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SXSW 2017: Thursday afternoon at Music From Ireland’s Full Irish Breakfast – 16th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 11th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Thursday at SXSW 2017 was another full day, but my tired feet did get a bit of a reprieve after the lengths I walked on Wednesday night. I started the day at the Austin Convention Center for Zane Lowe’s keynote session, then spent the remainder of the afternoon at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub, which hosted Music for Ireland’s day show, the Full Irish Breakfast. (Editor Mary caught the opening acts on the Irish Breakfast bill, New Portals and Ciaran Lavery while I was listening to Zane Lowe; you can read about them in her Thursday afternoon review.)

AS Fanning IB

I arrived at B.D. Riley’s with just enough time for a plate of breakfast before “dark folk” singer/songwriter A.S. Fanning began to play. I’d seen Fanning earlier in the week at the Convention Center Next Stage, but as I’ve noted in the past, B.D. Riley’s has a very different ambiance from other SXSW venues, especially the sterile Convention Center stages. Fanning’s sharp lyrics and dramatic rock-tinged musical style skillfully elicited a mood of brooding melancholy in both environments. I caught him later in the afternoon for this quick interview, where we talked about the different venue atmospheres and his upcoming album ‘Second Life’.

"Loah

One of the afternoon’s pleasant surprises was soulful singer/songwriter Loah, whose West African musical influences were delightfully unexpected in the context of the Irish showcase. Her silky vocals and exotic stage presence were nothing short of stunning, bringing the bustling pub to a momentary standstill. Take a listen to my interview with Loah right back here, and watch this video for her full band performance of ‘Cross’, courtesy of Press Record.

Cloud Castle Lake IB

Next on the bill were electronic act Cloud Castle Lake, whose cool detachment and distinct avant-garde tendency took a decidedly different tone. Brendan Jenkinson’s ethereal falsetto was almost lost in the shuffle of background noise at B.D. Riley’s, but the band’s heavily rhythmic musical arrangements made a strong impression nonetheless.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds (aka Naomi Hamilton) played a full band show at B.D. Riley’s, as opposed to the stripped back set I saw her play on the Output Belfast boat earlier in the week. Her erudite lyrics and eclectic mix of musical styles took on a much more vibrant cast in the fully-arranged versions of her songs, especially the popular ‘Goji Berry Sunset’. Hamilton and her bandmates fully embraced their punk-rock undertones in this pub setting, exponentially raising the energy level on the stage as well as among the punters in the growing crowd.

That newly-generated energy was immediately picked up by fellow Northern Irish band Silences, (pictured in the header photo above) who took the B.D. Riley’s stage with a decided air of confidence, quite different from frontman Conchúr White’s demeanor in his solo appearance last year. White and his bandmates didn’t waste a lot of time on chatter, preferring instead to impress the crowd with their massive, soaring five-piece sound. I was literally stunned to silence (pun intended) by the goose bump-inducing arrangement of their single ‘Breathless’, and I bubbled over with excitement for the up-and-coming Silences in this post-set interview with White and guitarist Chris Harbinson.

Taking full advantage of the momentum built by their Northern Irish compatriots, avant/experimental group Robocobra Quartet brought a surprisingly brash punk attitude to their jazz-tinged classical aesthetic. Based on our Adam’s description of them in his preview of NI artists, I probably should have expected punk, but I didn’t realise the extent of that influence until I heard lead singer/drummer Chris Ryan do his frenetic routine. The jazz side of things came through in the unique combination of saxophone sounds provided by Tom Tabori and Thibault Barilon. It’s an odd but intriguing mélange of sounds, and my immediate post-set commentary probably sums it up best: “I’m not sure what I just listened to, but I think I liked it.”

Birds of Olympus IB

I was equally intrigued by Dublin psych-rock act Birds of Olympus, especially after their frontman Spud Murphy described their sound to me as “Talking Heads mixed with Ennio Morricone”. Their songs were broadly expansive and strangely hypnotic, with smooth vocal melodies and edgy rhythmic grooves evolving in vivid kaleidoscopic fashion. Check it out for yourself in this live video performance of ‘Cinder to the Sun’ on the band’s official Facebook.

The Academic IB

Mary and I had been waiting over a year to see young Dublin rockers The Academic, and they took the Irish showcase by storm at SXSW 2017, with a set that was by turns wildly energetic and broodingly sullen. Frontman Craig Fitzgerald has cultivated a certain bad-boy mystique that feeds into the band’s more introspective songs, like ‘Thought I Told You’ and ‘Small Town Lovers’, while the driving momentum of songs like ‘Different’ is clearly the band’s strongest suit.

Picture This IB

The final act on the Full Irish Breakfast was another up-and-coming mainstream pop band, the swaggering Dublin rock duo Picture This. I’d taken the opportunity to sit down with band members Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy earlier in the week, and their unabashedly cocky demeanor in that Tuesday afternoon interview had piqued my interest for seeing them live. As it turned out, they had every reason to be confident. The anthemic rock-leaning pop of tracks like ‘You & I’ was enthusiastically received at B.D. Riley’s, ending the day on an ecstatic high. Also, for the record, Hennessy fulfilled his earlier promise to play topless, which I hadn’t taken seriously until he actually did it.

Picture This 2 IB

All in all, the Full Irish Breakfast once again lived up to its reputation as one of the best shows in town during SXSW, and the bands on the showcase fully exceeded even my high expectations. For more on the fine Irish acts at SXSW 2017, you can read back through Mary’s coverage of the official Music From Ireland showcase at the Velveeta Room on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

RTÉ Choice Music Prize Awards Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Earlier this month, I headed out to The RTÉ Choice Prize Awards at the jam-packed Vicar Street in Dublin 8, south of the Liffey. Arriving early, we grabbed ourselves a pint of Guinness’ Hop House 13 and took our seats in anticipation of an exciting, music-filled evening. During the course of the night, we were treated to a range of live performances, as well as the announcement of the winner of both the RTÉ Choice Music Prize single and album of 2016.

The first act of the night was Wallis Bird, whose yellow-white hair glowed onstage like a beacon of light. Bird captivated the audience with her heartfelt a capella as she stood alone onstage during ‘Home’, the title track of the album for which she was nominated. On another track, she banged against a microphone and used a loop pedal to create a rhythmic and organic backdrop for her incredible lungs. It was a raw and vulnerable performance. In a post-performance interview, Bird recounted the significance of ‘Home’ and living in the house where she first met her girlfriend.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmd3wDnRJpM[/youtube]

Next up was Bantum (Ruairi Lynch), nominated for his album ‘Move’, who I’d had the pleasure of seeing before at the Shortlist Sessions, but the last time I saw him he was alone onstage with his laptop and guitar. This time, he was joined onstage by the singers who feature on his tracks. The first track ‘Feel It Out’ featured Farah, and the second featured Loah and two backing singers on the song ‘Take It’. It made a huge difference with the singers being live, really fleshing out the music, and he looked like he was a lot more comfortable. After the performance, he discussed his love for funk sounds, and how the album was released completely independently.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky1xy600BKc[/youtube]

We Cut Corners, who I’d also seen at the Shortlist event, took to the stage next and played a hugely varied set in terms of tempo and sound. Nominated for their album ‘The Cadence of Others’ the duo confidently took to the stage to perform their tracks ‘Middle Kids’ and ‘Of Whatever’. Considering their smart and wonderfully wordy lyrics, you’d never guess the pair are teachers. At one point, the two stood side by side at the microphone, singing a capella with a smoky, moody spotlight allowing their voices to carry over the crowd. Then, at other times, Conall Ó Breacháin was banging one handed against a drum kit with one hand whilst John Duignan was strumming away at his guitar.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl1sJLwtmUo[/youtube]

Next to the stage was indie legends and former winner of the Choice Prize, The Divine Comedy. Neil Hannon,sat at a piano to perform some tracks from his latest effort ‘Foreverland’, Divine Comedy’s 11th studio album, reviewed by editor Mary back here. He and his live band kicked off their three-song set with ‘Catherine the Great’, before playing the witty and evocative ‘How Can You Leave Me On My Own?’ and drawing a number of laughs from the audience.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehxil2jZiok[/youtube]

Following The Divine Comedy’s performance, the winner of the Song of the Year was announced. Unable to be there on the night, winners Picture This (winning for ‘Take My Hand’) had recorded a video accepting the award and thanking all who had voted from a studio in the States where they are recording their new album. You can listen to Carrie’s interview with Picture This in Austin after that recording experience here.

Lisa Hannigan then took to the stage. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t heard Hannigan sing live just how powerful, yet calming her voice is. Ethereal and waif-like, Hannigan seems to command the stage without really trying to draw attention. I’m trying not to sound like a super fan. Armed with a banjo on one track, and what I believe was a tabletop accordion on another, Hannigan’s album ‘At Swim’ (reviewed by Carrie here) was nominated for the Album of the Year, and she played a few tracks from the album, including the spooky and slow-marching ‘We, The Drowned’ and the folky ‘Undertow’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSnaQAv77JE[/youtube]

The sixth act of the evening was the all-in-black Katie Kim, nominated for her third studio album ‘Salt’, whose morose, moody sound I fell in love with right away. Standing at first with her guitar, then moving onto a keyboard, Kim’s unusual and rich sound filled the room, and in particular her tracks ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Day is Coming which are the first two tracks on the album. ‘Salt’ is an emotive and powerful piece of work, and seems even more incredible when considering Kim is a solo artist.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cspN1Zk3L7Q[/youtube]

A little different to Kim’s haunting melodies, eventual Album of the Year winners Rusangano Family (for ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’) virtually erupted into life and had the audience on their feet during their fast-paced set. The title track of their LP opens with the tolling of a funeral bell, before MCs God Knows and MuRli began to do what they excel at, capturing the crowd’s attention with their fast-paced and lyrical verses.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ap_P-poNuY[/youtube]

Rapping about Irish identity and asylum seekers, they engaged the crowd by dancing and jumping enthusiastically throughout the set, even joining the audience out on the floor, while DJ mynameisjOhn was at the decks. After just a few minutes of their performance, former TGTF contributor Tom turned to me and said, “I want these guys to win”.

RTE Choice Music Prize 2016 winners Rusangano Family

Then we had All Tvvins, the enigmatic indie pop duo Conor Adams and Lar Kaye, nominated for their album ‘IIVV’, which Adam reviewed back here. They started with the catchy ‘Thank You’, a track with a seriously addictive guitar hook. Up next they played ‘These 4 Words’, followed by ‘Darkest Ocean’, receiving huge cheers from the audience. Bouncing around the stage, the pair looked like they were having a great time.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6agMJjr2TK0[/youtube]

The final act of the night was Overhead the Albatross, nominated for their album ‘Learning to Growl’. An instrumental-only act, live they have what seemed like 6 million guitars, a drum set and a violin. They finished up with a well-earned standing ovation and certainly deserve some real props for making instrumental-only music so interesting and feel so accessible. I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what tracks from their nominated album were played, but they were certainly impressive with a mixture of funky rhythms, moments of slower paced violin solos, and with an evident passion for the music that they were playing.

All in all, we had a pretty spectacular night. It was great to catch a glimpse of what the all too underrated Irish music scene has too offer. Perhaps underrated isn’t the best term, as the people that I’ve spoken to in my newly adopted home can’t help but rave about the music that is out there by Irish artists. This is music too often under the radar in terms of the global picture aside from the occasional artist that will break through: Hozier jumps to mind here.

I can definitely say that I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future of Irish music, particularly now that I’m able to access more of it living on Irish soil. If the eclectic and talented mixture of music that I heard at Vicar Street is any indication of the variety of music there, then I’ve got high hopes for the music that I’m going to be discovering over the coming months (maybe even years) now that I’m rooted here in Dublin.

 

SXSW 2017 Interview: Loah

 
By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Every year at SXSW, I hear at least one musician who takes me completely by surprise. One of the most intriguing artists I saw on the Thursday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was Irish/Sierra Leonean soul singer Loah, (known offstage as Sallay Matu Garnett) who performed on the Full Irish Breakfast showcase hosted by Music from Ireland at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub. Currently based in Dublin, Loah cites time spent in Sierra Leone during her teenage years as a major influence on her music, as well as the more expected Irish music tradition, which she developed in her classical training at Trinity College. She melds aspects of classical Western and West African style together seamlessly, with hints of jazz and a strong soul foundation, to create a sound that is refreshingly different and stood out to me as quite unique among the other Irish artists on Thursday’s showcase. [Loah also appeared last autumn in Dublin at Hard Working Class Heroes 2016. – Ed.]

As mentioned in TGTF’s preview of Irish artists at SXSW 2017, Loah previously collaborated with 2017 RTÉ Choice Music Prize nominee and well-known fellow Irish musician Bantum on his single ‘Take It’, as well as receiving a co-writing credit on Hozier‘s hit track ‘Someone New’. Her own debut EP, titled ‘This Heart’, has been a long time in the making and is due for release at the end of April via Irish label Ensemble Music. The EP will include Loah’s first single ‘The Bailey’, streaming just below.

SXSW 2017 marked Loah’s first appearance in Austin, and she mentioned in our interview that she was eager to take in some of the city’s sights and sounds in her spare time during the week. Following her visit to Texas, Loah played a show at New York’s Irish Arts Center on the 22nd of March, which was previewed here in the Village Voice. Take a listen below to my interview with Loah, and keep an eye on TGTF for more about Loah in our upcoming review of the Full Irish Breakfast.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Irish artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 7th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

The Emerald Isle always sends a strong contingent of acts out to SXSW, and this year for SXSW 2017 is no exception. Having covered Hard Working Class Heroes myself for the first time last October and my new initiative in 2016 to include Ireland as part of TGTF’s official remit make supporting the Irish and Northern Irish artists coming out to Austin all that much sweeter in 2017. In this post, we introduce you to seven acts from different corners of Ireland proper. The summaries of acts below were written by the newest member of our team and our Northern Irish correspondent Adam McCourt. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 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.

The Academic – rock / Mullingar
The Academic – Craig Fitzgerald (vocals/guitar), brothers Matt (guitar) and Stephen (bass) Murtagh and Dean Gavin (drums) are an indie pop four-piece from Mullingar. Since their performance of their debut single ‘Different’ on one of Ireland’s most watched television shows, ‘The Late Late Show’ they have done nothing but soared to success. They signed a publishing deal with Global publishing in that same year and since have appeared on the bills of top festivals and supported huge names Kodaline, The Strypes, Little Green Cars and opening for The Pixies at The Marquee. Their debut EP ‘Loose Friends’ was released in October 2015. We reviewed their single ‘Mixtape 2003’ and featured its promo video last year, so TGTF are no strangers to these young talents. FFO: Kings of Leon, The Metric System, Stereophonics

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu8M3Cw6fuU[/youtube]

A.S Fanning – singer/songwriter / Berlin via Dublin
A.S Fanning is a musician, singer, songwriter and producer who was previously the frontman for the underrated Dublin band The Last Tycoons. Since their end, Fanning has relocated to Berlin and began writing music alone. So far, he’s only released one single, ‘Carmelita’ so far; however, keep your eyes and ears peeled for his debut album funded by Kickstarter crowdfunding, ‘Second Life’, expected to drop this March. FFO: The Veils, Editors, Tom Waits

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4ZkO9KaRv8[/youtube]

Birds of Olympus – rock / Wicklow
Spud Murphy (vocals), Donal Colohan (guitar), Darin Joye (guitar), Rory Clarke (bass) and Derek Byrne (drums) make up the Wicklow based self-proclaimed neo-psychedelic band Birds of Olympus. Keeping in line with their rather cryptic and metaphorical online bio, the birds hatched from their eggs in late 2015, and since have been testing the waters with their fresh blend of pop. They’ve released three singles – ‘Vine of the Soul’, ‘Cinder to the Sun’ and ‘Lights Out’ – and have a debut EP on the way. FFO: Modest Mouse, Villagers, Tame Impala

Cloud Castle Lake – electronic / Dublin
Dublin-based electronic trio Cloud Castle Lake have no fear when it comes to experimenting with sounds. Blending gloomy r&b chord progressions with Aphex Twin-esque acid techno drum grooves topped with an angelic falsetto voice, Brendan Jenkinson, Rory O’Connor and Daniel McAuley have perfected the art of cross-genre music. They released their debut EP ‘Dandelion’ in September 2014 and since then have only put out one single, ‘Glacier’. We’re looking forward to seeing what they unveil in Austin. FFO: Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Wild Beasts, Capua Collective

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52jv-RxWjJA[/youtube]

EMBRZ – electronic / Dublin
EMBRZ is the brainchild of Dublin-born musician Jack Casey who started out as a guitar player in a band as a teenager. It’s said that an early deadmau5 track turned him on to electronic music. Since this discovery, EMBRZ has contributed massively to the vast world of EDM-influenced music with a rich blend of emotive dance music and downtempo beats. His remixes of The 1975’s track ‘Settle Down’ and Ellie Goulding’s ‘How Long Will I Love You?’ gained over 1 million plays when released and since then have almost tripled. A flurry of singles have been released in the last 2 years: ‘Silent’, ‘Lights’, ‘Home’ and ‘Breathe’. FFO: The 1975, Kygo, Bantum

Loah – soul / Dublin
The music created by Sallay Matu Garnett, aka Loah (pictured at top at an Other Voices show last year), comes as no surprise considering her background. Born in Kenya, but raised between Dublin, Sierra Leone and Maynooth, she now works as a part-time pharmacist in Dublin and writes stellar African infused soul/fusion music. Her rich blend of her African roots is what sets her apart from any other fusion artists, thus pioneering a genre Loah calls “ArtSoul”. Loah recently collaborated with Irish DJ and Bantum on single ‘Take It’ from his 2017 RTE Choice Music Prize Irish Album of the Year Award-nominated debut ‘Move’. FFO: Lianne La Havas, Nina Simone, Childish Gambino, Patti Smith

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HWK2N-uLK0[/youtube]

Picture This – pop/rock / Dublin
When Ryan Hennessy (vocals/guitar) and Jimmy Rainsford (drums) began writing music in 2015, neither of them anticipated that they would sell out 8 dates in total at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, making Picture This the first band to do this since R.E.M in 2007. Picture This’ success started in 2015 when Hennessey posted a video to Facebook of himself singing ‘Take My Hand’, culminating over 1.2 million views online. They booked a debut show in Dublin’s Grand Social venue, which sold out in less than 30 minutes. The gig moved to The Academy, which also sold out making them the first band to sell the venue out on their first gig. Their self-titled debut EP was released last summer, and we imagine a debut LP won’t be far behind. FFO: The Coronas, Kodaline, Ed Sheeran, Stereophonics

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T72qlb4SVeg[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

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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