BarryGruff’s July 2015 playlist

BGJL15

A now regular monthly feature, whereby we round up all the blog action with a nice, neat and handy playlist of tracks featured during the month.

July was pretty ace! We had new tunes from The School, The Stammer and DRINKS ahead of their respective, forthcoming new albums, and the return of WE//ARE//ANIMAL. There were excellent new singles from Neon Wolf, Galants, Lethal Dialect, Manor, Kelly Lee Owens, The Expert, Glass Sines and Koloto.

Also featured on this month’s playlist are great tracks from Bedbugs, Effin, Gwenno, Trails and Ways, Open Window and Joan. So, July was pretty good. And that’s all before mentioning that Justin Beats gave Jamie xx’s new record In Colour, the once over, Johnny Feeney reported from Knockanstockan and we had a chat with Trails and Ways. And the small matter of my albums of the year so far list.

Listen to BarryGruff’s July 2015 playlist below.

Glass Sines – ‘Connected’

PhotoShoot_Ben-Jules_May2015-18-1200x700

Brighton four-piece Glass Sines – Tom Payne, Ian Upfold, Kate Payne and Sam Doctors – make indie music to dance to, music with beats, rolling synths, slick guitars and the intricacy of the classical violinist’s touch.

Initially formed by two previous work colleagues, Tom and Ian before adding Tom’s sister Kate on violin and old school mate Sam, to complete the line up on guitar. The foursome have unveiled their debut single ‘Connected’, and it’s quite something. Upbeat, infectious and groovy, ‘Connected’ encapsulates the very fabric of indie-music-to-dance-to. Pulsing with late ’80s/early ’90s dance vibe, coupled with wailing guitar on top of an enduring rhythm, it feels vital, vibrant and an extremely impressive first bow. With a second single waiting in the wings, and lined up for release after summer, there’s no better time to get ‘connected’ with Glass Sines.

The self-released ‘Connected’ will be out on August 24th. You can stream it and it’s video below and will be available to purchase from their website, come August 24th.

Koloto – ‘Life in Clay’

koloto 2015

We were first introduced to the glorious sounds of Koloto back in 2013, with some early tracks that would later form the bones of the super debut EP, Mechanica.

Canterbury based electronic musician and producer, Koloto AKA Maria Sullivan, has returned with ‘Life in Clay’, a brand new single and part of Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Song selection. ‘Life in Clay’ illustrates Koloto’s preference for homemade, hand-crafted sounds, to great effect. Light, bright and optimistic, it intricately weaves a wonderful patchwork of colorful fluttering electronics with blend of playful sounds, a hint of the tropical and Koloto’s recognizable touch of glitchy brilliance. Combined with complex melodic and rhythmic shifts, ‘Life in Clay’ is profoundly and wonderfully imaginative, and an irresistible three-minutes of electronica.

You can stream ‘Life in Clay’ below, and it is also available as a free download from Secret Song.

Knockanstockan 2015 Review

11754815_1114223005258501_889163283195565392_o

Given that I’m over 9,000 miles away, there ain’t much chance of me making an appearance at any Irish festivals but in my absence, my mate and intrepid gig goer, Johnny Feeney was at this year’s Knockanstockan. As always, his makes for interesting and thoroughly enjoyable reading. Thanks as always to Johnny and I’ll leave you in his very capable hands. 

While many festivals continue to expand year on year, Knockanstockan have deliberately gone the other direction, scaling back the size of the main arena and removing the main stage for the second successive year. Live music is now concentrated into three main medium-size stages with a further dedicated dance tent, a performance stage displaying varied entertainment such as debate, spoken word and cabaret and a kids area.

The main arena’s compact but not overcrowded. The camp site is close by so everything is a short walk away – a very important fact considering it’s BYOB. However there are bars scattered around the place also. The crowd are boisterous and friendly and there was no sign or reports of any aggression or trouble over the course of the weekend. Due to work commitments, Friday was unfortunately missed but Saturday proved to be a treat. Helpfully, the weather was also kinder on the Saturday with the sun making the occasional, welcome appearance through the overcast sky. And so to the music.

Dublin four-piece rockers Pretty Beast were first up in the Dimestore Tent (it was marked down as the Circus Tent on the timetable). They played a high-octane set of pulsating rock that fizzed along noisily. As the show progressed the tunes became noticeably more danceable with their heavy riffs underpinned by grooving basslines and synths. The charismatic frontman Donie Keaveney owned the stage and worked up quite a sweat, culminating in him perilously climbing to the top of the scaffolding at the side of the stage towards the end.

Sinead White was next up in the intimate amphitheatre, the Faerie Field. It’s a beautiful setting for the Dublin-based singer-songwriter and a nice way to ease into the day. White plays acoustic guitar throughout but is ably accompanied by lead guitar, bass and drums to flesh out her sound. For her closing song, White hands out 50 plastic kazoos into the crowd in an attempt to get the crowd to join in on the chorus. By the time people have figured out how to play the kazoos White has left the stage so all that’s left is the sound of kazoos all over the place. A cue to exit if ever I’ve heard one.

Upon entering the Burrow, White Chalk have already kicked off their set and are in full flight. They’re a seven–piece band with a penchant for anthemic songs and big, singalong choruses –lots of woahs and doo-doos that you can pick up after a listen or two. Think a strange Arcade Fire/Maccabees/trad hybrid with guitars, percussion, cello, keyboards, mandolins and more. Main vocalist Conor Quinn’s country-tinged voice is unique and not what you’d expect and he’s backed by soaring harmonies. They’re armed with very catchy tunes and certainly get the crowd moving. It would be very interesting to see these guys under a roof in a dark room.

Having known nothing about them before Saturday, Hot Cops were easily the find of the day for me. The Belfast three-piece play brilliantly dark, melodic indie-rock reminiscent of Pavement or Surfer Blood. Vocalist and frontman Carl Eccles comes alive with guitar in hand but just as quickly becomes soft-spoken and mild-mannered with barely a hint of a Belfast accent – so much so in fact that while speaking between songs, when one of the crowd suggests he doesn’t sound like he’s from Belfast he apologises! Drummer Conor Ellison is an absolute powerhouse on the drums. Superb.

Fresh on the trails of Hot Cops, Tramore native Rebecca Collins delivers another stunning performance in the Dimestore Tent. You can see why she’s been compared to the likes of PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi – particularly the former. This is theatrical alternative-rock that’s slightly morbid but utterly mesmerising. Collins is a captivating presence throughout and it’s difficult to take your eyes off her.

Having been impressive the weekend before in Longitude, Otherkin produced another storming set on the Burrow stage on Saturday evening. This Dublin-based four-piece play infectious, upbeat grunge/indie-rock with fuzzy guitars and a real swagger. The band clearly look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage and it’s hard not to get carried away with their enthusiasm. Nothing ground-breaking but very enjoyable all the same.

Festival highlight Elastic Sleep are a bit special. The Cork five-piece specialise in dream-pop/shoegaze along the lines of the quieter side of My Bloody Valentine. Muireann Levis provides breathy, haunting vocals around which the rest of the band create bruising, meandering soundscapes. Music to get well and truly immersed in, these are one of the best live bands around today. The Dimestore Tent didn’t ease off in quality all day. No Spill Blood were next on and the Dublin band produced a scintillating, no-holds-barred barrage of heavy synth-rock. A pummeling, chaotic, high-intensity set has the crowd going absolutely mental, the energy in the tent is electric and a fair amount of sweat is shed. Quality.

As night falls on Knockanstockan, various other attractions come into their own. Apart from more heavy-hitting music on the main stages, the Caravan Club Extravaganza (the dance tent) comes alive and various campfires pop up throughout the main arena where one can engage in various levels of entertaining conversation depending on who you end up beside. A great day, a very fine little festival.

Open Window – ‘XX00′

11392977_1592999434292729_7937397717115800270_o

Formerly going under the guises of Sliab Cuinciu & Cuinciu, Open Window is the latest alias for Wicklow producer Ross McDonald’s superlative electronic output.

No matter the moniker, to date, he’s impressed a hell of a lot and firmly placed himself toward the top end of a rather congested bunch of Ireland’s emerging electronic producing talent. Aside from the chameleonic name changes, of late, he’s been busy amassing a solid collection of new material that is ‘XX00′. It’s a sumptuous selection of sound that draws inspiration from a wealth of hip hop, synth pop, disco and electronic influences (and an X-Files obsession). McDonald appears to have unearthed the deceptively simple, age-old secret to transcending influences: just craft top quality tunes, and how! An exemplary example of which is ‘0013 (RIOT TAPE)’, a powerful fusion of hip hop inspired, thumping beats, flourishes of electronic brilliance and shrewd sampling that delivers a clear and concise declaration from Black Panther, Fred Hampton. The production feels menacing, threatening and mightily dangerous as Hampton declares, “In plain proletarian worker’s language, it takes two to tango. As soon as these motherfuckers go, we go.”

You can sample some choice cuts from ‘XX00′ below and the full set is here. Also, you can listen to Open Window’s GruffWuff inclusion, ‘003 (Africa)’ – of which you can download the full 19 track compilation here for FREE.

Open Window plays Scrobarnach Boutique Music & Arts Festival on August 14th.