End of year final roundup, of sorts

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With the time of year it is and all that jazz, the blog will be assuming radio silence for a bit, probably until the new year. But before that, it is only fit and proper for some thank yous and for a quick roundup of sorts. 

First things first, a huge thank you to Stevie, Poggy, Co & Paul for all their help with the BarryGruff / Discord shows this year. It most definitely couldn’t happen without all your help. Thanks too, to everyone who played the shows this year and those who took the time to do collate their picks from year. A big thanks to Johnny Feeney for his excellent guest posts throughout the year – I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying his musings. Last but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who came to gigs during the year and continue to read the blog. It’s a rather humbling experience and without yous, the blog is nothing, so thanks a million. I hope I haven’t missed anyone, if I have I apologise profusely.

Before I go here’s a sort of roundup of stuff from the blog, with links, in case anyone missed some of it. Enjoy your holidays if you have ’em and see you in 2014. Cheers BG.

BarryGruff’s Albums of 2013

Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2013

BarryGruff’s Irish Songs of 2013 (Soundcloud Mix)

BarryGruff’s 50 Songs of 2013 (Spotify Playlist)

BarryGruff’s Welsh Songs of 2013 (Spotify Playlist)

Artist’s who played BG gigs in 2013 and their picks from the year 

Trojan Warriors Mixtapes [Part Two] + [Part Three]

Best of 2013 w/ Sadhbh O’Sullivan of Sive

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling lists, lists and more lists. Last year I asked bands and artists who’d played ‘BarryGruff Presents’ shows to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2013′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Sive’s Sadhbh O’Sullivan for the last in the series and her picks from 2013.

Favourite album of 2013: Villagers – ‘Awayland’

When I was going through some of the albums I liked best this year and trying to pick one favourite, I just kept coming back to this one. It was one of those records I listened to on repeat after I bought it and every time I heard it something new seemed to catch my ear. I love the arrangements and the attention to detail; there’s so much to be found within each individual song. The songwriting itself is obviously really strong too, and I love Conor O’Brien’s style of lyric writing.

Favourite song of 2013: Agnes Obel – The Curse

Agnes Obel’s new album was another one of my favourites of the year. I could have picked almost any song from it as my number one, but when I saw this live video of The Curse it really blew me away. The looped strings, piano parts and vocal melodies come together to create something really beautiful.

Favourite Irish song of 2013: Ann Scott – ‘Stripes’

I’ve been a fan of Ann Scott since I first heard her music about 6 years ago, and her new stuff hasn’t let me down. This song is a perfect example of her ability to build a simple but effective musical backdrop for her voice to sweep over. She always manages to produce a sound that is quite dark and haunting, but really pleasing to the ear.

BarryGruff’s Irish Songs of 2013 (Mixtape)

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There’s been some really great stuff released this year from Irish acts and as has become customary for this time of year, I’ve put together a compilation/mix of my favourite tracks from throughout the year. 

There’s some old friends and some new, hopefully you enjoy the tunes as much as I, and  without further ado, here’s my favourite Irish Songs of 2013. Tracklisting is after the jump.

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Best of 2013 w/ Ciaran Dwyer of Knoxville Morning

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling lists, lists and more lists. Last year I asked bands and artists who’d played ‘BarryGruff Presents’ shows to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2013′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Ciaran Dwyer from Knoxville Morning and his picks from 2013.

Irish Song of the Year: Lethal Dialect (Feat. Jacknife J) – ’13 til Infinity’

My love of lyric writing came from being an obsessive Hip Hop Fan in secondary school and it was this that led me to folk music and to the poets that are my heroes today. I’m quite new to Lethal Dialect and when I heard this song it blew my mind on first listen, the easy going production and flow is perfect and the song couldn’t have come at a better time, slap bang in the middle of our best summer in years but its the subjects that Lethal raps about that really bring me in. Like all great writers he writes about his own environment and what he sees around him turning the often banal into things of beauty. The last verse (especially the last two lines) give me shivers on the scruff of my neck every time I hear it, one of the best tributes to a woman I’ve ever heard in a song. Pure Poetry, Pure Genius.

Album of the Year: The National – ‘Trouble Will Find Me’

This was a toss up between this and Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave which also blew my mind this year. Trouble edges it for me as The National have been my favourite band for many years now and every album is a step up the ladder of greatness, this one being probably my personal favourite alongside Boxer. The highlight tunes on this for me are ‘I Should Live in Salt’, ‘Demons’, ‘Humiliation’ and ‘Pink Rabbits’ (one of the finest songs they’ve ever written). Matt Berninger is the man of the match on this album, outdoing himself with his Vocals and pushing himself to new heights with his lyrics. I was lucky to see them tour twice this year and the second time ranks as one of my favourite shows that I’ve ever seen.

Song of 2013: The Mighty Stef – ‘The Hardship’

I can remember loving this song the first time I ever heard it being played in a sound check in Detroit. It hadn’t yet become the absolute Monster of a song it is today but had all the hallmarks of a Mighty Stef classic even back then. The word Hardship has been thrown around our bands in jest for a couple of years now, often in the middle of real hardship where some comic relief is needed to keep the train on the tracks. If there’s one thing I know about Stef and his operation is that he has had to work incredibly hard through all manners of Hardship to get any little thing he gets in Music. The singing on this is perfect, a master-class in how to deliver a song, full of emotion and passion and going right to the end of his range as a singer. ‘The Hardship’ is an anthem to all of us who are in this game for the long run.

Introducing: Gangs

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Gangs are a four-piece indie-rock band – Jordan Curtis, Dan Smith, James Connolly and Jonny Halpin – from Tallaght in Dublin. 

Their brand of ‘indie-rock’, loosely speaking of course, is inspired by ’80s bands like The Smiths, The Jam or The Cure combined with a nod here and there to more modern contemporaries such as say, The Libertines and their ilk, or mod revivalists The Rifles. Inspiration is one thing, harnessing it and putting your own stamp and style to it is another matter entirely. Gangs pull this particular feat off with considerable gusto, adding their own spirit to proceedings, this gang of four mete out some tasty tunes. They harness all their mojo from a combo of catchy guitar riffs, energetic melodies and powerful vocals; of which their two singles to date are testament to. ‘Crumbs in my Bed’ is a blast of hyperactive indie-punk while ‘Down Boy’ is more of an indie tune and less storming, but just as brash. From the outside anyway, Gangs seem to making a bit of name for themselves.

You can check out some their tunes below or catch them in the flesh when they play The Grand Social w/ longstanding BarryGruff favorites The Statics and Otherkin this Friday. More info here.  

The Vickers – ‘I Don’t Know What It Is’

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We were introduced the alluring sounds of Italian psych rockers The Vickers this summer, through their dreamy single, ‘She’s Lost’. 

The Florence based four-piece are back, signing off on 2013 with new single, ‘I Don’t Know What It Is’. They’re ploughing a similar furrow as before, taking us on a winding and colourful journey through dreamy psych fuzz with a touch of casual darkness, towards a lost, far-out, echoey region. It’s an irrepressibly cool sound speckled with moments of hallucinatory beauty. In other Vickers related news, their debut LP, Ghosts, is due out in March 2014, with both this and the previous single featuring. If the singles to date are any indication, this should be an album to keep an eye out for.

Until then, you can check out ‘I Don’t Know What It Is’ and it’s tripped-out visual companion below.

Introducing: Seazoo

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In their relatively short life as a band – since April 2013 – North Walian three-piece Seazoo have certainly made a lasting impression (on me for a start).  

Seazoo and their multifarious concoction of charming, sprightly indie-pop, have impressed time and time again, at regular intervals throughout the year. Their music is a colourful, curious and smile inducing mix of guitar and keyboard noise, delightful fuzz and smiley melodies; infectious doesn’t even cover the half of it. Take for ‘Bumbler’ example, it harbors all the curious, quirky and beautiful pop goodness akin to Village Green era The Kinks, and that is not an exaggeration. ‘No Wrenching of Guts This Time’ on the other hand, while no less impressive, offers an off-kilter and heart-swelling kind of garage pop, of say Gorky’s meets Pavement. These are just utterly loveable tunes, with so much unrestrained vitality, as this Wrexham trio push their creative license to the fore. In short: Seazoo are a band to be treasured and enjoyed.

Hopefully we hear plenty more from Seazoo in 2014 but until then, there’s a few choice cuts below, for your aural pleasure. 

Best of 2013 w/ Stephen Connelly of Sea Area Forecast & Knoxville Morning

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling lists, lists and more lists. Last year I asked bands and artists who’d played ‘BarryGruff Presents’ shows to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2013′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Stephen Connelly from Knoxville Morning and Sea Area Forecast, and of course an intrinsic part of the BarryGruff shows, to share his picks from 2013.

Favourite Album of 2013: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ‘Push The Sky Away’

Cave saved ‘Body & Soul’ festival for me this year. More laptops than people. In the midst of a heavily electronic based festival, Cave storms the stage and knocks everyone on their arses. Reminding those that might have forgotten that live rock ‘n roll doesn’t fuck around. Great hearing the classics but it’s his new songs that stood out for me. A beautiful spacious sound that hasn’t appeared on any their previous albums. My love for The Bad Seeds stems from the darkness of Caves lyrics mirrored in their music. ‘Push the Sky Away’ does this but on the opposite scale using minimalistic approach. The loss of guitarist Mick Harvey has left a huge gap, in turn though allowing Warren Ellis to run a muck with his soundscapes which I’m all for. As far as the lyrics go, Cave has never been so on the ball. Stand out tracks for me -‘Higgs Boson Blues’, ‘Mermaids’ and ‘We Real Cool’.

Other albums you might learn something from. I haven’t, but you might: Waxahatchee – ‘Cerulean Salts’, The Depravations – ‘ Onwards, Westwards’, Death Grips – ‘Government Plates’, The National – ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, Bill Callahan – ‘Dream River’, Perfume Genius – ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’.

Favourite Song of 2013: Mogwai – ‘The Lord Is Out of Control’.

Surprised myself with this one but it was a toss up between this and a couple of King Krule jams. I’ve been watching a French show called ‘Les Revenants’ that has an incredible eerie soundtrack by Mogwai. This is the only other song I’ve heard by them and it’s amazing. Even the video alone is stunning.

Favourite Irish Song of 2013: There’s too much good shit happening to pick just one…

Oisin McCole – ‘Not For Your Heart’

I should be sick of listening to this song by now but it still sounds fresh even after a bazillion plays.

Oh Boland – ‘Mouthpiece’

Seen these guys play a fair bit over the last year and their live shows always deliver. Energetic garage pop rock from Tuam of all fucking places. Their onstage enthusiasm is everything I love about live music.

Rory Hughes – ‘Woe Is Me’

Just listen to that voice. Incredible!

 

Best of 2013 w/ Cormac Brady

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It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling lists, lists and more lists. Last year I asked bands and artists who’d played ‘BarryGruff Presents’ shows to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2013′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2013′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. After another successful year of shows, why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to Cormac Brady and his rule breaking picks from 2013. 

Favourite album of 2013:

Thanks to Barry for asking me to write this piece again this year. Also I hope he accepts my back hander and lets me bend the rules a bit. It’s hard to pick one record, so here are twelve. Rules? RULES MEAN NOTHING TO ME

Savages – Silence Yourself
Steve Mason – Monkey Minds in the Devils Time
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
Queens of the Stone Age – Like Clockwork
Danny Brown – Old
Death Grips – Government Plates
Juana Molina – Wed 21
Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Moderat – II
Halves – Boa Howl
Dancing Suns – Goldmine

If I had to pick one over the rest, it would be Run the Jewels because I’ve listened to it the most. It’s a quality rap album. Killer Mike and El-P have all the charisma of an old school rap duo like PE, and they keep it original too.

Favourite Song of 2013:

I’m torn apart picking one tune, so I’ve had to pick three. Rules? FUCK YOU AND YOUR RULES

One: Savages – City’s Full. This band tore Electric Picnic a new arsehole back in September. I regularly stick the earphones in and play this tune over and over again at deafening volumes.

Two: Mount Kimbie – Made to Stray. I think I’ve listened to this tune eight hundred million times.

Three: Danny Brown – Lonely. I love this lad’s ability to balance honesty and insanity in his records. He’s a true artist. This track a little glimpse of the emotional depth his music can carry.

Favourite Irish song of 2013: Mmoths – ‘All These Things (feat. Holly Miranda)’

This tune is a perfect collaboration. Mmoths – All These Things (feat. Holly Miranda)

Wayfarer – ‘Dusk On The Green Bus Line’

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Wayfarer are a folk trio – Sam Devlin, Rachel Boland and Dan Shanahan – based in or around the Newbridge area. 

The name may seem familiar, apart from the famous eye wear, Wayfarer have played a few of the BarryGruff shows, wooing many an audience member in the process. Anyway, the past while they have been busy in the studio working on their debut EP, of which ‘Dusk On The Green Bus Line’ is a first taste. It is a rather lovely, nay beautiful sounding country folk jam, with a real late night / earlier morning ponderous vibe going on. The lead vocal and harmonies are especially alluring to the ears, and equally memorable. There’s no firm date for the release of their EP but ‘Dusk On The Green Bus Line’ is more than enough to tide us over till then.

You can stream/download ‘Dusk On The Green Bus Line’ below. 

BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2013

BarryGruff Albums of the year 2013

It’s that time of year once again when every music blog, website and magazine busy themselves with list making activities, and this blog is no different. Due to other commitments this year, especially the second half, it was rather difficult to keep on top of album reviews for the blog. Saying that, I reckon I’ve listened to as many records as any other year without finding the opportunity to share my thoughts on many of them.

Without further ado, here’s the BarryGruff ‘Albums of the Year’ for 2013.

25. Crystal Stilts – ‘Nature Noir’

24. Appelscal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

23. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

22. Mr. Huw – ‘Cariad Affaich’

21. King Krule – ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’

20. Channel Swimmer – ‘Alphabet’

19. Valeria June – ‘Pushin’ Against A Stone’

18. Veronica Falls – ‘Waiting for Something to Happen’

17. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’

16. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’

15. Marika Hackman – ‘That Iron Taste’

A collection potent songs of enigmatic beauty, That Iron Taste is a gorgeous and charmed introduction to the delectable talents of Marika Hackman. It is done so with a striking vocal delivery, sounding both wise and beautiful, imbued with a telling level of touching emotion. She channels something beautifully rich and dramatic in telling these rather dark poetic stories. Absolutely no substandard happy-clappy folk pop nonsense on show here, on the contrary, her debut (mini) album is quite frankly a haunting, numinous experience.

[Stream on Spotify]

14. The Pictish Trail – ‘Secret Soundz, Volume 2’

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded solely in a caravan, Secret Soundz, Volume 2, is the second LP from The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch. Throughout the LP, he’s in a contemplative, often melancholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. A magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an exceptional talent.

13. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland produces plenty of great bands but where it falls short, of say our Welsh neighbors, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. In Biggles Flys Again, the moniker of Conor Deasy, we’ve got a domestic talent flying that flag. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday displays real talent for 3 minute pop gems. It is brimming with enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement. This is pop in the old fashioned sense, played by a band, and with an assured sense of style.

[Stream on Spotify]

12. Akala – ‘The Thieves Banquet’

Since the release of his debut in 2006, Akala has proven himself as one of the most articulate, intelligent and talented MC’s around, a trend continued on his fourth LP. A potent wave of righteous fury crashes through The Thieves Banquet. The world is beset by many problems, varied and plentiful they may be but Akala manages to take plenty of them head on. He remains passionate, focused and sharp when tackling everything from a sense of powerlessness to change things, to berating imperialism,  slavery, capitalists, 3rd world dictators and the clergy. A very fine record indeed.

[Stream on Spotify]

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BarryGruff Unplugged: Oisin McCole + Sive + Phil McDermott :: Wednesday, December 18th :: The Liffey Studio, Newbridge

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We’d an amazing time doing the first ‘BarryGruff Unplugged’ earlier in the year, easily our best show to date. To sign off on 2013, we’re doing another unplugged show in the wonderfully intimate surroundings of The Liffey Studio, with Oisin McCole, Sive and Phil McDermott performing for you;  three exceptionally talented musicians.

It’s all happening next Wednesday, Decemeber 18th in The Liffey Studio, 1 Main Street, Newbridge. Door are at 8pm. It’s €5 if you book in advance or €7 on the night. The cheap list is limited so if you would like to reserve a spot, just email your name to barrygruff[at]gmail[dot]com – with ‘Cheap List’ in the subject title. More details & info below. [RSVP]

:: Oisin McCole ::

Oisin McCole is an outstanding and undeniably talented folk singer and songwriter, yet he has managed to remain rather illusive outside his native Dublin. McCole’s lo-fi blues / folk blend is refreshingly humble and entirely devoid of ostentatious. His songs are beautifully written and constructed, never sounding contrived or over-produced, and posses an incredibly intimate sound and personal touch. These are folk songs from a seriously talented songwriter, deserving of far greater attention – something his two recently released EPs, From Here The Mountain & Winter Is Coming, are testament to.

:: Sive ::

Sive is no stranger to Newbridge audiences; having been wooed on many occasions by their always impeccable live shows. The brainchild of Naas musician Sadhbh O’Sullivan, ably assisted by her band, they draw from a wide variety of alternative rock, jazz and folk influences. Sive’s gorgeous sound comes from a combination of these influences being fused with excellent musicianship and charm, and her voice, which is simply exquisite. 

:: Phil McDermott ::

Phil is a talented young songwriter from Newbridge who has only begun to cut his teeth so to speak. Relatively new to the game he maybe, but he’s already got a fine bundle of material in his arsenal. Hopefully in the new year he takes the next step and heads to the studio to record some of his music.