Saturday, 31 March 2012

Live Review: The Purple Sessions March 29th Boyles

Thursday's 'Purple Sessions' goes down as one of my favourite gigs ever. The line-up of Ana Gog, Allie Bradley, Orphan Code and Eric McGrath proved to me that they are four of the best musical acts in Ireland at the moment!

First up was Dubliner with a hint of Spanish, Eric McGrath with his laid back folk sounds. It'd be too easy to call Eric the Irish Jack Johnson but in truth he's much more than that. Eric has the ability to transport you somewhere warm with his charming songs and pleasant vocals. Eric's debut album is fittingly out on the Summer Solstice with a launch in The Sugar Club! Here's his debut single available on itunes!

Next up was Dublin band Orphan Code who are back with a new album 'I Am A Country' and a bunch of fabulous alternative rock songs. Again their new album is one I'm excited about listening to with new songs 'Candy' and 'Such a Long Way Down' in particular sounding amazing.

Derry's Allie Bradley finished her tour of Ireland with a superb acoustic set in The Purple Sessions. Allie has superb vocals and delicate meaningful lyrics which captures your attention and relentlessly holds onto it! My favourite songs from her set were 'One Way' and this song called 'Mistakes'.

Headline band Ana Gog were simply sensational on the night. If they just played their songs I'd have been happy but the few tricks they do on stage takes their music to another level. On one track the bassist became the second drummer on a song while this fantastic song 'Before The Evening Comes' has to be seen to be believed. It contains four part harmonies, four part keys and a finale fitting for any song!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Singles Battle # 5: Heathers Vs Autumn Long

Singles Battle is a little thing I do for fun where I compare n contrast two totally unrelated singles from Irish acts! This week it's ......

Heathers - Forget Me Knots

Taken from that traditionally awkward second album, Forget Me Knots is a slight departure from the basic acoustic set-up of guitars and harmonies. These are still there but with the added soundtrack of radio friendly beats and keys. The key selling point of the band are those wonderful harmonies which together with the inspirational lyrics makes this a very welcome return to form for the band. Get the single for free from here for a limited time:

Autumn Long - Nowhere Fast

Nowhere Fast is the second single to be taken from the band's debut album to be released this Summer. It's a fine rock song which is carried by Padriag Digan's quality vocals and songwriting. It's a song of despair and of going nowhere fast which actually works as decent rock song! The single is launched in The Odessa Club on Thursday 5th April  with support from Chayka who will be opening with an unplugged set!!ADM - €10


These two singles are very radio friendly and heavily rely on quality vocals for their effectiveness. Heathers have a lot to prove after a gigging hiatus of well over a year and while some people may miss the basic charm of guitars and melodies I think their fanbase will increase massively from this single. Autumn Long are still a young band aiming to get their music to as many people as possible before they take the plunge and release their debut album. Nowhere Fast is a good song but I've heard better songs from the band that would have been more suited to be released as a single!

Heathers - Forget Me Knots [9 out of 12]

Autumn Long - Nowhere Fast [8 out of 12]

Monday, 26 March 2012

Single Review: Bouts - Get Sick/Turn Away [Double A-side]

This double A-side is the best fuzzy indie pop coming out of Ireland at the moment! Released on Friday 30th March with the launch in the Workman's Club!

Things are looking really good for Dublin four piece 'Bouts'. After allowing their debut be distributed for free through bandcamp, the band release a 90s nostalgic double A-side on vinyl, cd and download. 'Get Sick' contains the best melody about getting sick I'll ever hear! Instant 'Yo La Tengo' and 'Dinosaur Jr.' comparisons come to mind within the fuzzy sounds on this track. It's a super indie pop anthem.

For me the second A side 'Turn Away' is the better track with it's superb lead guitar riff throughout the track. The vocals are also much clearer on this track with more variation in the tempo.

Bouts - Get Sick/Turn Away [11 out of 12]

More info:

Single Tour:

Mar 30
The Workmans Club, Dublin

Apr 05
Bourke's Bar

Apr 07
Triskel Arts Center

Apr 08

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Singles Battle #3: Preachers Son Vs Ghost Estates

Part three of my random post where I get two different singles and compare and contrast for the craic!

Preachers Son - Come On

Dublin rockers Preachers Son released a rich deep debut album in 2010 and they've followed it with a new single 'Come On'. It's a track that is a short spunky rocking tune which like the accompanying video doesn't take itself seriously at all. It's high on entertainment value and showcases Brian's fantastic vocals! It's three minutes of good time rock n roll and that'll do fine!

Ghost Estates - October

October released in February from Dublin indie band Ghost Estates is a superb track. The singer has this Mancunian style swagger about him. The bassline in this track is enough to get me excited but the instrumentation on the whole can be easily admired! The official video is pretty tasty too with close up shots of the band allowing the viewer to connect abstract sounds with it's creator!

Preachers Son with this track 'Come On' is all about the entertainment factor and having fun with their big hair rock n roll and there's a space in my music collection for that! However Ghost Estates are a young indie band formed from the demise of other bands. The band create superb indie-electro sounds that actually work and genuinely excites me.

Preachers Son - Come On [9 out of 12]
Ghost Estates - October [10 out of 12]

Both bands are playing Vantastival this year and both are a must see for me.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Album Review: Minus Circus

'Estuary' is a solid debut album of unpretentious rock tunes from Australia based Irish singer-songwriter Minus Circus with a few superb moments of brilliance.

I've just read the bio of Minus Circus on his website and I got a real sense of the meaning behind 'Estuary'. This album is the result of a decade's work from the Drogheda born artist. All those years running singer-songwriter nights in Dublin, playing numerous gigs every year, years writing and re-writing personal songs have been channeled into this album and it has all been worth the wait.

There's a lovely nostalgic feel to the album like it belongs to the Irish scene around the time Damien Rice was still gigging and before Bell X1 began impersonating Talking Heads. Vocally Minus Circus reminds me of Paul Noonan on most of the tracks while on others I hear Colin Devlin. Any one of the ten tracks could be considered for release as a single but the opening track 'Home' really sets the tone for the album with it's highly personnel lyrics.

Other notable tracks include the 'Coldplay-esque' 'Where Is The Love?', the energy of 'Guarantee' and the piano based balleds 'Outside' and 'The Gem' which is my favourite song on the album. The most contentious lyrics on the album is the song about justice to the 96 Liverpool fans who died  at Hillsborough in 1989 called 'The Truth'. The song itself is a really good folky rock song in the style of The Levellers when they were decent but lyrically it sticks out from the other very personnel songs about love, belonging, feeling distant, letting go .... etc.

I really enjoyed listening extensively in 'Estuary'. It has the songs to make Minus Circus a star in Australia and with a touch of luck that success in Australia will travel homeward as well.

Minus Circus - Estuary [10 out of 12]

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mixtape: International Women's Day [Made in Ireland!]

Following on from the brilliant mix over at Harmless Noise: here's my mix of ten highly talented but lesser known female artists [& their bands] that I adore and respect! Happy Women's Day!

Sarah Red

Dubliner Sarah Red is busy working on her debut album but the demos on her soundcloud page have already won me over! This cover is so so good in a very guilty pleasure way!


Wexford's Odi is mad busy touring the folk clubs of the UK and promoting her excellent debut from a few years back.

The Salt Flats

Belfast folkie supergroup The Salt Flats make some really interesting folk music with fine vocals and harmonies!


Sweet singing jokey folkie EleventyFour's are impossible to dislike! Here's the sweetest song about a forklift you'll ever hear!

Bona Fide Federation

The best female voice in Ireland for my money belongs to Bona Fide Federation's Triona O'Neill and here's why!

Carol Anne McGowan

I've known about the lush sounds of Carol Anne for a long time but for some daft reason this is my first time featuring her music here! There'll be plenty more opportunities in the future for me to feature Caral Anne's music!

Maria Byrne

London based folk artist Maria Byrne won me over with her delicate charming debut album released last year. She's on the bill for Honeyfest in Wiltshire sharing the stage with 'Dry The River' and Damon Albarn's Dr Dee! Hopefully this is the springboard for her career to take off!

The Henry Girls

Donegal's sibling folk band The Henry Girls are busy touring Europe at the moment with their new album 'December Moon'! This track is one of the highlights of that album.

Miss Paula Flynn

I adore the soft delicate vocals of Miss Paula Flynn. It's great to see that Paula is back gigging again with an appearance at Vantastival in May and Boyles of Slane in April!

I Am Not Lefthanded

San Francisco based Irish band I Am Not Lefthanded are one of my favourite bands ever thanks to songs like Long Goodbyes, Everybody Sleeps and this track 'The Place That Won't Let Me Back'. We'd have ya back in Ireland anytime!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Album Review - Mossy Nolan [Self-titled]

Wonderful debut album from Galway's Mossy Nolan which shines a light on enriched Irish trad and folk.

Artwork by Damien Martin

This album is a celebration of the trad and folk that's deep within our culture. From the instrumental jigs of 'Two Flats One Pump' and 'Swedish Jigs/I Met Betty Kelly' to Ewan MaColl's 'Tunnel Tigers' and Liam Weldon's 'Dark Horse on the Wind' this album aims to simply celebrate the folk genre in it's purity and showcases the songwriting and vocal talents of Mossy Nolan.

Mossy's vocals throughout the album are superb. One of my favourite tracks is 'Man Midland' written by and performed Mossy with just his voice and bouzoki accompanying the delicate lyrics. Mossy's take on 'Wild Mountain thyme' is beautiful and the intense interpretation of 'Dark Horse on the Wind' needs to be witnessed live! Of the jigs and instrumentals on the album my favourite is the Eastern European influenced composition 'Two Flats One Pump'.

I was at the album launch and the album made so much sense as I can visually link it to the live performance of the songs. I highly recommend you going to see Mossy and his band live as well as to get this album. There's enough great songs on the album to keep me enthralled throughout. 

Mossy Nolan - self-titled [11 out of 12]

Sunday, 4 March 2012

EP Review: Shannon - A Million Miles

'A Million Miles' is the mature sound from new Co. Meath artist Shannon and her band. The debut EP is launched on Monday 12th March in Whelans!

 The four track EP kicks off with the rocking title track which finds Shannon urging to be 'A Million Miles' away from a guy. The video for the track was recorded in Slane Castle and it works well with the fun nature of the song. Track two is 'I Can't Hide' which is a delightful love song. It conjures up the feeling of being away from a loved one very well and showcases Shannon's delicate vocals. 'Trouble' increases the tempo with some fine lyrics while the closing track 'Romeo' in many respects is my favourite track on the EP. 'Romeo' is all about Shannon's vocals with clever lyrics over a gentle guitar rift.

Listen to the title track here:


While this isn't the style of music that excites me I'm hugely impressed with Shannon's vocals. This EP is a great start to a fine career in the mainstream. A star for the future? More like a star in the now.

Shannon - A Million Miles [10 out of 12]

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Album Review: Twin Terrace - Plural

Every now and then a little gem album comes along out of nowhere and blows me away! 'Plural' by Twin Terrace is a genuine contender for album of 2012.

'Plural' was paradoxically written, performed, recorded and mixed solely by Gavin Redmond under the band name 'Twin Terrace'. On various tracks he is joined by Stephen Parnell on Bass, Storyfold's Michael Fortune on guitar and Catherine Dolan providing 'Hope Sandoval' style backing vocals on the songs 'Victory Square' and 'Thin Air'. 'Plural' is very much like an old school shoegaze indie album without the feedback! I've spoken to a few people about the album and I struggle to describe the unique yet familiar sound. Here's the lead single from the album; 'You Keep Coming Back'

While I like the single, for me the impact tracks on the album are the middle bunch of five songs. The chorus of 'I Thought I'd Leave With You' hits home big time while the tracks with Catherine Dolan on backing vocals are simply superb. 'Thin Air' which you can hear below is vocally the best track on the album with the best lyrics and the impact from the backing vocals taking the track to another level.

The songs are well written and varied. The lyrics while not life changing keep your attention throughout the album. It's a dreamy fuzzy sound that works equally well as background music or for something worthwhile to get into. The only negative for me is that there are a few tracks that don't hit the heights on 'Thin Air' and 'Aquarium'!

Twin Terrace - Plural [11 out of 12]

Plural is out on April 6th!

Psssst .... if you like what you hear give Twin Terrace a 'like' on Facebook!