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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Biggles Flys Again – ‘Chambers’

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Earlier this year Biggles Flys Again released their superb debut album, Remember Saturday. As an album of enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement; it is without doubt one of the finest domestic records of the year. 

Apart from the fact that it’s never a bad thing to revisit how exceptionally good the aforementioned LP is, Biggles are back, with a forthcoming EP, Chambers. Title track ‘Chambers’, taken from the debut record, captures some of the many reasons to adore Biggles Flys Again. It’s a  tender and instantly lovable tune, packed with a heart wrenching emotional punch, with Deasy’s vocal talent and those for crafting pop gems, on full view for all willing to pay attention. 

Chambers is released on October 19th in a package including a previously unreleased track from the album sessions, along with remixes by Strands, The Casanova Wave and Voluntary Butler Service.

You can catch Biggles Flys Again tonight (Oct 3rd) at HWCH in The Mercantile (22:40). Or for those further afield, in The Windmill, Brixton, London on Nov 13th & Le Pop In, Rue Amelot, Paris on Nov 27th . Onward. 

BarryGruff’s Best Albums of 2013 so far……

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Due to various reasons I’ve been slacking with album reviews this year. That said, I’ve been listening to more than ever before but finding the time to pen some musings about some of them. In an attempt to redress this situation, here’s the ten albums that have impressed me the most so far this year.

10. Applescal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

Dreaming in Key is the third LP from young Dutch producer Applescal. Comprised of 11 tracks, the album isn’t too easy to pin down, finding itself in an ambiguous hinterland between electronica & techno; meaning it comes across as both dreamy and driving. It is also marked by the track’s complexity. Lavish layers of sound are met with impressive sound sequencing resulting in a warm, mellow vibe. Applescal is on top of his game.

[Stream on Spotify]

09. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

Mergers of folk and glitchy electronica can at times yield yawnsome middle of the road, chin stroking bollocks, but not so for Welsh duo Trwbador (aka Angharad Van Rijswijk & Owain Gwilym). Since forming in 2010, the pair have forged a distinctive and fruitful partnership for producing serenely beautiful, otherworldly music. It’s a trend carried through to their self-titled debut which sees warm folky sounds and whimsical vocals pinned to electronic glitches and loops. It contains a real sense of tenderness, twinkling and flickering simultaneously, it is both carefree and hypnotic. A magic and irresistibly beautiful album. This is absorbing music to get lost in.

[Stream on Spotify]

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

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded 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.

07. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland certainly produces plenty of great bands, but for me, where it falls short of say our Welsh neighbours, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. But in Biggles Flys Again we’ve got a domestic talent expertly filling that void. Biggles Flys Again is the moniker of Dubliner Conor Deasy, who’s got a real talent for crafting 3 minute pop gems. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday 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.

06. Sweet Baboo – ‘Ships’

Touted as a concept album about the sea, and yes, there are plenty of sea related moments but the songs are mainly concerned with love and relationships, usually with a bittersweet edge. Ships is a wry take on lost love and heartbreak, sliding from darkly funny to piercingly tender, this is one of the most perfectly crafted indie-pop you’re likely to hear all year. There are so many highlights, ’If I Died…..’ opens the album perfectly and features one of the best lyrics – “Daniel Johnston has written hundreds of great tunes, and I’ve got six, so I guess there’s some catching up to do” – and a delightful melody and irresistible swirls of brass. That’s followed the startlingly perky ‘The Morse Code For Love’ and ‘Let’s Go Swimming Wild’, shrouded in a woozy veil of melancholy before bursting into life with a brass-filled chorus that won’t leave your head anytime soon. The North Wales native is an idiosyncratic artist with an ear for a sparkling melody and a gift for an evocative lyrical turn.

[Stream on Spotify & Deezer]

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BarryGruff Presents #16: Biggles Flys Again, Sive & Knoxville Morning :: Saturday, June 29th :: Flanagan’s Bar, Newbridge

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So, we took a little break, but we’re back again with ‘BarryGruff Presents’ #16 in Flanagan’s, Newbridge on Saturday, June 29th. We’ve got the superb Biggles Flys Again and the wonderful Sive performing, and the ever brilliant Knoxville Morning playing a special solo show (expect to hear some new tracks he’s been working on).

This is a really exciting lineup and one that promises to be a great night, so come along and enjoy the music. It’s FREE in as usual & kicks off at 9 pm. [RSVP]

:: Biggles Flys Again

Biggles Flys Again is the moniker of Dubliner Conor Deasy, who’s got a real talent for crafting 3 minute pop gems. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday 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. Remember Saturday is one of the finest albums of 2013 and there’s plenty of others smitten with it too. The Sunday Times made it ‘album of the week’, The Sunday Business Post coined it as “a wistful, enchantingly gentle brand of day-glo alt-pop” and The Irish Times quite rightly said “Deasy has a canny knack for creating tunes the right side of familiar”. Extremely excited to bring these guys down to Newbridge, should be quality.

[Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter] – [Stream Remember Me Saturday on Spotify]

:: Sive

It’s been far too long since we’ve had Sive play one of these shows, they’re performance is always impeccable. Sive is the brainchild of Naas musician Sadhbh O’Sullivan, who along with her band, 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; not to mention her voice, which is simply exquisite. Sive’s debut album We Are Moving is well worth checking out, if you haven’t already of course.

[Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter] – [Stream We Are Moving on Deezer & Spotify]

:: Knoxville Morning

It’s always a pleasure to have Knoxville Morning play one of these shows, they always go down an absolute storm. On this occasion we’ve got a special solo show from chief songwriter and frontman Ciaran Dwyer, who’s got some new jams and what’s to test them out. This will be the first new material since last years great self-titled debut which enlisted the help of  fellow BOAI members, Stefan Murphy, Gavin Elsted, Brian Gallagher, Claire Prendergast, Stephen Fahey and Laura Caffrey. The result? A record of sweet folk, country and Americana, and while it wears it’s US influences on it’s sleeve, Ciaran’s intuitive storytelling remained a cornerstone.

[Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter] [Stream Knoxville Morning on Deezer & Spotify]

 

Biggles Flys Again – ‘Friends’

The wonderfully named Biggles Flys Again is a solo-project from Conor Deasy (also of The Ghandis). 

Having just finished recording his debut album, he has kindly shared ‘Friends’ with us. It is such a sweet, happy-go-lucky ditty full of cheery sunshine, about, you’ve guessed it friendship. It is hard not to be charmed by this inoffensive and oh so nice slice of cheery indie-pop. The animated video directed by Marc Corrigan is equally as charming. Check it & download ‘Friends’ for free below.

Biggles Flys Again play HWCH tonight in The Mercantile (11:40-12:10).