Monday, April 30, 2012

Video Ghost Estates - Album Promo

Ghost Estates have released an album promo video featuring a teaser of album track Dali. It looks like Ghost Estates debut album could live up to the considerable hype which surrounds the band.

Free Music: Goatboy - Chamber Sessions

In 2010 Goatboy wowed us with songs like New Moon and Japanese City Night since then Mark O'Sullivan and Co have been hard at work writing their debut album 'Chamber Sessions' which the band have chosen to give away for free via Bandcamp.  Listen via the link below and be sure to download it, if you like it.

Video: Last Days of 1984 - River's Edge

 River's Edge is the first video to be taken from electro pop duo Last Days of 1984's debut album 'Wake Up To The Waves' released May7th.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Free Music: Fall Far - Not Squares

Fall Far the first taste of Not Squares forthcoming second album is an unexpected treat. It would seem that Not Squares have subjected themselves to a major change in direction. The frantic fist pumping of their debut album has been replaced by a smoother and sleeker electro sound. It's always a brave and contentious move for any band to make such a bold move but we're glad to say, Not Squares have pulled it off.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: The Statics - Stags Head Raw

It's easy to see why merseybeat revivalists The Statics are attracting mainstream radio and media attention with their latest single Had It Too. The track is pitched somewhere between The La's and A Hard Days Night. Their Sunday night set at The Stags Head Raw proved that they can cut it live as well as in the studio. Singer Liam Gardner has the right blend of swagger and vocals prowess to captivate audiences while the bands other focal point Jacqueline Campion vigorously propels the accomplished rhythm section from behind her drum kit.

Plastic Days sucks the audience in straight away thanks to Liam Gardner's upbeat vocals and naturally over driven acoustic guitar. By the time The Statics are halfway through second song Down the audience are on their feet dancing. Clocking in at under 3 minutes Down continues the authentic '60's feel with memorable one word vocals lines like "Down, Down, Down". There's a Revolver era Beatles feel to probable single Alone, which has a feel good chorus of "It's no time to be alone". When Gardner moves to electric guitar the songs turn towards more contemporary references such as Milburn and Arctic Monkeys, with Hidden Pigeon being the most accomplished of these compositions. Current single Had It Too is the highlight of the night. It sees The Statics return to the classic merseybeat sound that they have perfected.

The Statics write damn fine melodic pop songs. No doubt they will be criticised -in certain circles- for not reinventing the wheel. But who cares, when the material is this good. We highly recommend you see this band live and defy you not to have a good time.

Video: Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard has dropped two videos from his upcoming solo album 'Rhythm and Repose'.

Philander is a tense downbeat love song featuring Hansard's signature speak sing vocals. However, Philander has a more mature sound with chaotic piano swells.

Love Don't Leave Me Waiting sees Hansard deliver a feelgood song with echoes of Van Morrison and Paddy Casey

'Rhythm and Repose' is out June 19th

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: HAL - The Time The Hour

The Time The Hour, is the long-awaited sophomore album from Dublin outfit HAL.  Their seven-year hiatus has yielded an eclectic collection of sun drenched melodies, flanked by funky bass lines and expansive string and brass arrangements, combining to create one of the most ambitious albums ever recorded in Ireland. 

Dave Allen's voice is a silken chameleon, capable of delivering smooth sunshine falsetto, forlorn existential country, and herculean harmony parts, with unbelievable ease. Bass, is the albums lynchpin behind Allen's voice, switching between complex James Jamerson-esque riffs and subtle Rick Dankoisms.  The songs are laden with instrumentation. It would seem HAL spared no expense to achieve their sonic goals.

"You don't get all magnificent sitting on your own"  declares Dave Allen, on the radio-friendly, fuzz-bass fuelled Magnificent. Single Be With You, is a feel good melting pot of sunshine Casanova jazz, suitable for wooing a lady or two. The Romanticism continues through the dainty brush strokes of Going to the City, a track which pays homage to the likes of Harry Nilsson, and Glen Campbell.  Down in the Valley, is part rock opera, part Supergrass. Imagine four young turk's fleeing hell, on bicycles, with the damsel in distress getting a crossbar to safety.

Title track Time The Hour, is a tense, atmospheric, broken relationship ballad. It ticks like a bomb into deep piano chords and frazzled violins  Many of the songs, such as Time The Hour, and Hannah, would lend themselves wonderfully to a female vocal. Time The Hour's phrasing would have suited Shirley Bassey, in her prime, perfectly. Listening to Rockin' Chairs, one could be forgiven for thinking Neil Young, had drafted in Nile Rodgers as producer, as an intricate fiddle fest gives way to beefy bass riff driven stomper. Ingeniously this track segways into an extended orchestral Beatles meets sandbox outro.  The Jamerson-esque groves continue on Y Do You Come Here, a disco ditty with a huge Gibb like falsetto section.  While Close to Her, feels like a long-lost Wilson-McCartney collaboration in four-part harmony.

This is an album for people who are serious about music, who appreciate the sound and the skill required to make it, in equal measure. It may not appeal to the chart conscious masses but, you'll be hard pressed to find a better collection of songs released in 2012. It's the Irish album of the year to date.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Video: We Cut Corners Live at Roisin Dubh Snippet

If you're heading to see We Cut Corners in Whelan's tonight, here's a brief snippet of what you can expect from one of Ireland's most exciting bands

We Cut Corners from Colm Hewson on Vimeo.

Video: The Cast Of Cheers - Animals

The Cast Of Cheers return with Animals the first single to be taken from their forthcoming album Family released June 18th. If Animals is anything to go by Family will be one hell of a listening experience.

Video: The Statics - Had It Too

Had It Too is the new video from Dublin quartet The Statics who have been gaining rave reviews for their live shows recently. The group mix influences such as The La's, and The Coral, to create feel good retro acoustic rock songs. Keep an eye out for them in the coming months.

Video: This Club - Never Gonna Get It.

Rising stars This Club have released a classy and comedic video cover of En Vogue's "Never Gonna Get It". The video was recorded live in a car packed with instruments and cameras as it drives around the streets of Dublin. The video is the first in a series of live videos planned by the band.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interview: HAL

In 2005 HAL's self titled d├ębut album established them as one of the finest bands ever to emerge from Ireland. It played like a greatest hits from start to finish, bursting with 60's and 70's Californian sunshine melodies, Wilson-esque harmony vocals and epic orchestral arrangements. HAL oozed authenticity, with Dave Allen's songwriting and voice in particular, placing them above the hackneyed, mimicry, of contemporary Irish bands at the time. who lacked the chops to back up their Beach Boys aspirations. Legendary Rough Trade label boss Geoff Travis saw their potential and hit singles such as Play The Hits quickly followed. In 2006 it was announced that HAL, were recording their second album.

Several years of radio silence followed before a release date was announced and passed, with no sign of new material being released.  HAL, seemed destined to join the long list of bands with one legendary album to their name, cherished by a devoted few.  "After the first record we all took a break away from the touring and the industry and got back to where we started musically and got back to the situation where we could make music again and be happy to be making it." Dave Allen declares "I think we needed to take the time out. We were a band for a while before we got a deal-playing gigs-but it was all on our own terms. But when we got signed, we were away for about two and a half years in total, and you kind of go 'that was a bit hectic'. We enjoyed it but, it was all focused towards that record-that we still really enjoy-but I needed to get away from it, to start again, instead of riding the train to the end."

Allen hasn't aged during the bands long hiatus. He's still skinny as a rake and his eyes still glimmer with childlike wonderment. He's joined by multi instrumentalist/ in-house producer Stephen O'Brien.  O'Brien counter balances Allen's innocence and retro leanings, with a more pragmatic and modern outlook on things   "There were obviously highlights. We got to go to Japan and the States. but lots of it was kind of gritty, being in a van on the M6 looking at the back of heads for six months, playing in Barfly's and those type venues. It's tough work, it's not as glamorous as people think at all. We were kind of glad to sit back and reclaim our lives....We all took a gap of about two years in 2006. Then 2008 Dave, came back with a couple of good tunes. Myself and Paul's (Allen, brother of Dave) ears pricked up and we all became interested again and we started working from there. it probably took two years to make the record".

During the bands hiatus O'Brien played bass for Fionn Regan and set up a studio in Shankill, Dublin. Where Hal's second album The Time The Hour, was recorded "Per feet this album is value for money" quips O'Brien referring to the minimal size of their studio (600 square feet) and the length of time between albums. Drawing howls of laughter from AllenHAL, are only too aware of the gap between albums and the expectations of their fans. In a mixture of guilt and reverence Allen tells us "We get emails from people really pissed off saying where is the album!! You're up there with Guns n' Roses. We got one email saying I've counted the days since I got your album and I've listened to it everyday and it's been 694 days since I bought your album. We get emails like that all the time." With such emails ringing in their ears HAL knew that they owed it to those fans who persevered with them to release The Time The Hour. However, O'Brien blames the record industry and not the band for the delay "it was more to do with the backing to put it out. We were talking to record companies last year and it looked like it was going to go ahead and then it fell apart, and once it got to July we had to shelve it till this year. We were really close to having it out last year. We were bitterly disappointed, it was meant to come out last year. The album was finished July 2010".

"We wanted to get a few tracks that didn't make it onto the album out there."  explains Allen referencing the Down In The Valley EP which proceeded The Time The Hour earlier this year "We wanted to put a taster out there and say we are finally giving you something." However, it's clear from the passion with which HAL speak about their music, that they never would have released anything, which they felt to be substandard, to quell the tide of Where is it? themed emails.  Dave Allen resembles a father when speaking about The Time The Hour "We are delighted to get it out, we are really proud of it and hopefully it will last a long time. It's different (from the first one) I know a lot of bands say that but, lyrically it's different sentiments from the first one, and its got more of an edge because its got huge production on it." Allen explains how the biblical title came about "The Time The Hour, was one of the first songs that was presented for the album, then people kept looking to know when it would be ready." To which the band often replied "There will be a time and an hour when it's ready" There was an alternative title for the album continues Allen "It was going to be called 'Painting for Strings' because we were pretty broke when we needed to get the strings done"

The Time The Hour, is an eclectic album of vibrant genre splitting melodies.  Little wonder, judging by Dave Allen's listening habits "I listen to 1920's music lots of practising my Foxtrot" Says Allen, much to O'Brien's amusement and his own. "I'm obsessed with vocal harmony groups I love all the old Smithsonian folk institution The Alan Lomax recordings. I just love the big vocals Bee Gees, Neil young, Harry Nilsson, Buffalo Springfield.  early 30's, and 40's influences. Singing wise I like Vera Lynn. I know that's a bit weird saying that now it's 2012 and that's 70 years ago but, I just love it.  For us melodies so important but, more recently I'm listening to loads of Deutsche Elektronische like The Amon Duul. You should get a record called Deutsche Elektronische Musik. A  Soul Jazz Records compilation."

Despite Hal's retro leaning musical style they are only too aware that the way people consume music has been revolutionised over the last seven years. They have embraced the technological revolution of social media outlets but, are glad they missed it the first time round. "Yeah, that wasn't out yet." Says O'Brien referring to Myspace  "I think it's a whole different game now. We were lucky that we got signed 2005 and we had a record advance and that money isn't there for bands anymore. My advice (for new bands) would be, get lots of skills, learn how to do your website, your videos. Become friends with people who can do things. Because you're gonna have to do it all yourself. I suppose if you're good at using the web, you've a good chance of getting in there. There's almost too much choice but we love it. That's probably the reason the album took so long. Getting the Internet in the studio"

Having spent several years in a bunker recording an album and several years trying to get it released HAL, have words of inspiration and warning for aspiring musicians and bands thinking about entering the studio, for the first time. "Have a real solid direction of where you want the song to end up when it's recorded." Says Allen "Rehearse it, practise it, fall in love with it, Give it the opportunity it deserves, and your band deserves." While O'Brien warns "I've had bands in the studio and I've told them just go home because you haven't got your song together, you're wasting my time and your money, go back and figure out your song....."

The Time The Hour is released on Friday 13th of April but don't let that put you off. Its the finest Irish album of the year to date.  HAL, play The Button Factory on Friday 20th April click here to win tickets.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: The Walls At Whelans

Joe and Steve Wall, have spent the last few years driving around Ireland performing their very successful two-man show. This show featured backing tracks and recorded visuals of the band performing the songs, while the brothers sang and played guitar live. Tonight would be The Walls, first show as a full band for many years and much like a classic car, that only gets driven once in a blue moon, they spluttered and splattered to begin with, even backfired once or twice. But once the engine warmed up they started to purr, and as they went up the gears, they started to growl, like they’d never been away.

Joe delivered a good vocal performance on Bird in a Cage, and did well to keep his head as the gremlins did their best to disturb him as the performance got off to a bumpy start. Deadflowers the rockiest track on new album ‘Stop The Lights’, saw the band slip into high gear with a gritty memorable performance. Single Phantom Power continued things at a higher standard after the ropy beginning. Joe delivers an impressive falsetto vocal, and the band were joined on stage by Bill Blackmore, Ireland’s premier trumpet session player, giving the song a mariachi feel.

The gremlins returned on a below par rendition of Doodlesque, as the up and down nature of the performance continued  Arcade Fire tinged The Great Escape was much improved as was the Zooropa era  U2-esque ballad It Goes Without Saying. Black and Blue from previous album ‘New Dawn Breaking’ featured Bell X1 stickman Rory Doyle on lead vocals. With a voice this good it would be a shame if Doyle does not front a band or go solo at some stage. A bluegrass re-imagining of Bone Deep from 2000′s Hi/Low brought the low point of the evening, as it all unravelled once again, but thankfully for the last time.

There seems to be a new-found determination from here on; with a consistent improvement from song to song, to the point one could hardly believe it was the same band, who started the show with Carrying The Fire.  Joe seemed like a man possessed delivering a wonderful rendition of  May The Road Rise To You, Steve similarly so on Thanks For The Photographs before To The Bright And Shining Sun ignited the slightly perplexed crowd. By the time The Walls delivered an exquisite version of Bird In A Cage it was hard to see it getting any better. But a sizzling version of Joe Cocker’s Summer in the City brought things up another level. A heavy hitting version of fan favourite Drowning Pool finished off one of the most bizarre gigs in Whelans history, in considerable style.