Wednesday, 28 June 2017

EP: The Midwestern Bass Machine - EPIII

The Midwestern Bass Machine - EP III

Info: The Midwestern Bass Machine, which is the moniker for Green Bay, Minnesota ambient pop solo act Brock Splawski, have featured regularly on the blog here since we reviewed the debut album, Don't Want To Live Here, back in July 2015, which also featured in our Best of International Music review at the end of the same year. MBM has never disappointed, and has always struck a chord (yup) inside me musically, not only can I fully appreciate the impact of the sound, but moreso how wonderful his music sounds under such restrictive DIY conditions, and even moreso again, the lack of fear in the experimentation that all of his releases bring to the fore.

On Splawski's musical background he says; "I started this project when I was fifteen as a place to experiment with the various instruments and software I had lying around the house, and throughout high school, I released tracks under this moniker. Being that I cannot play the guitar (I use the assistance of labelmate Nick Williams of Freudia to handle guitar duties), I’ve always had a synth-driven vibe to my tracks. I take a lot of influence from multiple acts, the biggest ones being Animal Collective, Tame Impala, The Strokes, and J Dilla."

On EPIII The Midwestern Bass Machine instantly provides an exemplar of what is so distinguished about his style with first track, 'Home II', the painfully gentle piano progression, simple yet high on impact, the bare soul of the vocals and lyrics; "People with wives, tuck into bed, all set. The house is warm, the night has set, all set...good night…".

'Beads' moves in other ways, a carnival atmosphere abounds, there are many switches in tone, from the opening slow hum of the beat, to the Nazareth-esque guitar á la 'Love Hurts', and onward to the quirky electronic main body of the song. On 'Dream Song' MBM enters a sort of dual soliloquy, it's ambience is very spatial with a retro sci-fi soundtrack feel until it crashes at the 2:15 mark, and then, the ragged insomnia jerks in briefly until we're returned to dream pop mode, appropriately.

The tongue-in-cheek titled 'Self-Portrait of You' must be described as an avant-garde piece of music, like Splawski's conscious stream has unfolded and become undone, it is probably the least accessible track of the five, but this is not a criticism, it's admirable to hear someone take such an unorthodox path with a track, like a broken up story put back together in the wrong order.

Closing with 'Home I', ever the contrarian! it's a folk / dream-pop finale, with the music and lyrics conjuring up images of clowns, and Pennywise from IT turning the handle on a child's music-box, sounds creepy, but strangely it's more calming. I'm not quite sure what to make of EPIII as a collection of songs, on the one hand I highly enjoyed the sense of abandonment and haphazardness of it all, and indulging in moments that recalled The Midwestern Bass Machine of yore. On the other hand I think it would take me many listens of the second-half of the EP to come anywhere near what is going on, but that's the trick in the treat isn't it? Splawski is an undeniably gifted writer of music and lyric, and when it shines it shines very brightly, I wouldn't change a thing.

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News: The Positive Touch @ The Workman's Club feat. The Devlins, Paddy Casey

The Positive Touch Workman's Club The Devlins Paddy Casey Dublin

Paddy Casey - Everything Must Change

Info: Downda Road Productions, in association with TOUCH Ireland and media partners Radio Nova, is launching 'The Positive Touch', a charity album featuring songs from artists that have been at the forefront of the Irish Music scene for years and a whole host of new emerging Irish talent to raise money for TOUCH Ireland charity projects. 

The album will showcase established Irish artists including Paddy Casey, Mundy, The 4 Of Us, The Devlins, The Blades, Gavin Glass, Cry Monster Cry as well as emerging singer/songwriters such as Keith Plunkett, Davie Furey, Katie Gallagher and is set for release on 29th June 2017.

One of the highlights of the album is the never-before released track 'Somebody is Coming Through' from Paddy Casey, given exclusively for this album. Also exclusive to this album will be debut solo single release from Sina Theil and a brand new single from Katie Gallagher, both young singer/songwriters beginning to pave their careers in Irish Music. 

The Devlins - Waiting

All profits from this compilation album will be going to TOUCH Ireland, a charity whose unique selling point is that none of the volunteers take any sort of salary or even expenses for the work they do, including frequent air travel to the countries where they provide aid. 

TOUCH Ireland aims to help vulnerable children in Zambia, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, India, Nepal, Brazil and Bangladesh. The main aim is to keep people alive, instil hope and provide education for the future so that people in these communities can learn to support one another. TOUCH Ireland does this through the provision of physical and learning disability centres, nutrition and food education projects, hospitals and clinics, child sponsorship and poverty relief.

The specific project that will be funded by the money raised by this campaign will be the Kanti Children’s Hospital in Nepal that was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25th 2015. The ultimate goal of this project is to rebuild and extend the hospital which will include a critically needed outpatient clinic and an inpatient ward, and act as a training centre for professionals who work with children and adolescents with psychiatric and mental health problems. 

Gavin Glass - Break Your Daddy's Heart

In Nepal, children and adolescents who suffer from severe psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar/depression, are often kept at home in isolation from the world, due to social stigma. It is not unusual to see every now and then news about children with severe mental health problems often chained to a bed post, or even locked in a room for years at a time. These kinds of centres, education and training are vital for these communities. Please read more about this project here:

Tickets for the TOUCH Ireland Charity Gig can be purchased via DowndaRoad Productions website here; with the album itself available to purchase at

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Album: Mark Buckeridge - Coastal Sunshine

Mark Buckeridge Coastal Sunshine

Info: Experimental indie solo act Mark Buckeridge has been a firm favourite of music websites both at home in Ireland and abroad since starting to write and release music back in 2012, but really grabbed attention with the wonderful 2014 EP, Talking Is Good For You, DIY heaven across 5 tracks. In 2015 he released the lo-fi pop single, 'So Long' which was nothing but delightful, and now we have the first full-length debut album, Coastal Sunshine, released on the 19th of June last week.

'Lecture #1' immediately tells us that things have moved forward once again in Buckeridge's style, a full frontal spoken-word assault on the senses, like Velvet Underground or The Doors getting their angry punk on, the track has that acid-psychedelic feel to it, with its protagonist showing a public display of madness on stage to an audience that you imagine only exists in his head, there may not even be a stage at all either.

More other-worldly sounds greet us on 'All I Want To Do Is Cry', with Buckeridge displaying his trademark ability to be wildly experimental yet throw enough of a pop strand into the mixer to make you want to dance. This is a pretty special moment early on, you imagine late 70's post-punk dancehall scenes, snappy drum-pad beats and a Joy Division-esque call and response chorus, it's just such a treat to listen to.

After a brief just under 90 seconds minimalist orchestral instrumental on 'Bronze', we go full psych-hog on the album's title-track. Plodding deep and dark piano tones play the backdrop to Buckeridge's passioned yet despondent vocal, imagine Serge Gainsbourg cool vibes reeling in the drama of Elton John or Billy Joel, that's the middle ground you'll find 'Coastal Sunshine' inhabiting, and it's gorgeous.

Mark Buckeridge - Coastal Sunshine

Then a change, on 'Audio 41' Buckeridge gets his 80's synth on, the determined bass-line like some wonderfully gothic reimagining of the intro theme to Knight Rider, and it also marks the crossover point of the album. A sad sax note wails morosely in the background at the track's beginning on 'Group Singing', it's a haunting environment, and exemplifies the artist's care-free approach to his song-writing, rules are out the window, and this is what allows his music and our imaginations to flourish.

On 'Streaming', I'm expecting two things to happen after the opening electronic beat, the Run DMC vs. Aerosmith 'Walk This Way' guitar solo to kick in, or The Beastie Boys to start spitting rhymes. Neither happen, unsurprisingly, and we have a moment of calm to absorb, with Buckeridge accompanying us with his nonchalant vocal. 

Coastal Sunshine wraps up with 'DDDDDDADA', no, it's not the chord progression to an Oasis song, but it is a power-packed finale to the album, it's like all of the little moments of madness across the album have gathered in one room and Mark Buckeridge relishes in their presence together. He kicks out the jams, rattles manically through verse and chorus and then slips out the side door while we're still dancing away. Like a DIY Frank Zappa, Mark Buckeridge is a standalone talent when it comes to writing music and creating listenable to chaos, it's warm, frightening and invigorating all at once, cherish him!

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Album: Blake's Fortune - Hello World

Blake's Fortune Hellow World

Info: Blake's Fortune is the work of Irish songwriter and musician John Lennon who hails from Dublin. He previously recorded and toured with Pina Kollars, an Austrian-born folk rock singer, when they were signed to Peter Gabriel's Real World Records. 'Hello World' marks his debut album and is a 10-track road-trip inspired by the American north-west.

Hello World by Blake's Fortune opens up with a Tom Petty style track in the shape of 'Hiatus', and lays down the marker for what is to follow across its 10 tracks, an atmospheric collection of Americana-inspired tracks. On second track 'Disconnected' Lennon opts for a more sparse sound initially, opening with just vocals and acoustic guitar, before eventually introducing percussion and bending electric guitar sequences. It's a slow-paced and rhythmic song which aligns itself with his 'road-trip' vision of blurred landscapes passing by through car windows. It's a neat and enjoyable track which pulls you in slowly to its mood, closing out with a soft instrumental refrain.

'Going Slow' ends any suspicions that the album will just 'run into itself' from start to finish, and it's a highlight on Hello World for me, funky rhythms and beats coupled with soul-inspired backing vocals give it a real 70's vibe that works very well. On 'Heart's Roulette' we have a nice Irish folk tinge courtesy of the moody fiddle playing, it's a nice mix with the instrumental closing minute of the track setting things up for the second half of the album.

We are quite some distance away from where the album opened with 'Hiatus' by the time we reach 'Climbing', with Blake's Fortune venturing into more mellow and fulsome ambient folk territory, a hazy blues guitar wobbles in and out, and there's a bit of a War on Drugs feel to the whole affair. The move toward more contemporary indie-folk continues on the enjoyable 'Father', and on 'Moot Point' Lennon dips his toe into some very special places. The track crosses over between Elliott Smith and the type of lo-fi slumber you might have come across on The Beatles' later tracks. 

The upbeat and electro-infused beats of 'Point Reyes' are up next, an interesting blending of country-folk vocals and guitar with modern electronic leanings, again not something you would have expected to come across at the early stages of the LP. Hello World closes with 'Chance', and from a personal perspective it didn't grab me as much as the other tracks and may have fitted in better earlier in the album as a bridge of sorts. 

That said, overall Hello World is filled with numerous tracks that give you something different, it's quite a charming journey that Blake's Fortune brings you on from start to finish, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. For a debut album it offers many potential paths to go down on future releases and there's no doubt that Lennon is more than just your average good song-writer, the next steps, which may have already begun, will be interesting to say the least.

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Album of the Month: Bear Worship - WAS

Bear Worship Was

Info: Bear Worship is a celebration. It's about positivity and realism, love and friends, passion and nostalgia, and the need for creativity. After a string of well regarded singles which have received airplay on RTE and the BBC, featured in myriad blogs, and ended up in a number of end-of-year lists, Bear Worship’s debut album WAS was released on the 15th June 2017, with a premiere on The Thin Air.

The backbone of WAS’s sound is drums and bass guitar, and layered above are
swathes of synthesizer, guitar, arpeggios, and harmonies, all topped off with Bear Worship’s distinctive vocals. Sonically it lies somewhere between Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective, with other touchstones being Deerhunter, St Vincent, Oh No Ono, Giorgio Moroder, Air, Tame Impala, and the Beach Boys. The songs were written and recorded between Bear Worship's home studio and Stephen Shannon's Experimental Audio (Adrian Crowley, Barry McCormack, the Late David Turpin, Strands).

Bear Worship WAS Album Cover

We've never made any secret of how much we love the wondrously dreamy electro-pop of Dublin's Bear Worship (Karl Knuttel), as each single dropped over the last year and a bit that love only grew, and most happily, his debut album WAS is brimming with new songs that match the magic of the singles.

I suppose one of the criteria for selecting an AOTM must be that most of the tracks on the LP are better than very good. From the very beginning of WAS on opening track (and latest single) 'Art in the Artifice' Bear Worship weaves his completely individual ability to shine brightness on the most needy corners of our musical souls. As mentioned in the previous review of the single, it certainly doffs it's cap to one of his self-ascribed influences Animal Collective, but only on the track's instrumental bridge. It's a delightful start to the album, but there's little time to reflect on that as we're lead straight into the magnificent 'Shimmerings'.

Dream.pop.acid.trip.candy. 'Shimmerings' is one of those rarities that you may or may not hear during the course of releases throughout a year, it gives all of itself and asks for nothing in return. It's a bone fide earworm and an exemplary piece of psychedelic dream pop, a shuddering bass-line powers the motion behind the track, with what sound like multi-layers of electronic soundscapes jostling for position around the vocals, perfect.

'Galapagos' momentarily reduces the tempo on WAS, with Bear Worship stripping down to vocal and guitar on it's opening minute, but it's short-lived as drums and bass join the fray, probably the most indie-pop moment on the album which shows we are not dealing with any one-trick pony here.

Bear Worship - Our Friends

We then arrive at my very own introduction to Bear Worship, a track that blew my brain apart when I first heard it, and still does, 'Our Friends' (above stream). "I don't belong here at all, no I don't belong here at all Do I? And you are looking kind of lost, yeah you are looking kind of lost, well so am I. We'll call our friends. We'll call our friends." Is it a dirge of despair or hope? A mixture of both? 'Our Friends' could be interpreted in many ways, an acknowledgement of isolation, a stretched out hand to a stranger or someone who was once close but has since also become a stranger, with the chorus providing a solution to sundry problems. Knuttel's vocals excel and the sound of what recalls a Formula 1 car passing a bend at high speed adds to the happy / sad balancing act so well.

After the funky mania of 'Frequency' we get to 'Pagodas', another example of how Bear Worship can reach the cartoonish pomp of Elton John, Queen or Bowie whilst simultaneously delivering a sombre message. Lyrically he deals with the idea that automation will never replace the power of artistic creativity, with the line; "Since I've discarded childish things, nothing comes close to the joy they used to bring, so I bathe in cathode rays, and I'm assaulted by the vacuum of our age", perhaps referencing the loss of dreams and submission to the overwhelming mundanity of the modern world.

Following the swagger and dramatic intensity of 'Stoicism', WAS concludes with the beautifully titled 'A Wondrous Waste of Time'. This is a lovely shift right at the end of the album, yet another string in his bow, it's a chiiled out house vibe, like a mash-up of Todd Terje, Tycho and again Bowie on the chorus. An emotional and exhilirating vocal performance from Knuttel feels like some kind of inner release of tension, a relief from something that only he knows. 

If you are a fan of any of the artists Bear Worship cites as influences, or you are partial to joyous electronic dream-pop, you will love WAS as much as it wants to love you, and instantly. One of the Irish albums of the year so far for me due to it's swash-buckling adventurousness, wall to wall solid tracks and how it lightly tickles your happy and sad emotions all along the way.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Playlist: The Big Welsh Playlist

Guide Dog I Am The Daddy
Cardiff's Guide Dog

Info: When it comes to indigenous music from fair Cymru, I've always been intrigued by the duality of the Welsh and English languages in their independent music, something we don't see much of here in Ireland. For a country that has two-thirds of the population of our own, a quarter of Welsh people are fully fluent in their written and spoken language versus only 1% in Ireland. 

HMS Morris - Morbid Mind

This is only relevant to this playlist and post because there is a significant number of tracks present on it in the Welsh (and English) language, and my earliest introduction to Welsh music was via bands who were also bi-lingual such as Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. It's an interesting difference in circumstances between Irish and Welsh music, particularly for me as a non-practicising fluent Irish-speaker, but that curio will require an academic investigation by some poor student down the road, and is not for here!

Before the Internets and at the early dawn of mobile phones, I had seen Super Furry Animals every time they came to Dublin, hell, when Guerilla came out in 1999, they even had a mental crowd favourite of a track, 'Wherever I Lay My Phone (That's My Home)', whose lyrics didn't need to over-arch in any way; "I've got a mobile phone, I've got a mobile phone. Wherever I lay my phone that's my home, I've got a mobile phone. OK. (Tumor on the brain, tumor on the brain, status symbol disease says, "I've got a mobile phone". Tumor on the brain, tumor on the brain)".

Twelve months later The Furries would release their entirely Welsh album MWNG, after the relative commercial success of Fuzzy Logic, Radiator and Guerilla it was a gamble, but it paid off. One of my all time favourite SFA songs is 'Ysbeidiau Heulog', which translates to 'Mostly Sunny', of course we always sang it as "Speedy-eyed Halo". 

Now that my nostalgia indulgence is over, what about the Playlist of current independent Welsh music? Well, I'm going to let the tunes speak for themselves. I've been very lucky to have had some incredible singles, EP's and albums sent to me over the last few years from independent Welsh record labels and artists off their own back, they've been amazing. I would love to see some kind of tour exchange where Irish bands hooked up with their Welsh brethern and did a circuit of the best music venues in both countries together at some point.

Massive shout outs to fellow Irish blogger (with the suspiciously Welsh-sounding name!) Barry Gruff who has had his finger on the pulse of all things independent Welsh music long before I ever did and put me in touch with Dan Amor from the bottomless pit of psychedelic indie that is Recordiau Cae Gwyn. Classy and generous gentleman Aled Thomas of Beast PR who has been promoting independent Irish music on his own music blog and has had a bit of a thing for our very own Thumper! Recordiau I KA Ching for sending us some big hitters, and finally, Wrexham's Kidsmoke who have brought constant joy to us with every single they've released. 

Diolch ffrindiau!

We will be featuring more music from Cae Gwyn Records and Beast PR very soon....

Friday, 23 June 2017

Single: Kid Trench - The Big Hop

Kid Trench The Big Hop

Kid Trench - The Big Hop

Info: Newry experimental pop act Kid Trench has beguiled and regaled us in the past with his mysterious and adventurous releases going all the way back to 2014. The understated solo act is back and appears to have cut loose from his more electronic and ambient leanings to fully embrace the world of nu-pop. Released last month, new single 'The Big Hop' is still based on thick electronic beats and atmospherics, yet finds him in a more carefree and open mode. Anthemic choruses and verses weave in between brief low moments which merely serve to release bursts of thumping dancefloor energy. Another release, another big surprise, and a most welcome one.

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Single: OTHERKIN - React

Photo: Jake Haseldine


Info: Garage-rockers Otherkin keep the hammer down with the release of their brand new single, entitled 'REACT', and confirmation that their much-anticipated debut album, called 'OK', will be released at the end of the summer.

2017 has already been a whirlwind for the band, having completed two UK tours, one headline and one with The Amazons, in support of the blazing 'Bad Advice' single and video. Furthermore, the band have opened for Guns ‘N’ Roses at the legendary Slane Castle, made their Download debut at Castle Donington and kept the Otherkin flame burning in Holland and France. Just recently, they were championed by Metallica’s Lars Ulrich on his Beats1 radio show. The band are just back out on tour in the UK with punk-rock legends The Dead Kennedy’s.

Since their inception in 2015, Dublin garage-rock four-piece OTHERKIN have propelled themselves to the forefront of the Irish rock music scene, in an almost neck and neck parallel pursuit for the top spot within the genre between themselves and fellow Dubs Fangclub, the rise of both has been swift and intriguing. 

They have maintained a steady pace throughout, with 2 EP releases, The 201 and The New Vice, as well as previous standalone single 'Bad Advice', the band have provided a nicely spaced out sample menu ahead of the release of their full-length debut LP, OK. The final hors d'oeuvre dropped just last week in the shape of single 'React', with the album due to hit the shelves on the 29th of September. 

'React' kicks off with a full on rock riff opener, straight out of the blocks OTHERKIN go for the nuclear option, with an early-White Denim sounding percussion hanging around a pop-rock chorus and squealing lead-guitar. The pace and incessant energy is so frantic that the track feels half of the length of its three minutes. 

Interestingly, when held up side by side with previous single 'Bad Advice' it seems like the band have drawn ever so slightly back from the modern indie touchpoints of 'Reacts' predecessor and edged further back into the past down the garage timeline. A bit of filthy 70's stadium rock here, a dash of mid-60's classic garage there, and a subtle nod to 1950's pure rock n' roll vibes towards the end. Coupled with all of their previous singles, a selection of which will make the track-listing on OK, the debut album promises to be a rock fans' delight.

For another wee taster of what to expect, check out OTHERKIN's live performance video for their track 'Enabler' below.

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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Single: The False and The Fair - Gone Tomorrow

The False and the Fair Gone Tomorrow

Info: The False and the Fair present their new single, ‘Gone Tomorrow’.  The band formed in 2013 while Tommy Cullen, Cormac Feeley, Jacob Fry and Adam Nugent were studying together at BIMM Dublin. Since then TFATF have brought their psychedelic blend of progressive and alternative rock to numerous venues throughout Dublin, and released debut single ‘Bald Apes’ last year to an enthusiastic Workman’s audience.

‘Gone Tomorrow’ reveals a more introspective and melodic side to TFATF’s music, contrasting but complementing the wild energy and unpredictability of ‘Bald Apes’.  This typefies the group’s live set, which encompasses a range of moods and textures and keeps audiences on their toes.

'Gone Tomorrow' by Dublin's The False and The Fair is a sound I can really get behind. There's a lovely cross-over between late 60's folk, psychedelia and alternative rock, the former courtesy of Love, the middle from Jefferson Airplane and the latter genre from The Doors. Of course all three of those bands dabbled in more than a little bit of each of those three styles. 

It's in sharp contrast to previous (and equally as enjoyable) single from 2016, 'Bald Apes', which was a full on prog-rock blowout, more Black Sabbath than kaleidoscopes and light refractors. One thing for sure is that there is plenty to dig on both styles they have proffered to date and there is certainly a gap in the Irish music for The False and The Fair's modus operandi.

The band are also making the track available for free download by joining their mailing list on Bandcamp (link below).

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Video: Ailbhe Reddy - Fingertips

Ailbhe Reddy Fingertips

Ailbhe Reddy - Fingertips

Info: Having now accumulated over 2 million Spotify streams for her debut self released EP 'Hollowed Out Sea', Ailbhe is poised for an international breakthrough in 2017.

Ailbhe recently appeared on the TV show Other Voices and had her music synced in the RTE TV drama Striking Out before performing sold out shows in Dublin, London and Toronto.  She now has a full touring schedule lined up to promote her new release across Ireland, UK, France and Germany including festival appearances at Latitude, Cambridge Folk Festival, London Folk & Roots Festival, Body & Soul, Electric Picnic, Another Love Story etc 

'Fingertips' is taken from her sublime new EP 'Attach to Memory' which is now released worldwide via Kobalt/AWAL. The track itself was recorded and mixed by Darragh Nolan at Asta Kalapa Studios, Gorey, Ireland, and mastered by Andy Davenport in Altitude Studios, New Zealand.

In true to form style, Ailbhe Reddy swings from the soft to the magnificently powerful on most recent single 'Fingertips.' Her voice is like a sea swell, and on the highly charged track it is cogently arresting, bursting with an almost violent emotional lunge which leaves the listener in no doubt that she fully means every word sung on the track. 'Fingertips' will delight current fans as one of her highlight singles to date, and will also grab the attention of new members to club Reddy, both in drama and the highly creative visual impact of the accompanying video.

Ailbhe Reddy Tour Dates 2017

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Watch: Thanks Light - V.I.P.

Thanks Light VIP Video

Thanks Light - V.I.P.

Info: Our favourite Texan band Thanks Light have recently released a video for their massively successful 2016 single 'V.I.P.' from album Psychonauts, starring Phoenix Van Cartier. 

'V.I.P' featured on our 4th Independent International Playlist last year and still stands out as one of my favourite tracks of 2016 by far. At the time describing it as a; "...smouldering track and single, a rapid high tempo song that trundles energetically from its opening guitar riff and locomotive percussion..."

You can read the full Psychonauts review here.

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EP: No Monster Club - Hiccup / Kalimanko

No Monster Club Bobby Aherne

Info: Bobby Aherne - AKA No Monster Club - has just released 'Hiccup - Kalimanko', the sixth installment of his encyclopedia-themed singles collection - following on from 'Aardvark - Blessing', 'Blimp - Casino', 'Casket - Drum', 'Drunk - Fantasy' and 'Faqir - Hex' earlier in the year. 

"Obviously I love making albums, but I felt like liberating myself from that structure for a spell, and reverting back to what I used to do: recording songs willy-nilly and setting them free whilst they're still fresh. It's a songwriting exercise, but it's also a chance for me to write and release some nuggets that mightn't necessarily make sense on an aurally/thematically consistent LP."

The a-side of 'Hiccup - Kalimanko' features the playful bubblegum pop of 'Birthday Cake' - an equally baffling successor to Richard Harris' 1968 hit 'MacArthur Park'.

The flip side to the single is 'A Long Day at the Seaside' - a sun-drenched patchwork quilt of interlocking melodies. At nine and a half minutes long, it's Aherne's lengthiest song to date - a hypnotising ode to a beach trip that raises more questions than it answers (key lyric: "I don't think that I can sunbathe here again/I thought the tuk-tuk guys were my friends").

What is this voodoo? To my own utter disgust, despite being told on numerous occasions over the years to check out the music of No Monster Club, the sixth EP in Bobby Aherne's series of 12 for 2017 has been my first introduction to his music, but what an intro for me personally, the within the opening 10 seconds of first track 'Birthday Cake' I felt an even greater personal loss that I'd missed out on so up until this point. But thankfully, due to the power of the Internet and the average life expectancy of an Irish male being 78 according to the last figures released in 2014, I will have time to treat my deprived wee ears to the NMC back catalogue.

The Hiccup / Kalimanko EP is a two-track delight, with No Monster Club posing serious questions about frivilous matters with the opening line on 'Birthday Cake'; "I don't know why you left the cake out in the rain? I was hoping that one day you might explain. I don't know why you left those sweets out in the sun, you ruined the birthday for everyone. But I'll admit, it's a lot to talk about...". The sense is that a travesty has occurred, but can possibly be overcome and redeemed through concocting a well-thought out joint plan. Musically the lo-fi indie-pop vibes are in contrast with catastrophe and it's a perfect piece to bring the largest smile to ones face.

'A Long Day At The Seaside' invokes Caribbean calypso melodies, it has that joyous escapist sound that recalls one of my favourite albums from 15 years ago, The Beginning Stages of... by Dallas' Polyphonic Spree who No Monster Club have fittingly shared the stage with before, with it's initial choral bent, it's a fantastically chilled out opus which does not over extend its 9 minute length. I feel like I should write a lot more here, but would be better suited to doing so for the July EP release, when I've had a proper go at digesting everything that's going on here. Based on what others have said and this first foray into Bobby Aherne's wizardry, it's going to be a magnificently enjoyable journey.

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Single: Milky Teeth - Guess Again

Milky Teeth Guess Again

Info: While currently on some downtime with Cork band’s The Shaker Hymn and John Blek & The Rats, lead guitarist and vocalist Robbie Barron has been busy writing and recording his own material, under the moniker Milky Teeth.

Barron releases the 2nd single under his solo moniker, 'Guess Again', the follow up to January's 'Sleepiness And Weary Wit', giving us another taste of what to expect from a full length release from Milky Teeth, which may see the light of day before 2017 is out. 

Cork's solo act Milky Teeth released his first single, 'Sleepiness And Weary Wit' back in January whilst on brief hiatus from main band The Shaker Hymn. Where that track found Barron embracing solid 60's psych-pop á la The Zombies, on new single 'Guess Again' he opts for a less frantic moment of calm, whilst retaining the epoch's psychedelic leanings. Here he is sounding more Let It Be era Beatles, think 'All Across The Universe' minus Lennon's slightly morose vocal tone, with Milky Teeth adding a notable modern early 00's indie-rock layer across it's three and a half minutes plus. Again we are treated to truly uplifting brass arrangements and summery lo-fi moods from the Cork man making his sound appealing to both fans of contemporary and classic musical time zones.

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Single: Young Earth - Worth It

Young Earth Worth It

Young Earth - Worth It

Info: Young Earth are an Indie-Pop/Rock band from Dublin. Formed in BIMM, the band is bringing a fresh and energetic take on Indie pop, fusing heavier elements into hook filled pop songs to create an eclectic mixture of both new and old.

'Got A Secret', the band's first single of 2017 released in March has amassed over 90,000 Spotify streams, debuted on radio as BBC Ulsters ATL track for the day. Earning critical acclaim from blogs and music tastemakers both internationally and at home, it has drawn a considerable amount of attention to the band, including a sell out single launch, and with a busy summer ahead there's no signs of slowing down.

The band are extremely excited to release 'Worth It' on June 16th, 2017 along with a short accompanying Irish tour to promote it.

The only thing you are guaranteed with a new Young Earth single is that it is going to be upbeat and a carefree experience, but that's where it ends. Since the release of debut single 'Maggie' in 2016, each subsequent single has seen the four-piece take another step up the ladder in developing their sound. Whilst there have been line-up changes, the improvements are all down to the band determinedly making things happen for themselves rather than waiting for it to happen.

This dedication to refining their sound has led to new single 'Worth It', a noticeably more wholesome and polished listen with better production. In terms of sound it has all of the hall-marks of a late 90's early 00's indie-pop rattler, like The Lemonheads, The Zutons and Modest Mouse all put in the blender, but with that defining Young Earth vibrancy standing out on top of it all. Another thing to love about their sound is it has that youthful wide-eyed feel of 1950's pop-rock lyrically and musically. I've no doubt that within time they will start skipping rungs and tear on up that ladder to bigger things.

Young Earth are currently on an Irish Tour to promote 'Worth It', see remaining dates below;

Young Earth Tour Dates

Single: Variant Sea - Hiraeth

Variant Sea Hiraeth

Info: Variant Sea are a Dublin/Reykjavik based ambient-post rock duo comprising pianist Luke Duffy and guitarist Shell Dooley. Working together to create visually inspired instrumental music, the pair have merged subtle piano melodies and turbulent multi-layered guitars to deliver a sound that is their own.

The duo have released two acclaimed E.P. records 'Season of Mists' and 'Fable', receiving praise from The Last Mixed Tape, Nialler9, The Irish Times, The Thin Air, Lyric FM and State Magazine.

Variant Sea are an act we have long held in the highest regard around these parts, with both their debut and sophomore EP's making our independent Irish EP of the Year lists for Season of Mists (2015) and Fable (2016). With pianist Luke Duffy making his way to Iceland last year and continuing to compose, and guitarist Shell Dooley working full-time with her band Montauk Hotel, it was a most pleasant surprise to find they had released a new single in the, unsurprisingly, beauty-filled 'Hiraeth'.

Hiraeth is an old Welsh word that is not directly translatable into English. In general it describes a longing or a melancholic nostalgia, a homesickness for a home which you can never return to, or a longing for an absent loved one which carries a repressed knowledge that the object of affection will never return. Now if that doesn't move you enough, the music itself will complete the job.

That's not to say that Variant Sea are intent on bringing us down, far from it, on their new single the beauty is a source of both reinvigoration of the soul and tangible hope. The sensual calm of the opening bars and gentle strings are like looking out on a motionless lake on a winters day. The breadth that the duo have allowed themselves over the track's 7 minute plus length is perfect in terms of leaving the desired impact on the listener. The build is careful and slow, but when it happens it doesn't creep up on you, in an unusual way it reveals itself with aplomb.

From the 4:35 mark VS have fully gone from serenity to that aforementioned invigorating feeling, it's like a minute but precise shot of joyfulness injected into your soul. This dream-like state ends in the final minute of 'Hiraeth' and Duffy and Dooley take us back to the edge of the lake at winter where we can reflect on their latest offering and wait impatiently for the next one simultaneously. As always, nothing but beautiful in the strictest definition of the word.

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