Music

This Week In New Music: Otherkin, Miley Cyrus & Banks

The craziness of second year of university means it’s been a month since I’ve gotten a chance to write about the latest music releases. Despite being up to my eyeballs this weekend, I just had to do a quick update with all the bangin’ new music releases yesterday. Enjoy!

 

Ok – Otherkin (Album)

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“Lets go,” lead singer Luke Reilly seems to say with a smirk – its seventeen seconds in to the opening track and Otherkin have already got you – and they keep you till the very end. If you haven’t heard of Dublin rockers Otherkin yet, their debut release is a brilliant place to start.  The screeching guitars and smashing drums hype up the energy to fever pitch on every singe track. ‘Feel It’ is an absolute earworm, ‘Yeah, I Know’ is pulsating and So So is a grungy  closer.  There’s some grit to these lads too, “Turn in a hit or you’re down as a throwaway [….] Become some meat for the radio” O’Reilly screams on ‘Ay Ay’. Are we looking at a bunch of Irish lads who are going to add some dirty social commentary to their arsenal? I don’t know but I am excited. If you’re looking for a gig to let you scream into the abyss and mosh in the midst of a sweaty crowd, catch them in the Button Factory (Dublin) or the Roisín Dubh (Galway) in December.

Younger Now – Miley Cyrus (Album)

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Younger Now is not so much a reinvention as a return to her roots for Miley Cyrus. On her sixth studio album, Cyrus is doing what she does best – country. Sure, she had some great pop songs and no one has ever faulted her for her vocal abilities, but that country twang just comes so easily to the Tennessee native. So far, ‘Thinkin’ and ‘Inspired’ are my favourite tracks on the album, but I’ve a feeling I could easily fall in love with every single one of the eleven tracks. Younger Now is a refreshing release and Cyrus’ best yet.

Underdog – Banks (Single)

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So Banks just randomly dropped a tune on Thursday? It’s a deviation in to more pop-y territory for the the Goddess singer-songwriter and is very fun (she literally barks in it). Yet, somehow it’s still sassy and sultry – that’s Banks for you.

Some more new music worth checking out this week;

  • It’s A Shame – First Aid Kit (Single)
  • My Side – Tom Speight (Single)
  • Greedy Soul – Liam Gallagher (Single)
  • That Girl – salute feat. Gabrielle Aplin
  • When Does It Get Easier – Dave Thomas Junior (Single)
  • Subterranean Homesick Blues – The Lumineers (Single)
  • Three Oh Nine – Fenne Lily (Single)
  • Tell Me You Love Me – Demi Lovato (Album)
  • Visions Of A Life – Wolf Alice (Album)

Check out my Spotify playlist for September here.

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Music

Review: Lewis Watson at The Stormy Teacup

Hidden away in the heart of Limerick city, there’s a little artisan coffee shop by the name of The Stormy Teacup.

Once known for its hot chocolate menu and cozy interior, it’s starting to build a name for itself as an up and coming music venue.

On Thursday night, a couple of music enthusiasts were treated to a performance in this tiny, intimate space by Oxford singer-songwriter Lewis Watson.

Watson has been around for many years, first growing a following on youtube and taking a do-it-yourself approach to releasing his music, before going on to release his debut album ‘This Morning’ with big label name Warner Music.

Three years later brought the release of ‘Midnight’ and a week ago, ‘Midnight (acoustic)’.

It is the ‘Midnight (acoustic) intimate band tour’ that Watson brought to Limerick on Thursday last.

Despite the small crowd and the lack of hard spirits being served, the energy in the room was lively and giddy.

Old favourites ‘bones’ and ‘sink or swim’ proved particularly popular while newer hits such as ‘maybe we’re home’ and ‘little light’ were just as enjoyable without the heavy drums and electric guitars.

Another touching moment was ‘run,’ a song Watson explained was very ‘real’ to him that details the heartbreak and loneliness after a break-up.

The crowd sang along to the majority of tunes with Watson and his sole bandmate Adam Double often ceasing to sing to allow the crowd take the spotlight for 30 seconds or so.

The highlight of the night was a stunning version of ‘halo,’ where Watson & Double ditched the mics, came down in to the crowd and sang in the midst of strangers that for one song only, didn’t dare breathe a single lyric.

After the gig, the banter continued between security, fans and Lewis himself, who was happy to take pictures with, and thank everyone for coming along.

If there’s one thing to be said about Lewis Watson it’s that he seems to be the same down-to-earth, soccer loving lad he was back in 2012 and if he remains so, there’s no doubt he’ll always find a couple of fans wherever he goes – even in ‘the middle of nowhere.’

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Music

This Week In New Music: Thomas Rhett, Jessie Ware & Paloma Faith

Life Changes – Thomas Rhett (Single)

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One thing I love about country music is that you can listen to one song and feel like you know the musician’s whole life story! This song is a prime example. On Life Changes, the lead single from the album of the same name, Thomas Rhett sings about how life has changed over the last couple of years for the country star. It’s catchy and warm and a lovely addition to your September playlist.

 

Selfish Love – Jessie Ware (Single)

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The latest track from Jessie Ware’s forthcoming third album is just dreamy – written and produced by a dream team too (Ryan Tedder, Cashmere Cat..). Ware’s voice is smooth as silk and if this single is anything to go by, the newest record from the British songstress will not disappoint.

 

Crybaby – Paloma Faith (Single)

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Another English darling has returned this week – Paloma Faith! And it’s an earworm, you’ll be singing “Go on and cry, baby, crybaby, ’cause you don’t have to keep it inside” all day. It’ll be no surprise to any one who’s a fan of Faith that she’s very outspoken on political & social issues, so it’s not a shocker that this song has an interesting message behind it. According to the lady herself, the song is questioning “whether  global conflicts would cease to exist if men could successfully deal with their feelings.” Damn.

Check out my Spotify playlist for September here.

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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: 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: 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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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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