Sunday, 29 April 2012

Top 50 - Part 6 [21 - 50]


Here's the top 50 acts in Ireland according to my humble tastes. The list acts as a guide to the music which excites me at this moment in time. It excludes bands not currently working in Ireland or who have been dormant for some time. So in basic terms here's a list of bands to watch out for on a random night in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk etc ....


50. Heritage Centre  http://www.facebook.com/theheritagecentre
49. Seamus Fogarty http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Fogarty-Music/112030042201855
48. The Man Whom http://www.facebook.com/themanwhom
47. SJ McArdle http://www.facebook.com/sjmcardlemusic
46. Allie Bradley http://www.facebook.com/alliebrads
45. Drunken Boat http://www.facebook.com/drunkenboatie
44. Polly Barrett http://www.facebook.com/pages/Polly-Barrett-Music/108088589256392
43. The Manhattan Syndrome http://www.facebook.com/TheManhattanSyndrome
42. Aaron Shanley http://www.facebook.com/aaronshanley
41. Bouts  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bouts/275118665844806
40. Shannon http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shannon/354158321282914
39. Preachers Son http://www.facebook.com/preacherssonofficial
38. Wicker Bones http://www.facebook.com/WickerBones
37. Pearse McGloughlin http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pearse-McGloughlin/153142284726895
36. Eric McGrath http://www.facebook.com/EricMcGrathMusica
35. Ghost Estates http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghost-estates/143095429068791
34. The Henry Girls http://www.thehenrygirls.com
33. Rams Pocket Radio http://soundcloud.com/ramspocketradio/tracks
32. The Dirty 9s http://www.facebook.com/theDirty9s
31. The Crayon Set http://www.facebook.com/thecrayonset
30. Twin Terrace http://www.facebook.com/twinterrace
29. The Lost Brothers http://www.facebook.com/thelostbrothers
28. Little Green Cars http://www.facebook.com/littlegreencars
27. Fox E. & The Good Hands http://foxeandthegoodhands.com/
26. Valentine Black http://www.facebook.com/valentineblack

25. Youth Mass http://www.facebook.com/thisisyouthmass

Youth Mass are slowly releasing material and playing the odd gig while preparing a debut album which will be mega if songs like 'Wide Eyes', 'Tony Don't You Worry' and 'Only C**** Buy Vinyl' are anything to go by.



24. Autumn Long http://www.facebook.com/Autumnlongmusic

I've been waiting for three years for the debut album from former Wallmark singer Padriag Digan. Autumn Long is the adopted name for Padraig and his band with that debut album imminent!




23. Arrow in the Sky http://www.facebook.com/arrowinthesky

Folk music of the very best from Mullingar duo 'Arrow in the Sky'. After a brief hiatus I'm delighted to see they are back gigging the country again.



22. Storyfold http://www.facebook.com/storyfold

Whenever I see Storyfold live they remind me of their brilliance. With six singles from their debut album released as well on non stop touring they have one of the best models for young bands to follow as their fanbase is ever increasing. There's whispers of a push in the US too!



21. Senakah http://www.facebook.com/senakah.ireland

Limerick band Senakah returned to the fore with a quality single 'Human Relations'. It's inspired me to check out their 2008 debut album 'Sweeter Than Bourban' which is simply superb. Well worth checking out!






Part 7 soon!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mixtape: My Vantastival Schedule [Part 1 - Friday]

The full Vantastival schedule went live during the week. Below is a rough plan detailing the bands I hope to see over the weekend. Of course I'll be hoping to find new favourites over the course of the weekend but there are a number of bands I'm really excited to see. Tickets here: http://www.vantastival.com/tickets/


Find a high res copy of the schedule here: http://www.vantastival.com/wp-content/uploads/2012-Schedule-final.jpg?3f5bfe

Friday:

I'll be aiming to get to The Fitzafrenic but that depends on getting there on time and on how long it'll take to put up the tent. The first band we'll probably see is The Rambleers on the main stage:



From the main stage we'll take a quick dash over to the Paddy Mirage stage to hear the charming sounds of EleventyFour ....



as well as a few minutes at Runaway Go ....



 before returning to the main stage for the rap/metal of I'd Fight Gandhi.



I'd be hoping to catch some of Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters and Dundalk's hotly tipped band The Trampz  ...




but I think a visit to The Man Whom in the quaint Paddy Mirage area is a must for me.



Ghost Estates on the Done Deal stage is our next stop before a tricky decision!



The Henry Girls vs Ham Sandwich is a problem but a few minutes with The Henry Girls before hitting the main stage for all the confetti at the end of the ham sambo gig!



..... Part 2 - Saturday's Schedule Soon! Want tickets? http://www.vantastival.com/tickets/

Friday, 27 April 2012

Album Review: The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock - The Brutal Here & Now

"The Brutal Here & Now" is the second album from Dublin's folk/rock/trad band 'The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock'. It's gathering the band some fine attention from media and fans for their high energy and hard to define sounds.


In my mind 'The Spook ....' are a great Irish band with fantastic musicianship and a sound that blurs traditional genre lines. 'The Spook' sound like the result of a jamming session between Sonic Youth and Planxty in that every song off The Brutal Here & Now contains crashing alternative guitar riffs as well as traditional banjo and the fine taditional sounding vocals of Allen Blighe.

The eleven tracks are divided in two by a short instrumental 'Ríleanna na hIfrinn' with the second side being far superior to the first. The title track and lead single which appears in two parts is a fine representation of the sound of 'The Spook ...'. It has energy, warmth, charm, complex backing vocals, intertwined guitars, banjo and bass but most important of all is that it comes together really nicely to be one of the best songs I've heard this year.



The other stand-out tracks are 'Sweeney's Frenzy' the intense rock sound of 'Black Diaries' and my favourite song off the album being the charming 'Bóthar Crua Larthar' sung in the Gaeilge language which builds up to an exhilarating finish.



The final two tracks 'Shudder in the West' and the folky 'The Rattling Hell' brings the album to a charming close. While this is a highly complimentary review of the album there were a few tracks which don't reach the standard of those discussed above. I also found 'The Spook's ..' formula of high energy intense sounds broken up by periods of gentle arty soundscapes a bit repetitive. Regardless of what I wrote just there it's still a superb album well worth getting!

The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock - The Brutal Here & Now [10 out of 12]

http://thirteenthlock.net/

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Top 3 Irish Songs about Floods!

As torrential rain hits Ireland I'm listening to the best three Irish songs written about Floods!


The Divine Comedy - Here Comes The Flood

This song becomes my earworm whenever 'The Floods' hit Ireland!




The P Affection - The Flood

This was the stand-out track on the debut album from The P Affection.



The Swell Season - The Rain

This song written about the relationship between songwriter Glen and the band was one of the best tracks from 'Strict Joy'.




Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Top 50 - Part 5 [26 - 50]


Here's the top 50 acts in Ireland according to my humble tastes. The list acts as a guide to the music which excites me at this moment in time. It excludes bands not currently working in Ireland or who have been dormant for some time. So in basic terms here's a list of bands to watch out for on a random night in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk etc ....


50. Heritage Centre  http://www.facebook.com/theheritagecentre
49. Seamus Fogarty http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Fogarty-Music/112030042201855
48. The Man Whom http://www.facebook.com/themanwhom
47. SJ McArdle http://www.facebook.com/sjmcardlemusic
46. Allie Bradley http://www.facebook.com/alliebrads
45. Drunken Boat http://www.facebook.com/drunkenboatie
44. Polly Barrett http://www.facebook.com/pages/Polly-Barrett-Music/108088589256392
43. The Manhattan Syndrome http://www.facebook.com/TheManhattanSyndrome
42. Aaron Shanley http://www.facebook.com/aaronshanley
41. Bouts  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bouts/275118665844806
40. Shannon http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shannon/354158321282914
39. Preachers Son http://www.facebook.com/preacherssonofficial
38. Wicker Bones http://www.facebook.com/WickerBones
37. Pearse McGloughlin http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pearse-McGloughlin/153142284726895
36. Eric McGrath http://www.facebook.com/EricMcGrathMusica
35. Ghost Estates http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghost-estates/143095429068791
34. The Henry Girls http://www.thehenrygirls.com
33. Rams Pocket Radio http://soundcloud.com/ramspocketradio/tracks
32. The Dirty 9s http://www.facebook.com/theDirty9s
31. The Crayon Set http://www.facebook.com/thecrayonset

30. Twin Terrace http://www.facebook.com/twinterrace

The debut album from Twin Terrace entitled 'Plural' is one of the best albums of 2012. In the review I wrote "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."



29. The Lost Brothers http://www.facebook.com/thelostbrothers

The Lost Brothers can be described as vocal harmonies and deep lyrics set within an enriching soundscape of acoustic pop. A wonderful band who are touring all over the UK this Summer as well as an appearance at Westport Festival in June.



28. Little Green Cars http://www.facebook.com/littlegreencars

Little Green Cars make the list due to the constant play of this song on Dublin City FM's Live Drive show in the morning. This song is simply superb!



27. Fox E. & The Good Hands http://foxeandthegoodhands.com/

Could Fox E. & The Good Hands be Ireland's most entertaining live bands? Quite possibly! They also have a bunch of great tunes!



26. Valentine Black http://www.facebook.com/valentineblack

Another great Irish album released this year was from Valentine Black. Not only was the album 'Desire Lines' full of excellent songs but the band live are really good.


Part 6 soon!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Album Review: Robb Murphy - Take A Stand

'Take A Stand' is the debut album from Belfast man Robb Murphy who describes his music as 'Pop Electronic and Acoustic' with the album being as mixed as that sounds. 


I've listened to 'Take a Stand' by Robb Murphy about twenty times in the last number of weeks and I still don't have a clue what to think as I'm writing this. However as it's causing a major backlog of albums for me to review on the blog I'm going to go straight into it.

'Take a Stand' is as varied an album as they can come with some excellent tunes while there some potentially good songs ruined by the inclusion of unnecessary noises. The album begins well with the upbeat 'Further Higher' with second song 'On My Side' being one of the excellent tracks on the album. It's a fine indie track with hand claps, catchy lyrics, glockenspiel, strings and great vocals.



The other standout track for me is the acoustic 'Love in Abundance' which finds Robb's vocals over a gentle riff with piano and backing vocals. It's a simple but effective formula for this excellent love song as the lyrics carry the track.



Some songs begin well like 'Noises' but becomes unpleasant by backing track material and clearly electronic drumbeats. 'Questions' belongs completely to the Electronic genre and is a million miles from the good tracks discussed above. 'What Do I Say' has the ability to be a great track if it was left in the acoustic format. To be fair there is an exception on the track 'I'll Follow' which manages to get the balance of acoustic merging into electronic right.



I think the real problem I have with 'Take A Stand' is that there's no clear identity to the album on a whole. If feels as if the talented Robb Murphy has reinterpreted popular sounds and songs and packaged them together rather than going with his gut instincts and keeping with a sound that works. For me the sound that works is the acoustic folk sounds.

Robb Murphy - Take A Stand [7 out of 12]

http://www.robbmurphy.com

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Top 50 - Part 4 [31 - 50]


Here's the top 50 acts in Ireland according to my humble tastes. The list acts as a guide to the music which excites me at this moment in time. It excludes bands not currently working in Ireland or who have been dormant for some time. So in basic terms here's a list of bands to watch out for on a random night in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk etc ....


50. Heritage Centre  http://www.facebook.com/theheritagecentre
49. Seamus Fogarty http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Fogarty-Music/112030042201855
48. The Man Whom http://www.facebook.com/themanwhom
47. SJ McArdle http://www.facebook.com/sjmcardlemusic
46. Allie Bradley http://www.facebook.com/alliebrads
45. Drunken Boat http://www.facebook.com/drunkenboatie
44. Polly Barrett http://www.facebook.com/pages/Polly-Barrett-Music/108088589256392
43. The Manhattan Syndrome http://www.facebook.com/TheManhattanSyndrome
42. Aaron Shanley http://www.facebook.com/aaronshanley
41. Bouts  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bouts/275118665844806
40. Shannon http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shannon/354158321282914
39. Preachers Son http://www.facebook.com/preacherssonofficial
38. Wicker Bones http://www.facebook.com/WickerBones
37. Pearse McGloughlin http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pearse-McGloughlin/153142284726895
36. Eric McGrath http://www.facebook.com/EricMcGrathMusica

35. Ghost Estates http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ghost-estates/143095429068791

Ghost Estates were one of the finds of Vantastival 2011. Their electronic alternative sounds with a confident frontman and fab musicianship make Ghost Estates one of the best bands in Ireland.






34. The Henry Girls http://www.thehenrygirls.com

Sweet harmonies, meaningful songs and chilled out folk music are what The Henry Girls are about.



33. Rams Pocket Radio http://soundcloud.com/ramspocketradio/tracks

Another entry from Lisburn here with Rams Pocket Radio. There's no doubt in my mind that Rams Pocket Radio will be going global real soon with their radio friendly indie pop.



32. The Dirty 9s http://www.facebook.com/theDirty9s

One of the best live bands in Ireland The Dirty 9s confirm their place in this list with a happy little pop tune 'Hey' released earlier this year.



31. The Crayon Set http://www.facebook.com/thecrayonset

The Crayon Set manage to mix sweet pop vocals and an indie edge which reminds me a lot of Belle & Sebastian. I love their sound!



Part 5 soon!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Live Review: Eric McGrath - The Olympia, Dublin April 17th

Dubliner Eric McGrath supported Bic Runga in The Olympia, Dublin last night to a decent sized and attentive crowd. Support slots must be difficult as the crowd are not there for you specifically. Those in attendance certainly enjoyed his set as much as I did and gave the songs an appreciative reception.

It was my first time seeing Eric live with his band, Heiter Martins on Bass and John Ohle on drums. They added a lovely jazzy feel to Eric's folk sound. Eric's songwriting and delivery on stage were top class with current single 'Let's Get Curious' and 'A Lost Romance' the highlights for me.

Eric's set confirmed to me that he is a considerable talent whose debut album out in the Summer will be simply fantastic.




http://www.facebook.com/EricMcGrathMusica

I also really enjoyed Bic Runga's set. She had a very talented backing band including drums, bass, guitar, keys and harp. She has a great voice, superb stage presence and some really thoughtful songs which surprised me somewhat. Among the highlights of her set were the singles 'Something Good', 'Sway' and the Mexican sounding 'This Girl's Prepared For War'.



Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Single Review: The Riptide Movement - Thieves in the Gallery

The Riptide Movement are back with a new album 'Keep on keepin' on' in which the laid back sounds of 'Thieves in the Gallery' was chosen as the first single.




Apparently The Riptide Movement sold 15,000 copies of their debut album and have very quickly brought out it's successor 'Keep on keeping on.' This is some achievement for a band working full time on the Irish market whose sound isn't exactly mainstream. Some of their songs have sounded to me like 'Status Quo' covers and they were the better ones! 'Thieves in the Gallery' shatters that opinion I have of the band and their music. The vocals sound really good on this track while the strings are effective without being full on. It's a really impressive song.

The Riptide Movement - Thieves on the Gallery [10 out of 12]

http://www.facebook.com/TheRiptideMovement

As it's Tuesday, that means Jon Richards Galway Bay fm will be playing 'Thieves in the Gallery' from The Riptide Movement after 1pm on his show! The Riptide Movement release their second album this Friday with gigs in The Academy 2 on Saturday and they'll be playing the Roisin Dubh on May 11!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Top 50 - Part 3 [36 - 50]



Here's the top 50 acts in Ireland according to my humble tastes. The list acts as a guide to the music which excites me at this moment in time. It excludes bands not currently working in Ireland or who have been dormant for some time. So in basic terms here's a list of bands to watch out for on a random night in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk etc ....


50. Heritage Centre  http://www.facebook.com/theheritagecentre

49. Seamus Fogarty http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Fogarty-Music/112030042201855

48. The Man Whom http://www.facebook.com/themanwhom

47. SJ McArdle http://www.facebook.com/sjmcardlemusic

46. Allie Bradley http://www.facebook.com/alliebrads

45. Drunken Boat http://www.facebook.com/drunkenboatie

44. Polly Barrett http://www.facebook.com/pages/Polly-Barrett-Music/108088589256392

43. The Manhattan Syndrome http://www.facebook.com/TheManhattanSyndrome

42. Aaron Shanley http://www.facebook.com/aaronshanley

41. Bouts  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bouts/275118665844806

40. Shannon http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shannon/354158321282914

21 year old Shannon from Co. Meath has a superb voice, wonderful stage presence and a long future ahead of her.



39. Preachers Son http://www.facebook.com/preacherssonofficial

Caberet Rock doesn't come much better than in the form of Preachers Son. Their new album '10 Stories Tall' is an album I'm really looking forward to reviewing!



38. Wicker Bones http://www.facebook.com/WickerBones

Trad/Rock band Wicker Bones makes this list for the lead vocals to this version of Dylan's Masters of War alone. They are a great band of wonderful musicians but this song below is amazing.



37. Pearse McGloughlin http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pearse-McGloughlin/153142284726895

Pearse released a super album in 2009 and followed it up with an EP released last year called Twine. He's since got a band to back him called The Nocturnes and looks to be releasing an album this Summer called 'In Movement'.






36. Eric McGrath http://www.facebook.com/EricMcGrathMusica

One of the finds of the year has been Eric McGrath's folk sounds with those pure vocals. He's releasing his debut album on June 21st while the first single 'Let's Get Curious' has been released and getting well deserved radio play. Eric plays The Olympia tomorrow night [Tuesday] supporting Bic Runga.






Part 4 soon!

Album Review - Mark Geary - Songs About Love, Songs About Leaving

Every Monday in April Mark Geary is your PLAY iRISH artist on Jon Richards Galway Bay fm. Jon will be playing 'Get Here' after 1pm! Mark's new album 'Songs About Love, Songs About Leaving' is due in all good record stores at the end of May and can be downloaded from Bandcamp now.



'Song About Love, Songs About Leaving' is Mark Geary's forth album. Mark has been based in New York for a considerable time but seems to be back in Ireland this Spring to promote the new album and to play a number of gigs. In a time when a basic singer-songwriter album of love and loss is no longer mainstream, this album does take a few listens to get into. However there are some really nice tunes on the album. 

Mark's musical formula of gentle guitar picking with them fine unoffensive vocals transporting thoughtful meaningful lyrics is in abundance here. My big problem is that Mark doesn't stray too far from this formula which results in many of the songs sounding very similar and lacking clear identities. When he does stray from the formula the result is generally effective. The radio friendly 'Get Here' is probably the most mainstream track on the album while the male/female harmonies on 'That's What They ...' with Jenna Nichols on vocals is simply superb. It's one of the best tracks I've heard this year. I also love the lyrics to the love song 'Stardust', while 'Vital Signs' is another top quality track. 


While there's four excellent tracks I struggle to hear real quality in the other tracks that I'm used to in a Mark Geary album. Even Glen Hansard's backing vocals on some tracks fails to enhance the tracks. I've no doubt that if you've seen Mark live or enjoyed one of his previous releases then 'Songs About Love ...' will be enough to keep you happy. For me there needed to be real variety in the songs to distinguish between them in the first instance and to give the tracks a clear identity. 

Listen to the Play Irish track here:


Mark Geary - Songs About Love, Songs About Leaving [8 out of 12]



Sunday, 15 April 2012

Album Review: Kopek - White Collar Lies

Surprisingly enjoyable heavy rock album from Dublin band Kopek. Our next global export? Possibly! 


The story of Kopek has been many years in the making. In 2005 Kopek won the Best Live Act at the Global Battle Of The Bands, garnering them $100,000 and a world tour. It's taken them five years to release 'White Collar Lies' in the US and a further two years to get it out Worldwide. They've toured the world constantly since 2005 and got their music onto shows such as CSI, Jersey Shore as well as on the Saw 3D soundtrack and the new American Pie movie released soon. So with all that are Kopek any good?

Readers of this blog will know I'm all for good lyrics, melodies and a dose of charm in the music I like. Kopek lacks charm and pleasant vocals yet some of the songs on 'White Collar Lies' have really good lyrics and they have an ability to grab my attention. It would be a big misconception to consider Kopek as a good time hard rock band without substance like The Darkness or some other thrash like that. Songs like the excellent title track and 'Bigger Than Us All' show a sense of maturity in the band's songwriting which when combined with their hard rock edge is a winning formula in my book.



I'm not sure Kopek will be successful for their insightful lyrics. Songs like 'Cocaine Chest Pains', 'Fever' and single 'Love is Dead' sum up the sound of Kopek with their grungie vocals, catchy choruses and big guitar riffs.



There are a few weak songs on the album but I was massively surprised by how much I've enjoyed listening to the album. As mentioned above the songs have the ability to draw you in and to hold your attention. The best tracks on the album are 'Love Sick Blues', 'Fever', 'Bigger Than Us All' and in particular the title track 'White Collar Lies'.

Kopek - White Collar Lies [9 out of 12]

Here's the official video for 'Cocaine Chest Pains'



http://www.facebook.com/kopek

Friday, 13 April 2012

Single Review: Cormac O'Caoimh - A New Season For Love

'A New Season For Love' is the title track of the new album from former Citadels front man Cormac O'Caoimh and it's Friday's Galway Bay FM Play Irish track for April



Cormac O'Caoimh on his new album and with this single proves that 'Irish Music' covers the full spectrum of genres. There's a lovely charming jazzy feel to 'A New Season of Love' which is perfect as a soundtrack to a lazy Summer day. The lyrics are fairly straight forward where the feeling of love is so great that there should be a whole new season just for love. It includes nice images of stars, nature, tides and oceans, re-writing the history of time, etc set to a soundtrack of chilled out jazzy guitar and piano. Impressive stuff!


Cormac O'Caoimh - A New Season for Love [9 out of 12]


Thursday, 12 April 2012

Top 50 - Part 2 [41 - 50]


Here's the top 50 acts in Ireland according to my humble tastes. The list acts as a guide to the music which excites me at this moment in time. It excludes bands not currently working in Ireland or who have been dormant for some time. So in basic terms here's a list of bands to watch out for on a random night in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk etc ....


50. Heritage Centre  http://www.facebook.com/theheritagecentre

49. Seamus Fogarty http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Fogarty-Music/112030042201855

48. The Man Whom http://www.facebook.com/themanwhom

47. SJ McArdle http://www.facebook.com/sjmcardlemusic

46. Allie Bradley http://www.facebook.com/alliebrads

45. Drunken Boat http://www.facebook.com/drunkenboatie

Dublin's Drunken Boat are three albums into their career with a forth in the pipeline. I caught the band live by  accident last Summer and I was mesmerized by their sound and musicianship. Drunken Boat make dreamy indie sounds which work.







44. Polly Barrett http://www.facebook.com/pages/Polly-Barrett-Music/108088589256392

Cork's Polly Barrett has a very pure voice and an ability to write really good, in depth meaningful songs like this one taken from her debut album 'Mr Bookshop'.






43. The Manhattan Syndrome http://www.facebook.com/TheManhattanSyndrome

Dublin indie rock band The Manhattan Syndrome perfected the art of writing anthems with their debut EP released last year. I've yet to see this band live but it's high on my to do list for 2012!



42. Aaron Shanley http://www.facebook.com/aaronshanley

If you're anxiously waiting on Damien Rice to appear from behind whatever rock he's under you could do yourself a favour and check out the songs of Aaron Shanley. This Lisburn lad has recently spent some time in Nashville recording new songs which I hope will be released this year.



41. Bouts  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bouts/275118665844806

Bouts have just released a double a-side single which happens to really excite me. Their fuzzy indie songs like 'Turn Away' make Bouts one of the best bands out there at the moment.



Part 3 tomorrow!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Top 50 - Part 1 [46 - 50]

Here's the top 50 acts in Ireland according to my humble tastes. The list acts as a guide to the music which excites me at this moment in time. It excludes bands not currently working in Ireland or who have been dormant for some time. So in basic terms here's a list of bands to watch out for on a random night in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk etc ....


50. Heritage Centre  http://www.facebook.com/theheritagecentre

Alternative pop band Heritage Centre released a new single this year 'Don't You Ever Give Up On Yourself' and it's full of inspirational messages.



49. Seamus Fogarty http://www.facebook.com/pages/Seamus-Fogarty-Music/112030042201855

I caught Seamus live at last year's Spirit of Folk and I got really into his songs. His album 'God Damn You Mountian' has just been released on Fence Records which I'm really looking forward to hearing.



48. The Man Whom http://www.facebook.com/themanwhom

I seen The Man Whom a few years back with the songs being a work in progress. However I've recently given his debut album 'The Greatest Event' a proper listen and there's some really great songs on there. One of them is this free download of 'Sing Till There's No Songs Left'.




47. SJ McArdle http://www.facebook.com/sjmcardlemusic

Drogheda's SJ McArdle is a fine singer and songwriter who released a really impressive album 'Blood & Bones' last year. A highlight for me was this track 'Personal Space'.



46. Allie Bradley http://www.facebook.com/alliebrads

Derry's Allie Bradley has a wonderful voice and an ability to write thoughtful and soulful songs to match anyone out there in Ireland. A wonderful talent.





Part 2 tomorrow!

Single Review: The Kanyu Tree - Congratulations

The good people in the 'Play Irish' initiative have chosen five fine singles for the month of April to be played on Galway Bay FM.



The following songs will be played on that day every week in April by Jon Richards on Galway Bay FM at the new time of 1.10pm.




Mondays -  Mark Geary ‘Get Here’
Tuesdays – The Riptide Movement - ‘Thieves In The Gallery’
Wednesdays – The Kanyu Tree – ‘Congratulations’
Thursdays – The Walls – ‘It Goes Without Saying’
Fridays - Cormac O’Caoimh  ‘A New season for Love’

As the Wednesday artist is The Kanyu Tree here is a little review of their single 'Congratulations'.


'Congratulations' is a ridiculously good track from Galway band The Kanyu Tree. I say ridiculously good because The Kanyu Tree should be hitting the heights of popularity that bands like The Coronas and Ryan Sheridan enjoy in Ireland. 'Congratulations' is a perfect song for radio as it's a charming, catchy, guitar based pop song with fine vocals that doesn't outstay it's welcome. The Kanyu Tree has a global sound much like The Script and I'm a little surprised the band haven't attempted making progress in the UK and US markets!




The Kanyu Tree - Congratulations [10 out of 12]

http://thekanyutree.com/main/

Check out the video here:




The band are half-way through their single tour!


Monday, 9 April 2012

Top 3 Irish Songs for my Boys!

The great thing about writing a blog is that I can go ultra personal from time to time. Forgive me for going sentimental by writing about three Irish songs which mean a huge amount to me. This post is in celebration of my twin boys 10th Birthday which they celebrate on Tuesday 10th of April.




The Aftermath - All I Want is for you to be Happy

At a minimum this song sums up the one want I've only ever had for my children!






Dr. Millar - Feel Everything & Love Yourself

If there's one song which acts as a guide to life then this is it! I had the pleasure of hearing this song live in a field  next to my boys last Summer.






Mark Dignam - Bumble Bee

When the boys were just over a year old Liam got stung by a bee which could have caused a fear of bees if it wasn't for us singing this Mark Dignam song to him! This version was originally on the "Bis: Songs and voices from Ireland" compilation album released in Ireland in 1996.




Friday, 6 April 2012

Singles Battle #6: Sive Vs The Aluskas

Purely for something a bit different, I pit two singles from Irish artists to battle so I can review and then compare and contrast the singles.

Singles Battle # 6: Sive Vs The Aluskas

Sive - Sunkissed

Sive is in full promo mode at the moment with Sinkissed released this week as a single ahead of the band's debut album released on the 19th April called 'We Are Moving'. 'Sunkissed' is a gorgeous song brimming with charm. Sive's music reminds me of a less full on version of Anna Calvi. 'Sunkissed' is a great song due to Sadhbh's vocals and the lyrics which drag you into the love story.

Download 'Sunkissed' here:



The video should be checked out too!



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The Aluskas - Where We Started Out

Dublin band 'The Aluskas' return with a second single 'When We Started Out' which includes a b-side entitled 'Strawberry Jam'. The good time rock sound of The Aluskas work because they keep the sound simple and the vocals including backing vocals are very effective. 'Where We Started Out' is three minutes of fun which deserves to be listened to en masse.

Download 'When We Stared Out' here:




Check out the video too:


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Sive and The Aluskas are both in full on promotional mode aiming to get their music out there to the public. Both artists deserve their place among the playlists of radio stations but as most people in the music business know that is becoming virtually impossible to achieve. There's way more depth to Sive's track but then again The Aluskas are probably not looking for depth. They are writing songs for people to sing, dance and bop their heads to and for the moment they are certainly good at doing that. 'Sunkissed' though is a timely reminder about how good a band Sive is and I can't wait to hear their debut album 'We Are Moving'!

Sive - Sunkissed [11 out of 12]

The Aluskas - When We Started Out [10 out of 12]

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Album Review: Sinéad O'Connor - How About I Be Me ...

... (And You Be You)

The new album from Sinead O'Connor demonstrates what Sinead does best, that is singing wonderfully and also demonstrates her big weakness and that is cringworthy lyrics! 


It's a real shame that Sinead is constantly in the public eye for all the wrong reasons because there's some great songs on her new album 'How About I Be Me ...'. When she gets her thoughts together and writes meaningful personal songs they are generally superb. I do feel there's up to six or seven great songs but ultimately they are let down by weaker filler songs which come across as half-hearted attempts at song completion.

The rasta infused opening '4th & Vine' is vocally superb and a great opening track. 'Back to Where You Belong' works with meaningful lyrics calling on a loved one to return home. A similar theme is in the best track on the album; 'Very Far From Home'. The single 'The Wolf is Getting Married' is full on 80s nostalgia and again lyrically it's very poetic. You sense it means a lot to Sinead with someone special to her represented by the wolf!



'The Queen of Denmark' is one of them songs which is ruined by ridiculous lyrics. The other key track for me that could have been better is the song 'Reason With me' about junkies robbing from someone. And I don't know what to think of 'I Had A Baby'! Major cringe fest but potentially an amazing song!



I've no doubt about two things. Firstly some of these tracks will sound amazing live and secondly I've no doubt that fans of Sinead will be happy with this album. I'm not sure she's done enough to gain new fans or to achieve print inches for her talents instead of her frolics!

Sinéad O'Connor - How About I Be Me (And You be You) [8 out of 12]

http://www.sineadoconnor.com/

Tour Details:

12-Apr Cirque Royale Brussels, Belgium
13-Apr Den Atelier Luxembourg, Luxembourg
15-Apr Le Trianon Hall Paris, France
17-Apr Paradiso Amsterdam, The Netherlands
18-Apr Kulturkirche Cologne, Germany
19-Apr Passionskirche Berlin, Germany
22-Apr Kongresshalle Munich, Germany
23-Apr Volkshaus Zurich, Switzerland
24-Apr Teatro Smeraldo Milan, Italy


May 12 Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theatre
May 13 Chicago, IL @ Park West
May 15 Munhill, PA @ Carnagie Music Hall
May 16 Washington, DC @ Howard Theater
May 19 Wellmont, NJ @ Montclair
may 20 Huntingdon, Long Island, NY @ Paramount Theatre
May 22 New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
May 23 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
May 25 Montreal, QC @ Theatre Maisonneuve
May 26 Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
July 27 Edmonton, AB @ Interstellar Rodeo
July 28 Calgary, CAN @ Calgary Folk Music Festival

Video Review: The Henry Girls - Watching The Detectives

Donegal siblings The Henry Girls have a new official video online for their version of Elvis Costello's 'Watching The Detectives'.



For me the important thing about cover versions is that they have to be either a massive improvement on the original or be remarkably different to the original. The Henry Girls version of the wonderful Elvis Costello track 'Watching The Detectives' is both different and better than the original. The black and white video suits the 'film noir' theme of the song while the choreography and dance suits the theatrical nature of this version of the track. It's a superb video for a great song!

More info: http://www.thehenrygirls.com/wordpress/

Catch The Henry Girls live at Vantastival this May! http://www.vantastival.com/

Check out this live version of 'Watching the Detectives':

Monday, 2 April 2012

EP Review: Junah - On Waves

Dublin folk band 'Junah' are back with a new EP entitled 'On Waves' which is launched in The Grand Social on April 14th! 'On Waves' proves to me that Junah are one of Ireland's best bands!


Junah have been around for ages and ages and are still at the point of releasing singles and EPs. Does this mean they'll never make it as a successful band? It just means that they are perfectionists and want to release music which showcases their collective talents. The result of that strive for perfection is a four track EP entitled 'On Waves'.

Junah are a folk/rock band with it's foundation resting on meaningful lyrics, masterful lyrics and harmonies and exciting instrumentation. It's all here present in abundance in the opening track; 'Feel Safe'.



This is followed by the brilliant 'Burning in the Hallway' which I can't wait to hear live. You can get this track for free from Junah's website: http://www.junah.com/home/



'Sad Song' is a difficult song to be excited about but I do love the guitar riffs and the chorus. The EP finished with the excellent 'Walk Me Into The Ground'. Again vocally it's a wonderful track and lyrically it's right up there too.



There are times when Junah completely suits my mood. The mellow folk rock and superb instrumentation of the songs confirms to me that Junah are a great Irish band!

Junah - On Waves [11 out of 12]

http://www.junah.com/