Cat Dowling – ‘Believer’


Cat Dowling’s latest single ‘The Believer’ is the title track from her debut solo album; a supremely confident effort full of twists and turns

‘The Believer’ was one of the standout from the aforementioned LP, which like it, has a certain PJ Harvey quality, as dreamy imagery shimmers through a murky shrouded darkness. It opens with a rollin’, ramblin’ western swagger, through a perfect blend of marching piano and guitar before unfurling quickly, adding more instruments as the melody builds further and further. It is the perfect backdrop for Downling’s greatest asset to shine; her voice. Her vocals are sublime. The sultry yet raspy tones carry tunes forward vigorously and with such an ease. A truly magnificent song which has eked out a perfect balance between emotional weight and feeling, and a rumbustious tune. No easy achievement. 

‘Believer’ is out now – as is the album of the same name and you can purchase both here.

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The Pictish Trail – ‘I’ve Been Set Upon’

The Pictish Trail 2014

Last week The Pictish Trail aka Johnny Lynch, brought us news that he has signed with Moshi Moshi Records, who will give a full release to his two albums to date, Secret Soundz Vol. 1 & 2, on June 9th.

To celebrate the news, The Pictish Trail is giving away Vol. 2‘s tender piano number ‘I’ve Been Set Upon’ for free. Secret Soundz Vol. 2 was a particular favourite from last year. A magnificent record, concerned with with life’s ups and downs, with Lynch in quite a contemplative, often melancholic mood. In contrast, musically it’s a rather chipper melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. All the news is not simply confined to releasing his past work however. Along with the full release of his two previous albums to date, Lynch confirmed that a brand new album will follow on Moshi Moshi in 2015. Great news indeed.

Secret Soundz Vol.1 & 2 will get their full Moshi Moshi release on double vinyl, double CD and download, on June 9th. You can listen to ‘I’ve Been Set Upon’ & ‘Michael Prochet’ below. Two excellent reminders of how great a record Secret Soundz Vol. 2 is.

Only Real – ‘Cadillac Girl’


Two years after appearing online in demo form, ‘Cadillac Girl’, the track that introduced us to the hazy sounds of Only Real has received a polished re-release.

Polished it may be but the West Londoner, who’s now signed to Virgin EMI, maintains the lo-fi, hazy slacker pop vibe of the original. ‘Cadillac Girl’ is one of those tunes that gets inside your head and refuses to leave – sun-flecked and summery – it meanders along a lazy but catchy riff, steady drumbeat, and his signature, carefree and hazy vocal drawl. Two years on from sharing DIY bedroom productions with the world, he’s signed with Virgin EMI and is said to be currently working on an album for release this year. He’s headed for the big leagues it seems. If this is perhaps the first time you’ve crossed paths with Only Real, a date with his debut EP Days in the City is a must. A prefect intro to his charming sun-soaked sounds.

Only Real’s first release of 2014 ‘Cadillac Girl’ will be out on 12 May. Give it a listen below.

Introducing: Flann McMorrow


Flann McMorrow is a Dublin based electronic producer with a furtive side. Little or nothing is known about him, beyond his music, which was the first released on Dublin based art collective, Wonderfulgood which launched earlier this year.

McMorrow’s surreptitious jams from a clandestine Dublin location are outstandingly slick, snappy and melodic electronic jams. These slick productions are saturated with warm melodies, in turn painstakingly pieced together with snappy, frenetic beats. His latest and second EP, Mass is a pertinent example of his talents. Over three tracks – ‘Sighed a Sigh ft. Tara Masterson Hally (Airport Mix)’, ‘Your (Or Something)’ & ‘Mass’ – we a treated to a feast of wonderfully melodic, bright and inspired productions. Productions too that deserve to be noticed, far beyond what they’ve achieved to date. Hopefully 2014 is a good one for Flann McMorrow and it looks set to be rather busy as he plans to release of a third EP and soundtracks for two Irish films, and that’s not to mention a number of live shows.

For now though, there are some choice cut from his latest EP Mass, below, and it is available as a ‘name your price’ download from bandcamp. It comes wholeheartedly recommended.

Edit: Flann McMorrow is on the bill alongside Dorota Konczewska this Friday, March 28th in 12 Rutland Place, Dublin 1. Details here.

Dark Horses – ‘Live On Hunger’


Dark Horses have announced their return with the release of a brand new single ‘Live On Hunger’, as well as news of their second album Hail Lucid State, coming this May on Last Gang Records.

It’s 18 months since the release of their brooding, haunting and shadowy debut LP, Black Music, and on this evidence at least, the intervening time has done little to abate their predilection for shadowy darkness. Dark Horses have once again teamed up with Richard Fearless (of Death In Vegas fame) for production duties and Fearless’ stamp clearly discernible from the opening drone and thud of ‘Live On Hunger’. It’s an impassioned no-holds-barred anthem, packed with both precision and attitude, and embellished with swirling serrated guitars, waves of pulsating electronic and touches of psychedelia. The latter has been ever present but their sound has always been, and remains to stark to easily slide into that genre. A stunning return from Dark Horses.

You can check ‘Live on Hunger’ for yourself below before it’s released on April 9th, followed by LP, Hail Lucid State this May on Last Gang Records.

Shit Robot – ‘Do That Dance’ (ft. Nancy Whang)


Shit Robot and Nancy Whang’s previous pairing proved rather fruitful so it’s no surprise then that they’ve teamed up again on new single, ‘Do That Dance’.

‘Do That Dance’ is taken from Shit Robot’s second album We Got A Love, the follow up to the Dubliner’s 2010 stellar debut, From The Cradle To The Rave. On this occasion the re-united partnership of Shit Robot and Nancy Whang deliver a spectacular example of super cool, swaggering and funky disco-dance. This essence of complete and utter coolness is in no small way down to Whang as she effortlessly sing/speaks her way through the track. The lo-fi video features lots of Whang dancing to a backdrop of grainy clips from great moments in football, including Maradona’s wonder goal versus England in ’86 and Ireland’s World Cup heroics against Romania in ’90 & Italy in ’94.

Shit Robot’s new album We Got Love was released this week on DFA and the launch party is happening this Saturday, March 22nd in The Button Factory, Dublin.

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92.5 Phoenix FM 48 Hour Radiothon

92.5 Phoenix FM are doing a ’48 Hour Radiothon’ next week to raise funds for the station and to support the continued work it does in the Dublin 15 community. It will kick off on Wednesday, 26 March at midday and finish off 48 hours later at midday on Friday, 28 March.

Not quite sure how we swung this one but myself and sandwich maker to the stars, The Boozey Swine will be doing our bit to raise a few bob too. We shall be taking over the airwaves between 6 & 8 pm on Thursday, March 27th to play some choice tunes and whatnot. If you’ve nothing better to do on a Thursday evening tune in. You can listen live via their website if you live outside D15.

If you would like to make a donation, you can get me at barrygruff[at] or in person at this weekend’s 4th Birthday Bash in Flanagan’s. To give you an idea of what we’ve got planned, here are three tunes that will most likely be getting an airing….

The Mexican Walking Fish – ‘Plain Old You’

the mexican walking fish 2014

The Mexican Walking Fish (formerly Kyle Lee and the Mexican Walking Fish) and their utterly lovable alt-country ballads came in for a ringing endorsement when they first appeared on the site last year.

Not much has changed in that regard, except for a new leaner name but the Bangor outfit’s latest track, ‘Plain Old You’, suggests the music remains similarly great (albeit in demo form). ‘Plain Old You’ is a gently strummed folk-country ditty whose combination of subtle instrumentation and soft hushed vocals creates an air of soothing calm. The rustic production too, adds a degree of intimacy, warmth and a comforting air. Demo or not, it sounds mighty fine. Beautiful, simplistic and assured – let’s hope there’s plenty more from The Mexican Walking Fish throughout 2014 and beyond.

For now at least there is ‘Plain Old You’, below for your listening pleasure and if it’s to your liking, there’s more here.

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

barrygruff 4th birthday bash

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.

Gulp – ‘Vast Space’


Super Furry Animals‘ side projects seem to be the done thing at the minute. While Gruff Rhys might claim most of the attention and accolades, he is something of a musical gift that keeps on giving to be fair, the rest of the band are busy with their own respective works. Cian Ciaran has had two solo records in as many years and bassist Guto Pryce’s own side project, Gulp, have an album coming out in June.

Formed with singer Lindsey Leven, Gulp have already proven their caliber through earlier singles ‘Game of Love’ and ‘Play’. While both were exquisite cuts of breezy psych-folk, their latest single ‘Vast Space’ has much more cinematic, ethereal charm, not to mention oomph! Lindsey’s cool, hushed vocals lightly coat the gritty, blues-infused psychedelia, and act as the perfect companion for those effervescent organ chimes. Driven by a rumbling, rambling bassline and a hypnotic rhythm; it’s got a solid sonic groove that brings to mind some of the slower Django Django moments (who they were on tour with last year). Not bad company to be in at all.

Gulp‘s debut album, Season Sun will be released through Everloving Records on June 24th but for now, you can get acquainted with ‘Vast Space’.