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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 2015: the full Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub – 20th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 9th April 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

The Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub on the Friday of SXSW 2015 drew a full crowd throughout the day, probably in part due to the rainy weather outside, but in greater part because of the talented and widely varied lineup of musicians on the docket. After a last minute interview with Frank Turner, and by the time I found Mary sat at a table enjoying her full Irish, the pub was already starting to fill in. Mary had to leave early for her other engagements while I stayed to navigate the fun, hectic madness that would ensue throughout the day.

Orla Gartland at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

First on the day’s lineup were two very different female singer/songwriters, Dublin’s Orla Gartland and Derry native SOAK. Gartland’s bright and catchy brand of pop was just the burst of energy we needed to get the grey and drizzly morning off to a good start, and her onstage charm matched her offstage persona when I interviewed her a bit later in the morning. SOAK, otherwise known as Bridie Monds-Watson, captured our attention with a very different mood. Her delicately poignant songs might not have translated as well to the pub atmosphere at B.D. Riley’s as well as they had to Latitude 30 earlier in the week, but her name was certainly on everyone’s lips after her set was finished.

SOAK at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

After taking advantage of a break in the rain to step outside for interviews with both Gartland and SOAK, I ducked back into B.D. Riley’s to catch the end of Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s solo violin set. I had heard him play the previous day on the Lost In Austin boat ride, and I was pleased to see that his music wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the somewhat more disorderly audience in the pub. I almost missed the following act, Dublin punk act Girl Band (pictured in the header above), while interviewing Mac Con Iomaire, but I saw enough of their set and the crowd’s enthusiastic response to get the feeling that these four guys are well and truly on their way up.

Colm Mac Con Iomaire at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Next I had an encore performance from Walking On Cars, whom I’d seen at their sparsely attended Wednesday night set at the Music From Ireland showcase. While their performance that night hadn’t been lacking in any way, they were more energetic at B.D. Riley’s on Friday morning, feeding off of the more enthusiastic crowd. They elected not to perform their medley of pop hits here, wisely allowing their own energetic pop tracks to make an impression on our ears instead.

Walking on Cars at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

I was scheduled to interview self-described “cosmic reverb rock band” Buffalo Sunn ahead of their afternoon set, but they arrived to the venue later than they had planned due to the uncooperative weather outside. They did turn up in time to play, and their vibrant guitars and rich vocal harmonies were a perfect accompaniment for the mellowing ambience of the late afternoon. Luckily, the band were available to do the interview after their set; you can listen back to it here.

Buffalo Sunn at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Unfortunately, rescheduling the Buffalo Sunn interview meant that I once again missed out on Dott, who played the Irish breakfast showcase at SXSW 2014 as well. Again, I heard just the end of their set, but it was enough to confirm that the band have refined both their sound and stage presence in the past year, as well as working up some new material for their upcoming studio album.

Dott at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

By this point in the afternoon, B.D. Riley’s was fairly packed in with people escaping the rain outside. Despite the tight fit throughout the venue, it was a favorable situation for experimental five-piece band Meltybrains?, who channeled the room’s restless energy into an ambitious and dynamic set including their by-now-famous face masks, which were floating around in the audience as well as on the stage. Their quirky stage antics and infectiously danceable rhythms made them instant crowd favourites, and their natural enthusiasm translated from the stage into my lively interview with them.

Meltybrains? at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Hard rock duo All Tvvins followed Meltybrains? with an equally energetic set of their own, gearing up the crowd for the unabashed joviality of the final two acts, Fight Like Apes and Le Galaxie. Fight Like Apes lead singer MayKay was in particularly fine form and fine voice, engaging the audience both with her vocals and her seductive stagecraft. She was called back to the stage to join in on Le Galaxie’s recent single ‘Carmen’, adding even more fuel to their already pulse-racing electronic dance set and bringing the afternoon’s festivities to a sensational finale.

All Tvvins at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

Le Galaxie with MayKay at Full Irish Breakfast 20 March 2015

The annual full Irish breakfast event at B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub has gained a not-to-be-missed reputation, which is well-deserved both for the high quality of the musicians on the showcase and its ever-present atmosphere of warm hospitality. This was my second time attending the event, and I must say that while this year’s showcase was a bit more eclectic than what Mary and I saw in 2014, Music From Ireland once again hosted a spectacular and memorable show. Cheers!

 

SXSW 2015: Dine Alone Records and Music from Ireland showcases – 18th March 2015

 
By on Thursday, 2nd April 2015 at 10:00 am
 

Wednesday night I made my way down to the Bungalow on Rainey Street for the Dine Alone Records 10th anniversary showcase, which was scheduled to feature two bands I’d previously covered for TGTF, The Dodos and Broncho, as well as Lieutenant, the new side project of Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel. I arrived at the Bungalow early enough to work out the logistics of my interview with The Dodos before heading out to the backyard stage area to catch the night’s opening act, Josh Haden’s jazz-tinged alt-rock band Spain.

I wasn’t familiar with Josh Haden or Spain before I saw them at the Bungalow, but a quick internet search reveals that their smooth, soulful sound is at least partially the result of Haden’s background in jazz; he is the son of well-known jazz bassist Charlie Haden. Josh Haden originally formed Spain in the early 1990s and revitalized it with new members in 2007. The band’s latest LP, ‘Sargent Place’ was released on Dine Alone back in November, and their set at the Dine Alone showcase included a fine performance of its lead single ‘The Fighter’, which you can stream below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/pPwjSmCq608[/youtube]

Vancouver indie pop band Yukon Blonde quickly changed the pace of the evening after Spain’s laid-back set. Their dance-friendly synth and guitar sounds drew a captivated audience under the tents at the Bungalow, almost making us forget that we were still in the middle of the week with their hook-heavy new single ‘Saturday Night’. Just after SXSW, Yukon Blonde hit the road in America and Canada for an opening slot with their Dine Alone labelmates Lieutenant; those shows continue into April.

Yukon Blonde’s energetic set paved the way for San Francisco-based duo The Dodos to take the stage. They clearly had a fair few fans in attendance at SXSW 2015, as the crowd packed in noticeably tighter during their brief soundcheck. After reviewing their latest LP ‘Individ’ and their show at Tucson’s Club Congress in February, I had already come to the conclusion that The Dodos are just one of those bands that you have to see live to get the full effect of their music.

I discussed that opinion briefly with band members Meric Long and Logan Kroeber in my interview with them before their set, but their spectacular performance on the night did more to solidify my estimation than any of their commentary. Knowing that The Dodos create a huge sound between the two of them, I started their set with earplugs firmly in place, but the sound quality and the crisp energy of their performance was so amazing that I ended up removing them just so that I could take it all in. The dance moves featured in The Dodos’ video for ‘Competition’ didn’t make it onto the stage here, but there was plenty of enthusiastic dancing in the crowd when Long and Kroeber played the song.

The Dodos at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015

Unfortunately, the crowd at the Bungalow thinned conspicuously after The Dodos finished, leaving only a sparse few fans to watch Lieutenant. Because the live iteration of Lieutenant features Foo Fighters bass player Nate Mendel and Snow Patrol bass player Paul Wilson (both on guitar, ironically enough), I had expected them to draw a larger audience. Lieutenant’s recent album release ‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going to Eat for a Week’ is probably best described as understated, and as it turns out, Mendel is an understated frontman in live performance as well. Wilson’s more animated guitar solos, while not exactly flashy, were the highlight of the band’s set at the Bungalow. I suspect that the members of Lieutenant will grow progressively more comfortable in their newly adopted roles as they continue their current American tour with Yukon Blonde.

Nate Mendel at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015           Paul Wilson at Dine Alone showcase SXSW 2015

My energy lagged a bit after Lieutenant’s set, and I decided a walk might be in order to help me get a second wind. I left the Bungalow and headed back to 6th Street to see Dine Alone alumnus James Vincent McMorrow, whose first self-titled EP was released in the US on Dine Alone back in 2010.  McMorrow was appearing on the Music from Ireland showcase at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room, which was already packed to the gills for his set when I arrived. (In fact, it was so crowded that I never met up with Mary, who also made the Music From Ireland show part of her Wednesday night lineup.) Though the Gibson Room audience were clearly enamored with the soulful melancholia of McMorrow’s ‘Post Tropical’ tracks, I found his falsetto to be unintelligible and a bit whiny, much in the vein of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whose sound I have never been particularly fond of. In spite of that, McMorrow’s stage presence was shyly endearing and he did pique my interest by testing a couple of new tracks, which he said weren’t yet fully worked out, but which held their own here in acoustic performance.

Walking On Cars at Music From Ireland SXSW 2015

Once again, the audience almost completely vanished after McMorrow’s set, leaving Irish pop band Walking on Cars to play in a nearly empty room to close out the night. It was a pity too, because Walking on Cars play the kind of energetic pop music that could find itself comfortably situated on top 40 radio, given enough of an audience. Indeed, the band broke up their wee-hours-of-the-morning set with a mashup of pop tunes that included 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’, Ed Sheeran’s ‘Lego House’, and James Bay’s current hit ‘Hold Back the River’, along with a surprisingly effective cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’.

Their own recent single ‘Always Be With You’, featured in our SXSW preview of artists from Ireland and Northern Ireland, closed the night on a strong note, even if only a handful of punters were still around to hear it. Keep an eye on TGTF for coverage of Walking on Cars at the full Irish breakfast appearing on TGTF soon.

 

SXSW 2015: bits of BBC Introducing, Music from Ireland and more – 18th March 2015

 
By on Friday, 27th March 2015 at 5:00 pm
 

Given our Web site’s generally UK-directed alignment, it would have been rude not to stop by the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation night at the start of Wednesday night programming. I’m not really into psych rock, but I had been pleasantly surprised seeing Kettering’s Temples live in DC 6 months after giving them a pass at their high-profile slot on the Saturday night at the British Music Embassy of SXSW 2014. So I decided I was ready to have an open mind about Blossoms, whose songs played on 6music didn’t excite me much. I was very pleased that as a live prospect, the Stockport band are much more engaging.

Blossoms at BBC Introducing PRS for Music at SXSW 2015

Despite their young age (read: too young to drink in America), they’ve got a lot of swagger, and not just for appearances: musically, they’re a very tight unit. As frontmen go, Tom Odgen is a lanky, Pantene-beautiful, long-haired lad, bound to be a pinup on teenage girls’ walls in the very near future, but he also does a good job at commanding the audience. Then again, I’m a sucker for a Mancunian accent; 2 nights later, out in what seemed appropriate for boys from Manchester, sat out in the rare Austin rain, we complimented each other on our accents…

Blossoms at BBC Introducing PRS for Music at SXSW 2015

But the real expert on stage was lead guitarist Josh Dewhurst, whose axe-playing prowess was on full display on the single ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’, among others. The single itself also is a primer on how to construct a radio-friendly pop song, going from a sinister, Scooby Doo-like minor key verse led by Myles Kellock’s keys to more positive chord progressions in the chorus. I had an accidental but entirely enjoyable opportunity to see the Northern lads play again Friday, when they filled in last minute for an absent Ghetts. In short, they won me over, including this possibly unusual tender moment about “the stately homes of England” in ‘Blown Rose’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LsMF5WGQ_g[/youtube]

After greeting friends from the Beeb, I was off to see Public Service Broadcasting play at LA promoter School Night!’s show at Red 7’s outdoor patio. I wasn’t about to miss my favourite tweedy chaps play a rare outdoor performance. I would have preferred better lighting – the dark reds and blues projected onto the stage seemed more appropriate for later acts to come Beat Connection and Urban Cone.

Public Service Broadcasting at School Night! at SXSW 2015

But despite the darkness, both their older songs from ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ sat well alongside newer ‘The Race for Space’ tracks. “This is a song about an airplane” ‘Spitfire’ was met with audience cheers, as was early ‘The Race for Space’ cut and uber funky number ‘Gagarin’ and 6music favourite ‘Go’. (Catch my interview with J. Willgoose, Esq. of the band here.) I was sad to leave just as ‘Everest’ began his ascent towards its climax, but I had a date with some new Irish friends.

Public Service Broadcasting at School Night! at SXSW 2015

I arrived to Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room in the midst of Meltybrains? mental set for Music from Ireland. Another group of young European lads let loose on the festival environs of Austin, but entirely different results: at one point, everyone in the band jumped off the stage to start a conga line, and their fans were more than willing to join them in the impromptu dance formation. Their thing is masks, having handed out hundreds of lovely spray-painted ones to punters at the Gibson room that night, which was quite the marketing coup. All week, I saw music fans walking around Austin with their mask attached in varying alignments on their heads. You knew immediately they’d been at the Meltybrains? show Wednesday night and had enjoyed it so much, they wanted to help promote the band. Super cool.

Meltybrains? at Music from Ireland at SXSW 2015

The band’s most recent single ‘Donegal’ demonstrates their comfort with mixing up styles and genres, with lyrics in falsetto, atmospheric electronica and compelling beats and percussion, all mixed together, and live, the energy of young Ireland comes through loud and clear through their music. At one point I mused that maybe they were alien Rastafarians.I kind of wish I had arrived earlier to witness more or all of their live set, as I knew I had other obligations Friday afternoon during the full Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s and this would be the only time I’d get a chance to see them gig. But of what I did witness, it became abundantly clear that they were one of the top, if not my top band discovery at SXSW 2015. Stay tuned for Carrie’s interviews with both acts at the full Irish breakfast coming soon on TGTF.

Orla Gartland at Music from Ireland at SXSW 2015

Another nomination for my sound of young Ireland is the lovely Orla Gartland, who already had her first headline tour of North America under her belt even before she arrived in Austin. Wide smiles from the lovely ginger lass and her band were the order of the day, as Gartland played a selection of super poppy, super catchy songs from her catalogue that you know will hit the spot for teenager and tweenager crowds that are already stalwarts of Kodaline and The 1975. I think her success is already assured, with upbeat, synthladen numbers like ‘Lonely People’ and ‘Souvenirs’, driven by her clear, confident voice, which were accompanied by the squeals of delight from young fans excited about every one of her songs.

I found myself at a loose end and let’s face it, there will be moments during your SXSW where you physically do not want to move anywhere, especially if you’re stuck in a mob of people and you can’t move anyway. I caught a bit of James Vincent McMorrow, whose headgear could rival James Bay’s for biggest and most annoying hat of the festival. I very rarely enjoy falsetto – it works in Meltybrains? because there is more than just the voice to lead the song – but I found myself completely underwhelmed by his singer/songwriter machinations. Funnily enough, Carrie was somewhere else in the crowd but because the place was so packed, we never ran into each other; despite her affinity for the singer/songwriter genre and her excitement in seeing McMorrow, we came to the same conclusion about his performance.

I returned to Latitude 30 for the final act of the BBC Introducing / PRS Foundation show, Spring King. If there was something that certainly was not lacking this year at SXSW, it was loud rock music, played fast and raucously. While what they offer is not earth-shattering (watch the BBC filmed video of ‘City’ from this set below), hey have the kind of ethos that the Vaccines had on their first two albums, before they went pop with this year’s single ‘Handsome’. Which one of these up and coming bands are ready to take over the Vaccines’ mantle in that part of the music scene is anyone’s guess, but for sure, Spring King is one option.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVgtVq8HuT4[/youtube]

 

SXSW 2014 Interview: Heathers

 
By on Friday, 28th March 2014 at 11:00 am
 

On the Friday of SXSW 2014, I had the opportunity to see many of the Irish bands I had missed at the Music from Ireland showcase on Wednesday night at Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room. One of the bands I did see on Wednesday was Dublin twin sister duo Heathers, and I was excited to see them again at the Full Irish Breakfast at B.D. Riley’s, also hosted by Music from Ireland.

They were in the midst of a flurry of interviews when I caught up with them outside the venue, but they graciously took the time to give me some background information on their seamless vocal harmonies, their edgy rock musical style and their new album ‘Kingdom’, which is due for release at the beginning of April.

Heathers’ set at the Irish Breakfast was made up exclusively of songs from the hard-hitting ‘Kingdom’, most notably their YouTube hit ‘Forget Me Knots’. We’ll have more coverage of the Irish Breakfast here on TGTF, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at Heathers’ set list from the day.

Heathers set list 14 March 2014

Thanks to Ciaran and Brian for setting up this interview.

 

SXSW 2014: eating Irish breakfast at B.D. Riley’s and chatting with new friends on Friday afternoon – 14th March 2014

 
By on Wednesday, 26th March 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

At some point in your SXSW experience, it is inevitable, do not fight it: you will hit a wall. Your body and brain will be close to shutting down from all the running around and shenanigans you have been up to all week. By Friday morning, I’d hit my own personal wall. The mere thought of going through the exercise of figuring out various walking and bus routes for a trip out of town for a show just didn’t seem enticing at all. What was far more appealing was the traditional free Irish breakfast served every Friday morning at SXSW at where else but B.D. Riley’s?

It was also a chance to spend some quality time with the lovely Angela Dorgan, who tirelessly runs the Music from Ireland programming at the festival every year and who happens to be a dear friend. While I was disappointed in the complete lack of black pudding, rashers and mushrooms in my fry up, the eggs scrambled and not sunny side up, and the tomatoes raw and sliced as if they were ready to go into a BLT, it was the strange appearance of two slices of entirely uncooked rye bread that had my friends back in blighty confused. However, it was good, hearty sustenance that both Carrie and I needed to start our day off right, though the food was more important to me than it was to Carrie, who needed her coffee.

SXSW 2014 was the first time in 3 years straight of covering SXSW that I decided to take a load off and relax a little and have a cardiovascular workout to the Wonder Villains. Carrie covered the Irish breakfast and afternoon line-up at B.D. Riley’s, staying in her place all afternoon, while I could chill before my next social engagement. Scanning my Twitter feed, I noticed DJ Colette was in town to do a late night DJ set with friends at Lanai Lounge, an ubercool dance space and bar on Congress where Carrie and I had met up with our Canadian friend Jordy on Monday afternoon. I took a chance at Tweeting at her to see if she’d be willing to do an entirely impromptu interview. That’s how this interview with her at the Hilton happened. And that’s how we roll at SXSW.

My next interview to take place at Latitude 30 had been arranged the afternoon before at the Universal Music Group takeover on Thursday and would be with Pete Lawrie-Winfield, better known as the man behind Until the Ribbon Breaks. (Listen to the interview here.) I watched him perform again and this time, he had a much larger and captive audience at the British Music Embassy, which I was very pleased about. I think of what I hear on top 40 radio here in the States and the Radio 1 playlist, and the direction mainstream pop music has gone doesn’t excite me. What does excite me about what Lawrie is doing is how he incorporates the best of his own personal influences as if putting everything he loves in a electronic blender of sorts, and what comes out is this multi-pronged animal of sound.

When Delphic first really hit UK radio in 2009 with ‘Counterpoint’, a lot was made about their rock and dance hybrid sound being novel. If that’s true, Until the Ribbon Breaks’ mixing of rock, dance, r&b, experimental and of course electronic is truly trailblazing. It’s a bit of a problem that I’m the only one at TGTF who loves electronic and dance music, so I’m hoping my fellow writers – and some of you too! – will listen to this track ‘Perspective’ and maybe have a change of heart. The best electronic music will make you want to dance and will make you feel sexy, and as far as I’m concerned, Lawrie’s doing an excellent job on both fronts.

I hung around for THUMPERS, who were next and had been highly recommended by friends, but I was sorely disappointed. Maybe I was stood in the wrong place, but the thumping (no pun intended) of the bass was drowning out anything and everything else, including the vocals, so I didn’t stay too long. Too bad. Well, you can’t win them all and you are going to encounter some bands that just don’t live up to their promise live in Austin. But I had an interview lined up in early evening that I was positively going out of my mind thinking about, so all was not lost. Not at all.

 
 
 

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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.

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