BarryGruff Presents #12: Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band and Paul McCormack & The Flying Fontaines :: Flanagan’s Bar, Newbridge :: Saturday :: Feb 9th


‘BarryGruff Presents’ #12 is here & returns to Flanagan’s Bar, Newbridge for a first show of 2013 on Saturday, February 9th. It’s going to be a fantastic night of live music w/ Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band & Paul McCormack & The Flying Fontaines.

Having teamed up with The River Valley Band after releasing ‘Run on Diesel’ with The Bottlestoppers in 2011, Conway & Co return to Newbridge for the first time since releasing their debut album, ‘Sonny Boy’ last year. Nathan is one of Ireland’s most underrated songwriters, a veritable national treasure waiting in the wings. Taking old folk, gospel and good time rock n roll, they create a beautiful, timeless and assured soulful country sound, with Conway’s intuitive storytelling and striking vocals bringing it all home.

Paul McCormack is one of Newbridge’s finest folk musicians and a storyteller beyond repute. A career spanning decades has seen him play the world over, his repertoire of songs is in the thousand, yet somehow it has taken all this time to put an album together. Something’s are certainly worth the wait. Backed by members of Knoxville Morning and Sea Area Forecast, this is an early chance to hear songs from the forthcoming album.

It’s FREE in as usual & kicks off at 9pm. It’s going to be another great night of live music in Flanagan’s, so let’s kick off the first ‘BarryGruff Presents’ of 2013 with a bang! [FB event page]

BarryGruff’s Irish Albums of the Year 2012


Pretty self explanatory this one. There’s been a lot of great music released in Ireland over the past 12 months & here’s ten Irish albums I’ve enjoyed the most in 2012. You can also check out the ‘Albums of 2012‘ & ‘Irish Songs of 2012‘ if you want.

10. The Expert – ‘Neckbreakers’

Not strictly an album, more of a beat tape as it happens but who makes theses rules? Over seven glorious cuts of jazzy instrumentals The Expert takes us on a head nodding journey from start to finish. Having produced beats for over fifteen years, mainly with his band MJEX, it certainly shows. A worthy addition to any record collection.

09 Imploded View – ‘Picnics With Pylons’

Picnics With Pylons is the debut album from Longford based producer Imploded View (aka Jerome McCormick). Continuing with his forte for atmospheric downtempo electronic music, his debut rarely if ever, emerges from first gear. Preferring to meander through a vast and cloudy world of extremely chilled ambient sounds, an air of calmness permeates the entire record. McCormick is certainly comfortable in this skin, he seems at peace, a feeling transposed to the listener as the airy productions wash over you, allowing time for delicate detail, added emotional depth and mood and thought provoking atmospherics. An assured and composed debut.

08 The P Affection – ‘Cakes For Occasions’

The P Affection’s debut was a scatter-shot of indie-pop, rock, ska, and folk, a very good one it must be said. While staying true to the influences of that record, with Cakes For Occasions, The P Affection have grown as a band and refined their sound. It’s a pretty irresistible and varied selection of power-pop and harder edge indie-rock coated in a mix of humorous and heartfelt lyrics. The P Affection continue to improve in all that they do, it’s going to be exciting to see where to next.

07 House of Dolls – ‘House of Dolls’

Taking their cue from the likes of The Chameleons, The Verve, Jesus & Mary Chain and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; there is no messing around with House of Dolls. Equally adept in the psych-rock/shoegaze department or rip-roaring  dirty rocking guitar riffs. It is here where the albums persona lies, flipping seamlessly between the two styles, on the one hand the fired up brutish rock sounds and on the other, the more measured and steady but no less captivating psych-rock sounds. A very good album, one deserving of much greater exposure.

06  Our Krypton Son – ‘Our Krypton Son’

Our Krypton Son is Derry man Chris McConaghy, who on gathered close musician friends together to create the band in early 2010, they have taken time to produce their self-titled debut. It is a warm collection of alt-rock/folk songs, imbued with an eerie sense of melancholy and an autumnal feel. McConaghy proves himself an excellent songwriter and his voice is possess a real richness and warmth. Our Krypton Son is a solid debut with so much to like but, having seen them live, there is even more to come.

05 Knoxville Morning – ‘Knoxville Morning’

A trip across the US left Ciaran Dwyer of Band On An Island with a collection of songs and stories, of a distinctly different variety to those of BOAI, and so Knoxville Morning was born. Under this new alias, with Dwyer at the helm, he is joined by fellow BOAI members and The Mighty Stef, Gavin Elsted (We Are Losers), Brian Gallagher (Humanzi), Stephen Fahey (Super Extra Bonus Party) and Claire Prendergast. The record is a sweet blend of folk, country and Americana, and while it wears it’s US influences on it’s sleeve, Ciaran’s intuitive storytelling remains a linchpin that holds everything together. It maybe shouldn’t work, but it does, and remarkably well too, which is a credit to Dwyer and all involved.

04 Lethal Dialect – LD 50 Part II

LD 50 Part II is the second record from Dublin rapper Lethal Dialect and it is extremely impressive. Composed, confident and intelligent, there is no bullshit bravado here, just great rap tunes. LD’s greatest asset is his voice, spitting salient bars above beats and samples, he utilises every breath to paint an all too realistic depiction of life in Dublin. Delving into a whole raft of topics and issues others tend to refrain from, he’s cool, calm, sometimes agitated and angry but always passionate. A refreshing and thought-provoking new voice, not only for Irish hip-hop but Irish music in general.

03 Ghost Estates – ‘Ghost Estates’

Prior to this release, Ghost Estates had already carved out quite a name for themselves, their debut album goes someways to realising their potential. With three songwriters in the band, stylistically it’s diverse, taking in a mix of new wavey sounds, reach for the sky guitar anthems and straight up indie rock. This amalgam has seen them arrive at their own distinct sound of hazy electronica edged indie which send a shiver down the spine. It is said two heads are better than one, well, judging by Ghost Estates’ debut, three are certainly better than two. Easily one of the best Irish indie album for some time.

02 Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band – ‘Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band’

Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band certainly borrow from the past to create a timeless soulful country sound, and have found their niche. The tone is soulful country, set to overarching themes of demise and redemption, draped in Conway’s intuitive storytelling which paints vivid pictures with his words. Mostly you feel they are working together, from the swinging uptempo tracks to the less blustery, slower numbers. They have a rapport with one another; brass, percussion strings and Conway’s deep bellowed croon, all work in perfect tandem. Sonny Boy requires a degree of patience, but it is worth it. A beautiful, timeless and assured album.

01 Conor Mason – ‘Standstill’

Standstill continues where 2009’s When It’s Over left off, flowing gently by, amid a sea of soft lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation. It is permeated by an air of richness, comforting tranquillity and shrouded in melancholy. Standstill is a slow burner and requires patience, understanding and repeated listens to be fully appreciated. Standstill is a beautiful, simplistic and assured album and sometimes that is quite enough.

Best of 2012: w/ Nathan Conway of Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012’, ‘favourite song of 2012’ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Without further ado, here’s Nathan Conway of Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band, and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Angel Olsen – ‘Half Way Home’

Bob Dylan’s voice, phrasing and delivery peaked on Tempest this year but his band were so full of tired moves that they killed off the atmosphere. And so, apart from my own Sonny Boy record, this year I find only one album worth attention. Half Way Home by Angel Olsen, her first full album. Last year when I heard her song ‘If it’s alive, it will’, I wrote to her record company to try and get her to sing on a song I was recording. I was turned down in favour of her going on tour with Will Oldham. To this day I can’t imagine why? I’ve no chance now.

I had first thought there was something French about her songs and later that she wouldn’t be out of place in Os Mutantes. It could be that the music here doesn’t conform. It has an international sound. Although she’s got a lot of style, her songs are unaffected by it. It’s all very natural. There’s a real patient, calm, learned hand in getting the sound settled for this record too. Its got the type of hofner bass sound that I love the most and shes the best singer around.

Favourite song of 2012: Django Django – ‘Storm’

My sister put me onto Django Django. I’m not gone on them. Everything I heard when I checked them out was this very contrived 80’s thing, but their song, ‘Storm’, is a cracker. Although they appear to be carefully cultivating the image of the nerd, there’s a rawness to the sound and a laziness to the lyric of this one that frees it up from all that and sets it apart from their other work. For a moment here they become a more dangerous breed of nerd like that French writer Michel Houellebecq. I would imagine this was a throwaway song that came to life in the recording because everything hinges on the rattley sound achieved here.

Favourite Irish song of 2012: The Brand New Switcheroo – ‘Diane’

Music in Ireland seems to be sinking ever further into the quagmire. The music makers are all still there alright, their voices drowned in the ceaseless tide of shite bands. Now and again I get lucky and hear something outside of the classical oeuvre that restores my faith and joy in music.

The Brand New Switcheroo are brothers and they are both really good writers. Because of the close tone of voice, brothers and sisters can’t be beat for harmony singing. So far as I know this song, ‘Diane’, hasn’t been recorded, so this rough you-tube thing is the best example I can find. It sounds simple but to whittle a song down to this kind of simplicity and clarity takes a lot of ability and confidence in ones work. There’s a ‘walking on the sand’ image here that pervades in the lyric and the whole song has a whoozy wash and eddy thing going on.

Best of 2012: w/ Stephen Connelly of Sea Area Forecast

Stevie Sea Area

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012′, ‘favourite song of 2012′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Right, that is enough from me, over to Stephen Connelly from Sea Area Forecast (and Knoxville Morning + 1/3 BarryGruff Presents team) and his picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Ty Segall – ‘Twins’

Definitely my highlight of the three albums he released this year. The opening tracks ‘Thank God For The Sinners’ straight into ‘You’re The Doctor’ will blow the head off you. Packed with DIY garage rock madness, the guitars sound like pure dirt which is definitely a good thing.

Favourite Irish Album of 2012: Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band – ‘Sonny Boy’

One of the best records I’ve heard. A perfect combination of country, soul and swinging 50’s guitar riffs all topped off with Conway’s unique vocals and lyrics. Each song, an epic story filled with characters doomed with the burdens of being human. I love every second of this record.

Favourite Irish Song of 2012: The Mighty Stef – ‘If You Can’t Give Me Everything’

A tribute to Greg Cartwright, released as part of the Bad Bad Men split EP with the Cheap Freaks. May not have been written this year but The Mighty Stef does a cracking version of this Reigning Sound favorite. Doing what The Mighty does best, his re-imagined rendition is even bigger with extra heartbreak. A beautiful take on a perfect song.

Best of 2012: w/ Aoife from The Annulments

The Annulments

It’s that time of year when every music website, publication and blog (including this one) are busy compiling end of year lists. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to the bands and artist’s who’ve played a ‘BarryGruff Presents’ show this year and ask them for their ‘favourite album of 2012’, ‘favourite song of 2012’ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’.

Without further ado, here’s Aoife from The Annulments and her picks from the year that was 2012.

Favourite Album of 2012: Nathan Conway and The River Valley Band – ‘Sonny Boy’

This year saw the release of Sonny Boy by Nathan Conway and The River Valley Band. We’ve been big fans since his debut, Run on Diesel with the T-Town Bottlestoppers a couple of years back. Conway has a serious gift for writing witty, salient songs – whether they’re about doing the dirt on your missus in a cheap motel, vampire bats, Jesus, or what’s in the making of a man – they always seem to be put across in the most direct, thought-provoking and fun ways. His singing voice is striking, to say the least – a south-eastern drawl hiding nothing. It’s one of those albums that every time you listen to it, you hear a different lick, a different nuance, a different theme. The River Valley Band are multi-faceted, talented musicians and for the breadth of moods and influences on Sonny Boy, it’s testament to their ability that each song is put across so well. To The Annulments, Nathan is one of the most underrated songwriters in Ireland at the moment – which seems positively criminal – so grab the opportunity to wrap your ears around this album, it’s bloody marvelous!

Favourite song of 2012: Tame Impala – ‘Elephant’

Recently enough a friend said “here, have you heard that Tame Impala song?” Cue the last month of listening to this almost on repeat. What a tune! If John Lennon had to soundtrack an episode of Buck Rogers I’d imagine it would sound a little like this. I believe the lads are from Perth, Australia and their music seems to be the type that could only have come out of permanently sunny climes. Looking forward to hearing more from them in 2013.

Favourite Irish song 0f 2012: Nathan Conway and The River Valley Band – ‘Troublemaker’

Should we have branched out here and thought about a different artist for our favourite song? Probably. But you would be very, very hard pushed to find a better song all year than Troublemaker. This song stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I heard it. I suppose in a weird way, the song asks ‘what would Jesus do?’ and paints him as a regular guy, “a married man too”. Again, Conway’s strength of writing shines through in something that is so simple, yet so direct. I guess a song like this makes you realise how much religion has stripped the humanity out of spiritual figures and when you get a glimpse of that again, it’s pretty stunning.

Album of the Week: Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band – Sonny Boy

Sometimes we can all be a little guilty of preoccupying ourselves with seeking the next big innovation in music. Yet, by and large, most things in music tend to be borrowed from the past, and baring that in mind, we are left with music that’s either good or bad – surely that’s all that really matters at the end of day.

Nathan Conway & The River Valley Band certainly borrow from the past to create a timeless soulful country sound. Having teamed up with The River Valley Band after releasing Run on Diesel with The Bottlestoppers in 2011, Conway & Co. have found their niche. The tone is soulful country, set to overarching themes of demise and redemption, draped in Conway’s intuitive storytelling which paints vivid pictures with his words.

Mostly you feel that Conway and band are really working together, from the swinging, uptempo ‘Where’s the Love in My Heart’ and ‘It’ll All Come Back On Me, Someday’ to the less blustery, slower numbers ‘Song from the Engine of the Model T’ and ‘Lord I Got it Bad’ or ‘Freckles’. They have a rapport with one another; brass, percussion strings and Conway’s deep bellowed croon, all work in perfect tandem.

Sonny Boy requires a degree of patience, understanding and repeated listens to be fully appreciated. It is a beautiful, timeless and assured album. You can tell from the get go that the musicians know exactly what they’re doing. There might not be anything else like this around at the moment which only adds further measure to what they have achieved here.