MFI Series Of London Events To Showcase Irish Acts To UK Music Industry

A series of London-based gigs to showcase up and coming Irish music acts has been announced by Music From Ireland.  The Irish music export office in conjunction with hosts London Irish Centre, will this  month bring the best of emerging Irish talent across the sea to the UK capital for a succession of gigs.  Kicking off on Thursday 29th June in the LIC’s Camden HQ, the series is expected to run until the end of 2017, if not beyond.

The platform was developed with the UK industry in mind, as it bids to bring contemporary Irish acts to the attention of a wealth of music professionals ranging from promoters to PRs to programmers.  The project is supported by Culture Ireland, the government subset of the Dept. of Arts, responsible for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide.  Speaking of the showcase series, Christine Sisk, Director of Culture Ireland explained:

“Culture Ireland puts showcasing at the centre of its strategy for international promotion of the arts as by reaching international promoters showcasing succeeds in generating further career opportunities for artists globally. The new quarterly ‘Music From Ireland’ showcase, run by the London Irish Centre in partnership with Music from Ireland offers a great platform for Irish musicians in London to reach promoters, agents and programmers and gain UK touring contracts.” 

The series opener on June 29th will feature three non-Dublin based acts: Cork native Talos, Northern Irish artist Naomi Hamilton who performs under the Jealous of the Birds moniker, and Limerick based Rusangano Family.

Three extremely diverse acts, they make for a broad and colourful representation of the modern Irish music scene in 2017.

Jealous of the Birds is an everything and then some singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who dabbles in myriad sounds so as to render her style impossible to nail into one single classification.  Travelling through the dark into light, her songs are a fine balance of hushed poignancy and electric vibrancy.

Having released her debut Capricorn EP in early 2015, this young songwriter has gone from strength to strength amassing a strong fanbase that includes media from both North and South of the border.  Her leisurely indie-folk meets hyperactive post-punk debut album Parma Violets, was released to broad critical acclaim in April, 2016.

Check out the video of the chanteuse’s live BBC N/Ireland performance Leonard Cohen’s sublime Famous Blue Raincoat; I challenge your spine not to tingle.

Breaking Tunes profile: http://www.breakingtunes.com/jealousofthebirds
• Web: https://www.jealousofthebirdsmusic.com
• Twitter: @jeliofthebirds
• Facebook: @jealousofthebirdsofficial

Cork native Eoin French is the man behind the Talos music project.  With a voice not unlike that of legendary Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis (there, I’ve finally said it), like his mysterious predecessor, his voice flits through bars of insanely emotive instrumentation. Brimful of the Cork man’s vocal nuances and peppered with stark imagery and keenly felt lyrics, his debut album Wild Alee is a sure fire cert when it comes to best album 2017 nominations further down the road.

Check out the breathtaking visual accompaniment to Talos’s latest single Contra, a devastatingly and beautifully eerie song about loss and death crafted in a delicate shell of hope and light. Shot in the West of Ireland , the film was directed by the singer’s friend, renowned photographer Brendan Canty (of feelgoodlost)

• Breaking Tunes profile: http://www.breakingtunes.com/talos
• Web: http://www.talostalos.com
• Twitter: @talostalostalos
• Facebook: @TalosTalosTalos

Last but most certainly not least, Limerick based Rusangano Family is a triumvirate comprising two MCs and a DeeJay. Winners of the Choice Music Prize album of the Year 2016 for their self-released album, Let The Dead Bury The Dead, this hip hop/rap/Afro beats outfit are at the cutting edge of the contemporary Irish music scene. In fact, they are everything that is good about the rapidly changing, diverse Ireland in which we now find ourselves.

Check out their searingly on-point new single I Know You Know the lyrics for which you’ll find laid out underneath the video on YT and I strongly urge you to read them! Slick funk bass-lines and silky synths blunt somewhat the sharpest edges of the damning lyrics.  A song about depression, place and isolation within society (least that’s my interpretation), the striking visual accompaniment, below, makes compelling viewing.

That’s a ‘rap’.

• Breaking Tunes profile: http://www.breakingtunes.com/rusanganofamily
• Web: http://www.rusanganofamily.com
• Twitter: @RusanganoFamily
• Facebook: @RusanganoFamily

A limited number of ticket for the inaugural showcase gig on 29th June in Camden are open to the general public. Full details and tickets here.

If you don’t go, you are missing one heck of a line up and what promises to be one hugely memorable night.  In the meantime, you can feast your ears on more sounds from the three featured artists by streaming this 9-track playlist which I’ve pulled together from their various catalogues.  Enjoy.

DervSwerve.

 

Still ‘Early Days’ For Tim Chadwick

Dubliner Tim Chadwick released his first single Blindfolded just over a year ago in April 2016.  It was more than well received by Irish music media with comparisons with JV Mc Morrow and BF Leftwich tripping over themselves for page space.

Fast forward to May 2017 and the release of Chadwick’s debut EP entitled Early Days.  And while it still is, early days that is, the singer has already made more than an indelible mark on the contemporary Irish folk-pop scene. Although I include the term folk in its loosest interpretation, as the Dubliner’s sound leans more towards an alt-pop disposition rather than the more typical ‘nonny’ acoustic-guitar in a fair isle jumper folk-style.

I could reel off a list of ‘sounds likes’ and ‘in the mould of’ but that would be disingenuous to a singer-songwriter who has, all hyperbole parked on the hard shoulder, a crackingly good and exceedingly delicious voice. Thoughtfully curated nuances shadow this light as a feather vocal instrument, which despite its subtle mellowness has sufficient weight behind it to be utterly convincing.

Tim Chadwick’s contemplative and at times visceral lyrics, emotive instrumentation, and charmer of a voice all speak for themselves.  This is one of those rare occasions when I’m simply happy to let the songs do the talking …

Gig wise the only listing appears to be a late September date at The Sugar Club, details here.

For further information, you should check in regularly with Tim’s Facebook page as I would imagine that other lives are in the offing.

Early Days is out now via iTunes – hop out your wallet and shop here.

Before you do though, check out the wonderfully entertaining video accompaniment to Tim’s latest single, the infectiously up-tempo Never Wanted You, which stars dancer extraordinaire, Erik Cavanaugh.

You can follow Tim and DervSwerve on Twitter to keep up to speed with all the latest news.

Sweet Georgia Gazes Heralds A More Mature Dayflower Sound

On the 31st October 1988, Liverboys The La’s released an infectious jangle that was so simplistic and uncluttered it made for a welcome antidote to the alt-psych-dance fusion that was the Madchester sound. With a melody that wrapped itself around your memory like an endearing cobra, There She Goes, became one of the greatest and most memorable Indie anthems of all time.

Five years earlier, a quartet of pioneering genii dropped the S-bomb onto the ToTP studio and the world of music was irrevocably changed as Hand in Glove provided our first meet and greet with the legend that is Johnny Marr.

Why am I starting a post on a Dayflower single with a meander about The La’s and Marr? Well might you ask! And the answer is thus. Because that’s what I hear when I play this Sweet Georgia Gazes – Marr riffing with The La’s – and it’s like sweet manna from heaven on the day before payday.

A brief opening of backwards wonk leads into a charge of propulsive drumming, which akin to that of a certain Spellbound Budgie, hurtles its way through an intricate writhe of guitar blaze and billows of angelic vocals provided by artist/photographer Leonie DuBarry-Gurr, whose voice by the way is simply delightful. Ever the master of subtlety, bassist Dhonau downplays his contribution which acts as an anchoring counter to Alex Clemence’s trademark dreamy vocal.

Parking the hyperbole, suffice it to say, this is a song somewhat akin to the older self looking back on its younger ‘heart-shaped’ self.

With its nod to the Marr-eseque guitar style and side-step away from the more syrupy sound we’ve come to know, Sweet Georgia Gazes is proof positive that Alex Clemence’s songwriting and the band’s capacity for quirky yet innovative arrangement, have developed and matured to such an extent as to take Dayflower’s sound up to the next level.

With a video in the offing you can expect more gazing from Sweet Georgia … for now though, you’ll have to settle for the more than retro lush audio of Dayflower’s hazy days gaze.

Dayflower is: Alex Clemence: vox/guitar, David Dhonau: bass/vocals/tambourine, Chris Merriman: electric guitar/vocals and Simon Bland: drums/vocals.  The band will play their next Candy Dust gig on 30th June as per in The Cookie, Leicester, full details here.

Follow Dayflower on Facebook and Twitter, and DervSwerve likewise!

Who’s Your Forbidden Fruit?

Tick Tock Festival O’Clock … It’s just a few steps to festival heaven as we approach the Summer month of June, with its beach-friendly, blue-skied days and long, balmy wine-friendly nights, or are we mistaking Ireland for a different more azure-dazed location?

Nothing says the start of Irish Summer like the klaxon-call of the first of the season’s festivals and while for many that siren is sounded by the annual bougainvillea bedecked Bloom, for others the de facto season opener is the capital’s Forbidden Fruit festival. Operating from its base in the gorgeous surrounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, FF runs across the Irish June bank holiday weekend – Saturday 3rd to Monday 5th inclusive, to be precise.

With a range of artists from across the full sonic spectrum on it’s three day programme, FF is a valued showcaser for an idiosyncratic rainbow made up of eclectic and left-of-centre genres. Not for them the boybands, Rihanna wannabes or faux-leather clad rock anthemers. Instead, their line up features both emerging and successful talents from the non-mainstream fields of alt-pop, folk, experimental techno and Chilean improv.

So, with a host of music acts ranging from the sublime Lisa Hannigan’s enchanting folk-pop to the ridiculously innovative Aphex Twin, who are the acts in the Forbidden Fruit orchard whose music you’ll want to bite into and chow down on.  Let’s take a look wander through the three day a la carte …

Saturday 3rd June

Musical Bill of Fare protocol pretty much dictates the same hierarchical structure as a Michelin starred menu – starters, entrees, mains with dessert being optional and left to your own late night delectation!

As you would expect, the festival opens with a wealth of emerging Irish talent including Dublin purveyors of delish dance-pop ‘n’ house Le Boom, RTEs rainbow DJ Tara Stewart and rapidly rising rap-poet Jafaris, whose sound is more East Coast than East Wall.

Moving up a flight to the next level, we find the student-run, salubrious Trinity Orchestra, (tune in below to see what these guys can do to a Gorillaz track!), block-rocking beatmaster DJ Mall Grab, techno-house homie Jax Jones, and mistress of wonky funk, Londoner Nao. British hip-hop funksters Hot Chip close out this second tranche as it were, with their #DJSet.

Up at mezzanine level, FF fest-goers will find Peckham born street rapper Giggs, ambient-pyschers San-Fran based Tycho (a must for all your Tame Impalers), and those maestros of electronic choreography Berliners Booka Shade. Saturday night title of Chief electronic cooks and deck virtuoso goes to the Hartnell bros, more commonly known as Orbital.

Sunday 4th June

Day 2 in the FF pleasuredome is a veritable riot of Irish talent from unorthodox creative Aikj through Dub alt-rockers Heroes in Hiding to the amazing Ships whose album Precession is a wonderland of enigmatic electronica. One younsgter you should keep an eye out for is Soule, a singer fast making a rep for herself with her soul-electro-pop fusion.

The name Motor City Drum Ensemble is enough to catch the eye, but one whiff of the beat driven meld of drums, tech and jazz-soul is enough to hook the ear. German Danilo Plessow is at the helm of this unorthodox outfit with a global vision.

Sirens Press Shot Uncredited

At the top table you’ll find 21 year old Guersney native Mura Masa, a NAME+, in the world of hip hop cum R&B production and songwriting, another set of Berlin boyz and yet another experimental-electro duo Moderat, and the totally bloomin’ amazing Chilean Nicolas Jaar #nowords

With the head honcho title being allocated to homeboy Irish born, English raised electro-genius, Aphex TwinSaturday night is a must for the electro-nuts amongst you.

Monday 5th June

Probably D-Day for folksters, Monday 5th wraps up Forbidden Fruit with a sparkling array of ambience, ethereal and kaleidoscopic.

Twenty year old Galwegian Laoise is one of the newer stars of the festival’s final line up.  With a blend of dreamy pop that flows in and out of shadows, hers is a sound with more than a little darkness to its seeming iridescent perfection.

Cork man Eoin French will showcase his Talos project, whose strikingly beautiful debut album Wild Alee had Irish media in raptures earlier this Spring.  He’ll be followed by Choice Music Prize Winners Rusangano Family, whose Afro-beats based experi-rap has provided a much welcome breath of fresh air to the local scene.

An act who’s bound to be a huge draw on the night is Leeds born Paul Thomas Saunders whose voice teeters on the brink of Brett Anderson (listen to his vocal on Appointment in Samarra on our FF playlist and tell me I’m hallucinating).

The only artist to get two tracks posted to said playlist, Paul has just released a stunning new single, Holding On, which if you’re not going to the festival, you can check out here.

Saunders will be followed onto the main stage by rich-voiced, young Australian native Gordi who was hugely impressive when she played Whelans support to Norwegian flyers Highasakite last May.

Lest I forget to mention it, Forbidden Fruit comes replete with inflatable wedding chapel (pictured above), disco dodgems, a wedding disco, bingo loco (for all you clickety click two fat ladies nutters out there), a comedy tent, a funfair and oh, most importantly, a cocktail bar.  Interested much? Full details here … bites of the Forbidden Fruit.

The final countdown sees a rich roll-call of music veterans including English folk trio The Staveswhose vocal harmonies always send shivers tingling down the spine and the utterly delectable, silken-voiced Lisa Hannigan whose 2016 album At Swim was a masterclass in the power of understatement.

The festival folds with the inimitable Bon Iver, legends within the realm of indie folk, noted for their innovative and exploratory creativeness.  Their last album, 22, A Million, was a bit of a ‘departure’ as they say, but a dog can’t chew the same ball for his whole life can he? You can hear 21 Moon Water, one of the tracks from that album on the playlist below. For you ‘folkster’ die-hards (contradiction in terms) here’s something more up your traditional street.

That’s it folks.  65 Music Acts over three days on one of the best Bank Holiday weekends in Ireland.  Forbidden Fruit caters for the wacky, the winsome and the wonderlusters.  It’s line crosses the great divide between avant-garde electronica & ball-breaking techno and feather-lite folk/existential psychedelia.

With artists from as far as Germany and Australia and from so near that they could hop on the 25a and be there in 15 minutes, Forbidden Fruit caters for hungry music fans as anxious to see homegrown talent (and isn’t it wonderful to see a large cohort of Irish acts on the bill), as a flavoursome pick n mix from far off shores.

Whichever side of the coin your tastes lie in, Forbidden Fruit will should provide more than a little something for you to sink your teeth into.

Forbidden Fruit runs from 3rd to 5th June in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. Full details re tickets, line up, times, areas etc here. Check out our FF playlist on Spotify.

Derv’s Voyage of Discovery – (Aspiring) Weekly Newsletter (Vol 2)

Okay, I know, alright? Yes, this was meant to be a weekly newsletter, tut, tut and all that.  This has been one hell of a trying month; the kind of month that has me unwittingly trying to don two pairs of glasses at the same time whilst staring vacantly at online job-sites for non-existent ‘creative writer’ job vacancies, through the smeared screen of my overheating laptop. Selling words, anyone buying?

Anyway, on the Mr. Brightside, voila newsletter numéro deux, (you can read vol1 here), which we’ll fire up with word that The Killers have nailed the coveted title of most-streamed song of the 2000s. Of all the tracks released within the period 2000/2009 inclusive, Mr. Brightside ratcheted 26 million streams in 2016 alone, 9 million ahead of its nearest rival (from the ’90s), Mariah Carey‘s All I Want Is Christmas.

Released in 2004, the song has been by far  The Killer’s most popular track, and eagle eyed readers among you will notice that their accompanying video has notched up more than 217 million views, a staggering 191 million more plays than its digital counterpart.

Worth USD$150,000 in 2016 royalties alone the song has proved to be a solid earner for the band, although that figure pales in comparison with that earned by Drake whose song One Dance, the most-streamed song overall, banked him a cool USD$800k+ in exchange for a whopping 141 million streams! Nice work if you can get it.

THE GOOD, THE GREAT, AND THE BLOODY BRILLIANT!

“William by the windowsill was longing for the big blue pill that will make it go away”

Baltimore born Sophia Kennedy has spent the past few years cutting her songwriting teeth at the heart of Hamburg’s eclectic music scene. A former film student, her involvement with various music projects in addition to her own solo work, has helped Kennedy to form the niche artist/industry network that resulted in her releasing her Mense Reents co-produced debut album through Pampa Records. A label normally associated with German techno, it’s run by “weird guy” Markus Fink and hip hop deck manipulator DJ Koze.

It’s probably fair to say that Sophia Kennedy has a female voice unlike any I’ve heard before, with the possible exception of Alison Moyet.  That voice, which can dig lower than a shovel, can similarly sweep its legs above its own head.  In fact Kennedy’s eponymous album possibly hosts the most 3D vocal performance I’ve ever come across.

Lyrically, her imagery and vernacular are cut so precisely and tailored so sharply as to leave no cloth to spare on this perfect form-fitting creation. The central themes are of home, anxiety and loneliness, yet the overall effect is one of elation and animation. There are a myriad ingredients in the mix – Afro beats, groovy bass, Jools Holland style attention-seeking jazz piano, chant, vocal harmony and orchestral electronica. Kimono Hill is a particularly choice cut if you’re looking for a sample taster.

“There’s nothing that I’d rather like to do, than stick my head into the gutter of the roof and whistle all the saddest tunes I couldn’t stand before but now I yearn for more”

However, if I was to do any ‘comparing’ I would say this.  My honest, first reaction to this album was, in two words. Victoria Wood. Life keenly observed and conveyed through dynamic witticisms and razor sharp satire set against an animated backdrop of colourful, idiosyncratic soundscapes. DerVerdict – BUY BUY BUY!

Rumour has it that Frida Sundemo is close to releasing her debut album and the recent flurries of activity coming from the Swede would appear to suggest as much. Following on from her last single We Are Dreamers is the very melodramatic It’s OK.

The track opens on such a sombre and grandiose orchestral scale that one could almost be forgiven for thinking this was the theme to some widescreen film adaptation of a Booker prize winning novel. Sedate strings tenderly wrap themselves around Sundemo’s china-light vocal and together they float through an elegant, electro-classical soundscape that builds to a deliciously evocative blaze.  DerVerdict – OMG YES!

A band who are fast approaching the top of their game, Picture This have carved out a deep and comfy niche for themselves in the emosh-easy rock department. You know, the type that used to involve lighters, scorched thumbs and arm fatigue (back in the good old days when people conversed and had a bit of interactive human fun) but these days it’s all about waving your latest Samsung Node X til your battery conks out.

The band have just kicked off their sold out UK&I tour (any room for a little ‘un lads?) so while they spend their mid-May days in transit across England’s green and pleasant lands, new single Let’s Be Young has dropped into the universe and it’s a diamond. With all the ingredients for ‘Youth Anthem 2017’ (if the youth of today are anything the youth of my past) this is a call to action to live life and enjoy.

But it’s not without its bittersweet tang – misspent youth, broken dreams, getting drunk to forget the hopelessness of … ?  Ireland is still dragging itself through the remnants of recession and Let’s Be Young represents a slice of the no-hoper pie which has been apportioned to our so-called Gen Snowflake!  DerVerdict – Hell Yeah.

“Oh, it’s easy to be free, if you really want to be … Let’s go out and leave our phones at home, for tonight”

RAPID ROUND UP!

HEY HEY HEY !!! 1Der Liam ‘Chezza’ Payne has confirmed that fatherhood is his greatest achievement.  Just as well cos his hot-drop solo debut, Strip That Down most certainly ain’t! A bit Craig David lite, it’s not bad as 1D solo debuts go. Featuring growing hip hop influencer Quavo, it’s a fun size, mini-me Trousersnake-track which the Payne co-wrote with Ed Sheeran (sounds like, yes?).  At least that’s what this reviewer hears.

Natty little easy on the ear rap mid-centre, catchy hooks, good infectious beat, attention grabbing finger clicks, dreamy ‘come love me I’m the nice guy’ vocals – it’s decent hip-hop-pop that will neither set the world ablaze nor reduce it to an ash pit.

Be that as it may, it’s still a helluva lot better than the Harry Styles offering.

Dublin-based quartet, Come On Live Long have just released a new album, In the Still and The Irish Times like it … so if it’s good enough for them etc.  ‘At the time of going to print’ as they say, the album isn’t on Spotify and as I’m not on their PR’s mailing list (hint hint) I can only offer an opinion on the title track.

Meditative, transcendent, mindful, peaceful, gentle and captivating.  A gentle flow comprising slow-hand bass, ripples of keys and flecks of percussion adorned with a dreamy vocal … that’s before the twist.  Check it out. It’s clever, VERY.

Meanwhile, Irish legend Mary Black was feted on this week’s Late Late Show … anyone who hasn’t heard the perfection that is her voice, lie in blissful ignorance no more.  Mary is currently on tour and anyone wishing to see her live, should check out her FB page.

And finally, I’m getting around to featuring a band I’ve been promising to write about for er, months! The Trusted, a four-piece from Southend (where all credit cards used to be embossed – useless trivia!) – visuals for their track Good to Bad here.

With a shady bassline at its heart, this plain-speaking (if a little one-sided) observation of the seedier side of life is a meld of raw and polished as the band cleverly juxtapose grizzly guitar and urgent drumming with lead man Tom’s rather dreamy and seductive vocal.

Conversely, latest single Sunlight is everything Good to Bad is not, and would be this reviewer’s preferred choice of the two. Leaning heavily on a gorgeous slide motif, this laid-back, sensual instrumental is interspersed with gently nuanced piano notes played with the lightest of touches, and some particularly strong guitar sequences.

Like a blurry montage where the picture moves in and out of focus, Sunlight dazzles and soothes in equal measure. Throughout, Tom’s soporific vocal blows through the song’s golden rays like a warm mellow breeze. This is the track I have been hoping, waiting, and praying for from The Trusted and boy does it deliver!

Socialise with the guys on Facebook to follow their story. Sunlight is out now – you can stream/download it via Spotify.

WITH RESPECT

I won’t labour the point.  Chris Cornell died this week at the young age of 52. Former frontman of American rock band Soundgarden, he was the voice behind such huge hits as Black Hole Sun. I’ve chosen this acoustic version as a mark of respect for his amazing talent. #RIP.

GOOD NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK

One of the best young rock bands to scorch their way onto the airwaves, Irish four-piece Otherkin (you can read up on them here) have dropped a BOMB (without the shell) ahead of their upcoming UK tour which kicks off on Monday 22nd May at Stealth, Nottingham (and oh look @Dayflower, they’re playing The Cookie on 24th! Go Go!). Tour details here.

Otherkin are fast going from strength to strength, taking their sound up a level track on track. Latest and so far greatest, Enabler is classic American rock replete with gravel shot Cobain-esque vocals and stringent ass-kickin’ guitar lines. Woven out of poker-hot strands lifted straight from the fires of hell, Enabler has Green Day top notes with Nirvana grit and spit from its heart right down to the belly of its bass notes.

This is the type of track that if you listened too loud for too long your skin would start to blister – it is that ear-splittingly, heart-rippingly good.

I actually can’t stress enough how F**kin good this band is … miss the ‘back-to-real-rock’ zeitgeist at your peril, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Otherkin – FB – here/now.

Check out our newest Voyage of Discovery Playlist – Do help a small blog out and give us a follow on Spotify and Facebook – it’s nice to be nice! 🙂 .  Oh and PS – check out my YT channel – where you can view me losing my video virginity.  All 4 minutes of poorly shot, ad libbed, really crappy visual – unfiltered, unedited honesty!

DayFlower – Seeing Up : Pop Music Seen Slightly Askew

Leicester based indie band Dayflower shed their candy coated skin during the recording of their most recent offering, Double A-side Seeing Up/Neverfriend.   Well known for their honey-dipped melodies and mallow soft vocals their latest release marked something of a grungey departure for a band as notorious for their candy-festooned club nights as their Heart Shaped Tambourines.

Looking at the two songs in isolation, Neverfriend is an uptight, dirty, smear of a drone which pushes Alex Clemence’s ‘lost-boy’ vocal so far beneath its surface as to give it a subterranean feel. By contrast, Seeing Up rises steadily through an abstract siren-filled soundscape flavoured with Asian nuances and awash with multi-layered dream sequences, until finally arriving at a crescendo of 3D starburst proportions.

Aside from being purveyors of the finest wines made from the grapes of wooze, both Messrs Clemence and Dhonau are also highly regarded for their loquacity and wordsmithery. So, it makes the earthiest of common sense to look Dhonau-wards when seeking context to anything Dayflower.

Having recently released a visual accompaniment to Seeing Up, David very kindly took some very valuable time out, to give us some background to the song, how it was recorded and the aesthetic behind the film.

“The basic demo for Seeing Up predates Dayflower. It was one of the first things I showed to Alex (Clemence, vocals, guitar) soon after we met.  

I recall thinking that the range and tone of Alex’s voice would suit a reverb-drenched, early ’90s Creation sound perfectly. As we chatted, it was not long before our shared love of My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain et al became apparent. So his vocal melody came very naturally.  

We took the chance to absorb ourselves in the studio process and really experiment with sound. The recording features an assortment of drum machines of different vintages, analogue and digital synths, classical woodwind, guitars that sound like household appliances and . . . actual household appliances. 

I found a way of combining a few guitar effects pedals to create the noise climax at the end, which sounds like a choir of demonically possessed vacuum cleaners. One listener interpreted the swirl differently and remarked: ‘I feel like I’m spinning down a drain. In a good way’. 

While Chris (Merriman, Dayflower’s guitarist) was setting up his equipment up to record, his washing machine was spinning in the next room. I wandered off to check how loud it was it was and took a handheld recorder with me. It’s somewhere there in the finished mix. 

The song was first released in September 2016, along with Neverfriend, on EDILS Recordings. We officially called it a double a-side, but inevitably the lead track Neverfriend received more attention – all very welcome, including Fat-Cat uploading the track to their featured demos site. 

It would be fair to say that Seeing Up is less immediate, with none of the linear complexity of Neverfriend. The whole thing is built on just a handful of chords and becomes a kind of sonic mantra, growing vertically rather than horizontally, with textures layering themselves upon one the other, seemingly to breaking point. 

We thought making a video for the song would add depth to the experience of listening and might gain the song a slightly wider audience. The way the video begins establishes a fractured dream logic, in which the viewpoint drifts, disembodied. As with the music, the camera is in an almost constant state of motion be it horizontal, vertical or cyclical. 

Aesthetically it explores the abstraction of landscapes and people seen at unusual angles and distances. When point of view is altered the familiar can instantly become alien. 

In fact, that’s one way I could sum up our sound: pop music seen slightly askew. 

There are also cameras dipped in honey pots and stuck the inside of spinning tumble dryers.” – Words, David Dhonau.

Dayflower, aka a good natured argument between The Smiths and The Stone Roses (did it ever end, and if so, who won?) is Alex, David, Chris and Simon. Their next single, Sweet Georgia Gazes, is set for release in early June so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook page.

The band’s next Candy Dust club night which includes Emperor X on the bill, will take place in The Cookie (Leicester), on 30th June, full details here.

You can download Seeing Up (along with Neverfriend) via the Edils Recordings Bandcamp page.

In the meantime, you can watch some stunning drone footage patched with images of neon-pop psychedelia and shots of a few familiar faces, in Dayflower’s lush video for Seeing Up, right here. DervSwerve 

Body & Soul – A Festival With A Mission

“The Body & Soul vision is to build a permanent festival site that can be developed, progressed and evolved for future generations to enjoy – aspiring to heighten awareness of the people-environment connection while exploring and promoting every twist and turn of countless new, exciting artistic corners & pathways.”

A quick trawl through the Facebook pages and websites of the glitterati of Irish festivals turns up one very interesting fact.  That while top performer, Electric Picnic with its 193,000 following and Tier 1 lineup, may be the doyenne of Irish festivals, mid-Summer’s Body & Soul has one fundamental which EP lacks – a mission statement.

Held in the gloriously verdant grounds of Clonmellon’s Ballinlough Castle (one hour from Dublin in Co. Meath) with its lily-strewn lake and 15th century walled gardens, Body & Soul which started life as “a small gathering of people interested in art, music, performance, holistic arts, community and creative expression” has grown exponentially since its 2009 inception.  Now boasting a solid following just shy of 65k, B&S is now ranked as one of the top Irish music festivals alongside Forbidden Fruit, Longitude and of course, the afore-mentioned EP.

Taking its inspiration from the likes of Nevada’s Burning Man, B&S lives by a very straightforward ethos – that it is “an entire experience for the body and mind rather than a series of concerts”. This meeting of ‘body and soul’ is what sets this festival, or solstice sojourn, apart from its peers.  At its core is its willingness to offer up a platter of experiences – from wellbeing to arts & culture, food & drink to sustainability.

Far from being a one trick pony affair, B&S is the master of inclusivity where others are more or less jacks of singular trades, EP being the biggest exception to that rule.  In a manner similar to its Norwegian counterpart – Øyafestivalen – Body & Soul stretches its several tendrils across an eclectic landscape made up of cultural, environmental and societal terrains.

While its music line up may not read like a who’s who of 2017 chart-stardom, it is sufficiently packed with artists, albeit not necessarily household names, whose critical acclaim precedes them. Cases in point … Nashville collective Lambchop, long revered by serious music critics like Wyndham Wallace … Australian EDM outfit Rufus who’ve already stolen the #1 slot in their homeland for both their two albums plus singles … and experimental Icelandic band Mammút who have long been favourites of the likes of Ja Ja Ja Nordic and other polar-focussed publications.

Add to that the long list of Irish acts including established acts such as Cork man Talos, whose glorious orchestral ambience is both fascinating and exhilarating, as well as a fresh batch of new talent in the forms of TooFools, Katie Laffan and Kelly-Anne Byrne etc.

“Body&Soul isn’t just about the revelry, we give time to indulgence and recovery as well.”

Body & Soul is set in the verdant Second Nature space – are area for discovery, to be explored at leisure. A space in which to centre and become grounded, it is an oasis which allows festival goers to simply ‘be’.  Workshops and classes offer everything from yoga to hula-hooping (although this reviewers arthritic right hip would surely scupper all attempts at Elvis-like gyrations). Balance your chakras, chant a few oms, and settle into your lotus … this is a mini-nirvana we could all do with I’m sure.

Body & Soul’s aesthetic of magical escape, is a craft-based one set around the idea of unearthing hideaways, where super-sized PAs and plastic walkways are replaced by artisan wooden stages and hand-painted signs.

Lodgings follow the Glasto experience, coming in the shape of a Boutique camping offering of bell tents, yurts & tipis replete with dedicated toilets and showers – ideal for all the wiggly-phobes among you.  Camping packages offering a range of pre-paid, pre-pitched tents, come with Pamper Pack add-ons including your very own dream Pamper the Camper team, who’ll set up ‘home’ on the site of your choice.

Child friendly, the festival offers a wide range of ‘Soul Kids’ activities from the now de rigueur Fairy face painting to dance workshops, discos and nature trails.  From an arty perspective, the festival organisers collaborate with artists, theatre groups and performers of national and international renown, to create an intimate and inclusive programme of dramatic spectaculars and enlightened installations.

An independent festival with a heart-shaped mind and a cutting-edge soul, Body & Soul offers a special something for everyone.  Every type of charming, captivating and mood-enhancing delight is part of the B&S experience, from losing oneself in unspoilt landscapes or seeking sanctuary in quiet meditative spaces, to four-poster picnics, dancing under the stars, fireworks and moonlight masquerades’.  Surely any lover of the aesthetically pleasing, naturally magical and culturally inspiring would jump at the chance?

Body & Soul 2017 runs from 23rd to 25th June – full details on their website http://bodyandsoul.ie/

Tickets are available via Ticketbooth and cost Euro 195.00.

The National Return With An Indie-Funk of Dreamy Darkness

American five-piece The National have just unveiled a darkly uneasy new track The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness from their upcoming seventh album, Sleep Well Beast, the band’s first since their 2013 release, Trouble Will Find Me.

The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness melds elements of the National’s signature anthemic indie-rock with a slice of disco-funk. A shuffling drum beat and a dirty guitar loop fuse with a slow-burning blend of piano, synths and horns that rise at the end with Matt Berninger’s stirring entreaty, “I can’t explain it/ Any other, any other way”.

The album was mainly recorded at the Long Pond NY studio of guitarist Aaron Dessner, with additional sessions having taken place in Paris, Berlin and LA. Dessner produced Sleep Well Beast with his brother, guitarist Bryce Dessner and frontman Matt Berninger.

Sleep Well Beast will be released via 4AD on 8th September but is available to pre-order digitally, as well as on CD and double LP (see below for full tracklist).

The National play Glastonbury 21st June, Cork Opera House Sat 16th and Dublin’s Vicar Street on Sunday 17th/Monday 18th September, followed by more UK dates. Full details of their upcoming tour here.

Sleep Well Beast Track List

1. “Nobody Else Will Be There”
2. “Day I Die”
3. “Walk It Back”
4. “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
5. “Born to Beg”
6. “Turtleneck”
7. “Empire Line”
8. “I’ll Still Destroy You”
9. “Guilty Party”
10. “Carin at the Liquor Store”
11. “Dark Side of the Gym”
12. “Sleep Well Beast”

A is for ’80s : Paul Young – Came Back & Stayed!

Party in your pad? Double Denim on tap! Royal Blue eyeliner vs Shocking pink lippy. Malibu & Pineapple anyone?

Some weeks ago we promised to start up regular posts about ’80s music!  Lights, camera, action; it’s showtime so ‘let’s dance’.

First out of the ’80s traps is long legged, big quiffed stud muffin, Paul Young.  The blue-eyed soul-belting Lutoner ripped hearts apart when his cover of Marvin Gaye’s Wherever I Lay My Hat rocketed to #1 on the UK singles chart in the Summer of ’83, where it sat on its perch for a total of three weeks.

Young’s sex appeal was further enhanced by the seductive brood of backing musician Pino Palladino’s fretless bass – all cocky swagger and rippling muscle like launderette lothario Nick Kamen.

Young started his career with novelty act Streetband of Toast fame (if you can remember that, you have more grey hairs than Dave Gahan).  A successful stint with soulsters Q Tips followed, bringing Young et al to the attention of both media and record companies including Sony/CBS who were to later sign Young as a solo artist.

Appearances on the Old Grey Whistle Test (Annie Nightingale we still love you!) secured support slots with The J Geils Band (Centrefold), Thin Lizzy (if you have to ask you need serious musical schooling) and Bob Marley amongst others.

In 1982 Paul Young fledged the dismantled Q Tips nest and set up home under the Columbia label.  Following the huge success of swoon-inducing Wherever I Lay My Hat, 1983 saw Young release three further singles – all of which were Top 10 hits.  A second cover single, Joy Divisions’ Love Will Tear Us Apart was followed by an ‘it’s not you it’s me’ power-pop song Come Back & Stay, which peaked at #4 in the charts.

An early November re-release of lighter-loving, arm-waving, feelgood slow dancer Love of the Common People (the original 1982 release had bombed) was timed perfectly for maximum impact on the Christmas charts where it rose to #2.  Hitting the Xmas sweet spot guaranteed a slot on the holy grail of music TV shows – the TOTP Christmas Special.

All four singles featured on Young’s huge selling debut album, No Parlez, which went multi-platinum in several countries including the UK (where it went #1 for 5 weeks and stayed in the charts for over 100 weeks!) & Ireland. The album cemented Paul Young’s status as bona fide soul-singer and pop god, and carved the crooner’s name into the annals of ’80s music history.

A hugely successful promotional tour of the States proved personally disastrous for the singer as he badly strained his vocal chords to such an extent that he had to desist from singing for much of 1984 – a year which should have seen him build on an extremely solid foundation.

His chart topping sophomore album The Secret of Association was eventually released in 1985 from which the rhythm-tastic, Motown-esque track Tomb of Memories is this reviewers favourite PY track – cue 4 minutes of self-indulgence – #memories

Two further cover versions produced chart Top Ten singles. First up was the Ann Peebles track I’m Gonna Tear Your House Down.  But, it was Paul Young’s cover of Daryl Hall’s divine heartbreaker Everytime You Go Away, that was to become his biggest global hit, bagging him the top slot on the US billboard charts – just one of the several #1’s the song swept up worldwide.

Further successes came and went but with intermittent vocal problems continuing to plague the singer, his star began to wane as he spent less and less time in the spotlight.  Finally, two years after his magical 1991 duet with Italian blues singer Zucchero, Sony/CBS called time on Paul Young’s recording contract.

Paul Young has returned to both the entertainment industry and music scene several times since 1993, with appearances on a myriad television programmes, several collaborations and most recently, his Los Pacaminos project which remains ongoing.

Young, who has been involved with the Back to the 80s project, will be touring the US over the course of this Summer.  He continues to be a well respected and much loved member of that pioneering group of ’80s music artists who led the post-punk zeitgeist back in the glory days of pop.

Female Artists Constitute Just 27% Of The LineUp Of The Top 3 Irish Music Festivals – Why?

THERE ARE MORE women than men living in Ireland, according to the Census 2016 results.  

Figures, recently released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that, of the 4,761,865 people in Ireland, 2,407,437 are female and 2,354,428 are male (a difference of 53,009).  Overall, there is a gender ratio of 97.8 males for every 100 females.

So tell me then why it is then that only 27% of the 114 acts playing three of the biggest music festivals in Ireland are made up of females or have a female vocalist/musician at the helm.

While some fare better than others – the EP Main & Other Voices Stages coming in at a ‘colossal’ 33% – the likes of Forbidden Fruit has just a miserly 16% female representation in its lineup.

The reasons for this gender imbalance remain unclear but it must be assumed that the festival organisers along with bookers & promoters, still hold an archaic view of festival going audiences ie. that despite the fact that some of the biggest selling global music artists are female (Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Beyonce) the public preference is for a male driven festival lineup.

With that in mind, let’s look at the current situation in Norway.  Of the acts that have dominated the Norwegian music charts over the past twelve months, the handful of indigenous artists have either been female – Aurora, Frokedal, Astrid S, Susanna Sundfor, Sigrid, Jenny Hval (the latter was the winner of the Phonofile Nordic Music Prize 2016 for her stunning album Blood Bitch) – or female centric – Highasakite, Slotface.  Norwegian, indeed most Scandi music festivals, are crammed with female talent – one look at the Trondheim Calling, by:Larm & Oya programmes for the past few years will tell you all you need to know about Nordic gender balance.  Female headliners – not a problem.

So, who are the special ones? The female chosen few who’ve managed to secure much sought after places in the ranks of the festival lineup elite.

FORBIDDEN FRUIT (3-5 June, RH Kilmainham) : PROMOTERS, POD – TOTAL ACTS 25, OF WHICH FEMALE 4 — 16%

So far, of the acts announced for FF only 4 – yes FOUR – are female and/or have core female members.  Now four isn’t bad, in comparison with last year’s two, we say without an ounce of sarcasm.  In fact yoy FF seem to be actually doubling their female constituent parts, that number rising from 1 to 2 to 4, so that next year we should expect a ‘great eight’, no?

The Forbidden Fruit Four are – Lisa Hannigan, The Staves, Peggy Gou and Nao.  Not a sniff of female in the headliners Orbital, Aphex Twin, Bon Iver or even amongst the top support acts, Booka Shade, Nicolas Jaar, Flying Lotus.  Hannigan is as good as it gets in the ‘chain of command’.

LONGITUDE (14-16 July, Marlay Park) : PROMOTERS, MCD – TOTAL ACTS 47, OF WHICH FEMALE 12 — 25%

The ‘penthouse’ at Longitude is ‘so macho’ as to be disquieting where the top four tiers are filled solely by male acts.  Headliners include Stormzy, The Weeknd and Mumford & Sons, none with so much as a feminine squeak.  Interestingly, The Weeknd’s other half, Selena Gomez, has the globe’s biggest social media following, clocking up a gargantuan 119m followers.

Be that as it may, here are the results of the Longitude jury – Jorja Smith, Dua Lipa, HVOB, Karen Elson, Lucy Rose, Bitch Falcon, Raye, Sunflower Bean, Aine Cahill, Her, Ray Blk and Norwegian newbie Sigrid.  This year’s distinguished dozen represents a 140% uplift on the 2016 lineup which featured a measly five female artists.  Notwithstanding the large % increase, the figure itself remains paltry at best.

ELECTRIC PICNIC (1-3 Sept, Stradbally) : PROMOTERS, FESTIVAL REPUBLIC – TOTAL ACTS 42, OF WHICH FEMALE 14 — 33%

Top of the Festival Pops, Electric Picnic also tops all others when it comes to female inclusion – but hardly by a noteworthy margin.  Featuring 14 female artists out of a possible 42 acts lined up to play their main stage plus Other Voices, EP2017 is still lagging way behind the national male:female ratios or Scandi fest averages.

Strip out the male centric acts and you’re left with a female inclusive lineup that looks as follows – The XX, Chaka Chkan, London Grammar, Annie Mac, The Pretenders, Phantogram, All We Are, Kelly Lee Owens, Goat Girl; [Other Voices] Saint Sister, Odetta Hartman, Loah, Katie Laffan, Soule.

Big up to EP for the number of Irish females included in this year’s mix but by the same token, a festival as ginormous and important as EP that prides itself as being a leader in terms of diversity and eclecticism should surely, be leading the way in terms of gender parity.  Kudos for having The XX and Chaka Khan on the top rungs of the lineup ladder, but they still only make up 1/3 of the overal top 6 acts featured in this year’s programme.

While it would be easy to lay the blame at the feet of the ticket buying public, frankly in this day and age, that age-old excuse doesn’t quite cut it any longer.  The fact is that in the industry itself there are several women at the top of their game – Jo Whiley, Jenny Greene, Annie Mac, Edith Bowman. In addition, there is a large cohort of female artists dominating music on a global scale – Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Adele, Selena Gomez, Sia, Carrie Underwood – all of whom are listed in the Top 30 best selling music artists of 2016.  So, saying that women no longer ‘own it’ in a male-dominated industry, is quite frankly, bull.

In an age where women’s voices are getting louder AND being heard, what is it about the Irish Festival scene that appears to be turning both a blind eye and deaf ear to the growing trend of peer to peer, gender to gender equality within the universal music industry.  Frankly Ireland, it’s not good enough.  If we can look to Scandinavia as role models for matters of health and education, and if we are happy to be lead by their example, then similarly we can follow in their footsteps when it comes to equality of status, positioning and recompense when it comes to all things music.

The current trend won’t undergo any seismic shift unless bookers and promoters ‘woman up’ and start putting some serious effort into including more female artists in the lineups of our biggest festivals.  Come on Ireland! Let’s starting putting the ‘equality’ into the gender equality we speak so much of! As the song goes, let’s get the balance right.

To celebrate some of the female acts playing this Summer’s Irish Festivals, we’ve run up a Females for Festivals playlist over on Spotify! Enjoy!!