THE MANC TANK
Stephen Young and the Union
Tony Steele & The Massacre
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ALBUM REVIEWS EP REVIEWS SINGLE REVIEWS OCTOBER 4x4
OUR FRIENDS IN THE 9 NORTH OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH
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U& I Mus ic Magazine 26 K ings Inn S treet Dublin 1
EDITORIAL This is now September 2015 and we have another
Editor-In-Chief: Phillip Ó’ Baoighealláin Deputy Editor: Greg Clifford Writing Staff: Jamie Kelly Sean Brennan Marky Edison Liverpool Correspondent: Joe Loftus Manchester Correspondent: Dave Beech U&I Gigs Photographers: Peter O'Hanlon Shari Denson Dom Marceleno
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‘I want it all yester
WARD WARDANCE are one of those cool acts that turn up on the U&I Radar from time courtesy of our music network in London who really knock us for six the first time we hear them play. We reviewed their debut EP in our last issue and their video for ‘Free Radicals’ was also selected as an editor’s pick in the September U&I 4x4. They are very much a grounded band as well, but from what they can do as a live band it is only a matter of time before everyone else starts hearing about them. We caught up with the band’s frontman Josh Newton to talk about the band and their music. Here is what he had to say -
American music recently, Mikey listens to a lot of dance music and I listen to a lot of Captain Beefheart/Frank Zappa at the moment. It helps us approach new songs in a less obvious “Grunge” way…I hate that word.
You started off as The Sirens back in 2012, but how did the band actually get together and have you always been a three piece?
For some bands that proves to be somewhat pivotal because they then find a more concrete way of identifying with their music through the name of their band. Did you find that to be the case when you changed to Wardance back in May this year?
We have always been a three piece. We all moved to London for music and I had been playing guitar in a few bands. I decided to form my own band and write/sing for the first time. I didn’t have a wealth of contacts in London so I had to use classified ads to find musicians. Through a lot of trial and error/awkward pints in the pub I finally found Tom who had a drummer friend Pietro, he left in 2014 and Mikey joined completing the current line-up. Who were the musical influences on you all as you were growing up? Queens of The Stone Age, John Frusciante, Elliott Smith, The Beatles…..many more. Now that you are a fully-fledged band have there been any other bands that have come to be influential in terms of the direction you want to go in musically? Not in particular. We listen to all sorts of music, it changes every month. Tom’s been listening to Native
You started off as The Sirens before becoming Wardance. What prompted the name change? Too many bands called The Sirens. In 2012 the “internet” was very new to me so being clever I never thought to check out if other bands had my “genius” name idea. We like to say the band formed in 2014 with Mikey as all the songs we play now are new/different to our older stuff anyway.
Definitely things picked up almost immediately. I should have done it sooner. As soon as that happened things did seem to hit the ground running in the right way. You got a new logo to go with everything and from the outside looking in it would seem that you began to find a determined sense of focus as a band. But there was also indications that things were going in that direction anyway and that the name change seemed to just help with that transition overall. How do you see it now looking back on it all? Well with the name change came a record deal and upcoming EP release so we started to feel like a new band and it pumped us with some positive energy. We went out and got ourselves a radio plugger and contacted PR companies. Mikey sold his car to pay PR and we’ve been paying him back ever since!
You are currently a band that are something of the darlings of the music scene in London for all the right reasons. But how important is it for you to stay grounded and not let that early success go to your head too much? Absolutely no one knows who we are so it’s very easy. We’d like the opportunity in the future to turn into massive ego driven assholes but until then we’re very very humble. Blazing a trail on the London scene is how you have been described in terms of what your music and live sets are all about. Some people would say that the current scene is thriving. What is your take on the London music scene at the moment? I think London’s always had a great music scene. I do find playing outside London people tend to let themselves go a bit more though. Yet there is also the opinion that noise abatement laws are also killing off the music scene. When you consider that London had 430 live music venues in 2007 and now has only 245 in under a decade it is quite an issue for artists. What is your take on this issue and what do you think needs to be done to address it? Well it’s definitely not a good thing. I hope London doesn’t carry on losing its character at this rate. I’d hate to see even more Pret a Manger’s where venues once were. On the other hand Warehouse gigs seem to be on the up. They’ve been some of the best we’ve played. I think people will always adapt to changes like this. I hope so anyway. If there are petitions going around SIGN THEM. It is not just an issue that is affecting London because it is something that is being experienced by venues of all sizes the length and breadth of the UK. Given that this impacts the cultural
rday so I’m willing to work my ass off to do what I love’...
DANCE landscape because of what a thriving music scene brings to a city in terms of culture do you believe that there should be a preservation status placed on certain venues because of their historical importance?
has been well received and we reviewed it in our last issue and gave it a thoroughly deserved 10/10.It takes a lot get that first EP out there.
Yeah of course, we all signed the petition for Denmark Street which thankfully still seems to be there. History like that has got to be protected otherwise the world will lose its character.
It’s been fine. It’s our first foot in the door. We have close to 100 other tracks written so this is the tip of the iceberg material/style wise and we’re looking forward to working on our new stuff in the near future. Thanks a lot for the great review!
What is your take on that whole issue and what do you think needs to be done about it to preserve the integrity of music venues in those instances? Petitions, protests, bombard councils with letters Amnesty International style. In terms of venues that you have played in the past are there any that you particularly like playing more than others and for what reason(s)? Again Warehouse parties have always been good, more relaxed on set times and noise and always a great crowd. How much does playing live mean to you as a band as well? It’s probably 80% of the reason we do what we do; the other 20% is the joy of writing. Sharing your music with a responsive and receptive crowd is amazing. Given the choice would you prefer playing a smaller venue or a festival slot? Festival probably, although I like small sweaty gigs too. What has been happening with the band lately has been most positive. There have been videos and the release of your upcoming EP as well. It
How have you found that experience as a whole?
As a learning curve what have you taken away from it that has been the main thing? Don’t rush into decisions. Take everything you are ever told with a pinch of salt and do it because you love it, nothing else. How do the band dynamics work when it comes to your music? Well I write the songs and bring them to Tom and we work on arrangement. He’ll usually add a big riff somewhere and he’s great at adding dynamics and rhythm. We record a demo of it and share it with Mikey so once we’re in rehearsals we’re already on the same page. Mikey’s a fantastic drummer, great rhythmic ideas and knows when to play hard and when to bring out the brushes. When he auditioned for the band he came in and played 8 songs perfectly right off the bat…we were ready to gig within 45 minutes! Another impressive thing that you have gotten right is your approach to making videos. In our opinion you would be a band that we would encourage to watch and learn from. You have released two videos in quick succession with ‘Free Radicals’ and ‘Guiding Light’. We made ‘Free Radicals’ an editor’s choice in our
September 4x4.When it comes to the issue of making a video a lot of bands would have made the one video and used that as a medium to promote the EP. But you opted go the extra mile by pushing two videos out. Has making the EP resulted in a stronger work ethic for you as a band as well as giving you focus?
Yeah definitely, we’re even planning a video for hopefully in November/December (don’t quote me on that!). The more the better. We’ve always been driven as a band; I want it all yesterday so I’m willing to work my ass off to do what I love. The launch night was on October 10th in Mau Mau Bar. It goes without saying that you are looking forward to it but how much did that gig mean to you as a band? It was always going to be a fun night. We were looking forward to playing a longer set and a lot of new tunes. Who played support with you on the night? Birdman Culture are doing an alternative set for us, more stripped back. Then there was also two other great bands called Rad Fru and Free Your Mind. You are a band who is well known for playing live and supporting other bands. Are there any other bands you think deserve a mention that you would urge our readers to start checking out? The bands above who are supporting us! What else is in store for the band for the rest of the year? We have a few exciting meetings coming up which I’ll keep under my hat for now so I don’t jinx them. Gigging as much as possible and continuing to push ourselves musically.
THE MANC TANK by Dave Beech
Though the musical history of Manchester is so still retain its place as both the heart and soul o become settled in its ways, now that the 'mad fe intake of MDMA (for the most part, anyway) an cover band in a local pub, providing of course th
The answer isn't a clear one. The problem Manc up to its own legacy. Journalists often make eas Stone Roses, whilst label bosses are constantly Oasis. As a result of this, the city, and by default its identity; the individuality that made Manche aspirational NME poster boys clamouring to be though. After all, these people are musical roya is Bez holds a special place in the city's heart. Th and the nostalgia pedlars in the mainstream mu aesthetics has led to the city being saturated by spotlight.
So, as aspirations replace individuality, are they plethora of bands and artists in Manchester at t has often been said in this column, you can see almost any genre. So why is it the indie scene in a strong case of nostalgia? Why is it now more c It boils down once again to the legacy left behin perpetual assumption that Manchester needs an think we're all in agreement that one Morrissey another. But what happens to the bands that bu thing different?
Many fall in to obscurity, some break up, and ot couple of years to little fanfare from anyone but do make it, the likes of PINS for instance, who r almost universal praise in the press. Or, to an e Everything who have both found chart success o art pop, and if anything, have become more left on an independent level however, Patterns, Kul are operating completely autonomously from th attention, following their own ideologies and cr with visual art and poetry than the overtly masc
So is Manchester still the heart and soul of the c with most regions providing their own unique s as respected as it is. But, whilst it might not be t case for it becoming the brains behind the UK s to realise there's more to music than imitating w can solidify itself as a bastion of British music a
omething nobody can argue against, can the city of the UK's rich musical landscape? Or has it er it' generation isn't too far off 40, curbed their nd is instead happy to settle for a Stone Roses hey can get a babysitter?
chester has, is that it's constantly trying to live sy comparisons to the likes of The Smiths or The on the look-out for the next Courteeners or t a lot of the bands it produces, has begun to lose ester what it was is slowly being replaced by e the next Fray et al. This is no fault of the bands' alty in Manchester, even the perpetual gurn that he fault instead lies at the feet of industry execs usic press, whose insistence on reselling tired unoriginality, all in the name of chasing the
y also replacing creativity? Unlikely. There's a the moment catering to a range of tastes. And, as live music any night of the week in the city, from n particular that seems to be suffering from such concerned with regurgitation than reinvention? nd by the city's most revered musicians and the nother Joy Division or Happy Mondays. And I y is insufferable enough, without us spawning uck this trend, and genuinely are doing some-
thers cruise along, releasing an album every t established fans. Then there are those which remain fiercely independent, whilst enjoying even bigger extent, Dutch Uncles and Everything over recent years with their respective brands of t of centre as their popularity grew. Back down lt Country, MONEY, and a host of other bands he hordes of bands clamouring for media reating music that shares far more in common culine pub-rock found elsewhere in the city.
country's music scene? Arguably not any more, scenes and styles that make UK music in general the heart or soul any longer, there's definitely a scene. And as more bands in Manchester begin what's already been done, the sooner the city again.
Photos by Shari Denson -6-
Stephen Young and the Union
Interview by Marky Edison
Stephen Young and the Union formed in 2009. The members of the band come from all over Ireland but their influences are noticeably American. Radio Nova described them as “the best Americana band on this side of the Atlantic”. Their blend of folk, blues, and classic rock songwriting has built them a steady following, as well as a rapidly expanding reputation as one of this country’s finest live acts. They released debut album, Wilderness Machine, in 2011 to positive reviews and it got airplay on mainstream radio. New album, Eagle Fort Rumble, is in the can and the build-up to its release is in full swing. Stephen is travelling to the USA this month touring the musical heartland with shows in Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee amongst others. The production of the new album was testing and the first single was released last year with an accompanying video directed by Thomas Moyles. Moyles shot two more videos this summer for upcoming singles ‘Shadowman’ and ‘Shuffle (In The Quicksand)’. Stephen Young spoke candidly to U&I about the challenges and the rewards of recording Eagle Fort Rumble. You’ve your second album, Eagle Fort Rumble, coming out shortly. How are you feeling about that? It's a strange feeling now. We spent a long, long time knocking it about and all the drama that went on behind the scenes and everything. At one point it seemed like it might never see the light of day. So now it's doing the rounds with the different media and DJs and all that and the feedback has been amazing. And I'm not saying that just to sell it, because that's out of my hands, it's being received in a way I never actually though it would be. Well, I didn't know how it would get on once we let it loose. I did think, and I said to a few people, that this album is light years better than Wilderness Machine, our debut. But after that I really didn't know if it would sink or swim. It's hard not to feel a little vindicated when the reviews start coming in, but my feeling this morning is just wait and see what happens....try and enjoy the ride as long as it lasts. It’s been a long time coming. Duty Free 200 first appeared last year. The album has been three years in the making. How has the process of making it been for you? Tough! Not a pleasant experience at all... After the first unsuccessful attempt at recording with a different producer in Wexford, we set ourselves up in a huge log cabin overlooking Lough Derg on the Tipperary side for a total of about 6 weeks. It seemed like a really good idea, ya know isolate ourselves and just focus on the tunes undisturbed. It didn't really work out that way. Our house - named The Eagle's Nest by its owners - kinda became the top party spot for people. The first night there, whil we were setting up gear and getting things ready, about a dozen well-wishers arrived in with shoulders of whiskey, beer and whatever else. We didn't get much done. For the efirst 2 weeks we had a pool table in the house as well
which in hindsight was a terrible idea. We got some work done but we spent a lot of time drinking and playing pool. When the time came to get the finger out, pressure was on. We hadn't much to show for our time and tensions starting getting frayed a bit. Our old guitarist, John, left the recording and the band. There were other rows too, and the thing got messy for a little while. There was just cabin fever, alcohol, too many late nights that ended at 6, 7, 8am and so on, it was crazy. I've said since, 'never again...' but who knows. It was fun too... You’ll be touring the USA in support of the album. Most bands only dream of been able to tour there. How did that come about? How is it going for the band stateside? This is my first time there professionally so I can't wait. It's a solo tour. I wouldn't expect the boys to fork for flights etc to get there so it's just me. It's been a long time since I've properly gigged that way. It's the way I started out before I got The Union together so I'm currently rehearsing for that - if there's any mistakes I can't blame anyone else now is the only problem. Myself and Shayne (our guitarist) had the idea about a year ago, and it really just came out of the thinking that our sound is very much an American sound. A lot of bands are starting to tour outside Ireland now for various reasons and we looked at some of those markets that Irish acts are touring on a regular basis. Not saying we won't get there either I think we will, but the US seemed wise to line up as priority number one. I have a great publicist working for me there and we managed to get ourselves a nice couple of gigs in good music towns so we'll see how things go. You have two new videos out from Eagle Fort Rumble. You’ve stayed with the same director for them. Is it important to have a steady visual side to the band? Yeah, for sure! Thomas Moyles is a great director. We do a lot of our band work in Tipperary, recording as I spoke about, but rehearsals too and a couple of photoshoots. When it came time to shoot our video for ‘Duty Free 200’ we looked at a few different options and Thomas was suggested. He was based in Tipp too so it meant we could kinda do all our work there. I spoke to him on the phone and really liked his relaxed attitude but passion for film-making. The shoot for ‘Duty Free’ was great. We had two great actors Martin O'Sullivan and Rachel Lally on set as well and we all had a ball. It was a no-brainer to work with Thomas again for the ‘Shadowman’ video and the upcoming ‘Shuffle (In The Quicksand)’ video. He's a very collaborative guy and by the time we finished filming the third video he was almost the 6th member of the band. I couldn't recommend his work at Avalanche Multi Media Studios enough! You formed the band in 2009. I first saw you two years ago and it seems like you haven’t stopped playing since then. Is this a full time concern for you now?
It is now, pretty recently. I had been working part-time but the band was definitely taking up more and more of my time. We've tried to gig as much as we can. It can be tough as I live in Wexford, Shayne's in Carlow, Johnny and Stevie are in Dublin and Kenny's in Tipp but we've put a good slog in a for while. Recently we shifted our focus a little from Dublin to playing gigs around the country, generally working paying gigs - which really helped financially in getting the album out. The next few months will be busy too with the Irish and the American tours, so a lot of gigs and tours in the pipeline but that's the job I suppose. It’s unusual for a band to stay together for as long as you have, and with such a stable line up too. What’s your secret? I really don't know. I have a good relationship with everybody in the band. I've known Johnny a long time, since around 2008/2009. He was in another band called The Wayward and the previous line up of the band and his band jammed in the same studio. Stevie was in the same band and I got to know him then too. When our original drummer left in 2010, Johnny stepped in for what was supposed to be a few months and is now with me almost 5 years. There's some debate as to how myself and Shayne met but we met in either 2010 or 2011. He signed us to his label and then stepped into the breach on lead guitar when John left. We get along well, share a lot of the same influences and bounce around ideas a lot. Stevie and Kenny are good guys and joined the band in late 2011. I don't know how we've kept the show on the road. We fight, for sure. It's by no means plain sailing but we try and keep things out in the open and not let grievances build up. And any grudge can always be taken out over a good game of pool! Does playing with the same people give you more confidence in yourself and each other's ability to play as a group? I do prefer to play in a band. Although I started out solo and initially brought a band together to play as my backing band, we really developed beyond that as time went by. I kinda see us as a real band now. Not a singer-songwriter with a bunch of guys alongside him. I think we even would have changed our name to a 'band name' but we did all feel that Stephen Young & The Union was a name or brand that was already out there and we didn't want to mess with that. When we're in a room jamming or at most of our gigs when we hit form, yeah, there's no other group of guys I'd rather play with. We have gone through our tough times, but we came through that and I think we'll be together for another while yet. What’s the plan for the album launch here? We're launching in the Grand Social on November 27th. I can't wait for the night. It's been 4 and a half years since we launched ‘Wilderness Machine’ so it has been a long time coming. We've got a couple of really cool surprises for the set and a couple of new songs to showcase too. It's gonna be a blast. We've got support from Gypsy Rebel Rabble in as our very special guests so it’ll be a great night.
Tony Steele & The Massacre Interview by Marky Edison
Tony Steele and the Massacre are based in Liverpool. As you can probably guess, they are fronted by local boy, Tony Steele. He’s probably as well known for his boxing as for singing but he’s shared the stage with Alabama 3, Pete Doherty, and Catfish & the Bottlemen. In 2015 he returned to writing and performing after a few years away from music. Starting from scratch and writing more personal, reflective songs, Tony has found a new voice and has been making waves in Liverpool and beyond. London shows with Cast and The Winachi Tribe went down a storm and he’s writing an album. Complemented by Charlie Landsborough Jr, Laura Mackinlay, Peter Macparland and Grant Walker, the eponymous Massacre, the new tracks are (wait for it)…. a knockout! Tony Steele talked to U&I while I got my coat. The production on ‘Starting From Scratch’ is great. It sounds vintage and modern at the same time. The music is deceptively simple. There’s a lot going on there. Was that something you had in mind while recording? Yes it was. My old bands were a little more built up and had more thrown into the mix. I had been out of music for a few years and basically picked the guitar up and wrote some personal and honest songs more for myself. When I decided to make demos of the songs I choose to keep the basic sound to them and not drown out the feeling of the song with too much sound. There was a part of my soul ripped out on the songs and my feelings were expressed the way I played the guitar or delivered a vocal, so I thought it would be good at least for the demos to keep it rootsy and basic. On listening to them there was a couple that captured the soul and feeling that was felt when I wrote them. ‘Starting From Scratch’ was one of them songs, it only has one guitar, acoustic bass and an African Djembe on it. I think the result has captured what the song is trying to portray. For this record was there any sound or singer you wanted to emulate? No not really, my aim was to find a sound that complemented the song I had written. It would have
sounded different, and diluted it, by adding drums and extra guitars and keyboards. So I think I captured that sound, but it wasn't trying to emulate any sound or singer. You are well known and respected as a boxer as well as a musician. What were your personal highlights from your boxing career? Do the music and the boxing satisfy similar urges in you? My boxing was something that I did as a youth as a hobby. I took it back up in my mid- twenties as a way of keeping fit, as both a semi pro and even tried unlicensed. I enjoyed the energy rush and feeling of getting in that ring and not knowing what was going to happen, with everyone looking at you. It's a similar feeling before I go on stage. In fact it's much more intense. I have more to lose, I feel, on stage. That is my gift in life and the feeling of playing to a crowd, whether that be in the thousands or 50 people in a small club years ago at the bottom of the bill, is the same. You feel alive for that moment in time. You have worked with Mike Tyson. Can you offer any insight into the man? I promoted him on a couple of after dinner shows a few years back. It was a surreal experience. He's a very intellectual man and a very unpredictable man. But I personally found he was a gentleman. I wouldn't like to come into a room and find him in bed with my missus though. What could you do? I'd tuck him in and offer him a cup of Ovaltine! One of the best interviews I ever did was with Liam Croker from the Winachi Tribe. You’ve played with them before. Do you know Liam? I played with him earlier this year in London. Top, top band! Great sound! And Liam is a great character too, on and off the stage. They’re one of the best bands out there at the moment. They blew my head off! You’ve been getting good exposure through support slots. What have been your stand out shows so far? We have been supporting Cast on a few of the shows on their tour. It's been great! But we played an acoustic show with John Power at The Kazimier on Liverpool on the 25th July. It was unreal! A great venue, one of the best live
venues in Liverpool, it's a shame it's getting knocked down. To play with one of my biggest musical influences in there, in front of an amazing crowd who were well up for it, was fantastic. That night will stand out for a long, long time. What next for the band? Back into the studio to finish the album off over the next few months. We are also on a little tour around the UK and the Scotland leg of the tour includes two dates with Cast, in Alloa and Paisley on the 22nd and 23rd of October. Who would you most like to share a stage with? If it's people still alive today then I would have to say either Lee Mavers or Bob Dylan. If it's from singers who are no longer with us then it's Buddy Holly or John Lennon. That there is a super group! Who has been the biggest influence on you musically? Growing up in Merseyside, The La's were the band that made me feel it was cool to be in a band when I was younger. The Beatles are part of everyone's life sometime or other, so I would have to say The La's or The Beatles. Are there any plans for an album? Yep, but there is no rush at the moment to get it out. We already have an EP out to download, and this single 'Starting from Scratch' is out on September the 25th. I don't want to rush something out at the moment. The songs and the album evolve by the day. I constantly write and can't help but write a song and they keep jumping the queue. So I'll just keep recording and mixing and see what we have at the end of the year. So sometime in 2016 there will be an album out. You’ve played with other bands before. - Tell us about your previous musical adventures My old band The Monkey Steps enjoyed some great gigs with the likes of Pete Doherty and Alabama 3. We gave Catfish and the Bottlemen their first ever Liverpool gig supporting us in the Cavern years ago, great band and great sound, but this to me is a more personal set of songs and a stronger set.
OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH Right now a lot of things are falling into place for you on a musical level. You are just off the back of a tour in Europe supporting Glen Hansard and you are set to release your debut album ‘Firing Pin’ later this month. In terms of it being all systems go it certainly is the case for you at the moment. We will talk about your album first. Is there any significance to the album’s title? I suppose the title is representative of the start of things – pulling the firing pin allows a series of events to occur, and I think this is my firing pin, my trigger to go on and do more as a solo artist. You also released ‘Lilacs’ as a single back in August. Will that feature on the album? ‘Lilacs’ is included – it was the first single released from the album. What else can people expect from the album? It’s got a mix of studio tracks and tracks that were recorded live at shows. The live tracks caught something special that I felt was perfect for what I wanted to achieve with this album. There has been a really positive response so far which I’m really happy with! You started the year with the intention of making your debut EP. At what point did the ambitions change towards making an album? What was the moment that you realised you could get it made and get it out there? At the time I decided that I wanted to release and EP I was happy with the songs I had chosen. But by the time it came to the actual recording, I had written many more and felt that I was in a different place. I felt like I was ready to release my debut album. I’m really happy that I didn’t put any limitations on myself for this and the end result is ‘Firing Pin’. Overall, how long have you been working on the album and who else has been involved with things for you behind the scenes in terms of production and everything else involved in the process as a whole? The whole project has been about 9 months in the making. Although I have been writing for a while, it was really since January that I was writing with an end goal in sight. I had an incredible song writing partner, James Cramer, and between us we chose the songs together. From there we decided on producer, studio, and band. After the album was recorded, I spent a lot of time on getting the artwork together, and all that comes with releasing an album. I’ll still be working on this up to the day that it gets officially released! Whereas a band can bounce ideas off one another to get the magic, when you undertake making an album as a solo artist does it bring more freedom to make the music you want to make, and make it the way you want to make it or can it be a case of also restricting you at times because you are doing it all on your own? There are no restrictions to making music. I had the idea that I was going to have a full band on the album. I was looking forward to being in a room with amazing musicians and together creating a sound that I would be proud of. I feel so lucky because the musicians I worked with on the album are incredible. They brought something so special to the table and could hear exactly where I wanted to go with the songs. Have you grown from the experience of recording an album? Absolutely. Are there any valuable lessons that you have taken away from it now that you may not have appreciated 12 months ago? Well for me, it was one of the best musical experiences I have had so far. I have done so many recordings and shows with other artists, and for me, I finally have a full collections of songs as a solo artist. This time last year it was only a thought in my mind. Now, it’s a reality and I’m so looking forward to the journey. Are you more at home as an artist playing live or in the studio recording and making music? I love it all. One will always follow the other. Three of the tracks on the album are live recordings. Were they more difficult to get right than the studio tracks? If so, how much did that make you up your game?
Grainne Hunt I didn’t think of it in that way. I wanted all the performances on the album to be honest and believable. It didn’t matter to me whether they were recorded in the studio or on the road. It just happened that the live versions were really strong and I was happy with how they felt and sounded. As we already mentioned, you are just back from supporting Glen Hansard on a European tour. How did that all come about and where did you play? How was the tour overall? It was incredible. I have been singing with Mark Geary for a long time. When Glen asked him on tour, Mark contacted me and asked if I would join him. I was delighted and I must say that the tour was one of the best experiences I have ever had as a singer. Glen invited me to play my single ‘Lilacs’ in front of almost 2000 people a night. It was mind blowing. We played in Paris, Brussels, Denmark as well as more.
Are there any new artists that you also think our artists should be checking out if they want to discover new music? David Keenan from Dundalk blew me away at a gig in the Spirit Store about 6 months ago. We, the Oceanographers – more from in and around Dundalk! I went to college with Conal – and he’s one of the best songwriters I know! Elephant (I seem to be on a Dundalk buzz about now!) has been getting some well-deserved attention of late! Brendan McCahey has been on the local scene at home for a long time, he’s been playing for years and won The Voice last year. He’s an incredible performer and songwriter. How does the music scene in Dublin compare alongside it? There’s a lot more venues in Dublin. There’s a lot of choice. What do you see as the pros and cons of both scenes?
They say that travel broadens the horizons. You are no stranger to living out of a suitcase either. In the past you have played gigs that have seen you take in Switzerland, Austria, Prague and Cardiff amongst others. Does touring like that give you a different sense of perspective as an artist that you don’t get from playing here on the Irish circuit?
Every town is different. Everywhere has pros and cons. But it would be lovely to have more venues in smaller towns. People that don’t live near cities like Dublin, Galway and Cork but who would gladly travel to a town closer to them to hear some great music.
Absolutely – gigging abroad is very different to the gigs here in Ireland. Ireland is a great place to play, when people come to see you but there are a lot of musicians and gigs happening at the same time. In Europe, you’re interesting! You’re not from there and you’re bringing something different to the table.
Recently Anderson took to the old fashioned approach of selling his music door to door. As an emerging artist at an unsigned and independent level what are the main obstacles you face when chasing that elusive commercial success? Or do you think that in the digital age you can achieve success with the right idea or approach given there are the right resources available as well?
Do you notice anything that is comparatively different in an audience when you play abroad that you don’t necessarily find when you play at home? Audiences are there to listen – if they’ve bought a ticket they’re not there to catch up with their friends at the bar. I think sometimes Irish audiences can be quite talkative. I’ve done quite a few house concerts and they’re born out of a desire to go to a gig with likeminded people, who are there to hear the music. So how did music become a calling for you as an artist? I’ve always been a singer, in different guises. I actually got to 30 and thought, if I don’t do it now, I’m going to regret not doing it when I get to 40! Who would have been your musical influences growing up that would have had the biggest impact on you in that way that music speaks to certain people unlike anything else?
It would be amazing as an independent Irish artist to have more support from local and national radio stations. But with the volume of releases, sometimes it’s hard to get your music to the right people. I have been lucky that some stations have really taken an interest in my work. It already feels worthwhile. Obviously there are many obstacles with releasing music on your own. But you learn as the journey goes along! So now that the album is due for release are you planning any further touring to promote the album? If so where can people catch you playing live? You don’t really stop promoting your first album until you get ready to release your second album! I plan on touring as much as I can and I already have some really brilliant shows coming up October 18th - Songlines, Sweeney’s, Dublin October 22nd - Private Function - Awards Ceremony, Dublin
I always say I had a sheltered musical childhood! I listened to a lot of folk and Irish ballads – the kind of stuff that you hear randomly and know the words to and can’t think why. My mother always sang and we did a lot of singing in choirs and variety groups when I was younger. I love harmony and the Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel played a big part in that. Eventually I moved to Irish songwriters and I listened to a lot of The Frames, Mark Geary, Paddy Casey, Rosey, Mundy, Declan O’Rourke, Damien Rice. We are very familiar with the diversity and quality of artists from the north of the country. What is your overall opinion of the Irish music scene at a grass roots level in the north of the country?
October 27th - The Loft, Maynooth, Co. Kildare October 28th - The Zodiac Sessions, Dublin October 30th ALBUM LAUNCH- The Chocolate Factory, Kings Inn St, Dublin with Dermot Kennedy November 1st - SOLO - The Loft Cocktail Bar, Carlingford, Co. Louth November 20th - The Cellar Sessions, Gorey, Co. Wexford November 22nd – Private House Concert, Dublin
I think no matter where you go in Ireland, you will find great musicians – we’re so well known for it! I’m from a small town just south of the border, in Monaghan, and while there is no music venue in the town, there are some great events that take place. The local workhouse has been host to Arts evenings on a few occasions, and the town hosts a music festival as well as a new arts festival. People love to listen to good music and will travel to do so.
December 11th – Songs from Ireland tour – Stafa, Switzerland December 12th - Songs from Ireland tour – Bern, Switzerland December 13th - Songs from Ireland tour – Bern, Switzerland
‘....chumps want to gawp at multi-million pound corporate advertisements on their city walls rather than catch a glimpse of what the latest underground Rock-n-roll band have spat on the wall....’ Normally I write an introduction to the band I have interviewed here. For this band I don’t quite know what to say. They’re young, angry and fuckless. And they make a bloody good listen. What more can I say? The Sneaky Nixons everybody.
by Joe Loftus
stages and setting guitars on fire without permission didn’t help our reputation. That was pretty much the worst thing for the band so far, until now. Recently our messy personal lives have drastically halted the band in its tracks. Out of the four of us, only Jay has a job and a place to live. Penelope and Pascal are both in the process of getting evicted from the same flat and running from a three grand EON water bill. Penny has started her job, but hates it. Pascal starts his next week. Our guitarist Pablo has been running from his landlord for the last two months and has recently been sent a warrant for his arrest. So, being skint and facing homelessness, in addition to having no practice space is probably the worst thing we’ve faced so far. And its shit, in case you were wondering.
So, first things first, why the name, The Sneaky Nixons? I can guess but we could all do with some clarification. Take a wild guess. Moving on, how did the band form. You've been together quite a while now. What is it that inspires you to write the music you do? Basically, all the “cool” kids were strutting about thinking that they were billy big bollocks because they were in shit bands. Spoilt and spoon-fed plastic punks had become rife within the local scene. It was disgusting. It still is. These inferior scumbags were, and still are receiving all manner of accolade. People with grubby beards, middle-age men with shit tattoos, mouthy overweight, mis-guided, intimidating feminists, posh students with shit haircuts and deluded drug addicts spouting their mouths about how the ‘system’ is fucked and we’re all doomed, had taken over the local ‘alternative’ music scene, who quite frankly, aren’t fit enough to polish our winklepickers. So we got together as a rock-n-roll terrorist, activist group hell bent on destroying their precious and pretentious feeble grasp on the local music scene and beyond.
What has been the best thing The Sneaky Nixons have had to go through? Pablo and I hate Christmas. So we decided to long it off and go to Berlin. Penelope booked a last minute ticket. We stayed four nights in a dirt cheap hostel in a bitterly cold East Berlin. We got beyond smashed every night and played 3 gigs. That to me was the best. I still do it now whenever I have a spare fifty quid lying around – book an open return, take your guitar and fuck off. The girls, the mates, the drug debt, the landlord, the water companies, the debt collectors, estate agents – they can all fuck off for a few days while I run round the country crashing open mics and begging for a sofa for the night. It’s better to be busy than it is to be bored.
Why do you write songs and play music? What is it that drives you on?
What is your philosophy on life? Money, Bitches, Burgers, Beak, Biceps and Bangers.
Fit girls think it’s cool and its pretty much the only thing we’re good at. Unfortunate actually. It’s now impossible to change career paths because through this stuttering and spluttering rock-n-roll band that has pretty much taken over our lives we have become virtually unemployable.
Where are you aiming for the future? Fuck knows. Couldn’t tell you if you offered me a million quid. Too young and stupid at the moment.
Who are the bands biggest influences? What do you seek to achieve? Does that really matter? Does anyone care? If I say any band someone will pull a face, and another will punch the air in jubilation because we’ve listened to the same album. Makes no difference. Fuck it – Mumford and Sons – THAT BAND HAS EVERYTHING. Lostprophets…rockstars man.
In a nut-shell - enough money to keep the roof over our heads, the whiskey in our bellies and the weed smog in our lungs. Couldn’t give less of a fuck about people’s opinions. People are stupid and annoying. I don’t want their respect.I couldn’t care less what the mass population think. Going back to the graffiti ‘scandal,’ people still curse our names over that, yet idolise the Stone Roses and the La’s who did exactly the same thing when they were underground bands. Instead these chumps want to gawp at multi-million pound corporate advertisements on their city walls rather than catch a glimpse of what the latest underground Rock-n-roll band have spat on the wall. If you would rather have your city walls plastered in 40-foot pictures of BigMacs than you don’t deserve the Sneaky Nixons. We’re too good for you. Fuck Off.
What has been the hardest thing The Sneaky Nixons have had to go through? When we first started our graffiti campaign got us a lot of attention. Mostly negative. We soon found ourselves ostracised by people on the local circuit. We soon became banned from a lot of venues across the city. Promoters wouldn’t touch us. The Snixons soon became a cancer or a swear word that if you knew what’s goodfor you, you wouldn’t go anywhere near us. Smashing up
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FOX AND THE LAW Heavy in the right places and equally comfortable as a live band, there is a lot to admire from what they can do in the musical sense. Describing their sound as glam stoner there are time you check them out. It is an accurate assessment and the execution of everything sees them cut to the chase time after time.
VIBRAGUN A band noted for their sharp sound, they also have a kitsch factor that is built upon a solid indie foundation. The leaner way that things are processed is reflected in their sound which is a collected mixed bag of grunge, shoegaze, indie and other post wave bands but all brought under the umbrella of an impeccable sound that captivates anyone who happens to discover or have a passion for great music.
AMANDA HARDY shows also underline their rock influences. A highly capable band that can mix it up with anyone in their day they are now coming into their own and gaining notice for all the right reasons, which has led to recent industry notice for the band.
SISTER GIRLFRIEND The opportune sound that this band has made their signature fuses electronica with an indie calling. Yet there is a smart showing to the leftfield apparel which is suitably administered to mark them out as an imaginative proposition that embrace a contemporary approach to their music but do so in a way that sets them apart from the rest of the pack.
NOVEL NATURE One of those clever bands who are very difficult to pigeonhole on account of the high showing of innovation displayed in their music. An act of true integrity they create tracks that define them. The creative way that they invest in the process as a whole is carried off with a tasteful sense of originality that draws inspiration in a truly impressive way each time. - 11 -
NAVVI Bringing a cursive air of cool to their electronica dalliances, the Seattle duo of Kristin Henry and Brad Boettger collectively blend their melodic harmony to impressive structure. It isolates the right sensibilities when required but the passion produced very much gives them a sense of pedigree that is ably embraced time and time again.
SLOW BIRD One of those bands who are proud to fly the flag as an independent. They carefully build their tunes to incorporate a subtle fusion of indie context. As such the ambient richness that has become the signature of this trio is a wonderful array of highly referential touches that collectively bring everything full circle.
TINY MESSENGERS Ably incorporating a vast array of styles to their sound, this band is a very easy band to be introduced to. The particular way the languished touches in show are processed gives them a hint of class in the outline. The way it falls into place is there by design each time and it also brings a superior contemporary approach to the fore that bears fruit in a highly capable way each time.
TUTTLE VISION James Tuttle is an enigma wrapped up in a musical enigma. That assessment is based on how he brings a wide array of styles and genres through in his output. There is also a calculated plus each time because the diversification comes up with the goods with high levels of innovation benefitting from how he is able to ably embrace that multitude of showings.
THE FAME RIOT The Neo-retro styling of the band is a rich affair each time with how it embraces the nouveau calling. In their own way they galvanise their tracks with the subtle fusion of modernity with the tidy gathering of synth in the tempo. It also keeps everything in focus by actively channelling the tempo toward a proactive calling that also fancifully processes the music to give it a chic touch with how the compact structure carefully accommodates the fluidity. - 13 -
THE RUBY SESSIONS Doyle’s Bar (20-10-2015)
GALIA ARAD We have always been impressed every time we have seen this artist perform live. In the past she has supported Jack L and has opened for Jools Holland. From what we saw of her here this evening it is quite easy to see why. One of the main reasons is that her songs stay with you for all the right reasons but she has this animated personality which also pours out on stage through her manic anecdotes to reflect something real and admirable. ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ captivates. There is a denoted sense of urgency that the guitar seems to bring out. From the approach undertaken there is a steady showing about how it moves which keeps in check with the grounded pace. How it is concentrated suits the prevailing virtue her voice imparts upon the earnest value of the lyrics. Then following a random anecdote we come to ‘Wally’. While it is dedicated to a dog, it does leave the song open to a fitting sense of interpretation. This assessment is justified from how sensible an effort it comes to be. The lyrics take jealousy as the subject and run with it comfortably. This in turn gives the emotive side a fuller sense of depth which is expressed in a formidable fashion. The lightness of touch in her voice is another distinct quality that comes to pass here in exceptional fashion. With its timely calling, ‘How Much Trouble Are We In?’ brings a vivid calling in the lyrics to the fore. Everything here denotes her brilliance as a live performer. The darker tone gives it a presence which is choice and checks in smartly. You immediately note the clever way the subject and theme hold the human aspects close. She brought her fine set to a close with ‘Something To Say’. As the enriched texture in the showing spills out there is a pursed feel to her voice on the opening line. Drawn in by this you can see how the select traits are called upon. She seems to hold the intimacy in place with a justified sense of certainty. It listlessly travels across, and the meticulous way it lingers becomes all the more intriguing for how she pulls it off.
............................................................................................................................... ANN SCOTT
Introduced by Conor Donovan as a dear friend of The Ruby Sessions is an honour bestowed on a number of artists, but when he says it you also sense that he means it and that the artist in question is one to take note of. Joined on the night by Catherine Atkinson things got underway with ‘Always’. Here there is an even sense of balance to the guitar that allows her to situate herself in the performance. How she bides away vocally befits the tidy and profuse it comes to be as a whole. Then on her next number she allows the ease to hold sway. This suits the timeless sensibility of ‘Return To Die’ in a big way. It allows the stringer sense of distinction in the lyrics to carry across. Touching it out on the playing side is a subtle foot tapping of tambourine which reins it all in. The deftness of touch in that regard adds to the intimacy and rounds it all out in accomplished fashion. From how she embraces the favourable manner of ‘You To Me’ her commitment to the song itself is noted. She seems content in the how the token aspects are administered. This in turn sees the supple meander bring out the distinction in the lyrics. It locates the heart alongside the impartial lure of her voice, but there is also a noted neatness in the chorus that shows for all the right reasons. Included on the soundtrack to ‘Citadel’, her next song ‘Love Is In Him’ has a delicate indie credential to it. This is complemented further by the sheltered throes in her voice which frame the impartial ethereal quality on show with it all. Her performance then capably lays this all out in an abject way. The latter pick up is also supported by this approach in a noted way. It has been a long time she has played her and she made the most of it by going for a fifth song. ‘Boy’ is an inspired effort. What is found from the befitting projection of her voice the reflections are heightened. You note the heavy sense of worth that fortifies the lyrics but there is an expertise about how they are landed. She is not found wanting and the substance contained also breathes life into the performance. Overall how everything combines here is highly realised and blessed with real distinction. Her next gig is in Whelan’s on November 4th.
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SAUCY SUNDAYS The Grand Social (18-10-2015) There is a sense of poignancy behind writing this review knowing that it is the penultimate time that we will feature this excellent club night in our publication. After five years it will close after the fifth and final birthday party gig. That tinge of sadness was also evident with every band that played here tonight because they were also saying their Thank Yous and Goodbyes at the same time. We have seen this band play before and reviewed their album in our last issue, but things launched into a more vibrant approach with ‘Engine Heart’. You pick up on how that comes off the sound in the lithe guitar that is incredibly fetching. The pick up on the charge is smartly judged and the vocals also push it out fairly. That sees the goodness found in a way that lights it all up. Then another tune pounds away with ‘Rolling 16’. It brings with it a sharp precedent which comfortably fits in with the flow. But the bounce is portioned out with an honest sense of conviction which stirs it emphatically. This brings the determination in the fixated charge carry off the development in the vocals explicitly. Then their next song ‘Reno’ becomes something that grows on you. There is a charm to it that is akin to Squeeze in part, but you can also pick up on an influence by The Jam as well. That is down to the good showing in the guitar which is traded on squarely as it squeezes every drop of potential out of the track. Another number that smartly trades off a sharper riff is ‘The State’ but there is also something to be admired in the subtle way that the pace comes to bear down on it all. The flight of the delivery thrives on the approach. Bring with it an incredibly direction rhythm the fluidity motioned also produces the goods. It carries across with a good sense of conviction that is tracked accordingly. With the smooth intro you could almost mistake ‘Black Manhattan’ for a Sean Connery- era Bond theme. From the rather select approach found in the operating dynamics it allows the warmth and sophistication to carefully bring it all around. The elements are comfortably handled which eases the lingering essence through in a way that is seen right. It is a good sign when a band can mix it up with their sound and style without losing anything in the process. This shows on ‘The Flood’. Built upon a layered Tex-Mex style that is sensibly fluid this is a plush number that clicks into gear. Bringing with it a confident pique the way it all lights up shows how good the band are. What also enables that assessment is the neat mod kick that follows on in the later transition. The final two tracks from the band offered a neat contrast. The first, ‘Pretty Things’ brings with it an intro that leaves you really appreciative of the drumming on show. It then leads into a detailed bass hook before the overall temperament takes hold in the right way to lock it all down. It is something that becomes more detailed as the dynamic that picks up located the worth in the lyrics and forges a great track from the approach. The final track was ‘King Of The Bones’. Here the jive commanded brings a heft to the rhythm. With the ornate way it all checks in there is focus to them as a band. It also gives it all an assured footing to how it is all delivered.
THE GROUND WILL SHAKE ...............................................................................................................................
You can always rely on the high standard of Saucy Sundays to bring some excellent bands to your attention and Modesto are another fine band that we have seen grace this famous stage. ‘After All These Years’ leads in off the back of a good showing which allows the detail in the play hold up. It also concentrates a richer blues influence in how it all hooks up. They then procure a harder calling on ‘The Less You Know’. Showcasing this is the manner they get straight down to business. The bite shown closes down the funky calling rather well. It is also smooth in the fly sense which suitably gives it a cooler edge. In short it walks the walk as much as it talks the talk, but how it structured also has a lot to say. Relying on the patient allure is ‘Long Gone’ which then brings forth an abundant pitch. That neat fortitude then wraps around it all in a stylish way with a commendable appreciation to it all. What is fashionable here is the degree of maturity that is processed and called upon. The band have a diversified sound and ‘Basics For Happiness’ has an urgency behind it that is sharp. The shape of the tempo comprehends an appreciation for the playing side of everything. It is a consistency that travels well as the flush touches bring it around with a telling sense of completion. Their next song ‘Bad Day Not Good’ finds a fitting sense of isolation to suit the title. It brings a minute conditioning to proceedings in how it opens that is all of its own making. The minimalist tidings in the lead guitar shows that they are in it to win it by building it around this on the second verse, but the lyrics are also incredibly clever which keep it together.
‘Got Dan’ or maybe even (‘God Damn’) is a catchy number that takes its title from an in-joke among the band members. The blues riff resoundingly keeps it in focus, while the kindled vocals also see things raise their game considerably. Especially as the clean break in the dynamic gets it all right head on. Little impression are left that draw suitable comparisons with Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’ on ‘Are You Still Talking?’. It has authority in how the high octane charge carefully plays through. This pockets something hip as it is all carried through, while the shift in the arcs highlight how developed the lift becomes. Built in an even way is their final track ‘Floodgates’. What is enabled here is robust and eases the harder showing through with real purpose. This is solid and mirrored by how as a long player it goes the distance.
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RUFUS COATES AND THE BLACKENED TREES If we are honest, we have to say that this next band have always been one of our favourites to see here at Saucy Sundays over the years. That we have gotten to write about them yet again is a real privilege because they are an act who have a credible degree of craftsmanship about their music. All of it got underway with the bountiful skip of ‘Every Time You’ll See’ that is diligently processed. This gives it a lean relevance which is pursued in the tempo. From that added resolve the vocals stand it good stead to deliberate in a competent manner as it all comes full circle. Readied in the passive stirrings is second tune ‘Safe For Now’ and it makes the most of those heartfelt stirrings. That dalliance lingers with a proficient timing and comprehends that listless dynamic as it falls across the arrangement with elegance. That realises a Nick Cave vibe because there is a collected melancholy that becomes highly inviting from how it is called upon. Keeping that committed showing in check is ‘Up, Up And Away’. There is a partial weight calculated here which toils away to rise up as the vocals busy themselves. The toil here in the arrangement is a strong point of note because its subdued calling adds intimacy. After that came ‘Free Man’. It is a detailed tune that is carried off with the providence found in the composure. It is faithful in how the traipsed tempo draws you in. Richly processed, the song itself opens in an earnest way and though the vocals are hardy there is a neat signal of intent to be found. A somewhat lighter awning leads ‘Caught by The Tide’ through on the opening line. It is an encouraging approach. From there the majesty holds. The shared harmony is also a vocation that is drawn on with the best of intentions. From the descriptive touch in the piano a sullen meander prevails on ‘Autumn Leaves’. Also helping carry it in the right way is the soulful vocals that lay their part well here. The spatial side is another feature that hits you favourably. With how it progresses it neatly corners the urgency and prevails furthermore from how it is all undertaken. Then comes ‘All The People’ and with it a smooth sensibility that locks it all down in a way that commits a real sense of revelry to it all. This is one of those tune pieced together with a clever eye thrown on it that helps it play like a dream. You sense the band losing themselves in the moment as the music rolls out. How that is doled out in the performance gives it the added presence it richly deserves.
............................................................................................................................... Schools out for these guys…or girls if you will. That is a good thing too because they show that all the qualities that marked them out for us in the first place are still there. With ‘Lucy’ there is a light touch in the opening before it shifts to something harder. That calls the shots in the tempo and doles out a finite pedigree that is raw and energetic. The vitality in the rhythm is honed and this is where the live delivery really carries the momentum through.
Bringing through their punk styling in a more affirmative fashion is ‘I Shoulda Listened’. Blessed with true stature this grabs you in a no-holds-barred way that makes no apologies. Nothing is skipped from how it leads in. As such it carries through on this committed wave of letting the music do the talking. It is that attitude, which comes with youthful exuberance, and everything else behind this that very much makes you sit up and take note here. ‘Creature’ is something that is more of a sexier tune. You get this arched sense of cool coming of how the dalliance of the play completes the configurations. The sultry overture is something that really happens for them here and the euphoria is a pragmatic touch. The little reggae feel is also a dynamic that takes you along for the ride. ‘Sunrise’ feels like a continuation or a development of that reggae beat. Again it is rather subtle because it allows the tempo to languish. But the good way it picks up invigorates the playing gains in a calculated way but still holds a punk showing. They are not necessarily a punk band, or intentionally one, but it is the attitude or stage presence they have which gifts it that magnetism that doesn’t give a fuck as long as the music can say what it needs to say. They then show they are no one trick ponies with ‘The Void’. It is a sombre effort that benefits tremendously from how things toil away. As things become more realised the live showing becomes intoxicating. A darker texture in the handling also sees it right while there is something raw in the vocals which also keeps it real.
With the real smarts shown on ‘Wondering Why’ it becomes a tune that is whipped into shape. There is a tantalising quality on show which coaxes the best out of the rhythm. Equally fashionable is how it tears it all up. This is big on play and stature while the bridge itself is an outstanding body of work in its own right. Lead singer Ciara Lindsay, upon realising that this was the last time they would ever get to play Saucy Sundays uttered these famous words: ‘This is our last song that we will ever get to play at Saucy Sundays….let’s make it count’. With that ‘Bite Me’ hit the ground running. This is one of those tunes with a great sense of substance to it. It has a mean streak to accompany the catchy way it plays out. How it is evenly felt out sees it through and the underground calling to it is also easy on the ear. How it boxes clever really marks this four piece out as one band to watch in the near future because they are beginning to realise their potential.
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GIGONOMETRY The Workman’s Club (8-10-2015)
MAMA’S BROKE This month’s Gigonometry featured four acts that reflected not just a diversity in music, but also a warranted assessment as to why it is a gem of a club night on the Dublin music scene. The first act to play tonight was Canadian duo Broke Mama. There were elements in their set that really spoke volumes and mark them out as an act to see live. Getting everything underway was ‘Black Rock Beach’, which is an ode to the last hanging in Nova Scotia. With the choice elements displayed in the percussion the track comes across as tidy and grandiose. There is also an interesting showing to be felt from the vocals which enables the folk leanings to come through with an impressive degree of practicality behind them. The overall assessment here is that it is all played up to the balladeer aspects in a fundamental way that shows. ‘Pukey’ was another comprehensive ensemble piece, but it has to be said that in the manner the elements are drawn out gives the arcs an additional level of depth. Again there is another offering to be found in the form of ‘The Vein Braider’ which exemplifies the fine movement in the tempo. This is an approach that is exquisitely played and the deadened moments in the play capture the harder calling in the right places. Overall the auteur that is fed in to the latter progression really adds up. The first track off their self-titled debut EP came neat. On show with ‘Even Though’ is a dandy calling from the banjo. Alongside the serene touches in the violin the bluegrass flavour is captured in a terrific manner that conveys true style. As this meets the richness of the vocals it all relays a richer sense of commitment across in the performance. A medley of sorts followed with ‘Week Winter’s Sun/Margaree/Balea Baya’ all played in tandem without a note skip. The initial graceful calling picks up in a way of note, which is true for the trinity of tunes collectively in fairness. Noted in the ascendancy is a telling trait that is carefully called upon each time. It also proved a presentable way to close out their set by laying it all on the line like that.
TWIN HEADED WOLF
The second act this evening were another act who we are familiar with but haven’t had the good fortune to see play live for almost three years. Tonight was long overdue and the aspects of what we remember the duo for are very much still at the fore. The eccentric and leftfield distinction that marks them out is also met by their stage show artistry. They began everything by donning masks as ‘Who Put The Blood’ very much put the focus of the audience on them. The a capello stirrings accentuate the sun and moon masks, but it is the detailed way that the music is all keyed in that lights it all up in the fortunate manner that it does. This is quite intricate and the tethered settlement that is also part of the act imparts true integrity. Some acts can over rely on the sophistication in their style to become monotonous, but that is not the case on ‘A El De Mousa’. Albeit the tune is incredibly solemn in places, there is an enrichment found from the synth that gives it a monastic showing. This is a cleverly worked approach that gives the overall movement further appreciation. The ornate touches are well placed and they seem to imbue the sombre touches most favourably. What is notable about ‘Sheep Stealing Song’ is how fleshed out it is and that is realised in the way it is all worked. That fortunate feel entails the way it leads into the secondary but embraces the stillness in a highly enabled fashion. It is not every day that you see a teapot used as a musical instrument but that was what we got with ‘Up The Airy Mountain’. This is another ambient number that captures something innovative at the right turns, That in turn serves to make it an even more captivating effort but it is a deserved assessment. What follows in ‘Allah’ makes good use of the dutiful pull of the guitar. You are drawn in. Fitting into the savoury vocals is a sense of contention that makes good use of the sweetness in the detail. Another thing that is admirable for seeing this duo perform is their love affair with the Irish tradition. On ‘I Am Stretched On Your Grave’ they turn it around and sing the first verse of the poem as gaeilge. That in turn adds a neat touch of class that it benefits greatly from. Then the rest of the poetry is captured in how the delivery of the song is called out. They then finished up their impressive set here this evening with ‘Shrines And Ceremonies’ with a petrol can stand in as an improvised French horn. This shows how accomplished they are musically but also how they can push the envelope in the artistic sense to such good effect. The meandering of the lyrics is also an incredibly giving facet, and as the saw ably adds to their presence, the sullen weight of the alternative trappings catches it all just right.
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Having seen this band play live on a number of occasions in the past 12 months we are convinced that they are the real deal. That is because they have everything; the tunes, image, live presence and the all-important quality that gets you there – drive. ‘Only Time’ got it all underway and the beat pounds away but it follows a rich and dark calling which necessitates the imaginative allure at work. This not only boxes clever but it lands the New Wave countenance squarely before you. The vocals match the clever lyrical calling and that is what gives it a balance between retro and underground. Only one song in and the entire venue was hooked. Things hold hard and fast with ‘Dig’. The lustre in the sound accommodates the expectation. In turn it becomes compact and this suits the dynamic in the performance. They also procure something that galvanises everything comfortably as the orchestration of the synth correlates the direction with true efficiency. Then they slow it down in a comfortable manner with ‘Man On Fire’. There is something of a crawl to how the vocals are projected that shows a calculated side to the band. On a collected level, but this is also well fronted and that allows the urgent showing to pick up in an incredibly fluid way when things get going. The opening of their next track ‘Mythomania’ is superb. The vibrancy in the pitch opens it all up and is met head on by the broader showing. With how well brokered the combination of elements is here they all have real effect. The vocals are leaned into in a way that gives it kick which is convincingly brought through on every turn. As a band they are noted for how full-bodied their tracks are and this shows again with ‘I Clone’. With how they pitch in here there is a presence that gives it a locked and loaded sense of trajectory. The confidence abounds form how they revel in the delivery here and that favourable determination is rooted at the core here, which also gives off a slight Outkast vibe in the right places. ‘Heart Attack’ is an exceptional tune that was born to be played live. The intro alone stares it all down and calls the shots in the right way. From the whipped synth chords everything adds up comprehensively. Pumping up the beats is a delectable electronica foray that is built on a sure footing. There is further notoriety to be found on ‘Suffocate’. Pardon the pun, but the expert execution yields something that allows the tune breathe. The acuteness projected in the patient virtue and oscillation is excellent. The ensuing way it takes flight reflects this in a nouveau manner that is impressively chic. There is also a gritty undercurrent that, along with the change in arcs for the vocals, gives it an implied sense of the seedy that is not overly implicit. Then you are floored by the grove on their last track ‘Human Nature’. The intro calls upon a wonderful sense of range that proceeds to carry through and give this tune a sense of true totality. Not only it is it full of volume but the qualities shown here confirm that in our assessment this band is very much the real deal.
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RIOT TAPES Signed to Reekus Records, tonight’s headliners are another band we are very familiar with but this was actually our first time to see them headline. They got it all underway with their current track ‘Hello Insanity’. This is a choice tune in its own right that keeps it all in sync. The affirmed way the intention is carried across is met by a largesse in the vocals that is caressed furthermore by the vocals of front woman Elaine Doyle. Following up that well-fronted effort was ‘Killer Love’. Catchy as sin from the off, the real lift is to be found from how the guitar drives the tempo. The incredible hooks formed on the rhythm give it real consideration. Then they continued on with their rich vein of form as ‘Photograph’ reliably brought it all together. Showcased by the delivery here is an abject level of song writing that sees the tune fall into the hands of the right band. This is an affluent number that is marked out by the buoyancy on show. From that feature the follow through in the tempo really draws you in. This was the track that first put U&I onto this band back in 2011 and it still sounds as relevant as it did to us when we heard it all the way back then. Bringing out a unified appreciation is ‘Gone’. There is a tender showing that masks the endearing quality of the vocals. It is also a rather well fleshed out number. What is found in the delivery calls upon a well versed approach lyrically which sees them up their game and also show what they are all about when they get the chance to play a full set. What is collected on the close also brings out the best in the band. You could easily fall in love with their next song ‘Open Eyed Dreams’. What hags off this is excellence personified. That continuation in the sound is administered comfortably. It is also a fine showing of the band dynamics at work as this sees them move considerably up a gear. Doing so also sets them up for their version of ‘Seasons’ by Future Islands. As covers go this one was a little bit above the norm for us here. Lining out a sense of intention was ‘Cardinal Rules’. Blessed with a rhythm that grabs you the harsh gnarl signals the intent in equal measure. They pullback in it slightly but doing so proves to be an astute move as they lean into again which makes you note the pick up all the more. The figuration in the play, combined with the clever figuration here, is what really sees it lift off. The value of what having Elaine Doyle as their front woman shows with ‘Into The Night’. It also shows that the band bring as much to the show as she does. With everything in tandem the rhythm finds a steady shunt that combines well with the catchy hook on the chorus to bring through an incredibly big hitter. This is a track with an enormous amount of potential and leaves you in anticipation on every turn. The rich call of their closing track ‘The Key’ gives the intro something extensive. The vocals are also projected in a way that handles all of this appropriately. With the snappy plushes of guitar it becomes a pop song with a credible indie parlour hiding away on it. It is a truly wonderful effort from the band with showmanship giving it all a true sense of placement.
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As we descended upon Dublin for this weekend of music we were literally spoilt for choice because of the standard of the artists involved, the diversification and the high level of live music being performed in the city over the course of the weekend. So we made our way through the night taking in bands on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – some of whom had been on our radar for some time and others we were just discovering ourselves for the first time. But what a great three nights of live music we had it must be said. Here is how it all went down –
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1ST - The Academy
STAY GOLD We like to be down with the kids here at U&I and one of the things we learned at HWCH this year was Blanchardstown is known as ‘The D-1-5’. That little nugget aside the band we have to thank for that was Stay Gold who were playing their first ever show. They jammed with a little bit of impromptu playing before launching into ‘The Interlude’. There is a clean essence to be found on this one with the vibrant touches in the lyrics energising everything. Yet this also brings a smooth contention but what really stands it good stead is the noted sense of commitment found in the backing vocals. That staged dynamic helps to keep it fresh. They land their next number ‘If You Want’ impressively. From the bounce in the step the fluidity is retained which helps it to keep shape. It is rather hip, but the consummate showing in how it is layered showcases that there is some real potential to be found in this band. They seem to command the stage and the careful way that ‘Netflix And Chill’ leads on in confirms this. What is worked on in the harmony keeps the melodic sensibilities at the fore. It is also a well felt out tune in all fairness. Found in the lucid appreciation is something that adds to the neatness in a telling way, and it is all styled in a manner that comfortably comprehends this. Slowing things down with ‘Vanessa’ sees a progression fall into place. There is a weak start to this one but it neatly comes full circle. The stray tempo gives the musicianship a noted sense of progression that is seized upon firmly on the bridge. What it also shows is how up to task the band are. They closed out with ‘Ghost’. This saw a more confident kick in the pace call the shots that was a welcome change in direction because of how it carries weight. The little Hall & Oates vibe that comes off it complements the construction of the arrangement. The exactness in the breakdown also helps draw those comparisons, while the beatbox is instinctive from how it prevails over the delivery.
The second act we managed to catch this evening eased into their set with ‘Jungle’. The minimalist approach works in places here and the lucidity of the temp is transfixed in a way that has paunch. That subtlety is added in equal measure, plus the neat narrative in the lyrics suits how it is styled. The way it is closed down and also benefits from the neat pique in the guitar. The sound that they have flirts with a dance element which is concentrated in the Balearic terms of ‘Body To Body’. How that rolls over the rhythm gives the allure an enticement. The EDM elements add up and they are calculated into the mix in a way that gives the transition a smooth hold. This is also matched from the notoriety held in the lyrics. With ‘Freckles’ they impart a more sedate nature upon proceedings. This considered approach, alongside the lightness of touch, is what brings it all together. Everything seems to fall into place with a rather ornate calling that holds steady with the spatial level remedied. They cleanly open their next song ‘Back To The Summer’, and what is found in the controlled fixations adds a credible ebb and flow that asserts fully upon the tempo. The firm intricacies do take hold to give the tempo something firm. As a result, the lush foundation in the tethered pull of the rhythm is accommodated in a way that is rather fashionable. ‘Good Times’ sees them chase it all down on the intro. From this there is a high dynamic added to what is on show and it seems to indicate there is further potential behind the duo. It is a neat and tidy affair that offers a lot by catching it all on the right side. However it does also suffer from a lack of development and this is repeated again on ‘Closer To’. Again the Balearic beat works a charm and heavily influences the sound. It is carefully gauged as the tempo picks up in a prominent way, but it is the over familiarity here that works against it. From what we saw of this band here this evening they do have some potential. They imbue ‘Bananana’ with a lay calypso vibe. This beats away and somehow corners a retro potential that leads it impressively to something rather precise. It is the fluid touches that take hold which find the calling. How it is pieced together also calls upon a secondary motion that is commendable for the impact it embraces. Their next single is going to be ‘High Life’ and it has a lot going for it. One thing being the steadfast maturity that comes to the fore as it takes flight. The way it is exacted pads out the tempo, despite the somewhat reliance on the lighter styling in some places. The final track from them was the attentive ‘Waiting’. This is something that needs to develop more. It finds bounce in the smart way it is all treated which produces something solid. This is relayed with the vocals and kept in tandem with how it all flows. However the aspects that let it down do show.
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The ideology of what HWCH represents is something that sits rather well with us here and this next band are one who has been firmly on the U&I radar for some time. From what we saw of them we were left extremely satisfied from what the live showing here tonight had to offer. As soon as they began to play the New Wave richness of their sound yields something formidable on opening track ‘Zip Me Up’. In turn this sees the delivery harden in a somewhat proven way. From how that processes the sound there is a commendable sense of modernity that is felt in an explicit way in how it all sounds. They then proceeded to build upon that in an excellent way with the certified ‘Seven Years’. How it is all approached sees them turn on the style and it is sharply noted for all the right reasons. What it also does is connect with a sense of volume that is contained in a foremost way. The richness to the synth calibrates with the deadening of the vocals which adds flair. They embrace a strong sense of presence collectively and that is what sees ‘Missing Person’ open strongly. The presence that they capture is rather nouveau but that chic also entails a latent 90’s vibe to it all. The steady way it is released is cornered to give it poise. What can also be picked up on here is a steady Pet Shop Boys circa 1986 vibe that is incredibly telling. Again they maintain the sense of urgency in ‘Modern Love’ as the vocals open out with real intent. The face value on show here is proven and that makes the texture all the more apparent. The industrialised organic seems to give the showing something that prevails in the artistic sense, yet still manages to hold a high underground fashion to it all.
ELECTRO SENSITIVE BEHAVIOUR
Their sound retains something heavier with ‘First Kiss’ that marries well the combination of synth and electronica. Here things become very chic and how they call the shots is fantastic. The track oozes class at every turn. This is given further relevance in the confident touches that connect in the timings. To some extent this is almost immaculate. It then tees up a decent version of Billy Idol’s ‘Eyes Without A Face’. With how the backdrop works in tandem with the song you also see the showmanship at work. Then the intro for ‘Michael Caine’ hits you. In the calling of the lyrics the tune becomes big on presence. How everything collects under this approach is there by design. It has a hint of Blur’s ‘Girls And Boys’ going on that sweetens the tempo. But that blanket of sound is excellence personified and gives it all an added sense of true flair.
............................................................................................................................... It would be safe to say that the final act we saw here tonight is well supported on the Dublin scene. Again the flag was flown well for the Irish hip hop scene with their show. ‘I Know It’ kicked off everything and they back into it as much as they slow it down. It is a quick number that seems to understand something forthright in how it balances the trajectory with the snatches in play. Cutting loose on ‘Caught Feelings’ sees them take it all back in and sends it all up at the same time as everything is dropped down. The relativity in that dynamic is what livens it up and there is a closeness on the emphasis as the guitar on the bridge closes it all out.
‘Beaut Awful World’ sees them work the crowd. There is a dream like weave to the tempo and the vocals are carried in over this, but there are freestyling elements on show that add diversification. That is what brings out the band’s contention when they bring it all together and it is a prevailing front that is shown when it comes off. What comes next is ‘My Whoa’ and that sees the band find their mojo. What really grabs you here is how imaginative it is. How it is all worked helps nail it all down and they define themselves by how much class they show here. They maintain that sense of fluidity with ‘Hell Yeah’ and that movement is freely expressed. The spacious contention on the dropped elements sees this one embrace the retro calling at true face value. They then bring it yet again with ‘Right By Your Side’. Serving this well is the harder vibrancy of the rhythm. It invigorates everything quite emphatically and the flourishes in the play also very much keep it all on track. The street feel of their sound motivates the tempo on ‘If I Ask’. Flourishes of grime complete this and the robust vocals spill out with an undeniably fashionable showing. That is a telling facet which gives the handling reach. But the beat is tracked in a way that gives it a richness that is ably closed e down in the vocals. Retaining the funky dynamic gives ‘Good Vibes’ added accountability which is reasoned well with how it is brought to bear on the breakdown. The sleigh of the vocals calls upon a little Hall & Oates vibe and does so in a stylish way. There is a lot to admire here from the more encompassing level of musicianship on show. They signed off with ‘Come Outside’ and here the synth is impeccable. It adds an inspired flourish before the second pick up speeds up the vocals. How it holds connects the dots. It is highly imaginative which gives it a warranted showing as much as it does real front. This is a gift of a tune that is wonderfully worked as the funk brings it to a close.
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WE THE OCEANOGRAPHERS @ The Workman’s Club
FRIDAY OCTOBER 2ND
Dundalk is something of a second home to us here at U&I given our close relationship with the town and its local music scene. The first band getting our Friday evening off was flying the flag and they gave more than a good account of themselves with their opening track ‘Overcoming Foxes’. The careful weight of the tune is reflected in the live showing here. What is also commanded in the approach spills out in a convincing way among the passive overtures with the right degree of intricacy. They followed that up with ‘Dream Of Spring’. This is another neat tune but there is something affirmative noted in the androgyny of the vocals. It becomes a mechanism upon which the tempo is incredibly suited to. From how leftfield a showing it is, what is carved out here has an astute notoriety in the tempo which mirrors the approach from the off. Their third track ‘Same Old Story’ has a delectable bass line that adds a candid flow to the overall rhythm. Carefully orchestrated, it seems to grow as the delivery comes together. What it brings to the breakdown is recognised in a steady and astute fashion. Also improving the calling here is the lyrics because of the characteristic flair they add. Their impressive set became a little more distinct with ‘This Is Why’. From the subtle kick in the beat there is a lucid transition that comes to reside in the rhythm, and it is all neatly taken account of. The forlorn calling that ensues in the vocals embraces this closeness while also imbuing it with a specific degree of alternative substance on the bridge as it finely closes out. The band has really cut their teeth with an impressive debut album in ‘@ventures.002’ and with ‘The Ocean’ it retains that astute mechanism with how it all comes together. There is real worth to be found on this tune because it is incredibly hip. The loosely woven aspects bring a New Wave resurgence through. The clean showing, and how it is kept in check, is embraced in way that excellently makes use of the musicianship that the band can call upon collectively. It also leads in neatly to ‘You’ll Be So Much Brighter’ without skipping a beat. Here the harder composure also bears down with a true sense of purpose to capture the audience. They may have been the first band on here tonight but they played as if they were the closing act. And speaking of closing, the curtain came down on a very impressive set with ‘Cats & Dogs’. Coming in off the back of one hell of an intro there is an excellent sense of depth and rage which draws you in. The way the languid turning drifts through builds the tracks. The pique of the rhythm guitar also grants it reach, while the vocals also capably realise the richness of the underrated appeal in a truly excellent way.
BITCH FALCON @ Hangar
We have really been looking forward to seeing this band for some time and we finally got to catch them to see what all the hype is about. Well we left feeling very satisfied indeed from what we saw of them because for us it is all about what a band can do when they play live. This band brandish a true sense of fortunate authority and as ‘Wolf’s Tooth’ played out they showed real bite (pun intended). The detailed way they approach the track carries impact with the slick interchanges also calling upon a depth of skill. That defines the band in a realised fashion because the sound is heavy but not overbearing which lends it the right degree of balance. Taking stock of the quickening in their sound sees ‘Breathe’ explode into life with a true sense of authority. Even though it fires off both barrels there is something sweet to how the vocals make love to the song here. That excellent showing of pedigree pours out in what matter most – the music. ‘Syncopy’ is something of a mosher’s delight. The gritty drag of the sound drifts through with real contention. The intent is marked out and felt in the prominent shape of the rhythm because it catches everything right. In this sterns sense of presence you note how much of a band they are when they join the dots. Again they plough through with ‘China Man’ but the heady style is reined in. That resolve is kept in check rather diligently. The grand sense of design, against the broader sense of contention, lights it up by giving the groove something impressive as the loops play over it. Another song that went down well with the crowd here tonight was ‘Panther’ and it is an effort that is framed well from the off. How they front this is comfortably engaged and felt in a formidable way, but it is the graduation in the play that takes it there. They truly were in their element here tonight and the revelry of ‘TMJ’ confirmed this. The lingering touches against the gritty call of the guitar makes for a more animalistic offering. The execution is key here which the excellent structure makes fine use of the approach. It benefits further by become a more mature effort which yields something conclusive in the grunge influence.
ELASTIC SLEEP @ The Mercantile One of the very cool things HWCH has going for it is how open it is to emerging artists on a national level, and that is reflected by this band from Cork. We really liked what this band is all about because it is something that very much carries their identity through in the sound. From the grandeur abounding on opening track ‘No Horizon’ they fleshed out the intro and processed a shoegazer allure. How the lavish fixation of it engulfed The Mercantile left the audience in awe. The richness of the structures – in particular in the latter progressions here – processes that higher alternative calling ever so expertly. But how it reverts back gives it a readied sense of completion as the harder intent also bears down on it all. With how they play there is a lingering sentiment factored into their tracks and gives ‘Slip’ a noted sense of benevolence. How that is all relayed captures the reckoning in a kind way, but what also works here is how the pursed vocals knead the abject qualities so favourably. That contains the lushness and the deluge sashaying across gives the wall of a sound an added sense of commitment. In that moment the blanket of sound locks it all down as much as it gets caught right. As the richness of the band’s sound hangs in the air you see the alternative balance in the equation on ‘Bad Machine’. This is another highly attentive effort that abounds furthermore in the piqued notations on show. There is a diligence to how it is processed and that is conveyed in a combination that is elemental by design. The de facto New Wave in the breakdown presides in a way that gives it presence. They also have the good sense to provide it with some truly astounding vocals. Then you get drawn in further with the sublime chord structures of ‘Dead Feathers’. How the lucid turn brings it all through retains a heightened trapping that ably meets the lyrics. It is all incredibly matched with the attractive charm from how they revel in the live performance. Alongside the layering of the arrangement everything to admire is ably placed to the fore. Bringing a slightly trippier affair through with the intro is ‘Sway’. This corners a degree of fortitude in the stylised feel that develops the sound. Adding in the allure of the vocals, and how they hang off every word provides it with a true sense of artistic merit. This necessitates in a proven fashion which pushes the proverbial envelope in a thoughtful way because it sounds akin to a pre-‘Warsaw’ era Joy Division but it also has something that is all of its own identity. To close things out was ‘Violent G’. Being a case of getting straight down to business this one hits hard and fast with a brandished degree of intent. The glaze of the hazy trajectory resides on the tempo when it all comes down. That high integrity brings a realised degree of modernity across in the exchanges. What a band to actually catch live is the best way to sum up what we saw here tonight.
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SATURDAY OCTOBER 3RD
THE FONTAINES @ Hangar It has been a while since we saw this band play live, but we first saw them in December last year and we thought then they were a bona fide band with a lot of the real deal about them. Fast forward and that is still the case. They have honed their stage presence and the tunes have more to the, which is why we are tipping them to be a band that everyone should be looking out for in 2016. The confident pomp of ‘In My Room’ just nails it all down. Immediately you take note of them for what they are all about and the vocals carry a revealing sense of bravado as much as they hold so brashly. The attractive sway in the slick feel of the rhythm adds the right balance of cool and charisma. ‘And You Like It’ sees everything checked by the guitar on the opening. This exerts a smart intensity upon the running. From there the indifference doled out adds to the performance and how the lyrics match up shows how much they are on their top game here tonight. You can also see that now they have a realised sense of identity that you only get when everyone in your band is on the same page. The integral draw to ‘My Time’ sees the formidable heft in the sound conclusively feed into the dynamic of the band. They comfortably front this one and the rich vein of form that they find confirms their indie credentials for all the right reasons. Channelling their inner Primal Scream sees ‘Water Water’ clean up. The whip smart feel of the drumming draws comparisons with ‘Rocks’. That is a lean cut and one which drags through on the sound with real determination. The drudgery blends in with the hazy resonance of guitars in a raw way that toils away with a laboured feel that is rich in volume. The energy that they hold when they play live is something to behold and on ‘I Hear And I Forget’ the frenetic turn if the tempo oozes confidence. The draw down on this one with an excellent sense of execution, but it is the timeless quality here that is locked down. In the right ways it draws out the spirit of The Strokes at the height of their c. 2000 heyday. They really nail it here. Again they seem to have the momentum behind them as ‘When I Start Singing’. Here everything is fluid and keeps well with the pace set out. The loaded intent is accurately called upon but it also has this tempestuous control exerted which corners everything brilliantly. It is all on show with their final number ‘One In Between’. The guitar and drums have such an effective combination that it gives everything a suitable charm offensive. From how that hangs in the air there is also composure, and there is a deliberate undertone that takes the riff of ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ by Gerry Lee Lewis and brings it to bear with a sturdy guitar rhythm that is bolstered aptly with how it is applied.
............................................................................................................................... We have been watching this band from afar all year long, yet for some reason our paths never seemed to cross on the live circuit until this evening. The reason for that was because we deliberately went out of our way to catch them when we saw they were on the bill this year. What we saw justified what the high expectations we had for them. There is an excellent sense of vibrancy to their first tune ‘My Beat Jesus’. It holds on the tempo that is rich in the retro sense. Not only does the song come to life but so too does the band. As they did you could sense how up for it they were here tonight. How hungry they were. When you see that intent in a band as they play you know that you are going to see something akin to capturing lightning in a bottle. That is exactly what we got with their next track ‘The Other Kids’. The New Wave touch is a big plus here because it gives the rhythm an industrialised organic. While it darkens the tone, that is a subtle inference which is retained in a rich way. The scatty feel and the vocals all follow through, which gives it a B52s vibe but also shows how behind the delivery they are as a band because it brings out the pedigree. It is on third track ‘Coltrane’ that you see just how good they are. The heavy bearing of the synth in the arrangement is used to excellent effect here. It imbues it with a credible sense of fluid contention. In this modern nouveau disco chic the sound truly prevails. This is one of those tunes that is too cool for school, but in how the style meets substance it is also a confirmation that this is a case of the track being in the hands of the right band. Despite the rather leftfield calling of the intro ‘Tie Me Up’ becomes something startlingly impressive. With the heft of the harder qualities the placement on show is embraced accordingly. The appreciation for what is cornered on the bridge is one of those things that will stay with me for a long time because of the intent shown. It is a shame that this band had to finish on a five song set because watching them tonight made the audience want more. ‘Hearty Party Animal’ is one hell of a tune. Things lead in tightly and that forms a clever deliberation in the beat. Impressively, it then yields something further in the breakdown that adds up with a substantial showing behind it. The synth and drumming remain in tandem which locks it all down. Lyrically as well it is all on the money and the tracking seems to give it an abundant attribute that is all of its own making. Those touches then hang off it all in a way that denotes class in the original way it all goes against the grain. Truly this is a band that should be destined for greater things in the future.
DISCOPUNKS @ Hangar - 22 -
Half Of Me
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Buffalo Woman Photos by Peter O'Hanlon
Frankenstein Bolts - 24 -
Maud In Cahoots
Saint Sister Corner Boy
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n Johnny Stewart
New Valley Wolves
ult Called Man Oh Boland - 26 -
ALBUM REVIEWS ELEPHANT
Hypergiant There is an appreciated showing of class called upon with the opening track ’14 Crows’. Things adopt a careful consideration in the modern Americana styling, akin in a lot of ways to Band Of Horses. Yet how it hedges those bets really cashes in. The noted considerations of the lyrics give the narrative character which suits the approach undertaken. Keeping to a similar sensibility is ‘Overgrown’. The forlorn reflections allow it gain further reach which is exemplified further as the comfortable running is kept in check. This gives the tempo a keen sense of fluidity as well as a remarkable sense of composure felt on every turn. Then there is an embracing of a more conservative approach as ‘Little Ghost’ opens. The spacious application in the arrangement creates a sedate sense of tone and mood. The lush key of the vocals also reflects this and the countenance to everything is implicit in that regard, but it corners a manifest diligence that suits that dynamic to bring out the latter progression expertly. Benefitting from the acoustic guitar is ‘Drown My Feet’. Stripping it back sees the bare emotion become more apparent as it takes hold. Things take their time to build and the ornate structure framed in the musical embraces the tender showing. But it shows for the right reasons. With its offbeat charm ‘Monster’ is something of a breath of fresh air. The way it is treated in the charming sense is cleanly considered, but there is a tiding behind it that has
10 a tinge of a darker calling. Wherethat stems from is the sullen poise of the tempo and the deeper referential observations in the lyrics give it a more metaphorical grounding. ‘The Lightning And Breeze’ provides the album with a shot in the arm. It is also refreshing by diversifying the album and it catches everything right. Chased down is a chaste reverence which calls out the leaner cut and gives it a formidable heft in how it is backed. A pique in the vocals seems to feel at home on ‘Letter’. This results in the keener notations finding a solemn sense of reach that accentuates the sentiment over the emotion. The practical showing sees the innate seclusion brought to bear productively. After that comes ‘The Machine’. Again there is a lush orchestration at work alongside the kindled breakdown of the softer showing. The movement processes this with an implicit allure to begin with but the latter progression is very much an alternative affair. Again there is a proven temerity in the lyrical sense that comes to the fore on ‘Boiling Water Bin’. Here is an effort that is very becoming in its own right and yet it also has this intrinsic beauty rallied from how it is all rounded out in the artistic sense. The final track is ‘Coraline’ and it is a rather sensible offering. One that is carefully constructed and the whimsical outline of the delivery frames everything vividly to accentuate the realisation in the demure touches on show. What a little gem of an album.
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Everything Changes The seasoned breakdown of ‘Separate Ways’ accommodates a lighter touch. This proceeds to pick up and in doing so it conjures up the deft country leaning with a sound appreciation in the arrangement to heighten the flourishes of play. The committed outlay of ‘Crybaby’ configures a token sense of style. Here there is an emancipated turn called upon that is very feminine. It reflects upon this but it carries a universal sense of worth that takes it through. The leaner conviction behind the delivery moves it along but also concentrates a certified sense of knowing in how it does so. The title track is a country affair and what ‘Everything Changes’ lays on the line proves itself. Those considerations in the emotion give it a timely sense of sophistication. It collects that in a direct manner that also embraces the tender calling. Things pick up with the sleight quickening of ‘Younger Days’. The pace adds volume and the neat foray in how this takes flight gives the pique something admirable. It is a showy number that pushes through a broader sense of appeal musically. Providing the album with a higher sense of maturity is next track ‘The Yearning’. With the pacing comes a refined touch in the pursed vocals that also grow in stature. Lyrically it is a bit bland but it moves by design quite efficiently. The patient allure is also cornered but it loses something by not developing any further, which results in a by the numbers
7 feel overall until the bridge kicks in which is an excellent showing of musicianship it must be said. Grabbing you in the right way is the loveliness of ‘Sleepyhead’. Channelled in the admirable qualities here is an approach that imbues the affectionate touches on show with warmth. It is weighted in and the admiration for it is entirely justified because of how endearing it becomes to the listener. We then come to ‘Sleepwalking’ which extends the stature in how it easily glides through on the tempo. The calculated pace drops in and out with finesse. But it is the ease of the vocals and their suitability brings out the best in this one that shows. How it neatly flirts with a hint of indie is an astute move. Again there is a comfortable movement that holds up on ‘Not That Girl’. The positive message draws out the lyrics. Empowering it may be but not necessarily as forward as it would like to be because it is restricted from having more impact by the twee tidings of the rhythm. The album has its ups and downs, and unfortunately ‘It’s A Brand New Day’ is another weaker track. Lacking in cohesion, the arrangement doesn’t feel suited to the lyrics. Likewise they also come across as uncomfortable because they feel as if they are forced to fit something they don’t fit. The final track ‘I’ll See Your Face’ is a graceful effort. The inspiring way it all commits is paramount and the opening line exudes that as a statement. The pensive moments on show are excellent though and felt out properly.
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EMILY BROWNE Emily Browne
‘Strangest Places’ holds everything together from the off. As the texture of her voice holds firm there is a languid touch keeping it grounded and in contention. Suitably the clean showing framing the delivery situates all of the ornate tidings in a way that gives it prominence where and when it takes flight. A bit more telling is ‘Boom’. Things settle into a freer contention which gives the paunched demeanour added bite. The lyrical inspiration finds a sense of modernity when the murder ballad qualities are considered, but hints of PJ Harvey also fit around the noir texture which benefits from the expert touches stowed away. Then the tantalising pique in the flight takes ‘Love Me Back’ where it needs to go. A flourish in the guitar gives the wallowed vocals further digression yet it manages to flit between both approaches without losing anything. In terms of substance it is all carefully placed and managed throughout. How the vocals reach out and grab you on ‘Somewhere Else In Time’ justifies an appreciation to the sullen movement in the arrangement as the affluent graduation is embraced. This approach and prowess narrows the reach in the right places and is processed to accommodate the requisite lean turning where needed. Presiding over the
opening of ‘Letterbox’ (no pun intended) is a homely precision which starts slowly but builds steadily to call upon a more elaborate blues influence. Despite the sleight of hand in the dynamic being a little on the light side the way it all runs comes off as intended. There is a true sense of dedication found on ‘Out Of Sight’. You note that in the comfortable way she inhabits the performance. The mindful characteristics yield something truly effective in how proactive they prove to be. The scatty and funky apparel gives ‘Snap & Crackle’ a real shot in the arm. The kink lifting the rhythm shows absolutely. How that interweaves with the arcs builds the presence to enable the execution run smoothly. What also works is the fine balance between the vocals and the arrangement. It seems that the latter tracks on the album really see her up her game and it is again a case as ‘She Crazy’ blends her vocals comfortably with a more upbeat number. This time out the pull factor is very much drawn from the guitar riff. How that hits hard and fast is concentrated to corner the impact. But the blistering turn of pace is also c onsidered with the vocals which is why everything turns up here. Then there is a clean jazz vibe going on with ‘Stood Still’. The layering ambitiously drives the movement but also communicates a finite sense of style behind it all. She certainly saves the best for last with ‘Ego’. Immediately the stature is secured from the acoustic guitar and her vocals. By stripping things back and laying it bare everything comes full circle, but it also proves that sometimes less is more. - 30 -
THE CUJO FAMILY Pigs In The Pen
On the band’s self-titled debut is a track called ‘Iceberg Slim’ which stands out from all the others by being something with its own identity against all the other bluegrass and folk numbers. Its inclusion also suggested they could be a band of real integrity and potential. With this album they have evolved in the artistic sense to meet expectations. Proceedings get underway with ‘Head On A Platter’. Heightened by a determined maturity in the tempo, the focus and scope are retained, then underlined in the latter progression, to realise everything admirably. There is an intent mirrored in the lyrics that makes this something more than the sum of its parts. With aspects of the band’s signature embedded in the DNA, next track ‘Home Again’ profits from a similar development. Both the harmony and arrangement fall into pace in fitting fashion, yet the precision channels this provision incredibly well. We then come to ‘Drop Out Kids’. The softer touch leads in with a deft appreciation which allows the heart to be found. In doing so, the tender aspects also show a band on top of their game. Laced with pace from the off is ‘Vigilante’. The playing gains shaking it up give it notoriety. But it also sees a subtle electronica beat added to the mix. The band up the ante here and don’t come up short or in a way that sees them out of their depth. Carefully constructed off the back of the ornate intro is ‘Let Your Feelings Grow’. From there the dynamics are superbly pieced together. The appreciation of the emotion behind the vocals pours our favourably and it gives it an
10 additional sense of realisation in the reflection shown. All of the placing is what gives ‘Mountain Songs’ structure, yet it keeps within a smart sense of reserve. In turn as it all comes to pass it takes you along for the ride. ‘Slipping’ is a brief tune which offers a lot. There is a meaningful essence found in the reflection and it is a tidy little effort that adds a touch of class. A souped up effort ensues with ‘Death Ray’. Chasing down the Tex Mex aspects of the sound in a forthright manner sees the trajectory hits in a way that truly calls the shots. It is an ample effort from start to finish buoyed by a stellar sense of trajectory. As the lingering intro touches out everything, ‘Jesus Fever’ showcases the diversity on show with the album. It has poise in the intricate touches called upon to define it. What that feeds the delivery grants it an enriched composure that is balanced out by the inviting allure against the high standard of urgency behind the arrangement. Undertaking a more refined approach, ‘Sophie’ is a track that very much pushes the envelope. What is found in the organ imparts favourably by patiently building the ambience. When it takes flight there is a great deal behind it which gets it going in a direct manner. You have to admire what this albums offers and it is affirmed furthermore with ‘Blood Red Moon’. They embrace everything here and close it down tenderly. Yet you also appreciate the approach because it provides well with the intertwining aspects of the rhythm as it meets the conviction of the vocals. The closing track here is an oldie called ‘Bray Head Hotel’. Just like ‘God In A Tree’ on ‘Stories Of Ruin’ it gets a reworking from the original live version that gives it an extra dimension. The sullen and stationary styling here gives it an interesting contrast against the live version which is more hands on. But it is a clean cut none the less and the savoury touches imbue it with a classical sensibility which is rather well conceived.
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GRAINNE HUNT Firing Pin
On this album all nine tracks connect to give it shape, particularly with the final three live recordings included in the tracking list. Things open with ‘Firing Pin’. The timely hold of the sentiment gives it a certified showing that becomes central. Also worth taking note of here is the tone of the vocals alongside the urgency of the secondary pick-up because they are commanded formidably. Released as a single already, ‘Lilacs’ retains a certified degree of poise as things step out with confidence. The pique cornered accentuates the passives touches ushered in with the tidiness of the arrangement. ‘Chances’ again reverts to that safer calling but also develops the sound. There is a higher sense of inclusion from the broader definition called upon. This determination moves it along convincingly and provides it with a neatness from which it truly prevails. It is also good to see an artist use her vocals to emphasise the depth of her abilities as a song-writer which sees ‘Low Tides Rising’ right. There is a graceful salvo found and the knowing way she relays her ability stands
out in the performance. It builds the delivery with a certified allure ground out. Calling upon a more country influence is ‘No Way I’d Go Down’. The expectancy is deliberated over finely and the hardened finesse gets beneath the delivery. That is proactive and the commendable fashion shown here also adds a classy touch to affairs. Placing the right degree of emphasis on the patient calling is ‘The Words Of It All’. It is also stripped back and the minimalist instrumental work on the arrangement is a card well played. It notably gives it a token appreciation but retains something faithful from how everything is embraced.
The three live recordings are also rather immaculately played. You can see that with ‘Lilacs’ as the sound quality is paramount to making it work. How it weighs in remains faithful and it does hold up alongside the studio recording but also bodes well in terms of how that all fares out. The benefit of the live recording serves ‘Low Tides Rising’ rather well. It isolates the deftness in the lighter touches and, as the lyrics pour out over the performance, everything just sits right. The third live recording completing the trinity is ‘The Words Of It All’. This brings a sense of formality to proceedings but there is a thoughtful approach undertaken here from undertaking. The intricacy abounds and steers the sedate matrimony of the tune in a moderate manner which imparts a noted touch of reverence. - 32 -
Holding Hands With Jamie This is the Irish band of the moment and this is the album that has everyone talking about them. Daring to be brave is the opening track ‘Umbongo’. From the frenetic overture in the pitch you see how the comfortably embrace the alternative. Here this approach is retained with a certainty in the vocals which profits as the tempo shifts to a more sullen ambience. Immediately ‘Pears For Lunch’ lands with a solid showing found in how affirmative the intro is. The enigmatic showing gives the music added invigoration. How it progresses proves an economical one and really chews up the scenery as the harder showing is leaned into. The rather lithe and kitsch apparel prevailing on ‘Baloo’ draws comparisons with The Cure and Adam Ant but also has a sense of modernity in the artistry. The raw underplaying is handled with diligence and the droned vocals are expressed in a committed fashion that tees it all up squarely. The allure of ‘In Plastic’ smoothly holds on the intro. It also profits from the obscure pockets of play that whimsically toil away. With how they pull this one off they tastefully procure something high in artistry and intriguing in equal measure but with the good sense of mind to avoid being over pretentious. Instead
the languid forays in the sound add distinction. Again what they have gone for on ‘Paul’ is an elaborate anti-mainstream effort. The bass hooks give it an industrialised organic that is more Nouveau Wave than New Wave. This is because the leaner edge is mooted out with the foray of a more modern approach when things click into gear. Next up is ‘The Last Riddler’. With its brief running time, at just over a minute, there is still enough packed in to make you take note. What is brought around expertly is locked down and really packs a punch. ‘Texting An Alien’ is another moment on the album where the music takes you along for the ride. The context here is imaginative and the vocals are delivered in a way that is integral to that approach, but they are commanded in a way that is defining by being spoken word for the majority. There is something to ‘Fucking Butter’ that is refreshing to hear. All the terms laid down by the band capably seize upon the innovation in a forthright way. There is a harder edge, in places akin to the early days of the more urban sound of The Beastie Boys, which adds a telling notoriety to proceedings and embraces the oeuvre deliberately. Yet it takes the listener on an odyssey in the musical sense. The hard pitch of ‘The Witch Dr.’ corners a carefully gauged tour de force. This celebrates the off kilter touches on show in a practical way that suits the enigmatic in a choice way. This sees it through and it justifies the marker laid down in the first track. - 33 -
Twin Galaxies Opening the album is the neat interlude ‘Assemble’ which captures a solemn mood before the album commits to everything with the formidable trajectory of ‘Uncle Ivan’. It has a remedial foray in the scatty structure of the rhythm that is neat and inviting. It also opens up squarely with the additional sense of expression in the latter progression fixing something forthright upon proceedings that stands it good stead in the comparative sense. In how the abundant skip in the rhythm gives ‘21 Letters’ pep it becomes something of a dandy application in its own right. The developed styling here carries prominence as it takes flight to give it a wonderful sense of true appreciation that is completed by the pursed vocals that carry on through. The lyrics also meet up well with the flight. Retaining a high yield in an instrumental sense is the interlude that is ‘Aspetta’ and it doesn’t do anything per se other than embrace a spacious connotation artistically. There is a recognised urgency on show with ‘Lake Sprinkle Sprankle’. What also enhances the showing on this track is the commendable way the tune is developed. The listless proviso of the tempo ties down the erratic principles in a lean way to channel the focus and purpose of the
delivery. Bringing an ample sense of progression through from the inclusion of synth is ‘Spy Turtles’. The lay venture of the vocals also embraces something lucid. The shift in direction does work in an inspired way and the spacious demure fittingly draws you in here. Returning to their alternative indie style is ‘Spy Dolphin’. The wallowing appreciation found in the musicality denotes the skill at work. It is the precision in the interchanges that comfortably carries it through, but the clever way the tone drops down and drifts through here is another eventual calling that provides well for the album as a whole. Holding a spry sensibility is ‘Daniel Craig David’ and it branches out from the intro in a smart way. The rotund overtures frame it expertly. But in how it is seen through there is a comparative rich vein of form to be found which doesn’t fall short in terms of developing the structures in the playing arcs. At just three minutes ‘Hungry For Love’ is also the most formidable track on the album. It is an ensemble piece carefully constructed but it also comes to define the band by allowing them to cut loose with nothing held back. The scope and range are carefully placed alongside each other with the results truly exceptional. Closing track ‘Strongthany’ is a foray that blends the token qualities of their sound and projects something fractured in the vocals. The ensuing way it forms is high in terms of reach and it raises their game. The tenacious bass hooks are calculated and ride in to coat it all in a sullen texture that the overture notably feeds off. - 34 -
ELECTRO SENSITIVE BEHAVIOUR Modern Love
We saw this band play at Hard Working Class Heroes and the live review is featured in this month’s Scene & Heard section. From what we saw we wanted more and we intentionally sought out their album. Things open with ‘Zip Me Up (I Need Your Love)’. It is an effort that comes to pass with ingenuity. The New Wave dynamics work favourably but the lush allure alongside that darker synthesised texture is where this finds its true calling. The retro influences called out on ‘Seven Years’ acquit themselves alongside the choice manner the lyrics add weight. The sombre distinction collected gives it a steady footing and the delectable finesse of the tempo then lights it up. Another track that is big on the wow factor is ‘Modern Love’. The unassuming nature of the vocals suits the anomic observations on modern living to give the stoic sensibilities stature. From how the approach takes it where it needs to go you see the influence of Kraftwerk et al but in the right sense because it draws influence from rather than tries to emulate.
build intertwine emphatically. Beckoning a somewhat Avant Garde sense of cool on ‘Heartbeat?’ gives it a bewitching sensibility at the beginning before suitably stepping out. This lavishly dresses it up with a stray deliberation that is rigorous and well maintained. The maturity of the album gets found on next track ‘Folks Don’t Know’ and things very much move up a gear. The songwriting expertise exonerates this one with true prominence. The highly observant lyrics draw the track out in a truly inspirational way. You see the ante upped with ‘Human Machine’. Not only does it sound the part but there is an added dynamic from the duel vocals. It is highly inspirational and the roboticised attributes that accentuate the string elements carry it through. They also show up with their A game on ‘First Kiss’. Again there is a delightful sensibility that kneads away in the stoic sensibilities of the vocals. This allows the steady digression of the richer majesty in the electronic segue give it an additional affirmation that is touched out to added effect.
They find their niche in a big way with ‘Michael Caine’. The apparent processing of the sound is chic and edgy. By cornering the contention of the nouveau disco sound here the deadened vocals heighten the revelry on show in suitably glorious fashion. ‘Missing Person’ is a track with all the right ingredients. The rhetoric fundamentally sees the beat and patient
The opening line of ‘Modern Man’ draws you in. The channelling of an inner Bowie also meets with a little Hall And Oates along the way. The result is impressive because there is a demeanour to the rhythm that is alluring. It inches along steadily before stepping out with a realised elegance in the suave demeanour. ‘Night And Day’ is a brilliant piece of electro pop it must be said. Wrapped up in the delivery is an earnest virtue which is high in artistic merit. This in turn seizes upon the abject touches to see the proverbial envelope pushed as everything is brought full circle. Closing out proceedings is ‘I Let Her In’. A warm sense of abandonment readies itself in the tempo and the way it is tracked has the good sense to run with this. The bucolic ambience expels a wonderful sense of modernity as it all plays out which suitably brings the album to a fitting close for all the right reasons.
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330 This is a massive album that represents. As soon as the album opens with the brief ‘Music Bully’ radio segment it keeps your attention before it all wonderfully works in with ‘Ninety Six’. The class personified is found in the clever lyrical hooks and the sharpness displayed. It is also rich in a noted hip hop fashion that gives it a true crossover appeal that doesn’t restrict it to having to “represent”. Things step out on ‘Catch Myself’. It is a tasteful tune that captures the summer loving of two girls in love. How it hits the spot is in the memorable way it charts the relationship coming full circle as much as it celebrates one’s first love. Everything is here, from the highs and lows all way through but it is delivered in a way that is deep, classy and, above all else, cool. With the subtle movement ‘Moons’ carries through with real flair. The sharp movement that is dropped down on the beats draws you in. Things are pushed out by the focus way this sees a fine marker laid down. Bringing attitude and drive is ‘Coldest Winter Ever’. The referential tightness flexes muscle in the song writing sense to fire it up. Things see her up her game and there is a faithful sense of how life is called out that formidably brings this together. An interlude called ‘(Where’s
10 My Phone)’ follows which is nothing more than a mish-mash of interchanging segments. There is a lot to admire about this album and that is again underlined by ‘Cool With U’. The nuanced vocals pay it forward as much as the tight amorous sexuality. By doing so the track is given a more implicit face value without exploiting the narrative which realises the potential it has to offer. ‘Gold Stars’ keeps it all in check. The freestyling pockets something educated. What is coaxed from the tempo allows the momentum gather in a credible way that is guaranteed by how it coasts along. How this imbues the track with style and substance is incredibly fly. ‘Leave’ is a brilliant tune. The enigmatic flourishes in the scatty beats charge it up in a momentous way. It is big on presence and channels the reserved qualities subtly. As a collaborative effort everyone is given their moment to bring what they need to and it is reflected from how it all adds up. Another shot of brilliance is the brief ‘XGF’. With the lyrical depth evaluated things resonate in the universal sense to carry it all off in a way that counts. An ode to her former lovers follows with ‘Til The Sky’ and brings sophistication through on every turn. You can sing the praises for this because it is denoted by a high standard that shows a disciplined approach taking everything seriously as an artist. The album ends on a high with ‘The Juice’. The way this is structured holds up. There is a commemorative pedigree to the album and here it lays down a similar maker by keeping it fresh. - 36 -
STATIC IN VERONA Odd Anthem
A great album should open with a great track and it is found here with ‘Anyone Anymore’. The resonance in the sound has a slight pop virtue, yet alongside the shoegazer slant in the rhythm proves a big draw. That is attractively seized upon and provides the running with an added sense of determination which adds up. You sense the emphasis on development with ‘Heavy Hands’. The chagrin gritty drag in the rhythm is motioned through with a sense of added propensity. The bursts of play concentrated alongside the backing harmony finds a distinct calling. This is a seriously impressive tune bordering on indie perfection. It is followed up by another clever tune in the shape of ‘Future Ghosts’. A rather leftfield number in places, it also has a fine indie calling about it. The delivery weighs cleverly but the formations of play, along with the synth, give it a heightened showing that just takes it up a level. This is a gem of an album deserving of being heard by a bigger audience. That is an assessment confirmed by ‘Blink’. It corners an intricate balance between morose and alternative that is endearing. The way the envelope is pushed here shows for all the right reasons.
10 ‘Shudder To Think’ is another clean cut. The resolute tempo builds and is accompanied by an accentuated prism of sound that shines. Then there is the compact way it picks up. The lean temperament is leveraged magnificently on all fronts and chased down accordingly. Especially in how catchy the chorus is. Then things go retro with ‘Wait, Wait’ in a way that builds the anticipation squarely. Yet delivers in a way that doesn’t meet expectations yet doesn’t leave the listener unhappy either. The development is impressive and gives it an underrated essence of cool. ‘Then A Hush’ ignites off the back of a restrained charm. The languid euphoria of the rhythm commands the harmony in sync. That passive calling is well outlined and the layering of the delivery is so well suited to what is intended in the artistic sense. Rich in reverb is ‘Forgetful’. This gives it a stern indiepop allure that is smoothly transitioned. The able bodied direction also enhances the ebb and flow which is centred on explicitly but has a lightness of touch which offers an interesting contrast against the compact flourishes. A tune to remember if anything. Again there is an admirable consistency on show with ‘Tomorrow Feels Like Yesterday’ that has a somewhat leftfield allure which meets the progressive feel of the delivery. It plays out in a way that is big instrumentally, but the vocals are really what flesh it out. The album is brilliant from start to finish and it is closed with a suitable ensemble called ‘Alternate Ending’. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
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Cemeteries create an intriguing and captivating listening experience. The act itself is the musical explorations and craft of Kyle Reigle. The act’s bio is most apt and rather poetic in which the sound is described as ‘the requiem to a sleep walk in the dead of night, bare foot across the pinecone bed of the forest’, and in all honesty, one cannot argue with this! This is ambient, dream pop at its finest. The appeal is there but not due to overboard catchy clichéd structures and touches. True musicianship is embraced and utilised, while maintaining a certain degree of accessibility. ‘Procession’ acts as the album’s prelude. And what a wonderful prelude it is, giving the listener a taste of what’s to come in which a sense of mysticism is established and cultivated expertly. Washing, evocative wave samples create an excitement as they swirl around the listener’s head before a kick dru¬m, suggesting a procession, enters the fray. The track builds to a brief but powerful and moving crescendo, before it falls away and allows the next track ‘Nightjar’ to build upon the previous material we’ve been treated to. ‘Nightjar’ is quite a journey. Reverb laden vocals work superbly, as does the quirky percussive loops and samples. The track has a fresh modern sound, while referencing past musical touches to create a rather authentic soundworld. The song itself has a Local Natives vibe about it, which works fantastically throughout. Overall this offering is memorable and most atmospheric. In Cemeteries’ bio we come across the posed question ‘what if it’s safer out there among the owls and coyotes’? Although quite an elusive and ambiguous entry, after hearing “Nightjar’ one begins to understand this question and conjures up imagery relating to the concept.
10 ‘Luna (Moon of Claiming)’ again exhibits sophistication and depth and builds upon the atmospheric, trance like touches explored in the pervious track, while Radiohead guitar and samples can be sensed in places. Here Kyle Reigle makes a virtue of minimalism and cleaver string layering. The tracks as a result are longer than the usual pop like offering, but never drag or bore. Again the dynamic shape of the piece is appealing, as is the simple yet astute percussive pattern. Following on from this is ‘Can You Hear Them Sing? which has a poignant, nostalgic appeal created by the retro reverb vocals and glockenspiel motifs that enter at the beginning of the track. The track builds purposefully and opens up craftily when the ride cymbal takes a somewhat centre stage. The track builds in the final measures, in which an ambiguous cacophony of sound is shrewdly utilsied. ‘Cicada Howl’ is another shoegaze offering, with atmospheric tones and timbres creating a dream like venture. Although a well thought out song, it feels like an extension of previous material, which is a little samey and shows no real development. A minor blip though in fairness! ‘I Will Run From You’ then picks things up again nicely with a pulsating bass and haunting synth chords. The track contains similar aspects to that of Tame Impala, not so much sonically, but more in regards the chord progressions, suggested modulations and structural breaks and movements. ‘Empty Camps’ sets its stall out with an exciting synth arpeggio, while the Neo 80s approach hits the nail on the head. The composer is in control of his soundworld and explores what moves him. This comes across throughout and makes the listener believe in what is being presented to them. ‘Sodus’ and ‘Our False Fire on Shore’ epitomise what Cemeteries are all about. Both have an eerie, yet comforting feel. This paradox keeps the audience on the edge and grasps their attention. The wave samples reappear to bring the LP full circle. This is a solid uniting touch and superbly rounds off a most cohesive and impressive album. Full marks from me!
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DRUG CABIN Wiggle Room
Drug Cabin exudes real charm and likeability! Hailing from Los Angeles they combine psychedelic aspects with touches of country, due to the close harmonies, acoustics and slide/lap guitars. Setting the album in motion is ‘Handsome’, which has a kind of tongue in cheek, playful energy. The lyrics are clever, as are the syncopated interjections that come before and during the chorus. The soundworld is reminiscent of The Byrds and the acoustic offerings created by The Small Faces. All round this track is very much up my street! ‘Wiggle Room’ takes up the mantle with aplomb, in which the band amalgamates a retro vibe with Americana and country aspects. The bass line played by the electric guitar is a wonderful inclusion and fills the textures out nicely, as does the subtle retro panning applied. The melody and vocal delivery is akin to Mark Bolan’s acoustic numbers fused with Buffalo Springfield at their prime. ‘Ruby’ again embraces the folk idiom splendidly. Folk music over the last decade has very much been back in vogue, but I’ve found the folk that has prevailed, for the most part, very generic, polished and formulaic. Drug Cabin, in contrast, keep it rawer and in doing so capture much more character. Okay, I’ll admit at times there sound is a little too retro, epitomized by their name, and feels like a homage to the past, but one cannot knock this creation, as its skillful yet lighthearted. The tracks are not complicated but do feature a less obvious shrewdness that showcases their musicality and understanding of hooks. They also don’t over embellish and get the job done with relatively short track lengths. This is
8 astute in itself whereby theyexplore and state plenty in a short space of time akin to the great songs that emerged in the 60s and 70s. This can also be said for ‘Legends’, which has a very summer, sunny quality. ‘Beverly Glen’ carries things along nicely with well-delivered falsettos. This wouldn’t be the albums strongest offering, but justifies selection and inclusion on this LP. ‘Steely Dad’ then has a great groove and may be a play on the band named Steely Dan. The lap guitar entries wonderfully complement the vocals in a song that showcases their strengths. ‘Easy’ follows on and displays their fondness for a jovial quirk. There is a staccato like approach which saunters along nicely, as does ‘Wonderful’, which touches on aspects of Fleetwood Mac, due to its vocal delivery, melodic electric guitar content and chord progressions. ‘Emily’ is a light 60s like love song, which also reminds the listener of The Magic Numbers. The song is nothing overly special, nor does it ask many questions, but again Drug Cabin create charm in abundance thus making the track very appealing; The stand out feature here being the backing vocals. The rather pubescently titled ‘Stoner’ follows and explores a rather cool groove. The song, for me, deserves a stronger name, which could lead to it being taken a bit more seriously. The bass line has traces of Paul McCartney, against another Fleetwood Mac-esque approach. ‘Turkey Time’ is then unfortunately a touch middle of the road for my liking. It does establish what makes this band tick but doesn’t develop their sound enough in my opinion. ‘Space Program’ brings the LP to a close, and has the quirkiness associated with David Bowie that comes to the fore, while retaining their new age retrocountry leanings. Overall Drug Cabin impressed me. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but anyone who enjoys 60s psychedelic fused with country will certainly enjoy this listening experience. Although the LP doesn’t live up to its early promise it’s still an album very much worth a listen
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HEY ANNA Run Koko
Hailing from New York, with a fresh, quirky and astute sound is Hey Anna, who describe themselves as ‘Blondie meets Beach House via Pets Sounds’. The 5-piece create an infectious glistening sound that comes to the fore during the album’s opener ‘Island’. The alt-pop outfit has been honing their craft and skills since 2011 and is now reaping the rewards. ‘Cloudbird’ has a light-hearted modern vibe, which is sure to excite and appeal to many, with soothing and enchanting vocals free of pretense. ‘By The Bay’ opens with a lo-fi energy. This vocal effect and general timbre conjures up an interest in the listener. The lyrics are worthy of special mention, as they allude to the past, as does the slightly sinister and modified carnival tones. There is a certain juxtaposition between harmony and dissonance that intrigues. ‘Move Your Body’ follows, and sets off with interesting subtle syncopations and studio panning, again creating an interesting soundworld full of dense textures. Once more the vocals capture the imagination, as do the accomplished harmonies, while the Blondie influence is again prevalent. The guitar entries have a distorted and lose edge akin to acts like The Cribs, which further instills the band’s charm and appeal. ‘Don’t Talk Shop’ is a weighty and attitude laden number. A cool Suzi Quatro vibe unfolds as the track gathers momentum, while once more the electric guitar performance and ideas appeal. Hey Anna, up to this point in proceedings, show that they have a unified
soundworld, but can change it up, which is testament to their skill and musicality. This is a standout track for me, which in no way reduces the prowess of the previous offerings. ‘White Fang’ is a more reserved and delicate number, which is a nice touch. It breaks up the rockier mantle that’s been carried up to this point. Again the band reveals their ability to expand upon their ethos and earlier offerings in a rather impressive way. ‘Anaphase’ then opens up with a synth heavy sound, while a simple but effective drumbeat sets this number in motion. A catchy electric guitar riff comes to the fore as the track builds in a hypnotic way. ‘Tangerine Lightning’ exudes charm and mass appeal, before the intriguing, dystopian like ‘Reprise’ emerges, which is a most engaging musical venture. ‘If You’re Wondering’ opens with a romantic duet between piano and guitar, before suitable lyrics that are in tandem with the music’s mood are presented to us. The chorus builds with a moving emotional crescendo. The track is well sculpted and reveals their understanding of the importance of dynamics in music, which is often neglected in alt-pop/rock.
‘Little Things’ has a simple charm and sparse accompaniment, which allows the lead vocals to stand out. Although this track comes across as more of an album filler than any of the previous material, it still represents a skilled band, willing to shake things up. ‘Paper Door’ is then another sparse emotive number, which is evocative throughout, before ‘Mt. Picchu’ closes the album out. This is an interesting track, which conveys a vast landscape and incorporates some ethnic touches, which is fitting. Overall I’m very impressed by this band’s efforts. They embrace the dreampop idiom, but very much stamp their own mark on it, which is not an easy thing to do given the sheer magnitude of music in circulation and being created.
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HIBOU Hibou Hibou is the brainchild of Seattle’s Peter Michel, who once previously toured North America and Europe as the drummer of Captured Track’s band Craft Spells. However, he reached a point where he felt his life with the act had run it’s course and subsequently decided to run as a solo artist. Getting us underway is a rather summer like anthem in the shape of ‘Dissolve’. The track amalgamates modern trends with the neo-80s style that is in vogue. The textures are full and the vocals create a sense of mystery due to the lush reverb. Well-worked electric guitar lines also add to the songs charm and vibe. ‘Valium’ follows and doesn’t disappoint. The dream pop this 21 year old makes is most accomplished and defies his tender years, as a real understanding and solid production is on display throughout. Clever synths interwoven with glistening guitars once again come to the fore. ‘When The Season Ends’ changes the album’s direction with something a little more upbeat and direct, as another festival anthem is presented. Comparisons to the material released by The Drums can certainly be made at this point. ‘Above Us’ draws upon further neo-80s aspects, while a
9 percussive pattern not too dissimilar to Joy Division and New Order creates the excitement and momentum. Michel showcases his pop sensibilities and understands the importance of a good musical hook. In fact he treats us to many. Up next is the purposeful ‘Sunder’, which again touches on the darker sides of Joy Division. This number has a wonderful dynamic shape, builds astutely and is rich with lush textures. ‘Eleanor’ opens with a euphoric soundworld akin to Cloud Control. Again the production and direction is on the money. This then gives way to the murkier and more sinister ‘Glow’. Once more Michel focuses on intent and heavy down strummed bass, before crafty and catchy synth melodies take centre stage. Comparisons can also be made between this number and Two Door Cinema Club, in terms of the drumming and shape of this composition. ‘In The Sun’, feels just like that with its playful, frivolous nature, which works wonders and is well placed at this point of the album. The vocals again compliment the soundworld. ‘Hide Away’ follows a similar path, with its striking and clever percussion patterns. ‘Shutter Song’ opens with voice and solo electric guitar. This is a nice shift, as a lazy demo like feel comes to the fore. This varies the LP up nicely, before a laid back full band entry enters the fray. This track acts as the perfect segue, which leads us into the albums closing number ‘Keeping Still’. The track ebbs and flows nicely culminating in a shrewd climax that grabs the listener, leaving us craving more.
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LOS COLOGNES Dos
‘Dos’ is the Nashville outfit’s 2nd full length release. It is an impressive offering, which draws influence from the likes of JJ Cale and Dire Straits, as a classic rock and electric guitar sound is prevalent throughout. The musicians in Los Colognes are vastly experienced and have been performing with each other for 15 years in various incarnations, including church bands, punk bands and high school bands. This understanding and communication through the music is ubiquitous. You get the sense this band are not averse to ‘jamming’ out material either, but there is a purpose to their improvisations that can be felt. There is a structure and a purpose to what this act is attempting to achieve. ‘Baby, You Can’t Have Both’ is texturally dense and very charming. There is a playful energy the band explores, against a more serious lyrical subject matter. The guitar lines, piano parts and organ swells are all interwoven superbly, culminating in a strong aural experience. The vocal delivery also stands out and draws comparison, in places, to Bob Dylan’s attitude and recitative style. ‘Backseat Driver’ follows and exudes a Mark Knopfler influence, as the 6-piece display their ability to nod to past masters, while expressing themselves in a most proficient way. ‘Drive Me Mad’ has a late night, mystic quality. It saunters along in a reflective and isolated way, showing a different side to the band and what they have in their locker. ‘Take It’ picks things up again,
with feel good vibes in abundance. The electric guitar lines that appear in between the vocal moments are well-crafted and sensibility placed. Again, the vocal delivery stands out, in what is a good ‘driving’ song. ‘One Direction’ once more alludes to the lonesome American country style. The band are not, as they say, ‘trying to reinvent the wheel’, but are attempting to get really solid at their take of this style. This purity and honesty is charming and is sensed as the album unfolds. This integrity is carried into ‘Golden Dragon Hut’. One criticism I would have is that the band could alter some aspects or try varying some structures or timbres. At times this track feels a bit predictable, and is almost hard to differentiate between some of the previous offerings. This, however, is not a reflection on their ability as players and how they sculpt a soundworld together. ‘Hard To Remember’ then has the obligatory low organ hum, which allows the track to build upon, which is lyrically reflective and poignant.
‘All That You Know’ opens with real intent, consisting of impressive interwoven guitar motifs, before they give way to a striking vocal. The Dire Straits approach is once more applied during this number, which is a well-produced and pristine track. ‘Cherry’ then has an old-school rock and roll vibe. Some of the motifs and overall soundworld is akin to the ‘LA Woman’ by The Doors, especially the electric guitar and organ interjections. All round this is a fun and likeable number. ‘They Got It On’ closes out the LP. A languid, last orders feel perpetuates and is the perfect curtain closer. It is a final chance for the outfit to showcase their style and ability and they don’t disappoint. It perfectly rounds off their beliefs and intentions. The extended jam like outro also epitomizes what makes this act tick. Overall a well-crafted LP.
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Irish Artists REVIEWS
MAIN BEACH Dream Boat
There is a wonderful sense of charm held in the 60’s revisionist styling of opening track ‘I Will Always Dream Of You’. The lightness of touch in the guitar licks also stir the delivery in a way that sets down a fine precedent. The open sense of dynamic also comes to show in how the vocals and lyrics so intricately intertwine. Again they come up with the goods on ‘Tonight’s The Night’. How the dalliance of the delivery turns on the style carefully draws you in. Matched on every turn here is a wonderful sense of composure, but it is a wonderful effort marked out for the high diligence that is worked into the mix. We then come to ‘Used To Love Someone’. Again the rock’n’roll showing sees the band wear their heart on their sleeve. In how this runs there is an admiration that is projected in the forthright sensibilities that clock in. There is also something rather curt to be noted on the rhythm which is traded upon quite firmly. ‘My Girl’ completes the track listing. The forlorn calling of the vocals frames the delivery and the song feels as if it is built around it. How it is all constructed reflects the committed sensibilities on show in a most positive light. The arrangement comes together with a telling note from how the sax added to the mix brings a neater touch of class. Yet the context lyrically also brings it back to something that feels rather bygone yet fresh in equal measure.
.......................................................................................................................... TALKING BUSH
Ordinary Unusual This recommendation from our Russian network really comes with love. They truly come up with the goods in glorious fashion with their opening track ‘Hear It’. The layering of the synth is a definitive one and the soothing way that the patience is built carefully brings it through with a marked level of intent backing it all the way. ‘Overgrow’ calls the shots in a way that could quite easily be a long lost The Smiths classic. There is a meeting of rhythm and vocals that mirrors the Morrissey/Marr dynamic unequivocally. This is just a magnificent tune that is carried off on an air of cool. Following that truly inspirational effort is ‘There Is A Now’. Again the languished touches bring an askew sense of deliberation that clearly defines everything. The lightness of touch meets well with the indifferent calling lyrically and it is a testament to how endearing it is that it loses nothing on repeat listening. This is an inspirational tune that hones everything to a tee. The closing track here is ‘Tell Me’. Again it brings a sense of nuanced revelry forth in the way it is tracked. From the way the lush qualities are lavished here you are swept up in the enamoured apparel. So committed are the band to their craft that their unassuming projection is an affront to what great music should sound like, yet this has a quality to it that should see it stand the test of time.
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Under Light Symphonies The eponymous opening ‘Under Light Symphonies’ is truly brilliant. From the meandering aspects of the tempo it finds this patient calling that really sees him bring his A game. How the lyrics play out really see the track worked for all it is worth. Adding to that is the appreciated way that the lightness of touch is applied. What that brings is a fanciful precision that sees it right from beginning to end and you are taken along for the ride implicitly. You fall in love with next song ‘Something’ for all the right reasons. How it touches on the sentiment is carefully judged and it doesn’t over emphasise that. Rather it draws the inspiration in a contained manner and the sullen weight of the tempo drifts along with a certified allure that it gains from in a real fashion. The attentive touches help to bring it all together but also capture the essence. Picking things up is the cool as fuck ‘I Want You’. What grabs you first is the chic nou disco beat. The way this is leaned into drives the delivery on but it also concentrates that quality in a forthright manner. As the tempo is rounded on everything falls into place and takes you along for the ride. While the vocals are an added hook that holds up in their own right alongside the catchy way it is all styled. On ‘Riviera Girl’ an additional sense of maturity is exacted in the lyrical narrative. Add in how the vocals close around this and the song really opens up. It is catchy and clean in equal measure which is a trait that is processed to fine effect. With how the latter progression drops things down it also interplays the latent touches against the select temperament on show quite figuratively. How it is styled also stands it good stead and marks it out as a tune worth adding to the collection for all the right reasons.
.......................................................................................................................... THE TARANTULA WALTZ Lynx
The opening track ‘Lynx’ is a formidable one. Building the structure around the lyrics proves an astute move. Doing so sees the calling found, but in how the depth is relayed there is a resounding degree of substance noted which underlines how astute a move that proves to be. The high end of his musicianship stared it all down on ‘Carvaggio’s Head’. The consummate concentrations denote the artistry at work. What is cornered here conveys in the absolute sense but has a knowing sense of splendour that is turned on smartly in the playing gains which complete the delivery.
‘Northern Lights’ is more of a fleeting effort. It seems to embrace that calling and the extensive pique in the track’s weight bodes well here. The reserve on show carries it through, but how it develops the EP as a whole is another fine point of note. With ‘The Leaning Apple Tree’ there is a welcome comparison to The Waterboys. On account of the poetic distinction that the lyrics manage to convey the emotive is felt in the lingering touches. From the richness of the metaphors it also procures a rather refined sense of the open that brings an added layer of definition that is equally noted as it plays through.
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Only The Birds There is a refined hold on show with ‘Call Me Stupid’ that also meets well with a gilded indie calling. The straightway it all flies also falls into place cleanly by design. With how that locks down the indie credibility here it is a very passive effort with an enthralling grace about it all. The undulated allure of the richer tempo gives the intro to ‘A Faint Light’ a choice calling. The sombre vocals meet with the deadened veneer of the sound and the result is highly effective. Not only does it imbue it all with a listless allure, but the rhythm seems to suitably blend that anomic projection with real distinction. The feint touches also come to pass in a way that permeates to keep the fluid running of the tempo very much in focus. They call upon a whimsical sense of charm on ‘Only The Birds’ that prevails furthermore from how the vocals merge with it. The seamless meander of the tune is confirmed as it all plays through, but diligent pick-up underlines how well laid out the track is. Here they very much embrace that and you sense the prominence of acts such as Band Of Horses perhaps being an influence. The fourth track here is ‘Idiot Ghost’. Here they really lay it all on and the conclusive touches of play bring out the best in their sound. The maturity that also holds over proceedings carefully reflects how the even construction in the sound balances everything. In short it is a wonderful tune that is expertly tracked from start to finish.
.......................................................................................................................... SOVIET JUNK Feedback 63
Initially the opening of ‘When’ is hard to pick up on but then the shoegazer style lingers as the brash qualities of the harder notations take hold. It doesn’t necessarily have a shape or tempo which makes it hard to appreciate in some ways. However the minimalist touches on show define it by giving it an approach suited to the style that it is played in. Things do pick up and have more authority going for them with ‘Fish Food’. The dragged rhythm here is highly referential. The noted way the sunken drift in the tempo draws you in is also incredibly focused in the minute touches. Chased down in the formations is a stylish tinge that holds an underground fervour in the haze of guitars that resonates so formally. The rough around the edges feel of their sound is again noted on ‘Sludge’. Fittingly titled, there is something the dragged playing dynamics that meets with a proportionate inner retreat of the vocals. This embraces a numb calling and the weight of the derivative also creates a wall of sound that is alarmingly contended with. This is particularly noted in terms of how they lay it on to close it out. Armed with a more quickened sense of pace is ‘Teenage Suck’. This seems to denote some further potential because it develops the sound and moves it forward. The maturity displayed seems to move it forward and there is a smooth transition in the vocals akin to an early Belle And Sebastian era. The bigger calling of the sound is also focused and things kick into touch off the back of this. You are taken back by how this comes through because they up their game with considerable note here. More tunes like this and everyone will be talking about them for all the right reasons.
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Songs From The Sonoran ‘With Time’ is a delightful introduction to this EP. Enriched by the sweet essence of the vocals there is also a timeless lustre to the tempo. The concentrations in the play seem to press the indie credentials in a forward manner. It results in a blanket of sound that elevates the dream pop calling of it and grants it an esteemed sense of timely apparel in the process which is rather refined and telling in equal measure. Suitably ‘Tick’ also boxes clever. Here there is a click sense of control exerted over the casual and patient demeanour in the flow. Then the laissez faire allure of the vocals also ticks the right boxes. The snappy fashion of the rhythm focuses on something that is hard to pigeonhole. There are outlines of retro in the rhythm but the refined manner of the flow gives it a neat disenfranchised raw drift that suitably plays out to show ability. With the charm offensive very much on their side they make everything count on ‘March’. This approach sees the buoyancy in the rhythm brought to bear to give everything a more engaging sense of presence. While it is steady there is an apparent lustre in the sound that chases down everything in a highly compact way. The fourth track is ‘Say’. Again there is a steady lead to the intro which catches the breakdown in a way that sees the seasoned pick up get behind it all. How the urgency comes to be chased down stirs the latter progression in a formidable way which sees them round upon it all in a way that seems to retain a faithful calling as much as it endows it all with a comfortable sensibility.
.......................................................................................................................... YELLOW RED SPARKS New Fangs Old Pangs
You are immediately impressed by how smooth and timeless the rhythm of ‘I Want My Knife Back’ beds in. Another aspect also earning your admiration is the lyrics. They are rounded on and the way it all comes together develops in a suitably progressive fashion that captures a true essence in how stylish and becoming it collectively is. Taking a clever pitch to the pace lights everything up on ‘Seven Seas’. As the vocals pour out there is a higher calling picked up on. Also playing its part is the subtle bluegrass flavour that rides in high. The kick gambled on pays out and they have this figured out so evidently in how it takes flight. Coming in off the back of the broad piano strokes is ‘If I Get It, Then You’ve Got It’. As the breakdown captures the emotion and sentiment the band really come up trumps. You can also appreciate the conviction that gives it substance and there is no shying away from the picturesque way it all holds because it also comes to define the depth of the lyrics. Stirred by a wonderful sense of revelry comes ‘I’m Fine’. An off the hook fashion takes hold and is exerted in a way that gives the tune a fonder sense of appreciation in places. The implicit manner in how it is all brought together makes stern use of the charm offensive in a subtle way, but there is a commendable degree of precision to how it all steps out. The big presence in the instrumental sense leads it all in and shows how well thought out it is on every level. Taking note of things in a more sober sense is ‘Violet’. With the delightful way it is all carried through it seems to locate something novel that opens it up for the listener. The elevated touches are a finer procurement that settles into the delivery resolutely. The final track here is ‘New Fangs (Darkling)’ and it benefits considerably from the acoustic guitar. What also gives it a more comfortable showing is the way it is all carried off. You can note the appreciated touches on show and they suit the impartial allure in a highly practical way.
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Break The Silence What a brilliant number the first track ‘Silence’ is. Not only is the steady tracking of the electronica perfectly formed but the vocals also come across in an extraordinarily hip fashion. The steadfast nature of the delivery is exacted in a way that denotes a true sense of formidable artistic integrity. What brings it around is the wonderful flourish of retro and modernity that work so brilliantly in tandem here. Hardened in the approach is ‘Anything’. Again there is an implicit sense of development on show here that brings an industrialised formation in the tempo to bear but has an added sense of quality found in the vocals. It is a nuanced pop track but also something highly creative with an innovative sense of identity. With how the tracking gives the running a colourful outline you are taken along for the ride. The refined characteristics also imbue with a neat foray in the right places. Three is the magic number and things close out with ‘Linger’. How this lifts off is wonderfully judged. The neat 8-bit synthesised beat moves this and the sunken charm of the vocals is another excellent feature. How the retro qualities give it an added push is a shrewd move that is justly rewarded in the artistic sense.
.......................................................................................................................... HYDROGEN CHILD Sirens
Thus Louisiana band’s debut is quite a substantial offering that gets everything going with ‘Sirens’. There is a good showing in how it balances a nouveau pop calling with a harder indie allure. It does counteract that lightness of touch with a fine vocal display. This sees them close around the lighter aspects and follow through as things pick up when the leaner cut of the temp comes to pass. How it is laid out does play it safe but as an opening track it is a shrewd choice to make you want to hear more. Taking the synth as its centre comes ‘Lightspeed’. Again there is a study sense of the astute found in the right places and it showcases that finely. The consistency in the dynamic has a solid foundation in the sound which is executed with an assured maturity that is cleanly felt out on all fronts. A broader effort then ensues in the form of ‘Close Your Eyes’. The bellow of a piano tidies away on the arrangement in a carefully placed way before the urgency sees it take flight. It holds in an attentive manner that is tracked well in the outlines, even if it does feel a bit over familiar, but it comfortably processes those traits to move it along fashionably well. Then we come to ‘Satellite’ which instantly hits you in the right way. How this is contained realises a great deal. The thorough showing of class is paramount in the lyrics but the tempo also displays integrity when it is leaned on. The quickened showing in the beats heightens the appreciation in a most impressive way that is diligently carried off. The final track here is ‘I Know’. The tender showing is apparent from the off, with the piano and vocals capturing a more emotive front that carefully constructs everything. The loaded kick in the compact flourish is also something that deftly hangs back to give the arrangement an added sense of prominence. The bigger impact comes to pass but it is held in place in the structuring, albeit in a formulaic sense, in a way that gives the direction clarity.
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RIOTHOUSE ROYALE The Guesthouse
This is a sweet EP and the first track ‘Get Out Of My House’ floors you. The sanguine and sweet vocals give it a savoury allure, but if you look past the ethereal distinction that lingers you will see the clever finesse of the lyrics. Expelling a wonderful sense of texture their application marries to the execution in a way that underlines the sheer brilliance of the way it all comes full circle. Keeping everything in check is ‘Rabbit Hole’. The inspirational way this knits all the aspects together chases it all down expertly. The toil of the vocals enriches the presence in a steady way, but there is something select to how it all travels that fills the vacant fawning of the overall projection with substance. ‘You’re Still Here’ completes an excellent trinity. The shared vocals also give it an additional level of worth and they run with that in a way that closes it all down. The stillness of the lay ambience conveys in a sheltered fashion an admirable sense of noir. As the solemn flight rises it is all followed through with a neat predilection that piques in a forthright way through and through. Another well calculated touch is found in the way the haunting allure gives it weight.
.......................................................................................................................... COMPLICATED ANIMALS In This Game
Checking in with an undeniable sense of hip is the opening track ‘Roadmap’. Immediately the catchy rhythm and its spry keel combine to sweep it along. The abundant manner to how this is carried off is buoyant and gives it a calculated essence that rewards the creative processes. The diligent combination of the compact allure with the lighter touches elevates it impressively. They then commit a more languid approach to things on ‘O Que Passou’. It exudes finesse in the margins which is noted for how the linguistic foray adds to the class on show. Alongside the scintillating allure of the vocals and arrangement it processes a wonderful sense of completion. ‘Phoenix’ is another strong calling that draws you in for all the right reasons. What is pursued in the deftness of touch is a delightful assault on the senses that feeds into the structure. This drives the aesthetic in a pleasing way that backs up everything from the inspiring way it is processed. To hear ‘Bees Take To Honey’ for the first time is a true privilege. The way it all takes off revels in the lighter flight and imbues with a 60’s revisionist style in places. But there is a subtle sense of perfection found in how it charms. The intrinsic way it is structured also inhabits this wonderful aspiration that is high in artistic merit. They are also a band capable of deriving everything in the lyrical narrative and ‘Drive Around In Cars’ really sees the bigger picture from how the well thought out observations bring what they bring to the table. They process a prevailing level of depth and charm in equal measure that is seen out without anything falling flat. Another impeccable foray here is the lingering touches which hold their own so favourably here. The final track here is ‘Sempre Aqui’. In the listless touch there is an attractive distinction closed in. This gives everything a further sense of the enamoured as the comfortable showing of warmth captivates the listener. It provides an isolated touch that lingers in a prevailing way through and through as it all fits together.
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KASSASSIN STREET Radio Silence
With the subtle way the rhythm abounds on ‘Yeah It’s On’ there is a significant marker laid down by the band that shows how they have progressed artistically since ‘The Royal Handkerchief Ballet’ was released. They drop the harder aspects in the right places, but it is also worth noting that the vocals also inhabit something that adds to the overall aesthetic. Everything is channelled in the derivative to excellent effect and it turns a corner here for the band that underlines them as indie contenders. Second track ‘Radio Silence’ is an engaging number. The slick countenance of the rhythm meets with the urgency on show. As things take flight, and drop down, there is a noted calculation to be found which narrows the sound at specific points but another key quality about this is the receptive calling that sees the lyrics also raise the bar. Their next track ‘Talk In Riddles’ is an instant classic. The way it fills out retains a noted sense of consistency. It is enriched by the clean vocals that covet the delivery, yet where and when things pick up the execution is almost flawless. The fourth track here is ‘Scatterbrain’. In some ways the texture here has a New Wave calling that darkens proceedings. Yet it also retains the energised derivative as things are fuelled by the approach. Another thing opening this one up is the steadfast way it is controlled, yet there is a detailed sense of comfort for how the compact elements fuse together.
.......................................................................................................................... WILD WHISKERS
Man Of The Mountain ‘Man Of The Mountain’ is the opening track and it calls upon a certified level of true class. How the latent psychedelic touches are presented allows everything to fall into place. You also sense how much of the playing attributes taken stock of carry it forward, because it also corners an open-ended fashion that illuminates it fully. Hints of a 60’s revisionist vibe cut to the chase on ‘Little Tiger’. This approach drives it on and there is a lingering foray in the rhythm that becomes highly realised alongside the subtle way the lyrical context conveys a sense of stark realisation. There are high levels of credibility to be found yet again on ‘Moonlight’. The trajectory here is more apparent and it has a more ‘off the cuff’ vibrancy channelled in the delivery. Yet there is a clean cut to how that raw derivative is honed in. The fourth track here is ‘Living In The Shadow’ and it also has a clever lift in the tempo. All of the leaner aspects are angled in with efficiency to the track; as such it comes full circle with a formidable sense of buoyancy travelling on the rhythm to impeccable effect on every turn. Not only is there a rich roadhouse calling to be picked up on here but it is played with the right level of intent alongside the casual demeanour that filters through.
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PRINZE GEORGE Prinze George
What you note firstly on ‘Upswing’ is the apparent devotion that spills out on the track. It also meets something fair in the vocals. In how that keeps in tandem with the steady rise of the synth also develops the playing formations to excellent effect. It has a casual demeanour but there is no shortcuts taken from what is achieved musically with this track. Again the grandeur is honed on ‘Victor’. The composure of the opening line is enough to endear the listener. Then the rhythm steadily climbs and closes in on the arrangement with true accomplishment. From the higher sense of scope it becomes a more accomplished effort when the harder direction of the rhythm kicks in. Cleverly retaining a sense of chic is ‘We Are Dreamers’. It brims with class and the application of the more upbeat elements running through the tempo it all becomes cleverly realised. With the lasting way it flows there is a true sense of revelry to it that sweeps the listener along. Not only does it situate a smart pop calling but it also plays the safe card in a calculated way by laying the track down smartly. As ‘The Writer’ begins there is a sense of majesty to be found. The sedate structure is then carefully aligned. As the patience begins to work its way through you see it all light up. The singularity in the sound hangs back with an efficiency that befits how it is relayed. It is a tune with an astute pique in the right regard. ‘Windows’ sees their sound take on a different style entirely. The acoustic guitar, and the pursed vocals, gives it a steadfast calling that rises to the occasion. The soft fervour comfortably called upon gives the reflective touches in the lyrics added depth. It all holds its own in the exactness of the stylish ebb and flow here.
.......................................................................................................................... PLASTIC MERMAIDS Inhale The Universe
The alternative interlude that is ‘Ocarina’ gets proceedings underway before ‘Playing In Your Mind’ sufficiently displays. As the richness of the tune becomes apparent it carries through with a lightness of touch which wonderfully steals a march as the track hardens. Yet the whimsical charm on show also brings out the inspiration of the track in a forthright way. In how ‘Six Hours Of Darkness’ funnels a more becoming context through there is a stellar sense of intricacy to the way it captures the essence in the minute touches. Overall it becomes something of a love affair that brings out the musician’s musician qualities so favourably. As the sombre momentum carries it through there is a mindful sense of subtext noted.
At almost seven minutes ‘Saturn’ proves to be a long-player that goes the distance. When the nouveau disco touches come to pass it draws a comparison with ELO for the right reasons. It also follows an outline that is carefully constructed. With the proviso flair it really finds its calling. Then we come to ‘For Nothing’. As the tender calling of the vocals wrap around the delivery it becomes a fond number. Yet it also stows away all of those attributes in a lasting manner that captures the resolve in a prominent way through and through. In the progressive key structures it seems to call upon a sleight of hand that could see this track sit on Moby’s ‘Play’ album. Closing proceedings is ‘Fire Hands’ and it finds a true as it savours the moment in the ethereal calling closed down. The arrangement itself is one with a differing sense of arcs combing to full effect. In how they tease the elements it takes the listener through a telling odyssey of music but brings them out at the other side in full appreciation for the experience. Again that musician’s musician assessment is underlined here and carried across from how they let their music do the talking here.
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MOUNT SAINT Mount Saint
An entwining sense of sophistication comes to the fore on ‘Criminal’ which is highly effective. The warm caress of the vocals is then replaced by a higher pitch that provides well for the delivery as a whole. Another impressive turn is found in how the synth charges up the tempo. How this fleshes out on the breakdown gives the indie-pop attributes a sounder calling. The same approach works on ‘Blame’. This is reflected in how the electronic aspects in the sound suitably gel with the intent shown. The darling sensibilities imbue it with a fundamental degree of stature that turns on the style in a big way here. Another fine calling is the relativity of the lay turn on the vocals. What is brought through in the lingering virtue presiding over proceedings really calls the shots. Another number effectively seeing style and substance combine in a big way is ‘Picture’. The approach holds in a secure fashion, but the relative lay turning in the vocals evokes something specific as it falls into place. Retaining the neatness in the right places concentrates the rhythm in a way which more than holds it together. This is again mirrored by how final track ‘Excuses’ comes full circle. Again there is sophistication displayed in the right places. How this then envelopes the running provides well in the arcs. Also concentrated is the distinction that is heralded with the bravado of the delivery. It clings to an approach that allows the scope of the arrangement come to pass with fruition in the artistic sense. The delicate composure found in the vocals also encompasses a foray into a higher sense of development by imbuing it with a wonderful sense of context all of its own making here.
.......................................................................................................................... SAM PINKERTON A Story In Parts
This is an aptly named EP because that is exactly what it does – it is told in parts with each track numerically listed as the title. ‘Part I’ is a fond effort indeed. The languish of the approach shelters the lyrical narrative favourably. It allows the withdrawn worth found to occupy a clever level of precision and it underlines that fine quality furthermore as the orchestration takes it home. Settling upon a similar opine pique is ‘Part II’. Again it reverts inward to see the tone and tempo meet a narrower showing by intent. The lyrics convey a sense of having lost faith in the virtues of love. As such it holds a stoic sensibility which is mirrored by the hardened showing of the rhythm as much as it is the more sullen pressing. However ‘Part III’ changes the rules. Gone is the wallowing sentiment. In its place we find a more confident pitch that lands with real precision from the off. It is incredible confident, albeit brief, but it does certify everything from how it is brought through. One of the main things that stand the EP good stead overall is the conclusive manner that the emphasis on developing the arrangement is given on each track. With ‘Part IV’ it beckons the bucolic calling forth in the ensemble workings. As that floats through a slight hum is imparted and equally detracted but it gives the delivery a sense of form that is highly appreciated. Locating the personal in the manner it is all conveyed very much invites the listener in on ‘Part V’. From the honest virtue displayed you sense the conviction as the vocals pour out. They are the real deal here and how they call the shots gifts it an intrinsic calling that is highly realised in every regard. Against the way it is structured ‘Part VI’ reliably finds its calling. This is noted in the softness of the voice and guitar. The break in the melody and intricate instrumental work entangles the deeper calling in a wholehearted fashion that truly fits the part.
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‘5 To 3’ is a tune that truly deserves to be heard by a wider audience. The distinction in how it plays seduces the listener. Not only is it fluid but it accentuates the latent shoegazer apparel drawn upon in the tempo to suitably grant it an extensive sense of weight. It is the poise presented that rightfully takes your breath away when you hear it because this a truly outstanding tune. Turning on a similar distinct front to fine effect is ‘Distance’ Again everything impressively collects on the turn. It becomes this hearty affair with the lighter pitch of the vocals stirring the performance. Hints of shoegaze again find their way through intuitively yet are carefully gauged to round out the showing. How the urgency pitches up is what gives ‘Little Horses’ a sound calling. The long lead on the intro proves a good call because when everything comes in with the vocals it very much lights up. The abundant fervour of the rhythm becomes more prominent and the careful way it is balanced allows the vocals to be accommodated. Not only is the sound developed overall but it is littered with a telling level of distinction that marks them out as a band of true potential. Moving things up considerably is the fourth track ‘Halfway Or None’. Again it is an effort that makes it easy for the uninitiated to warm to the band. As it holds firm there is a secondary progression on the bridge that really lays on the playing. It corners a compact degree of urgency that adds bite, but it also catches the tough side of everything face down and commendably sees the band finely run with it all the way.
.......................................................................................................................... TASTE NASA
Time Goes By Not only is there is a highly calculated conjecture to how ‘Time Goes By’ lingers but the way the secondary aspects allow the musical side of things step out proves an astute move. To see the developed flourishes across there is a defined outline to the direction which implicitly lights it up. The rhythm is also carried off with a nouveau texture enabling the steady feel of the ebb and flow. Again this exquisite touch is mirrored and progressed in equal measure on ‘Endless Dreams’. This is a smooth number and it hangs back with such distinction that the clear manner in how it comes to the fore is executed brilliantly. If the groove doesn’t take you along for the ride here you must be made of stone.
Even though there is a lightness to the lyrics on ‘I’d Like To Be Your Girl’ they very much produce the goods. The tune itself has a higher sense of appreciation that is implicitly felt and the chic calling is not found wanting. How the outlines of nouveau are embraced on this one the best is brought to the fore on this one. It is a brilliant track from start to finish. What is also worthy of a mention of a mention are the three remixes which pad out the EP. Each one has its own signature and gives things a more rounded breakdown from what they bring to the mix.
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LAND OF THE GIANTS Surrender
We have been big fans of this band since we saw them play in Dublin as far back as 2012. The smooth contention of the opening track ‘Holy Funk’ retains that cool cat signature they are noted for. In the execution the brass elements also hold their own and bring a certified touch of class alongside the savoury distinction of the vocals. A fine marker is put down which then carries it all through by keeping the urgency firmly in check. ‘Surrender’ opens in a rather resilient fashion. The tidy fanfare of reggae and ska influences carry through here with a colourful foray that charms of its own volition. Then there is a subtle pique to the noted way the vocals hit you and it alludes to this graceful calling in a way that is denoted by the majestic joie-de-vivre that is emphatically captured. As it cautiously opens a dalliance begins to preside over ‘Bangkok’ that tidily brings it all in. This connects in a way that smartly steps out. The neatness of pace is turned on quite fancifully. How they engage with that is highly productive but, more importantly, it retains a fanciful approach that underlines the sweet way they proactively kick this into touch. Initially the opening to ‘Crazy Lady’ is a lay affair. The stray opening vocal then gives way and what abounds then takes you along for the ride. It kicks on with a stellar groove quickening the pace that sees it through. Not only does it lift off admirably but there is a noted sense of contention found in the commitment of the leaner vocals showing that is truly commendable. They very much seem at home on the final track ‘Big Steady Eddie’. Everything embraced brings it together. The classic touch of the pomp, and the interjected tempo that cuts in and out, is carefully gauged. Not only is there a high standard of play but things also become all the more engaging by the overlap of the bridge and the all encompassing fervour.
.......................................................................................................................... MOST PEOPLE Violet Spaces
The first track here is ‘Telephone’ and it is a real gift of a tune. What wraps around on the intro defines it in a prominent way. The lean and curt zest of the tune captures an enigma in the musical sense but there is a notoriety to the leftfield approach that is considered. It fortunately takes flight without losing any of that in the approach. Hardening the sound, but also cleverly developing a neat funk in the undertone is ‘Release’. Heavier the intro may be but how it falls into place denotes the noir touches in the New Wave countenance that shows through here. Somehow there is a realised precedent to the music here that captures a spirited approach and you could draw a suitable comparison to Joy Division because of how innovative and of its own makings the tempo makes the sound. The third track to whet the appetite is ‘I Just Might’. Favourable in terms of how it patiently builds, it also has this excellent passé to the anomic calling. It lends it a somewhat withdrawn realisation that imbues it with a higher sense of credibility that engages the artistic merits of the track head on. Four remixes also pad out the EP.
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SLOW RIOT Cathedral
In the frayed aspects on show ‘Demons’ very much embraces those traits in a way that connects the dots in a way that truly does bring it together. The deadening requisite of the vocals also take into consideration the withdrawn calling in an astute fashion. How the lingering foray in the collective sense invites the listener is a truly remarkable feat and makes this a track that any true music lover should track down. Sharper in terms of both sound and how it is pitched is ‘City Of Culture’. The nuanced drift in the sound necessitates a New Wave oeuvre that rides in highly. Contained within the urgency here is a deftness of touch that adheres the to the pitch in the hardened dynamic explicitly. In how the indie affirmations are secured in the latter progression you do sit up and take note of the band for all the right reasons. On third track ‘Adele’ there is a reserved aspect to it that is seized upon incredibly well. The track itself is fleshed out lyrically but that is also mirrored from the vocals. How this locates the identity of the song allows it to travel well and the sombre texture caresses a modernity in the musical sense that also grants it an additional perspective in terms of the context and layering merging well with each other. The suggested shoegazer tint in their finally comes to pass on ‘Cooper’s Dream’. The defining way the languished singularity in the sound is woven creates a distinct allure. By embracing that deadened resolve they also seem to very much inhabit a sound/style that really sees them in their element.
As debuts go this is one that rightfully sits there with the best of them.
.......................................................................................................................... LOU SINERGY
A Late Afternoon Featuring Ali Ingle on vocals, ‘Wandering The Digital Age’ leaves its mark. The freestyling vocals occupy a true sense of the urban and are not resigned to being restricted by that as a genre. The intricate observations spill out to call modern living as he sees it…as opposed to pigeon holing everything by classifying it as modern life. It brings an even sense of balance in the hip hop showing and this reigns supreme as much as it boxes clever. ‘Kleptomaniac Love’ sees the tempo play across in a way that lightly caresses the music. It seems to stoke a fanciful sense of presence that is expansive to a slight extent, but it is the gritty comfort that underlines what you should sit up and pay attention to the music for.
Featuring Carmody on vocals, ‘Opened My Eyes’ beds down from the off. The intricate piano alongside the drum and bass tempo intuitively frames the arrangement. It is a strong tune that draws upon the patient referential to evoke the delivery in a way that denotes the appreciation as it grows in stature. In music terms it hangs back and there is a lightness to it that is somewhat pedestrian, but it displays a lot of the right ingredients as the vocals and harmony all commit. Enable by the solid vibrancy built into the vocals is ‘Overwhelmin’’. The risible way the circumstantial is placed in the breakdown it locates what it needs to give it motivation. The unrequited context provides well for it and also corners that enable modernity which has been so impressively called upon in the lyrical context. While it may be titled ‘Destabilised’ the track is anything but. How it is assembled throws an astute eye upon everything. The rhythm casually collects on the intro and the EDM beat tidied away sets in sedately. In a way the intuitive way it is processed feels like a comedown, and in that respect it showcase a matter-of-fact feel but also an intrinsic degree of worth in the complex way things are contained.
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Dig Up Stupid As this opens, the indie showing secures everything on ‘Even If It Hurts’. The way that the catchy riffs and hooks play their part blanket this one in a wall of sound that doesn’t just have pristine written all over it, it is spray-painted in glorious graffiti. The mindful way that the rhythm picks up is also carefully closed down to show the tightness in the sound that tears it all up in formidable fashion. They then seem to move towards a lay retro pomp on ‘Pace My Dive’. It is highly effective and the way it showcases a leaner gravitas works in its favour to give the playing gains real substance. The neat way it is paced is also worthy of sounding out for praise as it is motioned in a way that is hip and formidably pushes everything forward. On their third track ‘It Worked For Him’ things progress further. Caught in the trappings here is a hint of an alternative calling that acutely embraces a developed calypso styling in the rhythm. This links up and gets beneath the playing. Doing so sees a certified nuance captured that is rather distinct from how it gives the delivery a real shot in the arm when it gets going. The arrangement ably locates the right dynamic here and brings it all to bear in a truly brilliant fashion. There is a deadliness to ‘Hide A Few’. What comes to pass has hints of an indie pop calling and works that quality to fine effect. In places things are imbued with a lustre that suits the patient attributes, and alongside the leaner effect of the arrangement, balance out impeccably on all fronts. The last track here is ‘Loneliness Comes’. They save the best until last here and the way this opens is impeccable. The richness of the electronica and synth are electrifying traits that stoke the tempo explicitly. Intuitively everything comes together and you are taken back from how it this hits you. The impact is calculated and finds everything placed where it should be. The crescendo that sees it take flight also conveys the figurations in the most positive of lights.
.......................................................................................................................... ALLYSON EZELL
The Ease Of Remembering Sparks (Volume 1) Aptly titled, first track ‘Pick It Up’ does just that with a noted sense of precision in the execution. How that is followed through keeps things neat and direct. It inhabits a minimalist touch in the tempo that fits to the neater foray of the arrangement and vocals that are teased out. Second track ‘Landmine’ plays it a bit safe. Yet in doing so the intricate qualities are called out in a fine manner. The way the arrangement is carefully backed lands upon everything in a way that counts. This approach lends rather favourably to her vocal range and makes for a more captivating number in doing so. A bigger sense of emphasis is placed on ‘Talk To Me’ in the lyrical sense. As a result the aspects drawn out are carefully constructed and give the longing a further level of appreciation that takes it where it deserves to go. With how well laid out this track is the leveraging is an approach that pays off in a big way. Fourth track ‘Disappear (What I Do)’ is another proven effort that is expertly tracked. The way it breaks down makes it accessible. The paunched backing vocals also add to the nuanced distinction that moves through in the sound. It carries through with an air of confidence but also allows the music do the talking with an astute sense of the real about it.
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Immediately the playing gains noted on ‘Hollywood Kids’ come to the fore with real precision. The sedate vocals are also well situated with the synth touches in the tempo. It all prevails with steady sense of togetherness that is afforded furthermore by how the pace quickens alongside the fluid way it is all motioned through here. That sees things move up a gear and command a stellar sense of commitment throughout here. ‘Heartbreak Heartbreak’ again collects a fine retro feel and is galvanised in a gallant way from how it comfortably runs with that process. Flourishes in the breakdown seamlessly give it a pop calling but it is on the right side of the coin. None if it feels manufactured and it is that approach that harnesses the full potential when it gets into full flow. Attempted in the endeavour is an approach that sees the lyrics give ‘Bones’ a further sense of reach. It suitably projects this in the vocals. Yet there is a comfortable presence to be felt from how it is backed and the lift in the running is also carefully considered as it all comes to pass. Playing in with a true fanfare to back it all up is ‘Stopping’. Found in the gains here is a neat sense of volume that gives the running thrust but also a steady sense of apparel. Another feature here is the enabled way the vocals meet with the compact feel as the tempo takes hold. Overall there is an inter-connectivity to the dynamic on every turn and nothing seems out of place. Inching forward with precision is ‘Lions At The Gate’. Then the flight takes hold, but the nuanced retro touches add real flair to proceedings here. This underlines the earlier assessment of things embracing a pop style in the right manner. Tastefully this one comes full circle and there is a commanding sense of real presence about it as it all cuts loose. Closing track ‘Lanterns’ sees a softer calling ushered in. The way it sits upon everything is specific and stands it good stead. It lets loose in an apparent fashion that is well suited, but categorically it is a bit light. That fair criticism aside there is enough on show and it is a track that benefits from the way it is handled.
.......................................................................................................................... STAY BLESS In Paradise
From the sincerity that is conveyed in the lyrics, ‘Paradise’ takes something of a poisoned pen to the narrative. But this in turn gives it substance and the way it moves the emotive along with the angst is a determined showing that calls the shots in an absolute way. It is a through effort which balances the relativity in the channelling commendably to really keep it moving forward. Featuring Trim, second track ‘Distance’ also locks things down but allows a finite turn in the running call the shots as it takes flight. The shared vocals held in the harmony add a virtuous calling that is implicitly touched upon. How the neatness prevails comes to define it in the right way.
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If you listen carefully to the breakdown on ‘Everyday’ you see how the enigmatic pockets of music turn on the style. The listless attributes in the ambience also breathe life into it in the right way. There is a careful sense of appreciation alongside the drum and bass elements in the sound. Holiday Sidewinder appears on next track ‘Girl’. This is another fly effort indeed. It moves in a grandiose fashion that is rather certain in its own right. Reserved to a neat extent, the way it meanders through carries a degree of certainty to gift the impartial workings what they deserve. The Pale remix of ‘Distance’ is a good addition to the running list and works quite pleasingly.
TREE MACHINES Tree Machines
The first track here is the rather enticing ‘Fucking Off Today’. How the pensive showing is brought to bear brings out the best in it. With the rotund development in the sound the guitar and drum combo suitably rounds upon it all with real flair. Yet the dalliance in how it hangs back is equally inviting and the fleeting call of the vocals also sees it right. In the initial exchanges ‘Late Snow’ lays it all down. The forthright maturity in the details announces a patient calling that also bears down in a pertinent fashion. It sees the sheltered aspects play their part by coating everything in a clever veneer that is accentuated by the relativity on show. That suits the level of scope in a comfortable way as well. There is then a leaner pick up on show with ‘Misunderstood’. In fact it is more of a calypso beat but it cleverly imbues a latent bluegrass touch in how it is styled. As such the pace on show is top drawer with the pace illuminating it on every turn as much as the spatial allure granted upon it from the vocals. The prevalence on show here is incredibly telling. Not only is it intuitively titled, but ‘At The Wheel’ is the real deal. By how it is felt out in the somnambulist touches there is a clear sense of poise placed upon it all. With how the practicality on show is directed it seems to imbue the delivery with a fine totality that suitably embraces the context. Another attractive calling here is the broader sense of scope that inhabits the arrangement because it is also carefully aligned. How ‘The Fire’ comes to life denotes the ability that the band has at their disposal in the collective sense. This draws inspiration, and suitably calls the shots, with a true air of cool in the standard shown artistically. The looming facet of the tempo weaves its way through while the finite stature in the vocals is also a top drawer attraction. You can view ‘Black And Blue’ as a more honest calling. The way the vocals situate themselves within the reflection of the lyrics carefully stares it down, yet calls the shots in a way that is impressive. The delivery is embraced on all fronts and it connects with the listener immediately in how it does so. The last track here is ‘Man At The Door’. Again there is a looser dynamic on show that works credibly alongside the latent touches in the sound. It is a narrower showing here with the sullen urgency coming in fashionably.
.......................................................................................................................... ABANDCALLEDBOY www.com PC World
With just three songs on show there is enough here to whet the appetite. The opening track ‘Pure Nostalgia’ embraces a defined sense of the leftfield. From the inventive touches in the play it is all deliberated over in a way that processes that alternative calling. It steps out with that as a fine backing but there is a stern sense of contention abounding in how it runs. ‘Renaissance Man’ is a formidable affair and it signals the intent on the opening. With the checks taken note of in the rhythm it holds the definition in. Alongside the fluctuation in the direction things are taken where they need to go and done so with a keen emphasis placed upon the playing arcs to carry the definition through. The third track here is ‘Choke’. Bringing with it a steady deluge of guitar it produces a neat heft in the sound. By checking the urgency in the compact showing it excels. The weight of the play also gets it right and there is a wanton abandonment to be felt as they cut loose here.
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SILVER SHADOWS Silver Shadows
Straight away this gets down to business with ‘Marshmellow Picnic’. What gloriously warms you here is the impeccable way that the sanguine touches in the sound deliberate to create a dreamy mood. This is a clever turn, but the backing of the harder derivative in the shoegaze gives it the gloss it deserves. Also warranting mention is the astute kick to the sound which also holds its own alongside the vocals. Overall the lush makings here are a very astute call that fashionably ties up all the loose ends. Also lighting things up brilliantly is ‘Vampire Slide’. The guitar is a real tour-de-force which expertly glides through amid the formidable wall of sound that carries the track. How evenly balanced it all is sees the vocals picked up on and the way it all clocks in very much takes you along for the ride. ‘Fragile Dawn’ moves with a higher sense of expression. It is angled in sensibly but is backed by a pensive quality in the way it is all style. As a segue of shoegaze collects the track itself becomes more implicit in the way the approach tailors to this. It does light it up, while the depth of tone is formidable for the lucid ambience that stirs beneath. ‘Say Anything’ has an edgier cut in the sound. This deadens proceedings, but in the undertone there is a hint of a punk styling hiding away in the play. Again there is a lot to note about the high pitch of the dreampop harmony that is caressed by the vocals. This is a charming derivative but it also allows the smarts behind the lyrics impart upon everything with real flair. Gathered with a solid degree of confidence is ‘Night Drive’. The impact holds well over the delivery. There is also sense of accuracy abounding in how it takes off. The toils in the guitar loops are well placed, while the drumming is another scintillating projection that carries it all off alongside the calculated application of the synth. What a great tune and it never holds back as it all cuts loose either which is made to count here.
.......................................................................................................................... PAUL MCCANN The Magician
The opening track here is ‘Widow Maker Blues’ and features Majella O’Reilly. The noted sense of majesty pays its dues here in a rather admirable way. As the token value of the partiality in the context is brought to bear it becomes a tune that is more than the sum of its parts. It is neatly felt out and the darling sensibilities touch it out with true prominence. Again there is an impressive turn called upon with ‘Keep The Devil Within’. What blazes through in the rhythm is quite sharp and this fuels the tempo. As for the lyrics, it works in places but has a lack of cohesion about it all in others. That slight criticism aside it does play the part well and it holds in an attractive way from start to finish.
Playing on a carefree whim when it gets going is ‘All The Words You Say’. Prior to that captivating occurrence there is a competent and calculated calling that leads it there. It is an astute move and the well versed aspects are tracked diligently. It gives the closer moments a lightness of touch that prevails. The fourth track here is ‘The Magician’ and it works its magic with a rich sense of appreciation garnered in the rich guitar riff that drags through. The lazy configurations are eased in with a real sense of splendour connecting on it that draws it out in an inspired manner. Where and when it picks up is equally astute and the lightness of touch in the vocals is comfortably drawn out.
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AVALANCHE PARTY Avalanche Party
Going in with all guns blazing is ‘Obstacle’. This hits the ground running and the concentration of pace is electrifying. In the somewhat explicit way that the high octane charge cuts to the chase it leaves no stone unturned. The delivery is incredibly sharp and the way it is all delivered comfortably signals the intent. Bringing it in excellent fashion is ‘Revolution’. You have to admire the band for really going all out here because not only do they wear their heart on their sleeves but this is another fantastic effort from the off. As the stylish neatness checks the pace it is apparent that they are content to let the music do the talking, and here it has a great deal to say. As the tiding on show with ‘Mountains’ pushes through, there is a steady connection to how everything holds. In a way the patience allows the texture of the arrangement to carefully push it all through. It also shows that they are capable of developing their sound and are not over reliant on the one approach or style, yet they still capture their signature in the harder application where it counts. Retaining their ability to turn on the harder style is ‘Let’s Get Together’. Be it the catchy hooks or the lean way the vocals seal it all in, this is the real deal and it takes you along for the ride. The closing track here is ‘Money’. As the prevailing worth makes its way known and felt on the back of the way the orchestration moves through, there is a heightened showing felt from how the lyrics add substance. You can just imagine how big a number this one is when it is played live.
.......................................................................................................................... THE YELLOW TRAFFIC LIGHT Dreamless
We turn to our Italian music network for this next EP and it is a trinity of excellence. The high presence of psychedelic scope brings out the best in ‘April’. The sedate fortification of the vocals envelopes the track with prominence and accommodates the overall execution in a noted way. As ‘Care’ plays out there is a heightened sense of accentuation in how it touches out. As the keel of the vocals is brought to bear there is a telling sense of both structure and integrity meeting excellently in the approach. The unbridled foray of the arrangement creates a kaleidoscope of sound that proves the making of it here. The third track is ‘Do It Right’ teases the delivery. How that approach works captures an essence in the resolve way the tempo carries through. The appreciation that lays it all on is not found wanting and again it justifies everything that a great track should be about.
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THE SPUNLOVES The Spunloves
As the bespoke flourishes of ‘Tall Tale Blues’ spin away you are taken along for the ride. It possesses this incredible charm offensive that is astutely locked down and delivered with the utmost of confidence. The connection between the tempo and the passive aspects is a fine marriage musically because it gives it a further sense of reach that tidies everything off. Floored by how the hardened showing adds in such a proven sense is ‘She Is You’. There is a sense of unbridled raw on every turn. Not only does it have bite but it shows an incredible degree of vigour in how the sharper aspects are cornered. Again they come up with the goods on ‘Chlorine Eyes’. There is an imaginative outline to this one that suitably embraces the leftfield calling. However this is suitably processed with the galvanised subtle projection of the rhythm coming across here in an equally committed and reserved fashion on all fronts. They close out with another listless number that steps out finely in the shape of ‘Ballroom Blues’. Teasing the vocals and urgency leaves you hanging on every note played. It also imbues it with a finite 60’s revisionist style that ably empowers the delivery by granting it a hardened apparel that sharply brings everything into focus.
Serene Machine The immediate serenity of ‘Molecules’ holds fast, while there is also a finite connection to how the softer transition of the vocals meets the delivery as a whole. It also accentuates in the fluid movement that takes hold in the tempo. Overall it is rather sparse and lay, but it is also finely calculated and enriched to a certain extent by the clever way it is approached. Hinted on the opening track, there is a more distinct sense of retro called upon with ‘Like A Dream’. Here the synth holds prominently and there is a tidier apparel to the rhythm as a result. In a way it has a niche that settles into a New Romantic aspect in part, but also corners a delectable showing of pop virtue. Called out in the synth, the beat of ‘All The Time’ clocks in sensibly but is accentuated further by the roboticised vocal pitch. It is a more animated affair that is attentive and well formed. This in turn embraces an attentive foray that is astutely considered and rounded upon.
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The deft ‘Forest Interlude’ is really a joy to behold. It is then followed by the smart keying of ‘One Way To The Red Planet’. This loses things slightly because there is a shortcoming to in part from the routine feel of this one. It is steady enough though but you also can’t help but think it is somewhat underdeveloped when you have been effectively spoilt by the tracks beforehand. ‘Heat Of The Night’ is the final track and it heaps on the retro qualities. The synth dominates the beat but again there is a lack of emphasis to developing the lyrics in places which does hold it back. Where it works shows, but the neatness of the chorus and the hooks do carry it through by intention which is a saving grace here.
This Sydney band truly comes up with the goods on the opening track ‘Sunshower’. It is a smart showing on all fronts. The indie sensibilities are blessed with an attractive quality that suits the curve in the rhythm. Akin to the B52s in the offbeat showing there is a true sense of identity that they adhere to and by being brave in the endeavour it serves them well, and the listener equally so. Again there is an added charm to proceedings chased down wonderfully on ‘Nail Gun’. The opening line itself captures an innocence and looks at the positives as opposed to the stark reality. It cleverly allows everything come to pass with the whimsical character calling the shots expertly. You can never go wrong with applying a Hammond organ to the mix and this proves to be the case with ‘Tourmaline’. As the tune takes off there is a delicate hold in the arrangement that finds its feet. As the flourished vocals play across you note how invested in the delivery the band happen to be , in particular there is a careful sense of consideration about how it then takes flight as it progresses. It is marvellous and intuitive at each turn. In a way, ‘Bad Dreams’ is something of a slow burner that sees the lead singer tap into his inner David Byrne. You can’t help[ but make a Talking Heads comparison here because it has that enigmatic touch which brings the proverbial A game to the mix. The last track is the wonderfully lavish ‘I Wanna Be With You’. As the well checked trajectory sees it through there is a commendable degree of class in the flashes here. It is rigorously worked and what is tapped into has a substantial bearing on proceedings. Not only do they dig deep but they unearth a true treasure with each track on this EP.
.......................................................................................................................... SISTERS ON WIRE Sisters On Wire
The first track ‘Parallel World’ flirts with a sense of style and fervour that intrinsically holds. The innate lightness of touch is made to work. How the latter progression savours the moment keys in a specific degree of worth as the secondary showing takes flight. Initially you don’t warm to ‘Days & Seasons’ but it grows on you. A strong sense of countenance is relayed that holds it together. This allows you to overlook the slight shortcomings and recognise where they get things right. You see things move up a gear with ‘No Measure’. A bit like Crowded House in places it also carries through with an autumnal touch of class that meets expectations. It does have a shortcoming in a way as a routine feel is called out in the leaner showing. This however is only a slight hiccup because there is a form to how it is all measured which adds up. ‘Take My Hand’ has a proven allure about it indeed. The passive strength of the tempo is called upon in a direct manner and finds a calling for the vocals to build upon. As the substantial worth begins to take hold there is a precision to the execution which sees it through comfortably. A remix of ‘Parallel World (I.S.E. Remix)’ brings the EP to a close.
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OUR MAN IN BERLIN Spirit Down
We are something of big fans of this Perth based five piece and it is not hard to see why with the first track ‘Bones’ holding sway. The momentum is very much with the band here. The calculated worth is also to be found in the brevity of the passive stirrings. Not only does this frame and contain the delivery but it is incredibly well stacked. ‘Moliére’ is an astounding tune in its own right. Not only is there character to the delivery but the way it is controlled creates an alluring effort indeed. Pop is not a dirty word after all and this proves it. The title track is another outstanding effort that seizes its moment. The way ‘Spirit Down’ calls upon the lucid stirrings captivates. Another quality that adds essence here is the ethereal calling of the vocals which also develops the tune in a fundamental way that is incredibly well matched and versed in equal measure. You are literally floored by how good ‘Separate’ is. All of the elements in the breakdown come through in an eventual way that is carefully built. But when it takes flight you are caught in it like a deer in the headlights. It is a knockout. The final track here is ‘Muster’. Again it is a track that benefits from the patience in the build. That cleanly collects and the fluidity in the tempo nurtures this approach but also grants the vocals an added sense of weight that is brought to bear with equal effect.
.......................................................................................................................... LUKE CUSATO Backbone
Our love affair with Liverpool is well known and this next artist is a recommendation from our music network we affectionately refer to as ‘The Scouse House’. The first track here is ‘Real Thing’ and captures a prominence that takes it where it needs to go. The way his voice becomes extended gives the leaner showing something that is embraced in a credible way throughout. Then we come to ‘All Over You’. A respectable effort indeed, what is kept to in the narrower texture cleanly catches the delivery. It also displays a harder voice that is schooled in the art of soul. How the arrangement dutifully props up the track is also handled in a way that is both modern and timeless in equal measure. To be fair and give credit where credit is due this man has a powerful voice.
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Taking that into account allows him to get underneath ‘Blame’ with a flawless sense of worth called upon. He also seems to capture the true essence and bring that through with a stunning sense of conviction. Completing the track list is ‘Backbone. Again he is displayed this wonderful ability to let it all hang off the back of his vocal range. The arrangement closes in on the safer sentiment and it procures the distinction with the utmost of showing it must be said.
STONE COLD FOX This is a great tune given a fine shot in the arm as the pick-up in the tempo brings it full circle. There is a calculated sense of volume that suits the overall aesthetic. The vocals are also finely contended with and they also corner something that is rather refined. Another thing that works in the songâ€™s favour is how developed it is and that sees them raise their game by putting their indie credentials to the fore as it gets going.
HIGH JINX Close To The Sun
You can see from this track that this Toronto act have theirs together. The lyrics are highly referential and they capture the essence with a noted sense of precision. When it changes direction from the languid approach to one with a more concentrated sense of urgency things do considerably move up a gear. In the replete retro countenance there is a comfortable harder shoulder that drops in and out to keep it all on track.
How the song opens plays to its strengths. The charming way that the meander in the tempo collects does have a shoot the breeze apparel, yet there is a detailed way that this meets with the substance called out in the lyrics. It is also carefully traded on and it procures an essence that is highly attractive. As the buoyant fervour in the rhythm is also pressed there is a forward showing to the dynamic at work which catches everything right.
TOOTH & TUSK
What more can you ask for in a single? This is the real deal. The steady handling guides the tempo and it has a highly inventive leaning towards a 60s revisionist vibe. But you can also pick up on elements of Motown and Northern Soul. Not only does this track box clever but it goes the full 12 rounds. Get on it.
SLOW TURISMO I Sit Down As Soon As I Get Up As soon as this opens you can sense the intent. The focus of the rhythm is cleanly considered and it just has this pique to the way it sounds that blows you away. In terms of how smooth the texture in the arrangement imparts upon the delivery as a whole that is another flawless application. With the tempered distinction in the vocals and scope it also finds something distinguished that is brought through with a commendable sense of revelry behind it.
PADDY CLEGG & THE BAD HABITS Hear Me Out
There is a pretty good sense of release to this track when it gets into full flow. The catchy drive in the guitar gives it volume and that locks down in a way that is rather fluid. It is the way it all connects which sees it truly light up and come full circle. It is comfortably rounded on and this is what brings it through.
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THE ALTERED HOURS Way Of Sorrow
Not only is this track incredibly heavy but it has this grandeur about it that is cleverly concentrated. The distal qualities of the track are also relayed with an equal showing of proficiency. This is not just noted for being a token calling but rather for something that brings out the best in the band and realises the potential in how the exchanges of play get behind the delivery and are suitably tracked.
THE DEATH OF POP Gardens
The essential waft of cool that hits you hear is excellent. As the groove sees the tempo pick up you are taken along for the ride. Yet there is also a commendable sense of distinction the dynamics that lays down a fine marker. As the lush qualities in the rhythm corner a latent shoegaze the texture and urgency marry with each other. The result here is nothing short of excellent.
Another band very much making a name for themselves release something to back up that assessment with this debut. The lean figuration in the guitar deadens the weight expertly and it channels that focus in a way that is exact and forthright. How the riffs are checked cleverly mesh with the drumming and this sees it backed up with a prominent measurement in the way this is weighted.
Where to start here is the real question. This is such an excellent track from start to finish that you canâ€™t help but fall in love with it. The faithful way the shots are called makes the softer approach a graceful one. In how the languid distinction of his voice and the calypso elements in the arrangement add up have seen this on repeat here in the U&I office all week for all the right reasons. The breakdown intelligently remains faithful to the approach and garners a becoming track in the process that gets it right on every turn.
ROBB MURPHY Headstrong
It is an excellent showing from this Belfast musician. Not only is there a sense of precision in the playing elements but it also seems to catch a high degree of inspiration as it all plays through. The elemental foray in the sound also meets the delivery head on, but it seems to locate something of real character and merit in the harmony.
NO HOT ASHES
Smooth (No Bits) / Easy Peeler
This is a double A side from a Manchester band who we are very familiar with. The first track has this developed sense of funk that corners the stylish tints rather figuratively. There is also something incredibly fresh picked up from how they appear invested in the overall showing here because it takes it places. With the second track, the funk is a more affluent affair. How it picks up comes to bear down on the running in a way that accommodates the lyrics in a good way. The quickened ebb and flow is reeled in but also given enough room to manoeuvre and it hits the ground in a formidable way without taking off completely.
NEW YORK TOURISTS Call
The opening line of this song is something of an interesting contradiction because the band does very much find what they are looking for. How the harder cut is eased in comes across with a slick sense of style to how it is handled. Another point of note here is how it takes flight. Not only does it box clever but it cements the indie credentials of the band in a way that gets it dead to rights.
This is an imaginative tune that benefits immensely from the patient way it filters through. A high calling is noted in the kind way the pursed vocals move with the careful way that the arrangement is dutifully laid out. The ornate structuring then gives way and a conclusive feel is drawn in the compact way the delivery picks up. What is yielded in the approach serves it well as it brings it all home.
THE SLOW READERS CLUB Plant The Seed
Of all the bands we have come across on the Manchester scene The Slow Readers Club is one who continuously impress. Here they come up trumps with the select touches that are keenly expressed. With how they align with the token texture of the rhythm, the awning of the vocals suitably brings an additional touch across in their sullen expression that heightens the appreciation on show.
NEON ATLAS Get Up
Wowâ€Śthat is the first thing that hits you here. Not only is the song incredibly rich in texture but it has a timeless quality about it that is sublimely brought to bear. The clean and hard showing of the tempo gets behind the track and proves an impressive draw that doesnâ€™t put a foot wrong. But probably the best thing it has going for it is how it transitions the style to give it a broader appeal while still retaining a smart sense of contemporary in all the right places.
Lights That Change This tidy tune benefits greatly from the requisite touches and how they are closed down. In turn there is a careful consideration to how everything plays out. The serene texture in the arrangement is neatly chased down, while the fleeting movement of the tempo carefully allows the vocals to take the lead. In the innate touches a lot is determined but what leaves a lasting impression is the lingering treatise of everything on a collective level that moves it along elegantly.
THE DURTY WURKS
(You Give Me All The) Reasons
What takes pride of place here is the apparent way the deadening of the delivery is played through. In the reasoned way the specifics are adhered to the direction and tracking take shape. It seems to also invest an inner pique that shelters the shallow distinction of the vocals to great effect. You can see the warmth that is imbued from the right perspective here and it soldiers on in a comfortable way that allows the elements to carry through correctly off the back of the playing here. This is something of a hidden gem that we have uncovered this month.
This is the October 2015 4×4. It is an editor’s pick of four videos by four artists selected from four of our music networks. At U&I we work with 95 co-ops across 49 countries and the music network that the recommendation comes from is indicated in brackets.
THE FONTAINES (Los Angeles)
STEPHEN YOUNG & THE UNION -
CIARAN LAVERY 'Shame' (Ireland)
HALF OF ME (Ireland)
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In this month's issue we have interviews with Wardance, Stephen Young And The Union, Tony Steele, Grainne Hunt and The Sneaky Nixons. While...
Published on Oct 24, 2015
In this month's issue we have interviews with Wardance, Stephen Young And The Union, Tony Steele, Grainne Hunt and The Sneaky Nixons. While...