Monday 30 June 2014

Milky Chance - Sadnecessary (2014)

Milky Chance, 'Stolen Dance'

Info: Milky Chance are German duo Clemens Rehbein (vocals) and Philipp Dausch who originally released their debut album, Sadnecessary, in October of last year, it now get's it's Irish release on July 4th. Clemens and Philipp met in an "Advanced Music Course" at the start of eleventh grade, and they immediately gelled when it came to music. They played in a local band until graduation, even though the group disbanded, Clemens and Philipp kept on making music. Weaving together elegant electronic production with acoustic guitars and lilting, lush vocals, they harnessed a style unequivocally their own. 

Last year in their tiny self-built studio the duo cut Sadnecessary and last summer they released it on their own Lichtdicht Records in Europe. Within a few weeks, lead single ‘Stolen Dance’ had reached number one on Hype Machine. The above single, 'Stolen Dance' has gone to number 1 in 6 European countries and the video itself has a staggering 43,000,000+ views on YouTube. To date ‘Stolen Dance’ has also topped iTunes and Shazam charts across the world and was BBC Radio 1’s Record of the Day and song of the week on Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM. 

Milky Chance, 'Down By The River'

What's the ablum like? The sound is very much folktronica (it's a genre!) with a very strong reggae style in both vocals and music, think Finley Quaye meets Alt-J with some sinister Joe Strummer moments á la 'Guns of Brixton' on Sadnecessary's fifth track, 'Feathery', for example.  

When I first watched the video for 'Stolen Dance' it was immediately obvious why the track was so popular in Europe and Australia, it's a snappy but slightly pensive track and Rehbein's vocals are gritty and soothing at the same time. What really took me by surprise, however, was after listening to the album from start to finish for the very first time I realised there wasn't a single bad track on the recording, and to be perfectly honest I didn't want it to end, even with the two bonus tracks, 'Feathery' and 'Loveland' which are alternative versions of songs already on the album. 

While someone might initially perceive Milky Chance as a solid feel-good act, there is far more depth to the music on Sadnecessary and one of the albums strengths is it's versatility, verging from folk-pop to acoustic, to reggae, to yes, you guessed it, folktronica. There's also that rare ability at play where Rehbein's sometimes pained vocals are contrasted with Dausch's optimistic music, as on title track 'Sadnecessary' and reggae beauty 'Fairytale', which also has small shades of fellow German DJ, Paul Kalkbrenner's beats.

Sadnecessary is an album that takes you along whether you want to or not and ultimately is a thoroughly enjoyable listen from start to finish and I have to say personally I'm delighted I came across it, it's a keeper.

Rating: 4 / 5

Friday 27 June 2014

Concert Review - Jack White, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin

Photo by: David James Swanson

Jack White & Alison Mosshart, 'Love Interruption' credit: acquiescefc

Not even the pouring rain could dampen the....ah, it was worse than that, it was pissing rain, Monsoon in the Museum it could have been billed as, but as expected, it was well worth it, there were times when Jack White's presence and musicianship (and dat ocean blue suit) was so good all your brain could concentrate on was the stage and you forgot about the worst day of the year weather-wise. Having seen White play in the O2 in Dublin two years ago at what is still up there as one of the best live performances I've seen, I knew to expect a similar performance and the iconic maestro did not disappoint. It was my first time going to a live event at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and I have to say it was very well organised, similar to Marlay Park as an outdoor venue, no long queues for drink or food and the luxury of being able to get as close to the stage as you want without any great trouble, the polar opposite of the disastrous Phoenix Park.

As with his previous gig in Dublin we were treated to an array of songs from all of his previous incarnations, The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and a solid chunk of his first solo album, the excellent, Blunderbuss as well as plenty of tracks off Lazaretto which was released two weeks ago. Kicking off with a thumping 'High Ball Stepper' (with a pinch of Kanye West's 'New Slaves'), the first single from the new album, followed by the Stripes' 'Dead Leaves in the Dirty Ground', which is probably one of my own personal favourites of theirs, he wound through another 15 tracks before the encore. There was 'Hotel Yorba', of course, 'Ball & Biscuit', 'You've Got Her In Your Pocket', 'You Don't Know What Love Is' and 'Hello Operator' by The White Stripes as well as 'Top Yourself' and 'Old Enough' by The Raconteurs. 

Photo by: David James Swanson

About two thirds of the way into the show things slowed down a bit and one of the highlights at this point was another track from Blunderbuss, 'Love Interruption' for which Jack did a duet with Alison Mosshart who was in The Dead Weather with him and is currently in The Kills who were the support act on the evening. White also ensured he kept in touch with the saturated masses and tried to raise spirits with a good deal (not too much) of interaction with the crowd, from sing-a-alongs to banter and graciously thanking everyone for joining him on such a shitty evening, at one point, in solidarity with the rest of us, he stood at the very edge of the stage in the rain, but not for long!

Jack White, Why Can't You Be Nicer' / 'Top Yourself' credit: acquiescefc

If there's one thing you get from a Jack White concert, apart from seeing a living legend who can put on a breath-taking live performance, it's bang for your buck. The crowd were treated to a whopping 25 song set, with 8 of them coming in the encore. The encore was like a condensed greatest hits of his discography plus 2 covers, The Stooges' 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' and blues great Lead Belly's 'Goodnight, Irene', which was played after the PA and all systems were switched off, acoustically with The Kills, he just didn't want to go home. Other tracks during the encore were pleasers such as 'Icky Thump', 'Fell In Love With A Girl', 'Steady As She Goes' and of course 'Seven Nation Army'. To round up the evening I slipped into my Star Wars pyjamas (at home, not at the venue) and sipped on a wee dram of sambuca to warm my innards and contemplated many things, one part of that sentence is true.

In a recent review of his new album, Lazaretto, I remarked how it had me a little bit underwhelmed in comparison to his first solo effort, Blunderbuss, which was outstanding, but I think for now, I'll just have to spend a bit more time with the new album, and hope that his next one reaches new heights. I also hope it's not another two years before Jack White comes back to play in Ireland because his live shows are guaranteed to be 110% entertaining and leave you with a distinct sense of satisfaction.

N.B. *** A very special thank you to YouTuber and fellow Jack White fan acquiescefc for kindly allowing me to use his footage from last night's concert for videos of 'Love Interruption' & 'Why Can't You Be Nicer / Top Yourself', he did a great job considering the deluge of rain and freezing cold hands! He has lots of great live videos from concerts such as Tenacious D, Queens of the Stone Age, Manic Street Preachers, The Rolling Stones and many more, well worth subscribing to his channel here acquiescefc

Photo by Remy Connolly

Thursday 26 June 2014

Interview with Earthship & New E.P. Proximity Effect

Earthship, 'The Great Wheel'

Who are they? Earthship were originally a five-piece jazz / funk outfit who have evolved into an electro-pop group while successfully retaining elements of their roots. The band are made up of vocalist Paula Higgins, bassist Karl Clews, keyboardist Mark Farrelly, guitarist Eoghan Judge and drummer Bart Kiely, all of whom hail from the West of our beautiful island. 

What's Happening? You couldn't pick a better time of year for the release of Earthship's debut E.P., Proximity Effect, which is going to be out on the 11th of July and any self-respecting DJ would be adding enormously to our summer by giving any of the four infectious tracks airplay. The band are also intensively touring the country in July playing 10 venues throughout the month taking in Cork, Clare, Galway, Kerry and Dublin (see dates below).

Karl kindly took a break from slappin' da bass to answer a few questions for me for which I'm very grateful, without further ado....!

Remy: It’s instantly apparent listening to the Proximity Effect’s title track, ‘The Great Wheel’, that you have a jazz-funk sound, which might be considered an alternative genre on the Irish music scene, do you think it will limit your potential fanbase, or are Irish music fans a lot more open-minded these days?

Karl: It’s funny that you say that our ‘jazz-funk sound’ is ‘instantly apparent’ … because we actually thought we’d done a good job of hiding it! Not good enough, obviously! It’s true that we started out as an instrumental jazz-funk-fusion band, but pretty quickly discovered that there was a limited market for that kind of music here in Ireland – not among the music fans, ironically, who have always enjoyed our live shows, instrumental or not, but among promoters and venue owners. The biggest obstacle for us on the Irish music scene has never been a lack of people who want to come and hear what we do – it’s been the reluctance of promoters and venue owners to book us because they’re convinced that their clientele won’t want to hear jazz, funk, fusion or anything that doesn’t have vocals. Our experience, however, has always been that, when they get the chance to hear something a bit different from the norm, Irish music fans are very open-minded. The problem is that those in charge of booking music are reluctant to take a chance on anything that isn’t necessarily the flavour of the month, and especially not on anything that smells of jazz – which appears to be something of a dirty word here in Ireland . So, with the Proximity Effect EP, we were trying for a more ‘pop’ sound – toning down the jazz-funk elements, bringing the vocals to the forefront, and sticking to a 4-minute pop format – as a means to open up more gigging opportunities, the idea being that maybe promoters wouldn’t spot straight away that we’re a jazz-funk band in disguise! The fact that you spotted it immediately suggests we didn’t quite accomplish that. Maybe a leopard can’t change his spots. Or the funk just can’t be contained.

Remy: Cited influences include Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Weather Report among others, were these artists that the band members in general would have grown up with from a very early age via parents (i.e. a record player at home), or was it in later youth that they were discovered?

Karl: No, none of us grew up in households where jazz and fusion were regularly played – do such households even exist??! We all found our own way into that music through more popular forms: for example, through 70s funk, disco and soul (Parliament, Earth Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder), 80s Britfunk (Level 42, Incognito, Light Of The World), and 90s acid-jazz (Jamiroquai, Brand New Heavies). This was the music we heard as kids, either on our parents’ record players or in the pop charts, and as you get into a particular artist and you become curious about where this music was coming from, you generally feel compelled to seek out their influences. And it just so happened that guys like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock are just a couple of the influences that all these artists we were hearing had in common.

Remy: The Irish music scene has expanded rapidly over the last decade, do you think that’s necessarily a good thing, or does it pose certain problems for new acts?

Karl: It’s not an issue that’s unique to Ireland. The number of people who classify themselves as musical artists has exploded globally, as a result of advances in recording software. It obviously used to be the case that to even get anywhere near making a professional quality, commercial recording, you had to prove yourself first – as a live performer and as a songwriter with potential commercial appeal – so that a label would pick you up and pay for you to go into a studio. The labels acted as a filter system, of sorts. Nowadays, anyone with a half-decent laptop can record a commercial release-quality track in a bedroom, and send it out to the world via YouTube. You don’t need to be able to play or sing in time or in tune, or even play an instrument at all. Samples and loops for any instrument are available freely all over the internet, and any timing or tuning issues can be fixed in the mix. You don’t even really need much knowledge of song-writing any more – countless hit songs from the last few years consist simply of the same three or four chords looped ad infinitum. I’m not saying this is a bad thing – tastes change over the years: it just means that to make something that can do well in the charts today, you no longer need the kind of knowledge of musical theory and song-writing chops that bands like Steely Dan or Toto had to make something that can do well in the charts today. Any herbert can, in theory, make a hit song. There’s no filter any more. There’s almost too much music out there, and the internet as a delivery system makes it a completely level playing field. So there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but there’s also a lot of rubbish. And no one has the time to sift through it all for the gems.

Remy: With a name like Earthship, the E.P. title Proximity Effect and samples on tracks with clear references to the great beyond, is there an undercurrent of astronomic and scientific wonder running through Earthship’s music?!

Karl: Well spotted. Yes, we’re all geeks at heart. Comic book nerds and science fiction fans. It’s something of a tradition in jazz-fusion circles – numerous 70's fusion bands, like Return To Forever, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Sun Ra composed whole albums that were essentially intergalactic odysseys rendered in music. I don’t know, it’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek stance, but there is definitely a certain correlation between our finding wonder and delight in science and technology, and wanting to use that technology to convey a similar feeling to others, and between our fascination with the exploration of space, the unknown and possible futures, and a desire to explore in an artistic medium, to make sounds and create soundscapes that have never been heard before.

Remy: At times Paula’s vocals remind me a lot of Beth Gibbons from Portishead or Kelli Ali from Sneaker Pimps, both very successful acts from the 90’s, aside from the 70’s artists mentioned previously, are there any more contemporary artists that have influenced Earthship’s sound?

Karl: Well, we’ve already mentioned a few more influences from the 80's and 90's in an earlier answer. But as for current artists … something happened in the 90's, whether it was the Simon-Cowellization of pop music or some other sea change in the tastes of the music-buying public, or this breakdown in the filter system we’ve already talked about, I don’t know. But the kinds of artists making the kind of music we like stopped getting into the charts or onto mainstream radio. They’re still out there, but they’re underground. They’re quietly plugging away, making a living touring, but they’re never going to sell millions of albums. So we could mention some names, but they may not mean much to many of your readers. For the record, though, Snarky Puppy is a band we all admire, along with The Robert Glasper Experiment, for the way they’re pushing the boundaries of what we call jazz nowadays. In a more soulful style, Meshell Ndegeocello’s albums are always interesting and challenging, in a good way. And if you want sheer funk, there’s nobody doing it better today than Dumpstaphunk. At the other end of the scale, though, we’d admit to having a soft spot for Pharrell Williams and Daft Punk – they’re keeping the spirit of the funk alive in a way that is still appealing to a mass audience. So you’ll certainly hear echoes of all these artists in Earthship’s sound.

Remy: You have a pretty hectic summer touring schedule coming up where you’ll be criss-crossing the country playing local venues, are there any plans to play at any of the forthcoming music festivals such as Electric Picnic where you have previously performed?

Karl: To be honest, we’ve missed out on a lot of the festivals this year, simply because at the time when we should have been applying to them, we were locked in the studio, recording the new EP! It was an all-consuming business, and unfortunately, none of us thought to look up and check what time it was … We get very blinkered when we’re in the studio! But we’ll be at LightColourSound in Kilkenny, and the Dream Gathering Festival in Cork, and we’re hoping to be on the bill again at the Cork Jazz Festival this year – we’ve had a great response there the last three years.

Remy: Who is going to be in charge of making your tour bus playlist before you hit the road in July?

Karl: Tour bus? If only! No, we can’t afford a tour bus – we’ll be stuffing as many of us and as much equipment as we can into as few cars as possible. Whoever is still able to reach the car stereo by that stage is by default in charge of the playlist.

Remy: Is there an Irish act / musician past or present that you would particularly admire?

Karl: Honestly, it’s difficult, because there are so few Irish acts, past or present, that we can identify with. There are a few from the past that we can admit to admiring, but that is definitely ‘admire’ in the sense of ‘I can respect what he/she has achieved’, rather than ‘I like his/her music’. As Earthship’s bass player, my ears always prick up when I hear Thin Lizzy – Phil Lynott was a unique bass player with a very immediately identifiable sound and style on the instrument – too many players today, of any instrument, have a homogenous, ‘fits all sizes’ sound with no distinct personality. We have a certain admiration for Van Morrison, too, for the way he was able to bring a jazz sensibility into the mainstream for Irish audiences. But that doesn’t make playing Brown-Eyed Girl with various wedding bands every weekend any less painful for us! As for up-and-coming Irish acts that we’d recommend, there are some exciting artists coming out of Limerick at the moment, including GodKnows and Leading Armies. And we keep crossing paths with a band, originally from West Cork, now living in Dublin, called Mongoose, who are definitely destined for big things, in some form or another!

Remy: Do you still buy physical albums any more or, like a lot of people, is it mostly digital content, and when at home do you still prefer the actual act of putting on a CD or record or is digital just more practical?

Karl: It’s sad but true that the digital format has taken over. Each of us in the band grew up with CDs, and many of us spent our Saturdays as teenagers rifling through racks of vinyl in second-hand record shops. Those dog-eared cardboard sleeves, and the tiny CD booklets, were essential to our musical education, and it’s probably true to say that we wouldn’t be the musicians we are today if we hadn’t been able to find out, for example, that it was Doug Rauch who played bass on Santana’s ‘Caravanserai’ or Branford Marsalis who played sax on Sting’s ‘Dream Of The Blue Turtles’ just by reading the credits in the liner notes. There is a whole galaxy of musical discovery that is being phased out by digital downloads: the album as an artistic statement in itself is disappearing as fans now cherry-pick the hits from any given release, rather than downloading an album in its entirety. And more often than not, digital albums don’t come with liner notes at all: you have to turn to Google if you want to find out who played drums on such-and-such a One Direction track, if that information is even available. So, yes, I’ll still buy CDs when I can, but the selection available in most Irish record stores is woeful, so it’s more likely I’ll get them from somewhere like Amazon in any case. But even then, once I’ve read and digested the liner notes, I tend to rip the audio from the CD straight to iTunes and my iPod, and the CD will go into storage. Digital has its practicalities, and we wouldn’t be true geeks if we didn’t espouse those advantages, but, unfortunately, a little of the magic of buying and enjoying music has been lost along the way.

Remy: Some bands say they spend so much time in music venues that the last place they want to be in their free time is at a gig or a concert, do you feel the same way or do you still enjoy heading to see other bands / artists perform?

Karl: - Yes, it’s true, if you play music every evening, and listen to music most of the day, your ears are bound to get tired. Sometimes you just need a bit of quiet! But it’s important to show your support for fellow bands, to make an effort to go out and hear them play whenever you can. Many of our fans are musicians themselves, and we appreciate the effort they make to come and hear us play, so we have to return the compliment whenever we can.  We’re all in this together. And of course, being the music fans that we are, we still get excited when we get to hear our musical heroes. Obviously, we all have different ‘best concerts we’ve ever been to’, but personally, it was seeing the Neville Brothers at a jazz festival in Nancy, France, back in the 90's: three of the greatest soul voices on the planet in one band, a musical heritage that encompasses everything from doo-wop through funk to hip-hop, and the perfect setting, made it an unforgettable concert.

Remy: Coming from the West of Ireland, do you ever wish there was a West Coast / East Coast rivalry in Ireland like the old hip-hop one in the United States and you could get a bit of a buzz playing on rivals turf when you’re playing in Leinster, or are you happy with the way things are?!

Karl: In our experience, that rivalry exists, but not between the East Coast and West Coast, rather between Dublin and the rest of Ireland! There’s a very distinct Dublin music scene, and it can be hard for a band from outside of Dublin to be taken seriously there. There are a number of organisations in Dublin doing some great work in contemporary jazz and funk, running festivals and special events all year round, and some great venues that specialize in the kind of music we play and love, and Earthship has tried on numerous occasions to get involved, to no avail. Very few artists ever emerge from the blue, fully formed in isolation; every artist benefits from a scene, a sense of community, from gigging with and being associated with similar acts. There’s a cross-pollination of fans and influences and ideas, and pooled resources can achieve so much more than any individual artist in isolation. It’s not rivalry we’re looking for, it’s that sense of community, and it’s difficult to find or establish that in a country in which music promoters are so wary of the words ‘jazz’ and ‘funk’, and the very institutions that purport to exist to promote such music are on the other side of the country and, for whatever reason, seem reluctant to admit artists from outside of Dublin. But it’s still early days for us, we’ve lots of work to do, and we have our sights set on the European scene ultimately, so it’s not something we dwell on particularly. In any case, we’ve four Dublin dates lined up for the tour in July, so with a bit of luck we’ll open a few eyes and ears while we’re there.

Thanks again Karl and be sure to check Earthship out this summer and give them a bit of social media lovin'!

Earthship Tour Dates: 

Sunday 6 July                    Whelan’s, Dublin. 
Monday 7 July                   Crane Lane, Cork. 
Tuesday 8 July                  White Horse Sessions, Kenny’s Bar, Lahinch, 
Saturday 12 July                Dream Gathering Festival, Cork. 
Sunday 13 July                  Bello Bar, Dublin. 
Tuesday 15 July                 Sweeney’s, Dublin. 
Friday 18 July                    Kelly’s, Galway. 
Wednesday 23 July            Mercantile, Dublin. 
Thursday 24 July                Monroe’s Backstage, Galway. 
Friday 25 July                    Courtney’s, Killarney, Kerry. 
Sunday 17 August              The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Clare.

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Monday 16 June 2014

New Irish Music - Go Swim, Animal E.P.

Go Swim, 'Animal'

Info: Listening to Go Swim's upcoming E.P., Animal, brought back a strange and delightful flood of memories for me of the dying days of recording songs off the radio onto cassette tapes from the likes of Dave Fanning's 8pm 2FM slot and especially Phantom FM in it's pirate days. Previous incarnations of Irish bands such as The Republic of Loose (Goldrush) along with acts such as Turn and Future Kings of Spain, but melded with their very own contemporary disco-infused sounds. Go Swim's music is infectiously upbeat with addictive hooks and riffs as well as rabble rousing harmonies between front-man Steven Smith and guitarist Julianne Shaw. 

While they have been compared to peers Foals and Two Door Cinema Club if I was to sum up how I hear their sound it would have to be as a mix of M83 and New York band The Drums, particularly on the beat-thumping 'Call Sign' (below) and the final track 'Off The Trail'. I couldn't agree more with The Irish Times' Jim Carroll who summarised their sound as "Shiny riffs and wowesome hooks'. Animal is an E.P. I'm already looking forward to getting my hands on and can see getting plenty of outings on upcoming hazy summer evenings with friends, when Go Swim release their full album down the road it should be prescribed to people who suffer from melancholy.

Go Swim's Animal E.P. will be relased on the 27th of June with a launch at White's Tavern in Belfast (tickets here and the band will also be supporting Kaiser Chiefs at Féile an Phobail in Belfast on the 8th of August. 

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Saturday 14 June 2014

Rory Gallagher

Thanks for the tunes Rory, gone but never forgotten, 2nd March, 1948 - 14th June, 1995

Friday 13 June 2014

Jack White - Lazaretto (2014)

Jack White, High Ball Stepper

Info: The White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather man is back with his second solo album this week, Lazaretto is the follow-up to 2012's marvellous Blunderbuss. The album is possibly one of the most anticipated of the year to date, thanks in the main to Jack White's reputation as one of the few iconic blues rock musicians on the music scene at present, as evidenced by his inclusion in Rolling Stones '100 Greatest Guitarists' back in 2011.

So, how does the new album fare in comparison to Blunderbuss? One of the most striking things about Lazaretto is that there is definitely far more emphasis on roots / country, in particular on 'Alone In My Home', 'Entitlement' and the third track 'Temporary Ground' with it's fiddle intro. In many ways this is a good thing, White avoids merely releasing a 'Mark II' album which his mortal enemies, The Black Keys, seem to have done with their recent release Turn Blue

Personally, I enjoy his music most when he's thrashing a guitar and playing ear-bleeding riffs, which is probably best exemplified on his work in The Dead Weather (outside of The White Stripes) and the first few tracks on Blunderbuss, the closest we really get to that style is on the two singles, the powerfully hypnotic 'High Ball Stepper' (above) and title track 'Lazaretto'. All in all Lazaretto is a fine album, not as much to my taste as his first release, but to be perfectly honest, and my judgement is undoubtedly clouded as a big Jack White fan, such is his talent for song-writing I would listen to anything he records. All I need now is for the limited edition LP pack to arrive from his label, Third Man Records, and I can fully appreciate it before going to see him play The Royal Hospital in Kilmainham at the end of the month, and yes, I will be bringing a bag of knickers. 

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Note: If you have the time, the below video is well worth a watch, Jack discusses some seriously weird, unique features of the Lazaretto Ultra LP, including a floating hologram while the record spins.

Friday 6 June 2014

Gig Review - Bold Things Live @ Whelans

Bold Things, 'And I Was A Boy From School', Hot Chip cover, Whelans

Leaving cert. students were having nightmares, the workers were asleep in their beds, but all of the cool cats were in Whelan's instead. 

It was a great pleasure to witness Dundalk band, Bold Things', first ever Irish gig last night Upstairs in Whelans. While the quartet of Ian Patterson on lead guitar, Gavin Murray (vocals, drums & guitar), Jim O'Donoghue (lead singer, guitar) and bassist / video producer (see below) Ronan McGeough have played a number of gigs in their adopted city of London, this was the first of three nights which sees them hit Toales in their hometown tonight (beside Gerry Adams' constituency office as pointed out by Jim), and Dolans in Limerick on Saturday. The band have spent a considerable amount of time lately recording in anticipation of their debut E.P. which they hope to have completed and subsequently released in the very near future.

It's almost 6 months since the band put together their first video for 'Love The Bomb', and with each track they put down, they appear to be going from strength to strength with regard to their song-writing and diversity. As such, it was great to hear two of my personal favourites last night, 'Hearts Ajar' and the sublime and haunting 'Swallows End' live. It was very apparent before taking the stage that the band were excited for their first gig on Irish soil and this translated into the performance, it's never disappointing to see an act that genuinely enjoy performing, not just for themselves, but for their audience also. Indeed, at one point when the band thanked everyone for coming to the show one punter saw fit to shout out, 'I've never heard of you, but I really like your songs', while this individual was bang on the money, I would imagine he is also curled up in a ball on a couch somewhere as I type this, and I only say so because he looked like Shaun Ryder.

My only complaint for the entire evening was that I attracted the token weirdo (I thought those days were well behind me), an inebriated individual who appeared from nowhere, and not only told me once that he loved the 'Thump, thump, thump' of one of the songs, but 6 times. In summary, a great night, great performance and while it's completely irrelevant from a musical perspective, in my opinion, it's always nice when the members of any band are very decent sods, which the guys from Bold Things are. Two things I'm looking forward to now are their next performance in Dublin and a debut album, success beckons for Bold Things and it will be well deserved.

Side note: Apologies for the poor sound quality in the first video, I recorded it on a Nikon SLR and I would have been better off using my iPhone in terms of the quality, lesson learnt! 

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Wednesday 4 June 2014

10 Best Albums of 2014 So Far

As always when I do these lists I reiterate it's merely my personal opinion. Below are the Top 10 albums in my view since the start of the year, I've cheated a little bit with Childish Gambino's Because The Internet which was released on the 10th of December at the end of last year but think it definitely deserves a shout out. It's struck me since the start of the year that the quality of albums is far greater than last year and I think I would have struggled to get 10 for the whole 12 months of 2013. There's also a lot more to come in the second half of the year that should be of interest, starting with Jack White's Lazaretto which is out next week, a new Basement Jaxx album in August and who knows what else. Anyway, without further ado, and in order......

1) Beck - Morning Phase

In one sentence: Ethereal, melancholic and completely beautiful, history may regard it as his masterpiece.

Best tracks: Morning, Blue Moon, Wave, Turn Away (and all of the other ones)

2) Todd Terje - It's Album Time

In one sentence: An album by a man who understands pop, electronica, synths, 80's music, and effortlessly puts them together until, by the end, you here a loud CLICK! in your brain, not to mention Bryan Ferry's cover of 'Johnny & Mary'

Best tracks: Intro, Strandbar, Delorean Dynamite, Inspector Norse

3) Pharrell - G I R L

In one sentence: Pure, unadulterated pop, a world where Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the Bee Gee's and Prince meet and inject themselves into your inner groove.

Best tracks: Marilyn Monroe, Hunter, Happy, Gust of Wind.

4) Tycho - Awake

In one sentence: An album to lose yourself in, exhilarating and wonderful.

Best tracks: Awake, Montana, L, Spectre

5) Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

In one sentence: A rare anti-hero, and the music reflects that, a complete album but no post is complete without a link to this beauty that got me hooked on him, and I can't even remember how I came across it, oh well!

Key tracks: Salad Days, Blue Boy, Goodbye Weekend, Passing Out Pieces (wow!)

6) Childish Gambino - Because The Internet

In one sentence: Stylish, contemporary rap with a hint of brilliance and a dark side

Best tracks: Life The Biggest Troll, Crawl, The Worst Guys, 3005.

7) The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

In one sentence: A welcome relief from the myriad of different sub-genres that are everywhere at the moment, and back to a few guys sitting around writing folk-rock.

Best tracks: Under The Pressure, Red Eyes, Suffering, Burning

8) Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

In one sentence: She's the real deal, this New Jersey girl has been a stand out and authentic songwriter over the last 6 years, and should probably be higher in this list

Best tracks: Afraid of Nothing, Our Love, Break Me, Everytime The Sun Comes Up 

9) Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots

In one sentence: Blur fans will be delighted after the damp squib that was 2012's Dr.Dee, back to basics at its best, as Damon deals with our detachment from life as a result of our obsession with smart phones and social media (I don't know what he could possibly mean?)

Best tracks: Everyday Robots, Mr. Tembo, Lonely Press Play, The History Of A Cheating Heart

10) East India Youth - Total Strife Forever

East India Youth, 'Glitter Recession'

In one sentence: He's only 23.

Best tracks: Glitter Recession, Total Strife Forever, Dripping Down, Heaven How Long

And that's a wrap, I would greatly appreciated other album recommendations in the comments section below or on Facebook.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Sinéad O'Connor Announces New Album

Sinead with John Grant, 'GMF', Sat. Night Show, March, 2014

Info: Sinéad O'Connor has announced the release of a new album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, which will be available from 8th of August. One of the most spine-tingling live performances I ever seen was recently with Sinéad on stage with John Grant and Conor O'Brien from Villagers at Grant's concert in The Olympia back in March, and I can confirm she still has an incredible presence and amazing vocals. When I was a small lad I remember Sinéad bursting onto the scene with her cover of Prince's 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and that unforgettably painful video which went with it, she is undoubtedly one of our most divisive but gifted talents of the last few decades.

I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss is the follow up to Sinead’s critically acclaimed album How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? which was released in 2011.

I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss features twelve brand new songs which showcase the very best of Sinéad and what makes her so special, passionate and direct yet with an overarching fragile beauty Sinéad’s voice and lyrics are as powerful as they are tender.

Newly signed to Nettwerk Records, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss is her 10th studio album in a career spanning over twenty five years. Sinéad is a rare thing in popular music, an absolutely unique artist.

From her first breakthrough hit, 1987’s ‘Mandinka’ and the multi-platinum global success of 1990’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got and its unforgettable number one ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, right through to her brand new record Sinead has constantly surprised and delighted.