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Album Review: September Girls – Age of Indignation

 
By on Monday, 9th May 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Jeanne O’Brien

Sept Girls Age of Indignation coverIrish all-female garage rock band September Girls released their second LP ‘Age of Indignation’ back in April, following their trip to America for SXSW 2016. I had a chance to hear a few of the new songs live at the Full Irish Breakfast on Friday during TGTF’s time in Austin, and I also had a chance to chat with two of the band members about the new album ahead of its release. Just this week, September Girls unveiled the latest single from the album, the hazy and hallucinogenic ‘Jaw on the Floor’, and I was reminded that I had promised our readers a full review of ‘Age of Indignation’.

The Dublin quintet adopted their moniker from ’80s rock group The Bangles’ popular cover of the Big Star track ‘September Gurls’, and on ‘Age of Indignation’ they also take a cue from the sultry melodies, haunting vocal harmonies and heavy guitars that dominated The Bangles’ oeuvre. Album opener ‘Ghost’ is an immediate reminder of that inspiration, though from that starting point, September Girls take a darker, more psychedelic track, veering away from the pop-oriented sound that made The Bangles famous.

‘Jaw on the Floor’ is a good representation of September Girls’ own newly refined sound, which they have polished considerably since their rough-around-the-edges 2014 debut ‘Cursing the Sea’. The track features a duet between guitarist Jessie Ward O’Sullivan and Oliver Ackerman of A Place to Bury Strangers, and its accompanying video was filmed on September Girls’ recent road trip across the American Southwest, including shots from a radio session in Los Angeles. O’Sullivan explains the visual representation of the song’s weighty subject matter as a reflection of “the dark, uneasy feelings of the song, exploring early feminism, its role in the 1916 Rising and how there are still powers in place today who thrive on maintaining the status quo.”

[youtube]https://youtu.be/26jRYyBBZH0[/youtube]

An undercurrent of concern for social issues runs through the entire course of ‘Age of Indignation’, including social media-induced narcissism in defiant early single ‘Love No One’, domestic violence in the fast-paced track ‘Blue Eyes’, and organised religion in ‘Catholic Guilt’ and ‘John of Gods’. (The band members discuss these themes in more detail in their track-by-track guide to the album for Clash Magazine, which you can read here.) The band’s focus on feminism has led them to a much more focused musical approach as well, and the songs on ‘Age of Indignation’ fit together as a surprisingly tight and cohesive unit. The songwriting and lead vocals on the album are shared among the five band members, but regardless of who’s doing the singing, the lead melody is given predominance in the production mix, reflecting the importance and immediacy of the lyrical subject matter.

The psychedelic haze of ‘Cursing the Sea’ is still present on ‘Age of Indignation’, but the new album has a much stronger sense of purpose and direction underlying its wash of guitars and gauzy backing vocals. September Girls’ righteous indignation at the ills of society has clearly led them to dig deep into their collective musical psyche, resulting in a much more resolute and determined sound on their second full-length release. By turns gritty and graceful, above all ‘Age of Indignation’ is above all an album that refuses to be ignored.

8/10

‘Age of Indignation’ is available now on Fortuna POP! TGTF’s past coverage of September Girls, including features from their stop in Austin for SXSW 2016, can be found right back here. September Girls are set to begin a run of UK live dates next week; you can find the details here.

 

September Girls / May 2016 UK Tour

 
By on Friday, 6th May 2016 at 9:00 am
 

Dublin rock quintet September Girls will begin a tour of the UK next week, in support of their new album ‘Age of Indignation’, which was released via Fortuna POP! back on the 8th of April. The week-long tour schedule includes a headline date at London’s Islington Academy on the 19th May. September Girls will be joined by London alt-rock four-piece Telegram, who will co-headline in Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham and Oxford.

Tickets for the following shows are available now. Just below the tour date listing, you can have a listen to September Girls’ recent single ‘Love No One’, which featured in their live appearances at SXSW 2016 back in March. Our collected previous coverage of September Girls is right back this way.

Saturday 14th May 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Sunday 15th May 2016 – Liverpool Arts Club Loft
Monday 16th May 2016 – Glasgow ABC 2
Tuesday 17th May 2016 – Birmingham Academy 3
Wednesday 18th May 2016 – Oxford Academy 2
Thursday 19th May 2016 – London Islington Academy 2
Friday 20th May 2016 – Cardiff Full Moon
Saturday 21st May 2016 – Nottingham Maze

[youtube]https://youtu.be/n6N1cdttSuk[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2016: Friday daytime at B.D. Riley’s for the Full Irish Breakfast – 18th March 2016

 
By on Monday, 11th April 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Over the past 3 years, it’s become my personal SXSW tradition to spend the Friday at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub for the Full Irish Breakfast, hosted by Music From Ireland. Indeed, Music From Ireland has an even longer history of hosting the showcase, as event coordinator Angela Dorgan related to me in this Friday afternoon interview. My chat with Ms. Dorgan was one of several interviews that I would conduct during the course of the day, between sets by a wide variety of Irish artists spanning genres from sweet acoustic folk to hardcore hip-hop.

"Rosie

The first artist on Friday’s bill was Donegal singer/songwriter Rosie Carney, who faced the difficult task of playing her sensitive and subtle songs to a rather groggy crowd who were perhaps more focused on their eggs and coffee than the activity onstage. Her singing voice was in fine form for so early in the day, and though the open stage at BD Riley’s isn’t the optimal venue for acoustic singer/songwriter types, her lilting tones provided a gentle introduction to a showcase that would gain momentum with each successive act.

"Silences

I stepped outside to have this brief chat with Carney after she played, and when I returned, Silences’ frontman Conchúr White had taken the stage. I’d seen White play the day before on the Thursday afternoon Output Belfast showcase at Latitude 30, and his set once again the demonstrated the vast difference between the two venues. While the rowdier crowd and open windows behind the stage at B.D. Riley’s were slightly less receptive to White’s solo set, he managed to make a favorable impression on his audience.

"September

Following Silences’ rather lonely solo set, the stage at B.D. Riley’s became abruptly more crowded with the entrance of Dublin garage rock quintet September Girls. I was glad to catch them this time around, as I missed them previously in 2014, and I’d been tipped off earlier in the week that their new album ‘Age of Indignation’ was not to be missed. As a fan of the Bangles from my early music listening days, I’m naturally intrigued by a band named after their famous Big Star cover, and I’ll be delving more deeply into September Girls’ sound in my upcoming review of the LP. They played an animated set laced with new songs on their Friday afternoon set, and afterward, two of their number graciously gave this interview for your listening pleasure.

"David

Also filling the stage to capacity at B.D. Riley’s were David C Clements and his crew of bandmates, who followed the brash rock of September Girls with an equally intense set of their own. Along with the aforementioned Silences, I’d heard Clements play at the British Music Embassy the day before, and though he played largely the same set list at B.D. Riley’s, I was once again captivated by his heartfelt lyricism and expansive musical style.

Somadrone internal

Next on the schedule was electro/acoustic act Somadrone, aka Neil O’Connor, who Mary had caught earlier in the week at the official Music From Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s on the Wednesday night. Though soft-spoken in manner, O’Connor and his drummer Gareth Averill managed to crank up the volume a notch or two during their extended set, which they graciously agreed to play when rapper Rejjie Snow had to pull out of the showcase lineup.

"Enemies

Math rock band Enemies were next to take the stage, and I was so concentrated on their rather consciously intellectual sound that I didn’t immediately recognize drummer Micheál Quinn, who I’d met in this very same place last year when he had appeared in a different context with avant/experimental group Meltybrains? It was revealed during the course of Enemies’ set that Micheál was celebrating his birthday that day, and naturally a chorus of singing and birthday cake ensued. But make no mistake, their pop-tinged single ‘Play Fire’ was equally memorable and upbeat.

"Saint

The afternoon’s trajectory changed slightly with duo act Saint Sister, whose very aptly termed “atmosfolk” gave our ears a welcome moment of respite, switching gears from live drums and wailing guitars to a combination of sweetly-tuned vocals, traditional Celtic harp and modern electronic rhythms. The novelty of seeing a harp on the stage at B.D. Riley’s would have been memorable enough in itself, but the hypnotic quality of Saint Sister’s seemingly anachronous juxtaposition of sounds proved that they are more than just a gimmick. Their music might have been a bit more laid-back than the other acts surrounding them on the Irish Breakfast docket, but as you can hear in my interview with them, they were in high spirits, and the animated energy came through in their performance.

The final act on the Full Irish Breakfast afternoon showcase was Limerick hip-hop trio Rusangano Family (pictured at top), whose new LP ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’ was released just last week, along with the video for jazz-tinged album track ‘Lights On’. Their sensational performance in Austin on the Friday of SXSW couldn’t be contained on the small B.D. Riley’s stage, as frontman God Knows leapt out the open window to preach his gospel to the throngs of people on 6th Street, while his bandmates MuRli and DJ mynameisjOhn were left to entertain the madding crowd inside. As you can see in the photos below, even aforementioned Enemies’ drummer Quinn couldn’t resist the urge to snap a few shots of the ecstatic festivities that ended the 2016 Full Irish Breakfast on another epic high.

"Rusangano

Rusangano Family internal 3

 

SXSW 2016 Interview: September Girls

 
By on Friday, 8th April 2016 at 11:00 am
 

By the Friday of SXSW 2016, as the hectic week was drawing to a close, my mind started to get a bit overwhelmed with the wide variety of music and musicians I was taking in. Near the end of Friday afternoon’s Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub, I had the chance to interview a band I’d missed at SXSW 2014, Dublin garage pop act September Girls, but by that point, my memory was a bit foggy about when they’d previously appeared in Austin. Luckily, band members Paula Cullen (bass) and Sarah Grimes (drums) were able to set me straight in fairly short order when we stepped outside the pub for a quick chat in the middle of the Irish festivities.

September Girls’ appearance at SXSW 2014 had taken place shortly after the release of their first LP ‘Cursing the Sea’, and they made the long trek to Austin again this year ahead of their new album ‘Age of Indignation’, which is due out on the 8th of April via Fortuna POP! The band made the most of their time in Texas this year, often playing two or even three shows per day, as well as a handful of shows in Southern California before and after SXSW. While they didn’t have a lot of free time to spend on leisure activities in Austin, the five ladies in the band did manage to squeeze in one particularly memorable experience between gigs—have a listen to the audio stream below to find out about the “souvenirs” they obtained.

September Girls will play a list of headline dates in Ireland and the UK beginning on the 15th of April and extending through the middle of May, in support of their new album ‘Age of Indignation’. You can find a list of their upcoming live dates here on their official Facebook. Keep an eye on TGTF for a review of ‘Age of Indignation’ in the coming days.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2016: Artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Friday, 11th March 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2016 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

As in past years, SXSW 2016 will feature a wide array of artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland who are keen to bring their music to American listeners. This year’s lineup revisits several artists who have graced Austin’s stages in recent memory, including veterans BP Fallon and the Bandits, who were featured last year in our TGTF Guide to SXSW 2015, and SXSW 2014 showcasing artists Cian Nugent and September Girls, both of whom have new albums due for release later this spring.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/n6N1cdttSuk[/youtube]

We at TGTF have already covered Belfast singer/songwriter David C Clements in an earlier Bands to Watch article right back here. We also recently highlighted many of the Northern Irish artists on the schedule in editor Mary’s Output Belfast preview, including TGTF alums Girls Names, Portadown’s Jealous of the Birds and her fellow County Armagh act Silences.

Also briefly mentioned in Mary’s Output Belfast preview was alt-folk singer/songwriter Ciaran Lavery, who is shaping up to be one of the most sought-after acts in Austin this year. His back catalogue comprises debut album ‘Not Nearly Dark’ and 2014 EP ‘Kosher’. Having already received support from the PRS for Music Foundation for his upcoming second album ‘Let Bad In’, Lavery hopes to gain a fan base in America ahead of its release in May.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/qhTCR-qQB38[/youtube]

The organizers at SXSW have filed Enemies in the Rock category, but the band describe themselves more accurately as “post-rock meets math-pop”. Their upbeat and slightly jazzy new single ‘Play Fire’ was released last August on Topshelf Records.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/d6PoF97A_FA[/youtube]

Dublin rapper Alex Anyaegbunam is known on stage by the moniker Rejjie Snow. The latest track on his official Soundcloud is ‘Keep Your Head Up’; be warned—it’s smooth and soulful, but its lyrics are not entirely safe for sensitive ears.

Precocious teenaged singer/songwriter Rosie Carney is originally from Hampshire, UK, but now makes her home in County Donegal. She collaborated with SXSW 2014 artist Travis Is a Tourist on his track ‘Little Conversations’, and she’ll appear in Austin as a solo artist this year. The video for her haunting track ‘Better Man’ is just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/hy32Kn3q-B0[/youtube]

The West Ireland trio Rusangano Family comprises “2 MCs and 1 DJ”, according to their Facebook bio. Their politically-charged single ‘Heathrow’ was featured here in America by NPR back in December, and their album ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’ is due for release just after SXSW on the 8th of April.

Saint Sister, the duo project of Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre, combines electro-dream pop and traditional folk sounds. Their debut EP ‘Madrid’ was released last November, and following SXSW, they are scheduled to appear at The Great Escape festival in May.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/YBuzAdPLm3k[/youtube]

The aptly named Irish electronic producer Somadrone specialises in straddling the boundary between popular and classical music. His genre-less, minimalist compositional style is evident in the SXSW-featured single ‘Invitation’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/_lzmhTchVGM[/youtube]

For more information about the Irish and Northern Irish artists at this year’s SXSW, consult the Music from Ireland official Web site, or simply follow TGTF’s ongoing coverage of the festival. We eagerly anticipate seeing most of these showcasing artists live next week!

 

SXSW 2014: Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s – 14th March 2014

 
By on Monday, 31st March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

One of the events I was most looking forward to at SXSW 2014 was the Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s hosted by Music From Ireland. I must admit upfront that the actual meal is not my particular cup of tea (and in the interest of full confession, I drank coffee) but it was a nice part of the general atmosphere of the event. Our editor Mary joined me for part of the day’s festivities and has already touched on the Irish Breakfast in her Friday coverage.


When we walked in to B.D. Riley’s, we were warmly greeted by Mary’s friend and event organizer, Music from Ireland’s Angela Dorgan, as well as a host of other now familiar faces including several acquaintances made at the British Music Embassy over the course of the week. We were sat at a table in the front of the room near the sound desk, which gave us easy access to photos and quick chats with the artists on the schedule, and I quickly made the decision to set up camp there for the entire day. I was over the moon, as the lineup for the day included several acts I’d been dying to see.

Music From Ireland playbill SXSW 2014

We had missed UNKNWN earlier in the week at the Creative Belfast showcase, but we didn’t have to wait long to have our curiosity satisfied at B.D. Riley’s. The Northern Irish electro duo of music producer Chris Hanna (identified singularly as Unknown) and vocalist Gemma Dunleavy provided us with our morning slow jam, even as the clock crept into afternoon territory. Hanna’s deep and dreamy bass groove combined with Dunleavy’s smooth, clear vocals created a very chill, relaxed sonic atmosphere to start off the day.

UNKNWN at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

The next band, Dublin sister act Heathers, couldn’t have been more of a stylistic contrast to UNKNWN. I had gotten a sneak peek at them at the Music From Ireland showcase on the Wednesday night, so I knew to expect a change of pace. Of course, it helped that before they went on stage, Ellie Macnamara was kind enough to grant me a cheeky photo of her set list.

Heathers set list BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Heathers’ edgy, energetic rock, interlaced with tightly woven vocal harmonies and countermelodies, was the perfect antidote to the hearty Irish breakfast we’d just consumed. After their set, I was able to set up a quick interview with the sisters Macnamara for a bit later in the day.

Heathers at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

I was especially excited to see Rams’ Pocket Radio again, after having heard his set at Creative Belfast on the Monday night. As he mentioned in my interview with him from that night, he came to SXSW with a full band of musicians, who were tightly packed onto the small stage at B.D. Riley’s. Once again, they played a set featuring several tracks from Rams’ Pocket Radio’s album, ‘Béton’, including ‘Dogs Run in Packs’, ‘1+2’, ‘Dieter Rams Has Got the Pocket Radios’, and current single ‘Love is a Bitter Thing’. (My recent review of ‘Love is a Bitter Thing’ can be found here.)

Rams' Pocket Radio at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

As I’ve previously mentioned, I found Rams’ Pocket Radio a bit difficult to photograph due to his emphatic performance style. I was able to catch a few decent photos at the Irish Breakfast, but unfortunately it distracted me a bit from listening to the music. I made a mental note to try to return for his late show that night, also at B.D. Riley’s, so I could listen unfettered by the camera.

Rams' Pocket Radio at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

After Rams’ Pocket Radio, I stepped outside and around the corner for the aforementioned interview with Heathers, which you can read here. On my way back in, I noticed that there was a passing crowd gathered outside B.D. Riley’s, listening to the music from the open air stage. The space outside the venue proved to be a popular gathering place and was almost as full as the inside bar area for most of the day.

Mary and I were both excited to hear the Wonder Villains play again after speaking with them at the British Music Embassy on the Monday night. We were once again somewhat amazed by the colorful attire of the Wonder Villains’ leading ladies, Eimear Coyle and Cheylene Murphy. But more importantly, we were also amazed by the band’s high-spirited performance. Their latest single, ‘Marshall’, had been playing on the PA system between sets, and by the time the band played it live, everyone in the bar was singing and dancing along, including our indefatigable editor.

Wonder Villains at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Mary ducked out after the Wonder Villains played, leaving me to the saccharine-sounding garage pop charms of Dott. Their single ‘Small Pony’ is every bit as bouncy and danceable as ‘Marshall’, but Dott were, inevitably, more reserved on stage than the bright and brash Wonder Villains. Little wonder, as I discovered later that they were nearing the end of a full American tour. Their tour diary for the trip, including their time at SXSW, can be viewed here.

Dott at BD RIley's 14 March 2014

I was practically dancing with excitement myself to hear the next band on the playbill, The Young Folk. I’d met them briefly on the Wednesday night at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room and gotten a sneak preview of their forthcoming album, ‘The Little Battle’, and frankly, I was already hooked. Their live performance didn’t disappoint, despite the number of instruments they had to squeeze onto the tiny stage.

Young Folk at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Young Folk at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Songs from ‘The Little Battle’ predominated the set, but The Young Folk also included non-album tracks ‘A Song About Wolves’ and ‘Hold On To Your Hat’. I was impressed most by their ability to convey the tender lyrical moments in their songs without dampening the lively mood of the crowd. Their relaxed but animated performance style was definitely a hit among those in attendance at B.D. Riley’s

Young Folk at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Note ‘The Little Battle’ CD taped to Anthony’s guitar.

After The Young Folk played their set, I ducked outside again for an interview with them, which you can read here if you haven’t already. They proved to be quite easy to talk to, and before I knew it, I had missed most of the next set inside the venue. When I came back in, September Girls were rocking the stage with their reverb, rhythm and vocal harmonies. I did manage to peek between the enthusiastic patrons at the front to snap a few quick photos before the band wrapped up.

September Girls at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Mary returned from her own afternoon interview adventures with DJ Colette and Until the Ribbon Breaks and checking out some of the day’s activities at British Music Embassy in time to catch the last two bands on the schedule, WOUNDS and Kid Karate. I would never have guessed that she would be a fan of either band, but the bass player in her showed through as she headbanged along with WOUNDS.

Mary at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Editor Mary got her groove on.

Both WOUNDS and Kid Karate required the use of earplugs, especially at the close range where we were seated. Of the two, WOUNDS were definitely the harder, heavier thrashing rock, but they managed to keep their performance confined to the stage.

WOUNDS at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Kid Karate, on the other hand, were not inclined to that much restraint. By the end of their brazenly bluesy set, guitarist and front man Kevin Breen had completely abandoned drummer Steven Gannon to join the audience for an impromptu moshing session. It was the perfect surprise ending to what had been a showcase full of variety and high quality music.

Kid Karate at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

Kid Karate at BD Riley's 14 March 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, I hated to leave after the end of the showcase. Part of my mind lingered at B.D. Riley’s when I dashed off to my next appointment, even as I eagerly anticipated the Communion Records showcase that was still to come at St. David’s Episcopal Church.

Thanks to Brian, Ciaran and Jim for their assistance with interviews and photos at this event. (And special thanks to Angela and the staff at B.D. Riley’s for their help in rescuing my lost voice recorder!)

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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