End of year round up of sorts……

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Being the time of year it and all that, the blog shall be assuming radio silence over the festive period but fear not, normal service shall resume in the New Year. Before I sign off it is only right to say thanks to a few people.

Firstly, a huge thanks to Stevie, Co & Paul for all their help with the BarryGruff / Discord shows earlier this year and thanks also to Poggy for the desk. A big thanks to Johnny Feeney for his excellent guest posts throughout the year and his work revamping the site too. Thanks to everyone who either played the shows this year, those of who came to gigs during the year and continue to read the blog. Without you, the blog is pretty much fucked, so thanks a million. Last but not least, thanks to Caroline who has to put up with me on a daily basis and unlike you, can’t just click away somewhere else. I hope I haven’t missed anyone, if I have I apologise.

It’s been quite a year with lot’s of laughs, great music, some smashing gigs and seen me end up on the other side of the pond (which has been ever so much fun too). There is some really interesting stuff planned for next year too and I look forward to sharing that with you in the new year.

Before I go here’s a sort of round-up of stuff from the blog, with links, playlists etc. Enjoy your holidays if you have ‘em and see you on the other side. Cheers BG.

Some links….

BarryGruff’s Albums of 2014

Favourite New Sounds of 2014

Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2014

Artist’s who played BarryGruff gigs in 2014 and their picks from the year

Some playlists….

50 Favourites songs from 2014:

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We Cut Corners – ‘Stop The Cavalry’

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Covering a classic can be a tricky affair and covering the greatest Christmas song of all time is trickier work still but We Cut Corners have done both, and passed with flying colours.

The Dublin duo have covered Jona Lewie’s Christmas classic ‘Stop The Cavalry’ in aid of First Fortnight, a mental health festival which is happening in the first two weeks of January. There’s is a beautiful and gentle rendition of the brass filled classic, attributing their supreme ability to create intimacy in their music, We Cut Corners have broadened the song’s wishful, reflective and heartfelt narrative. Swells of lush strings meet soft harmonies and delicately performed vocals as the duo have pay tribute to the classic in the best way possible, and for a good cause too.

‘Stop The Cavalry’ is out now as a digital download from iTunes. We Cut Corners will also headline the First Fortnight festival on January 10 in the Button Factory. Click here for more info.

Favourite New Sounds of 2014

 

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Originally published for Dukla Prague Away Kit on November 27th 2014 – where by I shared some of my favourite new musical discoveries from 2014. Pretty self-explanatory this….

David Harks

“Infectious, upbeat and colourful..”

Hailing from Brighton in the UK, David Harks, is a singer-songwriter who creates lush elegant electronic-pop music. Harks left quite an impression throughout 2013 with a number of beautiful, blissful and uplifting singles. The pièce de résistance of this heart-pumping, well-whisked blend of soul and pop, with electronic undertones being ‘Illusion’. Hushed, inviting and transfixing vocals float upon a beautifully warm melody. Flowering beats and percussion, usher a soft hypnotic psychedelic feel and a simply irresistible listen. Infectious, upbeat and colourful, with tender vocals, it is a soul-filled, synth-kissed, soothing sound with flourishes of warmth. David Harks’ is definitely worth some of your time and one to keep your eye on in future.

Distant Cousin

“Hazy chants, swirling synth and subtle melodic embellishments”

Earlier this year LA-based producer Distant Cousin released his promising and stylistically diverse self-titled debut EP. Both pensively cinematic and reflective, it delves headlong into a textural depth that goes far beyond the constraints of one single genre. Done with majestic progression, he paves a winding path through a chilling hinterland of electronica, techno and even hip-hop. Of which, ‘Floating/Above Nothing’ is a perfect example of this exemplary touch. Opening in bubbling slow-burning fashion, the murky origins are expanded upon by hazy chants, swirling synth and subtle melodic embellishments. Chugging relentlessly toward a deep and mysterious well of rich sounds, then bang, we have lift off. A heavy bassline and mutating synthwork laid over a thick bed of bristling percussion as the euphoric underbelly comes to the fore, only relenting to allow the poignant spoken sample ring through. Utterly captivating beat and synth work. Exciting times lie ahead.

Oh Boland

“With every rumbling note their music proves ever more captivating and palatable..”

Oh Boland are a garage rock trio – Niall Murphy, Éanna Mac Donnchadha and Simon McDonagh – from Tuam, Co. Galway.

Admittedly formed close to two years ago, their charms having remained elusive (to me anyway) till January of this year, a discovery I’m all the better for. The trio’s rough, ragged and somewhat abrasive sound borrows from an earthy mix of garage rock, indie, pop and some local guitar flavours. To date they released two EPs Oh! & Ho!, and this year’s super spilt release with Me and My Dog. Taken from the latter, ‘Tidy Is’, a rollicking indie rock number with crashing drums and rumbling guitars, pretty much captures the essence of this band. With every rumbling note their music proves ever more captivating and palatable, as it screeches and howls harmonically as the sheer thrashing nature rings through. Bands of this ilk are relatively rare commodity Ireland and rarely are they so utterly fuckin’ brilliant, which is all the more reason to treasure them. With a debut LP on the horizon they’re one’s to keep an eye out for in the new year. Listen here.

Mowbird

“Hurled together with exuberant bursts of energy, and a sheen of poppy harmonies..”

Welsh lo-fi-fuzz pop wizards Mowbird specialize in scuzzy, charming, soul-consuming guitar jams.

Fusing a predilection for fuzz pop, with parts surf-rock, slacker indie and some garage punk nuances to create fun filled blasts of sub 3 minute, easy to listen to tunes. There is a real spontaneity and energy to their sound; a theme running throughout their dedut LP Islander. It kind of feels unrehearsed and unplanned as it goes where feels right without putting a single foot wrong, with ‘Return to the Sea’, ‘Islander’ and ‘Empress’ are exemplary exponents of this prowess. Hurled together with exuberant bursts of energy, and a sheen of poppy harmonies, melodies, catchy hooks and some stunning organ work (an intrinsic part of their sound), and you’ve got yourself absolute joyous amalgam of sounds that lives in the moment. Quite simply one of the finest things crafted in Wrexham since Mickey Thomas’ free kick against Arsenal in ’91. Listen here.

The Careers

“There is a scrappy imperfection and absence of glossy production..”

The Careers are a garage- rock band comprised of four young men – Luke O’Neill, Eoin Conway, James Moone & Fergal Hennessy – from Cork.

They’ve a certain penchant for the past and sound as though they were raised on a steady diet of ‘6os rock and roll and garage bands. They’re a rock ‘n roll band, plain and simple. To date, they’ve released one EP, Atomic Cosmosaurus, recorded in the drummer’s shed, it’s filled with lively and stomping gems of the fuzzy, garagey variety. These scratchy, rough and ragged home recordings are endearing in their unique imperfection, and pleasing to the ear and an eminently repeatable experience. While there is a scrappy imperfection and absence of glossy production to their sound, the execution is tight, as any number of examples from the EP are testament to – from the bashed kickdrums and turbulent guitar riffs of ‘Won’t Go Far’ to the slinking swagger of ‘Try [Try, (Try)]’ or stomping retro-fitted rock ‘n roller ‘All The All The Whiles’. Combining a clever use of great riffs, driving rhythms and catchy hooks and melodies, The Careers have struck an incredible balance between sounding familiar, yet wholly original at the same time. Hopefully we’re hearing more from them soon. Listen here.

Mowbird – ‘Lady Lion’ ft. Sweet Baboo

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It’s been a good year for Welsh lo-fi-fuzz pop wizards Mowbird. It is a year that saw the release of their dedut LP Islander, one of 2014’s finest, it is littered with blasts of sub three minute scuzzy, charming, soul-consuming guitar jams.

Not content with that, the Wrexham quartet have teamed up with the wonderful Sweet Baboo for a re-recorded version of ‘Lady Lion’ from their 2011 Ilk EP. Out now via Shape Records, ‘Lady Lion’, thankfully doesn’t deviate from what Mowbird do best, that is to say they continue to blend their collective predilection for fuzz pop, parts surf-rock, slacker indie and some garage/punk. Centred around Sweet Baboo’s vocals and guitar, some scorching riffage and simply stunning (and now signature I guess) organ work, they blast out a magnificently scuzzy and proper sing-a-long tune. A cracking way to see out the year in my book. And in other Mowbird related news, they shall be heading back into the studio in the spring to record the follow up to their debut record, and if this is indication of their mood, it should be a belter. Delightful!

You can check out ‘Lady Lion’ ft. Sweet Baboo below and it is available along with b-side ‘Teen Drama’ from here.

Best of 2014: w/ Cormac Brady

As has become tradition for this time year, I’ve asked bands and artists who’ve played a BarryGruff show during the year, to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2014′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2014′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. I’ve really enjoyed these over the past few years so why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Cormac Brady to share his picks from 2014…..

Favourite albums of 2014:

01. Run the Jewels – ‘Run the Jewels 2′

My number one album slot last year was El-P and Killer Mike’s first record together as RTJ, so it’s a little predictable but entirely honest that their second gets the top spot from me in 2014. And deservedly so too – RTJ2 is another two headed beast of an album, but this time more earth shaking and spitting twice the fire. I find it so reassuring that in this fucked up world there are two incredible rappers that head off to a remote cabin in the woods to take loads of hallucinogens and other drugs and make fucking outstanding rap records that rip on religion, politics, law, business and all that other rancid soul destroying shit. It means a lot to me to know that. Sniff. Long live Run the Jewels.

02. Teebs – ‘E s t a r a’

I don’t know a whole lot about Teebs, other than that he did some shit with Prefuse 73 ages ago and he’s from LA (I think). A pretty lame opening line for a review I’ll admit, but I want to keep my knowledge of Teebs limited. This album is intimate, textured, warm, glowing and puts me in a good place when I listen to it. I don’t want to over elaborate on why I love the record, or what makes it so great because I’m afraid I might ruin it for myself. I recommend you listen to it and get lost in it like I did, it’s very rewarding.

03. RATKING – ‘So It Goes’

This album feels to me like the modern equivalent of a few lads back in the day cooked up in a flat making hip hop tunes on an MPC and a couple of SM58s. Of course So It Goes is sonically more sophisticated than could be achieved with the aforementioned tools and lyrically more poetic would be associated with early hip hop, but there’s something completely real and honest at work here and it’s class.

04. Mac Demarco – ‘Salad Days’

05. Beck – ‘Morning Phase’

06. The Bug – ‘Angels and Devils’

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