I've spent about two weeks now going over and over the music reviewed on the blog since the start of the year, whittling down, changing orders of the Top 10 Irish E.P.'s and albums and it's done my nut in! but it's been fun too, without further ado...
Remy's Music & Film Blog E.P. of the Year - CC Brez, Her Alibi
As I mentioned in my Top 10 International Albums of 2015 with regard to Tame Impala's Currents CC Brez's Her Alibi EP which was released in June got a serious amount of listens and I regularly alternated between it and Currents whilst on my daily travels, the EP survived numerous culls as I updated my library from the start of the summer up until November. The reason was simple, all four tracks are excellent, mood improving and incredibly addictive. It may take some people a few listens (as it did with me on one or two of the tracks) before it fully gets into your bloodstream, but once it does it's impossible to not experience heightened enjoyment. Essentially this collection of songs are a sort of funk, groove, disco, soul drug, you'll need hit after hit of, and the superb E.P. launch in Whelans was a definite live highlight as well.
Cormac Breslin has totally nailed it here when it came to writing music that hit all of the right pop notes as well. From the title-tracks gospel opening to it's bluesy guitar riffs and funk-tastic bass-line, it oozes cool. At the 40-second mark of 'She's Cold' you're in wah-wah heaven and the hairs are up on the neck. I loved the light-hearted yet pondering message of 'Not Here For a Long Time', it's what we all know, life is short, but it's delivered musically like a timely and assured reminder, a smooth track with a slower tempo than the openers. Finally, and the track that took me a little longer to come around to, but eventually couldn't stop listening to and really looked forward to reaching is 'The Mighty Fall', CC Brez pops his head into dark club crooner territory, containing some lovely blues riffs during it's instrumental moments, the tracks final third is also a delicious and skilful blues deluxe, rounding off the E.P. with aplomb. A stand-out highlight of the last 12 months for me and I knew as far back as the summer that it would take something which appealed massively to me to come along and take top spot ahead of Her Alibi.
And now here are the other 9 E.P.'s that gave me the feels in 2015.....
2) Robocobra Quartet - BOMBER - April, 2015
Robocobra Quartet - '80 - '88
Chaotic spoken-word jazz-punk from Belfast's Robocobra Quartet, every second on their BOMBER EP is filled with mania and intrigue courtesy of a group of highly talented musicians and front-man Chris Ryan. Their Bello Bar gig in November was undoubtedly the best live performance I witnessed in the whole of 2015.
BOMBER features four songs tied together musically and lyrically, based around a fictional character involved in a failed assassination attempt. Inspired by the stories of figures such as John Hinckley Jr. & Samuel Byck, the EP references a number of real-world events, related literature and social phenomena.
Favourite track: 'Flickering Blinds'
3) Variant Sea - Season of Mists - October, 2015
An achingly beautiful collection of songs from Dublin duo Luke Duffy and Shell Dooley, aka Variant Sea, here's what I said about Season of Mists back in October; 'By the time you've finished listening to 'Gathering Swallows', and managed to catch your emotions, you see Season of Mists as a whole rather than four individual tracks. That's not to say that they are indistinguishable, there are subtle yet noticeable differences, from restrained to dramatic, and that's what makes this set of songs so special, you have been lifted through moods and feelings by Variant Sea and you didn't even know it, until the second listen, or was it the third or fourth...'
Favourite track: 'River Sallows'
4) Segrasso - Too Late and No - September, 2015
Shoe-gaze, jangle-pop, hard rock, punk, Dublin band Segrasso cram it all into both their live sets and their sophomore E.P., the truly excellent Too Late and No, from September's review; 'Unsurprisingly Segrasso have produced another very strong recording with their second E.P., it's hard to shake the feeling that this all comes terribly naturally to them and they're just here to have a good time, whilst making great music of a of an almost forgotten recent vintage with their own stylistic twist.'
Favourite track: 'Blue Rose'
5) Saramai - Red Moon - November, 2015
With a voice that will knock for six, and lyrical depth, Navan singer-songwriter Saramai Leech has released one of the best Irish E.P.'s of 2015 without a shadow of a doubt. She recently played the main event at the legendary Other Voices in Dingle, Co. Kerry and is currently planning another E.P. release for the Spring. From last months review;'Red Moon is a debut showcase that spoils the listener rotten, the fact that it was recorded live and in just the one take just adds to how impressive it is. Add to that that 'Fall A While' is one of the most moving Irish tracks I've heard this year and probably in longer, and I know I absolutely have to see this artist live, and soon.'
Favourite track: 'Fall A While'
6) Cut Once - Cut Once - March, 2015
Cut Once - 'Playing With Fire'
Urban electro double act Cut Once released their 5-track debut E.P. in March and it's an example of just how far Irish acts are pushing boundaries with music these days, my own thoughts; 'Cut Once's E.P. is different, the tracks are all different from each other, and it works, both Heffernan and Browne have left everything at the door and gone au natural, and it's quite refreshing.'
Favourite track: 'Playing With Fire' (above video)
7) Noel O'Brien - Noel O'Brien - May, 2015
This debut E.P. from recent BIMM graduate Noel O'Brien impressed me greatly, the Tipperary 21-year-old cites Nick Drake, Dylan and John Martyn as influences and he shows a maturity beyond his years on this collection of five tracks. From my June review; 'While we have 5 solid tracks presented to us I found that the final one, 'Reprise', really stopped me in my tracks, it is heart-wrenching emotionally and the echoed effects add significantly to the overall atmosphere. The minor experimental tweaks at the end of it make you feel as though you've witnessed a progression in the space of just one recording, from opening to close, all of it thoroughly enjoyable and providing glimpses of even better things to come.'
Favourite track: 'Reprise'
8) Trick Mist - Jars in Rows - October, 2015
Trick Mist - 'Tummy Speak'
Dundalk ex-pat based in Manchester, Gavin Murray, released his debut solo E.P., Jars in Rows recently, a proper grower, Murray's deep-toned voice adding immeasurably to a wide-ranging experimental project which is ongoing with different visual artists creating videos for each of the E.P.'s five tracks. The more I listen to Trick Mist's first offering, the more I marvel at it; 'Trick Mist has presented a strong and very different debut that displays an undoubted ability to conjure up magic, like a conductor bringing order to the potential chaos of the many sounds that have spilled from his head and into our ears.'
Favourite track: 'Tampering Happy'
9) Rachael Lavelle - Superman - October, 2015
A striking, beautiful and atmospheric debut E.P. from Dublin singer-songwriter Rachael Lavelle with Superman, I was unable to attach her vocals to any other artist and was impressed by the confidence in her music and lyrical ability; 'The E.P.'s title track bursts with drama and strongly resembles a late 1960's / early 1970's song-writing tradition, the strings are rich and deep in tone and her vocals are especially pleasing here, musically it reminds me of something from Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left. Lavelle completes her introductory set of songs perfectly with 'Robot'; 'I was born a baby, I will die a robot...if this is where we're going I don't want to follow, my mind may be numb but my heart isn't hollow..'
Favourite track: 'Robot'
10) Heroes in Hiding - Decorated Absence - May, 2015
Heroes in Hiding - 'Casanova'
Few indie rock bands have worked as tirelessly and relentlessly over the past two years as Dublin five-piece Heroes in Hiding with regard to pursuing their goals and live performances. In addition there is a notable passion from HIH with regard to their love of music, and, as I witnessed first hand recently, this is conveyed on stage. Whilst all true, these platitudes are nothing without great music, and thankfully they consistently write highly enjoyable songs which range from alternative folk to indie-tinged pop and of course good old rock. On Decorated Absence, their second EP, I observed; 'you get the feeling Heroes In Hiding's music has skipped a number of progressive steps and reached a degree of maturity very quickly. It's with no doubt and comfortable ease that I say that they are among the cream of Irish bands currently making music at this very point in time'.
Favourite track: 'Casanova'