Best of 2013 w/ Ciaran Dwyer of Knoxville Morning

Knoxville-Morning---Ciaran-Dwyer

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.

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.

(Video) The Mighty Stef – If You Cant Give Me Everything

The Mighty Stef & Cheap Freaks are releasing a split 7″ for Record Store Day. Entitled Bad Bad Men, the EP features four covers of songs by american songwriter Greg Cartwright. To give us a taste of what’s to come, here is The Mighty Stef’s wonderfully touching rendition of ‘If You Cant Give Me Everything’ and Lindsey Byrne’s directed video.

The Bad Bad Men EP will be available from a variety of record stores in Dublin on the 21st of April.

The Mighty Stef :: Flanagan’s :: Newbridge :: Jan 11th

Looking for relief from the January blues? Well, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

The Mighty Stef will be performing a special solo show in Flanagan’s, Newbridge on Wednesday this week. Stef will be playing, amongst others, songs from his debut The Sins Of Sainte Catherine. Having not played a show in Newbridge in 2011 Stef has made it his first order of business in 2012, before heading out on a European solo tour.

Over the past few he’s consistently been one of the most impressive Irish musicians with a string of superb releases and his live performances are always top notch. With support coming from Tallaght folk duo The Brothers Mulligan & Newbridge’s very own Ciaran Dwyer, it’s going to be a welcome midweek distraction.

Entry is FREE as always and starts at 8.30 pm, Wednesday, January 11th. More info & Facebook event here.

The Mighty Stef – Sail The Boats

The Mighty Stef – Down At The Radiotron

Ciaran Dwyer – Pecan Street

SOnance HOtel :: Album Launch :: Twisted Pepper :: July 15th

SOnance HOtel is the new work of Dublin musician and songwriter Brian Gallagher. Gallagher is probably better known to most as the drummer in Humanzi or for his work with The Mighty Stef.

He is set to release his first solo album Don’t Look Behind You this Friday, July 15. The record was conceived in Berlin and shaped on return to Dublin. It is virtually the work of one man, with all the material being composed, arranged, performed and produced by Gallagher.

It is quite different from his previous work but is no less astounding, preferring a gentle, uplifting and beautiful blend of lush 90’s style indie with touches of electronica. Don’t Look Behind You is a stunning debut, I’ve been hooked on it since I got it on Monday.

Don’t Look Behind You is launched this Friday 15 July in the Twisted Pepper, Middle Abbey Street, Dublin w/ support from The Mighty Stef and Ciaran Dwyer. Doors 8pm / €5.

SOnance HOtel – Ode To Nowhere

SOnance HOtel – Living Is For Dreaming

Free Music: Steel Horse – On A Steel Horse We Ride EP

Steel Horse is a solo side-project from Dublin troubadour Stefan Murphy (AKA The Mighty Stef).

Stef has just unveiled a brand new EP, On A Steel Horse We Ride which sees him embracing his punk Id and influences like The Things, Devo, Moldy Peaches, Jeff Lewis and Magazine. We are introduced to new side of Stef, trading his renowned penchant for gothic folk-rock in favour of DIY punk rock; stripped back, fuzzed up and feisty with an added dose of swagger.

It’s 4 tracks of brilliantly riotous rock n’ roll including a cover of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s’ Zero’ and was lovingly created using:

1 x Human Male
1 x Acoustic Guitar
1 x Fuzz Pedal
1 x Toy Keyboard
1 x Nasty-Ass programmed Beat

On A Steel Horse We Ride is FREE to download from Bandcamp.

Download: Steel Horse – Burning Motorcycles

Download: Steel Horse – Somebody To Fuck

The word according to Mighty Stef the Baptist

With issue 6 of Lookleft almost ready to hit the shelves across Ireland I thought it wry time I shared an interview I did for the last issue with one of Ireland’s most treasured artists, The Mighty Stef.

The Mighty Stef has long been heralded as one of Ireland’s finest emerging troubadours, something his latest album ‘TMS & The Baptists’ has placed in stone.

Lookleft needed no excuse for a chat with Stef before the Newbridge leg of his Irish Tour. We sought sanctuary in the corner of the bar away from the pre-show hustle and bustle. The positive reactions to his new record and the numbers braving the snow to make it to his gigs had a genuinely humbling effect on him.

To date his work has been characterised by a fiery folk-punk attitude and a predilection for the darker side of life especially in the early days “I think I was deliberately aiming for the more morose themes” and “there’s some pretty dark stuff on the new album, mixed with two or three uplifting tracks”.

The album title evokes religious connotations which manifest themselves dealing with issues of sin and redemption during songs ‘John the Baptist Parts 1 & 2’. Accompanied by a wry smile he explains the thinking, “John the Baptist (Part 1) is almost a tongue in cheek gospel song asking for whomever it is that hands out forgiveness to have mercy on us all, in particular me and the other five lads in the band. I’m not a deeply religious person”, preferring instead to keep it simple and “believe in right and wrong”. The introduction of his new band ‘The Baptists’ has pushed him from his comfort zone, making things “slightly different. They didn’t let me be nonchalant or lazy as I would normally be”.

However, one ever-present ingredient to his work is heart and soul, always a big part but never so fervently as his latest single, ‘We Want Blood’. The song, a universal song of disgust at the powers that be is “not so much a call to arms. I’m not a violent person. I’m not even a political person. It’s apparent to me that the people responsible for the economic downturn aren’t the people who are gonna be held accountable, it will be me, you and all the other good working class people”. The song has received many plaudits for how timely it is but he points out that it’s always the right time because “these points are always relevant, even in the supposedly good times the government were still a shower of c**ts and the banks were still a shower of greedy bastards, excuse the language.” “I wrote this over a year and half ago and it was as relevant then as it is now. It mightn’t go far enough in what it’s saying.”

Music has acted as a catalyst for change in the past but Stef isn’t sure if he’s “politically savvy enough to write a protest album or anything like that”. There’s a feeling music can “even by accident, change things. When rock’ n roll first hit America, Christian rightwing groups said it was the work of the devil but it changed people’s perspectives.

When I think of rock n roll having the power to change things I always think of Bob Dylan or Joe Strummer, neither of whom wanted to be spokespersons for their generation but did by default and they did change things for a lot of people.”

This is his third album to be released via his ‘The First Born is Dead’ label and being an independent artist is something he’s happy with, “I’ve managed to make a very modest living but the money isn’t the important thing to me, its playing music”. He points out that it can be “as hard as you make it. If I was to limit myself to gig around Ireland I would force myself into a corner pretty quickly. I try to get outside [Ireland] a bit. I

love doing this so much, I would never complain about how difficult it is because it’s an absolute privilege and pleasure to do it”.

The internet is an intrinsic weapon in his arsenal and he is dismissive of the major labels’ and industry heads’ attitudes that the internet is killing music. On the contrary it seems to be a great leveller; “it might have spoiled the party for a lot of people who have had it really good for a very long time. If you look down the food chain to the likes of myself, I’d be nowhere without the internet. It allows me to go off on tour, play small venues and for people to be able to find out who I am and interact with people about the music”.

In an industry that constantly presents individuals obsessed with fame, self-importance and money but low on talent, to find a musician so honest and full of love for music is a refreshing change.

.

The Mighty Stef – John The Baptist (Part 1)