Monday 31 March 2014

New Single - Carmen 'Take This Dance'

CARMEN, 'Take This Dance'

Info: Chanteuse CARMEN has a new single out, 'Take This Dance' in aid of a very good cause, Console, Ireland's National Suicide Charity. Thanks to for sending the single on to me and you can buy the it on iTunes here 

Irish singer-songwriter CARMEN is not one that’s unfamiliar to moving around. From moving to Silver Springs (US) to attend school in the early years of her life, she then joined the good people of county Cork further down the line, and has now resided in not one but two places to live – Dublin and London.

At 18, CARMEN won a place to study classical music at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music in London. But she’d always had an independent spirit and found herself increasingly frustrated in that environment. Her heart was elsewhere, so she packed her bags and left giving her the freedom to play the music she was really excited about.

CARMEN has recently been gaining steady industry support due to her distinct voice and writing style. Whilst ‘Take This Dance’ is the first track she is making available as a solo artist, she has toured, performed and recorded with many well-known acts including Sinead O’Connor, Andrea Corr, Noisettes, The Kooks, Kate Ceberano and she’s even played Reading and Leeds with metal singer Serj Tankien. CARMEN’s songwriting has been compared on numerous occasions to that of the classic singer-songwriters of the 1970’s.

 ‘Take This Dance’ features prominently in Ridley Scott Associates film The Phone Call directed by Mat Kirkby, which stars Oscar winner Jim Broadbent and Sally Hawkins. It premiered at the Los Angeles Film Fest in 2013 and so far has been shown at London BFI Film festival, Cork Film Festival and won the ‘Audience Appreciation Award’ at Leeds Film Festival. The song was produced by legendary Irish record producer John Reynolds (Sinead O’Connor, U2, Damien Dempsey).

For more info visit;

Thursday 27 March 2014

Bold Things - New Single & Upcoming E.P.

Bold Things, 'Fillings'

Info: Our favourite exiles have a new single out, 'Fillings' (see above video) starring Laura Finnegan and it's proof that Bold Things are developing their sound in exciting new directions with each release. 'Fillings' has a dark, sometimes menacing vibe about it but the most interesting aspect of the song is seeing the band put more emphasis on an electro sound which compliments the already excellent instrumental set up of guitar, drums and vocals. In the words of the lads themselves; ''Fillings' runs on a simmering sense of frustration. It grows from a pent-up rage and eventually spirals out euphorically capturing the end of one phase and the quiet excitement of something new.' The video for the track was made in Hackney Downs in London by Freddie Leyden.

Bold Things, 'Swallows End'

It's exciting times for Bold Things and you get the sense that they are on the cusp of taking off with a new E.P. due out shortly which will bring together in one place their releases to date. From a selfish perspective I would be hoping to see 3 songs in particular on the upcoming record with 'Fillings', 3 tracks I have been hooked on over the last 2 months, 'Love The Bomb', 'Hearts Ajar' and my personal favourite 'Swallows End' (above). It's difficult to compare Bold Things to other artists either current or that have gone before, which is a good thing, but if I was to take a stab there are elements in 'Swallows End' of Whipping Boys 'We Don't Need Nobody Else' from the Heartworm album, but also early Interpol in terms of mood from 'Turn On The Bright Lights', the New York band's debut album. Aside from those small references it's clear Bold Things have a unique sound of their own, haunting guitars and drumming and optimistic if almost heartbroken vocals make for a wonderful sound that becomes more rewarding with each listen. Hats off to these guys, it's going to be very interesting to see where they're at in 12 months time, so long as there are no Yoko's or Spinal Tap-esque rifts we should be in for a treat.

*** FREE Bold Things downloads available on SoundCloud ***

Bold Things are Jim O'Donoghue Martin, Gavin Murray, Ian Patterson and Ronan McGeough, they're from Dundalk, and currently reside in London.

Next performance - The Yardlife Festival, Sunday, 20th April

For more info check out their website

And if you do nothing else today show them some love on Twitter, Facebook or SoundCloud, or all three!


Wednesday 26 March 2014

New E.P. Release - Abandcalledboy

Info: At the start of last month I did an introductory piece on Northern Irish rockers Abandcalledboy and their excellent video / track, 'Cliff Richard'. The band have now completed recording of their second self-titled E.P. which contains 7 hard hitting tracks, and doesn't disappoint. Describing themselves as similar to early Biffy Clyro, Reuben, Husker Du and Kerbdog, I can also see musical similarities with Californian hard rockers, Queens of the Stone Age. The E.P. will be released on the 8th of April on the Dead Academic Records label which will be followed by a U.K. Tour. The E.P. contains the aforementioned 'Cliff Richard' (see below) which was unsurprisingly the Hot Press music video of the fortnight in February. Other stand out tracks on the forthcoming release are opening track 'Another Meat Industry' and 'Serotonin' combining fast-paced drums and electrifying guitar in addition to the customary humour in the lyrics. Fingers crossed we'll see the guys in Dublin at some stage this year and maybe get to do a bit of crowd-surfing!

So what's the deal with Abandcalledboy? Abandcalledboy are an Alt-Rock three piece from Northern Ireland. They have been featured on BBC 6 Music 'Introducing with Tom Robinson', BBC Radio 1 on the ‘Introducing show with Phil Taggart’, BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Across the Line’ and have shared a stage with bands including: Rolo Tomassi, The Futureheads, And So I Watch You From Afar, LaFaro and Fighting With Wire.

The band have been constantly touring Ireland since bassist Mark Finnegan joined in late 2012. Debut EP 'Dead Academics' was released in early 2013 on Irish label Chew Your Own Fat to critical acclaim. April 2014 will see the band release their biggest release to date, a self-titled 7-track EP. The band will complete their first UK Tour in April 2014 and have already planned to return at the end of the year. In February 2014 new single "Cliff Richard" was selected by Hot Press magazine as their 'Video Of The Fortnight'.

Abandcalledboy are Ryan Burrowes, Adam Smith and Mark Finnegan and you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and check out their Bandcamp & SoundCloud pages too:

Tuesday 25 March 2014

New Irish Music - Heroes in Hiding

Info: From ponderous musings to powerful outbursts Dublin band Heroes in Hiding seem to have a good grasp of the auld art of song-writing. After a long barren spell for music in Dublin, hearing their new E.P. along with other bands which have been recently reviewed, gives you hope. Title track from the E.P. 'Hush' (see below) has a very Fleet Foxes feel to it, but the band are by no means restricted to uplifting folky music. The other three tracks from the recording, 'Bruises', 'Smoke Signals' and in particular the beautiful 'Star-Crossed' are evidence of a bow with more than one string, drifting from catchy indie-rock to an 80's feel before recapturing the exciting sound of early 90's Dublin bands, it's a very pleasant mix.

So who are Heroes in Hiding exactly and where can we see them? Dublin band, Heroes in Hiding, have returned to the Irish Music Scene after a 3-year hiatus. The now 4-piece folk rock outfit has just released a 4 track EP for free download on the 23rd March 2014 on Spotify, Sound Cloud and BandCamp. This release has been accompanied by a new Music Video for the title track off the EP, Hush. The band will take to the stage for their first headline show in 3 years on Friday 13th June 2014 in the Grand Social in Dublin. This show will be to celebrate the official release of their second EP, Can’t Dance, on the 6th June to iTunes and all major digital distribution outlets. Tickets are now on sale for this show on for only €8.

Heroes in Hiding, 'Star-Crossed'

Do check out the band's SoundCloud page and give them a follow on Twitter and a Like on Bookface, they deserve it.

Saturday 15 March 2014

A Brief History of Music & Me

Having been born at the turn of the decade that was the 80’s, I can pretty much write off the first 10 years of my life in terms of musical interest, after all, I was only 10 years of age when Public Enemy released Fear of a Black Planet, The Pixies had Bossanova out, and the god of soundtracks, Danny Elfman’s latest gig was Edward Scissorhands (how did that guy ever go for a piss without, you know?). My earliest memories of music was sitting on the floor of our living room in Ranelagh in the mid-eighties, at 6am on a Saturday and watching music videos in between cartoons with my sister who is just over a year older than me. We used to sneak down creaky stairs, bring a box of Corn Flakes, loads of milk, and shitloads of sugar with us (a 5-year olds 2 fingers to Type II diabetes), and easily get through 8 bowls of cereal by 9am.

Ulysses 31, wtf?

In between watching cartoons such as Ulysses31, that would mess with any kids head (combined with the sugar was probably like an acid trip), we would be treated to music videos. The one’s that always stand out in my memory are A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, wishing I was in a nappy again with Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’.

Probably by virtue of the fact she was older than me, I looked up to whatever music my sister was into (for clarity, I still look up to her, but not in terms of musical taste ;) ). She used to buy ‘Smash Hits’ magazine every Saturday with the 50p pocket money we’d each get every Saturday for tidying our rooms. We’d both set off for the local newsagent, Keegans, and piss the poor lady behind the counter off by asking for a variety of penny sweets you’d need to develop an algorithm to make sense of. Afterwards, she had Yazz, Bananarama, Fine Young Cannibals, Kylie Minogue, Salt N’ Peppa, INXS and loads of other posters on her wall. I thought they were all great (yes, I did enjoy dancing to the 'Locomotion' as a child). 

As the 90’s dawned I thought I liked rave music, which when I look back is hilarious, I remember myself and other kids in primary school writing ‘E for XTC’ on our pencil cases with Tipp-Ex, not even knowing what ‘E’ was, and listening to SL2 ‘On A Ragga Tip’, The Shamen’s ‘Ebeneezer Goode’, and the still lovely Opus III’s ‘It’s A Fine Day’. Reaching my early teens it was mandatory to wear X-Worx, Petro Motion and Eclipse clothing. I remember realising the futility of such terrible fashion choices when my uncle commented on my baggy Petro Motion trousers and asked me what size they were, I replied ‘Regular’ with an indignant spotty glare, to which he replied, ‘They look like one size fits the whole family.’

As the mid-90’s approached I got swept under a wave of Britpop, and I remember one of the hottest summers Dublin ever experienced in 1996 and listening to Blur’s ‘Country House’ while studying for my Junior Cert., of course I was also into their musical rivals Oasis at the same time and remember being involved in almost relationship-shattering arguments with friends over who had more credence, thankfully a permanent schism didn’t occur and nowadays we calmly swap information on the cheapest electrical and broadband suppliers instead. In addition, I was listening to a heavy dose of The Beastie Boys Ill Communication, Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head, which I consider great albums and still listen to today.

But by god did I get knee-deep in Britpop, I was a whore for every band going, Pulp, Suede, Manic Street Preachers, my favourite of them all Longpigs (here’s ‘Lost Myself’ on TGI Friday below, check out Richard Hawley on guitar). It’s all about being a music snob in your late teens and early 20’s I reckon, deviously hunting for bands and artists that no one has ever heard of thus cementing yourself as a proto-music hipster, a decade before the word entered our lexicon. Along with the aforementioned groups if you denied the greatness of The Stone Roses and The Pixies who were at their peak 5 years earlier you would face certain ostracisation from your peers.

One day in 1996 I asked my mother about her record collection, and the old record player we had had for as long as I could remember, and as I rifled through it there was lots of 60’s and 70’s Top of the Pops albums, Herp Alpert (you know what I’m sayin’) but she also had original Beatles albums she had bought in South America during the Sixties such as Yellow Submarine, Introducing The Beatles (which I recently found out from an online expert is worth about €500) and Rubber Soul. I was completely ignorant of music before the 80’s at this stage, at 16, I put on a record for the first time, and with headphones listened to a scratchy version of Rubber Soul, and almost instantly realised I had mostly been listening to the wrong music all along. To put it in perspective, that album made me realise that there was better music made in the ‘olden days’, and I rarely listen to Rubber Soul nowadays, because it’s far from The Beatles best album, but it holds a special place in my heart.

Since that seminal moment in 1996 my appetite for music of the era grew and grew, and I discovered the wonder of 60’s / 70’s bands and artists such as King Crimson, Blue Oyster Cult, Deep Purple, John Mayall, Curtis Mayfield and many others. For me the 1970’s is the best decade of music, there are so many artists that produced incredible music during that decade, and I constantly get introduced to new ones such as The Doobie Brothers a few years ago at a jukebox in an empty pub on Wexford Street by my friend Ciaran who is a human music encyclopedia who has been known to indulge in large amounts of cheesy 70's and 80's 'hits'.

Another door that opened was a laborious project that came about when I got a present of ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’ from my better half and made it my goal to listen to every single one of them, I got through the first 500 over a 4 year period and this had the effect of once again expanding horizons and introducing me to genres I had little knowledge of such as jazz,blues and soul music in particular.

Nowadays I tend to swing from only listening to old music for prolonged periods and then going through a phase of seeking out contemporary bands and artists. With the internet and ease of access it can be daunting being faced with a massive volume of music to navigate, there are so many blogs, websites, playlists, recommendations that sometimes it’s just easier to stick to the album review sections of magazines, or one I’ve always referred to over the years, the Culture section of The Sunday Times.

The joy of finding a new album or band we like can be hard to beat, and is so rewarding if you make a discovery that you keep coming back to year after year. A great album or concert can become a timestamp laced with fond memories, from childhood, school, college and beyond, and the thought of albums that haven’t been made yet, or songs that haven’t even been written yet becoming tied to new memories is a great thing to look forward to.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Bold Things - New Track & Paddy's Day Gig @ The Dalston Victoria, London

Bold Things, 'Swallows End'

Info: Back in January I did an introductory piece on London-based Irish band Bold Things and their track 'Love The Bomb' (below) and the Dundalk lads now have a new song and video, 'Swallows End' which is immense. If you poured Joy Division, Whipping Boy, The National and 80's band Killing Joke into a pot this is what you would end up with. Having said that, the band certainly have their very own unique style which is evidenced by their breath of styles across all of their songs to date. 

'Swallows End' is, in my opinion, their best track to date and may hint at a steadier musical direction the band are heading in. It's refreshing to hear an Irish band that is markedly different to their peers and if success in terms of following doesn't meet with Bold Things it will be a travesty. It's the first song the band recorded in London and in their own words it deals in place, love and excitement.

For all of you ex-pats in London, it would be great if you could make their gig for Paddy's Day, on Saturday the 15th of March at The Dalston Victoria, on Queensbridge Road, London, E8 the gig is also free and you could top it off by sharing war stories with your fellow exiles! 

The sooner we get these chaps back home for a performance the better, the future looks very bright, here's another two excellent tracks below, 'Hearts Ajar' and 'Love The Bomb'. If you like the songs be sure to Like their Bookface page and here's their website for further info

Friday 7 March 2014

Tycho - Awake (2014)

Tycho, 'Montana'

Info: Tycho (aka ISO50) is the performance name of Scott Hansen from Sacramento, California who spent his 20's as a graphic designer before a serious injury led to him being stuck at home for a prolonged period. During this time, at the age of 24, he started creating his own music culminating in the release of 2003's The Science of Patterns E.P., however, it has only been in the last few years that he has focused more on this area of creativity. 

Awake is the fourth album from Hansen following on from 2011's Dive which was really the first major step toward establishing himself as a full-time musician. His sound has been widely described as similar to Boards of Canada, and it is definitely ambient music, but with a bit more energy than you'd usually expect, on my first listen to the single and title track 'Awake' I was thinking The XX after mysteriously waking up one morning and attempting to make upbeat music. 

The album is short enough, it's 8 tracks only run to 36 minutes but given the genre this is no bad thing, you could arguably have tracks that endlessly meander on for 10-11 minutes so in a way it's refreshing to have a recording that doesn't overstretch. Aside from the 3 singles on the album, all of which are excellent, ('Awake', 'Montana' - above & 'Spectre'), I also quite enjoyed third track 'L', a very, very mellow floaty song, and the fifth track 'See' which really feels like a late 90's early 00's first stab at chillwave, with a tiny but noticeable hint of Groove Armada Vertigo era.

This album is a real pleasure to listen to and repeated listens make it grow on you exponentially! It's probably one of those 'selfish albums' you have to listen to on your own, or in certain social circumstances....

The album is released on 18th of March, at present there are no Irish gigs planned. 

Rating: 4 / 5