As someone who has to trawl through seas of benign websites and whose inbox is chock full of links to less than user/reviewer/fan friendly websites, I feel it’s incumbent upon me to impart a few wise words on the topic of online plugging and the art of creating a snazzy website with on-point, well laid out, engaging content. In this part 1 of 2, I’ll outline the five most common mistakes musicians make with regard to their website.
Now some of you might point out that my ownDervSwervesite isn’t exactly bells and whistles – but guys, it doesn’t need to be. I am selling nothing but YOUR music. I’m not in this to earn a crust or flog any wares other than the musical ones submitted to me.
While many of you have built your own professional websites – some via home-DIY with the aid of YT videos, others with the help of web ninjas – having tech design tools, dev savvy and a relatively blank canvas are only the first step in creating a cracking website.
Design, lay-out, flow and content are key to building a website that will not just attract but win over potential fans, engage current fans, and impress industry gatekeepers.
Having had to cruise thousands of websites over the past two+ years, I’ve noticed the same issues time and time again. Here are some of the biggest web-related mistakes musicians make – mistakes that should be avoided at all costs.
NOT USING PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS
Cardinal sin number 1. When it comes to PR, online plugging and your website, we cannot over-emphasise the importance of using professional photos.
Professionally taken, clear, high-res images are your calling cards. They help create good first impressions on fans, as well as industry and media.
Badly cropped, low res, poorly lit or unfocussed images will hinder rather than help, creating negative rather than the desired positive brand awareness.
If you don’t believe us, just hop over to IG and see the difference in follows and likes on profiles that churn out high res, colour-pop, or imaginative high quality shots vs those that limply flick out uncentered, fuzzy, grainy shots, taken by the bessie on a S5 without any thought being put into them.
If you don’t take your image seriously, people won’t take your music seriously, fact.
Think we’re joking? When landing on any website for the first time, it’s the photos that are the headliners. Attention grabbers, images are what will give potential fans their first impression of you and your music.
Ensure your header and background images act the part and fit the bill. Always ensure your press pack or digital press kit if you prefer, contain variations of high-res images (at least one landscape image and nothing below 250 pixels or they won’t pull onto social media!).
NOT HAVING A MOBILE FRIENDLY SITE
Er? If not using professional photos is a cardinal sin, not having a site that’s mobile friendly is a mortal one. In today’s world of mobile and zing zing tech, musicians need a mobile-friendly website. It’s all about mobile digital media – if it don’t fit, the kids will swipe left!
Your mobile-centric site must:-
Load instantly, be easily navigated, and have clear content, accessible samples of your music and ‘buy now’ tools that are in perfect working order.
Fun Fact!Google-search punishes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. So, if you want your band to achieve higher SEO search results than a similarly named brand of stain remover, get your mobile act together asap.
NOT KEEPING THE SITE REGULARLY UPDATED
If you go into a newsagents to score the latest editions of your favourite music mags only to find half-stocked shelves containing last month’s issues, there’s a strong chance you’ll leave, right?
Okay, so ditto when someone parachutes onto your site only to find a track released three years ago, a photo of the band aged 18 (you’re now 22) taken at a now defunct festival, and that the last ‘latest news’ is dated Jan 2016. What would you think? That the band has jacked it in? That they’re too lazy to be bothered to do some ‘social’ housekeeping?
The potential for negative impact here is greater when it comes to media and industry. It is a time-wasting pain in the ass for any reviewer, DJ or a.n.o industry professional to arrive at an artist’s website expecting to find bios, tour & ticket info, release dates etc, only to find dust-coated, stale news.
Always have your latest news clearly visible on the Homepage, via Blog, newsfeeds or otherwise.
Other features that should be updated regularly are events calendar, photos, videos, and your music, natch. Embedding social media feeds onto your website takes a lot of the pain out of site maintenance.
Even though other elements of the website may not be always totally up to date, at least people checking out your site will see that you’re still alive and kicking!
NOT ENOUGH MUSIC / NO DIRECT-TO-FAN PURCHASE OPTIONS
At the end of the day, the bottom line is that you are trying to sell your wares.
It’s all well and good having an “I want millions of people to hear my music” mission statement but bills have to be paid, the dog fed and guitar strings replaced. That takes money, so be practical.
The first place a discography ofYOUR music should be found is on your OWNwebsite. And a full one at that.
Fans should be able to land on your full music catalogue at the press of a tab. Offering up samples and then ushering them off to iTunes or Deezer is the commercial equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.
Have all your music available to stream. Offer ‘a free download when you sign up’ deal to bag email addresses that will help build your mailing list.
Vitally important for healthy coffers is the inclusion of direct-to-fan purchase options. These will ensure you retain most of the money (85% with Bandcamp), and again, allow you to gather valuable contact information that can be later used in marketing drives.
Once those elements are in place, you can then provide links to external online shopping options and streaming services.
Always bear in mind that despite the fact that they are selling your music, these 3rd party services will, for reasons of Data Protection, never share their customer details with you.
Invaluable opportunities to follow up directly with those fans about future albums, tours, or merch offerings will be lost at the click of a link.
NO MAILING LIST SIGN UP
Too often bands don’t have a mailing list sign up, or if they do, it’s lost in a jungle of content.
It’s imperative that your website has a sign up link (usually placed at the top right hand corner of the landing/homepage). Add in a short blurb or giveaway … “be sure to sign up for new of our upcoming tour/album etc” … “sign up now to get a free download link to our cover of XYZ” …
Why is it imperative?
Your mailing list is YOURS. It is your contact database, one you don’t have to share with anyone else.
Email marketing is 40 times more effective than the power of Facebook and Twitter combined (Mc Kinsey). So, if you want to sell your music, that merch, those gig tickets, you’ll reap more rewards with direct mail blasts than with endless repeat posts on social media.
“If email is not the biggest part of your social strategy, then you are giving the power of communication with your fans to companies who will gladly take them and whose advertisers will thank you to no end for providing them with eyeballs.”
In part two, we’ll bring you the Online Plugging Bible. Tune in next time! DervSwerve
The stand-out track, which the trio performed on RTE’s Saturday Night with Miriam has been a runaway favourite with radio-heads, journos and fans alike, with everyone raving about its exciting fresh folk-take on R&B as well as it’s colourful, uplifting verve.
The girls describe the track as being about “loving the feminine qualities of a man, and encouraging him not to worry about fitting into the male stereotype and just to be himself”. There you go now Paddy, find your inner Patricia and let her rip!
Fresh from their much raved-about performance at Longitude Fest, Wyvern Lingo have announced a Party and then a post-party-party after the original launch party! Confused much? Pay attention grasshopper.
WL will host a Launch Party for their new single I LOVE YOU, SADIE – the lead track from their forthcoming debut album, due early 2018 – at Dublin’s Grand Social on 25th August.
This will be followed by (dramatic pause), an after partyin a SECRET LOCATION😱 .
What can you expect on the night? DJ sets from the Lingo ladies, as well as RTÉ 2fm presenter Tara Stewart – andFREE BEER TASTINGfrom Bray’s O Brother Brewing on arrival at the after party.
Full details on FB events here with limited tickets still available via Ticketmaster.
News has just filtered through that the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble are to play a unique concert at Dublin’s NCH on Sunday 1st October ’17.
The show, which is a Science Gallery (TCD) Dublin collaboration, will see Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, and Adrian Utley of Portishead fame, bring their unique synthesiser-showcase to the NCH stage.
Will Gregory is an innovative creator and re-imaginer who together with Utley, pushes the boundaries of composition using Moog synths. The duo together with their ensemble, add their own flavour to music from pop culture and films, whilst also showcasing new works side by side with fresh interpretations of classical compositions.
To mark the tenth anniversary of synth-innovator Robert Moog’s death, Will Gregory will premiere a new piece of music. The composition features a new clocking device that enables the syncing of all ten synths, resulting in a new, idiosyncratic soundscape.
This unique event should make for the perfect confluence of old and new, and a truly inspirational as well as well as hugely entertaining evening.
Portmanteau fans can chew over the Portisfrapp and Goldhead options during the interval!
Will Gregory (Goldfrapp), Adrian Utley (Portishead) and ensemble. NCH, Dublin, Sunday 1st October 2017
Room: Main Stage Prices: €30, €25
Tickets from NCH Box Office Tel: 01 417 00 00 or Nch.ie
When the line-ups for the three biggest Irish festivals were announced earlier this year, there was universal outrage across social media at the gross lack of female representation. The stark reality is that female artists constituted a mere 27%of the total 2017 line up across the top 3 Irish festivals. We wrote about it on the blog, have a read here.
Ironically this comes at a time when Irish DJ Jenny Greene has never been so popular, with the rise and then some of her uber-super Ibiza Proms-like showcase of trance-classical in collab with the RTE Symphony Orchestra; a show which has sold-out every single performance since its inception for last year’s Electric Picnic.
Tackling disproportionate representation along with other gender imbalances within the music industry, is what Irish based Gash Collective is about. So, in response to club and festival gender bias, whether intentional or nay, this Irish collective, run by women for women (and those identifying as female), has been running a series of curated workshops aimed at encouraging females to get involved in the world of electronic music.
Sponsored by Smirnoff, the workshops provide an opportunity for women over the age of 18 “to get stuck in, in a completely non-judgemental atmosphere”. The sessions focus on DJ and production skills, enabling women to learn how to use Ableton software, equipment such as turntables and CDJs (digital music players for DJing, the most common of which are produced by Pioneer) and how to mix them some musical magic.
Discussing the workshops with the Irish Times, Cork based DJ Ellen King explained, “The main thing is that no experience is necessary. The big thing, especially with CDJs and decks, is they’re very expensive equipment and a lot of people don’t have access to them, unless they know someone who owns a bar etc”.
All equipment – laptops, decks etc – is provided, with training led by female Irish producers and DJs. All the participants have to do is pitch up and immerse themselves in the vibe. It’s all about getting yourself out there with like-minded gals, having a go, enjoying a few laughs, and making a few mistakes along the way.
All of the workshops are now full, but you can still register to receive info-mails about future events. So sign up and go along at nearest opportunity! Remember – She who dares wins!
ABOUT GASH COLLECTIVE: Gash Collective Irish based collective focused on supporting women in the field of electronic music; a platform to encourage women to create, share and collaborate together in the field of electronic music in Ireland. Through safe space initiatives, carefully curated parties and events, as well as production and DJ workshops, GASH intends to shine a light on female identifying producers and DJs in Ireland.
American artist Julia Holterhas released a new 7″ double-A set of covers of the legendary Mode track, Condemnation, adjudged by many to be one of the British band’s finest compositions.
A collaboration with Ramona Gonzalez, Cole M.G.N and Nedelle Torrisi, the charity single is being released in honour of their late close-friend, artist and music video director Travis Peterson, who tragically died at the end of 2016. Depeche Mode were one of Peterson’s favourite bands.
The double-A which is released via Holter’s home label Domino Records, features two covers – one live and one synth version of the ’93 single that saw Mode frontman Dave Gahan deliver one of his best vocal performances.
“Aside from being an authentic and talent artist and collaborator, Travis was a great friend and beloved by many in Los Angeles and around the world,” Holter, Gonzalez, M.G.N., and Torrisi said in a joint-statement. “Known for his infectious laugh, sense of mischief, and passion for art, music, and architecture, Travis was simply a pleasure to be around.”
While the live version is an heavenly chorus of harmonies that floats slowly over a solemn tide of accordion, the second cover is a masterclass in synth understatement that stays true to the aesthetic of early ’90s Mode.
The deeply touching live-acoustic version of the song is accompanied by a sublime Jennifer Juniper Stratford video, which you can watch below.
All proceeds will be donated to Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to providing mental health and substance abuse services in underserved communities.
The limited edition Condemnation vinyl can be pre-ordered here.
The Irish music showcase and conference, which is held annually in the capital, will this year run from Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th inclusive, with the event being split into two parts.
The first, which will be held in the Chocolate Factoryon the opening night of the 28th, will be a networking event aimed at encouraging visiting international delegates to network with both Irish media and music artists alike.
The second ‘double-nighter’ will see a run of live showcases in various venues throughout Dublin across 29th and 30th September. With over 400 applicants to chose from, the adjudicating panel will no doubt have had some tough calls to make but the final line up is likely to be as diverse and talented as in the past.
Similar to international models such as Norway’s Trondheim Calling and the UK’s The Great Escape, HWCH, which is supported by The Arts Council, Culture Ireland and Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland, plays host to international delegations to its showcase/conference event.
These visits enable overseas promoters, producers, bookers, labels and media alike to make connections with their Irish counterparts and see a wide range of innovative Irish music.
Through attendance at HWCH, delegates can:
– See exciting new and innovative contemporary Irish music performed live in a specially curated list of venues
– Create new links and/or strengthen existing ones between the contemporary music sector in Ireland and contacts overseas
– Meet with peers from both Ireland and other countries to discuss possible creative collaborations, co-commissions and partnership projects
HWCH has over the years attracted numerous international figures from a broad range of musical backgrounds and this year would appear to be no exception. The first round of international industry delegates has been announced and features some serious music credentials.
NYC based freelancer Laura Parker (Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair), Reeperbahn Festival’s ‘Head of Showcase Programme’ Evelyn Seeber, and The New Yorker’s John Seabrook are just some of the top notch names flying in for HWCH17. Read the full first cut here.
Across the breadth of the HWCH weekend, artists, delegates and music professionals will be able to attend a mix of workshops, discussions and panels. Artist-Professional 1:1’s will also be part of the HWCH mix.
This unique programme of sessions aims to help artists to grow awareness and get their music heard. They also provide an invaluable open-forum for artists to gain industry insights and hook up with professionals to whom they would otherwise never have access.
Some of the HCWH16 success stories with whom you might be familiar are Soulé, Ailbhe Reddy, Talos, A.S Fanning and Le Boom. Previous HWCH incumbents have included Saint Sister, Rusangano Family, Hozier, Soak, and boys about town, The Strypes who’ve just dropped a new album, and Otherkin whose debut is on the way.
Make sure to get your tickets early as like every other live music event in Ireland, they sell out pretty darn quickly. DervSwerve
Tickets (incl charges) via Eventbrite are priced as follows:
Conference & weekend live €55.00 / Weekend live €35.00 / Conference €25.00
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 CapricornEP 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.
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 singleContra, 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)
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.
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.
Dubliner Tim Chadwickreleased 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 Timand DervSwerve on Twitter to keep up to speed with all the latest news.
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 theirHeart 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.
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
Welcome to the second in our new Discover Ireland series featuring the best contemporary music from both emerging and established stars of the Irish scene. In our inaugural instalment – Irish Music Under The Microscope – we ventured on a ten-track journey that took us from the folk-pop world of Hudson Taylor through the country-roads of Catherine Mc Grath to the Balbriggan ‘good life’ imagined by R&B diva-in-waiting Soulé.
This week, we deep dive into the world of yet another ten Irish artists whose music crosses every social, stylistic and musical walk of life, to give you a multi-flavoured megamix by more of the best of our indigenous talent. As always, you’ll find a Discover Ireland #2 Spotify playlist at the end of our piece. In addition, over on Spotify, you’ll find a new all-inclusive Discover Ireland Top 20 to which we’ll keep adding new tracks week on week.
The 22-year old Castletara native who has already stormed every TAM rated radio show across the UK&I not to mention wowing throngs of festival goers from Body & Soul, to EP, to the mother of all fests, Glasto. Fresh from a stint at Cruinniú na Cásca where she played alongside The Academic, Áine Cahill will embark on a nationwide tour on 20th April kicking off in Dublin’s Sugar Club – full details here. Her itinerary also sees her take in some UK festival dates including Glastonbury – ‘all hail!’.
With a sound that occupies the liminal space between baroque pop and jazz, the young Cavan woman has been likened to both Lana del Rey and Adele, although personally I can hear more of the former and less of the latter in the way her vocal confidently mines rich and pitch-dark, mysterious underground caverns. There’s a touch of James Bond suaveness to her latest single Plastic, redolent of Planets by The Clear.
A sassy yet classy two-fingers to unfeeling no-marks, it’s a slickly produced affair with as much style as it has substance. Cahill effortlessly walks her smouldering vocal up and down the breadth of its range, while in the background guitars growl, sinister basslines lurk, strings sweep theatrically and there’s a profusion of jazz cum r&b style percussion that gives Plastic an infectious, palpitating heartbeat.
The youngster has just brought out an accompanying video which you can watch here. With a chutzpah similar to peers like Bryde and PJ Harvey and a talent mature beyond her years, Áine Cahill is more blazing comet than rising star. One to watch with binoculars …
Love child of a fast and furious fling between Cockney Rebels The Clash and NYC’s brashest The Strokes, Otherkin is a Dublin based four-piece putting grit into grunge and punk into pop.
Producing adrenaline-charged rocket-fuel trading as ‘garage rock’ that refuses to go gently into any good night, Otherkin have rapidly become one of the success stories of the current Irish music scene. Two EPs in, and their searing sound has gained them a fanbase which has grown exponentially since their 2014 inception.
While their style is unfussy and vibe beyond energetic, their songs swing off more hooks than Tarzan doing the rounds of a concrete jungle. Their sound is ‘loud’ but without the ear-scraping screech-factor to which many of their peers fall foul. Ensuring a line in melodic pop sensibilities remains firmly embedded in their rad-leaning brand, has kept Otherkin within reach of commercial whilst at the same time keeping a respectful distance from mainstream pop.
Ahead of the release of their debut album, due out later this year on the Rubyworks label, the guys recently dropped the lead track Bad Advice. The musical equivalent of stormtroopers crashing your local open mic, its a compelling sonic energiser replete with the strident guitars, punchy beats and confident vocals on which Otherkin have built their indisputable rep. One, which will see them cosy up to Axl & co when the Not In This Lifetime Tour hits Slane on 27th May 2017 (see here for tickets). Something tells me Ax will have his work cut out for him keeping up with these frenergetic rockers.
Lisa Hannigan is an icon of modern Irish indie-folk-pop – period.
A gifted multi-instrumentalist Hannigan has long been at the forefront of that wave of musicians who successfully managed to transform the genre of folk-pop, once seen as pop’s poor relation, into an accepted art form within modern musical society.
In addition to a plethora of film work, the multi-award winning Irish woman has released three highly acclaimed studio albums – Seesaw (2008), Passenger (2011) and most recently At Swim (2016) for which she was Choice Music Prize nominated.
The title, which is drawn from the watery metaphors that flow through At Swim’s lyrics, is similarly suggestive of the fluid sound of the album itself, which in many ways make it as intangible as it is transparent. Described by The Telegraph as an album “to drown in”, At Swim is a truly emotionally immersive recording which serves to highlight not just Lisa Hannigan’s exceptional songwriting skills. It also serves as a testament to her ability to craft intimate and feather-light music which she then gently offers up with the most delicately emotive of deliveries.
Lisa Hannigan is currently on an extended World tour with our next featured artist – Saint Sister. Full details of all remaining dates//tickets – here. She plays the Royal Hospital Kilmainhamon 5th June.
Saint Sister, was formed in 2014 by Trinity alumni Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty.
Drawing inspiration from traditional Irish and folk music on the one hand and electro-pop on the other, the duo have concocted their own unique brand of ‘atmosfolk‘. Blending wistful, subtle synths with electro-acoustic harp, the pair have managed to take the best of both traditional and modern worlds, resulting in a finely balanced musical menagerie at the heart of which lies their perfectly synchronised, visceral vocal commix.
Clocked by media within a blink of their formation, Saint Sister have opened for Arcade Fire, been playlisted by the Beeb and RTE, and toured extensively selling out venues from Ireland to the Finland Station (that might be a bit of an exagg but you get the gist). They’re currently high-bindering around Europe with the afore-mentioned Lisa Hannigan ahead of a stint around the UK&I.
With its minimally arranged, unfussy perfection, their sensational Madrid EP blew the socks off reviewers and music fans alike. Most recently, the duo have released Double A Tin Man / Corpses (link here). A finely textured weave of the warmest threads of electronica adorned with delicate gauzy folk, this is music with which one makes an immediate, subliminal connection.
Saint Sister take their instrumental finery and add a layer of perfectly chiming vocals to create immaculately delivered and sympathetically arranged songs that only the most gifted lyricists and naturally talented of musicians can aspire to.
Saint Sister play Dublin’s National Concert Hall on 7th June and Latitude (UK) on 15th July. Full details of their tour dates//tickets – here. Click your heels and set ye off for Blind Date over the rainbow style with their wonderfully original video for Tin Man below.
There’s very little left to say that hasn’t already been said about the ‘transformation’ of the artist fka the Queen of Rockabilly.
Sporting a new look while embracing a bewitching new sound filled with heartfelt soul and punchy blues, Imelda May has returned with a fifth album that has exceeded our wildest expectations by more than a country mile of the English heartland in which she now lives.
Life Love Flesh Blood is a T Bone Burnett produced masterpiece comprising strands of country, jazz, R&B, pop and more. An indefinable triumph which, like May herself, refuses to be boxed in by labels or genres, it has had both reviewers and May’s fans in thrall to its visceral power and raw to-the-bone honesty (mea culpa – you can read my review here). Editors of glossies and TV hosts alike, have been tripping over themselves to book the Dubliner for ‘chats’ (Image Mag, The Late Late Show, The One Show) – if anyone out there didn’t already know who Imelda May was, they must surely know now (mea maxima culpa, read my interview with Imelda here).
With her ten-strong team of musicians, Imelda May is due to hit the ‘circuit’, starting in Derry on 30th May. The singer will play over 25 dates across the UK including St. David’s Hall in Cardiff and the exquisite London Palladium. She will play four Irish dates – three sold out shows at the BGE Theatre in May and an extra date at Dublin’s 3 Arena on 22nd December. The month of June will see Imelda take her new sound to music venues across North America where she will also hook up with the legendary Elvis Costello. We wish her well.
Check out the new video, just released, for Imelda May’slatest single Should’ve Been You here.
Alan Farrell and Ciara Thompson aka CMAT, are Bad Sea – a trippy, country ‘fluenced duo who recently supported Australian hitmaker Julia Jacklin when she pitched up at Whelans for a night (and got clamped for her troubles). They were, in the words of that great musical legend John Peel – ‘fucking amazing’.
With a confidence that belies her 21 years, Ciara has all the poise of June Carter Cash fused with the pop sensibilities of KD Lang whilst paralleling the idiosyncrasies of Lana del Rey. Comparisons not easily made. Farrell for his part is an intuitive guitarist with more than an ear for a seductive riff.
On stage, Thompson and Farrell are in complete symmetry with one another; a synchronicity more than apparent in their studio recordings, which sound more like the results of an afternoon of easy going musical indulgence rather than the meticulously rehearsed and precisely crafted soul crusted country-pop gems that they are. It’s not easy to make such good music seem effortless!
Their latest single Tell Me (What I Mean) is a homage of sorts to love (and Tinder) in which Ciara’s glorious vocals twirl and whirl around and through Farrell’s resplendent throwback guitar playing.
The duo played So Far sounds last month, a live recording of which you can watch here. They play a sold out Yala event 21st April, return to Whelan’s on 16th May to support Overcoats before hooking up with Rosa Nutty for her EP launch in The Workman’s on June 1st! BE THERE!
Dubliner Katie Laffan is another slice of that batch of Irish newbies taking the media world by storm.
Her new single Tastemaker scored massive acclaim for its journeying in a direction perpendicular to the well worn trend of most chart-poppers. Dressing itself in the fluorescent PJs of ‘bedroom funk’, its a dynamic melee of funk, jazz and hip hop spliced with some reggae vibes all wrapped up in a layer of glistening disco-pop.
Produced and mastered by studio Yodas, Liam Caffery and John Flynn, it’s as slick a glitter-ball of a production as you’ll hear since the walls of NYC’s Studio 54 reverberated with Nile Rodger’s Chic. In fact if you told me Rodgers himself was on guitar duties it wouldn’t surprise me.
There is something very carefree and wild about the vibe of this song, which is more sonic fizz-bag than commercial candyfloss. That’s not to say it isn’t radio and market-friendly – it is in spades, but without the try-too-hard plasticity of the likes of Pixie Lott or triteness of Little Mix. It’s disco-pop with the sassy abandon of Donna Summer that hints at the best of Roisin ‘Bring it Back’ Murphy (before she slid down the experimental rabbit hole).
Tastemaker showcases Laffan’s coy but street-wise vocal, sparky and unbridled, blurry around the edges, softened by a hint of breathiness. Musically, this ‘fabulousness’ is a riot of cowbells, funked out bass-lines and highly-strung, tight knit retro 70’s riffs. More addictive than Haribos, if you don’t fall prey to Ms. Laffan’s bedroom charms, then you’re either tone deaf or dead.
The video, which you can watch below, features the singer’s 82 year old Grandad – go him!
Katie Laffanwill support Maverick Sabre in Dublin’s Bowery on 27th April, followed by stints at Bare in the Woods and Grove Festivals – full details here.
Galway native David Boland has been performing under the New Pope moniker since 2014. Hugely popular, this immensely talented singer/songwriter has diligently distilled his own home-brew of dream-pop infused folk that while drawing from an indigenous traditional well, owes much in the way to the indie/jangle of mid-90s America.
New Pope has released two excellent and buy-worthy albums, Youth which was released in December 2015 and Love which came out on NYE one year later.
If you put a gun to my head and forced me to make comparisons, I would automatically lean towards Beck. There’s more than a trace of the American’s sun-kissed Californian ease in the leadránach almost soporific quality of the Irish man’s gently hypnotic vocal.
Somewhat of a confessional songsmith, New Pope wears the varying shapes of his heart on his sleeve – humourous, romantic, nostalgic, observer of life, dreamer. His song-crafting skills are exceptionally on point – thought and emotion provoking poetic essays on the world with which the Galway native surrounds himself. Observations on the natural world, the changing face of Irish landscapes, soundscapes and culture, love won and lost, nostalgic odes to youth and its blushing romances. They’re all in there like pages torn from a collection of diaries.
New Pope’s third album Home, is due out later this year. An album firmly set in the ‘now’ of his life, it strolls down more folksier byways than its somewhat more ‘wistful’ and nostalgic predecessors.
Renowned for his wonderfully orchestrated and imaginatively arranged and thoughtful compositions, Home should prove at least equal to if not superior to the charming ingenuity of its two older siblings. If his Instagram is anything to go buy, New Pope is a constant on the Galway live scene. Check in with his FBto stay in the loop.
Favourites of Tom Robinson’s crew over at Fresh on the Net – see the groovy review their single Back To Where I Begun inspired back last November – “the beauty of the song is the superb build right from the start with its occasional picking guitar through to its almost anthemic finish”
The trick of producing really good music is when you find a bloody good formula, stick to it like Elastoplast. That’s what Dublin based duo Motions have done, nailing a slow build to gradual crescendo, culminating in an all out explosive finale full of musical theatrics festooned with fireworks.
Motions was formed in late 2015 by Tom Daly (vox) and Dave Nulty. They describe their sound as ranging “from shimmering soundscapes to anthemic rock”. Yup, just about sums it up perfectly. Bold and daring rock-god vocals are at the helm here – waspish, raspy, edgy, you can almost feel the veins bulging in the Daly’s throat. Strong and confident vocal shots laced with Jameson and a few puffs of Woodbine. Elsewhere, in the back seat, Nulty’s strident guitars are screaming to be unleashed so that they can drive unfettered through the anthemic storm that lies ahead.
Their latest single, All I’ve Ever Known is another killer track that will leave your nerves jangling. The song which “centres around the traces left behind after losing someone close to you … is reflective of the chaotic elements we experience in the grief of loss”. A continuous build of layer upon layer takes the track from soft melodic balladry to epic bombast, with Daly’s gritty vocal, a fine balance of angst and anger, sitting in the eye of the perfect storm of contorted, frenzied guitars underpinned by insistent, driving percussion.
Unfortch, there’s no video, so here’s a shiny new Motions Soundcloud link instead.
Le Galaxie are a 21st century band who like Norwegian beatmasters Röyksopp imagine pulse-filled space-age electronica light years ahead of its time.
A four-piece who submerge their collective talents into the dark and mysterious void that is contemporary electronica, they produce pulsating disco swagger filled with an array of electronic textures, a cavalcade of 3D samples and synthtastic lane hopping. Their latest single Pleasure is just that.
Like an irresistible and experienced seducer, it holds you firmly in its thrill-seeking clutches and mesmerises with its hypnotically propulsive beats. New age techno rife with carnal desire it’s like les liaison dangereuse for the dancefloor. The track features the sensual vocals of Flight Like Apes’ front woman May Kay, whose dreamy, languorous delivery is seduction personified.
A powerfully compelling dance track with a more than ‘colourful’ personality and an addictive groove, Pleasure is a Le Galaxiemasterclass in innovative experimentation. An accomplished production with an inter-galactic sheen. Pleasure is released today … go get it on!
Le Galaxie are lined up to play several live dates including a Night in the Key of 8 (23rd April) and the Drogheda Arts Festival (29th April) – full line up of events here.
Well, that’s a wrap. Thank God says you, is the bar still open? I’m all worded out. Nothing left to say except, here’s your Spotify playlist. Enjoy.