Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2016

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Better late than never, Johnny Feeney would like to share his favourite records from 2016 with you all.

A reliably insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and add an extra flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading them – surely I’m not alone?

A massive thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his Mr. Feeney’s favourite records of 2016.

10. Laura Mvula – ‘The Dreaming Room’

The Birmingham soul singer’s second studio album comes densely packed with layers of Mvula’s unique vocals and a broad range of sounds and influences, including lead single ‘Overcome’ featuring Nile Rodgers. Despite not always hitting the mark, there are some powerful, intriguing tracks on here. Really needs to be played at a high volume to give everything a chance to be heard.

09. Car Seat Headrest – ‘Teens Of Denial’

Virginia’s Will Toledo has been releasing albums prolifically as Car Seat Headrest for a few years now but this is only his second full release on a major label. Seriously overlong at almost 70 minutes, the album has the capacity to absolutely blow you away with cracking rock songs such as ‘Fill In The Blanks’ or ‘Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales’. The more you listen to it, the better it gets.

08. Hinds – ‘Leave Me Alone’

The debut album from this Madrid all-girl four-piece is a joyous, upbeat lo-fi indie rock affair. There’s a neat trick performed here with the loose, ramshackle guitars and lazy, loose drums in stark contrast with the tightness of the hook-laden, impossibly infectious songs – and the sound of a band having a lot of fun and not taking themselves too seriously.

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Fold Return With New Single ‘Something Gives’

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Experimental Hip-Hop/Trip Hop outfit Fold have solid credentials when it comes to producing incredible music. Blending this enviable creativity with a social consciousness, they create something powerful and unique.

Fold have returned with their first new material since last year’s superb self-titled debut album. The new single is called ‘Something Gives’ and will be released on September 12 via Bandcamp. The Leeds based quartet felt compelled to respond, somehow, to the heavy sociopolitical escalations of late on both sides of the pond. This breezy, easy on the ears slice of fresh, jazzy hip-hop, is their way of bridging the distances & expressing universal solidarity as human beings. Essentially a vehicle for the eloquence of James Baldwin whose voice, along with that of Alice Walker, is the basis of the track; which is dedicated to the memory of James Baldwin and all that he articulated so beautifully. Fold don’t ever disappoint, and they ain’t about to start now. Absolutely stunning work from one of the most unique and exciting acts around.

‘Something Gives’ will be out on September 12 via Bandcamp. Until then, you can familiarise yourself with it below.

Farewell Vancouver: Vancouver Connection Playlist

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After a couple of extremely fun years, my time in Canada is drawing to a close. As well as taking away no end of fond memories from Canada’s west coast, there is also a long, long list of local musical discoveries.

So, with that in mind and the impending return to Ireland, I decided to create a playlist of some of my very favourite artists/musical discoveries from Vancouver (and the surrounding areas). If nothing else, it will offer a taste of what this part of the world has to offer musically. Included among the 66 strong list are regulars on the blog and podcast, the likes of Kinship, Mesa Luna, Avid Walker, Bousada, The Orange Kyte, Supermoon, Soft Serve, Danny Diggs, Faith Healer, Project Pablo and more. Hopefully you enjoy the tunes as much as I do and it keeps you ticking over till the returns to normal service, once everything is settled after the move.

On that note, I shall leave you with the finest music BC has to offer.

Millions Like Us Podcast – Episode 11

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We’re thrilled to share yet another Millions Like Us podcast with you all. It’s great to back with the latest in a series of music podcasts hosted by Justin & I, in conjunction with Vancouver news & culture site 604now.

On a bi-weekly basis we aim to please, providing  some lively and entertaining chat and eclectic selection of fabulous music from metro Vancouver and elsewhere. There’s plenty in there, well over an hour in fact, of great tunes and plenty of chat.

You can read more on it over here and of course, listen below (and the tracklist (with links) is after the jump too). You can subscribe to ‘Millions Like Us’ on iTunes & Podcast Republic or find us on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can email us at millionslikeuspodcast[at]gmail[dot]com.

2016 has been good to us so far, so thanks for all the support thus far and once again, thanks for listening! And last but not least, thanks to Caroline for the image.

Episode #11 Tracklist:

The School – ‘Do I Love You’

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Cardiff’s resplendent pop purveyors, The School have a new album coming, entitled Wasting Away and Wondering, it’s out September 4th on Elefant Records.

Ahead of their new album, The School have shared with us, new single ‘Do I Love You?’. It’s superlative Northern Soul inspired indie pop flavours. A timeless pop earworm, it’s bright, breezy and irresistibly catchy, blending a joyous and colourful explosion of soulful chimes with Liz Hunt’s light-as-air angelic tones. A rich and gorgeous sound, the Welsh indie-pop makers remind us exactly what it is they do so very, very well – and why we should be getting excited for the new record. Marvellous as usual.

The new LP, Wasting Away and Wondering is out September 4th Elefant Records. ‘Do I Love You?’ however, is out now and you can sample it’s delights below, or pop over here for a free download.

BarryGruff’s Playlist February 2015

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A new monthly feature to the blog, a nice, neat and handy playlist of tracks featured during the month.

It was a pretty good month to be fair. There was the return of Joanna Gruesome, Novella, Coves and Akala, with new tracks ahead of their respective albums, and new singles from Du Blonde, Foreign/National, Freedom Fry & Rozi Plain. Not to forget the huge news of a new album from Blur and last but not least, the return of Super Furry Animals. Also featuring on the playlist are: Public Service Broadcasting, TRWBADOR, The Courtneys, SALES, The Earth & Benihana.

Listen to BarryGruff’s February 2015 playlist below. The full track listing is after the jump.

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Yasiin Gaye – ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man (Soul Mates Remix)’

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Yasiin Gaye is the latest project of Amerigo Gazaway, formerly operating under the Gummy Soul guise and the brains behind the Fela Soul mixtape/mashup albums, and one of an elite few who’s done mash ups justice.

Gazaway’s latest project unites rapper Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and soul legend Marvin Gaye for a dream collaboration. Carefully weaving Bey’s dense raps and Gaye’s soulful vocals over his new arrangements, he’s aiming for a quality far closer to Gaye’s famous duets than that of a mere ‘mashup’ album. ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man’ is a hugely impressive prelude; taking one part Yasiin Bey in the form of ‘Travellin’ Man’ and one part Marvin Gaye in the form of ‘Innercity Blues’, put them together and you’ve got ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man’. This is apparently the first installment of a whole new series called ‘Soul Mates’ and suggests great things for Yasiin Gaye and the broader series on a whole.

Yasiin Gaye is released on February 25th. You can stream or download ‘Inner City Travellin’ Man’ below: 

Citizen Partridge – ‘Soul Power – Volume 1: Dancing in the Street’

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After putting together a couple of mixtapes of Jamaican Sounds I decided to ask Citizen Partridge to put together a Soul one along the same lines. Not only is Citizen Partridge’s knowledge of soul far superior than mine, he’s my older cousin(t), for whom I owe a severe debt of gratitude for my own love of music, when I was younger especially he was an endless supply of great music. I’m absolutely delighted he accepted and a massive thanks to Citizen Partridge for putting this together. Take it away Citizen. 

I’m thrilled that BarryGruff, definitely my favourite cousin(t), has asked me to make a mixtape for his excellent blog, and so I present ‘Soul Power – Volume 1: Dancing in the Street‘.

Soul music has been part of my life for nearly twenty years now, and while this collection isn’t necessarily my ‘Top 21 Soul Songs In The World… Ever’, each one is a stone cold classic. I came to soul mainly via hip hop samples and mod, and you’ll probably hear the evidence of the former in some of the selection when you say ‘oh, that’s from the Wu Tang’ or whatever.

Anyway, here’s the mix, I hope you’ll enjoy it. And if you don’t, then clearly you ain’t got no soul.

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BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2012

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So, yeah, this is pretty self-explanatory. It’s end of year list time and every website, blog and magazine are busy compiling them. So not to be left out, here are my favourite 25 albums from 2012. Feel free to leave your few cents worth in the comments section, if you  feel the need that is.

25. Dark Horses – ‘Black Music’

24. The Egg – Something To Do’

23. Attaque – ‘When Light Falls’

22. Stealing Sheep – ‘Into The Diamond Sun’

21. Gaz Coombes Presents – ‘Here Come The Bombs’

20. Session Victim – ‘The Haunted House of House’

19. Ghost Estates – ‘Ghost Estates’

18. Cian Ciaran – ‘Outside In’

17. Graham Coxon – ‘A+E’

16. The Futureheads – ‘Rant’

15. Mystery Jets – ‘Radlands’

Radlands saw Mystery Jets rediscover their sparkle following the mediocre Serotonin. Decamping to Texas to record the album, it sees them embrace a whole series of sweet Americana sounds. They haven’t lost sight of what made them such a great band in the first place; a blitz of wonderful indie, quirky eccentricity and a supreme ability to produce perfect pop songs. A thoroughly enjoyable and likeable record.

14. Eugene McGuinness – ‘Invitation To The Voyage’

Eugene McGuinness‘ second album Invitation To The Voyage was one of the more enjoyable of 2012. Nothing startling or groundbreaking but an enjoyable blend of quirky, left-of-centre indie with a glossy pop sheen. With bursts of brass, surf/’60s pop guitar, clever lyrical wordplay and a confident swagger; McGuinness found a perfect balance between catchy pop and exhilarating indie.

13. Cloud Nothings – ‘Attack On Memory’

Attack On Memory is a heavyweight and rather muscular record. A short, sharp shock to the system, a proverbial kick in the bollocks if you like, taking in post-rock, indie, post-punk and pure unadulterated noise. Interspersed with bursts of scuzzy powerful indie we are exposed to a barreling barrage of loud, pounding drums, raw guitars and a Dylan Baldi sounding like a young Jake Burns. It is in no way subtle, a terrific album nonetheless.

12. Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band – Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band

Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band certainly borrow from the past to create a timeless soulful country sound, and have found their niche. The tone is soulful country, set to overarching themes of demise and redemption, draped in Conway’s intuitive storytelling which paints vivid pictures with his words. Mostly you feel they are working together, from the swinging uptempo tracks to the less blustery, slower numbers. They have a rapport with one another; brass, percussion strings and Conway’s deep bellowed croon, all work in perfect tandem. Sonny Boy requires a degree of patience, but it is worth it. A beautiful, timeless and assured album.

11. Tennis – ‘Young and Old’

Young & Old is Denver-based husband-and-wife duo, Tennis’, second LP. The album is swathed in soothing ’60s sounds, syrupy melodies and smart, soulful pop songs with captivating, richly melodic purr of singer Alaina Moore’s stunning voice at the fore. There is a very real retro vibe, yet not at one time does it feel old, stale or tired. It is bright, breezy, charming and uncomplicated, most importantly, it is damn fine record.

10. By The Sea – ‘By The Sea’

The banks of the Mersey has given rise to many great bands over the years, the latest to emerge from the production line are  By The Sea. Their self-titled debut album, produced by Bill Ryder Jones, hints at this Scouse heritage but this six-piece are very much their own band, with their own sound. The song titles like ‘Dream Waters’, ‘A Sail Floats and ‘Waltz Away’ set the tone, the album offers an elegant blend of dreamy, psychedelic and pastoral jams, this is music to get lost in. Liam Power’s voice, which has an uncanny resemblance to Shack’s Mick Head proves soothing and stirring as they waft across a hazy canvas of breezy, washed-out sounds.

09.The Heavy – ‘The Glorious Dead’

Wandering a retro path in the modern world can be tricky, there is little room for error. ‘Soul Rock’ is a minefield in itself. The Heavy have proven with two previous albums, while they do wear their influences on their sleeves, they make damn fine records. The Glorious Dead continues this trend. Meshing a clutch of hip hop breakbeats, slices of ’60s R&B, horns, riffs, zombie movie snippets, and soulful vocals into quality soulful, funk rock, of the highest order. What makes it so good? The wonderful execution, and it is oh so much fun, sometimes that really is quite enough.

08. Melody’s Echo Chamber – ‘Melody’s Echo Chamber’

Melody’s Echo Chamber is Parisian mullti-instrumentalist Melody Prochet. Teaming up with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker on production, her self-titled debut pushes her flair for dreamy pop into more experimental, spaced-out zones of hazy psych-pop. The album has Parker’s stamp all over it. Prochet’s light, inviting vocals are cast into a shifting series of settings, with beguiling results. At times everything is covered with a heavy blanket of reverb and fuzz, while others are a gentle whirlpool of shimmering psychedelic dream-pop. It is the combination of Parker’s inspired production and Prochet’s evocative voice which strike a perfect balance between pop and the psychedelic. A rather inspired and stunning debut.

07. Conor Mason – ‘Standstill’

Standstill continues where 2009’s When It’s Over left off, flowing gently by, amid a sea of soft lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation. It is permeated by an air of richness, comforting tranquillity and shrouded in melancholy. Standstill is a slow burner and requires patience, understanding and repeated listens to be fully appreciated. Standstill is a beautiful, simplistic and assured album and sometimes that is quite enough.

06. Richard Hawley – ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’

The seventh studio album from Richard Hawley saw an interesting change of direction toward hazy psychedelia, something Hawley proves masterful at it. With only one track clocking in under five minutes, the songs are suffused with snarling, meandering guitars solos and Hawley’s distinctive vocals. The title track is a masterpiece telling tales of a man who kills his wife and kids, a hard-up prostitute who ends up in jail and a young man involved in inner city violence respectively. It’s the rockier material here that really stands out, like the excellent ‘Before’ and ‘Down in the Woods’. The latter is a real rocker with a venomous Hawley sounding not unlike Mark Lanegan. There are moments of real beauty here too, one wonders where Hawley will go next but it will certainly be interesting to find out. (Words edited from Johnny Feeney | Because I’m lazy)

05. Miaoux Miaoux – ‘Light of the North’

Light of the North is the debut record proper from 26-year-old Glasgow based producer, Miaoux Miaoux. Fluid and uplifting, these sounds evoke moods a million miles from dreary rain soaked city of its birth as he hops from genre to genre. It is a stunning record which delicately pieces together beats, electronics, synths and acoustic guitars, with his pristine vocals gliding through a heavenly mist of lush harmonies, melodies, beats and electronics. One for fans of Caribou, Hot Chip and Jape. An irresistible debut record, a bright future lies ahead.

04. The 2 Bears – ‘Be Strong’

The 2 Bears debut LP, Be Strong is a scatter shot across the entire scope of electronic music which feels like foraging through a fine record collection. It is a cheery, cheeky and joyous amalgam of sounds and a massive injection of positivity amidst a time of dreariness and uncertainty. It is a worthy ode to the past two decades of dance music, a fine soundtrack to any weekend and most importantly, a bloody excellent dance record.

03. Sam Willis – ‘Winterval’

Winterval is the debut solo album from Sam Willis, one half of London-based Walls. Taking a host of house, techno, minimal and Balearic influences, Willis assimilates these familiar traits into otherworldly electronic music that gracefully hovers in an ambiguous hinterland, between subtly euphoric and vaguely ambient. Chiming notes resonate through every track and the beats are delivered with pin point accuracy. Willis has mixed the warm sounds with a crisp frosty elegance, creating a hypnotic, comforting sound collage. It is no way an exaggeration to say Winterval is one of the most aesthetically complete electronic albums for quite some time.

02. Tame Impala – ‘Lonerism’

Where to begin with this one? Lonerism is a simply brilliant album. Their 2010 debut Innerspeaker set the standard for warped retro, yet futurist psychedelia. The follow-up is leaner, more confident as it sprawls into further exploratory psychedelic territories. It kind of goes everywhere while remaining fluid and cohesive throughout. From the rocking stomp of ‘Elephant’, to dazzling epics of ‘Apocalypse Dreams’ or Lennon/McCartney-esque ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’, Lonerism remains cohesive. It is an album which increasingly fascinates with every listen. Give it the time it deserves, it’s guaranteed not to disappoint. Truly stunning!

01. Django Django – ‘Django Django’

While Django Django’s debut album contains undeniable similarities with The Beta Band, they have far from copied or imitated. Part of the appeal is an ability to seamlessly blend genres and sounds from a melting pot of influences into a striking blend of understated indie, with an electro groove at its heart. Anchored by alluring harmonies and an undeniable groove which permeates the very core of this record, this is indie music to dance to. An inspired and wholly irresistible debut, and my album of 2012. Thank you!

Album of the Week: Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band – Sonny Boy

Sometimes we can all be a little guilty of preoccupying ourselves with seeking the next big innovation in music. Yet, by and large, most things in music tend to be borrowed from the past, and baring that in mind, we are left with music that’s either good or bad – surely that’s all that really matters at the end of day.

Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band certainly borrow from the past to create a timeless soulful country sound. Having teamed up with The River Valley Band after releasing Run on Diesel with The Bottlestoppers in 2011, Conway & Co. have found their niche. The tone is soulful country, set to overarching themes of demise and redemption, draped in Conway’s intuitive storytelling which paints vivid pictures with his words.

Mostly you feel that Conway and band are really working together, from the swinging, uptempo ‘Where’s the Love in My Heart’ and ‘It’ll All Come Back On Me, Someday’ to the less blustery, slower numbers ‘Song from the Engine of the Model T’ and ‘Lord I Got it Bad’ or ‘Freckles’. They have a rapport with one another; brass, percussion strings and Conway’s deep bellowed croon, all work in perfect tandem.

Sonny Boy requires a degree of patience, understanding and repeated listens to be fully appreciated. It is a beautiful, timeless and assured album. You can tell from the get go that the musicians know exactly what they’re doing. There might not be anything else like this around at the moment which only adds further measure to what they have achieved here.

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