(Recap) Some Highly Recommended Albums: Cian Ciaran, Drenge & Curly Castro

I’ve been struggling to find the opportunity to share some of the albums I have been obsessing over recently so here’s three. A bit like buses my album posts. 

Cian Ciaran – ‘They Are Nothing Without Us’

For many familiar with Cian Ciaran‘s debut last year, Outside In, They Are Nothing Without Us may come as a bit of a surprise. The former was indebted to grandiose orchestral pop of the ’60s / ’70s, in contrast, the Super Furries man’s latest is spiky, angry but with shades of sweetness and sparkling ability for a pop song sewn throughout. This combination, with a dash of idiosyncratic Super Furry sparkle, makes the whole thing even more palatable. Where musically it opens with a rattling and rumbling fury before melting into psychedelic space territory as it progresses, lyrically, Ciaran is filled with anger throughout. He said this was his protest record and he has duly delivered that, while also producing one of his finest records to date (up there with SFA at their very best).

Drenge – ‘Drenge’

Drenge steadily impressed since the turn of the year with track after track of exhilarating punk-rock fury, and the debut album from sibling duo of brothers Eoin (guitar, vocals) and Rory (drums) Loveless, doesn’t disappoint. The record is a frenetic blitz of untamed rock ‘n roll, swathed in splashy cymbals and heavily distorted grungy guitar riffs. There’s a quite menacing threat to it all, hindered in no part by the opening salvo of four, under three minute bursts of coiled up aggression and fury. Although, it becomes more expansive the further through it progresses, climaxing with the eight minute ‘Let’s Pretend’, the album’s slowest and heaviest moment, and the softer, more melancholy of ‘Fuckabout’, which channels Hawley, Cocker & Turner. As spectacular debut record, as impressive as any band could hope for. 

Curly Castro – ‘Fidel’

There is scarcely enough space to pay full tribute to Curly Castro‘s latest album, Fidel, one of the finest hip hop records of the past few years. Raised in Brooklyn but residing in Philadelphia, Curly Castro’s music and lyrics explores a whole array of topics and themes; ranging from Black Nationalism, civil rights, racial issues, drugs, crime and autobiographical tales from his younger days, chronicling his journey to adulthood. Castro has plenty to say, but its not just what he’s saying, its the way he says it. Speaking with authority, an authority that makes you pay attention, his vision is delivered clearly and concisely, without ever sounding preachy or pretentious. His gruff vocal and impassioned delivery ensures added lyrical depth and musically, it doesn’t miss a beat and the production is top notch. You can download ‘Fidel’ from Djbooth.net for free.

TOY – ‘Join The Dots’


Just over 12 months on from releasing their superb self-titled debut, one of last year’s finest albums, TOY are back with news of a new album.

The new record’s called Join The Dots and it’s penned for release on December 9th. Ahead of all that, TOY have bestowed upon us the title track, ‘Join The Dots’ (obviously). It’s safe to say they are sticking with what they do best, there appears to no turn back from the direction they were headed on album number one. ‘Join The Dots’ is almost eight minutes of glorious Krautrock indebted psychedelia, of epic proportions. Mere words will fail to do it proper justice, so just hit play below and turn it up loud.  

Join The Dots is released on December 9th through Heavenly Recordings. Both video and tune are below for your a/v pleasure. 

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Marika Hackman – ‘Cinnamon’


Marika Hackman is back with a new track ‘Cinnamon’, taken from her forthcoming EP, Sugar Blind.

Building on the triumph that was her debut mini-album, That Iron Taste, the new single suggests that whatever the hype surrounding her and her music, it is entirely justified. ‘Cinnamon’ offers something a little different to what we heard on That Iron Taste. A combo of slightly ominous percussion and imaginative arrangements prove that when she chooses to supplement her songs with more than just her trusty guitar, she can do it with style. Although the power and purity of Hackman’s vocals remain the undeniable focal point and adds a certain flickering warmth to the song. There is something so beautiful about Marika Hackman’s music, she’s got such a knack for drawing out emotion without overcooking the song. Anyone who saw her open for Johnny Flynn in Whelan’s last week will testify to this.

You can give ‘Cinnamon’ a listen below, ahead of the release of Sugar Blind on December 9th. Also, if you haven’t yet heard That Iron Taste, there’s no time like the present [Spotify|Deezer].

(Video) Only Real – ‘Get It On’


Only Real‘s progress has been keenly followed over the past year or so, and he has yet to put a foot wrong, impressing ever more with quality track after track.

Earlier this month the 22 year old West Londoner (aka Niall Galvin) released his Days In The City EP through Luv Luv Luv and surprise surprise, it’s great. This guy has quite a talent for crafting infectious, feel-good, lo-fi indie-pop. The gentle fuzzy guitar and his lazily half-rapped lyrics helps with the easy-breezy summery vibes that is utterly contagious. Lead track from the EP, ‘Get It On’ is a case in point. Permeated by a lazy slacker kind of vibe, a free flowing, nonchalant vocal drawl are set to some catchy riffs, steady beats and some woozy atmospherics. Through a combination of a purposely unpolished, lo-fi approach, calculated laziness and youthful indifference, he’s found his own rather unique and special place. Perhaps to match the summery vibes, perhaps to remind us that his EP is out, he’s released a video for ‘Only Real’. In which, he and friends head through city streets enjoying some mild delinquency and fun until night falls. The whole grainy VHS vibe works to reinforce the song’s gentle glimmer and meandering haze.

Days In The City is out now through Luv Luv Luv. 

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Veronica Falls – ‘Nobody There’


Veronica Falls released their outstanding and incredibly catchy second LP, Waiting for Something to Happen earlier this year, which initially fell by the wayside (through a combo of reasons, nothing to do with the record itself). 

Over the course of this year however, especially after their Whelan’s gig, it has cemented its place as one of the finest indie records of the year from one of the brightest bands around. Anyway, Veronica Falls have recorded a brand new single to accompany news of their upcoming tour of Australia and Asia. Entitled ‘Nobody There’, it’s a catchy one this. It’s got plenty of bounce and just shy of the three-minute mark, it shows why they are so great; sweeping melodies, driving percussion, bassline grooves and loads of sweetly seductive harmonies. So there you have it, three minutes of startlingly fantastic melodic pop that is ‘Nobody There’.

Also, if you haven’t listened to Waiting for Something to Happen yet, don’t be as foolish as I, give it a go ASAP [Spotify|Deezer].

(Video) Scarbelly – ‘The Woods’


Scarbelly is the brainchild of Welsh artist Gareth Thomas, formerly of Kazuay before he was diagnosed with cancer, this is his first musical foray since a stem cell transplant two years ago.

His work possesses a real love for country, blues, mountain ballads, latin music, hymns and acoustic music; something that shines through on Scarbelly’s debut EP, The Redrock Sessions. Lyrically, the EP’s focus is on stories from postindustrial Wales, personal relationships and his battle with cancer. ‘The Woods’ is the first track to be taken from the aforementioned EP, not only is it the standout track, it is a sublime piece of gravelly blues tinged country music. ‘The Woods’ single-handedly captures all that is great about Scarbelly’s music perfectly in under two minutes. We’ve even got this far without mentioning Graeme Maguire’s mesmerizing hand drawn animated video which accompanies this release. In short, It’s a stunning piece of work and worthy of praise in itself. 

You can check ‘The Woods’ below and The Redrock Sessions EP is out now.

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(Video) Lyttet – ‘Forever Those Days’


Lyttet is a collaborative project from Kildare musicians Peadar Kearney & Claire Nicole which began back in January of this year.

Both this dynamic duo have featured on here before, Kearney through his solo work and Claire Nicole with guest vocal appearances with Band On An Island / Knoxville Morning. Now based in Toulouse and Montreal respectively, ‘Forever Those Days’ is Lyttet’s debut single. ‘Forever Those Days’ is a soft, soothing and atmospheric song, it’s soothing sounds and floating vocals seem to just drift past, leaving you immersed entirely in this gentle tranquility. By itself ‘Forever Those Days’ is such a beautiful song but it also comes with a suitably dreamy (and brilliant) visual companion, from the extremely talented Stephen Connelly (my right hand man with the BarryGruff gigs).

There’s an EP in the pipeline from Lyttet too, so lots to look forward to hopefully. For now, check out ‘Forever Those Days’ below and get the song from iTunes

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Mazes – ‘Hayfever Wristband’

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Admittedly when Mazes released Ores & Minerals back in February, it felt a little underwhelming, certainly when compared to it’s all conquering predecessor and Mazes’ debut, A Thousand Heys. Maybe it was just a receptive issue this end and perhaps a reacquainting is called for. 

Whatever the case, Mazes are back with a new 10 track mini album, called Better Ghosts. They’re previewing the release with ‘Hayfever Wristband’; a tight, feverish lo-fi rocker, full of twitchy riffs, sharp, chopping chords, and along with Cooper’s yelps, eventually becomes entirely hypnotic. A truly mesmerizing  three-minutes, hopefully this only the tip of the iceberg of what we can expect from Better Ghosts.

You can give ‘Hayfever Wristband’ the once over below & Better Ghosts is released on November 11th through Fat Cat.

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Third Party – ‘On Both Sides’


We dropped in on Third Party, the Cardiff based band revolving around the musical talents of Gruff Russell-Jones, about this time last year.

The intervening 12 months haven’t dampened their knack for turning out an invariably perky, infectious and likable tune, as Russell-Jones & Co. return with a brand new double A-side, ‘On Both Sides’. They remain a pretty inimitable proposition, their mix of garage, R&B and post punk sound with wry lyrics are probably one of the closest modern relations to the ingenious witticisms of HMHB. ‘On Both Sides’ is meant as a satirical lament for the ailing culture of the 7″ single; separately ‘Copy A’ is a jerky, spiky post-punk track while ‘Beside’ is a stirring, down-tempo piano led, r&b delight. Two rather superb cuts offering decidedly different sides to the talents of Third Party, who having been knocking around for a couple of years now, surely deserve to be heard far and wide.

You can give both tracks the once over below (you can buy ‘ On both Sides’ here). If you’re in Cardiff for SWN, try make some time for Third Party.

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(Video) Bill Ryder-Jones – ‘You’re Getting Like Your Sister’

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‘You’re Getting Like Your Sister’ is the latest track to be taken from Billy Ryder-Jonesexcellent album, A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart, one which is wholeheartedly recommended.

On the ex-coral man’s debut solo LP, he embraces his talent for arrangement, looking inwards, he penned a gripping album of pensive ballads and hushed pop songs. Ryder-Jones’ latest single ‘You’re Getting Like Your Sister’ is pretty typical of what to expect from his highly accomplished and deeply affecting debut. Built with subtlety and restraint, it is gentle, predictably melancholic and filled with hushed tones, as he tells a solemn tale of obsession, murder and double murder. Yes, it’s a rather dark subject matter but ‘You’re Getting Like Your Sister’ is a marvelous song. 

You can check out ‘You’re Getting Like Your Sister’ and it’s animated video above and the album, A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart, is out now on Domino Records. An album well worth your attention if you find the time.