Sunday, 31 July 2016

Rory Gallagher: Top Ten

Rory Gallagher Blues Ireland

Info: Rory Gallagher easily surpassed the best of his contemporaries as a blues guitar player. It's incredible that a young guitarist, born in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, and claimed as the rightful son of Cork City, had such an impact on an alien genre of music to this island, yet drew to his side the likes of B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Bob Dylan and Slash to name but a few. 

From the biography of Jean-Noël Coghe, Rory Gallagher; 'Rory began to master the guitar from the age of nine. First he learnt how to handle six strings....he would place his fingers on the neck of the guitar and run them up and down, honing his dexterity, plucking the steel wires, racing through chords, sharpening the tone.'

There is too much to learn and find out about Rory Gallagher as an artist / musician and person for me to cover it here, I can't. What I can do is share his Top 10 greatest songs, (IMO) which were mostly live. Bias aside, I've no doubt he was the greatest Irish musician of the last four decades, it's a cheap anecdote, but Hendrix described Gallagher as the greatest guitarist of all time in an interview with Parkinson. His impact on contemporaries was so strong that Bod Dylan visited Gallagher on his death bead, no words were exchanged between the two, and Dylan left a note and flowers before walking oout of the hospital room. That said, Dylan always maintained that 'I Could Have Had Religion' by Rory was 'the greatest song I never wrote'. Much as I love Dylan, I think Rory killed it better than he could have! 

Here's my Top 10 Rory Gallagher tracks

1) 'I Could Have Had Religion'

2) 'I Fall Apart'

3) 'Crest of a Wave' (Live at The Beat Club, Germany)

4) 'Going To My Hometown'

5) 'Out On The Western Plain'

6) 'Im Not Awake Yet'

7) 'Cradle Rock'

8) 'Wheels Within Wheels'

9) 'As The Crow Flies'

10) 'Hoodoo Man'

Video: Bairbre Anne - Selfish

Bairbre Anne Selfish

Bairbre Anne - Selfish

Info: To the casual listener it's a more than very competent singer-songwriter / pop song, but after a short few listens, and perusing the background to the track, the strength and conviction of the artist and indeed the song itself come to the fore on Dublin solo act Bairbre Anne's 'Selfish', from her forthcoming album. 

Being refreshingly frank and admirable in her intuitive self-conviction she gives more information on the track; "I chose this song because, well, it's a key one for me. I’ve literally ripped a page out of my diary and put it in a song for you. Its not my usual approach to songwriting, I’ve never been so “bold” with lyrics (for lack of a better explanation) before. I wrote it for myself to begin with and never thought of using it, but then said fuck that. It’s just honest."

If all musicians adopted that approach to releasing their creations us music fans would be spoiled rotten, a sure recipe for disaster is pondering what other people may think of your craft or over-analysing how you should be doing something, falling into either or both pitfalls results in sounding the same as everyone else, stifles creativity, and leads to anonymity, the fact that Bairbre Anne knows this bodes well for her musical future.

This all seeps through on 'Selfish', Bairbre Anne's piano playing is sweet and easy on the ear along with a jolting vocal performance, it's calmness spiking suddenly to an impressive and wholesome power and back again, the forthcoming album will certainly pique interest around these quarters.

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Video: Mike Lawal - Just Holla feat. Numbchuck Squirrels

Mike Lawal Just Holla Numbchuck Squirrel

Mike Lawal - Just Holla feat. Numbchuck Squirrels

Info: Fellow Natives are an Irish independent conglomerate run by a team of young intellects focused on elevating the Irish music scene dramatically. The Fellow Natives concept originated from a collection of Mike Lawal past projects in 2014, the following year the group came together. Fellow Natives, largely does not have a target audience that's classified, under race nor gender. More so the artist gives rise to the word 'fellow' as a collective manner of peoples, who given rise, enjoy the art of thinking on that subconscious level, i nthe pursuit an enlightenment.

The rise of Irish hip-hop continues, it has been hugely successful so far, yet is nowhere near reaching a peak any time soon. Dublin's Mike Lawal keeps that flag flying with his latest release 'Just Holla' in tandem with Numbchuck Squirrels. Sourced from a notable respect for 1990's hip-hop and rap, whilst creating a surrounding sound of contemporary grime, 'Just Holla' greases it wheels with a lo-fi musical undercurrent, it's determined yet assuredly calm. Flowing around its looped horn effect, Lawal & co. create a hypnotic rhythm that is brought home perfectly at the 1:08 mark with a lightly sinister grime tone. 

Kudos as well for a video that brings genuinely humorous brevity and was clearly thought out to capture the collective's personality, it's haphazard, composition is off the cuff and nonchalant and that's an approach that should be entirely endorsed, a winning combo all round.

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EP: The Saxophones - If You're On The Water

The Saxophones If You're On The Water
Jesse Littlebird Photography

The Saxophones - Best Boy

Info: 'If You’re on the Water', while self-released, is the The Saxophones’ first studio recording. It was recorded and mixed on an analog Toft console by Cameron Spies (co-founder/leader of Portland band Radiation City) over the course of a spring week in Portland, Oregon. It features Alexi Erenkov on guitar, vocals, and woodwinds; his wife, Alison Alderdice, on percussion and vocals; and his longtime friend and collaborator Richard Laws (Hosannas) on bass, vibraphone, and Crumar synthesizer. 

The title track was inspired by a summer week that saw suicide, the transition of a relationship, and Alexi and his father’s nearly fatal boating accident. If origin stories intrigue you, you can learn more here.

Oakland, California band The Saxophones' debut EP, If You're On The Water, had immediate impact from the opening few seconds of its title track. To get the slight touchpoint references I personally felt out of the way, there was a half-way house between the short distance from The Walkmen's 2008 album You & Me and I Am Kloot's Sky At Night (2010), but...I found lead vocalist Alexi Erenkov's voice a far better fit with my musical taste and what pleases me.

The Saxophones - If You're On The Water

Deary me though, 'If You're on the Water' is so beautiful, often lyrics are written as an accumulation of past experiences or one moment in time romanticised through a prism of fractured memories, and rarely (but not entirely uncommonly) from recent events. Like the remainder of the EP, it would seem impossible that anybody, no matter how little or great their interest in music, would not be impacted emotionally on some level by this track, musically it is balm for the heart and the harmonies with Alderdice a caressing of the soul.

Second track 'New Tradition' lays your head down and harks way back to 50's jazz sounds with it's soft saxophone and slow, distant percussion, guitar and vocals are pained and sincere, everything sounds so accomplished here and its just over four minutes feels like it has passed in no time at all. Finally, as if you haven't had your fill, The Saxophones own your mood with closer 'Best Boy' (top). The calmly defiant verse; 'There's a pain in my teeth, there's a pain in my feet, there's a feeling of dread I can't reach, but it feels good, I'm still young, I swear I know how to have fun, there's a pity party happening tonight at my house, you may be invited, just be sure you don't open my mouth' acknowledges personally experienced tragedy, places it in a box, not to be forgotten, but not being allowed to impinge on moving on. If You're On The Water is quite simply, one of the most gorgeous collection of debut songs I've heard, and I'm so sad and glad I did!

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Single: Jaunt - Hello

Jaunt Hello
Photo: Devon Little

- Review by James McGregor

Info: Jaunt began as a duo in Hamilton, Canada in the winter of 2014. Born of our shared love of pop music and an improvised bedroom recording setup, the project quickly became a joint obsession. The two of us eventually convened in Toronto where we were mutually inspired; leading us to shape and realize our music. Two years later, this partnership has grown into Jaunt. Now a fully formed band of five, we create the type of introspective music that is easy to get lost in. 

'Hello' explores the conflicting pleasures and pitfalls of smart technology and the ways in which individuals navigate new social landscapes. Moments of true connection afforded by means of mechanical alienation determine the depths of our relationships.

Jaunt's 'Hello' is one of those rare beauties that, from the first few bars, I feel like I've known forever: without the song feeling derivative. At 1:45, Jaunt don't give themselves much time to make an impact but manage to provide a layered and surprisingly complex pop tune.

I really love the retro vocals, and synth tones. The repetitive, poppy vocal melody provides a great hook, without the song sounding twee or garish. One of the most important assets of this song is that it is not superficial in theme. The song explores mobile technology, challenges associated with it and takes a snapshot of someone in the phone, resolving in a dialtone,  as if to suggest that the caller abruptly hangs up. A clever concept song, as well as a burst of pop delightfulness.

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EP: Alf Moon - Aesthetics of Anxiety

Alf Moon Aesthetics of Anxiety EP

Alf Moon - Doubts

- Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: Following up on his well received Saisons EP - glowingly reviewed in these very pages - Parisian producer Alf Moon returns with Aesthetics of Anxiety. Citing such influences as Jon Hopkins, Jamie XX and Moderat, he manages to expand on his skill at creating intoxicating and often claustrophobic sonic environments.  

Opening the EP, 'Ocean Waves' acts as a submersive scene setter - tiny drops of water are gradually immersed in slow building synths, building to a whirling crescendo. It’s an experimental, textural track, building the mood of the EP and leading directly into the John Carpenter arpeggios of 'With Closed Eyes'. 
Immediately gripping with its Kraftwerkian sense of propulsion, the track effortlessly creates tension as its muted beat ebbs and flows, creating a surging, glassy feeling, conjuring steely Michael Mann visuals.  

Finally, unlike the slow builds of the first two tracks, 'Doubts' playfully lives up to its title by announcing itself with a thunderous four to the floor kick which is slowly suffocated by synths. Of course, it returns, settling into the mode of a more traditional floor filler, but it’s almost a victory lap as Alf Moon has set out his stall very clearly by that stage. And his abundant talent at creating musical soundscapes that skilfully conjure atmosphere and visuals is only growing more apparent with each passing release.

You can get you ears on Aesthetics of Anxiety via French label Roch Music on iTunes here, or Spotify here.

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Video: Rainbrother - Break Out (Live)

Rainbrother Break Out Live

Info: Rainbrother is the new moniker of Danish folk and indie-rock musician Bjarke Bendtsen, who funnily enough was one of the very first ever music reviews here almost exactly 4 years ago today when I (briefly) gave my thoughts on his LP Amerika as The Migrant. The above video is Rainbrother's first and was shot at a secret location in Copenhagen as he performed his new track 'Break Out'. What a doozy and here's to more from Rainbrother.

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Premiere: Saramai - Trees

Saramai Trees Premiere Single
Photo: Tara Thomas

Info: Meath singer-songwriter and dream pop act Saramai releases her second single of the summer, 'Trees', the follow up to last May's wonderful 'Hanging Around' and I'm very proud to premiere the single here before it's official release date tomorrow, 29th of July. Of the track she says; ''Trees' was perhaps the first song I wrote with more than voice and piano in mind. I could hear textures and colours as much as melody and harmony. Over the last six months it has evolved live as Aimie and Cormac brought their own expression and creativity to the track.

We had an amazing experience recording it one afternoon in the stunning Attica studio in the wilds of Donegal. The recording is completely live, one take with no overdubs.'

Just like 'Hanging Around', 'Trees' embraces the grandiose, it's opening piano bars and percussion rumble like a distant thunder before Saramai's powerful voice enters the fray. The three together are Elysian, lifting you high off the ground onto other plains. The combination should be unsettling given its force but is unexpectedly warm and comforting, an achievement in itself given the track was recorded live and in one take as mentioned above.

The overall impression left on the listener is a mix of fortitude and defiance, but also a tinge of sadness as 'Trees' progresses, regret is felt in the lyrics and vocals, and a particularly pleasing moment occurs at the beginning of the songs final third when O'Keeffe joins in harmony with the singer, whilst both are singing the same lines it feels like a conversation between two celestial beings. It's clear yet again that Saramai is completely submerged in her song-writing process, it's not just that the music sounds great, the transference of feeling and emotion is delivered with absolute precision, whilst sounding completely unforced, and that's where the real victory lies.

To watch Saramai's performance on RTÉ's Other Voices recently, click on the image below.

Saramai Other Voices RTÉ

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

EP: No Nothings - No Nothings

No Nothings Punk Garage Band EP

No Nothings - All The Good Ones

Info: NO NOTHINGS are a tour-de-force of speed-garage-punk-rock-psych-goodness injected straight through the eyeballs. Rising from the ashes of Kingston-Upon-Hull sweethearts, Mother, No Nothings hit hard with a dose of Iggy & The Stooges, Minor Threat, QOTSA. Teaming up with Nottingham's I'm Not From London Records (Baby Godzilla/Heck), No Nothings just released their début EP on 12" vinyl at the weekend.

Christ. This collection of six tracks from Hull punk-rockers No Nothings is the best garage and punk music I've heard from either side of the Irish Sea, probably ever, and I'm not exaggerating. Opening track and single 'I'm Dead' (below video) blasts a hole in your head straight away. The frenetic 2 minute duration of the track squeezes out every drop of blood it can, trundling drums, guitars and bullish vocals slam home a liberating piece of contemporary punk laced with the genres classic DNA.

Then comes 'All The Good Ones' (above), the pace is electric, speed-garage at its most head-banging and dizzying, the timing (something which repeats itself all across the record) is absolutely perfect, stop-start, stop-start, like a metronome of chaos. In the final quarter it music stutters, but not to a close, merely as a prelude to a crashing finale. 'A Country Song' harps back to old school Stateside surf-rock and garage, imagine, if you can, The Monks and Motorhead morphed as one and you'll start to get the picture, kind of!

No Nothings - I'm Dead

Following the ear-splitting 'Dead Boy' we arrive at the thick bass-laden 'Love Majority' (below), an epicly anthemic and emphatic clunk of hard-edged anarchy that makes you want to scream, not out of anguish but as a medium for euphoric release, this is punk, and it's my favourite track of the six. The EP closes with the smoking romp that is 'Hell Town', probably the closest to the golden era of British punk-rock music of the Pistols and The Damned and American band The Misfits, albeit harder than the latter two. 

This debut from No Nothings excites the shit out of me, I want to listen to it again and again and loud. The overall feeling by the end of the record is ecstatically uplifting, invigorating and finally, exhausting. A collection which would make the elderly break out of their old folks home and smash in the windows of the financial district, make a hippy commune burn itself to the ground during a day of rage and make Switzerland launch a nuke at China, just for the laugh. Right, I need to lie down now.

No Nothings - Love Majority

Monday, 25 July 2016

Track: Dan Amor - Cnoc Cnoc Cnoc

Dan Amor Cnoc Cnoc Cnoc

Dan Amor - Cnoc Cnoc Cnoc

- Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: With four releases already under his belt, 'Cnoc Cnoc Cnoc' is the first single from über-talented recording artist Dan Amor’s fifth full length album Afonydd a Drysau (Rivers & Doors). Aptly described as "a wistful blend of alt-folk and pop infused with summery psychedelia", the Welsh-language track perfectly details an amazingly specific moment that I’m pretty sure everyone has experienced - guiltily hiding from an unexpected knock at the door. Sure, you’ve felt that - but you didn’t write a song about it did you? Well, fear not, Dan’s got you covered.

Feeling like Britpop at it’s finest - this is classic 60's English influenced pop songwriting. And, indeed, it kind of meets at that intersection between The Beatles at their most whimsical and Super Furry Animals at their most melodic. Its jaunty, relaxed pace settles you in perfectly, like the first summer’s day of proper sunshine, and then just when you think you have a handle on it, it explodes into a brilliantly off-kilter kazoo section. Expertly constructed, with the kind of brutal attention to detail that’s necessary to make something sound this effortless, if this song doesn’t put a smile on your face, it may be used as evidence of your inhumanity in a court of law.

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Video: Hvmmingbyrd - If Love Was Enough

Hvmmingbyrd If Love Was Enough

Hvmmingbyrd - If Love Was Enough

Info: Metamorphosised from a five-piece, to now alt-pop duo, Kildare's Hvmmingbyrd today released the video for their new single, 'If Love Was Enough', which will feature on their September 29th EP release, Know By Name. They look forward to playing Indiependence Music Trail, Live at Heart festival in Sweden and Electric Picnic this summer, with upcoming tour dates below. The video for their latest single was directed by Crooked Gentlemen and stars NBC 'The Night Shift' actor Eoin Macken and Olivia Romao.

Beginning not with naievty, but more confident hope, the songs theme deals with the waning of our aspirations and the initial magic and happiness of relationships as time passes, as well as the unavoidable manner in which life can snatch our plans from us. The movement from their background in almost celtic contemporary folk to atmospheric alt-pop is noticeable, the pair tentatively but assuredly dipping their toes into electronic sounding spheres. 

A particularly pleasing aspect of 'If Love Was Enough' (aside from the visually impressive video) is how Deborah Byrne and Suzette Das merge their harmonies to the point that they are indistinguishable from each other, as one. Personally I sense that they have unlocked an entirely new canvas to work on, the EP will be interesting in terms of comparing the rest of the tracks to this single, there's a lot of scope as they move on from the past and head on to pastures new!

Upcoming Irish dates:

Sunday 24th July: Apollo Sessions, the Bleeding Horse
Tuesday 26th July: King Kong Club, Whelans (Upstairs)
Sunday 31st July: Indiependence Music Trail
Thursday 11th August: The Workman's

Saturday/Sunday 3rd & 4th September: Electric Picnic (stages TBA)

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Whelan's Ones To Watch: Summer Watch 2016 - Choice Picks

Oh Joy Whelan's Ones To Watch Summer 2016
Oh Joy - Fine purveyors of 'post-mope'

Info: January's Whelan's Ones To Watch was the best indoor music festival I've ever attended, hands down, and I have some great memories still fresh in the head from those dark winter nights. There were some acts I was familiar with which were previewed here and didn't let me down, but equally rewarding were the ones I had no clue about, went in cold, and came out a fan of, the likes of Niamh Crowther, Rachael Lavelle, The Witch Trials, Bagels and Third Smoke immediately spring to mind. 

Due to the spread out nature of the event between the main stage, front bar and upstairs, I wasn't able to get to see everyone, if only I'd had Padre Pio's gift of bi-location (who knows what he really used it for...), but heard rave reviews from others I met there about the likes of Vameel, M(h)aol and many others, as well as discovering incredible music I didn't get to see that weekend since, such as WOLFF, THUMPER, Fangclub and RUTH. It really was brimming with talent and I was struck by the professionalism of all of the acts I caught, and more importantly, the sheer musical diversity that was on offer. 

If this coming weekend's Summer Watch at Whelan's is a fifth as good, I'll be delighted, yes, a fifth. Same as January, it's €5 per day or €10.00 for the full weekend from Friday 22nd to Sunday, 24th of July with a free pint of Hop House 13 thrown in for good measure. Below are some of the acts I'm looking forward to catching, but as I said above, they'll all be to a high standard and new discoveries will be made once again.

Whelans Ones To Watch Summer Watch 2016

More acts and stage times still to be announced, more info and tickets are available here

Friday, 22nd July

Brass Phantoms - 'City of Wolves'

Third Smoke - 'Ms. Summer Breeze'

RUTH - 'Who Are You Living For?'

Young Earth - 'Wanna Be Your Man'

Saturday, 23rd July

Oh Joy - 'Habits & Recreations'

The Clockworks - 'Girls Like You'

Three Underneath - 'Stay'

Exiles - 'Red Lights'

Sunday, 24th July

Harbouring Oceans - 'Enso'

Field Trip - 'You & I'

CARRON - 'Marble Arch'

Monday, 18 July 2016

Video: Elly D - Say

Elly D Say Video

Elly D - Say

Info: Dublin solo act Elly D releases the second video and single from her debut EP Rise which was released earlier this year. 'Say' follows her previous release, 'If It's Cool' from the same EP which was reviewed here at the beginning of last month; "'Say' shuts the door on it's EP predecessor, giving us something quite different, we're listening to a contemporary piece of music without doubt. Doyle's vocals are sharp and the production is solid, it's far more transcendent and reaches the heights required to give an energetic impetus to the track."

You can get a digital copy of the EP on the usual online digital outlets such as iTunes or physical copies in Tower Records, Dublin.

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Track: Tycho - Division

Tycho Division

Tycho - Division

Info: It feels like it's been a long wait, but it's only been two years since Tycho treated us to the immense Awake album. The San Francisco ambient electronic artist, who ranks as one of my personal favourites alongside (whilst very different) Panda Bear and Todd Terje from the last few years, has released a new track, 'Division'. It's familiar but also a breath of fresh air, as arrestingly beautiful as his previous work and fingers crossed it heralds a new full LP release before long. In the meantime he has also provided on online set recorded at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Electric Daisy Carnival, June 19th, 2016 (below). Pulled some favorites from some of his past few Burning Man sunrise sets for the EDC Las Vegas set.

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Track: 5&6 - Ganiyu TLG (prod. by Plant Food)

Ganiyu TLG 5&6 Plant Food Jamie Baker

Ganiyu TLG (prod. by Plant Food) 

Info: Track '5&6' is a collaboration between Athy indie / hip-hop song-writer Ganiyu TLG and Dublin producer Plant Food (Jamie Baker). The sound could be described as an experimentation between a number of genres including grime and electronic music. Skillfully forming a collage of orgasmic sounds, Plant Food samples 'My Baby Shot Me Down' by Nancy Sinatra which brings another aspect of musicality into the sounds spectrum of 5&6. 

Like a mix of SBTRKT, Jamie XX and Mount Kimbie rolled all into one, '5&6' is beautifully produced and executes its intended lush, chilled-out vibe with ease. Whilst hip-hop and electronic music are currently flourishing in Ireland, it's great to see this amalgamation of both genres, which has been prevalent in the U.K. for quite some time now, surfacing locally, a side of experimental hip-hop in particular which hasn't had many acts dipping their toes into yet, but boy is this a stellar start from Ganiyu TLG and Plant Food, top marks all round.

(Honourable mention to Keian for sharing, thank you).

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EP: Secret Weapons - Secret Weapons

Secret Weapons EP

Secret Weapons - Something New (Haerts Remix)

Info: Brooklyn based electro-pop and funk duo Secret Weapons (Danny Rocco and Gerry Lange) have just released their debut eponymous EP before touring across the States with Phoebe Ryan, Weezer, Panic! at the Disco and Fall Out Boy. 

Above track (remixed by fellow New Yorker Haerts) 'Something New' is addictive and unashamedly (in a fully working sense) laying on tons of pop synths and sounds, the gospel inspired chorus, simple chord progression and vocaliser adding to the fun, happiness abounds! The opening track 'Power' is also firmly in the same mould, with an intro reminiscent of Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger', the music spirals chaotically with lush funk á la Prince and pure pop anthemic choruses, highly enjoyable.

Third track 'Konichiwild' is loaded with thumping pop hooks and breaks, a bizarre yet fully palatable concoction of late 90's dance, contemporary electropop (M83) and slivers of indie servings in the mould of The Killers Hot Fuss, weird, but isn't it wonderful, music I can stick on, enjoy and not care about anything to.

Secret Weapons debut EP is available on Spotify here

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Single: Todd Dorigo - Backdrop to Boredom

Todd Dorigo Backdrop to Boredom

Todd Dorigo - Backdrop to Boredom

Info: Hailing from the small market town of Middlewich in Cheshire, solo act Todd Dorigo recently made his way to North London to delve into his song-writing and music. His debut single, 'Backdrop to Boredom', was released at the start of the month, and is the first track from his forthcoming EP which will be released later this year.

Falling somewhere in between Supergrass' In It For The Money and The Strokes' Is This It, Dorigo's vocals and lyrics exude the perosnality of a happy cynic, via the medium of an upbeat delivery of catchy guitar progressions and percussion. The single reflects Dorigo's conclusion that the pursuit of your artistic urges trump settling for the familiar and safe; "The song was written at a time when I left my home town up north for London,” he explains. "Middlewich wasn’t exactly the melting pot of creativity and I had been playing in Manchester and Liverpool for years cutting my teeth. Everyone seemed to be on the well-trodden path to stability, and I wasn’t really interested.

"Chasing my passion for music seemed like two-fingers up to my education and to any well-intended guidance I’d ever received. At the time, I think I was so desperate to shake things up and make things happen that the thought of comfort frustrated me as it suggested a lack of movement or progression."

Todd Dorigo - Backdrop to Boredom (Live)

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