Thursday, December 20, 2012

Video: The Radioactive Grandma - Another Wasted Line

Another Wasted Line is the first official video release from The Radioactive Grandma's award winning, self titled debut album. The animated video sees the band rocking out in the desert and driving motorcycles and falling to earth without a parachute.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: You Kiss By The Book – Family Tree

Naturally enough when a band takes its name from a Shakespearian sonnet you’d expect a certain lyrical sophistication and a heightened sense of narrative to traverse their material; doubly so when you discover that the band fashion alternative country/folk songs. Band leader Simon Dowling is by no means Ireland’s answer to Richie Edwards; but he does have a knack of building intimate, yet aloof stories, layered with shards of regret, love and listlessness.

Ironically it’s Dowling’s Adam Green-esque speak-sing vocals which simultaneously make and derail the album. At times Dowling struggles a tad too much to reach certain notes at vital times, whilst elsewhere his deadpan style is charmingly frank.

Opening track Railroad has a jittery, ramshackle quality to it which permeates much of the album. Can’t Go Back disappoints, save its beautiful string outro. It’s such a shame that one of the albums highlights is so fleeting. I Was A Miner on the other hand is a more consistent affair driven by a smart melodic bassline, mimicked by fiddle and embellished upon by the clever use of mallets.  

Dowling exposes himself the most on title track Family Tree which returns the narrative to the railroad theme once again. The track grows dark, as Dowling reflects on life stuck in a “dead end job” with no way out in sight. Things get darker still as a barbershop backing vocal merrily chirps, Dowling reflects “The last lifejacket was wasted on me.” The addition of Hammond organ complements Dowling’s morose tones perfectly on When We Got To The Border which concludes proceedings on a suitably dour note.
Overall ‘Family Tree’ is a little too rough around the edges to really engage long-term thanks to a lack of attention to detail especially on Dowling’s vocals. However there is enough quality present to indicate that You Kiss By The Book are more than capable of ironing out the kinks in the future.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: The Stunning – Vicar St. 14/12/2012

A night of festive nostalgia for fans of The Stunning as the Galway/Donegal band performed their seminal Irish album ‘Paradise In The Picturehouse’ in its entirety in Vicar St. some 22 years after its original release.

‘Paradise In The Picturehouse’ went straight to No.1 in 1990 and eventually went platinum in Ireland; a significant and laudable achievement for any home-grown band.  But would nostalgia be tempered by the disappointment of modern tastes? Far from it, The Stunning were eagerly received by a buoyant, moshing crowd, who roared them on from first to last.

The Stunning cleverly brought the crowd back to the late ‘80s with a video intro that featured Zig and Zag learning German, Charlie Haughey’s infamous “tighten our belts” speech and archive footage of the band’s first television appearance. But the biggest Cheer was reserved for Ray Houghton’s winning goal against England. Before the band finally took to the stage as Gay Byrne introduced them on to The Late Late Show to rapturous applause.

There would be no easy way out sample solutions for The Stunning, where necessary the band’s ranks swelled from 5 to as many as 8, with the addition of brass and accordion to the line-up. Ensuring at all times that there was an authentic feel to the songs. Songs such as Half Past Two and Brewing Up A Storm were gleefully received by the crowd, but lesser known songs such as Romeo’s On Fire and Girl With The Curl were just as potent. A solo performance of An Empty Feeling by Steve Wall brought the first part of the show to an end.

A mini trad session would see Steve Wall mock jig his way back on stage before Joe Wall would quip “I’d like to thank the lads for putting the session back into the recession.” The second part of the show would be a post-Paradise greatest hits selection, including a breath-taking version of Tightrope Walker; which morphed into Serious Moonlight style white soul funk-fest.

Cries of “We want more” were answered as the band returned for a 3 song encore beginning with a sing-along version of The Walls track Carrying The Fire; followed by an outstanding rendition of Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone. A second outing of Brewing Up A Storm set the mosh-pit into overdrive and brought the night to a triumphant close.

The joyous reaction of the crowd was mirrored by the band throughout the performance, so much so, that new material seems a realistic prospect for a band who are obviously enjoying it more the second time round.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video: This Club - Up

As you would expect by now This Club's latest single Up is a radio friendly mixture of synth disco with a pretty nifty bassline. It's by no means their finest single to date, but what really lets it down is its truly awful video.

Video: Funso - Take Some Time ft. Leiko

It's been a good week for hip hop in Ireland this week and Funzo's latest track is the icing on the cake. Let Me Take Some Time ft. Leiko is a smooth piece of music from the first beat until the last and you can't help but be drawn in by it's grove.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Video: Campaign LK - Exactly How You Feel

The latest track from Campaign LK is a rousing and timely call to rise against the system and claim back the streets from the age of austerity.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Video: The Original Rudeboys - Blue Eyes

We normally wouldn't pay too much attention to The Original Rudeboys around these parts but following their thoroughly commendable stance against Chris Brown and violence towards women in general we thought it was time we did. Here's their latest video Blue Eyes which sees the band follow through with their beliefs in song.

Review: James Yorkston – I Was A Cat From A Book

James Yorkston’s latest album ‘I Was A Cat From A Book’ features guest appearances from the likes of Kathryn Williams and Sparrow & The Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan.  The folk veteran’s seventh solo album contains 11 songs of sorrow unfurled at an ambling pace.  The results are somewhat bland and forgettable; rarely demanding the attention of the listener. 
Yorkston’s talent is never in doubt though; each song is delicately presented with obvious attention to detail as a vast array of instrumentation weaves gently in and out of the album. The problem is the results are more akin to the half-baked ‘Green Fields of Foreverland’ by The Gentle Waves than Belle and Sebastian or anything substantial in folk’s illustrious past or even Yorkston’s for that matter.

Opener Catch is almost too apologetic. Likewise, Two is just too subdued. Yorkston is at his best with a shot of adrenalin rushing through his veins. See songs such as Border Song for evidence; Its folk cacophony shines brightly above most of the songs on the album. Spanish Ants is also an enjoyable jaunty affair.
The Line Says is the finest ballad on the album by some distance; its lyrics and music combining perfectly to create I Was A Cat From A Book’s moment of folk authenticity. Yorkston’s voice is never more believable and the emotion he conveys never more palpable.

‘I Was A Cat From A Book’ would have been one of the years finest EP’s had lesser songs been sacrificed for the good of the collection as a whole. Thankfully the album ends on a high with I Can Take All This where Yorkston finally lets loose and spits in our eyes with quick-fire lyrics and an I’ll show you resolve.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Video: The Young Folk - Driving Home For Christmas

Christmas songs will be unavoidable from here on out, but here are The Young Folk giving a wonderful rendition of Chris Rea's Driving Home For Christmas on Clare FM

Video: Katie Kim - Carbra

Here's a basement recording of the wonderful Katie Kim performing her track Carbra.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review: Cypress Hill - Cypress X Rusko EP

Cypress Hill have been merging Rock and Rap with more success than most since 1988; notching up Grammy’s and MTV videos with ease as Rap went mainstream in the early nineties, but there has always been much more than novelty singles such as Insane in the Brain to Cypress Hill. They were at the forefront of merging Rap and Rock, bringing creative credibility to a genre dismissed by critics as pure novelty; like Jive Bunny it would soon be forgotten in their eyes.

24 years later Cypress Hill are one of the last forefathers of modern Rap still standing. The group has never been afraid of taking on new challenges and diversifying its musical output; boldly releasing material in Spanish and collaborating with such diverse artists as Pearl Jam and Sonic Youth.  Their latest release ‘Cypress X Rusko EP’ sees them collaborate with Dubstep artist Rusko and takes their music on a journey through synth heavy soundscapes.

Lez Go announces the EP’s intent to yet again reinvent the Cypress Hill sound with melodic butterfly synth-lines juxtaposed against long wobbly bass notes. The signature vocal style of B-Real still unique as ever, however the lyrics are predictably about marijuana, a lyrical subject which is repeated throughout the EP to the point of tedium, Roll It, Light It continues the weed theme with lyrics such as “We came here to get you high” throughout the intro. The track is more accomplished than Lez Go with Cypress Hill’s old school gangster rap flows leading the line, but at times its keyboard-lines feel clunky and an air of repetition is already creeping into the EP.

Shots Go Off changes things up considerably with a beat crafted from gunshot samples, but as other instrumentation arrives the track begins to feel like it has been assembled using synth pre-sets rather than personally honed settings.The addition of Damian Marley on vocals on Can’t Keep Me Down adds a touch of class. The Dance-Hall groves standout from the other synth laden tracks and Marley’s feel-good vocal is the finest moment of the entire collection.

Songs such as Medicated and Can’t Keep Me Down are enjoyable and some of the other songs stand-up well individually, but as a unit many are just too similar to have a major impact on the listener.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Video: Radio Room - Synesthesia

Yet another dark video from Highly Stimulating Productions duo Eoin Heaney and Nora Windeck. Synesthesia is the latest single from Radio Room who create bouncy bass heavy pop in the vain of Two Door Cinema Club.

Video: Somadrone - Pulse Of Joy

Pulse of Joy the new single from Somadrone is taken from their forthcoming album 'The First Wave' and features David Kitt on vocals giving one of the standout performances of his career to date.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Video: Simon Bird - All The Houses On My Street Look Exactly The Same

Simon Bird returns with the video for All The Houses On My Street Look Exactly The Same the second single to be taken from 'Sport.' The video is a whopping ten minutes long and features Bird and friends having lots of fun in a forest.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Video: Dogs - East

Dublin Indie-Electro quartet Dogs return with their best single to date East it's a pulsating mix of synths and bass guitar juxtaposed against a bleak lyric delivered by a fine falsetto vocal. We'll be keeping an eye out for Dogs in 2013.

Video: Barry Finnimore - When The Sky Turns Black

When The Sky Turns Black is the first single to be taken from Barry Finnimore's debut album 'Don't Tell Your Secrets To The Wind.' You can pre-order When The Sky Turns Black over on bandcamp now.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Metz - Metz

Unlike most Canadian bands Toronto 3 piece Metz have a simple philosophy: keep it simple, keep it short and keep it loud! extremely loud! Metz's self titled debut album is one of the finest rock records in recent history; it's thrilling, intense, bombastic. everything a rock record should be. All eleven songs clock in at under 30mins combined. Metz don't mess around, there's no foreplay, they beat you over the head with what they have to say and move onto the next song. Each one a precision audio bomb of distilled anger.

Headache instantly transports you in to 'Rated R' style soundscape of thumping drums and vigorous down-stroking bass while Alex Edkins's vocal delivery echoes P.I.L. era Johnny Rotten in places; it's an echo that becomes louder as the album progresses. Hayden Menzies, drums, immediately announces himself as a contender for Drum-God status with his powerful snare fills and relentless floor-tom work. The high octane riffs are battered home in traditional 4/4 time though the breathless Get Off and Sad Pricks.

By the time Rats starts you realise that each song is a variation on the same musical equation; which is fine, but if you are not already hooked by now nothing that follows will change your mind drastically in favour of Metz; in fact it will probably only irk you further, as an over reliance on several rhythm figures is the albums major flaw. However songs such as Negative Space and Wet Blanket leap forward thanks to the relentless gusto of the three piece.

Metz swagger into a sonic space which has been occupied by Nirvana, BRMC, Kyuss and Sonic Youth in the past; bringing an exuberance to the genre. An exuberance which buys them some leeway and perhaps even some forgiveness for having the chutzpah to stand on the shoulders of such giants. Alex Edkins and Co. have created an album of throbbing disquiet which has blown the cobwebs off of rock 'n' roll. And for that they should be saluted.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Video: Duke Special - How I learned To Love The Sun

Duke Special returns with the video for  How I learned To Love The Sun which sees him indulge in some Californication at the fairground

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Video: The Hot Sprockets - Long Way From Home

The Hot Sprockets return with the video Long Way from Home; the Neil Young-esque country ballad is one of the finest songs the band has produced to date.

Video: Villagers - Nothing Arrived

The latest album teaser from Conor O'Brien is Nothing Arrived it's the most straight forward of the tracks to have appeared from Villagers forthcoming album and it's sure to gain him a lot of mainstream media and radio attention in the coming weeks and rightly so.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: Letting Up Despite Great Faults - Untogether

Letting Up Despite Great Faults return with their second album 'Untogether.' follow up to 2011's critically acclaimed EP 'Paper Crush.'

The opening guitar strums of Visions instantly transport you to early '90s bleak Britain with Shoegaze supremos Ride playing tour guide before a Bernard Sumner-esque style composition of linear guitar parts and sparse synths emerges to cement the bleakness furthermore. Visions sets the tone for 'Untogether' from the off; 10 songs of happy-sad daydream confusion which asks as many questions as they answer. As with earlier releases frontman Mike Lee's lyrics are hauntingly personal, complex and convoluted  So bleak at times that you would be forgiven for wondering if Lee is stealing other people's diaries; as his pen regularly spills a lifetimes worth of tragedy and regret, into a song or two, at a time.

Scratch and Take My Jacket, Pauline continue to pay homage to and plunder the New Order blueprint simultaneously with these dreamy compositions being swept along with Sumner's signature guitar sound and Gillian Gilbert-esque keystrokes prominently placed in the mix; however, both make for pleasurable listening. Mike Lee's sighing whisper vocal delivery can be comforting and almost motherly despite the content. This effect is enhanced by the purposefully unorthodox, lowdown placement of the vocals in the mix; rendering them at times an almost inaudible yet soothing hue of sound. Indeed all the songs need repeated listening to, to fully grasp the lyrical content. You almost need to train your ear not to be distracted by the bouncy happy musical front they are hiding behind. Postcard being a prime example of such tactics. You have no idea what the song is about but you are happy to be swept along by the memorable bouncy synth which propels the track.

Bulletproof Girl and Details Of My World benefit greatly from the vocals being slightly higher in the mix making the most of Mike Lee's soothing tones. The addition of keyboardist Annah Fisette's vocals act as a counter balance to Lee's vocals on Bulletproof Girl the most enjoyable song on the album thus far. Likewise Details of My World seems more accomplished than earlier offerings.with Lee's heartfelt lyrics such as "I can't reach you even when you're in the same room," and a chorus of "Don't you realise that hurts more," really hitting home. The inclusion of a prominent bassline for the first time on the album also helps reduce 'Untogethers' over reliance on synthlines to provide melody.

Breaking offers a momentary rock n roll distraction from its electro leaning predecessors with the aid of distorted guitar. Perhaps it would have served the album better to place this track earlier in the running order as a sudden change in direction earlier in the record may have enhanced the impact of certain songs currently running side by side. The Best Part is probably the most successful of the overly textured songs purely thanks to its bombast. It signals a return to the albums main reference point New Order which is continued on Numbered Days before On Your Mark closes the album in an acoustic haze of reverb. Once again you have to question the running order of the album as yet again it would be more pleasing for the listener if On Your Mark appeared earlier on the album.

Overall despite some beautiful daydream shoegaze songs 'Untogether' lacks the momentum of previous effort 'Paper Crush EP'. It suffers from a lack of diversity; especially in relation to the mixes and the band have not done themselves any favours with a running order which emphasises the similarity of songs and not the differences.