Thursday, 30 June 2011

Mixtape: Knockanstockan 2011 Volume 1

Knockanstockan takes place in a few weeks in beautiful Blessington Co. Wicklow.

Knockanstockan is a 3-day Music Festival with over 85 acts taking place between 23rd - 25th July.

The vast line-up appearing over the three days is here and you have an opportunity to listen to a track from ten of the bands on the bill:


Absolutely Curtains
Aisling Quinn
Arrow in the Sky
Attention Bebe
Bipolar Empire
Blind Yackety
Bob Glynn
Come on, Live Long
El Hombre Jokes
Enda Reilly
Eric McGrath

These are the good old days by Eric McGrath Demos

Fox Jaw Bounty Hunter
Fox.E & the Good Hands
Ghost Busters
Gypsy Rebel Rabble
Hassle Merchants
The Hundred Flower Campaign
I Draw Slow

I Draw Slow - Low Down Girl Like Me by Folk Radio UK

Indecent Cigar Emporium
James Guilmartin

Method to madness by jimmy gil

John Fairhurst
Kasper Rosa

Kasper Rosa - Scaling Mount Improbable by abadgeoffriendship

Kill Goliath
King Modo
Lisa McLaughlin
Liz Is Evil
Lotus Eater
Louis Barabbas
Markas Carcas
More Tiny Giants
New Secret Weapon
Noise Machine
Nursery Crimes
Pete & The Purehearts
Peter Space Invasion
Rebecca Collins
Rocket Surgery
Ross Breen
Scarecrow Disco

Sive - When I Was A Young Girl (cover) by SiveMusic

Son of a Beast
Sons Of GingerBread
Sounds of System Breakdown
Spirit Riders
Spook of the 13th Lock
St. John The Gambler
The 9 Bars
The Altered Hours
The Amazing Few
The Barley Mob
The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine - Imperfect Lines 2 by RisingStars

The Candidates
The Cujo Family
The Envelope
The Gandhis
The Gorgeous Colours

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

The Hot Sprockets
The Last Waltz
The North Sea

The Losing Half (Demo) by The North Sea

The Rambleers
The Salad Circus

All Jokes on me by Salad Circus

The Stoney Brokes
The Whipround
The Young Folk
Tom Cooney
Tongue Bundle
We Cut Corners
Wicker Bones
Wyvern Lingo

You'll Be Safer Here by zealots

White Noise
The Cold 100
The Money Tree

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

My Glastonbury Review

My Glastonbury story began with an impromptu email fired off to the Emerging Talent Competition asking if they needed another blogger as a judge for this year's competition. I got a ticket in exchange for listening to at least one track from 159 bands. Within that 159 bands I can say I've become a fan of The Little Unsaid, Laurie Cameron, Elliott Morris and Klak Tik. The eventual winners of this year's ETC was Treetop Flyers:

Treetop Flyers- Long Cold Winter by Maludo


I had to work up to noon on Friday 24th June but an Aer Arran 3pm flight to Bristol and a coach journey to Pilton ensured I got to the mud bath by 7pm. The tent went up in time for Morrissey's fine set from the Pyramid Stage at 8pm. I confess to never being a big Smiths fan but tunes like 'Meat is Murder' and 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out' were amazing to hear. After a trip to the Hot Spiced Cider bar it was time for a greatest hits gig from U2. Normally you'd have to listen to a few crap tunes from the new album before getting to the beefy hits but U2 went straight to honouring Achtung Baby the album they recorded 20 years ago in Berlin. While not a vintage show it was all about the music and U2 played the best set for the occasion.


My home for the weekend was stuck between The Pyramid Stage and The John Peel Stage and Saturday began with two bands in the John Peel Stage. Jersey's 'Brave Yesterday' made nice indie rock tunes but they have a seriously good drummer. The drumbeats were irregular and constantly fluid during the tracks and the drummer was highly entertaining by himself.

Paper Tigers by Brave Yesterday

I think it's always difficult when a band like 'Fight Like Apes' are given an introduction where they are called the liveliest most entertaining band on the scene or something like it. Instead of winning over the crowd they had to make sure they didn't lose the sizable crowd who beat their way through the midday mud to get to the band. To be fair I was entertained by their stage antics and there's no denying MayKay's superstar-like qualities.

I headed off to one of the bands I was excited about seeing and it was The Twilight Singers. Greg Duli is in my top 10 all time favourite songwriters and I love the sound from The Twilight Singers. Unfortuneately the biggest cheer from the crowd happened when the sun appeared from behind the crowds and the old naked dude decided to stand next to creating ample photo opportunities for a young crowd waiting for Greg Duli to stop singing and for Jessie J to appear.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Album Review: Reader's Wives - Rachel's Apartment

It's rare to find an alternative rock album with clever lyrics these days but Reader's Wives have come up with the goods! One of the Irish albums of the year!

I love it when I find the right album at the right time. While I'm getting partial to the folk genre in my old [ish] days my heart still rests with the Pearl Jam formula of rock songs. That is a sound with clever lyrics, quality vocals to sing along to and enough catchy melodies to nod your head or possibly do a slow swaying dance! Reader's Wives have brought out an album which hits all the right spots for me at this moment in time.

Rachel's Apartment kicks off with three decent rocking tunes which display a Strokes influence. Of the three 'Wasted Youth' kept me awake last night as it was replayed time and again in my internal player. 'You Must Have Been Crazy' is an anti-love story about a womaniser who loses his wife to the singer. Many of the songs contain lyrics which are cutting observations of society and some are derogatory if taken out of context. A band with the name 'Reader's Wives' isn't going to be concerned with political correctness with a typical lyric like ".... I'm like a dog when I get pissed, climbing on the nearest bitch to me" in the closing track 'Serial Monogamy'.

Wasted Youth by ReadersWives

While there isn't a bad tune on the album there are two wonderful songs on 'Rachel's Apartment' which stand out for me. 'A Sight For Sore Eyes' is a big anthem with a great chorus and is the type of big song which would be perfect for an end of mixtape song. [For those old enough to remember making mixtapes!]. The best song for me is 'Laughter/Commute'. The lyrics tell a great story about being away and reflecting on life with the chorus going "My before and after, my before and after, darkness turns to laughter, in Italy, Sicily".

Laughter / Commute by ReadersWives

In summery 'Rachel's Apartment' is an album of the highest quality which suits my life at this moment in time. The lyrics are thought-provoking, the vocals of Niall James Holohan are pleasant and effective and there's enough heavy rock tunes on here to enable a loud escape from the routine of life.

Reader's Wives - Rachel's Apartment [12 out of 12]

Download your FREE preview copy of the album below (for the month of June only).

If you go to one of the Reader's Wives live shows you'll get a free download 'wristband' included in the ticket price.

You can download the album from iTunes from Friday July 1st.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Album Review: Stuart Wilde - The Black Crow

The Black Crow is a wonderfully orchestrated piece of art which on the one hand contains charm and atmosphere while on the other hand contains lyrics that portrays loss and escapism. The Black Crow is not an album to immediately lift your mood but if you're 'digging in the pit' this album makes for good company!

Stuart Wilde is a Cork based artist who describes his music as 'alternative/blues/folk'. The Black Crow consists of Stuart's deep vocals, guitars, a wooden stomp box and the considerable violin talents of Kathryn Doehner. Stuart's style of music is totally unique, quirky and atmospheric. Any fan of Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen should check out this album!

The album kicks off with 'Lil' Ol' Restaurant' which is a charming little story about finding solace in your local restaurant. The other good-time song is 'Hot Damn' which is a fun tune about an infatuation with a girl with high heel boots.

01 Lil' Ol' Restaurant by Stuart Wilde

The main theme of the album centers on an end to a relationship or the eagerness to escape. They describe the feeling of being stuck somewhere like the songs 'River of Mud' and 'For Love' or wanting to move on with life like 'Row That Boat' and 'Go'. The best track for me the charming but dark 'Digging in the Pit' with it's glorious yet punishing violin.

While many of the songs are charming it's not an album to brighten your mood. There is a limit to the formula of offer here and by track six I'm at my limit for the dark overtones. The Black Crow is a fiercely dark album in nature, tone and atmosphere but it has it's place if I need it to match my mood.

Stuart Wilde - The Black Crow [9 out of 12]

Listen to the whole album here:

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Album Review: The Whatmans - Fire Up The Masses

Explosive debut album from The Whatmans. Their big sound is not to everyone's taste but there's much to admire from the Navan band.

I've really enjoyed dissecting 'Fire Up The Masses', the debut album from The Whatmans. While I find it difficult to get excited about the edgy rock on offer; there is one really great tune among an album of bog standard 'nod you head' rock songs. 'Get You Off' has a superb bass line and guitar rift which reminds me of early 90's indie bands like Ride, Lush or Swervedriver. Other songs which are decent are 'Devil Shoes' and the opening track 'One For The Music'.

'Fire Up The Masses' displays the bands Kasabian/Oasis influences on it's sleeve and is therefore lacking on any real originality. That being said, this is an album which is designed to be in your face and to be played as loud as you can so who cares if it's not too original. The musicianship on offer is really tight and not over the top while the production is just right for the album.

Unfortunately I couldn't warm to the coarse vocals on many of the songs even though some of them are really catchy. There are lots of average tracks on the album and the lyrics don't offer a huge amount.

I do feel a tad sorry for rock bands like Jaded Sun, Kopek and The Whatmans as I simply don't think there's enough fans in Ireland who can support that style of music. Worldwide there's a market for the rock sounds of 'Fire Up The Masses' and I hope The Whatmans get to tour Europe and beyond with the album over the coming years.

The Whatmans - Fire Up The Masses [6 out of 12]

Buy The Album:


More info:

Track Listing

01. One for the Music
02. Come Along
03. Messiahs and Monkeys
04. Thinkin' Champagne
05. Get You Off
06. Follow Me
07. Kiss the Mind
08. Devil Shoes
09. Soldier
10. Fire Up the Masses

Devil Shoes by The Whatmans

The Whatmans - Soldier by thewhatmans

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Album Review: Burning Codes - Rivers of Hope

A consistently outstanding composer, Paul Archer aka Burning Codes has again produced an album which I find difficult to describe without using words like wonderful, amazing and brilliant. 

'Rivers of Hope' is the third album from Burning Codes following the debut self-titled album of 2008 and last years Burning Codes 2. When an artist like Burning Codes produces consistently good albums I'm afraid I have to write another positive review for the band.

I'd compare the music of Burning Codes as a cross between Yo La Tengo and Snow Patrol with a touch of gospel in the mix. The songs individually contain massive big sounds such as haunting backing vocals and thundering drums which revolves around the hugely positive lyrics at it's core. This formula is what the Burning Codes sound is about and the result is a very uplifting positive listening experience.

Burning Codes - We are like gold by Jax Management

The album kicks off in fine style with 'We Are Like Gold'. The title track is another piece of positivity where we listen and believe that 'Rivers of Hope flow through us'. My favourite track is the indie sounding 'Switch' which wouldn't sound out of place on any indie rock radio station in the world. I love the chilled out Sunday morning feel to 'The Ladder'.

The one criticism I have of the album is that the quality tails off by the end of the ten tracks and they don't compare favourably to the tracks written about above. 'Rivers of Hope' is still however a quality album and Burning Codes is a great band that I won't ever get tired of spreading the word about.

Burning Codes - Rivers of Hope [10 out of 12]

Pre-order the album here:

The album launch is on June 20th in the Bull and Gate venue in London. Buy Tickets here:

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cork XSW 2011 Review

Last week I described Cork XSW 2011 as my dream festival line-up and it did not fail to impress in any way. I loved everything from the line-up to the surroundings to the atmosphere and charm. I also loved how I got to hear possibly the best voice in Ireland ......

There really can't be a better location for a festival. Set in the Liss Ard estate the main stage took it's place downhill from the Liss Ard house with the second stage nestled within the walled backyard of the house. The Vibrations area was tucked away out of ear shot from the other stages and furnished with attractive artwork. Within these environments lay the foundations of a great festival. In terms of this review I didn't get to see all of the set from every band mentioned and we were in the company of my three children throughout.

In terms of bands Cork XSW had everything. There was the iconic artist who was on a different artistic planet [Patti Smith]. There were the nostalgic artists [Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Hook, Drugstore]. There were bands for the kids [Jape, Yuck, We Cut Corners], the local favourites [Interference, Fred, Mick Flannery], the trad [Meeting House, Guidewires] the weird [Balken Beat Box, West Cork Ukulele Orchestra], the wonderful [God is an Astronaut, Favourite Sons, Dr. Millar] and then there were the amazing talented acts who once had a following in Ireland but have found the music world difficult to navigate recently [Alien Envoy, Katell Keineg, Nina Hynes].


Our festival kicked off with the wonderful Dr. Millar who played songs I simply adore in the sun within a beautiful walled garden. A bissful way to 'Feel Everything & Love Yourself'.

After a bit of exploration we went back to the De Barra's stage for a bit of traditional music in the form of Meeting House. They were quickly followed by Nick Kelly's Alien Envoy featuring Joe Chester on guitar. After a short nap my daughter decides that it'd be a good idea to dance to The Fat Lady Sings' Arclight and Alien! The highlight of the set was '45' where every line of the song is a song title from the past:

Nick Kelly - 45 by NDT Productions

The first major surprise of the weekend was when I really enjoyed Mick Flannery's set. I'm familiar with Mick's songs but the quality of his stage performance really impressed me and I'd go to see Mick in concert again. His band were amazing.

From there it was off to DeBarra's sitting room for the best personal find of the weekend. Conall from We Cut Corners is the best vocalist working in Ireland at the moment. His voice reminds me of Emmett Tinley's voice and their songs are wonderful!

08 the male mind by we cut corners

A quick dash down to the main stage to see Drugstore and Isobel who are only to happy to be playing in front of a big appreciative crowd. After the amazing 'El Presidente' was played we had another quick dash back to the sitting room for Interference. There was a huge amount to love in the set in particular the musicianship, the vocals of Fergus as well as the quality of the songs. In a day where I'm finding it difficult to find any flaws in the performances I'm not particularly blown away by Interference. Saturday night ended with Favourite Sons whose new album 'The Great Deal of Love' is probably the most listened to album in 2011. I lapped up every note, sound and lyric from the band who had to compete with Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen for attention.


Our Sunday began with a spot of arts n crafts for the kids in the Vibrations area where my sons made these little puppet guys:

..... and was followed by the amazing and weird West Cork Ukulele Orchestra. It was a funny little journey through many great tunes performed by an orchestra of Ukulele playing musicians.

Here's a video of the band from a gig a few weeks back:

It was off to the main stage for Nina Hynes first gig in three years. Backed by Carol Keogh and her band of seasoned musicians Nina produced one of the best performances of the festival with a set of mainly new tracks which will hopefully make it's way onto a new record:

Here was the highlight of the set for me:

In a Million - Nina Hynes by UpStart

I managed to see Nina Hynes and LOWmountain with just a Heineken Cup for company. LOWmountain are a superb Country Folk band who if there is any justice would become global stars in their field. While the songs are well written it's the vocals, lyrics and harmonies which makes the band stand out from the ordinary.

It's Been So Long by LOWmountain

While Jape was doing his thing on the second stage I was in the main arena for Katell Keineg's short acoustic set to a small but appreciative crowd. It was great to hear 'Franklyn' and 'A Gulf of Araby' live again.

The icon Patti Smith was outstanding but I moved on after a while to the Vibrations area where Kila's Ronan O Snodaigh was enriching the crowd with his musical aura. The quality within the festival never once let up and when I caught the beginning of Yuck I understood the hype. I however wanted to be blown away so I went to hear the mighty God is an Astronaut and wow. It was apocalyptic!

God Is An Astronaut - All Is Violent, All Is Bright by Jimmi

The final band we caught was Cork darlings Fred. I don't think much of the current album and therefore while their performance was high energy and entertaining I was happy to leave mid set and head back down the hill to the campsite.

It's been good going over to the festival facebook to read the positive comments; from attendees. Musically and spiritually it has set a bar for other festivals to reach. I am a tad worried that no other festival will reach the heights that Cork XSW achieved this year. Well done CorkXSW:

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Album Review: Henrietta Game - Black Ship [Fourforty4 Re-post]

Originally appeared on on May 26th

Peter and Elaine writer of sat down at their respective computers, where they simultaneously listened to the band's debut album and shared their thoughts.

 Elaine: Elaine Kirwan reporting for duty!

Peter: Haha good on ya!
I'm ready to hit play whenever you are

Elaine: Go!