‘Czarface’ (7L & Esoteric and Inspectah Deck)

The ’90s is often cited as the golden age of hip hop and while this is a debate best left to another, it was this decade that thrust the likes of Gang Starr, Wu-Tang, Mos Def and J5 upon me. In doing so, it opened up a new and wonderful world before me. 

So, away from the trip down memory lane and back to the here and now. Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric have come together as ‘Czarface’ and in doing so, taken ’90s East Coast Hip Hop as a blueprint, run it through the gauntlet and brought it right up to date. This is hip hop that makes you bop, with beats that have more bloody bounce than Zebedee. 7L’s production excels as he stitches together bits of dialogue to create a dark, aggressive and sinister subterranean-minded world that suits the two emcees to perfection. Lyrically it is filled with complex rhymes and similes, as Esoteric and Deck deliver verse after verse as a verbal art form. Add to this a pretty stellar supporting cast including Ghostface Killah, Roc Marciano, Action Bronson & Premier, and you’ve got one great record.

Yes it is a bit of a throwback record but it never sounds anything but inspired – enough chatter from me, just give it a go, I implore you. 

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Drenge – ‘Backwaters’

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So far, anytime we have swung by on Drenge, brothers Eoin and Rory Loveless, we’ve found them manage a perfect balance of simplicity, rawness and soul in their blasts of good old fashioned rock and roll.

Not ones for unwanted surprises it seems, the duo keep the continuity going with their latest single ‘Backwaters’. It continues along the same punk-blues-rock path that made their earlier tracks so good. A 3 minutes plus of relentlessly exhilarating rock ‘n roll riffs and menacing chugging, as it swells with snarl and fuzz. Both gritty and gripping, we’ve got two noise makers at the very top of their masterful game.

‘Backwaters’ is out with b-side ‘Necromance Is Dead’ on July 1st via Infectious. Also, you can catch them live when they play Longitude Festival, Dublin on July 21st.

The Derry Sound | An Interview with Our Krypton Son

The brand new issue of Lookleft hit the shelves across Ireland this week. Here is an interview with Our Krypton Son from the previous issue. Lookleft is available in every Easons north / south & other selected retailers.

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Our Krypton Son is the brainchild of Derry man Chris McConaghy, who released his self-titled debut album of warm alt-rock/folk songs late last year, that solidified a growing reputation as an exceptional songwriter.

Having cut his first musical teeth with psychobilly art-rockers Red Organ Serpent Sound, on their demise, McConaghy emerged from the ashes with something quite different. Our Krypton Son initially began life as a solo-project, before gathering close musician friends together to create the band in early 2010.

The path, from then to today, was far from straightforward as McConaghy explains “I’d been in another Derry band (Red Organ Serpent Sound) that were signed to Mercury Records for 3 odd years. It had been a turbulent time though and I knew things were about to go pear-shaped so I began just writing songs myself again. I hadn’t really done that in a number of years. Initially I started gigging with a laptop (mainly because the idea of another acoustic singer/songwriter bored the hell out of me) but before long I was writing more elaborate songs for different instruments and it became apparent a band was required!”

Our Krypton Son took their time with their debut LP, making sure it was the album they were happy with. The response, which McConaghy is delighted with, would suggest they were right to do it their way “The reception has been terrific! We’ve always been really lucky in terms of radio play anyway but the reviews of the album have been great too. Some reviews in particular have totally blown me away and it’s been picked up by everyone from Hotpress and AU magazine to The Irish Times and The Sunday Times.”

One gets the distinct impression that McConaghy is very happy with how Our Krypton Son is progressing and why not? Their so far fruitful relationship with Derry Indie label Smalltown Records too, rather than a major, appears to be a large factor. He explains further say there is“a huge difference! With Mercury, there was a lot at stake. Plus when we were signed to them – 2005/2006 – the industry was just beginning to change and there was a serious focus to be commercial and sell records etc. Smalltown are more interested in creating art than selling records. They’re a lot savvier than a major label and they’re a good enabler to allow me to achieve my modest goals! It’s nice too that they’re just around the corner.”

There is a lot of attention being paid to Derry at present with it being ‘City of Culture’ this year. Prior to the recent flux of interest, from the outside at least, there seemed to be a very healthy music scene in the City. McConaghy said: “there are a lot of eyes on Derry at the moment so it’s a good time for acts from the town. SOAK, Little Bear, Ryan Vail, Best Boy Grip, Fighting With Wire & Rainy Boy Sleep are all doing brilliant. Some other acts to look out for include Figure Of 8, The Wood Burning Savages, Strength, Invaderband and others.”

On the ‘City of Culture’ he adds “There are a number of big concerts planned throughout the year including certain local Derry bands. No offense to these acts – they’re terrific and totally deserve the acclaim given to them – but it would be nice if some other local acts got the call for these slots occasionally as well. Though I suppose in a town with so much talent, it would be difficult to include everyone”.

Excluding the recent flurry of interest surrounding the ‘City of Culture’, one question comes to mind, do Northern acts get their fair share of coverage by the southern media? He feels they do, saying “even back in 2006, ROSS was nominated for a Meteor Award – which was a massive deal for us. It can be hard for a working band from the North to gets gigs in Dublin, say, unless you have a promoter behind you but in terms of press and radio play and coverage it’s been great.”

2013 will be a busy year for Our Krypton Son with McConaghy planning “album number two, a couple of lo-fi ep’s and as many gigs/festival appearances as we can squeeze in!”

Our Krypton Son’s self-titled debut album is out now through Smalltown America Records. You can listen to it and others below.

[spotify http://open.spotify.com/album/2Qds5AjGvKfnx2WXaXcKOc]

H. Hawkline – ‘Ghouls’

Welsh songwriter, H. Hawkline is set to follow last year’s superb Black Domino Box EP, with a new EP in June. The EP, entitled Ghouls, will feature Cate Le Bon and Sweet Baboo, and will be his first release on Turnstile.

Along with news of this new release, H. Hawkline has treated us to the title track; a delightfully melodious guitar led, laid back and sunny jam. It is great to find that his recent relocation to the US has done nothing to stifle his weird and wonderful whims. In fact, ‘Ghouls’ is utterly fantastic as he continues to impress mightily with his knack for crafting catchy psychedelic folk pop.

The Ghouls EP is released on 12″ vinyl, as well as digitally, on June 17th, through Turnstile. You can pre-order it here and give the title track a spin below.

Teleman – ‘Steam Train Girl’

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It pains to see how some supremely talented artists can remain largely overlooked, languishing in a musical hinterland far away from the public gaze, while others less talented receive adoration. Music, is at times, an entirely baffling industry.

One such case is that of Thomas Sanders. Anything Sanders has touched to date, from Tap Tap, Pete & The Pirates to his latest project Teleman, has been pure gold. The latter’s latest single, ‘Steam Train Girl’ continues this trend and is a perfect portrayal of Sanders & co’s. knack for exquisite indie pop songs. It kicks off with pulsating guitars before the rest of band gradually filters in, layering psychedelic-tinged synths over rhythmic drums and Sanders’ striking vocals which are, as ever, strikingly fantastic. To be fair Teleman has been riding along a thin wave of hype since announcing themselves late last year, perhaps Sanders will finally gain the plaudits his talent deserves – third time lucky and all that jazz. 

Teleman have quite a few live dates coming up, including support for Suede later in the year but before all that, you can listen to ‘Steam Train Girl’ below. It is out with b-side ‘Please Kill It’ on July 1st via their own own imprint Encona Records.

Session Victim – ‘Random Blues’

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If you cast you mind back to last year, you might remember there was quite a bit of fuss on here about Session Victim‘s album, The Haunted House of House. And rightfully so. It is slick, classy and neat deep house record.

Session Victim are at it again. The German duo of Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling have teamed up with Brighton house label, Wolf Music for a new EP, WOLF EP018. Sharing the wax with Medlar, Squarehead (not our Squarehead) and Ishmael, Session Victim’s inclusion is ‘Random Blues'; a is a slow-burner, gently building, deep house jam which blends touches of disco and soul, nicely and neatly polished off with an undeniable dance groove.

The 12″ EP is out on May 6th through Wolf Music with a digital release date TBA.