Music, Opinions

New Irish artists for your Spotify playlist

Taking a departure from my “This Week In New Music” blog post this week. One, because I haven’t really been enjoying any new releases this week (ouch..) and two, because I’ve got some new Irish artists popping up on my monthly playlists recently and I thought it would be nice to share their names.

First up is Tim Chadwick. I only discovered Tim last week and since then I’ve had his Early Days EP playing on a loop. Never Wanted You is a smashing tune with a great music video to go along with it while Belong was the beautiful tune behind that heartbreaking/heartwarming Aer Lingus ad last Christmas. I can’t wait to hear more from this lad!

 

Next up is Catherine McGrath. This Northern Irish girl has got me seriously nostalgic for early Taylor Swift. It’s that easy-going, sweet pop-country that made everyone fall in love with curly-haired sixteen year old Swift, and while there’s plenty of it out there, it’s a bit more unusual to find it on this side of the pond. Cinderella is my personal favourite from the two EP’s.

 

Proving that the town really is a gem for music, Sion Hill is another Mullingar man to keep an eye on. He’s been signed by a German label and is releasing his debut album at the end of this month – I am expecting it to make an appearance on “This Week In New Music” that week! He’s also got great style and is very easy on the eyes, what’s not to love?

 

Finally, Ailbhe Reddy. I’ve been singing “I am just fucking paralyzed” (Fingertips) all day. Distrust is a dark indie track while Relent is poignant and powerful. I’ve no doubt the Dublin singer-songwriter has much, much more to show us.

 

Let me know if you liked this post and would like to see more recommendations of home-grown talent in the future!

Check out my Spotify playlist for August here

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Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: Passenger, Nick Mulvey & Ciaran Lavery

The Boy Who Cried Wolf – Passenger (Album)

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The surprise release of a new album from Passenger came after the singer-songwriter published a long post on Facebook on Tuesday evening. In the post, he reveals that his show in Dublin the previous Sunday was his last gig for “a while.” It’s an emotional post in which he reminisces on how far he’s come and thanks his fans for their support, before announcing he has a surprise for them on Friday. This surprise was an album made up of some new tracks as well as some fan favourites from his youtube videos. The opening track is aptly named ‘simple song,’ and it’s a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Yes these songs are simple, some might argue boringly so, but if you’ve a soft spot for Mike Rosenberg’s vocals & his simple but clever lyrics, there’s plenty to love on this album. Plus, not knowing when we’ll get the next installment of music from the Brit makes it all the sweeter.

 

Mountain To Move – Nick Mulvey (Single)

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God, I love Nick Mulvey. His debut album is one of the most beautiful and relaxing albums I own, I never tire of it. My love of “First Mind” means I’ve really high expectations for his forthcoming release in September and if this track is anything to go by it won’t disappoint. It’s classic Mulvey – a gentle acoustic number that builds in to something uplifting that will warm you to your core. If anyone wants to come experience this live I am looking for a gig buddy for the 28th of September xo

 

Everything Is Made To Last – Ciaran Lavery (Single)

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I’ll be honest, this is the first I’ve heard of Ciaran Lavery. My bad. The Northern Irish man has released ‘Everything Is Made To Last’ ahead of his third album and it’s a gorgeous track with a chorus that builds and builds in to something beautiful. It’s full of life and vitality and I can’t wait to see what his next album will bring. #SupportIrish

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Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: Declan McKenna, Foster The People & Nothing But Thieves

What Do You Think About The Car? – Declan McKenna (Album)

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Two weeks ago Declan McKenna featured on my “This Week In New Music” feature with his single Humongous, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting his debut album ever since. Luckily, I only had two weeks to wait, and it didn’t disappoint! McKenna has everything you could look for in a new artist, he’s a young artist at the start of his career with interesting lyrics and brilliant hooks. Politically charged songs like Brazil, Isombard & The Kids Don’t Want To Come Home are examples of how McKenna is much more than his catchy choruses and eye make-up, there’s grit beneath the glitter. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets to Electric Picnic make sure he’s on your timetable for the weekend.

Sacred Heart Club – Foster The People (Album)

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Aside from ‘Pumped Up Kicks,’ a lot of people won’t be familiar with the music of Foster The People. This is a real shame because Pumped Up Kicks is a watered down version of the trio. On the debut album in which the massive single featured, it was accompanied by infectious tracks like Don’t Stop (Colour On The Walls) & Houdini. On their sophomore album Supermodel the energy was kicked up another notch with Are You What You Want To Be, Coming Of Age & Best Friend. With their third release Sacred Heart Clubs, the energy is still there but it’s definitely more muted.  They’ve swapped screaming summer indie-pop bangers for a more cool & collected, groovy vibe… I guess. There’s plenty of songs I love on SHC (Sit Next To Me, SHC, I Love My Friends, Lotus Eater) but it’s sad to see the band leave behind their roots because they were so good at what they were doing, while being just distinct enough from their peers to be special. Unfortunately, there’s nothing particularly special about this record, hopefully they return to what they do best on their next.

Sorry – Nothing But Thieves (Single)

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After two years, the British band Nothing But Thieves have returned with “Sorry,” the first single from sophomore album Broken Machine. The bridge has a distinctive The Killers sound (the synth instrumental is a bit too much Smile Like You Mean It if we’re honest here) and is followed by the repetition of “I’ve waited for this, I am ready for it” which pretty much sums up how I am feeling about their forthcoming album.

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Music, Opinions

This Week In New Music: Oh Wonder, Coldplay & Vance Joy

Ultralife – Oh Wonder (Album)

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The eagerly awaited second album from London pop-duo & couple Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West was released last Friday. To be honest with you, I haven’t been listening to it much – nothing’s gripped me. But I was the exact same with their last album, it just grew on me over time. Ultralife is very much the same as their debut, maybe a little bit more upbeat, so long-time fans of the duo will no doubt find plenty to love here.

Kaleidoscope – Coldplay (EP)

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For those of you who find yourself saying “I preferred Coldplay’s older stuff” this EP might be just what you were looking for. All I Can Think About Is You, Aliens & Hypnotized have serious Parachutes/X&Y era vibes. Miracles (Something Special) is catchy & the live version of Something Just Like This has massive feel good factor, especially if you were lucky enough to catch them on tour. The EP is a perfect example of a band returning to their roots while embracing the new.

Lay It On Me – Vance Joy (Single)

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After three long years, Vance Joy of “Riptide” fame is back! The leading single off Joy’s forthcoming second album has got a gorgeous rousing chorus that has the Australian begging someone to “lay it all on me now.” Perfect for radio play and festival crowds, I can’t wait to see what else Vance Joy has up his sleeve with his new album expected to be released later this year.

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Music, Opinions

This Week in New Music: Lucy Rose, Jade Bird & Declan McKenna

Something’s Changing – Lucy Rose (Album)

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I’ve done a full review of this album which you can read here. It’s a simply beautiful record which reflects her growth as both a person and a musician in the last few years, much of which she credits to her independently organised tour in Latin America last year. Left with no manager, no booking agent and no label, Lucy Rose took the reins for Something’s Changing and created her best work to date.

Something American – Jade Bird (EP)

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This is the one of the best finds I’ve come across this week. Jade Bird is a young lady with a powerful voice and a brilliant collection of songs to go with it on her first ep “Something American.” ‘Cathedral’ is a smasher. I can’t wait to see where this girl is going.

Humongous – Declan McKenna (Single)

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Another new find for me this week was Declan McKenna, and wow am I glad I did.  This track has a marvelous hook and the kind of chorus you could yell out at a gig or a festival. After one listen to Humongous I hastily listened to the rest of the tracks on his Spotify, which are all fantastic too. Once I got passed how great his voice & the sound was, I started listening to the lyrics.. the content of the lyrics are something particularly unusual from a 18-year-old singer-songwriter. He’s written about the likes of FIFA scandals, the issue with religion and youth involvement in politics. I haven’t been this excited about an artist in a long time, I’ll be counting down the days till his debut album “What Do You Think About the Car?” is released on July 21st!

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Music, Opinions

A kaleidoscope of colours, a head full of dreams

If you’re reading this you probably already know that I am a massive music fan. I look forward to Friday’s for the new releases, all my money is spent on gig tickets and I put aside hours every month to write album reviews despite the fact only one or two people will actually read them. Music has had such a positive impact on my life in so many ways. It’s given me some of my closest friends, it’s helped me stave off panic attacks, get through a workout or ignore drunk old men on public transport.

My iTunes library and monthly Spotify playlists must contain hundreds of artists from a range of genres, and I appreciate them all, but there’s a few artists that are particularly special to me. I guess they came into my life at a good time. Seeing them perform live is as high up on my bucket list as any life goal. Gradually I’ve ticked most of them off; Taylor Swift, Hudson Taylor (multiple times..), The Civil Wars.. last night I got to tick off Coldplay.

For me, and for many, many others, Coldplay are simply one of a kind. There is no other band who have written music suitable for my early morning, commute, workout, pre-drinks, house party & late night playlists. Parachutes is a stunning acoustic album that has aided sleep for me on many occasions, A Rush Of Blood To The Head has done just that as I headbanged around the room unable to hear my brother yelling at me to turn it down next door, X & Y  gave us the iconic ‘Fix You’ while Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends provided that “oh oh oh oh ohhhhh ohhh” that has echoed through stadiums across the world, there was the emotive and euphoric Mylo Xyloto and the heartbreaking Ghost Stories, and finally A Head Full of Dreams which ventured into the club scene.

They’re a divisive band (like any great band is) but more than any other one of my favourite artists, I genuinely feel sorry for those who don’t appreciate Coldplay. Last night they brought the “A Head Full of Dreams” tour to Croke Park, they left having fulfilled dreams some of us never even knew we had.  Dreams of rainbow confetti and sparkling fireworks, kaleidoscopic lighting and multi-coloured balloons, a psychedelic world of sound and colour where every single one of us played a role.

It didn’t matter whether you were on the pitch or high up in the stands like I was, it was a haze of singing and screaming and jumping and crying and turning to your friend with a look that said, “is this really happening?” It was a night for the child inside of all of us, for undiluted happiness and unashamed delight. It was couples holding hands during “Us Against The World” and Chris Martin sprinting down the stage as rainbow ticker tape exploded from all sides, it was a disabled man being crowdsurfed to the stage and 80,000 people singing “Don’t Look Back In Anger” for Manchester, it was “going low” and jumping high and singing “lights will guide you home” in a sea of orange as the sun set.

There’s so many more words to say but all I can think of is thank you.

To Chris, Jonny, Guy and Will – thank you.

xx

 

Photo credit to @niamh_tierney 

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Music

Album Review: Something’s Changing by Lucy Rose


Last year, British singer-songwriter Lucy Rose embarked on the trip of a lifetime. In the space of two months she played 33 gigs in eight countries. The challenge set in this case was that the dates were in Latin America, a place where you would be hard pressed to find her music in shops and where her promoters did not believe she could fill a venue. In a move that was deemed crazy by both her label and loved ones, Rose promised her Latin American fans she would bring her music to them if they could book her venues and find her places to stay. This led to a tour independently organised by and for the 28-year-old’s fans who transported, fed and housed her throughout. Along with the release of her third studio album,  Rose has released a 20-minute film that documents the trip which provides a touching embellishment and context to the release.

Something’s Changing opens a with a fitting invitation from Rose for us to join her on her personal journey embroiled with “all the good, the bad, the happy, the sad.” This journey begins with ‘No Good At All,’ one of only two tracks written before the Warwickshire native set off on her transatlantic trip. It gives us an insight into Rose’s lack of confidence in her musical capabilities before the Latin American tour, the influence of which permeates the album. The insecurity is noted on the piano-based track which sees her trademark airy vocal floating above the hum of gentle orchestral instrumentation (“I’m not the oil painting you once bought” “I’m nothing like the vision you once formed” “A flower of fallen seed”). This lack of confidence in her own music changed over the course of her trip as the songwriter met fans who shared stories of how her music has touched them personally and for whom music was more than just “background music when you’re cooking”. As the album progresses, we start to hear the chains of insecurity fall away.

In a livestream earlier this week the singer talked about a particularly touching moment on the trip when she was messing about on an old Spanish guitar which belonged to one of the fans she was staying with. “I thought it was just nonsense that I was playing,” Rose explained, but it had touched the fan she was staying with who asked her to promise to finish it. This resulted in ‘Love Song,’ a slow, lilting track that, despite being one of the album’s least exciting moments, flourishes in its final 40 seconds when the melody transitions to something assertive, up-beat and catchy. There’s something altogether more heart-warming in the knowledge that this song exists almost solely because one person believed in it.  It is in moments like these that we get a first hand example of Rose’s renewed confidence in her own music.  She now believes a song is worth it even if it only means something to one person – it’s hard to find fault with a mantra like that. Rose seems to now understand that a song need not make everyone happy, and in that knowledge there is liberation.

Elsewhere there’s a number of impressive collaborations including Elena Tonra of Daughter (‘Soak It Up’) and alt-folk trio The Staves (‘Is This Called Home’, ‘Floral Dresses’). The Stavely-Taylor sister’s vocals blend beautifully with Rose’s, adding an extra dimension to both tracks. ‘Is This Called Home,’ is an affecting cut confronting the global refugee crisis that is lifted by their contribution, reaching its emotional peak when they come in to harmonise on the closing refrain – “Let me hold your hand.” Lead single ‘Floral Dresses,’ is a raw, Joni Mitchell nodding folk tune that sees Rose rejecting absurd gender expectations, (“I don’t wanna wear your floral dresses / And my lips won’t be coloured”). A stunning flurry of swirling harmonies, it is accompanied simply by an acoustic guitar and stands as the album’s true high- point.

Much of the best material has been used to promote the album, save for the third track ‘Strangest of Ways’. The song was originally written for a film about “a girl who’s allergic to everything,” but after becoming so attached to it Rose decided to keep it for her own album instead – and it’s not hard to see why. It’s the only track that is reminiscent of the likes of ‘Our Eyes’ and ‘Like An Arrow’ from Work It Out. ‘Find Myself’, one of the tracks most heavily inspired by the people she met in Latin America (“Cause I find myself, I find myself in new company / Now I find myself, I find myself within your dreams”), meanwhile, has a great hook and some sweet harmonies but falls slightly short of being quite the chart ready number it seems to strive to be.

The lack of sweet indie-pop “hit” doesn’t hinder the album however. If anything, it’s another example of how Rose has evolved and matured into a more self-assured person and artist. The lyrical maturity is evident throughout the rlease with a number of subjects broached for our inability to recognise the beauty in ourselves on ‘Second Chance’ to fate and destiny on ‘Moirai.’ Following the theme of growing confidence, Rose challenges the greek god Moirai and asserts: “I won’t settle for the theory you’re not made for me / This fate and fortune misery / Let’s go against the grain / Let them think we’re both insane / Rewrite our own history.”

Lucy Rose has come a long way from the days of simply providing backing vocals for Bombay Bicycle Club, and her second album’s uncomfortably forced drive to be a scrapbook of chart-worthy indie-pop only served as a disservice to the singer. Left with no manager, no booking agent and no label, Lucy Rose took the reins for Something’s Changing and in the process found a profound resilience and honest determination, the sound of which is ready and waiting now to be heard and embraced.

3.5/5 stars

Published on The Thin Air

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