Sunday, 22 March 2015

Cry Monster Cry

My quest to bring you the best americana music from this fair isle continues. Often I come across artists that I feel as though I have written about when in fact they've just become embedded in my subconscious having seen them so frequently on social media, gig listings, magazine interviews and reviews. Every time I see them mentioned, I remember to look into the music but then I forget again, well not this time.

Cry Monster Cry are made up of brothers Richie and Jamie Martin. The Dublin brothers seem like they were always destined to be recording music. Richie was taught the violin by his mother, then moved onto the guitar and went on to study music in college. Meanwhile Jamie first started by playing piano and, according to their bio, tried out nearly every instrument under the sun before studing English in college. It all reads like a masterplan for forming an alt-folk group, the two members covering each discipline of the process. Despite how it reads, the brothers only formed Cry Monster Cry three years ago.

Having grown up listening to their parents records, especially on long car journeys, the brothers experienced the sounds of Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Van Morrison, Ray Charles and Simon and Garfunkel. These early influences seem to have stuck with the them. Their sound clearly consists of folk melodies with both the lyrics and arrangements bringing the alternative to this alt-folk mix.
Despite having formed not that long ago, Cry Monster Cry have been busy with their output. The first EP "The Fallen EP" was released fairly soon after they formed and contains five tracks of warm, harmonious, lyrical beauty. The title track of the EP, "The Fallen" is a wonderful tune. Listening to it, I am somehow reminded of waves moving up and down moving against the keel of a boat. The song has a flowing melody that you experience for a few gentle minutes and then it's gone.



My favourite track off the EP is "On Tangled Shores", a true slice of alt-folk. The electric guitar notes add a sense of sparseness to the melody. It's a proper story song with no real chorus. The words about a former lover add real emotion to the song. When the song takes off halfway through, you are really hooked.



Since the release of the first EP, the lads have been gigging around Ireland and started recording their debut album last year. "Rhythm of Dawn" was released in February and the band are currently touring in support of it. The first single from the new album is "Postcards", a real pop-folk tune. The returning vocal refrain and those little mandolin licks really add to the warmth of the track that drags you in.



Cry Monster Cry have an official website and they are doing some gigs at the moment. Check out their Facebook page for more. You can preview and download the album on iTunes.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Eirecana Radio - 19th November 2014

Still working on the back catelogue of Eirecana radio shows. Here is another show with some great music. Don't forget to listen back to previous shows on Mixcloud if you want some quality americana radio!

Eirecana radio is on flirtfm.ie every second Wednesday at 2pm. Tune in.

Eirecana Radio - 19th November 2014 by Eirecana on Mixcloud


You can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below.

Artist (with Link)

Song

Album

The Viking Project

Got Sunk Down

The Viking Project

Johnny Kaplin

Sparkle and Shine

Sparkle and Shine

Owsley Brothers

Diamond in The Rough

Owsley Brothers

Steve Young & The Union

DutyFree 200

Eagle Fort Rumble

Calexico

Epic

Algiers

Afghan Whigs

Algiers

Do To The Beast

Son Volt

Highways and Cigarettes

The Search

Bob Bradshaw

Ohio Girl

Home

Jayne Trimble

I’ll Follow You

Run Onwards

Gavin Glass

Sunday Songs

 

Twin Terrace

Our Friend The Atom

Plural

Fifth on The Floor

January in Louisiana

Ashes & Angels

The Black Keys

When The Lights Go Out

Rubber Factory

Owen Tromans

Golden Margins

Golden Margins

 





Submit Music
If you want to submit music for the show (even your own), you never know I might play it! Please feel free to contact me at the email address: ron [at] eirecana.com So have a listen. If you like the show, check the back catalogue on Mixcloud. If you really like the show, tell someone!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Ben Glover

Hopefully I get more than one post done in a week but at least I'm building back up to regular activity. I'm finally writing about a artist that I came across last winter some time and have a reminder in my phone since to write about. So you might be already aware of Ben Glover but have you heard my thoughts!!

Ben is one of those who music and outlook fit very snugly into the Eirecana genre. His style and influences are a mix of both traditions from across the Atlantic. He cites that so himself describing playing his first sessions as a young teenager in Co. Antrim and slipping in the songs of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. This connection between the music and character of roots, americana and Irish music is probably described best in Ben's bio on his website: "In the summers during studying law at university he paid his way across the Atlantic by performing Irish folk ballads, the songs of Christy Moore and The Pogues in the bars in Boston, while back home in the pubs of Ireland he was singing Dylan and Springsteen." I have often talked on this blog about my belief in that special connection yet indescribable connection between the sound of traditional and roots in American and Ireland. To give you a flippant fact to argue my case, would there be any other country in the world that 500,000 tickets would be sold for a country artist (Gareth Brooks). Whatever that relationship is, Ben Glover recognises it too and it has become the basis of his latest release: Atlantic.

"Atlantic" is not Ben's first record. By the time of the release of his latest in September, he had a number of records under his belt including "The Week The Clock Changed, Through the Noise, Through the Night" and "Before the Birds", the latter having been released after he moved to Nashville to pursue the music full-time. He also married a Mississippi woman which I imagine gives a better perspective on the relationship and similarities between the music of his native land and that of the southern States.

His music up to Altantic could be described as singer-songwriter fare. Some of the tracks I have listened to on the albums are acoustic guitar led, americana melodies with his very earnest voice shining throughout. If you're looking for comparisons, well I wouldn't much further than Josh Rouse or Josh Ritter. For Atlantic, Ben relocated to his childhood holiday home of Ballyliffin in Co Donegal to record. It is obvious that the surroundings and I'm sure the many memories had an influence on the recording.

My favourite track on "Atlantic" is the belter "Too Long Gone". The song kicks into action straight away. The vocal refrain helps build up to a addictive chorus. With the backing vocals adding a hint of soulful mourning to the melody, the song reels you in and then enfurls you in its arms.

In a number of interviews Ben done for the album, the theme of finding your place in the world and that yearning for home has been mentioned.

The opener "This world is a dangerous Place" has a ambivalence about it. You're not sure if he is saying you should never leave home or telling you to get out there and live your life anyway. The melody is simple, but still requires your attention. A special little song.


The hymn-like "Oh Soul" immediately follows "This World is a Dangerous Place". As has been described before it feels like a hymn of the 21st century. A song that feels like it belongs in that baptism scene in "O Brother, where arth thou?"The album is not all soulful musing or musical eulogies, "Sing a Song Boys" is simple in design and execution and is al the better for it. A foot-tapin' sing-along that seems at home in one of those sessions Ben started out in his musical career all those years ago.



It really is a wonderful piece of work. The production by Neilson Hubbard should be commended, the arrangements for both vocals and instruments are superb. Atlantic is a record that help shapes that relationship between musical styles from two countries either sides of that vast ocean.


To learn more about Ben's thought's on making Atlantic, you can here a interview with him on the always excellent "Country Fried Rock" podcast. His official site is here where you have listen to snippets of many of his tracks and buy the albums too. He is also on Facebook and Soundcloud too.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Eirecana Radio - 22nd October 2014

Along with the new promise to be more active here, I'm going to get through the backlog og The most recent show of Eirecana radio. The show will be moving to a forthnightly slot so I have more time to concentrate on the blog from now on. Don't forget to listen back to previous shows on Mixcloud if you want some quality americana radio!

Eirecana radio is on flirtfm.ie every second Wednesday at 2pm. Catch up with previous shows on Mixcloud. Any requests, send them my way too.
 
You can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below.

Artist (with Link)

Song

Album

Jenny Lewis

The Next Messiah (Part I & II)

Acid Tongue

Stephen Young & The Union

DutyFree 200

Eagle Fort Rumble

Marc Carroll

Muskingum River

Stones, Beads and Sliver

Pony Boy

Saints & Liars

 

Richard Buckner

Beautiful Question

Surrounded

Hidden Highways

The World Began With a Waltz

Old Hearts Reborn

Jason Isabell

Elephant

SouthEastern

Ultan Conlon

When I Fell in Love with You

Songs of Love so Cruel

Urban Legends

The Babysitter and The Man Upstairs

The Horror, the Horror

Dax Riggs

Forgot I Was Alive

Say Goodnight to The World

Blood Red Mountain Band

Lost My Way

 

DeadMans Bones

Pa-Pa Power

 

Jenny Lewis

The Next Messiah (Part III & IV)

Acid Tongue

 





Submit Music
If you want to submit music for the show (even your own), you never know I might play it! Please feel free to contact me at the email address: ron [at] eirecana.com So have a listen. If you like the show, check the back catalogue on Mixcloud. If you really like the show, tell someone!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Lisa Lambe

After a long hiatus, I'm back. Apologies one and all. I cant really explain the long absence. I have changed jobs recently and when these sort of things happen, it's sad that it is something like the blog takes the biggest hit. Anyway from today a promise, my commitment to regular updates and features. There is too much quality Irish and international americana around that is till going unnoticed without me adding to the detriment of awareness.

Returning to old ways, this post introduces Lisa Lambe. Lisa came into my radar from a few songs of hers I heard performed on the radio. I wasn't aware of her at all before that. She has just released her d├ębut album "Hiding Away" though by no means is she new to performing. Lisa is a long time member of the Celtic Woman group. The group is sort of a traditional/vocal group with a rolling membership that presents a certain aspect of Irish music. I had little awareness of the group until I started to research Lisa's career but it is evident that they are very popular across the world especially in the U.S. Anyway while not performing with Celtic Woman, Lisa is also a talented actress having performed in a few different stage productions....and then there is her music.


"Hiding Away" was released at the start of February. It was recorded over a period of 10 days in Nashville. The album is clearly full of talented instrumentalists. Slide Guitar, Dobro, mandolin, and soft acoustics all make an appearance throughout the record with the style faultless. Lisa's vocals too seem perfectly at home in the soft americana style of the album. Her voice is warm and dwells perfectly in the surroundings of the accompanying laid back americana tones. One of the first tracks I heard from the record was this song "Turn To Me". It encapsulates everything the record is about.

How Lisa came to want to record an americana album seems to stem from both her visits to Nashville and being influenced by a number of albums and artists including Shelby Lynne,  Lucinda Williams and The Civil Wars. The album had a long gestation period; she wrote many of the tracks over the previous few years while she was touring with Celtic Woman and got to record the album last year while at a extensive break at home.

It truly is a lovely, calming americana album. All fourteen tracks fit that mould and if there was to be a criticism of the album is that it is almost too twee, too nice. Sometimes you need a harder edge to contrast the softer tones. She has been compared to Norah Jones already. You can't dispute that comparison, though sometimes one would like those guitar strings to be tested. The first single from the album "Heaven" is released in conjunction with charity Alone (a charity for older adults). All proceeds from the song are going direct top the charity. Again it's a lovely warm tune. A song, like the album that seems perfect accompaniment to cold day sitting beside a flicking fire.



You can download the album on iTunes and through her site. You can find out more about Lisa on hew official site. She is about to start touring Ireland on the back of the album so check out the site for the dates. Lisa is amazingly not (sarcasm intended) on Facebook but she does have a Twitter account if you want to follow her there.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Pete Cummins

I was shocked to check in here and learn that I have not posted on here since the third week of October. That is almost a month ago. That is probably the longest Eirecana has gone without posting. It is a sad state of affairs. I could say that the radio show is keeping me distracted but it shouldn't be to this extend. So I'm back with a pledge for more frequent posts. My return to blogging features some fine music from one of Ireland's foremost americana artists; Pete Cummins.

Pete has been on the musical road for a good few years. During that time he has recorded with many artists including Towns Van Zandt, Nancy Griffith (whom incidentally he won a Grammy Award with) and more. Pete started recording music in 1968 with the band Granny's Intentions. During the 1980's he formed and led the Fleadh Cowboys, recording two albums and touring quite extensively with the group.


Despite all this work playing in bands, as a session musician, Pete only released his first solo record in 2008.


Titled "The Brilliant Architect", the album features Pete's varied musical styles. The album moves from brass-led serenades like "Delivery Man", anti-war anthems "Flowers in Baghdad" to straight out country-rock "Damaged Man".
My favourite though from the album is the radio friendly Crazy Horses-esque "When It Comes to Tears". Full of guitar licks, some great riffs, its a track that ddemonstrates Pete's skills in crossing the many boundaries of americana, rock and country.



Pete continued this style for his sophomore release "Crooked Highway". The album title and cover art does suggest a strong country influence for this album. Again Pete along with band members Tommy Moore (Bass), Brian Harris (Guitar) and Kevin Malone (Drums) hone some lovely lap-steel waltz numbers like "Same Old Rounds".

One of the most affecting tracks on the album is a tribute to journalist Eugene Maloney. "Sacred Ground" melody captures the mournful mood with steel guitar adding that air of melancholy to the lyrics. The faster paced solo offering a contrast against the lap steel.


One of the sharpest tracks on the record is "Mrs Bloom Girls", a commentary on the recession and illegal money lending. Built up against a angry but composed melody, the words are filled with quite anger.


Check out a selection of Pete's music on Soundcloud. You can listen to "Crooked Highway" in full on Bandcamp. As well as that, you can purchase hard copies of his two solo releases on CD Baby. For more on Pete, gigs and the like, I'll refer you to his website here.

Image: Petecummins.com