Best of 2014: w/ Stephen Connelly of Knoxville Morning

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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)

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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’

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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