Sunday, 21 October 2018

Live: THUMPER, Bayonets, Montauk Hotel & Gigonometry

THUMPER - Megacone - Chinese Newspaper - Live

THUMPER - '(You're Bringing Me) Down'

Info: Live music punters in Dublin are going to be spoiled for choice across the October Bank Holiday weekend and into the last week of October with a slew of gigs taking place in some of the capital's favourite venues, and all for a song.

26th October - Montauk Hotel with Beauty Sleep - The Workman's Club

Dublin jangle-pop professors Montauk Hotel celebrate the release of their wondrous latest single 'Stains' at The Workman's with support from Belfast synth-pop wonders Beauty Sleep.

26th October - Gigonometry Dublin (Rewind) - Deep Sky Objects, Greg Clifford & Makings - The Underground

One of Dublin's original and most well-loved showcases Gigonometry hosts their latest bi-monthly 'Rewind' gig, for acts that have previously played their monthly shows, featuring the wonderful Cork / Kerry 3-piece Deep Sky Objects, Dublin’s Greg Clifford, and the long-awaited return of Donegal / Dublin electro-rock outfit Makings.

FYI: DSO's 'Desire' (below) is one of REMY's favourite Irish singles of 2018.

October 27th - Bayonets, Kevin Nolan & Jem Mitchell - The Workman's Club

Secret Cellar Presents Bayonets, Kevin Nolan, Jem Mitchell and Edwin T Wright live in the Vintage Rooms at the Workman's Club on Saturday the 27th of October from 8pm. FREE ENTRY - subject to capacity.

October 31st - THUMPER, Megacone, Chinese Newspaper, Stone Sea & Grey Face & SOMA DJ's - The Button Factory

A veritable head-bangers ball. Mutlyz Promotions present the anecdote to your post-bank holiday blues (rock) with their Halloween Fest night in The Button Factory. Bring your ouija board so your ancestors can catch up with some outrageously distorted rock that will make them wish they were back in purgatory or Hades itself. 

EP: Ghostking is Dead - This Is Doubt

Ghostking Is Dead - This Is Doubt

Info: Ghostking is Dead is the project of Cork-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Corrigan, which has been celebrated for it's vivid soundscapes and intriguing sonic themes.

This Is Doubt, the latest EP from Ghostking Is Dead was released earlier this week, and before we get stuck into a track by track view, I must share from the get go that it's easily one of the best Irish EP's to be released this year. I shall explain why, and where the feels come from.

A week or two ago we reviewed the lead single, 'Tokyo', from the EP and had this to say; "There's a very soothing delicacy on 'Tokyo', with Ghostking Is Dead in contemplative mood courtesy of his spoken-word intro. As is his wont, it's not long before he throws soulful pop vocals into the mix alongside some seriously chill electronic sounds. The single also confirms what we have learned from previous singles such as the excellent 'Lucky Warrior' and 'Fool', Ghostking Is Dead doesn't do limitations, and is very comfortable at strafing across a multitude of styles and sounds with uncanny ease."

The transition into 'Hollow' is seamless, the delivery is especially disarming, valium for the ears. It's regular enough that lyrics can be nothing more than filler, to add an extra layer to a song, and that's okay, yet here there's no such shortcut. Lines such as; "Jealousy will have my coffin for a friend" and "The price of success is high and the only coin is my health" provoke thought, make you take a step back, and are ultimately more poetry than lyrics. As an aside, you kind of have to marvel at how good GKID is at wrapping credible hip-hop beats around his music when it's called for.

'Burn Out - Automatic Blue' is siiiiick, illegal amounts of mellow get poured in, from the lazy thick bass (gawd), to the single strum of guitar, to the aloof vocal, it's a really delightful jam, and in my notes I have that I feel the same way that I do when I listen to the quieter tracks off Blood Orange's last two albums, but I don't know why. It really is one of those that could go on for 15 minutes and you'd still hit repeat, as if all this wasn't enough, the piano and the vocaliser in the final third make for haute enjoyment.

On 'It's Over' we walk through the door of an old club, as we turn our heads to the right searching for our table, Ghostking is Dead is on stage under spotlight, there's an awful lot of soul going on here and it's top drawer. Finally from his bag of tricks 'How Did I Get Here?' gets yanked out, a new genre is born, cabaret-funk. In sequence, the list of artists it reminds me of, Nina Simone, Black Grape, George Harrison, The Specials, Connan Mockasin and Portishead. At this point I don't really have much left to say, other than to quote Jim Carrey's character Chip Douglas in The Cable Guy, "Cherish him, every hair on his head".

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Single: Trick Mist - Abroad in The Yard

Trick Mist - Abroad in The Yard
Photo: Graham Patterson

Trick Mist - 'Abroad in The Yard'

Info: Songwriter, electronic musician and multi instrumentalist Trick Mist (Gavin Murray) returns after his exposed, acapella single 'Two Doors Down' released in Aug 2018.  

'Abroad in The Yard' his brand new single (released 19/10/18) is taken from his forthcoming debut album 'Both Ends' released 30/11/18 via Pizza Pizza Records. 

For the video, director Graham Patterson creates a bizarre and bewildering composition shot in Murray's current back yard interlaced with VHS footage from his 10th birthday party football match in his back garden in 1998.

In Murray's words; 

"Abroad in the yard is a song about cynicism and its merits. On my travels abroad, generally speaking cynicism does not appear to have the same hold on society as it does at home in Ireland. There seems to be a purity and innocence that isn't beaten out of you after childhood. The song nostalgically recounts childhood memories playing (making a potion!) in my nans yard with my brother before it was time to grow up. I have always believed in scrutinising and questioning everything to the letter. But I've seen things the other way now, and in that way, I have learned there is definitely something special. Encapsulating this discovery is a wonderfully weird phrase 'Abroad in the Yard' my nan uses to ironically describe something that's right under your nose."

Trick Mist's new single 'Abroad in The Yard' opens with a Nicolas Jaar worthy sequence, the deep and heavy drone going toe to toe with his baritone vocal. There's some serious slicing and erratic placement of the layers causing a disorientating effect, but submission is given without conditions by the listener as we get subsumed within the skirmish. It's so hypnotic that the first time I listened to the track and it drew to an end I guessed it was just under 3 and a half minutes, missing an additional 2 minutes somewhere. Murray's full-length debut LP is set to be quite the trip.

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Saturday, 20 October 2018

Irish Playlist #039: Bitch Falcon, Montauk Hotel, Sive, Columbia Mills, Moylan & more

Bitch Falcon - Prime Number

Info: REMY's latest Irish independent playlist is here featuring some of the best tracks to be released over the last few weeks, and there have been many, all wonderful. Some are hot off the press just out in the last 48 hours including Bitch Falcon, Montauk Hotel, Sive, Pursued By Dogs and Columbia Mills. 11 tracks in total above so without further ado...

1) Bitch Falcon - Prime Number

Bruising, brutal, bruxing. If we lived in more conservative times, Bitch Falcon would probably be the band your parents would forbid you from listening to or seeing live. Unleashing an animalistic power yet again on new single 'Prime Number', the trio are continuously cementing their position as the best hard rock band in the country with each single.

2) Montauk Hotel - Stains

No one does jangle-pop better than Montauk Hotel, new single 'Stains' goes up to the next level though, such merriment alongside moody sparkle. I can't shake the image of a small pool of mercury rolling across a pane of glass, it's always easy to say when something is shiny and new, but I'm having pretty strong feelings that this is my favourite single of theirs to date, with the lead vocal and harmonies simply perfect. The four-piece play The Workman's Club on the 26th of October and are not to be missed.

Montauk Hotel - Stains
Montauk Hotel - Photo: Declan Kelly

3) Pursued by Dogs - 'Swap Dimensions' 

From our Album of the Month for April (and an Irish album of the year I might add), comes the latest single from Pursued by Dogs, 'Swap Dimensions'. From our review of the self-titled LP; "A well-timed change of pace arrives on 'Swap Dimensions', it's really nice to hear the minimalist vocal interplay at the beginnig between frontman Andrew Brennan and Suzanne Purcell which in turn leads to a harmonic embrace. I'm a sucker for phat, thick n' gritty synth buzzes and behold they arrive at 2:42, yaws."

4) Sive - 'Quietly'

Seemingly out of nowhere, Kildare alt-folk act Sive dropped new single 'Quietly' into the online ether yesterday. Following on from her critically acclaimed 2017 sophomore album The Roaring Girl, she returns with an all-embracing and lush delicacy. A powerful yet tender vocal, orchestral strings and a grandiose panorama of atmospheric vivacity, Sive has returned in the most arresting manner.

5) Columbia Mills - 'Close to You' 

Another band who released a right doozy of an album in A Safe Distance to Watch last year are Bray indietronica quintet Columbia Mills, who also shared new single 'Close to You' yesterday. Banging straight out of the blocks with crisp percussion and wobbling synths, all of the sound is drawn into a brightly glowing column that reaches up to the sky beyond our view. They sound as good as ever here.

Alice Kiernan - Running Now
Alice Kiernan - Photo: Aaron Corr Photography

6) Alice Kiernan - 'Running Now'

No stranger to the live music scene in Dublin, Alice Kiernan has swapped her acoustic-based background for a vibrant pop sound on debut single 'Running Now'. Taking inspiration from the big vocal delivery associated with Lorde or Florence Welch, Kiernan provides herself with a broad canvass for future releases based on the feisty pre-chorus and bubbling tempo which trundle all across 'Running Now'.

7) Nobodys Face feat. Enda Gallery - 'That's Right'

One half of KILNAMANA, Kildare's Enda Gallery, has teamed up with Berlin grime and trap artists Nobodys Face to release the funky house bopper that is 'That's Right'. Whipping up a mixture of hip-hop beats, dance bass-lines and pop vocal strains the single is a wild and heady affair with plenty of colourful feel-good flourishes.

8) Party Fears - 'Dog Star'

Irish / Australian and Berlin-based pop-punk duo Party Fears released their latest single 'Dog Star' this week. Big sound, funky jams and classic 80's pop power vocals make for an enamouring and extremely likeable cocktail. The break heading into the final third has a really nice balmy synth moment before Party Fears rattle away full throttle towards a swinging finale.

Party Fears - Dog Star
Party Fears - Photo: Nina Agnes

9) Moylan - 'Naive'

A hugely impressive debut single, 'Naive', comes via Waterford singer-songwriter Moylan who is now Dublin-based. You often come across comparisons to Joni Mitchell with singer-songwriters, too often in fact, so it's one that I avoid like the plague. With Moylan it's not necessarily her vocal at all, but more the sound of the music and the mood, producing a deep sadness that recalls the intensity of 'Little Green'. It's an admirably honest song with a lot of depth, and I love the key change in the vocal at 4:12. An artist you'll probably see everywhere in 2019.

10) The Winter Flood - 'Fire It Up'

Another solid debut single comes from dark pop, Monaghan-based act, The Winter Flood and his track 'Fire It Up'. A contemplative piano intro leads to soft vocal, quickly joined by an enjoyably lethargic electronic beat. The sparseness of the track suits the mood well and within a mere few listens its immersive qualities really sink in.

11) TabloidTV - 'Always Hold On'

Dublin indie-rock five-piece TabloidTV release the latest track from their Mixed Messages EP, 'Always Hold On'. There's a real skiffle vibe to this lively affair, not a million miles away from the feeling you'd get from a Clash or Dexy's Midnight Runners number. When they hit the indie-rock gas, in particular after the two-minute mark I'm also reminded of Californian alt-rockers Cake, specifically 'The Distance'. Entertaining stuff.

Album: We Cut Corners - Impostors

We Cut Corners - Impostors

Info: Last week Dublin pair We Cut Corners released their fourth studio album, Impostors, a much anticipated LP on the back of very well received singles such as 'Laughing Maniacally', 'Original Sin' and 'The Specialist' to name a few.

A gentle and delicate croon beckons us invitingly into Impostors with its opening 1 minute passage. Am I going to enjoy this album? The question is immediately answered with the sweet indie-folk charm of 'Rainy Night in Slomo', a little dash of nordic-sounding pop reminiscent of Kings of Convenience which eventually torpedoes itself into a rhythmic rattle of guitars, percussion and inflamed vocal harmonies, whoosh, what a start.

'Original Sin' sits in a half-way house between Muse and Villagers on its louder and softer moments respectively (and if you want to venture to more obscure places, Dublin 90's indie band Pelvis). Once again there is a most pleasing feeling derived from the unique vocal of guitarist John Duignan and the duos ability to lift the listener to euphoric spaces. One of many expertly crafted and massively enjoyable indie-rock moments on the album.

We Cut Corners - 'Original Sin'

Another such moment arrives via 'The Specialist', there's so so much to love about this single, it is filled on the one side with hope, optimism, gratitude, and on the other side, somehow, an inescapable feeling of sadness, fear of loss and an emotional wrench. When it comes to simplicity, We Cut Corners have an admirable knack for tying everything neatly together in a cohesive unit which ultimately delivers high enjoyment. The joy the listener feels by the end of the track could not be achieved by another vocalist in my opinion, the energy and passion comes from a place of authenticity.

Jacks of all guitar trades, on 'Eke' the band hark back to a swinging old school country-blues flavour, a duet between Buddy Holly and Muddy Waters put through an indie blender. Another fetching rock-solid single is 'Laughing Maniacally', which will probably prove to be the most loved by fans, and it's the little things too you know, like that short but memorable 5-second passage from 1:30. I mentioned in a previous review how the draw here for me is how their sound has a bone fide Irish 90's rock DNA, a peak period, I think of Future Kings of Spain and Turn.

The dreamy flow of 'Once in the Woods' pulls the listener off to an entirely different part of their imagination, a folk charm ensues with appropriately subtle strings adding to the overall sense of calm. Closing with the third instalment of what could crudely be described as interludes, 'iiimpostors' has a gorgeously melancholic demeanour, it's a bare and isolated conclusion, and this shoe fits perfectly onto the end of the collection of songs. 

I love Impostors, it's as simple as that, it is coherent as a body of songs, but also allows you to pull down the window, pause, and have a look around at the little spaces We Cut Corners create across the album. The singles, and indeed other tracks, are incredibly well written, as I mentioned earlier, yes there is a simplicity in parts, but the simpler something is, the more bland it may become, here it is the opposite by a country mile. It feels like Impostors is the moment us much-maligned fans of indie-rock have been waiting a long time for, thanks to We Cut Corners, our patience has been rewarded in spades.

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Metropolis Announce After-Parties & Sunday Stage Times

Junior Brother - 'Hungover at Mass'

Info: With only a week to go before Metropolis 2018 hits the RDS in Dublin for the fourth year running, the full timetable for Sunday, along with the after-party sets for both nights, have been announced. A new addition has also been announced in the shape of contemporary folk balladeer Junior Brother who has quickly established himself as one of Ireland's most talented performers and song-writers since moving to Dublin from his native Kerry over a year ago.

The Saturday after-show party sees Daithí take over The Button Factory, whilst Pear & UFO will be at Wigwam. On the Sunday, Red Bull Music present Honey Dijon and Call Super at The Button Factory and Softboy Records at Wigwam. Entry to these shows are free but will only be granted with a ticket obtained at the festival itself in the RDS beforehand, and subject to capacity limitations.

All Tier 1 tickets (Saturday, Sunday & full weekend) are now sold out, remaining ticket info below, visit for more info.

Metropolis Festival Buy Tickets

Tickets are on sale NOW and moving fast via Ticketmaster & usual outlets. Metropolis Festival now operates an over 21's age policy.

Video: Happyalone. - Haunted

Happyalone. - Haunted

Happyalone. - Haunted

Info: Cork alt-pop and experimental electronic trio Happyalone. released their latest music video for single 'Haunted' only yesterday. On this occasion they show up with a mellow and atmospheric groover, lethargic clicks and beats creating a swaying and hypnotic motion, showing it ain't all about brash bursts (which we lurv). Their prolific and quality output continues unabated, 'Haunted' drips off the spoon of gratuity like a thick honey, nice and slow, but full of taste.

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Monday, 15 October 2018

EP: Roisin El Cherif - Glass House

Info: It's interesting listening back to Galway alt-pop artist Roisin El Cherif's debut single 'Kerosene' from 2016, it's a really great and memorable track, but it also had those initial hints that people often describe as showing promise, or being 'an act to watch out for', etc. Except, often such promise can evaporate, either through a musician deciding to call it a day, or the creative pot bubbling over too early. 

Not the case here. On debut EP Glass House, as soon as the title track bellows a distant vocal in our direction we can hear just how far come El Cherif has travelled already. There's a heady and intoxicating mixture of dark ambience and a brimming pop vocal that is threatening to rise up at any moment, and sure enough it unleashes itself at the 3:27 mark. The ability to flip the switch between moody and rock vocal is very appealing.

Roisin El Cherif - 'Glass House'

'Run' sheds the sombre tone of the opening track, here El Cherif shows a proficiency for interpreting with great ease a classic 80's pop-rock sound, whilst effortlessly shoe-horning in a more contemporaneous timbre. It's hard not to cast your mind back to the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Heart or Kim Carnes, and I'm talking just as much about the music than the voice here. 

The focal pop point occurs on third track 'Say', from a tender opening the song unfolds into a glistening and babbling stream courtesy of the rhythmic guitar and its call and response chorus, we also hear what may be the first instances of Roisin El Cherif courting a future RnB sound. Along with 'Glass House', 'Half-Life' is a really bright highlight on the EP, in a song-writing sense the transition from a mood-driven introduction to a cacophonous pop chorus here is a joy to behold. It's defiant, indignant, loaded with gunpowder, and the hooks are catchy as hell. 

In summary, with her debut EP, Roisin El Cherif confirms what we all hoped would happen back in 2016, but what excites most going forward is wondering what she will sound like in 2, 5 and 10 years time, the creative cork has just been popped.

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Saturday, 13 October 2018

EP: RUNAH - Ghosts

RUNAH - Ghosts
Photo: @stilphil28

Info: Dublin-based contemporary folk artist RUNAH released her second EP 'Ghosts' only yesterday. Having discussed mental health on her previous EP 'We Only Go To Church In Winter', here she embarks on a discussion of the cyclical nature of life, the wild-woman and ageism. 

Each of RUNAH's four tracks on her new EP Ghosts begin with the sounds of the outside world; rainfall, the sea, birds signing and the crackling of fire, interestingly all ancient sounds older than human-kind itself. The title-track's opening guitar progression sets the mystical and haunting mood of the EP in motion, her vocal acting as a conduit in order to establish a channel of communication between the environment and the listener.

If 'Ghosts' was the summoning, 'Calling' is the subsequent incantation that pulls us under RUNAH's spell and carries us by the hand through the dark forest of her world. I love the use of real-life sounds, such as the treading on crisp leaves, distant avian calls and the rush of water, in a time where we are disconnected in so many different ways, it's a timely reminder of what truly matters.

RUNAH - 'Ghosts'

There's a soft sweetness to 'Age', it's cast in an old world folk-blues vocal, with a lovely jazz bass and twinkling sad piano. Here the artist happily and honestly shares a certain vulnerability with us, and it's okay. At this point it's important to also acknowledge RUNAH's voice, it is crystal and true, no imitations, no manipulations or distractions from the words she utters. 

The hints of neopagan themes up until now rise up to face us on closing track 'Demons'. A powerful vocal clears all of the mist that has gathered to this point and opens up an entire other world, the one that the artist is connected to, and has been inviting us to visit over the course of Ghosts. There has been a humble grandeur to the entire affair, accompanied by the finest of musicianship and an imagination that breathes life into story, RUNAH has a gift at creating the most enchanting, and at times, unsettling, of worlds.

Irish Playlist #038: Participant, Happyalone., Paul Noonan, Aislinn Logan, Jamie Adam, Tanjier & more

Participant - Coast
Participant - Photo: Ciara Coyne / Ian O'Neill

Info: REMY's latest Irish independent playlist is here featuring some of the best tracks to be released over the last few weeks, and there have been many, all wonderful. There's a nice balance between electronic, guitar-based and pop sounds above, and we jam 12 great numbers in on what has been a particularly busy week for new music, enjoy!

1) Participant - 'Coast'

Stephen Tiernan aka Participant has always kept us guessing over the past few years with his music, new single 'Coast' is perhaps the biggest curve-ball. Blowing the dust off his acoustic guitar, we are served up with a really beautiful piece of folk-infused music which recalls Keaton Henson. The beauty reaches epic heights at the half-way mark when Éna Brennan (Dowry) literally sweeps in from nowhere with some glorious strings which almost seem to have the power to affect Participant's vocal itself. Gorgeous.

2) Happyalone. - 'Haunted.'

The Cork alt-pop trio who know no boundaries Happyalone. share latest single 'Haunted.' On this occasion they show up with a mellow and atmospheric groover, lethargic clicks and beats creating a swaying and hypnotic motion, showing it ain't all about brash bursts (which we lurv). Their prolific and quality output continues unabated.

3) Kastane - 'Trang'

Galway electronic producer and drummer Alan Walsh, aka Kastane, released his sophomore EP, Trang, last month, here we have the title-track, and it was love at first hearing. Beginning as a side project whilst touring with another electronic act in Berlin in 2017, he went from on the street silent disco performances to the stage and full live rig set up. The manic intensity and old school flourishes of continental house and IDM are immediately enticing and rewarding for the listener.

4) Aislinn Logan - 'Wait On Me'

London-based Northern Irish artist Aislinn Logan continues to hone her unique brand of electro-pop on new single 'Wait On Me'. It's a more lively affair than previous singles, but also retains that contemplative mood throughout the verses. A refreshing aspect of this track is how modern it feels, synths are current rather than retro, avoiding the slightly over-used 80's pastiche we have become accustomed to over the last few years.

Paul Noonan - Moth to Your Flame
Paul Noonan - Photo: Ruth Medjber

5) Paul Noonan - 'Moth to Your Flame'

Bell X-1 frontman Paul Noonan released his latest single 'Moth to Your Flame' last week, wrapped in spiky synths and a simple electro beat, Noonan's vocal is at its inviting best, a soft beckoning with its winged protagonist using coy lyrical humour to express an aching love for his muse. 

6) Lisa Maria - 'Silhouette' 

Last year Monaghan native now Dublin-based Lisa Maria wowed all and sundry with her debut single 'War'. Returning with the trip-hop ambient stylings of 'Silhouette' we can witness how taking time to do things right and avoiding the temptation of an immediate follow-up can pay off in spades. The confidence and self-assuredness of the artist is recognisable, the track and Lisa Maria ready to hold their own at the top table of alternative-pop.

7) Jamie Adam - 'Last Ones Down'

Dublin electronic act Jamie Adam follows up previous single 'Cool Blood' which we had the pleasure of premiering on these pages with something very different in the shape of 'Last Ones Down'. The lo-fi brevity of the former switching to a delightfully drone-like piece of pop-flavoured 90's house on Last Ones Down', Adam is trying everything and anything he can muster from his head, and it's working with great results, maintaining this ambivalence for trends will be the key to continued success.

8) Johnny Fox - 'Algas Marinhas'

Taken from his wonderful sophomore album Águas, Wexford's Johnny Fox delights with 'Algas Marinhas', a track which builds slowly and with great delicacy. The comforting warm glow laps against the senses almost apologetically before soaring to psychedelic rock plains in it's final moments.

9) Heavy Soda - 'Greasy Feet' 

Dublin alternative-rock trio Heavy Soda pop out a funky retro banger with 'Greasy Feet', merging early noughties indie-rock with 90's rock reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers courtesy of the phat bass-lines, it's a thoroughly enjoyable jam.

Tanjier - Lights

10) Tanjier - 'Lights'

Dublin-based trio Tanjier's enduring strength has always been their ability to appeal to fans of both synth-pop and a more conventional pop sound, this is reflected in their highly enjoyable live performances. Like previous single 'Miles', 'Lights' leans more toward the latter style, without abandoning their electronic roots of course. On a personal level I still feel a greater attachment to singles such as 'Yu', 'Hymn' and 'Misfit Hour', where it felt like there was a little more layering to peel back. That said, with 'Lights' they will continue to garner new fans and stay on the steady upward trajectory which they have worked extremely hard to maintain over the past 2 years.

11) Feek - 'Some Wan'

A debut single from hip-hop n' pop duo Feek (Qboi Skew and BF Jack) who are no strangers at all to the Irish music scene, comes in the shape of 'Some Wan', in their own words a; "super overblown and consequentially LATE summer barbecue anthem about raw sex and rural-urban migration". Sinking their teeth into some State-side hip-hop grooves, the pair have put out an ebullient opener which is a lot of fun, and there's more to come very soon.

12) Music City - 'Pretty Feelings'

Fans of Ryan Adams' 2003 Rock N Roll album and more pertinently, the glam-rock joyousness of T-Rex, will find much to imbibe in the care-free power-pop of Dublin act Music City (Conor Lumsden) and his new single 'Pretty Feelings'. The track also features contributions from Conor O'Brien (piano) and some fab backing vocals from Ailbhe Níc Oireachtigh (The Cosmos).

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Premiere: Ghostking Is Dead - Tokyo

Ghostking is Dead - Tokyo - Interview

Ghostking Is Dead - 'Tokyo'

Info: Ghostking is Dead is the project of Cork-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Corrigan, which has been celebrated for it's vivid soundscapes and intriguing sonic themes. 

Ahead of the release of his latest EP, This Is Doubt on the 17th of October, REMY is most delighted to premiere the lead single 'Tokyo' which is out on Cork indie label Hausu Records today, and also catch up with Ghostking Is Dead for an insightful chat.

There's a very soothing delicacy on 'Tokyo', with Ghostking Is Dead in contemplative mood courtesy of his spoken-word intro. As is his wont, it's not long before he throws soulful pop vocals into the mix alongside some seriously chill electronic sounds. The single also confirms what we have learned from previous singles such as the excellent 'Lucky Warrior' and 'Fool', Ghostking Is Dead doesn't do limitations, and is very comfortable at strafing across a multitude of styles and sounds with uncanny ease.

REMY: Listening to your discography on Bandcamp from back in 2016 up to the last single you released before 'Tokyo', 'Lucky Warrior', there’s a pretty smooth path from guitar-based DIY (debut EP Journal of Public Affairs) to the polished production of your most recent material which has an electro-pop rn'b and soul groove. Did your early musical ventures begin in guitar-based bands or have you always operated solo? 

GKID: My first true foray into taking music 'seriously' saw me recording grimy alt-rock in a bedroom, using Audacity and a 20 Euro USB microphone, aged 15. A friend of mine, who was a drummer, was convinced we'd cracked the code; "who needs to go to studios, we can do it all right here!". Needless to say, the subtleties of the audio processing process were lost on us. I stayed there for around 2 years, playing in various iterations of the same rock band until I decided to take it solo. An audio interface and 6 months of SoundCloud demos later, I was 'Ghostking is Dead'. As for the stylistic progression, the symbiosis of my style and my production is undeniable. What I make has always been chiefly informed by what I am capable of making. The transformation into electronics, soul, rn'b, etc. has been a combination of my own increased appreciation of the style, and years of practice paying off in the ability to make that style of music.

REMY: Speaking of your back catalogue, there’s a huge amount of variety of sounds across multiple singles and what will soon be your 5th EP. Temporarily leaving aside your latest EP, which release have you always felt closest to in terms of fondness and satisfaction with the results?

GKID: Time has a funny effect on ones perception of ones work. I can't listen to Sweet Boy anymore; the mistakes and missteps are only now becoming obvious and, oh boy, that is a sting. Leaf, however, is in a beautiful middle ground of my memory. True, it may be old, riddled with mistakes and things I’d do differently now. That said, it’s been long enough now that I can see it in context, for what it really is and was: my first tentative steps into something scary and far more ambitious then I had previously ventured for. The sounds and styles there went on to define a lot of the music I make now, and for that I don’t think I would change a thing.

REMY: Vocals are obviously a big part of Ghostking Is Dead's sound, I think of the grandiose 'Fool' for example. Did you have any formal training in vocals and also, which singers might have had an influence on your style?

GKID: No formal vocal training, although I think I could stand to learn a thing or a million from something like that. I recently had to step back and look at my vocals, to try and understand and develop them and myself in the wake of the next level I want to take my work to. David Bowie, Zach Condon (Beirut), Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) and Héloïse Letissier (Christine and The Queens) would all number among my favourite vocalists. What aspects of their actual styles, and the styles of others, that I have adopted I do not know. What I do know, however, is that the distinct and individual nature of their performances is awe-inspiring. I approach vocals to try and find the performance that is truest to what I believe Ghostking is Dead to be.

REMY: I’m interested in your live set up on stage, is it minimalist out of practicality, and do you use / hope to use visuals? Also, while we’re touching on the live music side of things, which venue would you consider Cork’s best kept secret right now?

GKID: It’s always jarring to transition from a long-term solo environment to a band environment, but for my live ambitions I have had to do just that. I am blessed with an ensemble of hardworking and skilled musicians who make what I conjure in my head a reality that can be communicated. I want to begin to utilize every member in a more meaningful way now: JJ is more than a bass player and giving him the opportunity to do some vocals live, to speak to the crowd, has coloured a blank space I didn’t know existed. Chris (the drummer) is a fantastic all-round musician, vocalist, keys player, it goes on and on. Neil has always been two steps ahead of any direction I could give. Samples and vocal modulation are aspects that come and go but are soon becoming a more permanent part of the setup. The balance between my vision and practicality is difficult, but I grow closer every show. As for live visuals, it currently sits at the centre of my mind, a vital piece of the puzzle that I have somehow dodged this far. I’ve been inspired by bands like Messyng, who’s visual element is mesmerising. I intend on making it everything it is possible for it to be.

As for best kept secrets, well, I don’t think there are very many. I will however say that I think The Roundy is under-utilised. The venue that is home to Plugd Records has housed some great shows of late, and although I’ve never played it myself, it’s a pretty hip spot.

Ghostking Is Dead - Hausu Records

REMY: You’re part of a brand new independent music collective in Cork called Hausu, tell us a bit about it and why you felt it was something you wanted to be a part of?

GKID: Hausu is family. It was from the beginning and always will be. It’s a humbling experience to be surrounded by such incredible artists, to be so close and work together. We held a listening party, for my own new project and also other completed projects, yet to be released by other Hausu personnel. It was a phenomenal experience, where we got to get a herd of people who we admire, respect and love into a house and share what we have made. To feel so connected to other people’s work, to share in that emotion, to help one another develop, and to speed our own development through co-operation. That’s what Hausu is. It’s a star on the horizon for me, a promise of a bright future.

REMY: You have put a lot of emphasis on spoken-word on new EP This Is Doubt, to a backdrop of hip-hop beats, who would be your favourite Irish hip-hop acts at present?

GKID: We’re so lucky to be living through this golden age of Irish music. Irish hip-hop seems to have come in a storm, suddenly the beating heart of a whole new movement. I distinctly remember catching Kojaque live around the formation of Hausu, when he was touring Deli Daydreams. That show rocked me to my core, showing me this whole new world of possibilities, the reality of live music in Ireland beyond what I knew: guitars and drumkits.

The Softboy crew are all like that. I consider them have some of the most authentic interpretations of a global style in an Irish context. Hearing how Luka Palm and Kojaque approach stuff is refreshing. Some great acts are coming out of Dublin, Jafaris also being of particular note. ‘Found My Feet’ brings me somewhere else, instant mood switcher. Dublin aside, the southeast has some great names: guys like 7th Obi, Pat Lagoon, Awkward Z, producers like Alex Gough and LHK. Artists I can’t wait to work with more closely.

REMY: Finally, what is the most important thing to you as an artist with regard to the end result of the music you make? What does satisfaction look like?

GKID: Satisfaction is connection. I often forget people are going to listen to what I make: how could I make music truly for myself knowing I’m releasing it for everyone else. Of course, approaching things like that can blind you to the truth of what you’re doing. It all hits home again if someone pulls me aside, if I get an email, if someone tells me their friend came across my song, if I play a show. Seeing that what I’ve made has connected. I’m not speaking of etiquette, your friends will listen to your songs, sure, and people will always go to gigs. The satisfaction lies in knowing I’ve gotten some genuine response, real emotion, real enjoyment. It makes any amount of struggle worthwhile, and it’s why I’ll never stop.

Ghostking Is Dead's This Is Doubt EP will be released via Hausu Records on 17th of October, across all major streaming platforms.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Album: Hostess - A Simple Life

Hostess - A Simple Life
Photo: Giita Hammond Photography

Info: 'A Simple Life' is the debut album of Hostess, the new moniker of former Cap Pas Cap frontwoman Gráinne Dee, which was released this week on After the Quake Records. The record is the product of a period following the demise of Cap Pas Cap, when Dee hunkered down to solitary demo building in her Dublin City home seeking a response to personal tumult that a blank canvas can afford. 

From these lo-fi experiments came eight daubs of melancholia - swathed in lugubrious synth and plaintive vocal lines buried in the ether - which Dee then brought to long-time collaborator Stephen Shannon (Estel / Cap Pas Cap) at Experimental Audio Studios in early 2017.

A Simple Life by Dublin's Hostess wastes no time in grabbing your attention, and more importantly, holding it in place. As first track 'Valentine' kicks in with a rasping drum rhythm and alluring layered vocal harmonies, submission to the mesmeric motion of the song is an easy choice. As with much of the album, the bright demeanour of the chorus belies an ingrained and weary exasperation, in this instance with the warped idealism of romance, a lauded concept that rarely delivers, yet has been pursued relentlessly since time immemorial. 

'Disappear' is a bulging aurora borealis of spirited synth progressions which burst out in every direction, the rattling high-tempo percussion and bass drive a relentless energy across the track, and the deep guitar riff at 1:56 is pretty much to die for. The song is awash with 80's inspired sounds that stretch across multiple genres, from pop to synth-wave, and smaller dashes of post-punk and rock-pop, all bouncing merrily off each other in unified tandem.

The vivacity of a Blondie-esque intro pops up on third track 'Grey Love', there's a gritty new wave feel to this one, and in case I forget, parts of A Simple Life really remind me of late 70's and early 80's French new wave acts like Charles de Goal and Les Visiteurs Du Soir, but perhaps a little less harsh on the ear. It's the sharp and tinny synths and beats you see. 

So far so great from Hostess, I'm really happy and in the zone with what's unfolding, and then, single 'Frustration' ploughs out like a juggernaut of hard-hitting percussion, beats and synths, chopping and changing between themselves. And when the bass-guitar joins the fray along with Dee's vocal I'm in electronic synth-pop heaven, the sheer energy and rush from the music recalls the sound and vigour you'd expect from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 'Heads Will Roll' keeps springing to mind although the parallels are not really that obvious, it's more the feeling. Probably more aligned would be a more recent Massive Attach record, who cares, it's just bloody fab.

'Think In Shapes' offers an alternative vibe to what we've heard to now, very much more down the indie-rock route, whilst definitely retaining that post-punk feel courtesy of the bass and drums. Once again Hostess gives a clear example of how the duality of optimistic tones lie like a linen sheet barely covering the more sombre themes which rest beneath.

One of my favourite tracks on the album and a clear highlight is 'Planes', the lines get more blurred here and the music is more in tune with the artists sense of apprehension and abjection. The song pretty much could be viewed as a lynch-pin for the whole album, the centre that all feelings and sound ultimately emanate from but are at their most brutal and bare to view. 

After the electronica and dance swirl that is 'Company' comes final track 'Simples', one last reminder to the listener as to what the album is all about. At a time where we can easily feel cast adrift amid the chaos around us, both personal and from a broader perspective, Dee looks to clear away all of the obstructive clutter and despondency for us (and herself) and carve a new, more direct path. Like a big gulp of breezy North American indie-pop á la American Analog Set, 'Simples' is a joyous end to a fantastic album. 

There are a lot of Irish bands who would loosely share the same sonic neighbourhood as Hostess that have brought out releases recently which are being heralded, but for me taste bland, are poor unoriginal imitations, and ultimately lack any depth. A Simple Life is the exact opposite of all of those things, this is the type of music that resonates, appeals, and sparks self-reflection in the listener, avoids clichés and provides a swathe of variety across its 8 tracks. For that, I have nothing but respect for it as an album.

Hostess will hold an official album launch party at Drop Dead Twice on Francis Street with support from catscars on Saturday, 13th of October. Event info is here

You can purchase 'A Simple Life' on pink vinyl and other formats here

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