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.
I know we’ve long passed the year’s half way mark (where has the time gone) but I wanted to share a Spotify playlist I’ve been carefully compiling. It’s a list of my favourite albums released this year and whilst it may contain some obvious choices I think there’s also a few wild cards in the mix. I’ve even included two albums which haven’t been released yet. That might seem a tad presumptions but I’m more than convinced that these two will be battling it out for my affections and the coveted number one spot come the end of the year. So have a listen, let me know what you think and if there are any glaring omissions please don’t hesitate to share.
Villagers, the solo project of Conor O’Brien, are back with a brand new tune and a brand new beard. But as this is a music blog and not critical facial hair review site (although…) you can listen to the new track ‘Courage‘ below.
This new musical offering from O’Brien is both haunting and atmospheric. Packed with the trademark Villagers style, Courage acts as the perfect opener for the band’s third studio album, Darling Arithmetic. But whilst the album isn’t set for release till April 13, if does well to whet the appetite. The track-list is included below.
2. Everything I Am Is Yours
3. Dawning On Me
4. Hot Scary Summer
5. The Soul Serene
6. Darling Arithmetic
7. Little Bigot
8. No-one To Blame
9. So Naïve
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:
Words are great. You can use a thousand of them in one sentence and end up saying absolutely nothing. And in the same breath, you can paint pictures, conjure grand tales and captivate an imagination with just a handful. I was racking my brain earlier, trying to find something to write about, something to say. And I came across an idea in the a supplement in one of the weekend papers.
The concept of which I found so interesting revolved around a short story competition. One where the only resource available to the writers was six words (of their own choosing of course). The idea for this, stretches back to 1920’s when Ernest Hemingway, within the confides of a bet, penned a complete story in just six words.
‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’
And whilst the concept is far from new, it has sort of, kicked me back into action where my writing is concerned. How can I hide behind the excuse of having nothing to write about when all I need is six words. Now, finding the words is a whole other story, but a challenge I relish and look forward to all the same. Everyone has a story to tell, we just need to find the words. I can write my story in six words, or closer to the mark, I can write it in six million. The important thing is that I keep writing. Because that’s where inspiration is born, a craft is honed and more than anything else, it’s where a voice becomes audible.
And now, in a slightly unrelated note…
Well boys and girls, it’s that time of the year again and I’m delighted to announce that for the third year running, my humble music blog has been included amongst the country’s best and brightest. (I am of course talking about the Irish Blog Awards.) And whilst 2014 may not have been the most fruitful where blog content is concerned, I am honoured to see that my writing endeavors are still being regarded in a positive light.
There’s still a long way to go in these awards, so I won’t begin to write my acceptance just yet. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t thank you (the reader) for living up to your name and reading, but also for commenting, liking my posts, following the blog and emailing me everything from music submissions to words of gentle encouragement (not that I need it).
While you’re here, why not check out the other great blogs and websites nominated for this years awards.
Or how about some music instead?
Mick Flannery – Get What You Give
The Indiependence Music and Arts festival has gone from strength to strength since its original formation back in 2006. At the time it was a free festival which took place in the square in Mitchelstown. But as the popularity and subsequent crowd numbers grew, Indiependence was moved to the 5000 capacity Deer Farm. As the festival expanded over the years so did the line-up. This year sees one of the strongest to date with the likes of White Lies, Tom Odell and Public Enemy taking over the main stage for the three nights. Below is a handpicked list of 8 acts who under no circumstance should be missed over the weekend.
- White Lies
I normally try to tip-toe around the headliners with these lists. Sure if you’ve gone to the bother of buying a ticket I’m guessing you’ve at the very least glanced at the 3 big names on top of the line up? But either way, there’s no avoiding the big Saturday night headliner, White Lies. The UK trio originally headlined the festival back in 2010 with only a debut album to their name. This year, they are returning with a wealth of festival experience as well as two more highly acclaimed albums to their names. Closing the main stage on Saturday night, White Lies are certainly, as the title suggests, not to be missed. (Saturday Main Stage 23:00-00:30)
Delorentos are no strangers to Indiependence and have graced various stages of the humble festival over the years. This year however sees them step up to the main stage for what is sure to be a highly charged set. As one of Ireland’s most exciting and entertaining live acts, Delorentos are a band who will not disappoint. (Saturday Main Stage 21:15-22:15)
I knew nothing about Findlay prior to the Indiependence line up announcement. Don’t look at me like that! Sure I could have used Google, looked up a few facts and played the ‘all knowing music blogger’ card. But in saying that, I have been listening to her music. And if tracks like ‘Off & On‘ are anything to go by then Findlay’s one-woman, rock n roll assault will go down a treat. (Saturday The Big Top 20:00-20:30)
Hozier has been flying the flag for Irish music as of late. With a deep soulful voice and a small but captivating array of tracks to his name, it’s not hard to see how the Wicklow native has built such a following. (Sunday Main Stage 20:00-20:45)
With raspy throat-wrenching vocals packaged within the confines of a sometimes subtle yet always captivating indie band, Kapitals is a name which should be on everyone’s ‘to see’ list. I had the pleasure of watching these guys play an early set at last year’s festival. The crowd was sparse but the band’s talent was there in abundance. (Sunday Big Top 15:30-16:00)
- Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
With Indiependence being their last ever Irish performance as a duo, it’s only fair that Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip get a mention here. They’ve played the festival in the past and also individually (well Pip did anyway). But with their musical endeavours coming to a close it would only be fair to expect something special. (Friday Big Top 23:30-01:00)
The last time I saw Raglans at Indiependence was 2012 (the year of the mud) where they had the unfortunate task of opening the main stage. With nothing more than a self-released debut EP in their arsenal, the would-be indie rockers pulled off one weekend’s best sets. Unfortunately though, only a handful of people got to witness the above. This year, they return to the main stage, with a new album in place of the previous EP, a major record deal and a wealth of live festival appearances under their belts. (Saturday Main Stage 18:00-18:30)
- We Cut Corners
We Cut Corners have the uncanny ability to deliver pulse-racing rock ballads in a manner that is both subtle and sublime. With an array of hand-crafted, ear-pleasing tunes I’m sure the guitar and drum duo will go down a storm Friday night. (Friday Big Top 22:00-23:00)