End of year round up of sorts……

sensible soccer

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:

Continue reading

We Cut Corners – ‘Stop The Cavalry’

wecc

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

 

fa_cup_wrexham_versus_arsenal_mickey_thomas

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

10750329_892722334085637_5024255709335698661_o

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’

Continue reading

Best of 2014: w/ Stephen Connelly of Knoxville Morning

stinky steve

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 Stephen Connelly of Knoxville Morning (and my right hand man with gigs)  to share his picks from 2014.

Favouite Album of 2014: Damien Jurado – ‘Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun’

This album was a real slow burner for me. I knew of only a handful of songs by the man before hearing this record but had already fallen in love with his songwriting. This album was different though. Producer Richard Swift creates a whole new world for Jurado’s songs. The album is a squeal to his last album ‘Maraqopa’. Based a guy who wants to disappear from society but winds up coming across a commune in the dessert where everyone is waiting on the second coming of Christ. Already sounding like an epic movie! A serious sci-fi/spiritual buzz off the new record and the music reflects this. I’m a sucker for a concept album and this went one step further. Jurado’s vision is very clear and cinematic. It’s a rare thing when a sequel tops the initial movie, think of it like Terminator 2: Judgement Day or Aliens, even Cheaper by the fuckin’ Dozen 2! A couple of other highlights for me this year were The Bug- ‘Angels & Demons’ // Angel Olsen – ‘Burn Your Fire for No Witness’ // Oh Boland/Me and My Dog Split – ‘Delphi’ // Future Islands – ‘Singles’.

Favorite song of 2014: A Lazarus Soul – ‘Midday Class’

I adore this band. I remember hearing this song for the first time in the Mercantile around this time two years ago and being floored by every word. Brian Brannigan’s songwriting is second to none and backed by an unbelievable band. This track is like a modern day take on Sean-nós with Brannigan’s vocal accompanied by only looming cacophony brewing underneath. First line kills me every time, a feeling that I know too well: Like a hangover dense as a city smog
followed me like a big black dog’

Favourite Irish song of 2014: Oh Boland – ‘Home Truths’

If I had only one wish this Christmas I would wish for everyone in the whole wide world to go see these guys live. Mesmerising rock n roll shows. Their split ep ‘Delphi’ with Me & My Dog has been on loop in the house since its release in the summer. Its tough to pick one jam off it but ‘Home Truths’ is a perfect place to start. Catchy riffs with fuzz dripping off the fretboard backed by an energetic rhythm section. I love everything about this band. If my head goes any further up their arse, I’ll be crawling out of their mouth at this stage. Needless to say I can’t wait for their debut album in the new year.

Gulp – ‘Vast Space’ (Cotton Wolf Remix)

SCR082_web

Gulp are signing off on an excellent year with the release their new single ‘Game Love’ on December 29th.

It has been a year which has seen Gulp, Guto Pryce (0f Super Furry Animals fame) and Lindsay Leven, deliver one of 2014’s most astounding albums in Season Sun. Latest single ‘Game Love’ is one of the highlights (of which there are many) from Gulp’s bewitching debut album, and although it was first self-released by the band as a limited-edition 7″ a couple years ago, the re-release features two new remixes: a version of ‘The Way’ (from the recent ‘I Want To Dance’ EP) by fellow Super Furry Animal Cian Ciarán, and this incredible rework of ‘Vast Space’ by Cardiff based Cotton Wolf. While retaining the hypnotic rhythm of the original, Cotton Wolf drains the stomp but envelopes the space with a blend of gentle strings, soft bleeps, chimes, creaks and supremely beguiling floating vocals.What we are left with is quite stunning, a rather crisp, airy and refreshing tune, with an added sense of urgency arrived upon with crunchy beats, vocal chops and some sparkling synth work for a spectacular climax. A magnificent rework, consequently it’s been far too long since hearing from Cotton Wolf, far too long indeed.

You can check out Cotton Wolf’s remix of ‘Vast Space’ below, along with the original stomper and ‘Game Love’. Enjoy!

 

Seazoo – ‘Panda Pains’

10426607_636613523093049_1138558410882785022_n

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything more than a peep from North Walian five-piece Seazoo. Both they and their multifarious concoction of charming, sprightly indie-pop certainly left a lasting impression and in that spirit, we are greeted by fantastic news of a new release, which thankfully brings this period of unwelcome silence to an abrupt close.

The Wrexham outfit has announced they have teamed up London-based label, Label Fandango and will release their new single ‘Panda Pains’ on January 19th. It is a bright, upbeat and colourful two and a half wonderful minutes of power-pop. Filled with a booning vitality it harness the full power from an irresistible melody, a delightful blend of chipper guitars and a surge of cheap-sounding keyboards – let’s just say infectious would be to put it mildly. A band to be treasured and enjoyed, this is mesmerizing stuff as usual from Seazoo; one of Wales’ most exciting emerging bands. Also, rumour has it that there is more to come in the new year, including an EP, and potentially an album. YES! YES! DOUBLE YES!

For the being? Well there’s is just the ‘small’ matter of ‘Panda Pains’ – you can enjoy it below.

PS – What a lovely hat that is.

BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2014

BG2014

So, it’s that time of year again, yeah, it’s favourite albums of the year time. Loads of great music this year, some old faces and plenty of new ones too but for those of you who care, here are my 25 albums of 2014. Enjoy!

25. Second Storey – ‘Double Divide’

24. Beach Day – ‘Native Echoes’

23. Globelamp – ‘Star Dust’

22. Sex Hands – ‘Pleh’

21. The #1s – ‘The #1s’

20. Attaque – ‘ON LY YOU’

19. Shit Robot – ‘We Got Love’

18. Mowbird – ‘Islander’

17. Oh Boland/Me & My Dog – ‘Delphi’

16. Jamie T – ‘Carry on the Grudge’

15. Pharoahe Monch – ‘PTSD’

Following on from his 2011’s W.A.R, comes fourth solo LP, PTSD (aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a loose-concept album which sees Pharoahe Monch speaking as a weary independent warrior against the industry machine and dealing with the struggle of the black male experience in America. It’s dense, raw and sometimes painfully raw, as he relives harrowing memories of his struggle with addiction, depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s all draped with his familiar top-notch storytelling, cavernous vocabulary, thought-provoking rhymes, precise delivery and thought-provoking metaphors, placing him right up top of the current hip-hop pile.

Continue reading

Best of 2014: Johnny Feeney’s Albums of the Year

snip

The ever insightful Johnny Feeney pops up every now and then to share his musical musings with us, always adding an extra flavour to the blog and always a welcome one at that.

Ahead of my own albums of the year list, Johnny has kindly compiled his top ten albums from 2014 but 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, and of course the site’s renovation too.  So, without further ado, here are Johnny’s top ten albums of the year.

10. Sleaford Mods – ‘Divide and Exit’

2014 was certainly the year that Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods shot to prominence after years in the underground. Primitive programmed beats and Andrew Fearn’s menacing basslines provide the platform from which vocalist Jason Williamson volleys tirade upon aggressive tirade. Foul-mouthed, venom-spitting Williamson is the star turn here – a poet of the disenchanted lower classes in the UK. Powerful.

09. Miss Kenichi – ‘The Trail’

The third album from Berlin-based Miss Kenichi is a haunting, gloomy slow-paced affair reminiscent in parts to White Chalk-era PJ Harvey. Although sparse and dark on first listen, this album slowly reveals itself on repeat listens and is stunningly beautiful in places.

08. Benjamin Booker – ‘Benjamin Booker’

New Orleans-based Booker’s self-titled debut album is a treat of stomping, soulful blues rock. Sounding older than his 25 years, Booker’s voice is a magnetic presence throughout this record. The rollicking, rousing tunes are such good fun but Booker is equally as effective when he slows things down on tracks such as ‘Slow Coming’. Big things lie ahead for Booker, one imagines.

07. Brody Dalle – ‘Diploid Love’

Well-connected former Distillers frontwoman Dalle’s first solo album features guest appearances from the likes of the Strokes’ Nick Valensi and Garbage’s Shirley Manson but never for a moment is the spiky Dalle outshone on this fine rock record full of snarling vocals and thundering hooks.

06. Ultimate Painting – ‘Ultimate Painting’

Ultimate Painting are the very interesting side project from Jack Cooper of Mazes and James Hoare of Veronica Falls. Packed full of breezy, dreamy indie rock, lovely harmonies and incredibly infectious tunes are prevalent throughout. The easiest of easy listening.

Continue reading