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.
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)
The Introducing section is starting to fill up nicely here on my blog. Over the last few days I’ve received some albums and EP’s from a number of exciting Irish and International artists who I will be featuring in the coming weeks. But first, here’s something I was sent last month.
Singer, Songwriter, Pianist and Composer, Madeline Mondrala, grew up in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. She has been writing songs since she was a child and recently released her debut EP, Cloud. Recorded and produced at SUNY Purchase College, New York, with a team of fifteen musicians it’s fair to say that Cloud is an ambitious experiment, especially as a debut. The use of organic samples from original instruments is refreshing and provides a distinctive edge to the overall sound of the EP. From the self styled hip-hop sounding ‘Blood Brother’ to the subtle frailty of ‘Busy’ it is clear that Cloud is book-ended by individuality.
As a demo tape Cloud works exceptionally well, effortlessly showcasing the multi-faceted talents of Mondrala and co. But as a record it is rather disjointed and unsure of itself. Each track, though expertly polished, differs and bears no relation to the others. For the future perhaps Mondrala may have to focus on one particular style or at least find a better way of amalgamating the current mix. Either way I have no doubt that we will be hearing more from Madeline Mondrala in the not so distant future.
Cloud can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp, or streamed below.
Have you seen this yet?
Paperman is Disney’s Oscar Nominated short film/animation. They have only just made it available on their official YouTube channel and it is most certainly worth watching. For those of you too lazy to go to YouTube, don’t worry, I have it below.
Ironically enough, the retro, almost hand drawn style of the short animation was achieved through a new animation software package called Meander. This allowed animators to actually draw over CGI enhanced backgrounds.
What Disney have managed to create within six minutes and thirty-five seconds is refreshing and offers a new and well needed alternative to the generic slog of modern-day animation out there. But that’s not to say that all animation is terrible and neither am I ignoring the fact that Disney are partly responsible for releasing their own fair share of less that adequate films in recent times.
Anyway, rant over now. So watch it below, enjoy and of course let me know what you think.