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.

Lounging At Longitude, Spending The Weeknd at Marlay!

Marlay Park based Longitude Festival has just released its day-by-day lineup. In addition its promoters have also announced a further twenty-two acts.

With the countdown to the mid-Summer festival well and truly under way, promoters MCD have published the day-by-day breakdown, as well as introducing a host of new names to the bill, some of which our readers will be well and truly familiar with –

  • Sigrid
  • Aine Cahill
  • Dermot Kennedy
  • Gucci Mane
  • G-Eazy
  • Young Thug
  • Leaon Bridges
  • The Martinez Brothers
  • Earl Sweatshirt
  • JP Cooper
  • Mick Jenkins
  • Dave
  • Ray BLK
  • Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Witt
  • Sunflower Bean
  • Palace
  • Youngr
  • HVOB and Winston Maeshall
  • Gill Landry
  • Karen Elson
  • Bitch Falcon
  • Wild Youth

Youngster Sigrid is the latest Norwegian pop sensation whose fiery vocal and feisty lyrics have set media tongues wagging not just across Europe but as far away as SXSW where she performed earlier this year. Dermot Kennedy and Aine Cahill, both of whom already have a huge following in Ireland and Britain, are likewise following suit in establishing their ‘rep’ Stateside.

This year’s Longitude lineup features several big ticket names including Stormzy, The Weeknd and Mumford & Sons. Other well known acts performing include Irish duo Picture This (who have a new single Never Changes out on 9th May!), Leon Bridges, Jack Garratt, Glass Animals (whose latest album I reviewed) and the divine Lucy Rose whose past collaborations have included the Manic Street Preachers.

To whet your appetite I’ve run up a tasty playlist which you’ll find below, featuring some of the many artists who’ll be rocking up to Marlay Park in July.  Longitude takes place in Dublin’s Marlay Park on the weekend of 14th – 16th July, 2017.

Weekend tickets €189.50 / Two Day Tickets: €129.50 / Day tickets €69.50 
are available from Ticketmaster.

Derv’s Voyage of Discovery – Weekly Newsletter (Vol 1)

Because there aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week or fingers on hands, one can’t always get to hear never mind review every new track or album. There are a myriad new artists out there waiting for us to cosy up to them, but alas, cometh the hour does not necessarily mean cometh the music blogger. So, in an attempt to keep us all abreast of what’s dropping/trending/gonna be huge – from new releases to happening movers and shakers, we’re gonna bring you on a weekly voyage of discovery. No more excuses … no urgh, longreads. Just snippets of news with links to tracks framed by utd press photos of your nearest and dearest, or soon to be musical in-laws.

art by Scott Cleary / hmni.me

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE ER,

Social media nearly ate itself alive when the new dancefloor filler from Paramore burst through magenta skies. New single Hard Times is fun music made by a trio of colourful personalities that look like they’re up for more than a bit of craic. Vibrant, spilling over with energy, it’s an upbeat, uptempo jingo coloured by sunny Summery Windies ‘fluences. Shiny rays of marimba add Carribbean textures to this disco energiser bursting with zippy riffs and peppered with congas, distorted vocals and random dumps of synth. Hayley Williams delightfully infectious soft around the edges vocal, packs a punch. Sod the moany music media begrudgers. This is party-time Paramore at their best. New album After Laughter out 12th May. DerVerdict – Mouthwatering! Parteeeee like it’s …

In a similar act of random musical madness Norwegian wunderkinds Pom Poko have released new single Jazz Baby.

A classic case of ‘how many tempo//stylistic changes can you fit in any one song’ meets ‘how long can any vocalist hold a note without drawing breath’. This is the kind of expert, ingenious craziness which is fast hurtling these four uber talented youngsters towards major success. Only a few months since their inception, they’ve already bagged serious showtime at some of Europe’s biggest festivals where they had media dribbling on themselves over their performances. DerVerdict – Worth the money for the artwork alone. Good long-term investment.

Photo Stian Anderson

A band who once travelled the gnarly roads of staggeringly rich and darkly evocative soundscapes, Norwegian five-piece Highasakite seem to have lost their experimental, indie-sense of self as they continue their metamorphosis into colourless purveyors of vanilla, electro-pop, music for the mainstream masses. The twilit quirkiness, the obscure and thought-provoking lyrics twinned with sense-stirring melodies and sensuous undertones have all but disappeared from a band that seems to have rebranded itself as Ingrid Havik +4. Their latest single, the Stargate produced 5 Million Miles, lies somewhere between a poor Rihanna rip-off and something Beyoncé might have hopped out as a B-side c.ten years ago. It sounds dated, flat, and lacking in any kind of ingenuity. DervVerdict – Keep your money in your pocket.

RAPID ROUND-UP

Twitter is a-glow and agog this morning with news that ’80s popstrels and children of Venus, Bananarama have reunited in their original line up – Keren, Siobhan and Sara – and are taking themselves off on tour across the UK in November/December.  I heard a rumour they might be throwing in a few Irish dates! Stay tuned!!  Speaking of terra Irlanda, up and coming Dublin artist SOULÉ has dropped a beaut of a new single.  Troublemaker is a kick-ass hip hop ‘je t’accuse’ with delicious Caribbean vibes that throws shade in spades at the singer’s lying/cheating no-mark of a fella.

Speaking of no marks, Don’t Kill My Vibe chart topper Sigrid has landed another smash with Plot Twist, another electro-hip hopper in which an army of beats goes head to head with some feisty synth surges.  Sigrid lets her vocal go on the most glorious journey as it scales the heights of the tracks propulsive crescendo.  Elsewhere in Denmark, indie-boyo Masasolo is having just another Ordinary Day.  Slacker than slack and more laid back than a li-lo, if you want #goodvibes, this is your go-to.

Wrapping up our rapid-round-up in Ireland, Cork man Eoin French aka renowned lyrical poet Talos has just released his debut album and it’s a stunner that has critics eating out of its palm. Wild Alee comprises thirteen wonderfully innovative electro-ambient tracks crafted with diamond cut precision.

And in Dublin, alt-rock four-piece Ivy Nations are luring us into the colourful dystopia of Live By Design.  Unleashing their Benn Veasey directed video for their third scorcher of a single (their sound is so polished and confident we find that hard to believe) they explain  it’s “a story focusing on the ideas of determinism, design, choice & freedom…in a dystopian world that was at once dated and a bit grubby, but at the same time really quite colourful and vibrant in places.”  The Irish rockers are due to play several live dates across the Summer, kicking off at The Mercantile (YouBloom Festival) on June 4th – full details on their FB page.  Meanwhile, plug yourselves into their highly charged firework here.

GOOD NEWS STORY OF THE WEEK

The news is out & boy are we excited… the brilliant will be joining at this year’s !

We’re very democratic here on DervSwerve, trying to pack in as many snippets from as many genres or un-genres into our posts as is poss. So, we’re delighted to present this week’s good news story, which comes from the world of jazz.

Darling of BBC Introducing Devon, Izzie Anson has been hand-picked by legendary jazz pianist Jamie Cullum to play at this years Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The youngster, who is still only sweet 17, will play 5 songs (3 own/2 covers), the highlights of which will feature on Jo Whiley’s BBC Radio 2 show Thursday 27th and again on BBC Intro Devon Saturday 29th April.  We’ve included her mesmeric track Gone on our Spotify playlist but you can also check it out here.  Written a few years ago when Izzie never dreamt that anyone else would ever get to hear it, the track was reworked during a recent stint in Nashville.  Exciting times for a young singer songwriter whose career is fast gaining momentum.

VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY PLAYLIST

Check out our companion Spotify playlist – Derv’s Voyage of Discovery 1.  Give us a follow on Spotify and Facebook if you like 🙂

DervSwerve

Life Love Flesh Blood & The Bones Of Imelda May

Once upon a time, Irish singer/songwriter Imelda May went with her sister to the hairdressers for some trichological TLC and a bit of cheering up. It wasn’t a new do, new me thing; it’s just what we women do. Anon, one boozy afternoon, the Dubliner decided to give make-up artist friend Lisa Mejuto AAA to create a fresh look with a new palette.

One year later and the remarkable reimagining of Imelda May is all everyone still wants to talk about. Grant it, Imelda May looks fantastic, but then again, she always did! Now, can we move on?

As its title would suggest, May’s new and fifth album, ‘Life. Love. Flesh. Blood’ is a musical-diary cataloguing the Irish woman’s most intimate feelings and experiences from a particularly roller-coaster period of her life. It’s all there – the highs, the lows, the thrills, spills and pain – written in stark font, performed with visceral honesty.

A myriad of influences – Roger Miller, Connie Francis, Willie Nelson – float to the surface of an album that flows from blues through bluegrass to gospel and beyond. It was produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett, whose description of May as “full of life … I was inspired by her honesty and generosity, and I continue to be intrigued” could similarly be the tagline for what is an intriguing collection of songs.

Contributors to #LLFB were plucked straight from the top of the singer’s collaborative wishlist. In addition to those made by T Bone himself, there are contributions from Jeff Beck and Jools Holland, both of whom May has previously supported. The extensive troupe of backing musicians, personally handpicked by Burnett, included the renowned triumvirate of guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, David Lynch), bassist Zach Dawes (TLSP) and percussionist Jay Bellerose (Elton John, BB King).  One look at their collective, collaborative history gives a clear indication as to the stylistic direction this album was destined to take.

Photo RTE Late Late Show

Masters of intuitive interpretation T Bone & Co have provided a steady hand in guiding the former rockabilly away from her more high-octane “Boom Boom” roots towards the calmer waters of sensual balladry and impassioned blue-eyed soul.

Not that Imelda May needed much guiding.  Even before she started writing the songs for this album, the singer knew she both wanted and needed a change in direction.  The 50s swing & rockabilly style was beginning to pigeon-hole her talents. The freedom of moving adrift on uncharted waters helped not just to unleash the emotional avalanche within, but to find a new voice.

Album openers Call Me and Black Tears set a mood of captivating intimacy; their music is both beautiful and sensual with Imelda’s May’s vocal dressed to fit.  Call Me is a gentle country ‘prayer’, of such subtlety it echoes masters like Glen Campbell, over which May lays down an exquisitely tender vocal.  

Black Tears is pure Patsy Cline Crazy, in which the strains of Jeff Beck’s slide guitar tease heartache while May’s bewilderingly poignant vocal, is both emotionally shattering and endearing.  Endearing because of Imelda May’s key USP – absolute honesty – an ingredient vital to the integrity of the album.   The song features a truly sublime Beck solo which the virtuoso guitarist cleverly tails with a sassy zip, the signal for May to fire up her vocal dynamo. She duly obliges.

While the record features songs about heartache and breaking up, let us be clear on one point, this is NOT a breakup album.  It does what it says on the tin, as it were. This is a personal reflection in open letter form :-

Life – religion, humanity, failure, shopping, childhood, the future, adult responsibility; Love – (romantic) heartbreak, remorse, pain, optimism, wonder, naivety, as well as family love; Flesh – sins of, sexual chemistry and electricity, “primal pleasure” in the “gutter of love”: and, Blood – one’s own flesh and blood. While each facet of May’s life can and has been treated individually, they are also inextricably linked.

The Dublin native is renowned not just for a vibrant and sunny disposition but for her natural warmth, something she radiates in spades and which is to varying degrees, inherent in every track on the album. It is there in the glow of her voice, between the lines, in the glory of her harmonies.

It is at its most evident on her collaboration with piano legend, Jools Holland whose skillful playing has a remarkable dexterity, perfect mastery of nuance and flawless finish.  When It’s My Time with its impeccable symmetry between organ and piano, is a soulful Gospel number mined in the heartlands of the ‘Deep South’. As it builds into full-on ‘gospel choir’ mode, the breadth and depth of May’s personality shines through, as does the strength of her very genuine religious beliefs.

Life. Love. Flesh. Blood wanders down a lot of country lanes, not least on Sixth Sense which, with its cheeky honky tonky swagger and bluegrass ‘fused guitar riffs is pure Roger Miller soundscape.  Add in an unashamedly seductive ‘come hither I’m yours‘ vocal delivering ‘brazen gal’ lyrics and you’ve got yourself the kind of song Mae West would have gladly made her own.

In a similar vein, How Bad Can A Good Girl Be is as sultry as it is desirous, with May’s vocal drifting into Chrissie Hynde territory while guitarist Ribot’s sound is very Chris Isaak (given their similarity in style it’s no surprise that director David Lynch has collaborated with both).

There are plenty of 50s sensibilities dotted throughout. Both Human with its gorgeous harmonies and Bad Habit, a clappy, toe-tapper that’s as close to vintage Imelda as the album gets, have classic 50s sounds.  Leave Me Lonely flies the flag for mainstream pop ballad while album closer, The Girl I Used To Be with its heartfelt poesie, is an ode to childhood with an Irish trad-folk vibe that recalls The Ferrymen and Damien Dempsey.

Album winner for this reviewer is Levitate, a song which sees May channelling her inner Julie London and that has the most divine, languid calypso beat that would make the perfect backdrop to a romantic rhumba. As they’d say in The Liberties, ‘It’s pure class’.

This album should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Imelda May on TV, performing covers with countless artists from across the musical spectrum. Life. Love. Flesh. Blood was in many ways, an album waiting to happen.  While sub-plots to core themes might have varied, an album based on an honest account of a life lived with passion, brimming with love and filled with optimism was always going to one day find its way from heart to pen to mic.

There’s a line in the doo wop lilt Should’ve Been You that goes, “who takes care of me?” … Something tells me Imelda May is well able to take care of herself, that she already has and she always will.

Life. Love. Flesh. Blood is out now via Decca Records & is available via all Digital Channels & in physical CD/Vinyl formats from good record stores (including Tower Records and Golden Discs Ireland).

Karmacloud – Longing For An Elusive Equilibrium

If you like your Celtic folk-pop with some Scandi on the side, Irish-Nordic trio Karmacloud should be right up your street or gata depending on which side of the North Sea you’re inhabiting.

The Irish-Swedish-Danish alt-folk trio have just released their latest single ‘The Longing‘, a track which “likens the adventure we experience through love and romance to a hike through the forest: passing in and out of the light and shadows of love and loss, all the while longing for an elusive equilibrium that brings us comfort.”

Be that as it may (most forest hikes I’ve participated in have resulted in my longing for the elusive equilibrium of a big comfy armchair and large G&T), this is a delightful folk ballad not without an abundance of pop sensibilities, delivered with a sincere honesty and gentle warmth.  As you would expect from a song dip-dyed in the well of traditional folk, it comes replete with reps of soft acoustic guitar loops, brightly chiming piano sequences and gorgeous clouds of vocal harmonies.

However, as is often the case, there is more going on underneath the surface than might first seem apparent.  From early on, intermittent sample sounds dart through the vocals like fleeting shadows adding to the afore-mentioned sense of loss and elusiveness.

The song’s airier folk elements are earthed by clever percussion that leans towards a jazz style, while the addition of a dreamy drone of unknown origin- harmonium? accordion? – creates warmth and adds texture as it sketches the most inviting of melodic landscapes.

“Along the way, we learn from our mistakes, and we discover that relationships can be shaped by the secrets we hide and honesty we reveal that make us vulnerable and open to receiving.”

Vocally this is as engaging as any vocal can be, with Danny Forde using all his Irish charm to convey the sincerity of the everyday existentialism behind the song. In fact, having Forde at the helm gives ‘The Longing’ an essence of traditional Irish balladry to which his Scandi comrades have added magical strands of that innovative folk-pop for which they are renowned.
Karmacloud is Linnéa Lundgren, Rumle Langdal and Danny Forde.  ‘The Longing’ heralds the first of three new 2017 releases, the updates on which you can keep track of on the band’s Facebook page. You can listen to The Longing, which is out now via digital channels, here.

 

Ships Announce Debut Album, Release Second Teaser

Photo : The Beatyard

Irish electro-duo Ships have just released swoon-synth track ‘All Will Be‘ heralding the announcement that their debut album, entitled ‘Precession’, will be self-released on 1st May.

Dublin based Ships are Sorcha Mc Grath and Simon Cullen, who’ve been playing together for a while now, plying their trade, honing their skills and evolving their sound.  Their album has been a long while in the offing, but all good things come to those who wait and their ever patient fans will be more than delighted with what’s on the way if their latest single is anything to go by!

‘All Will Be’ is an inter-galactic synth-affair redolent of the glory days of ’80s electronic dance with an urban astronaut twist. Streams of synth-reverb flow through black-holes of underground blues-bass while elsewhere Usain Bolt is doing the 100m sprint up and down the keyboard.  Vocals are a soft and feminine affair with just the right touch of wistfulness to draw attention without being clichéd.

The track is a follow on to album lead ‘Around This World’ and is out on the usual digital channels.

‘Precession’ will be released in both digital and vinyl formats on 1st May but is available to pre-order now via Ships’ Bandcamp page, link here.

 

 

Discover Ireland – Irish Music Under The Microscope

Talos – Photo : Olga Kuzmenko

At a time when worldwide music sales continue to decline notwithstanding the ‘great’ vinyl revival and continuous rise of more online music platforms than behoves the industry, the resounding success of the current wave of artists making up the Irish scene is quite the quirk in the global musical landscape.  It’s almost as if many of our current crop of artists are creating music both in and for a parallel universe, such is the remarkable quality, unorthodox nature, and uncharted ingenuity of their idiosyncratic outputs.

But just who makes up this ever-growing Celtic tribe whose unquenchable creativity knows no populist constraints? Who are the Irish artists currently gifting us with a wealth of musical treasure; unpolished, untarnished, glistening in its rawness?

In the first of a new ‘Discover Ireland’ series we look at some of the Irish artists who are not just sealing their credentials on the local landscape, but whose sound is in such stark contrast to that of the current flock of vanilla chart-toppers that they are making international industry veterans sit up and take notice.

Photo of Catherine Mc Grath Uncredited

In part one of the Discover Ireland series, we put ten artists with varying degrees of success under the microscope, finishing off the piece with a tailored Spotify playlist which you can follow or from which you can select a pick n mix to add to your own homespun choices.

Who? HUDSON TAYLOR, Unsigned folk duo from Dublin made up of brothers Harry and Alfie HT. Already have a huge online following as well as a couple of releases under their belt.  Around since 2011, they’ve been steadily building a solid fanbase for their ‘bro-brand’ of acoustic folk, although pegging them into the ‘folk’ hole makes them sound more twee than their pop sensibilities would allow.  Currently gigging whilst working on material for their sophomore album.  2017 should see them considerably up their musical game including stints at several of the big Summer festivals including Wilderness.

Who? THE ELATION, A Cork four-piece who share a love of “Music, Travelling, Writing, Recording, Performing” in any order you care to throw at them.  While they name-check both Kodaline and Hozier in addition to forerunners of the ’80s alternative zeitgeist Talking Heads, it is probably Brit Award Winners The 1975, also referenced, to whom their sound bears the most resemblance.

Debut release ‘Xo‘ is like a mashup between the Mancunians (think 2016 hit ‘The Sound’) and a combo of Haircut 100 and Aztec Camera flying the ’80s funk meets new wave flag. All funky foundations and groove bass floodlit by iridescent synths and fuelled by a healthy dose of blood pumpin’ beats.  They’re only at the start of their voyage and already the future looks XoX.

Who? TALOS, Experimental music project of another Cork native, Eoin French. Like the trademark slow builds in his songs, French has been gathering followers along the winding, visionary roads of his continuous musical travels since Talos’ inception back in 2013. And, like the fantastical zeniths of some of his more audacious compositions, 2017 looks set to bring its own dramatic highs when the multi-instrumentalist releases his debut album, ‘Wild Alee’, through Feel Good Lost on 21st April, the same day as his upcoming Irish tour kicks off in Dublin’s Button Factory. Full details on his FB page. Check out the official video for his current single ‘Odyssey’ here,

Who? CATHERINE MC GRATH, Co. Down born London based 19 year old hailed as the new Taylor Swift. There’s plenty of Taytay pastoral-pop ‘fluences going on but Catherine’s sound isn’t without a touch of LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood.  Leaning towards Nashville for its stylistic direction Mc Grath’s vibe isn’t without its pop sensibilities.  Plenty of finger-picking to keep the double denimers happy yet enough soft-pop to steer her into the mainstream flow.  New single ‘Starting From Now’ was released on 10th March and judging by the Spotify count (66k+ in its first week) is gonna seal her fate as one of the Taylor-type stars of the not so distant future.

Who? BURNT OUT, punk cum rap cum ‘wherever the sound needs to be apropos the moodscape’ kinda band from North Dublin.  Two songs in and already the media big cheeses are drooling.  Their latest, ‘Joyrider‘ is full on Roddy Doyle without the laughs.  Don’t be put off by the heavy-set Dublin vocals, this is more ‘mission statement’ than song.  Tackling Dublin ‘street’ culture with its inherent notion that violence, intimidation and general ‘gittery’ define current day inner-city masculinity, the song seeks to highlight the destructive influences this lads mentality has had and continues to have on young Irish males.  Social commentary doesn’t get more unequivocal than this.

Who? TOOFOOLS, “the brainchild of multi-instrumentalists Steven McCann & Lorcán O’Dwyer”. These Dublin based BIMM alumni are the cog around which many collaborative projections are formed.  While the pair are the project’s masterminds and its only permanent members, they onboard a cohort of fellow musicians to flesh out their live performances.  There’s a lot going on here and like many of their peers, TooFools aren’t foolish enough to box themselves off by sticking to a readily labelled style or sound.

There are some similarities with Norway’s chillwave, feelgood pop scene (yes, it is a thing) where the likes of Lovespeake reign supreme and like their Norwegian counterparts, TooFools muddle gold standard ingredients – funk, retro soul and Tropical pop accessorised with an infectious falsetto – to create a year round Summer sound full of rhythm and sway.  The only single released thus far, ‘Touch’ is a bloody good example of golden sounds with an expert touch on production. TooFools have hopefully, started as they mean to go on. Top Notch.

TooFools @Button Factory Photo: Claudia Verdecchia

Who? SOULÉ, Balbriggan native whose urban with a touch of class sounds are fast gaining her industry-wide recognition. Astonishingly, this part time musician cum student had her first single, ‘Love No More’, nominated for a Choice Music Prize. Soulé is one of a growing number of artists utilising the Dublin based collaborative hub Diffusion Lab and when not studying, can be found there working on new compositions, songwriting being a way of life since her childhood days.

This upcoming talent cites a plethora of influences from Macy Grey to Nineka but one can’t help recalling greats like Aaliyah, Caron Wheeler and Paris Grey as you listen to the Dubliner’s latest single, ‘Good Life‘ (even the title is redolent of what many consider to be the Inner City frontwoman’s finest hour). Creating sounds that cross over from classic soul and R&B to beat driven electronic pop,  Soulé has nailed a fresh take on tried and tested formulae.  Possibly one of the most exciting talents on the scene, get to know her before she goes global.

Who? EDEN aka Jonathan Lei Ming or the next Hozier.  The 20 year old Dublin multi-instrumentalist and vocalist extraordinaire has repeated the impossible already achieved by the Bray man by going from zero to hero without even breaking into a sweat.  In a minute period of time, he has garnered 135k followers on Spotify alone.  How the hell? Whelans bedamned, this genius of EDM dance-pop sold out prime venues from NYC to LA to Berlin and more taking in 43-dates last year alone, and as if that wasn’t wow enough, has signed up to team SB – Scooter Braun – manager to Bieber, Usher, Ariana Grande & various other elite members of the gilded world of music US stylee.

Suffice it say, we can safely assume that Eden has ‘arrived’.  His seven track mini-album, I Think You Think Too Much Of Me’ from which ‘Sex‘ is the opening track, received nothing but five star reviews for its lo-fi perfect blend of wilful electronica and smooth R&B. Move over Andrew, the new kid on the block is moving into your star-filled stratosphere.

Who? BONZAI, another 20 something about to set the world on fire.  Originally hails from Wicklow now living in London, this newbie cut her teeth with Guernsey born electronic producer Mura Masa, something which not only stood her in good stead but got her name very much in the frame.

Another crossover artist who seems to have allowed a myriad influences seep under her musical skin without the prerequiste labels, Bonzai’s style incorporates everything from grime through Brit-soul to sophisti-pop. There are, for example, some interesting nuances of Simply Red (Fairground) on the intro to the track ‘Stepping‘ from her ‘Sleep Hungry‘ EP.  Gigs and festival slots are stacking up nicely including a stint at Dublin’s District 8 weekend 25th March as well as sets at Parklife and Blissfields.

Snatched up by Colombia records, this Irish innovator is yet another firework set to explode onto the international scene.

Bonzai Uncredited

Who? LYRA Last but by no means least, this London based Cork native (yes, another one!) recently scored perfect tens all round when she delivered a blistering, high-octane performance on the Irish version of Dancing With the Stars – watch it below. Whilst comparisons with Enya and Marina Lambrini Diamandis (of The Diamonds fame) are not unfounded, for me there is more of an affinity with the wilful instrumental theatrics and free spirit Baroque pop of Florence Welch.

Her four-track debut EP, ‘W.I.L.D’, released in 2016, includes current single, ‘Emerald‘. The song, which is about remaining true to oneself, is a compelling fusion of intangible other-worldliness and widescreen warrior style instrumentals that could have led the charge of Queen Medb into Ulster, in which Lyra’s demi-operatic vocal delivery in the mould of Kate Bush, is an octave sweeping triumph. Currently riding high in the iTunes Top 10, Lyra is currently notching up some super cool dates for her Summer calendar including the biggest UK emerging artist showcase, TGE – The Great Escape.  Doubtless great things await for this unique and exceptionally talented songstress.

From melodramatic High Queens to the stark black and white realism of on point social commentary, crossing hip hop, soul, EDM and folk, this is Irish music in Ireland 2017.  Check out the first cut of my Discover Ireland playlist here … follow if you like.  You’ll find me on Facebook and Twitter @DervSwerve.  While you’re listening to the playlist you might check out Ireland.ie, the new Creative Ireland cultural website and portal to Ireland.

The Discover Ireland series will continue showcasing Irish music fortnightly.

Come On Live Long Break Bread Along With Some Bones

Photo Rich Gilligan

“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that some of the best musical relationships are those that come about purely by chance. Personally speaking, I pride myself on the number of happy accidents (Lina Kasa remains #1) that have befallen me during the 18+months since I started, as in Tom Robinson seriously started, writing about music.

My latest accidental discovery is upcoming Irish band, Come On Live Long (there’s a story there surely … unlike Killer Kid Mozart who swear there isn’t!), a four-piece who dabble in a myriad genres from dirty electronica through soul-lite to dramatic pop with flecks of folk and urban in between.

Their FB states that their hometown is Dublin though judging by some of the accents I would imagine that denotes place of residence as opposed to ‘natives of’.  How do I know this?  Because these clever dudes have only gone and uploaded a backstory to their latest single, ‘Bones to Break‘, in the form of an ‘here’s how we did it guys’ audio, onto their Soundcloud page.

This short audio tracks the construction of the song from the programming of the initial beat to the complex building of layer upon vocal layer until the production was a perfect ten. It’s a fascinating listen, not just for self-confessed studio-dummies like myself, but also for any would be, will be musicians out there, scrambling around the ‘IoT’ for scraps of wisdom thrown down from the tables of those who have themselves cut their teeth and worn the tee-shirt.

It’s 10-minutes of well thought out, unfussy home-truths about composition and recording. Stream it here…

Now, listen to the finished product!

‘es to Break’ is the lead single from the band’s upcoming sophomore album, ‘In The Still’, due for release in May 2017.  While that excited storm is brewing, one of the gigs that the band will be busying themselves with is a new Irish music meets craft beer initiative.  ‘Future Proof‘, a new live music series showcasing the best of emerging Irish talent will kick off in Bello Bar on 22nd March – tickets are available online or at the door (if they’re not already sold out!), details here.

I’ll leave you with a track from Come On Live Long’s debut album ‘Everything Fall‘.  The song is called ‘For The Birds‘ and it was its title which caught my eye on Soundcloud.  Given my current state of mind, it resonated!

With its reverbed echoey vocal and intergalactic sound fx it leans towards dreamy electro-pop but blues-hued guitar licks and sexy lounge percussion drag it back down and anchor it to a very gritty earth.  That is, until the whole thing explodes sky-high. A gloriously unexpected firework, this dramatic flourish of guitar drone and spectacular synth flares and dazzles, bringing the track to a spectacular close fading out with one last breathy note.

Check out ‘For The Birds’ and the rest of Come On Live Long’s published music on Souncloud, MySpace and Bandcamp.  You can check in with their FB and Twitter pages to keep up to speed with album and tour-date (yes, there will be a promotional tour) developments.  Derval.

The Choice Music Prize – How The Odds Are Stacked

The 12th annual Choice Music Prize, Ireland’s premier award for album and song of the year, is once again upon us.  Now sponsored by RTE, this year’s ceremony, which is being held in Dublin’s Vicar St, will see some of the crème of Irish music line up for what should prove to be an intriguing evening!  The ceremony which will be broadcast live on 2FM from 7pm, will hsve the ever popular Louise McSharry at its helm.

The shortlist is made up of ten nominees from which the eventual winner will be decided by a panel comprising bloggers, DJs, journalists and ‘industry professionals’.  This Decameron have between them produced some of the strongest albums to hit the Irish music scene in several years and comprises an eclectic mix of artists from industry stalwarts such as The Divine Comedy and Wallis Bird and emerging talents like Katie Kim and Overhead, The Albatross.

Yes, there are some glaring omissions, notably ‘New Forest’ by Cathy Davey and Dublin based Little Green Car’s ‘Ephemera’, but this year’s list of contenders is more than strong and reflects an extremely diverse batch of talent from across the very wide Irish musical spectrum.

So who are the shortlistees and how will their opuses, or opi if you’re a stickler, fare?

ALL TVINNS – IIVV

Red hot music fan faves and darlings of the media ‘smart set’ All Tvvins are possibly the most commercial cum radio-friendly of the nominees.  Their music, feisty pop rock fused with electronic elegance, is sophisticated cool with just the right amount of gung-ho on the side.  Would be a popular result amongst the music buying public. 5/4

BANTUM – MOVE

Going under the Bantum moniker, Cork man Ruairi Lynch both dipped his toes and stuck his fingers into a gazillion pies here; eclectic is an understatement.  Electro-rap, funk, and trance are just some of the myriad genres that raise their head above the parapet on this multi-dimensional critically acclaimed debut.  Would be a more than worthy winner. 10/1

WALLIS BIRD – HOME

‘Home’ is Wallis Bird’s fifth album and her most astonishing, visceral, and wonderful.  Period. This should be right up there in the short odds category, but alas is probably still ranked as an outsider by the Paddy Powers of this world.  Heart-felt lyrics, perfectly nuanced, pristine vocals, and delightfully surging choruses bursting with symphonic drama make for a sensitively arranged yet exuberant thing of love and joy.  Recognition by the Choice panel would be sweet. 5/1

THE DIVINE COMEDY – FOREVERLAND

What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about Neil Hannon, wunder-composer, songwriter extraordinaire and lit wit behind The Divine Comedy.  ‘Foreverland’, probably in the top three albums of 2016, sees Hannon take up the mantle of Choice nominee for the second time.  It would be an incredible coup if he pulled off a Usain Bolt like double – he won in 2006 for ‘Victory For The Comic Muse’ – but, if the god’s of whimsy are smiling … Evens

LISA HANNIGAN – AT SWIM

Another entry in the top three albums of 2016, Lisa Hannigan’s ‘At Swim’ is serenity and complex simplicity personified. An highly accomplished fusion of vintage and modern-day folk-pop fleshed out with what can only be described as abstruse poetry brought to life by the gentlest and loveliest of vocals.  The underlying emotions are so perfectly and honestly conveyed they’re almost tangible. A strong contender, it would be an hugely popular win. 3/1

KATIE KIM – SALT

Relative unknown Katie Kim is one of the rank outsiders on the list, but woah what a steal if ‘Salt’ were to bag the gong.  A bit Lana del Rey with a midnight twist and cinematic fx, the Waterford native nailed her sound on this her third album.  Enigmatic, hypnotic, urgent sounds that switch from stark to grandiose with sophisticated ease.  Could be the surprise of the night! 6/1

JAMES VINCENT MC MORROW – WE MOVE

Possibly the most talked about Irish album of 2016, ‘We Move’, the third album by Dubliner James Vincent Mc Morrow is the flame white hotter than blue fave to not just walk but run away with tonight’s prize. This well oiled machine turns over soul, synths and stylish grooves with Mc Morrow’s trademark vocal to the fore of, but not dominating, its soundscape.  Like Hannigan, JVMc does a really sleek line in seeming simplicity.  Don’t be fooled.  This is a master at work.  The critics’ choice … 6/4

OVERHEAD, THE ALBATROSS – LEARNING TO GROWL

Don’t you just love the names of both band and album?  One abstract, the other ‘feral’ in nature.  Sitting alongside Bantum as partner in rank-outsidership, this Dublin sextet are nonetheless a more than worthy inclusion on the list.  The album consists of ambitious post-rock cum prog in which they run amok through a varied landscape filled with bursts of choral deliciousness, elegant orchestral flourishes, intense tightly-woven sequences and rich elongated spaces.  Everything about this album is superlative – from the warm and expansive atmosphere to the exquisite mastery of the instruments.  The connoisseurs choice 10/1

RUSANGANO FAMILY – LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD

It would have been a sin had this album not been included on the list.  A testament to the prevalence of hip-hop in today’s scene, ‘Let The Dead Bury The Dead’ is a thought-provoking dynamo from a trio whose star is firmly in the musical ascendant.  Kick-ass driving foundations underpin spitfire vocals and on point lyrics.  Would probably be the Mercury Music Award type of surprise if they won and would certainly knock the corners off the Rubberbandits if they did!  I jest!  Not up there with the too hot to handles but a win here wouldn’t come as a surprise to many in the industry.  7/1

WE CUT CORNERS – THE CADENCES OF OTHERS

Oh sweet guitar playing of the Caribbean how I love you. With hints of reggae, Windies jam and low slung blues bass ‘The Cadences of Others’ is as deceptive as fruit-punch; with its colourful display and killer blow, it is quite the indomitable force.  Clever lyrics, left of centre melodies and some ingenious orchestral manoeuvres make this a bit of a well-educated and riveting keeper.  In with a loud shout. 6/1

For your delectation, I’ve whipped up a playlist sampling one track (not necessarily a lead or single) from each album.  The Choice Music Prize will be broadcast live from 7pm tonight on 2FM.

Julia Jacklin Turns ‘Someday’ On Its Head With Strokes Live Cover

julia-jacklin-photo-shervin-iainez
julia-jacklin-photo-shervin-iainez

Australian rising star Julia Jacklin has just released the video for stunning cover of ‘Someday’ the smash hit by The Strokes.

Recorded live for an in-studio session with Australian radio station Triple J for their celebrated ‘Like a Version’ show, Jacklin performed the song, which won multiple Best International Song gongs worldwide, in her own inimitable idiosyncratic style.  Slowing the tempo right down and giving it her trademark country-grunge twist, Julia Jacklin took ‘Someday’ by the ankles and turned it upside down.

A fan of The Strokes chart topper which the singer first heard at the tender age of 12, Julia’s rendition whilst respectful, is as unique and off-rock as one could possibly get. Proving that imitation isn’t necessarily the sincerest form of flattery, Jacklin and her band take this legendary band’s #No1 song and take it to a different level.

Slow, drawling, warm, infectious, understated and as mellow as hell, this performance just lingers on the soul long after the final bars have faded into the lights.

Julia Jacklin came to prominence in 2016 when her debut album, ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ was released to unanimous critical acclaim.  Receiving cross-station airplay in the UK, her single, ‘Coming of Age’ was a country-fused indie-rock blinder that won her an army of fans across the British Isles.

Having already toured successfully on the back of her 2016 releases, Jacklin returns to the road in 2017 with an extensive list of live dates including slots at some of the top music festivals from Primavera to Oslo’s Øyafestivalen.  She is also set to play a live at the city’s renowned annual music showcase By:Larm which runs from 2nd to 4th March.

For those interested in seeing this unique, vivacious and fascinating artist play her especial style of music live alongside her extremely cool band, here’s a list of UK&I dates inc her headline at Whelans, Dublin in late Feb.

Feb 22 – Green Store Door, Brighton, UK (SOLD OUT)
Feb 23 – Soup Kitchen, Manchester, UK (SOLD OUT)
Feb 24 – Bodega, Nottingham, UK
Feb 25 – Whelan’s, Dublin, Ireland *****
Feb 27 – King Tuts, Glasgow, UK
Feb 28 – Headrow Houes, Leeds, UK
March 1 – Louisiana, Bristol, UK (SOLD OUT)
March 2 – Scala, London, UK
March 3-4 – By:Larm Festival, Oslo, Norway

June 3 – Field Day Festival, UK

A full list of tour dates and up to date information can be found on Julia’s Facebook page.  If you haven’t already dipped your toe in to the Jacklin pool, you can find ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ on iTunes and other online stores.  What you won’t find though, is this gem! Enjoy!