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SXSW 2018: Friday afternoon at the Full Irish Breakfast and British Music Embassy – 16th March 2018 (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 4th April 2018 at 11:00 am
 

During the week at SXSW, those of us who have day jobs outside of the music industry must check in on occasion on what pays the bills. While I was stuck in our hotel dealing with emails and loose ends, Carrie left early to make our now annual visit to the BMI brunch, so stay tuned for her coverage on the artists who played there at the Four Seasons this year. After getting things in order, I hopped over to B.D. Riley’s for the annual Full Irish Breakfast sponsored by Music From Ireland and First Music Connect, both great friends to TGTF. To my happiness, the place was already full up at noon, requiring quite a bit of jostling and patience to get a bartender’s attention and to find a spot where you could lay out your complimentary breakfast.

Accompanying the free food – with white pudding this year, yes! – were plenty of Irish-born talent raring to go, going nicely with the green décor B.D. Riley’s had already set out ahead of St. Patrick’s Day the next day. Joshua Burnside and his band, who wowed us on the Output Belfast boat ride Tuesday morning, began the day of festivities at the Irish pub. Looking tan in the face (or was that sunburn?), he looked relaxed performing his sixth and final performance in Austin in front of a room of Texan strangers.

Joshua Burnside Friday at SXSW 2018

It’s no wonder why his album ‘Ephrata’ won the Northern Ireland Music Prize in 2017. Burnside’s unique usage of world music influences while maintaining an inherent Irishness through the lilt of his gorgeous voice made the LP released last year unlike anything else. The crowd approved of Burnside and his band’s early yet wonderfully spirited set. A particularly lovely moment was when Burnside went part acoustic for his single from last year, the politically charged and very Northern Irish ‘Red and White Blues’. While its poignant meaning may have been lost on the audience he played it to, the combination of his strong voice accompanied only by acoustic guitar had a quiet beauty, before the rest of his band joined in for added oomph.

The Lost Brothers are Irish, yes. But if you looked at them on the street with their cowboy hats and acoustic guitars, you’d swear they were Americans born and raised in the Wild West. No strangers to SXSW, B.D. Riley’s or Austin for that matter, they took to the stage at the pub with their usual performance aplomb. Whether performing on a boat or in a venue on dry land, the Lost Brothers are the consummate professionals.

The Lost Brothers Friday at SXSW 2018

They arrived in Texas with their latest album effort ‘Halfway Towards a Healing’, recorded in Arizona, and the critical acclaim it has received so far, all deserved. (Read my glowing review of the LP through here.) ‘Echoes in the Wind’, the lead single from the album, came across as effortless, as did more recent single, the sweet, yet humourous ‘More Than I Can Comprehend’ (promo video here).

The third act at the Full Irish breakfast was also ready to put his last SXSW 2018 appearance in the can. Cork’s Talos, who closed out the Music From Ireland showcase at the Velveeta Room the evening previous, was back out with his band and alongside the blinding sunshine streaming in from 6th Street. It was a good thing for musicians from abroad and music fans alike to hide inside B.D. Riley’s for the afternoon: for the first time that week, the mercury reached over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 32 degrees Celsius plus). The sunny afternoon provided contrast to their performance Thursday night, though the sun or heat didn’t dampen their enthusiasm or Eoin French’s falsetto.

Talos Friday at SXSW 2018

Friday was the only afternoon at SXSW 2018 I had some free time to spend at the British Music Embassy. And it was a good day for it, as a slice of sticky toffee cheesecake and a bloody Mary awaited me at Latitude 30. I arrived just as most visitors were finishing up their lunch and ready for the first act, The RPMs. Brighton’s brightest prospect in the pop/rock stakes began the afternoon at the Embassy with gusto, blasting out their upbeat tunes with vigour.

The RPMs Friday 4 at SXSW 2018

Although he must have been boiling in his leopard print jacket, lead singer Jack Valero was a great frontman, flashing a winsome smile and showing a youthful exuberance. Under the better lighting of and with the better sound system of Latitude 30, they shone, and plenty of Americans who hadn’t heard of them until that moment started taking notes. I know, because a bunch of people came up to me and asked me to spell their name and for help finding their Facebook. Ha. I was glad to be of service.

Next up on the bill was Natalie Findlay, the Manchester songstress who scorched former writer Martin’s eyes and ears at Liverpool Sound City 2013. Since those days, she’s morphed like a chameleon many times, never staying put in one specific genre. In an otherwise all-male lineup, it was nice to introduce some good ol’ fashioned girl power into the mix and remind the Americans in attendance that there’s great female talent coming out of Britain, too.

Findlay Friday at SXSW 2018

Flyte’s closeup has been a long time coming. We’ve been writing about them for quite a long time; they nabbed the #5 spot in a reader’s poll here at TGTF at the end of 2013. Last year, they released their long-awaited debut album ‘The Loved Ones’, the culmination of years of hard graft. Performing songs from it live in Austin must have tasted so sweet.

Flyte Friday 2 at SXSW 2018

The group from London sounded decidedly different from the acts before them, with a Beatles-esque indie rock edge. While I thought it was unnecessary for them to do a cover (Alvvays’ ‘Marry Me, Archie’), Americans next to me swayed their head to Flyte’s version, stoked in their unexpected selection. Unexpectedly, I found myself at the bar and next to an unlikely fan, or so I thought: folk pop singer/songwriter Lucy Rose stood spellbound watching them play, only stopping to occasionally note to her drinking companion how great Flyte were. Couldn’t have had a nice endorsement, eh?

Dance funk purveyors Le Galaxie were the perfect choice to close out the Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s. Led by well-bearded frontman Michael Pope and performing with ex-Fight Like Apes MayKay on occasional vocals, they turned the Irish pub in the late afternoon into an enthralling disco, the thumping of their catchiest tunes reverberating in every molecule in the place.

Le Galaxie Friday at SXSW 2018

I last saw them in the basement of Audio in Brighton (now Patterns) at The Great Escape 2015. Times may have changed but some things stay the same, and thankfully, Le Galaxie is in the latter. It may not have been 5 o’clock yet in Austin, but it was 5 o’clock somewhere, and punters had no problem shaking a tail feather to their songs.

 

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.

 

SXSW 2017: visits to St. David’s, the Velveeta Room and the British Music Embassy (Friday, part 2) – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

I want to add another rule to those I presented yesterday as part of how I saw five bands in 1 hour on my Thursday night at SXSW 2017. Rule #5: take advantage of secondary or even tertiary shows your favourite artist is playing. Knowledge is power, and any research you do into additional shows an artist is playing will help you make the most of your time in Austin. Research is not just for the purpose of avoiding schedule clashes: smaller, less prominently advertised shows, especially those off the beaten path, are likely to give you the priceless opportunities to meet your heroes and/or to see them in more intimate settings. And if you’re anything like me (short and small) and have any level of claustrophobia, this is an unsaid key to keeping your sanity during SXSW.

For a long while, the only show Berlin-based Dane Agnes Obel had scheduled at SXSW was Thursday night at Clive Bar, in the Rainey Street area of the city. Unfortunately (for me anyway), closer to the time of SXSW, it was announced Clive Bar would become the Twin Peaks Showtime venue to celebrate the reboot of the cult tv show. Further, on Thursday night the showcase would host a very special appearance by none other than FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper himself, Kyle MacLachlan. Coupled with the announcement that ‘90s boy band Hanson would be appearing at Bungalow around the corner, it didn’t make sense walking all that way and to queue up only to be disappointed.

Thankfully, Obel announced a second show at the main room at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary as part of the Communion Presents showcase, which afforded her fans like me to have a better chance of seeing her and to be able to sit down while doing so. Many did, filling the venue easily and well before she even took the stage. SXSW was just one stop in her North American tour that had already passed through the East Coast the week before. I’m still unclear why venues seem to think throwing red light on their performers is a good idea. The celebrated Obel and her truly international, all female backing band were under a sea of crimson for her entire set, so I took a rare break at shooting bands at St. David’s.

Released in autumn 2016, her third and latest album ‘Citizen of Glass’ demonstrates the imaginative Dane’s commitment to defying convention in an industry where fitting in is de rigueur. With a flurry of instruments both conventional (piano, guitar, drums) and unusual (cello, celesta, mandolin) the unique performance was beautiful, especially in the confines of such a hallowed space. ‘Stretch Your Eyes’, which I reviewed ahead of SXSW, was a masterpiece live, exceeding all my expectations.

While there are two queues for the two stages at St. David’s, the main room and Bethell Hall, I can think of only one time I’ve been in Bethell Hall in the last 6 years where the place has been packed and they weren’t letting anyone in. In that respect, it’s a placid, infrequently visited SXSW venue hidden in plain sight. Good news for me, as I was wanting to catch up on the new material from an artist who had wowed me in DC a few years ago. Stepping out of Agnes Obel’s show a little early, I was able to catch the tail-end of another set here.

Bethell Hall is less pretentious than its name suggests. It has a recreation / social room-type vibe, and therefore it has more of an everyman flavour. While it’s not like I didn’t enjoy his set at B.D. Riley’s Thursday morning at the Full Irish Breakfast, there’s something very special about seeing Ciaran Lavery performing in such of a room. Think about where many legendary singers of popular music honed their craft: that’s right, with their families and in the church.

Ciaran Lavery, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017

With the acoustics of the bare walls of Bethell Hall bouncing back Lavery’s gritty yet gorgeous vocals and acoustic guitar chords to us, you couldn’t have asked for a better venue to see the Northern Irishman. Deadpanning that he would warn us next time if he was to perform another set of “overly positive songs”, he had the audience not only in rapt attention but also chuckling at his dry Irish wit. Ending with an incomprehensibly rich sounding a capella version of Tom Waits’ ‘If I Have to Go’, it’s not an understatement to say Ciaran Lavery slayed the audience at Bethell Hall.

Ciaran Lavery, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017, 2

It fell to Oxfordshire’s Lewis Watson to follow such a great performance. The contrast was unfortunately stark, as even though I don’t think the two artists differ that much in age, lack of festival experience (or perhaps lack of practice in recent months) showed in Watson’s comparatively lacklustre set. While I am very familiar with and loved Watson’s 2014 breakthrough LP ‘the morning’, I haven’t yet had a chance to listen to his latest album released the week after SXSW, ‘midnight’. Based on his performance in Austin, I’m not sure I want to. Maybe his latest breakup knocked him harder than he’s willing to admit? The one bright spot of new material was the wispy ‘Hello Hello’, in which he asked the audience to join in.

Lewis Watson, St. David's Historic Sanctuary, Bethell Hall, Friday 17 March 2017

Watson’s nervously chuckled assurances that the new songs sounds better with his full backing band and his asking us to imagine one song or another with a thumping drum beat implies, whether he meant it or not, that these new songs cannot stand on their own in their original form in which they were written. Further, while I completely understand the prohibitive travel and visa costs involved in bringing a full band over from England to America, one wonders why Watson appeared at SXSW solo at all, when a North American tour with his band was already in the works for later in the spring. It’s also hard to overlook that he broke not one, but two strings in the middle of his set. Chalk it all up to nerves or unpreparedness, but I was sorely disappointed.

After a quick brisket and coleslaw break and a gawk at and a farewell wave to the hordes already queued up to see Rag’n’Bone Man’s show in St. David’s main room at 1 AM, I headed back down to 6th Street. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so a visit to The Velveeta Room’s Music from Ireland showcase was definitely in order. (Sadly, there was not even time for a Guinness!) I had been interviewing Hull punks LIFE at the British Music Embassy while Carrie caught the Academic at the Full Irish Breakfast Thursday afternoon. It was now my turn to catch part of a set by the band I’d been wanting to see live for a long time.

The Academic, Music from Ireland showcase, The Velveeta Room, Friday 17 March 2017

Having seen the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room for so many years, I have to say the Velveeta Room feels like a much better venue for the bands. It also oddly reminds me of The Tivoli where MFI’s Canadian Music Week showcase was in 2016, so it has that going for it. The Academic from Mullingar were worth the wait. Full of the fun and vigour that made me fall in love with Two Door Cinema Club back in 2009, they brought an intensity and energy to the venue that only youth can. Singer/guitarist Craig Fitzgerald is an effective frontman, leading his band into every dynamic number, from single ‘Mixtape 2003’ that we reviewed last summer to their 2015 EP standout ‘Different’. Check out my very funny interview with the whole band that we did after their set through here.

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

I then returned to the British Music Embassy for the BBC Introducing / PRS for Music showcase to witness Glasgow pop rockers Catholic Action have Latitude 30’s punters in the palm of their hand. They proved that being given a much bigger room that earlier at the Mohawk was no problem at all. (Stay tuned for Carrie’s report of their performance Saturday afternoon at El Sapo, which was additional evidence that outdoor Mexican-themed venues are no match for them either.) Following the Scots was another band I’d been recommended to see, though to be honest, I was expecting it to be full of shenanigans. I wasn’t wrong, and it seemed everyone who was there that Friday night to see them couldn’t talk about anyone or anything else the last day of SXSW.

Bristol punks IDLES (yes, all caps again) are probably best known to 6 Music listeners for their track ‘WELL DONE’, which hilariously name-checks not only Steve Lamacq but also ex-Great British Bakeoff octagenarian Mary Berry having a job and enjoying reggae. People are angry with what’s going on in Britain and in a similar vein to what LIFE are doing in East Yorkshire, IDLES are the South West equivalent in providing the opening of a pressure valve. In Red Hot Chili Peppers-style, guitarist Mark Bowen seems to enjoy performing in nothing but his underpants, which if you’re a photographer is not for the faint of heart.

IDLES, British Music Embassy, BBC Introducing / PRS for Music showcase, Latitude 30, Friday 17 March 2017

I get that it’s part of their anarchic style that continues into their debut album ‘BRUTALISM’ out now, but it’s distracting (I think negatively) from the messages Joe Talbot wants to send in his lyrics. Their live performance is everything you would expect: a ruckus onstage, leading to equally crazy scenes down on the floor. IDLES did everything they set out to do: create havoc.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Oxqf_15k0w[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2017: Thursday afternoon at the Full Irish Breakfast and the Radio Day Stage – 16th March 2017

 
By on Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

It’s become a yearly tradition for TGTF to cover the Full Irish Breakfast, a daytime showcase put on by Music from Ireland at B.D. Riley’s Irish pub on 6th Street. Carrie generally does the honours while I usually take five, tucking into my complimentary breakfast, avoiding the pub’s Lipton tea and bemoaning the absent black pudding and mushrooms. This year for SXSW 2017, however, I stood in for Carrie at the start of the showcase, as she was down at the convention center, listening to Zane Lowe.

This was all fine by me, as the first band on were Belfast’s New Portals specialising in synthpop, therefore squarely in my wheelhouse. We had featured the act’s single ‘Winter Skin’ before Christmas last year and prior to our Derry correspondent Adam’s preview of the Northern Irish acts coming out to SXSW 2017. I should probably read our previews one more time before we go out to Austin because I evidently forgot that Mike and Ruth Aicken are married. They’re way too young and cool to be married! Ruth was wearing a baseball cap and her voice is sultry and poppish, leading me to compare her to Lorde and BANKS, both who young girls seek to emulate.

New Portals, full Irish breakfast, B.D. Riley's, Thursday 16 March 2017

I would think B.D. Riley’s is an unusual place for Irish artists to perform because on most days, it’s sunny in Austin and the windows out to 6th Street are thrown wide open. With New Portals’ music, it’s a bit odd to be hearing electronic music in a sunny environment and not in a club. However, Ruth let herself be totally drawn into the moment, singing with her eyes closed, grooving to the music as if she was in her own little world. But we were welcomed into that world, the buzz of the synths and the catchiness of the beats pulling us into the music despite it being eye-blinkingly 11 in the morning. As I looked around the room, I saw quite a few Guinness and gin and tonics being drunk, so it wasn’t too far from what it’s like being in a club…

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTIWWPB6mOw[/youtube]

The great thing about a man and his guitar: he takes next to no time to set up. For a completely different change of pace, fellow Northern Irish artist Ciaran Lavery was next up on the bill. We’ve been fans of Lavery for quite a while, and we covered him when he came out to Austin last year. The popular ‘Shame’, with Lavery’s plaintive vocals and simple yet effective guitar chord progressions, proved so disarming, I was nearly in tears.


Ciaran Lavery, full Irish breakfast, B.D. Riley's, Thursday 16 March 2017

Lavery clearly impressed the crowd, as several people asked me for his name and I recommended his live album ‘Live at the Mac’ that Adam reviewed for us at the end of 2016. I find his droll hand at stage patter hilarious, though I do wonder if it goes over better in front of Irish fans, several of whom had come all the way over from Belfast that I met at the breakfast. In any event, a job well done.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHd4x9K2-X0[/youtube]

After sitting in on the enlightening and moving talk by Russell “DMC” McDaniels back at the convention center, I was able to catch most of Middle Kids’ performance on the Radio Day Stage early Thursday afternoon as part of the KCSN afternoon showcase there. I included the female-fronted Aussie band in my best bets of acts from Oz showcasing this year in Austin.

Middle Kids, Radio Day Stage, Thursday 16 March 2017

By the time they arrived at SXSW 2017, they had under their belt an appearance on American alt late night tv programme Conan, so they’d already had their American close-up with thousands of armchair viewers. The brashness of their hit ‘Edge of Town’ hit the spot with Radio Day onlookers. For an indie band on one of their first-ever trips to America, you really can’t do much better than having such a great reception on the biggest stage in the convention center.

Middle Kids, Radio Day Stage, Thursday 16 March 2017, 2

 

SXSW 2017 Interview: The Academic

 
By on Monday, 27th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Sometimes – okay, a lot of the time! – at SXSW, it’s hard to conduct an interview with a band because there’s a lot of distracting noise around you. These can be difficult circumstances. It could be on 6th Street as the world goes by. Or in this case when I interviewed The Academic after their show at the Velveeta Room Friday night as part of the Music from Ireland evening showcase there, I had to make do in what appears to be half a broom closet and a corridor being used by staff at the venue (which explains why some random people appear in our conversation below). On the other side of the wall of the broom closet, another Irish band was playing, so if you hear any instruments being banged, that’s it.

The Academic are a group I have wanted to see live for a long time, having heard of their long association with TGTF mates Kodaline, with whom they have supported quite a few times. The band explained to me they’re from Mullingar, which is essentially a village smack dab in the middle of Ireland proper, so unlike most of the Irish bands we’ve featured here in the past on TGTF, they aren’t from Dublin or Belfast, or even a town like Galway or Derry. Their music skirts that oh so wonderful line between pop and rock, and they’ve already made a good impression on the UK, having played a bunch of shows in blighty already to good crowds. As you will hear in the below interview, they seem to have a fixation with Stourbridge, one of the places they will tour soon in the first 2 weeks in April (more details here). We also talk about which bands they would love to tour with because you know, when you’re in a young band like theirs, you might just get what you wish for. For more on the Academic on TGTF, check out our coverage through here.


The Academic, The Velveeta Room, Music from Ireland showcase, Friday 17 March 2017

 

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

 
By on Wednesday, 8th March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

The Emerald Isle may be a relatively small island, but there is no denying it is bursting with talent from top to bottom. Yesterday, we introduced you to the seven acts from below that pesky dotted line in the Republic of Ireland proper who will appear at SXSW 2017. Today, our focus is on the seven artists from Eire who carry British passports. The summaries below were written by the newest member of our team and our Northern Irish correspondent based in (London)Derry, Adam McCourt, except where noted. 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.

Ciaran Lavery – singer/songwriter / Aghagallon
Ciaran Lavery is an Irish singer/songwriter from the small town of Aghagallon in County Antrim. Lavery soared to success after his singles ‘Left for America’ and ‘Shame’ racked up over 29 million plays on Spotify. With the release of his latest live album ‘Live at the Mac’ back in December (read my review here), Lavery has built quite an eclectic discography including 2 studio albums ‘Not Nearly Dark’ (2013) and ‘Let Bad In’ (2016), preceded by the album ‘Sea Legs’ in collaboration with fellow Northern Irish showcaser Ryan Vail (2016) and his debut EP, ‘Koesher’ (2014). FFO: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Villagers

Read TGTF’s past coverage on Ciaran Lavery through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhZRAkWxUF8[/youtube]

Jealous of the Birds – folk/rock / Portadown
Jealous of the Birds is the musical moniker of Naomi Hamilton. Hailing from the wet and windy coastal town of Portadown, Jealous of the Birds channels her surroundings with sweet and chirpy songs. Sticking to the lo-fi indie sound, Hamilton’s debut EP ‘Capricorn’ released in March 2015 gathered much attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and one of Ireland’s longest and most accredited radio stations Across The Line. Her debut album ‘Parma Violets’ was released in May 2016 and just recently, she collaborated with fellow SXSW attendee Ryan Vail on a track entitled ‘Love is a Crow’. FFO: PORTS, Foy Vance, Girls Names

Read TGTF’s past coverage on Jealous of the Birds through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rED0XiO93c[/youtube]

New Portals – electronic/pop / Belfast
New Portals (pictured at top) are an electronic/pop duo from Belfast. Husband and wife Michael and Ruth Aicken began as the key members of an alt-folk group called The Jepettos before turning their attention to synth-laden pop tracks, while still keeping the angelic tonal quality of Ruth’s vocals. Since re-establishing as New Portals, the couple have made their mark by releasing a bombardment of seven singles (with five music videos) over their short career of a year. You can check out our holiday feature late last year for their seasonally appropriate single ‘Winter Skin’ through here. FFO: Imagine Dragons, Banks, EMBRZ

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ghog_fnSKI[/youtube]

Protex – punk / Belfast
Punk rockers Protex have been in existence as a band longer than many of their fellow Northern Irish acts have been alive. Still, their staying power in the industry is testament to the continued interest – a need – for guitar music that provides a kick in the arse. FFO: Sex Pistols, New York Dolls (Mary Chang)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vj2I-Z0B-oQ[/youtube]

Robocobra Quartet – experimental / Belfast
Probably one of the more interesting Irish acts to head to SXSW is Robocobra Quartet. Formed whilst studying Music Technology at Queens University, Belfast, the band take influence from jazz, hardcore punk and classical music. Their debut album ‘Music for All Occasions’ was released in November lof ast year, and it’s packed with spoken word vocals, squealing saxophone and unexpected improvisation. The band is under the direction of drummer and vocalist Chris Ryan and with Tom Tabori (soprano saxophone), Thibault Barilon (tenor sax, alto saxophone, flute) and as of recently, Ryan Burrowes who replaced Nathan Rogers on bass. FFO: Melt Yourself Down, At The Drive-In, Fugazi

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-SfI3WC0iA[/youtube]

Ryan Vail – electronic / Derry
Ryan Vail is a solo electronic composer from Derry. He has been writing, composing and releasing music since 2012, with his debut album ‘For Every Silence’ being released last April. Vail is no stranger to experimentation and genre crossing. He’s known for bringing a whole new sonic picture to the world of electronic/dance music by incorporating elements of folk and classical music with unique recording and composition methods. See Jealous of the Birds’ profile above to read more about their recent single collaboration. FFO: Chet Faker, Ciaran Lavery (see above), Burial, James Blake

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_7Xyi9LAq4[/youtube]

Silences – singer/songwriter / alternative / Armagh
Silences began as a musical outlet for singer/songwriter Conchúr White back in 2013. With the addition of White’s cousin Breandán White, and close friends Christopher Harbinson, Michael Keyes and Jonathan Downing, Silences have released 3 critically acclaimed EPs: ‘Nevernames’ (March 2014), ‘Sister Snow’ (October 2014), and ‘Luna’ (April 2016). The Armagh-based five-piece have received considerable support from the likes of Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Phil Taggart of BBC Radio 1 and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and have appeared at top festivals such as Latitude, The Great Escape and Electric Picnic. FFO: Bon Iver, Jeff Buckley, Death Cab for Cutie, alt-J

Read TGTF’s past coverage on Silences through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mgCDoBn3Pg[/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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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