Saturday, 30 March 2019

Irish Playlist #053: Uly, Old Hannah, Third Smoke, Lisa Hannigan, SYLK & more

Uly - Redlight
Uly - Photo: Niko Salvino

With Q1 of 2019 now coming to end, to use corporate parlance, the early signs for this year are delightfully promising. During the week I went back over the singles reviewed since the New Year here on REMY and in attempt to be organised, started populating my end of year playlist, yes, yes, frightfully early. Where last year I had originally planned on a Top 50 Irish singles, eventually pushing out to the aesthetically unpleasing number of 60, so far I'm already at over 30 songs. It's a benchmark of sorts, as some years don't have the same volume of great music, it's just how it is from time to time, 2019 is looking very good so far however, and I think this particular playlist is a good exemplar of that.

1) Uly - 'redlight'

Mississippi goddamn! The new single from multi-instrumentalist Rafino M.J. Murphy, 'redlight', is, to quote menthol cigarette brand Consulate's tagline - cool as a mountain stream. A gorgeously velvet bass and beat get the sway in motion on this lo-fi jam of jams, you could administer this instead of anaesthetic. Hints of jazz, funk and deep soul wash all around, reminiscent of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, BADBADNOTGOOD's last album and melding into California's Astronauts, etc., Murphy has talent to burn, and it's so loose and carefree I can barely handle it.

2) Third Smoke - 'We Run in Bare Feet'

A much more intense indie-rock affair from Third Smoke compared to their previous singles, the quintet opt for rattling columns of sound on 'We Run in Bare Feet'. With multiple injections of joy coming from all angles, I'm tempted to say this is their best single to date, but it's a tough call as their sound varies enough across their tracks. A pounding drive of bass, percussion and electric guitar first push and then drive frontman Hugh Donlon's vocal to celestial heights. I love it.

3) Old Hannah - 'The Way Light Falls Upon Water'

A dictionary example of executing the perfect slow build, 'The Way Light Falls Upon Water' from Old Hannah exudes an intoxicating calm, a patient rise arches assertively towards the end game. There are so many delightful subtleties, one example being that drop right at 2:31, it's simple, short, but majestic. Musically the easy label would be Fleetwood Mac, but the flute throws us off that scent, nodding more towards something along the lines of King Crimson's 'I Talk To The Wind'. Alongside a stunning music video by Peter Martin, the appetite is fully whet for the release of their debut album Borealis in three weeks time.

4) Lisa Hannigan, stargaze - 'Bookmark' (Live in Dublin)

Taken from Lisa Hannigan's forthcoming Live in Dublin album (out 31st of May), 'Bookmark' features neo-classical composer André de Ridder and his stargaze orchestra. The opening strings set a tense and foreboding tone, Hannigan's voice is the guide we can trust as we embark on an ancient voyage to the underworld, a soundtrack to Dante's Inferno, dodging danger and death before finally arriving in Paradiso. Gorgeous and haunting in equal measure.

5) SYLK - 'That's on You'

Dublin duo SYLK have at this stage carved out an instantly recognisable sound for themselves, warped and dark industrial electronic soundwaves with a beat and vocal effects that veer toward grime and trap. Collaborating once again with producer Daragh Locke, 'That's on You' is disturbingly withdrawn from reality with an unsettling and suffocating lethargy. The drone skulks like a slow-moving and menacing behemoth, and perhaps the darkest thing about their latest single is that it doesn't 'take off'.

6) Nogymx - 'Eunoia'

Korea-based DIY Irish electronic act Nogymx brings in a noticeable Oriental flourish to his latest single 'Eunoia' courtesy of keys and effects. There's a sweetness to this breezy lament that somehow feels familiar, like fondly remembering an old acquaintance, perhaps this is sourced from the crackling vinyl sound. Haute chill zone and generously giving to the listener.

7) Alice Robinson - 'Bonnie'

Dundalk singer-songwriter Alice Robinson released the follow-up to last year's debut single 'Rise' this week. 'Bonnie' takes a 90's grunge sound and pebble-dashes it with a mixture of theatrical vocals and chunky guitars, it's a catchy affair that mixes mellow passages with dramatic peaks as Robinson continues to hone her sound. 

8) Badhands - 'Like a Man'

Hints of Leonard Cohen's 'The Partisan' pop up in the acoustic intro of the new single from Dublin singer-songwriter Dan Fitzpatrick, aka Badhands. The former The Mighty Stef and Maud in Cahoots man whisks up a potion of warm and morose atmospherics on 'Like a Man' from last year's debut LP Predictable Boy. Fitzpatrick's deep tone is very inviting and the balladeer's dirge is a really nice example of an old world bedrock topped with a contemporary folk polish.

9) Dean Maywood - 'Knowing & Lying'

Maywood once again channels painful emotion in a most tender manner on new single 'Knowing & Lying'. One of the things I find most appealing about his song-writing is how he feeds the desire for raw and stripped back acoustic guitar but avoids allowing it to become tiresome and samey. The traditional singer-songwriter can get a bad rap, but once again here we have really well executed passages that break up the song, such as the echoed vocal at 2:26 and introduction of harmonica that sounds like it's playing to an empty auditorium, filling the space with ease.

10) Any Joy - 'The Sea'

Cork psych and indie band Any Joy cross-over so many styles that I love that a few listens are required to grasp them in their entirety. Despite this 'The Sea' captures your interest straight away. Off the top of the head parts of Temples album Sun Structures or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club spring to mind. The song structure appears chaotic but somehow flows well as the just over 3 minutes zips by.