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By Adam McCourt
on Wednesday, 15th February 2017 at 12:00 pm
For a band who have only been together just over a year, Orchid Collective are already making tremendous strides within the Irish music scene. Since the release of their debut EP ‘Courage’ in November 2016, the Dublin-based lads have gained a lot of mainstream media attention from the likes of Clash Magazine, Hot Press Magazine, Irish national radio station RTE 2FM and Nialler9, who recently premiered their most recent single from the EP, released last Friday.
‘Waited on the Sun’ is the second single from ‘Courage’, and it has been self-described by the band as “the perfect ode to the final days of winter.” The longing for warmer nights and brighter days is a sensation everyone can relate to, which is why the track’s anthemic opening brings familiarity, a sense of safety and warmth upon listening. The intro, which doubles as the chorus, acts as the driving force of the song. David O’Shea’s lyrics seem to work as a guiding light rather than its leading feature, leaving enough room for the instrumentation to take a leading role, something that Orchid Collective’s folk-rock predecessors failed to experiment with. This gives the track a hint of ambiguity opening its meaning up for personal interpretation by each individual listener, such as a sonic representation of that moment you notice the buds on trees opening up, indicating the first signs of spring.
The song has an overarching message of love and lust, but this is presented in a rather physical manner, less subtle than the change in seasons. Shea Tohill’s lead guitar parts take on the spotlight role, bringing a real vibrance to the track whilst highlighting the intensities of the song’s dynamics through the use of the extended range of his guitar. This leaves enough open space for Darra Doyle and Hugh O’Neill to experiment with their respective mobile bass lines and physical drum parts, creating tensions and resolutions where necessary.
With a subtle, light and breathy synth pad in the foundation of the track, plus intricate three-part vocal harmonies, ‘Waiting on the Sun’ is a song that can challenge patience and serenity, while displaying strong physicality and vitality.
‘Waiting on the Sun’, the newest single from Orchid Collective, is available now. You can also catch the band at their next headline show at Dublin Unitarian Church on the 4th of March. To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on the band, including editor Mary’s coverage of them at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016 last October, go here.
The Vryll Society might just be one of Liverpool’s best-kept psychedelic secrets, although judging by the attention they’ve garnered from the likes of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, this could be about to change. The band has released a bunch of singles over the past couple of years, including the hypnotic ‘A Perfect Rhythm’ out late last year. With their debut album expected this year, things are likely to change quickly for them in 2017.
‘Sacred Flight’ is the latest single from the band; released in late January, it’s the lead single from their upcoming debut. The tune is a track full of movement that is driven along with lead singer Mike Ellis’ entrancing, laid-back vocals. Ellis reminds me of fellow psychedelic rock lead singer Harry Koisser of Peace. Having just made that comparison however, the track has got something about it that makes it feel exciting and unique. It feels experimental without being too out and feeling inaccessible to someone that isn’t a diehard fan of the psych rock genre. It’s always great to hear music from a band that is trying to do something outside of the mainstream, instead of following in the footsteps of other bands who have made it big.
The song opens with a gently warbling guitar and fluid electronic sounds, before picking up with the introduction of Ellis’ voice and an inundation of synth babbling. Lyrics “please come back / soon come back / I felt the spirit go”, speaks to the transcendental and metaphysical nature of what I imagine the sacred flight to mean: some sort of out of body experience or spiritual journey (“leave this place on a sacred flight”). Ellis describes the track as a “motoric journey into cosmic space jolting atoms of sound from one galaxy to another before finally exploding into a jewel box of guitar frenzied litany”, which probably sums it up better than I ever could!
‘Sacred Flight’ is the latest single from Liverpool psych rock band The Vryll Society, out now on Deltasonic Records. Having previously supporting Blossoms, and appearing a number of festivals in 2016, their live shows are touted to be quite something. The Vryll Society will appear at SXSW 2017 in Austin this March, before returning to the UK for a few dates. Check out their full schedule here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 6th February 2017 at 12:00 pm
Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel was one of those artists whose name was bandied around by loads of my mates in the industry as a must-listen. However, as I’m sure many of you have experienced yourself, time always runs away from you, and there is never enough of it. So it’s a good thing that Obel will be appearing at SXSW 2017 as part of her continuing campaign to promote her most recent album released last year, or else I might have gone on with my life and never listened to her music properly. Growing up with music and having been classically trained on the piano from a very young age certainly makes her musical background very different from most of the artists we feature here on TGTF, so it should come as no surprise that the music she makes as a thirty-something woman now living in Berlin sounds unique and like no-one else’s.
Last October saw the release of ‘Citizen of Glass’, Agnes Obel’s third studio album. It’s a few months on now, and she has released the fourth single from the LP, ‘Stretch Your Eyes’. Her longtime fans will be familiar with this one: it’s a reworking of ‘Spinet Song’, which was a live favourite during her 2014 tour. While Obel is famous for her evocative arrangements and arresting piano performances, ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ follows the artist’s past pronouncement that she wanted to eschew the piano as her primary instrument of choice on the new album, instead experimenting with a host of other vintage equipment including harpsichords, spinet, celesta and a trautonium, a metal-keyed synthesiser from the 1920s.
This opener to ‘Citizen of Glass’ is driven slowly forward by gentle percussion and the whining strings of a violin, as if a faraway siren’s call. “You can give to my heart / thousand words or more”, she intones in the chorus, and you can’t tell if this is sung out of desire or desperation. As the violin and cello play in harmony in the instrumental bridge, there is a feeling of melancholy. There is also an eerie precision when the piano comes back in with the smoky tones of Obel’s voice. For those who have not had the opportunity to spin the whole of ‘Citizen of Glass’, ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ leads the listener to anticipate what might come next. Interestingly, this album was driven by her own desire to “have this tension in there [in the music]; the feeling of something just about to break apart”, and as a musical cliffhanger, this single is extremely effective.
‘Citizen of Glass’, Agnes Obel’s third album, is available now from PIAS. Stream newest LP single ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ below. Stay tuned for my write-up on Obel as part of my best bets of the Scandinavian acts scheduled to showcase at this year’s SXSW, coming soon to TGTF.
Songwriters are often a bit precious about telling the stories behind their songs, and it’s sometimes hard to deduce what their motivations might be. But Luke Sital-Singh is more forthcoming in sharing the bittersweet inspiration behind his latest single ‘Killing Me’. As he explains in the single’s press release, Sital-Singh’s rather unexpected muse in this case is his widowed grandmother, or more specifically, her enduring love for her late spouse. “My Grandad passed away around 10 years ago and I have grown closer to my Grandma in his absence”, he says. “I’m often moved thinking about her living without him. She misses him and talks about him everyday. Her broken heart breaks mine and this song was written about that.”
The ballad begins like a lullaby, gently rocking, with Sital-Singh’s always expressive singing voice modulated to a soothing murmur. But the emotion of his lyrics begins to break through his even vocal tone as he reaches the song’s poignant chorus, “it’s killing me that you’re not here with me / I’m living happily, but I’m feeling guilty / you won’t believe the wonders I can see / this world is changing, but I love you faithfully”. The synth backing behind the instrumental bridge is perhaps a bit of an odd addition to the instrumental arrangement, which would have been lovely enough had he left it alone, but the ultimate focus here never strays from the artistry and the genuine sentiment behind Sital-Singh’s vocals.
The single’s b-side ‘Darling’ is, thematically, a fitting companion to ‘Killing Me’, and musically, a bit more in the vein of Sital-Singh’s standard fare. Its acoustic guitar and shuffling percussion create a comfortable backdrop for the warm timbre of Sital-Singh’s voice as he waxes philosophic about how love changes a person’s perspective on life, and the dynamic momentum of the song builds behind the simple, soaring repeated chorus, “everything will change, darling.” It’s a familiar pattern and one Sital-Singh has relied upon often in the past, but, as always, it works remarkably well for him here.
Luke Sital-Singh’s new single ‘Killing Me’ is out now via Raygun Records. You can read TGTF’s coverage of his past work, including a stream of his 2015 EP ‘The Breakneck Speed of Tomorrow’ right back here.
We at TGTF first experienced the stark fragility of Donegal-based singer Rosie Carney’s songwriting about a year ago, when she appeared as a showcasing artist at SXSW 2016. Though her performances in Austin were breathtaking in their beauty, there was also a feeling of reluctance about her then, an air of uncertainty about her own ability and her place as an artist. Carney’s hesitation was undoubtedly due in part to a previous difficult record label experience, but in the intervening time, she has also revealed a personal blog which chronicles her simultaneous private struggle with depression and anorexia.
Now, at the still tender age of 20, Carney seems to have found surer footing with London indie label X Novo and a newly-released single dealing with the emotions surrounding her mental illness.Titled ‘Awake Me’, the new track is both an austere expression of self-awareness and an appeal for compassion from those around her. The song’s opening guitar ostinato is both rhythmically hypnotic and harmonically vague, and Carney cleverly exploits its tonal ambiguity as her intensely personal narrative unfolds through the key phrase “I’ve been a fool for more than half of my life / I’ve tried too hard”. The simple plea of the chorus, “awake me, don’t break me” then grows into a soaring bridge section, where the harmonic progression and stunning agility of Carney’s singing voice become suddenly, startlingly clear.
If ‘Awake Me’ represents a fresh start for Rosie Carney after the difficult first years of her singing career, she would seem to be taking bold and very deliberate strides in a positive direction. Her understated lyricism and ethereally ambiguous musical style were well-established (as incongruous as that statement may sound) in her youth, but ‘Awake Me’ demonstrates an added element of maturity in her songwriting, and it serves as a promising pivot point for her future artistic endeavours.
Rosie Carney’s new single ‘Awake Me’ is available now via X Novo and, according to Carney’s official Facebook, will appear on her forthcoming EP release. TGTF’s previous coverage of Rosie Carney is back through here.
Singer/songwriter Johnny Flynn has emerged from a recent flurry of acting, composing and family commitments with news of a new studio album, his fourth, titled ‘Sillion’. The album follows Flynn’s work on the television series ‘Lovesick’ (whose title was changed from the cringeworthy but hilarious ‘Scrotal Recall’) and his introduction to fatherhood with the birth of a new daughter. If you’re interested in seeing Flynn on the small screen, I can recommend ‘Lovesick’ as actually a rather charming programme, now available on Netflix. But it’s the fatherhood angle which brings us to Flynn’s newly released lead single, ‘Raising the Dead’.
‘Raising the Dead’ is an examination of the cyclical nature of life, as Flynn relates the death of his father to the birth of his child. “My Dad died when I was 18, and that was quite a galvanising experience”, Flynn says, “and there’s often an element of that in anything I’m writing; every big loss that you suffer in life, I think everything comes through the conduit of that. I had a really strong sense of my daughter having elements of my Dad when she came along, and it made me kind of laugh – that cyclical sense, of thinking of my daughter as my Dad.”
The new track is immediately richer and more mature in sound than Flynn’s previous release, ‘Country Mile’, with a lush backing chorus and a vivid complement of instrumental sounds behind his introspective lyrics. Flynn’s own singing voice sounds warmer and more mellow, very relaxed and at-ease here compared to what I remember from songs like ‘The Lady is Risen’, but the slight change in vocal timbre is a perfect match for this song’s thematic juxtaposition of joy and sorrow.
Flynn’s songwriting has always been top-notch, both in terms of lyrics and composition, and ‘Raising the Dead’ rises to the standard we’ve come to expect. It displays an emotional and musical depth that reminds us of Flynn’s natural talent and provides an enticing first impression of his forthcoming LP.
Johnny Flynn’s fourth studio album ‘Sillion’ is due for release on the 24th of March via Transgressive Records. Ahead of the album release, Flynn is currently scheduled to appear at SXSW 2017. For news and updates on SXSW 2017 showcasing artists, please consult the festival’s official schedule here. TGTF’s previous coverage of Johnny Flynn is collected through here.
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