the overall run there is a solid display from the even building of the terms here. This commits firmly to the folk side. A vanquished feel feeds into “Gypsy Fires” and is relayed from how it is set out. His voice rides high and brings a commendable feel to the rhythm which casually holds sway. But it has a hardened face value that sits well with the delivery and saddles it all in a way that pays its dues. A song about the interpretation of the inside of someone else’s head was the explanation given for what “Pretty Ballerina” is about. This has a precision drawn across in the handling of the guitar that captures this in a distinct way. The fine marriage of the intimate and poignancy sells the delivery of the performance. “Everything Will Work Out Fine” is a songwriter’s song, but could also be for anyone. The optimism in the message gives it something universal and chases it down. An apparent class is found in the dandy skip that affirms a lot of the right attributes. A version of “Lining Track” by Leadbelly followed and then set things up nicely for “Friend Of Mine”. This signals an intent from the off that holds firm as it processes the detailed feel from the guitar. It is a capable tune in many respects that grows in stature as it comes to pass. His last song steps up to the plate. “Toothless Clown” opens with a controlled determination that is reigned in superbly. How it builds has a fine degree of showmanship that commands the follow through. He grows into the performance and works the audience accordingly to very much go out on a high.
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The Protocols, The Clocktower & The Probes Liverpool Picket - 22nd March 2014
The table tops were covered in cans of red stripe. Or should I say the few tables’ that were in this old warehouse of a venue were covered head to toe in cans of red stripe. It was just off Jamaica Street and onto Jordan Street in Liverpool. Isolated from the buzz of the city and from the vibes in which it held. An ideal little venue; tight, compact and loud- with a nice little bar to complement it. As I walked inside my hand was stamped by a fat and jolly ticket man who took my five pounds and allowed me to proceed through the hallway leading into the main room. At the door I walked through and past the cold hardened face of a bouncer. He must’ve been about fifty or so and just from looking at his face, his cold, weathered, withered and hardened face, it was as if the whole of Liverpool had been forced and painted into his features - caricatured into an ever-living and breathing microcosm of what was and what is Liverpool. He was only a small man but it was a definite certainty that you would not fuck with him. I bought myself a can of red stripe and as I cracked the seal on came The Protocols. They sounded flawless…like a blended up smoothie of Steely Dan, The Doors, Roy Buchanan and The Liverpool Dockyard. I have to take my hat off to the sound engineer for that one. If you can imagine driving through the early morning, perhaps about two-thirty AM. You’re just on the outskirts of Munich and you can see the city lights in the sky just up ahead. You’re driving towards them but you’re getting a little tired so you pull over and buy yourself a coffee and just as your finishing your coffee you knock on the radio and it’s all in German. You can’t quite make out shit but then the presenter announces a band and strikes gold. Well the perfect band for that very precise moment would be The Protocols. They were a different sound alright. With two guitarists, a bass player, drums and a Hammond organ, I’d say they were a jazz rock band at heart.
clenched- to his heart. I liked that guy. He was working hard for no doubt just little money, and he was certainly more of an aspiration to me than any politician or banker could ever be. I kept sipping my beer and watched as one crowd left and another came in. And then another band came on stage. And then my eyes widened. It was that guy I had just walked past with the shades on playing guitar and that band were called ClockTower. I just had to laugh to myself. They looked the part alright with their leather jackets and tight jeans. Hair displaced everywhere. I was prepared for some excitement, some enlightenment and something fresh! But what I was greeted with was nothing more than a bunch of big ego’d pop punk playing embarrassments. Every note they played was perfect so I cannot fault them at all as a band. But they were just so peculiar to gaze upon. They looked so reckless and careless and fuckless but what they were playing just didn’t accompany their attitudes whatsoever. They were strumming and singing sheer pop whilst dressed in rock ‘n’ roll attire. I told myself it’s only a matter of time until the socially accepted teenage rebels smoke cigarettes and gargle cheap cider whilst wearing ClockTower tee-shirts and vests. Bring me the fucking Probes I told myself over and over again. Bring me the fucking Probes. The best thing about ClockTower was the photographer, so what does that tell you eh? Maybe I’m stupid I said to myself as I gazed upon the audience singing along to every word. Are they all just sheep or do they actually love this distorted façade of one direction? Frederick Nietzsche said: 'And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.’ Well maybe I just can’t hear the music.
But do not be muddled by this picture I am painting of a soft sounding five piece. This band are powerful and this was only proven to me as it was driven deep into the pupils of my eyeballs as the guitar solo of “Whiskey Drip” was played aloud causing a bald headed man to lift his arms outstretched into the air and then out to the sides as if he were being crucified like a modern day Jesus Christ, sacrificing himself up to the Gods of rock and roll. But he was just the first.
But hey, every chord they played was the chord they intended to play, so they were doing something right. But just bring me The Probes. I felt like giving up. Where is the anger of youth? In which dark corners of this earth are my generation’s screams and vexations held prisoner? I was intrigued as I had walked past the guitarist on the way out of the pisser earlier on but where did my intriguement lead me? To nothing more than the slight left over scuttling rebellion of an old and slipped out fart.
Almost in an ‘I’m Spartacus’ piss take, one by one everybody started swaying. It was like a reservoir which had been polluted and shook up with chemical substances and rocks to disrupt the tranquillity. They played on as the audience erupted into a roaring and bearded orgasmic sway of appreciation. All lost in society and aspirations. But they found something in music. Both alcohol and possible drug use were now taking their hold upon the audience. The tight grip of release showed. I then noticed the bass player from headlining band The Probes stroll in holding a beer in one hand and a girl in the other. Then The Protocols finished up and dispersed into a memory. I wandered into the toilet for a piss and on my way out I almost accidentally barged into a thirty something year old guy wearing sunglasses. It was only just March and we were hitting on about twelve o’clock, why was he wearing sunglasses? He carried around with him a sincere aura of fucklessness and I was intrigued. But anyway he walked past me, as I walked past him and I marched onwards towards the bar to get myself another beer. The cashier was a man whose name I wished I had got. He was most definitely one of the finest characters I have met in a long while. I only spoke to him for a moment but as I handed him my five pound note he kissed it and put his hand –fist
But then ClockTower played “Take A Chill Pill” and all of my previous feelings about this band were simmered down. It was undoubtedly a pretty good tune which gave me at least a glimmer of hope for the future. They have the potential to change. But change needs to occur. Otherwise they’ll be forever known for what lasts of forever as a pop band. And then they stumbled off the stage so I got myself another beer. I know what I want from music. I want to be bit by the venomous teeth of creation. I want to feel it hit me and to feel it sink in. I don’t want to feel the soft waves of nothingness caress my feet. Crowds came in alike the tide. They swayed in with one band and then out again, and then a fresh tide came in and went out again, and so on until 2am -Greenwich Mean Time. It was twelve forty five and the venue was relatively empty. There must’ve been about thirty of us left inside. Left to chatter and sip drinks. The front door must’ve been left open by a casual smoker as I felt the sea breeze seeping through from the Irish into the main room caressing and crushing all that stood in its way with the cold. The Probes were now on stage and tuning up. The frontman Jack Greene
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stood looking a little like Ian Curtis gazing out upon those that were left in the crowd. Whereas bass player, Justin Forman stood with his back to us all alike like a modern day Stu Sutcliffe. And then they began to play. As they played “Memories Of The Space Age” the music built and built. As it built I was forced to witness the definition of adolescent anger and creation. The Probes are the most interesting band I have heard in a long, long time. Why are we not promoting this? It was as if the Happy Mondays had just met The Cure and discussed Kraftwerk and Hawkwind in an Amsterdam Coffee shop. But I was yet to witness the best of The Probes. When they began to strum the opening to “Glass Prison” I was teleported into this Glass Prison whom we all know too well, and as the words slurred out hypnotically from Jack Greene: ‘Your hope won't save you Your money won't save you Your job won't save you Your laws won't save you Politicians won't save you Heaven won't save you Your God won't save you The church won't save you Religion won't save you.’ I realised I was lost and stranded alike Jason Taverner himself. What more can I say? This is music. This is what you are looking for. This is The Probes. I felt lucky to be entrapped in this Glass Prison; lost in every note they played; continuously building up before sinking back down again creating this beautiful sense of utter and sincere desolate mystery. A guy just to my right pulled out his phone and started typing away. Updating a status or posting a tweet or something important. But they are missing the new age revolution. And so are all those who lay sleeping all over this world we call home. They are all missing the revolution. Get out whilst you can and witness the enlightenment. Fuck everything else and disperse into the night. We are alone. Time and tide waiteth for no man. The Revolution is at Hand.
The Death of the Long Tail: The Superstar Music Economy By Johnny Dwinell It’s no secret that the music industry is a hot mess. Sinking revenue streams and lack of clarity as to the business model of the future have taken their toll. As I have mentioned before when there is blood in the streets (and there is a TON of blood in the streets) there is money to be made. I just read an incredible report from MIDiA supporting this claim entitled The Death of the Long Tail: The Superstar Music Economy. If you’re the kind of person that sees the proverbial glass always half empty you will not like the findings in this report. If you’re like me, you will see the future of the music industry is actually improving for Indie artists in this unsettling purgatory that we must endure while the old business model dies off and the new business model solidifies a standard method of operation. There are a few important factors to point out while you digest the information in this report. All the findings are based over a 13 year period from 2000-2013. This is significant because while global music sales today are significantly down from 2000 they are slightly up from 2012. I attribute much of the initial drop in sales to the end of Napster in July of 2001and the birth of iTunes in April of 2003. Essentially there are 3 years (24% of the timeframe in the report) where the marketplace experienced a culture of high file sharing behavior and very low purchase behavior; This created a “generation” (for lack of a better term) of kids whose first impression of the music industry was burned into their minds - why buy when you can share for free? These kids grew up in a culture of free music. It wasn’t until the iTunes store was released by Apple and Steve Jobs that an official mainstream marketplace put a price back on music. Now we have a generation beginning to get into music and have this first experience and thus, are indoctrinated into a culture that says music costs money. The other factor to consider is that once the price was put back onto music by iTunes, it was, in my humble opinion, incredibly low. A single (45) in 1978 cost .89 cents, which when you factor in inflation is worth $3.20 cents today. Multiply that by a single that sells 1 million downloads and you create gross revenues of $890,000 as opposed to $3.2 million; that reflects a 28% drop in returns. While the numbers don’t look promising, they reflect a drop in revenue not a decline in consumption. That means the good news is people are paying for music nowadays. What artists need to do now is find new ways to bundle products that people want to buy in order to earn money from the fruits of labour. Some of the key findings are as follows: The Superstar Artist Economy 1% of the artists are making 77% of the total revenue. This statistic seems to be disturbing when compared to the “Pareto’s Law” which states that 80% of the effects come from roughly 20% of the causes. In this case it should mean that 20% of the most popular artists are earning 80% of the total revenue. This has a lot of indie artists understandably hostile; how could you not feel like the dream we are all aspiring to be is increasingly becoming a “closed club”. I feel the explanation is really simple though; this is a market transition statistic. Two major factors are at play here and I believe this to be a temporary bump in the road. First, since record labels are making far less money from selling records, they have all but stopped developing talent because they can no longer afford it. Secondly, all the new “future” stores, consumer websites/consumer music services like Rhapsody, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, etc. are NOT breaking or exposing new acts; their business model is traffic driven which requires brand names (already famous artists). The norm for the past decade has leaned towards a model that benefits the already established without any consistent development of breaking artists. Simply put, currently we are mowing down all the trees in the forest and not planting any new ones. This will change soon due to many factors including new music business market development and infrastructure. Technology is evolving and with it so is music. Everything is going on the cloud. That means that roughly 5 years from now, the CD will really be all but extinct. Once the “Tyranny of Space” with regards to physical CD distribution is eliminated from the equation then different marketing techniques will have to be implemented to expose and promote new artists by the big money labels. This in turn will bring new “tastemakers” into play. We have yet to see what they will look like exactly, but they will happen. Additionally, we will see an upward trend on music pricing. This has now seen MP3 formats become obsolete because of the cloud eliminating the notion of file size. As more consumers migrate to the cloud we will see an increase in labels and artists offering higher quality files that are larger for more money. HD tracks will be a common standard in the future. This is GOOD news for indie artists because they will have a far better chance of creating the necessary relationships and online strategies to better expose, promote, and sell their music. Tyranny of Choice Tyranny of choice is a human behavioral phenomenon that simply has us choosing not to choose when presented with too many options. If you’ve ever eaten at Jerry’s Famous Deli in LA or any restaurant with a massive menu, you know what I mean. I’m paralyzed by choices in their vast menu which makes it incredibly difficult to come up with an order decision. This is a major complication in the current music business. The fact that anyone can upload a recording anywhere means a wider availability for consumers to choose from. This will change soon. I believe we will see the big digital sites begin to curate the music tracks more aggressively. Simply removing all karaoke type cover material will clean up a bunch of the mess and then, any further segregation would be due to subjective choice. Bottom line, the more “noise” we can eliminate on the RADAR screen the easier it is for decent indie bands to rise. The fact that there are more choices of music these days has led to a dilution of quality. Too many artists are releasing recordings of poor quality and calling it music because they can. Until some of these music services eliminate the procedure of “putting every piece of music up” consumers will continue to be overwhelmed with drivel. While music is subjective, I do believe that they will begin to whittle down the pollution and stick to higher quality music tracks in the interest of making more money. Artists Are Finally Making More Money! Artist’s share of total income grew from 14% in 2000 to 17% in 2013. I believe this trend will continue. This was due to certain 50/50 split streaming music deals. I don’t care who you are this is exciting for all artists! The more new technology and marketing concepts expands into the indie market, the better deals artists will see. Indie Superstars In 2012 indie labels accounted for 24% of the top ten albums across the ten biggest music markets. This is significant because some of these indie labels have artists that are so big we forget they are independent labels. Glassnote has Mumford & Sons, Big Machine has Taylor Swift, and XL Recordings have Adele. This is proof positive that indie artists increasingly have a chance to make a dent. They are also artists that are not just getting sales, but the mainstream exposure (MTV, media outlets, press, etc.) and accolades too. That has translated into sales. Go Forth, Make Your Music Here’s the deal. Indie artists are now solely responsible to put together a profitable start up business that entails proper, effective artistic development and market development. Once you move enough units, sell enough tickets, and generate enough noise in the marketplace the big money will find you. The Riptide Movement from Ireland is an excellent example to follow…and they have been picked up by Universal. Yes, you have to begin rolling the ball uphill all by yourself, but the velvet ropes are gone. You, the indie artist, no longer have an excuse as to why you aren’t making a living being an artist. All the tools you need, the team members you need, and the technologies you need to create, record, and sell music are available at your fingertips. So what are you waiting for?
Irish Artists EDISONS
Little Bohemia This is a concept album about the life and times of John Dillinger. From the opening sentiment of “When The Morning Comes”, a lull is capitalised on that serves it well. It wraps around the delivery, putting a fine appreciation forward that dutifully steers it through. This sits well with the explicit resolve. “Badlands” defies its title. It is a passive tune with a stillness that becomes a fine calling. This endeavours fairly and warmly sees it through. Coming to pass impressively is “A Change”. The soothing sentiment meets with the tracking in a solid way. The fluid canter takes stock of this and expresses it accordingly. It is rich in appeal and this takes hold in a solid way. The sway developed on “Something Wicked” allows it to drift through. The morose sense retained unfurls in a way that adds befitting dramatic appeal. This is also reflected in what the lyrics illicit. With “Evelyn” there is a realisation to it from all corners. The purity of the vocal breaks across in a heartfelt way. This serves it well and the commanding way the emotion is aligned is a splendid draw. “When I Was…” intricately holds as it opens. There is a lovingness to how it flows that comes round favourably. What is found here is expressive and puts the right touch of class on an already favourable album.
A hint of Americana then comes into the mix on “Take Them Down”. Finding form as it picks up the tempo in a rich way, there is a marked sense of urgency that is set out from the off. The margins are prominent, while the mean way this one is readied is comfortably applied and deliberately felt. Lingering in a lonesome way is “Little Bohemia”. A hint of the bygone America of the songs SIMON AND GARFUNKEL sung about relaxes into this one. It defines everything in terms of tone and structure, while the detailed cut in the expressive side shows. There is a proven sense of acceptance in the air on “I’ll Never Run/Dear John” that holds true. Acknowledging this and bringing through the redemption in the lyrics lights it up incitingly. The duet feature adds a measured touch of class that shows. The piano on “Eulogy” enriches the presence. It is a steadfast application here that slips comfortably into the numbness of the delivery. How everything encroaches upon this is noted. There is a sturdy kick to the pace also and it is a tune that is evenly tracked from the off. A darker tone sets in on “Take His Boots”. How it commits to the song is exemplary. The heeled showing here has an assured projection that lines up on everything smartly. There is a noted conviction to it that serves it well. The album closes out with “A Postcard From Madison, WN, 1934” and it has a sense of farewell carried across in the lyrics. As the song plays out there is a sense of becoming to the keepsake feel. The notion of what we give up for what we gain, and whether one is worth more than the other, completes the sentiment and furthers the appeal. A very fine song to close a very fine album on. - 23 -
FRIENDS OF EMMET
State of Mind
The strong opening on “Coming Apart” denotes a high standard. It consistently adheres to this with the expansive arrangement holding tight to the fluidity of the delivery. The scope and detailed feel of the song is there to be found from all of the aspects that come into play. The upbeat tempo procures the finesse on “No Surprise”. The endearing feel of the song is tracked superbly. How it comes to pass retains a purity that brings out the excellence in the overall delivery with true flair. A more rotund and distal feel is situated on “13TH Floor” in terms of how the rhythm feels. It has a deeper feel and it progresses this style in an affirmative motion. The clean feel underlines the catchier side of the band and does so with real aplomb. Finely abridged is “Hero” and it comes in accordingly on the intro. The savoury flow drives the tune through in a fair manner that retains consistency. It builds in a big way and the dutiful running of this one is stylishly tracked to reflect this. “Headlines” then follows and the
more passive side stirs the reflective one here. Hanging back sees it well, while it adheres to what the structure is tailored to suit there is a lot that goes right for it and displays the manner that the album is beginning to build around squarely. A more spacious feel absorbs the manner that beckons “Zanzibar” forth. There is a comparative feel about the depth in tone here. It is an inspired tune that steps out on the right foot and maintains the momentum with distinction. There is a beauty to be found in how it is all pulled through. A more deliberate feel is felt on “One Man Show”. The intent and urgency are seated at the front on this one. The risible way it is all tracked takes note of this in a keen way. It steadies the running and, in doing so, the richness of the texture becomes more apparent as it marries with the select feel. The attrition that comes to define “Watching The World” it settles into things in a formidable way. The abject way that the tune is rolled out procures this sentiment in a noted way, but it also allows the arrangement come to pass on it all in a way that makes sense of everything in a fitting way. Traipsing through from the off is “Lover’s Kiss”. The haunting sentiment reaches deep and closes around all the aspects, from lyrics and vocals to arrangement and delivery, and superbly holds from start to finish. The album closes out with “Restless” and the acoustic feel gifts it presence. The pleasance of the sentiment configures tellingly here. The passive tone serves it well. In how it fills out there is a lot going for it. There is a mindful feel to how it operates and it something that suits it rather well. - 24 -
RAGLANS The feisty side immediately felt on “Digging Holes” comes together from the off. The vibrancy melts into the resonance of the guitars as much as it does the overall arrangement giving it all a serious kick in the process. After that comes “(Lady) Roll Back The Years”, which again comfortably reaches its stride. The spirited calling of this one is apparent and serves the catchy side well. What is garnered in the running lights it all up with a fine sense of purpose. Again the neatness provides “Fake Blood” with a flair that sits well with the determined side. The expansive feel of the arrangement resides comfortably and it all perks up as it plays. The token feel from the vocals also carry it through with distinction. “Before Tonight” has a solid feel that gets beneath the delivery and brings it all through comfortably. The resilient feel from it pushes through confidently. There is a slight calypso variance in the undertone which adds weight and appeal to this. Straight into things is “Natives”. Hitting the ground running and hitting it
10 hard, there is a composure to it that carefully considered. This gives it appeal and the fine way that it all connects is equally felt. There is a dandy refinement to “White Lightning”. It is honed in on in the tempo and is tracked consistently. Shaped by the sharper side there is a lot going for it in terms of the urgency that collects in the running. Then we come to “Not Now”. There is a maturity to this that steps out admirably on the tempo. This is acknowledged in the lyrical side of things and everything that falls into place feels like it is there by design. A kindled side shows on “High Road”. This drops in with a certain degree of charm and style, but they combine finely with the harder feel that comes into the equation. A comparison with THE FRATELLIS is justified when you hear “The Man From Glasgow”. This is drawn from how pacier it plays out. There is a clean pair of heels are shown in that regard, and it all collects in a way that takes note of this. From the off it comes to pass in a stellar way that never lets up. The mandolin on “Down” provides it with a nice touch. The movement in the beat has a formidable presence, while the vocals and the way they harmonise catch everything in an excellent way. Lit up in an imaginative way is the final song “Born In Storms”. It is undeniable how appealing this one is. The slick way it is chased down kneads through everything required in a way of real consequence. It has an ambition about it also. There is a savoury competence to it, but more importantly there is a confidence and belief about the band from it. - 25 -
JIMI CULLEN Life
There is a pleasing draw found from the opening track “Brand New Day”. It sets it all on course in a steady way. Be that from the prepared ease of the vocals or the lightness of touch in the sentiment, there is a lot that comes to pass in a casually realised way that suits here. Again there is a candid fell about everything on “Mary Jane”. The carefree style epitomises everything and it adds a spirited display to it all. The clean way it all hangs easily gets under the play, while the background elements, such as the organ, add something prominent to the delivery that see it right. More upright is “Inside”. The intent of the tempo is felt and it keeps that in vogue fancifully. The context of the lyrics match and his voice peers through comfortably as well. A lusher gathering summons “Boundaries Made By Man”. It takes note of this and the endearing feel of it takes hold easily. There is a lack of sub
7 stance to in places though, and it does fall a bit short of the mark for it. Next song “Always Love You” is a richer tune. The bluegrass feel of it is inspired. It has a simple side to it that doesn’t do it any harm either. In fact it is what works for it. There is a clear purpose about “Get Up Be Happy” that holds well in the delivery. Set out from the beginning with that in mind in the tempo, there is a stark optimism pressed through in the lyrical. It doesn’t necessarily connect . As such any conclusions that it is hit and miss are not totally disagreeable. However, “Free” is a snappy tune. It is very impressive and it rides in high. The clean way that it is all processed is high on appeal. The clapping is a nice effect on it and very welcoming. The consistency is there throughout and it is an effort that superbly gets everything right. The imaginatively titled “Keep Your Head Up Now My Friend” is styled in a RANDY NEWMAN-esque manner. The feelgood factor is processed loosely in the philosophy. The reflective poise of the lyrics is schooled in this train of thought and that is what comes to pass in the overall delivery. Again it sits well on the album alongside the rest of the running. - 26 -
WATSON ACE Backbone An intricate and savoury feel opens the album. This wraps around the rhythm in a select way on all fronts. There is a sentiment that grants it purpose as much as it relays the emotion. The careful application shows and duly suits the sentiment. Carried through with a broader texture and deliberation is “Declare”. However there is a clever eye cast upon the way it builds. It all comes to a conclusion that marries the approach to a harboured feel quite figuratively. There is more poise to “Never Meant To Be”, which collects steadily. Then the vocals come in over the intro and the song procures something elemental. This puts itself in among the playing in a fitting way which busies it all in a humble way that is quite appealing. The broader build is felt again on the intro to “Runaway Train”. There is a strong emphasis placed upon building it musically, which in turn allows it to express everything on a musical level in a fine way. It is an even song and is called out as such. Much is there to admire on “Crazy”. It draws a
8 PAUL SIMON feel easily. That evident soulful side is brought forth in a strong way. It plays with a determined flight and the way it travels is majestic. There is a more lucid feel about “Bank Robbers”. It steadies itself and has a contentment that is suitably pitched. It falls upon the delivery in a fond manner. Overall it creates its own identity from this and runs with it. A soothing side steers the tempo on “Human Behaviour”. A slick side is shown that carries across cleanly. The tapered feel of the tempo graces this in a composed way which finely. There is a session musician feel to the album and it is highly apparent on this one. A morose splendour leads in “Backbone”. It carries through in a determined and settles a resounding overture in places upon proceedings. There is a granted weight upon the running that sits well, and the voice angles across in a way that matches it without looking out of place. Following that is “No Hole In The Bottom Of The Ocean”. There is a consistency about how the rhythm is motioned through. With how the vocals are called out the appeal becomes apparent. A sense of contentment is chased down finely on it and everything falls into place to accommodate this, but it brings a subtle transition to proceedings that finely suits. The intricate draw of “Never Take The Place Of Your Man” filters through in a considerate way. The song plays out in a way that takes stock on an unrequited sense of love in a noted way. The final track on the album is “Soon As The Dawn Comes”. There is a more robust feel to the mechanics on the opening. This favourably comes into the flow. The stillness of the song is noted as well. It is a short and sweet effort that closes proceedings in a deserved way. - 27 -
YOUTH MASS Morning Run Evening Sun
There is a formidable ambition shown with “Morning Run”. The arrangement confirms the alternative and progressive side to the band, but done in a way that intently draws you in from the scope and range displayed. The beginning of “On A Wave” shows more aspirations. There is modernity sufficiently applied that encases the song in a level of excellence that dutifully unravels. It builds strongly and retains consistency throughout. How “Dream On” embraces the catchy skip in the beat is a true splendour. A retro vibe chases down the nouveau feel admirably. The steady and fluid manner that the rhythm contains steers it through with a fine pedigree shown in the process. After that comes “Old Enough To Better”. Engaging from the off, the synthesised sound correlates to produce an industrial sound that processes the organic in an effective way. The looming feel of “False Starts” sweetly ushers in a false sense of bravado in the vocals that puts an interesting slant on the overall delivery. It gives it a sheen that procures finesse in a great number
10 of ways that see it well. “Close To Tears” has some of the same qualities in the sound, but differs in tone. A morose feel builds from the ebb and flow that progresses into something that configures the more obtuse styling towards a conclusive feel. It is a nice touch when it occurs and one that doesn’t seem beyond their reach artistically. The brief running time of “Echo Gate” puts down some very strong playing as an ensemble, and leads superbly into “1995”. The reticent composure is a good calling, although the backing vocals overlap in a way that is a bit distracting. The clean licks from the guitar manage the beat excellently. To sum it up it is a tune that is more than steady on its feet and it feels like one from start to finish. They slow it down on “A Holiday For The Head”. There is a casual feel about this bides well. There is a strength displayed from the overall arrangement that feeds into the delivery on all fronts. It provides a strong showing and proves its own sense of worth. From “In Slow Motion” a stirring is felt in the rhythm. That engineers the specifics of the overall delivery in a steadfast way. How that hangs back is quite relevant to what surfaces within the fixed acquiesce of the tone. What occurs next on “Tony Don’t You Worry” marks everything out superbly. The demeanour that risibly flows through in the tempo is encouraging when met with the vocals. The splendour sees it through with a minimum of fuss. The final track “Evening Sun” is brilliant. It starts off on a strong footing that draws a RADIOHEAD comparison and soaks it up comfortably. It grows in stature and with repeat listening keeps on improving. Everything that is thrown at it has a place and this organisation enhances the composure on show to that proverbial nth degree that all bands strive for. - 28 -
The Cost of Living Review by Caitriona McKenna
The Cost of Living is the debut album from Corkbased alternative rock band Former Monarchs. If I’m honest, I didn’t really start to enjoy this album until it got to the last 4 (of 11) tracks. Before that, the overall sound came across as rather crowded. The instruments on opening track “Origins” were somewhat overpowering and drowned out the vocals, making it difficult to concentrate on or even make things out; a flaw that is consistently apparent. Another flaw that kept creeping up was that there seemed to be too many vocals on some tracks, adding to the ‘crowded’ feel. At times it sounded like there were far more than four members in the band both in terms of lead and backing vocals as well as instruments. It may have come across stronger if they stuck to one person on vocals throughout. The style and tone of the vocals contrast with the instrumentals. They are too mellow when the music comes across as angry, which is another issue, albeit unusual. Some of the tracks, such as “Buyer Beware” can feel somewhat rushed with the pace of the tempo feeling a bit all over the place. It sounds like there is a lot happening at once and it can be quite distracting. Half way through the album I found myself thinking that all the tracks so far sound similar and nothing is really standing out. They kind of
6 roll into and complement roll into and complement one another, which is technically a good thing, but falls under the ‘all tracks sound similar/have a similar feel’ margin and can get a bit boring. Lyrically, even if it’s not the case, the band come across as being more about their ‘sound’ than their ‘words’, which isn’t always enough. But that’s just me. “Home” does have a slower tempo, but the lyrics are still somewhat unclear. And when we get to “Evade”, we start to hear a bit of a different sound which is reminiscent of You Me At Six at first... but then it just becomes a lot of noise. BUT WAIT! Hope is not yet lost – upon listening to the last few tracks, it’s almost like a different album. There’s a totally different sound; it’s much softer, slower and simpler towards the end – and it works. The violin and piano are incorporated, the tempos slow down, we can enjoy (and decipher) the pleasant lyrics and even feel some emotion. “1000 Planes” stood out for me, as it is one of the few tracks that weren’t crowded with instruments and backing vocals, with a hint of Bastille to the sound. They kept it simple with just the lead vocals and as a result it was sweet and melodic with a lighter tone. Slightly patchy in places with a somewhat annoying tone, but still good. “Clans” was another stand-out track with a catchy hook and good tempo, and “Machine Halls” is a nice mellow end to the album, with hints of a Snow Patrol vibe, softly fading out with the piano, violin and gentle vocals. Judging solely on this album, Former Monarchs have a much better sound when they keep things simple. Perhaps the reason I didn’t enjoy the majority of the album was merely down to poor track placement/order? I much preferred the chilled out vibes from the last few tracks, because you can really appreciate the talent that is sometimes hidden behind over-production and too much noise.
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Irish Artists ALIBI TRAX Act One
There is a stoic progression in the synthesised trappings to “Be With Me” that procures a longing sense from the vocals, while the tempo leads through in a fine way. The fissures in the beat allow the build to be steadily tracked and it has that reminiscence of mid-90’s European artists such as Robert Miles from how it is all caressed. “The Act” is a more expressive offering. Addressed by the arrangement and how it is gauged there is a more textured feel in how it flows. While the lavish flow of the tempo attunes to this and applies itself to the texture in a neat way. The practicality to “Horizons” allows the steady side of the tune to be tracked. It defines things with a well figured approach being the end result and stands out as the strongest track on the EP for the right reasons. The sincerity is captured and allowed to formulate upon everything in a way of note. The final track “Collision” is a more enigmatic affair. The upbeat tempo is fluid and defined, with the loops on show having a high rise to them. The catchy pop sensibilities are finely noted and add the necessary weight alongside the retro feel of the track.
JUPITER AND THE INFINITE
Diamond Chandeliers An inviting Parisian feel digresses on “Diamond Chandeliers” before a candid skip comes through in the beat. The overall deliberation is extravagant builds an anticipation in the running that is highly inviting. A sense of revelry also comes through that matches and lights it up in a big way. Then a more refined touch is placed upon things on “Honky Tonk”. The fetching riff from the play draws out a depth that is highly encouraging. The build has a harder keel to it that brings a consequential turning to the proceedings that is well matched on all fronts. A smooth and detailed curve flows on “Mariana”. The guitar is a fine derivative here which lines up well with the drum in a way that enriches things. The sultry feel evokes a Carlos Santana comparison that is well deserved as it moves along in a way that electrifies everything as it flows across with a lack of inhibition. They move things up a gear on “War”. The derivative of the play is more expressive and has an artistic licence to it that moves across in the playing arcs tellingly. A refined effort with differing directions and a fine vocal display bearing down on the lyrical content in a noted way, this is an excellent offering.
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Leaning into the guitar and rock side, while turning on a sturdy stylish kick, is “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” This is a brisk affair from the off and is brought through with that in mind. While not in the same league as the previous two tracks, it is ably played and stares down the right things in the running to bring it all together. The generous way this is applied is noted and it serves to produce the even balance in the tempo with a high degree of appeal.
THE JOURNALS Buoyantly opening and carried through with the definition very much on show is “Part II”. It has a servitude about it that feeds its way through with a real presence sounded out in the process. Attuned to this and expressed in a way that is duly noted as it falls kindly upon everything intricately, you are immediately drawn to this for the right reasons. With a broadened and expansive feel to the deadened styling comes “Creatures”. This again gets underneath the playing in a stylish way that is expressed neatly, but also showing a consistency and high playing ability from them as a band. It warrants all the appreciation and praise lavished upon it because it toils away in an industrious way.
With “Evil Man” they continue that fine rich vein of form. The way it leads in has a sparse calling to the rhythm that is then recalled in the vocals and the poise they bring to proceedings. There is a tenderness found in the calling that is processed in a fair way, but done with a careful attention to detail. Things then pick up in a more affirmed way with the rhythm on “Move Away”. The slick way the guitar riffs cruise across brings a lot. The methodical sense of things comes to pass in a highly agreeable way that provides everything with a fine face value that steadily makes its way through. A standout track indeed for all the right reasons here. Things close out with “Blankets”. The acoustic guitar calls it through from the beginning and imparts upon it in a telling way. All of the attributes on show have a smart showing that is followed through and retains a sense of balance that leads through leaving a lot of the right things standing in its wake. It has an intimate feel to it that is personified in the delivery but refrains from an overbearing sentiment in a purposeful way that stands it good stead in how it is all expressed.
The Sum Of All Things The sleight of hand that lines up on the eponymous opening track serves it well. There is a tidy gathering to everything here that opens up in a measured way that gives it presence. How cleanly it all holds and gathers allows the neat breakdown to clearly come across with a sense of identity very much kept intact. “Seasick Summer” has a casual feel in places but also a resilient side that connects nicely within the two contrasts. The arcs trace the outlines of the rhythm tellingly. There is an assured grace from the vocals that also come to pass in a way of note here and in the delivery overall these are processes that are locked down to fine effect. They indulge in things on a high level of musicality when it comes to “Silk And Furs” and it is noted in a kind way. The placid turn in the expression resides neatly with the distal intro before nourishing something substantial from how the anchored feel of everything then comes to pass in the progression. This covets a lot of the right qualities and has a befitting calling to it that superbly comes through. The fourth track “About A Bridge” also has an inspired feel. This is collected by design and the ordained calling concerns itself within the arrangement in a noted way. In the weight of the definition here there is a refined expression that serves it well, but also inspires in a graceful way that is equated sufficiently.
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OTHERKIN As A High
“SLN” immediately grabs the attention as it begins to play. There is an unmistakeable emphasis on the playing and arrangement that washes over in the flow. The volume rises through in the delivery and corners everything in a most deliberate way that neatly shows. The rich consistency about it also sees the sturdy side of it through with no fuss. They get behind the playing of “Ego Mud” in a tasty way that collects in a virile way. There is a consequential way to it that rides high with a proven quality that accentuates finely. It lights the track up with how it is brought through, and the consequential way of the arrangement floods it with a side stepping that is very becoming. The third tune “As A High” completes the EP. There is a commencement to it that sits right and is brought through in a resounding way. All the elements of the play retain a consistency that comes to pass in a noted way. Progressive and yielding the right result from how the play corresponds to it all allows the expression that is angled in to be chased down finely. It has an explorative feel about it that kicks in right and shows.
Nevernames As the blissful overture comes through on “Santa Cruz” a sense of the impassioned builds before you. The elation in the tune burns into the psyche in a way that renders the effectiveness of the tune towards a point of significance. The arrangement is spaced in a way that neatly carries across with the purity to it coming to pass with a high mark of distinction. If Tuesday’s child was a song she would be “Emma” on account of how graceful it is. This is refined in from the way that takes hold with the precision it all comes to hold. It commands this in the knowing and well versed leanings of the track which are superbly commanded. Coming to life is the third and final track “Vancouver Aches”. What is primed in the growing pains brings cause for appreciation. It glides along off the back of this in the running and the soothing candour of the delivery rounds this out in a delectable way.
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CORNER BOY True North
An elegant offering indeed from start to finish as first track “Cold Love” hints at a dislocated sense of loss in the lyrics, with the acceptance of isolation trapped in the arrangement. This is a noteworthy song that expresses as much in the rhythm as it does in the lyrical content. A more spiritual sense is gauged on “True North” and shows how fitting a title it is. The philosophical nature is nurtured in the virtues as they hang neatly in a way that finely comes to pass. They released “Ghost Town City” as a single and it rightly comes to pass. The pace picks up and the square expanse of the tune is incredibly applied. There is a due to it that is more than adequately paid and it has a sense of this that it makes no apologies for. An enhanced and enraptured effort falls into place next with “Oxen Of The Sun”. This shows how tight they are collectively and it provides the atmosphere of the tune with something integral. It leads to a point of conclusiveness that sets up the closing track “Till The End” superbly. There is poignancy to this one that filters through knowingly. How it affords the presence of tone gives the running shape and the elected feel from the form here is neatly derived from this as a point of origin. The token aspects of the song bequeath it in a fully realised way that sees it through with a clear mark of distinction.
Kings Among Men Review by Caitríona McKenna
Following release of their debut EP, Quick Sale, in June 2013, Limerick-based indie rock band Going 90 bring us their latest instalment in their “Kings Among Men” EP. Reminding me at times of You Me At Six, Young Guns and perhaps even The Blackout, this 5 track EP got me moving, but unfortunately failed to move me. That being said, it grew on me after a few listens. “Kings Among Men” and “Rush” were my stand-out tracks. Both upbeat tempos with catchy hooks and melodies that stay with you and you’ll find yourself humming later. The addition of a trumpet in “Come & Go” was a subtle change, but overall the track sounds a bit forced and emotionless. “Meet You There” incorporates piano and acoustic guitar which makes a nice change and lends a softer feel to the band’s rough sound. Lead singer Ollie Phillips’ vocals reminded me of a variety of singers from Josh Franceschi to Chris Martin to Matt Shadows. He does have something, but his voice and therefore the emotion can sound somewhat forced or strained a lot of the time, making me want to offer him a throat lozenge, true of many singers in this genre though. The five tracks are ripe with catchy hooks and strong instrumentals throughout, but it still lacked something. Lyrically, it’s a nice EP with a bit of depth at times, but nothing that really grabs you. Let’s just say they paddle in the deep end a little bit, but stay in the shallow end for the most part.
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If I were 15 again I would be all over this. My musical taste has evolved over the years (now 23), so just because it wasn’t my cup of tea overall doesn’t mean it won’t be a hit in the indie rock/pop/punk genre. And for that reason I’m taking it as it is when rating. And as I write this I officially feel old.
International Acts CHINAWOMAN “Vacation From Love” has an anomic sense of being that is considerably felt. There is an intense nuance about the expressive side, while at the same time the lyrics have a sultry dangerous element complementing it that tantalises. Things pick up notably on “Good Times Don’t Carry Over”. It has a lush feel that admirably embraces a new romantic modernity. The noir of the track is traced carefully and it adds a touch of class that elevates the stature tellingly. A NICK CAVE feel makes its way into the equation on “Woman Is A Woman”. Added to the appeal is a polka influence which lights it up. There is a dark majesty that commands everything in a solidified way as it puts it stamp duly upon the progression. The careful context of “To Be With Others” doles out the sentiment of unhappy marital sex within the expression of the lyrics. The synthesised beat neatly accommodates a neat application. How it all combines retains a sensibility that resides comfortably next to the harboured feel. A more sheltered feel sees in “Where Goes The Night”, trapping a fanciful stillness in the process as it plays out. The lucid feel embraces the depth in the arrangement quite well. The orchestration on show with the bridge deliberates over everything in a precise way that cements the allure in a seasoned way. The synthesised sound adds something integral to “What Was Said”. Convincing from the off, the chic of the tune is excel
10 lently tracked and carried through in a noted way. The composure is felt as the moody side is channelled through and it holds splendidly. Next comes “Nothing To Talk About” and this has a catchier side that comes up with the goods straight away. The savoury Mediterranean feel superbly draws you in. It has a seduction to the way it is formulated that is hard to resist. A jazz style gathers on “Blue Eyes Unchanged”. The relative ease to the rhythm tumbles through with aplomb. The achieved sense of the delivery finds something stylish and wrings the tempo out in a charming way. The vivid lyrics slowly make their way through and the song becomes all the more delectable as things unfurl with the progression. “Waltz #1” is a candid soiree. The European feel of this is richly noted and it calmly filters through in a way that personifies everything in a good light. The closer on the album is the aptly titled “Let’s Part In Style” because that is exactly what it does. It is another interesting track, with an indent of Parisian flavour meeting electronica. There is flair to the expressive hybrid at work which stokes the withdrawn run in a pertinent way. Things hinge to the remote traits cleverly and this is what personifies the album as a whole.
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THE VICKERS Ghosts
The steady step on the opening track “She’s Lost” is one thing to admire, but when the vocals cut across you are immediately hooked. The catchy bass and overall feel of the arrangement solidly combine to enrich it furthermore from the timely stroll. The 1960’s psychedelic vibe continues on “I Don’t Know What It Is”. The trippy feel falls across with subtlety, but it then falls back and the rhythm flows forth. There is a completed sense about it as it rises steadily and comes full circle. An elective feel is noted on “Senseless Life”. This captures a gainful style in all the movements. In the sensible and insightful flow resides a fanciful tune that takes flight comfortably. “It Keeps Going On And On” angles a determined showing that steadily comes to pass in the controlled build. The slight Tex Mex style that creeps in meets well with the coolness personified here. It very much fashionably marches to the beat of its own drum. Growing as intended is the kick in the step on show with “All I Need”. The lean feel of the rhythm holds well and provides an outletthat manages to get underneath it in a
9 distinguished way. The finer side of their playing is kept in check on “Hear Me Now”. All the fluid motions are tracked, while there is a progressive and psychedelic side that is highly inviting. How it is let out opens the song up intelligently. The abounding skip in the step slides up to the looming aspects with a deliberate and suitable handling. It brims with a lazy appeal that figures strongly. Tactfully coming through is “Inside A Dream”. That neatness of being smartly comes through. It invigorates the sound in a telling way, while the laid back tracking superbly relays. There is also a sharp cut to the vocals that plays across. The whipped roll of the guitar also shapes up well on this one. Again there is a similar showing on “Walking On A Rope”. The casual warmth of the song meets with a leaner progression, but it a case of lightning striking twice over repetition. Grandeur catches everything in a highly presentable way, which in turn takes it through. A solitary bass line sees in “Total War” with the drumming coming in behind. The direction of the song relaxes the delivery and allows it to steadily build. It is a substantial offering that has hints of PINK FLOYD about it. “Ghosts” brings the album to a close. This is another really fine song which has a catchy feel in the beat and the substance to match. A tidy and casual number, there is a lot placed upon the emphasis as it builds. It returns that investment with an excellent tune deserving of such attention. - 35 -
LOLA DEMO Pash
Review by Caitríona McKenna
“Ooh I like this. I like this a lot.” This was my first thought as soon as I hit play on Pash, the latest instalment from Lola Demo (aka Erika Bach) - the Melbourne native who relocated to Greece in 2002 and has since been releasing a series of self-produced albums every winter – and it only got better from there. This has a serious edge apparent right from the start, with a very powerful female presence. I would say ‘girl power’, but that wouldn’t do justice to the rock chick vibe it exudes. I love the bass on the opening track “Mean What You Say”, and even more so I love that Bach keeps it simple using only drums, guitar and bass for the whole album. I love her voice; reminiscent of Joan Jett/The Runaways, Katy Rose and Courtney Love/Hole, but in a great way. It also reminds me at times of Zooey Deschanel’s band in “Yes Man”; Munchausen by Proxy aka Von Iva. Undelining what I meant about the edge? Correction: kooky kind of edge. It’s a fairly dark album lyrically, though some tracks are very up-tempo and come across as upbeat despite the darker undertones. They’ll still get you moving. Take the powerful lyrics of “Mean What You Say”, “Pash Me” and “You Better Leave Me”; despite their bleak content, you can tell Bach still man
9 ages to have fun while belting them out and gets totally caught up in the moment. There are catchy hooks all around and rhythms that’ll get you moving. Her powerful and flawless vocals make it sound effortless, and you can really imagine it being performed live. Things seem to take an even darker turn from “Am I Broken?” Not just lyrically, but the sound too intensifies. The vocals get a darker depth, displaying a wider vocal range and assorted tones which further impress upon listening. Over the next few tracks, particularly “Wait” and “Blood On My Lips”, the emotion and pain comes across very strongly, like a stab of a knife with each note. “Blood On My Lips” and “Red Light” also indulge an electro vibe to their sound which sounds them out well. “Dead To Me” ends the album as it started; with a serious edge from a chick who knows how to rock. If I had to choose, I think “Pash Me” and “Mean What You Say” are my favourites – dark lyrics with killer hooks and funky rhythms that’ll take you to the dance floor – but I can see myself having a new favourite each time I hit play. I loved everything about this album – the vocals, their tones, the lyrical substance, catchy hooks, the overall sound and especially the simplicity. I’m in love with her lyrics. Dark and somewhat depressing, yet they don’t drag the overall tone down. And personally, I nearly always find that the darker the lyrics, the more beautiful the song. What must also be noted about this album is that it was produced in just 3 days, which is seriously impressive. “With the 'Pash' album, I challenged myself to write, record and master a track within 3 days and whatever it is, it is at that time,” said Bach. And I love this. Have I said that enough yet? Love it. Such a strong album in many ways, it ticks all the boxes for me. - 36 -
Two Birds, One Stone Later Review by Jamie Kelly
The first track “Souvenir” starts off with a strange intro that seems to sound like an old man shouting and giving off about things. The guitar then comes in with a nice progression. The drum performance on this track was very good. It was reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys’. The next track is entitled “Sandchild”. This is a great tune with a particularly catchy chorus that I can imagine would be immense live. The third track is called “19”. It opens with some good co-ordination between the drums and guitar. This is very strong both lyrically and vocally. The guitar riff that comes in at the middle has quality. This is bursting with energy. The next tune is called “Creatures”. The main drum beat gives it a dynamic feel. Again the vocal performance is very strong. The song has a climatic ending, with the catchy riff that comes in for the outro quite the hook. The next song is called “Coast To Coast”. A really sweet drum beat starts it all off. It sets a good foundation in place. The use of backing vocals works really well. I thought that the chorus really stood out and makes the track what it is. Then we come to “Collisions”. Interesting guitar work starts it off. There is great use of panning here. Like the rest, this is very strong lyrically
7 and builds up to a guitar solo before calming back down. There is an effective contrast between the vocals and the music. The riff near the end really appealed to me, and provides a great finish. “Karaoke” has some great drumming on it. The little guitar licks that fade in an out through the verses are really effective. I liked the way the vocals were pro’s throughout the verses as well. It makes the chorus stand out more effectively. The seventh tune is called “High Commissioner”. The build up at the start implements a lot of energy before it has even really kicked in. The drum beat is really sweet on this. The little high-hat triplets compliment very well. I thought this was very strong lyrically and quite topical; ie: it doesn’t sound like it was written for the sake of it. There is a different kind of flow to “Irregular Reader” that adds a good dynamic to the album. The use of the song title in the chorus is very effective as well. The lead guitar work stood out to me on this track with lots of tasty licks and a sweet solo to top it off. “Tall Grass” is the last track on the album. It opens relatively low key but it is not long before the track kicks into full blast with some immense energy radiating through.. Again the lead guitar work shines through on this and it is probably the most atmospheric song on the album. The guitars mirror off each other in the middle. Things chill out for a minute before the drummer shows great endurance with a prolonged snare roll to fire things back into full flow. A climatic end to a great album. I would recommend a listen to this. - 37 -
THE NEW DIVISION
Together We Shine Review by Jamie Kelly
After encountering a surreal amount of barriers to completion this long awaited L.P is finally here. It starts off with an instrumental intro that gives the listener a taste of what is to come. The electronic pop sound is really captured in this intro and lays a good foundation to build on. “Den Bosch” opens up with some electro synth that mirrors the electro pop atmosphere created by the intro. This is very powerful and it is impossible not to dance to it. The climax towards the end gives a ‘dance anthem’ sort of feel. Then “Shine” starts off with some heavy bass that is sure to get any crowd going. The quality of the structure is impressive. They fit into the mould of popular music perfectly. The climax before the chorus makes for an epic song. The synth melody that accompanies creates a real hook. A guest appearance by Starflyer 59 comes in on “Honest” and has a smoother flow. The use of guitar stands out and makes for quite a unique mix of sounds. The melody that comes in towards the end really gives this a lot of character. It’s a superb hook. The next track “Stockholm” is the most popular track on this L.P with a whopping 45k listens on Soundlcoud alone. It radiates good vibes throughout. I can imagine this blasting across the airways as it is a very radio friendly track. The next track “St.Petersburg” starts off with a synth intro. It creates a mystical atmosphere, drawing the listener in that is also a very chilled out song. Another guest appearance, this time by Dave Keening of The Killers, happens on “Smile”. This starts
9 off with a nice piano intro before the song kicks into full electro pop flow. It’s a great track. The drum beat really makes the track for me – it is simple but hugely effective. “Lifted” is the next and starts off with some intense use of synth. This soon breaks into a real club anthem that I can imagine being a favourite with fans. This vocal performance is actually quite reminiscent of The Killers. The melody focuses on the very catchy, and you will find yourself humming it to yourself for hours after listening.
The next track “England” features another guest musician with Sarah P, formerly of Keep Shelly In Athens popping up on it. This is quite a psychedelic song. It’s very mystical and eerie sounding. The vocal performance really adds to this atmosphere. The song livens up a bit towards the end but still stays consistent with the atmosphere created at the start. “Bright Morning Star” is the next track and is a very pop orientated song. The main melody is a real hook, and the song fades out in the middle before eventually coming back in for a climatic finish. The closing track is “Lisbon”. This starts off with a superb intro, really recognisable. It seems strangely familiar. This is my favourite track out of this collection. It has a little bit of a ‘Coldplay’ feel to it. The melody that backs the chorus is great as well. I’m really blown away by the quality of this track. It is definitely the stand out track for me. Overall this a great album, very well pieced together and very well produced. I don’t think it will be long before it will be played on radios around the world.
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International Acts THE SPECTORS Be
From the steady beat of the drumming, there is a delectable poise to “Going Down”. But this is cemented by the allure of the vocals. They provide it with an autumnal feel that seduces the listener before the resonance of the guitar as it richly rolls out breaks it all down in an irresistible way that is a real gem from how it is processed. Again they see things take flight with their class very much in show with “Dig”. Here there is a solid pick up in the pace that is carried through. It has a high pedigree to it that runs across magnificently. The confident scope is kept within reach and is allowed to express itself in a comfortable way that sees them dig deep. They touch in something that borders on perfection with “Nico”. The shoegazer style that they have is brought to bear in a telling way that has a flawless appeal. The ushered toned vocals add a sense of chic that has a completed standard to it that is bountiful. The final track here “Perfect Early Morning” has a retro feel. The guitar meets with a synthesised sound, with both toiling away together in a marginalised way that brings it together in a lithe way. The end product takes your breath away and sees them bring through all the token qualities superbly in the tumble about of the rhythm. When you listen to this you are blown away by how good it is, which sums up the EP as a whole.
THE KONIAC NET Abiogenesis
“Rose Coloured Glasses” has an unbridled touch of class to be found in the softer feel of the tone. It then comes to pass alongside the plausible feel of the vocals. Here everything steps out in a determined way with a large amount of substance shown to it on all fronts. The high standard is maintained with “Floor Less (De Profundis)”. It has a slight new disco feel from how the tempo moves steadily across. The hardened fluency of the delivery commands the presence in a telling way. What a brilliant tune really. Things pick up on “Another Point Of View”. The elated feel of the delivery catches the spirit and runs with it. There is a comfortable feel about it all that leverages this with the best of intentions. That sets to the ambition of the delivery in an excellent way that favourable brings it all through. “Chasing After You” lines up a finer calling to everything and does so admirably. There is a more progressive feel to this and the abject leanings of it are called out superbly. An expansive tune in terms of how much is laid on in the musical attempt, there is as solid sense of achievement to it that doesn’t disappoint. “The Ardent Companion That You Are” indulges fine guitar licks. It endorses a full on rock side that is very tasty. The shimmer in the rhythm comes around in a solid way that is tracked expertly. This has a defined feel to it and in the way it differs from the others yet still feels as if it belongs on the EP shows how much of a talent the man working behind the scenes David Abraham is. This leads on from “The Last Monsoon” and as an extension builds on the legacy of that album well.
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GLASS ANKLE Fragments
The sound way that “Poor Boy” connects has a simplicity to it that rises alongside the eloquent touches explicitly. The feel of the flow falls kindly upon it and is followed up with an eventuality to the fleeting qualities on show. They fathom a more prominent feel to things with “Secondary Now”. Yet the withdrawn secondary characteristic of the track is closed down superbly. The opulent stride befalls it in a kind way and this is acquitted in a superb way in the fleeting qualities. An interlude follows called “Fragment” which is then followed up by “Unlike You”. This gathers in a particular way, and has a gentile filtering that closes in on the countenance in a well thought out way. Bequeathed with a disclosure that has a wherewithal feel to it, there is an occurrence in the manoeuvres that is highly incidental and clocks in sensibly off the back of this. Brief tune “Fleeting” is carried off with little incident. It is an interlude and possibly suggests that it may be the framework for a work in progress. The last track “One Of Them” is a sublime effort. The shouldered feel of the lyrics are dressed up smartly and the contented nature of this steps out in an immaculate way. The cautious build engages everything in a finely mustered way that takes over in a way that is keenly felt. In the assured swagger of the lyrics resides a dutiful transition that is rather thrilling to hear and the progression here is a very powerful acquisition that superbly carries off as it takes hold.
APRIL WAS A PASSENGER
This is one of the finest EPs that we have heard in a long time and it is continually played in our office. That it has only come to our attention via our French music network and shows they are beginning to gain prominence. Underling a superb sentiment is “Wall” and the minimalist touches melt away with the chic side of this. It takes flight in a truly fitting way that denotes how talented they are and how rewarding a band they are to have discovered on a musical level. Cautiously built in is “Be As You Want”. The steady approach then gives way with the licence to express granted when things step out. This is noted in a big way from the smart and sensible way it all clocks in. A true sense of splendour builds into this one that sets it on its way excellently.
The next song just blows you away. That it is called “Safe” is something of an irony because this is dangerously purposeful tune that is urgently felt. The exquisite touches in the synth return a high retro appeal that locks in on things superbly. It has a strong formality to it freely commands everything in a blissful, strong way that contends with the more determined side. A lithe and ornate feel makes its way through on the opening of “Hurry Up”. It stares things down in that regard before developing into a solid tune with a formidable drift that is extremely catchy. There is a convergence in the delivery that connects exceptionally well, while also seeing the track step out with the intention and ability firmly established. The fifth track here is “Red Light Romance”. The swirls in the rhythm pull you in. An excellence is personified in the deft touches which procure volume in a sterling way. Enticing, seductive and expertly traced in terms of design, it is a tune that is completed by its own completed trappings and how they hold tight on the overall running.
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BLSHS Abstract Desires Review by Caitríona McKenna
“Abstract Desires” is the debut EP from Houston synth-pop trio BLSHS (pronounced Blushes). I enjoyed the hauntingly delicate and beautiful tones of this 6-track EP which wash over you from the opening. It is The Cranberries/La Roux meets MGMT, exhibiting a chilled and relaxing electro-pop vibe and festival feel with Celtic tones to front woman Michelle Miears’ vocals. Opening track “Blushes” was my favourite, but this was possibly due to the fact that it was the first I heard, and the following tracks all sound more or less the same. This is one thing I dislike about synth; each track can sound similar.There is no variety and they just seem to roll into one another. This helps the chilled vibe and allows you to get lost in the tracks, yes, but a bit of variety to the sound might be nice and may have elicited a stronger rating. I found myself a bit bored overall towards the end. Also in terms of repetitiveness, there seems to be an overuse of vibrato throughout the EP. Miears’ vocal range is very much exhibited in “Chased by Memories” and at times reminds me of Amy Lee of Evanescence from her early EP sound (not necessarily heavy rock), particularly their track “So Close” from their Evanescence EP. Miears has a similarly hauntingly beautiful vocal range and vibrato tones. However, the tone throughout the whole EP is a bit too consistently high pitched for my liking. We know Miears can go from the low to high notes and back again after one or two tracks - we don’t need it on every song. It gets a little annoying and repetitive. Overall, Abstract Desires is an enjoyable EP, but not outstanding. It’s chilled, but the lyrics failed to grab me or register the emotion they tried to convey. Although one positive is that the synth doesn’t overpower the vocals which can happen a lot in this genre, they get it just right. There is no doubt that BLSHS have talent, but this just didn’t do it for me personally due to lack of variety in terms of sound and vocal range and emotional connection/lyrical depth. What I do like is that it is ideal for late-night easy listening; it allows you to zone out and feel entranced for the duration. If a relaxing compilation of synth-pop laced with hauntingly delicate vocals is what you’re after, then this is for you.
.......................................................................................................................... SPENDER Modern Pest
Review by Caitríona McKenna Modern Pest, the debut EP from Melbourne-based Spender, is described as ‘a masterpiece of eclecticism and a scrapbook of thoughts that spans a lifetime, several cities and a fistful of genres.’ Scrapbook is a good term to use as there is a hell of a lot going on in this 6-track EP. Each track warranted a different reaction, and though I must admit I was sceptical at first, I quickly grew to love it. Let’s delve in shall we? The opening track (“Peace of Your Mind” featuring Clairy Browne) elicited the strongest reaction from me – let’s just say I didn’t love it. It had a very different and unusual sound, somewhat reminiscent of Gnarls Barkley and Cee Lo Green at times. Showcasing a jazz sound and a 1940s piano bar vibe mixed with some swinging 60s, groovy 70s and some modern feels, there was a lot going on here. It makes you want to put your glad rags on and go dancing in a 1940s speakeasy. It definitely gets you moving, if not being a little irritating in the process. It has a good hook and it’s catchy, but there’s not a lot else going on lyrically. “Never Again” has a very different sound, even though those jazz tones are present again and it feels like it would be played in a 1940s bachelor pad or cocktail party...though perhaps it would be a bit too intimate and seductive for the latter. As someone who loves jazz, I loved the addition of a saxophone, but for some reason this just didn’t do it for me. The raspy, whisper-like vocals, although pleasant, just don’t grab me. They’re a bit too ‘modern’ with an old-fashioned sound, and it just feels like a mixed up pairing and that something is missing. Oh but wait. It’s about to get so good! Track three is “Hotel Home” featuring Gotye and is such a treat for the ears! This is one of my favourite, stand-out tracks of the EP. Lead man Tom Spender’s vocals don’t always do it for me, so Gotye definitely pulled this up for me. His falsetto and vibrato tones are heavenly. This is a nice and chilled track in general with a steady drum beat throughout, keeping it simple for the most part, and reminded me quite a bit of Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap at parts. Maybe that’s just me. “Magic Man” is definitely another favourite of mine. I can imagine this being played on the radio, and very much so reminds me of Foster the People and MGMT. There is a very different sound to each track throughout Modern Pest, and “Magic Man” sounds almost like a different band. This has such a festival sound with a catchy hook and great melody that will definitely get you moving.
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“Bed & Chair” – I like this. Plain and simple. It’s groovy with hints of rock pumping through with the bass. This guy’s voice can do a lot. So many beautiful tones to it! It definitely grows on you, and I got a bit of a Kodaline/Coronas feel here too. There’s a bit of a Beatles vibe to “Too Hot to Sleep, Too Cold to Hold” which is a relatively short track finishing off the EP. Tom Spender can definitely channel anyone. The jazz sound and saxophone make a welcome return. Overall, Modern Pest has a different and unusual sound, and although there is a lot going on, perhaps too much at times, it certainly grows on you the more it goes on. Perhaps the reason for this can be put down to the fact that lead man Tom Spender ‘isn’t afraid to employ any instrument, effect or program to make his point...covering saxophones, guitars, percussion, basses, harmonicas, voices and laptops.’ I became somewhat surprised by my rating considering my opinion at the start, but that totally turned around. Each track sounds like you’re listening to a different artist there is so much variation, which I definitely applaud. It showcases a range of talent. And it is equally impressive and varied lyrically. I may have compared them to a lot of artists, but that in no way means Spender aren’t extremely talented and promising artists in their own right.
Review by Caitríona McKenna
The debut self-titled EP from Norwegian songstress Farao has been described as ‘a listen that recalls the stripped emotional crunch of Bon Iver, sumptuous textures of Poliça and bravery of Laura Marling.’ With hints of Haim, Heathers and even The Cranberries to her sound, this dreamy 4-track EP beautifully shows off Farao’s folk-pop sound. The haunting opening track “Tell a Lie” showcases Celtic tones and a bit of an electro vibe which are echoed throughout the EP. Farao (otherwise known as Jahnsen) exhibits relaxed vocals, producing a chilled, festival-like sound which is totally natural and unforced purely God-given talent which is only furthermore highlighted by the fact that she played almost all of the instruments featured on the EP herself. From the opening track (“Tell a Lie”) I am instantly reminded of Lorde, not in terms of sound, but in that you can tell Jahnsen gets just as lost in her performance. The second track, “Skin”, has a very similar feel. I’m still lost in the haunting words and tone, but the almost traditional sound of pipes and tambourine amongst the subtle fizz of the keyboard and gentle murmur of the guitar strings and strong drum beat must also be noted, giving that Nordic yet almost Celtic sound. The wistful and almost twinkly melody in the background of “The Hours” somewhat distracts from the lyrics, but it has a good hook and a strong beat. The final track “To Sleep Apart” is heart breaking right from the first few notes. Soft and solemn, and I’m not a fan of the pitchy, over-processed ‘Oh’s at the end of the track either, but it’s still bearable. These are the only flaws with this EP at times; pitchy and a little overly processed or produced and so it feels like we can’t properly experience Jahnsen’s voice. In terms of pitch though, perhaps it is just that the tone to her voice can be misinterpreted in this way? A totally chilled EP overall that is just as beautiful lyrically as it is vocally and instrumentally. I love the haunting, festival sound and electro vibe. Perfect easy listening yet still has a nice depth to it. It’s refreshing to have a traditional/folk-pop meets Celtic sound from someone so young.
.......................................................................................................................... SUGARKING Dandelions And Soap Shops Review by Jamie Kelly
This E.P opens with the title track “Dandelions And Soap Shops”. What a way to open, from the first strike of an overdriven guitar this E.P shows great promise of high standards. The guitar and vocals complement each other throughout, sometimes mirroring melodies. The chorus is very catchy as well and is a real hook. The second track “My Way Or The Milky Way” starts out with an impressive vocal. As the song kicks in, with a whopping drum beat accompanied by some overdriven guitar, it’s off to a good start. Again the chorus in this catches the ear. The guitar work in the chorus really makes it and changes the atmosphere. The same vocal melody from the intro kicks back in toward the end and adds depth. The way the drums and guitar synch with each other is very impressive and effective. “Coincide” opens with a little drum roll that sets the flow in place. This is a little more relaxed than the previous tracks. It adds some dynamic range. A high level of musicianship is evident. A strong musical connection between the drummer and guitarist is again highlighted. Towards the end of it breaks down with some intensity and great drumming. This breakdown leads into a dramatic guitar solo that eventually fades it all out. The fourth track “Memories” starts off with a nice tempo that complements the lead guitar lick that runs through the intro. This is quite epic in it’s own right. The chorus is very powerful, as are the lead and backing vocal performances. The lead guitar on this immensely adds to the overall epic feel. “Bring Out The Next” starts off with an interesting guitar intro. It’s a different tone that follows which adds to its effectiveness as an intro. The main riff in this is fantastic. This has a great sense of completion to it. There is a little pause in the music before the guitar solo that implements an almost intimidating laugh by the vocalist. The main riff then comes back in to end the song.
The last tune on this E.P is called”Man In The Sky”. The guitar work that opens creates an eerie atmosphere. Like the rest of the songs it is very strong vocally. The foundation riff for this is very heavy and chugged. It sounds superb. The natural harmonics that come in over it really complement it and it builds up to a climatic end. Overall I thought this was a fantastic E.P. All the musicians in this band are evidently very talented, the songs are all structured really well and have great dynamic. I would recommend listening to this at high volume.
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ZOO BROTHER Gemini Girl
Review by Jamie Kelly The first song on this E.P is entitled “Fourth of July and suitably opens to the sound of fireworks exploding; quite appropriate considering the name and also a great way to start of an E.P. It’s not long before the track kicks into full flow, and what a great flow that is. This song has a real summer feel to that produces a happy, reassuring vibe. The steady beat that runs throughout holds up the happy atmosphere. The second track is called “Psychic Whatever”. Atlas Murphy features on this track. This song starts out with the use of some synth and a smooth beat before the vocals kick in. This song has a really catchy jingle to it that reminds me of early Gorillaz. The vocal melody is complimented by the swooping synth in the background of the song. The next tune on the E.P is the eponymous title track. Like the previous two songs “Gemini Girl” has a really psychedelic flow to it. The vocal performance on this continually changes the mood. I really liked the mid scoop towards the end of the song, it’s very effective. The beat stops toward the end and leaves the synth and bass to fade out. The fourth song is called “Dream Walking”. This is probably my favourite track on the E.P. I found it to be a really interesting listen. The beat that carries this song is a little more complex than in the previous tracks, which added some dynamic range to this collection. This brings some uplifting vibes to the table. It radiates energy and makes bopping your head to it irresistible. “If I Could (You Would Know)” is up next. It opens out with a nice bass line accompanied by piano and some jingle bells. The use of layering on the vocals was very effective for this one. The jingle bells give the song a bit of a Christmas feel that complement its sense of awe and wonderment. The final track on this album is called “Please Don’t”. This uses some diverse vocal sounds. The whole melody comes from the use of vocals, not singing though. The singing is layered over it. It’s very effective and definitely gives the song a unique sound. It has such a sense of completion to it. Overall I thought this was a great E.P, great vibes and great atmosphere. This is one I will definitely be digging it out when the summer rolls around.
.......................................................................................................................... CROSS WIRES Assembly Review by Jamie Kelly
The first track starts off with a nice drum intro that sets the tone for the rest of the song. It is very high paced and I found the use of backing vocals in this to be very effective. Overall this is a great number, with an exceptional drum performance and it’s called “Stranger’s Bed”. The next song is called “Acid Bath”. Starting off with a similar solo intro like the last one, only it’s the bass this time. But what a great bass line to set the foundation for a song to build on. I found this one to be very catchy, the chorus in particular. However I did find it to be rather repetitive throughout as it doesn’t change much. I did like the way the ending used to break into the song is again used to break out of the song.
The last tune on this short E.P is entitled “I Want To Be Your Man (Again)”. This comes in with some complementary bass and guitar that continue throughout most of this. It shows a high level of musicianship within the band. Again I found this to be slightly repetitive for the most of it. Although the repetition does see the hooks of the song get inside your head. I admired how they did the same trick with this track as they did with the second; ending it the way they started it. It gives the songs a strong sense of completion. Overall I thought this was a good E.P. I thought it lacked a little variety throughout the songs, maybe three tracks just isn’t enough to showcase a dynamic range.
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MU Review by Jamie Kelly
The first track on this E.P is called “To Be Young”. I really enjoyed this. It starts off with some synth that creates a strange, but strong atmosphere. The vocals are very soft throughout. It has catchy melodies throughout that implant themselves in your head. The second tune is entitled “Everything”. It starts off minimalistic like the first offering. This is evident in the focus on the vocals. I really relished the vocal performance throughout and I found it to be very relaxing. Each melody complements the next. This is very strong lyrically and I can see how this would be very relatable for some of MU’s listeners. The next song is entitled “Big Star”. It again starts off with some atmospheric synth. This has a nice little groove to it that flows very well throughout. Quite progressive, there is something quite tantalising about this. I kept feeling as if it was about to break into something more upbeat with more energy because it keeps the listener hanging on. I think it’s good that it doesn’t because it keeps the relaxed mood that is apparent throughout the E.P. The last track on this E.P is called “To Me To You”. Again there is something very omnipotent about this track. It has some nice piano and strings accompaniment that adds to the atmospheric synth backing that runs throughout. This was my favourite song on this E.P. I found it to be the fullest sounding it has a real sense of fulfilment when you listen to it. The overall atmosphere of this E.P was very relaxing. I can imagine after a long day it would be a very therapeutic listen.
A fervent piano derivative opens “Signals” and in doing so the EP comes to pass in a determined way. The spry feel of the expressive countenance catches the psychedelic musings that are trapped in the delivery which, in turn, stokes the delivery in a leveraged way. Keying in a smart synthesised beat, there is a focus to the break down that inhabits the delivery on “Chelonics”. Cut from a finer cloth, it has a sporadic feel that denotes something of substance in how it all collects. Then a late80’s/early 90’s feel drives it on. Somewhat cheesy, but you get the impression that is the intent and why it is included here. But it sits well and tidily.
Built in a more ambitious way is the intro to “I Get Wet”. The dependable lustre of the tracking keeps things in shape in a careful way. It comes to pass with a sense of purpose to it, even though the minimalist expression could suggest an art school/new wave feel about it all. Then we come to “In Waves”. There is a scope to the electronic beats that make their way across on this one. They fill out on it precociously, with the inviting precision coming to pass in a most favourable way. This is what keeps it all on track and it is a solid offering with an intact showing going a long way for it. The final tune here is “Moonisgreaterthansun”. This objectifies the approach of the whole EP up to this point in a select way. It expresses the lightness of touch in a well configured way. The neat encroaching allows the fine points to compartmentalise the overall delivery in a savoury manner that resides there by design.
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THE GOOD SPORTS Walking
This song is a snappy tune that is wonderfully brought through. The sensible running adds a layer of style that catches things in an imaginative way. The rich 60’s vibe that comes through is highly relevant and referential to the intent that is laid out for it. As such it suitably keeps it all in place with a real bounce to be found in the tempo that is highly appealing.
TANYA BATT Fools
Her voice collects on this and imparts it with a soulful emotion. The elegance of the song steps out superbly. Here there is a weight to it and it falls into line with the stillness in an acquitted way. It brings with it a well weathered attempt that attempts to bridge a lot with the scope and range of the track. It doesn’t quite get there but it doesn’t fall short by much either.
7 .......................................................................................................................... THE BEAT MOVEMENT Coming After You
Catching a fine drag in the rhythm sees this through with an extended touch of class duly unravelling in the delivery. It has a sturdy feel and this leads it through unreservedly. How it hangs back finely gathers and they make peace with the way it all connects in the catchy hooks. Superb tune all the way.
ABLE ARCHER Ghostmaker
Picking up in a way that shows no slack, the pace here is a blistering turn that is finely coaxed. Volume and texture get underneath the delivery to carry it through hard and fast. The tense feel of the running here meets well with the nimble qualities that make their way through in the tidings.
This is a solid effort. It is styled in the sense of modern hip hop in terms of embracing a vocal overlapped with the rap side of things. There is a sense of the weight being held off on this one to allow the song to build and collect in a way that brings a maturity to things. Which is what occurs and the serious attempt comes through in the approach and how it drops down.
VUVVUULTURES Arty Party
The high and sturdy feel on the beat clasps around the delivery, It fashions a snappy repose in the definition. The stark nature and feel of the tune is cleverly teased out. It pounds the beat and the classy way that it all shows through takes you along for the ride unreservedly.
SILENT NOISE PARADE Fears
This Limerick band has been gradually garnering their output. Here they again get things right with a dark and twisted tune. The organic feeds into the industrial elements incorporated in the running serve it well. The dark feel of the song carries through with the mainstream appeal and hangs back to allow the flow carry through with a high level of regard.
THE SHY LIPS
She Was Born in Bahia The reasoning on this one is tracked in a superb way. The splendid feel from the spring in the step easily falls into place here. There is an urgency that is kneaded through in a way that shows they have what it takes as it easily makes the grade and puts the spotlight on them for the right reasons. The raw feel has a habitual overhang here that gets a lot of the right things into the mix.
8 .......................................................................................................................... DEM FOOLS Live Wires
Pleasingly coming to pass in the structure that is traded on strongly, the procession in the manner it is all worked commands everything in a distinct way. Settled and broad, it also has a requisite tone to it that floats through. The minded way that it comes through has a fullness to it that wraps around everything and brings with it a completed sensibility that lands where it should.
THE INKHEARTS Keeping Up
The composed showing here catches well with the fast pace. The clear way that things are tied down on the running collects in a solid way. The maladjusted feel of the lyrics are appropriated and the clean way that things pick up on the chorus, be it the content and delivery through to the feel of the rhythm, keeps everything going in the right direction.
NEW SECRET WEAPON Look At The State Of It
This is a wonderful effort indeed with the playing riding in high with a large amount of appreciation going for it. The emphatic way that things are leaned on brings a conviction through that takes flight in the rhythm. The distinguished cut allows the delivery to languish without being complacent or overbearing, which in turn raises the bar to a steady level indeed.
8 .......................................................................................................................... THE IYER PROJECT Confused Hypocrisy
This has a buoyancy in the abundant display of progressive/alternative which then comfortably flirts between different musical arcs. Highlighting the appeal in the process, it catches everything in a square way that runs with it. The way the vocals come clean in the delivery show for it in all the right ways. There is a material feel to the lyrics, somewhat flawed in places, but the rock side of things progresses in a thorough way and holds firmly when asked of it.
This is the April 2014 4x4. It is a selection of four videos by four artists selected from four of our music networks. At U&I we work with 88 co-ops across 48 countries and the music network that the recommendation comes from is indicated in brackets.
THE HOT SPROCKETS "Homeslice" (Dublin)
THE TALKS -
"Don't Look Behind You"
EVIL EYES -
"Keep Your Mind On Me"
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AP R IL 19T H 2014
Published on Apr 5, 2014
The April 2014 Issue of Unsigned & Independent features interviews with Pamela Hute, The Stoney Brokes, Nankeens, Ciara Donnelly and Corner...