End of year final roundup, of sorts

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With the time of year it is and all that jazz, the blog will be assuming radio silence for a bit, probably until the new year. But before that, it is only fit and proper for some thank yous and for a quick roundup of sorts. 

First things first, a huge thank you to Stevie, Poggy, Co & Paul for all their help with the BarryGruff / Discord shows this year. It most definitely couldn’t happen without all your help. Thanks too, to everyone who played the shows this year and those who took the time to do collate their picks from year. A big thanks to Johnny Feeney for his excellent guest posts throughout the year – I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying his musings. Last but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who came to gigs during the year and continue to read the blog. It’s a rather humbling experience and without yous, the blog is nothing, so thanks a million. I hope I haven’t missed anyone, if I have I apologise profusely.

Before I go here’s a sort of roundup of stuff from the blog, with links, in case anyone missed some of it. Enjoy your holidays if you have ’em and see you in 2014. Cheers BG.

BarryGruff’s Albums of 2013

Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2013

BarryGruff’s Irish Songs of 2013 (Soundcloud Mix)

BarryGruff’s 50 Songs of 2013 (Spotify Playlist)

BarryGruff’s Welsh Songs of 2013 (Spotify Playlist)

Artist’s who played BG gigs in 2013 and their picks from the year 

Trojan Warriors Mixtapes [Part Two] + [Part Three]

Best of 2013 w/ Sadhbh O’Sullivan of Sive

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling lists, lists and more lists. Last year I asked bands and artists who’d played ‘BarryGruff Presents’ shows to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2013′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Sive’s Sadhbh O’Sullivan for the last in the series and her picks from 2013.

Favourite album of 2013: Villagers – ‘Awayland’

When I was going through some of the albums I liked best this year and trying to pick one favourite, I just kept coming back to this one. It was one of those records I listened to on repeat after I bought it and every time I heard it something new seemed to catch my ear. I love the arrangements and the attention to detail; there’s so much to be found within each individual song. The songwriting itself is obviously really strong too, and I love Conor O’Brien’s style of lyric writing.

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Favourite song of 2013: Agnes Obel – The Curse

Agnes Obel’s new album was another one of my favourites of the year. I could have picked almost any song from it as my number one, but when I saw this live video of The Curse it really blew me away. The looped strings, piano parts and vocal melodies come together to create something really beautiful.

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Favourite Irish song of 2013: Ann Scott – ‘Stripes’

I’ve been a fan of Ann Scott since I first heard her music about 6 years ago, and her new stuff hasn’t let me down. This song is a perfect example of her ability to build a simple but effective musical backdrop for her voice to sweep over. She always manages to produce a sound that is quite dark and haunting, but really pleasing to the ear.

BarryGruff’s Irish Songs of 2013 (Mixtape)

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There’s been some really great stuff released this year from Irish acts and as has become customary for this time of year, I’ve put together a compilation/mix of my favourite tracks from throughout the year. 

There’s some old friends and some new, hopefully you enjoy the tunes as much as I, and  without further ado, here’s my favourite Irish Songs of 2013. Tracklisting is after the jump.

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Best of 2013 w/ Ciaran Dwyer of Knoxville Morning

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling lists, lists and more lists. Last year I asked bands and artists who’d played ‘BarryGruff Presents’ shows to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2013′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Ciaran Dwyer from Knoxville Morning and his picks from 2013.

Irish Song of the Year: Lethal Dialect (Feat. Jacknife J) – ’13 til Infinity’

My love of lyric writing came from being an obsessive Hip Hop Fan in secondary school and it was this that led me to folk music and to the poets that are my heroes today. I’m quite new to Lethal Dialect and when I heard this song it blew my mind on first listen, the easy going production and flow is perfect and the song couldn’t have come at a better time, slap bang in the middle of our best summer in years but its the subjects that Lethal raps about that really bring me in. Like all great writers he writes about his own environment and what he sees around him turning the often banal into things of beauty. The last verse (especially the last two lines) give me shivers on the scruff of my neck every time I hear it, one of the best tributes to a woman I’ve ever heard in a song. Pure Poetry, Pure Genius.

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Album of the Year: The National – ‘Trouble Will Find Me’

This was a toss up between this and Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave which also blew my mind this year. Trouble edges it for me as The National have been my favourite band for many years now and every album is a step up the ladder of greatness, this one being probably my personal favourite alongside Boxer. The highlight tunes on this for me are ‘I Should Live in Salt’, ‘Demons’, ‘Humiliation’ and ‘Pink Rabbits’ (one of the finest songs they’ve ever written). Matt Berninger is the man of the match on this album, outdoing himself with his Vocals and pushing himself to new heights with his lyrics. I was lucky to see them tour twice this year and the second time ranks as one of my favourite shows that I’ve ever seen.

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Song of 2013: The Mighty Stef – ‘The Hardship’

I can remember loving this song the first time I ever heard it being played in a sound check in Detroit. It hadn’t yet become the absolute Monster of a song it is today but had all the hallmarks of a Mighty Stef classic even back then. The word Hardship has been thrown around our bands in jest for a couple of years now, often in the middle of real hardship where some comic relief is needed to keep the train on the tracks. If there’s one thing I know about Stef and his operation is that he has had to work incredibly hard through all manners of Hardship to get any little thing he gets in Music. The singing on this is perfect, a master-class in how to deliver a song, full of emotion and passion and going right to the end of his range as a singer. ‘The Hardship’ is an anthem to all of us who are in this game for the long run.

Introducing: Gangs

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Gangs are a four-piece indie-rock band – Jordan Curtis, Dan Smith, James Connolly and Jonny Halpin – from Tallaght in Dublin. 

Their brand of ‘indie-rock’, loosely speaking of course, is inspired by ’80s bands like The Smiths, The Jam or The Cure combined with a nod here and there to more modern contemporaries such as say, The Libertines and their ilk, or mod revivalists The Rifles. Inspiration is one thing, harnessing it and putting your own stamp and style to it is another matter entirely. Gangs pull this particular feat off with considerable gusto, adding their own spirit to proceedings, this gang of four mete out some tasty tunes. They harness all their mojo from a combo of catchy guitar riffs, energetic melodies and powerful vocals; of which their two singles to date are testament to. ‘Crumbs in my Bed’ is a blast of hyperactive indie-punk while ‘Down Boy’ is more of an indie tune and less storming, but just as brash. From the outside anyway, Gangs seem to making a bit of name for themselves.

You can check out some their tunes below or catch them in the flesh when they play The Grand Social w/ longstanding BarryGruff favorites The Statics and Otherkin this Friday. More info here.