Sunday, 11 October 2015

Album Review: Gavin Glass - Sunday Songs

Back to the album reviews with this week's post as I catch up on a multitude of releases that I haven't got round to reviewing on the blog as of yet. Usually when I introduce artists I mention their music and their current releases. So often the premise of the blog posts here means that I don't do many album reviews for artist unless its a subsequent album. I really should get on it though as I have a backlog going back to late last year of releases that I have to review. I'll kick off with one of the highlights of the year.

"Sunday Songs" came about surprisingly (well, for me). The album has been in the shadows for a number of years with hints that tracks were recorded. The first inkling of the album that was about to surface was the release of "Sunday Songs", the tile track in late 2014. "Sunday Songs" sets out what one should expect from the album; mature, reflective, warm, embracing, nostalgic americana."Sunday Songs" in a way feels like an announcement of what to expect from these eight songs. It's an album that reaches the realisation that it feels it shouldn't compete with the noise of a Saturday night record and it benefits from it. Maybe I'm reading too much into this metaphor but this collection of melodies are a mix of moods I am sure that many of us associate with Sundays'; loss, regret, sadness. Not that it's all negative, there is just as much positivity with hints of contentment and acceptance throughout.

The album itself was launched in May of this year. Glass's fourth, the album artwork suggests a natural setting. It does feel like the arrangements are kept as simplistic as possible. Often keys and vocals are the make-up of tracks like "New Lovers Arms" and "Silhouettes". The melodies are very warm. It's like been invited into a neighbours house on a winters evening.

I have mentioned on this blog before that Gavin could easily be regards as the Godfather of modern Irish Americana. He has produced a lot of the records of this genre. He himself seems happy with the genre tag of Eirecana. What is eirecana? Well it's that perfect amalgamation between the sentimentalities of the genre but taken on from a difference angle.

The second single from the album; "Better Off Alone" comes close to epitomising this. With a pop-americana melody the steel guitar glides over, once the song bursts into life with the chorus you're hooked.

It is a beautiful record, full of atmosphere, at one time melancholic, at one time reassuringly positive, it does what all great records do; get under your skin.

You can purchase the album through Bandcamp. Find out more of the latest from Gavin Glass at his Facebook page.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Peco/Valentine Black - A Talented Singer-Songwriter with stories to tell

Back to the bread and butter of the blog this afternoon with some new music for you. I was looking at my list of albums I have and I really do need to get a move on some album reviews that are long overdue. But as the main aim of this blog is to bring you the best in americana, alt-country, folk from Ireland, I'll stick with that objective for this week. Expect a few album reviews in the next few weeks though. I have a mighty backlog to get through. Anyway enough about that, let's talk about some new music.

What a great name. Peco is Peco McLoughlin. He was born and raised in Kildare but is now living in Dublin. Peco has a long career in music. Before his current moniker, he was the main songwriter and singer for indie band Valentine Black. I have to admit that I had never heard of Valentine Black before.

 Listening back to some of the bands tracks from the début album "Desire Lines", Valentine Black has a clear indie-americana vibe. The songs Peco's voice has a lovely MOR feel about it. I mean that in the best way possible. It's reminiscent of Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. It's amenable and feels like the average man talking to you. "In The Dead of the Night" is my favourite so far. Kicking off with just vocals and drums, the song lures you in. Your involved with the song beofre you realise the darkness of the lyrics of the story of one man's desires.

Peco and the rest of Valentine Black continued to tour after the release of album in 2012. Towards the end of 2014, Peco decided for Valentine Black to take a break and concentrate on solo stuff. As he says himself, the reason for this was the loss of a number of members of Valentine Black to emigration. Using the material that he had written, he decided to utilise what he had around him and shape his music for a more acoustic driven approach.

Peco is obviously a talented songwriter; he has reached the semi-finals of the UK Songwriting Contest twice. The acoustic stripped back approach allows his words to shine. "Harbour Master" is a great example of this. Bursting into life with a real sold sea-shanty feel to it, the tune builds into a fearsome chorus. Not bad for one man and his guitar.

This new approach appears to be working for Peco. He recently signed a management deal with Live Loud Music and has had his music featured on U.S. TV earlier this year. It's all leading up to the release of his début EP, 'And so I arrived at the start' due out in early 2016. With the talented penmanship and a melodies that you cant help but bob along to, Peco is an artist to keep your eyes on.

For more on Peco, check out his website, his Facebook page and his Soundcloud page. You can check out his work with Valentine Black here and the Valentine Black facebook page.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Live Preview: Rocktoberfest at Monroes

Quite the line-up for this event happening this weekend in Galway. It's not often that live of this calibre comes to Galway and we should be grateful its here. With tickets for only €8 per night or €25 for weekend passes, the line-up is quite impressive.

It kicks off on Thursday night with Eirecana favourites The Eskies along with Ivy Nations, D-Day, Orchid Collective,Fallen Lights and more. The Eskies gyspy-folk is well worth catching live while Orchid Collective are new to me and one I would like to check out.

On Friday night, the big draw for me are Crow Black Chicken. I've caught fellow artists The Hot Sprockets and Fox Jaw before live. Based on the experience of their live album, Crow Black Chicken live should be fun. It's quite a collective line-up but with a blues streak throughout.

Saturday night sees a very eclectic line-up including Ivy Nations, Vann Music, The Geddes and Aine Cahill.

                                                                                               Finally Sunday features a number of bands mixing rock, pop, alt-folk and more. Ones to check out include Gypsy Rebel Rabble and The Mighty Stef.  

Four nights of mighty music. I'll be seeing you there. Find out more at the Rocktoberfest page. See you there.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Eirecana Radio - 22nd April 2015

Still getting through the Eirecana radio back catalogue. We are almost there. This show is features a lot of new Irish music, a preview of the Kilkenny Roots Festival and a mention of Record Store Day. Check it out below.

Don't forget to listen back to previous shows on Mixcloud if you want some quality americana radio! Eirecana radio is on 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)
Release Me
Lostman EP
Can You Get to That
Run For Cover
Falling From the Sky
Edge of Sun
In The Pines
Hey, Hey, Hey
Jesus, Don’t leave Me
After The Sherry Went Round
Rhythm of Dawn
Untie the Noose

Beer Run

Beer in Heaven
The Matt Woods Manifesto
Liquor Beer & Wine
Liquor in The Front
I Would Die For U

The Revolution
Better Left Alone
Sunday Songs

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] So have a listen. If you like the show, check the back catalogue on Mixcloud. If you really like the show, tell someone!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Sunday School Sessions - A folk/eirecana collective exploring the genre

It's a wet and clod day here on the west coast of Ireland. It's confined me indoors. So what better time than to explore some new music. This week I feature, what I think is probably Ireland's first americana supergroup: Sunday Sessions.

Sunday Sessions was formed by engineer and producer Ian McNulty. Ian spearheaded the formation of the group. The group came together based around sessions between 2011 and 2013. The members consisting of Tim V. Smyth and Carol Anne McGowan from folk duo Hidden Highways; Marc Gallagher who usually drums with The Ambience Affair; then there is George Guilfoyle who plays bass with The Crayon Set and Ger Gormley who plays with Master & Dog as well as contributions from Christophe Capewell of 'Harry Bird & the Rubber Wellies' and Aisling O'Connor of 'Henrietta Game'. You can see why you might be tempted to call them a supergroup of Irish americana and folk.

The name came about as the collective saw the Sunday Sessions as a "kind of like an extra curricular activity to our other bands." as Tim Smyth explains. Recording and touring for the outfit happened between working with their regular bands. The band dtnamic was to record songs in the traditional flok style found in the U.S. as Smyth and McGowan's Hidden Highways do. In an interview with, Smyth stressed the influence of the likes of the Carter Family and the Louvin Brothers but also the Irish aspect of it. It's nice to hear eirecana being used as a description and I think it does fir nicely in with what the Sunday Sessions are doing.

The group have a democratic process in writing with each of the members contributing to the songs on the eventual album that came out of the sessions. "We tried to write session by session with each of us writing one song per session,". It's a very collective approach and one to be admired. The self-titled album was launched in Whelans last November. It is as the members suggest a nod to earliest popular folk of Amierican radio. While the harmonies follow that line, the melodies on some of the tracks take a more modern route. "Being Strangers Never Suited Us" is a great example of this sublime combination.

The group do a lovely cover of my favourite Echo & The Bunnymen song: The Killing Moon. Turning what is a song that epitomises the post-punk era into what feels like a traditional murder ballad, led by the affecting fiddle licks and the atmospheric harmonies the song manages to develop a paranoia in its listener.

The songs are warm, homely and, without sounding too sentimental about it, feel like they come out of a period of enjoyment. I can imagine that being in a collective like this can be a great release, where there might not be the same pressure to create as there might be in the group members regular bands. These sons feel like they were created for the pure enjoyment of it and that goal should be applauded.

You can find the collectives song's to but on BandCamp or on iTunes. The group are still going and you should check out their Facebook page for more on what they are at.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Live Preview: Spirit of Folk & Clonakilty International Guitar Festival

So the summer festival season is ending. It's time to hang up the poncho, put away the tent, and clean the wellies. That's the end of live outdoor music then. But wait, no it isn't, two festivals have chosen to brave this wet September and make like it's July Wexford. Although you might not be guaranteed the weather this weekend, the Spirit of Folk Festival and the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival.

Spirit of Folk 
Where: Dunderry, Co. Meath
Tickets: €70 Day Tickets €40

The Spirit of Folk festival is celebrating its fifth year in existence. The event has grown from strenght to strenght in the past few years. Although centred around the music, the festival has widened to incorporate a kids area, yoga, book club, archery, pop-up theatre, poetry and more workshops. It really looks like an impressive weekend of activities. If you are not being entertained by the music, then you will definitely find something to do outside of the music tents.
Speaking of the music, that's the main attraction for an event like this. The festival includes sets from the Eirecana featured Mariannes, Blood Red Mountain Band, The Midnight Union Band, Moongoose, as well as the likes of Mick Flannery, Moxie, Cuig and more. While the title of the festival would suggest that the scene might be a lot of acoustic guitars and cigerette lighters in the air, the line-up suggests otherwise. The likes of the Midnight Union Band, Bloof Red Mountain Band, Moxie and others will suggest you will be spending as much time dancing this weekend as swaying.

Clonakilty International Guitar Festival 
Where: Clonakility, Co. Cork Tickets: FREE with some gigs Individually Priced (€10-€12)

Returning for its eleventh year, the Clonakilty Guitar Festival celebrates all aspects of the guitar. The festival features acts from many genres from classical guitar performances to folk and more.
The festival is run as a non-for-profit by a voluntary team. The festival line-up is also mostly free to see with only four shows actually ticketed. That's a great incentive to attend.

The festival also features a number of workshops over the weekend including a ukulele workshop with members of the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra and a hip-hop workshop with Limerick based Rusangano Family.

The acts at this year's festival that caught my eye include the likes of country act Casey Black. Casey is an honest country/folk songwriter. From what I read he has written as many songs for other artists as for himself. A real talent with words. "Flowers" gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I would recommend checking out over the weekend the likes of Mo Kenney (the female Mark Mulcahy?), the lovely harmonies of Lucy Peach and Cork's own Low Mountain and new to me Wayward Folk.

The festival also features the likes of The Minutes, Valerie June, Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band and more. See the timetable for the weekend here.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Randolf & The Crokers

Life is full of funny coincidences. I was at a music festival recently. The Doolin Craft Beer & Roots Festival to be exact. I was enjoying listening to the blues of David Hope when I browsed the Twitter feed of the festival which featured pics of performers earlier in the day. I came across some faces I recognised. I thought I recognised those faces. Later in the evening, on my way to the bar, I actually ran into those faces. Claire and Keith, who are part of Randolf & The Crokers.

In a previous life I had worked for a certain health service here in Ireland and one summer Claire was working there too. Ireland is a very small place. You never you know who you might meet that you have worked with in a previous life that has gone on to become of a lovely folk/americana band. So I should declare an interest before writing about Randolf & The Crokers but this blog is mainly here to tell you about great americana music coming from Ireland rather that being critical of it.

Randolf & The Crokers were formed in 2011. Made up of members Shane Storan, Clare O'Brien, Keith Kelly, Dane Staunton, Jarlath Byrne and Shay Peter. Since their formation, the band have been building up their live reputation with gigs all over the country. They won the UL Battle of The Bands in 2014. As well as that, they have been busy writing. Last year they recorded their début E.P. "Conversations Amongst The Ruins".

Released through (I think) their own Indie Limerick label (also the name of the excellent music blog that Keith runs), the E.P. features four tracks of lovely melodies, beautiful harmonies and excellent arrangements. The release of the E.P. was preceded by the release of their first single "Hangin'" last December. Kicking off with a jaunty guitar lick, the meanders reassuringly. Filled with dashes of harmonica licks with the matching harmonies of Shane and Claire blend into a enjoyable melody reminiscent of John Ritter at his prime.

The E.P. was recorded in Lakeland Studios in Athlone with mastering by Richard Dowling. On the face of it, Randolf & The Crokers are not afraid to tackle  the big issues. With track titles like "History" and "Warfare", you might wonder if the songs are going to answer philosophical questions. Instead the big titles focus on the little issues. "Warfare" is the stand out track for me on this E.P. It it a different song from the rest of the E.P. Starting off with its off-kilter timing that grabs your attention from the off, the melody slowly lulls you in. The lyrics help the song in building into a stirring affecting chorus that feels like it should be the theme tune to any bad day.

"History" returns to the americana style set out by the opening "Hangin'" returning to an amiable americana rhythm that is very easy to sing along to. The E.P. concludes with the piano led "The Trace". A sombre pop-americana finish that demonstrates Claire's vocal ability. "Conversations Amongst The Ruins" is a great start for the career of Randolf & the Crokers. The band has certainly found a perfect mix of americana and folk. The harmonies are wonderful. The E.P. certainly suggests that there is something here that they will build upon.

The band plan a further single release soon. You can keep up with all that's going on with them on their Facebook page. The E.P. is available to download on iTunes. If you want to listen to the E.P in full you can stream it on their Breaking Tunes page.