Friday, 31 October 2014

Album Review - David Bierman Overdrive, 'Standard Skies'

David Bierman Overdrive, 'Marking Days'

Info: I have to admit that my knowledge of American music during the nineties was restricted to bands that everyone knew about, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, The Smashing Pumpkins etc., and it wasn't until I was a bit older that I discovered great alternative bands like Pavement, Cake, Nada Surf, The Lemonheads and such like. Detroit band David Bierman Overdrive are a modern day amalgamation of 4 bands from that era, and listening to their debut album, Standard Skies, you can certainly hear that sound echoing through time to 2014. If I knew more about the alternative music scene in the States back then I could probably do this review more justice regarding perspective, but good music is good music, and here's the highlights for me.

Opener 'Clock' has a 1950's rock meets (and yes I know what I just wrote above) quirky Britpop song, like you might expect from Belle & Sebastian or some such. 'Superhuman' gets right into the contemporary rock sound, with some banging electric guitar and a youthful optimistic indie vibe. Third track 'Unmade Thing' is awash with references which again seem to come from this side of the Atlantic, there's a country feel to the guitars, but at the same time it's quite like English band James with regard to the melodies and vocals, a definite highlight on the album for me. Then we have a sudden and pleasant swing to Americana, Bruce Springsteen, slide guitar, a bit of Wilco even, on 'Fountain' and 'Come On', before above track, 'Marking Days', another favourite of mine, takes on a country-punk hybrid sound, a combination I thought I'd never see myself describing! Other highlights are 'Swept Away', again the electric guitar is so good from start to finish on this track, and you get a feeling that this track is a retrospective ode to youth. The punk returns on it's own this time on 'This Is The Chorus' before an alternative version of Aretha Franklin's 'You Make Me Feel', à la Van Morrison, leads the album to a close. Standard Skies is a melting pot of many different styles of music and proof that you should never stop making music until the fat lady sings. 

David Bierman Overdrive, 'Swept Away'

Additional Info: 

David Bierman was lead singer of Detroit’s Junk Monkeys, a seminal alt-rock band that released several albums in the late 80's / early 90's. Their last two releases on Metal Blade/Warner Bros, Five Star Fling and Bliss, both featured "hook-laden power pop/punk inspired by 70's legends like Cheap Trick, Big Star and the Flamin' Groovies." (

MusicHound’s Rock: The Essential Album Guide called 1992’s Bliss, "One of the best guitar-pop releases in a decade rife with great ones."
But the band, and Bierman, essentially closed shop in 1994. Until now.
David Bierman Overdrive, then, is a welcome surprise from a Detroit rocker who’s been silent for 20 years before wandering into Ferndale's Tempermill Studios earlier this year with a handful of songs, and an impressive band ready to help bring them to life.  
"I sent some pretty rough-sounding demos to friends I really wanted to play with, and hoped they’d be into it. Luckily for me, they all were." Bierman said. "We kept it really loose and just let each song follow its course."

David Bierman Overdrive are:

David Bierman – Vocals, Guitar 
Jim Faulkner - Drums  (Blueflowers, Beggars, Sugar Clouds)
David Feeny - Pedal Steel, Organ  (American Mars, Blanche)
Stephen Palmer - Guitar  (High Strung, ex-Back in Spades)
Kevin Perri - Bass  (Brian McCarty’s Big Bad Beat, The Dives, ex-Junk Monkeys)

*With help from the Whiskey Charmers' Carrie Shepard, the Legal Matters and guitarist Patrick Butler.

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Album Review - , Siân Brown, 'The Girl From Nowhere'

Siân Brown, 'Want To Go'

Info: The above video for 'Want To Go' was my first taste of Siân Brown's music, Dire Straits guitar riffs, a strong clear voice and lots of fun, enjoyable stuff. Then I listened to the rest of the album, 'I've been tricked!', for Brown's music goes full on song-writer and more serious on the rest of the tracks (while still retaining some brevity on swinging second track 'Miss You When'), and the results are great. I still think the opener, 'Cut You Loose' is my favourite track on the album, if this had been a Joni Mitchell track on Court & Spark (think 'Help Me'), it'd probably be one of my favourites on that album. The third track 'Wolves' has a very 70's British folk feel about it, like a contemplative Pentangle track, it's hard not to picture Brown walking through a misty English woodland. 

Next up is 'Mary', which has a tiny bit of a Fleetwood Mac feel about it and the strings are like a slowed-down version of Bob Dylan's 'Hurricane', it's a lovely heartfelt number from Brown and very easy on the ear. The seventh track, 'No Need To Be Lonely' is beautiful, with lovely piano and a great showcase of Brown's voice, it's powerful in the sense that it captures the atmosphere she wants to evoke so well. The album finishes strongly and optimistically with the string-driven 'I Feel' and contemporary sounding closer 'Way Down Low'. There's plenty happening on The Girl From Nowhere to keep the listener engaged from start to finish and Siân is no one-trick pony, it's easy to see the Cork-based singer has a handle on this song-writing thing and a powerful and unique voice to compliment those talents.

Siân Brown, 'Cut You Loose'

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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

You'll Never See The Likes Of It Again - Farewell Laser DVD

Laser Video Store - Ranelagh

Info: There's an old Irish phrase when someone of note passes away, 'Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís', 'You'll never see the likes of them again', which I've modified slightly. Yes, all I have are romantic and fond memories of Laser DVD, and when a fellow Ranelonian sent me a message this afternoon that Laser was to be no more, it was my second bit of heartbreak in the last year and a half after the flagship shop closed in Ranelagh last May. I have many fond and funny memories of Laser, I remember when they first opened up in my home town back in the early 90's (the owners were two sisters) and as part of it's efforts to get a piece of Xtra-vision's (which was located where Coffee Society is now) market they delivered vouchers to every household in the area. The vouchers were booklets that looked like cheque books, and you could rent a free film on VHS or a console game for your Sega Mega Drive or SNES. My friends and I had the great idea of knocking on loads of doors in the neighbourhood and asking people 'if they weren't going to be using the vouchers, could they, maybe, give them to us?' We had varied success, but needless to say we were kept in free rentals for at least a month or two, much to the puzzlement of the owners I'm sure, seeing us arrive in every day of our school holidays and slapping a wad of vouchers on the counter.
Laser DVD, Ranelagh, shortly before it closed it's doors

Other memories which are both funny, moreso in hindsight, was the time when I was ten and rocked down to Laser with a few school friends and rented Point Break, sure it was 18's, but the statute of limitations has passed. The guy in the shop asked were we allowed rent 18's, we lied, went home and watched Keanu and Patrick Swayze kicking ass. That night my parents gave it a watch and my mother was horrified, presumably at 'that scene' when they raid the house and there is boobies flying all over the place. She marched down to the video shop the next day, gave the poor chap a piece of her mind, something along the lines of vulgarity no doubt, and to assuage my mother's fears for how I would turn out as an adult, the staff member suggested he make a little note beside the membership number that I was not allowed rent films rated 15's or over, this was crushing news, but thankfully my friends were not under such draconian restrictions. Another less dramatic story was when a group of us wrote a note saying that one of our father's was very ill and housebound and was sending us down to rent Candyman on his behalf, I'm sure it was a source of amusement in store, probably written with crayons.

Johnny Utah get's in a spot of bother

As the years went on and we became more discerning about our film choices, one of my friend's older brother would check out film reviews in The Irish Times and the odd magazine (these were pre-internet days), make a decision on what to rent based on his research, and off we'd head down to Laser. Most of the time we'd get what we wanted but if all copies were rented out panic would set in. An impromptu committee would be formed in the aisles of the shop and debate would rage over what we should do know? What if the others didn't like our selections?? (no mobile phones back then either), on really bad days you could be there for half an hour and end up coming home with Wolf starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer, man that was a terrible film. Needless to say we were ostracised when the end credits rolled on that bogey.

In early adulthood it was the box-sets and Laser always had good deals for multiple rentals, heading down to the off-licence to get some wine and then to Laser to bag a few films or a series for the weekend on a Friday after work was one of life's simple but thoroughly enjoyable pleasures. After moving out of Ranelagh in my mid-20's my Laser life sadly waned, apart from popping in to the George's Street and Andrew's Street shops to buy a DVD, and have a chat with the staff. But I always took great comfort from seeing the familiar and distinct shop front in town, both of which had a constant flow of punters coming in and out, and knowing that they were doing well, even more impressive that they kept going after Chartbusters and Xtravision went under, and survived so long through the recession. 

Cinema Paradiso

When the Ranelagh shop closed last summer I was genuinely sad to the core, devastated might be too strong a word but it's pretty close, and I find it bemusing that a medium that is being made almost extinct by the internet, has been replaced by a book shop of all things in the same location, a kind of bittersweet joke. Hearing the news that Laser is gone altogether after 25 years did leave a small lump in my throat as I was walking home this evening, an institution for film fans which was a quarter of a century old is gone, and now there's nowhere left for us to go and browse what was such a broad and magnificent collection. Such was Laser's popularity and renown I wonder would a fund-it campaign have saved it, or would that simply have prolonged the battling against the waves of modern technology, ultimately leading to a predictable finale. It's a sad day, simple as that, and there's no consolation or silver-lining from what I can see, no 'Well at least...' or 'There's still such and such a place', just nothing. 

To finish up I just want to thank all of the staff I've interacted with since I was a chissler, especially the Ranelagh store where I spent untold hours of sunny summer days when I probably should have been outdoors! These guys actively brought great films to our home screens and caused recommendation domino effects that so many film fans benefited from. Laser, you were more than just a video shop, you were and are an enigma, you'll be sorely missed, but fondly remembered by all who passed through your doors, thank you.

The only plastic you ever needed!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

New Irish Music - Fun With Ropes, 'Out Of Sight'

Fun With Ropes, 'Out of Sight'

Info: 'Out of Sight' is a hot of the press new track from Dublin duo, Fun With Ropes, which has a distinctly 80's overtone, both vocally and musically, like some kind of indie dream-pop version of Belinda Carlisle with Larry Mullen bringing the beats. 'Out of Sight' is a very enjoyable listen and there's more on the way with further recording underway, thumbs up these guys.

'Fun with Ropes came together to make melodic music somewhere on the border between electronic and new wave.  A wide range of influences from new wave to progressive house mean that you can expect lots of stylistic twists and turns in upcoming releases…

They're currently recording our next track 'We don't remember' which should be available some time in December.'

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King Fantastic - New Album, The Great Man Theory

King Fantastic, 'Spooky Spooks and the Trouble With Capitalism'

Info: Finally the four year wait is over and King Fantastic have released their second album, The Great Man Theory, which is the follow up to 2010's incredible Finger Snaps & Gun Claps. TGMT opens strongly with the smooth 'Sands Through The Hourglass', mellow hazy beats and cool Funkadelic style guitar riffs leave you with that 'aw yeah' feeling. If you were getting into a relaxed groove you're snapped out of it quickly with a trademark King Fantastic number in 'Spooky Spooks & The Trouble With Capitalism' (above), Killer Reese means business, and the melodies that cover the verses are sweet. 

The fourth track 'Sexbot Sexpot' is a great display of one side of King Fantastic's music which made a brief appearance on their debut album, the mix of rhyming and guitars, it works so well and it's a stand out example of what separates KF from other acts. Some more electric and acoustic guitars appear on the hard-hitting and dark 'Sewer Surfer', and by the time you've reached the end of the track you've got your King Fantastic on, they're back. 'Rad Racer' has some delicious riffs on it but also Killer Reese evokes early 90's LA hip-hop and brings you back in time to that golden era. One thing King Fantastic have always had in abundance is a witty sense of humour and on The Great Man Theory it's no different, in particular on 'Joshua Tree', Reese and Troublemaker take us on a trippy journey into Alice's Wonderland, which includes the line 'Reese knows how to calibrate the chaos, Reese enjoys the psychosis for the pay-off....Reese knows that reality is subjective, so Reese is never a slave to the collective', as the song title suggests, our two adventurers hit the desert and had some candy! Once again King Fantastic have made an album with no waste on it, the rest of TGMT is made up of previously reviewed single 'Los Angeles International', other single 'Yup, Yup, Yup' and the stomping 'The Hardest Song Ever'. The evolution continues and it's all good.

King Fantastic, 'Joshua Tree'

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

French Girls - Tablemanners E.P.

French Girls, 'Creator'

Info: French Girls' E.P., Tablemanners is one of my highlights of 2014, and it's the best new release I've been sent from the U.S. this year. It's unnerving how accomplished the band are at a presumably quite young age. The sum of all their parts, bassist Keith Gillespie, drummer Randy O'Shea, front man and guitarist Charlie Voltz and the gifted lead guitarist Cody Page combine in a rare manner that suggests all four were destined to combine, but listening to the music they make suggests more than chance is at work here.

There are three parts here for me, the first, is a maybe subconscious ode to late 70's / early 80's post-punk and Talking Heads on 'The Medicated Youth'. 'In The Meantime' is the perfect blend of grunge and some, to date, undefined version of indie rock along with (which excites me the most about French Girls), mid-60's garage. There are so many great bands from that era like The Monks and The Pirates that were not popular in their day but are so influential now that it's music to my ears to hear bands drawing on them, accidentally or intentionally, today. 'In The Meantime' is, with regard to my own personal taste, one of the best songs I've heard in 2014 from new or established bands, it draws every decade of music I like the most together in one track.

French Girls, 'In The Meantime'

In addition to 60's and 70's sounds, French Girls doff their cap to many contemporary acts such as Austin band White Denim, there's a hint of surfer rock and, dare I say it, some Britpop. It's a nice idea to want to try and tie so many diverse versions of rock music together, it's another thing to have the ability to do it, and it's an entirely different proposition altogether to pull it off, here it is.....

French Girls, 'Oakland'

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Goldfish - 'Sugar Man' Remix

Goldfish, 'Sugar Man' (Remix)

Info: If you weren't touched or blown away by 2012's epic Searching for Sugar Man your internal circuit board may need some rewiring. My instant reaction when I saw the title of the remix was 'uh-oh, this might not work', but it does, and it's pretty great! Here's the low-down on South African duo, Goldfish;

'Themselves one of the most successful recording artists in South African history, live electronic band and MTV winners Goldfish have chosen to celebrate Rodriguez’ work ahead of their US tour by remixing ‘Sugar Man’ from ‘Cold Fact’. 

The pair’s reworking is as sensitive to the original subject as it is beautiful. For those fearing an EDM revamping, nothing could be further from the truth. The deep, dreamy remix is testament not only to Goldfish’s high-end production and composition skills, but also their close affinity to and understanding of the track. The hazy, heady, almost hallucinogenic spirit of Rodriguez’ ‘Sugar Man’ is still very much intact, in parts stripped down to a few lush piano chords, other times sweeping the listener up in a warm envelope of sound and emotion, Rodriguez’ haunting vocals guiding the single the entire time.

Dave Poole and Dominic Peters, who fly out to Rodriguez’ home country after their sold out ADE Special with Bakermat this Friday, (available to view live on spoke about why they decided to pay tribute to one of South Africa’s highest grossing artists.

"Going over to America as South Africans, it made sense to highlight the biggest connection for us between the two countries." Poole said. "For any South African, Rodriguez is as legendary as they come and we all grew up knowing his music. He’s an icon."

For decades, South African fans thought the folk singer had committed suicide. Wild rumours circulated varying from him shooting his brains out on stage, to setting himself on fire in front of a horrified audience. The truth, it turned out, was that the man Cold Fact co-producer Mike Theodore deemed "better than Dylan" was working as a construction worker in Detroit. A curious and enigmatic figure, he had absolutely no idea of the impact or commercial success he’d enjoyed thousands of miles away on another continent. 

"It’s kind of crazy thinking about just how influential Rodriguez has been on generations of South Africans – including us," Peters said, "and he never knew a thing about it. For us there was no better way to show our love and appreciation for a man that really was only about the music, than to put our twist on one of his greatest tracks. We hope people enjoy it and we hope that it introduces his music to a whole new audience in the process."

(click to enlarge tour dates)

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Album Review - The Northern Lights, 'Dreamers'

The Northern Lights, '1984'

Info: It's early days but it looks like we may have the North American pretenders to France's M83 on our hands in California chillwave group The Northern Lights. Dreamers was released earlier this year in May and from the opener 'Night Drive', which evokes scenes from a John Hughes film, all the way to the final track, 'Dreamer', you're brought on a flamboyant journey through 80's heaven. The second track, 'You're A Dreamer', is one of the few to feature vocals, something that the band are promising a lot more of on their upcoming album which will be released in the winter, and has a lovely little guitar effect echoing throughout. Next up is '1984' (above) which is one of the best tracks I've heard this year, I've had it on loop for over a week now on their BandCamp page and it feels like it will be impossible to get sick of it, getting pulled across a sonic soundscape with those drums beating you around the head never felt better! Another zinger on the album for me is 'Elevation', guitars, synths and drums, everything is working here, check it out below. The album ends on a high note with 'Dreamer', benefiting from some nice strings toward the end of the track. I think it's a good thing that there will be more vocals on the new album, while it works a treat on Dreamers, a second release on the bounce with the same format might feel a bit samey. Overall, while short and sweet, this album is definitely marked for repeated listens and fills a precise desire one may have to just listen to some good contemporary synth-based music.

The Northern Lights, 'Elevation'

The lovely chaps in The Northern Lights are going to be giving me a heads up when the new album is finished and there'll be a review of it here on the blog, in the meantime, you can check out more music including a full stream of Dreamers here;

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Friday, 17 October 2014

New Irish Music - Monster Monster

Monster Monster, 'Assassin'

Info: Dublin duo Monster Monster are Mick Stuart on guitar, Ríona Sally Hartman on vocals, and both of them on everything else in between, i.e., the music. The pair have recorded two tracks, 'Assassins' (above video) and 'I Am Yours', and they're two peaches. 'Assassins' is a dark number with Hartman's alluring vocals blending old and new styles, that of a 1930's club singer with a more contemporary pop sound, whilst the track's intro draws on Massive Attack's Mezzanine before nodding to Portishead's Dummy. I'm generalising with albums rather than songs because they are merely hints, nothing more specific than that. 'I Am Yours' is a both uplifting and hopeful song about love, the piano and drumming really reminded me of some of the great early 90's dance ballads and later indie music from the same decade, but not as deliberately poppy. Different aspects of the track combine to make a weirdly wonderful meld of lots of different genres from the 80's through to the present day. In short, these two tracks go down so nice and easy and I could definitely see myself enjoying a longer release from Monster Monster in the future. Not to mention one of the best Twitter bio's I've seen in a while!

Additional Info: Monster Monster are an alternative-pop duo from Dublin with song-writing at the heart of the project. Songs by Mick Stuart are developed and made her own by Ríona Sally Hartman. Exploring the range between love and hate, they create one voice from contrasting perspectives. Mick writes with one thing in mind, Ríona sings with another. Mick suggests left, Ríona swings right. Mick listens to Massive Attack, Emilie Sandé and The Beatles, Ríona listens to Janelle Monae, The Eurythmics and Laura Marling. Then they get together, compare notes and argue over lyrics.

They’ve been working behind the scenes, recording music and honing their sound in Grouse Lodge and Beechpark studios with the up and coming UK producer James Lewis (works with Rudimental, Sunset Sons, Morris Rae).  
They both live for storytelling, big cinematic sounds and, like Bono, both want world peace!

Monster Monster are truly grateful for the contribution on the tracks of;

Tommy Gray - drums
Johnny Taylor - keyboards
Niel Dorrington - bass
Jess Kavanagh - backing vocals

Monster Monster, 'I Am Yours'

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Danny G & The Major 7ths - Love Joints, Album Review

Danny G & The Major 7ths, 'Sweet Lies'

About: An 8-piece Neo-Soul band hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Danny G & The Major 7ths is the musical alias of a certain Daniel Groenland, a singer, flautist, guitarist and composer who has regularly performed with the likes of funk band Mob Fandango, African-trad fusion outfit Tig Linn, the Discovery Gospel Choir and The Gospel Project.

His band the Major 7ths represents a move towards a more personal, soulful sound inspired by Neo-Soul artists like D’Angelo and Dilla, as well as the old classics like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. With an emphasis on harmonies and grooves, they feature not one but four vocalists and an all-star lineup ranging from 7 to 10 musicians.

Info: Way back in January at the start of this year I was made aware of Danny G & The Major 7ths through a mutual friend, and watching the development of Love Joints from inception to completion has been a very interesting journey. Danny is unique among his peers insofar as it's pretty unheard of for Irish artists to embrace soul with a dash of funk so wholeheartedly. As a huge fan of Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, James Carr and Al Green to name but a few, I instantly found the music appealing, and when I first saw the live video for 'Believin' In Something' (below) it really made me sit up, and led to an immediate enhanced interest in what the future held for Danny G & The Major 7ths. 

Danny G & The Major 7th's, 'Be With You'

So here's my thoughts on some of the tracks on Love Joints, starting with 'Be With You'. The opening track on the album seems to be one of the ones I've listened to most, which is quite normal I suppose, but it's been seriously stuck in my head for over a week now, the keyboard and wah-wah loop like a worm boring into your head, with really nice harmonies between the front man and the backing vocalists, at one point Danny reminding me of one of my heroes, Michael McDonald, on the higher notes. Another favourite is the fourth track 'In Love', the first full-on taste of 70's soul on the album with delightfully funky guitar riffs and rhythms. The following track GTFO is full of swagger and attitude as the title suggests, with a punchy interlude featuring Ophelia MC that works a treat. Speaking of interludes, the instrumental 'Being With You' slows things down temporarily and it's a great showcase for the talented musicians that make up The Major 7ths, my only complaint is, that as you reach the beautiful piano piece at the end, you want it to go on for longer. 'Just Go Away' is stripped down to the bare bones, a simple and enjoyable ballad that harks back to early 60's folk before Danny G & The Major 7ths raise the curtain on Love Joints returning to what they do best, soulful funk and then some on 'Square One' which is perfectly placed at the end of the album. This is the first album I've reviewed that I feel I've had a (social media) ringside seat to over the course of almost a year, and from the sidelines I've witnessed a lot of hard work and huge dedication go into making it, and it really has paid off, Danny G & The Major 7ths are a tight outfit, and lord knows we need some of their sugar in our bowls.

Additional Info: 

Danny G & The Major 7ths are;

Daniel Groenland - Vocals, multi-instrument
Dennis Cassidy - Drums
Graham Heaney - Bass
Johnny Taylor - Piano
Keith Fennell - Vocals
Rebecca Sinnamon - Vocals
Aisling McCormick
Grainne McCarthy - Vocals
Paddy Groenland - Guitar
Cote Calmet - Percussion

The Love Joints album launch is this coming Saturday, the 18th of October in The Grand Social, and I'll be heading along myself, if it's anywhere near as good as this, we're in for a treat.

Danny G & The Major 7ths, 'Believin' In Something'

You can purchase Love Joints at the following link on CD, mp3 or FLAC and there's also a limited edition of 100 7" vinyl copies of 'Sweet Lies' with B-side 'Never Trust Your Heart', I already have mine, get them while they're available!

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

Join Me In The Pines, 'Inherit', Album Release

Join Me In The Pines, 'Golden Guilt'

Info: Inherit is the first album released by Join Me In The Pines, and the man behind the music, Dave Geraghty's first solo release since 2009's The Victory Dance. The fruits of almost two years work from writing to release (the album was launched on Friday, 10th of October), you get a sense that this album has been waiting for Geraghty in the background, until sufficient life experiences and memories had been stored up, ready to be poured into one piece of work. 

Join Me In The Pines have released a number of videos in the run up to the release of Inherit for tracks such as 'Joy Is Lion', 'At First Light', 'Should Not Roam' and 'Golden Guilt' (above), some of which have been featured here over the last 8 months. As such, I thought I'd focus on the tracks that haven't been covered previously and no better place to start than at the very beginning of the album and the track 'Mezzanine'. The track is a beautiful soft opener that almost beckons you towards the music that is to come on the rest of the album, an homage to an adopted hometown and reflections of happy and sad memories of the time spent there. 

One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'In The Ground', a dark gothic song with a sense of impending doom and wonderfully heavy acoustic riff the whole way through. By the half-way point of the track you feel almost suffocated, as if an arresting paralysis has taken hold and is pulling you under the water. The following track, 'Man With A Mission' has a very western feel about it musically, from the gospel-esque piano intro to the gritty vocals, you feel like you're in a desolate honky-tonk bar off a highway in the mid-west (of America, just to be clear). I also have to highlight how great the backing vocals of Clare Finglass and Dave's mother are, particularly where they feature at the start of the album. Overall, Inherit flows easily through different styles from beginning to end and is a very pleasurable listen with plenty of highlights, affirming Geraghty's song-writing credentials once again.

This Thursday, 16th of October, Join Me In The Pines will play Whelans of Wexford Street, doors at 8pm with support from the hotly tipped Wild Promises, and you can get tickets here. It really is a case of two great acts for the price of one at only €14.00.

Join Me In The Pines, 'Joy Is A Lion'

The Song Lives On, Part 5 - Turn, 'Beretta'

Turn, 'Beretta'

Info: One of Ireland's better known bands at the turn (yes) of the century, posters for Turn gigs seemed to be plastered everywhere, all of the time, and if you were in college at the time, and were interested in music, chances were you'd seen them live at least once. The band was made up of front man Ollie Cole and Ian Melady (drums), both from Co. Meath, who teamed up in Dublin with bass-player Gavin Fox (who would go on to join the excellent Edinburgh outfit, Idlewild in 2003). Their debut album, Antisocial (2001), was littered with crowd favourites, especially the first two songs, 'Too Much Make Up' (below) and the brilliant 'Beretta' (above). For some reason their record label, Infectious, didn't feel there was any value in releasing singles from the album and so the band moved on, self-releasing their 2003 follow-up, Forward, which appeared to signal the rise of the band beyond their loyal fanbase, reaching no.8 in the Irish charts. A few small line-up changes followed and Turn released their third and final self-titled album in 2005. 

My own abiding, and possibly least muddied memory of the gigs I've mentioned so far, was in the dark bowels of what was then called Danger Doyle's in Temple Bar, just off Dame Street in 2000/1, for some reason it was a particularly messy night and the band were in fine form. The rules surrounding drinking pints front of stage were non-existent back then and the floor was awash with spilt beer after only two songs in what was probably one of the less glamorous venues Turn performed at. I got in touch with bass-player Gavin Fox and he very kindly took time out to put together his thoughts on those halcyon days, massive thanks to Gavin for the following piece;

'My memories of the band starting are very dear. I was 17 and even though the boys were a bit older, they weren't in Dublin long so it felt like we were learning the ropes together. Our first rehearsal took place at The Factory in Ringsend. It was a special day and we instantly knew we were on to something. From then on everything happened very quickly. We were signed and published within the year and we became a very tight live band. I honestly can't remember one single bad thing about that first year. We were all very happy.

Nearly all of the shows we played were stand out for me. I was and still am a massive fan of Irish bands like Revelino, Sack, Whipping Boy, Future Kings of Spain, JJ72 etc., and we played and became friends with them all. I learned so much from watching these bands and felt blessed to be a part of that scene. If I had to pick one show I guess it would be the first time we sold out the Temple Bar Music Centre. We came back from dinner before the show and saw the queue outside. I think most bands have that same fond memory.

I remember being on tour supporting Idlewild in the U.K. and we did an afternoon show in the uni bar. Some guy at a table kept talking so Ollie got off stage and asked him outside for a fight. The guy wheeled his wheelchair from under the table and Ollie came back on stage. I still have a wee chuckle about that!

Turn, 'Too Much Make Up'

I loved being in Turn and I'm very proud of everything we did. Every gig we played, we played as if it were our last. Every rehearsal was creative and those lads were like brothers to me and still are. Of course we all felt something big should have happened but it just didn't. That's what happens with bands. Everybody else kept telling us we'd be huge but the chances of that happening are always slim. I can name a list of big bands that shouldn't be as big and a list of small bands that should. If a band can make even a slight impact on just a few people then it was worth while!

I think we did that.

- Gavin Fox, Turn (bassist)

Gavin currently plays for Little Matador, who released their first, self-titled album earlier this year, find out more and have a listen here

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Rory Gallagher, Top 10

Info: Undoubtedly, as far as I'm concerned, Ireland's most gifted guitarist, (and my own, hands down, favourite musician of all time, from anywhere!) born in Ballyshannon in 1948, Co.Donegal, the family moved to Derry where his younger brother, Dónal was born, before settling in Cork city. Both counties claim him as their own with annual festivals growing year on year in both locations. In perhaps an attempt to claim some supremacy over their rivals, Ballyshannon have even placed a statue of Rory in the centre of the town. He was also unique, insofar that he played in both sides of Belfast during the Troubles, with a complete disregard for the tensions of the 1970's in the North. Ask any Irish person from any demographic to name a Thin Lizzy, U2, Enya, Chris de Burgh song, and they should be able to give you an answer, the same can't be said about Gallagher, and that's fine of course, so here's 8 songs of his, plus 2 interviews. But before I post these tracks, I have to reiterate two tired stories about Rory, the first is when Rolling Stone magazine asked Jimi Hendrix how it felt to be the greatest guitarist in the world, to which Hendrix replied 'I don't know, you'll have to ask Rory Gallagher', and Brian May of Queen recalling a time he sat in silence and watched Gallagher play in front of him and later stated that he owed everything he knew about guitar playing to Rory. Enjoy.

Rory Gallagher statue, Ballyshannon, with Stratocaster
(Photo: Remy Connolly)

1) 'Walking On Hot Coals' - Irish Tour, 1974

2) 'Going To My Hometown' - German TV studio, 1972

3) 'Crest of a Wave' - German Beat Club, 1974 (2 mins on....)

4) Slash from Guns N' Roses talks about Rory Gallagher

5) 'As The Crow Flies' - Irish Tour, 1974

6) 'Cradle Rock' - Montreux, 1975

7) 'Wheels Within Wheels' - posthumous track

8) Interview - Rory Gallagher in Cologne, Germany, 1976

9) 'I Could've Had Religion' - The song Bob Dylan told Rory he wished he'd written, Dylan also visited Rory Gallagher on his deathbed in hospital, and was refused back stage at one of Rory's gigs in Germany, because his brother Dónal didn't recognise him...

10) 'Out On The Western Plain' - Live in Cork. Shortly before Rory died in 1994. 

At this stage he'd succumbed to an addiction to pain-killers which led to liver failure. Allegedly, he suffered from anxiety and took prescription drugs to stave off tiredness, depression, and any discomfort that afflicted him, which led to considerable weight gain. In the only (excellent) Rory Gallagher biography I've read by the Belgian Jean Noel-Coghe, who spent considerable time on tour with Rory, he wrote that Rory struggled to cope with incessant touring, which eventually got the better of him . Either way, here's my last Gallagher track

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Debut Album - Circus of Seven, Sunday School Show

Circus of Seven, 'Angry Birds'

Info: When I had this album sent to me yesterday I was not prepared for what I heard. There are a lot of different types of music floating about at the moment from electronica to synth-based, indie to alt-rock, remixes of this and that etc. but when I listened to Circus of Seven it felt like a breath of fresh air. While musically they are self-admittedly influenced by Alice in Chains, Biffy Clyro and Queens of the Stone Age, and I acknowledged to myself that they reminded me a lot of late 80's / early 90's hard rock. The thing is, no one, especially in Ireland, is explicitly making music like this at the moment, or for as long as I can remember, come to think of it, I don't think I've ever heard an Irish band who embraced this style so wholeheartedly before in the way Circus of Seven do. Another thing that immediately struck me is how professional and well-produced this is for a debut album, evidence perhaps of the trio cutting their teeth in a variety of other bands over the years.

On the music side of things the (slightly!) quieter tracks remind me of Pearl Jam around Vitalogy and even a bit of Danzig's self-titled 1988 album, and on the delightfully heavier tracks Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger. Front man Eamonn O'Neill's vocals, on 'Howl', for example, have me sitting in front of Nirvana's MTV Unplugged set, and then on other tracks such as 'Black Dolphin' the theatricality of Alice Cooper comes through in his personality. Another stand-out track for me is 'Neighbour' below, which captures the sound Molloy, Croke and O'Neill have spread throughout the album, hard-hitting rock and metal. It's been a long time since I've been to either a dingy pub or a large venue and seen a crowd lose it properly, I can imagine that might all be about to change, although, at present, Circus of Seven have no live dates planned, when announced, it'll be something I'll be eager to see. I even caught myself doing the sign of the horns with my hands and I'm only listening to it in my living room. There's not a single bad or filler track on Sunday School Show, with 'Modern Warfare' and 'Sharks' securing the album's quality, I don't know who needs who more, Irish music venues or Circus of Seven.

Circus of Seven, 'Neighbour'

Circus of Seven are Sean Molloy (drums), Conor Croke (guitar) and Eamonn O'Neill (vocals), the Wexford men's first album, Sunday School Show, is due for release on the 31st of October. 

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Stephen Young & The Union, Interview & New Single, 'Duty Free 200'

Stephen Young & The Union, 'Duty Free 200'

Info: Stephen Young & The Union are a folk rock quintet that have been shaking things up since 2009. In many ways ahead of the pack on this side of the Atlantic and taking risks that paid off with the release of the excellent 2011 debut album, Wilderness Machine. Subsequent to the album release, the band received regular airplay on RTÉ Radio, BBC Radio Ulster and Phantom FM as well as receiving a host of positive reviews across the board. During the summer the band also played many festivals such as Vantastival and Electric Picnic with more shows coming up (see below). On the 24th of October they will be releasing the first single, 'Duty Free 200', from their upcoming sophomore album, Eagle Fort Rumble. In an interview with Stephen himself he gave a few clues as to what can be expected from the new album, and he's referenced a lot of musicians that long-time readers of the blog will know I have a healthy obsession with, so personally, I can't wait to hear it. A big thanks to Stephen for such considered answers and of course to the band for making such great music, without further ado...

Remy: At the time of your debut album release, Wilderness Machine, in 2011, your folk-rock sound was quite niche in terms of the music other bands were releasing, now in 2014 the genre seems to have really caught on with the younger generation, what would you put that down to?

Stephen: In 2011 you could see tide was kinda changing, the Electro thing was running out of a bit of steam and then shortly after you have bands like Mumford & Sons come along and whether you like em or not they did bring the folk scene to the masses. There were banjos on daytime radio... It's hard to put a finger on the exact point in the shift, but bands like the Raconteurs too came out before Wilderness Machine. While we were recording it they had Consolers Of The Lonely out and it was cool to hear Jack White go from The White Stripes to this. The move was back to Roots - folk, country, blues-influenced stuff... somewhere in the Stripes you always knew where he was coming from but here it was on record straight up. I mean Jack White is probably up there with Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher as one of the most influential musicians and songwriters of my generation so all of a sudden it's like 'well Jack is doing it so it must be ok'. I knew a lot of guys that were listening to roots music but at that time to go on stage with a banjo or a mandolin or a fiddle that was set aside for a certain market and those guys were playing in the pubs on the outskirts of town, while the guys with little synths and drum pads were in the main venues. Now there's a more evenly-spread scene... and I think it's good and whatever the next 'thing' is it might come out of folk bands hanging out with electro bands who are hanging out with rock bands or whatever and it could lead to something cool.

Remy: Aside from the obvious influences, on tracks from your first album, for example, 'To Michelle', the vocals are quite close to Elton John and both vocals and music on the excellent opener ‘Rum & Coke’ remind me a lot of John Lennon’s solo stuff, apart from Americana, what other styles of music play a part in your sound?

Stephen: I think you're the first person to spot Elton John in 'To Michelle'.. yeah that's pretty much what I was aiming for... something off Tumbleweed Connection or something. I had done the whole thing of finding Oasis as a teenager, that bringing me to The Beatles, The Beatles bringing me Bob Dylan and Dylan bringing me to the Blues. From Blues then it was Bluegrass and then Country. Old Crow Medicine Show were this huge revelation to me with their first album. I mean you can't not hear 'Wagon Wheel' wherever you go now, but back in 2004 or 2005 it was like we were sitting around listening to old albums and now here's this contemporary band who are borrowing from Dylan, making bluegrass, not afraid to light it up and it sent us out looking for more country and bluegrass, so we found Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and then Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark and those guys. But Rock, like old fashioned Rock n Roll was just as big for me. The Stones were doing everything right on record in the 60s and 70s. The Yardbirds, Led Zepellin, The Doors. A lot of blues-influenced rock bands... Fleetwood Mac... Once I was hearing something in the intention of the band that was coming from something like roots music I was in.

Remy: With the addition of guitarist Shayne Byrne this summer, Stephen Young & The Union now have five accomplished musicians in total, tell us a little bit about how the song-writing side of things work, is it an autocracy or a democracy?!

Stephen: Well that depends who you ask... No I don't know. Maybe both. I mean I'll come in with the songs written down the last chord. I don't go to the studio with unfinished songs and make em up as we go. We produce that way... but I don't write that way. I'll get fairly meticulous with the songs before I bring them out. I'll write and rewrite and edit them til they're as perfect as I can make them. Then it's up to the band what parts go down and where. I'm not gonna fuss over parts and hand everyone a sheet. Once I know the song, everyone else falls in, jams along, gets their teeth into it whatever way makes them comfortable and then away we go.

Stephen Young & The Union, 'Coke & Rum' (from Wilderness Machine, 2011)

Remy: Your new single ‘Duty Free 200’ is a great lovelorn ballad that will feature on your second album, Eagle Fort Rumble, can we also expect some more barnstorming foot-tappers on the new album, and also any news on a release date yet?

Stephen: The new album is a big change. It's out in April next year. Yeah there's some nice ballads on there, but for the most part you'll hear us letting our hair down and bringing the tempo up a bit. I had been conscious of some reviews of Wilderness Machine that had been favourable to 'Coke & Rum' and 'Fairbanks' and not so much the others. People will say look don't listen to the reviews or critics or whatever and stick to your guns, but there was a point a little after Wilderness Machine came out and I was like yeah I know where they were coming from. I mean sometimes it's good to not turn your back on the criticism and say I've gotta stay true to my 'art' or whatever, I kinda took it on board and thought 'yeah, after the first two songs the rest of the album does lag a little..' Coming into Eagle Fort Rumble I wasn't thinking well I'm gonna write everything at break-neck speed but I did have it in my mind that each song, and especially the ballads had to hold attention. And if that meant chasing another hook or bringing the tempo up, or writing a riff then I tried to do that. Things just seemed to click though and whatever strict quality controls I was putting myself under were working. I listen to Eagle Fort Rumble and I can hear fully-realised ideas coming through the speakers. There's some big stompers on there. It's the kind of album that makes you drive faster and that's always a good barometer...

Remy: The band was formed in 2009, what do you think has been the most notable change on the Irish music scene since then (social media, showcase events etc.)?

Stephen: The social media change is noticeable for sure. We started out on Myspace, that was the main and pretty much the only place for bands to be, now you've got Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. I'm really bad at keeping track of them all. You've got to be able to multi-task online these days. The showcases are great for bands... I mean the more of these things the better right? There's an unusual amount of bands in Ireland. Everybody knows someone who's in one. I don't know what's in the water but we have a lot of musicians... those bands are gonna need somewhere to play and not everybody can get on the top festivals or whatever. We've done Jack Of Diamonds two years in a row. A showcase like that where punters can stroll in off the street and watch a band they've never seen before is great. And that's all bands want... besides making a million and playing Slane yeah... guys just want to play in good venues to full rooms. If there's some money in it, great. But you take it one step at a time. All musicians want for starters is a listening room. After that it's in the lap of the gods...

Remy: During the summer just gone you played a number of festivals such as Knockanstockan Festival in Blessington, Vantastival and Electric Picnic, could you pick a particular act that you all saw which blew your socks off?

Stephen: The Hot Sprockets always bring their 'A' game. Great bunch of guys aswell... Mick Heslin is a fantastic musician too. John Spillane went on before us at Vantastival in the acoustic tent... We were going on and I turned around and said thanks John how we gonna follow that, he's like 'you'll be grand'... Half the tent clears out with him and I'm like 'yeah right...' He's a class act, and a lovely guy.

Remy: Considering we’re a small island on the edge of Europe, we’ve had a huge output of great musicians in the past and present, who would be your all-time favourite Irish artist from any era?

Stephen: We do. It's a serious problem. It's an epidemic of musicians... Our best ever? Wow. U2 get a hard time. Their recent stuff is shit. But you look at what they put out in the 80s and 90s... There's wall-to-wall classic albums. Van Morrison has made some great stuff... Rory Gallagher too. Oh, I'm gonna say U2. I know they're not popular these days. And they should've quit ten years ago. But the Stones should've quit 20 years ago but it doesn't stop them being one the best bands of all time. Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby... they're just great albums. And live, they're incredible. I'm pretty sure history will be kinder to them than the present is.

Remy: Finally, I see on your website that you have an online pool game, I had a go of it and was brutal, is pool a chilled out past-time that all the band enjoy together, or do things get out of hand and end up with you battering the bejaysis out of each other with pool cues and fists?

Stephen: Haha. You have the option of beating the bejaysis out of each other sure. We had a pool table in the studio with us for the first two weeks of recording and we spent a lot of time playing pool. The album chart board even got replaced as a pool tournament board so we could keep track of who beat who... We kinda sorted out the hierarchy of pool players and got little else done. You found yourself dying for someone to finish their take just so you could take a shot on the table and that kinda thing. The table had to go. But if we're ever in a pub with a table we're straight on it. There's some grudge matches that always have to be played.

You can catch Stephen Young & The Union at the following venues and dates, the Abner Browns show sounds particularly interesting. For anyone who hasn't heard of it, the barber shop past Slattery's in Rathmines as you turn onto the Rathgar Road doubles up as a cosy music venue on a regular basis and is becoming a cult spot after hours.

Abner Brown's, Rathmines

Sunday 12 October - Rocktoberfest - Monroes, Galway 
Friday 24 October - Single launch - Sweeney's, Dame Street, Dublin 
Saturday 25 October - Bobby Reidy's, Nenagh, Tipperary  
Saturday 1 November - Abner Browns, Rathmines, Dublin 
Thursday 30 November - Monroes, Galway

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New single & Wilderness Machine (full album): Remy particularly recommends the tracks '100 Years', 'Fall Into Night' and 'To Michelle'