Bird dog is the first release from Londoner Patrick Rees. It’s very much a slow burning, laidback affair. Rees says he wrote this handful of songs on a battered old guitar whilst he was travelling earlier on this year. Its shows with a very decluttered, simplistic and honest production. It’s just one man and his guitar, strumming and singing. The bareboned, home produced aesthetic runs through the album with a mellow, intimate vibe to proceedings.
Opening track ‘Sleep’ is a dreamy trawl through a quiet musical backwater. It’s a track that just slowly washes over you and passes you by. ‘Words’ is more of the same, stripped back acoustic guitar and a slow, ambling vocal. ‘Just echoes’ is a nice track with shades of Fionn Regan to it. It has an accompanying video that Rees shot on a mobile phone, he plans to release videos for all six of the tracks on the EP. ‘Years’ is a catchy three minutes that tells of love that’s run its course. ‘Ghost tracks’ is the weakest number for me, all finger plucking and emoting without going anywhere. Last track ‘Close’ complete the running order with an understated, not unpleasant lo-fi love song.
Rees shares musical stylings with the likes of Laura Marling and Nick Drake, its low-key and uncomplicated stuff. Where you stand on this record is very much dictated by your taste for pared back acoustic, folk music. If you like your tunes thoughtful and meaningful without any fussy overproduction then this is the artist for you. There’s no musical boundaries being shattered here but I’m partial to my singer songwriters and Bird dog is an amiable enough first effort from Rees.
Review by Niall Healy
Decidedly pleasant is the best way to describe Belfast’s latest peddlers of dirty synths and drum loops. Uber Glitterati are a new two piece who have brought considerable talent to the table. They wear their Human League and OMD influences proudly on their sleeves. Elizabeth McGeown’s vocals shimmer over Stevie Mac’s music and give birth to an eighties throwback meets Roisin Murphy-esque bastard lovechild that never fails to bring a smile to the listeners lips. This isn’t simply smug pastiche or a well-rehearsed electro tribute act, they bring a distinctive sound of their own in an EP of real energy and uplifting tempo throughout.
Their self-titled debut is in this reviewer’s humble opinion an accomplished slice of electro pop. Opener ‘Australia’ is all shiny synth and sparky drum loops. McGeown’s vocal isn’t lost in the mix and she comes over all Florence Welsh stuck in a lift with Neil Tennant. ‘Tilt’ brings the guitar action to proceedings and has a nice melody to it. ‘Stood in line’ is a low key affair that is perfectly serviceable if a little filler-ish. Fourth track ‘Broke my Cool’ is a belter and the standout track of the EP for me, it’s a fresh and engaging number that zips through its 4 minutes leaving you wanting more.
The northern duo have released an unremittingly catchy debut that has an immediacy often all too lacking in this musical genre. They’re a hugely promising act that are justifiably starting to gather a lot of praise. With this record they have written songs that will actually get you tapping your feet and lunging for the dance floor.
‘Passionate Shit’ is the debut E.P. release from London based ‘The Cheek of Her’ A.K.A. singer Helen Dooley and co. They started out as a duo in 2010 and have gradually become a fully fledged band along the way. In many ways it’s a straight up 90s rock revival record, all guts and ballsy angst a la Skunk Anansie.
Opening track ‘Free’ is all about kicking a no good partner to the kerb and how ‘I am enough’, Alanis would be proud. Girrrl power indeed. It’s a guitar driven number that packs plenty of vocal punch and set the tone for the rest of this five track E.P.
‘Lies’ for me is the best song on this E.P. It’s a spunky, unapologetic rocker that could be Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt heyday. It’s a catchy, angry number that leaves the listener battered into aural submission. Dooley’s vocal soars here and allied with a spiky guitar arrangement delivers a quality track.
Like any debut it doesn’t always work. ‘27’ deals with musicians who have checked out of existence at the same age. It’s a clunky lowlight for me and plays more like a list than a fully developed idea. That said there are enough positives here to outweigh any complaints.
The band makes no bones that their sound is an attempt to escape from the saturation of ‘Pop / RnB leotard wearing blandness’. There’s rawness to the vocal here that is never going to be confused with the polished autotune of the latest model off the reality show production line.
The E.P. is awash with references to doomed love affairs and not caring about the one who got away. It never gets maudlin but rails against missed opportunity. They’re a pleasantly angry sounding group who have created an interesting debut.
Review by Niall Healy
When I listened to the intro for ‘Electric Light’, for some reason I thought of ZZ Top. It’s probably just me but the bearded classic rockers sprang to mind for a fleeting two or three seconds. Sanely enough the rest of this track does NOT sound like a single from the Top.
‘Electric Light’ is the latest single from Blancatransfer, surely the first three piece to spring forth from such disparate musical surroundings as Clonmel & Madrid . The blurb goes that Limerick born Singer/Guitarist Derek Corrwho is based in the Spanish capital keeps in touch with the rest of the band through social media and their music is made via sending demos back and forth.
Working across two countries must make for a difficult songwriting process but they manage to pull it off with this release. It’s a simple enough melody that is powered along by an electronic sounding percussion section. If I had to offer a comparison here I’d say there’s more than a strong hint of Duran Duran to this song. The band’s other material has a rougher edge but ‘Electric Light’ has a polished feel to it reminiscent of the kind of pop that will be coming to an Eighties electro night near you. It’s not the finished article by any means but going on this single the Hiberno-Iberian experiment is moving in the right direction.
3 /6 Stars.
Let’s face facts, Nouvelle Vague give good pop. Whether it’s on their latest album of Bossa Nova covers or if you’re lucky enough to catch the French hipsters in person. Their return to Cork was no different. I caught their show at the same venue last year and the quartet had high expectations to live up to from their last visit.
Thankfully gallic flair was in ample abundance throughout their set. They took to the stage with a low-key rendition of The Cure’s ‘Lullaby but things started to take off with their familiar version of ‘Ever fallen in love with someone’ and they took the ball and ran with a stonking cover of ‘Blue Monday’. A certain amount of crowd participation is to be expected when the Vague are in town from impromptu forays into the audience to nice conversational breaks to collapsing tables, this night had it all.
The band’s line-up is changeable but for this Irish acoustic tour Liset Alea and Mareva Galanter share the vocal duties and boy do they know how to deliver a crowdpleaser. Alea managed to forget the lyrics at one point but did so with such charm that she had the audience in the palm of her hand. The venue set up on the night really suits this type of gig as the audience are almost encroaching upon the playing area and it all adds to the feeling of this being an impromptu set in somebody’s living room as opposed to a sell out in one of Cork’s favourite live spots.
The highlight was undoubtedly the group’s ever popular rendition of the Dead Kennedy’s ‘Too drunk to fuck’ with accompanying raucousness. Other notable mentions on the night were ‘Golden brown’ and God save The Queen’, then all too suddenly they’ve flown through the twenty odd numbers of their set and it’s time to say Bon soir with ‘In a manner of speaking’ drawing proceedings to a close. They’re a live act that never fails to impress through their ability to connect with a crowd. It’s been a lovely, intimate night with one of France’s finest exports
Motorcycle Display Team are going since 2008 , Sancho Panza was the original name they played under but they changed it to Motorcycle Display Team (MDT) in 2009 over some confusion with a dance act of the same name. Well there’s no case of mistaken indentity now as the London three piece deliver their new singlebetweenager ahead of their long player debut which is due out in October.
Apparently it hasn’t been the easiest of recordings with the band admitting ‘The build- up and planning to the recording of our debut album caused one of us to have a nervous breakdown’. They don’t go into any more detail than that but there’s no hint of a difficult process here. It’s a perfectly pleasant slice of fun power pop that jangles along just shy of the four minute mark. It’s catchy without being insufferable. It’s all upbeat and jaunty guitar goodness.
The track is produced by Cesar Gimeno Lavin of Modest Mouse and White Lies fame, and while the sparky guitar of Modest Mouse is evident here , for me this single is tonally similar to acts like Two Door Cinema Club or the Drums. Lyrically clever this song is knowing without drifting into the wrong side of smug. ‘A rock star at twenty-three and that’s where I retire’ the track proclaims, unlikely if they keep going in this direction.
Little Xs for eyes come to Cork
Little xs for eyes and The David Nelligan Thing play the Roundy on Thursday 19 July. Doors at 8.30pm – first band at 9pm. Tickets are €6.
Cast your memory back to 2009. Remember when Seven Summit’s self-titled debut assaulted the charts and dominated the airwaves? Me neither. Unfortunately their first long player whilst critically well received pretty much tanked commercially. Lesser bands might have slunk off into obscurity but the Belfast quintet have gone all Alan Partridge and are bouncing back with a new albumfossils. The good news is that it’s an absolute delight.
It’s a standout long player with oversized swathes of pop assaulting your senses like a melodic blitzkrieg. They’ve crafted some fantastic moments on a record that fizzes with invention and relentlessly upbeat tunes. They wear their Grandaddy influences on their sleeves with opener ‘Sooner or Later’. It zips along on a wave of synth and drums and is a good indicator of what’s to come.
‘Burning heart’ is the standout track for me, its three minutes and thirty seconds of shimmering indie pop perfection (with a knowing nod to Weezer’s ‘Buddy Holly’). It’s an instantly catchy and infectious number that has already been nominated for a Northern Irish Music Award and should do well if there’s any justice in the world. Other highlights include the understated, synth laden ‘I want somebody’ and upcoming single ‘The Worrier’.
It might be a relatively short journey through the album’s ten tracks but it’s far from an unpleasant one. It’s not over the top to say that on their sophomore effort Seven Summits manage the dual feat of being both quality popsmiths and fine purveyors of lyrical goodness. This album is a bit special and on the strength of this release it seems only a matter of time before people start taking notice of this band.
Review by Niall Healy