Competition: Win Tickets to SALES at The Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver :: March 5th

SALES - Artwork by Niklas Åkerblad

Florida duo SALES will be in Vancouver this week to play the Biltmore Cabaret, on Thursday (March 5th), with support from Mesa Luna & Noble Oak.

A collaboration between long-time friends, Lauren Morgan (guitar/vocals) and Jordan Shih (guitar/programming), their splendiferous self-titled debut EP is a marvellous musical feast of inviting, warm and rather charming, quirky indie-pop. Done with a mesmerizing ease and breeze, their songs are simultaneously languid, nonchalant and passionate, somehow uncovering a place where all three can co-exist in perfect harmony. Utterly beautiful, their debut was one of last year’s most loveable records.

SALES, being the kind-hearted souls that they are, have offered readers of the blog a chance to go to the show on Thursday night. There’s a pair of tickets up for grabs and to be in with a chance of winning all you have to do is simply email your ‘name’ with ‘SALES’ as the subject title to barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com, before 14:00 (PST) Wednesday, March 4th.

If you need any further convincing? There are a few choice cuts from SALES’ sublime debut record below, or you can check out the EP here.

Roll on Thursday night!

Artwork by Niklas Åkerblad.

Best of 2014: w/ Padraig McCauley of Disconcerting P

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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 the Padraig McCauley of Disconcerting P to share his picks from 2014.

Favourite Album of 2014: Angel Olsen – ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness’/ Mac DeMarco – ‘Salad Days’

Angel Olsen‘s album drew my attention for two reasons: Her flawless vocals (Her vibrato is scary perfect) and her unusual song forms. All the tracks on the album have this steady flow which only seems to break when the melody changes around them, making the overall experience hypnotic and effortless to listen to. The production only adds to this sense of haze with drowning reversed guitars and tremolo’d guitars that wash around each other in the middle ground whilst Angel vocal flourishes in the fore. Its subject matter is heavy – loss and loneliness – but the experience is so beautiful it can be easy to find the merit in these experiences when music so raw and passionate can come from them. The stand-out tracks for me are ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Enemy’. Whats truly refreshing about the album is that Angel feels genuine – everything about the album feels real and authentic.

Salad Days is on par with Angels album for its honesty and genuine nature. Its seems that he really is pouring his heart out, but under the guise of this cartoon character. The effect works and I find him to be quite loveable. Mac is a smart guy – you can hear it in his song harmony, his melodies and his effortless rhyming schemes and what makes him even more loveable is that he seems determined to not let you know it – coming off as a unbeknown genius rather than obnoxious. The subject matter of the album is relatable – the constant struggle between youth and maturity. I suppose what can be take from Mac DeMarco as a character is that both don’t be exclusive. There is enlightenment to be found in the album – even if it is being delivered by a gap toothed jester – making it all the more exciting.

Favourite track of 2014: TOPS – ‘Way to be Loved’

Oh man that groove. I love how easily this songs moves! The feel shifts so seamlessly, only adding to this shimmering glitteriness the track has. The lyrics are great too. The track is delivered with a coyness from Jane Penny that makes it so alluring. It has glimpses of other bands in it but feels unique within itself. Oh man… that groove.

Favourite Irish track of 2014: The Gloaming – ‘Allistrum’s March’

While this may be a traditional tune – The Gloaming’s version is breathtaking. The whole album is unbelievably. Go see these guys. This really is musicianship at its highest and most pure.

Win Tickets to Springtime Carnivore @ Biltmore Cabaret , Vancouver :: November 17

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Springtime Carnivore, the creation of LA musician Greta Morgan, will play the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, this Monday (November 17), with Generationals.

Morgan has bewitched us with several lush indie-pop gems this year and is out on tour in support of her marvellous eponymous debut album. Co-produced by Richard Swift (Foxygen, The Shins, The Black Keys), it is a wonderful collection of warm, slightly fuzzy, ebullient indie pop gems, with a soft psychedelic undercurrent that crackles, glows and swells amid off-kilter grooves. These tracks, mostly upbeat with big hooks and sun-kissed, are built around Morgan’s dazzlingly beautiful vocals that transfix you in all its gloriously smooth prowess. You can stream it here and see what all the fuss is about.

Springtime Carnivore have kindly offered readers of the blog a chance to go to the show on Monday night, with a pair of tickets up for grabs. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is answer the following question: ‘What is the name of Springtime Carnivore’s recently released debut album?’ Email your answer, along with your ‘name’ and ‘Springtime Carnivore’ as the subject title to barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com, before 12:00 (UTC) Sunday, November 16th.

If you need any further convincing? Here are a few choice cuts from Springtime Carnivore’s sublime debut record. It should be a sumptuous show.

 

Review: Hard Working Class Heroes 2014

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Obviously unable to attend Hard Working Class Heroes this year, having relocated to Vancouver. In my absence there was a more than capable replacement in Johnny Feeney, who was there to sample the sights and sounds (along with the wind and rain) of HWCH 14, now in it’s very respectable 12th year. Thanks to Johnny as always for his time and insight, with that I leave you in his ever capable hands. 

Now in its 12th year, Hard Working Class Heroes shows no signs of slowing down and is deservedly recognised as a top-rate music festival showcasing a mixture of the best established and emerging bands plying their trade in the country today. Spread out over seven separate venues in and around Temple Bar in Dublin, there is certainly a wide variety of quality music on offer.

Weather conditions on Friday night were miserable. Constant, torrential rain and a cold evening meant getting from venue to venue was treacherous, leaving Meeting House Square feeling under attended as the crowds aimed for the warmth of indoors. Dublin five-piece Cfit played a rousing set on the Meeting House Square stage early on Friday evening. They carve out long, epic, grandiose indie-rock with further layers of violin and electronics added on top. Vocalist Noël Duplaa has a deep tone similar to Paul Banks of Interpol but the music surrounding him is a much more uplifting affair. Their closing song tonight, Plausible Deniability, is staggeringly beautiful and euphoric live.

Next up in Meeting House Square are VANN MUSIC – a band well established on the festival scene now having performed at the likes of Electric Picnic, Castlepalooza and Forbidden Fruit. The Dublin synth-rockers perform with a confident swagger and have highly danceable tunes, while front man Aaron Smyth is a magnetic presence on stage as he busts out serious dance moves. These feel like a band destined for bigger things.

Cork shoegaze/post-rockers Elastic Sleep deliver a blistering set in the Mercantile. Bruising, chaotic rock surrounds the minute Muireann Levis whose dreamy, otherworldly vocals are in stark contrast with what’s going on around her. Dreamy and captivating, these were the standout act of Friday night despite having some technical difficulties meaning they had to cut their set short.

Later on Friday in Bad Bob’s, Dott were a very interesting new discovery for me. The Dublin four-piece play dreamy garage-pop which reminded me somewhat of Veronica Falls. Bad Bob’s didn’t feel like the best venue to be seeing live music as there were restricted views and a layout not designed for this kind of event. This became even more apparent as a bigger crowd filtered in for Ghost Estates, the last act to perform on Friday across the seven venues. The four-piece Dublin indie-rockers delivered an accomplished set as usual and tried, with some success, to get some of the crowd out towards the back to fill out the front. Not at all the band’s fault, the issue with the venue made this feel more muted than it might have been.

London-based, Galway band HAWK were the first band I caught on Saturday evening in the Button Factory. The four-piece are a very interesting mixture. On one hand you have a pretty standard alternative-rock set up playing loud, pounding rock while on the other hand front woman Julie Hawk is a more eccentric, mysterious character with her acoustic guitar and haunting vocals.

Cloud Castle Lake were up next in the Button Factory. Playing with the lights way down, the Dublin trio play understated electronic rock. It all feels a bit low key and I can see lead singer Daniel McAuley’s falsetto vocals being tough going for people. With just a single EP to their name to date this may be a band still trying to find their feet.

A delay in the schedule meant Carried by Waves came on half an hour late on to the Workman’s Club stage as Metlybrains? were due to be on. This came as a lucky break to catch these guys playing a lovely brand of breezy, tuneful electro-pop, reminding me in parts of a stripped down Hot Chip. Lovely stuff and a band worth exploring further.

The aptly named Meltybrains? have been on my radar for a while as news of their explosive live shows piqued my interest but I’d never managed to catch them live. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed with their pulsating live show – what I envisage And So I Watch You From Afar might sound like if they made electronica. Frantic, pounding beats with the band going wild on stage. Trademark freaky Meltybrains? masks are thrown into the crowd for revellers to cover their faces and join them in wild abandon. So exhilarating, so exciting. The perfect finish to a very enjoyable weekend.

BarryGruff Unplugged #4: Jinx Lennon + Appo :: Thursday, April 24th :: The Liffey Studio, Newbridge

Jinx Lennon Newbridge 2014 Liffey Studio

So, we’re back with part four of the series on Thursday, April 24th, and we welcome the legendary Jinx Lennon and Appo to the intimate surroundings of The Liffey Studio, Newbridge.

To say we’re excited by this one would be putting it mildly. At the beginning, before we’d organised a gig, Stevie & I sat down to ponder what we could do, during this pipe dream exercise there were maybe three acts we agreed ‘had’ to play. Jinx Lennon was one of them and why not? Jinx is an absolute genius, a national treasure and rightly described by Christy Moore as the most important Irish singer/songwriter in the past 10 years.

Jinx Lennon is the epitome of a modern folk singer influenced by post punk and hip hop. Awkward and real, raw and righteous in his mode, he comes out of the northeast lost province of Oriel armed with songs to blow apart the chains in your heads. Songs about kicking against the bullshit of life .Whether it’s played on a one string guitar or sampled disco beat and raw garage noise and blues – Jinx’s music is sure to make the atoms on your skin surface vibrate externally for eternity. Jinx is currently in his HQ working on songs for next album working title ‘Keep Sane In The World of Eager Smiling Pricks’.

Support comes from Newbridge’s very own diamond in the rough, Appo, a one man bluesy-folk explosion. The gravelly voiced troubadour has also been busy in the studio working on a new album.

BarryGruff Unplugged #4: Jinx Lennon + Appo | Thursday, April 24th, The Liffey Studio, 1 Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare (Above Johnson’s Pub) – Doors 7:30 | Admission: €8/€10.

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BarryGruff 4th Birthday Bash (Friday March 21st & Saturday 22nd)

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BarryGruff is four years in the music blogging racket this month, hence the sleek face-lift and new dot com home (what do you think by the way?). It’s been an enjoyable four year no doubt about it, and to celebrate the occasion we’ve a weekend of music lined up in Flanagan’s, Newbridge. We’ve live bands on Friday March 21st & DJ sets on Saturday 22nd – all free & all under one roof. All the details and links are below – I really hope to loads of you can make it over the weekend, it should be an absolute cracker.

:: BarryGruff Presents #18 :: Fri March 21st in Flanagan’s, Newbridge :: [9pm/Free In]

The Statics:

The Statics have been longstanding favourites here at BarryGruff HQ, so it’s fantastic to have them on-board. Echoing the likes of The La’s, John Power & The Coral, the Dublin four piece’s melodious indie pop jangle is utterly brilliant. Their debut single ‘Holiday’ and EP, ‘Hidden Pigeon’ set their stall out for an ability to craft as close to perfect pop songs as you’re likely to hear. In essence this is  what makes The Statics so irrefutably lovable. And live, they are simply top class and not to be missed.

Knoxville Morning:

Another longstanding favourite around these parts, and one that never fail to deliver live is Knoxville Morning. The project was inspired by a trip around the USA by chief troublemaker Ciaran Dwyer, which resulted in an album of sweet folk, country and Americana. Surely I’m not alone in still getting plenty of mileage out of the record close to 18 months on from it’s release? It’s pretty fitting that Dwyer & Co. are on-board for this one, as long before I, they along with others, kept all things musical ticking over in Newbridge.

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Vagabonds & Thieves:

Vagabonds & Thieves are local (Newbridge) musical stalwarts of Andy Harper, Jack McKenna, Peter Lane & Steve Lunch. Early days for this new incarnation but these guys know what they’re at and their early demos suggest as much. It’s only fair to give the ‘young lads’ a run out right?

:: Discord#2 :: Sat March 22nd in Flanagan’s, Newbridge [9pm/Free In]

Saturday night we’ll have DJ sets from the talented Rob Smyth & Cormac Brady, & myself. We’ll spinning tunes from 9 till close – everything from hip-hop to electronica, from dancehall to indie and everything else in between.

BarryGruff Unplugged: Paddy Hanna + Wayfarer :: Saturday, March 1st :: The Liffey Studio, Newbridge

Paddy Hanna Newbridge 2014

BarryGruff Unplugged #3: Paddy Hanna + Wayfarer | March 1st – The Liffey Studio, Newbridge –  Doors: 7:30pm | €5/€7

Following the success of previous BarryGruff Unplugged shows, we’re back with round #3 on March 1st. Part three looks an exciting proposition with Paddy Hanna and Wayfarer joining us in the intimate surroundings of The Liffey Studio.

The show is €5 if you book in advance or €7 on the night. The cheap list is limited so if you would like to reserve a spot, email your name to: barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com – with ‘Cheap List’ in the subject title.

:: Paddy Hanna ::

Probably best known as lead singer in Grand Pocket Orchestra and drummer in No Monster Club, this year however, Paddy Hanna has stepped out on his own, releasing his debut solo album ‘Leafy Stilleto’ and attracting rave reviews in the Irish media since its release in January. The young man from Dublin is in a somewhat more laid back and relaxed mood than before, creating a warm and well-structured collection of gorgeous indie tunes. He was brilliant at Electric Picnic and since then we’ve been working hard to bring Paddy Hanna to Newbridge, and delighted we finally got our man.

:: Wayfarer ::

Wayfarer are folk duo Sam Devlin & Rachel Boland from Co. Kildare. The name might be familiar, having played a few BarryGruff shows, wooing audiences in the process, with their beautiful country folk sounds and alluring harmonies. They have been busy working on a forthcoming EP but thankfully found time to squeeze in a much welcome Newbridge show.

BarryGruff Presents #17: Padraig McCauley + Rory Hughes :: Friday, January 31st :: Flanagan’s, Newbridge

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So, it’s been a while but were back in Flanagan’s to rip it up with ‘BarryGruff Presents’ #17 on Friday, January 31st. We’ve got the superbly talented duo of Padraig McCauley (The P Affection/Disconcerting P) and Rory Hughes performing on the night.

It’s sure to be another great night, so come along and enjoy the music. It’s FREE in as usual & kicks off at 9:30 pm. [RSVP]

:: Padraig McCauley ::

Padraig McCauley of The P Affection/Disconcerting P is no stranger to a BarryGruff show and should need little introduction. McCauley is a superb songwriter, singer and performer, if somewhat under-appreciated by many. This is in fact his fifth, yes fifth, BarryGruff appearance and while that might be some sort of record, it is a rare chance to see him play a solo set filled with tracks new and old, from a rather extensive body of work.  

:: Rory Hughes ::

Rory Hughes is a young musician from Dublin. He writes folk and blues tunes. Tunes that are good with a deep-rooted storytelling style. While some of the records, done himself with basic equipment, are rough and don’t do the songs full justice. However, if ‘Woe Is Me’ doesn’t stir something inside you, well, there might be something wrong with you.

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BarryGruff Unplugged: Oisin McCole + Sive + Phil McDermott :: Wednesday, December 18th :: The Liffey Studio, Newbridge

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We’d an amazing time doing the first ‘BarryGruff Unplugged’ earlier in the year, easily our best show to date. To sign off on 2013, we’re doing another unplugged show in the wonderfully intimate surroundings of The Liffey Studio, with Oisin McCole, Sive and Phil McDermott performing for you;  three exceptionally talented musicians.

It’s all happening next Wednesday, Decemeber 18th in The Liffey Studio, 1 Main Street, Newbridge. Door are at 8pm. It’s €5 if you book in advance or €7 on the night. The cheap list is limited so if you would like to reserve a spot, just email your name to barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com – with ‘Cheap List’ in the subject title. More details & info below. [RSVP]

:: Oisin McCole ::

Oisin McCole is an outstanding and undeniably talented folk singer and songwriter, yet he has managed to remain rather illusive outside his native Dublin. McCole’s lo-fi blues / folk blend is refreshingly humble and entirely devoid of ostentatious. His songs are beautifully written and constructed, never sounding contrived or over-produced, and posses an incredibly intimate sound and personal touch. These are folk songs from a seriously talented songwriter, deserving of far greater attention – something his two recently released EPs, From Here The Mountain & Winter Is Coming, are testament to.

:: Sive ::

Sive is no stranger to Newbridge audiences; having been wooed on many occasions by their always impeccable live shows. The brainchild of Naas musician Sadhbh O’Sullivan, ably assisted by her band, they draw from a wide variety of alternative rock, jazz and folk influences. Sive’s gorgeous sound comes from a combination of these influences being fused with excellent musicianship and charm, and her voice, which is simply exquisite. 

:: Phil McDermott ::

Phil is a talented young songwriter from Newbridge who has only begun to cut his teeth so to speak. Relatively new to the game he maybe, but he’s already got a fine bundle of material in his arsenal. Hopefully in the new year he takes the next step and heads to the studio to record some of his music. 

BarryGruff & Co Present: Discord #1 :: Saturday, Nov 30th :: Flanagan’s, Newbridge

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BarryGruff & Co Present: ‘Discord’ #1 w/ DJ sets from BarryGruff & Cormac Brady :: Saturday, Nov 30th :: 9pm :: Flanagan’s Newbridge  :: Free In.

You might already be aware from all my incessant tweeting and the like, Myself and Cormac Brady are joining forces to run a DJ night called ‘Discord’.

The first one is taking place this Saturday (Nov 30th) from 9pm in Flanagan’s, Newbridge; with myself & Cormac spinning the tunes for the opening night. Anyone who’s witnessed one of señor Brady’s sets before knows how bloody excellent he is. Expect to hear loads of great hip hop, electro, indie, alternative, ska, dancehall & more. We’re both really excited to get this one off the ground and hopefully this is the first of many nights in Flanagan’s. Hopefully we’ll see you there.

Free Entry. RSVP here.