So I think I finally figured it out. And by ‘IT’ I mean the reason for my absence from this self built web-presence (not the Stephen King novel about scary clowns). This blog is over 4 years old. I created it, set it up with its imaginative title (ahem), wrote some blog posts and here we are. This blog, my blog, started out merely as a place for me to share and catalog my taste in music. (Well it actually started its life as a film review blog, but it didn’t take long for music to take over).
Let me introduce you to my latest obsession. Asgeir, or Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson, is an Icelandic singer songwriter who has been on a sort of meteoric rise (never really knew what that last expression means) since his emergence back in 2012. Having been forged in the land of Ice and Fire, Asgeir has had somewhat of a head start coming from a family rooted in music and poetry. And these factors are prevalent in the atmospheric brand of rhythmic indie-funk (not really sure what else to call it if I’m to be honest).
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Asgeir up close and personal in the confides of St James Church (Dingle) for the world-renowned Other Voices festival. And it was whilst sitting in the front row of the miniscule chapel/music venue/tv studio that I first encountered this curious musical medley.
Originally recorded in his native tongue, Asgeir’s debut album features most prominently in english. This of course was made possible through translation work by the enigmatic American singer, John Grant (who also made an appearance at Other Voices).
The debut offering , from the Icelandic singer-songwriter, ‘In the Silence’ is deep, dark, atmospheric and laden with lyrics and metaphors passed down from his ‘wordsmith’ father. This marriage of hard-hitting, thought-provoking lyrics with captivating electronic musical accompaniment does well to provide a fresh listening experience. But not so fresh to the point where the listener feels somewhat alienated. A sort of happy medium.
Indiependence really has to be commended for the addition of the Bier Halle stage to this year’s festival. Situated within a huge barn, it is more of a music venue than stage with its own bar stocked with the finest local craft beers, lounge area with comfortable seating and even ping-pong tables. But it is the line-up itself which makes the Bier Halle so special. The honour of kicking Saturday off early fell to Wexford band, Redwoods. Their upbeat blend of indie-pop ballads including the newest single, ‘Don’t Take Me Down’, were the perfect antidote for the tired heads camped out on the hard but dry concrete floors of the Bier Hall.
Staying put for Kapitals proved to be a wise decision. Their throat-wrenching vocals and pleasing guitar riffs did well to blow the cobwebs away and recharge empty batteries for the long day of festival merriment that lay ahead. With songs like ‘Paris is Burning’ it’s easy to see why this North Dublin band have been tipped for big things.
A search for pastures new ended in the Maxol Big Top with Irish electro-synth band, Le Galaxie. What followed was one of the weekends best live sets. The band, all male band, were decked out in matching sparkly outfits and spurred on by the mad antics of frontman Michael Pope and his ‘questionable’ dance moves. The set list trawled the bands back-catalogue, especially the ‘Laserdisc Nights 2’ album, with noticeable fan favourites coming in the shape of ‘Midnight Midnight’, ‘The Nightcaller’ and ‘Solarbabies’.
Unfortunately Kodaline failed to replicate the same levels of energy and enthusiasm over on the Main Stage. Their careful and subtly crafted set seemed lost amidst the inadequate sound levels emitted from the premier stage. But that didn’t stop the band forging an instant connection with the crowd. Kodaline may have come a long way in a short period of time but it is apparent that their roots are not forgotten. With announcements regarding the bands humble campsite accommodation and songs such as ‘All I Want’ and ‘Love Like This’ it’s not hard to see why Kodaline are fan favourites.
Headlining duties at the halfway point of the festival fell to Bell X1. In a day that did so well to showcase the current strength of Irish Music it would have been hard to find a more fitting headline act. Adoring fans relished the display of instantly recognisable hits including ‘Flame’, ‘Velcro’ and ‘The Great Defector’. But it was the encore of ‘Rocky Took A Lover’ that cemented the Dublin group’s place on the Indiependence Main Stage.
With the formalities of day two at an end, all left to do was to enjoy the post-apocalyptic jam session that is King Kong Company. The glow stick laden musical conglomerate did well to keep spirits high and ensure the longevity of late night festival revellers.
Before I introduce you to the musical styling’s of Kenmare duo Red Elephant, allow me to fill you in on an online music competition currently being run here in Ireland. It is called the Red Bull Bedroom Jam and as the title may suggest, its principle aim is to bring young bands out of the bedroom and onto the big stage. And the stage, or stages, in question just happen to be located at six of the countries most popular music festivals. The qualifying heats have come and gone, leaving six talented bands to battle it out ‘bedroom style’ for the coveted top spot on the Festival Chart.
And one of these bands just so happens to be Red Elephant. With their distinct fusion of 60’s rock, contemporary folk and carefully controlled musical mayhem, it is not hard to see how the pair booked their place in the final. Musical responsibilities are divided up as follows with Sadhbh Moriarty on drums, Laurie Shaw on lead guitar and a shared vocal contribution akin to a sort of Kathy Davy and Alex Turner duet.
To date, Elefante Rojo (or Red Elephant to all us English speakers) have released one album and are currently working on a follow-up “Red Elephant II” which is due for release in June. On the gig front, they will be sharing the stage with fellow Kerry natives and last years Red Bull Bedroom Jam winners, Walking on Cars, at this years Charlie Chaplain Film Festival on August 22nd. But in the meantime you can show your support for Red Elephant by liking them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/weareredelephant) following them on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ThisRedElephant) and of course by voting for them in the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Festival Chart (http://www.redbullbedroomjam.ie/2013-band/red-elephant/) They are currently in fourth place and could do with a bit of support. But win or lose, I am all but certain that we will be hearing a lot more from Red Elephant in the not so distant future.
OK so here we go, I think it’s about time that I got back up on the proverbial horse and returned to the faithful blog. I do apologise for my lengthy absence but I had the small matter of my final year of College to deal with. But now as I write this post I am free. Free from exams, free from painfully long essays, free from pointless lectures and above all else free from educational slavery. Of course I have to mention that the aforementioned freedoms are subject to me actually passing my final exams and assignments. Fingers crossed though!!
So what have you been up to since my last post here? I’m not addressing any one individual in particular, just trying to be friendly and open up a dialogue so I can tell you everything that I have been up to. So for the past couple of months, as I mentioned above, I’ve been working towards my college degree. This included the production of a documentary film called ‘Under The Influence’ which examined the relationship between video games and their users, but more about that on another day. I also appeared on the radio (can one appear on a primarily auditory medium?) and was asked to give a spiel on the upcoming Irish Festival Season. The blog post for which can be found here. I also have the mp3 file from the interview which I may put up at some stage.
Over the past few months I have received a large number of music submissions from some great bands. Whilst I have not had the time to blog about them it is fair to say that my study playlist was anything but dull. I’ll be catching up on these reviews over the next few weeks so be sure to watch out for the likes of Red Elephant, Analogue Wave, Wolfgirl and many other talented bands.
Finally, you may have (or not) noticed the Roksan logo on the right hand side of the blog. Relax, it’s not some bad attempt at naming my favourite Police song. The good folks at Roksan Audio have kindly lent me their Radius record player for which I will be using to add a new vinyl review section to the blog. I haven’t exactly settled on a name but I’m looking at something along the lines of ‘The Vinyl Countdown’, ‘The Vinyl Frontier’ or something equally as cheesy. To ensure the fruition of this soon to be launched section I am looking for vinyl records (yeah probably the most obvious one) but if you are in a band and have decided to press vinyl or happen to own records that you would like to donate then please get in touch. Secondly, I will be looking to interview some vinyl enthusiasts and collectors, so if you would consider yourself to be such person then please also get in touch.
And so think that’s it. Now that the silence has been broken you can expect a lot more reviews over the coming weeks, months and possibly even years. But for now let’s stick with tradition and finish with a song. (Bet you didn’t see this one coming)