BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2013

BarryGruff Albums of the year 2013

It’s that time of year once again when every music blog, website and magazine busy themselves with list making activities, and this blog is no different. Due to other commitments this year, especially the second half, it was rather difficult to keep on top of album reviews for the blog. Saying that, I reckon I’ve listened to as many records as any other year without finding the opportunity to share my thoughts on many of them.

Without further ado, here’s the BarryGruff ‘Albums of the Year’ for 2013.

25. Crystal Stilts – ‘Nature Noir’

24. Appelscal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

23. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

22. Mr. Huw – ‘Cariad Affaich’

21. King Krule – ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’

20. Channel Swimmer – ‘Alphabet’

19. Valeria June – ‘Pushin’ Against A Stone’

18. Veronica Falls – ‘Waiting for Something to Happen’

17. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’

16. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’

15. Marika Hackman – ‘That Iron Taste’

A collection potent songs of enigmatic beauty, That Iron Taste is a gorgeous and charmed introduction to the delectable talents of Marika Hackman. It is done so with a striking vocal delivery, sounding both wise and beautiful, imbued with a telling level of touching emotion. She channels something beautifully rich and dramatic in telling these rather dark poetic stories. Absolutely no substandard happy-clappy folk pop nonsense on show here, on the contrary, her debut (mini) album is quite frankly a haunting, numinous experience.

[Stream on Spotify]

14. The Pictish Trail – ‘Secret Soundz, Volume 2′

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded solely in a caravan, Secret Soundz, Volume 2, is the second LP from The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch. Throughout the LP, he’s in a contemplative, often melancholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. A magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an exceptional talent.

13. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland produces plenty of great bands but where it falls short, of say our Welsh neighbors, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. In Biggles Flys Again, the moniker of Conor Deasy, we’ve got a domestic talent flying that flag. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday displays real talent for 3 minute pop gems. It is brimming with enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement. This is pop in the old fashioned sense, played by a band, and with an assured sense of style.

[Stream on Spotify]

12. Akala – ‘The Thieves Banquet’

Since the release of his debut in 2006, Akala has proven himself as one of the most articulate, intelligent and talented MC’s around, a trend continued on his fourth LP. A potent wave of righteous fury crashes through The Thieves Banquet. The world is beset by many problems, varied and plentiful they may be but Akala manages to take plenty of them head on. He remains passionate, focused and sharp when tackling everything from a sense of powerlessness to change things, to berating imperialism,  slavery, capitalists, 3rd world dictators and the clergy. A very fine record indeed.

[Stream on Spotify]

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BarryGruff Unplugged: Oisin McCole + Sive + Phil McDermott :: Wednesday, December 18th :: The Liffey Studio, Newbridge

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We’d an amazing time doing the first ‘BarryGruff Unplugged’ earlier in the year, easily our best show to date. To sign off on 2013, we’re doing another unplugged show in the wonderfully intimate surroundings of The Liffey Studio, with Oisin McCole, Sive and Phil McDermott performing for you;  three exceptionally talented musicians.

It’s all happening next Wednesday, Decemeber 18th in The Liffey Studio, 1 Main Street, Newbridge. Door are at 8pm. It’s €5 if you book in advance or €7 on the night. The cheap list is limited so if you would like to reserve a spot, just email your name to barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com – with ‘Cheap List’ in the subject title. More details & info below. [RSVP]

:: Oisin McCole ::

Oisin McCole is an outstanding and undeniably talented folk singer and songwriter, yet he has managed to remain rather illusive outside his native Dublin. McCole’s lo-fi blues / folk blend is refreshingly humble and entirely devoid of ostentatious. His songs are beautifully written and constructed, never sounding contrived or over-produced, and posses an incredibly intimate sound and personal touch. These are folk songs from a seriously talented songwriter, deserving of far greater attention – something his two recently released EPs, From Here The Mountain & Winter Is Coming, are testament to.

:: Sive ::

Sive is no stranger to Newbridge audiences; having been wooed on many occasions by their always impeccable live shows. The brainchild of Naas musician Sadhbh O’Sullivan, ably assisted by her band, they draw from a wide variety of alternative rock, jazz and folk influences. Sive’s gorgeous sound comes from a combination of these influences being fused with excellent musicianship and charm, and her voice, which is simply exquisite. 

:: Phil McDermott ::

Phil is a talented young songwriter from Newbridge who has only begun to cut his teeth so to speak. Relatively new to the game he maybe, but he’s already got a fine bundle of material in his arsenal. Hopefully in the new year he takes the next step and heads to the studio to record some of his music. 

Best of 2013: Johnny Feeney’s Albums of the Year

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The ever knowledgeable Johnny Feeney has frequently featured on the blog throughout this year, popping up time and again to share his musical musings and words of wisdom with us all. So ahead of my own list of albums of the year, Johnny has kindly compiled his top ten albums from 2013.

Before I leave you in Johnny’s very capable hands, I’d like to thank him for this, and all the other posts during the year. He’s a top man. So, without further ado, here are his top ten albums of 2013.

10. Creep – ‘Echoes’

Echoes, the Brooklyn electronic duo Creep’s second album, is a dark, atmospheric record laden with spectral, woozy trip-hop beats and are joined by lots of guest vocalists including Romy-Madeley Croft of the XX and trip-hop royalty in the form of Tricky.

9. Cults – ‘Static’

Static is a tightly packed album of breezy, infectious indie rock with lo-fi production and errs on just the right side of sickly sweet. There are some incredibly catchy songs on here that can lodge in your head for days. Great stuff.

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8. Drenge – ‘Drenge’

This debut album from the Loveless brothers, Eoin on guitar/vocals and Rory on drums, is a treat of primal, visceral blues rock. There are some great clattering drums and thundering power riffs throughout. Raw and raucous, this is an excellent rock album.

7. London Grammar – ‘If You Wait’

Ploughing a similar furrow to the XX, Nottingham trio London Grammar specialize in beautifully understated, minimal pop on their debut album. In Hannah Reid, they have a commanding vocal presence that lends a gorgeous intensity throughout. Some real gems on here.

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Best of 2013 w/ Robbie Dunne of The Cedar Sound

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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 from me, over to Robbie Dunne from The Cedar Sound for his picks from 2013.

Favourite album of 2013: Jason Isbell – ‘Southeastern’

I was awaiting Dawes’ album Stories Don’t End with abated breath and when it was released, I wasn’t disappointed but then Jason Isbell came along with Southeastern and put into an album every emotion you can possibly feel while telling stories that I wanted to listen to. For me, Southeastern was the best of 2013 and will by this time next year, I can see myself still listening to it like I have been since it was released!

Favorite song of 2013: Dawes – ‘Most People’

It is off the Dawes album and it’s called ‘Most People’. I was sold once I heard the chorus that goes “she says most people don’t talk enough about how lucky they are, most people don’t talk enough about the love in their hearts” which is what runs through my head every day! Plus, it sounds like something off a Tom Petty record so that also helps

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Favorite Irish song of 2013: Christy Moore – ‘Where I Come From’

The guilt of not knowing enough Irish music and needing to listen to more. Christy Moore’s ‘Where I Come From’ because he mentions Johnny Doyle and the fact that I am a bog man surrounded by bog men is fitting also!

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Introducing: CaStLeS

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So we’ve already had Hippies Vs Ghosts in the way of We Are Animal side projects, and now there’s CaStLeS too.

CaStLeS are Cynyr and Dion Hamer of We Are Animal, who are joined by Calvin Thomas on bass, completing the Welsh trio. Their music is an engrossing experience and a joy to behold, yet with an overwhelming oddity to it. Their reverb soaked melodies and jerking riffs are irrefutably infectious, all rounded off perfectly with an off-kilter oddness and some distinctly Welsh lilted vocals. The only fear is, if there is one, as this is a side-project it may not get the attention it really deserves. No doubt about it, there’s plenty of legs to this one. Also, in case you were wondering, there’s no need to Fret, We Are Animal are very much alive a kicking. The band are currently working on second album. A creative bunch aren’t they?

There are some choice cuts to whet the appetite below and if they are to your liking, there’s plenty more where that came from on Soundcloud

Tandem Felix – ‘Ryan Hoguet’ / ‘How Strange, The Weather’

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Tandem Felix revealed their new double a-side single ‘Ryan Hoguet’/’How Strange, The Weather’ just over a week ago.  

The new single follows on from their Popcorn EP, released back in April. Such was the quality of the EP it could have proved a rather hard act to follow. No such problem for the Dublin based quartet who continue to explore their way through the stunningly elegant sound they happened upon with Popcorn. The pick of the pair (for me) has to be ‘Ryan Hoguet’. Slowly evolving over a thoroughly laid back four and a half minutes, it is a serenely beautiful number, who’s woozy vibe owes much to the majestic combination of sweeping, soft instrumentation and hushed, whispering vocals. Tandem Felix have signed off 2013 in style. Let’s hope we hear plenty more from them in the new year.

You can road test both ‘Ryan Hoguet’ & ‘How Strange, The Weather’ below or purchase it from here. There’s a launch party happening this Wednesday (Dec 11th) in the Button Factory – all the details are here.

Best of 2013 w/ Daragh from The Statics

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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 from me, over to Daragh from The Statics and his picks from 2013.

Favourite album of 2013: Queens of the Stone Age – ‘…Like Clockwork’

Q.O.T.S.A. are a long-time favourite of mine. For me they didn’t put a foot wrong with this album. The dirty riffs, melancholy piano and great melodies combine in a more experimental way than before. It’s entirely different from my personal favourite ‘Songs for the Deaf’; it’s quieter and more composed, with perhaps the exception of ‘My God is the Sun’. I’ve seen people physically sit up and pay attention to ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ too. It’s a feather in their bow that I don’t think a lot of people thought them capable of, until now. It’s far and away my pick of the year.

Favourite Song of 2013: Arctic Monkeys – ‘R U Mine?’

So, its not really a 2013 song but its on a 2013 album, apologies to the pedants, but its Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine? Which despite the spelling is actually a really good tune. Its the biggest nod to their early sound on their latest album and so it doesn’t tread to much new ground, but its exactly what I want when I put an Arctic Monkeys song on. No time is wasted getting into it and while it was out on Record Store Day in 2012, I’m still not tired of hearing it. Its was a belter in the Electric Picnic set. People went crazy to this one.

For an official 2013 tune I’d have to say Pulp’s ‘After You (James Murphy Remix)’. Just scraping in at the beginning of 2013 (available for download in December 2012, but officially released on January 28th) this is probably my favourite of the year. It has that classic ‘Common People’ Pulp sound made just that little bit better with a little help from Mr LCD Soundsystem.

Favourite Irish Song: Little Green Cars – ‘Harper Lee’

If it has to be one, and it does, then its Little Green Cars’ ‘Harper Lee’. Great harmonies, great driving drums, great band. Just one of the myriad of excellent songs I could’ve chosen from a tonne of great Irish bands making great music this year.

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Introducing: Channel Swimmer

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Channel Swimmer is the alias of Birmingham based Welsh beatsmith, aka 25-year-old Mathew Mayes, who, only a few months back, released his audacious debut  record to the world.

A culmination of five years work, Alphabet contains 26 tracks ordered from A–Z, and clocks in at a nice 1 hour and 45 mins. Daunting as that may sound, this lavish exploration through through genres, styles and eras, doesn’t for one moment enter the realms of tedium. In fact, as soon as you hit play on this meticulously crafted record, you will be lost in a sea of breathtakingly lush layers, choice samples and snappy beats, which maintains a shimmering warm glow throughout. Alphabet is one of those records which manages a real sense of familiarity without having heard it before. Touching on feelgood territories usually associated with the likes of Washed Out, The Go Team, late ’90s David Holmes and our very own, The Expert, he’s created a sound which oozes nostalgic feelings for all manner of hazy summer days and nights. Channel Swimmer spent his time with this one, letting things simmer until things were just right. 

There’s some choice cuts below but looking past that, you can pick Alphabet from bandcamp now, just ‘name your price’ and away you go. Dive in!

Best of 2013 w/ DJ Robbie Coffey

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 from me, over to DJ Robbie Coffey and his picks from 2013.

Favourite song of 2013: Busta Rhymes feat. Q-Tip – ‘Thank You’

This song probably had an advantage over the others on my shortlist as it only dropped in early November, so it’s fresh in my mind and I haven’t completely worn it out yet! That said, I don’t see myself tiring of this anytime soon. Q-Tip and Busta are legends in my mind and they’re on top form here. Kanye West and Lil Wayne bring fuck all to the party and the video is shit but don’t let that put you off, this track is monumental!  Taken from the Q-Tip/Busta mixtape ‘The Abstract and the Dragon’ which should be available any day now..

Favourite album of 2013: Mount Kimbie – ‘Cold Spring Fault Less Youth’

I’ve been listening to a lot of Mount Kimbie this year. I finally got around to their 2010 debut Crooks & Lovers, which is fantastic. I found Cold Spring Fault Less Youth to be a bit more accessible than their debut. This is probably partially down to the addition of vocals to the setup. For the most part these are handled in house however two tracks feature King Krule (‘You Took Your Time’ & ‘Meter Pale Tonne’). Both of these collaborations work really well, in a haunting kind of way! Anyway, if you have 40 minutes to spare I’d recommend that you let this album into your ear followed by Q-Tip (& Busta).

Favourite Remix of 2013: Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie (Four Tet Remix)

I’m surprised how much I like this!

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Best of 2013 w/ Keith from The Dead Heavys

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 of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough from me, over to Keith from of The Dead Heavys and his picks from the year that was 2013.

Favourite album of 2013: Of Montreal – ‘Lousy With Sylvianbriar’

This album’s only been out since October but has already clocked up more listens than any other new release this year. Its quite a simple record (especially for Of Montreal) with a small band cutting it live to tape  but the songwriting is just fantastic. Great melodies paired with some seriously dark lyrics (a- la ‘Forever Changes’), makes for a great listen.

Favourite song of 2013: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – ‘Faded In The Morning’

Great tune from a great record. It somehow manages to be lo-fi, funky, psychedelic & rocking at the same time. Also has a great hook running through it.

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Favourite Remix of 2013: Jagwar Ma – ‘Come Save Me’ (Andrew Weatherall Remix)

Love the original track which has got a Phil Spector meets acid house vibe on it. The Weatherall mix drops the spector type beat and turns up the acid!

Favourite Irish song of 2013: O Emperor – ‘Contact’

Amazing band who really let loose on their new album. Great attitude & vibe to this track with so many different riffs going on throughout but never a not wasted.