Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: Milan Jay - To The Sinking Sun EP

2011 has been a busy year for Galwegian genre hoppers Milan Jay. Having previously released two EP's this year, they have saved the best for last with "To The Sinking Sun" EP. It's one of the finest Irish releases of the year and features the best hip hop track AIMR, has come across by an Irish artist in 2011. Milan Jay are an eclectic group equally proficient at rock and hip hop and chilled instrumentals alike.

The EP opens with "Robot Revenge" which was released as a free download single back in September. The track is a feel good, fuck you, with elements of Weezer and Feeder on display. Milan Jay take a major change in approach with "Sleeping Under Saturn" a nine minute blissed out epic of looped guitars and drums, which decays into a beautiful lamenting piano break, before reaching for the stars once again.

"Youth Ain't No Excuse" transports us to a funky hip hop realm with a social conscience, where "Youth ain't an excuse, not to seek the truth".  The nuggets of wisdom come thick and fast as they tell us, we'll never see change until we "put the politicians on the minimum wage" The whole track is reminiscent of The Beastie Boys "Check Your Head" heyday. It's a winner.  The flavour changes to indie/electro for closing track "Sinking Sun" It's a pulsating mix of electro thuds and indie riffs, tailor-made for the indie dance floor.

To The Sinking Sun is available on limited edition CD + digital download package via bandcamp

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Video: This Club - I Won't Worry

This Club formerly Horsebox are playing in The Sugar Club this Friday (25th) with support from AIMR favourites Kid Karate. Below is the Video for This Club's single I Won't Worry, a sun kissed feel good song. The video was filmed in Temple Bar and is probably the best video to be made on those streets for many years.

Review: We Should Be Dead - Up all Night

This Limerick Trio have crafted a truly cringe worthy power-pop song best suited to the closing credits of American Pie 12 or some other straight to text message movie, where it can hurt the least amount of ears possible. Over produced and cheesy, to the extent that even Whigfield would be embarrassed to pedal this effluent. Ireland finally has its answer to every band from the US of bland.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review: Taking Back Sunday - Taking Back Sunday

The eponymous fifth studio album by Long Island quintet Taking Back Sunday, finds the band stuck in a creative quagmire. The reformation of the original lineup, has seen Taking Back Sunday, unsuccessfully attempt to rewind their body-clocks to their teenage years, and reignite the spark, they once possessed. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to start afresh and develop a new contemporary sound, rather than retracing their steps, as the resulting collection of songs are jaded and predictable. Even the most ardent fan would surely describe the album as patchy. Although the album is well produced, it lacks the creative focus of their finest album, 2002's "Tell Al Your Friends" and standout tracks are few and far between.

Opening track and first single "El Paso" is paint by numbers screamo. its only saving grace is a well executed highpitched backing vocal. "Faith (When I Let You Down)" is a considerably better effort, but feels like it belongs on a second rate frat-house movie soundtrack. When Adam Lazzara delivers the lyric "Have you lost your faith in music" it appears that he is delivering a subconscious message to himself, rather than addressing his audience. "Sad Saviour" contains one of the albums best guitar moments, but is hampered badly by the Depeche Mode-lite style lyrics.

It's five tracks in before Taking Back Sunday, find their stride with "Who Are You Anyway?" At last a cohesive song from start to finish is delivered with a melodic chorus "Money (Let It Go)" see the upward turn-musically at least-continue with some good riffs and musical interplay between instruments. However, the track deserved to be hung on a better lyrics. Second single "This Is All Now" has a smooth, well executed Incubus, feel throughout the verses, but unfortunately the choruses are paltry by comparison.  "It Doesn't Feel A Thing Like Falling" sees the band raise their game considerably, delivering the second standout track on the album."Since You're Gone" however, continues the worrying trend of a decent musical composition, being marred by Adam Lazzara's, heartless playground lyrics. "Call Me In The Morning" ends the album on an unexpected acoustic high.

A thoroughly disappointing comeback from Taking Back Sunday. Which has seen them deliver their worst album to date.

Score 45/100

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Review: The Sisters Of Mercy Live at The Olympia.

The Olympia was jam-packed to the rafters for a band that most of us had either forgotten about, or are completely unaware of. Unsurprising, as lineup changes and comical record company wrangling and refusal, has meant that it is over twenty years since The Sisters Of Mercy have released an album. Back In the days of 1990′s Vision Thing album, you would have struggled to tell singerAndrew Eldritch apart from The Cult’s, Ian Astbury, in a police lineup. Nowadays Eldritch, looks rather more Judas Priest, than Gothic preternatural sex-God. Thankfully his commanding stage presence and his distinctive voice, remain the same.

A set list of greatest hits, diehard fan favourites and unreleased new material, is well received by a thronging expectant crowd. The new lineup is well-studied and proficient. The songs are delivered passionately, with fresh intent, that indicates the will to create the infamous “next album”, may actually exist. Doktor Avalanche, the only other constant in The Sisters of Mercy lineup, delivers pounding digital beats. Ensuring that the band are like German trains. Always on time. Eldritch’s scolding voice hasn’t lost any of its imperialistic gravitas. his lyrics (old and new) are dark, highly vivid and often scathing of US foreign policy.

The opening barrage of tracks including “First And Last And Always”, “Marian”  & “Detonation Boulevard” showcased the bands ability to supply a killer chorus, based on a diverse range subjects, from geopolitical issues to love and death,  in a lyrically witty and fun way.

The empire themed “Dominion/Mother Russia” saw the band kick things up a notch or two. Fan Favourite “Alice” was well received. But the band really came into their own on songs such as the epic “This Corrosion” and “More” which gave the audience plenty of opportunity to raise their hands in the air and sing along.

A second encore of “Lucretia My Reflection”, “Vision Thing” and “Temple of Love”. Was the icing on the cake of a tour de force performance, that proved that The Sisters Of Mercy, should not be forgotten or looked down upon. Rather they should be cherished, as one of the great alternative bands of the 80′s and held in the same regard as the likes of The Cure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review: The Man Whom - The Greatest Event

The Greatest Event is the début album from Wexford singer/songwriter and producer Ian Doyle, under the moniker of The Man Whom. It’s a ten strong collection of modern folk music, lovingly constructed with immense attention to detail.

Mercury Rev and Villagers influences successfully blend together on opening track “Easier To Run”.  A cracking folk song emerges from a hazy finger-picked intro, sprinkled with deft touches of piano and somber violin strains throughout. Ian Doyle’s warm storytellers voice and lyrics are instantly pleasing. An interesting oriental flavoured staccato middle eight, gives way to a beautiful extended coda of somber, yet reassuring harmony vocals mixed with a more prominent string section.

It’s hard to make banjo sound contemporary, but Doyle, does just that on “Sing till There’s No Songs Left”. There’s a hint of Belle and Sebastian in the air, as the horns flourish on this quirky number, which is reminiscent of The Statler Brothers “Flowers on the Wall”. An early highlight that shows Doyle, is an accomplished composer, proficient in many styles.

This proficiency in genre hoping continues through the impressive “I know Your Face” and the Mumford and Sons tinged blues of “Leavin This Town”. However, the brushed drum propelled country folk pop of “Over And Under”, stands out as a sun-kissed highlight. The interplay between the instruments is fluid and cohesive. While the impressive three-part harmony vocals give the track an authentic Cali-Country feel.

“Autopilot” builds slowly and surely on a bed of finger picked guitar, coloured with short rushes of mystic, whooshing cymbals. Before taking an unexpected diversion, through a fifteenth century French garden party.  Doyle’s eclectic stylings continue through the albums final tracks “The Man Who Knew To Much” and “Till Its Gone”. The lather song, spans thirteen minutes in length and is split into two sections, with five minutes of electronic butterfly beeping separating them.

The Greatest Event is a noteworthy début and the future bodes well for Doyle and Co.  Not every song delivers a killer hook, but there is certainly enough quality and dept within the material to warrant repeated listening and continued enjoyment.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Video: The Quicksand Band - Homesong

Homesong is the first single to be taken from the forthcoming debut album Approaching Rain by The Quicksand Band. The Stop motion video was made by Bonezz (bass) and Phil Clarke (guitar vox) from the band. Approaching Rain is due for release early next year.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Review: Goodtime - The Colours of Darkness

The Colours of Darkness is the first new material to be released by Goodtime singer/songwriter John Cowhie for several years.Those years have certainly not been wasted as Cowhie has developed his sound into a mix of the ephemeral soundscapes and wordplay of the late 60's. Think Notorious Byrd Brothers and Lindsey Buckingham. Mixed with elements of alternative 80's synth rock pop and Adam Green's serious side.

Opening track Behind The Sun starts of with a  Ladyhawke feel, mainly due to Richie Egan's nifty bass riffs which are a focal point throughout the album. Cowhie's voice has a smooth laid back speak-sing delivery which exposes his vulnerable side and makes his lyrics instantly believable.

Like A River takes things up a notch with more prominent Cure-ish guitar lines emerging. While Mystery of Days sees some great uptempo interplay between Cowie's guitar and Egan's bass.  The influence of Buckingham, is most apparent on the mid tempo swing of Can't Get Away.  Title track The Colours of Darkness is tinged with Californian country dust. Dreamy and pulsating with touches of David Crosby and Jim Morrison.  Perhaps the radio friendly One Shot will appeal most to Cowie's existing fan base. It's a fantastic life affirming folk song.

The Colours of Darkness
will put Cowhie back in the upper echelons of the Irish music scene, and rightly so. It's a beautifully executed record

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review: The Ambience Affair at The Workman's Club Dublin

The Ambience Affair bring their tour in support of their début album Burials to The Workingman’s Club in Dublin with support from two of Ireland’s best acts Katie Kim and Jennifer Evans.
Katie Kim delivers her first song kneeling on the floor hunched over a microphone, fiddling with a loop station  Her coal hair covers her face completely. She resembles a performance art piece, laid out between the stage monitors, almost removing herself from the visual equation altogether – indeed it must have seemed like the stage was empty to those standing several rows back

And so begins what turns out to be an astounding performance perhaps the finest performance I’ve ever seen by a solo artist. Katie Kim’s voice is powerful subtle and emotive. Her simple one,two classical guitar style allows her to weave magical, elegant vocals, above the sombre funeral march below. Her lyrics are classy stimulating daggers of love/hate romance, regret and expectations. Her ability to build four-part harmonies with a loop station is astounding. Only great singers can utilise loop stations in this way. Perfect-pitch, is the true skill required in using these devices in this fashion. And Katie Kim has it in spades.

Songs from her forthcoming double album Cover and Flood have surpassed those of 2008′s critically acclaimed début album Twelve. We are really excited to hear the fully formed songs with the band. If tonight is anything to go by the album will be five-star.

The sublime simplicity of Katie Kim is followed by the countless chords of Jennifer Evans. Evans is an accomplished jazz and rock guitarist whose songs draw together eclectic influences tn the way the songs of Jeff Buckley once did.  Evans is backed by an impressive rhythm section called The Ripe Intent.  On stage she is restless like a fidgety tigress. When she sings syncopated Noir-ish refrains Ella, Amy, and Feist spring to mind. Yet strangely, between songs she is humble, with the shy speaking voice of a woman who doesn’t realise, how good she truly is. “Tomaseli Has a Friend” is the highlight of the material from 2010′s Salient Point EP.

Kicking straight into “Weeds” the opening track from their début album Burials The Ambience Affair make it instantly clear that they mean business this evening. Singer Jamie Clarke’s eyes appear as if they may explode in their sockets at any given moment, such is the physical intensity of his vocal delivery. Single “The Fallen” is an early highlight. It surpasses the recorded version due to Clarke’s added live intensity.  The delivery of the lyric “I wanna fall for you” is both chilling and stalker-ish.

A feel good cover of “Feel it all Around” by US hipsters Washed Out offers a sugar-coated disco distraction from the darkness. While “Prophet” The Ambience Affair’s first post album material, offers us an exciting glimpse at the future. Indicating that the band have grown significantly since Yvonne Ryan joined on bass and keys.

Other highlights include “War Weary 2″ and semi instrumental  “Tearing At The Seams”.  However the intriguingly titled “(…)” ends the evening on a high. It’s a beautiful mournful ballad which displays a gentler side of The Ambience Affair and in particular a more sedate vocal from Jamie Clarke.

An excellent performance by one of Ireland’s most intriguing bands.