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COLM LYNCH ARTIST OF THE MONTH

FEBRUARY 2013

Live Reviews: THE KING KONG CLUB THE RUBY SESSIONS THE SUNDAY ROAST DIMESTORE RECORDINGS Plus more...

Gavin James Live at Whelan’s

Toy Soldier Live at Whelan’s Interviews: THE YOUNG FOLK STOP ALL THE CLOCKS Album Reviews EP Reviews February 4x4


CONTENTS: 1-3 Artist of the Month - COLM LYNCH 4-7 Band of the Month - THE YOUNG FOLK 8-10 Interview STOP ALL THE CLOCK

Reviews: Phillip Ó’ Baoighhealláin (Managing Director/Editor) Graphic design/page layout: Greg Clifford (Deputy Editor) Gigs Photographer: Eric Cooper Colm Lynch photography: Lee Williamson King Kong Club, Gavin James and Toy Soldier gigs photography: Mark O’ Connor

11-14 15-19 20-23 24 25-26 27-28 29-30 31-35 36-37 38-51

-SCENE & HEARD-

The Sunday Roast Rhythm and Rhymestore The Ruby Sessions The Louisiana 6 Gavin James The Ourz Val Normal The King Kong Club Semi Final (1) Toy Soldier

-ALBUM/EP REVIEWSAlbum Reviews

-Irish ArtistsThe Young Folk Toy Soldier Val Normal The Ourz The Star Department Valentine Black House of Dolls Croupier

-International ArtistsThe Koniac Net Dancing Suns The Nameless Girl The Loose Hearts The Clox The Raygun Girls

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EP Reviews -February 4x4-

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Solo Artist of the Month

Colm Lynch/Watson Ace

In terms of music based projects, the last twelve months have been very productive for you both in terms of your individual music projects and your collaborative work. That collaborative work saw you form WATSON ACE in January. It seems to be something that is very personal to you but also something that also has a great deal of interesting aspects in terms of the other musicians involved. Can you tell us some more about it? CL: The album we recorded was always going to be made one way or the other. I had a bunch of songs, old and new (about 17/18) to choose from. I had also met and started playing gigs with a new group of musicians. It seemed natural after a while to demo the songs with these musicians, and subsequently, make the record. A short way into trashing out the songs and creating the sound I came up with the concept of releasing it under a different name. The songs were still in my style of writing (if I have one!) but the sound seemed more evolved and polished. Plus it’s always nice to make a change. It feels like a fresh start. “End Of A Love Affair” was a new song that you recorded. That was streamed online and the reception to it was very positive. Were you happy with that reaction and is it going to be included on the upcoming album? CL: It’s the first song on the album actually. I think people who know my music can identify with the track because it’s similar in tone and content to a lot of my previous stuff. It also manages to tie in with the sound of the record though, so it seemed like the perfect song to start with.

March and April keep busy with a steady number of small and local gigs. May was a month with two notable events. You played at Vantastival. What differences are there to the festival circuit as opposed to the playing regularly at smaller venues in Dublin and the rest of the country? CL: It’s nice to play at any festival really. At my level, it’s still virtually impossible to get on the bigger festivals. So when you get a chance to play at the smaller ones, it’s always great to be part of that festival atmosphere. I guess, as well, that it’s good practice for when a big chance does come along, like the pressure of sticking to a time slot and so on. There was also the Grand Social gig with Peter Doran on the 24th to celebrate the completion of “Overhead The Stars”. You were involved in the process. The album itself is excellent. Did you get a sense during the recording that this was going to be something special you were involved in while recording? How did it feel to finally finish recording it? CL: Well it was done in Grouse Lodge so it’s hard not to feel special working there. We had rehearsed a bit before recording so I knew that it would sound good. What came with the finished album though, which I think is a work of art (not due to my involvement), was still a nice surprise. We finished recording it in the modest surroundings of the shed in Pete’s back garden doing BV’s and stuff, and by then we knew we were onto something.

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Solo Artist of the Month

Colm Lynch/Watson Ace

Then in June you joined Twitter (@colmlynch2). Social networking and social media are something that would appear to be the new music tools. As a resource to a musician what is your opinion on them? Do you have a specific resource(s) that you would see as an essential piece of equipment to any musician in the modern day? CL: Yeah…I finally bit the bullet and joined twitter. I probably don’t use it enough but I have a hard time making random statements online if they’re not related to my music, or the music of my peers. I feel these days, more and more, a lot of people can’t have a thought without broadcasting it to the world. I wouldn’t want to judge anyone who uses it like this but it’s not for me. I basically tweet if I have something to sell!! Having said that, some people are able to be consistently funny and interesting on Twitter and Facebook, but I can’t even manage that in real life! There were two other festivals you were involved in. One was the 10 Days of Dublin Festivities which saw you play at the Workman’s Club with Peter Doran. The other was Brayfest on the 28th. Some people would say that they are reluctant to go to mini festivals now and would rather go to one festival and make a weekend of it instead. Do you think that maybe there are too many festivals cropping up on the circuit or do you think there can never be too many outlets for musicians to play? CL: Yeah, like I said there can never really be too many festival opportunities for “under the radar” artists like myself. I think most artists around would agree. I’ve always enjoyed festivals over the years as punter, so it’s always nice to perform at one. In September there was the album launch of “Overhead The Stars” and it was something that was well received by the press and critically acclaimed. It must be a nice feeling to be involved in a project like that. CL: It was nice to be asked to be honest. Peter is a dear friend and an amazing

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artist. He initially asked me to do vocals but I blagged my way in to playing piano on it too! It was just a lovely project all round. Everybody involved really clicked on a personal and professional level and that had a positive effect on the end product. Then in October you played as one of the acts chosen by RTÉ as part of their Big Music Week. There was the event for GOAL which was held in 4 Dame Lane. There was an incredible amount of support for that gig and given that the artists were all unsigned and independent acts it must have been very humbling to be selected to appear on that line-up. CL: It’s humbling to be asked to do anything really. When Michael Brough said he was putting it together I didn’t really have to think about it. There was a super turnout and it was a great night for GOAL. Then there was the single launch for “Declare”. That GOAL event seemed to come along at the right time for you. How did the single launch go itself on the night? How much of a profile boost did the RTÉ event prove to be in the long run? CL: The single launch went really well actually. I don’t think the RTE event had too much bearing on it. We kind of brought our own crowd to the Mecantile.


Solo Artist of the Month

Colm Lynch/Watson Ace

So what is in the pipeline for you and Watson ACE? The album is being produced by Adam Kviman. How important was it to secure a producer as talented as he is and also for him to agree to work with you? When is the album due for release? CL: Adam was great to work with, with his crazy Swedish ways! It was the first time I had handed over complete control to somebody else. I found it helped my performances on the record to have that weight lifted. Only having to concentrate on playing and singing is a huge bonus. And with Adam, the project was in safe hands. I’m trying to find the best way to release the album (which is code for “I have no money�). Some people reckon individual tracks are the way to go but I still believe in the long playing album (showing my age). I know music buying trends would suggest otherwise but I think there is a small market for albums. I just think that the platform for selling products is almost entirely at gigs, especially for the smaller artist. So to NOT answer your question, I have no idea when/how/why the album will be released! But I did make one............

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Band of the Month Last year was a great year for you as a band. The video for “Way Down South” was released and it seemed to act as a catalyst for everything that was set in motion for the rest of the year. It was something that followed on from the release of your debut EP. How important as a promotional tool did the video prove to be? YF: At that time it was pretty important to get a video together. It was the start of year and we knew what we were working towards, which was the EP, so the video helped us in many ways and thanks to Ruairi Galavan for putting that together for us. Even though every band would say that they have a defined plan, did you see that as a catalyst for the direction that everything went in over the course of the year? YF: Yes of course. We set a few goals for ourselves and actually surpassed all of them and we are hoping this year will be the same. While February was something of a quite month for the band, March more than made up for it with radio appearances and live gigs. It set up an interesting and busy period for you. In terms of radio appearances there was 98fm and Pat Kenny. In what ways does radio differ from a live gig and is there anything you learn from the process that is beneficial?

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The Young Folk YF: Getting our songs played on the radio is a huge bonus. We get to those people you can get to right now and hopefully when we plan a tour either around Ireland or outside it will get people out to our shows. Galway Bay fm proved that last year when they put us up as “PLAY IRISH ARTIST OF THE WEEK”. Our first show in Galway was pretty packed and that played a big part in that. As a band you are very involved in the live scene in Ireland and Dublin, both in terms of playing or just attending gigs. Playing live saw you begin the month by playing Danny Byrne’s in Mullingar with the excellent TWIN HEADED WOLF (8th), the Spirit Of Folk Fundraiser in Whelan’s (29th) and the Roisín Dubh (30th) in Galway. While sandwiched in between them was the Fingal Film Festival in Wright’s in Swords (23rd). In addition to those, there was playing support to SHE’S A BEAUTY at their EP launch in THE GRAND SOCIAL on the 7th in April, while you also took in Cork (Crane Lane 9th) and Limerick ( Dolans, 18th. Would there be a contrast between the intimate smaller venues and the larger venues such as Wrights? Or do you just approach it with the attitude of it being a gig just like any other? YF: To be honest, we just approach everything as just being another show that we need to do and then on to the next but the line up of the band can change on each show. We are a very versatile band. Sometimes when we do the smaller venues we won’t bring the full band line and maybe not bring a lot of the instruments that we use as a full band. We have to mention there are a lot more nerves playing the smaller intimate venues. People are closer and always listening out.


Band of the Month

The Young Folk

From following you online and keeping up to date with what you guys have going on it seemed that you were always on the move throughout the summer. You played at the GALWAY SESSIONS and that line-up was full of some impressive artists such as MUNDY and CURTIS BLACKWELL. But what really stood out in our book were the gigs in Scandinavia and America.First there was FLORO FEST in Norway. That must have been a big deal to you as a band to play there. YF: Yes it was. It was the first time the band got out of the country but we didn’t know what to expect. It was such a beautiful place and the people in Floro made us feel very welcome. That was then followed up by SMOKE OUT FEST in North Carolina. Along with the customised “Converse” what else did you notice about America in terms of going over there are as an Irish band. That is the proverbial bar that everyone is trying to reach and crack America. For most bands they take any opportunity to play in America with both hands and make the most of it. Was that on the agenda for you and if so do you think it worked out as planned? What was learned from that experience? YF: Ah the Smoke Out festival…absolutely surreal. I headed over myself to play a few shows and to promote the band and I ended up playing one of the biggest biker festivals around North America. It was a bit random, Greg Scheuer, (EDGE) one of the founders of The Smoke Out just asked me a few months before I was dueto head over if I could put the festival in my dates that I had booked and it was too good to pass up. I learned from that festival that people listen and never pass up any show. The “customised Converse” was a present and to be honest I’ve only worn them once. Then July saw the preliminary stages of the album get put down. The album has come together in a nice time frame off the back of the release of your debut EP. How much of the recording was done in that preliminary stage? How did the process as a whole work out for you?

YF: July actually seen the preliminary stage of two albums or about 30 songs which we recorded live in the studio. We record a lot of our songs in ChartHouse and it has always been good to us. Working with Ian McNulty has always made it that bit easier but recording about 30 songs added a small bit of pressure but we are not complaining. You played a bit of the live circuit in August, but it was relatively quiet. Then all of a sudden in September it was into overdrive for you as a band. The work ethic that you have always had seemed to become more focussed and your live performances also seemed to improve and have a more determined focus to them from what we picked up on seeing you live. Did recording the album impact on that decision to up the workload? YF: No not really. We knew we needed to up our game and we didn’t want to go backwards or stand still. August was a nice break and every band needs one and you can’t make yourself too accessible. You also began to focus on the aspects that all bands need to get right today in terms of what matters to the business side of being in a band. You launched your website – www.theyoungfolk.com –and joined IASCA. The obvious benefits to getting things like that right are fairly self- evident. What advice would you give other upcoming artists in terms of getting those basic ‘bread and butter’ elements of their career right? YF: Make a plan and stick with it but remember facebook and websites are not the end all. People will remember you for your songs and the live show.

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Band of the Month

The Young Folk

Live in September saw you play at ELECTRIC PICNIC. From a live perspective is one thing, but is playing one of the tent-pole festivals on the Irish circuit something that can be an intimidating prospect as well as the obvious boost to the confidence? YF: Playing ELECTRIC PICNIC was great but we learned a lot more playing Sea Sessions and playing a big stage everybody should know that you need some drums in your monitor. So it can boost and knock your confidence, but it can be a great experience though. You also showcased the new material there. Was the reception what you expected? YF: It was even better then what we expected but we never know what to expect. The people that come to these shows are always great to us. Did playing there and the Valentia Isle Festival in Kerry set things up for the second Scandinavia trip? YF: Last year as a band we didn’t rehearse much. That was a downfall of ours which has changed already this year, so playing them festivals gave us a chance to play together as a full band set up before heading over. You took in three gigs over there, in particular the gig in Hagarkyrkan, which saw you play in a cathedral. It looked like a pretty cool venue in terms of the aesthetic, but the acoustics in a lot of venues like that are great. Was the second trip to that part of the world any different to June?

YF: Of course it was, from playing a festival in Norway to playing a few different venues around Sweden, we got to see a bit more in Sweden not taking anything away from Norway but it was nice to travel. October was another good month. There was the TOM DUNNE show appearance, but there was also the Westport Arts Festival along with two gigs at Sligo live in the one day. In terms of coming back from Sweden to gig here it seemed to underline this improved work ethic from you as a band. The President also checked you out at the National Concert Hall and then you were interviewed by The Irish Mirror. Did you begin to think that things were finally beginning to fall into place in terms of getting the right breaks at the right time? How much of that do you think comes down to having not just a good manager, but the right manager behind you? YF: Between us all, Manager/Band/PR we worked extremely hard last year but it is always great to have good people around you and people you can trust to get the best out of what we are doing at that time.

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In November, you selected “Letters” as a charity single for Sophia Housing. What does the charity mean to you all because it seems to be a charity you are actively interested in supporting as opposed to being a band getting behind something because it is trendy.


Band of the Month

The Young Folk

YF: Well everyone else was doing it so we decided to follow the trend. Ah I’m only joking. There has been relations to us all, im sure even yourself ,that have been in a bad way and down on their luck and Sofia Housing helps them people get back in to society and if we can help in anyway we will gladly and to release the Charity single at the time felt right. The night itself in Whelan’s was a full house and the support from TWIN HEADED WOLF made it one of those live gigs that were well worth catching on the night. How successful was the single launch? YF: That night was unforgettable and we worked hard on our promo campaign for the few months before hand and it seemed like everyone had a great time including ourselves so it was very successful. December saw you in the studio. Was that in relation to the album? How does it feel to finally have the album out there? YF: Well we are not officially releasing it till the 28th of March at Whelans so not sure yet. I know there has been a few out there that we have been selling at some smaller shows but that was only a once off.

There were also some gigs in New York at the beginning of last month. The East Coast of America is a very different music scene to North Carolina. It is very much an Irish friendly scene and a lot of Irish networks are in place over there. Did the previous trip to the States factor into anything on this one? YF: No, New York and North Carolina were completely different. In North Carolina I played in front of 30,000 thousand of the coolest bikers you could ever meet. In one of the shows and New York we had a couple of thousand people in suits and just mainly there for business. Great to experience both shows and we have been very lucky and grateful over the past year. The Young Folk officially launch their album with a gig in Whelan’s on March 28th. Tickets are on sale now.

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Stop All The Clocks The band only formed in July of last year. How did you all manage to come together as a band? SATC: Shane and I had played in previous bands before and we decided that we wanted to try something different. We got together to work on some ideas quite a while back and then met Sultan last January and started jamming. Then we clicked pretty suddenly. It took a few months for us to become tight enough that we felt comfortable to play live. You first played together live in October at the Workman’s Club. That is a relatively short period of time to get things right with the sound and be confident enough to deliver it live. From what we heard the gig went down well. How did it feel to see things going right on the stage where it matters? SATC: We actually played our first gig in Applerock Studios in July. It was a show that was put together on short notice. The gig was a lot of fun and we got a great reaction from the crowd but we feel it was more of a learning experience than anything else. We figured out the holes we had in our set and what we could to improve it for the next time around. The next gig was then in the Workman’s in October. This gig went a lot better and we were all far happier with our performance as we had time to iron out the kinks.

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Speaking of getting things right, in October there was the video for “Atrocious Grammar”. You recorded it in Electra Studios and the production values behind it are there on show. That is something that a lot of bands never consider or take too seriously when they start off. It is normally post some footage of them from a phone at a gig that someone made. You guys decided to be different and adopted a proper approach on that front. We were very impressed by the video. Do you see getting the video right something that is as paramount as getting the sound right? SATC : That video was a collaborative effort amongst friends. We wanted to have something on show in order to increase our online presence so we came up with the idea of doing it. We kind of always felt that nowadays a video is a more effective way to promote your music. People are more inclined to watch a video for a band they do not know than just listen to the track and in doing this we could do a live recording of the song also and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. We are of the impression that getting a video right is as paramount considering most people are on YouTube pretty much every day and a good video will get people watching and in turn listening to the music. That still equates to being a new band in terms of how long you have you have been around. Yet already you are building a very impressive reputation as a band to see live. October proved to be a month that saw a crest of a wave in terms of recognition for you as a new band. There were two events that stood out. There was The Instrumental Showcase with Venture Promotions on the 13th and then there was the Oxjam wrap party in The Merantile on the 20th. Did being in previous bands have anything to do with that? It must have been a nice little boost to be asked to play and get some recognition for how good you are as a live band in the process.


Stop All The Clocks SATC: We like to take pride in our performances and we strive to be known as a band that people really want to see live. Those gigs were incredible. This was around the time we felt we were really coming into our own as a band and I’d like to think our performances were reflecting that. We do appreciate the opportunities we have been given to showcase it and are always trying to come up with ideas on how to improve our live set. We have all been in bands before and have some experience in playing live but it’s how we all work together as a group that’s important. Then there was the very rock’n’roll story of the gig in Fumbally Café where you were told to end after two songs because of the complaints from the tenants above. That would seem to underline the reputation you have as a live band, but you had an incredible array of artists willing to play support to you at your EP launch in The Button Factory on the 15th of November. There is a true sense of community spirit on the unsigned circuit that always sees other artists more than willing to help their fellow artists out. What do you put that down to? SATC: That was a lot of fun. A friend was organising a gig for charity and asked us to play. Unfortunately the Fumbally Café is not treated for sound and not designed to hold a band like us. We showed up with very loud amps and a PA system. After two tracks the neighbours from the apartments above said their living room was shaking so we really had to stop. There is always going to be a sense of community when there is a group of like-minded people all with the same goal in mind. Also, everyone is aware of how difficult it can be and the energy that is put in is all positive.

You then returned the favour for NEW AGE EXTINCTION at their EP launch. That was held in Fibbers. That is a venue that some bands seem to excel at when they play there on account of the audience tending to be more appreciative to their music and the crowd being more receptive. Is there a notable difference in how a crowd reacts to your music in some venues that you don’t necessarily get in other venues given it is strongly on the alternative and progressive side? SATC: Yeah that gig was pretty crazy. Paul had just flown in from Austria less than hour before we were due to play and there were quite a few technical difficulties but we really enjoyed ourselves and the crowd seemed to as well. Personally, we wouldn’t say that we have noticed a massive difference in the support from the crowd for different venues. We have been overwhelmed by the positive reactions we have received from the people who have come to see us in every venue. On the subject of your live set, we have seen you play live and it is obvious that a great deal is invested into the live side of things because you always seem to come across on stage as a band that play what they rehearsed as opposed to rehearsing as you play. We reviewed your gig at the Make-A-Wish Fundraiser in Sweeney’s in December. But you also played another gig in The Twisted Pepper on the 14th and supported NATIVE. They are an American band with Sargent House. Did it come as a surprise to be asked to play support at that gig? Do you think that the way you are approaching everything about your music is also being picked up on by other people and that is bearing the intended fruit for you?

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Stop All The Clocks SATC: We were delighted to be asked to support for Native. We have a great deal of respect for what they are doing and have followed their music, as well as many of the other bands on the Sargent House label. I suppose it is hard to tell so soon but I would like to think that we are making an impression and that people can see where we are coming from. If we can do what it is we want to do and have people enjoy our music and want to see us play, then our job is done. What is going on with the EP? SATC: We have been discussing our options a lot recently and trying to come up with something that suits us best When we do something we want to make sure it is an accurate representation of what we are about so do not want to rush into anything,. But we are always planning what it is we are going to release next. What else is on the radar for the band this year? SATC: We are currently working on new tracks that we are excited about. We would like to release more videos and recordings. Also, as was said, we are a band that focuses heavily on our live performances. So we will keep gigging and try and reach as many people as possible. Photos by Aoife Caffery.

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What else is on the radar for the band this year? SATC: We are currently working on new tracks that we are excited about. We would like to release more videos and recordings. Also, as was said, we are a band that focuses heavily on our live performances. So we will keep gigging and try and reach as many people as possible. Photos by Aoife Caffery.


SCENE & HEARD

Sunday Roast

The Mercantile Sunday, 10th February 2013

KNOTS “Smiley Face” embraces things from the band here. The guitar on it is impeccably sharp and has a focus. The delivery to it all here is very much something that shows here the band has a frontman in BOTHAM VALENTINO who can carry the band and shoulder the responsibilities required. The track itself plays in with some well-oiled guitar work that is crafty sounding. The delivery gets everything right and duly brings out the best in things. The high octane aspects of the sound are reflected in the performance here. Showing how tight they have things worked is another thing that stands out on it. “How To Hijack A Hearse” cuts sharply from the guitar on it. The quality of the stage performance here is well worked. They keep all the playing elements firmly on course throughout here. The delivery is what counts for it and it never lets up on anything. All of the required weight is given to the appropriate points in the song ad nothing falters in that process here. “Feel The Change” is a song that has a very mainstream appeal. It seals in all the selling points but it goes beyond being a mere manufactured track. The reason for that is in the sense of patience that allows it to build up. The well thought out process of that gives it some distinction. How it is delivered is another example of how well orchestrated it all is. A new song from them was next in “Stray”. This is a marked change in direction from them in all things musically. The rhythm guitar on it comes up with the goods here. What it shows is grit and determination. It shows those qualities in abundance and there is a real sense of heft to it in the process here. The track that closes out their set here is “Falling (Don’t Rescue Me)”. It has a gradual process to it all. The handling of it is very sharp and the guitar and drumming to it are well delivered. They neatly fly in the face of things on this and are reliable in the way they flow. That it closes a brief set takes doesn’t detract from the live performance here. In the coming weeks they will be showcasing their new material and early reports indicate that it is something to keep an ear out for.

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SCENE & HEARD

Sunday Roast

The Mercantile Sunday, 10th February 2013

MARITA CONNOLLY Filling in as a late replacement, MARITA CONNOLLY proved to be a super-sub in all the right ways. “Remember The Time” is a nice romantic song that started things off with here set. It is very heartfelt and the piano sets the tone on it. Within that mood is an essence that is realised and it has a bearing on the lyrics. It finely comes across. What emerges from the sound is placed out there. The internal way that what is contained within it all is progressively developed in the live performance here. A new song followed in “Poor Boy”. The song is about the male inability to express. This song has an open manner when it flows. It encroaches upon proceedings here but is not done in a way that is unwarranted. Her voice is very distinct here. The ability in her voice and as an artist becomes evident here. The conveyance on both fronts has a way of keeping the finer elements of the playing in check. That is an effective little trait that works for it in a big way and shows. “Winners & Losers” is a sympathetic song about winning. The sheltered sensibility to it phases in here talent. That allows it to cling to the tender aspects in the sound that improves it. The vulnerability on show is very appealing. There appears to be a cautious restraint that is cradled to create a great tune from her.

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A NEIL YOUNG cover in her set was next. Her version of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is extremely impressive. The refining of it does have a wow factor that you have to appreciate. Moving on from there with “Forget About You” picks it all up. There is something to it that is fanciful and folds into things. The rhythm seems to pick up more and connects with everything here. The contentment through it all has something divine going for it. It catches everything right and the song has an appeal to it that brings out the goodness in it in a big way. The final two songs in here set here are both interesting in their own way. “Toffee Pie” has a specific sounding element on show. The drumming strides along on it and comes across with a sweet acknowledgement. It is intuitive in how it sounds. The fine will that it is blessed with makes everything yield to it. The piano creates a solid moment that it gets caught up in here. The expansion to it is catchy as hell and it all feels right as it picks up. “Sea Song” is another new song in her set that has a clear understanding of things. It gently expresses itself in a calm and clear way. This shields it in a way that is unafraid to melt away here. The embracing of the subject matter creates intensity. There is nothing trivial about it and it is well balanced. The delivery is very clear and it digs in on it. Up next from her is a solo gig in Bewley’s Café Theatre on April 13th.


SCENE & HEARD

Sunday Roast

The Mercantile Sunday, 10th February 2013

ABLE ARCHER There is a true sense of composure to their opening song “Two Cents” that is immediately felt. It shows the band to be on fine form and this one has a glorious edge to it. Their live performance here exemplifies this. The instigation of everything stems from the injection into it in a way that gives a formative zip to the whole of it. They then follow on with “The Great Henry Watt”. Here they bring all the right things to bear on it in a way that matters. The drumming is crisp, whole the lean way it all sounds from the bass and guitar draws you in. The keyboards have an uncanny way of blending into it also and that sees the entire song scored finely. “Bullets” is commanding and it says a lot from the band. It has some speculative bounce on show to it here and the robust manner about it is all fed in well. There is a fine line walked by it here and the shared vocals work for it. The other standout feature to it is the way the guitar slides on the playing from it.

“Superhuman” has a way to it that is very engaging to say the least. Upon listening it bonds very well to all aspects it needs to. The delivery of the vocals here has a grand stature. Up on the stage things are evoked from the band that illicit all the right responses. Their music forges ahead and burns up on the rhythm side of it. The whole performance here shows a lot of accomplishment from them. “Patches” has something offbeat in the intro. They then manage to bring it all in and push ahead on the tempo. The guitar is sharp on it and the evident way it holds shows it to be intended. There are alluring points on show here and the misty sound it creates sees it drift along contently. When it readies up it also does something noteworthy in their performance. A bit of a grunge influence is felt with their closing tune “Throwing Knives”. It directs it all well in the process. The harsh way to it steps out on this one to show it to be a well thought out number. The deeper sounding points on it do show the band are moving in the right direction musically and also the performance here underlines their reputation as a good band on the live circuit.

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SCENE & HEARD

Sunday Roast

The Mercantile Sunday, 10th February 2013

FRANKO FRANKO “The More We Chew” sent them on their way and is a song with a comely rhythm that is incredibly fly. It drops down into things here. There are intermittent slides of importance on how well the playing from them is maintained. There is a dignified hook on the guitar and the vocals suit up in a shapely way on it. They then played “Little Big Mind” and they keep a firm hold on everything here. The flashes in the playing stoke it up here. It comes across with a heightened intensity to it and the backing vocals are a very specific selling point on it. It is catchy and energetic, which is a fine point to introduce “Dance Motherfucker Dance” off the back of. According to the band this is a song about, conveniently enough, dancing. The eccentricities of showing off on stage aside this is a very hip sounding piece of work. Tussles form on the sound here and make it very testy. Leaning heavy on the rock side is something that adds to the catchy little number they have on their hands here. The song has the fortunate knack of being able to get inside your head and stay there.

They then played the full listing of their upcoming EP. They began with “Top Shelf”. This is a song with a true abandonment that comes across on it and makes it something to be reckoned with. It forms briskly as it is seen together. How it bundles it all has a marked taste to it all. A comparison with HAPPY MONDAYS is made on account of the tenacity that it has. The song itself shows real smarts and it is very influential sounding. “Far From Home” pours out with hardness. There is some nobility to it all and that is put on show here. They lock it down and the clarity in the way it sounds is boosted by the rhythm. There is no mistaking that it is a tune with real flair that grows in stature. “Million Dollar Idea” is one of those songs that you hear and acknowledge it because of how good it sounds. The urgency emitting from it strikes it richly here. They play with fire on it but they don’t get burnt. The lyrics have clever wordings and the chorus is very much on the money (pun intended) and comes across delightfully. All of the play on this is truly stellar. The final song from them is titled “Devil At Your Door” and it is amazingly kept in check by them. It finds the right way to push upon things and it finds the right way to break through on it. The beat on it is immense and thoroughly enjoyable. It shows true integrity and runs a great synth beat to it. Up next from the band is a gig in The Grand Social on 20th of February. They also have an EP in the works and will be reviewed in a future issue of U&I Music Magazine when it is released.

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All in all just another night making toast at the Roast….and by toast we mean music.


SCENE & HEARD

RHYTHM & RHYMESTORE Sweeney’s Thursday, 7th February 2013

This week’s Dimestore Recordings was a combination of Hip Hop, Rock, R&B, Blues, Rap, Alternative, Indie, Reggae and Folk all mashed up together in one very colourful billing tonight. It was an exceptional night of music that showcased why Dublin is such a hot bed of unsigned musical talent at the moment. Our first act on the night was LAURA ANN BRADY. The singer normally rocks to Sweeney’s with the rest of LIGHTS CAMERA SUNDOWN in tow, but tonight it was a solo set from her instead. Replete with just her voice and autoharp she got things going with “Christmas Eve”. The song is played in fetchingly with a placid rhythm that sees it all sail away. There is also a real value placed on the lyrics that allows everything to build into a strong and heavy rhythm. Everything here is timed and cautiously applied and that sees it all come across rather timely. Some more fine qualities are played into “The Darkness”. They fill it up with a very rich folk sound that has a true wisp rising up out of it. There is a parting inside the lyrics that also keeps it all steady as her voice hits all the right notes. This was a really speculative effort that was delivered in a way that shows. A cover of “Go With The Flow” by QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. To hear it played in this style of play is an interesting thing. The pristine and luminous way to it pays off. That is because the version here is given an added sense of charm in the process.

A new song followed in “Sunflowers”. Here is something that comes across as bright and broody. The contrast in the two does lend it a powerful presence. In particular, when it comes to the ornate aspects here they combine to showcase something highly imaginative. The way it is all pieced together is something that impresses greatly. A second cover in her set was “Climbing Up The Walls” by RADIOHEAD. There is a true sense of reflection in it that is picked up on by the way that the chords are all played. They come to bear upon it here in a very open way. The final track in her set here was “Slowburner”. Described by her as ‘an oldie but a goodie’. This is a clear and refined tune that pushes ahead impressively. The chorus on it works extremely well as it shows the vocal range she has in a way that brings a true conveyance to things. There is still something about it that seems to have a triumphant aspect going for it. Up next from her and the band are Sweeney’s’ (23/2 solo), 24th at Saucy Sundays in the Grand Social, Anseo (26/2 solo) and the 8th in Sweeney’s as part of International Women’s Day. For more information check out the following links: www.soundcloud.com/laura-ann-brady www.breakingtunes.com/ lightscamerasundown

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SCENE & HEARD The second act on the night was SHOBIZ. The backing track to his opening number is something that is very circumstantial. What it brings to “Intro- Just Do” is pick up the pace on it and give it a bit of the dapper. It does have a gritty rhythm and the lyrics don’t avert from the subject matter that they are about. It is as positive as it is philosophical here. The second track from him is called “Reassured”. This sees his performance become more animated and snappier. The current affairs mentioned in the lyrics show a keen eye for observation. The sound that is mixed in on this is interrupted by a pause midway through the set, which is part of the performance, but the chords that it strikes are well matched to this one. Some AfroCaribbean influences on the mix to “Robots Gone Wild” give it a real sense of flavour. The pace to the rapping shapes it all nicely. It comes in on the back of some nice beats and verses that are well tracked here. There is also a strong sense of authority to it. “Lagos” then leads in from that song without dropping a beat. It questions authority but without the angry rapper approach of most artists. Instead it is more about intellect and resolving things through discourse. The direction to it is very specific and it is well tailored here. Incorporating a sample of “Since I Left You” by THE AVALANCHES the fast dropping of the lyrical covers the subject of domestic violence. It forms things nicely inside this, and musically he masters the lyrics. It has an even presence that keeps it appealing.

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RHYTHM & RHYMESTORE Sweeney’s Thursday, 7th February 2013

Then he showcased some tunes that are under consideration for his upcoming EP. “Just Won’t Learn” has an elevation to it. That is caused by the piano, drum and bass giving it a real gloss. It is very steady and things are caught finely. The lyrics also seem to have figured everything out about it and that sees a relevance brought to it that shows true reckoning here. There is a scatty way to “Doing It” that makes it rather fancy. The scratching and mixing to it carry a flurry to the beats that is pretty fly. It then locks in the lyrics here and tables a commendable effort that is very well styled. The synth in “Games And The Bosses” shows some real class. The switch to it is gifted with a real sense of bounce and it flies off this. It is refreshing and captivated with colour. The determination in the lyrics guides it and there is a real appreciation in the making of it all here. With “Better Late Than Never” there is a good vibe that is tight and locked down into the sound. It spins off some very good hooks and the whole lot of it shows something perpetual in the lyrics. This is a very crisp number from beginning to end and the live delivery really has something to it. Currently working on an EP that is in the works and due for release in April, you can check his music out on the following link: www.soundcloud.com/ShoBizOfficial


SCENE & HEARD

RHYTHM & RHYMESTORE Sweeney’s Thursday, 7th February 2013

EMPATHY was a band that intrigued us from the way they set up. A band with a left handed drummer is always an intriguing prospect. They were described as the alternative rock act on the night’s billing and with “Face Down” they get it right from the start. There is a resilience in how it sounds that is etched into it. They then demonstrate good control over the playing and something is brought to it with the vocals. It is a brief tune but stills shows enough to demonstrate a nice hold off the play while being a catchy little number at the same time. They then covered “Gauge Away” by THE PIXIES. This was well worked and the stray qualities in the playing style bring out the best in them here. While on “Cellular” what is played in on the sound really pays off for them. There is some excellent guitar and drum work on show to it. That solidifies it and rounds it all out. The lyrics have a lot to say about things, while the healthy rhythm is what makes it all tick here. They show that they are in charge of things here and show it in a big way.

There is a timely feel to “Surprise” that draws on the strengths to how it sounds. It plays around with the dreamy aspects and that allows it to steer it to the subject matter. The angst in the lyrics here are what make it kitchen sink music for a new generation. It really wises up to things that are gritty. They then covered “Leif Erikson” by INTERPOL. Their version here shows the strengths of their lead singer. It also gels specifically for them and they lay it all down well. Then to close things was the elaborate “Body Over Mind”. It is presented well by the way that the playing on it combines. It sets a tone within the rhythm that ricochets off each individual element. The work on show to it is incredibly solid and has a sense of belonging to it. For more information on the band check out the following link: www.soundcloud.com /empathy_band

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SCENE & HEARD ROB STEENSON AND THE APARTMENT 6 CLUB were an absolutely outstanding band here tonight. They flew the flag for the Dublin hip hop scene here tonight with true distinction. “Faithless” emerges from the acoustic guitar and it comes together. It is reputable and it evokes a lot of qualities that open it up. This is an impressive start and from there they build on it with “Breathe”. It benefits from the cut that they allow the rhythm to form. That corresponds expertly with the lyrics and the way that they mirror one another is a good acknowledgment in their music. The working in of things gets on the inside track and runs all the way. The successful way it is all injected gives a true sense of credibility to it all. What is also important not to overlook here is that band also show that they can play. There is a true grandeur to “Five Years” and it rears up strongly. The verses to it show a true creativity and the sharp observations give it the protection it deserves. With FUNZO on vocals there are a lot of plusses going for it. In particular how it all rolls out is a testament to how real they make it all.

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RHYTHM & RHYMESTORE Sweeney’s Thursday, 7th February 2013

Things then get into a more upbeat style with “Summer Rain”. The drumming and guitar step up to the plate on a very positive number here. The rhythm to it is something that nestles in a quality way. From the tone to the tempo, all of the things on show here are top drawer work. There is no let up from them at all which is also impressive work. “Down To The River” charges into things. There is also a scenic sense to it and still takes in a lot of work. It traps in a number of the right things and very much realises everything by adopting this approach. The whole of it is a joy to take in. It is sprightly and very effective in how all the angles are worked into the live delivery of everything. Incorporating some JAMIE T with THE STROKES they delivered on “If You’ve Got The Money”. There is some steady work here from the off and roots it all to the spot. They also rein it in properly and that is an important consideration on their behalf. That allows a tempo to come across on the way it is played that lifts it and is equally suitable. A freestyle number and a new song closed their set here. It seems to imbue a sense of BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD’S “For What It’s Worth” in the way that the sombre lines are drawn to it. It holds up confidently and has an extensive sway to it. The tenderness wrapped up in it is given something extra by the way the guitar leads it all. The rhythm on the bridge is an unexpected observation to make about a hip-hop song, but credit where credit is due. There is an upcoming EP in the works and you can find out more about them on the following link: www.youtube.com/urmanrob


SCENE & HEARD The next act on the night’s bill was the very impressive THE RUSTY FIXTURES. They are another band that have been on our radar that we have been eager to track down and see live because of the reputation that they have. Seeing them on the line-up tonight was a real bonus for us and what they did up on stage tonight was a real pleasure to witness. The handsome way “Boots” hits you is caused by a tidy rhythm being played in the right hands. It floats on the back of this and gets down to everything pretty quickly. There is a veneer to it that picks up the style for it in a big way. The guitar on show is sensibly played and that allows the pace to be coaxed out. Then they played something very funky in “Jungle Mix” while still being very suave at the same time. They turn it on and really pour it into the performance here with real splendour. The tight way it does it seems to make it come across in a cabaret fashion, but there is no mistaking the good vibe going for it. “Bridge St. Blues” expertly teases out the opening with a chirpy piano that is a very prominent feature in it. The clever lyrics are given something more to say with the vocals of MARY KIRWAN. The bridge angles all the playing into something very resolute and compact, while the drum roll to it is nothing short of wicked. ‘’When You Left Me” has an evergreen feel to it. There is nothing too taxing about it in how it strums away. That allows the sorrowful side to the lyrics to be conveyed with a true sentiment. That is a feature that is pinned down and it gently keeps it on course from that. It is the application here that is the true admirable feature. That sees the properties in the sound benefit and siphon off something when the guitar slide comes in on the sound. Then something truly wonderful follows in “Gone Fishing”. The upbeat aspects of it are like a second nature to it

RHYTHM & RHYMESTORE Sweeney’s Thursday, 7th February 2013

and it plays like a breath of fresh air. The hooks on show to it soulfully sell it without it selling its soul. It is impossible not to like this one because it has true substance over style all the way here. The bonding of it all shows through and it is magnificent for it. One of the tracks off their upcoming EP was next. “Bookless” is very American sounding. The big opening to it is astute and sweet, while the rhythm gives it a true kick. It all falls in nicely and the ska moments on it truly electrify and prove to be an unexpected turn that delight. With “Fingertip Talking” things are well kept in check. It is cautious and keen minded with a true burst on show. It coasts along brilliantly and comes together off the back of the pace to the drumming. It all impresses and in particular, the shared vocals are a very effective element. “Tom Bollocks” is described by them as a new disco tune’. It does seem to have an interesting whim that lures you in and it is very subtle. Then things are prompted by the rhythm here that sees the large aspects to it played in a way that bring out the best in it. It storms along and the calypso elements of it are a genuine touch of class. They played a cover of “Psycho Killer” next and it was as good as the TALKING HEADS original. Everything about it was spot on. That precision saw them deliver with it on all fronts here. A fine tune to close a fine set with in “Leave Me Where You Lay Me Down” it must be said. The jumpy sounding guitar is very casual. Yet it seems to bring out the best in things here. It lays it all down and turns it on with a real panache that takes it up a considerable notch here. The band is currently recording a new EP which will feature in a future issue of U&I Music Magazine. For more information on the band check out the following link: www.therustyfixtures.com 19


SCENE & HEARD

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The Ruby Sessions

Doyle’s Tuesday 5th, February 2013

he Ruby Sessions is one of the most highly regarded club nights in the country for a very good reason. Now in its 14th year running, it showcases itself not just as an excellent night of live music, but also as an excellent platform that showcases an incredible array of upcoming and original talent. Tonight’s line-up had four impeccable artists take to the stage from behind the famous curtain and perform to the audience upstairs here in Doyle’s this evening. Tonight was to be no different with four very talented acts taking to the stage and create an incredible night of music in the process. ROCHER was the first act to take to the stage here this evening to get things underway. He is an artist who has had an incredible last few months. A slot at the Electric Picnic and a touring slot with THE LAST WALTZ being two of the highlights for him, and tonight he was here to promote some tunes from his forthcoming EP “Seven Hours”. Getting on with the playing side of things was a track off the upcoming EP called “The Girl Next Door”. It engages the listener with the way that the vocals have a lull on them. That imposes upon it a goodness that shape things here. The performance of it all live is an aspired one. The tempo off the guitar meets some quaint Spanish moments in the playing that gift it something very elegant in the process. There is a feel that it is somewhat toned down that allows it to amble along ever so well. “Officer, Officer” was next and this has a seasoned rhythm going for it. That does seem to see it appear bound by things but that is all part of the process of how it forms. As it plays things begin to glisten and that allows it to rise in a very good way that shows something grandiose lying in wait. There is also something of the eccentric about it that brightens it. Those features combine together to produce something with a truly dainty appeal and it carries it all off well. A song about a French girl, “Caroline” tells a tale while also playing in a carefree manner that is very suitable to it. There is something about it that is very reserved but it manages to find a way to take flight. The patient approach to it sees it take flight at a specific moment but also at the appropriate one.

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That is down to the strength of the playing and the discipline applied on the rhythm. That combination is what gives it the necessary pull here to see it out figuratively. In short it is a very candid little number that has the right amount of tenderness applied to it. Then closing off his set he delivered a very charismatic song in “The Open Book” that has an application of the nonchalant about it that gives it a breezy style. There is a smart dangle off the play and it breaks into a very well structured song that has a tiered effect going for it. The changes in direction highlight this and it comes across as being very influenced by French musicians of the 1960s such as FRANCOISE HARDY in the way it is boosted by the differences in the play. There is a goodness to it that is honed in with some very well polished vocals and it allows things to run hand-in-hand as it all plays. His EP “Seven Hours” was released on Friday, February 8th in the Grand Social and will be reviewed in the March issue of U&I Music Magazine. For more information on ROCHER: www.facebook.com/rocherofficial


SCENE & HEARD GAIA ARAD is an artist from Brooklyn, who in the past has opened for JOOLS HOLLAND, was next here tonight. She has currently released here second album “Ooh La Baby” which is an incredible album to listen to. Beginning things tonight she began with a song called “Ooh La La”. This has a very intimate and closeness on show that is very scintillating. It is all capably delivered here and the live performance really keeps you in the palm of her hand. It is a smart little effort that is rewarded for its ingenuity. There is a good handle on it from her as a performer here with an injection of “oomph” that consolidates how it is all pieced together. There is a smoothness to it that is equally seductive in the tone and her voice is something that really magnifies this ability. That feat is repeated again on “Something To Say” although this one seems to set out to intentionally seduce you. It has a tenderness that encloses all of it and it really embraces that well. By doing so it plays to its strengths and sees a remarkable attribute come off the play. The vocals here also captivate and while away on the song in a way that blend in with all the pristine qualities of it. Everything to it is so soft and sweet that it mesmerises in the essence of the demeanour. This has an elegant and tasteful variation throughout it that gives it a slight charm that very much complements it. The preceding anecdote gives a better understanding to “The Elvis Costello Song” and the song itself is something wonderful to hear. The bridge on this one is comprised of ELVIS COSTELLO song titles. Taking away from those attributes and judging it on its own merits the song has a dreamy and lazy manner to it that suits it considerably. That looms over things and that the anecdote then becomes the lyrics of the song. That is an excellent trick that really brings something strong to the table on it. It has an intelligence to it that shows how deliberate the whole song is and that none of it is guesswork.

The Ruby Sessions

Doyle’s Tuesday 5th, February 2013

Then “I Want You Back” allows some real feeling to be conveyed in her performance. The disappointment is etched into the lyrics and the heartfelt aspects of it are very apparent. Three is a sense of the platonic and true loss that really impresses when you watch her on stage here. The way it is all played is also incredible, while the way she draws everything out of a simple sounding song is something that shows she can handle it and bring home something that is a real piece of work at the same time. To bring her set to a close she played out with “Hearts In The Heartland”, which is intended to be released as a single. This is a tune that has a true burst from the playing. It also grows as the song progresses and it has a lot of inviting attribute to it when things pick up. There is symmetry to it underlying with the nostalgic and innocent way that it manages to touch you. It has an introverted way of coming across that is very effective. That sees something righteous about it and it signifies it as something that is a superb piece of work. Up next from her is a gig at The Grand Social on Friday March 8th and you can find out more information about GALIA ARAD on the following link: www.galiaarad.typepad.com

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SCENE & HEARD Our third artist on the bill this evening was Belfast’s very own SUZANNE SAVAGE. An artist who is very much one to watch and one of the many highlights for last year was an appearance at TED.com which is available to view online. She got things underway here with “The Violin Song” and there is a folk sentiment to it but it is able to go beyond that initial assessment. It siphons a true closeness to it and steers it commendably. There is a fascination on show with it that incorporates some classical elements that speed up in places to sound very fanciful. Then it eases off and segues it all as it drops down on the pace. That measurement shows some very smart playing when it occurs. The first single off her “Jellymould” album was then played next. “Dart” has a finesse to it that makes it very resolute. There is a fine rhythm that is well stacked and the way it drives makes it sound very fulsome. Along with that, it also has an elective way to it that shows with the sparse way things are applied and run through it. A tune that really catches your notice and how it is sung here is also a testament to that. Again the more sultry side to her music comes to the fore and stands side-by-side with her voice. It commendably applies softness with the tone that speaks loudly for it. It allows a tranquil depth to it that conveys true heart. The upcoming single in April, “Somewhere In Between” shows majestic details at work. The elements to it have very much put a spring in the step for it that is very much all contained in a fresh way. The vocals are tame on it and allow it to sit inside a very dutiful fashion as it goes about its business.

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The Ruby Sessions

Doyle’s Tuesday 5th, February 2013

The mildness to it is remarkable, while the way it all breaks down is as equally matched. There is an adverse character to it that comes to the fore. That also tastefully slides in and sees the whole thing be played out as intended. There is something very well versed about her final number “Say”. There is a good twist to it and it shines because of how it is all assembled. It weighs nicely off how it opens. The decent build-up to it is carried off by the dutiful change in it. Things seem to be infused with a side to it that is very jazzy and at the same time has a reliability going for it. It is easily able to imbue a sense of goodness upon the listener on account of how well it is worked from beginning to end here. For more information on Suzanne Savage check out the following link: www.suzannesavage.co.uk


SCENE & HEARD Another band that we were eagerly looking forward to seeing here this evening was the final act on the night. SHADOWS AND DUST have impressed upon established artists such as ELLIE GOULDING and BON IVER along the way, and having seen them play before we can see how that is possible. They played their first two songs without skipping a beat in between. “The Guardian” has a sweetness to it that abounds aplenty from the rhythm. That nearness to it allows it to drift along while still having a cursive quality going for it. It hangs creatively and with a real splendour. The focus of the playing is a storming feature to it that allows it to open up in a lasting way that falls away, but also to hold up nicely when the change of direction in the play occur. That leads to a distinction between the opening and the piano also radiates in the closing stages of the song. “Homely Ground” also sees the piano playing shared and that shows a lot of ingenuity in how they incorporate it into their show. That is a risk they take that pays off. The way it sounds has a guarded sense to it but it still manages to let you in. It is a very soulful tune that is allowed to somehow find its way and it is a stronger effort for it you feel. The cajon on it is also something that it benefits from. With a harmony that holds very well, “I Hope We Go” then falls in line with the rhythm to it. The acoustic guitar lays down first and then as the violin plays in you see that how it is pieced together is what allows for it to take flight. There is something very much warranted in it here that shows true warmth. It moves finely and they also demonstrate good control on it overall. The bridge to it has a pounce that closes it commendably. While on “Gossling”, the way the tempo is crafted gives to it a true ambience. It gives a full and sure side to it that embraces the subsided characteristics of the playing. That

The Ruby Sessions

Doyle’s Tuesday 5th, February 2013

seals in the right things and lets it feel looser in the process, but still manage to contain it all. The cajon again is something that it benefits from with how it gives a beat to it. The violin strokes that all as the bass and guitar seem to somehow define it all. What it does show in how they incorporate all those facets is a spirited performance that loses nothing and gives a lot more in return. The band has two upcoming gigs. The first in The Grand Social on the 22nd of February and their eagerly awaited EP launch in Whelan’s on April 11th. While they also have a fund-it campaign which can be found on the following link: www.fundit.ie/project/funders/shadows--dustdebut-ep They were the acts, that was the music, we were the audience and this was The Ruby Sessions.

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SCENE & HEARD

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The Grand Social, Sunday 10th, February 2013

his was an unexpected act that we came across in The Grand Social. Our original intention was to review Saucy Sundays. Paying tribute to a truly bygone era they got it all underway with “Lonesome Traveller”. There is a pearly rich sound to it that is slick. It consistently piles forward from them and the effort is rewarded from them here. They then tick all the boxes on “Lost john”. They tick all the boxes in it and get every aspect of it spot on. The timings are properly run and they play it commendably. On “Stewball” the harmony betters it all out. It is characteristics all create a bullish sensibility to it that makes it a classy affair all the way. The drumming on “Kawliga” has a stirring presence and the harmonica causes it to be more ambient. It is a native number and the collusion of the showing stands it well. As it gets going a sense of true bliss forms and it fits into that groove rather well. “John Henry” denotes a tale of man versus machine. The essence of the ballad is clear to see here and it is impressive in how faithful it remains. Al the elements to it feature in a neat way on it.

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THE LOUSIANA 6

The bass is what defines “Stone Cold Fox”. It roots out the rhythm and the full instrumental work from the rest of the band creates a compact sound. On “Rock Island Line” things are finely stacked. The vocal delivery is something to become very partial to. The way that the song builds up and picks up steam is a metaphor inside the play that is styled to reflect the lyrics. It picks up the pace as the proverbial train makes its journey. “Ham & Eggs” is blisteringly played. T reels it all in on the pace side. How it is delivered makes it there in a way that nothing can be taken away from them for it. This has a vigour and character to it that are both equally resolute. They then limber up on “Freight Train Boogie”. It has a flush way about it that trumps. The hop on show bristles and is ably matched to the playing of the band. “Darlin’ Corey” tears things up. The playing on it is both stark and endearing. That sees it pass the endurance test and the blues are proudly spun on it. There is broadness in the wholesome way it sounds and that is only going to ever be a good thing for any band. The final tune here is “The Wreck Of The Old ‘97”. It sees them home. There is a fine roll of the drums and the harmonica tunes it all in. The pleasance to it is a dandy aspect well gauged by them. There is a whistle to it that is all its own making that easily wins you over.


SCENE & HEARD With his song “Say Hello” shortlisted for the Meteor Choice Music Song Of The Year Award, things appear to be moving in the right direction for the Dubliner. Playing the first of two sold out gigs at Whelan’s, tonight GAVIN JAMES walked out on the stage and just got on with it immediately. While the title of his opening number might be “Nervous”, from the confident manner that he launched into his set here it would be appear that he is anything but. There was no waiting about from him and the way that it all sounds hangs very nicely. It retains something to it that hones in the fragile aspects and showing that vulnerability really enhances the performance here. The whole of the rhythm to it picks up very neatly and it has something additional depicted in the vocals also. With “Hole In My Heart” there is something that immediately comes off it that grabs your attention. It is brought to the reckoning by a steady hook that is applied expertly. It is catchy and it shows a true diligence that is well matched as the song grows in stature while played live. Then on “Carolina” all the right things bristle. This is laced with such warm affection that the intentional heartfelt aspects to it come across faithfully. The playing on the guitar to it is an immense feature to it also, but what is the real deal about it is the way that his voice feeds into it. As it does it seems to find a place that it can easily call home because there is a real sense to it that lights up the whole song here.

GAVIN JAMES

Whelan’s, Friday 8th, February 2013

Then things really become captivating with “Slow”. While it is a captivating number, another stand out feature to it is the way that it is blessed with a level of honesty and integrity in the words. That humble quality to it is something that is blended ever so well with the music. As a result of this it is able to retain a charming element that easily stays the course here. Then he was joined for the duration of his set by Michelle Mason on cello and Michael Maclennan on piano. On “Coming Home” the piano gives it real feeling that allows the vocals to sift through. That is one of the finer details that come to the fore. The way it all builds up shows a true resolution that connects in a way that lets the listener connect with the music. That synergy resulting from the soft application in the sound worked the crowd up very well here. A nice little touch of class for one very lucky fan as the next song was dedicated to her following a request from her boyfriend who is away at the moment. With her birthday approaching he mailed Gavin and asked him to wish her a Happy Birthday, but being the gentleman that he is he went one better and devoted the next song “For You” to her. That was a really nice touch. The song itself has something about it that comes across as a perfectly captured moment. That is helped by the graceful way the cello is able to keep it intimate and bring you closer to things.

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SCENE & HEARD With “Amy” there is a true widened sense of style that is capably sealed in by the piano. That elegance also has a great arc to it. It is delivered in a moving and sweeping way that has something imparted upon it by the tempo. There is something magnetic about it and feisty at the same time. It works extremely well. The piano that closes it out is finely applied and gifts an already solid footing something additional in the way the solemn features draw it all out here. That was followed up by a new song in “Remember Me”. This is a very fluid number that is very tidy and worthy. There is a great sense of accomplishment to it. That is down to the clear and vivid imagery that the lyrics project. There is a thump to it that shows a great investment that takes it from the stationary and static sense of it, to inject it with a little bit of extra pace. Nothing gets lost as a result and the shake to the rhythm is a splendid touch that brings out the best in it. A classy affair is a fair assessment of “22”. The piano on it comes across just as well as the vocals here. The other classy feature here is the purity in the vocals. That has a way about it that draws comfort from the realisation of the lyrics. It cleverly and ably opens up the whole song in the process.

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GAVIN JAMES

Whelan’s, Friday 8th, February 2013

On “Headlights” the sentiment on show manages to encase a lot of emotion and invest the necessary conviction into the live delivery. The purity of it is very fetching. There are waves of fine playing going on that sees a tempo arise that suits the soothing side of it. It then picks things up with the application of some nice pedal work that elevates it properly. Another new song was next. This time the track in question is called “Ghost”. It has something very lean to it while still maintaining a withdrawn stance of sorts. That effect has a bearing on the song that gives it a necessary direction. The application of the cello and piano on here give it some extra weight. To close out his set he played “Hello”. This really was an effort that threw it all in. It is a very big player and it is the beat to it that sees it take off. That rhythm is commendable and has a figurative lightness that comes off it at times, yet it is given a release here that works. This was a delivery that summed up an incredible set and was an appropriate number to end things on. Then came the encore. “You Don’t Know Me” by MICHAEL BUBLE was played with all the class and sophistication of the original. It sees it all through with the intricate changes and preserves everything about it that seems to be adored by fans of the original. He then whipped the entire crowd into a frenzy with “Two Hearts”. There is a commanding presence on show with this that seems to be very content in the moment. There is a degree of brilliant showmanship to back this up and the loving aspects to it elevate everything rather clearly. It all comes together for him here and the way is all amassed puts a cap on a fine performance here tonight.


SCENE & HEARD

THE OURZ – “Dirty Tricks” Album Launch The Gypsy Rose, Saturday 26th, January 2013

Tonight we called in to see Balbriggan band THE OURZ who were spending the entire weekend gigging as part of the process of launching their album “Dirty Tricks”. Tonight they were plying their trade in the basement of The Gypsy Rose and got things under way with “Roll Over & Die”. This is a tune that they know inside out and the drumming and guitar on the intro are what truly define it. There is something to it in how it rolls out that accepts no substitutes. It is well suited to be an opener and the pacing on it steers them into a settled routine. From there it was into “Midnight Friend”, which was one of the tracks featured on their EP of the same name. This has a deep sounding bass at its core that transforms it into a song that is equally trippy and cool. In short, it really brings something to the table here. The live delivery here is fired up in a big way and they really stoke the sound. It is also very catchy and well driven by the guitar on show to it. There is richness about next song “Take Me Down” that defines it. It is all laid down here live as it was intended in the studio. The hooks from the guitar are very peachy and they stand for the song in a big way, with the live performance here having the good intentions to boot. Then you are hauled in by the intro on “Rizzle”. It is a song that has some introverted goodness pouring from it with the skip in the step supplied along the way. It really impresses when it lifts off and that is down to a very well worked guitar riff that is deeply worked into the play.

A comparison to THE BUZZCOCKS comes to mind when next tune “Attack” kicks in. Everything on it falls into place and forms a very bang tidy tune in the process. How it is banged out impresses considerably. That is helped by the ferocity of the performance that is turned in here. The drumming on “So So Cruel” gives it a bright and crisp tempo. From here this catches it all finely. That results in an edgy and sweet number that rocks out because of an even keel that it has going for it. Then they dangle something very different with “Revolution No. 3”. There are elements of the progressive in this that are also fused with a reggae vibe. It is somewhat reminiscent of “Sign Of The Times” by PRINCE, an unexpected comparison to make between both acts, but one that springs to mind when this is heard. It is also played with a swagger and verve even though it is a protest song. That shows a very mature handling here and it really grows in composure up there on the stage. 27


SCENE & HEARD

THE OURZ – “Dirty Tricks” Album Launch The Gypsy Rose, Saturday 26th, January 2013

Then a splendid tune followed in “Last Chance”. There are a lot of admirable aspects that are weighted and timely placed. There is a lot incorporated into the play as a result of this and the “Come Together” undertone to it draws you in. It also draws other comparisons to bands like AIRPORT CONVENTION and THE ALLMAN BROTHERS in places. It is one of those handsome sounding numbers that is played in greatly. There is a fullness that is instantly recognised on “Nasty Conscience” and the fullness of it is very prominent work indeed. The keyboard playing on it shines through, while the guitar keeps it all in check as the playing tears up the stage. When this occurs it is a case of all hands on deck, but they also keep things well controlled here on all playing fronts.

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This results in the appeal of the song being appreciated even more and some well earned recognition for the live performance in the process. Then two cover versions closed their set. The first was “Kick Out The Jams” by MC5. With this version proving to be a steely and resolute little number from the band here that is both likeable and bankable for them. Then adding a little bit of finesse to things with “Rock’N’Roll” by LED ZEPPELIN that was crafted with the necessary pace to give it the required tenacity. Their album “Dirty Tricks” is available to buy online and from the usual outlets. For more information on the band check out the following link: https://www.facebook.com/theourz


SCENE & HEARD

VAL NORMAL – “Plans? What Plans” Album Launch

Sweeney’s, Friday 25th, January 2013

V

AL NORMAL showcased their album in its entirety here this evening by playing every track on the album as it is listed. That started off with “Hailstone” and from how it daintily begins with the opening they charge into things very much head on. Things are very rich on the playing side with it and it really packs a punch. The musical aspects of what they are all about are very much obvious to anyone here this evening. The directional changes in their sound impress without being pretentious and the hard hitting manner of everything progressive in their sound is all in sync with the timing here. “Solidify The Idiocy” is something that begins very hip and spry, while still incorporating something that is very intense into things. It has flourishes on the sound that reverberate in a way that don’t see it put out by the improvised ‘screamo’ flashes thrown in for good measure, while the descending tone on how it runs is something additional that scores it nicely. “Infected.Boy.Guitar.Sky” was played without them skipping a beat. There is something emphatic about it that sits really well with the hooks that drive it on. It is creative and flush and they appear to have grasped the task at hand quite well. They lock it all down and the delivery shows robustness in their sound here. “Our Friend The Seizure” is introduced as being ‘a song about LSD” by the band. It has a fantastic riff to it that seems to electrify as it is played live here. It cruises along and basks in the glory of this. There is a true ferocity to it here that seems to have been reined in and tamed in, while at the same time it proves to be temporary.

The band then let things off the leash and rock out in a way that wows with the lavish helpings of rock that give it a true ferocity. With “Metal Gear Salad” they seem to accommodate a lot of things into proceedings for a song that is essentially a long player that is capable of going the distance. It begins by playing in a tripped out way that supports all the other elements as they are played in. The protests elements of the song are there in the performance and make no apologies for what the band is all about. They show some triumphant and sterling work in their set with next tune “4, 5 & 7”. They dissect a lot of things and seem to branch out on the sound here by interjecting a lot of things to show an importance about them as they play it live. The bass line to it is also an important detail here. There is a scatty way about it as it is played and the guitar seems to frizzle and become a specific sound to what is on show. What occurs when they all come together shows a real effort on their playing that is as much boisterous as it is well-detailed. “Greens” was then rattled off to a specific hook that has the weighty elements of it nicely judged. Everything about it is done right and it comes to the stag as the finished product. The guitar intensifies it and clues in the progressive and alternative moments of it sweetly. It really holds court and stands on the shoulders of the vocals. They also worked the crowd rather well as they launched into this one and they fed off the good vibes generated.

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SCENE & HEARD

VAL NORMAL – “Plans? What Plans” Album Launch

Sweeney’s, Friday 25th, January 2013 “Purple Man/Green Coil” differs from the rest by bringing the vocals in very early on their sound. It also sounds different to the others and then betrays that opinion by rocking out in a big way. The pace is set and stuck to all the way on this. How it adheres comes together in a very neat and controlled manner that has a resolute delivery behind it. There is something about “We All Had Plans” that cuts across swiftly. There is a nuanced way to it that is tight sounding and gets straight to things. It is a loud number that steps up to the plate here with the bass riff to it being one of the things to it that seem to keep things intriguing. The rock aspects of it are very much on show and they do dally in between the long playing side of things between vocals. That is nothing to find fault with either here because they show that they can cut the mustard live. A new song was then given an airing. “Blue Marination” has a fine formation to it and it thunders into things. While it has a moment where it softens out on the sound there is nothing evasive about it. It gets that foot back on the proverbial pedal rather quickly here and with the hilt on show to it they manage to turn in a performance that really gets going all the way through. Into the closing stages of their set and they played “We All Had Plans”. This was the standout track here on the night and it plays in with a real thump to it. That hard effort endears it and it manages to pound out some very heavy playing without getting caught up in letting it do all the talking. It is the lightness that is applied in the closing stages that really grows it. That cordons it all off and seems to condition it into a way that knits it together to let you see that here is a band with a tune on their hands that easily can work a bigger crowd as opposed to the loyal turn-out here tonight. College then welcomes an acoustic sound to their set. It soothes and comforts gladly. The other thing about it is that as it is worked into things here it sees out their set. Even though it is in contrast to how the rest of their sound has gone up until this point it somehow fits in here. The softer sense to it captures an essence and it is a good way of seeing out their set. (Photos by Dan Butler).

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For more information on VAL NORMAL check out the following link: www.valnormal.com


SCENE & HEARD

The King Kong Club (semi-final 1) The Mercantile Friday 25th, January 2013

We recently became an official sponsor to the ‘home of enthusiasm’ that is THE KING KONG CLUB and we purposefully sought out to support the competition itself because of how encouraging a resource it is to upcoming talent. Tonight’s first semi-final had a highly coveted place in the final up for grabs, but it also had a slot at Vantastival this year to be awarded to the winner here tonight. Beginning the night’s fine musical proceedings was a band called EARLYBIRD. They began things with a track called “Moving” and that is exactly what this one does. It is very high tempo and lays into things with something very smooth. It is easily identified and has a blues/roadhouse aspect to it that appears to be a good call. The flit between the movements in their sound here is very impressive and it maintains all the right qualities in a way that shakes things up when required. Then they played “Thinking Of You” which is another that is very well mapped out from the band. Seeing it played live seems to see something added into the mix for them here also that justifies them being here on the line-up tonight. It has a sharp and well directed rhythm and the way it sounds impacts upon you when you hear it. It has the right ingredients thrown in which is why it has a great deal going for it.

Then closing off their set was “Let It Go” which has guitar riffs to it that whip along and give it some sass. Performed live here you can see how well versed it is also. There is something about it that is colourful and imaginative. A careful listen to it shows the minute details on show here and these are the little touches that bring it out. There is a stylish little hush in the way that the vocals cut out a hushed little tone that give it a forward boost. They really deliver something here that has some flashes on it that showcase a band worth looking into further.

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SCENE & HEARD Our next act was THE JUICE. They are another band that has been enjoying a raise in their profile as of late. They began things with “Ella Fontaine” which has a grand repose to it from the off. It sounds sturdy and the rhythm flows very freely on it. It is one of those tracks that are very radio friendly and the tilted aspects on it lead to impressive flourishes. The pounding from the drum on it gives it a sharper appearance that is very catchy and helps to see it out. Then things were slowed down for next track “I’m Not Gone”. There is a fluid guitar on show here that embellishes some very impressive chord work. The composure on it is very notable and there is a true sense of maturity in the lyrics and playing that make it very easy to like. It travels well and is quite presentable with how comfortable the band is in playing it. Then closing things from them was “Break Away” and there is a truly good loop here that gives the sound something that springs it along to a good remedied beat. It also sounds somewhat prodigious and the constant hook from the guitar stands out as the impressive crescendo to it goes to work.

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The King Kong Club (semi-final 1) The Mercantile Friday 25th, January 2013


SCENE & HEARD

The King Kong Club (semi-final 1) The Mercantile Friday 25th, January 2013

Clonmel is home to the next band here tonight. RESPONSIBLE LOOKING FREAKS began things with “Signal” and the backing track to it on the intro is something that is an impressive feature. That places how everything on it builds and the gapped approach spreads it out to see three different styles of play on show inside the one track. The robotic sounding of it is another interesting quality that sells it here. Then they played the very uplifting “Limelight” next. This has a very west coast American sound to it that forms it very well. They have a nice little number on their hands here with this one and it is gifted in how great it sounds, The substance to it is what makes it subjective in the live delivery and they line it all up nicely. Then another very American sounding track in “Ding Dong” was their final offering. It is laced with scattered and heavy sounding aspects that work off a three chord structure. It is a catchy little number that translates quite well and the Frank Baum inspired lyrics to it are also an interesting injection into the mix here.

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SCENE & HEARD They were then followed on the night by NEW INK and their first track “Etched In My Brain” has a sound to it that it both very sharp and curious in equal measure. That brings something addition to it as it plays that sees it move in a way that swerves between the sounds as it builds. The tempo is steadily fed into it which is also another impressive complimentary aspect that is noteworthy here. It also opens up into a bigger number because of this. With “Drunken Promises” there is a delicate manner to the way that it hangs in the air here that really suits it all. There is a true depth to it with the Honky Tonk/blues elements of it that become a real flourish on the playing of it. That is then further enhanced by the good roll from it being stripped back and then becoming something progressive in play as it embraces alternative elements and incorporates them into the sound here. Their final track is called “3-D Cinema” and the rock aspects to it are very distinct indeed. Overall the work that has gone into it is very much on show here. The sound on it kicks ahead with some well worked and specifically sharp guitar that etches the whole of it out. It shows it to be a well mapped process and the bridge on this one has a heavy sound to it that soars from the guitar through the whole lot of it.

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The King Kong Club (semi-final 1) The Mercantile Friday 25th, January 2013


SCENE & HEARD

The King Kong Club (semi-final 1) The Mercantile Friday 25th, January 2013

With the piano coming in on it, “Raise It Up” announces that THE MIDNIGHT UNION BAND is one of those unknown bands that are a truly undiscovered gem. The song itself here has a real sense of purpose. It is not just how solid it sounds, but it is the way that everything ion it gels and clicks into place for them. A comparison to THE BAND is instantly made because of how splendid the Americana sounds so beautiful on this. They don’t just have a really good song on their hands here, they also have something that knits all the sound quite well and threads it all through expertly. They then played “I Miss You” and this sits in a real well keeled fashion that sees the melody to it become as bittersweet as it is pleasant. But it is a strong and laid back number that impresses fully because of this. The wily and warm elements on show give it real flight here. There is a grandness that plays it safe but does so in a competent manner. That impressive composure imparts something on the song all the way here that leaves a lasting impression for all the right reasons. Then “Behind The Truth” has a comely feel to it but also a broad sound. The Dobro on show and the harmonica bring a touch of class to the intelligent lyrics. It is very striking and fantastic at the same time. There is fullness to it in the process and that magnificence is in abundance from beginning to end here with nothing hidden. They put it all on show here and what a tune. The word for it is superb. The winner of the first semi-final proved to be THE MIDNIGHT UNION BAND and they will proceed to the grand final which will be held later on in the year and they will also go on to play at VANTASTIVAL which was the prize available to the winner here tonight. For more information on the bands check out the following links: https://soundcloud.com/earlybirdsongs www.thejuice.ie https://www.facebook.com/responsiblelookingfreaks https://soundcloud.com/new-ink www.themidnightunionband.com

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SCENE & HEARD

TOY SOLDIER – “Calling Up The Dusk” Album Launch

TOY SOLDIER are a band that we have seen live and one of those bands that we get excited about seeing live. That is because they always deliver when they take to the stage. They got their set underway here tonight with “Razorblades” and this is defined by the electronica which announces it. The synth on it scores it in a very big way that gives it a hard edged industrial feel and the vocals that sit up alongside it have something about them that make it all rather exceptional sounding. There is a true sense of finesse to the rhythm here that edges out things. It grows out of the beat and it is blessed with all the right qualities that fuse it with a way that really brings out the retro on show. That steadied them into their set here and they then began to get into things on next track “Goldigger” and this is very plush sounding. The glamorous element if it is very refined and sealed in to create sound that mesmerises when the bridge comes into focus on it. That bridge is handled with a true sense of style that is a through and through characteristic of a band that can cut it live. “Animal” came next. The way it zips along purges the sound here and gives it a deep buzz. It is very authentic sounding and the intro shows that they are really onto something here. It takes off with real intent and there is something of a sting in the delivery of the vocals to it that suits it ever so well.

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Whelan’s, Saturday 19th, January 2013

On “Garden Of Eden” they manage to impress upon things in a good combination that sees everything sync properly. It shows a sound that is as enveloped as it is developed and things are now really beginning to progress musically. This one has a pulsating bridge to it and it is extremely clever in how it is operated. The robotic aspects on show are really nailed down and it underlines how it is all kept in sync. Then they make their sound that little bit tighter with next song “Midnight Cowboy”. The sound pounds from the thump and everything is built up on the back of this. What they also do here when it comes to the playing is to reason it all out to give something to the sound that gives it an essence. That allows for it to come across in a truer way that is very thorough. That is then followed by “Better The Devil” and it really rises up to the occasion. The whole lift on it charges up the way it sounds. They then stoke things up on the rhythm and that forceful approach affords it a true sense of the inventive for their efforts. It sits nicely and there is an incredible surge to the way it plays. The zest is one of the appealing aspects on “Summertime” and how it plays into things here shows this one to be a big song. The way it is broken down is interesting and there is something about the formula to it that really catches the ear here. It has these dreamy and hazy aspects that bring you in closer with the synth on it. The spacing here is something marvellous and it has a tamer aspect to it that doesn’t impede the growth of things. In fact it is a welcome shift in pace here in their set and seeing it done live shows how much work has gone into the rehearsals before tonight.


SCENE & HEARD

TOY SOLDIER – “Calling Up The Dusk” Album Launch

The drumming is what really brings “Climbing Trees” around and then the synth is added to the mix. It is something that sees how the sound breaks into everything done in a fine and timely fashion. It also has this fragmented way about it that has a gracious and lavish effect wash over you when you hear it. This is really grounded and the way it is done shows a top tune here. Then they played a version of “Enjoy The Silence” by DEPECHE MODE and this is a delightful cover. A joy to behold in the fact that it is a great tune in the first place, but playing a well-known classic can easily backfire. Not to be the case here. They make their dominance on stage here tonight felt with this one. That is then seen in by “Sunset Girl” they score so highly on the synth that it infuses so much retro to things that one need not acquire a time travelling DeLorean to go back to 1985. Merely listening to them here and now will instantaneously transport you back. This is a boisterous sounding song that lies behind all the right hooks. It rouses and encompasses a great deal that it is impossible not to like for the effort here. “Run” was next and this has a taut quality that comes in on the sound and is used very effectively. It allows it to fit into a comfortable groove before it even gets going. When it does take off it is really something outstanding and accomplished. There is something very majestic in it and it also becomes awesome quite easily. The pitch on the rhythm is something that is very inventive and when it digs in the whole process becomes something that is very absorbing when merged with the live performance here. Some more of the well placed comes into the reckoning with “If You Wanna Play”. The vocal on the intro alone is worth the admission price here tonight. There is a huge amount of menace to how it

Whelan’s, Saturday 19th, January 2013

sounds and that carries into the authority on the rhythm. It has a catchy pick-up on the pace side of things that continuously moves it in an upward direction. It surges along so effortlessly that it takes your breath away when you see it happen. Then they brought the curtain down on a fine set with “Natural Disaster”. This is one of those tunes that have an etched out sound with the synth on it, but it allows for a depth to come across on the rhythm as a result. It pumps it in with an abundance that also sees it coarse along with a very smooth and deliberate intention. It really has an exactness going for it here that excels. The hooks to it are all in the right places. They let things emerge within the sound and still stay tight as the catchy aspects of the tune come to the fore. They really play to their strengths here and the electro aspects on show are something that marks it out for the right reasons here. Up next from the band is an appearance at Tower Records on the 22nd of February. You can find out more about the band on the following link: www.toysoldierband

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

THE YOUNG FOLK The Little Battle There is something sentimental to how “My Friends” opens that brings out the best qualities in the deep vocals of lead singer Anthony Furey and from there the musical elements of it all come into play. As they do it really touches on in a very plush way. The tempo to it is full bodied and how it bolsters the sound makes this a very classy affair. Everything that manages to be incorporated in the playing is able to balance it all out in a satisfactory way. A great track to open the album with. Then it is followed up by “Biscuits”. This is superlative sounding song complemented by a soothing violin and well placed piano arrangement that combine on the intro. There is a manner about the tune that sees it flow freely in tandem with the vocals and the rhythm. They combine effectively to create something about it that is animated and homely in the delivery. With “Way Home” everything has a tremendous kick to it. The guitar that is played away on it toils away without becoming overbearing. They turn on a sixpence with this one. It is pieced together rather competently. The combination of the folk influences here is effective and that they produce an end product of such substance is a true testament to how good they are as musicians. Things are kept very interesting on “I’ve Been Here Before”. It forms the sound on it from the play in a style that is pleasant and brings an additional spur from the tempo in the process. What it does is cautiously build up the pace, but when it does it maintains it all the way through and that sees it play to its strengths here. On “Long Time Ago” the violin is an unmistakeable stand-out feature to the sound from the intro. It then cuts things finely, with the lyrics and the vocals pairing up in a way that is almost a perfect marriage here. The playing elements bring it out as a tune in a way that makes it very easy to connect and identify with everything about it. The broad strokes are painted properly with “Way Down South”. The expression in the whole of this song is an absolute joy to listen to. It has a wonderful composure that competently brings out the best in everything that

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9

is put into it. The recent charity single “Letters” is something that has a welcoming sensibility going for it. Things take off with it and the pace to it does manage to sweep you up in the moment. It plays beautifully and the arrangements of all the music to it here are well suited to it.

Things become more uplifting on “Sad Day”. It is a sturdy little number that impresses. It is carried across in a way here that sees it come to life as soon as it begins. The grander aspects of it give it a stature that is brought out in an excellent way by how the tempo is managed. It does have a true energy that is conveyed neatly by the considerate way it is approached as a whole. It whiles away on things and whistles along in a breezy way that is both courteous and brimming with an exuberance that steers it home. They follow that up with the respectable and kindly “Remember When”. It has a lushness to it that is quite specific as it opens. That brings everything on show here to a place where it all belongs. The manner it applies all of that into the sound creates something dandy that also has a knack to it that sees it take off. The final track here is “Drunken Head/The Little Battle”. The lyrics have a degree of conviction to them that are well suited to how the sound is structured. Everything is brought together and the piano gives it a true splendour. Things are very well worked on it from the beginning and it closes the whole album appropriately. It has a sense of purpose running through it and that is the thing that gives it the distinction in how it all clicks into place.


Album Reviews

Irish Artists

TOY SOLDIER Calling Up The Dusk The eponymous title track opens the album here and it is a brief instrumental that is very effective. It sets out the style that the album will be about for the uninitiated. From there it thunders along with “Natural Disaster”. The way it comes across instantly embodies a sense of purpose. That comes about by it laying down a fine marker with the rich synth to it meeting the guitar riff here. The result is something with a true edge to it that bites with very catchy moments to it that play off everything going for it in the right way. Then comes “Butterfly” and this is something that sticks around and goes the distance. It has a rich retro feel to it. The way that it flies showcases something to it that inverts the sound and distinctly moulds it to the will of the band. The sound on it is deeply stark and how the pace storms along on it is a veritable knock-out. It has a massive rhythm on show and it all forms around that. “Climbing Trees” spaces out the electro elements in their sound. What is also impressive about how it sounds is the consistency to it. It climbs elegantly inside of the arrangement on show. From the way that it surges from the opening first bars of the keyboard it never falters or lets up in any way. With “Summertime” the sense of how retro their sound feels is very apparent. It draws you in closer with how lavish it plays out. It broadens as the keyboard plays in, yet it is able to pull it back in without taking anything away in the process. It is a clever piece of application on their behalf and it grows in the process. That it impresses as a tune on an album like this shows how well it stands out. That is followed up by “Goldigger” and it pounds out a very neat rhythm and tempo on all fronts. The guitar and drumming on it come around to sit neatly alongside the synth based tracking on it. It is very stylish and lean in equal measure. The next song on the album is “Rough Diamond”. It maintains something fluid and because of this it is able to cut across as a tune on its own merit as opposed to being considered a mere pop song. It is not. It is far from that. What it has going for it is the way that it purposefully lays down the beat to it. The formation of the synth on it gives it a real zip and it has a distinction to all the other songs here because it is the most electro driven tune on the album. All the musical elements of it are scored from the beats off the drum and keyboard. The guitar does make an instant return in their sound on “Animal”. The hazy riff to it is a driving characteristic on show here. In turn the entire tune turns out quite well. It hits the ground running and the core of the whole song keeps it all together. There is

a true thump to it that gives it a real heft and the guitar blazes across the whole of it and controls the rhythm as a result. Admiration has to go to “Razorblades”. The song blazes in with a wonderfully catchy ditty that is then met with some intelligent drum and bass. The sub-dub on the vocals is also a very fetching quality on show to it. The guitar on show gives it some definition that is then further enhanced by the synth, before literally taking off when the rhythm kicks in. It is how subtle the differing playing sides of it all work on it that counts for it here, yet they also hit everything smartly when they combine. This is a great little tune from start to finish, and yet something more. The way the playing comes in on “Sunset Girl” shows some real imagination in how it is constructed. The synth on it emerges from the beginning and it is something that truly shapes this one. It settles into a mood before things take off. There is something about it that is laid back and an easy listener on account of how languid it is. All the plusses that make a good tune a good tune are evident here. Then the final track on the album with “Calling Up The Dawn” brings everything to a close in a very commendable way. It borrows from the opening track on the album but at the same time you pick up on the clever trick that it is. It is on here to be a continuation/progression of the work of the opening track. It sets out to as the comedown from the rest of the proceedings and with that understanding you see that there is a way of viewing as being a set list. Whether or not that is intentional or something open to interpretation is a matter of debate. What is unmistakeable is that the album itself is a very clever blend of electronica, rock and pop that blends together in a very clever way to produce something of true substance.

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

VAL NORMAL Plans? What Plans VAL NORMAL are characterised by their lives sets incorporating large amounts of playing as part of their musical DNA. The first track on the album here is “Hailstone” underlines that characteristic. It blends a lot of definitive playing styles to create the wall of sound that the listener meets. The heavier aspects meet with moments of true experimentation on this one and nothing is lost in the process because of it. They see it through with moments of catchy and tidy riffs from the bass and guitar and then seasoning it with the application of little moments in the music that broaden it. The second track is called “Solidify The Idiocy” and this is a long player from the band. While it is a bit trying of a listen at 11 minutes plus, the directional changes in the course of it do prove to be worthy of your time. It levels out and brings something to it in the lyrics that are respectfully handled. Yet it shows a lot of capability by keeping it on course and allowing the musical aspects if to flourish when they could so easily flounder. There is a great little riff to “Infected.Boy.Guitar.Sky” as it opens on the intro that easily draws you in. From there the sound rocks out brilliantly. The harshness in the play is superbly maintained by the guitar here, while the bass and drumming play a very capable support role. Then there is a change in the way it sounds that tames it out. Instead of it losing something in the process it benefits from it. It gives it a sense of sophistication and then it allows it to fall back in line with the previous way it sounded, yet nothing gets lost along the way here. “Our Friend The Seizure” has a rhythm to it that pushes their sound and takes it up a level. It is very grunge sounding and there is a way to it that leaves the right impression on you when you hear it. The guitar resonates throughout and their philosophy of letting their music do the talking is clearly evident. It pushes a lot of sound through and flirts with some “screamo” in places on it, but there is no mistaking how hard it hits. The composition behind every chord that is played shows each move to be well calculated. The second of the long players on the album is “Metal Gear Salad”. It opens in a very tranquil sound that hangs off the bass line on it. The lyrics in it then become a sort of protest song, but if you have been listening in to it that far into it then you are obviously listening to it out of appreciation for the way that everything is crafted here. This is certainly not going to disappoint fans of progressive and alternative music because a lot is packed in on this tune. “4, 5 & 7” is next from them on the album. This is another excellent song that is resolute and defined by the edgy way that it rocks out. The tempo to it that it opens with is something that has a calmer feel to it and it also allows it to form a good way of leading into the heavier formation on the sound and break it down neatly. It

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catches everything just right and it times the change in the musical direction quite well. It does become rounder and urgent when it occurs, yet it still keeps you listening. It is the bass line on next track “Greens” that announces it. The way that the sound becomes more intense is an impressive movement from them. There are slides from the guitar that cut across finely to give it a qualified amount of steely resolution. The lucid moments encapsulated within the playing are also enhanced by the vocals, and become really effective as the song closes out. “Purple Man Green Coil” is painted quite well. It has something about it that validates it all. The lyrics come along well on it, while there are specific ways about how the changes in the playing are applied. It is able to come across as a progressive little number yet at the same time it has a way about it that seems to find a voice that speaks within the disenfranchised nuances on show. The wrap from the guitar on it is something that dazzles. The other notable thing about this one is the shoe-gazer style it has going for it that put it in the category of grunge music that is considered remarkable. The penultimate track on the album here is “We Had Plans” and this is another tune from the band that is dynamite. It electrifies as it rocks out. That is down to how intelligent it sounds. It is all worked and the end product is something that shows a true intelligence to it. It very much comes together long before the catchy verse at the end which lends it an enormity that is somewhat anthem like in places. The whole of this song really comes together and it has a lot of things to it that are easily appreciated. It then plays into the closing track on the album “College”. This is an acoustic song that comes in and seems to placate the whole sound. It very much differs from everything on the album and still manages to have a sense of belonging on the album. It eases the whole album out and from the harder way it sounded, this is the antithesis to it. Yet it still gives a sense of catharsis as it plays.

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

THE OURZ Dirty Tricks The album opens up with the impressive “Couldn’t Believe It”. The song keeps everything contained within the playing. It somehow restricts it by playing it safe, but by limiting things here the indie credentials to it are maintained. It actually allows them to keep to something they are comfortable with and playing to that sees it play to its strengths. “Midnight Friend” breaks in and this brings a high amount of cool to things. The bass line is very definitive and that is a good hook on this. It breaks it all out and it definitely says a lot about them on this track. The wheels are greased very finely with this. There is a true heavy drift going on that sits appropriately on the sound. They round things out with the intro on “Your Time Will Come”. Heavy blues influences are brought to bear on it. It flies out with some sharp sounding riffs, while there is something crude about it. There is a lot of interesting things to say about the languid way that “Summer Rain” opens up. It has something in the laid back manner it begins before bringing things in with a forceful sound that is applied without overstepping the mark. It has this real LA sound to it that is very appealing. It is well conceptualised. Next is “Crying Eyes”. It opens well and it has a steady flow to it and leaves a cloud over it. The impression that it leaves though is something that is not the finished product as opposed to it being considered a weak track. There is something about it doesn’t necessarily work. What does work however is effective and comes across finely. Things are then improved upon by “You Not Me”. This has a curve on the guitar that sails into it. The way that it picks up things here is a real gift. There is a fine whip to things with the rhythm. Everything falls into line here. There is a show of discipline to it and that is the difference that counts. Then “Last Chance” continues in that rich vein. It fuels everything on the sound. How it all fuses together is smartly done and it has these effective little flits off the play that bring out some more additional feel to it. It is a clever little tune that is more than the sum of the parts. Hitting it all straight away is “Attack”. It has a wild feel to it in the way

that the roll from the sound brings it along. It plays in a continuous upward direction that picks up momentum and runs with it. It goes all the way with it and is one of those tunes that impact in the way they rock out. It is automatic that “Take Me Down” is a rich rock tune. It puts some scream into the sound with the guitar that slides across on it. The whole thing comes together and it casts a real presence over things. This is heavy on the rock and it thunders out when it plays. There is a sense of them branching out with their sound on “Now Or Never”. This has a drift to it, yet it comes across as something from them that is experimental and ambitious. It plays in a lot of elements on it but they are all done in a very controlled way that seems to bring out the best in it here. It also shows that here the album is improving in the later stages. That is then underlined on “Virtue”. There is a semblance to it that is very sharp on the rhythm. It has composure and comes off in a way that rolls it off the cuff. It reels in things and shows some decent playing to it that embodies it with real spirit. “Nasty Conscience” is a very brief tune. It comes in on the back of a catchy bass line that hangs in a way through it that is splendid. It has a spit to it that gives it a good snarl from the way it sounds. Then the album is closed out by a song that takes everything down to a purer and slower sense. It has a way of meeting the expectations that it sets out for everything. “If You Only Knew” brings a lot of different direction in the way that the delivery of it is managed. It is a good call and it somehow shows influences of a lot of other bands that gives it a good break down for the whole of it. It is something that manages to lift them out of being labelled as merely a rock band.

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

THE STAR DEPARTMENT The Pea Green Boat The album opens with “Porcelain Doll” and a sense of the overbearing greets the listener. An album that opens with such a brave and bold approach will always prove to be worthy of following through and giving it a listen. The rhythm to this is very deep and then it seems to become somehow a little more orchestrated with the way that accompanying music comes into the reckoning. There is a finesse to it that is somewhat expressive and experimental in the right quantities. There are other elements to the way it sounds that seem to broaden its appeal also. The second track on the album is called “Antlers” and this is another customised tune that really grows on you. This now lets you know that the band is unafraid of exploring things musically and that the sound they have is something they believe in. There is a very grand sense to this. The guitar hooks that are carved into it merge in an elegant way with the shoe-gazer aspects found in the surrounding elements. The middle ground that the two sides meet on is something that really charms in abundance. Then on “Superhawk” their sound begins to become catchy. They also incorporate some synth into the sound and still maintain credibility. There is something about it that eases along and maintains their fresh sound while still retaining the distant ability that remains a constant in their music. The next track on the album is called “Sandcastles” and this one has some more of the same to it. There is that way that they ease into their sound while there are also strokes in the play that seem to lift it along. The brass elements incorporated into things here fill it out. They also steer it neatly in a different direction that seems to be very easy listening while still maintaining a true sense of spirit. It is a very well thought out track at the same time. With “Early Morning Runner” the strumming on the intro bests it. The patient temperament to it is very soothing and as it builds to a crescendo it tantalises as much as intrigues. It is something that is full of importance and promise in how it is played out. Then comes “All Of My Best Friends” which saunters along and as it do so entwines the playing elements. Everything about it does seem to fit in with the rest of the track

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listing here. It also sees something on the vocals when they are shared that flirt somewhat with folk music, but still keeps it clothed in the stripped back rhythm that it has going for it. The cursive that the guitar and drum machine come in on “Stitches And Sleeves” are something that filter through it in a way that gives it definition. Then the synth elements on the sound see it come to the fore and things become very polished and broody sounding, but it still has a captivating quality about it.

“This Ship Won’t Sail” is a song that nicely comes into its own. It is easy to mistake it as a laid back tune but further inspection shows it to have something extra to it. The expected way it is all approached is competently done here. It has a charm to it while the accordion that is fed in on the sound seems to infuse a sense of folk to it. Much like how they attempted it on “All Of My Best Friends”, only this time it appears to be more successful. A stirring organ opens up “All Of The Signs” and it characterises it as a song that shows effort and consideration put together to bring forth something of true fortitude. There is a presence to it as well as essence and the two combine here to really produce something of true composure. Then the closing track on the album here in “You’ve Punctured My Lung”. This is another damn fine effort from them and it seems to have an artistic feel to it with how they cradle the musical side of it all. The pick-up on the drumming that is honed in has something to it that makes it sound very lofty indeed. The vocals on it also seem to give it a uniqueness that has real feeling to it. Then things seem to become contrasted. It becomes perky while in equal measure reserved. The result is a hollowed out sound that is somewhat introverted but still retains the qualities that have signified the interesting aspects of their sound throughout.

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

VALENTINE BLACK Desire Lines The first thing that impresses when you listen to this album is the way that it cuts to the chase with the opening track “The State We’re In”. It has a boisterousness to it that also infuses some true sensibility to it that brings out something in the music. The way it flourishes it defines it. The pace and tempo are both very elective and they give it a sense of something very elite that intertwines all the playing aspects. The loop from it that comes across is highly effective and adds a real portion of charm. That is then followed on the album by “What A Woman Can Do”. This is a song that exudes a resolute sophistication in all the right ways. The harmonica is deftly applied to it and it refines it inside an already classy affair. This is one of those songs with a true veneer to it that shines from beginning to end. On “Some Kind Of A Connection” keeps things going. There is something about the way it holds a sway that shows savvy. It has an allure to it as a result and the way that the rhythm to it forms and builds up creates something that really connects with the listener. The brass instrumental features are something that brings out a true atmosphere on the track. “In The Dead Of The Night” captivates from the drumming that is beaten out on the intro. It soothes and burns with passion when it meets the gravelly tone of the vocals. That is then focussed into the sharp lyrics and it really gives a tip of the hat to something that is impeccably arranged. The harmony of the backing vocals is an effective feature on this one and the manner that it closes out by introducing the playing is something that figuratively brings out the best in the track here. It draws a comparison with THE WATERBOYS in places and it flies fancy all the way from here on in. There is something to “Retrospect” and the way the guitar flutters away on it that seems to create an allure. The whimsical fashioned lyrics see it appropriately keep the eyes on the prize here. It steadily builds things and that creates a wave to it that is immediately felt. The patient way it comes together is something that it benefits from entirely. It has a lush stride to it and what it has going on it has in abundance. Then with “Return Of The Lotus Eaters” things branch out and become a little bit more eclectic. On show is something that has precious moments inside the rhythm that seems to be dictated by the xylophone playing on it. It spaces the whole process out and develops clearly. The trajectory to it is an upward one that is scaled progressively and with good timing on show to it also. It is very neatly pieced together and it is a song that has

deeper moments with the string arrangements on it that fade into the background but still give it a presence for their inclusion. The way that it is played in from the drumming and bass line, “A Town At The End Of The World” immediately demands your attention. The timely way it builds is a show of real craft. It phases in the build-up and gets going in way that stokes the fires. It has style written all over it, but it also has the substance to make it an abject song that has everything in the right places and knows how to work them effectively to bring out a true sense of grandeur on things. A couple of seconds into “Take Me To Your Leader” and you are already enthralled. It has an assured way of conveying the defiant and protest aspects together. When they combine they rest within a song of real purity. There is a very distinguished accountability on show here that has a lot of impressive mannerisms contained within. It is a very lean number that stands up to be counted. “More Than New York” seems to be gifted with a way about it that fuels something that opens out when the pace picks up. It hones in on it and the organ in the background filters through it and gives it an intended depth. The little flourishes on the sound like this bring out the imaginative side of it. It wonderfully sails along. The closing track on the album is called “Oceans” aerodynamically brings something impeccable to the table. There are shaded of NEIL YOUNG on show in places. It saves the best until the very end. It is a song of true splendour that defines how good the band is. The enchanting rhythm holds it all in a beautiful way that shows soul. The harmonica brings a beauty to the tempo and expertly refines the tune. It is powerful and rich, with the lavish strokes delivered on it with true reverie. A song that is well worth checking out on its own, but having it here on the album is an added bonus.

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

HOUSE OF DOLLS Welcome To The Department Of Nuclear Medicine They tear into it all with “I Thought You Were My Friend”. It puts its finger onto something that rises to the occasion here. It brings things to the fore on it all with the way that it picks the pace up. There is an edgy scintillation to it that imbues an ardent perspective that relays the whole of the track across. It is heavy on the angles where the rock is concerned and it dutifully plays to this. Their reputation is enhanced further on “Murder Machine”. Unashamedly indie sounding, it ushers in the heavy sound by the numbers. Yet it does it competently. The hang off the guitar on the bridge underlines this point. There is a temperament that sees it cross over in a way that doesn’t alienate. It is then able to set up “Photograph” quite well. This seems to have a sharper sound going for it on the intro. The sense of toughness to it is immediately turned on. That lets it muscle its way with the playing side of things. The drum and bass shake it up and they are what enclose it all in. “Prostitutes” revels in the whole process. It shakes it all up with the guitar that whizzes all the way through it. It internalises the angry inner child and projects it across on this song. Alongside that they produce it in a way that goes the distance with no letting up on the whole of it. “Into The Void” follows on from that. There is an exact way about how the rhythm is focussed on the intro here. It has a swerve to it that it easily leans into to great effect. In a way it gravitates towards shoegazer territory. That aside, it proves itself by letting the music do the talking for it here. A true sense of a good steady rhythm is the first notable thing about “Light Starts To Fade”. It cruises along. Things on show have a mashed up feel to them but it is not going to stop anyone getting into this. This is pure rock from beginning to end. A radio beacon brings in next tune “Nuclear Meds”. Behind that a guitar riff slowly plays away while a zap builds up. The sound here now begins to incorporate aspects of electronica with an awareness of how brave the experiment is. It is a brief interlude on the record but it is a welcome turn of events. With “All I Need” there is a fine spring in the step. The drumming that skiffles out does so gracefully and tweaks the sound. There is something of an ache reaching out from the vocals here that

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self-contain it all. That intricate twist leaves a lasting impression. That splits the trees in how cursive it sounds. “Ills” is one of those tunes that matters. That is down to how expertly it has all been conceived. It is handled and treated in a proper way that shows on it. There is a vibrancy to it that floors you. The way it is all turned in here is another graceful turn. “No Excuses” burns with a true verve from the off. It feeds a frenzy with the way it all seems to come together. There is something about it that circles like a shark in how it injects the life into this number before taking a big bite out of things. The breakdown of it overall is a marked effort and done so for the right reasons. They shuffle it along but it is on the back of the end product that releases the caged beast within. “American Dream” storms into things and makes no apologies for it. It ravages. On this track we also see the band come into their element. The intensity behind it fires it all up yet it still has the intelligence to hold back. It doesn’t subdue it in any way either. “Lovers & Clowns” is the final track on the album here. It proves to be a great choice for closer also. The whole of it has a hold of the music and never lets it go. The direction it moves in is very much a forward transition that is perpetual and very much aware of it all. There is a connection of it all that elevates it in a way that toils away and goes with the flow. Things never run out of control for it either. It delivers all the way because it can.

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Album Reviews

Irish Artists

CROUPIER Self Titled “The Crooper” is the first track on the album. It is able to convey a real fortitude about it from the off. The band do have those screamo aspects on the sound here that some people might not contend with, but they are not imposed upon the song here in a way that causes it to become sterile. The musical facets that they infuse on to the play showcase some real merit. There is a tempo going for it here that boxes clever and there is something about it that comes from the progressive school of thinking that impresses. “Creo Beast” picks up the baton. There is no shying away from anything here from the band. The playing rushes along and the 8-bit backing on it is something that proves to be a bit of a steady and sensible application. The rhythm to it brings it along and it is a satisfying listen indeed. The exertion of it exemplifies a lot of the right aspects concentrated where they should be. On “Red Lemon” things are really brought out from the band. There is a good hook to it from the opening that traipses across it. That constant feature is one of the standout things to it. How it then lifts off bodes well for it overall. The sense of gothic to it is also a nice touch. “Its Not The TV (It’s the Remote)” could be considered to be an extension of that gothic influence. It seems to come across as something that is heavily influenced by bands such as THE CURE. On show here are some very stray qualities in the vocals that then merge seamlessly with the music. They are not lost in translation here either. The way it bursts out is a true measure of how competent they are as a band. With “Dear Murray” they delve in to their playing abilities and produce something of distinction. It rattles along and they then change the direction of it from something that begins in a mainstream vein to something that moves to a different and somewhat angst ridden territory. They then flit between the two for the duration of the track here, but it is done in a way that enthrals. “Pax Bisonica” has more than just a clever title going for it. It is a transition of things from them musically to begin with. The fluctuations on show here find their true vocation on the tune. The way they become sewn into things here make it a point of matter more so than one of reference. “Panama” has a sympathetic swing to it.

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The formation of it all is a little bit on the apathy side of their music, but that is part of the intended process on it all here. It then allows for the beat to come in on it and be something that is positive. It is in the contrast that the true measure of the progression of this one is truly understood. “All Your Kids” fizzes from the intro. There is also something about that sound to it that readies it. On the back of that it shows what it is all about. The vocals on it are displayed in a way that sees them displaced somewhat on the chorus. They seem to find themselves taking a backing function as the sound comes to the front and centre. It is a clever little trick that is pulled off by the band here. Whereas the playing front of things shows a real sturdy feel to it that evens itself out over the course of things. “Traces” is incredibly catchy. There is a spin to the riffs and grooves on it that really know what they are doing. It has a funky vibe going on and they then shift that balance in their sound and go down the progressive and alternative road. When that happens they morph that original riff and the variation of the original is an astute move by them that pays off. The final song on the album here is called “Specter”. It orchestrates a lot of the right things on the playing side. The rhythm to it is steadfast and that gives a way to it that allows it all to come together. The vocals are guarded on it and they have a docile feel to them. That is an effective turn to things here on that front. The sound and rhythm to it are very broad but they are suitably applied. While the manner in which it all closes is seamless and turns in something that is pretty damn fine.

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Album Reviews

International Act

THE KONIAC NET One Last Monsoon A recommendation from our Indian based music network that we established in May of last year, THE KONIAC NET are a band that exemplify the healthy state of the unsigned music scene in the country at present. They begin with “(Its Alright) Farewell” which really lays on the class. The song plays out with a real sense of the dandy in the way that the rhythm is laid on. It has a richness that is full and crisp, and there is a rounded heel to it that brings it out in a fantastic way. It is a mesmerising opener and this will just keep you glued to the rest of the album. The next song is “Maggie (A Song For Brad)” and this is dutifully played. It has majestic quality written all over it. It gauges the fine points on it and knows how to apply them. It is a brilliant tune that eases along on the strength of the music. It is something confidently comes across and the positivity of it is just magic. It is sheer bliss in fact and a tune well worth checking out. “This Time Around” is another gem to truly savour. So much is packed in and from the very moment that the guitar is rolled in on the intro it just tells you that it has it made. There is nothing else to say about it because it is a walking superlative. A brilliant tune all the way through. “Divine Subversion” has a smooth feel to it. The procession to it imparts such a flamboyant air to things. It is so definitive that it takes the breath away each time you listen to it. The crafting of it all from the rhythm to the arrangement all have their place and all of them perform their duty with true distinction here. There is another great tune in “Midnight’s Children (H.B.M.)”. It hollows out a masterful track here. It orchestrates all of the music on show in a way that loosely saunters along before meeting up with an incredible tune with an aura about it. The vocals also harness the potential of it and complement in a way that blesses it. The hook on “Demure” is something here that is cursive and intriguing in the right amounts. There is a fluency to it that harnesses a skittish rhythm and turns it in to corner a truly marvellous and simple sound that is highly effective. It is rich in an ethereal quality yet still

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has the depth on show to give the tempo a precision that gives it a steady beat. The cleverly titled “Once, I Ruled Myself” incorporates a sound on here that is very Americana sounding. This one is another capable effort that blends in all the right things. There is a magnificence to how it ends up playing out that is incredible. The beat to it is one with an urgency and authority that still seems to be reserved sounding. An acoustic number in “Simple” comes next on the album. The texture that is layered across it caresses the gentle rhythm in on this one. The result is a melody to it that is rich and full bodied. There is a sorrowful heft on show with it but overall it shows to be a true tour-deforce that expertly applies itself with the utmost ease. Next tune “Bricks” presents itself smartly. The acoustic rhythm of it is knitted together in a way that shows something about the internal workings of it to be quite intricate. The rhythm guitar on it is something that is put into it and used to great effect. With it the rhythm becomes a cascade that supports it in a capable way and brings out something in it. “Anaesthetic & The Withdrawal” closes the album. It serves it so well. The control on it is an admirable trait. That projects upon the song in a way that makes it a true marvel. It takes it all in and the flushes on the sound are exceptional. The only thing to find fault with it is in the fact that it signals the end of a truly inspired album that takes your breath away when you listen to it.

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Album Reviews

International Act

DANCING SUNS Goldmine Opening track here “The World” has a very formative way about it that instantly washes over you. It has these intricate and pretty little workings on show that fit into it. They get underneath it and they have a formidable way of bringing out the song in a way that tantalises and exerts feeling. The musical arrangement on it is beautifully orchestrated. The tempo that is then artfully constructed and it is an amazing full body of work that is on show here. There is nothing but goodness about “Rain”. It is an enamoured and fruitful effort that blazes along on the back of some intelligent arrangements. There are Native American Indian influences on show here. The whole of it has a tame and dreamy sequence going for it. It is enchanting and takes you away on the back of the resourceful way it comes across. Everything comes together on “Tarnished”. The deep piano gives way to something that is eclectic and shows the real effective range of the vocal performance. It is nymph like in how the rhythm and tempo come together. It has a way of coming through that imposes itself without outstaying its welcome. The brass ensemble incorporated here bolsters all of the finer effects that are on show. Things are incredibly scintillating on “Dancing Suns”. It appears to have a synchronicity in the way it is orchestrated. That intention is very seductive and it has a tinge of dangerous about it also. It is something that chases down the finer points and retains a guarded persona. It is a very intriguing number indeed. A track for the thinking music lover that deserves appreciation for the tranquil and seasoned way it comes together. With “Mexico” it again brings things together in a very tidy fashion. It has solidarity to it that fits a very prominent and light tune. As it gets down to the task at it speaks within the motions of the play here. The lyrics have a submission that gift it a sense of awareness that speak in a languid way that move it with true sobriety. It is a true work of art. “Cuckoo” comes next in the track listing. It has an inviting way to it that admirably sets it all up. There is a thoughtful and evocative imprint that is traced out by it. This is turn ascribes a way to it that fascinates as it plays. “Black Eagle” is one of those songs capable of conjuring up feelings of euphoria. It has a wonder to it that is colourful and the way that the able bodied playing elevates it all here is something that bodes

truly well. There is a feel to it that is reminiscent of the Olympia music scene of Paris in the late 1950’s. There is a cosmopolitan chic to it that truly complements it and the string arrangement on it is a cavalier effect that ably sees it venture into comfortable waters.

Then it follows up with “Safe”. It impresses upon the opening with a feel of certainty to it that gestates in a way that gives it a placid meander. The pan pipes bring a real degree of reverence to it. The mystical and enchanting way that it all plays foregoes any sense of predictability. It captures the imagination and tunes it into something that manifests the creativity in a safe haven that brings out the best in it. The title track of the album is next. “Goldmine” is a tantalising tune that teases out the playing in very appropriate way. The sweeping way it brings the formation of the music is sublime. It has feint properties that hang in the air on it. They in turn mesmerise and they exemplify a lucid sound that has a longing to it that satiates in a believable way. The final track here is called “Over The Line”. It remains with you in a minded way that first how comfortable sounding it comes across. There is a body to it that sweetens the deal here. The harmony contained within is a whim that floats across elegantly. It establishes something that astounds as it brings out the best of things in the creative process. The fullness of it all is what makes it the superb all round effort it is. That point applies for the entire album overall as it is the very definition of expression as well as music.

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Album Reviews

International Act

THE NAMELESS GIRL Bipolar “Bipolar” is the debut album from Devon duo THE NAMELESS GIRL. They self-published the entire process which is also worth mentioning. The album opens in a way with “Bright Light” that filters the virtuous side of it in quite specifically. Then it sits back as that begins to process the sound and build it up with a true progression as the sound becomes harder. It then brings electronica and synth based sounds to it that have a good bearing on it. Even more so when it opens up and gets going. The lyrics also fall in and give it a catchy additional hook. The synth is again a prominent feature on “Fallen Angel”, though things seem to be of a more industrious sound. Although in this instant it is a more string oriented sound on show with the intro there is a hardier and more beguiled stance to what is on show. There is a true sense of the catchy about it here. Things are felt out on “Persephone”. What they do on the song is tease in the synth to it. Then bring up the tempo by additional drum beats coming in on show that take it up in a gradual succession. Everything is brought home with a very sheltered tune in the eponymous title track. “Bipolar” breaks it down is a scintillating process that brings a true sense of grandeur to proceedings. It is a very strong tune that applies itself correctly. The end product is a truly sensuous number that is light in touch but heavy in effectiveness. “Sleep” has a dalliance to it. The piano that opens it conveys a frailty and emptiness. Then it solidifies and closes off and brings it all out. The flow of the rhythm to it rushes through it all. It retracts it all in parts but that is not a bad thing. On “Hit The Window” things are kept very tidy. The vocals are really complimentary on it. From the very moment that it begins it earns your attention. There is a crisp way to the acoustic guitar and the vocals meet up with it. That combination invests into the song in a big way that pays off.

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“Lipstick Stain” is a big number and it carries it off from the piano that drives it in the beginning. There on in it sees it all come in with the bigger sounding and heavier tempo on show. It paces it quite specifically and the narrative on it is something that it aspires to. It seizes that object but it has to work for it. The endeavour is all part of the appeal to it you feel. While on “Say You Will” things take flight from the piano that takes centre on it. From that it reaches a point in the song that relies upon the synth to keep the process together. It is an addition that brings an expedient rate to how it all plays. Again their sound incorporates a piano into the opening. This is not an over reliance on this track though. The incorporation of the piano is a feature on the closing two tracks also. On “Just Let Go” it is a fleeting appearance because this one is built around a gothic sensibility that lines up alongside the electronica feature on the sound. It seeps into that to come off as a lullaby that has a tapered and dark turn hiding beneath it. The closing track on it is “Tea And Cake”. A quaint title and it begins in a telling fashion. It leans into it in an obscure way that tallies it up. That allows for it the elements that pan it out to come on board and give that additional depth. However with the over reliance on the piano in the final closing four tracks it does have a sense of repetition. It still doesn’t damage it enough to limit how good it is.

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Album Reviews

International Act

THE LOOSE HEARTS How We Are Now There is an idyllic way that the album opens with “Can’t You See”. The Liverpool band punches it quite well. The formative way that it all whips into shape really shows fortitude. It has a stylish and off set way to it that soothes in great measures. It flows so freely that it necessitates all of the expression to it without complicating anything in the process. “Everything That Was Here” holds quite well off the deep guitar riffs that roll by on it. They calmly stir it along by breezing through. The procession that it results in is something that has a captivating quality to it that really coasts it along. It forebears quite specifically and rises in accordance to the way that the elements map it out. There is a lot going for “Boys ‘round Midnight”. It bursts at the seams with catchiness. It also keeps all those things firmly in check. It is steeped in a crisp and fluid tempo that cuts sharply off the back of all the playing to it. On “Morning Light (Rita)” there is a way about it that incorporates a romantic notion. That seems to breathe into the rhythm on show. It has a timeless quality to it that is played appropriately on it. It has a serenity about it that is quite charming and suits it. “Yeah” is a song that has a stand-offish way about it. It customises that to create a mood within the song that is then brought out in a big way by the rhythm closing in around that. The gravelly tone in the vocals testifies to this and they really lock down all the right things on this one. There is a roar coming from the guitar on “Never Let Go” that has an immediate appeal. It plays as one of those tunes that comes across as definitely being up to the task at hand. The tempo to it is fast and delivers with a true sense of accomplishment. It never lets up or loses sight of anything that works for it and because it contains them all in the right way it is comfortable in going all out. The song following that is “Wind Chimes”. It has an intriguing and quirky way about it that is matched by the way it carries all the right things with it.

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That is then all met by skiffle like qualities that give it a jive. It is able to impress by purely conveying these qualities and make them work in a suitable way here. Then it begins to mellow out on “Rumba Junk”. It is marked out by the awry way it all sounds. The guitar riffs on it are slick and they gift it when applied. They give it a twist. From there it all seems to fall into place and work its magic. They then put down a true marker with “Because”. The song has a ferocious nature to it even though it appears to pull back on it. The way it is all made up is a really splendid affair. It is a very brief song yet it still turns up and deserves its inclusion on the album. The penultimate track on the album is “Mary”. It takes it all in and goes to a place that is somewhat solitary. It has a lonesome and ethereal feel to it in the opening. Then it meets up with a stepped out rhythm that effervescently sedates in a way yet eases it all in to give the song a way of taking off. The album is signed off with “How We Are Now”. This is a song to treasure. The reasons for that are down to the way it grinds out the finer details on it and surpasses all the other tracks on the album by being as good as it is. There is a resolute way that all of the playing to it works that really pays off. For more information on the band check out the following link: www.facebook.com/TheLooseHearts 49


Album Reviews

International Act

THE CLOX Civilian “Civilian” is the sophomore album from New York via Kazakhstan band THE CLOX. It is an absolute gem of an album to listen to it must be said. The eponymous opening track just melts into the playing. It has a surging guitar riff that sits alongside a constant drumming and bass ensemble that is well referenced. It then incorporates a lavish string movement into the background that begins to really bring more out in it. Then it opens up with “Jules Verne”. This is a song and a half that is impressively handled. The bass strumming behind it is what defines it. The rhythm to it is rather fetching and it is able bodied all the way through. It savours from a laissezfaire appeal and it skims along on the back of this. It focuses all of the attention internally with that approach in a way that raises it considerably. There is an apparent emptiness from the next song “Already Done”. Here the synth elements of their sound begin to come into contention. They are lavishly applied here but they don’t detract from the more established sounds. There is a fetching guitar riff bobbing away on here that fills it out nicely. It presses on in an admirable way that shows. It is on next song “Broken Dream” that the synth begins to call the shots. It does it here in a very big way. It fades in and shows a transition that joins the dots. It holds fast. It is keen minded and follows through all the way. The resulting process is a track of real imagination and highlights just why our New York network rates this band so highly. On “Summer” there is a more cool cat effect going on with their sound. It comes in on a wave of gracious playing. The subdued manner in which it opens gives way and it is a neat trick. It sees it coast along as it is one of those effortlessly cool songs. “When I Am 58” seems to just bring it all on. The pace to it electrifies and it surges along on the intro. Then it hones it all in. Instantly it embodies the cool and what a way it has about it as it does so. The electro features in their sound are well configured, while the guitar resonates i impeccably on it.

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“Achilles And The Tortoise” sharply expresses itself. It has a rapid and fired up tempo to it that bursts through on it. From there it proceeds to maintain the rhythm and build upon that fine start. It creates something very infectious with how it holds court here, but also sees it seal in what works in a big way. The guitar on the opening to “Noise” sees a transition occur. This sees the sharp way it opens become introverted. It centres all of the playing. That is able to make a fetching little number in the process. As a result of that it also then fuses some Latin guitar on the solo in this one that brings out the best in it. The variations in the play are an intelligent quip to it. Onwards and upwards with “Run” is the best way to sum it up. It comprises a good deal on the playing side of things. It is also the one song on the album that sees the vocals be something of a true distinction. It falls in nicely with the tempered guitar on it. It spaces it out neatly and how it rolls along on this track brings some weight to things. The closing song on the album is “Manhattan Project”. It is three minutes and thirty one seconds of something that proves to be an intriguing effort. It is filled with a sense of the grandiose. That is laid on in a way that doesn’t seem to be a burden. It spreads the feel of it out over the course of the whole process. That is what makes it work so effectively. For more information on the band check out the following link: www.theclox.com

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Album Reviews

International Act

THE RAYGUN GIRLS Self Titled THE RAYGUN GIRLS are an unsigned band that recently released an album and came to our attention through our New York based music network. The first track from their eponymous album is called “The Time Is Now”. It something that cross the genres of music that influence their sound and it fuses those influences into the sound rather finely. The rhythm to it does come in on the back of something that is industrious and definitively metal based. It is an unbiased tune from them that they play with the utmost of good intentions. It keeps to a steady rhythm. The guitar riffs to it thunder out on it and they then are carried off on some decent playing here. The guitar solo that is on this is well worked and not too shabby either. With next song “Rise” things become more Goth oriented. That is a very abstract observation that immediately stands out on it. There is a stark melancholia in the lyrics that is permissive. It is met with the metal sides to their music and that results in something that is banged out in a way that has hefty rhythms from the drum and bass coursing through it. With “Speak The Disappointment” things have a haunting and emphatic way about them. It is a characteristic of their sound that they turn in frequently in their music. This time around the sound concerns itself with creating a machine of hard and edgy music. It achieves that and there is a choke to the guitar throughout that stands out on it. It then occupies a realm on the music that stays true to its roots. It also plays commendably and that is the important thing to note here. The choke on the guitar sees in “Look To The Skies” and meets up nicely with the vocals. They have a withdrawn wretchedness on show here that is very appropriate. What that achieves is the effect of bringing out more in the sound on this. It hits a rich vein inside the structure of the song that amplifies the music on it. The defiant sounding “I Refuse” is next. It has a sharp opening from the guitar. Then the drum and bass thunder into it and there is a resilience that flows on it continuously. The playing is commendable and it is achieved by putting in the effort to their sound where it counts. Then “Believe” is next and this is a song that underlines the industrial influences on their sound. There exists within it a sense of the withdrawn and anguish. It has that appeal to it sewn

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up. With regards the sound on show, there is purity in that regard that transcends all the way here. “Raise Your Voices” is a song cut from a fine cloth. The rhythm to it reaches in and pulls something out of the hat that is an interesting prospect on this album. There is a staggered way that it plays that immerses you in the moment on it. It speaks volumes through the message in the lyrics also. “Ghosts” has an air about it from the intro that seems hollow. That daunting way has a bearing on it here. The song itself slowly rises up as the song progresses. That progression is also matched by an increase in the tempo. With the playing style become more prominent in that process and then finally finding solace in the way it levels out. The next track “Stand Up” has this blistering pace that is highly effective. It efficiently brings the album forward in a way that seems to suit the impact that this one has. The rhythm to it is rather smart and sharp. It is handled in a very proactive manner and the playing all seems to hinge on the upward curve in the playing. Yet it doesn’t seem out of place on the album. “The Coming” incorporates some electro into the sound for the band here. It is richly done and it deserves the necessary credit. The song also plays in with some lofty ambitions and has a politeness to it in the way it holds off going full on. It is a graceful tune that remains the sole instrumental track on the album, but the one with the most soul. The closer on it is “I Will Remain”. It pounds out very hard and it conditions all of that and hones it to produce something effective that goes all out. How it progresses from the opening underlines how effective that progression in the sound is. It also indicates how much is invested in this one by how effective it manages to pull the right strings.

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EP Reviews I AM NIAMH Self Titled

Irish Artists

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Classical trained artist NIAMH PARKINSON is an artist that we caught live recently. Her stage show is one that commands a clear and precise presence that is then reflected in her music. That night at The Sunday Roast was recently reviewed on our website and her self-titled EP is a graceful affair that shows a true sense of elegance. It opens with “False Persona”. It is a song that entwines an internalised beauty to great effect with a sweeping piano smartly feeding through it. The essence created here is a powerful and precious thing of true substance. The pick-up in the tempo serves to underline that observation, while the string movements also imbue some true stature to proceedings here. “Oscar” then follows it and it is brought in by the cello directing the sound. It is a prominent feature to it that keeps things within a minimalist structure. It is able to exact the purity from this and draw out the way it sounds. The end result is an intriguing and enigmatic effort that has the right levels of captivating while showcasing an impressive turn musically.

The fourth track on the EP here is called “Home And Away”. The song hangs together nicely and the rhythm to it has a more upbeat feel to it. It also has a quirky style to it but it is very well framed. The playing of it is well handled and showcases some interesting and innovative aspects to her as an artist here. The final track “Instead” is a delicate affair. It engages with the way the piano motions it all in play. Her vocals are also blessed with an amazing ability to convey the emotion of her work and place this state of feeling into the tune in an incredible fashion. It is a mesmerising prospect from beginning to end and the string arrangements on this course through it with real vigour. There is little to find fault on and the bucolic sensibility that is conjured up from listening to this is meticulous and vivid in equal measure. The entire EP has an ethereal and splendid sensibility and has these features in true abun-

With “The Waiting Game” her voice plays to its strengths and the fulsome way it goes about it complements her vocal range. The finesse behind the rhythm on both piano and cello as it opens impresses considerably. The concentration of both of them here keeps every second of this on a very sure footing that enraptures the listener. There is a tug from the lyrics that impart upon proceedings here in a way that fulfils it and allows it to reach its potential.

The North Sea (self titled) From the very second that the intro comes into play “Decay” has a tantalising way of drawing you in. It doesn’t disappoint either. It is one of those tunes blessed with an unbelievable essence that improves when played live. Here on the EP it captures that and shows real chemistry. The stirring way that the guitar soars across on it is backed up handsomely by the bass and drumming. It encases it all within a rhythm that leaves no doubts about anything. “These Broken Days” is a wondrous tune that shows some true smarts. It takes hold of everything on the playing and blends it with the sensibilities of the vocals. The lyrics combine to great effect on this one. They sit comfortably within the structure of this in its fulll entirety. It is nothing short of brilliant. Everything is taken hold of and nurtured by the care taken to craft it all. “Belong” is a song to rejoice in the company of. It is the next song on here and it evokes all the right reactions from you as you listen to it. The precision to it is there on all fronts. The

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timing is very much a specific thing that serves it well. The playing of it is an able-bodied show from them that bases it all. When the elements of it all meet up the end product is a capable and specific effort that comprehends the task at hand. This awareness from the band is concentrated into the song and that is why it comes across as being cut from a fine cloth. “I’ve Seen Everything Now” is a true steal of a song. The cursive way that it comes across in how it sounds is a joy to behold. The manifested way the pace is delivered has an intensity that instantly eats up everything that comes at it. It is a hard hitting, fast hitting and accurate delivery on it from all fronts. They get everything right on this one. The closing track on the EP here is “Vulnerable”. It languishes in a way on how it opens. That is then something that gives it a sense of direction with the bass line on it creating some specificity before the vocals come in. The song has a way of hanging back as it plays. The style suits it. Everything on it abounds in the correct way. It seasons all of the elements together and the track itself is a captivating effort indeed. That can also be said honestly for the whole of the EP.


EP Reviews

Irish Artist

STORM AND THE DALES Delusions Of Grandeur STORM AND THE DALES is the alter ego of DEAN SMYTH. The EP opens with “Heart And Soul”. The song is a terrific and impressive effort that has a smart and robust rhythm running through it. Things are deftly applied here and show a pristine closeness to it all. It is a very capable effort with a hypnotic rhythm that binds to it in a soulful way. Every time that we have listened to it here in our office it has delivered on the promise it showed when we first heard. This happens time after time. Then it follows up with a song called “Its Not Me Its You”. By laying down the marker here it meets a high standard that it sets for itself. The rhythm of it bursts along with a true flavour. It also shows it to be very much clued in. There is a delightful whim to it and it does have a large amount of appeal to it. It touches on things with a real sense of importance and opulence with “No Love”. There is something about it that draws a comparison with PINK FLOYD. The investment in the music is reflected in the movements on show. The sound has a depth and broadness that are able to sit comfortably in the arrangement. The process draws more from them with a contribution applied that sets it all in motion. There are expressive moments on show in that are distinctly progressive. They work very effectively on it here. There is a great deal to like about “Bad Little Girl”. There is a sway to it that is gently and delicately worked in to it all. An expression comes off from it and the elaborate way that it all sounds flies finely.

FACTIONS Looms

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Like the rest of the tracks it has a sound to it that is synonymous with a period of time such as the 60’s. The throwback appeal of it leaves a real pleasant taste to it all. “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” sees everything out. This is a tune with a true spring in the step. Pleasant sounding and smartly worked, it has some elements of it on show that are really quite elegant. An artist with a song like this can deservedly take heart in knowing that it is something that will be appreciated because of how well it is all pieced together.

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Straight away what hits you about “Saturn” is the way it has a nuanced way about it. There is an intelligence and comfort to this that tempts you as it unravels. The temperance shown in it gives it a real curve that shows a point of origin to it that is specified. It then begins to lift off with the way things begin to break into the pace of it. The sound on it is enhanced by the way the synth aspects are tailored on it. The resonance from the guitar of it is important and shapes it specifically. Track number two here is “Sin Eater”. The opening to it is an intriguing little charmer. It has a presence that is easily felt. The guitar comes in to hit hard and fast. The sincerity of it imparts upon it in the right way. The pace picks up and it shows it has it all figured out. A veneer of the hard and edgy is instantly felt on this one and it comes through with the goods. The synth is a figurative feature on “All The Way From Strange”. What it also shows is a song unafraid to be avant garde and experimental in the approach. It steadies it all and comes into life. There is an evenness to it that is very interesting. The timely and well-spaced way it all threads in is one of the things bringing out the best in it. The other is the formative way that the playing allows it to sound. The final track here is “Credo Sweat”. The evasive and barren way it opens sends it on its way but it allows it to grow in stature. There is a tantalising way that it finds form that transcends as the whole process opens up when the playing gets to the larger aspects of what it is all about. They really shake things up and the fluidity of the music on it is an absolutely incredible feature that takes a lot in and gives more back in return.

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EP Reviews

Irish Artist

Ron Steenson Throwin’ Rocks Irish hip-hop has now become something of a music scene that has come into its own and stepped up to the plate. It is now considered as a true musical movement and that is down in part to excellent artists beginning to break through and showcase the talent that is now being taken serious. We managed to catch ROB STEENSON recently as he played Dimestore Recordings and the review is included in the “Scene & Heard” section of this issue. “Faithless” begins things here and the acoustic guitar on it is something patiently brings out the ambience on show. The lyrics here drop some incredibly clever verses that bring out a lot of the right qualities. It is a song that has real accomplishment written all over it. It pursues everything on “Breathe” and wears its heart on its sleeve. It has a remarkable and fitting way to it that weighs in and has to be appreciated. The emphasis on making it something that counts is paramount. The intelligence behind it conveys the stark reality of life in Dublin. It represents, but it doesn’t throw it around as a stereotype. It does it by conveying experience and reality into this song. The third track on here is called “Down To The River”. The intro to it is somewhat curious, but it picks up and delivers something very catchy and straight forward. It well reasons everything about it. The realisation to it invokes a lot of positivity. That is then followed up by the equally impressive “If The Moon Turns Green”. It tumbles along. There is clarity on show here that embodies a pure essence. The lyrics to it are engaging and it also makes the artist a great ambassador for a music scene that is beginning to gain momentum. Quality music like this can be found in abundance on the scene today and the more artists of this calibre coming to the fore can only be a good thing.The brilliance of “Summer Rain” encapsulates all the right things. There is a sense of humour on show here, while the tempo to it arches nicely. The nostalgic way it presses ahead is a real credit also. The tempo that shows on it is something that plays in well here and is suitable to it in a big way.

PYRAMID HILL Just Get On The EP makes something of a point in the lyrics on opening track “Just Get On”. It makes some interesting observations and raises something interesting in the philosophy of the lyrics. The pace that it is delivered with delves into things that inject some menace and ferocity into the playing. It has a lean edge to it that brings the rock side of their sound to the front on this. It has a pounding rhythm to it that is backed up by well-handled playing that is up to the task at hand. The strings are the impressive aspect on “Take A Breath” as it opens. It seems to be a tamer effort to the opening track. The freestyle of the vocals here is then met by a strong and female voice that brings out the truer qualities of it. The shared vocals and the shared duties on it are an impressive facet on show. There is also a lot to be said about the way the playing manages to piece it all together from them. There is a core at the sound. The arrangement of it all is an organised and concentrated effort that pays dividends for them where it should. “All Human” is the standout track on the EP. It has a presence on show that is instantly felt. From the smart way it opens to the change in the direction with the style of vocals and singer, all of the things that they need to get right on it they manage. They manage it with relative ease and what also shows on the EP is that it has been well mastered by the producer. It hits everything that it needs to and there is authority to it that serves its best interests. It also serves it all up with an intensity that doesn’t appear to be a stretch for the band either. The closing track on here is called “I Saw God”. This lavish affair opens with some string and piano arrangements that are finely cut. The specificity arising from that is testament to the potential of the band as much as it is ability. The rhythm to it very much manages to impress upon this. What it does in the process is showcase it all by having the string arrangements meet with the guitar and drum sound on it. That becomes a process here that is a fine collaboration that is as much explorative as anything else, and in particular in the bridge it tightens the entire sound on this. finely.

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An acoustic guitar comes across sprightly on “Sleep On It” that it has a refined feel to it. The track itself confronts the hardships of a domestic relationship. Things on it hold up very well. The decency of it allows it to hold up well. The reflection of things beneath the anger and frustration shows real class. The current video for “Five Years” has been getting critical acclaim. The tune itself here is an inclusion that snaps to it. The rhythm on it is defined and the bass kicks in. There is a way to it that shows a formula at work here. The arrangement of the music on it is also something that pockets an impressive presence and gives it a true heft. Things are well placed and equally well tracked. As a result of this the realisation of the song is a reflection of the realisation his surroundings in the lyrics. The closing number here is “Distant Memories”. A fine effort that holds well in the process that blends the music to the verses. It stands for a principle. That drives it on and it is sharp and creative while getting to the point with the personal. The attributes converse on it rightly and this is a wonderful tune that has the hardship worn on it like a badge. It is one that is worn with pride.


EP Reviews

International Acts

JULYO - C.O.T.U. The fully instrumental affair is something that is an impressive feat. It has an intriguing and fascinating appeal to it, while also presenting an array of talent and innovation to the while musical process here. The opening track is called “Corner Of The Universe”. To begin with the sound languishes with a synth chord that meets some gradual native drumming. That then becomes more captivating as the Latin guitar neatly filters through the entire process. While it does the serene rhythm that was built up prior remains constant and accompanies the playing here in a way that matures and heightens the experience. What is also worth mentioning is how it becomes a transition in sound. That is something that adds that little bit extra to it here. The second track is called “The Contorsionist” and seems to have more of a heft to the drumming and bass here. The leaner sound is immediately picked up. There are also specific points in the sound here that engage the more experimental approach. They sit commendably with the progressive way it all sounds and they shape it in a way that works for it. The different arrangements and formations are neatly applied. This is not necessarily music for the aficionado, but open to be appreciated by anyone with an interest in music. That is shown by “Mystero”. The song seems to hang off the back of some finer Mediterranean combinations on show. In particular the acoustic guitar and the serenity in how it comes together are done in good taste. There is a sense of the pragmatic to this one and it seems to come across as more marked out than the rest.

playing. It grows in stature and it caresses the delicate balances in the play. That devotion becomes expressed here in a big way.

“Synchronicity” is the title of the next track. There is a pinch in the sound here that is highly effective. The application of the style in which it is played is a colourful characteristic. It is also impressive for the complete change in the musical direction that occurs when the guitar and drumming become more frenetic. There are a lot of key changes in this track. It can be easy to lose track of things and become over-ambitious. Luckily that doesn’t prove to be the case here. What does prove to be the case is something that embodies the true spirit of creativity as an artist. “Incognito” smoothly gets played in. There is a way to it and a way about it. It has a heartfelt electric guitar simmering away on it and producing consistently fine riffs to accompany the steady drumming and acoustic

The final track on the EP is “Le Rusciu De Lu Mare”. It is only a demo and can’t be considered the finished product. Judged on what presents itself here it though it does have a natural progression to it. That is felt with the precision of the taut moments in the music from the guitar, but also with way the ditty like aspects are merged into the Parisian styling of the electric guitar. It is an expansive sound here but one that is also about enjoying and being content in the music.

DEAD HORSE ONE Heavenly Choir Of Jet Engines

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This French band happens to be a very interesting prospect indeed. Their blend of psychedelic rock is a breath of fresh air to listen to. The opening track here “Alone” very much imbues that spirit. There is a heavy and drudged guitar thoroughly fanning throughout the course of the track. The vocals take a back seat and impose upon it in a way that rallies the freedom of a bygone era of expression in music. It retains a strong sense of identity in the alternative and progressive sense because of how it is styled and does very much keep things on track from the very second it sets out. “He Goes Down” seems to effortlessly glide along with an air of cool to it that gives it a true swagger. It is deep on how it sounds and it has a real boss feel to it. The way it hits is done with a big impact. That is a constant and admirable trait to this one. The vibe that it emits is what captivates and it has an enthralling aspect that defines it. Things become a lot more intensified with the sterling riffs that resonate on “To Pretend”. The way it presses ahead leaves a lasting impression on the track from the exemplary way it sounds. It has a burst of real muscle on the guitar and drums that team up on it to intensify it further. With some other lavish loops from the playing it churns out a sound that deservedly stands out. They hone things here rather well. That whips it all into shape and has a discourse going for it that moulds it in a way that very few bands are capable of doing. The closing number here is “Cruel Winter”. The definition on show with this one really captures it all. It differentiates from the rest of the included tracks. There is an emphasis placed on including the organ in the playing. The hooks to it are more sturdy sounding and also more mainstream. There is a much laid back style on show with it and it brings it out with a real flair. There is debonair written all over it and the contentment in how it rolls out is an arresting trait to say the least.

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EP Reviews THE BALCONY STARS Electric Lazarus

International Acts

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Something of an office favourite here at U&I Music Magazine, this Liverpool band are something of an under-rated gem in our book. Their new EP landed in our office and we instantly warmed to it. The opening track “Amen Sense” just goes in with all guns blazing. The sensational way that it blitzes across is down to the way that the bass on it supports it all the way through. It keeps it all together. The drawl from the vocals gifts it something additional that performs admirably here. There is a stark quality to their sound and they really hit it all spot on with the retro way their sound stands out for the right reasons. It squares all that away on “Kiss And Make It Better”. What is laid down by the band here commendably achieves what it sets out to do. The scattered and absorbing way that the playing seems to drop off in a way that appears apathy like is a likeable quality. It grants upon it the necessary time and space to breathe on the track. On “Sinners And Saviours” they literally tear into things. The zip from the guitar has a forsaken rhythm that steadily resonates and shakes it all up. The hang in the air from it is quite deliberate. That in turn builds up an evident and deliberate momentum for things here that forges ahead like a juggernaut, albeit one going at a set and steady pace. With “Dead Birds” the fetching way that a hush falls upon it speaks volumes for it. The laissez-faire vibe from it is something that seems tailor made for it. The rhythm is built to accommodate it, whole the tempo that results from this sits neatly with how both the lyrics and vocals manage to pair up. There exists some coldness from the whole process. A sterile quality if you will. Yet it is somehow all the more fetching for it. “Gods Speed” brings the curtain down on it. This is a real mover and shakes things up. The scatty rhythm to it sits perfectly on this tune

IKO - Dazed And Confused

The four track EP happens to be one of those fortunate enough to be blessed where all four are something of true substance. The first is the self-titled track. It rises up nicely. The awareness of how consequential it is becomes apparent as it gets going. The tight way that it is brings things together fuses the core and essential aspects of it by putting some thought behind the process. This careful consideration is what lends it the necessary gravitas.

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and is a great contrast to the way it seems to supress everything. There is a defined boost to it from the method adopted and the bass is superb. The wonderful way that it all runs is something that embodies everything you would want in a tune that is too cool for school.

“Lightning Bolts” has an impartial awareness going for it. The withdrawn way it sweeps along keeps it on course. The vocal delivery here has just as much say in things as the playing does. The procession of the whole song has bold strides made that fit neatly alongside the grandiose way it all fits together. It is such a beautiful and impressive effort. The withdrawn way it sweeps along keeps it on course. The vocal delivery here has just as much say in things as the playing does. The procession of the whole song has bold strides made that fit neatly alongside the grandiose way it all fits together. It is such a beautiful and impressive effort. Not to deliberately use a pun, but “Kites” has a graceful way of hanging in the air. It imparts some tapered thinking to produce this. The piano that plays out on it parlays ever so well across the whole process here. The lyrics turn in some impressive metaphors that burst with a creative sensibility to it all. They reclaim any lost ground that the song might be fighting for because of how intricate they prove to be. The way that things echo on bring real heart and honest endeavour to it in a way that it fetches forth and reaches out and touches. “Country Wedding” is the last track on here. Internalising all of the emotion involved the song manages to fulfil all expectations placed upon it. To call it an impeccable sounding tune is to do it a disservice. This goes beyond being something that could be perceived so simply. That is down to the rejoicing way that it projects upon it everything in the right measure. The way things are captured on this remain with it all the way through.

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EP Reviews FLASHBACK FORWARD The Passenger

International Acts

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Philadelphia band FLASHBACK FORWARD has something very clever and cool on their hands with this EP. The first track “Dissident” shows this. The track is a robust and disciplined piece of work from them. The hooks on it are catchy and they spin it all off the back of this. The rhythm that rushes in here is something that you seldom see from an unsigned act. It reaches the right heights and checks everything marvellously. This is one of those tracks that can mark a band out as one to watch. A sense of variance is very much on show with “Surrender”. There is an intoxicating sensibility that runs off from the tempo and rhythm here. It has a showy feature and then it seems to ease into a meander as the narrow lull comfortably comes in around the whole process. They pick up on the things that work and keep a flirtation and a flitting between the two sound directions. They narrow the sound here and it comes across quite comfortably for it. “The One” just lays it all on with the way it plays. It turns it on with real style. This is an amazing tune that just drives it forward. How it does it will wow anybody who has never heard it before. The vibrancy to it gives it that elevation and recognition that it deserves. Any plaudits here are well earned because this is astonishing from start to finish. The crisp playing on the bridge is scintillating and it electrifies it by pulsating all the way on it. “XIX” sees something reticent conveyed in the way the drumming captures the moment on it. Things appear to be black and white on it and that is what it aims for. It achieves it and the hefty way it is all pieced together hits a home run for them. It is received well and the way that

LE YIKES SURF CLUB Self Titled

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it drifts in on the sound gives it a procession that expands it for them. The closing track here is “Parasite” and it embraces a piano on their sound. There are ambient qualities throughout that are appropriately placed on show. The vocals give it an inward projection that finds a home in the way it slides into the playing side of things. The arrangement of what is on show here repays the investment from the band by rewarding their efforts with a song that means something important.

The second band from our Philadelphia based music network that have made it into our magazine this month. A band that is really unstable in their live sets. That approach is also adopted by them in terms of how they always approach their music. On “Take” that is evident. It comes at you like a steam train and makes no time for anyone in its way. A small brief track here on the EP but one that sets it all up and lets you know what you are in for. The volatile is again fused in “No Thanks”. They bring things down to their level and by doing so they bypass all the flak that anyone may direct at them. The purity of their music is something that they remain true to and they compromise on nothing here. “Nights And Days” locks in all the finer things that all the great punk bands always had. There is strength in how well they can play. They know how to turn it on and they do it here. A steady head on show from them all sees this one competently. Distinctly catchy is another thing that it has going for it and that is also true of “Got Feelings”. Hitting the ground running it must be said. It must also be acknowledged that they broaden their sound with it all. There is a lot going for the band in terms of their reputation, but reputations rise and fall in the strength of the music. There are no worries on that front here. The final track is “Ghost Ride The Whip”. This arrives with a serious amount of pomp to it and it rips it all up. They ride the wave of playing. It is moved forward by the energy that is created from their sound here and they have something that easily absorbs you into their world when you hear it. What stands out on this EP is how brief all these. What cannot be denied either is that it is nearly impossible to find any fault here.

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EP Reviews

International Acts

LEGO LEPRICONS Judith, Call Security

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A recommendation from our recently established music network in Israel, their EP gets underway with “No Money”. It brings a sorrowful song out with all the right approaches. The rhythm to it has a dragged out process to it that is very intriguing indeed. With the bawl of the vocals on show everything on it connects into the playing. There exists upon it true innovation among the way that it appears to impart the heavy sounding into things. It is a necessary process here because without it the track would meander and become lost in a sea of pretentiousness. That proves not to be the case here because the combination of the elements locks in something specific and hones it precisely. “What Is It” neatly applies itself and whips up something very dreamy from the rhythm in doing so. It just drifts along and sounds so cool from the flashes of play that are on show. The bass line on it is the genesis that creates the whole sound. It positions itself central to it and the magnetism of it then attracts the rest of the sound. There is a degree of progressive and alternative on show here that match any ambitions they have as a band. “Well I Don’t Think So” hangs on in there. The playing to it comes together and the way it holds in from the opening gives way to something that invites a lot of welcome instrumental work that impeccably brings out the best in it. “I Can Fly” astounds with how concise it all sounds. The band touches a proverbial void with it. The liberating way that all of the music on it closes in around it is breath taking. What also fascinates is how they seem to keep their feet on the ground. It is definitive in a very impressive way. The band seems to be one step ahead with “You Should Have Known”. This sees them up their game and the attentive way that they play this one is incredible. They imbue so much in this that their artistic integrity is unquestionable. The creativity on show typifies the credibility that they were highly

BOLLYWOOD BLONDES

It Is What It Is

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recommended to us on the back of. They were referred to us as the next RADIOHEAD and on the evidence presented here that is not an exaggeration. The final track on it is called “Is There Something I’m Forgetting”. They wrap it up and they invest so much in this one that the narrative of it alone is worth it. The rhythm and tempo are able to flow on it while still producing something with a mass effect principle that injects sporadic playing moments on it that further enhances it. This whole EP is something that is a true work of genius. A well-deserved ten has to be awarded here.

“The Man Who Would Be King” is one of those tunes that has a real presence about it that. Here that is down to the vocals, the lyrics and the way it sounds. The three elements combine here and there is a true verve emanating from it that has a natural swagger to it. Effortlessly cool from start to finish in fact. There is away about it that has an air of not giving a fuck and letting the music do the talking. You can’t help but warm to a band if they go about things like that. The next track is called “The Sellout” and this is also blessed with a rawness to it that impresses. There is a reaction to the sound here that matches up with the playing. There is an urban sensibility cowering away underneath on this that brings out the best in it. “Graves” comes to the fore with a screaming guitar riff that moulds around it. They turn in a fine effort that has a skip to it. The lavishness to it is empirical and it sweetens the deal here. Something to it seems to have a LOU REED like quality that enriches the whole lot of it. They incorporate an acoustic sound on “The Park (At The End Of The Street)” and it is benign to a certain extent. That rich way to it gives it a wave that it appropriately plays in on. It takes the edge of their sound but sometimes it is good to slow things down. Here is a good example of this. The EP benefits from it because it shows them to have more in their repertoire than they may have been credit for. This marks a fine point and the departure is over as normal service is resumed with “Oldest Child”. It is a bold and brazen number from them that fuses the harder aspects of their sound to keep it all together. A little bit of gravitas and the odd combine here to great effect. There is a goodness to it all that is very specific and it helps to roll it all out with relative ease. The final track is called “Ice In Her Veins”. A song with a reckoning going for it and it trades on this. The attitude to it is exemplary and it comes across in a way that you begin to warm to (no pun intended). The way that they see it out incorporates a hazy and stubborn tempo that doesn’t budge or shy away. You take it or leave but you sense they don’t really care either and that is why it appeals so well.


EP Reviews

International Acts

ELECTRIC CLOWNS In White Lights

An Edinburgh band that is a recommendation from our Scottish based music network, “Out Of Sight” has a real gracefulness about it. The band knuckle down on this tune and limber up. The input that they have on it creates something that has an impeccable vibrancy to it. It picks up the pace and runs head on into the distance with it. It has purity and a great harshness is conveyed in the vocals. They are matched up to this and more importantly they show that they are up to the job. The rhythm to it flies out with feint regard for anything and speaks volumes for it. The next track on here is “What Would Your Old Boy Say?” and it has an intensity shining through on it. An angry and unforgiving track you feel. The gritty determination that drags it along is something that makes you take notice of them. They have the required credentials of a fine punk band and still they can come across as appealing to the mainstream. Bands like this don’t come around too often. The final track on the EP is “Yeah She Looks Aright”. It is one of those songs

THE BEAT DOLLS Death Of The Party

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This band is a recommendation from our Austin based music network and they are one of those bands that it is very easy to get into on account of how good their music is. They tick all the boxes for what is required to appreciate a good punk band. THE BEAT DOLLS are a band that go

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that easily cuts muster. It has firmness on show. Handsome and dapper, it also is unafraid to embrace the ugly side with the way it has a snarl on show with the vocals. The flight of the whole of it is what marks it out though and it does it for the right reasons.

beyond the genre and as such avoid the clichés and stereotypes and distance their sound from any of that.

That is picked up on straight away with “Rumours”. They say you shouldn’t listen to rumours but in this case we have made an exception to the rule. We are glad that we did. The first thing that impresses about this is the smart and sharp way that they hone the playing elements. That in turn creates a rhythm that easily finds a steady groove. The vocals tee up nicely and the whole of it comes together and it shows for all the right reasons. “Listen And Learn” immediately finds its feet. The wonderful whip from the guitar is a sturdy and consistent feature of this. Meeting with the drum and bass the three-piece do bring something of substance to bear on this tune. The way that the riffs hang about on it is a sterling effort that is just rewards for anyone checking this band out. “We’ll See” lays it on thick and fast. In the process they show some mettle and floor this one all the way. There is a spry way that the guitar on it plays that in turn creates an interesting sound that conveys some guile from the band. The consistency and fluidity of this is a commodity that they appear to be willing to trade on, but at the same time, from this effort certainly, it would appear that they are intent on giving value for money from it. They bend things to their will on “Two Of A Kind”. There is no messing about on it and they know what they are doing with it. Things thunder away and there is a sense of taking no prisoners. The rhythm to it is impeccable, while the vibe that comes off the pace it sets out is near on immaculate. Go check them out is all we have to say. You will be glad you did.

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4x4

www.youtube.com/uandimusicagency The U&I 4x4 is the editor’s pick of four videos selected from our music networks and featured as a dedicated playlist on our YouTube channel. The February 2013 4x4 consists of the following artists: (The respective music network is indicated in brackets)

THE MONO LPS “Die A Little Death’’ (Liverpool)

THE YOUNG FOLK “Letters” (Dublin)

THE RIOT TAPES “The Key” (Dublin)

THE PLASTICS “Stereo Kids” (South Africa) 60


www.uandimusicagency.com

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U & I Music Magazine February 2013