Introducing: Nia Wyn

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It’s never a bad day when you discover a precocious music talent, especially when it’s going to fill a soulful void in your life.

With that in mind, open yourself to the powerful, raw and soulful sounds of London-based North-Walian artist, Nia Wyn. Wyn has a canny ability for raw and powerful storytelling, set within a kind of unorthodox, rich and engrossing vocal, it immediately marks her out as something rather refreshing. She introduced herself with stunning, folk-tinged blues debut, ‘Help Me’, and actually goes one better with latest single, ‘Do You Love Enough’. The music, as with her voice, channels old blues and soul with a modern twist. These are timeless tales of broken hearts at home and in society, told with her unique and powerful voice. Both singles conjure up a very exciting, defiant charisma that’s simultaneously streetwise, witty, hard and warm. A unique and captivating talent, and one to keep your eye on this year, and beyond, for sure.

A debut EP is in the pipeline for a June release, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks. In the meantime, make sure and check out ‘Do You Love Enough’ & ‘Help Me’ below.

Something for the Weekend: New Music Playlist #6

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A new feature to blog, a short weekly Spotify playlist series featuring some of the finest new music to prick my ears.

Clocking in or around and hour, it’s an easily digestible slice of new music, just in time for the weekend. There’s a nice mix of genres and styles too, allowing me to share even more top tunes for your ears. Well, without further ado, here’s #6. Enjoy!

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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Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – ‘Baby Bye Bye’

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Three years on since their hugely enjoyable Smoking In Heaven LP, rock’n’roll trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis have announced the release of their new and third album, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis The Third, through Sunday Best Recordings on January 26, 2015.

Produced by Mick Jones of The Clash, the LP will feature the single ‘Baby Bye Bye’, which you can listen to below. The trio have thus far carved out a distinct niche for timeless music with a retro vibe, taking it’s inspiration from a lavish blend of R&B, Swing, Country and Western, Rockabilly, Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll (among others). New single ‘Baby Bye Bye’ fits in nicely to that category too. A retro-fitted rock ‘n roller, it’s is a bouncy joyful wee number filled with toe-tapping and infectious goodness and seductively addictive groove. There is something remarkably endearing about Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, apart from the delightful tunes, it’s refreshing to find a group so comfortable doing their own thing and the enjoyment they get from doing so really shines through in their music.

Check out ‘Baby Bye Bye’ below and they’ve lots of live dates lined up across the UK & Europe. Check them here.

Electric Picnic 2014: Johnny Feeney’s 5 Best Acts

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of all the people who made it to Electric Picnic this year, especially after last year’s festival, which was one of my favourite EP’s of all. It’s a small price to pay I guess for a new life over here in Vancouver. In my absence however, the trusty and reliable Johnny Feeney was down in Stradbally for this year’s festival, one of his favourites yet. His knowledge, diverse taste and appetite for music (gigs in particular) is astounding and always provides a refreshing and interesting take on whatever he chooses to write about. I for one really enjoyed his report from the weekend’s antics and hopefully you do too. So without any further hesitation, here are the five acts that impressed him the most at Electric Picnic 2014. Thanks as always to Johnny and I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.

Portishead, Main Stage, Saturday 30st August, 22:35

Trip-hop masters Portishead are not a band renowned for being overly prolific (they’ve released three studio albums in 20 years) or for their zealous touring schedule (they haven’t played in Ireland since 1997) so tonight’s performance on the main stage falls into the once-in-a-blue-moon category which you do not want to miss. The huge crowd at the main stage is recognition of this fact and thankfully they are treated to a very special show. The set opens with ‘Silence’ and its long, clattering intro before lead singer Beth Gibbons comes on stage to a raucous reception.

Gibbons is an enigmatic, mysterious, almost reticent, front woman. Clad in black jeans and black hoody, she delivers her angst-laden, blood-chilling vocals with her head bowed and eyes closed not acknowledging the crowd. As soon as her vocals are finished she turns away from the crowd and the lights, faces the drums and almost cowers in the dark until called upon again. From tonight’s set ‘The Rip’ is especially brilliant early on followed by the gorgeously languid ‘Sour Times’. Other highlights include ‘Wandering Star’, ‘Over’ and ‘Glory Box’. It may be bleak, it may be grim, but this is just magnificent from start to finish.

As the band wave their farewells after the encore there’s more than a hint of a smile from Gibbons. Has the Stradbally crowd won her over or is she just glad it’s all over? We’ll never know. That’s Beth for you, ever the enigma.

St Vincent, Electric Arena, Sunday 31st August, 19:00

On the other hand, Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, has no apparent problems playing to the masses. Drawing in a huge crowd to the early-evening slot on Sunday she delivers a blistering show to an ecstatic crowd. Drawing heavily from her self-titled latest album, Clark opens with ‘Rattlesnake’ before playing recent single ‘Digital Witness’, an infectious, joyous track with blasting horns and an incredibly catchy chorus.

This is an art-rock performance that will love long in the memory. Not only no slouch on the guitar with some crunching, squelching riffs, there are also numerous choreographed dance moves with her keyboard player. Later on, Clark finds herself writhing around on the raised steps at the back of the stage before playing ‘Cheerleader’ standing atop them. A late stage dive into the crowd finds a green mask placed into Clark’s hand. As she’s returned to the stage, she duly puts on the mask and finishes with ‘Her Lips Are Red’. A born entertainer, a wonderful show.

Metronomy, Electric Arena, Saturday, 20:00

People are ready to dance on Saturday night as an expectant crowd awaits Metronomy in the Electric Arena. The band emerge to a hero’s welcome dressed in white suits eerily reminiscent of Liverpool’s ill-fated 1995 FA Cup Final attire and deliver a barnstorming set of highly danceable electronic pop. Their latest record, Love Letters, may not attain the heights of their earlier albums but the title track, in particular, along with the soulful ‘I’m Aquarius’ and the instrumental ‘Boy Racers’ are well received.

The set highlights however come from earlier tracks such as ‘Corinne’, ‘the Look’, ‘the Bay’, ‘Holiday’, ‘Radio Ladio’ and ‘Heartbreaker’. The tent is hopping throughout as punters dance with abandon and the atmosphere is suitably electric. This was an incredible amount of fun and up there as a contender for set of the weekend alongside Chic’s fairly monumental headline show on the main stage later on Saturday evening.

The Altered Hours, Body & Soul Main Stage, Friday 29th August, 20:00

Having never heard of this Cork band before, stumbling across these guys early on Friday evening by blind luck and then being absolutely blown away by them was my very nice surprise of the weekend. Live, they play a really noisey, dirgey brand of rock somewhere between heavier psych-rock and the ear-bleeding shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine.

The mesmerising ‘Sweet Jelly Roll’, from the eponymous EP, has a real Jesus and Mary Chain feel to it. This is hypnotic music that draws you further and further in. Certainly a band worth checking out more of in the future, The Altered Hours play upstairs in Whelan’s on 14th of November. Blind luck can be a beautiful thing.

Benjamin Booker, Cosby Stage, Saturday, 15:45

New-Orleans based Benjamin Booker is only 22-years-old, but you wouldn’t think it from listening to him. Oozing cool on the Cosby Stage on Saturday afternoon and touring in support of his recently released brilliant self-titled debut album, his blues-rock is stomping, soulful and full of energy.

Accompanied by guitar and drums, Booker drums up a whirlwind of rousing rock along the lines of Black Keys or the White Stripes (Jack White was a big influence), but with bags more soul. In fact, the first pause for breath is about two-thirds through the show when Booker disappears off stage, quickly returns with fag in mouth which he proceeds to light up and explodes into song again before jumping off stage and running straight through the entire crowd. Set closer ‘Violent Shiver’ is a beast of a blues-rock track and finishes the show in suitably energetic fashion. Superb.

Introducing: Skin Tight Poncho

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I’ve been a serious Welsh buzz this week and in keeping with this pattern, here are Skin Tight Poncho, a three-piece rock ‘n roll band from Bala, outside Wrexham.

Playing music together since their school days, the trio have mastered their flair for rip-roaring blasts of blues rock. Tinged with a touch of the psychedelic, it makes for a thoroughly exhilarating listen, arrived at by way of a ferocious and finely tuned combo of pulsating rhythms, stomping riffs and howling bellied vocals. It is a kind of throw back to the late ’60s & early ’70s – think The Stones, The Spencer Davis Group and Cream. Regardless of their influences or canon, ‘Let Me Live’, their latest track, is one of the finest guitar wielded jams your likely to cross paths with. It just goes straight for the proverbial jugular, romping along with a relentless vigour, it just oozes power. Absolutely brilliant stuff!

No idea whether Skin Tight Poncho have any releases planned but there’s plenty to feast you ears on over on their Soundcloud page. For now, you can check out a few choice cuts below, including ‘Let Me Live’.

‘BarryGruff V Knoxville Morning': w/ We Went Down + Ciaran Lenehan + Appo + Phil McDermott :: Thurs, Sept 26th :: Flanagan’s, Newbridge

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This Thursday two of Newbridge’s biggest musical mouth pieces will go head-to-head in Flanagan’s, for this one-off ‘BarryGruff V Knoxville Morning‘. 

It should be a great night of live music as we bring you a show with four excellent acts, with sets from We Went Down (KM), Ciaran Lenehan (BG), Appo (BG) & Phil McDermott (KM). There’s been some cracking nights in Flanagan’s and elsewhere over the past two years or so, and Thursday night’s ructions shouldn’t be any different.

It’s FREE in as always & we’ll be kicking things off at 8:30. Much more info and sounds after the jump. RSVP here.

We Went Down (KM):

Heartfelt Folk’ n Roll three-piece from Tallaght, Dublin. In there own words: “Two chancers bumped into a lad in an off licence, Questions were asked, We drank cans, We jammed tunes, We Went Down.” There music speaks louder than any promo/pr nonsense. Check it below.

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Ciaran Lenehan (BG):

The second of two Tallaght acts, Ciaran Lenehan, has become a firm favourite in Newbridge and makes a welcome return to the town, ahead of the release of his long-awaited debut album, These Stories, in November. To keep it relatively short; Lenehan is a songwriter to be reckoned with. Simple, assured and engaging and most importantly he has the talent to make wonderful stories into fantastic songs.

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The Last Monroes – Today FM Session

We were first introduced to The Last Monroes a while ago, when the Wicklow duo released Live From The Barn, an excellent insight to what they’re all about.

Given the lasting impression left by Live From The  Barn, any opportunity to revisit their supercharged blasts of heavy blues riffage was always going to be gladly lapped up. This opportunity has come a’knocking as The Last Monroes were in with Paul McCloone last week to do a session for his radio show. They sounded absolutely superb as it goes, preforming three songs, ‘Underneath The Streetlight’, ‘Dead In The Water’ and ‘Devil’s Girl’ (the latter two coming from an earlier release). These guys appear to have this whole two-piece noise making machine buzz, down to a tee. One bashes drums and the other sings and slugs his guitar, it always amazes me how two people can somehow manage to make such an almighty racket. A racket yes, but a pleasant one at that.

You can listen to the three tracks from the session below or download Live From The Barn gratis from bandcamp now.

(Video) The Last Monroes – ‘Underneath the Streetlight’

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We heard from The Last Monroes a while back with the release of Live From The Barn, a great introduction to what they’re all about.

The Wicklow duo (of Simon Quinn and Konrad Sheane) are back with a new video for ‘Underneath the Streetlight’, directed by Shane Doyle. ‘Underneath the Streetlight’ is a supercharged blast of heavy blues riffage, a serious jam designed to be played loud and veritably burst out of the speakers and it’s the pick of the bunch from the aforementioned release. It is always a pleasure to discover bands who, with just two bodies, somehow manage to make such an almighty racket. All in all an exhilarating listen and hopefully there’s plenty more where that came from in the future.

You can download Live From The Barn gratis from bandcamp now.

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Introducing: The Last Monroes

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The Last Monroes are the Wicklow duo of Simon Quinn and Konrad Sheane, who take their cue from the White Stripes/Black Keys school of rock, where one bashes drums and the other sings and slugs his guitar.

It is two guys, guitar and drums, resulting in raw, edgy and rather muscular blues rock with a hint grunge and punk. The duo’s latest release, Live From The Barn, is a great introduction to what they’re all about. From the heavy blues riffage of ‘Underneath The Streetlight’ or ‘Thieves’, a more grunge tinged approach to this genre. Basically what we’ve got here are two top-notch blasts of good old fashion rock ‘n roll, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

You can listen to ‘Underneath The Streetlight’ & ‘Thieves’ below or, if you prefer, download Live From The Barn for free from bandcamp.