I just wanted to put up a quick post and let you know what has been happening here. As you may have already noticed, there are a few shiny new badges on the right-hand-side of the blog. One will be somewhat familiar to long time readers but the other is new for us all (myself included).
Irish band Enemies have re-emerged from a two-year hiatus with a new single. Play Fire, a somewhat rejuvenated track which draws a fine line between the meticulous world of mathematically inspired rock (too far with genre specifics?) and joviality of pop music, sees the four-piece pick up from where they left off almost 24 months ago.
Bearing the signature Enemies style and layered attention to detail, Play Fire is an immediate return to form. The hook laden track is as captivating and attention grabbing as the accompanying video (which you can watch below).
For those of you unfamiliar with Enemies, you can listen to their back catalogue as well as download the new release over on Bandcamp.
If you are here expecting a review of The Chemical Brothers new album then let me be the first (and subsequently the only person) to let you down gently. Regular readers (does such a person/group exist) will be aware that music by the likes of The Chemical Brothers would be somewhat out-of-place on this blog. But they would also be accustomed to the random and somewhat diverse nature of music posted here.
The title, lo and behold, does in fact stem from the electronic duo’s latest musical offering but more so in the form of the albums’ title track. I’ve not really been a big fan of the brothers’ chemical nor have I invested too much in the world of electronic dance music/techno/big beat (I can’t even label the stuff properly) but I have been taken aback by this track.
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.
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
I’m not a musician and I’ve never claimed to be. And so naturally, I’m often asked why I write a MUSIC blog. I can’t sing (although try telling me that after a few drinks) nor can I play an instrument, yet. I have recently acquired an electric guitar but that’s a story for another day/blog. So what gives me the right to judge the merit of anyone’s musical offering?
The short answer is of course nothing. I can’t tell if a guitar player is employing a certain technique of if a peculiar sequence of notes has any particular value. I can of course Google this if I want to appear “all-knowing” but really what is the point?
It seems that blogs, more-so those pertaining to the arts, fall under a certain pressure to be critical. Of course we all have the right (and responsibility) to express criticism. Without truly questioning something how can we garner an understanding? But there is a blurred line between opinion and criticism. And whilst the power we wield as self-appointed judges can be addictive if not intoxicating, it is of no use to either artist or reader.
But this is not to say that my music blog is of no use. There is a reason why I put fingers to keys and churn out “reviews”. The only musical asset I truly possess is my taste. That might sound a little pompous, but I do this because I love music. And the reality is that there is no real output for the wealth of musical talent in this country. When I make such a statement I am of course am talking about Ireland. A country with such a strong artistic and cultural history despite such minuscule investment and infrastructure. Whilst there are some good radio shows, publications and of course blogs who strive to put good music in the public domain, mainstream media continues to turn a blind eye to home-grown talent.
Of course my blog can’t change this current state of affairs. But to employ a cheesy and overused cliché, I hope my contribution will act as another “brick in the wall” which puts good music to the forefront (Please excuse that Floydian slip).
In the late 70’s and early 80’s Belfast found it’s sound. At a time of great struggle and difficultly, residents of the besieged Northern Irish capital took solace in a new form of music spilling-over from across the Irish Sea. And whilst the troubles may have dissipated, the resonating edgy tones of punk remained an indicative cornerstone of the Belfast music scene. One such flag bearer for the favoured genre took to the rough and ready stage of Hangar in Dublin last Saturday night.
Before I review the gig I think it’s only fair that I provide a few words on the venue. Last Saturday was my first time inside the doors of Hangar, a venue which started its life as a shirt factory in the heart of Dublin city. Over the years production ceased and the warehouse in Andrews Lane became a music venue/nightclub. With exposed walls and no discerning features bar a stage and sound desk, Hangar works well as a blank canvas and takes nothing from the artist. But at the same time it exudes a distinct atmosphere and character and this seemed to add layers to Girls Names intense performance.
Opening with “The New Life” the title track from their highly successful 2013 release, it was to be one of the few familiar songs dished out. But that’s not to say that the night was without substance. The plethora of new material (of which I will not pretend to know) seemed to be well received by the intimate audience. More recognisable nuggets came in the form of “Zero Triptych” an 11 minute juggernaut of a song and of course “Hypnotic Regression”. The latter was preceded with an apology for the abundance of new material. But judging from the sheer quality of what was on offer, it was an apology that fell on deaf ears.
What Girls Names delivered last Saturday might may very well turn out to be a seminal chapter in an impressive origin story. The cornerstone of any talented band is forged through the relationship between bass player and drummer. And this is something that Gib Cassidy and Claire Miskimmin have in absolute abundance. Adding an enigmatic front-man and overall desire to progress and develop a signature sound, Girls Names certainly have all necessary ingredients in place.
Forgiving their one (mortal) sin of ending the set with a less than familiar track and not following up with the standard encore, the Hangar gig was still pretty impressive. I’ll happily put it down to character building and eagerly look forward to the October’s release.