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…
Yes, I said band! I wanted to kill two birds with several stones in the form of a single blog post this weekend, so I have quite cleverly (even if I may say so myself), decided to combine the ‘song for the weekend’ segment with the new band ‘introducing’ segment. Call it crafty, lazy, whatever you prefer, but either way, like it or not, I will introduce you to a new band this weekend. Now I’m sure of two things, one being that I used one too many commas in that last sentence and the other being that I’m yet to formally introduce this mystery band. So lets cut this mindless babble short.
The Statics, Irelands contemporary throwback to the swinging sixties, are a Dublin based rock band consisting of Liam Gardner (Vocals, Guitars), Daragh O’Connell (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Jacqueline Campion (Drums) and Thomas Nugent (Bass). Their nostalgic stylings, adept musicality and vocal abilities are refreshing and do well to transport listeners to an era when ‘pop music’ was far less offensive to the ears. But the secret to The Static’s success is their ability to retain strong shards of originality whilst channeling so much from times long gone. Here’s what the band have to say for themselves.
Mixing the pop sensibilities of the Beatles, the snarling vocals of The Arctic Monkeys and not forgetting the rhythmic acoustic guitars of the Everlys (and hopefully their harmonies!) The Statics are a truly powerful force live and on record.
After the great success of their Debut Single Release “Holiday” back in November 2012, The Statics have been busy gigging all over Ireland promoting their sound . With invitations to play festivals such as Sea Sessions, Casltepalooza, Ballinamore Fringe Festival, and having just been announced on the bill for this year’s Vantastival Festival 2013, no doubt now is the perfect time to release the band’s Debut E.P “Hidden Pigeon”.
And so there you have it. Seeing as I am showcasing a band, rather than a song, I have included two tracks for your consideration. If you like what you hear you can follow the band on Twitter, like them on Facebook and even download their new E.P. on iTunes.
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)
What’s more important to you at the moment, Live gigs or studio sessions?
Right now, live appearances. I’ve written music for years without ever intending to try and recreate anything live. Now that I’m doing just that, I realise how incredibly fun it can be once you get over the whole “nervous shakes” thing. But recording music will always be my first and most abusive love.
Do you enjoy playing live gigs?
I love them when they go well. I’ve gone to a lot of concerts so I know what has connected with me when I see someone playing an acoustic show. It supposed to be personal, yet not put you above the audience even though you’re up on stage. It’s a tricky line to walk, but I’m figuring it out.
Do you find it a solitary experience playing as a solo artist?
It does get lonely up there sometimes. I’m enjoying playing the songs in a stripped down fashion but I’m starting to realize that they’re meant to be powerful. I’ve been considering getting some other musicians together to help me present the album in the way it was intended: really loud
How do you manage to ‘fill the stage’?
I usually get models to stand around me, ala Robert Palmer, and they mime playing instruments and just generally look pretty. But with an acoustic show, moving around the stage while playing is difficult because if you screw up something you look a lot less like David Lee Roth and a lot more like an asshole that can’t play. I just try to give the songs the right amount of emotion in my singing and playing so that people will hopefully be moved enough to ignore their waitresses. Sorry, waitresses.
What scale is your recording operation? (Home Studio, Production team etc)
A couple of Shure mics, a stereo mic, a mac and instruments all set up in my home office. I booked time in a real studio once, but realised quickly that if you’re going to experiment with songs while there, you better have some serious cash. It’s just so easy to set up a home studio now that it’s kind of crazy to pay to use someone else’. I MacGyver’d a studio and I’m happy with that.
Does this add/subtract to Golden BC’s overall sound?
I think that it adds infinitely. While I understand that engineers and producers have years of knowledge that can really add to a recording, I know what I want to hear coming out of those speakers and it may take longer at times, but I’ll get it. Experimenting with sounds while recording the new record would never have been possible for me if I had used a studio outside of the one I built.
Do you have any experience in the area of music production and recording?
Besides my own work, no. I started recording with Audacity, then Garageband, now Logic Express and have taught myself the whole way. I’m not exactly going to produce someone else’s record, but I’m getting better at perfecting my processes as you can tell in the difference between “The Truth in the Facts” and “Just Take It”.
Does your skill level hinder your ability to truly express yourself?
What are you trying to say? J
Sometimes, but I think that’s the case with most musicians, even the amazingly talented ones. To me, music is always the best when it’s simple in structure, lush in sound. So you could have a song like “Get Rid of It” where there is so much shit going on in the song but the whole thing comes from two chords that play the whole time. So skill is kind of irrelevant when it comes to expressing myself, I’m just going to start playing the guitar like a percussion instrument and sing to that if I can’t come up with something better.
What do you aim to achieve with your music?
I want to have a truckload of Junos dumped on my lawn. Otherwise, I think the biggest aim of my music is simply to get people to listen to it and buy it. I know that sounds kind of shitty to say, but honestly, the money all goes back into making and releasing more music. I see it as an encouragement to create more music, and an investment from a fan that I will repay tenfold.
How close are you to satisfying these goals?
No Junos yet, but if Celine Dion doesn’t put out an album this year it could be a possibility.
So you released an album last year, Just Take It. Are you happy with how it turned out?
For the most part. There will always be things that I’ll wish I had done differently but once it’s out, I’m not about to George Lucas anything. But really, its my most fully-formed record and I’m very proud of it.
How did you find the overall process of creating an album?
Tedious at times. This was the first time I had attempted to have an ongoing theme through an entire album and sometimes getting the pieces to fit took a little smashing. “The Idiots” was rewritten about 4 times before it ended up as what you hear on the record. It was a folk song, then it was very ambient sounding, then I ripped apart everything and made the final version.
How has it been received?
Pretty well so far, its kind of strange record to review because it can be all over the place from song to song. But I’m hoping people will give it a few chances to grow on them because, (and I’m not biased at all) it’s a pretty great record.
So finally, what do you have planned for 2013? Any new projects on the horizon?
After taking 2 years to make one record, 2013 is going to be hyper productive. I have a plan to write, record, and release 40 songs this year. There may be a full length album here or there, or maybe just a lot of EPs, I haven’t really decided how to divide it up yet. But yeah, there’s going to be tons of new Golden B.C. stuff this year as well as some live appearances, maybe even with a full band. Wouldn’t that be nice?