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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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

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

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!

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

See the band around Ireland this month:

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Single Review: Michael Brunnock - Every Step

Charming folk song 'Every Step' is the first single to be taken from Michael Brunnock's new album 'The Orchard'.

'Every Step' is a very positive uplifting song perfect for escaping. There are references to dawn, dreams, hope, journeys, delight which along with a gentle soundtrack and a relaxed drumbeat makes this the perfect Summer track. The vocals are pleasant and clear and are aided by fine backing vocals to complete the track.

If 'Every Step' is an indication to the quality of Michael Brunnock's new album 'The Orchard' I'll predict it'll be one of my most listened to albums of 2012.

Michael Brunnock - Every Step by 2uibestow

Buy the song here:

Posters for 2 upcoming shows:

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Album Review: The Henry Girls - December Moon

'December Moon' is a quality folk/roots album which is consistently brilliant from start to finish. The Henry Girls hit all the right spots on this their third album.

The Henry Girls are sisters from Inishowen in Co. Donegal, Ireland and have been performing together as a band for almost a decade. I get the feeling that 'December Moon' is going a breakthrough album for the band. It's released on the back of European tours and a successful Summer tour in the US. It's recent release also precedes a big European Spring tour as well as a return back to America. There are many really great songs on 'December Moon' which will appeal to fans of folk and roots with the band being comparable to The Dixie Chicks, The Good Be Tanyas or The Indigo Girls.

The 14 tracks include two instrumental arrangements, eleven original tracks and a fine cover of Elvis Costello's 'Watching the Detective'. While it's fair to call this album a folk album it flirts with happy Pop on tracks like 'When Will I See You Again' and 'Fool's Gold'. There are well written ballads such as the beautiful 'Farewell' and the blissful 'Sweet Dreams'. We also have homage to roots and bluegrass on 'Ol' Cook Pot' and 'The Long Road' and then there's the theatrical cover of the brilliant 'Watching the Detectives'. All these genres fit together because of the cohesiveness of the harmonies and the musicianship on the album.

The best track on the album is the title track and it best sums up what The Henry Girls have to offer. This love song 'December Moon' contains wonderful harmonies and a soundtrack that begins with a simple beat, violin and a hand-clap but builds up nicely while still holding the vocals at it's core. It's a superb song.

02 December Moon by The Henry Girls

I really couldn't find a major fault with the album. However out of 14 tracks I'd only consider four of the tracks being of the highest standard [December Moon, Rain and Snow, Sweet Dreams and Farewell]. I have a feeling this album will take The Henry Girls all over the world and on bigger stages than they currently play now.

The Henry Girls - December Moon [11 out of 12]

Monday, 21 November 2011

Introducing: A Mix of New Irish Bands #6

It's that time again when my inbox begins to fill up with new music! Here's the best of the batch and there's some great music in here!

Fun With Ropes

This band are brand new. Their first gig is The Sunday Roast in the Mercantile this Sunday and they have two songs to check out on Soundcloud!. The first song Mariner is alright but I love the second track Weatherstation. Hints of early 90s indie music like Slowdive or Lush. Wonderful stuff!

Weatherstation by Fun with Ropes


Sport of Kings

At the heart of the New York band Sport of Kings is an Irish songwriter, Richard Kelly, who moved to New York from Ireland in 2006. This video is a cracker and the song ain't half bad either in a Pavement/Beach Boys sort of way! The band play Dublin's Grand Social venue on 24 November.


runaway GO

Belfast based Indie band runaway GO are set to release their second single ‘Delicate Man’ on November 25th. Runaway GO have just announced a string of dates in Ireland:

Monday 28th November Spirit Store, Dundalk
Tuesday 29th November Whelan’s (upstairs), Dublin
Wednesday 30th November Kazbar, Wexford
Thursday 1st December Crane Lane, Cork

The single 'Delicate Man' is excellent!



Chloe is a Dublin singer and songwriter who came to my attention through this excellent Interview & Live Performance video from The Purple Sessions. It was filmed in Boyles of Slane and is a quality introduction to this promising singer!


Gareth Dunlop

Gareth Dunlop could easily end up being a mega mega star!

Here's some of the facts…

● Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 23-year old Gareth Dunlop was hailed “One to Watch” by BBC Radio Ulster.
● Named 2011 Young Songwriter of the Year at the Annual Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival
● Dunlop’s songs have been featured in numerous hit television series including “Cougar Town,” “One Tree Hill,” “Private Practice,” “Army Wives,“Life Unexpected,” and more.
● Dunlop has opened for Jeff Beck, Jools Holland, Nanci Griffith, Angus & Julia Stone, Paul Carrack, The Steeldrivers, Imelda May and more.
● Snow Patrol performed Dunlop’s song, “Firefly,” with a full orchestra and invited him to join the band on stage as the lead vocalist for their special homecoming performance in Belfast.

Here's why there's lots of interest in Gareth Dunlop!

Fools Desire by GarethDunlopMusic


More Than Conquerors

Indie rockers from Belfast More Than Conquerors make some pretty good rock music with a worldwide appeal! It's all good!

More Than Conquerors - I've Done Nothing / I've Done It All by bandwidthmusic


The Henry Girls

Hailing from Donegal this band of three sisters make wonderfully charming folk music! Their new album 'December Moon' is a pleasure to listen to and will be reviewed on the blog real soon!

02 December Moon by The Henry Girls


Saturday, 19 November 2011

Album Review: Smith & Reilly - Arise and Go

'Arise and Go' is a powerful collaboration of music and poetry from poet Stephen James Smith accompanied by the vocals and instrumentation from Enda Reilly.

The majority of the eight tracks on 'Arise and Go' celebrates the poetry of Yeats, Kavanagh and Luke Kelly along with two original works. Smith & Reilly describe this collaboration of poetry and music as 'Spoken Word Sung Verse' and their objective is to give new life to old poems. It's a bold move by the artists to merge these two aspects of the arts and to release it in CD format.

In general the album works for me. The key powerful stand-out track is the original poem from Stephen James Smith called 'The Gardener' with guest musician Elder Roche providing a beautiful background piano soundtrack. 'The Gardener' is a powerful poem about the poet's mother and they get the tone and atmosphere right in this track. The other highlight is the original track sung and composed by Enda Reilly called 'Donal Ná Fág'.

The fact that I enjoyed the two original tracks most in the album means that as a concept album it doesn't really fulfill the objective mentioned above. They do a great version of 'Amhrán Na bhFiann' to close the album. I love Stephen's recital of Yeats' 'September 1913' and the album opener 'Mise Éire/I Am Ireland' sets the tone of the album nicely. The one major negative is the version of 'Raglan Road'. The vocals and the spoken word compete for attention and causes unease and confusion. It's the one track which I wish they did two versions of it, a spoken word and a version with Enda's great vocals at the fore.

'Arise and Go' is a very good concept album which brings new life to previously loved poems and ballads. It's a powerful album which makes you think about Ireland in the past and present and for me breaths new life to poetry.

Smith & Reilly - Arise and Go [10 out of 12]

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Album Review: Polly Barrett - Mr. Bookshop

Sweet folk sounds from Cork's Polly Barrett. A quality debut that hints at a long musical career!

On one level I love the simplicity of 'Mr Bookshop'. The clear and pure vocals of Polly bring her songs to life. They are accompanied by a simple soundtrack of acoustic guitars, banjo and drums. While the genre is folk many of the songs could also be described as pop without the fanfare.

On another level the album was almost too simplistic. I missed the warmth a bassline can bring to the songs. In a time when Irish musicians like Lisa Hannigan and James Vincent McMorrow are raising the bar of the concept of an album, a bunch of sweet sounding songs may not be enough to reach the masses! If anything a fanfare on a couple of tracks would have been very welcomed!

However that been said there are some lovely tunes on 'Mr Bookshop'. The best songs for me include the title track, the album opener 'Weak', the folkie 'Almost Friend' and the glorious 'February' with it's wonderful enriching imagery. The bluegrass feel of 'Synchronicity' really suits Polly's vocals and is another standout track.

All in all 'Mr Bookshop' is a fine debut which showcases the massive potential of Polly Barrett.

Polly Barrett - Mr Bookshop [9 out of 12]

02 POLLY BARRETT - Mr Bookshop by Music Week

Buy the Album:

Tour Dates:

Wed, 16 Nov Galway, IE Garvey's Inn
Tue, 22 Nov London, UK The Troubadour Club, Earl's Court, London
Fri, 25 Nov Slane, MH, IE Boyles in Slane
Tue, 29 Nov Wexford, WX, IE The Sky & The Ground
Wed, 30 Nov Kilkenny, KK, IE Ryan's Bar
Thu, 08 Dec Letterkenny, IE An Grianan Theatre
Fri, 09 Dec Galway, IE Roisin Dubh
Sat, 10 Dec Dublin, IE Vicar Street
Sun, 11 Dec Cork, IE Triskel Christchurch
Fri, 30 Dec Mayo, IE Royal Theatre

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Mixtape: Best 30 Irish Songs [2008 - 2011]

The 2UIBestow blog is three today! The fact that I regularly get 400 visitors a day to this page must mean that my music tastes connects with some of you out there! As long as people keep visiting the page I'l keep writing about the music I love!

Here's the best 30 songs in alphabetical order I've discovered since the beginning of the blog three years ago!

Bill Coleman - Church of Second Chances

The Blue Choir - What If I Could Be The One?

David Hope - Daybreak Someplace

Daybreak Someplace by David Hope

Declan DeBarra - Beautiful One

Eric Eckhart - Lost

Lost by Eric Eckhart

Favourite Sons - The Great Deal of Love

The Great Deal of Love by FavouriteSons

The Gorgeous Colours - It's Ok to be Normal

The Gorgeous Colours - It's OK To Be Normal by TheDiscoverialist

Henrietta Game - The Last Thing

LAST THING by Henrietta Game

Heritage Centre - You Are Something

I Am Not Lefthanded - Long Goodbyes

Long Goodbyes by I Am Not Lefthanded

I Draw Slow - Goodbye Beulahland

Iain Archer - Frozen Lake

Jukebox Gypsy - The Month

Jukebox Gypsy - The Month by 2uibestow

Keith Mullins - Mistakes

Kiernan McMullan - That Afternoon

Lisa Hannigan - Paper House

The Making - Safe and Well

Michael Brunnock - Sensation

Miss Paula Flynn - Killed A Bird

Killed A Bird by Miss Paula Flynn

One Day international - Miss Your Mouth

Miss Your Mouth by Brian Crosby

Peadar King - Wanted Something

Pearse McGloughlan - Passion Song

Peter Doran - Pathways

Peter Doran - Pathways by rayrecordings

Pony Club - What are you Angry For?

Preachers Sons - Lipstick

Lipstick feat Gavin Friday by Preachers Son

Reader's Wives - Laughter/Commute

Laughter / Commute by ReadersWives

Resurrection Fern - Brothers

03 Brothers by Resurrection Fern

Sean Kangataran - Hairpins

Salt and Sea - "Hairpins" by Seán Kangataran

Terrance Rowlands - Red Sunrise

Red Sunrise by Terence Rowlands

Youth Mass - Tony Don't You Worry

Tony Don't You Worry by Youth Mass

Album Review: The Making - Expectations

I've listened to 'Expectations' from Monaghan band The Making around twenty times and I'm beginning to believe that this is my favourite album of 2011.

I do struggle with writing album reviews in general and it's more difficult explaining how an album hits the right notes than it is to pick out the the weaknesses. The Making is pretty much Brendan McCahey from Carrickmacross in Co. Monaghan. Brendan has a superb voice and has the ability to write highly catchy songs that keep revolving around your head all day and all night!

'Expectations' consists of ten tracks which is a mix of influences steeped in the Folk, Rock and Glam music of the 70’s. Even though Folk and Glam rock are world's apart Brendan's vocals are suited to both styles. If there was an obvious comparison I'd compare The Making to the indie sounds of British band Supergrass especially on the tracks 'Summer's Gone' and 'Take Her Away'.

04 v1 Summer's Gone by The Making

It is essential for any album that I review that the lyrics are central to the songs. On 'Expectations' there are songs of love, self-discovery and positiveness. When the lyrics are arranged within the catchy choruses of the songs they become infectious. The highlights for me are 'Beautiful Tonight', 'Safe and Well' and 'Prove Them Wrong'. I also love the laid back sound of 'Honestly':

03 v1 Honestly by The Making

There is not a bad song on this album and I'm highly recommending you check out 'Expectations' by The Making:

The Making - Expectations [12 out of 12]

Buy The Album:

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Introducing: A Mix of New Irish Bands #5

This is gonna be a monster post. Thankfully bands and their representatives keep me in touch with everything new and exciting that's out there. Here I'm gonna introduced a whole bunch of bands and artists who'll no doubt feature more prominently on the blog in the future!

The following list is in no particular order except to say I've book-ended the list with my particular favourites!


Alan Doyle

Dubliner Alan Doyle was previously based in Spain for six years where he formed part of Madrid's emerging independent music scene and where he launched his debut LP “Places”. He's recently released a new EP entitled "His Words Left Fatal Wounds - Demos" and it showcases Alan's great deep vocals and songwriting talents. I especially love 'The Road to Reno' which can be downloaded for free here:

brother by Alan Doyle 2


Beyond Olden Acre

Indie-folk gets a new member with the charming sounds of Dublin band 'Beyond Olden Acre'. Download their debut EP from bandcamp here:

Western Seaboard, 1913 by Beyond Olden Acre


Paul Creane & The Changing Band

Wexford's Paul Creane released an Alt-country album in April 2011 entitled Tommy Black And The Twelve Days Of Lucy. It's on Soundcloud to have a listen to so I've embeded a track from it below! Sounds really interesting!

05 Hired Killer by Paul Creane

More info:


Morning Claws

The Belfast band introduced themselves well on their site: "They created an intricate blend of electronic and indie music and they called it Morning Claws." This free download is really nice:

More info:


Lorcan James

Lorcan James hails from Co. Meath and is on the cusp of a breakthrough in Ireland. Backed by a decent band Lorcan will be in the Academy 2 on December 3rd and their sound has the polished radio friendly rock sound primed for regular daytime airplay!

Throwing Stones BONUS TRACK! click download! by utkusarperlorcanjames


The Great Balloon Race

Cork's 'The Great Balloon Race' actually sound like their name. Fusing folk, jazz, prog and psychedelic their music is like a soundtrack to being up high in a balloon! Their EP can be downloaded for free from bandcamp and here's the first track from the EP .... the gorgeous 'Birds of Canada'.

Birds of Canada by TheGreatBalloonRace


Tiny Telephone Exchange

The first half of the debut album from Dublin band 'Tiny Telephone Exchange' has gone onto soundcloud for listening and it's pretty good. Hints at a gorgeous debut album!

Not the World (The Elephant and the Astronaut) by Tiny Telephone Exchange


Tied to Machines

If a bit of heavy rock music is required and lets face it we all need channel our energy into heavy rock from time to time I can recommend Belfast band #Tied to Machines':

Tied To Machines EP - Tied To Machines - Released 18th Novemeber
Audio -
1. Sociopath
2. No Hugging, No Learning
3. Otamendi

Sociopath by Tied To Machines


C.O. Neill + Co.

Well what can I say about C.O. Neill & Co? Fun time folk? Jokey folkie? I do love bands that can entertain me and C.O. Neill & Co do that! Check out this funny video and get a free download below:

See the band live:

15/12/11 Dublin - Crawdaddy
28/12/11 Cavan - The Gonzo Theatre


Hello Moon

Dublin band Hello Moon's debut "Only Count the Sunny Hours" will be available on Any Other City Records from 9th September 2011. Their chilled out indie sound is stunning and they are a band I can't wait to see live!

Awkward hugs to Hello Moon!

Awkward Hugs by Hello Moon