Wednesday, 28 November 2012

In Focus: Musicians With Cameras

There's plenty of people recording music videos for YouTube and Vimeo etc. but the guys behind 'Musicians With Cameras' have got a good thing going with their YouTube channel:  http://www.youtube.com/Musicianswithcameras

Musicians With Cameras are Luke Byrne and Stephen Allen who for the moment anyway have taken a break from music to focus on creating quality videos for bands. Locations include fields, antique shops, coffee shops with this example alleyways in Dublin.

Sive - If I Had A Home To Go To



Sive's video is wonderful as is this from new band Nuisance filmed in a tiny shed!


Nuisance - Time Has Come



It looks like the plan is to do a mixture of acoustic session videos as well as full band live recordings such as this track from The Gandhis recorded in The Stag's Head.

The Gandhis - Change is Gonna Come



To get in touch with Musicians With Cameras send Luke and Steven an email to landsfilm[at]gmail[dot]com

Alt Xmas Tune #3: Emmett Tinley - Marvelous Day

Part three of a series of 12 Tunes with an alternative Christmas message finds me sharing a beautiful love song from former singer with The Prayer Boat; Emmett Tinley. Marvelous Day is such a great song showcasing them wonderful vocals from the Danish based songwriter.




http://www.emmett-tinley.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/emmett-tinley/id503019501

Monday, 26 November 2012

Album Review: David Hope - Scarecrow

'Scarecrow' is the second studio album from singer-songwriter David Hope. It's full of warmth, charm and sentimentality which is the complete opposite to the album title. 



Released in Switzerland now and in Ireland in early 2013, Scarecrow found it's way to me and I can't stop listening to it. When an album infiltrates your mind hours after listening to it I'd say that's the right time to review it. The Co. Clare native has released an album of quality roots and folk inspired acoustic music which inspires and soothes in equal measure.

The album contains some re-workings of tracks found on earlier releases such as the wonderfully charming 'Daybreak Someplace' and the roots sounding 'Cloak and Daggers'. Declan Sinnott produced and engineerd a number of tracks including the opener 'Hell or High Water' which can be heard at the end of the review.

For me the best tracks include the catchy 'Fall and Rise', the gritty 'See The Ghost' which showcases David considerable guitar skills and the album closer 'Someone Else's Mind' which finishes the album in fine style.


'Scarecrow' ebbs and flows it's way through the eleven tracks. When the title track brings us down a darker edgy path it's balanced off superbly by the warmth of 'Daybreak Someplace' and before you know it the 38 minutes fly by. The lyrics draw you in with each track telling a murky dark tale like 'Chasing Time' or they'll tell and uplifting tale of love or romance such as 'Hell or High Water'. Either way the lyrics are compelling and have the ability to linger around your mind for a while.

'Scarecrow' is a pretty faultless album of great tunes which will most probably make my best of 2013 list next December!

David Hope - Scarecrow [11 out of 12]

Buy The Album: https://itunes.apple.com/ch/album/scarecrow/id574320209


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Alt Xmas Tunes #2: The Frames - People Get Ready

This jewel of a tune from The Frames has probably passed people by as it appeared on the fifth album from the boys entitled The Cost in 2007 which failed to reach the masses. Nestled in that album is this epic tune about making the most of life. It's highly motivational and a fine alternative message for Christmas.






People all get ready

'Cos we're tearing down the stand
Rebuild what's gone unsteady
And see it through with newer hands
And what has gone between us
Is a lot, is a lot
And who'll be there to clean us
If you're not, if you're not

People all get ready
'Cos we're breaking down again
Rebuild what's gone unsteady
And see it through with wiser hands
And what has gone between us
Is a lot, is a lot
And who'll be there to ignore us
When you're not, when you're not

We have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
We have all the time in the world
To set alight, to set alight

People all get ready
'Cos we're breaking down the band
Rewrite what's gone already
And see it through with wiser hands
And what has gone between us
Is a lot, is a lot
And who'll be there to ignore us
When you're not, when you're not

And we have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
And we have all the love in the world
To set alight, to set alight
Just look up, just look up

We have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
And we have all the love in the world
To set alight, to set alight
Just look up, just look up

We have all the time in the world
To get it right, to get it right
And we have all the love in the world
To set alight, to set alight

People all get ready
'Cause we're coming to a stop


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Alt Xmas Tunes #1 - Declan DeBarra

So with Christmas around the corner and the resulting influx of Slade, Mud and Boney M hitting the radio airwaves I thought I'd post a number of Alternative tracks which provides the types of messages that should conjure up the Christmas Spirit in you all.

#1 - Declan DeBarra - Throw Your Arms Around Me

This song of friendship no matter what happens is inspirational to me. I adore this tune for it's rich deep lyrics and for Declan's perfect vocals.





Throw Your Arms Around Me


Your scars cast shadows when you're dreaming,
and time just wont heal your wounds,
That hole inside you keeps on weeping,
and you're feeling all alone, then...

Throw your arms around me,
I'll be right here if you fall,
I'll be right here if you need me,
I'll be right here when you call me my friend,
if you need me, my friend...

When there's no light in the evenings,
and there's no hope inside of your heart,
When all the things you ever dreamed of
start to bleed and fall apart, then....

Throw your arms around me,
I'll be right here if you fall,
I'll be right here if you need me,
I'll be right here when you call me my friend,
if you need me, my friend...

When you feel you're slowly drowning
under all these world's black days,
and you feel you're slipping under...
from the weight of all your pain, then...

Throw your arms around me,
I'll be right here if you fall,
I'll be right here if you need me,
I'll be right here when you call
Throw your arms around me,
I'll be right here if you fall,
in my arms i'll carry you from here,
me friend, i won't leave you down...

no me friend,
me friend i won't leave you down
no me friend,
me friend i won't leave you down
no me friend,
me friend i won't leave you down
no me friend,
me friend i won't leave you down...


Buy the album here: http://declandebarra.bandcamp.com/ 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Album Review: Damien Dempsey - Almighty Love

Damo D is back with a decent personal album of tunes which will satisfy his fans and enable him to tour the country off the back of a few radio hits. 


I've listened to 'Almighty Love' a good dozen times at this stage and it gets better on every listen. At first I was skipping the cliché tracks about the downtrodden in society, moneymen and the protest tracks before finding the glimpses of true excellence typical of Damien Dempsey. Sadly there's only glimpses of brilliance in 'Almighty Love'. There are some very powerful personal messages of hope hidden among the tracks such as the last two lines of the track 'Chris and Stevie' where Damo sings "Talk to me and tell me how you feel, Lean on me I'm here my love is real" or at the end of 'Bustin Outta Here' where 'I Wanna Feel The lovely Sunris in me, I'm Free Today'. . 


I feel a sort of sympathy for Damien Dempsey. For years his popularity rose due to those powerful tracks written from the perspective of working class Dublin. His relevance was to provide a real alternative voice writing about real issues in Ireland. However with four difficult economic years in Ireland is Damien's message or alternative voice relevant? 

On 'Almighty Love' there's enough good songs on there to please fans with standout tracks including the title track, 'Canadian Geese' and the official album closer 'You're The Cure' which includes the line 'Almighty Love' to bring the album to a satisfying close. 


I sensed that the 'Fighting's side of Damien Dempsey was forced onto the album. The big error was slipping an updated version of an old track 'Maasai' on the album as the 'hidden' track. There's far too much 'Yup Ya' type stuff for my liking and simple rhyming of words like 'Well, Hell, Bell and Parallel'. Some of the backing vocals are shockingly bad as well as some instrumentation. Attempts at creating emotional sections of some tracks failed big time. There's a lot of negatives on this album.

However on recent listens on decent speakers I've really enjoyed listening to the album on a whole. I can tune into the good tracks and pick out the key lyrics and messages while ignoring the ordinary aspects of the album. I think Damien Dempsey fans will be happy but I can't see how a new generation of 'Celtic Tiger' pups will warm to 'Almighty Love'. 
Damien Dempsey - Almighty Love [9 out of 12]

Monday, 5 November 2012

Album Review: Kaplin - Devastating Ways

Devastating Ways is the debut album from Dublin/Donegal band Kaplin and it's pretty decent. It contains three excellent tunes, lots of really nice violin and a mix of intriguing Mexican/Irish rock sounds.


I love reviewing albums that need a number of listens before I can attempt to come to some logical conclusion and 'Devastating Ways' is one of them. It's a varied album of beautifully written violin inspired ballads, Calexico sounding tracks and good old fashioned Irish 80s rock and roll. Of the eleven tracks there are a number of songs I have to skip on but it's not long until I get to a real nugget of a tune such as 'Easy Lover' and the title track.



The opening track is a fun piece of dark writing which acts as a theme to the album. 'Falling Down Your Stairs' provides inspiration for the album artwork and it's a decent track but there are better songs on the album.



One of the songs of the year is the gorgeous album closer 'The Road Rarely Runs out of Signs' which is an Americana track at it's very best.



The big let down for me are the few tracks which sound like bad covers of songs from The Stunning or Something Happens. It could be a production issue on the tracks like 'Rumble of Rosary' or 'Stolen Angels' but they don't work for me and when I take those tracks out of the album it's suddenly a great album. As it is ....

Kaplin - Devastating Ways [8 out of 12]

http://www.facebook.com/Kaplinmusic

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Live Review: The Chapters - Unitarian Church, Dublin

Last Friday, The Chapters performed their first headline Dublin gig in a long time with a really nice performance of new material in the Unitarian Church on St. Stephens Green, Dublin.

The setting was perfect for a band looking to build a profile after a change of line-up and a new musical direction. The Unitarian Church provided a nice warm listening atmosphere for an audience hearing a full album of new songs for the first time. The new direction finds The Chapters slowing the tempo right down with a country folk feel and embedding varied instruments such as slide guitar, accordion, strings and saxophone into their set-up. The result hinges on lead singer Ross's ability to write meaningful tunes that allows his unique vocals to communicate the lyrics effectively. Sadly the open setting and resulting echoing sound of the Unitarian Church made the lyrics and vocals very difficult to decipher on the night. This was the one major problem with the gig.

The new songs which will be on the album 'Blood Feels Warm' were really good and performed to an exceptionally high standard by the various different members of the new look 'The Chapters'. Some songs were short and to the point while others varied in tempo and rhythm. There were at least three excellent tunes which I'm really looking forward to hearing on the album when it's released early next year. One of them tracks is this one 'Arcade of the Scribes'.




It takes some courage for a band to continue with the same name heading into a totally new musical direction. This second album will be hugely different to the electric pop of the debut 'Perfect Strangers' and it'll be interesting to see how the band get on.

http://breakingtunes.com/thechapters
http://www.facebook.com/thechapters

Thursday, 1 November 2012

In Focus: Boyles of Slane

Among all the publicity this week for the announcement of Bon Jovi at Slane 2013, there was a little gem of a pub called Boyles in the centre of the village which finally made it's way into the spotlight when Jon Bon Jovi himself sampled a pint of Guinness in the pub. In a successful week for Boyles I thought I'd finally write an 'In Focus' post that I've been meaning to do for a while.



http://boylesofslane.com/

I've worked with Boyles for the last three and a bit years bringing the best of new Irish talent to Slane to play songs to people who know and love their music. Boyles could be described as a village pub by day and a music venue by night. Like most most Irish villages there's a choice of pubs but Boyles has identified itself as a music pub where the locals trust the owner to book good bands and in return the locals return again and again. The simple formula in Boyles is to book the cover bands on weekends, have original music on Thursdays and some Sundays and only ask for cover charge once a month for established artists. The 'Wall of Fame' in Boyles is jammed full of familiar faces such as Andy Irvine, John Spillane, Mary Coughlan, The Walls, Ryan Sheridan and Gemma Hayes who was amazing in April 2010.



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Originally I ran my own sessions night called 'The 2UIBestow Sessions' which morphed into the simpler titled 'Live at Boyles' which followed the formula of The Ruby Sessions. We had four acts playing five tunes to an appreciative audience with all the networking and promotional opportunities that came with it.

Top 5 Irish Artists to play 'Live at Boyles/2UIBestow Sessions'

1. Kiernan McMullan

Kiernan played the sessions gig three times and he was phenomenal each time. He's a superb guitarist who can write really meaningful tunes based on his interesting life of touring the US non stop in a van which constantly breaks down.



2. Michael Brunnock

Michael played the sessions in November last year and it was a wonderful performance accompanied by Chris Foyle on electric guitar.



3. Bill Coleman

Bill played the second sessions gig in July of 2009 and the highlight was Offer Up the Hope with the chorus sung by the Boyles faithfull.



Elder headlined in November three years ago and he was awesome. His voice was superb and the music was a perfect match for Boyles. 



Playing with his henchmen in Feb 2011, David Hope played to one of our smallest audience numbers but his performance was superb and the deliver of tracks such as Daybreak Somewhere was top quality.



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In Boyles I've been fortunate enough to see some superb international acts brought to the venue as part of a nationwide tour or as part of my session nights or The Purple Sessions. 

Top 5 International artists:

1. Baum

Performing on the same night as David Hope, Swiss artist Baum blew me away with such a great performance. His album from last year 'Music for my Landlord' is still on regular rotation in my house for songs like this. 



In the Summer of 2011, Canadian artist Joel Plaskett toured Ireland on an acoustic tour supported on stage by his father. He played to a few dozen people in Boyles and he was awesome. 



Jukebox Gypsy have played Boyles a number of times and they put on such a great gig. Love this band.



Drew is a Canadian pianist and songwriter who is destined for greatness. In the Summer of 2011 he was superb in Boyles. Here's an official video for his single 'Keep a Light'.



New Zealander Mara performed at The Purple Sessions in August and she was effortlessly superb. On a par with performances I seen by Gemma Hayes or Lisa Hannigan. 


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This year I've been booking acts for The Purple Sessions. Since June 2011, Boyles has been the home for The Purple Sessions and it's benefited big time from the move. The YouTube hits number close to 150,000 views and the performances have improved big time. 

Top 5 Acts at The Purple Sessions in 2012

1. Ana Gog - March 2012

Ana Gog blew me away with such a great set of quality contemporary rock/pop tracks which inspire and delight.


2. Marc O'Reilly - Feb 2012

Marc received a series of gasps and wows from the audience for this wonderful performance in February.  


3. Allie Bradley - March 2012

Allie proved that she is a singer-songwriter of the highest quality in March with a superb little set of great tunes like this one. 


4. Jezzebelle - June 2012

Jezzebelle are a band who inspire, entertain and delight whenever they get on stage. Jezzebelle and Boyles are a perfect combination. 


5. Red Sail - July 2012

Red Sail headlined in June and it one of the most enjoyable sets I've heard from a band in Boyles. 



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Bon Jovi play Slane on Saturday 15th June 2013 as part of the ‘Because We Can’ tour. Tickets for the show are priced at €79.50 inclusive of booking fee and the tickets go on sale Thursday 8th November 2012 at 8am. While the headline act is frankly a disappointment for me personally, there should be a great supporting cast of bands which will boost ticket sales. Also regardless of everything else Bon Jovi is a safe act to book for middle class Ireland to enjoy on a sunny June afternoon next year.

Here's a video of Jon Bon Jovi at Boyles: