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Old 03-16-2012, 06:29 PM   #1031 (permalink)
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Old 03-16-2012, 06:32 PM   #1032 (permalink)
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Time for the worm to introduce his last Irish selection, so here is the great Paul Brady, with a beautiful little song called “The island”. Slan!
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:33 AM   #1033 (permalink)
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We love you dark matter --- Dark Room Notes --- 2009 (Gonzo)


Right, in the interests of making sure as many different genres are covered as possible in the closing days of this inaugural Irish Week, let's try these guys. I know little about them other than what I have just now read, but they appear to be one of the rising stars on the Irish electropop/synthpop scene. They have a new album due out next month, but this is their debut and another album that was shortlisted for the Meteor Choice award, back in 2010.

“Each and every one of us” opens the album on a bright keyboard melody with drums that sound like a horse walking along, then the vocals of Ronan Gaughan cut in, intense and a little angry, but without the wild abandon of some vocalists in the same bracket. Nice guitar work too, and it seems both he and fellow founder member Ruairi Ferrie play guitar, sing, play synth and program (presumably the drum machines they use), with the addition of glockenspiel (!) being played by both Ferrie and the remaining member of the trio, Arran Murphy. This will make it a little difficult to know who's singing, so I'll just leave that hanging in the air. “Love like nicotine”, the lead-in single, is a rockier affair, with a lot of indie-style guitar and a really nice keyboard hook. A lot of energy in this song, really hops along, and the tempo doesn't slacken for “The same city awaits me”, the verses a little more stripped-down and basic than previous tracks, with some nice twiddly guitar bits and some pretty heavy drumming and a nice dancy synth solo halfway through. Kind of reminds me in places of Depeche Mode or New Order, though I was never much into that sort of music.

A bit more laidback and pop is “Fast flashes/Who is Isabella Moonlight?” I know I can hear female vocals in there: whose are they? Who, indeed, is Isabella? More new-wave style keys a la the likes of Fiction Factory, but the song is catchy, however I don't get the idea of the double title? A very dancy number but with overtones of both The The and Ric Ocasek is “This hot heat” (what other kind of heat would you have?), with some nice guitar touches breaking up the more or less predominant keyboard sound, handclap drumbeats, which never go down well with me, and a vocal which is just this side of rap, also not a good sign, from my point of view.

Much more back in the rock vein is “Broken nail”, with keyboard flourishes recalling Bronskibeat (urgh!) and Visage, but the guitars really break out on this track and stamp their authority on the song, overriding the banks of synthesisers for once, and to good effect. Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here and hypothesise that Arran Murphy is female (sorry if you're not!), as their picture shows a woman with two guys, and Ruari and Ronan are definitely male names, whereas Arran is that sort of name that could be either, like Vivian or Ronnie. “Elm” is a sort of striding electro-rocker, with a deep bass beat and squealing keyboards, the tiniest edges of punk just scraping off it as it passes by, and again the Cars/Ocasek influences are back. Hey, those keyboards sound like an accordion, just there! Oh, they're gone now.

Thick heavy bass intro to “Shake shake my ceiling”, then it kicks off into another fast electronic popster, the bass continuing to carry the rhythm as the keyboards and synths wail away, guitar cutting in and good backing vocals filling out the song. There's a slow and atmospheric opening then to “Let's light fires”, but it quickly picks up speed and bops along on a superfast synth and drum pattern, with a lot of energy and power, then “Treetops” takes us to the end of the album with what sounds like a more laidback, slightly slower song, with bassy synth and handclap drums, understated vocal and some sparkly piano. On synth, no doubt.

Yeah, this is good, but it's not my kind of music so it's a little hard to get too excited about it. For me, electronic music, with a very few exceptions, has always sounded just a little empty, soulless. I don't really get that from this particular album, but I don't see it that much different from the admittedly limited examples of this genre I have heard. A very good debut album, but purely on the basis of not being into this sort of thing I would not be in any huge hurry to hear the new album. For those of you waiting though, only a few more weeks to go, if rumours are to be believed.

TRACKLISTING

1. Each and every one of us
2. Love like nicotine
3. The same city awaits us
4. Fast flushes/Who is Isabella Moonlight?
5. This hot heat
6. Broken nail
7. Elm
8. Shake shake my ceiling
9. Let's light fires
10. Treetops
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:36 AM   #1034 (permalink)
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Although we comprehensively covered Gary Moore on the recent anniversary special, no week celebrating Irish music should finish without a mention of perhaps one of the greatest rock bands ever to come out of Ireland. Here is just a small selection of music from Phil and the boys.

From the “Jailbreak” album, here's the title track

as well as the obvious inclusion...



Moving on to “Johnny the Fox”, we have “Don't believe a word” of course

“Johnny the Fox meets Jimmy the Weed”

and “Fool's gold”.



From “Bad reputation” we're taking “Soldier of fortune”

the title track of course

and we could hardly leave out “Dancing in the moonlight”, now could we?


That takes us to “Black rose”, and as we've already reviewed this album, we'll just take “Waitin' for an alibi”, and move on


to “Chinatown”, which I was personally very disappointed with, and consider to have only the two good tracks, these being of course the title track

and “Killer on the loose”.


This album, on the other hand, I love. Here's “Angel of death” --- yeah, I know we've featured it before, but come on, it's a killer track, yes?

Then the title track is really cool

and I just love “Leave this town”.


And so we come to the final Lizzy album (studio, at any rate), which we have again reviewed already, so we'll just grab two tracks off it, ones that perhaps we overlooked in the review in favour of the stronger ones. This is “The holy war”

and this is “Baby please don't go.”


A small tribute then, on the last day of our Irish Week, to a band who rewrote Irish rock history and joined such giants as Gallagher, Morrison and U2 in showing the world what Ireland has to offer. Every Irish band the came after them owes them a debt of gratitude, whether they realise it or not.
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:43 AM   #1035 (permalink)
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People --- Hothouse Flowers --- 1988 (London)


Something of a force in Irish rock music in the late eighties, the debut album from Dublin's Hothouse Flowers was also their most successful, though they're still recording and releasing albums. This album secured a place in Irish music history as being the biggest selling debut album in Ireland, a record it still holds. With a mix of rock, pop, soul, gospel and Irish traditional music, Hothouse Flowers tapped into a zeitgeist that netted them a number two slot in the UK album charts and a single that fell just short of the top ten.

It opens on bright piano and guitar, Liam O'Maonlai's narrative vocal almost recalling the likes of Dylan and Waits on “I'm sorry”, bubbly organ and uptempo drumming kicking the song in with a gospel-style vocal backing as O'Maonlai goes into a normal style of singing, with a strong, raunchy voice that demands attention and pays homage to the great soul singers of the past. Their biggest hit single is next, and “Don't go” is built on a frothy piano melody, Liam's vocal almost scat at times, kind of wandering and laconic, while Dave Clarke (no, not that one!) keeps a steady rhythm on the drumkit. Some great sax from Leo Barnes adds to the pure joy engendered by this song, and the gospel chorus is back, then “Forgiven” is again gospel-inspired, but a slow, bluesy style song this time, much more guitar led with hardly any piano, and more surprisingly, given the nature of the song, no gospel chorus.

Things stay slow and gospelly for “It'll be easier in the morning”, built on a solid organ melody with some really nice brass, and the return of the gospel chorus. Great bit of fiddle provided by Andre Previn's daughter, Lovely. Though his voice is not in the same league, you can certainly draw parallels between Liam and Meat Loaf; the same power and passion, almost religious fervour in some of the songs, and the undeniable charisma of the man, who not surprisingly became the focus and face of the band. “Hallelujah Jordan” is another song based on guitar rather than piano (and Liam plays both, but we assume the main guitar parts here to be played by his compatriot Fiachna O'Braonain), more great backing vocals --- uncredited, as far as I can see --- and a song that could have been written by Paddy McAloon or Ricky Ross.

“If you go” becomes really the first ballad, very powerful and dramatic, with some great violin --- uncredited, but may we assume that's Lovely Previn as well? --- and a standout sax solo right in the middle that only adds intensity and power to the song, Liam singing his heart out with real passion and conviction, but it's “The older we get” that forms the standout track for me. A gentle, laidback ballad that slowly builds from quiet and tranquil beginnings to a strong, punchy climax built on guitar, bouzouki and mandolin, with almost progressive rock leanings, it's filled out by slowly swelling Hammond organ, then the percussion gets more powerful as the intensity rises. It's a real anthem, and should have been a single, but wasn't.

Things pick up then and rock right out for “Yes I was”, guitar and piano meshing in perfect harmony, more triumphant gospel rock in the Church of the Hothouse Flower, then a track I was convinced was a single (though Wiki says otherwise), but was certainly popular on Irish radio when this album was around. “Love don't work that way” is a real boogie blues rocker, with lots of sax and piano, but personally --- and I'm probably the only person who would even notice, never mind say, this --- I find the melody is a little too close to an early Supertramp song, from their self-titled debut in fact, called “It's a long road”. When I heard this song, I was convinced that HF had ripped Supertramp off. And maybe they have, but then that album is such a relatively obscure one it's unlikely the guys have ever heard of it, much less heard it. Nonetheless, it spoiled my enjoyment of the track, and still does to this day. That said, it's a rocky, uptempo number, and short enough to have been a single.

It's followed then by the longest track on the album, at a little over six minutes, “The ballad of Katie.” As the title suggests, it's a slow song, written in the lyrical style of a western, cowboy sort of song, something like Icehouse's “Heartbreak kid”, with a solid organ melody carrying the tune and again some soulful sax from Gary Barnacle. I also get a certain feeling of Nick Cave or Cohen about this track too. I must say though I do find it a little overlong, and it has a very disappointing, damp squib ending. “Feet on the ground” is a faster gospel rocker, with a lot of INXS's “New sensation” in the melody, and given the fact that “Kick” was only released the previous year, well...

I don't want to keep accusing the Flowers of plaigarism, but that's twice now I can hear other songs in theirs. Could be coincidence, homage, who knows? At any rate, “Lonely lane” is a nice mid-pacer, with great organ and guitar and another narrative vocal from Liam, more sax helping the song along until the album closes on “Saved”, perhaps an appropriate title for an album so heavily influenced by gospel music. A nice semi-ballad, it has some interesting sitar passages but ultimately it kind of leaves me cold.

TRACKLISTING

1. I'm sorry
2. Don't go
3. Forgiven
4. It'll be easier in the morning
5. Hallelujah Jordan
6. If you go
7. The older we get
8. Yes I was
9. Love don't work that way
10. Ballad of Katie
11. Feet on the ground
12. Lonely lane
13. Saved
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Old 03-17-2012, 11:14 AM   #1036 (permalink)
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Shadow hunter --- Davy Spillane --- 1990 (Tara)


For the last album to be reviewed as Irish Week comes to a close, I'd like to turn to one of our most accomplished and respected traditional musicians. Davy Spillane is one of the premier oileann pipes players in Ireland, and while that may not mean a lot to many people, it's quite an accomplishment, as oileann pipes are notoriously hard to master. A founder member of Moving Hearts, Davy has played with such luminaries as Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison, Mike Oldfield and Kate Bush. He has also composed, or played on, many film soundtracks including Eat the peach, Wuthering Heights, Rob Roy, Dancing at Lughnasa and Michael Collins. This is his second solo album.

Low humming bodhran played by Christy Moore opens the album with “Introduction --- Lucy's tune/Indiana drones”, joined by Davy's pipes and quickly then slide guitar played by Anthony Drennan in a blues style which then slips very quickly into Irish trad, the pipes joining in with fiddle and accordion as the whole thing basically rocks along, a certain sense of Mike Oldfield/Paul Simon about the composition, and a great opener. Davy swaps his pipes for a low whistle to take us into “Carron streams”, a slow, atmospheric piece built on humming keys and fretless bass, Drennan's slide guitar again adding a touch of blues rock to proceedings. About halfway in it gets a little more bouncy, with spacey, Peter Gabrielesque keyboards and some nice acoustic guitar from Drennan.

Things hit back into high gear then for “Watching the clock”, with a long oileann pipes intro then electric guitar coming in, congas taking the percussion in what sounds like a reel of some sort, though as I mentioned on the review of Planxty's album yesterday I really don't know a jig from a reel. Certainly lively though, becoming very guitar-centric, and takes us into “Walker of the snow”, a beautifully laidback piece of music with electric guitar, dobro and mandolin, with the first vocals of the album, supplied by Sean Tyrrell. Davy uses both oileann pipes and low whistle on this tune, on the latter of which he performs a lovely solo halfway into the song.

Low whistle and fretless bass drive “Hidden ground”, with some very effective electric guitar and a nice drumbeat held by Paul Moran, with some delicious piano adding to the mix, courtesy of James Delaney, then “The white crow” comes in on gentle congas and dobro, until Martin O'Connor's accordion takes over the tune, joined by Davy's oileann pipes and Christy Moore's bodhran. Next up is a fast, almost frenetic jig (maybe) which goes under the title of “Moyasta Junction” and is carried on fiddle and guitar, the former breaking out in a sort of Chicago blues vein before the fiddle brings things back to an Irish trad style, the song seeming to get faster as it goes along, then in total contrast “Journeys of a dreamer” slows everything right back down with lovely low whistle from Davy, with Anthony Drennan joining in on the electric guitar while James Delaney lays down a soothing keyboard melody against which the song plays, and everything picks up again for another reel (?) as Davy goes back to his oileann pipes for “One day in June”, more great accordion from Martin O'Connor and bodhran from Christy as Kevin Glackin cuts in with the fiddle and Drennan's guitar keeps the rock element firmly alive among all the trad.

“Equinox” opens on oileann pipes and acoustic guitar with some electric too, nice measured drumming and some splendid fretless bass from Tony Molloy, lovely bit of piano there in the background and a special little mandolin solo from Drennan, the whole piece somehow acquiring a sort of Pink Floyd feel, then the final track is the only other one with vocals, again supplied by Sean Tyrrell. “The host of the air” is based on the poem by William Butler Yeats, carried on ethereal keys and mandolin, the latter of which is also played by Tyrrell. Very atmospheric, very eerie, without question carried on Tyrrell's strong yet matter-of-fact vocal, and appropriately enough, ends on a small oileann pipes solo from Davy.

As I mentioned before, trad is not my thing, but I'm not churlish enough to discount it as a music form. After all, this kind of music has been around for centuries longer than any other, and it has a lot to say to us about a time long ago when things were simpler. The musicians who play in the trad scene have nowhere to hide --- not that they need to --- as most of it is played acoustic, much without any sort of percussion and often no keyboards or even piano, so everyone has to know their instrument inside out and be able to play solo if needed, or as part of a group. In an acoustic setting, one person playing out of tune or time can upset the whole performance.

Davy Spillane is without question a master of his chosen instrument. Here he can make it do anything he wants to, and has created, along with those who helped him on the album, a recording that seamlessly meshes traditional, folk and rock themes to great effect. It's certainly no surprise he's as highly regarded as he is.

TRACKLISTING

1. Introduction --- Lucy's tune/Indiana drones
2. Carron streams
3. Watching the clock
4. Walker of the snow
5. Hidden ground
6. The white crow
7. Moyasta Junction
8. Journeys of a dreamer
9. One day in June
10. Equinox
11. The hosts of the air
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Old 03-17-2012, 12:21 PM   #1037 (permalink)
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And what better way to end Irish Week than to take another look at some of the new and rising stars of the Irish music scene? We start off with a bunch of rockers who hail from Dublin.

Spies

One of the youngest bands on the circuit at the moment, along with Little Xs For Eyes, whom we featured last time out, Spies are making a big noise and look certain to break really soon. Their frontman, Michael Broderick, believe it or not, just finished secondary school (that's high school, to you Americans out there) and went straight into gigging with his band. Now that's a sense of purpose, right from the off!




Neon Wolf

Don't you just love the name? Natives of Kilkenny, Neon Wolf are a five-piece who specialise in fast, hard, rock and are still working on most of their material, but here's what I could find.



Carried by waves

I have already stated previously that electronic music is generally not my thing, but that's no reason not to feature a new, exciting band from that genre here. Carried by waves come from “the sunny southeast”, as we say here, ie Cork. Having already played at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival last year, their debut album is in the making and due out in a few months.



Overhead, the albatross

Well, I wonder where that band name came from? Obviously heavily influenced by Pink Floyd, this band also come from the Capital, and are a sixpiece who apparently infuse their rock with a good dose of classical music too. Can't be bad!



Patrick Kelleher and his cold dead heads

Just had to include this guy, if only for the inspired name! Irish art rock? You'd better believe it! Our Patrick has been plying his trade since 2009, and gaining plaudit after plaudit wherever he goes. Shortlisted for the Meteor Choice Music award this year, surely it can't be long before his cold dead hands are closing around one of those, and before he really breaks into the big leagues?



The Minutes

LOUD is certainly a word that describes this Dublin band, but having taken five years --- yeah, five years! --- to create their debut album, there's nothing punk or hurried or unprofessional about their sound. They also tend to throw dancebeat rhythms into their rock, which may help mark them out from the pack.



So that's our second selection of new and lesser-known Irish bands, some if not all due to make the big leap sooner than later. With bands and artistes like these coming up through the ranks, I think it's fair to say the future of Irish music is in good hands.

Happy Paddy's Day to you all, hope you enjoyed the choice of Irish music over the last week. Slan go foill!
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:48 PM   #1038 (permalink)
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:51 PM   #1039 (permalink)
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Hey, it's Mother's Day, so look after yours! Here's something for all the mammies, mums and moms we all take for granted, God bless 'em!
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Old 03-17-2012, 06:56 PM   #1040 (permalink)
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Metallica/The Black Album --- Metallica --- 1991 (Elektra)


The big one for the boys from LA, the self-titled album which earned the unofficial name of "The Black Album" (guess why?) became their biggest selling and most successful album, yielding six hit singles --- pretty unprecendented for a rock album, almost unheard of for a metal one! So is it as good as everyone claims?

Well, I of course know and love opener "Enter sandman", but then, who doesn't? "Sad but true", another single, is heavy and doomy, with grinding guitar from Kirk Hammet, while "Holier than thou" is a faster, pacier rocker, everything slowing down then for "The unforgiven", with nice classical guitar and a kind of western feel to it. Interesting to hear the softer side of Hetfield's voice.

"Wherever I may roam" is a slow cruncher, "Don't tread on me" a little more uptempo, just as heavy, great singalong chorus, but I must say the strings are a huge and welcome surprise on "Nothing else matters". What a great song! Standout of the album for me. Well, apart from, you know. Hey, even Shakira covered this!

Metallica aren't really my type of band, but this album definitely deserves its place as one of their most highly-regarded.

TRACKLISTING

1. Enter Sandman
2. Sad but true
3. Holier than thou
4. The Unforgiven
5. Wherever I may roam
6. Don't tread on me
7. Through the never
8. Nothing else matters
9. Of wolf and man
10. The god that failed
11. My friend of misery
12. The struggle within
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