BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2016)

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Yes. It is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 13 (lucky for some) albums of 2016.

There was lots of great music in 2016 but I decided to keep it to a short list this year. Also, I’m hoping the festive period will provide some time to catch up on some records I’ve missed throughout the year, so feel free to recommend some listening material.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2016:

There is also a Spotify playlist of all the albums, to save you time and hassle, and it is here.

13. Amber Arcades – ‘Fading Lines’

Amber Arcades‘ – Dutch-born musician Annelotte de Graaf – debut album is a dazzling blend of ‘60s tinged psych, lush jangly guitars, floating pop melodies and an abundance of propulsive, hypnotic krautrocky moments. [Listen here]

12. Tuff Love – ‘Resort’

Glaswegian scuzz-pop aficionados Tuff Love, combine a terrific trilogy of EPs into an LP of dazzling, fuzzy indie pop with sugar-sweet melodies and crunching choruses and shoegazey guitars galore. [Listen here]

11. Underworld – ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future’

A first proper Underworld record in half a decade, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith deliver a stomping electronic record that is up there with the best of their work. [Listen here]

10. The Coral – ‘Distance Inbetween’

Distance Inbetween – their eighth LP and first in over five years – saw The Coral rediscover their roots, mojo and discover their dark side and add a harder edge to their brand of psychedelic indie. It’s an evolution of the Wirral five piece’s sound into a cohesive, weird and imaginative psych-rock record, and one that grows with time. [Listen here]

09. Mr Huw – ‘Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr’

Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr is album number five from one of Wales’ finest, Mr. Huw and with it, he has delivered an irresistible set of inventive, electrifying indie. Sang in his native tongue, these are melodic songs with a spiky edge. Post-punk riffs and snappy drum-machine punctuate infectious pop melodies, mild psychedelic leanings and Huw’s affable Welsh lilt. A magnificent collection of soul consuming tunes which provide proof if proof be needed, that we should never underestimate the power of great music to overcome a small matter, like a language barrier. [Listen here]

08. Jinx Lennon – ‘Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets’

2016 saw Jinx Lennon return with two new albums – Past Pupil Stay Sane and Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets – with each offering distinctly different brilliance. Magic Bullets… is the pick of the pair but in fairness, both find the folk punk poet at his uncompromising best. Recorded with Liverpool experimentalists Clinic, it is a collection of instantly catchy tunes that boasts a meatier, more beat-driven sound, combined with Jinx’s raw truths kicking back against the humdrum bullshit of modern life. Jinx Lennon is a unique talent, a national treasure to be exact and this is him at his inherently brilliant best. [Listen here]

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Millions Like Us Podcast #21

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Hello! We’re back (again) with another delightful mix of music and chat that is, Millions Like Us Podcast, Episode #21.

First off, apologies for the delay with this one but it was entirely out of our control. Some technical mumbo-jumbo put a spanner in the works but we (and by that I mean Stevie, poor sod) finally pulled it together after a lot of hard graft. Some sound issues remain but hopefully it doesn’t hamper the listening experience any more than usual. 😉

Anyway, back to the Pod. For Episode #21 we – Justin, Barry & Stephen – brave some dodgy internet connections, technological misadventures and timezone challenges, to bring you a bumper 90 minutes plus of music chat and an eclectic, hand-picked selection of superb new tunes.

Thanks for your patience with us with this one, we really appreciate it. We’ve all got the thinking caps on to figure out a more efficient way of doing this so once again, thanks for baring with us and we hope you enjoy Pod #21!

You can subscribe to MLU on iTunes and Podcast Republic, Mixcloud & SoundCloud, or find us on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can email us at millionslikeuspodcast[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Playlist: Best Songs of 2016

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Lists, lists, lists and more lists. Yes, it is that time of year when lists become more common place than overly optimistic Liverpool fans in August.

Time, or lack of it, truly is the enemy once again but I’ve compiled a 100+ strong song Spotify playlist; selection of personal favourites from throughout the year. Pretty self-explanatory this, but there’s loads of great stuff in there from many styles and genres and, from across the globe.

I hope to have an ‘Albums of 2016′ post completed this week. Anyway, for now, I hope you enjoy the playlist.

 

Conor Mason Returns With New Single ‘On The Surface’

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Derry singer-songwriter Conor Mason has revealed his intention to release a new EP early next year.

While Mason already has three albums under his belt, his last release (solo that is) was 2012’s beautiful and assured LP, Standstill. New material from Mason is long overdue and joining this news is the wonderful single, ‘On The Surface’. It seems Mason is picking up where he left off, having found his space on the musical landscape, not dissimilar to that occupied by Elliot Smith, Villagers or Matthew Jay. ‘On The Surface’ gently trickles by, amid a soothing sea of soft lilting vocals, whispering lyrical delicacies, subtle instrumentation and twinkling synth. Permeated by a rich and comforting warmth, a hint of melancholy and dash of uncertainty – it is a wonderfully crafted five minutes, reminding us how much a master Mason is when it comes to wistful whispering, harmony and hook. For a long, long time, Mason has been one of Ireland’s finest – if somewhat overlooked – artists and delectable talents. Lets hope the latter gets rectified in 2017.

There is no concrete date for the forthcoming EP’s release, just sometime, early in the new year. For now, you can listen to ‘On The Surface’ below. Prepare to be bedazzled.

Eoin Dolan – ‘Rockerfeller Christmas Address’

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We are now well into December so it is safe to mention Christmas, right?

Whatever your feelings surrounding the commencement of Christmas, Galway-based singer-songwriter Eoin Dolan, has released a suitably festive new single, which will go a long way to getting you in the mood. Entitled ‘Rockerfeller Christmas Address’, it is a Christmas pop song wrapped in, as Dolan calls it “the political madness of the modern world. Global anxiety mixed with holiday convention”. Dolan’s recognisable charming, surfy psych-pop is treated with a sprinkle of festive magic – in sound at least – as a blend of woozy, soothing sounds, sinuous melodies, a gentle strum and splotches of synth evoke feelings of warm nostalgia. As well as festivities, nostalgia, friends and family this stage of the year is a time for reflection – and there is a lot to reflect on – and lyrically, Dolan offers his assessment on 2016. ‘Rockerfeller Christmas Address’ is Dolan at his dazzlingly brilliant best, capping of an great year for Galwegian, which saw him release his wonderful self-titled debut LP (you can find it here).

‘Rockerfeller Christmas Address’ is below for your listening pleasure and you can download it for free here.

 

Minor Moon – ‘So Composed’

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Minor Moon is the songwriting project of Sam Cantor – a musician based in Chicago – which began life as a series of bedroom demos back in 2011.

Since then, he’s been firmly on the front foot gigging extensively and releasing EP, Faultines, and debut LP, A Whisper, A Shout. Minor Moon’s latest effort, a five track EP, What Our Enemies Know, is marked for on January 20th, 2017. Ahead of its release, we’ve been given a taste of the EP in single ‘So Composed’. The inspiration for this, and Minor Moon’s sound, seems rooted in classic practitioners of the craft – Nick Drake, Neil Young, Van Morrison with a touch of The Doors – while owing much also, to more contemporary artists like Wilco or Grizzly Bear. What is certain though, is Minor Moon strikes a wonderful balance between vintage and modern. ‘So Composed’ is a smooth and stylish infusion of laid-back indie with elements of jazz and airy Americana. Stellar pop-craft enhanced further with peppered brass, dripping keys and soulful vocals; rather great by any estimation.

What Our Enemies Know EP isn’t released until January 20, 2017 but you can listen to ‘So Composed’, right now, below.

Cate Le Bon Announces ‘Rock Pool’ EP; Shares Title Track

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Hot on the heels of one of 2016’s finest records, Crab Day, Cate Le Bon has announced a new EP Rock Pool.

Released on January 27 2017, the EP will include four previously unreleased songs dating from the ‘Crab Day’ sessions. Ahead of the forthcoming EP, we’ve been provided with taster and title-track. In just over three minutes, ‘Rock Pool’ is the embodiment to why Le Bon is a treasure. The Welsh artist is difficult to box-off with a taste for offbeat folk but an equal a propensity for psych. Swirling and imaginative, ‘Rock Pool’ sees Le Bon’s unique and powerfully versatile voice backed by a steady beat, swaying, acrobatic guitar jangle, odd sounds and keys. The strangeness, jarring arrangements and musical whimsy probably wouldn’t resonate so much were it not for the moments of melodic sweetness. A dazzling display of Cate Le Bon’s boundless versatility, captivating psych-folk and sheer brilliance.

Produced by Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick, and featuring musicians H. Hawkline, Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo) and Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), the EP will be released on January 27th 2017. Listen to ‘Rock Pool’ below.

Alternative Halloween Playlist

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Halloween is almost upon us once again, as we get ready to celebrate all things ghoulish, ghostly and chilling, with fireworks and flagons around bonfires.

Every celebration is in need of a good soundtrack and Halloween is no different. And if your in the hunt for some spooky sounds that extend beyond ‘Thriller’, ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘Ghostbusters Theme’? Fear not (or be very afraid) you’re covered with this monstrous four-and-half-hour ‘Alternative Halloween’ Spotify playlist. With lyrics or titles pertaining to Halloween, or some just plain ghostly, dark and creepy; from ‘The Horrors’ to ‘Burial’, ‘Ghost Town’ to ‘The Killing Moon’ and ‘Dead Souls’ to ‘Psycho Killer’ – there is a tidy blend of genres across 60+ tracks.

Plenty here to sink your teeth into. Bone appetit! (Ba dum tss). I’ll go now, the Spotify playlist is below & have a great Halloween!

 

‘Millions Like Us’ Podcast #20: We’re Back!

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So with my move back to Ireland, Beats’ trip back to Blighty (for a month long holiday) and logistical challenges, we’ve been quiet for a bit but as promised we are back in action. We are absolutely thrilled to share another Millions Like Us with you all!

For Episode #20 – our first transcontinental podcast – we welcome Mr. Stephen Connelly to the Millions Like Us family, who will be looking after producing and recording the pod, and has the unenviable task of keeping Justin & I on topic.

We’ve braved dodgy internet connections, technological misadventures and overcome all that global time zones could throw at us (global time zones be damned !!) to bring you a bumper 90 minutes of music chat and an eclectic, hand-picked selection of superb new tunes. There is also an exclusive track, recorded with Donal McConnon at the most recent Broken Home show (more info here).

Thanks for baring with us while we were off air, we really appreciate it. Hopefully you enjoy the new and improved MLU.

You can subscribe to MLU on iTunes and Podcast Republic, Mixcloud & SoundCloud, or find us on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can email us at millionslikeuspodcast[at]gmail[dot]com.

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Jinx Lennon to Release Two New Albums in October; Shares ‘Past Pupil Stay Sane’

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Jinx Lennon is a unique talent, a national treasure to be exact. Influenced as much by post punk and hip hop, he is the embodiment of a modern folk singer. Whether it’s played on a one string guitar or sampled disco beat, raw garage noise and blues, his are songs of raw truths that kick back against the humdrum bullshit of modern life.

Needless to say, it has been far too long since we’ve had a new record from Jinx – the last seems like a distant memory – so news of not one, but TWO new Jinx records this month, is cause for serious excitement. Recorded with Liverpool experimentalists Clinic, Past Pupils Stay Sane & Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift Grief Magnets will be released simultaneously on October 21st. Ahead of the double release, we’ve been afforded a glimpse of what’s to come in the shape of ‘Past Pupil Stay Sane’ and it is typically brilliant and typically Jinx. His way with words and delivery is unique and backed by a steady electronic beat, synths, twangy reverberating guitar and acoustic strum ‘Past Pupil Stay Sane’ is Jinx at his very best. There’s no one quite like him anywhere in the world – brilliant as always.

Both Past Pupils Stay Sane & Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift Grief Magnets will be released simultaneously on October 21st. For more info / pre-orders go here.