Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sacred Animals: Chosen Seed Remix

Remix of Sacred Animals track "Chosen Seed" by Keep Shelly in Athens taken from the forthcoming Welcome Home Remixes EP out March 11. This is top notch stuff one of the best remixes you're gonna hear for a very long time. Catch Sacred Animals on RTE's Other Voices tonight and at the Workman's Club March 4th. Based on the quality of this electronica whirlwind this EP would appear to be a must purchase item. 
  Sacred Animals 'Chosen Seed' (Keep Shelly in Athens remix) by The Delphi Label

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with James Nee of We Are Trees

We caught up with We Are Trees ringmaster James Nee for a chat about what an amazing year 2010 was for the band and what we can expect from them in 2011 including the release of their much anticipated second EP Girlfriend.

AIMR: Who are We Are Trees and how did they come about? 

JN: We Are Trees is just my solo project I started when I was a kid because no one wanted to be in a band with me. It started like any other teenage singer-songwriter acoustic project did. I just listened to a lot of Bright Eyes and I thought I had the whole thing figured out.

AIMR: However other musicians are an integral part of the We Are Trees sound?

JN: Over time I've accumulated a fair amount of music friends, and eventually We Are Trees became some-what of a "collective crowd" (pun intended). For my first CD release party, I think I had nine people in the band? It was the worst idea ever. I had no clue what I was doing, but it was fun. haha. So when it came down to recording "Boyfriend", I had a pretty good idea who I wanted to help me. Thanks Josiah, Rocky, and Pearl! I do have a lengthy little "dream team" list in my mind, and hopefully one day I can get everyone together to make the best show ever. Until then, I'll just have to make do with what I got.

AIMR: Who is in your dream team then?

JN: Well it'd be just a bunch of friends of mine. I don't want to say because I'll leave someone out, and I'll look like a dick in the future. If I were to form a super group though, one of my "dream come true" line-ups would be: Annie Clark, Julian Casablancas, Katy Goodman, Christopher Bear, and myself.

AIMR: Your songs are very emotional ephemeral and perhaps soul baring. Is the anonymity of being presented as a band rather than a solo artist allow you to retain more of yourself rather than being presented to the world as look at me I'm JAMES NEE!!!!!?

JN: The whole thing is very similar to the plot of "Captain Planet"...I think. Sure I compose and direct all the music (and technically that is a solo project), but I'm nothing without the people who back me up and vice versa.

AIMR: Are your songs based on actual events or daydreams or both?

JN: They're all about imaginary girlfriends I'll never have. haha.

AIMR: Who is your ideal woman then?

JN: Just someone who's nice. haha

AIMR: How would you describe the We Are Trees sound?

JN: I just want to make pop music that's to my liking. I'm not going to stick to one style in particular (at least I don't want to). So to me, it's all just pop music. Whether my music sounds like Grizzly Bear or anyone else is up to the listener.

AIMR: How has your upbringing hometown influenced your music?

JN: I don't think it has! haha.

AIMR: What is the music scene like in Virginia Beach?

JN: It's pretty horrible. The city is pretty much a beacon for tourists. So the government saves no money for art funding unless you're a really bad cover band (then the city will give you hundreds to play really bad cover songs for beach goers). Bands have no where to play, record stores are all shut down, and most people wouldn't even know music existed if not for horrible radio However, Virginia Beach is part of an area called Hampton Roads. And in the past decade or so, Hampton Roads has left a mark in the Hip-Hop world with artists like: Clipse, The Neptunes, N.E.R.D, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, Missy Elliott Because of them, a slight rise of rappers appeared. Unfortunately, all they're doing is damaging this good reputation this area had. My friends make really good music though. So there's still hope.

AIMR: You better name names then and share their music with the world

JN: My friend Elliott: 

My friend Josiah:

My friend Todd:

My friend Steven:

AIMR: How did you first get into music What were your original musical influences, what was the first record you bought/loved (I know you kids don't buy music anymore) and what was the first gig you went to?

JN: I asked my parents for a guitar because of Led-Zeppelin. I just wanted to be a badass. As a teenager I was really into awesome guitar solo's of the 70's/80's, but who wasn't!? The first CD I bought for myself was Incubus - A Crow Left of The Murder. And the first big show I went to was for the Arctic Monkeys.

AIMR: Were you parents supportive of you choosing to be a musician or did you shatter their dreams of Dr. Nee?

JN: I've always been the black sheep in my family. My older brother always set these high expectations for my parents to compare me to, and I hate him for that. We don't get along. Currently, I think my parents have accepted what I want to do in life, and I'm thankful for that.

AIMR: Was there a specific moment that made you want to be a musician, write songs, be in a band?

JN: I think listening to Modest Mouse saved my life. They showed me, as a kid, that there was this other world to music that I would've never found without them.

AIMR: How long did it take to write the Boyfriend EP?

JN: I don't really remember. I just know I've had them for a very long time.

AIMR: How did you enjoy the studio experience of Boyfriend?

JN: It was a really good first time for me. I was sceptical at first because I didn't know what to expect, and I didn't have a lot of money to waste. In the end I'm really glad I went through with it, and I think a lot of people are too.

AIMR: Have you been surprised at the amount of interest in We Are Trees has received from home and abroad in such a short period of time?

JN: I'm still being surprised at everything that has happened. Even though I haven't really gone that far in the music industry, I never expected it to get anywhere to be honest.

AIMR: What has been the most surprising thing to happen since its been released any surreal, wow moments to report?

JN: I think the coolest part so far has been the 2010 CMJ festival. People knew who I was on stage, and it was just weird (a good weird). I felt important for a week. haha. It's a small accomplishment, but it makes me happy.

AIMR: How did the video for "Sunrise Sunset" come about?

JN: My manager's brother is a director for High/Low films in California, and when he visited New York for CMJ, he just hooked us up. Thanks Brit!

AIMR: Did the video take long to make? Where you involved in the location, concept, etc or did you place yourself firmly in High/Low's hands and hope for the best?

JN: We did five takes of the whole thing. Ironically, we were trying to get it all done before sunset. They did a really great job of it, and they're super nice! They also did the Local Natives DVD which is also amazing. My drummer chose the location.

We Are Trees from High/Low Film on Vimeo.

AIMR: Getting a manager seems to be one of the great unknown processes in the music business. How do you get a manager?

JN: Well technically, anyone can be a manager as long as they share the same devotion as the artist. When I applied to CMJ, one of the coordinators emailed me saying that they wanted to work with me. He's a wonderful guy. He actually did the sound for the video as well.

AIMR: So what can we expect from your new EP Girlfriend?

JN: Hopefully it sounds more diverse to people. Expect a lot more guitars and a lot less strings.

AIMR: There's a lovely symmetry moving from Boyfriend to Girlfriend does this Yin and Yang approach to naming the EP's signal a major change in direction for your songwriting?

JN: I hate to say this, but I wrote Girlfriend because I fell under peer pressure to make more music. haha. And that's the worst reason to make music. However, the process grew on me. I stopped writing music to please other people, and I started writing music to fill some kind of a gap. Completing this "cycle" for me, means I can end this chapter of my life and musically move on with my life. It is different, and some people won't like it. I'm fine with that though. Girlfriend isn't intended to be better or worse than Boyfriend. Like a real relationship, it's two separate things that each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but once you put them together it makes sense. It's hard to explain. I hope once you listen to it, it'll explain itself.

AIMR: You leaked a Girlfriend teaser with the fantastic track "Afraid of Love" last week. Which has become a mini Internet phenom you must be delighted with the positive reaction to it?

JN: "Afraid of Love" won't be on it. It was supposed to! I recorded it in the studio, but it's sounds reallllly bad. The demo sounded 100% better. So I decided to just give it away. I'm glad people like it!

AIMR: Really what went wrong we love the song?

JN: It just didn't sound right. It was like something was lost when I re-recorded it. I'm very hard on myself like that.

AIMR: What bands are making your ears go crazy at the moment?

JN: The new Strokes song made me jizz in my pants.

AIMR: Are there any bands/ artists you'd like to collaborate with?

JN: I down with whatever. haha. I did promise my friend I'd produce her record when I'm rich and famous. She makes really freaky folk music and has a haunting blues voice. She's given up on music for school, but she has so much potential. (here's her unattended myspace page

AIMR: Who would you like to cover We Are Trees and which song would you like them to cover?

JN: I'm flattered if anyone wants to cover one of my songs!

AIMR: But if you had to choose one who would it be?

JN: I think it would make my year if Madvillain sampled We Are Trees. My dream cover song though would have to be Rod Stewart  "Do You Think I'm Sexy"

AIMR: We would like to hear that. Whats stopping you?

JN: The song is too complex and precious to just carelessly cover it. Everything has to be perfect. I must not disrespect the great Rod Stewart. haha. Don't worry, It'll definitely happen.

AIMR: When can we expect to hear Girlfriend in full?

JN: I don't have a deadline for it. It's kind of up in the air right now. It just needs mastering, and the tracks are done. So as soon as I find a cool enough picture that matches Boyfriend, it will be released.

AIMR: Do you have any tour details jet and can we expect to see you in Europe anytime soon?

JN: Unfortunately, not yet. I want to though! I feel like I have more fans in Europe anyways.

Until the release of Girlfriend listen to the debut EP Boyfriend

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Zombie Cops News

 Zombie Cops studio was broken into ahead of their show in The Pint tomorrow night. Thankfully the gig still goes ahead. Zombie Cops are one of AIMR's favourite live bands and it is worth the price of admission alone, to hear their version of The Human League's "Don't You Want Me Baby"

Zombie Cops - Taking Lives from Highly Stimulating Productions on Vimeo.

Upcoming Zombie Cops gigs,

16th Feb The Pint Dublin, 
19th Feb Daddy or Chips The Good Bits Dublin, 
March 4th Crawdaddy Dublin supporting Youth Mass, 
March 24th The Mercantile Dublin

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kowalski "Get Back " Video

Here is the video for "Get Back" by one of Ireland's best bands and AIMR favourites Kowalski. We caught their gig in the Workman's Club club last year and interviewed them as well. Check out the video and follow the link below to the interview and review.


Friday, February 11, 2011

We Are Trees Video

 AIMR's dedication to We Are Trees continues as we bring you the fantastic video for "Sunrise Sunset" taken from their Boyfriend EP.  

We Are Trees from High/Low Film on Vimeo.

Monday, February 7, 2011

We Are Trees "Afraid of Love" Teaser

The "Boyfriend" EP by We Are Trees, was one of our favourite international releases of 2010. So we were delighted to find new track "Afraid of Love" on  "Afraid of Love" is yet another bedroom ephemeral gem by James Nee and company. Listen for yourself on the link below and be sure to check out We Are Trees bandcamp to hear the EP in full.!/item/18qd3/We+Are+Trees+-+afraid+of+love

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Calico Jak: Ever Seen A Match Burn Twice?

Ever Seen a Match Burn Twice the debut album by Calico Jak, brainchild of singer songwriter Eoin Mac Ionmhain, who has previously released material with Patrick Freyne and his Bad Intentions, His latest offering has a more robust sound, which saw it duly considered on the Digital Socket Awards long list for Best Album. The album is built on dark matter, calling on the claustrophobia of Radiohead and the specter of Jeff Buckley's posthumous Sketches For My Sweetheart the Drunk, Marilyn Manson and Alice in Chains.

Opening with Blurry a sparse eerie track, Eoin Mac Ionmhain's vocals grab you instantly. Firstly for their uncanny likeness to Jeff Buckley and secondly for the amount of emotion they convey.  Shaving Cut is the standout track on the album with a good chorus and splashes of horror movie music in the background. The guitar playing is notable, especially on the skewed solo.  Vampire Love however, is disjointed and overlong.
The first single from the album LostMmt2s see's Eoin Mac Ionmhain's vocal delivered in full on metal falsetto with a high-pitched singalong chorus of "On me, on me"

Title track Ever Seen a Match Burn Twice? is a slow burning mid tempo track. The choruses eerie vocal "I'll never forget who you are and what you did to me" however, is its only highlight. Tore Down features some pretty good lead guitar and once again showcases Eoin Mac Ionmhain's vocal abilities. The intro to Little Miss Mary is one of the musical highlights, as Calico Jak have produced a riff, which wouldn't sound out-of-place on a Strokes album. While the addition of simple organ, horn and bell melodies to  bleak acoustic guitar led album closer "Your Not The One" make it one of the most believable performances on the album.

Throughout the album Eoin Mac Ionmhain's voice moves from Jeff Buckley to Layne Staley to Jesse Hughes and back again with ease. Whether this is to be regarded as simple aping or a unique ability is purly down to the ears of the individual listener. However it is safe to say that this album will appeal predominantly to fans of darker grunge acts. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Digital Socket Awards

Cast of Cheers, Adebisi Shank and Villagers were the big winners at the first annual Digital Socket Awards in The Grand Social last night with each picking up several awards. Other winners included Solar Bears (Best Hip Hop) Cathy Davey (Best Pop) and And So I Watch You From Afar (Best EP). Performances on the night came from Groom, Meljoann and Ham Sandwich.  Perhaps controversially none of the performing acts won an award on the night.

The biggest talking point however was the comedy stylings of MC Garreth Stack whose brand of comedy offended many nominees with good reason, mostly because his curt witticisms where so close to the bone that undoubtedly, many of them where in fact true.  His attempt to do a "Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes" worked perfectly as he too was lucky to leave alive. Ham Sandwich, who received most of the Stack's diatribes-to their credit-took it on the chin with a smile, in public at least.

Nay McArdle from Harmless Noise kicked of the night by introducing Groom a groovy genre splitting seven piece band. Their music is lively and multifaceted with continuous mood swings. They are influenced by Elvis Costello, Blur, Neil Young and Ben Folds' Five with a dose of Morricone on the side. Their songs are more like movements from a classic piece than singularities. They bleed into one another, the last note from one song, being the first note from the next. The Hispanic rockabilly of "Doorways" and the clippity-clop percussion of single "Golden Age" the undoubted highlights of their set. A heavily out of key vocal, on an otherwise excellent cover of Wings "Jet" However, was an unfortunate moment of mediocrity for Groom.

The first award of the night was Best EP received by And So I watch You From Afar next up Aoife from Sweet Oblivion presented a rather drunk Cast of Cheers with Best Indie act. While Nialler9 presented Best Design to Adebisi Shank.  Stephen from 4fortyfour delivered the best introduction to an award of the evening before present Best Newcomer to Cast of Cheers. Mike from Drop D presented Adebisi Shank with Best Rock, their second award of the night.

Then Meljoann took to the stage and made me want to die!!! For the first five minutes I thought her act was a joke or some form of electronica take on Spinal Tap and I was waiting for a punchline to walk onto stage. But then, much to my dismay I realised she was deadly serious. Meljoann is the worst thing to happen to dance music since Kevin & Perry sampled their parents love making. There is no interaction or attempts at interaction between her and the crowd.  She nervously mumbles her inaudible lines, always looking at the ground while her band mate hides behind the stage curtain. The beats are plodding repetitive and mind numbingly boring.

At this point I choose to stare at Neil Hannon, who was sat with his arms crossed angrily, staring at the floor trying to block it all out. I tried to use telepathy to get Neil Hannon to come over and punch me, which would surely make this all stop, but alas no luck. Neil Hannon and I however, were not alone in our disdain for Meljoann's disjointed, stream of consciousness, basic beat, electronica. Is it really to much to expect a chorus?

There was an en mass exodus to the bar and the smoking area. 5 people in lone-wolfpacks at the front of the room were enjoying this performance.  I counted them twice, just to make sure nobody was having an epileptic fit. It's not often that you hear something that's only fit for a torture chamber. George Bush would have relished a weapon like this.

Followed the musical travesty the night thankfully got back to the awards Chris from AU Magazine presented Best Video to The Ambiance Affair. Carl from Those Geese Were Stupefied presented Best Pop to Cathy Davey, much to the pleasure of the onlooking Neil Hannon. Nay from Harmless Noise returned to the stage to present Best Photographer to Loreanna Rushe. Villagers won their first award of the night for Best Folk. Golden Plec's, Vanessa Monaghan presented a chuffed Donal Dineen with Best Radio for the Small Hours. Solar Bears received the award for Best Hip Hop before RTE presented Cast of Cheers with the Outstanding Award 2010.

Unsurprisingly Garreth Stack was otherwise engaged when Ham Sandwich took to the stage, for a mostly emphatic point proving performance. Niamh looked extremely sexy in a figure-hugging white dress with black polka dots she controled the stage, her voice a cross between Deborah Harry and Sonya Aurora Madan. Ham Sandwich are at there best when they unleash the unison vocals of Podge and Niamh and the songs are driven by dirty distorted guitars. And at their worst with the limp politeness of The Naturist.  New single Ants  and The Fog were amongst the highlights of their set. Of course it wouldn't be a Ham Sandwich gig without a comedy moment delivered by Podge. This came when he called on the crowd to "unleash" their "inner gorilla" 

The night concluded with the final 3 awards. Unsurprisingly, due to the number of nominations their acts received for tonight's awards Richter Collective won Best Label. Their marquee act Adebisi Shank won Best Album and last but not least Villagers won Best Song for The Meaning of the Ritual.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Awake Young Soldiers "When Leo Met Cherry" EP

Having previously enjoyed the military precision and Hole tinged bombast of songs such as "Mary Jane" by Angry Young Soldiers. we where truly looking forward to their latest EP "When Leo Met Cherry" only to find nothing much to get excited about, on the first listen. Gone is the edgy folk menace of "Mary Jane" the excellent female vocals and the gritty guitar sound, replaced by somber lighter sounds. It's only after repeated listening that the songwriting peeps through. 

The influence of Mumford and Sons casts a long shadow over "Slowly Sadly" a song which contains two good hooks but yet strangely lacks any umph for over a minute. It's only when the singalong refrain of "Can you see what we can see Can you see what we can not" arrives that it comes to life. If only this song had started and continued on this heading, a good song could have easily become an excellent one. Certainly the chorus deserves a song with a better arrangement. 

It's a similar situation on Joe Panama the verses glide past unnoticed, until another catchy chorus arrives.  Once again we have to question the arrangement, as a top notch instrumental section is grossly underused. It's becoming very clear that Angry Young Soldiers are a good band in dire need of an experienced producer.  

We can have no such complaints about behold. This song is perfectly weighted from beginning to end. Starting off with eerie Jeff Buckley chords, it slowly builds with gentle keys and brushstrokes adding texture. There's even hints of Coldplay's early triumphs on the dreamy guitar breaks.

Final song Check Point continues on a trajectory somewhere between Coldplay and Mumford and Sons. Once again a beautiful instrumental section arrives and you think, why wasn't this the intro!!! Check Point builds into a long whigout of crashing drums until a Cribs style guitar riff guides us home.

Unfortunately for Awake Young Soldiers. is was more like an awkward blind date than love at first sight When Leo Met Cherry.