Good Life – Soulé

The unbelievably good weather calls for a feel good tune. Even though ‘Good Life’ by Irish artist Soulé was released back in February it has summer written all over it! I love the positive energy of this song and her vibe in general.

Pronounced Soul-A, she was born in the UK and raised in Balbriggan where she’s now based. She cites her influences as Erykah Badu, Macy Grey, ASA, Chrisette Michele, and Nneka. She says she only got serious about singing a year ago but it looks like she’s already set for huge success with her latest single ‘Troublemaker’ racking up 500,000 plays on Spotify in two months, and a Choice Music Prize nomination for ‘Song of the Year’ in 2016.

Diffusion Lab are behind this video, as they were with the Jafaris video I posted recently.

Here she is chatting to Stuart Clark from Hot Press after her set at Forbidden Fruit. You can catch her live at Sea Sessions this weekend and on the Other Voices stage at Electric Picnic.

Totally Irish and Jafaris

Last Sunday the lovely John Barker asked me to be a guest on his show Totally Irish on 98FM. As the name suggests, the show is focussed on Irish music, from up and coming and established artists. Ham Sandwich did a live acoustic set followed by a set from Rocstrong. After that I joined John, together with Martin Byrne from Other Voices, to talk about three tracks from three Irish artists: James Vincent McMorrow, Jafaris, and The Fontaines.

I already knew and loved James Vincent McMorrow, I wasn’t such a huge fan of The Fontaines, and Jafaris was by far my favourite track of the evening. You might recognise Jafaris from his role in the award winning Irish movie Sing Street. As well as being an actor, he’s an accomplished rapper and has just released a four track EP called Velvet Cake available on iTunes. My favourite track from the EP is ‘Keep Your Head High’.

Jafaris is working with Diffusion Lab (who are doing some amazing work with Irish hip hop artists) and they have created a couple of videos for this EP, including this gorgeously shot one for ‘Love Dies’.

If you want to check out the whole podcast of the show, here’s the link.  I’m on in the last half an hour. Hope you enjoy!

This Chemical Sea – Jape

Jape’s fifth album This Chemical Sea was released on January 23rd and charted at number eight in Ireland. I’ve been listening to it fairly steadily since then and it’s a real grower, more chilled out than previous albums but all the more interesting for it. David Wrench, the producer of the record who’s also responsible for recent hits by Caribou and FKA Twigs, does an excellent job here with crisp production and beautifully layered vocals.

The first single from the album, ‘The Heart’s Desire’, is a stand out track and the video directed by Conor Finnegan is a paint-soaked trippy piece of weirdness.

 

 

The video for ‘Seance of Light’ starts with a scene reminiscent of Spud’s speed-fuelled job interview from Trainspotting, set to a trancey electro tune with Hot Chip influenced vocals. Check it out.

 

 

Jape play the Academy on February 19th and you can grab tickets here.

Stalk This Way – Funzo

Having been in the music industry for most of my working life, I have a lot of mates and family connected with the business. One of the great benefits of this is discovering new music. On recommendation I checked out IASCA Radio’s Spotify playlists and yesterday I found a track by Funzo called “Stalk This Way” which is now on rotation in my gaff.

Some background: IASCA is the Irish Association of Songwriters, Composer and Authors and the work they’re doing for Irish bands is brilliant; Funzo is an Irish band founded by Liam McDermott in 2009, and as well as steadily releasing music, they’ve also played Oxegen, Electric Picnic and Hard Working Class Heroes. 

‘Stalk This Way’ is taken from Funzo’s new album The Great Lonesome released in May of this year. The song is an astute comment on social media, and it sounds like a genius hybrid of Danny Elfman and Alex Turner. You can buy it for just €0.99 on iTunes here. Check it out.

The Minutes – Whelan’s Friday 16th May

I always love discovering new Irish bands to champion and The Minutes (consisting of Mark Austin, Tom Cosgrave and Shane Kinsella from Dublin) are my new favourite. I really liked “Gold” from their 2011 debut album Marcata which was a Black Crowes-esque rock number. The tune on rotation in my house at the moment is “Cherry Bomb” from their new album Live Well, Change Often; a seventies glam rock fest reminiscent of T. Rex.

The Minutes play Whelan’s this Friday 16th May. It’s a venue they have sold out in the past and it’s bound to be a packed gig again this time. The band have honed their act over the last three years, playing headline tours and support slots to the likes of The Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Tickets are €15.00 and you can get them online here.

Take Me to Church – Hozier

The above video managed to get 200,000 views in just twenty-four hours. Pretty impressive for an Irish artist without major label backing who just released his first EP, right?

Meet Andrew Hozier-Byrne. Born on St. Patrick’s Day and hailing from County Wicklow, he is generating huge buzz in the music industry in recent weeks. He joined his first band when he was fifteen and, having taught himself to play guitar and piano, he went to Trinity College to study music. Hozier released the Take Me to Church EP two months ago. He played all the instruments (with input from Fiachra Kinder on drums), sang all the parts and recorded it at home. Rob Kirwan (who has worked with Depeche Mode and PJ Harvey amongst others) mixed the tracks in Dublin.

“Take Me to Church” was inspired by the recent homophobic attacks in Russia and the beautifully shot video is hard to watch but compelling. It has been praised internationally and Stephen Fry and Perez Hilton are just two people who have tweeted about it.

I could compare Hozier to others and give you easy musical signposts, but I’d rather let him speak for himself. “Take Me To Church” and “Angel Of Small Death” have a stompy soul/gospel feel. I really love the haunting backing vocals on “Like Real People Do”. “Cherry Wine” is a beautiful acoustic track which was recorded live at 6am on an abandoned hotel rooftop, with accompaniment from the dawn chorus. Given the fact that the dawn chorus is one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard you can understand why this track has found a permanent place in my heart. Hozier’s lyrics are worth paying close attention to. Just take the first two lines of the EP: “My lover’s got humour, She’s the giggle at a funeral…”

Here’s “Cherry Wine”, my personal favourite from the EP:

You can check out Hozier’s Facebook page here which is updated with details of gigs and his website is here. The EP is just €1.49 on iTunes (seriously guys, 37c a track is almost giving it away!) so support Irish music and buy it. I have had the EP on repeat in my house for a week and am falling more in love with it on every listen. And, if the amount of A & R reps at his recent Hard Working Class Heroes gig are anything to go by, he’s going to be huge.

(Just one question for the artist if he ever reads this: pronounced Hoo-zee-ay or Ho-zee-er? Or neither? I’d like to get it right!)

A playlist for Paddy’s Day

The Irish Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (IASCA) asked music blog, 2 U I Bestow, to submit their top tracks from Irish singer-songwriters to be included in a package of music for BBC Radio 6 to potentially be played during their St. Patrick’s Day shows. 2 U I Bestow have now included their suggestions as a playlist on their site which I would urge you to have a look at – lots of great songs on there.

Personally my favourite new Irish track that I’ve heard recently is from the ever original, loud and bonkers Adebisi Shank. Here you go…

 

Irish Music

My earlier post today talks about how some Irish resident musicians can avail of an Artists’ Exemption Scheme which means that their royalties (and only their royalties…not all income) are exempt from tax.  This has enabled many Irish musicians, artists and writers, to earn some much needed income from their artistic endeavours.  Not all of these people are household names like U2 and The Corrs.  The majority of them are people who earn very little in comparison to the general population! So I’d like to show some support for some of my current favourite Irish bands.

Jape“Floating”

Heathers“Remember When”

Adebisi Shank are the Irish Battles in my opinion and this mash up video is great.