Sunday, 29 November 2009

David Hope - Daybreak Someplace [EP Review]

There are many people out there who are saying wonderful things about David Hope. Stephen James Smith for one was tweeting and bulletting about David's gig in Whelans a few months back. Mary Coughlan [musician I assume!] says many good things and Dave Redfern who plays guitar for Odi passed this EP onto me for a review.

There are seven tunes on the EP. The Cuckoo's Return is a bluesy instrumental which sits in the middle of the seven tunes. The title track is one of the best song's I've heard this year. The lyrics are supperb on the whole EP but he hits a nerve with 'Daybreak Someplace' and 'Watch Over You'. The other songs are good acoustic folk songs brought to life with David's strong vocal properties. Overall it's a really good EP. I do hope that the songs 'Daybreak Someplace' and 'Watch Over You' gets onto a full length album in the future.

Get more info about David here and find many songs over here!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Album Review: The Swell Season - Strict Joy

'Strict Joy' is the second album [excluding the Once soundtrack] from The Swell Season and was released at the end of last month worldwide. The Swell Season seem to have been touring non stop since the big Oscar win with only taking short breaks. They are understandably riding the crest of the Oscar wave and making sure they get their music out there to the wider world.

It is within this context that 'Strict Joy' has to be taken. It's more of a retrospective album bringing together the labour of the band's work for the last three or four years. Many of the songs have featured in set-lists of previous tours and are already well known by fans of the band. It also needs to be acknowledged that 'Strict Joy' hasn't been well received in Ireland and I can offer no reason why.

There are songs about being in love and the end of a relationship. If you don't get the male perspective then there's always the female perspective on love life and relationships. The production is top rate and there's no over indulgence on the album. It's an album of good quality folk-rock music performed by musicians with a love for music.

'Low Rising' is such a great uplifting tune. 'Feeling the Pull' is the sound of a band having the time of their lives. I love the 70's folk inspired feel to 'Love That Conquers' and would rival the splendid 'I Have Loved You Wrong' as the best track on the album. Overall the quality is really good but there is something that is missing on the album. 'Strict Joy' is like a collection of individual songs composed over a long time period rather than an album of cutting edge new music from a band making progress in the music world.

The Swell Season - Strict Joy [9 out of 12]

....... I may be wrong but I'm gonna predict that in early 2011 The Frames will have a new album out as well as Marketa releasing her debut solo album. If I'm right I'll have two great albums to review into the future!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Top 10 Irish Albums of the Decade

I seen the following over on Jim's blog;

"We at AU Magazine are in the process of putting together a poll of the Top Irish Albums of the Decade for our December/January issue.

We’d love OTR readers (and Irish Times staff!) to contribute - just compile a list of UP TO 20 albums released since January 2000 by artists from anywhere in Ireland, and email it to me - chris[at]

The deadline for entries is THIS MONDAY, November 23. Any queries about eligibility, please email me.

The results will be out towards the end of the first week in December"

Soooooo on impulse mainly here's my top 10:

Damien Rice - O

The Frames - For The Birds

Pony Club - Home Truths

Nick Kelly - Running Dog

No video found!

Bill Coleman - I'll Tear Down My Own Walls

Alphastates - Made in Sand

Brian Canavan - I'm An Electron, You're An Electron

Lisa O'Neill - Has An Album

Damien Rice - 9

Shaz Oye - Truth According to Shay Oye

Monday, 16 November 2009

Album Review: ODi -Maslow's Songbook

Maslow's Songbook is a really good album that has been a joy to listen to. It contains 12 songs of which there are some really great tunes. Standout tracks include 'Leaving My Love in New York', 'Red Light', 'Something Beautiful' and 'Mariposa'.

I suppose some of the best albums are difficult to categorise and it's the same with ODi's debut. There's a real 'Bic Runga' pop vibe from the album. Many of the tracks are perfect for the montage scenes in Romantic Comedy movies. ODi's voice drags that pop vibe back to Ireland and as a result we get an album that would rival anything The Cranberries have done.

Maslow's Songbook should bring much success to ODi and help her create a big fanbase in Ireland because the album is full of catchy personal tunes that will appeal to many a music lover.

ODi - Maslow's Songbook [9 out of 12]

See ODi live:

23.11.09 THE OLD OAK Cork IRL 21:00 FREE!
25.11.09 BRAZIL'S - supporting Mundy Clonmel IRL 21:00 tbc
27.11.09 THE VINE Wexford IRL 21:30 €10
01.12.09 NUIG Sessions Galway IRL tbc FREE!
03.12.09 JACKSON'S HOTEL Ballybuffet IRL tbc
04.12.09 JACKSON'S HOTEL (Friday Night Music Club) Ballybuffet IRL tbc

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Mark Geary - Live, Love, Lost It NYC [Album Review]

This will be a short review of Mark Geary's amazing live album Live, Love, Lost It NYC released last month. It really is an essential purchase if you're a Mark Geary fan, or if you want a compilation 'best of ...' or if you're a budding musician and want to learn from a true master.

It was recorded in The Scratcher New York and for the most part is just Mark his guitar and a chorus of fans very happy to sing all night long. Fellow Irish New York resident Brendan O'Shea helps out with some fine backing vocals. It's so stripped down you can easily hear glasses of bear and people shuffling in the audience which gives the recording a very organic feel.

The set list spans Mark's three albums. 'Suzanne' and 'Morphine' are notable omissions but as mentioned 'Live, Love ...' could be considered a mini Best Of compilation of Mark Geary's work to date. Standout tacks for me include the expanded 'Volunteer', 'It Beats Me' and the hilarious false start of 'See-Saw'.

Mark Geary - Live, Love, Lost It NYC [10 out of 12]

Here are the clips I took at the album launch in Whelans last month.

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Swell Season Full Concert Download

The Swell Season performed at the beautiful, and historic Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on November 1, 2009. RadioMilwaukee was proud to broadcast the performance live and we are happy to be able to share it with you here.

Grab the full concert in one single file here;

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Album Review: Lisa Hake - Wind Under Wood

Lisa Hake is a singer-songwriter-guitarist whose home is Dundalk, County Louth. She originally hails from the wine country hills of Northern California and before that, the coal mining mountains of West Virginia. Lisa has just released her second album 'Wind Under Wood'.

'Wind Under Wood' flirts with many genres. On many tracks it reminds me of the work of Janis Ian while on others I can hear the Folk-Jazz of mid-90s Joni Mitchell. When I asked my wife she suggesed the album was more similar to Nanci Griffith style Country music. One thing for certain is that 'Wind Under Wood' is an accomplished piece of work from a really good singer and musician.

As the title suggest the album is steeped in nature references with a particularly leaning towards songs about the sea and water. "We will sleep in fishing nets beneath the moon, Dance upon the wooden decks of your ballroom" [Fisherman's Tears] The descriptive lyrics of the songs are beautifully written and is one of the strenghts of the album.

Another quality aspect of 'Wind Under Wood' is the cd booklet and images used. In the lyrics section there's a short note explaining the inspiration of each track. In fact the booklet can be viewed here:

I think there's alot to like in this record but it suffers from lack of variety which is an odd statement considering the difficulty I've had to connect the album to a genre. There's warmth in abundance here for sure but a lack of variety means my attention wanders and I lose sight of the beautiful lyrics and storys within the songs.

Lisa Hake - Wind Under Wood [8 out of 12]

Monday, 2 November 2009

Album Review: Ultan Conlon - Bless Your Heart

I've been eagerly awaiting Ultan Conlon's debut album for quite some time and it doesn't fail to impress. Galwegian Ultan will forever have the tag line of being the last person to record with the late John Martyn who also contributed to the lyrics of 'Really Gone' and was very much championing Ultan's talents. With that vote of confidence do you really need me to confirm that Ultan Conlon is a great talent?

The overwhelming mood of 'Bless Your Heart' is that this is a love album. If there was any justice in this world Ultan would have a massive global hit with the album opener 'The Universe Tune' and it'll become the first wedding song of choice for a new generation of couples; "You're greater than the Universe, it's true". The title track, the single 'The Will' and the beautiful 'Old & Wise' all deal with the delicate matters of the heart and relationships.

Ultan's voice is easy on the ear and it helps to fully communicate the sublime intelligent lyrics of the songs. It's the lyrics which carry the album and differentiates it from so much other music out there at the moment. "Love Will Burn Out Madness, It Remains Beyond The Grave"... 'Bless Your Heart'

'Bless Your Heart' is an album of ten tracks where half of them are really excellent tunes and are possible single contenders. 'Old & Wise' is one of the best tracks I've heard all year. Many of the songs contain strings but they're used sparingly and effectively throughout the album. If you're a fan of artists such as Declan O'Rourke and David Gray then 'Bless Your Heart' will appeal to you.

Ultan Conlon - Bless Your Heart [11 out of 12]

The Stables / Support to Rich Wyman

Bless your heart album launch
Free entry

'Bless Your Heart' album launch (Dublin)
Whelan's (upstairs)
Wexford St.
Price TBA

The Crane
Sea road, Galway
Price TBA

Check back on the blog for details on how to win the album