Monday, 31 October 2016

EP: Junk Drawer - For The Cult Fat Guy

Junk Drawer For The Cult Fat Guy

Junk Drawer - Song 3

Info: Formed in a Belfast bedroom in 2015 by brothers Stevie & Jake Lennox and Brian Coney from rural Mid-Ulster, Junk Drawer are an indie rock quartet. Featuring members of Sister Ghost, PigsAsPeople & Mons Olympus (amongst others), they function as much as a collective as a they do a band; each member is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, with roles changing from songto-song depending on how they feel it should take form.  

Musically, they're driven by the near-telepathic sense of chemistry & harmony that comes from a sibling creative rivalry at the helm, as well as four musical magpies collecting and sharing inspiration from all corners, including krautrock, guitar-driven '80s & '90s indie & alternative rock, post-punk, early posthardcore and psych. Lyrically, it's kitchen sink absurd realism, with influences ranging from Jonathan Franzen to Stewart Lee, Marc Maron to Mark Kozelek.

Junk Drawer EP

Mixing the finest elements of late 80's and early 90's shoegaze and noise rock, Belfast's Junk Drawer have created a highly addictive and pleasing collection of (most welcome) lengthy tracks, the shortest, opener 'Song 3' (above), coming in at almost 5 and a half minutes. This first single from For The Cult Fat Guy is instantly likeable, casual yet frenzied and tips it's hat to the likes of Sonic Youth and MBV, whilst stridently asserting their own sound across the entire EP.

Second track 'Do You Ever Think About Existence, Adrian?' is nothing short of an alternative rock triumph. It rollicks through distorted fuzzed-out bass-lines and trundling percussion, the sharp changes of pace are dizzying, and the searing guitar riffs and chorus are sublime, the final minute of complete unwashed chaos is one of the major highlights here.

Junk Drawer - Black Cat

With 'Black Cat' we reach near-perfection, this is rock music as it should sound, there simply are not enough bands on this island right now purveying such an invigorating style. Bliss has been unleashed and the electric guitar-playing is beyond joyful to the ears. The EP closes with the soft openings of 'Quandary', it's lo-fi and bending lead-guitar progressions add to the chilled out feeling, but unsurprisingly, this is not to last. Junk Drawer embark on a fiery grunge-rock opus, completely in their element, as are we, they leave you strongly desiring an increase to the mania, this is obligingly delivered as we reach the end of it's almost 7 minute duration before skirting off down the road and into the distance.

I really enjoyed 'Song 3' the first time I listened to it, and even moreso with repeated listens, but it did not prepare me for what was to follow, For The Cult Fat Guy lavishes the rock fan with everything they want to hear and experience in the modern age. The fact that there is a diversity of sounds and influences, which at times are quite stark when put side by side, is evidence that Junk Drawer are no one trick pony and have got their sound exactly where they want it at this point in time, much to our benefit.

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Video: Chen Firsel - Stellar

Chen Firsel Stellar
Photo: Noy Baskin

Chen Firsel - Stellar

Info: Tel Aviv solo act Chen Firsel has released a new video for single 'Stellar' which appeared on his five-track EP, Sugarush, which was released at the beginning of 2016. Describing his sound as lo-fi bedroom, it's also clear that you can hear Firsel's self-ascribed influences across the track, which manages to cover many of them, from Radiohead to Air, Pink Floyd (at the song's climax) to John Fursciante's weirder moments, an intriguing mix. The beguiling video itself was produced and animated by Israeli motion graphic artist Noy Baskin.

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Single: Palenco - Cloudy Leftovers

Palenco Cloudy Leftovers

Palenco - Cloudy Leftovers

Info: Cae Gwyn Records are delighted to announce the release of Palenco’s new
single, 'Cloudy Leftovers' which came out on the 14th October, 2016. The track, a shimmering, autumnal tinged slice of intelligent guitar pop, will be available as a free download.

Dafydd Owain on the recording process: "We recorded the single in Drwm
studio, Llanllyfni. Llŷr and I felt we wanted a more live feel for this one
compared to previous singles. We felt we needed to just get into the studio and
play the song until we felt we had the take that felt right".

The band are delighted the single’s artwork features a Meirion Ginsberg
painting. "I love Meirion’s work", said Daf. "His work fits our music brilliantly and I feel very privileged that he’s happy for us to use one of his paintings".

'Cloudy Leftovers' is yet another wonderfully uplifting release via Welsh independent record label Cae Gwyn Records by five-piece Palenco. Percussion and bass act like a merry heartbeat to this happy piece of indie-pop which conjures up The Smiths married to a day-glo Californian sound. The deep-toned vocals touching lightly on Messr. Richard Hawley, there's also a mid-90's Britpop strain running through the song, a wonderful piece of song-writing from the quintet which is somehow free to download here.

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Album: Pixie Geldof - I'm Yours

Pixie Geldof I'm Yours

Pixie Geldof - Sweet Thing

Info: Pixie Geldof's debut album, 'I'm Yours', is a spectral, luscious, spectacular dream-pop revelation, a glistening sonic flow of melancholy beauty and undertow depths, of woozy wanderlust and powerfully exorcised pain. Beguiling, orchestral and ecstatic, it's also bursting with anthemic joy.

"'I'm Yours' represents every single human I've ever loved in my life" she explains. "Songs of love in every form, platonically, family, in romance. I'm a part of these people's lives and I'm theirs in any capacity they need me.”

'I'm Yours' is a testament, in fact, to how much we don't know about Pixie Geldof.

The first thing you notice about Pixie Geldof's debut album, I'm Yours, is how it is steeped in older rock and folk, but also feels like a modern alternative dream-pop classic. Lead single and opener 'Sweet Thing' sucks you in straight away, there's strands of Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain', and Dylan's 'What Was It You Wanted' both musically and vocally, as well as the haunting yet warm ambience of peers First Aid Kit. Title track 'I'm Yours' glides so smoothly, shimmering guitars and echoed bass provide the backdrop to Geldof's other-worldly vocals as she touches on the platonic love mentioned above, unequivocal dedication tempered by hand in hand pain.

Pixie Geldof - Woman Go Wild

Third track 'So Strong' sees a mix of vocal jazz and sleepy pop, reference points can go fairly far back, but in a modern sense we very lightly touch on a melding of Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey on this Bondian number. The artist seems right at home on the wonderful 'Woman Go Wild', vocally so soothing, the song is a triumph, like an 80's classic pop song that no one ever heard until now, unsurprisingly the production is rock solid, is there also a grand solo Lennon arrow arching through the last minute?

On 'Twin Thing' there's subtle experimentation with sounds, it's Beach House meets early Band of Horses, but again could easily be a late 60's / early 70's folk-rock track, at this point of the album you also start to become aware that Geldof has been slowly pulling you into a state of calm escapism since the very beginning. 'Escape Route' has a swaggering and dirty blues aura, whilst at the same time being borderline operatic, this is the type of song that would stop anyone in their tracks, and the one I found most interesting and rewarding across the whole album, the little touches, like the trembling hammond, magic.

Pixie Geldof - Escape Route

As the title suggests, 'Poison Apple' is a reflection of one of those relationships that meant a lot, but ultimately reached a bittersweet conclusion. It's also a very strong exhibit of her vocal reach, which sounds well honed, and the ease in which she can flip into a strong pop vocal performance as required. Again I can't escape the welcome shadow of John Lennon on 'Wild Things Grow', where he moved from the raw and angry song-writing on Plastic Ono Band to the more grandiose arrangements on Imagine. Geldof truly let's her sound breathe here, and gives it plenty of space across it's just over 5 minutes duration, another strong highlight to draw the curtain down with. 

The reason I've pointed out so many landmarks across I'm Yours is because after only two listens to the album, you're left with the feeling that, not only has Pixie Geldof documented her life experiences and the relationships she has had, but she has also kept a diary on this album of the classic and modern influences she grew up with from a small age, right through to the present day. Both sit comfortably side by side, and are matched with what appears to be effortless precision, which is exactly why I feel I'm Yours is both unique on it's own two feet, but will appeal to a far greater audience (and demographic) than perhaps it was intended to originally.

I'm Yours will be released on the 4th of November, and you can pre-order it on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and Deezer here

Pixie Geldof - I'm Yours Album Cover

Album: James Darkin - Go No Matter What

James Darkin Go No Matter What
Photo: Nuno Batista

James Darkin - Chase

Info: Producer James Darkin releases his debut electronic album ‘Go No Matter What’ this October 31st, via Terminal 2 Records. The album features some of the many fine artists and musicians James has worked with in the studio over the years, including vocals from Veronica Moran of Plutonic Dust and Neil Bailey of Repeat, guitars from Paul Butler of Propeller Palms and Batuhan Mutlugil of Turkish rock band Duman, and classical flautist Róisín Ní Bhriain. The music on 'Go No Matter What' sets a dark and sometimes sinister tone and is inspired by late nights in crazy places, moving the listener across a deep mercurial landscape.

James, who recently signed with Tremolo Music Publishing, has spent over a decade producing and engineering for artists as Head Engineer at Temple Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. He has worked on recording sessions with Kanye West, and Rihanna for her vocals on Eminem’s 'Love The Way You Lie', as well as mixing for Hozier, Plutonic Dust, the forthcoming album from Funeral Suits and remixes for Katie Kim, RSAG and Jerry Fish.

James Darkin Go No Matter What Album

First off, James Darkin's Go No Matter What covers a lot of ground spanning four decades of electronic music, in a very gratifying way, whilst pinning everything close to the centre of a core of  a dark and industrial thrust. Opener 'Through The Keyhole' bounces between the sometimes cold urban worlds that Gary Numan used to visit, albeit at a much higher tempo, whilst also trundling through the later electronic catalogue of Primal Scream's XTRMNTR, somewhere between the two.

The second single to be released from the new LP, 'Chase' (above), straddles Massive Attack, but more so in mood than sound for this is most definitely a contemporary sound we are being presented with. It is here that Darkin affirmatively sets the tone for the rest of the album, a rhythmic build up with cyclical guitar riffs, it builds the first wall that will eventually surround us entirely in the world he creates.

Third track 'Destroyed' veers toward more ethereal heights, accentuated wonderfully by the excellent vocals from Plutonic Dust's Veronica Moran, there's a 90's house and club feel to the track, and though lighter than it's two predecessors, it sticks to the hypnotic rhythm we've heard so far. The first (and his debut single) release to be shared from the album comes courtesy of 'Needle Noise' (below). Here Darkin goes for a medley of techno-rave and creeping guitar riffs and beats, it's a kind of forlorn beauty, and the accompanying video is very well made and fitting, the dual experiences of it's central character reflecting the path the listener takes through the track itself.

James Darkin - Needle Noise

The album's title track at the half-way point, is disguised as a moment of respite, but somehow makes you feel uneasy and apprehensive, cleverly reducing the noise, but as a result reminding you very pointedly where you are. A definite highlight comes courtesy of 'Cutting Room Floor', a mechanical journey through a darkened tunnel of atmospheric electronics, there's a strong sense of isolation and being in a void, which in someways is a huge strength on Go No Matter What, you don't feel like it's a shared experience listening to the album, or wonder what other people may think when listening to it, it feels like it's only for you as an individual.

Greater vibrancy to and an almost celebratory shift join the fray on 'Island Calling' and 'Roll The Dice', again there's a throwback to 90's house and dance, and the atmosphere Darkin creates is most energising and slick. The album closes with 'Repeat The Run', only the second appearance of vocals on the album featuring Neil Bailey of alt-rock band Repeat. It's another layer to the many styles up until now, Bailey putting heart and soul into his vox á la Chris Cornell. The overall feeling you are left with by the end of Go No Matter What is that Darkin had a clear plan, as with every creative endeavour, tweaks and surprises appear along the way, but the album has been patiently and carefully constructed, and that effort has paid off here on what is a fine example of contemporary Irish electronic music.

Go No Matter What is officially released tomorrow, 31st October and is available on iTunes, Spotify and physical copy.

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Saturday, 29 October 2016

Video: Robocobra Quartet - Correct

Robocobra Quartet Correct
Photo by Ross McConaghy

Robocobra Quartet - Correct

Info: Ahead of their debut LP release, Music For All Occasions, Belfast jazz-punk act Robocobra Quartet have released opening single 'Correct' with accompanying video shot by band member Chris Brazier, and edited by drummer / frontman Chris Ryan. The new album will be released on the 18th of November on digital download and white vinyl 12", pre-order available here

Robocobra Quartet are currently on their UK & Irish Tour and play Macmanus venue in Dundalk tonight with additional dates on their website here

Robocobra Quartet Music For All Occasions

Sunday, 23 October 2016

EP: Orchid Collective - Courage

Orchid Collective Courage

Orchid Collective - Courage

Info: Orchid Collective return with their latest release entitled ‘Courage’, a cosmic 4 track EP which is set to release on October 21st. Consisting of David O Shea (lead vocals, guitar), Shea Tohill (lead guitar, vocals), Hugh O’Neill (bass, vocals) and Brian Roony (drums, vocals) the band have been gigging relentlessly across Ireland, developing their unique sound and quickly making a name for themselves as an unforgettable live act.

Orchid Collective are responsible for creating rousing alternative folk-influenced rock that would resonate with those who are fans of Villagers, James Vincent McMorrow and Bon Iver. Through their own distinct use of vocal harmonies and searing layers of reverbed guitars; Orchid Collective make themselves known as a band that set themselves apart from their contemporaries, offering a bold new imagining of the indie genre.

From the very beginning of Orchid Collective's opening title-track, you are drawn in by the warmth of the Dublin four-piece's sound, the rhythm is gentle and the lead guitar has a dreamy escapist effect. Lead vocalist David O'Shea's voice accentuates this feeling perfectly, rising robustly with the tide of the music as it reaches it's high point in the very final minute of the track.

Orchid Collective - Blindfold

Okay, so we've established that the quartet are residing in indie-folk territory, but we're not just going to be left there for four tracks. A sharp change of mood and style unfolds immediately on second track 'Tomorrow', the deep and mesmeric tone of the drum is tribal, the pace is slower, and if the first track brought warmth, this one brings a lot of feeling. Again, they have excellently executed the timing and management of the slow build, citing Bon Iver as an influence, the later third of the track certainly dips it's toes in Justin Vernon's Volcano Choir project, surrounded on all sides by the crescendo of the instruments as they are all pulled magnetically together, a chemical experiment that goes right.

'Waited On The Sun' feels like the half-way house between the first two tracks in terms of tempo and energy, it's instantly enjoyable and I'm seriously digging the guitar progressions on this one, especially from the 3:00 mark, at times vocally pointing towards Fleet Foxes debut album, it's another mash-up that works so well, a tight ship is being run here.

As the curtain comes down on Courage certainty is reached that we have one of the best Irish E.P.'s of 2016 on our hands. Indie-folk can be a very difficult area to standout in these days, mainly due to the sheer volume of acts, but also without sounding like 'just another version of (insert artist here)'. Yes there are segments which you can clearly hear influences in, but isn't there always in music? 

'Blindfold' is a powerful end to the E.P., it ebbs and flows so effortlessly that it's almost as if the instruments are playing themselves, maybe this is my favourite track of all of the four, but I also feel like I could listen to Courage 30 times and change my mind each time. It's a joy to hear such talent, observe such strong song-writing and admire such lovingly crafted songs together in one place, thank you Orchid Collective, thank you very much.

Upcoming Live Dates:

28.10.2016 Inec, Killarney, Co.Kerry
30.10.2016 Sligo Live Festival, Sligo
31.10.2016 Sligo Live Festival, Sligo
12.11. 2016 **Whelans Headline Show, Dublin**
01.12.2016 The Limelight, Belfast
02.12.2016 Courtneys, Killarney, Kerry
09.12.2016 The Spirit Store, Dubdalk

28.12.2016 Hot Spot Music Club, Greystones 

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Single: Pranks - Long Knives

Pranks Long Knives

Pranks - Long Knives

Info: Their third single release since signing to Minor Fall Records, 'Long Knives' is a departure from the sound of previous releases. The track is a full on rock anthem, showcasing the bands broad creative range as well as their penchant for writing ear catching melodies and grooves. 

'Long Knives' certainly is a bit of a departure for Dublin duo Pranks (Micheal Sheil (Guitar & Vocals) and Gearoid Connaughton (Drums)), with a searing guitar riff that nods it's head a little to Gary Moore, the latest single is a passionate and rousing affair. Drifting from lo-fi indie-rock, to bursts of full on energetic rock, the vocal harmonies push the chorus to high zesty plains. Whilst the power is there, it is true that Pranks come across more restrained in other ways than on their previous two singles, 'Flares' and 'El Capitan', which were more noise-filled outings. Three out of three great singles and one more to come perhaps from their soon to be released EP.  A must see live act, Pranks are doing everything right at the moment, and 'Long Knives' is my own personal favourite of the three singles to date.

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EP - Sun.Set.Ships - Man.Must.Explore

Sun.Set.Ships - Man Must Explore

Sun.Set.Ships - Sinking Islands

Info: Following the release of their debut single 'Sinking Islands', Monaghan electro-indie outfit Sun.Set.Ships have now released their debut six track EP Man.Must.Explore

Formed in 2014, the trio of Conor Bellew (vocals, keys), Ciaran Curley (vocals, lead guitar) and Ryan Mulligan (percussion, Ableton Live) have spent the best part of the last two years creating a sound of atmospheric electronic-driven melodies with punchy, folk-enthused lyrics. Combining the world of electric guitars, analog and digital synthesizers with programmed drum beats the three lads are honing in on something very unique.

Man.Must.Explore opens with a communication sample between NASA and one of their astronauts on 'Sand Needs Saved', the first half of the track, a musing on our insignificance in the universe, zones in on 80's synth sounds before morphing into a more indie-rock space. There is a Public Service Broadcasting feel to it, and that's not just because of the space-themed sample. 

Coming back to their single 'Sinking Islands' almost 6 months after it was reviewed here, I like it even more, at the time I'd observed that it felt closer to the electronic Scandipop of the likes of Peter, Bjorn & John, as opposed to influences from the UK which seem to be strong over here within the genre. It's a really nice chilled out number from Sun.Set.Ships who keep things simple with a minimalist approach to beats and synths.

Sun.Set.Ships - Song For Brothers

Importantly, Sun.Set.Ships don't just stick entirely to a lo-fi sound and can pick up the energy and pace as required, so it is on third track 'Song For Brothers' (above). Rising and dipping comfortably between dream-pop and indie-rock moments, there's also a concerted amount of emotion and feeling placed into the lyrics which adds to the track's impact.

'The Only Heaven There Is' continues the philosophical observance and pondering of our habits and place in the grander scheme of things. As the song's title suggests, the theme focuses on being in the here and the now, not waiting for good things to happen or a glorious afterlife, your search for heaven begins and ends when you become aware that, imperfect and fraught as it is, we are already in 'heaven', it's called your life and the people around you.

The EP closes with the excellent 'Colours' which featured on one of our recent Playlists here. Stretching out to just over 7 minutes, it runs smoothly and the time isn't long passing at all. It's maybe the most experimental and adventurous track on the collection of six, the introduction of electric guitar and fat bass-line half-way through give added funk to it and ensure it is wholesome enough to last the distance, not to mention a dose of God Is An Astronaut vibes towards it's finale.

Personally I think the EP could have maybe shed one track, but on the other hand it's always good to get greater insight into an act outside the standard four track EP. Overall, Man.Must.Explore is musically and thematically right up my street and I enjoyed many moments across it, it's also clear Sun.Set.Ships have enough variance in the locker to build on this sound and let their creative juices flow further.

Sun.Set.Ships play The Bello Bar, Dublin 8, on the 30th of October, event details here

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Single: RUTH - Queen Of The Con

RUTH Queen of the Con
Photo: Hanna McGlynn Photography

RUTH - Queen Of The Con

Info: Kerry-native and Dublin-based solo act, RUTH, released her second single, 'Queen of the Con', yesterday, the follow up to 'Who Are You Living For?', which came out at the start of 2016 and was subsequently remixed by electronic artist Wastefellow.

'Queen of the Con' is quite a contrast to her debut single, there's a far greater electronic presence, in particular in it's opening 45 seconds. Vocally it's as impressive as ever, with RUTH's ability to reach an upper range with ease not coming courtesy merely of studio production (which is top notch here), as witnessed numerous times in a live setting. When seeing this single performed live previously, I was struck by a James Bond OST title song, think Gladys Knight's 'Licence To Kill'. Another boon is the transference of energy and sharp euphoric moments as the track reaches it's finale on what is a notable progression from RUTH's debut single release.

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EP: Billy Moon - That Which You Can’t Throw Away

Billy Moon That Which You Can’t Throw Away

Billy Moon - Roads

Info: I've always felt like the weirdo in the room, there will always be a part of me that wants to raise a big middle finger to the rest of the world that says "fine, here I am, come and get me".

The music of Billy Moon is meant for the periods of your life when everything sucks except for your favourite record. I spent a good two years of my life after I left for university fully convinced that there was something wrong with me. I was surrounded and living with people who called themselves my friends but I still felt miles away from. The whole time I was convinced that I was too negative, that I wasn’t fun enough, that I needed to lighten up and that I had to fit in. Fuck, I felt like I was 7 years old again except this time I was going to do it right.

Billy Moon was the guy that remained a constant for me when I was going through my own ups and downs with meeting new kids and trying out new paths of self discovery. Billy Moon was a part of my identity, a name that I was not given, but that I took. 

Billy Moon has been one I've been sitting on for far too long, the first time I watched the video for 'Roads' I was in love with his sound. It's 80's, kinda, but I don't really know how to describe it, I can't think of any references that come easily, it feels like they should be obvious, but there's nothing there, maybe a sliver of some weird and unholy alliance between Genesis, Dire Straits and The Cure, and step forward in time, Ryan Adams, what? 

I cannot not love the guitar on 'Roads', and the lazy bass-line that is so laid-back it's almost not there. Humour can be a cloak, and the video contrasts with the song's lyrics in the chorus; 

'I can see them all, standing in a different light, a story to be told, someone shouts I love you guys, I’m carrying load sometimes I just don’t know why, I’m standing in the road, waiting for a car to drive by.' 

Opening track 'Boyfriend's Car (Butterfly)' has a psych Electric Prunes vocal overlay on top of a garage-rock medley, nonchalant doesn't even cover it, but it's chilled, fuzzed out, and some kind of rock n' roll wonderful. Whilst jest is integral to the Billy Moon story, there's a very sincere level of contemplation in his lyrics, on second track, 'Different Song (Same Girl)' there's the tragi-comic line; 'Oh I’m just a piece of flesh staring at your new dress, I’m just coming up with sentences trying to make sense, Oh would you be so kind as to tell me I’m fine, this whole meaningless existence has got me losing my mind.'

'Long Drawled Out Story That Goes Nowhere (Sam + Alex)', the E.P.'s third track, is where you can calmly drift off, it's lo-fi perfection, humming and lightly distorted guitar plodding in between Moon's vocals and percussion. The fourth track on the EP kind of sums up the mood and question of whether alter ego Billy Moon, or the real life protagonist, are dwelling in a greater place of uncertainty, it seems both are, and in a very real way, that makes this an extremely emotional and hard to take lightly set of songs. This confusion between what Robin Thicke once described as 'blurred lines', is what makes That Which You Can’t Throw Away such an interesting and special trip courtesy of the Ontario artist.

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Playlist: Remy's Irish Independent Top 10, Issue #001

Rejjie Snow Pink Beetle

Info: Bringing you the best independent releases from Ireland and around the world, in this issue we have music from Irish acts Rejjie Snow and his latest single, 'Pink Beetle', as well as the new single from Irish Philadelphia-based pair Games Violet with their excellent track, 'Tin Box'. Another duo who we've been big fans of since they burst on the scene at the start of this year are London / Belfast act REWS and their cracking new single, 'Miss You In The Dark', as well as Dublin four-piece The BedBuggz, and their track 'Wet'.

In what has been probably my favourite compilation of tracks yet, we also have amazing music from Londoner Harlea, L.A.'s devilishly delicious SWIMM and one I particularly had a soft spot for, Texan alt-rockers, Thanks Light. Enjoy!


1. Harlea - Miss Me

2. SWIMM — Man's Man
3. Rejjie Snow — Pink Beetle
4. Thanks Light — V.I.P.

5. Games Violet — Tin Box

6. REWS — Miss You In The Dark
7. Golden Suits — Don't Let Love Go By
8. BAILE - Spill

9. The BedBuggz — Wet
10. Secret Cameras — Going Places

Friday, 21 October 2016

Album: BANTUM - Move

BANTUM Move Ruairi Lynch
Photo: Bríd O'Donovan

BANTUM - Take It (feat. Loah)

Info: Cork native and Dublin-based electronic solo artist Ruairí Lynch released his debut album, Legion,  under the moniker of BANTUM back in 2012, since then he has released a slew of singles and also remixes for other acts, which was how I myself (very belatedly) was introduced to his music last year. Today sees the release of his second LP, Move, which contains a couple of collaborations with upcoming and more familiar Irish musicians such as Loah (who I had the pleasure of seeing at the recent HWCH festival), CC Brez, Rusangano Family and Farah Elle, who those keeping an eye on the underbelly of independent music will be aware of already.

There is no subtle introduction to Move, an industrial sharp and tinny progression is pumped out of the blocks, there is no time to settle into proceedings, as plonky beats and warped effects join the fray on the title-track, if you weren't aware of BANTUM before, two minutes into this opener you're already starting to construct an understanding. An opening restraint, and dark yet hopeful spacial beauty are summoned on second track, 'Pacing', which is dedicated to the hugely gifted minimalist piano composer Conor Walsh who sadly passed earlier this year. At the 1:30 mark we are grooving in space with the Corkonian cosmonaut, planets are spinning and stars are streaking, and the mood is forceful yet chilled at the same time. This is cinematic soundtrack stuff.

BANTUM - Voodoo Sweat (feat. CC Brez & Louize Carroll)

On 'Feel Your Rhythm' with the aforementioned Rusangano Family and Senita on backing vocals, we're treated to a modern imprint on 90's house music, I'm musically recalling Glasgow's Blue Boy and their 1996 Scattered Emotions EP, whilst Rusangano also appear, to my ears at least, to be drawing on early noughties hip-hop sounds, all to the backdrop of an echoed twiddling guitar sequence which fades in and out in time with the song.

'Feel It Out' with Farah Elle touches on slightly more grime tones, I'm in Sneaker Pimps territory here, both with the pace of the track and her vox which are reminiscent of Kelli Alli on '6 Underground'. It's sleak and calm and the motion is hypnotic right up to it's abrupt ending. Perhaps the closest we get to BANTUM's previous work is on 'Take It' (feat. Loah - top video), again Lynch is masterful in how he uses the motion of music, which acts like a deliberately off-key harmony with Loah's singing. The guitar-playing then comes forward at the 2:30 mark, a deliciously blues-funk addition to the track which is borderline spoiling the listener.

As a fan of CC Brez's music also, it was great to witness both mutually leaving their mark on each other on 'Voodoo Sweat' (feat. CC Brez & Louize Carroll). The former Republic of Loose man's ever-evolving exploration of different styles of genre-spanning guitar-playing has been all brought together at once on this track and it's amazing. Bread and (a thin spread of ) butter blues with overt funk and searing 70's rock riffage all melt across the fret-board, but intriguingly are encased in BANTUM's trademark electronic sound. This would have been a good one to stick on the Golden Record that NASA sent into space on Voyager, next time maybe.

Firmly with feet back on his stomping ground once again with final track, 'Already There' (feat. Weisman) we get a full experimental, digital electro blow-out, an enchanting piece of escapism which is sonically wholesome, no quarter given, unless of course, you listen carefully to the closing 16 seconds. Where Legion saw BANTUM's first landing, a full embracing of his musical intuition spread across a longer album, Move casts not one, but multiple nets away from that centre. There's no doubt that more people will be drawn to the album as a result, little doorways open up all across it's seven tracks for music fans of many styles and genres, but with his talent to be heard touching everything. Ruairí Lynch is probably the most competent and adventurous electronic artist in Ireland right now, and Move is easily an album of the year for 2016.

BANTUM Legion Ruairi Lynch
Record Store Day 2016 scoop, listen here.

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Album: Johnny Fox - Cais

Johnny Fox Cais

- Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: As one of the main songwriting forces in Laminate, The River Fane and now Ger Fox Sailing, Wexford based musician Johnny Fox has also somehow managed to maintain a prolific output of quality solo releases. With Cais, he maintains that streak of form with his first full length album, a collaboration between himself and Brazilian artist Samantha Capatti, drawing inspiration from Brazil’s rich musical heritage and blending it with his own distinctive take on lo-fi folk music. (It should be noted that it is available from his Bandcamp - - for the steal of €7, but through Bandcamp’s digital discography option, you can purchase it along with 30 other songs spread over 7 releases for just €13.50!)

Having shared a one bedroom flat in the heart of Sao Paolo for 18 months, Johnny Fox and Brazilian artist Samantha Capatti set about recapturing and crystallising their experiences, working separately in different mediums - Johnny writing music, Samantha writing poetry. On returning to Ireland, they set about combining the two elements to form what would become Cais. And, musically, it’s very clear that the sounds and atmospheres of that experience have soaked into Johnny's writing and production, citing influence from "Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque and various other 'mestres' of Brazil’s golden era of the 60's and 70's, as well as contemporary artists such as Cícero, Marcelo Camelo and Hurtmold." However, more than just a series of reference points, this album is attempting to create a vibrant world to mirror their experiences - the entire album feels like it should be soundtracking a couple's descent into love in some beautiful imaginary sun drenched 70’s road movie. You can practically hear the lens fares. 

Johnny Fox - Bonita Serena

Throughout, the songs are woven together with the connecting thread of field recordings from their time in Brazil, from drunken parties to chirping birds, giving the album a feeling of real intimacy, binding the tracks together, creating a palpable sense of time and place throughout the work.  Listen to how single 'Bonita Serena' takes its time creating a hazy, reverb soaked mood, before finally cresting on a wave of drums and harmonies. Or the slow, approaching thunderstorm of album closer 'O Que Nunca Quis', as it swells and menaces, never breaking.  The grunge logic of some of the melodies, like 'Essa Dor' and 'Exposta' makes it feel like, with a different aesthetic, some of these songs could have been loud stompers - the thing is, they manage to retain the tension of that form of songwriting, but instead of explosions of noise, deliver a sultry simmer and throb, their odd angles internalised and restrained. So instead of just being an expression of confused anger in a rock song, they become the giddy, buzzing hum of infatuation fizzing just below the surface.

There is a massive sense of a project overflowing with ideas, an overflow that spills into the videos, lyrics, photos and artwork. All of which contribute towards the creation of a world, buzzing with complex life and heart. And, really, for all its impressive songwriting and general artistry, the true strength of this collection of songs is its warmth.  With the seventies feel of the simple, clean production style, the reverbed, harmonised melodies, and the accompanying art and videos, the entire project just feels incredibly inviting - it’s the sound of two people opening parts of their worlds not only to each other but to every listener and it feels like falling in love on a warm summer beach night over the course of the best drunken dinner party.

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