Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Album Review: Marc O'Reilly - Human Herdings

Back to the grindstone this week and what better way to acknowledge that than some music that seems fit for working at a grindstone, the moody blues of Marc O'Reilly. It's time to celebrate the place of  the blues in Ireland and one of its finest exponents.

I haven't heard music with such energy as this in a while. Marc was a unknown to me until I came across some previews for this album. I have Unbeknownst to myself Marc has already one lp release under his arm. His first record "My Friend Marx" (which I have discussed more on this blog before) contained all the elements that would form a foundation for his next release "Human Herdings". The album here is a divergent mix of what you can do in the blues genre without settling on any one methos or style within that genre. Moving from full force blues to some soaring arpeggio arrangements, over nine tracks this record has it all.


The first single to be released off the album certainly makes up sit up and listen. Building from the opening riff, the melody is brightened up with bursts of guitar met with a mellow breakdown only to return to infectious aggressive melody again.

The second single off the album and as near as the album gets to a title track, 'The Wayward Shepard' is a rumbling, meditative fusion of guitar licks and a heavy rhythm section. Setting the scene gently, almost approaching you quietly, the song quickly escalates into a addictive, rolling melody. The live version recorded for Press Record TV is even more compelling that the album version and demonstrates that this record is full of songs that are not in need of any superfluous additions, just guitars and drums.


What is appealing about the album is that you never know what is around the corner next. The album skilfully moves from aggressive blues to the more sedate acoustic led numbers where Marc's voice takes on a more hushed tone and his skills with a guitar shine. Of these songs, 'Bleed' is probably my favourite and the stand-out. With its perfectly placed trickle of piano keys, the song is given plenty of space to manoeuvre and breathe. This space makes the words more affecting as you gently settle into the rhythm. You can listen to that track and the finger-picking led 'Lighthouse' here. here.

What is great about this album is that it doesn't hang around. This is nine tracks of brevity yes, yet full of intensity. It's just when the final seconds fade on the closing track 'Fallen' that you feel you can catch your breath. A superb record, demonstrating the skill of a master writer and performer, 'Human Herdings' is a record that grasps you from the beginning and doesn't let go until the harmonious end.

You can download the album through iTunes. Check out his official website for more information and the like.Or for socail media types, check out his Facebook.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Eirecana Radio - July 16th 2014

So back into the regular habit of radio again. This weeks show, the fourteenth episode of Eirecana radio features principally new music. I look back on some of the best albums over the past six months, a look forward to the Knockanstockan festival with a small preview and some new releases coming in the next few months.


Eirecana radio is on flirtfm.ie every second Wednesday at 4pm.

As always you can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below. I now have the shows on Soundcloud too and this one should be up this week.

Eirecana Radio July 16th 2014 by Eirecana on Mixcloud

Artist (with links)

Song

Album

Scott H Biram

Slow & Easy

Nothin’ But Blood

Drunken Prayer

Heigh Ho Nobody Knows

House of Morgan

Hans Chew

Queens of the Damned Blues

Tennessee & Other Stories​

Anna Mitchell

Let’s Run Away

 

Afghan Whigs

Algiers

Do to The Beast

The Lost Parade

Canada

People Like Us

The Delines

Won’t Slip Up

Colfax

The Eskies

Fever

 

The Hot Sprockets

Comin’ On

Brother Nature

The Magpies

Burning Rain

The WoodY House

The Handsome Family

Far From Any Road

Singing Bones

The Ragmen

Horseshoe

 

Jenny Lewis

The Voyager

The Voyager

Whitetrash and the Spearheaded Sparrowhawks

Running Down the Mountain

 

 

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!


Monday, 14 July 2014

The Dublin City Rounders

Just another day in the world of Eirecana. Of all the music I cover, probably the least common on Eirecana is rockabilly. Admittedly I am not a huge fan pf the genre myself. But there is some artists that are doing it well. One on the Irish scene is The Dublin City Rounders.

The Dublin City Rounders are made up of members brothers Rohan and Alex Healy. Both brothers had separate careers in the music industry before forming the Dublin City Rounders. Both Rohan and Alex were involved in bands or as a solo artist in Rohan's case in the rockabilly genre before beginning to work together. So moving into this genre was not a huge leap for the lads.

With Rohan on tenor vocals and guitar and Alex on bass vocals and bass, the two lads have, it has to be said make a great amount of enjoyable noise for a two member group.

Forming in late 2013, The Dublin City Rounders aims to incorporate ragtime, swing and blues into their sound. The lads are obviously very aware of musical heritage. They are keen to incorporate the timbre of Vaudvillian and Tin Pan Alley output from the early 20th century including performing at 432Hz pitch to achieve the warmer, richer sound that was more common then. So far the band have released two albums 'On Track' and 'Dis Am The Dublin City Rounders' and have even managed to release a live album in that short space of time: “BootLeggings”. The band's two studio releases so far have consisted of mainly traditional tunes, of which the band have built up a great repertoire. I'm not an expert on the genre but 'Got the Milwakee Blues' grabbed my attention as a great interpretation and a song that highlights Rohan's distinctive singing style.
Another that caught my attention is the dark, gothic 'Come Out Dinah'. A slower pace than a lot of the rest of the bands output, the song's dark gothic edge stays with you throughout the melody with both vocals and the bass helping to create that dark atmosphere.

The band are a prolific live group performing, it seems they play fairly regularly in the capital. Incidentally Rohan's keeps his own blog and has some interesting posts on the life of a club professional musician. You can read that here. It's an curious read.

The lads are due to release their first fully original album “Decent Folk” towards the end of this year. You should check out some of the videos of the band on Youtube to get an idea of what the group is like live. You can catch up on on group through their Facebook page. All their previous output is available to stream and buy on Bandcamp. The band are on iTunes too.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Whitetrash & The Spear Headed Sparraw Hawks

Well continuing my odyssey of exploring my email back catalogue, I came across another artist that struck up some interest on my behalf if, for nothing else, one of the best band names in Irish Americana. That being White Trash and The Spear Headed Sparrow Hawks.


It’s hard to know what you would call the sounds of White Trash and the Spear Headed Sparrow Hawks (hereafter referred to as WTSHSH). The group refer to themselves as occupying a place where blues, country, folk bluegrass and jazz meet. If you can imagine such a place, (I personally picture it to be a very lively dingy bar) and feel at home there, well then the sounds of WTSHSH are for you.


The group have a number of demos recorded that are available to listen to on their Soundcloud page. It’s great stuff. As ‘Whitetrash’ howls the lyrics, the melody is kept lively by the Sparrow Hawks mixing organ, banjo and electric guitar into a melodic mash-up of multiple genres. ‘One Whiskey More’ being a perfect example.

There is very little information out there on who White Trash and the Sparrowhawks are, their background, how they came together. But sometimes trying to understand a band’s origins and development takes some of the mystery away. Sometimes its best to let artists with a moniker like White Trash and Sparrowhawks appear on your consciousness, enjoy the music and let them disappear into the night again. Enjoy the music for what it is.

The slower melodies of the group give a better understanding of the style the band are developing. Both ‘Preacher Says’ and ‘Running Down the Mountain’ create an atmosphere that is both eerie created by the raspy vocals and the room the accompanying instruments are given to create this atmosphere.


I look forward to some official releases from the band. They are a group that sound like improvisation is a big part of their style. They could go anywhere with their sound in the future and it would be interesting to hear what would happen with the sound polished and produced. It’s an exciting thought.

The band are playing the odd gig around Ireland. You can find more information about them on Facebook. You can also listen to and download a good proportion of their tracks on Soundcloud too.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Eirecana Radio - 2nd July 2014

And we're back. The thirteenth episode of Eirecana radio. I didn't realise either it was my thirteenth episode. If I had known that, I would have been better prepared for the few glitches. Anyway its good to be back in the hotseat once again. This week’s episode is basically a round-up of some new releases that have come my way since I have been on the radio last. A lot of these are still waiting to be released.
The show will feature regularly for the next few weeks on every second Wednesday at 4pm on
flirtfm.ie
As always you can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below. I now have the shows on Soundcloud too and this one should be up this week.

Artist
Song
Album
Turtles All The Way Down
Metamodern Sounds...
Silver Lining
Stay Gold
Good Luck Charm
Good Luck Charm
Let’s Start Again
Let’s Start Again
One Journey Left
These Stories
The Wayward Shepherd
Human Herdings
Rumble Shake
Rumble Shake
Company Man
Dereconstructed
God in A Tree
Stories of Ruin
Pauline Hawkins
English Oceans
All Around The Town
Rise Up EP
Image on My Retina
Forgotten Books
Amtrak Cresent
Reconstruction

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, 29 June 2014

Ciarán Lenehan

While struggling to get my unread messages below the hundred mark, I happened upon one that slipped through the cracks. Ciarán Lenehan's music came to my inbox a fair few months ago, the delay in discussing him is an issue of poor email categorising but gladly I am getting to his music now.


Ciarán hails from Tallaght, the westside of Dublin city. He cites John Denver and Damian Dempsey as the reasons he took to writing songs. There is little in the way of a history of Ciaran and how he came to recording music. So we will just stick with the music. He began his recording career in 2011 with the release of his debut EP 'It's never too Late', a three track compendium of lively acoustic punk tunes that lays the foundation for his future output. The opener 'Too Late' setting the standard of Ciaran style.

The first thing when I thought of when I heard the first ten seconds of the opener of his debut album 'These Stories' was Frank Turner. For those of you not familiar with Frank Turner, he is an English folk-punk artist that is huge in the U.S. though fairly unknown over here. Ciarán's style and arrangements are familiar to Frank Turners work, acoustic guitar led pop-puck tunes. If you like that sort of up-front yet poppy melodies, then 'These Stories' is the medicine for you. Ciarán has actually supported Frank Turner along with Damian Dempsey on tours previously, all building up to the release of this debut LP. The album was eighteen months in recording and the end product is ten tracks of nicely styled, lyrically honest, Irish pure pop folk-punk.


My favourite off the album is probably 'One Journey Left'. The song has a style and structure that is more sedate than most of his other output. The gentle keyboards adding a shimmering, relaxing feel to the composition. The pace is never too sedate though, the introduction of the drums in the melody adding some edge to the summery top melody.


The music of Ciarán Lenehan is of a type that is not too common in Ireland. Similar in style to the (sometimes) angry folk of Damian Dempsey, but with a more punk feel, the collection of tunes in 'These Stories' suggest a quality composer on the cusp of a big break. You can stream or download all of Ciarán's discography on Bandcamp or download 'These Stories' on iTunes if you are that way inclined. Finally check out his website and Facebook page for more on the man.

Photo: Facebook.com/ciaranlenehanmusic


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Live Music: Summer Festivals Preview

It is a beautiful day and days like these make you think of relaxing, lazying in the sun which in turn makes me think of music, and music and sunshine make me think of music festivals. As such it seems the opportune time to feature a number of Irish festivals that are coming up over the next few months. What I am hoping to do here is guide you through a few of these events, who they are aimed at and who is appearing at them to give you an idea of what they are like. After that, its all down to budget and personel choice.


KnockanStockan
Where: Blessington Lakes, Wicklow
When: 25th – 26th July
Cost: €75, Limited campervan tickets €30
Camping: Yes
Website: knockanstockan.ie
Why should I Go: Probably one of the best (small) festivals in Ireland. 
Knockanstockan is back again for its eight year. The festival returns with one of the best line-ups of Irish music you are likely to see anywhere this year. As usual there is a lot of Eirecana related acts appearing over the festival weekend; The Hot Sprockets, Fox Jaw, Crow Black Chicken and Cold Comfort (above) to name but a few. The festival has a few new stages this year including Grabbers Cottage, (taking its name from a legendary local landmark in Ballyknockan), the Gypsy Rollover (a late night area) as well as Dimestore Records hosting of The Circus Tent. Along with a beautiful location, this festival really has a lot going for it. Give it a go.



Jack of Diamonds
Where:  Various venues, Dublin
When: Mid August
Cost: FREE

Camping: No
Website: facebook.com/jackofdiamondsproductions
Why should I Go: A free festival with a brilliant line-up (usually)

One that I have mentioned before and am happy to mention again, Jack of Diamonds is a free festival that showcases some great music for the past few years. The festival has organised some masterclasses before with top musicians but no word on what is happening this year. In fact there is no word on artists this year either. Seeing that the festival is having the launch party on Saturday July 5th, one hopes it is going ahead. The launch night is a creative affair with a Old Time Radio themed night (hosted by none other than Gavin Glass). Even if you don’t go to the festival, this should be worth attending. Find out more here.


Cowboys and Heroes
Where: Drumcoura, Co. Leitrum
When: 6th September
Cost: €25 incl campervan/camping
Camping: Yes
Website: cowboysandheroes.ie
Why should I Go: Country fun for all the family
Premiering on the festival circuit this year is the Cowboys and Heroes country festival. By the looks of it, the festival will be a mainly mainstream affair. Although the organisers have promised that there will be some alt-country acts as well as bluegrass, rockabilly and Cajun bands too. The excellent Cujo Family are playing for a start. The event will also cater for those of you with children in their lives with what looks like plenty of activities to occupy them from line dancing to children's bluegrass workshops. Considering tickets are only €25, one hopes that the organisers and bands do well out of it as it is definitely one that could take off.



Ballinamore Fringe Festival
Where: Ballinamore , Co. Leitrim
When: 22nd – 24th August
Cost: FREE
Camping: Yes (First come, first served)
Website: ballinamorefreefringe.com/
Why should I Go: A festival of not just music but comedy and arts too
An amazing little festival that I came across a few years ago, the Ballinamore Fringe Festival packs in a awful lot over a short few days. The music is wide and varied and its nearly all unsigned bands. Its a festival where you don’t bring a schedule with you. Here you just wander and see where your ears or your eyes lead you. There is also comedy, theatre and other arts events happening over the weekend too.



Spirit of Folk Festival
Where: Dunderry Park, Co. Meath
When: 19th-21st September 2014
Cost: Early Bird €65 weekend camping Final €70 weekend camping Camping: Yes
Website: spiritoffolk.com/
Why should I Go: It’s every variation of folk you can imagine


Although I tend to not have too much of the folk genre on the blog, this festival is too hard to ignore. Folk, like Americana can be an all-encompassing genre, that bands can get lost in. Spirit of Folk is including artists from the trad, Bluegrass and country influences as well as others all under the umbrella of folk music.  There will be definitely something there for you. No confirmation on the line-up yet but keep an eye out on the website. The festival is still taking submissions to play there as well; here. As well as that, there is non-music related activities like: Astronomy Demonstrations, Living History, Experimental Archaeology and Outdoor theatre. Looks tempting.

Light Colour Sound Festival


Where: Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny
When: 4th-5th July 2014
Cost: Weekend Ticket €95
Camping: Yes
Website: lightcoloursoundfestival.com/
Why should I Go: It has a whole host of americana and alt-country acts at it.

Something that was not in my original post but just came across it so thought it was worth adding. The Light Colour Sound Festival. As well as featuring headliners like Cathy Davey, And So I Watch You From Afar, the festival features americana acts like local band The Midnight Union Band, John Blek & The Rats, and Raglans. Unusually the festival runs on Friday and Saturday so remember that if you are heading.



Also check out....
Other festivals that could be of interest to you over the next few months are some festivals that may or may not have americana related music but do hover near the genre. That includes the Clonmel Junction Festival (4th-13th July), Indiependence (1st - 4th August), Castle Palooza (1st - 3rd August) , the Harvest Times Blues Festival (5th – 8th September) and the Rock and Roll Conference (15th- 17th August).

So there you go, there are many weekends in the summer in which you can explore and come across something new. So get out there and discover.