Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Join Me In The Pines, 'At First Light' Video & Tour Dates

Join Me In The Pines, 'At First Light'

Info: In the run up to the release of Join Me In The Pines' new album, Inherit, on the 10th of October, we're treated to a new video for the track, 'At First Light' (above) which was directed by Simon Daniels. The video follows the release of three other songs in the format to date, 'Joy Is A Lion', 'Golden Guilt' and 'Should Not Roam' in advance of the album launch that will see JMITP touring around the country at the following venues and dates;

Friday 10 October          Triskel Christchurch, Cork - http://triskelartscentre.ie/
Saturday 11 October      1pm @ HMV, Grafton St. & 4pm @ HMV, Dundrum Town Centre
Sunday 12 October        2pm @ HMV, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre        
Thursday 16 October     Whelan’s, Dublin - http://www.whelanslive.com/
Sunday 26 Oct              The Hole In The Wall, Kilkenny - http://www.holeinthewall.ie/
Monday 27 October       Spiegel Tent, Wexford - http://wexfordspiegeltent.com/

Monday, 29 September 2014

Introducing - L.A. duo Night Club, Interview

Night Club. 'She Wants To Play With Fire'

Info: My first impressions when I watched the video for 'She Wants To Play With Fire' (above) were 'Oh behave!' and I don't think I could sum up their style any better than Philthy Mag's Izzy Cihak; 'Night Club produce dangerously arousing songs that take synth pop to its pleasantly dirty and transgressive edges'. The duo behind Night Club are Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks and they've been working together since 2011, with Black Leather Heart being their third E.P. release. When I properly sat down to listen to the tracks on the new E.P. my first thoughts were they are playing a dangerous game, an unapologetic pop sound, mixed with pounding synths and beats are a combination that are very hard to pull off without sounding like everyone else. 

Vocally Kavanaugh is excellent with an undeniable 80's sound very similar to Madonna, and Brooks' production is spot on, the synths on 'She's Playing With Fire' and their fantastic cover of INXS' 'Need You Tonight' are like an industrial sledgehammer, and massively addictive. Sometimes you just need some good unadulterated pop music and this is a slot Night Club happily fit into, but with a darker edge. Listening to the final track on the E.P., 'Cruel Devotion' it's impossible not to picture a festival crowd or, nightclub dance floor (!) filled to the brim. The louder you play Night Club's music, the better it sounds, it scratches that itch and I love it. 

Here's a few questions I fired over to Mark and Emily to find out more about their influences and background;

Remy: A quick question first, the video for ‘She Wants To Play With Fire’ is admittedly an homage to Tarantino films, if you had to pick one, what would be your favourite out of Quentin’s  repertoire?!

Night Club: Our favorite Tarantino film is Reservoir Dogs. First of all, it has some of the most gruesome footage of any of his films as well as some of the sharpest dialogue. It also gets bonus points for an opening scene where criminals are arguing about Madonna.

Remy: On your SoundCloud page I came across your cover version if INXS’s ‘Need You Tonight’ from their excellent album Kick, and I can’t stop listening to it, it’s just as catchy as the original, have you any plans at the moment to cover any other 80’s songs?

Night Club: Actually we weren't planning to cover an 80's song at all, it just happens to be a song that we both wanted to try our own take on. Right now, we're not planning to cover anything else at the moment, but who knows?

Night Club, 'Need You Tonight'

Remy: Listening to some of the other tracks on earlier E.P.s such as Love Casualty and your self-titled release, I can hear other eighties influences such as Eurythmics, Madonna, Visage, and even Ultravox (if they were on speed!), would it be fair to say that 80’s synth music is a big influence?

Night Club: It would absolutely be fair to say that. In fact we're quite honored to be associated with such great company. We both love music and style from that era as much as we dig current stuff. 

Remy: Emily, vocally you seem to have a nice mix of 80’s / 90’s club vocals, but also at times a contemporary pop sound, are there any vocalists currently making music that you would admire or, perhaps, would love to work with, and actually, the same question to Mark regarding production?

Emily: Charli XCX. I totally admire her and would love to collaborate with her. She's a super talented songwriter and she has rad style and big crazy hair. Plus she's obsessed with Britney and the Spice Girls as much as I am, which is a plus. 

Mark: I also would love to collaborate with Charli XCX but more than anything: Madonna. I have no interest in collaborating in production, I'm all about pop stars. 

Remy: Your latest E.P., Black Leather Heart, was only released this month, you now have 3 E.P.s totalling 15 tracks, are you planning on amalgamating all three E.P.s to make a full-length album, or will you be using your latest E.P. as the launch-pad instead?

Night Club: We actually prefer releasing E.P.s because we can release new music more often and it gives us the freedom to experiment. Right now, we have no full length plans as we really enjoy the EP format. 

Remy: Finally, have you any plans to tour soon, and if so, are you planning on coming to Europe (or Ireland!) or will you be mainly concentrating on recording over the next while?

Night Club: Right now we're really busy scoring the upcoming television show, Moonbeam City (Comedy Central starring Rob Lowe), but we are planning on touring the UK in 2015. Let us know where we should play in Ireland and we'll make sure that we are there!  

Remy: I'll get my people to talk to your people ;)

Look / Like / Listen / Follow:

Website: http://nightclubband.com/

Bookface: https://www.facebook.com/nightclubband

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/nightclubband

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nightclubband

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Song Lives On, Part 3 - Pelvis, 'I Am The Supergrass'

Pelvis, 'I Am The Supergrass'

Info: Pelvis were an Irish 3-piece consisting of Jonny Rogan (vocals, bass, piano), Ed Reynolds (guitar, backing vocals) and Mick Goss (drums, backing vocals). In May 1997 they won the Heineken Green Energy Unsigned Band Competition and were rewarded with £10,000 (punts) recording time, following which they were signed to well known indie label, Setanta Records, with whom they released their one and only album, Who Are You Today? The band would go on to appear on the Jools Holland Show and also support The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Divine Comedy on tour. Shortly after the album was released a waiter I worked with in Dublin at the time gave me a lend of the album and I absolutely loved it, particularly 'I Am The Supergrass' and 'Streetlights' (below). After handing it back to him I bought the album on my next pay day, for me at the time, I found Pelvis quite unique amongst their Irish contemporaries. Between Jonny Rogan's effeminate vocals and the happy / sad melody of the guitars, along with a dark sense of humour on many of the tracks, I developed a considerable soft-spot for the album and music. It's a massive pity that Pelvis never got to release more than one album as they had great song-writing ability and though we'll never know, I get the feeling they could have released some really interesting and creative music following Who Are You Today? 

Below, guitarist Ed Reynolds gives us a synopsis of the Pelvis story from his perspective and I'd like to thank Ed for taking the time to share some memories;

'I always wanted to be in a band when I was young. Having played in many pub and abstract party bands, it took me until my early 20's before I knuckled down with singer/songwriter/bass player Jonny Rowen and drummer Mick Goss to form Pelvis. We were called R at the beginning. R (with a circle around it, as in trademark). We thought we were smart, but R's pronunciation typeface was way too off the mark for people to catch onto. We played every venue in Dublin at the time, The White Horse, The Baggot Inn, Whelans, Slatterys, The Rock Garden / Dorans, the Da Club, the Project etc. to name but a few.

There wasn't much going on anywhere, work wise, so being in a band meant that we were fending for ourselves and longed to get signed by a record label, record an album, tour the world and get to love what we do! We gave it the hard slog, pretty much, right the way through the 90's. We did get signed, we put out an album with 3 singles released from it, got to tour Ireland, the U.K. and some of Europe (ok, not exactly the world), but most importantly, got to enjoy our jobs.

Pelvis, 'Streetlights'

We got to perform on the Later with Jools Holland show in 1998. That was a great few days! My lasting memory of being in a band comes from that show, when Pelvis, Pulp, Air, Lenny Kravitz and crew were invited upstairs to an after party. I'll never forget Jonny, Mick and myself, humping our amps, drums, and gear out of the BBC studio, up ramps and into the back of our van still in the very suits we wore on the show an hour previous! Everyone else upstairs, quaffing champagne and shooting the breeze and us eejits downstairs like donkeys, trying to squeeze the last of our stuff into the van! I think we did manage to have a glass or two of wine upstairs before the party ended!

I have no regrets in having dedicated the ten or so years of my life to music. I did manage to get it out of my system in the end. There will always be way too much bullshit in the music industry and personally, I was jaded by it and could no longer continue feeding from, and pouring into it. The craic was good though!'

- Ed Reynolds, Pelvis (guitar and vocals).

* Update (October 1st) - Pelvis on Jools Holland

Pelvis, 'I Am The Supergrass', Live on Jools Holland

Friday, 26 September 2014

Royal Wood, New Album, 'The Burning Bright' plus Irish Shows

Royal Wood, 'Forever and Ever'

Info: Canadian artist Royal Wood returns to Ireland for the release of his fifth album, The Burning Bright which he wrote in Slane last year. The album is out on the 3rd of October and he will play in Boyle's of Slane in Co.Meath on the 6th of October, followed by a show in Whelans of Wexford Street on Wednesday, the 8th of October. Royal Wood is currently one of Canada's most successful musicians with a huge following in his home country and consistently strong reviews from the domestic music press. The singer-songwriter will also be performing on The Late Late Show tonight so be sure to tune in if you're putting the feet up at home this evening. 

Press Release: 

For this outstanding new album to get underway Royal packed his bags and withdrew to his ancestral home of Ireland to Slane, County Meath in spring 2013. Here he locked himself away in a cabin with no internet, TV or phone lines to write the album in the aftermath of his collapsed marriage.

A prolific songwriter and captivating performer, Canada’s Royal Wood showcases the full extent of his talents on this brand new album which has already been released in Canada to critical acclaim and is set to be realised in Ireland on Friday 3rd October alongside its Europe/UK release scheduled for the same date.

2012 saw Wood have a chart-topping release with the JUNO-nominated We Were Born to Glory, which firmly established him as one of Canada’s most accomplished alt-pop singer/songwriters, producers, arrangers and multi-instrumentalists. This was the second JUNO award Royal was nominated for and he has also been previously nominated for the iTunes Songwriter of the Year in 2011. The Burning Bright is the product of multiple worlds – a culmination of five weeks spent writing in Slane, recording at home and in Los Angeles with producer Bill Lefler (Dashboard Confessional, Gym Class Heroes, Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump).

The record also found Wood collaborating in new ways: with Lefler and fellow Canadian singer/songwriter Simon Wilcox – with whom he wrote the sticky and wickedly buoyant first single 'Forever and Ever' – with long-time guitarist/co-producer Dean Drouillard, and with the spectral voices in the hills of County Meath. This track was also used in an advert for Charm Diamonds that ran during Super Bowl 2014!

The Burning Bright may scan as a breakup record; witness lyrics like “Well I once believed in a fairy-tale, now I’m holding a coffin nail,” exhaled regretfully in the song 'Promises' and pretty much the whole of the achingly tender 'I Wish You Well.' But it’s actually a compass pointing forward, spinning on the honest, from-the-gut creativity that propelled Wood into music in the first place.

Yet ask Wood if the stakes felt higher for The Burning Bright given its emotional heft and arrival on the heels of a bona fide hit and he says, 'No'. 'To be honest, the stakes felt higher on the last album. This time, I finally made the decision to simply make art again for the sake of making art. It is its own reward and what happens next is just a part of the journey in making it.'

With this new album the alt-pop singer has crafted a record that follows in the same vein of being an honest, unflinching look at what it’s like when a relationship is over.  'I always want to perform honest music that I connect with and am touched by. And if that means I have to go out there emotionally, then I will go there emotionally'.

Look / Like / Listen / Follow: 

Website: http://www.royalwood.ca/

Bookface: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalWood

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/royalwoodmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RoyalWood

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Song Lives On, Part 2 - Revelino, 'Happiness Is Mine'

Revelino, 'Happiness Is Mine'

Info: Revelino were a Dublin 5-piece band who released three albums from 1994 to 2001, Revelino, Broadcaster and To The End. The band comprised of Brendan Tallon (vocals & guitar), Alan Montgomery (bass & vocals), Bren Berry (guitar & vocals), Ciaran Tallon (guitar) and Shane Rafferty (Drums). The band primarily played gigs in the famous Whelans of Wexford Street in Dublin's south city, where they built up a significant fanbase. Perhaps their most well-known song is 'Happiness Is Mine' (above) which featured on the cult Network 2 alternative music show, No Disco, leading to the band gaining an even bigger following. On a personal note I recall seeing Revelino live twice, once at a college gig in UCD and I'm certain I also saw them in Whelans, although, as Brendan mentions below, they played everywhere back then so it really could have been anywhere! I got in touch with Revelino frontman Brendan Tallon and asked him to cast his mind back to those heady days, and he didn't disappoint with some great stories. Also, a massive thanks to Brendan from myself for taking the time to put this piece together, here's what he had to say:

'We lived out in the Ballinteer suburbs in a house together, just like The Monkees but without the hits. We didn’t really hang that much in town unless we were gigging or recording there. I suppose if there was a scene, that’s where it must have been happening. I remember there were lots of gigs to play though, bands went into actual studios, rented rehearsal rooms. We played and rehearsed incessantly. If we weren’t playing music in our band house, we’d be in a local bar doing gigs for a few beers or hiring out rehearsal rooms to work on new songs - we were playing and working all the time. When we started we’d all given up our jobs, we couldn’t really play but we decided to go for it and we rehearsed 5 days a week from 10 to 5 every day in a local youth club. We rehearsed in the aisles of our local Supermarket, on Christmas day, anywhere, anytime and we really gigged a lot, traveling all over the country, to England, usually London, some gigs in Europe and we even got to America a few times. Mostly if you were to ask me what’s the standout memory, it would be traveling around, usually in a van that was fitted out with airplane seats so we could all sit around together, the band and crew, having the most unbelievable fun you could imagine. I never laughed as hard and as much as those trips. We fought like fuckers too, fist fights, all that, but there were some funny people in that group and we had some seriously hilarious times together. We were all from the Ballinteer area, the band and the crew, so the house was where we hung out, most nights of the week people were there. We played a pretty well-known pub called the Blue Light every weekend and there were parties after those gigs where half the pub would come back to the house. One time we arrived back in our bass player, Monty's little green Mazda with 20 German bikers following us into the quiet little leafy estate at 2 in the morning. Stuff like that was happening all the time so it was a very interesting experience. We had a deaf neighbour who complained about the vibrations. Funnily enough though, we got on great with the landlord, a detective, and generally the others living around the place.

Revelino, 'My Bones'

It was really our own scene rather than feeling a part of something bigger happening in Dublin. It was fairly Rock n' Roll. One year I didn’t see sunlight for the entire winter. Not very healthy. But we were pretty serious about the band and trying to do the best gigs and recordings we could. If I have any regrets it’s that I didn’t enjoy some of the actual live gigs more. I used to get quite nervous before gigs. Basically I took it too seriously. It would usually work out because the gigs were nearly always great, the crowds were nearly always great but so much time was wasted being uptight before the event. I’ve learned to deal with that anxiety more efficiently now. Also I wished we’d worked on the whole recording process a lot more. You left it to the engineers back then but there was no real producer, no arranger and I think a lot of Irish bands suffered from that over the years while American and English bands seemed to produce better records sonically and conceptually - and maybe a lot of that was because they were better bands but also because of the expertise of the people working in the studios. In Dublin as far as I could see it was a matter of going in, setting up as you would live and hoping for the best. A hangover from the traditional musician concept in the Irish that has probably dissipated somewhat now. Of course there’s a lot of value in that too but no one ever suggested slowing a song down, changing the key, cutting out a solo, getting to the chorus quicker. There were no producers. Now I realise that kind of experienced ear in these situations is invaluable. Our first two records were basically live albums recorded in a studio, which gives them some energy for sure, but sonically and as musical arrangements they could have been better with even little bit of guidance. The others in the band don’t agree. Our first album was mixed in one night with most of the band asleep on the floor. If I could do it again I would have learned as much as I could about capturing sound, arranging, what makes a record work. At that time recording was a very expensive exercise. You had to save a lot of money and go into a studio in town. Now everyone has a pretty decent studio on their computer. We did get our hands on a 16 track machine and did some great stuff on that but I wasn’t interested in those days in the process. That was someone else’s job. My main thing was song-writing. That’s how I saw myself, not ever as a singer even, that was incidental because no one else stepped up to the mic and I wrote the songs so I naturally ended up doing it. I wrote most of the first album around the time we’d finished our previous incarnation ‘The Coletranes’. We were deemed by our manager and ourselves to be too static and uninteresting, visually, live so we recruited a third guitarist (just a couple of months before anyone had heard of Radiohead). That was my brother Ciaran who became a big influence on the musical direction of the band. We rented a rehearsal room in Churchtown and spent a week putting the songs together and I can clearly remember the feeling coming out of those rehearsals and all of us being ecstatic about how the songs were sounding. We knew it was good stuff because of how it was making us feel - it’s one of the best feelings you can get and I’m sure every single band ever formed has experienced it at some level. It’s one of the big things you really miss about being in a band. We were very close and those kinds of times just brought you even closer and made us feel you had something worthwhile to put out on record. Later our next door neighbour Michelle Spillane, who ended up making videos for bands, passed a remark on how funny she found it that every band is blown away by their own songs. It stuck with me as being something to keep in mind.

But before we even played a gig as Revelino we’d gone to a studio, recorded the new songs, printed the album and had ‘Happiness is Mine’ played on No Disco. We weren’t exactly trying to build a crowd at our first gigs, they were already there. Just a few weeks of being played on one TV show, some reviews of the album and we had an enthusiastic following. Our home soil for gigs was definitely Whelans. We played every conceivable venue up and down the country but that was the bands natural habitat, probably because we played it so much and that was the closest we came to being part of a greater scene. There were lots of great bands on the gig’s, lots of other musicians hanging out, probably the venue for the 90’s Dublin scene in the way The Baggot had been in the 80’s. Everyone played there, everyone went and hung out there, the crowds were always great, that’s where the energy was concentrated. We'd released the first album with an independent company called Dirt run by Brian and Shane O’Neill of the Blue Angles and they had the idea to build their own studio. It was makeshift but it was a wet dream come true to have your own place to record any time you wanted, day or night, and we did. It wasn’t well equipped with mics or outboard gear but it did have a 2 inch 24 track Studer tape machine which was Mecca for recording to tape. That was another great period for all of us although we were arguing a lot among ourselves, there was a lot more tension than on the recording of the Revelino album and like so many indie dreams it wasn’t going to last once the practicalities of making a living crept in on everyone as time went by. It wasn’t an ideal space to make music, dusty, cold, run down and junk everywhere but we got our second album Broadcaster out of it. The first album happened at a certain time and place and in a way that seemed to catch a wave. The second didn’t. It’s strange when you feel you’ve topped your first album, you think the songs were better, the playing, the recording but there’s this disconnect between what the band feels about it and how it goes down. This album was recorded by more experienced engineers, mixed by a real mixing engineer in London, properly packaged and promoted. It went down well live, with the reviewers and the fans but it didn’t take us anywhere we hadn’t been before. Now I can look back and understand why but at the time it was confusing and disappointing for us and was also fractious to our inter-band relationships.

The gigs were still well attended, the album got some radio airplay on the usual shows and on No Disco again but it didn’t take us on to the next level. In other words, we couldn’t make any money. Actually, we did make money, but it all went back into trips abroad or videos or something that didn’t include a wage. The first cheque I ever got for royalties I cashed, then promptly had the money stolen from the house. It was more money than I’d ever had in my life. A week later the fuckers came back for our stereos, one in each room. Anyway, musically maybe we had just repeated ourselves but it became clear to me that we’d stalled. Our drummer Shane, felt differently. He was sure the album would break us and he was so disillusioned when it didn’t that he left and disappeared West. After that it was never the same. It sounds like a cliché, but it really wasn’t, that was the beginning of the end. We went through a few drummers. One guy we had to sack during a packed gig in Whelans. It was his first big Dublin gig with us. He was nervous and behaving very strangely and drinking too much. Only 4 songs in and it was such a shambles I decided we had to pull the gig. Literally at that moment as we were about to announce it to the crowd, our previous stand in drummer walked into the room. We sacked the drunk on the spot and finished the gig. People actually thought the whole thing was a set up for publicity. Fucking unbelievable. The funniest part was after I walked off the stage the drummer we’d sacked came up to me and said ‘so, how do you think it went?’. Stupidly though, as if to exasperate the feeling of being stalled I didn’t feel there was much point in gigging the same venues endlessly even if they were successful. The others, especially my brother Ciaran argued strongly that we should keep playing as much as we ever did, doing regular gigs no matter what else was happening. Taking such a long break from gigging before our third album was really the worst thing we could have done for the profile of the band but that’s what we did pretty much at my insistence. Meanwhile Bren our guitarist, started working for Aiken Promotions in Vicar Street which meant playing Whelans was out. He denies it but we never played Whelans again after that. We were under an unspoken agreement to base ourselves around Vicar Street supporting bands that came through and playing the smaller venue The Shelter. By the time we’d gone back into Sun Studios and recorded what I think is probably our best album To The End, we’d lost our momentum and what following we had, almost completely. We knew it was our last album, no big deal but the clue was in the title and the cover - kamikaze pilots about to set off on a mission.

At that stage Monty had also left because we’d stopped gigging and because, he said, he didn’t like the new songs. Despite there being only three of us left we had a great time making the record. To The End got no airplay. There were no ‘singles' on it as someone pointed out, but it was musically exactly as we wanted it at the time. We gigged it for a few months. The new line up of band was actually sounding great. Some of the gigs were exceptional but it got to the point where it would take weeks to synchronise everyone for a rehearsal. It just got too hard to get everyone in the same room so without it ever being expressly stated among ourselves we just stopped calling to organise gigs or sessions. No break up meeting after years of being in each other’s pockets. Now when I meet people who say they were big Revelino fans they have never even heard of To The End, they don't know we even made a third album. Revelino wasn’t a thing we did in our spare time. We didn’t have other jobs and play in a band at night. In the beginning we played together every day practically but by the end people always seemed to have something going on that was more important. I have my theories about why we didn’t make it further. From that time, even legends to us like ‘A House’ petered out though. None of that ‘class’ made it. I guess we just suffer from a sustainability issue with such a small population and an Anglo-American obsession within our media. Thankfully it’s shifted but I still don’t see some great bands and singers from Ireland now breaking out. One thing for better or worse we never did as Revelino was think commercially. Musically we tried to please ourselves. There are some songs I would rather have not recorded and a lot of songs we didn’t release that I think are much better. Sometimes I felt coerced into directions I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with but then we all do to some extent. Should a band be a democracy or a dictatorship? Now I’m recording and writing either on my own or as part of a duo with Barry O’Mahoney. Last year we released our first album under the name ‘Saturday Captains’. I’ve thought about going back and recording some of the good songs that didn’t make it onto Revelino albums but I’m not sure if I want to go back that badly. A petition started a few weeks ago online ‘get Revelino back together for a gig’. My brother texted me about it so I checked it out - two signatories and I’m pretty sure one of them was him!'

Brendan Tallon, Revelino (vocals & guitar)

New Irish Music, Introducing Roman Charity

Roman Charity, 'Hangovers' & 'Blue'

Info: Stripped-down and bare, Dublin-based Roman Charity has previously played in various bands in Belfast and Dublin over the years and is striking out on his own now with his very first serving, two tracks, 'Hangovers' and 'Blue'. Citing amongst his influences Galaxie 500, Beat Happening, Yo La Tengo, Real Estate, The National, and I enjoyed this description in particular, 'Post-John Cale Velvet Underground, Post-Velvet Underground John Cale'. Vocally, the Velvet Underground influence is clearly on show, and it also reminded me a bit of Sonic Youth without all the hoopla regarding the music side of things. 

The above two tracks are the fruits of Roman Charity 'working on some lo-fi bedroom stuff', so, very much homemade with zero outside production. As a first effort I find both tracks have good potential and would benefit enormously from a polishing in a studio to do them justice. I particularly liked the bluesy guitar on the second track just after the one-minute mark and when the song breaks into distorted guitar this is a good example of where the track could step up a level with some tweaking, that said, rough and ready as it is, it fits the song well. It's all well and good me pointing these things out, but like money, studio time doesn't grow on trees, and I'm a massive fan of musicians making their own music without outside distractions and these two tracks are just hot off the press. I think Roman Charity has displayed an ability to get the most out of the tools available to him for the time being and after a few listens I'm really enjoying the guitar side of things. I've heard enough here to definitely keep me interested in new tracks he might have down the road and I hope to hear more from Roman Charity in the near future. 

Additional Info:

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

New Album - Kevin Nolan, 'Fredrick & The Golden Dawn'

Kevin Nolan, 'Drowning'

Info: Dubliner Kevin Nolan's background in the disciplines of art, philosophy and poetry all influence his debut album, Fredrick & The Golden Dawn, a composition 8 years in the making, with an intriguing end product. Before I start reviewing the album I must point out that my two favourite decades for music are the 1960's and the 1970's, and my two favourite genres are soul and blues (particularly the guitar based type), that's not to say that those decades match up with those types of music neatly, the latter pre-dates the former considerably. I mention this for two reasons, firstly, the influence of decades and genres I've mentioned are present throughout the album, secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is that there are some widely acclaimed artists that fall under both categories, that I could just never get into. Respect? Yes. Enjoy their music? No. One such musician, who is undoubtedly talented and has had a massive impact on musicians for decades, is Tom Waits. On the opening track of Nolan's album, indeed, the first 5 seconds, the hand in your head shoots up and exclaims 'Tom Waits!', I should be put off by this, however, by the end of the album, instead of thinking Nolan sounds like Tom Waits, I'm thinking, 'If Tom Waits sounded a bit more like Kevin Nolan I might just be able to finally get into him'.

Nolan's vocals and ukulele on opener 'Blood Wedding' are more suited to a setting of an early blues performance in a decrepit watering-hole in the Deep South at the turn of the 19th century, than the growl of a young man from Dublin wailing through a pained ballad. The brief but interesting second track, 'ctrl', sounds like a Disney version of the Twin Peaks soundtrack, in a good way. The single 'Splinter' is a nice mix between a contemporary sound, musically, and 1960's psychedelia vocally, making it quite distinct from the rest of the album, without feeling out of place. 'The Last Days of Harry Carry' have a spaghetti Western intro, rolling thunderous drums and touch on Zappa, Waits and Nick Cave in particular, with the wind instrumental at the end reminding me a little bit of King Crimson's 'In The Court of the Crimson King'.

On the second half of the album Nolan rides a shooting star into the night sky with full orchestral grandeur. On 'The Guess' you feel as if you are listening to two completely different vocalists, if you were unaware that he was a solo artist you would struggle with the knowledge that the vocal range belonged to one person. The song's personality bring to mind Neil Hannon's extravagance on Promenade and Casanova in the mid-90's and it's an enchanting track. 'Drowning' comes next and is undoubtedly my favourite, foreboding, disturbing and beautiful, both bass and piano are extremely complimentary as a background to the lines;

 'Like a switch-blade to my heart, there she was, she was every song I heard, she held a match to every word, I was a saint among the herds...but now I'm drowning'

Nolan concludes with the inevitably blunt line, 'drowning men are never found.' To add to the atmosphere and in case you had forgotten, the piano toward the end is like a march of death reiterating the protagonist's final words.

Kevin Nolan feat. Julie Feeney, 'Aubade'

Before 'Aubade', above, featuring Julie Feeney, is 'Oil On Canvas', here pomp is turned to 11, suddenly I'm at a Victorian country house at a party with Elton John playing piano in the corner (in that wig), with the desire for excess checked by social mores. It's almost as if Nolan has, momentarily, thrown all of his creative energy into this song, run into the middle of it, fleeing the outside, and completely let go of all doubts, and just lets fly. I like many tracks on this album musically, but moreso for where they take me, Fredrick & The Golden Dawn is more than just a music album, it's a story and it's an uncomfortable adventure, and I'm hoping that Nolan will take us on many more in the future.

Additional Info: 

Fredrick & The Golden Dawn has received plaudits and high praise from high places, including Tony Clayton-Lea in The Irish Times, Hot Press, John Kelly from RTÉ's Lyric FM, as well as BBC Radio 6. 

Kevin Nolan is currently planning a small tour of Dublin city with writer / musician Peter Murphy, dates and venues to be confirmed.

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Who Is Kid Trench? Plus Track, 'I'll Be Waiting'

Kid Trench, 'I'll Be Waiting'

Info: Yes, info, well that seems to be a little bit hard to come by at the moment. On Saturday evening I received an email from this young gentleman that merely said 'Hi Remy, here's a track you might like, thank you, K.T.' with the above Soundcloud link. So I've sat down this afternoon and took to the Google machine to find out more, and I can't tell you much, other than that he is from Belfast, and has two tracks released at this point. Other sites have also posted about Kid Trench's new song, 'I'll Be Waiting' and also revealed that information is very elusive about this artist, mysterious. Well, I suppose it kind of comes back to my point yesterday about songs standing on their own, although I have seen very positive feedback from regional BBC radio stations on his Twitter feed. 

My view of the track is that it's instantly appealing musically if simple lyrically. There's quite a similarity vocally with James Vincent McMorrow on the higher pitches and there's an overarching soothing vibe from start to finish on the track. The other track on Kid Trench's SoundCloud page, 'Blue Skies', gives a small insight into what we can expect from a full E.P. release, which I'm sure must be in the offing. The vocals alternate again from high pitch to lower tone with a nice dash of electronic sounds, gentle piano playing and a nice beat to close it off. 

Kid Trench, 'Blue Skies'

So who is Kid Trench? I don't know, but I do know that the above two tracks have sufficiently whet my appetite for more, for the moment he's letting his music do the talking and that's what it's all about at the end of the day.

You can Follow Kid Trench on Twitter here @KidTrench

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Song Lives On - Irish Music Scene 1995-2003, Part 1

John Hume, Bono & David Trimble, 1998

Italia '90, and all that jazz

Preamble: Rose-tinted glasses and nostalgia are a lethal combination, and I think I'm yet to meet someone who has not been a victim of both. We commonly look back at the past as a secure and comforting place, and toward the future as a great unknown. Every older generation scorns what is to come, while the younger generation view the idyllic past with disdain. For the sake of this post I'm going to be up front, I'm not going to try and convince anyone that the 1990's were the best thing to happen to Ireland since Fair City first aired, I'm going to say it was the best decade, relatively. After centuries of rule from Britain, and a few decades (not those ones) from Rome, the eighties came along, mass emigration and unemployment, and no Angela Merkel to blame, we were just in the shit, no country for young men or women. 


As I was a child, born in 1980, I have quite muggy memories, I remember orange and green buses, dungarees, punks with mohawks, and no money. Then, out of nowhere, the 90's came, and swept us all up on a wave of optimism and unbridled happiness, and it happened straight away, in 1990. Following the success of beating England and drawing with the USSR at Euro'88 (but not getting out of our group), the Irish team qualified for Italia '90, and without winning a single match, got to the quarter-finals, at our first ever World Cup, we went mental, and rightly so. Then we started having mad summers, with heat waves, we even had our water turned off by the local councils, the highlight of our week was getting some shit toy from a cereal box and we won the Eurovision 4 times in 5 years (and haven't won it since....!). On the political front the hugely historical Good Friday Agreement was signed and economically we were commencing our foreplay with the Celtic Tiger, it was all good, the plebs were delighted with themselves and the politicians thought they were demigods. What could possibly go wrong? Well, we all know what happened next and is still happening, but now it's time to get to the point of this post.

Playing hardball in Europe

This was the background to a small snippet of the Irish music scene that I experienced from the late 90's to the mid-noughties, britpop was morphing into indie music across the water, and the domestic scene was flourishing. There were some incredibly talented Irish bands which have still left their mark almost two decades later such as The Frames and Whipping Boy. What I want to focus on here a selection of the bands that were regulars on the scene, but also some bands that very few people will have ever heard of, or their music. Unfortunately, during this time, the internet was only arriving in Ireland, therefore digital archives of music by independent artists are impossible to come by. By complete chance my mother handed me a shoebox that had been in my family bedroom 2 years ago which contained about 15 tape cassettes, some of which had tracks by Irish bands recorded from Dave Fanning's old 2FM show and Phantom FM in it's pirate days. Another valuable resource for looking at Irish bands from this time has been http://www.irishmusiccentral.com/ a site that, as far as I can recall, has been going since the dial-up days. I also used some compilation CD's, and in one case an E.P. I was given by a guy I worked with after I finished college. Next week I'll be putting together a list of tracks from these bands in the second half of this post, the list isn't about bands who should have 'made it', (maybe they should have), it's an indulgent collection on my part of bands, or even just songs that I loved back then and listening back to them now, still do. 

There's one other reason I felt compelled to cobble together all of these songs by bands from days of yore. All of the music I review these days is contemporary, and a lot of it from bands that are starting out. You find, and it's always been the case, going back decades, that money and life eventually become big factors in whether a talented band or solo artist continue doing what they want to do, i.e., make great music, play live shows, record albums etc. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, and musicians end up working in unfulfilling jobs and are forced to make ends meet outside of music. When that happens, initially it can appear temporary, but eventually time goes by and the last live gig suddenly seems so long ago. Miserable and all as that scenario is, there's a hidden silver-lining, and that comes from the songs that were created in the first place. The strange thing is, especially in this technological age, that when bands cease, what they created doesn't. Songs never expire, they never cease to exist just because the band has, they outlive the band and they can resonate with the listener one, five, ten or twenty years after they have been written / recorded. Most of the bands which will feature in Part 2 of this post broke up long ago, some of them I never saw live, but each track reminds me of a specific time, and it's almost as if the songs themselves are saying to me, 'Yeah, they're gone, but you're still digging my shit aren't you?!', and that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

New Track from Tell No Foxx, 'Fusillade'

Tell No Foxx, 'Fusillade'

Info: Back in May, Wicklow band Tell No Foxx released their impressive debut self-titled E.P. which was reviewed here and they have a new track recorded, 'Fusillade' which you can stream above. The new song proves the band are going to continue getting it right, and as I mentioned at the start of the summer, the prospect of a full-length LP is quite exciting. 'Fusillade' is a dark and atmospheric track with a bit of a Duran Duran / Spandau Ballet vibe quite similar in style to their other excellent electronic track, 'Pure' from the E.P. More of this please fellas!

Tell No Foxx are also playing two upcoming shows in Dublin, Friday, 26th of September in Whelans on Wexford Street and Saturday, 4th of October in The Button Factory, it's almost as if they are accommodating those of us who don't do hangovers at work well with two weekend slots which is always great. Since the review of the E.P. here one of their tracks, 'Boulevard', also got an unsurprisingly positive review in Hot Press, here's another look at the video, and you can also find their social media info in the link to the last review in the first paragraph.

Hot Press track review

Tell No Foxx, 'Boulevard'

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Midnight Union Band, New Album, 'Of Life & Lesser Evils'

The Midnight Union Band, 'I'm Your Leader'

Info: Kilkenny band, The Midnight Union Band have recently released the first single from their upcoming album, Of Life and Lesser Evils (out on the 27th of September), the above track, 'I'm Your Leader'. 

If there was some way in the future that albums could be designed for individuals according to their personal tastes and artists they like, I'd be handing over Of Life and Lesser Evils and telling them they'll be doing very well if they can get closer than this for me. Normally when I review an album I'll listen to see if there are any other bands or artists that the music reminds me of to give an idea of what the listener can expect and just keep them in my head, but there are so many here I had to write them all down. It's not that the songs here remind me of the entire works of particular bands, but more a pinpoint in their discographies, or a specific phase. Vocally I'm reminded a lot of Mike Scott from The Waterboys, and at times even Leonard Cohen (in tone only!), on the track 'The People', which I will come back to later. Musically I was dizzyingly drawn across the decades from the early 60's to the 90's and back again, in a very, very good way. From Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The James Gang and Van Morrison, to later Bob Dylan around the time of Time Out of Mind (1997), and even Primal Scream's 'Movin' On Up' on Screamadelica, Of Life and Lesser Evils pings around so many different styles with ease.

The array of instruments on display, and all of the band members evident playing ability, along with intelligent lyrics only add further to what a complete album this is. The mandolin intro on second track 'Just A Scar' (and throughout the album) wouldn't be amiss on Rumours, and the accompanying electric guitar solos are a fine example of the blues style we hear repeatedly on different tracks. On tracks such as 'Note to Self' and 'Behind the Truth' the harmonica adds significantly to the country-folk feel of the tracks and now that I think of it also recalls early Dylan and that well-known group that The Midnight Union Band have been compared to previously, The Band. At the mid point of the album, on track, 'Gospel According To.....' we are treated to barnstorming, Jerry Lee Lewis-esque, rockabilly piano playing and manic drumming.

The Midnight Union Band, 'Behind The Truth'

Two tracks that resonated with me in particular were 'The People' and the album's finale, 'But I Am The Night'. Lead singer Shane Joyce's vocals are painfully heartfelt, and the track is the best example of a theme that is central to the album, social consciousness, or a lack thereof. The song tells of a downtrodden but seemingly apathetic people who are so worn down by their masters that they cannot summon the strength to fight back, a succinct summary of Ireland since 2008 perhaps. The following two tracks 'Behind The Truth' and 'Law Ain't Justice', as the titles suggest, ably continue with this theme, giving a modern take on 60's protest songs from the US or the UK punk-era's anti-Thatcher sentiments. Finally, to 'But I Am The Night', a fine example of a 7 minute track that is too short, a dirge very reminiscent of contemporary New York band, The Walkmen, seeing us out with an uplifting mix of brass instruments and shuffling percussion that you don't want to end. 

From my own perspective, it will require something exceptional between now and the end of the year to surpass Of Life and Lesser Evils as the best Irish album I've reviewed in 2014. I am certain the band will receive very positive reviews from other music sites and print publications, which they will have fully earned. 

The Midnight Union Band are:

Shane Joyce   - Vocals, Harmonica, Acoustic Guitar 
Peter Flynn     - Piano, Mandolin, Electric Guitar, Lap Steel, Hammond 
Cian Doolan    - Mandolin, Electric Guitar 
Brian McGrath - Bass Guitar 
John Wallace   - Vocals, Drums

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Mail Order Messiah's Album Out Today & New Video, 'New Stuff'

Mail Order Messiahs, 'New Stuff'

Info: Mail Order Messiahs new album, Practical, which was reviewed here a couple of weeks ago, is finally out today, along with new single and great video for the second track on the album, 'New Stuff', check it out above. It's like a surreal scene from Koyaanisqatsi and goes perfectly with the theme of the track, obsession with consumerism. Also big congratulations to Mike Liffey, the man behind the music for the great write-up he got in the Culture section of yesterday's Sunday Times, for the past 15 years or so the album recommendations in that publication have been my music bible for checking out new bands and albums. If you'd like to purchase MOM's album you can get it via Bandcamp or iTunes, links below.

(Photo via Mail Order Messiah's Facebook page)

Purchase Practical, here: 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Introducing Brooklyn Band, Late Cambrian's New Album, 'Golden Time' & Irish Tour

Late Cambrian, 'Golden Time'

Info: The opening bars of 'Throwing Shade' immediately leave you in no doubt as to where you're going to be going when listening to New York band, Late Cambrian's third album, Golden Time. From the swaggering bass-line to the call to arms vocals of front-man John Wlaysewski, added to some great guitar riffs and lovely synth playing from the mysteriously named O. Title track 'Golden Time' follows and is the definition of sun-drenched indie-pop with a simple but effective guitar hook complimenting driven drum rolls and nice vocal harmonies. 'Game Show', the LP's fourth track has a distinctively 90's feel about it and reminded me very much of Weezer around the time of their Blue album, ending abruptly, but not before we're treated to some more spacey synths, I can never get enough of those synthesizers! The seventh track on the album, 'DYBIL', is a weird and wonderful mix of 70's disco and a more contemporary electronic sound as well as some lovely Chic-esque guitar playing scattered throughout the track. Continuing the electro vibe is the perfect closer, 'Shiny Cars', my favourite track on the album, and where I personally feel Late Cambrian excel in terms of style. The song captures their ability to write good catchy songs but also an experimental side from the half-way point onwards, which I would love to see more of on a forthcoming album. There's plenty of time for that though, and at present Late Cambrian should enjoy the achievement of putting together a highly appealing and accomplished album in Golden Time.

Additional info: Golden Time is due for release in November, 2014, and Late Cambrian will be touring Europe for the first time in tandem with the release. The band will be supporting MC Frontalot, and, wait for it Irish fans...the legendary Wheatus on tour, so you can dust off your yellow-tinted glasses, fishing hats and Adidas tracksuit tops. In addition, I will be catching up with Late Cambrian when they play in Café en Seine in Dublin on the 9th of October and doing an interview and if they're not too camera-shy we might have a little photo shoot too, all of which will be up on the blog afterwards. Here are the Irish tour dates and, as usual, do show the band some love on social media! Oh, and here's another track for your pleasure;

Late Cambrian, 'Throwing Shade'

Tour Dates: 

October 7, Whiskey Faire, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland

October 8, Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ireland

October 9, Café en Seine, Dublin, Ireland

October 10, Magnet Young Adult Centre, Newry, UK

October 11, 5th on Teeling, Sligo, Ireland

* all concerts are w/Wheatus, MC Frontalot & others.

Look / Like / Listen / Follow:


Website: http://www.latecambrian.com/

Bookface: https://www.facebook.com/LateCambrian

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/latecambrian

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LateCambrian << these guys are serious tweeters!