Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 20 Albums of 2011

Here are the twenty albums which I've loved this year from Irish artists.


1. The Making - Expectations


This is pure quality pop/rock album released independently by the Co. Monaghan band. I'm not even sure if it's had an official nationwide release as I didn't notice the album on the Choice Longlist for the year.

02 v1 Beautiful Tonight by The Making




2. Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love


Superb vocals and lyrics throughout from an amazing band.

They Call Me Coco Rushdie by FavouriteSons





3. I Draw Slow - Redhills


Beautifully crafted fusion of alt-country, folk, roots, old-time and Americana with wonderful vocals and musicianship!




4. Jukebox Gypsy - The Month


Jukebox Gypsy consists of four songwriters with their own style that works so well together on the band's second album entitled 'The Month'.





5. Maria Byrne & The Broken String - Little Basement


'Little Basement' is the debut album from London based Corkonian Maria Byrne and it's a wonderful collection of inoffensive singalong songs which brings a warm glow into my life.

Maria Byrne & The Broken String - Home by maria_byrne



Amhrán Gach Lá - Jukebox Gypsy [Top 10 of 2011]

With 2011 at an end I'm bringing my 'Amhrán Gach Lá' project to a close with my Top 10 songs of 2011 by Irish artists.



1. Jukebox Gypsy - The Month

For me the lyric 'These are fading pictures now falling from our wall' is exactly what it's like looking back with memories of people who've passed away. It's a poignant track about a month in the songwriter's life which was devastating and turning it into a positive meaningful song.

Jukebox Gypsy - The Month by 2uibestow


Buy The Month here: http://jukeboxgypsy.bigcartel.com/



2. I Draw Slow - Goodbye Beulahland

3. Declan O'Rourke - Be Brave and Believe

4. Lisa Hannigan - Paper House

5. Autumn Long - Ten More Reasons

6. The Gorgeous Colours - It's OK to be Normal

7. Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love

8. Joe Chester - Most of the Time

9. Storyfold - The Sweetest Silence

10. The Lost Brothers - Goodbye Kid

Friday, 30 December 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - I Draw Slow

With 2 days left in the year I'm going to bring my 'Amhrán Gach Lá' project to a close by bringing my Top 10 songs of 2011 by Irish artists to the blog in 10 installments! Beginning at 10 and heading to 1!



2. I Draw Slow - Goodbye Beulahland

My top ten was picked based on the songs that demanded repeated listening and the line in 'Goodbye Beulahland'; ' .. and I keep coming back to the heart of everything that is wrong with this world.'. I simply adore this track and the album 'Redhills'.

I Draw Slow - Goodbye Beulahland by 2uibestow

Buy Redhills here: http://www.idrawslow.com/store2.html

3. Declan O'Rourke - Be Brave and Believe

4. Lisa Hannigan - Paper House

5. Autumn Long - Ten More Reasons

6. The Gorgeous Colours - It's OK to be Normal

7. Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love

8. Joe Chester - Most of the Time

9. Storyfold - The Sweetest Silence

10. The Lost Brothers - Goodbye Kid

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Declan O'Rourke

With 3 days left in the year I'm going to bring my 'Amhrán Gach Lá' project to a close by bringing my Top 10 songs of 2011 by Irish artists to the blog in 10 installments! Beginning at 10 and heading to 1!



3. Declan O'Rourke - Be Brave and Believe

I wrote about this song a few weeks back and I've kept listening to it since. This is a life changing song about hope and belief. If you need a lift in your life there's no better song to listen to and to believe in. Sublime music!

Declan O'Rourke - Be Brave and Believe by 2uibestow

Buy Mag Pai Zai here: http://www.declanorourke.com/intro.php



4. Lisa Hannigan - Paper House

5. Autumn Long - Ten More Reasons

6. The Gorgeous Colours - It's OK to be Normal

7. Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love

8. Joe Chester - Most of the Time

9. Storyfold - The Sweetest Silence

10. The Lost Brothers - Goodbye Kid

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Lisa Hannigan

With 4 days left in the year I'm going to bring my 'Amhrán Gach Lá' project to a close by bringing my Top 10 songs of 2011 by Irish artists to the blog in 10 installments! Beginning at 10 and heading to 1!



4. Lisa Hannigan - Paper House

This track is all about the charm Lisa's vocals, the strings and the harmonium create. The lyrics are heartfelt and beautifully crafted. This was the highlight of Lisa's album Passengers!

06 Paper House - Lisa Hannigan by Hamlet Knight

Buy Passengers here: http://www.lisahannigan.ie/store/



5. Autumn Long - Ten More Reasons

6. The Gorgeous Colours - It's OK to be Normal

7. Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love

8. Joe Chester - Most of the Time

9. Storyfold - The Sweetest Silence

10. The Lost Brothers - Goodbye Kid

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Autumn Long

With 5 days left in the year I'm going to bring my 'Amhrán Gach Lá' project to a close by bringing my Top 10 songs of 2011 by Irish artists to the blog in 10 installments! Beginning at 10 and heading to 1!



5. Autumn Long - Ten More Reasons

The debut album from Autumn Long to be released next Spring is an album I'm really excited about. Padraig Digan's vocals and more importantly his lyrics are top quality with the debut single 'Ten more Reasons' showcasing these qualities.




http://www.facebook.com/Autumnlongmusic

6. The Gorgeous Colours - It's OK to be Normal

7. Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love

8. Joe Chester - Most of the Time

9. Storyfold - The Sweetest Silence

10. The Lost Brothers - Goodbye Kid

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Top 10 Alternative Tunes for Christmas

Have you got to the stage where you hate Christmas songs? Are you at the point that if you hear one more Shaken Stevens or Shaken Shane MacGowan you'll go mad? Well this list is for you.


Here's the best ten tracks from Irish artists released before 2011 that I think fits the Christmas mood. These are reflective songs with thought provoking lyrics that should be heard by the masses!



1. Pearse McGloughlin - Passion Song

I love the lyrics and atmosphere of this track. It's long intro builds up to a passionate end with the refrain 'Your All There Is Now'. Simply gorgeous.





2. Sean Kangataran - Wake Up


Again this is all about the lyrics and the sentiment of the song 'Wake Up' from Sean's 2010 debut album;

"But your love she had her own way of lifting you up,
Right before she had the nerve to go and break your heart.
So whatever you choose to do, don’t lose hope,
So whatever you choose to do, don’t give up."





3. Doctor Millar - Feel Everything & Love Yourself

Even ten years after it's release I think this song is my most played song of 2011. It's all about the lyrics: "she doesnt have to take that man just because she feels ashamed of how she lost the other one"


Dr. Millar - Feel Everything and Love Yourself by 2uibestow



4. Iain Archer - Frozen Lake

This was one of my favourite tracks from 2009. I adore the Cello which enters the soundscape at around the two minute mark.





5. Resurrection Fern - When You're Weary, Come Home

This is a song about companionship and friendship and the importance of have a home to come back to when needed.

07 When You're Weary, Come Home by Resurrection Fern



6. Annette Buckley - Whirlpool

I love everything about Annette's 2005 debut album and this song is immense. What a perfect love song with amazing strings and atmosphere in abundance.

Annette Buckley - Whirlwind by 2uibestow



7. Declan De Barra - Throw Your Arms Around Me

There's no better delicate love song than this heartfelt ode to a loved one.






8. Colin Devlin - The Heart Wont Be Denied

This song was the highlight of Colin's 2009 solo album The Democracy of One. It's s delicate tale of love that is so beautiful.

Colin Devlin - The Heart Won't Be Denied by Music Week



9. Junah - Walk me into the Ground

You'll need to turn up the volume to hear all the intricate musicianship and harmonies on this demo from Dublin band Junah. I can't wait for their debut album to appear next year.

Walk me into the ground by junah



10 Ultan Conlon - Old & Wise

Ultan's song 'Old & Wise' is a song I never get tired of listening to. It's about not holding back and seeking adventure! "There is a beauty in you I can't define, so we throw caution at the wind, time after time ... "

Ultan Conlon - Old & Wise by 2uibestow

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Top 10 Christmas Covers by Irish Artists

Part two of my 'Top 10 Christmas Lists' sees me focusing on the Christmas covers by Irish bands! There must be hundreds of Christmas tunes out there covered by Irish artists and I've chosen the best 10 for this list!

Have a listen and put some love into your heart!



10. SJ McArdle - Stop The Cavalry

This song is perfect for SJ's deep deep voice!

Stop The Cavalry by SJMcArdle

http://soundcloud.com/sjmcardle



9. Goodtime - Put A Little Love in Your Heart

This free mp3 from Goodtime's website last year warmed the cockles of my heart!

Goodtime - Put A Little Love In Your Heart by 2uibestow

http://goodtime.ie/



8. The Aftermath - The Power of Love

The Frankie goes to Hollywood classic The Power of Love covered byThe Aftermath featuring Matt McManaman from the Dead 60s. This version is much better than the Paddy Casey version from the early noughties!



http://theaftermath.bandcamp.com/



7. Norabelle - Stay Another Day

I don't know of any other shit song completely transformed into a majestic masterpiece as this version of Stay Another Day by Norabelle!



http://norabelle.bandcamp.com/album/wren



6. The Making - Blue Christmas

I heard Brendan McGahey sing this tune last year and was delighted when it became available as a free download this week. Brendan from The Making does a great Elvis here:

Blue Christmas by Brendan Mc Cahey (The Making) by The Making

http://soundcloud.com/the-making



5. Sive - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Straight in at number 5 is this gorgeous version of the classic Christmas number. I love SIve's vocals here. As warm and comfy as mulled wine on the couch in front of a fire!

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by SiveMusic

http://soundcloud.com/sivemusic



4. Damien Dempsey - Holy Night

My favourite Christmas Carol sung by the wonderful Damien Dempsey! It's a cracker!!!!!

Damien Dempsey - Holy Night by 2uibestow

http://www.damiendempsey.com/



3. Fia Rua - Lonely This Christmas

Another song that perfectly matches the vocals of the Irish artist; Lonely This Christmas becomes even more harrowing by Fia Rua's vocals!

Lonely This Christmas by Fia Rua

http://soundcloud.com/fiaruamusic



2. One Day International - River

While One Day international do justice to this classic it's inclusion high up on the list is purely down to my love of the Joni Mitchell song:

One Day International - River [joni mitchell] by 2uibestow

http://onedayinternationalmusic.wordpress.com/



1. Pony Club - Driving Home For Christmas

I also love this Chris Rea tune but Pony Club adding the driving reports from the M50 of Dublin at the beginning of this song makes this my version of choice!

Pony Club - Driving Home for Christmas by 2uibestow


http://www.ponyclub.tv/

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Top 10 Original Irish Christmas Tunes

This is the first of three 'Top 10' countdowns I'm planning for the Christmas season! Here are in my opinion the best 10 original Christmas tunes by Irish artists [excluding the very obvious Fairytale of New York!].







10. Bill Coleman - Sit With Me

Thanks to Aidan from Golden Plec I was introduced to this today and it's a great tune. Sit With Me is a heartfelt Christmas song which reminds you that life and all it's struggles continue through the Christmas period.

"So I won’t be back,
Goodbye my darling,
I will miss you so,
I am so sorry."

Sit With Me by bcoleman


9. Track Dogs - How Christmas Was Meant To Be

This is the current single from Spanish settlers Track Dogs. It's a typical Track Dogs number with the sound vocals from Garrett Wall and that wonderful trumpet elevating the song above the ordinary!

How Christmas Was Meant To Be by Track Dogs


8. Alien Envoy - Christmas in the City

This track appeared on the Alien Envoy album from last year called 'Nine Lives'. I love the vocals of Nick Kelly and the strings which add so much to the charm of the song. This video was recorded on December 30th 2009 upstairs in Whelans:




7. Shayne Thomas Byrne - Coming Home

'Coming Home' is not a Christmas song but it references coming home for Christmas so it gets into the list. 'Coming Home' is the album closer of Shayne's debut album released this year and it's a great song.

7 Coming Home by shaynebyrnemusic



6. Funzo - This Christmas

This track was the winner of Christmas FM’s ‘New Christmas Classic’ award in 2009. The song reminds me of the old Paul McCarty Christmas classics or even Jona Lewie's 'Stop The Cavalry'.




5. Séan Needham - A Child Could Save Us All

A song about the true meaning of Christmas that's actually good? This is a song written about being home in Donegal for Christmas and I love it!

Sean Needham - A Child Could Save Us All by 2uibestow



4. Emmett Tinley - Christmastreet

This is a beautifully written tune from former Prayer Boat singer. It's taken from the singer's 2005 debut solo album called 'Attic Faith'. Buy the album here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/emmetttinley

Emmett Tinley - Christmastreet by 2uibestow



3. Miss Paula Flynn - Happy Christmas, Valentine

A love song for Christmas? Yes and it's beautiful! I love the video too! There's even a hint of Jingle Bells at the end of the tune!





2. Declan O'Rourke - Christmas Wine

Declan released this single back in 2006 with Nina Kinert. It's beautifully sung and the lyrics are superb.

Declan O'Rourke - Christmas Wine (Acoustic) by 2uibestow

Buy the single here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/christmas-wine-single/id453436806



1. Mick Flannery - Christmas Past

The original version of this tune features Kate Walsh on vocals but in the video it's Lisa Hannigan providing the co-vocals. Again for me this song is all about the lyrics. There's no attempt at sloppy Christmas sentiments here, it's all about the anguish of love:

"Oh yeah I forgot this part
This is where you break my heart
You told me that you loved me then
Did you really mean it friend"


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Interview: The Crossfire [Your Forum Re-post]

Music Q&A with Ashbourne's 'The Crossfire' as appeared in the Your Forum free newspaper for Meath: http://yourforum.ie/lifestyle/roundup/articles/2011/12/05/4007993-music-qa-with-ashbournes-the-crossfire/






The Crossfire

Described as a band "to watch on Garageland, formed in 2010, this band are part of the wave of young acts sweeping the nation," Ashbourne band The Crossfire have played some of Ireland's best venues including The Sugar Club, Whelan's, Boyles of Slane as well as the St. Patrick's Day festival in Ashbourne.

Their debut EP shows massive potential for a new young band who are coping with trying to make a name for themselves while studying for their Leaving Certificate at Ashbourne Community School. Peter Nagle talks with lead singer Sean Buckley, along the band members Matt Brady, Chris Murphy, Sean Keeley and Adam Shanahan, to shine a light on The Crossfire.

Peter: Hi Sean, tell me about your band The Crossfire. When did you form the band and how do the five members know each other?

Sean: The story really started in January of 2011. Myself and Matthew our lead guitar player had just finished playing with a garage band and we were looking to take things to the next level. The two of us had been jamming and writing since the age of about 12 so we knew each other's musical habits and tastes. We started talking to Chris Murphy, our soon to be rhythm guitarist about the possibility of playing some music together. We then got in contact with Seán Keeley our long time friend, musician and bassist. Our last port of call was a drummer. Adam had only been playing a few weeks with a full kit but we were desperate for some sort of beat for the studio. We quickly found out of Adams high technical skill and keen ear for a drum fill and recruited him there and then.

Peter: How do you guys balance being in a band with the pressures of the Leaving Certificate?

Sean: To be honest, we'd be lying if we said it was easy. Think I've heard the term "back up plan" more times this year than all other years combined. The way I see it is, if you're passionate about something in life and want to pursue something as much as we do, you've got to follow your heart (sounds cheesy I know) but we truly believe that we have something good in this band.

Adam: Personally I'm finding the juggle between studies and music matters quite difficult, yet when it comes down to the run-up to a show, the tension for me seems to ease with the flow of a good jam session in the rehearsal space!

Matt: Studying academically is striving to achieve a good leaving cert and a well paid job, but if you want success as a musician just as much work has to be put in to that too.

Peter: It sounds like the band went straight in at the deep end recording original songs and playing established venues like 'The Sugar Club'. What have been the highlights of 2011?

Sean: As far as highlights go there have been some real peaches! Recording our debut EP was class and I was delighted at the feedback we got! We entered "Live and Unsigned" as an underage band which is a competition between the best unsigned bands in Dublin and came out winners. We've also been recorded for an upcoming show on RTE. Another great gig we were involved in was headlining our hometown St. Patrick's Day Festival in Ashbourne. There have just been so many great gigs this year we're hoping we'll have another year of the same level of progress. If so I reckon we're on to a serious winner.

Chris: I think my main highlight of the year has been the creation of our EP because its shows our aspirations as artists and what we're setting out to achieve. The release of the EP has been the roots of what has happened since then.

Sean K: My favourite moment of the year has to be the gig in The Pint venue in Dublin this October where we just had so much fun. It's by far my favourite band memory.

Peter: What does 'The Crossfire' sound like? What bands and artists influence the musical direction of the band?

Sean: I think the great thing about the sound of The Crossfire is the marriage of different styles in our music. As five different people we have such different tastes in music which gives our work a real sense of originality.

Chris: I personally come from a Punk/Metal background so I saw joining this band as an opportunity to put my own spin on our genre. I have always been inspired by Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, The Edge, Brian Haner Jr., Phil Demell, but my main inspiration is Joe Satriani.

Sean K: The Crossfire's sound is familiar Rock/Pop at first listen but really has an original twist to it. People mention The Script but I think that's only in vocals and lyrics. The actual music of the band is so hard, heavy and takes a lot of inspiration from Rock and Roll. It has so many elements which leads to a heavy musical burst.

Peter: What are the plans for The Crossfire for 2012?

Sean: Our plan for 2012 is to finish writing an album we'll be proud of and an album that we think can bring us to the next level. We want to expand our fanbase and create a storm with the album. We've been talking to a few labels and hopefully with a successful album under our belts they'll come knocking .

Monday, 5 December 2011

Album Review: Jukebox Gypsy - Live at the Bog Lane Theatre

1/5 Irish band Jukebox Gypsy have released their second album of 2011 and it's a fine collection of songs recorded at The Bog Lane Theatre in Ballymahon.



The 16 tracks on the live album showcases everything that's great about the Jukebox Gypsy live set. The album acts as a 'best of' from the self titled debut and the second album 'The Month' along with a cover from Lindisfarne called 'Run for Home' and an old traditional 'The Ballad of Jesse James'.

The tracks chosen are in the main heavily influenced by Americana Folk and ballads. Highlights for me include the lyrically wonderful song 'The Month', the harmonious 'The Redwood Song' and the tracks with Johanna on lead vocals; 'Riverbed' and 'Down to the river to Pray'. There are many nice introductions included with the tracks as well as some 'hard to hear' in-jokes with the crowd.

For me the album is a fine collection of songs from the band's catalogue which serves as a perfect introduction to the band.

Jukebox Gypsy - Live at the Bog Lane Theatre [10 out of 12]

Riverbed by Ben Blance

Buy the album: http://jukeboxgypsy.bigcartel.com/

See the band around Ireland this month: