Saturday, 30 March 2019

Photos: Leila Jane @ The Vintage Room, The Workman's Club

Leila Jane - The Workmans Club - Remy Connolly

Photos: Remy Connolly

(Click on first image above to begin slideshow)

The hardest thing to write about is a live show, unlike music, or film, you can't go back to the start repeatedly and listen / watch again to fully capture what you want to say. Last night I was in The Vintage Room at The Workman's Club for the very first time to see Leila Jane's sold out headline show with support from Amy Ellen and Jem Mitchell. It was my third time seeing her in 3 consecutive years, but the close quarters of the room definitely made for a different experience. My mind was racing a bit with pinpoint moments during the set that resonated on the spot, some will inevitably be lost here, but I like the idea that they'll be left in that room.

I arrived not entirely sure how to access the room, anyone who has been to The Workman's before will know that once you go up the first two flights of stairs there are a labyrinthine amount of doorways and more stairs! Despite a horrendous sense of direction I found the room eventually, god I love that wallpaper which I had only seen in pictures before. Without delay Amy Ellen opened the evening with her band, slightly stripped back from the seven-piece she usually performs with, but nonetheless all four got us off to a great start, a disarmingly calm but highly enjoyable set that you could straight away tell must be so much bigger with full band.

For me, on a personal note, last night was all about guitars and vocals, this is where my home is when it comes to music, happily interrupted at times by my love for all of the other genres and styles, but I'll always retreat to this combination at the end of the day. I hadn't seen Jem Mitchell in a while, last time was in Rathmines 2 years ago, but absence certainly made the heart fonder. Ken Browne was on lead guitar for Jem's set, and I was constantly drawn between his solos and the main man, such a pleasure to witness. Mitchell is an understated satirist lyrically, the trick is pulling the wool over your eyes, brevity masking real and sometimes painful experiences. Although very different, the combination of themes and musical delivery remind me of Richard Hawley's persona, an artist who doesn't take himself too seriously, but takes his craft deadly seriously, with a voice to match, I was a bit annoyed with myself that I'd forgotten the dexterity he holds with same.

By the time Leila Jane took to the stage with her band the windows had fully fogged up, life and traffic on both sides of the Liffey turning into blurry trails through the glass. All the detail above and her set feels like such a blur, my overriding feeling during it was that it was so real, like the Jeff Buckley song! Sometimes witnessing something that perfect feels like a dream, because reality is imperfect. My first impression was how she could literally floor the room with her voice, it has outrageous power that seems impossible to come from a mortal being, and this happened with the opening song and never dissipated. Leila Jane moves at the flick of a switch from soft, to tremelo, to sheer power, it is such a privilege to witness, and you're either born with this gift or you aren't, no amount of vocal coaching or practice will ever get to this place.

Leila Jane has also assembled the perfect group of musicians to bring her songs to a special place, Stuart Doyle on lead guitar was mesmeric, I spent a lot of time looking at him working that Gretsch, Danni Nolan on percussion effortlessly accomplished, and nailed on harmonies from the backing vocalists. The band were ridiculously tight and sharp, the songs came thick and fast so there was little time for sitting on laurels. 

I know why Leila Jane's music impacts on me the way it does, it's no mystery. I spent a lot of time discovering the trinity of blues, soul and country-folk from the 40's to the 70's for a period of about 5 years, it was all I listened to, and I fell completely out of touch with contemporary / new music during that time. It's a weird image, but listening to her music is like having the front of your body peeled off and a perfectly fitting sonic plug put in its place. Leila Jane isn't just a musician influenced by the past, she's a more than worthy direct continuation of that tradition. The best and most impacting live performance I've seen so far in 2019.

Irish Playlist #053: Uly, Old Hannah, Third Smoke, Lisa Hannigan, SYLK & more

Uly - Redlight
Uly - Photo: Niko Salvino

With Q1 of 2019 now coming to end, to use corporate parlance, the early signs for this year are delightfully promising. During the week I went back over the singles reviewed since the New Year here on REMY and in attempt to be organised, started populating my end of year playlist, yes, yes, frightfully early. Where last year I had originally planned on a Top 50 Irish singles, eventually pushing out to the aesthetically unpleasing number of 60, so far I'm already at over 30 songs. It's a benchmark of sorts, as some years don't have the same volume of great music, it's just how it is from time to time, 2019 is looking very good so far however, and I think this particular playlist is a good exemplar of that.

1) Uly - 'redlight'

Mississippi goddamn! The new single from multi-instrumentalist Rafino M.J. Murphy, 'redlight', is, to quote menthol cigarette brand Consulate's tagline - cool as a mountain stream. A gorgeously velvet bass and beat get the sway in motion on this lo-fi jam of jams, you could administer this instead of anaesthetic. Hints of jazz, funk and deep soul wash all around, reminiscent of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, BADBADNOTGOOD's last album and melding into California's Astronauts, etc., Murphy has talent to burn, and it's so loose and carefree I can barely handle it.

2) Third Smoke - 'We Run in Bare Feet'

A much more intense indie-rock affair from Third Smoke compared to their previous singles, the quintet opt for rattling columns of sound on 'We Run in Bare Feet'. With multiple injections of joy coming from all angles, I'm tempted to say this is their best single to date, but it's a tough call as their sound varies enough across their tracks. A pounding drive of bass, percussion and electric guitar first push and then drive frontman Hugh Donlon's vocal to celestial heights. I love it.

3) Old Hannah - 'The Way Light Falls Upon Water'

A dictionary example of executing the perfect slow build, 'The Way Light Falls Upon Water' from Old Hannah exudes an intoxicating calm, a patient rise arches assertively towards the end game. There are so many delightful subtleties, one example being that drop right at 2:31, it's simple, short, but majestic. Musically the easy label would be Fleetwood Mac, but the flute throws us off that scent, nodding more towards something along the lines of King Crimson's 'I Talk To The Wind'. Alongside a stunning music video by Peter Martin, the appetite is fully whet for the release of their debut album Borealis in three weeks time.

4) Lisa Hannigan, stargaze - 'Bookmark' (Live in Dublin)

Taken from Lisa Hannigan's forthcoming Live in Dublin album (out 31st of May), 'Bookmark' features neo-classical composer André de Ridder and his stargaze orchestra. The opening strings set a tense and foreboding tone, Hannigan's voice is the guide we can trust as we embark on an ancient voyage to the underworld, a soundtrack to Dante's Inferno, dodging danger and death before finally arriving in Paradiso. Gorgeous and haunting in equal measure.

5) SYLK - 'That's on You'

Dublin duo SYLK have at this stage carved out an instantly recognisable sound for themselves, warped and dark industrial electronic soundwaves with a beat and vocal effects that veer toward grime and trap. Collaborating once again with producer Daragh Locke, 'That's on You' is disturbingly withdrawn from reality with an unsettling and suffocating lethargy. The drone skulks like a slow-moving and menacing behemoth, and perhaps the darkest thing about their latest single is that it doesn't 'take off'.

6) Nogymx - 'Eunoia'

Korea-based DIY Irish electronic act Nogymx brings in a noticeable Oriental flourish to his latest single 'Eunoia' courtesy of keys and effects. There's a sweetness to this breezy lament that somehow feels familiar, like fondly remembering an old acquaintance, perhaps this is sourced from the crackling vinyl sound. Haute chill zone and generously giving to the listener.

7) Alice Robinson - 'Bonnie'

Dundalk singer-songwriter Alice Robinson released the follow-up to last year's debut single 'Rise' this week. 'Bonnie' takes a 90's grunge sound and pebble-dashes it with a mixture of theatrical vocals and chunky guitars, it's a catchy affair that mixes mellow passages with dramatic peaks as Robinson continues to hone her sound. 

8) Badhands - 'Like a Man'

Hints of Leonard Cohen's 'The Partisan' pop up in the acoustic intro of the new single from Dublin singer-songwriter Dan Fitzpatrick, aka Badhands. The former The Mighty Stef and Maud in Cahoots man whisks up a potion of warm and morose atmospherics on 'Like a Man' from last year's debut LP Predictable Boy. Fitzpatrick's deep tone is very inviting and the balladeer's dirge is a really nice example of an old world bedrock topped with a contemporary folk polish.

9) Dean Maywood - 'Knowing & Lying'

Maywood once again channels painful emotion in a most tender manner on new single 'Knowing & Lying'. One of the things I find most appealing about his song-writing is how he feeds the desire for raw and stripped back acoustic guitar but avoids allowing it to become tiresome and samey. The traditional singer-songwriter can get a bad rap, but once again here we have really well executed passages that break up the song, such as the echoed vocal at 2:26 and introduction of harmonica that sounds like it's playing to an empty auditorium, filling the space with ease.

10) Any Joy - 'The Sea'

Cork psych and indie band Any Joy cross-over so many styles that I love that a few listens are required to grasp them in their entirety. Despite this 'The Sea' captures your interest straight away. Off the top of the head parts of Temples album Sun Structures or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club spring to mind. The song structure appears chaotic but somehow flows well as the just over 3 minutes zips by.

Monday, 25 March 2019

The VidList #014: Jamie Adam, Grainne Cotter, Fat Pablo

Jamie Adam - Nocturnal
Photo: Luke Fitzpatrick

Our regular series of The VidList captures the best music videos (and tracks!) released over the past few weeks. Below we have new music videos across varied styles, from electronic, contemporary folk, and pop.

1) Jamie Adam - 'Nocturnal'

Dublin electronic and indie artist Jamie Adam released his fourth single 'Nocturnal' last week, the final track to be released from his debut album Melodic Electronic which is due out next month. There are a couple of significant and exciting aspects to the music he has shared to date. Firstly, diversity, none of the singles can be casually linked as sounding in any way 'samey', they are all stand alone. Secondly the song-writing and tone is unavoidably invigorating, but in a natural way, nothing is forced, it's simply cool without trying to be. 'Nocturnal' conjures up a pastiche of lo-fi Panda Bear moments, Peter, Bjorn & John pop happiness and colourful escapist chill from one of the most exciting and fun electronic solo acts to emerge in the past 12 months.

2) Gráinne Cotter - 'Shadows'

Galway-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gráinne Cotter released her debut album Tides last year, a vibrant and at times nicely subdued jazz-influenced collection of songs that would bring with it appearances at Other Voices and Electric Picnic among others. Her latest single 'Shadows' is notably different to Tides, but in all of the right ways, sticking to the bedrock of calm, but with a more polished oomph in its delivery. There's a lot happening here, a twinkling and enchanting opening that barely recedes across the duration of the track, a toe-dip into the progressive folk sounds you'd associate with Pentangle and Fairport Convention courtesy of some delightful flute at 1:42. It sounds assured, and truly majestic. Anecdotally the space suit worn by actor Seán T. O'Meallaigh in the video is the same one that featured in David Bowie's 'Blackstar' video.

3) Fat Pablo - 'Darts'

A couple of weeks ago we reviewed the debut single from Dublin psych-troupe Fat Pablo, 'Shambala', new single 'Darts' was released just today, and provides greater insight into where the band are coming from, and going to, musically. More electronic than its predecessor, 'Darts' delves into ambient territory with great ease, it's chill, and it's very much relatable. "Forever gone to another place, fuck all this wind blowing in my face" a line I (and probably most Irish people to be fair) can sigh and nod to. The layers of sound are shuffled like a pack of cards, and just like the mood, it's done in a very nonchalant manner, almost unwillingly. Like a lo-fi Fjaak with lyrics.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Single: Eve Clague - Young Naive Me

Eve Clague - Young Naive Me
Photo: Simon Curran

Eve Clague is an urban-folk / singer-songwriter hailing from Clonakilty in West Cork, yesterday she released her debut single, 'Young Naive Me' which is taken from her forthcoming EP, which is due for release next month.

I've said this many times before, but I am always so happy and to a degree relieved, when an artist sings in their own voice, completely independent of outside influence. On her debut single Eve Clague is nothing but natural, and there's a very fulfilling clarity and pristine delivery to her vocal here, no distractions. On first listen you are struck by the classic sound of both voice and music, but it also sounds effortlessly timeless, like it could never sound dated no matter when it was released. A disarmingly gentle sway drifts all across the track, comforting and warm, yet confidently driven towards a determined rallying call, sitting somewhere in the apex of folk, soul and even little hints of jazz vox. An impressive debut single that sets out an ambitious stall for the future.

Photos: Molly Sterling @ Whelan's - 22nd March

Molly Sterling - Whelans - Remy Connolly

Photos: Remy Connolly

(click on top image to begin slideshow)

Despite many a main stage festival appearance over the last 2 years, Molly Sterling played her first headline (sold out) show to date Upstairs in Whelan's last night with support from local groove armada Innrspace

Man did I enjoy the support act, effortlessly commanding the audience's, and my own, attention from start to finish. The three-piece played out some seriously groovy and chilled out songs, a jazz and funk fusion dripping with honey. It was old school, and for once it didn't take me long to think of what it reminded me of, an absolute gem of a record I discovered by fluke a few years ago, Thom Janusz' 1975 album Ronn Forella...moves! In a way they managed to clear the clutter from our heads before Sterling and band took to the stage, mindfulness for the soul and head.

Unsurprisingly Molly Sterling's opener was mood-driven, with the room low-lit and silenced, the first taste of what was to be an emotionally powerful set. On reflection the performance was split in two, a first half of delicate melancholy, and a second of sheer driven heft. Singles 'Plain Static', 'Stripped Down' and most recent release 'Feeble' were all delivered with a bare rawness that can only leave a mark on those present. Covering a genuine humility with humour in between songs, brevity is an important ingredient to her shows, because whilst the themes are heavy and sometimes dark, the overall feeling is one of enjoyment, both for the band and us. It was shared with us the cyclical anxiety Sterling felt followed around by when they first got together almost 3 years ago, and how she has been made stronger and less inclined towards those demons because of the support and kinship with her band. That bond, which I have mentioned before, is plain to see for even the most casual observer. Without it, maybe some of the magical spark that litters the performance would be missing, maybe.

Another point to note was how each show progressively climbs up a ladder of change and dynamic, I've seen Sterling 5 times now I think and noticed a big change at Hard Working Class Heroes last year, a special night, but it wasn't going to be a repeat. The word I heard from a number of people afterwards, which struck me during the show too, was power, and it was in abundance last night. The final song before the encore was magnificent, guitars, cello and percussion all whipped into a frenzy around that heart-breaking vocal that makes you want to smile and cry simultaneously. Always at pains to thank everyone, show sincere gratitude and a keen self-awareness, Molly Sterling makes it easy for us to find her likeable as an individual, but this is a bonus, without which her music would still speak for itself, and for us.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Premiere: Krisdeberg - Again

It’s a pleasure to share the second single, 'Again', from Dublin electronic four-piece Krisdeberg here on REMY, the follow up to the previously premiered 'Lies' from November last year. Once again they have, in their own words, "recorded and produced everything ourselves in the studio amidst the synths, drum machines and wires (so many wires)." This is where magic really happens.

Drawing on diverse influences ranging from the polished dark synth-pop of Depeche Mode to the raw, self produced clamour created by LCD Soundsystem, Krisdeberg have created a sound all of their own.

Their second release 'Again' investigates the very human tendency of allowing our love to be used against us married to an initially tender ballad that makes way for a rhythmic, analog synth driven crescendo.

Where 'Lies' packed punch, drone-like synths, and an overlay of dark industrial chill, 'Again' hits more ponderous tones, is lavish in its 80's retro-synth moodiness, and embraces a dramatic vocal delivery. There’s a very sharp clarity and crispness to the vox which, rather than compliment the music as is wont on a lot of synth-led tracks, fully takes centre stage, with great results. The track will resonate with fans of Simple Minds, INXS, and Depeche Mode, all of whom placed assertive vocals right up to the front of their most popular songs. It might be a bit brash to describe Krisdeberg's music as 80’s synth-porn, but like a musical Icarus, they veer very close to that sense of fulfilment and gratification. Two out of two thus far.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Single: The Claque - Hush / Stray

The Claque - Hush - Stray
Photo: Aila Harryson-Lorrigan

The Claque are Dublin-based trio Alan Duggan, Kate Brady and Paddy Ormond, on the 7th of March they released their debut single 'Hush' with B-Side 'Stray', although all three are no strangers to the Irish music landscape repsectively. Forming in 2017, Duggan, Brady and Ormond sought to amalgamate their individual tastes and backgrounds, with the end goal of producing a sound that was both challenging and catchy.

The other night whilst doing the standard weekly chasing my tail I came upon The Claque, one click, into Spotify, and 'Hush' (then 'Stray'). Within 15 seconds the point blank mechanical trundle and sharpness of the drum beat and raking electronic sounds translated into a slow gasp of "O....K....", a rattling vibration I don't think I've felt since I first heard The Faint's abrasive and aurally intrusive Danse Macabre in 2001. Straining to hear the vocal lost underneath this cacophony, it surfaces briefly at 1:30; "Something new, gets you talking...". From that point the vocal absorbs into the ratcheting grate of nails on blackboard that fuzzes incessantly towards an ear-bleeding conclusion. This is all my Beth Orton's Portishead, Death in Vegas, Massive Attack and Sneaker Pimps' Kelli Ali rolled into one, not just vocally, but musically too, can't handle.

B-Side 'Stray' is like the next episode of your new favourite TV show served up straight away after a cliff-hanger ending. A minimal drop in sonic rust ensues, but the track is equally captivating and all-encompassing, the percussion again is sick as fuck, if you like it you love it, if you don't's done now. Brady's vocal is the balm to the mania that shudders all around, it fills every square millimetre like an out of control fire ripping through a building. That thudding bass-drum that breaks the bpm record at 2:11 is also one of the wonderful subtleties that characterise these two tracks. Everything is great right now in Irish music, it has been for a while, but it needed The Claque, and here they are.

The Claque play The Iveagh Gardens on the 11th of July with IDLES and All Together Now in Wexford on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Single of the Week: Leila Jane - Little Lady Blues

Leila Jane - Little Lady Blues

In August 2017 I dropped into the recording studio of Rohan Healy and his brother Al Quiff for an interview for Dublin City FM, after a great chat they told me there was an artist whose new EP they were working on that they felt I might like. Afterwards I'd hoped this intuition on their behalf stemmed from my musical bedrock of the blues, specifically blues-rock, my favourite of all genres. A segment of one of the songs blew me away, I think it was a Saturday morning so I was probably a little tired and emotional, which is a good place to be when it comes to listening to music I find. The track would feature on London / Donegal artist Leila Jane's Decision Maker EP which was released later that year, and made the No. 2 spot in my Top 20 Irish EP's for 2017.

The winner of the 2015 Imelda May Scholarship for song-writing saw her take up a place at BIMM. Steeped in classical blues, and citing listening to Robert Johnson for the first time as a seminal moment on this voyage, I first saw a brief set last year at The Grand Social as part of the Five Lamps Arts Festival, and more recently at The Sound House in Dublin in support of Jane Willow's EP launch, the latter of which left a lasting impression on me. When you hear the songs you know and love replicated almost identically in a live setting, but with heightened energy, it's hard to avoid those spinal chills.

Leila Jane
The Sound House, Dublin - 22nd November 2018. Photo: Remy

'Little Lady Blues' is the debut single release from Leila Jane, and its roots grow a few layers down into the blues-rock timeline. The 1970's saw a big revival in artists adapting and re-interpreting the blues of Son House, Howlin' Wolf, Slim Harpo et al, too many to mention, and re-imagining them in electric blues. There was John Mayall, Clapton, Robin Trower, Johnny Winter, Peter Green, and of course Rory Gallagher. One thing all of these artists had was a deep respect for the origins of the music plainly incorporated into their sound. 

Leila Jane continues this tradition, influenced by early blues, but also nodding strongly to the 1970's revival, with the intro to 'Little Lady Blues' bringing to mind Gallagher's 'Laundromat' as well as Mayall's 1969 live album The Turning Point. A heart-felt tremelo vocal lays out its acknowledgement in emotive terms, again thematically dealing with the human malaise of the individual, the blues after all, are about struggle and trying to find a way out. A rumbling percussion and rhythm section channel the sense of urgency and conundrum faced by the song's protagonist. The most rewarding aspects of her single however reside in it's raw power and the unfiltered self-awareness of the song-writing. It provides much relief for me that this musical tradition which I love so much is in such capable hands.

Leila Jane will be officially launching her debut single 'Little Lady Blues' in The Vintage Room at The Workman's Club on the 29th of March. 

Album: Crome Yellow - See Why

Crome Yellow - See Why
Photo: Hayley Stuart

Crome Yellow are a band from Waterford who tend towards the psychedelic. Combining a modern sound with that of the 60's and 70's, the band create a vibrant, guitar and synth-driven texture certain to intoxicate audiences from any generation.

The band launched their last EP, 'Yellow Road', in June of 2017 after settling on their current lineup. Having grown a massively loyal fanbase in Waterford, they have been expanding their operations into Dublin and Cork with an eye to accomplishing the same there.

A January review of opening track 'Wash Basket Experience' by Crome Yellow found me much enthused; "Oh god, from the first 5 seconds of Crome Yellow's latest single I was away with the fairies in my head, seriously, what a delightful jam, and without showing my hand, a total killer of a single for 2019 at this very early, early stage. The funk is so cool, but so strong, the music is extremely laid-back to the point the Waterford four-piece are barely playing their instruments (but they are obviously). I want to disappear in this forever, also, lil' bit Republic of Loose, yurt." Delightfully, this was only the tip of the iceberg.

Those cool and laid-back jams litter their debut album See Why which was released last week. Second track 'Lately' is awash with gleeful colour and bopping beats, a kaleidoscopic piece of tropical sounds and nonchalant vocals. Although the band are influenced by 60's & 70's psych, time and again tracks such as this feel far more recent, there are small hints of the warbled sounds of Super Furry Animals' Radiator and Guerilla, particularly towards the end. 

'Lies' is a nicely placed interlude early in the album, the bubble of relief is slowly released, Crome Yellow have dropped some LSD in your glass, but it's okay, you asked them too. Most importantly however, the track is evidence of an acute awareness of what lackadaisical psychedelia should do to a listener. With 'Poison' we hear the first glimpse of old school, it's a flighty and breezy jam, so mellow that it feels like the drummer's sticks are about to slip from his hands and his head is going to tip onto his snare, vibing.

Mood is tempered on the whimsical and gorgeous 'Fruitless Escapade', this has a distinct mid to late 90's Irish indie rock feel, just as we were emerging from an overload of Britpop across the sea, and Irish acts were getting far more experimental. I think of Dublin band Pelvis in particular, but with a bit more sunshine, and it's a warm amber shard coming through the curtain gap to be sure. At 2:14 a very slick guitar solo nudges its way in, a wink and a nod to the listener, before the track auspiciously fades out. 

Back to back tracks 'Who Says There's Got To Be Music?' and 'Are We Gonna Leave The Lights On' feature vocalist Claire Kirwan, as the band straddle 70's disco on the former, and a bare contemplative song that touches on the awkward (and slightly dark) conclusion of a romantic encounter on the latter. Ears, brain and Crome Yellow themselves all melt into a slow-dripping psychedelic wax on 'Lemons', a hole in the ground slowly grows and we collectively end up slipping into it in slow-motion, the warmth of the music and vocals mean there's no cause for alarm, and that we just really should go with their flow.

'Tastes Much Better With You' sees the band say, "Right, fuck this, open the hatch to the rabbit hole, let's go." It could be seedy, but in a mutually accepting way, and you can't go full psych unless you get a little bit dirty along the way. It's a key highlight on the album for me, there's an enduring sound here that will never grow old or cold, and I think the lead guitar speaks for itself here. The bastard child of The Beta Band and Camel in full swing.

See Why closes with its title-track, to a degree the intro pulls back in those Republic of Loose characteristics I heard on the opener 'Wash Basket Experience', it's also the most U.S. indie-rock the quartet go on the LP. After the two minute mark they slowly wave goodbye and the lights dim gradually, one last reminder as if it were needed that pace and mood are central to everything Crome Yellow present here. There's even time for a short encore, as they re-emerge for one final groove, whilst it probably wasn't the intention, this drives home the feeling of how personal the album feels for the listener. It's hard to escape the idea that through the entire 10 tracks they weren't just putting on a private performance. What appeals the most about See Why is the variety of ideas and sounds, and the fact that they have taken a much-loved sound, and carefully made it taste good on a contemporary palate.

Crome Yellow play Pharmacia in Limerick on the 22nd of March and The Underground in Dublin on the 5th of April.

See Why is now available on all streaming platforms;

The VidList #013: Æ MAK, WOB!, Jackie Beverly, Jake Regan & Junk Drawer

Æ Mak - We Have It Right Here

As a medium for delivering both music and sparking our imaginations, the music video is a mode of expression that I have and always will love, perhaps driven by my other great passion, film! Below we have some wonderful Irish music videos that have been released in the last few weeks.

1) Æ MAK - 'We Have It Right Here: A Love Cult'

My suggested videos on YouTube over the past 12 months, whilst entirely innocent, would probably be a cause for concern without context. I've always been fascinated by cults since going on a deep dive into The Manson Family a number of years ago. Possibly because I watched a documentary on it recently, Æ MAK's video for 'We Have It Right Here: A Love Cult' echos Wayne Curtis Bent's the Lord Our Righteousness Church, an end of days cult in New Mexico. Of course the standard hallmarks apply widely, a strange expression of heightened bliss in the eyes of followers, who, when faced with evidence and logic about their nefarious leader, laugh loudly at how ridiculous the accusations are, whilst their leader sits among them smiling quietly. Unsettling stuff! Video producer Tim Shearwood captures this 'return to Eden' psychosis perfectly in the facial expressions of the actors, and the ensuing communal ecstasy which follows. Our recent review of the track can be found here.

2) WOB! - 'Syncopate'

The Irish King of house and drum n'bass WOB! is firing out the singles thus far in 2019, and 'Syncopate' shows that the curve bell is still heading north. The Serbian born artist reached out to Polish creatives for the stunning visuals on the video for 'Syncopate', lead by Okime Emiko. It's an arresting affair, how can something so high-tempo and sonically claustrophobic somehow lend itself to chilled out vibes, the bass-lines are so chunky and large they barely make their way out of the speakers. I think if WOB! did a collab with Æ MAK above my head would probably explode.

3) Jackie Beverly - 'Talk it Through'

Rising Irish star Jackie Beverly released her debut music video for single 'Talk it Through' this weekend. Directed by Ciaran O'Brien, Beverly shares; "I wanted the video to weave in and around the concepts of relationships, friendships and mental health, as these are the main factors that influence my songwriting. These concepts are so diverse and complex in themselves that it was important to leave space in the video for people to make up their own meaning to it." 

Of the track itself we recently wrote; "Beverly connects seamlessly with her late-2018 debut single 'Out of Reasons', developing on that soft and gorgeously placid synth-driven momentum, her latest track wanders further off into a lush and enchanting darkness, taking us with it. There is certainly a deeper dive into the best aspects of 80's synth-pop here, little bit Kate Bush musically, particularly on the percussion, and vocally my fav Jane Wiedlin of Go-Go's fame. But Beverly's vocal and music are her own, the mood she delivers is desperately disarming and understated, becoming the perfect medium for the listener to disappear very far into."

4) Jake Regan - 'Over It'

A very welcome return to the local music scene, Jake Regan released his solo debut single 'Over It' a few weeks ago, and there is now a beautifully shot visual accompaniment by production company C-47 to go with it. Shot on the beaches of Wicklow and the Dublin mountains it; "...takes place over a night of huffed petrol and terrible sexual encounters."

From a moody, despondent slacker-rock intro which jams in a left-hook on the minute mark, little quiet breaks trickle down the crevices of fuzzy guitars and monotone, ponderous vox. The track could have ended a 3:30 and I'd have been more than happy, however a wonderful shift in tempo and tone pushes towards a bubbling indie-pop finale.

5) Junk Drawer - 'Year of the Sofa'

I promise I didn't forget, it's just been a little while is all. Goddamn Belfast's Junk Drawer are the finest purveyors of antique slacker-rock, latest single 'Year of the Sofa' is like Pavement's Brighten the Corners on 21st century synthetic steroids. Jake Lennox's vocal has also never sounded better, almost matched by his acting prowess as the video's central figure. Junk Drawer describe the concept of the song & video as being; "Written during one of many ongoing bouts with ennui, our nameless hero spends more time preparing for the mythical perfect moment than actually carrying out said plans. They remain largely an observer, wallowing in languor and taking refuge in stolen moments with Prestige TelevisionTM when conscience permits as more of an observer."

Word has it that this is the first taster of Junk Drawer's debut LP, that may be out over the coming months....

Junk Drawer - Year of the Sofa

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Single: orla - 'breathe'

orla - breathe

orla is an 18 year-old independent musician / producer from Meath who released her debut single, 'dream' (below), at the start of the year, followed quickly by latest release 'breathe' which she shared yesterday. With a modus operandi based on ambient and downtempo movements, both tracks are impressively accomplished from the newcomer. 'breathe' is delicately subtle and unassuming, flowing synths and a chirpy beat converge and a delicious bass line joins the fray at 1:44.

'dream' follows that nonchalant gaze as well, it's lathered in chill and also contains elements of 80's synth-pop. Although it's early doors for orla, there is a competency to the structure and delivery of both tracks that can only leave you pondering the possibilities for such a young artist at this stage of their musical journey. 

Irish Playlist #052: The Vercettis, New Pagans, Anna Mullarkey, Hatchlings, MUNKY & more

The Vercettis - You
The Vercettis

REMY's latest independent Irish playlist features the newest single releases from the past fortnight with reviews.

1) The Vercettis - 'You'

There's a lot to enjoy on the latest single from Cork-based trio The Vercettis, 'You'. A dreamy guitar riff gives off a very mellow lo-fi air, it's difficult not to crack a knowing smile at the line; "And my Momma thinks you're nice, but she hasn't met you twice". The breezy sway veers slightly into classical prog territory at it's half-way point, before reverting back to the highly enjoyable slumber of its beginnings.

2) New Pagans - 'It's Darker'

Few do dark riff-heavy rock as well as Belfast-based quintet New Pagans, new single 'It's Darker' is a bone fide guitar throttling that doesn't take itself too seriously despite its ultra-cool veneer. To these ears at least, the hook-laden catchiness of the track recalls Sunderland's Kenickie as it packs a visceral punch across its 3 and a half minutes. New Pagans will be playing the Eastbound Festival at The Sound House on the 7th May and I highly recommend checking them out.

3) Anna Mullarkey - 'Sometimes'

I've had 'Sometimes' by Galway's Anna Mullarkey on loop since I first heard it, using analogue synths and effects, and keeping things simultaneously simple but sonically fulsome, Mullarkey has carved out a track which perfects the art of the build. It's a very steady curve from the beginning to end which is highly absorbing and cries out for repeated listens.

4) Hatchlings - 'Choir in the Belly'

Vocally echoing Kings of Convenience, 'Choir in the Belly' from Hatchlings is a gorgeous serenade to the self. Undoubtedly masters of the harmony, the band seamlessly tie in classic folk with a contemporary polish, it's wonderfully sleepy and balances pensive happy / sad feelings effortlessly giving it a very timeless feel.

5) MUNKY - 'One in Five'

Electric blues-rock rabble rousers MUNKY return with a bristling salvo in the shape of 'One in Five' which is taken from their forthcoming debut EP, Un, Deux, Trois, Cat. Searing inter-play between guitars are tempered with a spoken-word interlude from frontman Zac Stephenson, an emotionally-charged reflection on the continuing difficulties faced by victims of sexual assault in a supposedly caring society. MUNKY launch their EP on the 12th of April in The Grand Social.

MUNKY - 'One in Five'
Photo: Gary Morris-Roe

6) Lost Frequencies feat. FLYNN - 'Recognise'

It's an easy default position to take to distrust commercial-sounding pop music, alas, an open-mind is like a parachute. 'Recognise' by Belgian producer Lost Frequencies (Felix De Laet) featuring our own FLYNN is unapologetically driven toward radio airwaves, but by god is it catchy, and more importantly, different to your standard fare. Tropical loops and woodwind instrumentation, combined with FLYNN's easy on the ear vocal make it stand out from the crowd, and I'm enjoying this groove more than perhaps I should!

7) The Elephant Room - 'Bad News (For Good People)'

Dublin-based Wexford outift The Elephant Room consistently make hazy lo-fi tunes that resonate fully with my own personal tastes, 'Bad News (For Good People)' is a perfect summary and snapshot of their (impressively large) catalogue to date. I've probably mentioned this in previous reviews of their music, but if I was to put a finger on just one band that they remind me of it would be cult Minneapolis alt-rock band Sugar. They are just so good at throwing piping-hot guitar solos into the middle of laid-back passages unexpectedly.

8) SOAK - 'Déjà Vu'

Currently representing Ireland this week at the SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas, Derry's SOAK released the glistening 80's-tinged pop of 'Déjà Vu' just last week. The track, taken from her forthcoming sophomore album Grim Town (April 26th) is, on the surface, a colourful retro synth-pop journey. Thematically Grim Town is a fictional place which resides in SOAK's mind, each track on the album providing individual glimpses to different parts of this arena.

9) Tuesday at Six - 'Passion Bubblegum'

Wexford four-piece Tuesday at Six released latest single 'Passion Bubblegum' last week. This is not a standard fare alt-rock piece by any means, slick as you please guitar riffs and a moody vocal, I find myself intermittently floating between the modern and the old school, why can't I shift CSNY from my head? Particularly on its instrumental breaks. This is a sweet trip down the meandering rock stream.

10) 1000 Beasts - 'Want'

Producer Cian Sweeney serves up his latest pop-laden sliver of music as 1,000 Beasts in single 'Want', co-written with Ryan O'Shaughnessy and LAOISE. Featuring vocals from Waterford native Carrie, Sweeney lets loose and empties his bag of tricks unceremoniously onto the floor across a dizzying yet uncontrollably playful 3-plus minutes of jerking stop-start beats and sharp clicks.

1000 Beasts - Want
Photo: Dara Munnis