Monday, 15 December 2014

Remy's Favourite Irish Tracks of 2014, Part Two

They were either earworms that lasted months on end, or songs that I enjoyed so much that I kept coming back to them after reviewing them, others were special as a result of live shows and others were musically, similar enough to my own wider taste in music that I found them most appealing. In no particular order (well, alphabetical), here's the second half of the best tracks from Irish bands that were reviewed on the blog in 2014. Enjoy.

11) Kevin Nolan - 'Drowning'

From: Dublin
Why? By far one of the most intriguing and creative albums I heard this year, Frederick & The Golden Dawn is dark, mysterious and theatrical, I enjoyed it so much I had to purchase the vinyl edition which I know already will be returned to again and again even in my twilight years. 'Drowning' features all of the descriptive terms above and when I first listened to it I genuinely had hairs stand on the back of my neck, Kevin Nolan's voice can be both menacing and soft and the track is filled with a dark atmosphere and the thundering piano close with strings is intense.

12) Mail Order Messiahs - 'Practical Man'

From: Dublin
Why? 'Practical Man' and indeed the entire Practical album stood out for me as a great example of the mixing of indie and electronica, a blend that is difficult at times to pull off without sounding like everyone else. The vocals are also quite distinctive and appealing and the track has a great punchy bass-line and drums to go with the sharp short bursts of synth, it's an ode to the zombie office worker which celebrates the banality of being a drone, 'please put in a good word for me, down at the IFSC....'.

13) Mark Buckeridge - 'I Can Talk To You'

From: Cork
Why? I found it hard to choose between 'I Can Talk To You' and Buckeridge's other track, 'O That Noise', I was very impressed and taken with his second E.P., Talking Is Good For You, when you listen to his music it's hard not to feel like your hearing a special musical talent. I also love the quirkiness of his singing and the enjoyable chaos of his music, not to mention how great the video is.

14) Monster Monster - 'Christmas In Liverpool' 

From: Dublin
Why? This could have easily been Monster Monster's 'Assassin', but when I heard this song live in The Bello Bar last month I got a bit emotional (mainly wondering how my boyhood football team had become so crap - again - so quickly). Incredibly yet deservedly, the following week the song became noticed in the city it was about and was eventually played at Anfield and the club announced it was going to be played at the ground for all of their matches over the Christmas period, what an achievement for the guitarist who wrote it, Mick Stuart, himself a fellow Pool fan. But forget all of that nostalgic stuff for a second, this song is great for the music, it's beautifully written, lyrics, piano, guitar and percussion all sound great and RĂ­ona Sally Hartman's vocals are tear-inducing in a good way, filled with passion and emotion.

15) The Midnight Union Band - 'I'm Your Leader'

From: Kilkenny:
Why? There's something heart-warming about hearing a young band who are very steeped in the genre they perform, in the case of The Midnight Union band it's soulful Americana with gusto. This particular track, 'I'm Your Leader' reminded me very much of Elton John and Van Morrison mixed together at their 70's peaks. I suppose the theme of the song appealed to me as well, it's always nice to come across bands who let their consciences pour into their lyrics and aren't just trying to write a catchy tune.

16) Riona Sally Hartman - 'Frida Kahlo's Delight'

From: Dublin
Why? Acutely aware of the classical sound of jazz music and singing, Riona Sally Hartman's vocals and composition are like an echo coming back through time. I absolutely love the bass in this song and how you feel like your mind could just float off carefree along with the notes. As I prefer listening to female rather than male vocalists from the 40's / 50's, when it comes to blues, soul and jazz, this style of music is very enjoyable to me and 'Frida Kahlo's Delight' ticks all of the boxes with it's smoothness.

17) Setline - 'Speckled'

From: Dublin
Why? Hot diggity damn was what I first thought when I listened to 'Speckled' for the first time, it was a moment, on the bus, will check this out I thought and it was a real Remy song from the get go. Starting off with a 70's science fiction film, a retro designed spacecraft orbiting the Earth. The track also has a strangely enjoyable Oriental feel to the strings, and the electronics are simple yet massively enjoyable, as is the rest of Setline's These Thieving Streets E.P. debut.

18) Stephen Young & The Union Band - 'Duty Free 200'

Why? A gritty ballad if there's such a thing, a mix of country and classic rock guitar playing, lovely melodic piano playing and a general overall feeling of goodness. Not just because of the video, but it's hard not to imagine yourself in the bar in Road House, sawdust all over the floor and the neon beer signs glaring. 'Duty Free 200' was also part of a great set I had the pleasure of seeing live at the wonderful Abner Brown's a couple of months ago which finished off with a great version of Jimi Hendrix's version of 'All Along The Watchtower'.

19) Tell No Foxx - 'Boulevard'

From: Wicklow
Why? This song also got a lot of listens this year, haunting with really great vocal effects and all of the best elements of the gothic sounds of 80's bands such as The Cure and Sisters of Mercy but with a modern electro sound. 'Boulevard' is also accompanied by an excellent video with a nice twist at the end that your granny will be delighted with! Another band I'm genuinely eager to hear more material from which is hopefully on the way early in the new year. 

20) Tony Fitz - 'The Murder'

From: Kildare
Why? Tony Fitz's Just Another Day E.P. was easily one of the highlights of the year for me as well as being one of the most pleasant surprises. 'The Murder' is so vivid lyrically it's like watching a short film in your head while you're listening, the sinister lyrics, worth re-posting, capture a slow motion scene of young woman unaware of the grave danger in her midst;

'There's a girl lying out on the grass by the creek,
and she dangles her toes in the water beneath,
as the sun dances on the surface of the stream

But she doesn't notice the stranger approach or
The twist of his grin as he takes off his coat or the
The glint of the sun on the gun in his hand

Like Cormac O'Caoimh's 'Maze of Your Heart', the guitar riff in 'The Murder' was a ridiculous earworm that popped frequently into my head at random moments over the last 6 months.

21) Barry Tierney - 'Rosie Ale of England'

From: Cork
Why? Well, I somehow overlooked Barry Tierney between 'A' & 'C' on Saturday so while I don't finish on an even 20, so be it, there was no leaving 'Rosie Ale of England' off this list. A sad song with an impact, although a love song, it painted a picture of Irish emigrants in the cities of England in the early part of the last century in my mind, quite timely in man ways. The song itself is beautiful, delicate clinking piano, harmonies and Tierney's impassioned voice all make this a superb ballad.