Swear I'm not Paul: 04/04/2010

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today - 30-21

Part Three of my countdown of the Best 50 Irish Acts today. The only requirement for entry is that the artist must have played live or released something in the past twelve months.

30. Lisa Hannigan
The former cohort of Damien Rice decided to go it alone, and his music suffers as a result. The lack of her vocals on most of 9 was the reason it wasn't as good as O. Her debut album was a consistent record, but not amazing. However, we know from experience that she definitely has it in her.

29. John Shelly and the Creatures
John Shelly and the Creatures have been in your head for a while. 'Long May You Reign' was used as the soundtrack to the Discover Northern Ireland adverts. The Belfast band have just released their debut album Dinosaur, which is an album full of gorgeous tunes.

28. I Am Not Lefthanded
They've taken over 2UIBestow this week, but 66% Irish band I am Not Lefthanded could easily take over the airwaves with their instantly memorable pop tunes. They've only released EPs so far, but are due to record their album this year. Their live act is just as fantastic.

27. We Cut Corners
Another act selected in the Irish Sound of 2010, We Cut Corners are a brilliant Dublin duo, who have supported some fine acts as well as appearing on national television. Their appearance on When Under Ether late last year was wonderful.

26. Mumblin' Deaf Ro
2007's The Herring and the Brine was one of the albums of the decade, and since then Mumblin' Deaf Ro has been playing regularly and consistently all around the country. It was his second album, and the follow-up is eagerly awaited - not least by all those people who read his regular comments over at On the Record!

25. Duke Special
Not many artists have the pull or the imagination to release three albums simultaneously. But that's just what Duke Special did earlier this year. Ever since 'Freewheel' launched him into the mainstream, he's been doing everything possible to combat the natural progression to chart topper. That takes someone either brave or crazy. But perhaps Duke Special is both.

24. Fiach
Another artist who has just recently released his debut, Dubliner Fiach is one of Ireland's unsung musical heroes. A wonderful singer in both English and Irish, the 24 year old is a definite tip for the top. His debut album So I is a great album, but it doesn't show off the tremendous talent he has performing live.

23. Pearse McLoughlin
Pearse McLoughlin released the wonderful single 'Ways to Kill a Werewolf' last year, and since seeing the video, I have had the song on repeat. I'd say a thousand of those youtube views are mine! It's taken from the album Busy Whisper, which really deserves much more attention.

22. Mark Dignam
Mark Dignam is a popular musician's musician. At his Whelan's gig last year, Liam O'Maonlai and Glen Hansard both popped along to join him on stage. He's also performed with the Frames and Paul Noonan. All those acts know how good Dignam is, and it's about time that the public knew how good he is too.

21. Two Door Cinema Club
Yet another Irish Sound of 2010 pick, Northern Ireland's Two Door Cinema Club are gaining a lot of critical acclaim from a variety of sources. They're a fantastic rock band, and just released debut album Tourist History. The album is decent, but Two Door Cinema Club's singles so far are insanely catchy. There's only better to come.

Friday, April 9, 2010

List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today - 2010 Edition, 40-31

Part Two of my countdown of the Best 50 Irish Acts today. The only requirement for entry is that the artist must have played live or released something in the past twelve months.

40. The Guggenheim Grotto
Dublin pop duo the Guggenheim Grotto impressed me greatly with their marvellous second album Happy the Man. Their debut was an accomplished album, but the follow-up was amazing. It was released in America last year, and won great acclaim, with the band's music appearing on many television shows.

39. Julie Feeney
2009 was a great year for Julie Feeney. She was nominated for a Meteor Award, and her second album pages was selected by the Choice Music Prize panel as one of the best albums of the year. She had previously won the Choice Award back in 2006, which shows her to be one of the most consistent artists around.

38. Kitty and the Can Openers
Kitty and the Can Openers are one of the most captivating live acts I've seen. They're a Belfast band, fronted by the fantastic Ciara O'Neill, who write wonderfully twee pop tunes. You might have seen them supporting someone in the past year or so, but they're so good, they really should be doing their own headline tours.

37. Planet Parade
Selected in the Irish Sound of 2010 Poll, Planet Parade are a great upcoming band. Hailing from Kildare, they've supported some fantastic acts and played every Irish venue possible. It won't be long before they really take off.

36. The Last Tycoons
I reviewed the self-titled debut from the Last Tycoons earlier this week, and found it to be the perfect cross between Nick Cave and the Rolling Stones. There's a hell of a lot of other influences in there too, but this alt-country/rock band is a welcome breath of fresh air to the usual singer-songwriter stuff which emerges every year.

35. Robotnik
One of the most eclectic artists around, Chris Morrin released his debut album Pleasant Square back in 2008. Anyone who has heard it, will tell you that 'I Found Jesus' may be the catchiest Irish song ever. He plays endless live shows, both here and abroad, and is a fantastic entertainer.

34. Mark Geary
Mark Geary has been on the scene for two decades now, and plays a wonderful electronic folk (screw you Ellie Goulding). He's a much more dedicated musician than most, and gives his all at his live shows. I first saw him on Other Voices a few years back, and have been hooked ever since.

33. Valerie Francis
Another Choice Music nominees, Valerie Francis's Slow Dynamo was one of the best Irish records of 2009. A real grower of an album, with tunes that work even better in a live arena. I can't wait to see what she does next.

32. Declan O'Rourke
Hailing from Ballyfermot, Declan O'Rourke is one of Ireland's most accomplished singer-songwriters. He released the excellent debut album Since Kyabram in 2004, with the follow-up coming three years later. At this rate, we should expect the third album to drop sometime this year

31. The Dirty 9s
Sounding like something out of Kill Bill, the Dirty 9s have just released their debut album Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming. The Dubliners are a fantastic live band, who pack a fantastic punch. Definitely one to watch for the future.

Album News: The Frames - Deluxe Reissues

Great news Glen Hansard fans, the Frames will be re-releasing their second and third albums, Fitzcarraldo and Dance the Devil as deluxe editions on June 7th. Each album will include five bonus tracks, not included on the original release. These should be really exciting records, as it'll be great to hear some rare early Frames material.

Fitzcarraldo Bonus Tracks:
One Irish Rover (feat. Liam O'Maolai)
Red Chord (Phillpott Remix)
Monument (DJ Mek Remix)

Dance the Devil Bonus Tracks:
Steal My baby Back Home
Look Back Now
Taking the Hard Way Out
Perfect Opening Line (Hook End Version)
Country Song (8-track Version)

Watch 'Red Chord' live at Witnness:

Live: Lostprophets at the Academy

Welsh rockers Lostprophets are back with a new album. The Betrayed is their fourth record, and to promote it, they're touring around the UK and Ireland. They'll be playing an intimate show at Dublin's Academy on May 18th. Tickets went on sale this morning at a price of €25.

Watch 'Where We Belong' from the new album:

Live: CastlePalooza 2010 Lineup announced

Castle Palooza 2010

The lineup for Offaly's Boutique Festival Castle Palooza was announced yesterday with some great acts set to appear. The biggest draw for the two day event is Mercury Rev, but among the local names highlights are Fionn Regan, Codes, James Vincent McMorrow, O Emperor, and the Cast of Cheers. However, the full lineup itself looks amazing.

The festival takes place the weekend of July 31st and August 1st. Tickets are on sale now at the price of €99, and it'll be attended by 3000 revellers this year rather than the usual 1000.

Mercury Rev
Fionn Regan
Wave Machines
Taylor McFerrin
Cashier No 9
Adebisi Shank
James Vincent McMorrow
O Emperor
Funeral Suits
The Cast Of Cheers
The Lowly Knights
Readers Wives
The Blue Choir
Yes Cadets
Nakatomi Towers

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Competition: Win a copy of the Kick-Ass Soundtrack

I went to see Kick-Ass last weekend, and must say it is a hilariously entertaining film. Apart from the comedy gold, I also noticed how good the songs accompanying the film were. So I'm delighted to be able to give away a copy of the CD Soundtrack to the film.

01 The Prodigy - Stand Up 5:08
02 MIKA vs RedOne - Kick Ass 3:11
03 Primal Scream - Can't Go Back 3:46
04 The Littles Ones - There's a Pot a Brewin' 3:13
05 The Prodigy - Omen 3:54
06 The Pretty Reckless - Make Me Wanna Die 3:55
07 The Dickies - Banana Splits 2:04
08 Ellie Goulding - Starry Eyed 2:57
09 Sparks - This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us 3:03
10 New York Dolls - We're All In Love 4:50
11 Zongamin - Bongo Song 5:00
12 Ennio Morricone - Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu (For a Few Dollars More) 2:53
13 The Hit Girls - Bad Reputation 2:56
14 Elvis Presley - An American Trilogy 4:31

To enter...
Tell me what your useless super power is. Leave your answer in the comments, and if you win, I'll contact you via email. The contest is open until next Wednesday at 5. The funnier, the more useless the better... For example, it could be the ability to see through glass. Always a good one.

More info on the film on Universal Pictures Ireland's facebook page:

List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today - 2010 Edition, 50-41

Last year, Peter at 2UIBestow answered the Irish Times' list of the best Irish Acts around today with his own list. This year, he has followed that up by doing it again. Check out his list of his top 50 here, and then when you're finished, have a look at mine.

50. Ham Sandwich
The Kells band have been going for a few years, but have only started to hit the big time in the last year or so. Debut album Carry the Meek was met with great acclaim in early 2008, and a lot is expected from their follow-up.

49. Groom
Groom emerged from the alt-folk band Settler six years ago, and have gained in ability and following ever since. They take their inspirations from a variety of places, and are a live band definitely worth seeing.

48. Miss Paula Flynn
A new contender on the scene, Paula Flynn released her self-titled debut album just last October. A great lyricist and melody-writer, it is Flynn's voice that really makes her one to watch. One of the best female singers in Ireland right now.

47. Herm
If Paul Clancy were still alive, he definitely would have made this list. Kevin Connolly from Herm worked on his album, and is a fantastic musician in his own right. Their 2009 album Monsters is a great record, although somewhat disparate. However, I expect that all to calm down on the next album. Or maybe not...

46. Laura Izibor
The winner of the 2004 2fm Song Contest, a lot was expected of Izibor when she signed an adult record deal. Still only 22, she has most of her career ahead of her. And if her debut Let The Truth Be Told is anything to go by, it'll be amazing.

45. Declan De Barra
The Waterford singer-songwriter is a former member of Clann ZĂș, and uses his experiences from living in Australia and Canada to create enchanting music. A fabulous live entertainer too, DeBarra has his finger in many pies, and is one to watch on television as well as radio.

44. The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra
Listed in our Irish Sound of 2010, the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra are one of the best named bands around. Still yet to release their debut album, they're a wonderful live band, and have two gorgeous EPs under theit belts.

43. Damien Rice
The former Juniper frontman came to prominence at the start of the last decade, but took years to record a follow-up to the excellent O. We know he's capable of utter brilliance, but we could be waiting years to hear it.

42. Gemma Hayes
Gemma Hayes is one of the most underrated acts in Ireland today. She writes gorgeous Sheryl Crow-esque songs, and has a wonderful catalogue of albums. A marvellous live entertainer who should be so much bigger worldwide.

41. Henrietta Game
Another feature in the Irish Sound of 2010 poll, Henrietta Game are very new to the scene, but have already garnered much attention. Their set at Electric Picnic last year was one of the highlights of the festival, and there is so much more to come from this Limerick band.

Tracklist: LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

Having claimed that this may be the last ever LCD Soundsystem album, I'm really excited to hear This is Happening. The press release for the album came out today, and calls the album untitled, and since we haven't had any denials about the name... This is Happening. Expect it on May 14th. He's playing Tripod on the 20th and 21st of this month, but tickets are long gone.

The video for 'Drunk Girls' is imminent, but James Murphy (no relation) has put up a teaser trailer for the song. Watch it below.

Dance Yrself Clean
Drunk Girls
One Touch
All I Want
Pow Pow
Somebody’s Calling Me
What You Need

Watch 'Drunk Girls' trailer:

Album News: Kele Okereke - The Boxer

Kele Okereke is not taking Bloc Party's one-year-hiatus seriously. He's lined up a number of Irish dates, and will release his debut solo album on June 21st. He wasn't contented taking time out of music, so booked himself into a studio and the rest is history. He says "It was just me and an engineer. I plugged in synths that I had no idea what they would do. I began programming drum beats, which I had never done before. It was completely back to the drawing board. It was exciting and terrifying. In most cases I sat down, pulled a drum beat out of nowhere and arranged stuff around that. This was as exciting to me as the first time I picked up a guitar."

The album promises to be harsher and more physical (well, at least that's what Kele says). It's called The Boxer, and will be preceded by lead single 'Tenderoni' a week earlier (isn't that a Chromeo song though?)


Irish Tour dates:
Friday 14th May – Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick
Saturday 15th May – Cyprus Avenue, Cork
Sunday 16th May – The Academy, Dublin
Monday 17th May – Spring & Airbrake, Belfast

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Live: Natalie Merchant at the Helix

10,000 Maniacs singer and wonderful solo artist Natalie Merchant will be stopping off in Ireland to promote her new studio album Leave Your Sleep (her first in eight years). The album comes out this Friday, while the gig is due to take place on June 1st.

Tickets cost €33.60 and go on sale this Friday.

Watch 'If No One Ever Marries Me':

Album Review: The Last Tycoons - Self-titled

Need a Rolling Stones kick? Mick Jagger not getting you up any more? Why not try Dublin's the Last Tycoons? Formed from the ruins of former band Porn Trauma, The Last Tycoons are a dirty, greasy, high-spirited rock band, sure to suit your needs.

Their debut album, The Last Tycoons was released on Good Friday and features the excellent single 'The Dry Law', which NME Radio described as "great narrative tinged country pop". The description doesn't apply to the whole record, which is somewhere nearer a cross between Beggar's Banquet and the Bad Seeds' The Boatman's Call than straight-up country pop.

It's a dirty rock album, with some fantastic story-driven tunes. Single 'The Dry Law' takes place in prohibition-era America. 'Not At All' is a National-esque tune featuring Strokesian vocals. The Last Tycoons pull their influences from everywhere, meaning that the album is a wonderful melting pot of melodies. 'Speed' is the song that really evokes memories of Mick Jagger, with it's dirty riff and growling vocals.

'The Dry Law' is a old-school pedal-steel driven tune, and although selected as the lead single, it's probably the album's weak point. The lyrics are good, but it lacks the grease of the other songs. Like 'Don't Let me Catch You', the song immediately after it. It wouldn't sound out of place on Beggar's Banquet and is a song that is sure to work perfectly in a live environment. It's easy to imagine a crowd of revellers singing along to the lines "I'm gonna keep movin and get drunker than I've ever been".

Many of the songs here are instantly memorable: 'Seven Days (Off the Road)' is a really catchy song with a lovely breakdown, 'Alaska Hotel' is a lovely piano-driven ballad. 'The Love Song' is another highlight. It's a wonderful narrative-driven song, like most of the album. Overall, this is a highly accomplished debut from a tremendous new Irish talent. Definitely one to watch for the future.

Tour dates:
11 April - Crane Lane Theatre, Cork
13 April - Ruby Sessions, Doyle's, Dublin
14 April - The Village, Dublin (Haiti Charity gig)
22 April - Roisin Dubh, Galway
23 April - The Ryston, Newbridge
24 April - Flanagans, Newbridge
30 April - Electric Avenue, Waterford
12 May - GB Shaw Theatre, Carlow

Download: The Hold Steady - April 3rd, 2010 Bootleg

The Hold Steady played some material from new album Heaven is Whenever (due May 4th) at Toad's Place in North Haven, CT on Saturday night, and you can download the full show in mp3 bootleg form below. The new songs are track 1 'Rock Problems', 13 'Soft in the Center', 15 'Hurricane J', 16 'We Can Get Together', 18 'The Weekenders', and 20 'A Slight Discomfort'. Enjoy!

1. Rock Problems
2. Magazines
3. You Can Make Him Like You
4. Hot Soft Light
5. Constructive Summer
6. Navy Sheets
7. Chips Ahoy!
8. Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night
9. The Swish
10. Party Pit
11. Massive Nights
12. Banging Camp
13. Soft in the Center
14. Sequestered in Memphis
15. Hurricane J
16. We Can Get Together
17. Your Little Hoodrat Friend
18. The Weekenders
19. Stuck Between Stations
20. A Slight Discomfort

21. Hornets! Hornets!
22. Stay Positive
23. Killer Parties

Full Show

Stream: Hanson - Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

Some of you may be gasping with the shock that I'm after posting a stream of the new single from those guys who sang 'Mmmbop', but don't despair, modern day Hanson are actually alright. Anyone who's heard 'Penny & Me' from their last record will agree with me, right? Plus, Taylor's supergroup Tinted Windows were pretty good too. 'Thinking 'Bout Somethin'' is the lead single from upcoming album Shout It Out, due this summer.

In addition, the press release claims: "At the end of April, Hanson are set to perform a sold out, five-night run of live shows in New York, N.Y., where they'll play each of their albums in chronological order." How cool will that be?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Watch: The Gaslight Anthem - Baba O'Riley

Nothing to do with upcoming album American Slang, but this is pretty damn cool. It's the Gaslight Anthem covering the Who classic 'Baba O'Riley' (some of you non-Who fans might know it from one of those CSI shows. CSI: Blackrock maybe.

Watch The Gaslight Anthem - 'Baba O'Riley':