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.

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