Thursday, 23 March 2017

Single: David Keenan - Cobwebs

David Keenan Cobwebs

Info: An absolute obsession with words and melody took hold of 23-year-old Dundalk folk artist David Keenan at a very early age. Exposed to the writings of Behan, Yeats and Wilde with the soundtrack of Dylan, Buckley and The Dubliners illuminating his formative years. Inspired by the storytelling and character creations of his grandfather, he took the boat over the water and gathered tales and tunes of his own, learning his craft and expressing his love of language.

Having been asked to play alongside the likes of Mick Flannery, The Hothouse Flowers, Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard, David is fast becoming one of Ireland's most talked about young artists.

I find myself in the unusual position of reviewing a musician for the first time who I have listened to on so many occasions for almost a year, and seen live already many a time. Normally the reverse is the case, where I'd hear the release first, and then go to the live shows and immerse myself in their music. It also feels a bit funny as David Keenan has such a large repertoire of songs at this point, and while he has previously released singles, 'Cobwebs' feels like it is happening at the true beginning of the crest of a wave.

Keenan's song-writing strengths are many, and new ones emerge to my ear on a regular basis. There's the sheer power of emotion, which is delivered via the twin pillars of observational lyrics and his sweeping vocal, which can go from soothing to intense force within the space of one line of a song. There's the romance, in the traditional sense, but also in creating a feeling of nostalgia for people and places we've never met or seen. 

Photo: Remy Connolly

With 'Cobwebs' Keenan does exactly what he says on the tin, taking us through one of his stories, picture by picture, with a smash and grab of the heart. It feels like a story of love, interspersed with moments where the story-teller is briefly distracted by the seemingly mundane if humorous events unfolding around him; 'There's a wino barking at the pan-flute player, at the top of Jervis Street, urging him to get a real job, help out....I smile at the irony'. 

From those colourful anecdotes Keenan delivers a searing verse, from soft to hammer-blow in an instant; 'Long story short, she informed me of my flaws, as Russian dolls smashed against the bedroom wall, come away from the window ledge, you'll catch your death of cold, and you'll be no use to anyone....least of all me'. The music does the painting too, with the electric guitar notes trickling down the strings like the beads of moisture of the title's cobweb. 'Cobwebs' is short, and it needn't be any longer, at just over three minutes it's plenty to leave its mark on the listener. I've a lot more to say about David Keenan's music, but I'll leave it for another time.

David Keenan - 'Cobwebs' rehearsal at The Liquor Rooms, March 16th.
Video by Rob Benson.

David Keenan is currently on his Never Mind The Mocks Tour, and you can catch him at the following venues around the country;

March 24th  - The Reg, Waterford
March 25th  - The White Horse - Ballincollig, Cork
March 30th  - Bakers Bar, Clonmel, Tipperary
March 31st  - Tricky's McGarrigles - Sligo
April 1st      - McKenna's Bar - Monaghan
April 2nd     - The Spirit Store - Dundalk
April 6th      - John Daly's Pub - Mullingar, Westmeath
April 13th    - The Bowery, Rathmines, Dublin 6

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Video: Hvmmingbyrd - Legacy

Hvmmingbyrd Legacy Ruth Medjber
Photo: Ruth Medjber

Hvmmingbyrd - Legacy

Info: Founded by Deborah Byrne (lead vocals/electric guitar/production) with Suzette Das (lead vocals, synths/keys, production) in 2016, Hvmmingbyrd is a singer-songwriter/producer duo based in Dublin, Ireland. They fuse warm sensual vocals, electronic pulses and shimmering pop sounds with heartfelt lyricism. 

Their first single ‘If Love Was Enough’ was Song of the Week on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show, played by all major Irish radio stations and selected for in-store H&M playlists worldwide. They released their first EP Know My Name in September 2016 which was received with wide acclaim. They have performed at several notable Irish festivals such as the Body & Soul stage, Electric Picnic, and Indiependence and have supported established Irish acts The Young Folk and Ryan Vail, and they will be playing Vantastival, YouBloom and several other Irish festival slots yet to be announced. Hvmmingbyrd look forward releasing their second single Legacy and launching it on March 30th in the Workman's Club with support from Maria Kelly and Dreaming of Jupiter.

Event page is here;

Where 'If Love Was Enough' saw Hvmmingbyrd launch their sound high into an anthemic stratosphere of electro-pop bliss, latest single 'Legacy' could be viewed as the loop back down to earth. It is refined, pensive and thought-provoking, with the video, directed by Brian Benjamin Dwyer, lending itself visually to the theme of empowerment and taking control, so we don't live to regret our choices, in particular those borne out of fear. 

To hear the rest of Hvmmingbyrd's acclaimed Know My Name EP, follow them on Spotify here;

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Playlist: Remy's Best of International Independent Music - Issue #5

Kraków Loves Adana Beautiful Lie
Kraków Loves Adana

Info: Every few weeks Remy brings you the best of independent international music that is floating the musical boat. In our fifth issue for 2017 we have a another genre-spanning compilation across ten tracks, but this week with a bonus acoustic version of 'Bandit Queen', the title track of Hamilton, Ontario act Sarah Beatty's latest album.

The first track on our playlist from Hamburg, Germany's Kraków Loves Adana, 'Beautiful Lie', is killing me though, it's too perfect, at the end of every year you hope for a track or album in the new year that will give you the feels you had on your favourite releases from the previous one. This song is exactly where I'm at with music in general right now, it's the type of sound that is grooving my soul, and her album is due for release very soon, so more on that when appropriate!

We have our second track for 2017 from L.A.'s wondrous Todavia, an effortless giver of dream-pop that fans of Beach House will melt upon listening to. I was also made a 110% fan of Buckinghamshire indie-pop gem-polishers The Boy Least Likely To, and their latest single, 'Follow Your Heart Somewhere'.

the boy least likely to - follow your heart somewhere
The Boy Least Likely To

For fans of Todd Terje we have Montréal act Le Coleur, funky Gallic dancefloor disco that is wonderfully executed. And then we have I Got That (Part 1) by French act Hervé, a classic house and dance number that brings to mind Groove Armada and Paul Kalkbrenner, juicy. Adding to this tremendous mix of tracks from around the globe are Indianapolis' Future Lover with his track 'Dead Soul Dagger', Bahrain's SHEIKH with 'Fonda', FEELS from Helsinki, and their track 'Gates' (FFO Bat for Lashes / Air), and finally, but not leastly, 'Dwaal' by Portuguese indie act Toulouse.

Kraków Loves Adana - False Alarm