I’m back. Did you miss me? (don’t answer that)
Just want to take this opportunity to thank Robert (Mr Chordblossom) for being so patient with me during my enforced absence. There were times when I wondered if I’d ever be able to sit down and do this again. Every time I tried over the past few months…well…suffice to say..it just didn’t happen. I have been told time is a healer a few times over the past while, and I believe it. But, music is a healer too, and it is music that brings me back here. Good music. Local music.
And I’m back with a new format no less. A new monthly segment featuring the best of what I am sent every month from near, not so near..and maybe even from afar. Hope you like it.
►The Rival Movement – When I Found You
Ok. Strictly speaking this isn’t a single; more a sneak preview of what this exciting 4 piece band from Newry have in store for us in future. I enjoyed it so much and felt it had so much promise, I thought I would share it with you all. Taken from a bunch of demos the band has been recording since its inception last year, firstly you have to say, the production isn’t too shabby for a demo and I have been sent worse recordings that were called ‘singles’ by other bands.
I feel the band’s style fills a nice niche in the local market as I am not sure I know of a local band doing anything quite like these guys at present. The Rival Movement definitely has some classic Blues Rock influences and naming Rory Gallagher as one did not surprise me, but there’s also a nod to the newer generation of bands and when the band name-checks Foo Fighters, I could hear that too – well, in the FF’s lighter, more reflective, moments. There’s a nice rolling feel to the music and Jordi Shelvin’s melody fits well and he has a nice vocal tone.
This band is definitely one band worth keeping an eye on.
►Brass Phantoms – City of Wolves
Somewhat further along the road to where every band wants to get to are Dublin band, Brass Phantoms. ‘City of Wolves’, released on February 15th, is a very polished slice of Alt-Pop. A Post-Punk drum and bassline gives way to super-bright guitar licks and electronica, yet the vocals retain that Ian Curtis style monotone vocal delivery. It’s a style that isn’t without its devotees and, while I may not be one of them, there is no doubt this is a very professional outfit who have invested in their talents, and with good reason.
Their debut E.P., released last year, got the band a lot of attention in R.O.I. and beyond and sold out its first pressing. A second E.P. from which ‘City of Wolves’ is taken (and named after) is due next month and, if the quality of ‘City…’ is replicated should cement the bands one-to-watch status even further.
Maybe we’ll get a chance to see them north of the border soon.
‘City of Wolves’ is available to pre-order at https://brassphantoms.bandcamp.com/album/city-of-wolves-ep
►LORIS – Higher
We here at Chordblossom are long-time admirers of Lisburn electro-Pop act, Loris. They’ve come a long way in a relatively short time culminating in securing one of BBC Radio 1’s ‘Introducing’ slots last year. The list of accolades the band has received and backing they have been given by some of the biggest movers and shakers in the UK music press is very, very impressive – and much too lengthy to reproduce here.
I would never claim to be an aficionado of electro-pop but even with these rock-ravaged ears it is easy to hear why Loris is making waves that go all the way across the Irish Sea. Loris features lush, fresh electro sounds, matched by lush ethereal vocals and what I like about them, and what sets them apart from other similar acts, is their ability to put a little twist of originality and imagination into their work. Simple it may be, but the key change at the end of ‘Higher’ is an example of just that.
Loris is destined for higher things, pardon the pun.
‘Higher’ is available to buy on March 18th. Until then you will have to suffice with the streaming link above.
►Dermot Kennedy – Shelter
We pop back down south now for Wicklow solo performer, Dermot Kennedy – a man, slowly but surely making a name for himself in what is a very, very crowded singer-songwriter marketplace – Dublin.
‘Shelter’ certainly shows that Kennedy can write the kind of emotionally raw, truthful lyric that we have come to expect of all those who try to follow the footsteps of his countryman, Damien Rice, among others. The sparse piano arrangement that comprises most of the song certainly adds to the edginess and vulnerability that Kennedy’s subject matter deserves. The crescendo at the end of the song, while expected in many ways, is still fitting and shows a touch of class in his work.
The only problem is that there are so very many similar artists out there, in Ireland, nevermind elsewhere. How to get your voice heard is the age-old problem. Well, I am only too happy to play my small part.
►Amanda St John – You Blew It
Yes, technically, this single was released a few weeks back. But it was too good to miss out on giving it a plug and it comes from St. John’s debut album, ‘Grow’, which is due for release this month.
Amanda St. John is rapidly becoming another name to add to our growing list of genuinely successful artists and the hope is that ‘Grow’ will cement that status further. She is certainly getting help from all the right people. ‘You Blew It’ was co-written in Nashville with renowned producer and songwriter Jon Tiven – and it shows. There is an effortlessly classy feel to this old-school soul number, complete with big band sound and backing vocals. I’m a bit of a sucker for that classic Motown sound and so this song was no hard sell for me.
St. John says her guiding principle is ‘what would Aretha do?’ It’s not a bad principle I have to say -and when I asked myself that question regarding this song, the only thing I could up with that St John hadn’t done that Ms Franklin might have was, perhaps, give the vocal a slightly more rougher edge; a bit more attitude perhaps. But that’s really just my opinion and after all, the principle is ‘what would Aretha do’, not ‘how can I sound like Aretha’, so Amanda, you keep on doing what you’re doing girlfriend. It’s working.
►Silver’s Got Strings – Homegrown
Mourne men, Silver’s Got Strings, may have de-camped to Brighton, some time ago in fact, but they still haven’t forgotten their roots. In fact, those roots shine through in every release I’ve heard from them so far. But it’s done with subtlety; little guitars trills with just that hint of the celtic about them, the beautiful strong Irish baritone of frontman, Des Magee, to name but two. Each new release also shows that the band is not a one trick pony either and is building up a quality repertoire.
Their love for their homeland shines through in the video for ‘Homegrown’ as one of the protagonists goes on a lung-busting jaunt up the Mournes. And that is why it is good news that the lads are coming home for a couple of dates, firstly on March 28th at The Anchor, Newcastle, and then on the 29th at Voodoo, Belfast. Dates for your diaries, and mine.