Saturday, 28 May 2011

Mixtape: Irish Artists @ Slane

Today The Kings of Leon will perform in Slane Castle today to 80,000 people. The concert has gained a worldwide reputation over the 30 years. The line-ups below contain some of the best live bands in the world along with Bryan Adams. Check out some of the Irish artists to have been given the pleasure of performing in Slane.

16th August 1981

U2/HazelO’Connor/Rose Tattoo
Sweet Savage/The Bureau/Megahype

U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday by 300songs30days

24th July 1982

J.Geils Band/The Chieftans/George Thorogood and the Destroyers

1983 - The 'Slane Concert' had to be moved to The Phoenix Park and therefore there's conflicting reports of a 'Slane' gig that year. I suppose it can't be a Slane gig if it didn't happen in Slane!

8th July 1984

UB40/Santanta/In Tua Nua

Friday, 27 May 2011

Album Review: Storyfold - Rocket Science

Superb debut album from rock/pop band Storyfold. 'Rocket Science' is full to the brim of catchy tunes which are composed to make you bop your head, tap your foot and sing the songs. Even though reviewing an album isn't rocket science I found it very difficult to review this album.  

Storyfold write songs which follow a certain formula. The tracks on 'Rocket Science' are all of a very high quality in composition, musicianship and execution. Any one of the main eleven tracks could belong on the playlists of the most popular radio stations. The formula is generally to have an intense tempo from the start with strong vocals and lyrics describing a certain interaction. The lyrics often include vivid emotions which the listener can connect with as well as instrumentation which enhances the vocals and lyrics. All of this with delicate piano playing and backing vocals means we have an album of highly entertaining and instantly likable songs.

'Rocket Science' kicks off with a cracking tune 'Ciara Don't Be Angry' which I'm sure has to be a future single. It's a highly catchy tune which has the ability to be recalled in the head in a heartbeat. The current single 'Trick of Light' is another superb slice of pop music. For me the best track is 'The Sweetest Silence' where Lindsey provides lead vocals but it's the female/male harmonies which hit the spot. I really like the initial change of tempo for 'You're Still There' but it still has a catchy chorus and the strings enable the tempo to gain momentum by the end of the track.

You're Still There by storyfold

The reason why I found this review difficult to write is because it reminds me of when I reviewed The Dirty 9's debut album last year. Back then I wrote about The Dirty 9's album as not really connecting with me and it created a conflict within me. One the one hand I admire Storyfold greatly and I think 'Rocket Science' is a superb album of quality tunes. Just like The Dirty 9's I think Storyfold are one of Ireland's best live bands and 'Rocket Science' is a must buy for anyone wanting good, honest, catchy, rock tunes. However, it doesn't light a fire within me to the extent that 'Rocket Science' might not be an album I'll be returning to on a regular basis.

Storyfold - Rocket Science [10 out of 12]

The Sweetest Silence by storyfold

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Interview: Andrew Handrick [Fourforty4 Re-post]

Original post appeared here:

In May of 2009 I discovered the music of Andrew Handrick at an independent music festival in Conary, Co. Wicklow. I seen some really good artists but the act which stood out for me was Dubliner Andrew Handrick. His performance and deliverance was outstanding and conjured up Elliott Smith or Willy Mason comparisons. Andrew released his debut album 'The True Riches of Life' way back in 2006 and has re-located to Italy. In this interview Andrew talks about his career to date, his motivations and the plan for the future.

Hi Andrew, what have you been up to since you released your debut album 'The True Riches of Life' in 2006?

Well I could write a book about what I've been up quit my job and headed straight to San Francisco and was playing off and on there for about 15 months which was a great experience and really helped me develop as a musician and songwriter. Nothing like travel to get inspiration.I took a year out from gigging after that for personal reasons, which I won't bore you with, but continued writing and recording and at this time began collaborating with different lyricist around the world and basically writing music for others lyrics. This was great cause it kinda freed me up to concentrate more on the music side of things and that always brings up new ideas and ways of seeing music and songs. I was using my own recording interface at this time, so I was also learning more about the recording process, trial and error, in fact a lot of error...haha... I suppose in the back of my mind I was always trying to work out my next album.I got back out playing live at the end of 2008 which was great cause thats what I love to do. Feeds my soul I suppose. I then started spending time in Northern Italy and found my way to recording an 5 track instrumental CD, only made it available through my website for reasons I have yet to realise.I also recorded some tracks which went on a yoga cd in the states.

All this time I was still trying to figure out my 2nd ain't easy.... and playing some gigs in Ireland and Italy, back and forth...Then came the birth of my daughter Sofia so things kinda got put on the back burner for a little while again..sleep was more and then I finally realised I was trying to record my 3rd album not my second. I had written a lot of songs when I was in the US and never recorded them due to just playing them live and the time out I took when I came back, so its funny how the mind works, I was kinda stuck and could not really move on until I had recorded these songs..and thats what I am doing now. My mom also passed away a couple of months ago, so maybe something with that made things click into place, hard to know really, it's all a strange process.I actually recorded 9 demo songs in two evenings and its pretty much the bones of my next album.

Is your permanent base now in Northern Italy and how has this affected your songwriting and musical direction?

Yes I am pretty much full time in North West Italy now.. I wouldn't say it has affected my songwriting or musical direction to be honest.. I think my time in the US pretty much solidified my direction and songwriting.. I suppose I have always been more influenced by the American sound more so than Europe..I just get inspiration from life so it does not matter where I am, there is always something to write about or some feelings to share..

What are the main topics or themes for the new songs?

Main topics and themes... they never seem to and life experience..growing, healing and learning...I suppose travel as well and meeting different people at different stages in life... I don't do much political stuff...doesn't sit comfortably with me at the moment.. I have a few songs along those lines, maybe for another EP or album who knows...I actually wrote a song inspired by Hugo Chavez.... not sure the world is ready for that one...haha..

Have you a completion or release date in mind for the new album?

I was hoping to have the new album finished before I head to NY at the end of the month...which still might happen so keep an eye on my website, but it might just stay a demo album for a while...I was toying with the idea of just putting it out really raw... I mean as an indpendent artist it can get frustrating trying to match the production levels people in the industry expect... so I was thinkin of an anti industry course that might be shooting myself in the foot...though BBC Radio played songs I recorded myself with no problem, can you sense my's a curse...

Learning Curve by Andrew Handrick

Tell me about the charity album you contributed to recently?

Amhrán Gach Lá - Sounds of System Breakdown

This Tuesday evening in The Grand Social is the Launch of Knockanstockan 2011.

Here's a track from Sounds of System Breakdown:

Fashion Mercenary - Radio Edit by SOSB

Knockanstockan is a festival that's been on the go since 2007 in Blessington, Co. Wicklow and aims to promote the best of Irish music.

The full line-up will be announced on Tuesday but here's a list of bands which will make the trip to Wicklow!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Republic of Loose

Republic of Loose headline Slane this Sat ... Friday evening in The Millhouse:

With a few hundred Kings of Leon campers in Slane already it's a great idea to have a warm-up gig in The Millhouse in Slane.

Tickets are a reasonable €22!

Republic Of Loose - You Know It by djilo

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Codes [Sea Sessions Special]

This week on the blog we have our first ever Competition! The prize is pretty special too. There are 2 weekend camping tickets for The Sea Sessions courtesy of Relentless Energy Drink available to the lucky winner of Friday's competition.

When a band disappears for quite some time there's always the question mark over their existence. Thankfully after a hiatus of sorts Codes are on The Sea Sessions bill playing on the Friday night.

The band's 2009 debut Trees Dream in Algebra gained a Choice nod and includes this wonderful track:

Codes - This Is Goodbye by codes

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Mixtape: Cold Pro June 4th & 5th

The Cold Pro Festival intrigues me! It's similar to The Sea Sessions but takes place over the June Bank Holiday weekend and takes place in White Strand, Co. Clare.

The line-up is impressive with many interesting international artists such as Peter Hook, Kate Walsh, Jamie XX, Scott Matthews and North Atlantic Oscillation. However there's a great line-up of Irish acts booked as well. Here's a mix of the best music to offer at Cold Pro.


Peter Hook & ‘The Light’ present Joy Divisions Unknown Pleasures
The Amplifetes
Scott Mathews
Ben Howard
Ellen and the Escapades
Friska Viljor
Kate Walsh


Jamie XX
Africa Hitech (aka Mark Pritchard & Steve Spacek)
Sir Vinyl (Will West)
Bass Clef Live
The Nextmen ft. MC Wrec
Wildcookie (aka Freddie Cruger & Anthony Mills)
Trojan Sound System
Sir Vinyl (Catrina D’Olive)
Prince Fatty Sound System ft. Hollie Cook & Horseman


James Owen Fender
Masters In France
Sleep Thieves
The Heroic Present
Satellite Generals

Neck Ties by Satellite Generals

Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters

Hatch Sixteen by foxjawbountyhunters


Battle for 2nd Place

Held To You by battleforsecondplace

Woodpecker Wooliams
Hannah Trigwell


Imelda May
North Atlantic Oscillation
Those Dancing Days
Le Galaxie
Ivan St John
The Travelling Band
O Emperor

O Emperor - Don Quixote - Electric Picnic 2011 by ElectricPicnic


DJ Lefto
Flako Live
Electric Wire Hustle Live
Falling Up
Fulgeance Live
Debruit Live
Shigeto Live
TY and Big Ted
Paul White Live
Eric Lau


Miracle Bell
Brother and Bones
Zombie Computer

Honest Lies by zombiecomputer

Rooftop Anthem

Rooftop Anthem - Suzie by Audio Networks

Dead Red Light
Rosie Doonan
Hugo Kensdale
Nicholas James Mallins
Laura Sheeran

Girlfriend (Live) by L A U R A S H E E R A N

Israel Cannan
Surreal knowledge

Amhrán Gach Lá - The Walls [Sea Sessions Special]

This week on the blog we have our first ever Competition! The prize is pretty special too. There are 2 weekend camping tickets for The Sea Sessions courtesy of Relentless Energy Drink available to the lucky winner of Friday's competition.

There was a very insightful post last week from Kevin Mp3hugger about The Walls and Steve Wall's observations on the music industry. Read it here:

The Walls are a band who deserve respect [and radio time] for their wonderful back catalogue and history but when this EP was released in March there was barely a whimper from the establishment.

The main single 'Bird in a Cage' is a return to form but I like this instrumental which brings me back to the old b-sides on 'value for money' singles I used to buy from Freebirds for 50p!

The Big Freeze - MP3 by The Walls

The Walls play The Sea Sessions on Sunday!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Cashier No. 9 [Sea Sessions Special]

This week on the blog we have our first ever Competition! The prize is pretty special too. There are 2 weekend camping tickets for The Sea Sessions courtesy of Relentless Energy Drink available to the lucky winner of Friday's competition. 

[Picture of The Sea Sessions Festival Site!]

Here's the tasty line-up for The Sea Sessions taking place in Bundoran from June 24th - 26th.







All this week I'll be talking about Irish bands you must check out at The Sea Sessions beginning with Belfast's Cashier No. 9.

There's a great buzz about this band over the last few months and their debut album will be one of the most anticipated albums of the year when it's released on June 20th. Check out the song 'Lost at Sea' and you'll hear something a bit different and special:

Cashier No.9 - Lost At Sea by Bella Union

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Album Review: Fred - Leaving My Empire

Difficult forth album from a maturing band who write clever tunes. It's a good album but I'm left wanting something that isn't there from a band I really admire.

'Leaving My Empire' is the forth album from Fred who are one of Ireland's best live bands. Much of the 2008 album 'Go God Go' was of the highest quality and brought them to Canada and increased their worldwide fan-base. After a bit of a hiatus they recorded the album with Howard Bilerman in Montreal. The breakthrough to the next level just didn't happen with Fred and I don't think 'Leaving My Empire' will move the band forward because in the current music industry, this album compares unfavourably with their contemporaries.

I'd urge anyone interested in the album to begin in reverse because the album finisher 'We Are The City Now' is the best track on the album with a fantastic sing-a-long chorus. The other highlights for me are the funky 'Trial by Fire', the album opener 'If Not Now When' and Elvis Costello-esque 'Villains' sung by the bassist.

The vocals on the album bother me. With the radio hits from 'Go God Go' the vocals were fine and there were a few tracks including backing vocals. On 'Leaving My Empire' the vocals duties rest on lead single Joseph with that one exception in 'Villains' mentioned above. The vocals don't encourage multiple listens and I'm often moved to press skip to move on from the weaker tracks like 'Somewhere Else' and 'As You See'.

'Leaving My Empire' has some good moments but in general it's one of the worst albums I'm likely to review this year and I can't see how Fred will make it to the next stage up from Whelans/Workmans Club etc. This is such a pitty as I've seen Fred play a number of times and the band is one of my favourites. If they do a 'Best of Fred' it'll be jammed full of good tunes however on the basis of this album there probably won't be much demand for it.

Fred - Leaving My Empire [6 out of 12]

I seen this picture on the band's Facebook page and I couldn't resist putting in on here:


Album Tour:

Mon 16th May Belfast Black Box Theatre 8pm £7

Thurs 19th May Dublin Whelans 8pm €14.50

Fri 20th May Waterford Forum Theatre 8pm €10

Sat 21st May Cork Cork Opera House 8pm €19

Thurs 26th May Galway Town Hall Theatre 7.30pm €14

Fri 27th May Limerick Belltable Theatre 7pm €12

Wed 1st June Wexford Wexford Arts Centre 8pm €15

Thurs 2nd June Dundalk The Spirit Store 8pm €10

Fri 3rd June Monaghan Flat Lake Festival

Sun 5th June Skibbereen Cork X South West

Sun 26th June Bundoran Sea Sessions

Listen to the album:

Leaving My Empire by fredtheband

Amhrán Gach Lá - Mob Fandango

10 piece funky soul dance pop outfit Mob Fandango have an EP on the go and it's brilliant. Based on these four tracks I'm going to do my very best to catch the band live in the near future:

Here's the best track from the EP: She Might Be Crazy

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - I Am Not Lefthanded

Apart from writing wonderful little pop tunes I Am Not Lefthanded place much emphasis on their home-made videos for their singles. Check out the thought-provoking video to the new song 'Alone (It's Not So Bad)

See the band in Slane on May 26th:

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - I Phoenix

I've found some really good bands who are playing this weekend's 'Clockwork Apple' mini festival. One of the best is I Phoenix whose brand of Electro-Rock is driven with energy and big sounds like this one:

01 Night Sparks by I Phoenix

Amhrán Gach Lá - Fighting For Jane

This is a really lovely tune from an unknown band to me 'Fighting For Jane'.

Fighting for Jane -The Low Moments by Clockwork Apple

The band are playing tomorrow night as part of the Clockwork Apple mini-festival:

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Album Review: Jukebox Gypsy - The Month

Jukebox Gypsy release an excellent album which connects with me at this moment in time. It's an album to sing to, that perks you up and gives you a much needed shot of happiness. 

'The Month' flirts with a range of genres and therefore has the ability to appeal to many people while still being considered a folk band. Each band member brings a song to the group for development but they generally display the composer's stamp. On the tracks lead guitarist Isaac sings the band flirts with Country music and deal with topics such as 'Butch Cassidy' and 'Arkansas'. Dave the lead singer provides the main vocals on the soulful tracks. Joanna contributes mainly backing vocals on the album but the song 'Riverbed' where she sings lead vocals remind me of Kate Rusby and is a simply gorgeous track. For me the best songs on the album are when Ben provides lead vocals. The title track in particular is such a great song and would hit home to anyone who recently experienced loss in their life.

".... but these are fading pictures now falling from my wall ..."

While there's a large amount of variety within the album it does all fit together and make sense mainly due to the superb musicianship on display. There really is no better sound then intricate acoustic lead guitar over acoustic guitar, banjo and double bass. The other key factor which makes Jukebox Gypsy stand out are the catchy multiple harmonies in the songs. Along with the title track the other recommended tracks include 'Marine St. West', 'Long Way 'Round' and this track 'Waves'.

Waves by Jukebox Gypsy

'The Month' is the second perfect album of 2011!

Jukebox Gypsy - The Month [12 out of 12]

Amhrán Gach Lá - Autumn Owls

Autumn Owls headline Friday's line-up at the Clockwork Apple mini-festival this coming weekend.

I've been aware of the band for quite sometime but never managed to see them live .... yet!

Autumn Owls - Wolf by the Mountain by Clockwork Apple

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Introducing: The Crossfire

The new Irish rock band from Ashbourne, Co. Meath The Crossfire are launching their debut EP in Tower Records on May 19th at 6pm.

The Crossfire - Something's Gotta Give by thecrossfire

For a debut EP the radio friendly tunes sound good but all the more remarkable for the fact that the band are still in school and in their mid teens. The Crossfire consists of:

Seán Buckley - Lead Vocals
Matthew Brady - Lead guitar/Backing vocals
Chris Murphy - Rhythm guitar
Sean Keeley - Bass
Adam Shanahan - Drums

The EP can be download from bandcamp here: or through Tower Records.

Amhrán Gach Lá - Annette Buckley

Annette Buckley is one of Ireland's most talented songwriters with a fabulous voice. She should be known worldwide based on the quality of her 2005 debut album.

Here she performs 'Whirlwind' from that debut with Jamie Lawson backstage at Cyprus Avenue in Cork on Wednesday of this week.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Percolator

The stage times for The ShamRock Festival have been announced:

It's a shame it clashes with my trip to CXSW because it's an interesting line-up. One band I'd encourage everyone to check out is the shoegazing sounds of Percolator. I seen them in Whelans a few years back and they were superb!

Red lemonade by Percolator (band)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Wicker Bones

Friday is covers day and I came across this during the week from Wicker Bones which sounds amazing and given the week we've had it's a very relevant song:

06 Masters Of War by WickerBones

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - Fred

Fred have announced Tucan & Rhob Cunningham as the support for their gig in Whelans on May 19th.

The video for the single 'Eleven' went online the other day:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Introducing: Stuart Wilde

Stuart Wilde is an artist based in Cork and his songs are full of darkness, humour, love and loss intertwining with guitar rhythms, heart strings, violin bows and wooden stomp box!

Last year Stuart teamed up with violin player Kathryn Doehner whose melodic playing offsets Stuart's raw sound.

There's a rawness to the music that I love!

01 Lil' Ol' Restaurant by Stuart Wilde

I'm delighted to have Stuart Wilde part of May's 'Live at Boyles' in what looks like one of my most diverse line-ups ever!

Amhrán Gach Lá - EleventyFour

EleventyFour kicks off here EPic tour of Ireland tomorrow:

4th May An Crúibín (formerly The Lobby) Cork. Support: Ciara O Flynn and Meadbh Boyd. Doors 8.30pm €5
6th May The Loft Limerick. Support: Great In Small Doses Doors 8pm €5
7th May The Roisin Dubh (upstairs) Galway. Support: The Followers Of Otis Doors 9pm. €5
10th May The Spirit Store Dundalk. Support: Tony Leddy. Doors 9pm Free gig
14th May The Workman’s Club Dublin. Support: Adela and The Meanits and Niall James Holohan (Reader’s Wives) solo set. Doors 8pm. €10
5th June – ShamRock Festival, Cavan.

The Workman's Club is such a strong line-up featuring three blog favourites. Here's a slice of EleventyFour Pop to listen to on a Tuesday evening!

La Dolce Vita aka The Cake Song by eleventyfour

Monday, 2 May 2011

Live Review - Vantastival

Here is my review of the first Irish festival of the season which took place over the last three days in Co. Louth called Vantastival. I was attending the festival as a blogger, music enthusiast as well as a father as I brought my twin 9 year old boys with me.

This was the second year of Vantastival. While the line-up of last year was stronger there was really no comparison to be made to last year's inaugural festival. The organisers learned from last year and got almost everything right from small things like adequate kids activities to site layout to band scheduling to proper road sign-age. If this rate of improvement continues I can see nothing but good things for future years.

As mentioned I was there with my music loving lads and therefore in some ways I was limited with the bands I got to see. In fact almost all of the bands I did catch I knew of already. Due to soccer commitments for my lads on Saturday morning we didn't make it to the festival on Friday evening. We did manage to get there early on Saturday to catch Fox E. & The Good Hands kick off proceedings on the Musicmaker Stage. As was often the case the band began their set to a handful of devotees but drew in well over a hundred pairs of ears by the end of their high energy funky set.

On our way to explore the festival site we caught a few minutes of The Curtain Thieves who sounded really interesting. Vantastival is a difficult festival for bands to be distinct but the vocals and vibe from The Curtain Thieves was real nice.

Dreamer by The Curtain Thieves

The Curtain Thieves were followed on the main stage by TKO who turned out to be one of the most entertaining bands of the weekend. Their set-up including clarinet, saxophone and violin ensures enough variety in the tracks to keep the interest level high! It was then over to The Paddy Mirage Stage for a glimpse of a new band Ghost Estates. The indie band was formed out of the ashes of 8ball and Sickboy and sounded amazing.


I'd Fight Gandhi were outstanding on the main stage. The 'Rage Against The Machine' similarity is too strong to ignore but they are a great festival band. From the sligtly ridiculous to the sublime where Cat Dowling was performing a lovely little set in the Paddy Mirage tent with former Alphastates co-member Gerry Horan. They played songs from Cat's forthcoming debut solo album. The songs are very much in the Alphastates mode which is very much a good thing.

Next up were a hat-trick of bands featured in my top 50 list; The Dirty 9s, The Young Folk and Preachers Son. Each band improved their game from previous performances. The Dirty 9s played some new tunes which sounded great, The Young Folk were a tight unit who performed their set confidently and in style while Preachers Son went down a storm with their full band rocking performance.

We briefly caught some of both The Fallen Drakes and The Cast of Cheers which neither impressed beyond the ordinary. Black Svan however were a revelation and fully justifies why people are tipping the band as an Irish Hard Rock musical export. Check out the band here:

Saturday finished for us with The Frank & Walters who rushed through their set so quickly you'd have thought they were hoping to catch the last train back to Cork. They played about 15 two minute songs with just one gap to insult all the campervan owners when lead singer Paul revealed his dad owned a Volkswagen campervan when it was cool to own one .... in the 1970s!

Sunday began with the ultra amazing Wassa Wassa drum workshop which gave myself and my boys an opportunity to be part of an African drum group. It was a great experience. Our band watching day didn't begin until 3pm and Bipolar Empire on the main stage. I was fairly critical of the debut album but yesterday the band played all the good songs from the album and Shane's quality vocals were at the forefront of the performance.

Chilled out Sunday evening relaxing on the grass entertainment was provided by The Barley Mob, The Hot Sprockets and The Cujo Family. I knew what to expect from all three bands and they reached expectation without exceeding it.

We then went to see Jamie Lawson but only stayed for a song due to a tightly packed Paddy Mirage tent in what was probably the only scheduling error. Nothing was lost however because Wallis Bird was so sensational in a solo gig on the main stage. Her performance was infectious, humourous, honest and full of energy.

Our final performance to see was from the wonderful Henrietta Game. I never get tired of seeing this band. My boys loved how every song varied in composition, instruments and in vocal style. It was a really pleasant way to finish our Vantastival experience.

Vantastival is for me the perfect festival. It's a non corporate event without any major advertising, organised by real music fans, who have created a family friendly event which promotes Irish music. I tip my cap and say well done and I hope Vantastival is here to stay!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Amhrán Gach Lá - The Cujo Family

The Cujo Family have decided to give you their excellent debut album for free! Yep download it for nowt!