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.

The Orange Kyte – ‘Just Like Leningrad’

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Vancouver’s The Orange Kyte is on the cusp of completing a mammoth quest, releasing a single-a-month throughout the year.

Centred around Vancouver-based, Dublin-raised Stevie Moonboots and a revolving cast of friends and collaborators, The Orange Kyte has shared ‘Just Like Leningrad'; the penultimate single in 2016’s single-a-month series. A sprawling five-minutes of spiralling, shape-shifting psych-rock, the droning organ takes centre stage alongside Moonboots’ irresistible vocals as a heady sonic brew of oscillating guitars, throbbing bassline, fevered percussive assault and blistering brass is unleashed to devastating effect. We’ve been treated to some fine music already but this is up there with the very best. The Orange Kyte, the songs and the project has been most enjoyable throughout 2016, but keeping up this level of output in 2017 is probably asking a bit much, eh? Hopefully there is still more to come from The Orange Kyte.

Well, there is one more single before the year is out but for now, why not gift your years the joys of ‘Just Like Leningrad’. And also, The Orange Kyte has announced some Irish shows for December, check them after the jump.

The Orange Kyte: Irish Dates

Dec 28th: The Grand Social, Dublin
Dec 29th: The Kino, Cork
Dec 30th: Sandino’s, Derry

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.

 

Incoming: A Quick Chat With Count Vaseline | Plays Broken Home This Saturday

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Count Vaseline is the new project from Stefan Murphy, formerly of Dublin rock ‘n roll miscreants The Mighty Stef, and The Count is bringing genre-warped garage sounds to Newbridge, for an intimate and special Broken Home show.

It was a dark day for Irish music back in May, when time was called on The Might Stef. Always a prolific tunesmith, it wasn’t long before Murphy introduced his new guise Count Vaseline. Falling somewhere between raw garage rock and crooning fuzz-pop – sonically a different being – the new project remains draped in his unique and intuitive storytelling ability. There’s already a debut LP, Yo No Soy Marinero – a genre-warped record that fizzes with energy, invention and brimming with weird and wondrous ideas, and full of heart – with album number two, Cascade to follow in December.

In support of his new endeavour, Count Vaseline has been playing shows across the US and Ireland, and this Saturday, December 3, he rolls into Newbridge town, for an intimate and special Broken Home show, with support from the Tallaght folk machine We Went Down.

Ahead of the weekend’s show I caught up with Count Vaseline, to chat about the new project, touring and all things music. Check the album below too!

You can find further details on The Broken Home Series here, more info on the show here and you can purchase your ticket from Eventbright.

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Our Krypton Son Shares New Single ‘Everything Reminds Me Of You’

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‘Everything Reminds Me Of You’ is the lead single from Our Krypton Son‘s forthcoming and long-awaited, second studio album.

Derry musician/songwriter Chris McConaghy aka Our Krypton Son is a master craftsman, and this is, you guessed it, masterfully crafted. ‘Everything Reminds Me Of You’ is a sweet, sentimental love song that gently waltzes along with swooning chord changes, sublime harmonies and sumptuous strings, to form four minutes of exquisite alt-pop. McConaghy’s vocals are impeccable as usual, soothing, warmth and inviting – along with the music – forge an endearing warm glow and punctured with some bouts of heart-strung melancholy. It conjures up similarities to slower, more emotionally weighted Blur numbers a la ‘Under The Westway’, ‘Best Days’ or the like. Always a magnificent songwriter, it is a timely reminder of what McConaghy and Co. are capable of, this is probably the most affecting work to date. It is good to have OKS back, no doubt about it.

There’s no firm date on the new album but ‘Everything Reminds Me Of You’ is out now and available from here.

You can check out the ace video – courtesy of LUMO – for ‘Everything Reminds Me Of You’ below.

Introducing: Sean OB

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Sean OB – aka Sean O’Brien – is a songwriter, multi-talented musician and producer.

His name be unfamiliar but his work will not, fronting the decidedly brilliant and criminally underrated Dublin punk-ska trio Trap Door, before joining Raglans in 2012. O’Brien has now returned with a brand new project under the moniker of Sean OB. Described as “Buddy Holly meets Jamie T” – and there is some truth in that statement – heralding this project is debut single, ‘Alive’. It marks an evolution of the punky-indie sound he carved out with Trap Door. Amid the rumbling and rattling guitars of this spiky piece of punk-tinged-indie, it is O’Brien’s gripping way of telling a tale that, like before, wins the day. ‘Alive’ is an excellent intro to a project with plenty of promise. There’s an EP in the works with producer Rob Kirwan (Hozier/The Horrors) in 2017, so keep an eye out for that in the new year.

For now though, you can listen to ‘Alive’ below, and if it is to your liking, Sean is playing Whelan’s Upstairs, this Saturday, November 19th | Doors @ 23:00 & more details here.

 

Whenyoung Share Scintillating New Single ‘Actor’

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One of this year’s HWCH standouts, London-based Irish trio, Whenyoung have shared a brand new single, ‘Actor’.

Penned for release on November 25, it follows-up their brash but brilliant debut single ‘See How They Run’. A stinging pillory of projecting artificial images of oneself through social media, ‘Actor’ is another infectious and fiery piece of punk-flavoured garage-rock. Guitars screech and wail amid a squall of distortion and fuzz which engulfs everything in its wake, but punctured by a powerful beat and sweet, yet punchy vocals. Bursting with vitality, melody ‘Actor’ is bristly, driven and of course, totally irresistible! Whenyoung’s second single adds a far greater weight to the their ever growing rep.

‘Actor’ is officially released on November 25 with a headline show, at London’s Shacklewell Arms on the 24th. Stream ‘Actor’ below right now.