Saturday, 26 September 2009

Album Review: Lisa O'Neill 'Has An Album'



I have read many great things about Lisa O'Neill recently. I was also told by a few people how great her debut 'Has An Album' is and I have tried my very best to ensure I am impartial in my review. Lisa originally from Co. Cavan was Elder Roche's support act on Wednesday night at The Button Factory and on the back of that fine performance from Lisa with her band I invested €10 in her beautifully packaged debut album.

'Has An Album' is a collection of beautifully written folk ballads intertwined with poetic lyrics and insightful imagery. The band in The Button Factory consisted of Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin, Accordion and Irish Harp. Additional instruments on the album include Piano, Cello and Double Bass. Lisa has a very distinct voice which reminds me of a quieter Lucinda Williams or Martha Wainwright.

The overall mood and atmosphere of the album is of an artist on a very personal reflective journey. There's a wonderful tribute to Bob Dylan [Bobby D] and an upbeat tune consisting of nursery rhyme quotes [Pocket Full of Piggies]. In the main the songs are about friendships, relationships and astute descriptions of simple life; "I think those hands around my waist, but I've been drinking so long I can't taste".

I'm finding it difficult to pinpoint an exact aspect of 'Has An Album' that has me so spellbound. I think the simple fact that I am so taken by the album means that this album deserves the highest rating on my review scale:

Lisa O'Neill 'Has An Album' - 12 out of 12

In many ways Lisa's debut reminds me so much of my favourite album ever which is Mark Dignam's debut album 'Poetry and Songs From The Wheel'. Both albums contain great songs, beautiful singing and insightful descriptive songwriting.


http://www.myspace.com/lisaconeill

Friday, 25 September 2009

Friday's Forgotten Favourites - The Fat Lady Sings



The Fat Lady Sings created two of the best albums in Irish Music history in Twist and Johnson. TFLS were in the main Nick Kelly, Tim Bradshaw, Dermot Lynch and Robert Hamilton. The band had moderate success in Ireland and made great gains in the UK and Europe. However it wasn't meant to be with Nick Kelly's 'Drunkard Logic' to split the band and the music scene. Here's the brief story!

1986
- Fat Lady Sings formed.
- Release of 'Fear And Favour' single

1988
- Release of 'Be Still' single

1989
- Release of 'Arclight' single

1990
- Release of 'Dronning Maudland' single
- Release of 'Manscared' single

1991
- Re-release of 'Arclight' single
- Release of 'Twist' single
- Release of 'Deborah' single
- Release of 'Twist' album

1993
- Release of 'Show Of MySelf' single
- Release of 'Drunkard Logic' single
- Release of 'World Exploding Touch' single
- Release of 'Johnson' album

2005
- Release of 'The Fat Lady Singles / Opera Obscura' double-album. As it's name suggests, the first CD gathered together all of the band singles, while 'Opera Obscura' was a collection of B-Sides and rarities.


When you see the quality of the singles above TFLS will always have their place as one of the best bands to produce music in Ireland. Arclight, Deborah, Drunkard Logic and World Exploding Touch were great singles. Even better were the various b-sides which accompanied them which was compiled together in the 2005 release mentioned above. Songs like the pop song 'What Are You Like', 'Grand Country Wedding' and live favourite 'Everywoman' prove that there is so much more to Nick's songwriting. My favourite tunes include 'Boil', 'Stealing a Plane', 'Gravy Train' and 'Horse Water Wind'.



Legacy:

When TFLS split Tim Bradshaw and Dermot Lynch went to America and with Peter Stuart were recruited for a rock band called 'Dog's Eye View' who released 'Daisy' with Tim and Dermot in 1995.

Singer Nick Kelly has had great success as an independent artist releasing two fine solo albums and getting a Choice Award Nomination for 'Running Dog'. He is now on the verge of an exciting 9 month project for his third album:

9 gigs, 9 months, one precious new arrival...

The first instalment of GESTATION, a unique 9-month project towards the creation of a new solo album by 2005 Choice Prize nominee Nick Kelly. On the last Wednesday of each month Nick performs with different musical collaborators in a full band setting. September 30th is the first night with ANN SCOTT.

Nick has finalised his guest collaborators for his first 'trimester' of gigs - in each case these people will be performing with him during his own set as well as performing their own special guest slots. They are:

WED SEPT 30th - ANN SCOTT
WED OCT 28th - BOO HEWRDINE
WED NOV 25th - SEAN MILLAR

Tickets: €17 including booking fee
Doors: 8pm

http://www.nickkelly.ie/

Listen to Nick's demos here:
http://gestationproject.wordpress.com/


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Mic Christopher Remembered

Mic Christopher would have turned 40 on Monday 21st September! I will let his music and these videos remind you of his wonderful talent.

These three videos are a celebration of Mic Christopher's life from the Irish Language channel TG4. It shows a cool clip of Glen Hansard, Mark Dignam and Mic busking in Temple Bar. Also included is footage from Mic's first band The Mary Janes.



Part 2 of the episode:



I learned so much from these clips. Lovely footage of some of the best Irish musicians in the last 10 years.



Here is a little reminder of how amazing a talent Mic was. I seen The Mary Janes perform 'Friends' on an Irish music programme and I loved it. Then as a kid of about 15 seen the band live in Merrion Square in a Summer gigs outdoor lunch thing. The next and only other time I seen Mic live was in Whelans when he supported the wonderful Dar Williams.

The Mary Janes - Friends [from the album Sham]

Linkage: http://www.myspace.com/themaryjanes
http://homepage.eircom.net/~micchristopher/index2.htm
http://www.irishmusiccentral.com/themaryjanes/index.html

Friday, 18 September 2009

Friday's Forgotten Favourites - The Plague Monkeys



The Plague Monkeys were a four piece band from Dublin, Ireland. They were Carol Keogh (vocals), Donal O’ Mahony (guitars, keyboards and mandolin), Barry Roden (bass) and Thomas Haugh (drums, percussion and keyboard). The band formed in December 1995 until circa 2000 and made some of the most beautiful music imaginable. Think along the lines of a cooler Cranberries or an upbeat Cocteau Twins!

Discography

1995 People And Machinery EP

1996
The band make a video of 'The Plague Monkeys'

1997
Release of the 'Navigator E.P.' [April]

1998
Release of 'Surface Tension' [April]

Release of 'Mouth To Mouth' single [November]

1999
Release of 'The Sunburn Index' [October]

2000
The Plague Monkeys split up.


Legacy: Singer Carol Keogh is currently reviving her solo career after spells performing in Automata and with Roesy and Jerry Fish. The album 'Surface Tension' is one of my favourite Irish Albums ever and it's still an album I return to again and again.


Thursday, 17 September 2009

David Geraghty - The Button Factory [Gig Review]



***Disclaimer ..... this review contains no bias or negative comments which will result in Dave going all Chris DeBurgh on me! ***


The Button Factory was the final gig of David Geraghty's short Irish tour to promote the excellent album 'The Victory Dance'.

It was such a great night of music that begun with Miss Paula Flynn accompanied by Greg McAteer on guitar and Jay on percussion playing songs from their debut album 'Miss Paula Flynn'. Personally I can't wait to hear the album. I think it'll be full of Lisa Hanniganesque beauty with Jinx Lennonesque lyrics! The album launch is in Bewleys on September 25th!

The wonderful Carol Keogh graced the stage next. Carol has been in the Irish Music scene for many years and is partly responsible for one of the my favourite albums ever. There will be more on 'The Plague Monkeys' on Friday. The short set with the full band reminded me of The Frames circa Dance The Devil. Here is the set highlight; a cover of one of my favourite songs ever: The Carpenters - Superstar



http://www.myspace.com/carolkeoghmusic

There was a really decent crowd last night to see Bell Ex Wan's Dave Geraghty perform a set which consisted of a decent mixture of tunes from both of his albums. You could easily tell which album the song was from. If it was an upbeat optimistic tune it was from 'The Victory Dance' and if the lights went down with the mood then chances are high it would be from the debut 'Kill Your Darlings'. Hearing the new tunes live with that amazing and creative backing band somehow heightens their positive effectiveness.

Patchy Set-list:

The Emperor's Hand Me Downs
Watch Her Win
Soft Spot
*2 old tunes.... unsure of names*
Last Time Around
Wear Out Your Name,
It Won't Be Long
Instant Sunshine,
Ragdoll
Use Me ... Bill Withers Cover
Kaleidoscope
Tuesday's Feet
Long Time Running
All The Kings Horses

I was only telling a friend that I much prefer Dave's solo songs to the other project he is currently employed with! Dave's onstage banter was funny and he plays the front man on a band very well. It was a very uplifting night and masterful night of music.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Friday's Forgotten Favourites - Revelino



Since the closure of the excellent Irish Music Central site I'm really struggling to find information about the best Irish bands from back in the day! Revelino were moderately successful. They made it onto John Peel's radar, according to Hot Press journalists the band had the third best single released in 1994 and they had their music featured in the movie 'I Went Down'. They were also the Irish band who displayed their Beatles influences very clearly in their music and sound.


Revelino were Brendan Tallon, on Bren Berry on guitar, and Shane Rafferty on drums. Joining them were Alan Momntgomery on bass and Brendan’s brother Ciaran on guitars.

They first appeared on the Dublin gigging circuit in late 1994. Their first album was released at the same time which was voted the 47th best Irish album ever in 2005 by Hot Press. 'Don't Lead Me Down' came from the self titled debut and was on the 'I Went Down' soundtrack.

Don't Lead Me Down

The second album ‘Broadcaster’ was released in 1996 and was much heavier than the debut. ‘Step on High” received considerable airplay on the John Peel show. 'Been and Gone' was an excellent album closer and again highlights their Beatles influences.

Been and Gone

The band had been reduced to the Tallon brothers, Bren Berry and drummer Ronan McHugh for the third album “To the End” which was released in 2000. The album contains many good song but fails to reproduce the sound and buzz of the eloquent debut.

Death of a Century

More info: http://www.last.fm/music/Revelino
http://irishmusicdb.com/r/revelino/

I Am Not Lefthanded - Everybody Sleeps [Video]

I know I post too many video clips on here. When I go to music blogs I rarely ever watch the YouTube clip. I kind of hope people will watch the clip prior to downloading a sample or going to an artist MySpace! ..... Anyway if there was any justice in the music world I Am Not Lefthanded will become massive! Their video for the single Everybody Sleeps which was made by the band with help of friends and fans was published on YouTube last night!

*** If You Only Watch 1 Video On This Here Site Please Make It THIS 1 ***



http://www.iamnotlefthanded.com/

See the band live:

16 Sep 2009 19:00 Underbelly (zigfried basement) - Underbelly - EARLY SHOW London
28 Sep 2009 20:00 ABC2 - Supporting The Rumble Strips Glasgow, Scotland
29 Sep 2009 20:00 The Forest Cafe - Supporting State of Undress in Edinburgh Edinburgh
8 Oct 2009 20:00 The Stables - Acoustic Session Mullingar

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Chapters - Perfect Stranger [Album Review]



2UIBestow's 5 word review .... Uplifting album for recessionary times!

Perfect Stranger is a brilliant pop/rock album from a band that I knew very little about until recently. Apparently Dublin band The Chapters have built up a loyal following over the last few years and their live shows are apparently amazing. I can understand this having listened to Perfect Stranger alot this week.

With Perfect Stranger, you get sing-a-long lyrics such as 'You can do anything or you can just breakdown' and 'I Don't Get It Why You Hurt Yourself So'. The album is full of 80's inspired keyboards and melodies. The singer sounds like the excellent Scottish singer Colin Hay from the 1980's band 'Men at Work'. Even some song titles suggest the 80's!

Looking for Love

Perfect Stranger is a great little album of eleven top quality pop songs. Here's hoping The Chapters are able to follow The Coronas and The Script onto the play lists of the popular radio stations in this country!

The Chapters - Perfect Stranger [10 out of 12]

http://www.myspace.com/thechaptersofficial



See The Chapters line:

16 Sep 2009 20:00 The Odeon: Sol Revolution Party... Dublin
24 Sep 2009 18:00 Arthurs Day: Guinness Birthday Celebration Dublin
16 Oct 2009 20:00 Roisin Dubh with The Coronas Galway
21 Oct 2009 20:00 Electric Avenue with The Coronas Waterford
22 Oct 2009 20:00 Dolans Warehouse with The Coronas Limerick
23 Oct 2009 20:00 Dolans Warehouse with The Coronas Limerick
24 Oct 2009 14:00 Cypress Avenue with The Coronas ( All ages Show) Cork
24 Oct 2009 20:00 Cypress Avenue with The Coronas Cork
25 Oct 2009 20:00 Cypress Avenue with The Coronas Cork
28 Oct 2009 20:00 Spirit Store Dundalk with The Coronas Louth
29 Oct 2009 20:00 The Clarence with The Coronas Sligo

Sunday, 6 September 2009

New Sounds Sunday - Susan Enan - Plainsong [Review]





English singer Susan Enan has been adopted by the blog as an honorary Irish artist due to the time she spent living in Northern Ireland. Her nomadic periods result in Susan being a worldwide artist but without a championing fanbase as such. As I do my usual reference search on google or elbo.ws I am fascinated by the lack of results. However with one search of Susan Enan on YouTube you get a sense of how well received worldwide her music has become with many clips featuring Susan's song 'Bring on the Wonder' from the TV programme 'Bones'.



Plainsong was released in July this year and ..... "has been recorded in 5 different countries, much of it in Enan's small home studio in Brooklyn. It was finally released in July 2009 and features co-production from Alan Bezozi, musical appearances from Ashwin Sood (drums), Steve Schiltz (guitars), Graham Maby (bass), and vocal appearances from Declan O'Rouke and Sarah McLachlan. It was mixed in London by Alan Branch and mastered by Jon Astley." .... taken from www.susanenan.com



'Plainsong' is an album I've genuinely been waiting for since Susan's amazing Moonlight EP was released in 2003. She has a wonderful voice similar to Dar Williams and Natalie Merchant. The songs could easily be described as plain by many an ear but if you're in the mood for beautifully written candlelight pop music then 'Plainsong' is perfect. The album kicks off with 'Bird' which is the most radio friendly track on the album. Sarah McLaughlan sings backing vocals for 'Bring Out The Wonder' and our own Declan O'ROurke does backing vocal duties on 'Skin, Bone & Silicone'. 'Moonlight' has been given a Jazzy make-over since the EP and is still a great tune. Another highlight for me is the beautiful love song 'On Your Side'. The lyrics are meaningful, usually displaying huge positivity and highly thought-provoking. The use of the trusty string section is restricted to great effect such as on the track 'If You're Feeling Low'. Overall it's a great album!


Susan Enan (ft Declan O'Rourke) - Skin, Bone & Silicone

Susan Enan - Plainsong [10 out of 12]

Get the Album - http://amiestreet.com/music/susan-enan/plainsong

http://www.susanenan.com/


Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Prayer Boat re-release Polichinelle


This arrived in my inbox yesterday!


"We are happy to finally announce the re-release of The Prayer Boat’s classic album Polichinelle.

It is 10 years since the album was first commercially released and to celebrate Polichinelle is being reissued as a special 10 Year Anniversary Edition.
The album was released sporadically over a four year period on different labels with different versions, mixes, track listings and artwork.

However, this edition goes back to the very first version which was initially only available at Prayer Boat concerts.

It has been remastered and the original artwork updated to include new sleeve notes by some of those involved in the making of the record.

It will first be released in Ireland exclusively through Independent Records and further releases will follow in The Netherlands and the US. We are also looking to reissue the album in those other countries where it was previously released; UK, France, Spain and Denmark

It is already available as a digital download from all the main digital retailers through Feudal Records in Los Angeles.

We are also happy to announce that Emmett will be performing the album (plus other material) with a full band at a select number of venues.

The first concert will be in Whelans, Dublin on Wednesday, 14th October.
We can also announce a concert at Paradiso, Amsterdam on 20th December.
We’ll keep you informed as other dates are confirmed."


I'll be there as Polichinelle is my favourite Irish album ever!



Friday, 4 September 2009

Friday's Forgotten Favourites - Wallmark


This feature brings to the blog a band from back in the day and makes a song and dance about their existence!



Taken from the excellent website http://irishmusicdb.com/ "Wallmark were a rock band based around the brothers Padraig and Joe Digan. Over the years, their line up has also included Michael Murphy [Bass], David Kennedy [Guitar, Keyboards & Vocals], Philip d'Alton [Bass Guitar, Piano & Vocals] and Matt Power [Bass Guitar]. In 2003, the band released their debut EP, 'Wait For The People' and this was followed in 2005 by their first full album, 'Everything, Something, Anything'. By this time, the group had slimmed down to a three piece with the brothers joined by Matt Power on Bass. Soon after Wallmark were consigned to history. The trio regrouped for a short period as Whiskey Tango Foxtrot."






Over the course of four years Wallmark released a great album "Everything, Something, Anything" a couple of singles, played numerous headline gigs as well as some top quality support slots. Wallmark supported Paddy Casey in Dublin Castle in May of 2005 as well as supporting everyone from Hothouse Flowers to Damien Dempsey and Delorentos. Wallmark's album was released during our obsession with crooning singer songwriters and well the album is very different to Damien Rice singing about volcanoes! The album is a pure rock album showing clear signs of being influenced by Pearl Jam and AC/DC. Padraig's colourful vocals and meaningful lyrics shines through on 'Everything, Something, Anything'. This band could have made it big!






Starlight



Melodies & Lines Official Video



Catch Padraig In Anseo next month: http://www.myspace.com/padraigdigan

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Topical Tuesday - Whipping Boy



WHEN WE WERE YOUNG (Philo Version)

Topical Tuesday is the new feature where I represent a topical item with a sample mp3 from one of Ireland's best artists. The focus for many Irish families this week is the return to school for the 800,000 kids and the difficult situation that has been imposed on them. Through no fault of their own they now have more classmates, less teachers, less subject choices and far more chaos in their lives because of the state the country is in at the moment! Let's hope we don't go back to the time of Philo for the sake of the kids!



http://www.whippingboy.net/index.html

Lyrics:

When we were kids we used to climb over the back wall into old Dan's scrap yard, then into the snooker hall where most of us kids were barred. And into the Roxy and the Stella where film stars starred. That's were me and Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rodgers got drunk, and jarred we might have been the saviours of men, the captured captain in the devil's dealing den, and we might have been the magic politician in some kind of tricky position, but like an old old master musician we kept on wishing, we were headed for the number one hit country again.

There's an old photograph of Dan I wish you could've seen, of him and the boys, poised, standing in St. Stephen's Green. Y'see they were part of the great freedom dream, but they were caught and detained and are still locked inside the frame of the photograph. And he might have been, the clever con, the good Samaritan, the Rascal man, and he might have been the loaded gun, the charlatan of the tap dancing fan, but like an old old pioneer from outer Afghanistan he's headed for the number one hit country again.

Old Dan the Raincoat hums the very special notes of his long lost favourite melody. It reminds him of a love affair when he was young and did not care. And the parting, so soft so sadly that he might have been the laughing cavalero, the wise old commanchero, the desperado, the gigolo from Glasgow, the good looking Rudolph Valentino, but like an old old hunter in search of the female buffalo, he's headed for the number one hit country again.

And it's true, true blue, Irish blue, and it's true, and sometimes it reminds me of you.

Cos up til now my youthful age was a useless wage, a torn out page, a worn out gauge, a dirty shade, a big charade, a has been made. And honesty was his only excuse.

I took your love and I used it, and honesty was his only excuse.



Here's the original video for the single:




There's an excellent interview with Whipping Boy's Fearghal McKee over at http://www.drop-d.ie/archives/6782 and it includes some new songs!