January, for most people, is a proactive time. It’s a month for planning and of course looking forward. So it’s only natural that my first post of the year be of a revisionist nature. 2014 may or may not go down in the annuls of time as a particular stellar vintage for musical offerings. But I thought I might as well mark the past year with some albums that caught my attention and provided a more that pleasing soundtrack.
The one thing certainly not lacking from the current music scene is solo male vocalists. And whilst Noel O’Brien, the 21-year-old singer/songwriter from Tipperary, may be just that, he does little to blend into the crowd. Having just released a self-titled EP (his debut offering) O’Brien seems to be set on proving that deep (somewhat emotional) acoustic folk can still carry a unique appeal.
Opening with “Yet To Come” probably the most accessible track on the EP, O’Brien conjures up deep atmospheric imagery with little more than a guitar and haunting vocals. The remainder of the EP follows in a similar vein and works well as a showcase of one man in tune with his guitar.
A favourite of mine off the record “The Night” demonstrates a deeper musical sensibility and belongs somewhere in the realm of Conor O’Brien’s Villagers (no relation I’m sure).
The EP eventually draws to a close with “Reprise” a well worked, thought-provoking track that will stay with you long after listening. And perhaps this is the true magic of the EP. On the surface it’s a well put-together ‘easy-listening’ record but digging that little bit deeper uncovers a wealth of creative intrigue and subtle talent.
Download Noel O’Brien’s debut release on Bandcamp
Keeping in the same vein as last weeks post where I looked back at Wild Beasts fantastic 2014 album Present Tense, I’ve decided to keep the proverbial ball rolling with yet another ear-pleasing offering from the year just gone. It’s hard to mention the emergence of a new and exciting Icelandic band without availing of the over-obvious analogy. But I am going to try to do just that.
The Icelandic singer-songwriter, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, erupted (I just couldn’t leave it go) onto the scene in the early months of 2014 with a powerful debut in the form of In The Silence. But of course he’s talent had been bubbling under the surface (last one I promise) for years prior, with native language hits on the national airwaves in his homeland.
But a musical partnership with John Grant (the multilingual singer-songwriter from US of A) saw the album translated into the more familiar English and the rest as they say, is history. Well not quite, but it’s certainly history in the making for the relatively young Asgeir.
For those of you already familiar with this humble blog, you’ll have read all about Asgeir in the past. And as I’m not in the habit of repeating myself, I’ll leave you now with something a bit different. It’s not every day you get to post Miley Cyrus on your blog without damaging ones credibility:
Shorter days, lower temperatures and the emergence of the all-dreaded christmas music can only mean one thing. No not santa! There’s still 29 days till the jolly red giant comes calling (not that I’m counting or anything) But no, the end of the year for music bloggers and journalists alike only means one thing and that of course is ‘Album of the Year’. And whilst the majority of these lists will be populated by the same names (barring a few exceptions of course), I never thought that an album by a band with no number 1 singles and little international exposure would pop up as a serious frontrunner for my obligatory chart.
The band of course is Analogue Wave and regular readers here will know that I’m somewhat of a fan (but don’t hold that against me) Since the initial emergence of various demo’s and EP’s earlier this year, Del Chaney and Andrew ‘Gint’ Sneyd have done well to capture a decade of electro, dub, reggae and blues music and cleverly package it in the form a debut album/masterpiece.
From N.L.G. W.V.’s atmospheric opener Devils, to the heavy-hitting Fingers and subtly refined I Hold Dear Analogue Wave effortlessly show how to merge a broad range of musical genres whilst retaining each and every element that makes the group what they are.
Both individually and collectively Del & Gint have amassed a wealth of musical experience over the years. And it is this which has allowed for the album’s seamless and well-rounded quality (not something that can be said in relation to the majority of debut releases). There is a noticeable confidence deeply entrenched in the duo’s debut offering that stands as a testament to the groups musical prowess.
And so what does the future hold for this Dublin based electro group? They have already received plaudits from the likes of The Guardian and RTE 2FM. And with one album under their belt and a second underway which promises to be ‘faster and groovier than the first with the AW twist’ it may not be much longer till Analogue Wave becomes somewhat of a household name.
If you like what you hear be sure to check out the band’s online profiles:
My Tribe Your Tribe is the solo project of musician and former Boy Lights Fire frontman, George Mercer. Since the disintegration of previous band related activities earlier this year, Mercer has been proactive in his quest for musical development and in such he has discarded the humble guitar in favor of keyboards, drum machines and other such digital apparatus which has allowed My Tribe Your Tribe to experiment and grow whilst churning out captivating, ear-pleasing and utterly relaxing electronic music.
Such aspects mentioned above were present in Mercer’s premier offering, the aptly named Vol. 1 EP, a record which offered up a glimpse of the Dubliners potential musical talents. But as to be expected with debut E.P. releases, Vol 1. was far from refined (which is more inevitability than criticism). But thankfully though, the latest offering from My Tribe Your Tribe, the Vol. II E.P. has more than picked up the slack and in such hones in on a more unique and personal sound and identity.
The E.P. was launched on November 4th with the release of the ‘upbeat dancefloor track’ Sunset. Following on from this, MTYT released their second track off the record on the following Monday and the third on the Monday after that. Tomorrow, Monday 25th, marks the release of the final track, Brave Reunion which in turn will finalise the release of Vol. II.
‘These songs are intentionally intimate, and collectively about coming to realize a kind of deeper connection with people and the universe’…
I wanted to let broader influences determine the outcome, instead of forcing myself down any particular avenue. It seems to be a healthier and more satisfying journey’.
It’s hard to nail down a standout track from the E.P. as each is seemingly designed to support and compliment each other. But in saying that Brave Reunion (tomorrows release) most definitely contains shades of something special (and you only have to wait 24 hours to find out for yourself).
At present, My Tribe Your Tribe perform as a 4-piece full live band with a vinyl release and spate of gigs coming up in the new year. You can find MTYT on Facebook and all tracks mentioned in this post can be downloaded from Bandcamp.
So while I’m still working out some technical issues with the full album stream from the Analogue Wave guys. Here’s a sneak preview of N.L.G. W.V. (well 5 songs is hardly a preview, it’s half their album). If you like what you hear below, I would encourage you to head over to the guys bandcamp and purchase the full album ( http://analoguewave.bandcamp.com/album/n-l-g-w-v ) Happy Listening!
Luuunnnatic, I see you loving like a Luuuuuuuuuuuuunatic!! What better way to start this review then with the same lyrics and ferocious intensity as the opening of Makings debut E.P. ‘Lunatic’. Okay so my words might not carry the same levels of enthusiasm but I am counting on you to utilize your imagination. If such device is unavailable at this time then feel free to hit the play button below.
As previously mentioned, this is the debut musical offering from the ‘Irish Quartet’, Makings, and it’s arrival could not be more accurate. At a time where rock music has become diluted by ‘indie’ and subsequent ‘rockstars’ have fallen into the recesses of the all dreaded self-importance, Makings original brand of Lunacy offers a much needed respite. The band is made up of, If I may borrow some words from the press release, ‘…actor Rick Burn, compared to Axl Rose and Mike Patton, guitarist Shock- who wears only a Scottish accent and a pair of jump leads, Keelster – the harmony king and Mr Renolds – who sits comfortably against the back wall belting a drum kit…’
(The new video for Icarus. I get the connection with flying to close too the sun and all that.. But why the garage or more to the point why the ‘crazy hands dance’ by guitarist ‘Shock’ Must be something to do with his name.)
But Makings are far from a novelty act with each song on this four track E.P. possessing exceptionally high musical qualities and the ability to stand alone as a single. It is rare that such quality comes from a debut release. Notable tracks include, well, all of them but especially Icarus and Locher Avenue.
At present, there is no info on upcoming album/E.P. releases. But from the evidence put forward in ‘Lunatic’ one could not be blamed for predicting that any and all future releases from Makings will be nothing short of mind-blowing.
Keep up to date with the band on their Facebook Page.