Listen Now – MINDRIOT, New Release

A couple of months ago I was introduced and reviewed the track ‘Low’ by the Corkonian rock band MINDRIOT.  A fresh Seattle sounding tune which filled me full of nostalgia, it’s well worth a listen and I’m not the only one who thinks so – the EP itself is nominated for ‘Best EP’ in the Pure M Awards 2015. Full details here.

Today sees the Mitchelstown group release another two songs ahead of their upcoming album later this year – ‘Angel Town’ and ‘Billy Ray’. Working alongside their favoured Producer/Engineer Ciaran O Shea at WhiteWell Studios in Cork, the new tracks do not disappoint in quality or immediate catchiness.

MINDRIOT mt
MINDRIOT mt

The forthcoming album name and artwork have yet to be released – as soon as I get my grubby hands on them I’ll let you know. In the meantime feast your ears on the tracks using the links below. If the likes of Therapy? Kerbdog, Alice in Chains etc are your tipple, you are going to enjoy these. I, for one, can’t stop listening.

Spotify

iTunes (available Monday 6th)

MINDRIOT play Fibbers on the 18th July. Go see them. You will not be disappointed. Have a goo at their latest video below too!

Live Review, White-Line Fever + Guests @ The Workman’s

When heading to a live show, you can never tell how it’s going to go, especially when it’s the last day of a back to back 5 day tour across the country. Will the energy and passion still prevail after 5 days and nights of living in each others pockets? Or did a niggle turn in to an insurmountable arguement where everyone is dreading the journey home. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried! Energy levels were through the roof, and everyone was smiling and joking around. Phew!

I was delayed getting to the venue so I unfortunately missed the very talented Míde Houlihan. Her style is acoustic/folk/indie mixed in with a bit of craic. She’s the perfect mix of Lisa Hannigan’s haunting vocals, a wax lyrical Regina Spektor and sock puppets. True story.

Mide Houlihan source debarra.ie
Mide Houlihan,source debarra.ie

I arrived to catch the tail end of Brass Phantoms who are a Dublin based indie band reminiscent of The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. I liked what I heard, and have since listened to their other offerings on their bandcamp page. Check them out.

Brass Phantoms, source Facebook
Brass Phantoms, source Facebook

Up next was Transmission Club, and in all honesty, I was not prepared for the level of sheer sexual energy oozing from their pores. Between vocalist Michael kissing my cheek saying he wants me (!), Keyboard wizard Arthur taking his clothes off, masks for the audience, chats about naked baths, and a gargantuan rock out at the end of their set; the sweat-box that was upstairs in the Workman’s felt an awful lot hotter. I, and others around me, was an instant fan.

wpid-2015-06-30-17.15.13.jpg.jpeg
Transmission Club upstairs in The Workman’s

Up next was the top billed White-Line Fever. The room filled that little bit more as the lads sound checked. Breaking into song, there was an instant stage presence. Making it look like they had been doing this for years, they pulled us all together with lyrics and melodies binding us ear to ear. Onlookers sat on the floor gazing up in a mixture of smiles and awe. It may have been cooler in temperature on the floor, but the coolness was definitely coming from the stage. The hat worn by front-man Ali just made it that little bit cooler too!

White-Line Fever upstairs in the Workman's
White-Line Fever upstairs in the Workman’s

Calling other band members on stage for the final blowout was inevitable – last day of tour, last song (The Wisdonm of Sage, epic tunage!), last chance to go nuts. And go nuts they did. I was reminded of Pearl Jam unplugged at  one point when frontman Ali used his guitar to hit the cymbal. I was already smiling, but I smiled more.

White-Line Fever upstairs in The Workman's
White-Line Fever upstairs in The Workman’s

A thoroughly enjoyable night, filled with very memorable moments both for the bands and audience alike. With more ‘surprises in store’ from the White-Line Fever boys later this year, I’m starting to look forward to the next half of 2015.

White-Line Fever set list was:

Intro, Queyd Pro Qua, Lordship & Bondage, Sirens in the Distance, I See Icy Figures, The Wisdom of Sage.

 

For more pictures from the night, click here. Tag and share if you were there!

JJ

 

You are all Legends, thank you!

Last Saturday night saw the first ever Bootleg Project take place in the loft of Foley’s Merrion Row. Promising to be the first of many, the lineup saw three very talented guests woo an appreciative audience.

Intimate surroundings.....
Intimate surroundings…..

Our first guest was Luke S – A very warm and likeable bloke with a knack of controlling a crowd. He had everybody singing in harmony to his own songs, and at one point stood amongst them, no mic, guitar muted, everyone singing together. It was cool. It was awesome actually. Clearly no amateur, this guys knows his stuff.

Luke S at the first Bootleg Project in Foley's
Luke S at the first Bootleg Project in Foley’s

Our second guest was David McKechnie – Cool as a cucumber and also well endowed in the talent department, David had the audience in the palm of his hands for both his emotive song introductions and the songs themselves. Though not wearing shades as previously promised by yours truly, his cool exterior wasn’t shaken one bit!

David McKechnie at the first Bootleg Project in Foley's
David McKechnie at the first Bootleg Project in Foley’s

Our final guest was the indie/garage rock, post punk powerhouse Loop Culture. The sheer amount of pedals and cables these guys brought made it clear that they are passionate about playing. Playing mostly their own tunes, with a few covers thrown in between, we were all in awe of the talent these young lads were able to muster. I have no doubt in my mind they will be going places. Not jealous I swear.

Loop Culture at the first Bootleg Project in Foley's
Loop Culture at the first Bootleg Project in Foley’s

Personally, I want to thank everyone who made the night possible, who helped out (especially Cecile and Chris), pitched in, came to see the bands play, and the bands themselves. The night went swimmingly, and was more than I could have ever anticipated. Thank you.

The next Bootleg Project is on the 10th July with acts being announced in the coming days. Like, share, review, tag, hashtag, favourite, and whatever other social media you use. Let’s make #2 as special as #1.

See you all there.

JJ

 

White Line Fever Tonight @ The Workman’s

The sheer talent of these guys is jaw dropping.

If you’re looking for me tonight, this is where you’ll find me!

Finishing off their Irish tour in the Workman’s tonight after a string of savage venues which included The Grand Social and Crane Lane, I recommend catching White-Line Fever as they are on the cusp of becoming a pandemic**.

Artwork for White-Line Fever's Anomie EP
Artwork for White-Line Fever’s Anomie EP

If spooky echoes, haunting vocals, heavy riffs,  reverb and a whole lot more are your thing, I’ll see you there tonight. Let’s give them a good send off before they head back to Cork where they have already infected the population there.

Click here for my review of their current Anomie EP.

**Hazmat suits not included**

 

 

Bootleg Project #1 Lineup

Just a couple of days now until we get well and truly stuck in to a night of tunes that will arouse your ear-lobes into total submission.

So who are the acts that are playing? We did a shout out on Facebook yesterday name dropping the legends that will be playing, but let’s get to know them a little better….

  • Currently rubbing after-sun lotion all over his body from playing a scorcher in Body and Soul, Luke S is currently on a mission to do 300 gigs in 2015. Impressive stuff considering he’s just about at the halfway mark. He writes his own music, looks great in a suit and enjoys  long walks on the beach. Smooth.

    Luke S!
    Luke S!
  • David McKechnie is a hard-working ambulance chaser by day, and a shades wearing, guitar hugging hippy by night. The shades never come off. Ever. Also shedding skin from his stint at Body and Soul, David has been known to make girl weep and scream simultaneously at his live shows. Bring the tissues.

    David!
    David!
  • The talented quintet that is Loop Culture don’t do things by half. Radio interviews, music videos, endless gigs, styled hair, fashioned beards and photo shoots are keeping these lads on their feet, but there’s nowhere else they’d rather be. Their musical influences span far and wide – we just hope we have enough room for their awesomeness. We do, don’t worry lads!

    Loop Culture!
    Loop Culture!

So there you have it. All of that awesome talent for just €5, and tunes afterwards.

See you here on the 27th!

Huzzah!

 

ASIWYFA, Olympia Theatre, Live Review

Hard work prevails and the prevailing winds of ASIWYFA blew my mind.

I was excited about this gig. Very excited. For various reasons over the years, I’ve persistently missed these guys live, so I snapped up tickets super quick when I heard they were headlining the Olympia just down the road. Sweet.

Hitting the stage and instantly making my ears bleed with Run Home and Wasps from the new album Heirs, the Northern foursome almost stunned the crowd with pure, raw adrenaline. I say stunned because there was a lot of young fans there who had never seen anything like this before I’m sure. I certainly hadn’t, and I’m a grizzled ancient.

ASIWYFA wowing the crowd
ASIWYFA wowing the crowd Olympia Theatre 2015

And it was loud. I mean really loud. But I expected nothing less, especially when they launched in to the old favourites like Set Guitars to Kill, BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPIONS and 7 Billion People All Alive at Once – which was a great tune for the gaping audience to sing along with, especially when egged on by the energetic Rory Friers.

Highlight of the night was Rory jumping in to the pit, guitar in hand to sit on the floor with everybody who had already sat down in godlike worship. It was a great sight to behold. One I’m sure Rory and the rest of the band won’t forget for a long time.

Rory Friers in the pit, Olympia Theatre 2015
Rory Friers in the pit, Olympia Theatre 2015

This gig meant a lot to ASIWYFA. Humbled Rory said it did, with a very audible lump in his throat in the process. But even if he hadn’t said it, we knew. Hard work prevails and the prevailing winds of ASIWYFA blew my mind.

ASIWYFA Olympia Theatre 2015
ASIWYFA Olympia Theatre 2015

Pound for pound, these guys are heavyweights in a genre they have refined, and even redefined in parts. I’d go to see them again today if I could and so should you.

EP Review – Attack the Day, Shadows

Five Fermanagh guys,  influenced by every aspect of the musical spectrum and crafting it into their own style of post-rock/metal.

This is a very ambitious EP. One that certainly does dip in and out of many different styles and genres – without losing their own homebrew, signature sound.

Attack The Day
Attack The Day

And it’s all the better for it. It keeps your ears attentive and eager for the next track. You have plenty of opportunity to thoroughly ‘get’ what the young Fermanagh lads are up to – with 6 distinctly different tracks to salivate over, it’s longer than your average EP, but rewarding for being so.

The stand out track for me is the title ‘Shadows’. It encompasses everything I liked in music 15 years ago – gritty, thumping bass lines, garage sound, then moshing out at the end. Sweet.

One to watch in the alternative/metal scene. You can listen/buy the EP on bandcamp here.

Attack The Day Facebook play Fibber Magees on the 30th of June. Worth a look, and a mosh.

Attack The Day Shadows EP

ASH, Whelan’s, Live Review

‘Because you’re the best crowd ever, you can have whatever you like!!’

These are the fine words shouted by ASH front man Tim Wheeler half way through their set in Whelan’s on Sunday night. A set that saw itself re-written a few times with the constant shout of requests from the adorning jam-packed crowd.

ASH Whelan's 2015
ASH Whelan’s 2015

ASH were exceptional on the night. Not only are they now older and wiser, but they have honed in on what they already know how to do  well – please a crowd with surging, fast-paced, stomping floor fillers (despite being a man down). And the hits just kept on coming too – Cocoon, Go! Fight! Win!, Burn Baby Burn, A Life Less Ordinary, Shining Light, Angel Interceptor (which was relentlessly requested by the crowd until ASH coughed up along with Walking Barefoot and others!). You name a hit, it was played in amongst the new ‘Kablammo!’ tracks.

ASH Whelan's 2015
ASH Whelan’s 2015

And that was just it – ASH wowed the crowd. They knew they were on to a winner when the crowd started moshing from the start. And, up until Sunday night, I had never witnessed crowd surfing in Whelan’s before! Sad but true, and a great sight to see.

ASH Whelan's 2015
ASH Whelan’s 2015

Walking out for the encore, Tim was stopped in his tracks by yet another fan – this time requesting ‘4 more tunes’ instead of the usual ‘one more tune’. Smiling, Tim obliged, but then had to concede with only three more in the end due to the Sunday curfew. This didn’t matter at all – finishing with Burn Baby Burn was mighty and boiled the crowd in to a happy moshing frenzy. Kudos to the sound and lighting in Whelan’s too – it was perfect.

It was a sight to behold indeed. Glad I was thereto witness a triumphant return.

ASH Whelan's 2015
ASH Whelan’s 2015

The Bootleg Project

Welcome to The Bootleg Project. A new place to showcase the wealth of musical talent in Ireland.

We’ve been busy working on this for a while, and now we are so glad to get it out there.

The plan is a weekly singer/songwriter night in Dublin city. The vibe is cool and cosy and the set up is basic. Bands play for free on the night. Demand on each night will dictate how long each band will play.

Kicking off on the 27th of this month in Foley’s Merrion Row, doors open at 8pm, first act starts 9pm. The price to the public is €5 on the door – which is really cheap for a night of good music with friends. There’ll be drinks promotions on the night too. Nice.

The Bootleg Project - Yuss!
The Bootleg Project – Yuss!

The second showcase event will be in an entirely different location and will happen monthly. This will be something very special indeed – intimate, very limited tickets, BYOB, and unique. One act will play in ‘an evening with’ style event where dialogue is encouraged between the audience. Something a little different. Details of this venue will be revealed soon.

Did we mention that the band gets paid for the monthly event? No? Well they do! – We share the money based on the ticket sales, after the venue cost has been deducted. Got merch to sell? Bring it, sell it, we take no cut! Sweet deal.

Details of all bands, dates and venues will be available on all our social media and this site. We’re trying to do things a little bit differently, where we support artists, and artists support each other. Fingers crossed we all get along!

We are taking applications from bands and singers – hit here now for the application form!

See you all there on the 27th! It’ll be  a great night in a fantastic venue.

Spotlight – Ríona Sally Hartman

I have an insatiable appetite for all things unconventional and all who embrace the ethos. Unconventional musings however, can quickly become commonplace. Just look at the current trend of beards and comb-overs sweeping across Ireland. One must find a way to remain unorthodox, uncommon and rare. That’s what stands out.

Que the ever-changing, whimsical and free-spirited Ríona Sally Hartman who has been delighting audiences for years under many different guises – The Ríona Sally Hartman Band, Monster Monster, Dig a Little Deeper, Sami Moukaddem, Live Jazz Duo, and Yo Teach! (more info on these here). And she’s fluent in Irish too!

It’s hard to place Sally in one specific genre – something she is agreeable with. Dependent on the project you’re listening to, there are elements of Regina Spektor in her voice, Florence and the Machine, Fiona Apple and Bat for Lashes. The one aspect that prevails however, is that lyrically, she remains unconventional throughout – reminding me somewhat of Joanna Newsom.

With song titles such as Frida Kahlo’s Delight and the Sealegs EP (which itself holds many delights), Ríona Sally Hartman showcases both her ability to weave an original story in to a song, and create the musical splendor that surrounds it. And there are many stories to be told indeed – check her Youtube channel here for more.

Ríona Sally Hartman -  Big Starving Thing
Ríona Sally Hartman – Big Starving Thing

Speaking of insatiable appetites – Her recent fund it campaign sees the release of Big Starving Thing under her own namesake May 18th, available for pre-order here. I can’t wait to tuck in.

Band Spotlight – MKAI

What’s in the water in Cork lately eh? There are so many great bands dawning my horizon lately – too many to even mention here. The bulk of the bands come from Dublin, but in recent weeks, Corkonians are gracing my ears more and more.

MKAI, the brethren duo (quartet when playing live), are the most recent Cork band to make me raise and eyebrow with their mix of Sigur Rós, Radiohead, early Coldplay (Parachutes), Muse, Editors and even the 80’s sensation Talk Talk, to name but a few. A mixed bag of talent there, but MKAI have managed to blend the mix in to a very edible cookie dough chock full of tasty tunes.

There’s no denying the power of their sound either as they gained significant publicity in November 2014 by knocking Taylor Swift’s 1989 from its comfy number three spot on the iTunes chart. No mean feat.

The EP that did the damage, with help from Rob Kirwan, was Waiting.

Moving down the genre of alternative, electro-rock, their latest single Loop sets darker tones in both melody and lyrics – it’s a clever name too as you will find yourself playing it on loop.

Having already played Hard Working Class Heroes, headlined Guinness Amplify live stages Cork, The Grand Social and Electric Picnic, things are moving fast for these guys. You can catch them at Indiependence later this year.

Impressive stuff, and one band I will certainly be watching in 2015.

 

 

 

 

Listen – Yes for Equality, The Perfect Song

‘Love might be a privilege, but marriage is a right’.

Like everyone I know, I will be voting a massive YES on May 22nd in the Marriage Referendum.

While watching Garfunkel and Oates last night, a series about two female comedians using music as a medium, episode two introduced me to a song that is perfect for the upcoming Referendum.

Garfunkel and Oates
Garfunkel and Oates

Called Rainbow Connection, it’s a great tune about same-sex marriage and love. Ireland should see fit that this song is the anthem for the 22nd.

Listen below and share. We should all know the lyrics.

Yuss! More acts announced for Electric Picnic 2015!

Nothing better than this kind of announcement to kick away the blues after a bank holiday weekend.

unnamed
Electric Picnic Line Up 2015

 

Feast your eyes and pack your tents.

Only 121 days to go!

Album Review – Le Galaxie, Le Club

I really like Le Galaxie. They have persistently been a dance remedy staple for me as long as I can remember. When all else fails at a party, pull out the Dayglo and facepaint and mash up the airwaves.

After a week and a half listening to their second album, Le Club, I can officially say it’s a bromance. It’s out there. I said it. What?!

The Dreamboats that are Le Galaxie!
The Dreamboats that are Le Galaxie!

I had an inkling I would like the new album – My various car journeys have been filled with the boom of the tunes Humanise, Lucy is Here and Love System for a number of months now. I’ve played them loud, and trust me, I really don’t drive the type of car that warrants attention.

Le Club is a diverse album with a loud 80’s and early 90’s tramp stamp across its sweaty lower back. If you’re an 80’s baby like me, you’ll instantly be reminded of Beverly Hills Cop, Running Man, Outrun, Terminator, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Knight Rider, Airwolf, Tron, Back to the Future……. and any other early childhood memories you can think of. It’s a mixed bag mash up of dirty electronic bass in pink leotards – this allows it to be played throughout from start to finish at a party without boredom or skipping tracks. Sweet.

About to dominate the dance/club scene worldwide, particularly since announcing signing to Universal Music Ireland in January, 2015 is going to be loud for Le Galaxie and their fans alike. I don’t think my car speakers can handle it!

 

EP Review – Hooligan, Criminal Damage

Not content with having a catchy name, an authentic punk sound, and a little controversy (queue ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ EP in 2012; a throwback to the anti-Irish sentiment of the 1960’s), Hooligan are quickly setting the standard for Irish punk bands country-wide and abroad.

Hooligan In Odessa Courtesy of Hot Press
Hooligan In Odessa Courtesy of Hot Press

Their 4th EP, Criminal Damage, recorded in Trinity Heights Studio in Newcastle, sees their second release on Oi! The Boat Records and it effortlessly captures the era of 1970’s punk with its four ear melting tracks.

Oi! The Boat Records
Oi! The Boat Records

Simple but familiar head banging riffs, clever angst ridden anti-establishment lyrics, and stadium rock guitar solos are the hallmarks of all post punk pundits and Hooligan do not disappoint here.

For me though, they stand that little bit taller than the rest by grabbing elements of glam rock, hard rock and even grunge by the short and curly’s and stringing their guitar and bass with them – especially live.

Listen here now!

 

Album Review – Fiach Moriarty, The Revolution

Using his full name this time around for his sophomore album, The Revolution, Fiach Moriarty bravely takes on the current state of world disparity and unrest as the central theme.

Fiach The Revolution
Fiach Moriarty, The Revolution

I applaud any musician (or anyone) that has the balls to speak out about past and present events that could potentially cause friction or blast opinion from listeners. With titles such as Revolution (the current single) and Freedom and Resistance, emotion and opinion will most definitely stir listeners indeed, and the album is the better for it.

Sound wise, the production level is through the roof when comparing to his debut So I. His debut was great mind you, but now with a steady fan-base and a firm standing in the Irish music scene, you can hear he has put his all in to this record.

There’s no doubt that Fiach can pen a great tune too. This was evident with previous hits Every Single Day and You Dear lauded by the likes of Hot Press, Paul Brady and Eddi Reader, but I did not expect such passion, complexity or anger in this album I’ll admit. With songs like Confession, Freedom and Resistance and The Mother, I was drawn in by Fiachs passion for the Ireland we live in today, and the history that shaped it.

You’ll be reminded of The Cranberries, Paul Brady, Damien Dempsey, Sting, The Wallflowers and even the Doors.

Varied and eclectic, but utterly rewarding.

Album Review – And So I Watch You From Afar, Heirs

Mexican trumpets, haunting vocals, clashing cymbals, heavy bass lines, isolated, echoes, organs……. it would seem that locking yourself in a linen mill in West Belfast for 6 months is a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

Isolation is a scary place no doubt, but inspiration, creativity and courage can come from it. It can work for some bands when recording an album, and not for others. It depends on the group chemistry I suppose. But it can also depend on the ability to embrace oneself as a group – to look at what you know; what you can do, what is easy, and say fuck it, let’s try something a little different.

ASIWYFA has done just this. This album feels so ‘them’ but, erupting from their 6 month stint in the linen mill, they have created an album that has been summoned from the collective psyche of the group as a whole – from what they know, what works, and what they haven’t tried before.

The beast that is ASIWYFA
The beast that is ASIWYFA

Listening through the tracks, influences abound, but nothing you can pin to any one particular genre (unlike previous albums). These influences give rise to a fun, inspiring and eclectic album – from Snarky Puppy, The XX, to Steve Vai, and Passion Pit. Something I never thought I would write.

Run Home, the album opener,  is a stomper, and will sound great live. Wasps holds a persistent low drone bass line throughout while kicking out ethereal echoing harmonies.

Redesigned a Million Times has a surprising Brit rock/Arctic Monkeys intro which makes way for Passion Pit style electronica and vocals. I can see this being released as a single, and hope it make the radio waves this summer. It would be a nice one to rock out to in the car!

Track five  People not Sleeping  screams of Snarky Puppy in the guitar riffs, while the guitar takes a back seat to a thumping bass line and thunderous clanging drums in A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor. Animal Ghosts is a personal favourite which has a great live anthem feel to it – it begins as if the lads only pressed record in the middle of the guitar solo only to be usurped by a Mexican trumpet sliding in from the left in the most unexpectedly fitting way I have event heard. Nice.

Heirs, the title and longest track is reminiscent of Steve Vai’s  1990 album Passion and Warfare . It has a timid and timely build up to heavy euphoric release, changing pace midway, only to absolutely kill it for the last minute and a half.

The final track Tryer, You is a nice emotive finale to the album. It sounds almost like a ‘thank you for listening to the album and being a fan’ tune. It reminds me of the brilliant self titled album by The XX, but with more tempo.

I don’t usually analyse tracks so closely on an album review. I like to let people make their own inspirational objective thoughts on what they are hearing, not just what I hear. The Belfast quartet have produced an album here that has been inspired by their life and all the music and sounds they have heard to date. I suppose that’s what I have done here too by listening to this album in isolation for the last few days.

This album is as inspiring as it is original. Its ‘central theme is about the inheritance of ideas’. I  hope in turn, it inspires others to be passionate and original too.

Heirs drops May 4th on Sargent House. Catch them live at the Olympia June 19th.

Festival Season 2015 – Get Prepared!

Excited? Well you should be! With the season being royally kicked off by Vantastival this bank holiday weekend, and  a stellar lineup to boot, get prepared before you head off!

In 2010 I was bulk buying essentials in preparation for Oxegen. I had a short list but kept on getting sidetracked by other things I thought I would need. In the baby wipe section (essential!!!!) I found a folded piece of paper. When I opened it my heart skipped a beat! Someone, a girl, had left behind a very detailed and list for her trip to Oxegen.

I looked at hers (back to back, and handwritten no less), looked at mine, then decided to mostly go with hers! For the most part anyway.

And it was a wet one – glad I was prepared!

JJ Bird at Oxegen 2010
JJ Bird at Oxegen 2010

So check the list below, print it out and get prepared for the ample amount of up coming music festivals. You can’t go wrong with it really, especially if you are a girl, or a guy who likes to wear girls clothes to a festival.

Share this to make sure everyone is prepared for music festivals and they don’t forget anything – particularly the ‘obvious’ section.

Enjoy.

Festival Necessities. All you need to know!
Festival Necessities. All you need to know!

 

Festival Alcohol and clothes. Wow.
Festival Alcohol and clothes. Wow.

Album Review, HamsandwicH, Stories from the Surface

Stories from the Surface has hit number 1 in the Irish charts (Friday 24th April 2015), and for good reason. It is most definitely their best work to date.

Stories from the Surface album cover
Stories from the Surface album cover

Their third studio album shows a wonderful leap forward lyrically, melodically, and creatively, and is a fitting follow on from 2010’s album White Fox which placed the indie band firmly in the spotlight. I can’t believe it has been 5 years since White Fox, an album which is still on occasional repeat in my house.

Having baked a cake with the right ingredients with songs like Ants and Models in 2010, HamsandwicH have continued this trend particularly with the first 6 songs on the new LP using a fantastic mixture of Willy Wonka-esque magic to keep listeners ears wanting more.  A great feat from an indie/alternative band and rewarding for new and old fans alike.

Load vocalist Niamh thankfully hasn’t changed her already uniquely soothing voice and the frequent, almost nonchalant, baritone harmonies from guitarist Podge seem second nature and effortless. It’s a great mix which worked perfectly on the last outing and I’m glad it hasn’t changed here. Damn you and your winning ingredients HamsandwicH!

2015 is already a landmark year for HamsandwicH – it’s hard to believe that we are only three studio albums in to their career. It feels like their summer sound has been around longer than their discography lends itself.

We have only begun to scratch the surface of a band with an already impressive career going from strength to strength and I haven’t even mentioned how crazy they are live! Vantastival 2012 anyone??

Podge from HansandwicH @ Vantastival 2012 - Courtesy of MauRamsPhoto
Podge from HamsandwicH @ Vantastival 2012 – Courtesy of MauRamsPhoto

 

Kudos HamsandwicH, kudos. Happy number 1!

Album Review – Villagers, Darling Arithmetic

I’m finding this album review really hard to write. This is the 7th draft. I generally listen to the album I am reviewing when writing about it and I can’t help but be brought to a different place when listening to Darling Arithmetic. In its stripped down and unambiguous offering, it is about love, love lost and learning to face your fears – I get totally swept away in thought from the moment I press play – it’s such a wonderful feeling.

Listening through the album, it tells a story from the beginning with ‘Courage’ which screams that Conor has been through a lot, but does it in a gallant, brave and honest way.  ‘Dawning on Me’ calmly weaves lyrics of infatuation in an amazingly poetic form. Conor then politely lets the listener know of his sexuality in ‘Hot Scary Summer’ and the relationship challenges he faced.

This album is not a coming out album. It’s an album that shows that love is universal. That breakups, lust, loathing, memories, and emotions are the same for both homosexuality and heterosexuality. This is so evident in songs three and four ‘Dawning on Me’ and ‘Hot Scary Summer’. Anybody who has loved, been loved or lost somebody can relate to these songs regardless.

Admirable this album is. I have always been a fan since the angry, yet haunting ‘Becoming a Jackal’ – this album saved me from severe injury (literally), to the loud statement that was ‘Awayland’, and the now frank, honest and mesmerising ‘Darling Arithmetic’.

This album is a triumph and will remain in my conscience for many moons to come.

 

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