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).
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:
I’m clearly going soft in the head. Two festive songs up on my blog and it’s not even Christmas week yet! But some things are just worth posting, right?
We Cut Corners, a vocally captivating duo out of Ireland, have affixed this rather satisfying cherry to the top of an already stellar 2014. Following on from the success of ‘Think Nothing’ (their second studio offering) We Cut Corners have only gone and recorded a Christmas song. Well it’s a Christmas cover, but let that take nothing away from this fantastic track.
The Riptide Movement have worked hard over the years to not only associate themselves with, but in turn become, a beacon for the never-dying spirit of good ole Irish Rock music. Invoking the spirit of Lizzy and co. each release has acted as a steady and determined stepping-stone towards something great. The most recent of these steps took the Lucan rockers to Vicar Street last Friday night to launch their new record ‘Getting Through’ to an adorning mass of 1,500 or so, die-hard fans.
With the venue close to capacity and the band ready to explode with a setlist jam-packed with shiny new material, the atmosphere was, if you’ll excuse the overused analogy, electric. Kicking off with the instantly recognisable crowd pleaser ‘Hot Tramp’ the crowd were unleashed and the stage was set. Ireland had once again scored the opening goal in the Rock n Roll World Cup. But then it happened. Enter stage left (or was that my left), a neatly matching four-piece troupe of backing singers and to the right an equally enthusiastic brass section. All of a sudden, the rough and ready rockers were engulfed in an homage to something not unlike The Commitments.
And when the collective talents of The Riptide are taken into account, the distractions flanking the stage seemed to be an unnecessary gimmick. A collection of hits such as ‘Thieves in the Gallery’ and ‘Hard to Explain’ taken from their critically acclaimed album, ‘Keep on Keepin’ on’ do well to feed the hungry revelers. But once the newer tracks are unveiled it all becomes clear as to why the band may have wanted to hide on a busy stage. Songs like ‘All Works Out’ (the current single) and ‘How Can I Let You Go?’ seem but a cloudy memory of The Riptide Movement’s musical ferocity. It seems that they are a band in transition and with a new major record deal with Universal Music you’d forgive them the odd experimental slip up (even if ‘You And I’ sounds a bit like something lifted from Aslan’s back catalogue).
Overall the band have done well to propel themselves from the days of busking on Grafton Street. But it seems that all their early efforts have left a positive and permanent mark. No matter where their all but certain fame and fortune brings them, there’ll always be a warm welcome waiting back home.
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.
Irish four piece Gangs have turned many a head following their formation back in the not so distant 2012. And in the relatively short space of time wedged in between their conception and the present day they have achieved some fairly solid accolades. Hot Press (one of the very few Irish music magazines) may have peaked too soon when they branded the Tallaght band as ‘Hot for 2013’ but they were far from wrong to take notice. To date they have opened for Palma Violets, performed at the prestigious Other Voices festival and played a spate of sold out shows throughout the country. And it is all of the above, mixed with a small but well polished repertoire of tracks that is going to allow Gangs to take the new year by storm.
The band will be launching their new single ‘2.15’ at the end of February in what promises to be an epic Whelans gig. But until then you will have to make do with the soundcloud and youtube links below.
Check out Gangs at Other Voices…