Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Interview: REWS

REWS Interview REMY
Photo: Jonny Finnis

REWS - Shake Shake

Info: London & Belfast pop rock duo REWS kick-off their U.K. & Irish Tour today in Nottingham, a tour which will conclude with shows in Dublin (23rd March, Whelan's) and Belfast (24th March, McHugh's). Today also sees the release of the official video for latest single 'Shake Shake' from their critically acclaimed debut album Pyro which was released in November at the end of last year on Marshall Records and recorded at Abbey Studios. 

Shauna and Collette took time out of their busy schedule to chat to REMY about beginnings, balance and current happenings.

REMY: On previous singles and of course your debut album Pyro which was released towards the end of last year, you’ve consistently applied your hard-rock sound across everything you do. For both of you, which acts within the genre have gripped you the most, not necessarily in terms of their releases, but more with regard to the type of impact you both want your music to make on an audience / listener?

Collette: Personally, I'd say it's been an eclectic mix of old and new! For me it's everything from Foo Fighters to Bring Me the Horizon, Nothing But Thieves and Biffy Clyro. We love their energy and try to honour that in our own delivery.

Shauna: Yep, totally agree. We’re also really keen to empower people and encourage them to sing their hearts out and so any artists who connect with their audiences in this way, we aspire to. Recently I’ve been in awe of Annie (St. Vincent) what an amazing talent!! Seeing her live just shows how important performance and interaction is. She has such a radiating, strong aura with an incredible band! Her audience are totally captivated & transported to a really magical place and we try to bring that to our performance too. 

REMY: Casting your minds back to the beginning of REWS, I recall you had a live session with BBC Radio Ulster in 2015 where you recorded two videos, with just vocals and piano. It was (is) a really interesting side of the band many people might not be aware of. Is that unstripped format of vocals and piano how you write songs together at their inception before throwing the wall of noise into the mix or what is your most common composition method?

REWS: Blimey, yeah that was a while back!! Has someone been trawling through YouTube..? Haha! 

The writing process is quite varied! Usually one of us comes with an idea or a fully formed song that we flesh out together and other times we have a fully fledged jam session and develop something epic together from the bones out!  Either way a lot of it requires time spent in front of both electric and acoustic instruments... and scrappy lyric pads! It is great fun! We still do acoustic shows now and again which are more stripped back like that session, usually acoustic guitar and cajon and we love the dynamic of this!

REWS - Your Tears

REMY: You guys have had huge support, and rightly so, from BBC Radio, particularly the Across The Line show since you started out. As a medium, how important do you think radio airplay is in the Internet Age?

REWS: Yeah, thank you! We are very appreciative of the play from Across the Line and all our radio supporters! We've been really lucky with radio support. Recently we were BBC Introducing 'Track of the Week' on Radio 1 and we saw so much traffic from that and new fans! Radio is definitely is still an important medium as it does open up new doors to audiences - but also the internet age has changed the impact in someways... so it's equally as important to gain support across streaming sites (such as Spotify) and get onto taste-maker playlists. 

REMY: Your achievements since starting out roughly 2 and a half years ago have been impressive in such a short space of time. You played the John Peel Glastonbury Stage last year, received unanimous praise (including some hard to please music critics!) for debut LP Pyro across the U.K. and Ireland, from the likes of Hot Press, The Moshville Times and The Last Mixed Tape. In addition to the aforementioned radio play you also have respected fans on the airwaves via Kerrang! and The London Ear on RTÉ’s 2XM. Have you become accustomed to where you find yourselves today or do you still pinch yourselves? And what have been both of your stand out highlights since you started out, that special moment?

Collette: Oh definitely still pinch ourselves. We don't take anything for granted at all. We might have caviar on the rider but we're still down to earth...(joke!). We will always continue to work harder and not let it go to our heads, but on the flip side it's really amazing to be receiving so much support and appraise for what we're doing. For me, that game changer had to be Glastonbury, we both looked at each other on stage and had that 'Fucking hell!!' Moment. 

Shauna: Yep, Collette hit the nail on the head! It has been quite an epic journey so far and we are continually being surprised! But it is a lot of hard work that is paying off too - and that hard work helps to keep you grounded! There have been so many little special moments. I loved Glastonbury too... but I do recall on our last tour, we had an epic London show (sold out!) with loads of our fans, friends and family there and there was a beautiful moment when everyone was singing and dancing along... it's so nice to see people getting lost in the music!

REWS - Miss You In The Dark

REMY: Something I’ve started to notice with more frequency among independent artists at all levels is fatigue relating to the huge demands put on them, some are quite open about it and others reflect on it in their song-writing. It must feel like the online era acts almost like an open door that can be hard to close at times, with very little time to contemplate on commitments. Is that a space you've found yourselves in at any point and if so, how have you learned to cope with?

Shauna: Totally, I actually have been trying to create some kind of schedule to dedicate to 'online' times - because its so easy to get caught up in everything and when you feel like you’re constantly connected, it leaves very little space as you say, to be creative, to contemplate or to be mindful - all of which are so important to help yourself healthy and balanced!  I find that forcing myself to do some yoga or go for a run really helps to gain a bit of clarity and time out from it all. 

Collette: I think that’s a really realistic observation. Yes, I think most artists must feel like that. Personally, in the digital age everything is about instant gratification. People want more, and right away. It's difficult to juggle that with a day job and trying to make sure your fans remain happy. It's all about finding that happy medium and realising that you're not super human, everyone needs their own time and space. It's an ever changing industry and I guess you gotta just surf the waves.

REMY: Finally. Latest single ‘Shake Shake’ has just released ahead of your next two Irish dates in Dublin & Belfast on the 23rd and 24th of March, true to form it’s an infectious piece of simultaneously moody and hook-laden gratification for rock fans like myself. Although it will be a while away with Pyro just hot off the press, have you had any early thoughts on ideas or shifts in sound for album No.2 yet?

REWS: Yes! We're already thinking forward to the next record. Obviously we're still blissfully delivering Pyro at our live shows, but new ideas are bubbling away in the background. I think our sound is rooted in an energetic, hooky delivery and that will remain, but we're both excited to see which direction our next offerings will take. 

REWS plays upstairs at Whelans on Friday 23rd March – Tickets €13.75 on sale now from Ticketmaster Ireland
REWS UK Irish Tour Whelan's Ticketmaster

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Single: Ivy Bloom - For All Who Dwell

'For All Who Dwell' Ivy Bloom
Photo: Sarah Hollingsworth (guitarist, Ivy Bloom)

Info: Ireland’s music scene has recently been enriched with the arrival of a distinctive new sound from Dublin based band Ivy Bloom. Following the very successful release of their debut single 'Dark Clouds', in early November, Ivy Bloom launch 'For All Who Dwell' as a spectacular continuation of the group’s experimental sound. Ivy Bloom, led with visionary zeal by composer, vocalist and keyboardist Anna Devine, have created a diverse sonic landscape in 'F.A.W.D.', combining post rock and electronic influences to create immense musical space, developing from elegant and elemental to raw and powerful. This meticulously crafted single sets the tone for the release of Ivy Bloom’s EP later in 2018. 

I'm not sure how strong the residue of our inherited DNA make-up over millenia is in a general or musical sense, alas, I am no expert! On Ivy Bloom's second single 'For All Who Dwell', however, it seems that Anna Devine and band capture a traversing of many of them. Whether intentional or not, a lot of contemporary female Irish artists seem to have an anchor in the past that is mythical, mystical and darkly enchanting, a strength and power that is etched in defiance.

A cursory glance at her credentials are more than impressive, but I want to focus on the single for now, I mention this only because for a second single, 'For All Who Dwell' is beyond impressive, it's bloody fantastic and slightly overwhelmingly refreshing. The cool breeze of that off-beat percussion, and gentle yet purposeful introduction of piano (high keys yes please), are the beautiful spawning of a terrible storm. Devine's control over this orchestral rock opus is majestic, there are so many examples of vocal dexterity from the morose to the marauding on the song that you just have to sit back and admire them. 

First single 'Dark Clouds' was haunting and deeply sad, 'For All Who Dwell' tramples all over the heart with a welcome gusto, there's an EP on the way, I want a double album.

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EP: Motions - The Late Night Calls

The Late Night Calls - Motions

Info: Motions are an alternative rock band from Dublin formed by Tom Daly and Dave Nulty. Following a string of impressive singles from their debut 'Back To Where I Begun' to 'All I’ve Ever Known', which earned global airplay in the U.S., Ireland, Germany, China, Australia, South Africa, Peru and more, comes the debut EP Late Night Calls. “Late Night Calls” was produced and mixed by Philip Magee.

Opening with the EP's (almost!) title-track, Motions set the ball rolling with a rather restrained and reflective piece of indie-fused electro-pop. There's a well-executed rising tide from the moody opening two-thirds to a perfectly sanguine finale. On 'Back & Forth' Tom Daly's distinct gravelly vocal which we were first introduced to with their debut singles returns, here the band add a classic 80's pop-rock flow to the EP, there's also a bit of an INXS circa Kick tone to both music and vox, but it's subtle.

The Late Night Calls closes with 'Waiting to Tell You', the perky rhythm of the previous track now bubbling over aided by a rippling bass line that sounds so tightly wound that it might collapse in on itself. This is a really nice way to see out their debut extended play, the singing is airy and the ambience is a little exotic, the final flurry of guitar action and choral vox driving us over the line. 

The best thing about Motions is that thus far they haven't released two songs that sound the same, yet they have proven in the past that they're adept at dropping bangers with each. I reacquainted myself again lately with 'Say Goodbye' as an addendum to the singles they've mentioned in their bio. In some ways they avoid going with overtly in your face singles this time around, and that's no harm, keep the masses guessing.

Motions will officially launch 'The Late Night Calls' this coming Friday, 2nd March upstairs in Whelan's, the event page and info is here

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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Video: Pine the Pilcrow - Only Ghosts

Pine The Pilcrow - Only Ghosts
Photo reproduced with kind permission by Donal Moloney Photography

Pine the Pilcrow - Only Ghosts

Info: I start with a cliché, but it really is hard to believe it's been almost two years since we reviewed Dublin contemporary folk act Pine the Pilcrow's debut self-titled EP which went straight into pretty much every music website, blog and radio station's 'best of' end of year lists. In the interim the band released the beautiful 'Dahlia' single last May, the wait as we approach their sophomore EP release on the 30th March has been worth it.

Yesterday the band shared the video for the EP's single of the same name, 'Only Ghosts', directed and shot by Donal Moloney and his team, in where I presume is a house on Henrietta Street on Dublin's northside, the oldest Georgian street in the capital. It's a fitting setting for the single, once the domain of the aristocracy, the street fell into disrepair in the 18th and 19th centuries and became a cluster of over-crowded tenements inhabited by Dublin's poorest, with 835 people dwelling in just 15 houses.

With 'Only Ghosts' Pine the Pilcrow establish themselves, in my opinion, as the most accomplished modern folk act in the country. Their musicianship, delivery of feeling, and quality of song-writing is at the top level. From the first ghostly warble from singer Hannah Ryan, to the sheer delicateness of the piano and cello, where it feels like the bow is hesitant and almost afraid to bother the strings, you are sucked down the whirlpool willingly. The scars of the interior of the building connect with the lyrics, and visually a great job is done of firmly placing us in the past, there is no hint of the modern day in the video, even the shot of the outside world through the window just throws up another Georgian house.

We probably won't see a pairing of video and music so well suited for the remainder of 2018, a gorgeous ode to the maligned ghosts of one of Dublin's most beautiful streets.

Pine the Pilcrow are currently on tour, catch them live at the below venues:








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Irish Playlist #021: Deaf Joe, Search Party Animal, Luke Clerkin, Stoat & more

Deaf Joe - Where's Your Loving Gone
Deaf Joe - Photo: Paul Hallahan

Info: On the latest Irish independent playlist here at REMY we have some very brand new acts such as Dublin's Classic Yellow who have just released their debut double A-Side 'His Master's Voice / Cheese From Wisconsin'. Also Waterford solo act Deaf Joe who has been releasing music since 2009, currently based in Edinburgh whose third album Stuck came out last month. Receiving a top review in Hot Press, his combined streams of releases to date have reached over half a million plays. We also have a strong singer-songwriter contingent courtesy of Luke Clerkin, Niall Cash and Katie Gallagher.

I am really enjoying the aforementioned album Stuck by Deaf Joe and track 'Where's Your Loving Gone' in particular. Soft electronic tones drift like a morning mist around his spacial vocal, the beat is decidedly hypnotic and overall there's a majorly chilled out and restful feel to the song which benefits from not deviating too far from its chosen path.

Young Dublin bucks Search Party Animal released their latest single 'Get Hitched' last week. It has a Californian indietronica slant, with vocoder in full swing from the get-go. Catchy, upbeat and a dash of moodiness it ticks a lot of the right boxes and has enough of a pop element to dip its toe in earworm territory with ease.

An instantly likeable style and sound is served up on the debut double-A single from Classic Yellow, here we feature 'Cheese From Wisconsin', but really enjoyed 'His Master's Voice' just as much, so do check both out as they are quite different. What appealed to me personally most was that I was hearing two of my favourite artists in their sound here, a slight hint of the crooning Richard Hawley, and a strong dose of mercurial New York post-punk revival wizards The Walkmen. These chaps are quite an exciting prospect methinks.

RUNAH - Bind Me To You

Not a new track, but newly discovered thanks to my boy Rohan Healy. RUNAH is the performance name of Tara May, and 'Bind Me To You' is her debut single from March last year. Of Irish heritage, RUNAH grew up in Manchester and has recently moved to Dublin and is currently working on a debut EP. 'Do you like magic?' she posits on her Facebook page, yes, yes I do, and here we have some in spades. The Celt and pagan DNA shines through the entire track and experience, a traditional vocal style mixed with dark art pop and a humming shoegaze undercurrent.

Meath lo-fi solo act Father! released his debut self-titled EP on Christmas Day, and it's rough around the ages in all the best ways, my favourite track of the four is 'Antigone'. Beat-wise there's a bit of a The Shins thang going on, and Sean Brunswick makes his vocals very withdrawn from the music which is an interesting approach, distant for the most part with the looping guitar riff and percussion strongly to the fore. I'm interested to see what his LP which is due for release in the summer throws up based on this introduction.

Dublin-based folk-rock n' indie-pop trio Stoat released their latest album Try Not To Think About It a few weeks ago and latest single 'Dog King' is a rambunctious affair. High energy, tempo, and a spoken-word style of delivery, it's a manic version of traditional Irish folk with a spritely rock injection á la The Dubliners meets Horslips or somewhere bouncing in between. 

Luke Clerkin - Will I Fly
Photo: Danni Frotography

Tallaght-native Luke Clerkin has released his first single in roughly a year since debut EP Ink Written Messages. During that hiatus Clerkin appears to have reassessed what he wants from his song-writing, and where he wants to go, and there's been a notable shift. 'Will I Fly?' has more production, fills the spaces of previous releases with sound, and most importantly feels like he's finally entering his creative house with one foot through the door. It's unabashed pop-folk from the Dubliner and the hard work and dedication to his craft is starting to reap the rewards that he deserves.

Dublin's VINCI are an interesting beast, they hover undoubtedly in the hemisphere of 100% guitar-pop, but three singles in, 'Lions' (2016), 'Liars' (2017) and now 'We Are Ghosts', they are showing range where it normally doesn't exist. They're the type of band that can win over cynical music fans, I used to be one a long time ago but thankfully dropped the shackles so I could enjoy well-written pop music without ignorant hindrance. This, for me, is their third solid single on the bounce, and they're not sticking to any formula apart from consistency.

Wexford singer-songwriter and current BIMM student Niall Cash released his latest single 'Tired' last week, a livelier affair than previous release, the tender 'Fire' which we thoroughly enjoyed. Here we have a developing alternative-pop strain, and Cash is a songwriter whose evolution you can envision in a few years time, but will probably surprise you and come up with something entirely different. Right now though the passion is real and palpable.

We close with a singer-songwriter I've heard many plaudits of over the last 12 months, and was curious to hear recorded, Katie Gallagher's 'Man On A Mission' was released just yesterday and it's quite an ambitious mixture. Gallagher swoops relentlessly across the tracks almost 4 minutes, from film score to jazz club moods via piano, her warm, assertive yet soothing voice and a calypso-country combo, there's a lot happening, and it leaves a positive mark.

To listen to REMY's previous Irish Playlist, #020, go here!

Friday, 23 February 2018

EP: The Future West - Radio Town

The Future West - Radio Town

Info: The Future West are the musical outlet of Dundalk based song writer Francis Watters. Once loud, sporadic and harsh, Francis has carefully matured and moulded the band sonically over the last year into something far more melodic that's full of harmony and dynamic twists and turns to give them their unique Indie / Mid-Fi sound. Their debut album "Holy Shit, Here Come The Future West" (available on Spotify and all other good streaming services) was released in 2017 and backed by a small number of U.K shows as well as a sold out launch in An Táin Arts Theatre.

The shift from last year's Holy Shit, Here Come The Future West LP is immediately noticeable on The Future West's new EP, Radio Town. Where that debut album was a carnival of screeching psychedelia, this new collection of tracks simmers on a more casual yet fetching indie vibe. 'Dark Day Dawn' kicks off proceedings with Watters' trademark theatrical vocal style thankfully not something which he set aside for this recording. The line: "I have been told my mental illness is slowing me down but it looked good on paper baby." has to be one of my favourite lyrics of the year so far too.

The EP's title track comes next, a quick brush to the side and The Future West go somewhere very enticing, straddling three decades by the time you're only a third of the way through, 70's soul-funk on the bass and drums, 80's new wave on vox and guitar and then 90's jangle-pop at 1;17, what a marvellous concoction and melding of sound. Final track 'Dream Catcher, Mind Snatcher' dips into retro-glo 80's atmospherics, again Watters' serves up vocal bravado, from baritone to ska and back again, the rhythm of the track sets up its finale really well. The Future West are a curio of mad ideas that probably shouldn't work across an EP or album, let alone within a song itself, but they always seem to pull it off and leave us with a very broad smile on our face afterwards. 

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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Album: Casgliad Cae Gwyn (Cae Gwyn Collection)

Recordiau Cae Gwyn Records Wales

Info: Back in the summer of 2015 excellent Irish music blogger Barry Gruff put myself and Dan Amor, the founder of Welsh indie label Cae Gwyn Records, in touch with each other and it resulted in a wonderful musical relationship blossoming (I'm sure Dan agrees!). Through his label Dan shared with me some of my favourite music from the last few years, in fact, he's never sent me a single track that I felt in any way underwhelmed by, always the opposite. 

This would in turn open other doors with Dan introducing me to Welsh music blogger and indie PR guru Aled Thomas and an exchange of music between Ireland and Wales happening across both of our blogs, Aled has a soft spot for THUMPER to say the least. The Welsh independent music scene has paralleled what is happening here in Ireland over the last few years, two small countries on the edge of Europe punching above our weight, so it's been a highly enjoyable exposé for me personally.

Recently Recordiau Cae Gwyn celebrated their 10 year anniversary with a compilation (casgliad) of some of their artists, many of whom I've had the pleasure of reviewing here over the years including mr.huw, Omaloma, Lastigband and Pablo Vasquez to name but a few, all of whom are featured on the above album. You'll find, like me, that there is a joyful mixture of highly original psychedelic, jangle, experimental and dream pop to be found within and it's a perfect introduction to what's going on over in Cymru with these artists receiving regular airplay on BBC Radio courtesy of Lauren Laverne and Huw Stephens, the Welsh Dan Hegarty.

Best of all, this compilation is available as a free download, and features brand new as well as older tracks. You can grab your copy here

Penblwydd Hapus Cae Gwyn! Xx.

Album: Dr.Mindflip - Roominations: An Unauthorized Parody

Dr. Mindflip - Roominations

Info: Dr. Mindflip deliver a hefty dose of what Synthesis Magazine called “avant-pop...with teeth”. Their theatrical performances and chameleonic musical stylings have quickly made them a cult favourite around Ireland and beyond – with over 25,000 downloads of their music released on the American netlabel blocSonic.

The playful psychedelia of a live Dr. Mindflip show is a truly unique experience. The doctor and his masked musicians are the Lynchian lounge band of your dreams - undulating between jazzy avant-pop ditties and wild outer-space improvisations. The antics of characters such as the aristocratic Owly, the soulful saxophone-wielding Sage, and the gently unnerving Dollhead ensure that no two Dr. Mindflip gigs are the same.

Opening with a, well, take your pick from Kafka, Dostoevsky or Orwell audio-book cassette from your local library circa 1988 intro, immediately Dr. Mindflip strap you into your straight-jacket before carting you off to their sometimes macabre, sometimes wry and sometimes down-right acid-tripping underworld of new album Roominations: An Unauthorized Parody

'Prologue: Get In' gets down to the Floydian The Wall-era operatic psychedelia immediately, where the fuck are we going? "Don't worry", they whisper, "everything is going to be just fine....". 'Act 1: The Nightmare Begins', appropriate, theatrical vocals are interspersed with a calm jazz percussion, piano and sax, a sense that you are being tricked into letting your guard down. 'Act 1' concludes on a darkened urban streetscape, you've been lifted from the front row of the theatre to a place of vulnerability. 

We all remember Elton John dressing as Mozart with that wig on his Tour De Force tour in the eighties, this image is now inescapable as 'Manchild's Monologue' spurts out its opening piano-laden burst. This feels like I'm in his or Billy Joel's dreams, like an univited voyeur, with both imagining themselves at their most flamboyant on stage while they sleep. What a song title, 'The Misguided Rebellion of a Doormat', and the metaphorical lyrics are wondrous; "My life is running away from me / Faster than the eye perceives / That I’m just a half-assed montage / The years are running away again / I sold them to grey gentlemen / With wrinkles made of cigarette ash". Blues solo at 2:15, getting spoiled now.

'Act II: Massive Pockets' keeps the theatricity of the albums central core to the forefront. It's an intoxicating cocktail of 70's prog-rock and Joel is there again, like a 21st century remaking of 'Anthony's Song (Movin' Out)', it's a wild and fantastic single that you might need a little lie down after, and the break at 2:30 is the perfect leveller amongst the mayhem.

After the grooving of 'Shame Gravy' we come to 'Housebroken', it's a bit of a vocal soul train, accentuated by that funky disco-effect pedal, lyrically it's claustrophobic, a desire to break free from that aforementioned straight-jacket which is now being worn by our protagonist. 'Sunset' opens with the bass of doom, has the show ended? Have the actors all left the stage and left us with a spotlight monologue in the dark? Of course not! We meander through inquisitive contemplations and elevator jazz sequences (compliment), before a full Dr. Mindflip rock blowout, the closing is haunting and insidious.

How can the band fittingly close out an album and voyage like this? 'Epilogue: Beardless in Hollywood' ensures you are reminded, in case you became too distracted by the chaos of the preceding tracks, of what they are all about. There's such powerful feeling in the vocal, strings and piano, almost sad, whilst the album takes your mind everywhere, they can also do the same within each individual song, which is some achievement.

Roominations: An Unauthorized Parody is without a doubt one of the most bizarre and overwhelming albums I've heard in a while, and it's magical, to be able to get the listeners imagination to run even wilder than the artists who composed it takes something special. In addition, a feature-length screenplay could be gleaned from Roominations, they should put in some calls; "Hey Elton, you still got that Mozart wig brah?".

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Single: Maria Kelly & Ailbhe Reddy - Threads

Maria Kelly & Ailbhe Reddy - Threads

Info: Irish singer-songwriter Maria Kelly has teamed up with fast rising artist and friend Ailbhe Reddy for the release of her latest breathtaking single, 'Threads', on 16th February 2018 via Veta Records.

After a co-headline tour in May 2017 and regularly sharing music between themselves, Kelly and Reddy, who coincidentally are the last two winners of the Other Voices open call, decided to join forces for their first release of 2018."We felt that our styles complimented each other well and decided to try out co-writing. We’re both influenced by similar artists but we have a completely different way of approaching our writing. We thought it would be cool to stick the two together and see what happened," explains Kelly.

Both artists had unused lyrics based on the idea of having a partner who would never be comfortable enough to commit and relax into the relationship. "We just continued with this theme of someone having one foot out the door and how heartbreaking that can be to experience" says Reddy. As a result, 'Threads' is another stunning example of both Kelly and Reddy’s unique, tender songwriting ability. As the track swells with sparse instrumentation and atmospheric soundscapes, their fragile vocals come together to create something truly captivating and impressively raw.

Over the past 2 years Maria Kelly and Ailbhe Reddy have forged separate but concrete paths through their music, that's not to make it sound like those paths were easily built, as both artists address vulnerability with great clarity and honesty on many of their previous solo releases. It's one thing thinking it might be a good idea to collaborate with a peer, but an entirely different prospect regarding whether it will blend or work as hoped for, ultimately the music will speak for itself and to the listener.

With 'Threads' the pair have merged seamlessly, that shared experience of the songs theme seemingly coming from one voice and heart. The harmonies are gorgeous, hovering so close together there are times it can be difficult to tell them apart. Like two ghostly souls in the choir gantry singing to an empty auditorium, this sense compounds the emotional wrench of 'Threads', but there's a subtle if regretful acceptance of circumstance and acknowledgement of moving on. Despite its tenderness, both Kelly and Reddy assertively abandon a source of pain with knowing confidence. An additional happy outcome from their new single is that it celebrates two of the best Irish songwriters of their generation permanently in song, together.

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Ailbhe Reddy:

Maria Kelly:


Single: The Clockworks - Rumours in the Stockroom

The Clockworks - Rumours in the Stockroom

Info: Galway pop-punk quartet The Clockworks released their latest single, 'Rumours In The Stockroom' on Friday. Always able to articulate the experiences of youth culture with spitting verses and a knack for the catchy rhyme, The Clockworks put into song that age old inconvenience of responsibility gutting the pleasure of a hard night on the tiles, the dramatic delivery by McGregor of a common malaise through his vocals being appropriately fatalistic. Over-indulgence leading to broken promises to ourselves, until the next time, which is just around the corner. Skewering a list that could include an early Franz Ferdinand, Hard-Fi or The Kaiser Chiefs back when they all blew up the charts, the Galway likely lads put plenty of pop in their punk kebab once again, and it tastes better than it does at 4am on a Friday night.

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The VidList #009 - Spudgun, Motions, Sandy Kim

Spudgun - Someone's Birthday

Spudgun - Someone's Birthday

Info: Our first VidList of 2018 arrives a little later than usual but is nonetheless one to savour. Opening with possibly Ireland's most intriguing and avant-garde psychedelic rock band, Dublin's Spudgun, and their latest single 'Someone's Birthday' whose video is directed by Eoin Mulligan and produced by Katie Freeney from film / art duo, KIN. Their videos never cease to get under your skin, I'm still in thrall to last year's 'Crayons' which you should really check out here. Crossing between the dark humour of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and the unhinged psychopathic and unravelling nature of an Aronofosky character. Mulligan once again creates a horrible beauty to go with Spudgun's brilliantly creeping psychedelia.

Spudgun play The Abbatoir on Montague Lane on the 24th Feb. with support from Dowry, event page is here.

Motions - Late Night Calls

Another one of our favourite music video producers / directors A Crooked Gentlemen serve up our second visual, 'Late Night Calls', the new single from Dublin indie-rock outfit Motions, 'Late Night Calls' which is taken from their debut EP which releases this Wednesday. The band announced their arrival on the scene with debut single 'Back To Where I Begun' (which was the first of two singles to premiere on these pages) and to date they have been consistent in creating tracks which have all the essences of earworm indie-pop. They've taken their time and paced themselves since 2016 and I think that is going to really start paying off for them in terms of gaining a wider audience as the year progresses.

Motions EP's launch is on the 2nd of March at Whelan's, event page is here

Sandy Kim - Rabbit Hole

Our final video and single comes from Dublin dream-pop trio Sandy Kim and their debut release 'Rabbit Hole'. The video contains footage from Czech director Jan Svankmajer's surrealistic (wasn't it always!) reworking of Alice in Wonderland, Neco z Alenky from 1988. This is a sound I traditionally enjoy very much, and it sounds remarkably assured for a debut, everything is deliciously sleepy, bass, vocals, that jangle guitar and percussion, it's automatic in terms of tempo which lends weight to that dream-like sequence feel. Sandy Kim excite me and 'Rabbit Hole' is an ear-catching debut.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Interview / Photos: Hatchlings

Hatchlings Interview
All Photos: Remy Connolly

Info: On a chilly Valentine's evening I met up with Maynooth multi-faceted band Hatchlings ahead of their headline show in Whelan's with support from hip-hop duo NEOMADiC. After a quick line-check we took ourselves downstairs to the cosy environs of Bourke's pub which, for the purposes of the interview, we thankfully had to ourselves.

After wishing each other a happy day of romance and love we got down to the business of chatting about the greatest love of all, music. The five-piece comprise of two Donegal natives, Conor Cunningham & Eamon Travers, Niall Quinn from Tyrone, Jamie Bishop (Monaghan) and Peter Kelly (Roscommon). After regularly bumping into each other at the open mic Live Sessions held at The Loft in Maynooth, the quintet eventually got together to form Hatchlings in 2015.

Remy: On your new EP Montessori the three tracks cover a lot of the genres you dabble in, with latest single 'Sexy B' having a lo-fi slacker feel, 'Divinity' is a bit more alt-folk and finally 'Workin'' has a jazzy turned country rock style. Are there common influences between you all or is just something that comes out on it's own when writing.

Hatchlings: Good song-writers are the common denominators, that covers everything from Stevie Wonder to Bob Dylan, we like groove as well but mainly song-writers. With Conor and Eamon it's more instrumental than what Jamie and Eamon are into, we listen to a lot of jazz, people like Chet Baker, but then we also all centre around people like Jeff Buckley and D'Angelo.

In the internet age a lot of just have so many influences constantly, too much music that we love to really talk about between us. There are a hell of a lot of good Irish bands as well, so, so many, we'd be mainly influenced by those as well.

Remy: That brings me to my next question, it's well established over the last few years how high the standard of the Irish music scene is and I did get an impression of that from Montessori, it definitely felt like an 'Irish' EP, a tiny bit of Glen Hansard's style of song-writing particularly on 'Divinity', rather than his sound itself, does local music permeate your writing?

Hatchlings: I think Villagers would be a big influence on me (Jamie), Conor O'Brien is amazing, we love Girl Band as well, and there's recent bands we've come on to like THUMPER who are class and Joey Gavin who is deadly who we played with recently, and also Planet Parade who are brilliant. The list is endless, I suppose the bottom line for influence is going to gigs, seeing how great acts are on stage and being inspired by how good everyone is.

Remy: When it comes to going to local gigs do you prefer to go in dark and not really knowing the line-up apart from say the headliner?

Hatchlings: We go to quite a few gigs, we all do, usually Conor will go, discover something great and then tell us we have to go see certain acts afterwards and we'll all head together. The jazz in Sin É is class, we go there a lot, as well as the CrowClub, or the Window Seat Sessions as it's called now is also great.

Hatchlings Whelan's

Remy: So obviously you guys are playing here in Whelan's tonight and I'm interested to hear more about your support act, NEOMADiC, they have a very solid hip-hop sound and are a tight outfit from what I've been listening to over the last few days, how did you link up with them?

Hatchlings: (Jamie) I used to work with Diarmuid's brother in Maynooth, he showed me their tunes and I thought they were great, we've wanted to gig with them for over a year now so we're quite excited about tonight. (Conor) We were thinking about a lot of support acts, and I'm really glad we went them, as much we were talking about the great Irish music earlier, the support is always relatively similar to the main act, but this is so starkly different it's going to give the audience something different we hope. It's as much about the audience experience on the night as it is the acts, and opening up people to different avenues. 

NEOMADiC Whelan's
NEOMADiC on stage on Wednesday night

Remy: You guys played Electric Picnic, Body & Soul, and Vantastival last year, as well shows in Manchester and France. Are there any other Irish festivals you really want to play, because in a way Electric Picnic can kind of be the peak and where do you go from there?

Hatchlings: (Peter) For us Body & Soul last year was probably the most amount of fun we had, and we're going to do that again this year on the Arbutus Yarns stage where we'll be the house band. We were lucky enough to curate the open mic stage last year for the whole weekend playing non-stop for the three days which is definitely are favourite thing to be doing. We got to play with so many musicians of a really high standard and it opened up a lot of doors for us, including meeting our drummer Niall which was great! (Conor) Arcadian Field in Dundalk is also a really cool festival where we've played the last two years, it's only about 5-600 people, the grounds and the old stately house which is the focal point make it quite special and unique. SwellFest in Donegal and Knockanstockan are another two we haven't played previously and we'd love to do both.

Hatchlings Whelan's 2018

Remy: To wrap up, I know the EP isn't long out, but what's the plan for the next while, and to tack on to that question, do you guys ever discuss the long-term future of Hatchlings when you're in between shows and practice etc.?

Hatchlings: (Conor) Yes, we talk about the future quite a lot, for the meantime we're recording our next EP, and we'll also be heading over to The States, spending our first month around California, based on a ranch in a town called Parkfield, and from there we travel to New Orleans and New York for the month of April. (Jamie) We have a lot of material that's lying around, there are four of us that write, so it's had to narrow it down to just one EP, we're mulling over how to release the music, either a number of EP's or an album, we'll take that decision over the next few months. We all want to do this long-term, we have the songs to do that and the drive too. 

(Conor) It's so hard to know these days, how to go about releasing music in the internet age, do you take the Mac DeMarco route and throw everything out at once, or do you really try and craft something that you're very passionate about, and just release something once a year? But then people mightn't listen to it as much if you don't have loads of songs on Spotify for example.

Remy: It's very tricky, and I'm guilty of it as well with the album thing, I could spend two months only listening to the first 4 or 5 songs on an album that I really love, an example for was Tame Impala's Currents, it took a long while for me to get fully get to the second half. Some people recommend lots of singles and a paired video a month later to keep it fresh, it's hard to know what really works.

Hatchlings: (Jamie) Quantity is great once the quality is there, I often think of King Gizzard, who put out albums all the time and the quality just seems to get better and better. Quantity is kind of the way to go in this day and age, but you're conscience of people not getting bored also.

Remy: Finally, finally, any other news from the world of Hatchlings?

Hatchlings: That's it we think, apart from Happy Valentines Day again Remy, and we forgot to mention that we are at the early stages of planning to be the first band to play on the Moon.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Irish Playlist #020: Æ MAK, Third Smoke, Beauty Sleep, Dreaming of Jupiter & more

Æ MAK - Glow
Æ MAK - Photo: Bríd O'Donovan Photography

Info: The feckin' Town are on the slay early in 2018, we've already fallen madly in love with Elephant's latest single 'Waiting Game Part II' which was reviewed last month, and now two more of Dundalk's finest, Æ MAK and Third Smoke, have shared new zingers, not even mid-February.

Aoife McCann, Daniel McIntyre, Dylan Povey & Peter Kelly, aka Æ MAK released new single 'Glow' on Friday. A disorientating blend of genres is the main course, by the time you've reached the end of 'Glow' you wonder how would anyone even begin to compose such a treat in its entirety. Slow, sparks, slow, sparks and then at 2:37 everything is dropped from a height into the blender, sliced to pieces that are so sharp they pierce your eardrums, magical.

The new Third Smoke is a fine piece, they were always booting energetically around the place sound-wise, but 'Maya' feels like an ode to a new-found subconscious freedom for the band. Like a thirst that has finally been quenched they have discovered full abandon, along with my own live favourite (and I'm sure most people's) 'Ms. Summer Breeze', I feel like 'Maya' will be a long-term favourite for me. Essentially they deliver an all fronts, energy, superb harmonies and lead vocal, rhythm and fervour, and that brass, great idea.

Third Smoke - Maya
Third Smoke - Photo: Bríd O'Donovan Photography

While I've really loved the recorded music of Belfast's Beauty Sleep to date, finally seeing them live at the weekend will put a different tint on their music for me for good. Their set struck a chord (wahoo!) with me, it reminded me of some of the pop music my older sister used to listen to when we were kids in the 80's (I basically listened to whatever she did back then). 'The Feeling Back' grabs all of that nostalgia, summer sunshine through the curtains of the family home despite a February release. But it's not just pop, it's a soulful rock, it sounds simple but it's really quite intricate, oriental-sounding keys, that guitar riff, the full frontal vocal and percussion all start from their own place before converging with the right timing in the middle.

With their new album just 10 days away I wanted to include Wyvern Lingo's 'Snow II' which is from said LP, but the remix version which was released recently, made by Belfast's Arvo Party, who released one of our top 10 Irish albums last year. Magee unsurprisingly drenched the single in dark electronic oil, industrial and indiscernible from the original until you get to the heavily filtered vocals, it's a deeply atmospheric reworking that was left in the right hands.

Dreaming of Jupiter shared latest single 'Let Me Down' last week, the trio have developed their sound considerably since forming over two years ago. It was always alluring, but they've shifted a number gears since then, the latest offering a mature trip-hop and soul track which evidences a sharp focus on constantly moving in different directions, and not for the sake of it, but because of a genuine desire to try everything they can. Their growing popularity and noticeable development as artists is not a bit surprising.

Five Grand Stereo

Dublin / London pop-rock troupe Five Grand Stereo released their latest album Sex & Money a fortnight ago, with 'Iceberg' being the latest single from the LP. It's a dirty affair, a heavy dose of 90's brit-pop mixed with some mighty fine honky-tonk rock. It ticks boxes from Give Out But Don't Give Up era Primal Scream, The Divine Comedy, Lightning Seeds and who know who else, and when the piano kicks in fully at the three-minute mark there's a curious sliver of Marc Bolan glam-rock meets George Harrison, it's hard to describe but it's wonderful!

I really, really love the latest single from Kildare solo act Sara Ryan, 'Euphoric Recall', the perfect come-down from a chaotic day. Wilting blues guitar simmers around a dark soulful vocal. It's so refreshing to hear an Irish act delve into these sounds, and based on this one track I would love to see Ryan live with full band. Sneaker Pimps' Kelli Ali comes to mind, from their 1996 masterpiece Becoming X

We close with the harmonious country-folk sounds of Mayo roots group Vickers Vimy featuring Cat Dea and their track 'Keep Your Eye On The Road'. From a stripped down acoustic and very nice vocal it slowly but purposely grows, Buddy Holly on a porch to a slightly morose yet ultimately optimistic Dusty in the space of a minute. The track unfolds into something deliciously heart-warming, it's impossible to stop it turning into whatever mental vision fits your own mind by tracks end.