Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Top 50 Irish Acts - Part 3 [21 - 30]

This week [Monday - Friday] I'm counting down my Top 50 artists in my humble opinion at this moment in time. The artists are to have released an album/ep or played a gig since Jan 2009 in order to qualify for the list.

21. Padraig Digan

In 2005 Padraig released an album with his band Wallmark then quickly split the band up. After a break from live performing Padraig got writing again and re-visited old songs. Earlier this year he went to Kerry to record his debut solo album with Karl Odlum. I seen Padraig perform a gig upstairs in Anseo to a jammed packed audience. Padraig's songwriting is amazing and I'm eagerly looking forward to the album.

22. Pearse McGloughlin

About a year ago Pearse sent me his debut album to review and I instantly fell for the atmospheric moods of the album. Since then he has gained many fans including a few celebrity fans! Pearse is releasing a new EP in June and has just recorded a session for the Dan Hegerty show on 2fm.

23. Arrow in the Sky

Arrow in the Sky are three lads from Mullingar who write really good Americana folk rock music. They released a debut EP last Summer and are about to go on a nationwide tour as I write!

24. Lisa O'Neill

Lisa made one of the best albums of 2009 with her debut entitled 'has an album'! Lisa's vocals, lyrics and arrangements were outstanding on this album. Check out the Bobby D video.

25. Sean Needham

Now happily settled in Denmark, Sean released his second album 'Time is a Friend' last year. You'd be hard pushed to find a collection of uplifting and positive songs.

26. Kitty and the Can Openers

Belfast band Kitty and the Can Openers have something a little special. They write quirky indie pop songs with great vocals and lyrics.

27. The Garrett Wall Band

According to Andrew in Boyles the best band to have played in the sessions night so far is The Garrett Wall Band. They were perfect professionals who performed a great set even though they were completely knackered and recovering from a stomach bug.

28. Saramai and the Swords

Saramai from Navan is a singer, pianist and songwriter of immense talent. I was only given her debut demo of songs a few weeks back but already it's one of the best cds I've heard this year. Check out her MySpace for the demo songs.

29. Joe Echo

Joe Echo aka Ciaran Gribbin is the former lead singer with the band Leya. Joe however is now a celebrity songwriter writing songs for Madonna and with Francis Rossi from Status Quo! Joe is gonna be huge with his brand of indie pop!

30. Heathers

Ellie and Louise recorded their debut album 'Here, not There' two years ago and are still continuing making the most of the great songs on the album. Recently 'Remember When' was chosen as the song for Irish Tourist Board TV ad campaign. Heathers produce perfect acoustic pop!

31. Junah
32. Reader's Wives
33. Pony Club
34. Kiernan McMullan
35. Elder Roche
36. Michael Brunnock/Little Palace
37. The Lonely Schizophrenic
38. Adrian Crowley
39. Keith Mullins
40. Damien Dempsey
41. A Plastic Rose
42. Garry O'Brien
43. Pete Courtney
44. Valerie Francis
45. Dayo
46. Brendan O'Shea
47. Bobby Noonan
48. Entheos
49. BellaJane
50. Andy Delamere

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Top 50 Irish Acts - Part 2 [31 - 40]

This week [Monday - Friday] I'm counting down my Top 50 artists in my humble opinion at this moment in time. The artists are to have released an album/ep or played a gig since Jan 2009 in order to qualify for the list.

31. Junah

Junah are another act in my top 50 who are preparing the release of their debut album after many years perfecting their sound. Their folk rock music full of big sound is elevated by the great vocal harmonies in their songs.

32. Reader's Wives

Reader's Wives released a wonderful EP recently entitled Victor's Mother Juliet. It's full or wit, charm and sensual swagger which makes it essential listening!

33. Pony Club

Mark Cullen's Pony Club would be much higher in my all time best of list. The Whelans headline show last May was a real highlight last year. The albums are consistently great.

34. Kiernan McMullan

Limerick raised Kiernan McMullen is heavily touring up and down the east coast of America picking up many new friends along the way. Kiernan is one of the best guitarists I've had the pleasure of seeing live in Boyles. A wonderful talent.

35. Elder Roche

Elder's debut album 'Nobody Knows' is one of them albums which improves after every listen. Such an amazing talent who I have so much time for.

36. Michael Brunnock /Little Palace

Michael is a singer-songwriter and main songwriter for Little Palace. He released two amazing cds last year. Little Palace released 'Invitation Time' while Michael released his 'Live in New york' album.

37. The Lonely Schizophrenic

Anto Kane writes the most disturbing funny lyrics as The Lonely Schizophrenic. It's difficult to explain what he does and why it's so good but you need to see these lads live!

38. Adrian Crowley

Choice award winner Adrian Crowley's Season of the Sparks was a well deserved winner. The atmospheric moods Adrian creates on his albums are wonderful.

39. Keith Mullins

Keith released a great album earlier this year which I have no doubt will be in my best of lists at the end of the year. No other Irish artist has produced 'Americana' music with the same style as Keith this year.

40. Damien Dempsey

Damien is the perfect professional in the Irish Music Scene. I'm a tad surprised he hasn't tried to break into the European markets or US scenes!

41. A Plastic Rose
42. Garry O'Brien
43. Pete Courtney
44. Valerie Francis
45. Dayo
46. Brendan O'Shea
47. Bobby Noonan
48. Entheos
49. BellaJane
50. Andy Delamere

Monday, 29 March 2010

Top 50 Irish Acts - Part 1 [41 - 50]

This week [Monday - Friday] I'm counting down my Top 50 artists in my humble opinion at this moment in time. The artists are to have released an album/ep or played a gig since Jan 2009 in order to qualify for the list.

41. A Plastic Rose

The band from equal parts Sligo and Belfast have been featured many times already this year on the blog. Their alternative rock sound coupled with the vocal harmonies of the two singers mean A Plastic Rose is essential listening.

<a href="">Kids Don't Behave Like This by A Plastic Rose</a>

42. Garry O'Brien

Garry from Ballymun is one great songwriter, guitarist and singer. His performance in Boyles in January was one of the best I've heard in the time we've done the gigs up there. Garry hopes to have his debut album ready for release by the end of the year.

43. Pete Courtney

Back in 2001 Pete Courtney was busy making waves in the Irish Music Scene but I only discovered Pete's music in the last few years. In 2005 he had his second album ready to release but he shelved it. Pete is putting the finishing touches to that elusive second album and hopes to release soon!

44. Valerie Francis

Valerie produced a great debut album last year and is included here because I keep listening to 'Slow Dynamic' regularly!

45. Dayo

Dayo is a jazzy folk singer who has this wonderful folk singing voice which reminds me in many ways of 'Astral Weeks' era Van Morrison. Dayo's debut album is also nearly ready for release.

46. Brendan O'Shea

I seen Brendan live for the first time nearly a year ago at the Live Mic gig in the Wicklow Mountains. He was a wonderful entertainer because of his great songs and all round personality on stage. His two albums are wonderful and should be checked out!

47. Bobby Noonan

Bobby writes some lovely tunes and is an all round sound bloke. He has formed a band called Fat Baby Panda which brings an extra dimension to his well crafted songs. He is going to support Mick Flannery in Dolans on April 9th!

48. Entheos

Entheos are a cross between the tradition fusion sound of Kila and grunge! Brian's voice brings the grunge rock sound but the acoustics and violin brings out the fusion sound. A must see live band.

49. BellaJane

Recently reviewed on the blog the sound of BellaJane's debut EP is enough to sneak into the top 50. I do find it difficult to describe really great music. Sarah Jane's voice is just so pleasant to listen to and the songs are quality.

50. Andy Delamere

Andy plays with The Lonely Schizophenic but don't let that put you off checking him out!!!!! Looking at the first batch of ten artists, I have chosen artists who have wonderful unique voices and Andy is one of them. His style reminds me a lot of 70's era Patti Smith!

Album Review: Fiach - So I

Fiach has released his debut album [at long last] and it's brilliant. On a whole it contains eleven wonderful songs of joy, hope, despair, wit and charm. It's a collection of great tunes which should elevate Fiach from the comfortable surroundings of open mic nights to the large venues and arenas around Ireland and beyond.

I've listened to 'So I' pretty much non stop since I bought it on Thursday and one of the best things I can say is that on every listen I've chosen a different favourite song. At present track two; 'Stop' is my favourite but it rotates with 'Dignity', 'Every Single Day' and 'So I [Have Fallen Down Again]'.

'So I' is at it's heart a singer-songwriter album. However he is either accompanied by strings or a full band on every song. Fiach also flirts with other genres such as Bill Withers style funk on 'Wake Up Dead' and country folk on the first single from the album 'You Dear'. On some songs the lyrics are full of attitude and underlying aggression. On other songs Fiach uses his insight and charm to write beautifully crafted songs like 'Letting Go'.

All albums should finish on an epic song and 'Home is Where The Heart Is' is truely epic. It merges Fiach's charm and confident swagger with attitude and aggression to produce a song of hope and human strength.

I've connected with this album in many ways. It'll be on regular play in my house for many years to come.

Fiach - So I [11 out of 12]

See Fiach Live:

1 Apr 2010 20:00 Boyle’s Slane, Ireland
14 Apr 2010 20:00 de Barra’s Clonakilty, Cork, Ireland
1 May 2010 16:00 Vantastival Dundalk, Ireland
14 May 2010 20:00 Backroom @ Lantern Bar Navan, Ireland

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Repost: Top 50 List

Nearly a year ago to the day inspired by The Irish Times compiled best 50 Irish acts at that moment in time I posted my Top 50 of Irish Artists. The only stipulation was that the artist had to gig or release an album in the last 12 months prior to the compiled list.

My choices last year were based on bands and artists who I connected with at the time.

1. The Swell Season/Frames/Glen
2. Terry Sutton
3. Martin Finke
4. Pony Club
5. Lisa Hannigan
6. Iain Archer
7. Brain Canavan
8. Shaz Oye
9. Mark Dignam
10. I Am Not Lefthanded
11. Kiernan McMullan

12. Alphastates
13. The Guggenheim Grotto
14. Nick Kelly
15. Gemma Hayes
16. One Day International
17. Wallis Bird
18. My Brother Woody
19. The Gorgeous Colours
20. Damien Rice
21. Ham Sandwich
22. Angel Pier
23. Sinead O'Connor
24. Perry Blake
25. A Lazarus Soul
26. Susan Enan
27. Foy Vance
28. Bell X1
29. Bill Coleman
30. Mumblin' Deaf Ro

31. Declan DeBarra
32. Fred
33. Armoured Bear
34. Lunasa
35. Miss Paula Flynn
36. Colin Devlin
37. Oppenheimer
38. The Spook of the Thirteeth Lock
39. Mark Geary
40. Padraig Digan
41. Barry McCormack
42. The Hedge Schools
43. Damien Dempsey
44. David Kitt
45. Liam O'Maonai
46. Declan O'Rourke
47. Butterfly Explosion
48. Percolator

49. Groom
50. Emmet Scanlan & What The Good Thought

The new 'Top 50' will be very different. Some of the above acts haven't done anything in the last 12 months and a couple of the bands have split up!

This coming week I'm going to my updated Top 50 in five separate posts and will include some video clips or samples. Check back Monday to Friday folks!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Tweet Review: Maria Byrne - All You Need EP

Cork singer-songwriter Maria Byrne has been based in London for the last number of years and has just released a beautiful collection of tunes very much in the same league as Lisa Hannigan and recently reviewed BellaJane.

Produced by Karl Odlum (Gemma Hayes, Fionn Regan, David Kitt) this EP - 'All You Need' was recorded over a few days with a few microphones his living room in Dublin with Dave O' Callaghan on mandolin and guitar, Dave Brunton on percussion and Karl Odlum on bass. Maria sang and played guitar. This EP will be released on 29th March 2010.

1. All You Need
2. Another Broken Heart
3. Jack
4. It's Just Me

Tweet Review:

'All you Need' is a catchy folk pop EP with quality harmonies, lyrics and singalong choruses, one to watch, [10 out of 12]

Tweet Review: Susie Soho - Little Prince [Single]

Susie Soho - Little Prince [Single]

Radio friendly rock tune with super vocals. Its a very catchy tune but gets stuck in second gear. In need of a 'punchline'! Download 4 free!

<a href="">Little Prince by Susie Soho</a>

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Dirty 9's - Stop Screaming Start Dreaming Album Review

The Dirty 9's have just released their debut album 'Stop Screaming Start Dreaming' and is available from here:

The album is a great start for a young band that should have a massive career. The initial feeling I got from the first listen was that The Dirty 9s have it in them to become a super cool indie rock band like say Placebo or The National. However on this effort they lean towards the power pop of successful Irish bands the Coronas and The Blizzards.

This debut is much better that any album released by either The Coronas or The Blizzards. The vocals remind in many ways of a softer Mark Greaney from JJ72 or Concerto for Constatine. The band can write great melodies such as on tracks like Echos and Weekend Lovers. The album finisher is a really strong track called Trouble with great vocals. Other highlights includes the songs Corridors, Lucky Opus and the sample Something Better.

'Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming' isn't a classic debut at all but it shows great potential for a band in it's infancy. I'm looking forward to hearing how the album sounds live. It's an album I admire for it's ambition, it's big sound and for the great melodies but ultimately it's not an album I've connected with in a major way.

The Dirty 9s - Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming [9 out of 12]

See The Dirty 9s Live:

25 Mar 2010 18:00 Tower Records Instore Wicklow Street, Dublin
1 Apr 2010 20:00 Boyles - Haiti Fundraiser Slane with Fiach
3 Apr 2010 20:00 Crawdaddy - Album Launch Dublin
7 Apr 2010 20:00 Imeall Geal - Taping a live session for BBC TV show ’Imeall Geal Newry, Co. Down
9 Apr 2010 20:00 The Late Lounge- Irish Heart Foundation Charity Gig Kill, Co. Kildare
17 Apr 2010 20:00 The Late Lounge, Dew Drop Inn Kill, Co.Kildare
24 Apr 2010 20:00 The Village (Gandhis Single Launch) Dublin
7 May 2010 20:00 The Quays Galway
8 May 2010 20:00 Baker Place Limerick
15 May 2010 20:00 The Stables Mullingar
29 May 2010 20:00 The Cellar Bar Draperstown, Co.Derry

Brian Canavan Invades 2UIBestow - Part 3

Brian Canavan has made his 2008 debut album 'You're An Electron I'm An Electron' available to download for FREE! To celebrate this indiscriminate act of kindness Brian and myself are going to encourage you this week to download the album by posting a few songs, video clips and information about the album!

Listen or Download the album:

<a href="">me against the world by Brian Canavan &amp; The Difference Engine</a>

Sample Track 3: Withnail

Withnail got it’s name because originally I had a sample from the film at the start and end of the song - “I have of late, bit wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth”. However my producer told me to forget about putting it on the song – it would cost a fortune and I’d be waiting a year for approval. It’s the oldest song on the album, written after a trip to the World Cup in 2002.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Tweet Review - BellaJane: No Strings EP

The Tweet Review is a review in 140 characters or less:

BellaJane - No Strings

Piano based indie pop sounds, beautiful soft voice which the music hangs on, a quality EP of music, should be on the radio! [11 out of 12]

See BellaJane tomorrow at The Ruby Sessions with Lisa McLaughlin, Doctor Leaves, and

27 Mar 2010 20:00 Lavery’s Bunker Belfast, Northern Ireland
15 Apr 2010 20:00 Upstairs Whelans - EP LAUNCH with support from Little Xs For Eyes Dublin
18 Jun 2010 20:00 Clockwork Apple -Whelans

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Tweet Review - Butterfly Explosion: Lost Trails

The Tweet Review is a review in 140 characters or less:

Butterfly Explosion - Lost Trails

Dreamy shoegazing debut from gifted Irish alternative band, full of big ambition, mbv-like vocals, love tracks 2,3, 7 and 10 [10 out of 12]

See Butterfly Explosion Live

20 Mar 2010 20:00 SXSW festival Austin, Texas
21 Mar 2010 16:45 SXSW - Goodbye South-By party at Red 7 (4:45pm) AUSTIN, Texas
3 Apr 2010 20:00 Whelans DUBLIN
9 Apr 2010 20:00 Roisin Dubh GALWAY
10 Apr 2010 20:00 Crane Lane Theatre CORK

Monday, 15 March 2010

Tweet Review - The Holy Roman Army EP Desecrations

The Tweet Review is a review in 140 characters or less:

The Holy Roman Army - Desecrations

'EP of covers from pixes, pavement, bon iver and more, much more casual sound than debut album, nice tunes, beautiful vocals, [10 out of 12]'

Desecrations is available to download for free at the following link:


Wave of Mutilation - Pixies
Speed to my Side - Rollerskate Skinny
Skinny Love - Bon Iver
Not at Home - Peter Broderick
Here - Pavement

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mark Black & The Roots Orchestra Live - Review

Donegal's Mark Black has just released "Live @ The RCC 2009' which is a double CD live concert and bonus concert DVD recorded and filmed in the packed Regional Cultural Centre, in Donegal. This year he set up The Roots Orchestra, a 13 piece eclectic 'rootsy' big band with very unique sound. The Roots Orchestra adds warmth and charm to Mark's solo sound. The live album reminds me of the energy created with the live albums from The Dave Matthews Band.

The album kicks off with the upbeat poppy 'Girl in the Pink Hat'. 'Ramblin on my Mind' showcases Mark's bluesy voice. The Roots Orchestra prove their worth on tracks like 'Devil & The TV' and 'Jesus Never Let Me Down' where the band brings a different dimension to the tracks. Of the eight tracks on the first cd the stand-out track is 'Crazy in the Light'.

The quality continues on the next seven tracks on cd2. Their musical prowess is evident on the extended tracks 'Out on the Western Plain' and the closer 'Each & Everyday'. Here we have a band really getting into these songs and making them their own. There's a 'middle' section of the concert where it's mainly just Mark and his guitar. 'Rough Park' in particular showcases Mark's considerate guitar playing skills. Also on cd2 is the best track on the album; 'Faint Hearted'.

While I'm not someone who is a fan of the blues [in general it's something I admire but barely tolerate] there are many fine tracks on this album. I love the ambition in Mark's sound which with The Roots Orchestra develops into this massive Dave Matthews-esque sound. This is a must buy for any blues fan but well worth a try for anyone interested in big 'rootsy' sounds.

Mark Black & The Roots Orchestra - Live at the RCC 2009: [11 out of 12]

16 Mar 2010 21:00 The BackRoom Navan Navan, Westmeath [with Simon Fagan]
21 Mar 2010 23:00 Voodoo LK Letterkenny, Donegal
27 Mar 2010 22:00 Bridge Bar Ramelton, Donegal
4 Apr 2010 22:00 Voodoo LK Donegal
18 Apr 2010 22:00 Voodoo LK Donegal
30 Apr 2010 20:30 Derry City Jazz & Big Band Festival Derry, Northern Ireland
2 May 2010 22:00 Voodoo LK Donegal
16 May 2010 22:00 Voodoo LK Donegal
30 May 2010 22:00 Voodoo LK Donegal
3 Jun 2010 22:00 Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival Ballyshannon, Donegal
4 Jun 2010 22:00 Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival Ballyshannon, Donegal

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Reader's Wives - Victor's Mother Juliet EP Review

Reader's Wives are:
 Niall James Holohan on guitars, vocals, Chris Morrin [aka Robotnik] on guitars, keyboards, vocals, Disko on bass and Doug Farrell on drums.

I've known about Reader's Wives for a long time but I admit I dismissed their sound very quickly. I was totally wrong to do this. Reader's Wives are releasing a five track EP on March 15th which for me is the best music produced in Ireland so far this year.

Niall is a superb songwriter. The lyrics are rich in texture in the same style as Mark Cullens 'Pony Club' lyrics. The music while difficult to limit to a particular genre seems to dance around Niall's rich vocals and lyrics.

The title track is a perfect alternative rock song. It has a big chorus, strong lyrics and indie swagger. Then we have the sublime 'Beautiful Angel'. It's a gentle song of guitars and bass with two part harmonies. 'Everything's better with you' is a fun little folk pop song. 'Eyes Like A Hutu' has this lovely swaying feel to the song similar to Damien Rice's Moody Monday song. The lyrics are amazing on this track. The last track 'Working All Week' again showcases Niall's songwriting ability.

Reader's Wives: Victor's Mother Juliet [11 out of 12]

See the band live:

Fri 9th Apr 2010 - Phantom First Friday @ The Academy

Fri 27th Aug 2010 - Reader's Wives Headliner @ Whelan's

Also Reader's Wives have one of the most original organic blogs I've seen from a band over at

Watch out for a special Reader's Wives post next week on the blog!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Tweet Review - Sounds of System Breakdown

Indie dance album with melodies, strong vocals and gr8 song names. Impressive debut, full of quality songs esp tracks 1, 5, 6, [9 out of 12]

Live Dates

10 Mar 2010 21:00 Sin E (Acoustic Gig) Dublin
20 Mar 2010 19:30 Abbey Hotel Dublin
30 Apr 2010 20:00 Vantastival Annagassan, Louth