Saturday, February 26, 2011

Live Review: Spies, Squarehead, Croupier @ The Workman's, Dublin

Having sold out the same venue last October local newcomers Spies returned to the Workman's Club on Thursday night, with a stellar supporting cast of Croupier and Squarehead in tow. 

The 'recently Choice nominated' Cast of Cheers may currently hold the crown for producing tight tunes with a catchy underbelly but Wicklow-based Croupier arrive on stage and immediately lay down a challenge for the throne. With a decent gathering already filing into the Quays-side venue, the five-piece catapult into an intense set, shifting from swoons to screams with impressive ease. The more melodic sections are interspersed with ferocious bursts which see front-man Oisín Murphy erupt into a mouth-foaming frenzy and while, on record such intensity may be a touch overbearing, on stage it arrives as an impressive creation. The well-crafted musicianship on show throughout holds much in common with the polished yet anthemic work of Richter Collective instrumentalists 'Enemies'. With its funky clap-along interlude 'It's Not The T.V. It's The Remote' is a particular highlight and though perhaps lacking the same level of catchiness as many of their peers, Croupier are none-the-less a superbly tight unit, backed by an admirable level of passion throughout. 

Squarehead are up next and such was the extent of their ascendancy in 2010 that it's likely the three-piece could now sell out the venue in their own right. The dreamy, almost languid Americana vibes of the Rathmines ensemble have infected the ears of many in recent months, with tunes that hark back to lazy ways and summer days. Thankfully the same good vibes are on full show tonight in a set packed with beach melodies - so much so that it encourages some members of the audience to start dancing in surf-like motions - always a good sign. New single 'Midnight Enchilada' is even more impressive live - a trashy early 90's anthem which sticks firmly to the Squarehead motif of holding a killer chorus and of being instantly catchy. Closer 'Fake Blood' is the kind of song that all bands hope to have in their arsenal. It's the type of track which instantly shifts reviews up a grade, pushing people's views of the gig from "very good" to "excellent!" in a couple of short, sweet minutes. Rightly donned single of the year by Nialler9's readers, it's an infectious little slice of brilliance and the pinnacle of a set which whets the appetite for their debut album release later this year.

And so onto Spies. Last years debut EP was a magnificently intense and brooding affair, characterised by a polish and maturity which contradicted their tender years, but I was unsure of whether such accomplishment could be fully transferred to the live-setting. Opener 'Into The Woods' immediately dispels any such worry, as its surprisingly dancey-beat propels the now jam-packed environs of the Workman's with a slick and thunderous display. From the off there's a keen sense of anticipation and excitement among the young crowd and the opening reception seems to take front-man Michael Broderick by surprise. At the start he paces the stage in a manner comparable to Matt Berninger of The National - clutching his hands and readjusting the mic as he surveys the waiting crowd. But from there a Black Swan metamorphosis follows, as he feeds off their enthusiasm to deliver a powerful performance brimming with confidence and purpose. 

Each of the EP tracks are already essential elements of the live-show - 'Falter' with its gun-shot opening drumbeat and cathartic lyrics ("The wolves are out again / How they hunger for us all / Take the feeling, the life, my love and leave me with my broken bones") packs a hefty punch, while 'Fill The Silence' erupts with soaring tones of dismissal and discontent. 'Ghosts' is the equal of anything on the EP - driven and dripping with meaning, much of the crowd already seem familiar with it as they greet the first bars with appreciation. 

Despite concerns that he may forget the words Broderick produces a pitch perfect delivery on 'Weaker Body', a new track which bears the same level of intelligence as the entirety of their set - with each of the elements combining superbly to produce a thundering, euphoric wall of sound.

Word that Morrissey is in attendance is certainly apt as there's much to compare with the lyrical output of Spies as with the great word-smith himself. Teeming with romantic introspection - each track is as clever as it is dark, exploring the compexities of life with the intelligence of a band twice their age. 'Liars Call Me King' is a crowd favourite and rightly so as it is as essential a song as I've heard in recent years, the distinctive opening bass riff slowly giving way to an intense chapter of melancholic disdain. Quite how Spies know how to mould every vocal, riff and drumbeat into a few short soluble minutes, while at the same time, embellishing them with meaning and maturity - all at such a young age, is staggering. On a night when many similar-aged attendees got turned away for not having ID, the youth of this five-piece only serves to further highlight their accomplishment and potential. As essential live as they are on record, Spies are now one of the most exciting young bands to emerge in recent years - here's hoping for a full album release soon.

STL Verdict: 9/10

// Spies' eponymous debut EP is available as a free download from Bandcamp.

// Croupier's debut release - 'We, The System' is available as a free download from Bandcamp.

// Squarehead will release their debut album on Richter Collective later this year. New single 'Midnight Enchilada' will be released as a single on Friday 18th March in Ireland (20th Digital & 21st in UK). {Courtesy of Nialler9}



 Squarehead - Midnight Enchilada by Nialler9


Friday, February 25, 2011

"Why do you come here?" - The Day I Met Morrissey

What do you say to your idol? In your head you've probably played out the scenario numerous times. A chance meeting is promptly followed by several witty quips and a 'jolly-good hugs all round' sort of conversation. You've developed some intelligent way to distil your fanaticism to around 8.2 seconds worth, leaving said idol floored with your intelligence and succinctness, which surely sets you apart from all the other rambling fools they no doubt encounter. It sounds perfect doesn't it? Sadly, in reality you'll be lucky to mumble a few words of thanks before you stumble away flabbergasted, being left to rue your ill-timed discombobulation for 90% of the rest of your life. Ether that or your 'inner fan' will take over wherein you'll proceed to douse them in a relentless shower of compliments - all of which they've heard before - leaving you bemused and hurt as to why they're not bowled over by your inane, sycophantic ramblings.

Last night I met Morrissey and to be honest, I fell somewhere in between. It was in the Workman's Club on the Quay's in Dublin, a lovely little venue where local trio Croupier, Squarehead and Spies were playing. I grew up listening to the music of The Smiths and Morrissey. In a house with two older brothers I was never short of music recommendations and amid notable stints of Portishead, Suede, Blur et al I distinctly remember being sat down by one of my brothers and being told to listen to Morrissey. Brainwashing? Maybe. But I was always thankful and when I saw him live at the Ambassador in October 2002, I knew the words to virtually every song despite being 13 and despite not being able to see the stage. 

Hence, meeting the great man meant a great deal to me and it went pretty much as I had expected it to. Looking dapper in a pin-stripe suit and light pink open-collar shirt, he was polite and friendly taking the time to pose for photographs with many at the back of the venue while flanked by two friends, one male and one blond-haired female. He was far more robust and stocky looking than I had imagined - tall, with a healthy glow and an almost boxer-like physique. After the picture I proceeded to spew my words of devotion before nipping it in the bud with a simple 'anyway I'm sure you've heard it all before - thanks for the music'. He nodded and said thanks without really saying anything and that was it, the meeting was over.

According to reports he stuck around for all of Squarehead, praising them for their melodies when he later met them. They gave him an EP with a contact number and Moz later departed one song into Spies' set, which is a shame as there's much resemblance between the lyrical quality of the young Dublin five-piece and that of Moz himself. 

So there we have it. It could have been worse, it could have been better but overall, I'm just delighted to have met the man whose words I have spent much of my life singing. 

Who better to sum it up than the man himself with his ode to the importance of music and words - Rubber Ring.  

"Don't forget the songs that made you smile, and the songs that made you cry..."

New Music: Patrick Kelleher - Broken Ball

Brand new eight track album from the shining jewel of Ireland's underground scene - Patrick Kelleher. The Wicklow native uploaded 'Broken Ball' to Soundcloud earlier on today describing it as comprising of "4-Track recordings 2006-2011, with some minor overdubs and effects added digitally afterwards".

Patrick's debut 'You Look Cold' LP remains one of my favourite albums of recent years so I'm pretty excited about this even if it just odd bits and bobs rather than a full on studio release. If you've caught him at any of his solo performances (you probably have - he plays constantly) then you'll be familiar with the lighter, acoustic side of things which 'Broken Ball' delivers with aplomb. Lovely way to start the weekend.

  Broken Ball by Patrick Kelleher

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Video: Big Monster Love - Free Gaff Forever

Slightly late to the game with this one but a video this good deserves to be seen. I've yet to be bowled over by the track itself, though it does have a quaint sort of charm to it, but the video is a work of art. The level of effort needed for these stop-motion projects always blows me away.

The brilliantly titled 'Free Gaff Forever' is from Big Monster Love's 'Game Over' album which Ronan over at Swear I'm Not Paul certainly loved - check out his nostalgia-tinged review now.

The video was directed by Bowsie Workshop and you can stream/download 'Game Over' via Bandcamp.

New Video: Millionyoung - Replicants

New video for 'Replicants', the title track from Florida based Millionyoung's latest release. With chirpy cascading electronic beats and swooning vocals it's a stand out track from a thoroughly enjoyable album which has been making my ears very happy in recent weeks. 

The video is comprised of two short films, "Hoola Boola"(1941) and "South Sea Sweethearts"(1938) both by George Pal, who according to the blurb, is one of "the best stop-motion animators of all time" so there you have it. It's certainly apt as that little dude playing guitar on the beach is exactly how I imagine Millionyoung making his gloriously sunny tunes.

Millionyoung - "Replicants" from John Ryan Manning on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Forbidden Fruit Festival - Lineup announced

Wow, wow and extra wow - where in God's name did this come from? The line-up for Forbidden Fruit, a new festival from Bulmers and Pod, has been announced and it makes for amazing reading. 

Taking place over 2 days in the grounds of Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin, it sees the likes of Wild Beasts, Caribou, Solar Bears, The Flaming Lips and Battles take to the stage over the June bank holiday weekend. 

Full line-up below. Tickets on sale tomorrow priced  €45 and €90. Get on it!                 

// Official Site //


New Video: Kid Karate - Heart

Oddly hypnotic new video from Kid Karate for the thunderous title track from their 'Heart' EP. It features pictures of the pair performing live and their recent Polish tour, as well as abstract shots of war, a bear playing the drums, and everything in between. Top work.

It was directed by frontman Kevin Breen and you can download the excellent 'Heart' EP (STL review here) for free via Bandcamp now.


30 Days of Music (#4) - A Song That Makes You Sad (Simone White)

Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep
go the horns in the cars in the street
we walked away from the lover's leap
opposite directions
synchronised feet
wait wait wait wait wait wait wait
for the time it takes a heart to mend a break
how many moons are reflected in the lake
can you wait forever if time is all it take? 
despite all the warnings
I landed like, a fallen star, in your arms
beat beat beat beat beat beat beat
goes my heart on the side of my sleeve
whispering something I can hardly believe
"let me take the lead
cos love is all we need 

Continuing my voyage through the 30 Days of Music challenge we arrive at Simone White's little gem 'The Beep Beep Beep Song'. Apparently it was on an ad for a car (what song isn't these days?) but a friend first introduced me to it a few years back and every now and again it appears via the auld iPod shuffle, leaving me floored. Lyrically, it's actually quite romantic, digressing the tentative first leap of two fledgling lovers but somewhere between that irrepressibly simple riff and the lingering melancholic vocals, a tone of sadness attached itself to my grey matter, rendering these isolated two minutes to be forever drenched in sadness. This song could be saying anything, it could be selling car insurance for what it's worth but those vocals, the key changes, the now all adds up to a rainy day, when things fall apart; the broader picture escaping your grasp amid today's seemingly mountainous but realistically minute problems. Weep weep weep.

Check out: 

Day #1 - Favourite Song (David Kitt)
Day #2 - Least Favourite Song (Sham Rock)
Day #3 - A Song That Makes You Happy (MillionYoung)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Video: Bipolar Empire - Feel That You Own It

Great new video from rising Tallaght four-piece Bipolar Empire, which features World Boxing Champion Katie Taylor. 

'Feel That You Own It' previously reached number 20 in the Irish charts and this reworked version thankfully keeps the anthemic chorus and soaring vocals of the original version and propels them even further. The track is released as a single on April 1st and whets the appetite for their debut album which is set to follow soon after.  

Check out the video, which was directed by Kevin Godley, and catch the lads play a pre-album release show at the Odessa on March 24th - full details here.

Be sure to also check out the excellent 'Tempomanic', which you may recognise from the recent 2FM ads.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Video: Royseven - We Should Be Lovers

Official video for 'We Should Be Lovers' by Dublin sextet Royseven

The second single taken from their forthcoming second LP 'You Say, We Say', it's an instantly catchy slice of synth-fused-indie, with a killer chorus and some risqué lyrics thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Video: The Flaws - Make Good

Here's the official video for 'Make Good', the second single from the The Flaws second album - 'Constant Adventure'.

To coincide with the digital only release, the Monaghan natives play Crawdaddy this Friday, the 11th of February.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Video: Los Peyotes - Garage o Muerte

Here's something different for your Tuesday afternoon - a brilliantly trashy Tarantino styled video for a 'South American 60's garage punk band'. It's not everyday you get to say that.

The title track from the Argentinian rockers, Los Peyotes' recent LP 'Garaje o muerte', this is two minutes of madness, with one comment describing it perfectly as sounding  'like surfing with a machine gun in hand'.

Check out the video and download it for free courtesy of Dirty Water Record.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Introducing - John Blek and The Rats


John Blek and The Rats are a rambling indie-folk four-piece from Cork, who released their debut 'Country Gentleman' EP in the second half of last year. There's more than a hint of Bright Eyes off the main vocals and an endearing quaint charm to the arrangement on each of these three sprightly rolling rhythms.

Having just finished the Irish and UK leg of their tour, you can catch them in Germany and France if you are so inclined. Details here. Stream 'Country Gentleman' below or download via Bandcamp.

Be sure to check out their wonderfully creative video for 'Take Me Home' below also. [Directed, Shot, and Edited by Chris Daker]. 

[Facebook / Myspace / Bandcamp]

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gig News: Retarded Cop's Couch Tour of Ireland

Ever fancied having a band play in your very own home? Well, now you can as Retarded Cop AKA DJ Gaz Le Rock is planning a tour around Ireland where he'll play your gaff for free if you afford him some hospitality.

Retarded Cop has been lashing out some brilliantly mental punk-rock tunes every week for the past while, with some hilarious videos to boot, so have a look below and if you fancy having this performed in your own pad then get involved over on the event page

I am going to tour around Ireland playing shows in facebook fans houses for hospitality because choons is the only currency I have and I need a good laugh. So if you would like to take advantage of what I can guarantee will be a highly memorable event and a once in a lifetime opportunity to have me play a full SOLO set in your house get in touch..there only a limited number of engagements left to fill!

I will be DOCUMENTING my travels for a radio documentary so you'll be required to participate in an interview at some point in the visit.
I also will be uploading one song from the show each night to youtube...culminating in the whole finale show being streamed live to the world via the internuts.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

NIM Track of the Week Winner - The Revellions

Following this week's shortlist - 'Sigh's' by Dublin rock n' rollers The Revellions has been chosen as the latest NIM Track of the Week.

Here's what the good people over at New Irish Music had to say about it:

"Youngsters these days seem to be drawing their influences from Mumford and Sons et al, but they could do worse than look to this week's Track Of The Week. A 2011 version of The Doors, The Revellions are a breath of fresh air. This is music for people who care about music - ignore it at your peril."

The Revellions play Sweeneys, Dame St., Dublin tonight and The Pint, Eden Quay, Dublin on March 26th. The band have spent 2010 writing and recording their second album in Spain and Ireland, with a Spring 2011 release in the pipeline. 

Have a listen to the winning track below and check out the rest of this week's nominees here.

We Are Losers - January Mix

Not content with producing a fantastically fuzzy and frenetic debut EP, We Are Losers have compiled a magic little playlist of the tunes which pleased their ears in January and in short, it's bloody brilliant. Stream below and download for free here

The solo-project of Gavin Elsted of Super Extra Bonus Party, We Are Losers support Cast of Cheers at Whelans on Febraury 25th.



Friday, February 4, 2011

Gig News - Spies, Squarehead and Croupier play The Workman's Club

Very excited about this one - SpiesSquarehead and Croupier play The Workman's Club on Thursday 24th Febraury, tickets are only €5 with more information available here.

I've been looking forward to seeing Spies live ever since I heard their debut EP - a beautifully dark and intense collection that's chock-full of introspective eloquent romanticism. It's accomplished beyond their years and has barely left my ears in recent weeks.

Anything Squarehead put their hands to (from the Etherly Brothers to Adebisi Shank) turns to gold, with the three-piece are currently putting the finishing touches to their debut album, while Croupier's debut EP is an enjoyable journey between the melodic and the dark.

Both Spies' and Croupier's EPs are available as a free download through the bandcamp links below.


Squarehead - (-_-) (Adebisi Shank Cover) by Quarter Inch Collective

  Squarehead - Fake Blood by lizpelly

New Irish Music - Track of the Week Nominees

We Cut Corners
The latest batch of tracks as part of a new collaboration with New Irish Music. Below is the crème de la crème of this week, with 7 artists nominated for Track of the Week.

The four winners of Track of the Week will then go on to the Track of the Month, which was won by Funeral Suits in January.

The winner will be announced on STL over the weekend.

The Revellions - 'Sigh's' 

Swinging 60s-esque track from these Dublin rockers, backed with footage from their recent tour in France. The four-piece have been doing the round since 2006, and released their eponymous debut album in 2008.

We Cut Corners - 'Dumb Blonde' 

Stripped down acoustic piece with soaring vocals from the guitar/drums duo. The pair recently performed as part of the The Certain Three tour and, would you believe, are both teachers by day (fact of the day).

Retarded Cop - 'Van Man' 

The latest project from DJ Gaz Le Rock, Retarded Cop is churning out a track a week of incessantly catchy punk-rock tunes which are mental and brilliant in equal proportions. Can't get this out of my head.

KMCG - 'Parasite' 

Sombre lament taken from the Positively Negative EP which you can download for free from Bandcamp.


The Whipround - 'Shanty Town' 

There hasn't been much Ska emerging as of late but here's your fill from this Bray ensemble.

Find more artists like THE WHIPROUND at Myspace Music

Leeward Side - 'Vernon the Messiah' 

Slowly building track from this Belfast four-piece which harks back to yesteryear. Download their debut EP 'Fashion Something for free from Bandcamp. 


Furlo - 'Eyelash' 

An accomplished, driven tune from the Northern Irish five-piece. Taken from second EP 'Signature' which was released last year.


Hidden Irish Indie Hits #4 - The Marshals

Fourth in a new series to uncover great Irish indie tunes which slipped through the cracks.

"How come we love to hurt other so?
I'd like to think it that my word is gold,
But I might let you down and you know it"

Check out:
HIIH #1 - Conor Furlong

HIIH #2 - Kharma 45

HIIH #3 - OrphanCode 

Summer 2006 and I was an impressionable 17 year old. With the Leaving Cert in the bag, and college months away, I was stuck in the most beautiful of purgatorial states and Oxegen that summer was an incredible experience - for that first taste of freedom, of mounds of music served up on a plate, of copious amounts of alcohol with your best friends - shall never be bettered. Hence, the music I heard during that rather rainy weekend down in Punchestown will always strike a chord with me and 'Make Her Cry' by The Marshals was the very first song I ever heard at any music festival - cue the sentimentality. I'd like to think that I'd love that throbbing intro riff and the strained romantic lyrics regardless but who knows.

It seems not enough people shared my sentiments about the track anyhow as despite two appearances at Oxegen, and decent press coverage, they disbanded soon after.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NIM - Track of the Month (January) Winner - Funeral Suits

After this months nominees were whittled down to just four, the shimmery brilliance of 'Colour Fader' by Dublin three-piece Funeral Suits, has been chosen as January's New Irish Music Track of the Month.

With esteemed producer Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur) at the helm for their debut album, which is due for release later this year, big things await in 2011.

Here's what NIM had to say about it and I wholeheartedly agree. Splendid stuff:
Reviewing this is hard, because we've no idea why we love it. We do know we spent January yearning to "feel like a flower" and telling people "I'm a machine." Some may say we're getting ahead of ourselves by suggesting the forthcoming album as a Mercury Prize 2011 nominee, but with some help from our media, that could just be the tip of the iceberg for The Funeral Suits. Ace.
Find Funeral Suits at: 
// Myspace //
// Breaking Tunes //
// Facebook // 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Irish Music - Track of the Month January 2011

With New Irish Music having filtered through Ireland's emerging talent over the past four week's and choosing the worthy Tracks of the Week in the process, it's now time for the four winners from January to battle it off for the coveted title of NIM Track of the Month.

Check out the nominees below and keep an eye over at NIM for the winner.

The Vagabonds - '46a' 

A love-lorn tale strongly reminiscent of the spoken-word self deprecation of Whipping Boy. Taken from the EP 'Another Victory for Hysteria' and produced by Stephen Street of The Smiths and Blur fame.

Funeral Suits - 'Colour Fader'   

Dreamy brilliance, which shimmers and glows. Tranquil and uplifting in equal measures, it draws on the likes of MGMT, yet sounds wholly original throughout. Taken from their debut album which is due later this year.

Sushi Blu - 'It's Harder Not To Care About Someone Than It Is To Care About Them' 

The marmite entry. With hints of Paolo Nutini present, this 18-year-old is a raw singer-songwriter but there's enough talent lurking lurking in those raspy vocals and introspective lyrics to warrant a place on the board.

Ham Sandwich - 'Ants' 

Outstanding video for a charming song from last year's underrated White Fox LP. With backing vocals reminiscent of The National, this is a slow-building gem which morphs from a hazy lullaby into a full on anthem. 

New Music: Jape - Its Shadow Won't Make Noise

Ah, the wonder of the interweb. Out of nowhere comes a fresh creation from the mind of Richie Egan, which he only recorded earlier today.

A 5 minute slice of acoustic balladry, it's charged with typically philosophical lyrics and beautiful backing vocals - a lullaby for the disenchanted.

That new album can't come quick enough...

Why does your soul feel sad? //
Like it has forgotten what it was invented for. 
Who do you think that you were?
Like you could sell it like a business man.
Tear up the boundary and the rule,
There are places to be, There are days left for living,
You were so conscious of what you would do, That you did nothing //
  Its Shadow Won't Make Noise by Jape